What Will Team Do Now?
Michael Crabtree's torn Achilles tendon injury is a stark reminder that injuries can happen to any player at any moment. OTA's, training camp, pre-season game, regular season game; heck just getting out of bed could cause an injury.
It's still yet to be determined how bad the injury is and how long Crabtree will be out, but unlike other recent success stories of players suffering this injury in spring and then coming back and being able to play during the regular season, those weren't WR's. The odds of Crabtree playing again in 2013 have to be considered slim at best.
This really hurts the San Francisco 49ers as Crabtree had finally started to live up to billing and play like an elite WR in 2012. He had an instant rapport with Colin Kaepernick and looked like he was going to join the ranks of the near elite fantasy WR's in 2013.
That all is over now.
Colin Kaepernick will have to prove he's able to build upon his 2012 season without his best weapon. And there aren't any WR's near his talent level in San Francisco. Mario Manningham is returning from a torn ACL and his status for the 2013 season is unsure. Anquan Boldin is a fine complementary WR but isn't a #1 WR at this point in his career. 2012 1st round draft pick A.J. Jenkins was a colossal disappointment as a rookie being inactive almost the entire season. The 49ers drafted Quinton Patton in the 4th round this year and while he has the makings of a fine future possession style WR, he'd be seriously miscast as a #1 WR.
Simply put, the 49ers have no one who can step in and fill Crabtree's shoes. The only players who benefit from this from a fantasy perspective are TE's Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald as the 49ers will likely feature both of these top end pass catching TE's more in the offense because of this.
There's a chance the 49ers will look to available free agents. Brandon Lloyd could make it full circle and return to the team that originally drafted him. But after failing to live up to expectation in New England last year Lloyd wouldn't be a significant upgrade. Maybe Randy Moss will return but he did little last season with Crabtree opposite him. Could the 49ers do the bizarre and bring back Terrell Owens? The mind shutters.
It's very unlikely any of those guys are signed by San Francisco, but there is likely to be a free agent signing at WR soon for the team. Currently their WR corps looks like this:
Michael Crabtree - Torn Achilles. Not likely to play in 2013
Mario Manningham - Recovering from torn ACL and PCL; unsure to avoid the PUP list to start season
Kyle Williams - Recovering from torn ACL and unsure to avoid PUP list to start 2013 season
The first 3 names you probably know. Of the remaining, Lockette is the only one I could see having any chance of surprising and becoming relevant. Lockette has spent the last 2 seasons mostly on the Seahawks and 49ers practice squad. But there's always been some talk of him having the skills to take a step up. If ever there was an opportunity for him to do so, it is now.
But in all likelihood, this may be something the 49ers offense struggles to compensate for as Crabtree was on the verge of greatness.
Trades coming into play more often. More runs at positions
2 more rounds have been completed in the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League. We have worked thru rounds 7 and 8 and teams are filling out their rosters with depth. Trades have been happening fairly often as teams move up and down getting the players they want. If you haven't been following along, you can see my comments about the first 6 rounds thru these links:
Here is what happened in round 7:
1) RB Chris Ivory (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
2) WR Justin Blackmon (FootballGuys; comment: "There is some risk in this pick, with the 4 game suspension looming, as well as future suspension potential. But the reward can be return ten fold. Let's be honest, there is a little bit of Kenny Britt in Justin Blackmon (minus the injuries), but there also could be a lot of Brandon Marshall too. At one time, Marshall was a big dynasty risk and look what he has turned out to be. Blackmon was in the Top 10 fantasy WRs over the last 8 weeks in 2012 - and that was with a so-so QB in Chad Henne. The sky is the limit for Blackmon and more importantly, his new coach, Gus Bradley is on his side. Sometimes winning teams are won with gambles. Here's my gamble contribution.")
3) WR Pierre Garcon (Bruno Boys)
4) WR T.Y. Hilton (RotoProfessor)
5) QB Andy Dalton (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
6) WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Huge upside, have three receivers already so he can develop on my bench. Ya never know")
7) QB Tony Romo (Wild Thing Football; comment: "This is the year Tony finally pulls it out.")
8) WR Mike Williams (FantasyIndex; comment: "Underrated. Trusting Ian here, who has him 15th at WR in prelim 2013 rankings.")
9) RB Vick Ballard (DrFootball)
10) WR Greg Jennings (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) WR Cecil Shorts (Fantasy Taz)
12) TE Jared Cook (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "This may surprise some but I doubt the Rams paid Cook all that money to NOT use him a whole lot more than the Titans did. The Rams have little experience at WR and Brian Schottenheimer got some quality fantasy seasons from Dustin Keller while with the Jets. Cook has twice the upside of Keller and is the most likely candidate to join the ranks of the elite TE's.")
Observations from round 7:
*-Anyone who's been paying attention to me from before the NFL draft knows that I really like Cordarrelle Patterson and I was really surprised and disappointed he got selected this early. Xs &Ys took him here and I was really hoping he would last a little longer.
*-I traded away the first pick of round 8 in a prior deal and tried to trade back into round 7 to grab a WR as I figured the run on WR's was going to knock me down into a lower tier group by the time I picked again at the end of round 9. Unfortunately, there were no takers.
*- When it came to my pick I could either gamble on a WR, or I could try to stay ahead of the next run, which I figure was going to happen with the TE's. 5 TE's had come off the board by the end of round 6, and I didn't want to be on the tail end of the run on them as I wasn't sure if Cook would make it thru and I am convinced the Rams are going to take full advantage of his superior size and skills.
1) WR Kenny Britt (DraftCalc; comment: "Fact: Kenny Britt is younger than AJ Green, and the same age as Julio Jones. Britt is almost insanely-undervalued in most leagues. He is just getting going.")
2) RB Johnathan Franklin (Fantasy Taz)
3) RB Jonathan Stewart (FantasyIndex; comment: "despise the Carolina running game, but talented starters can only fall so far")
4) RB Shane Vereen (Xs &Ys Podcast; comment: "Maybe no one was considering him but with RBs dwindling fast, I felt I had to secure player who is a must for me as Ridley owner. Now I can breathe easy at my RB1 spot (low-end as it may be)"
5) RB Zac Stacy (Dynasty Football Warehouse; comment: "We've been pimping this kid since long before the draft where he went to a favorable landing spot in STL. There is definitely risk, but in the end I think this is his job. Has a similar skill-set and compares well to Rice/MJD IMO. Swinging for the fences here.")
6) TE Tony Gonzalez (Wild Thing Football)
7) RB Mark Ingram (DrFootball)
8) TE Vernon Davis (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) TE Dennis Pitta (RotoProfessor)
10) WR Steve Johnson (Bruno Boys)
11) WR Kendall Wright (FootballGuys; comment: "Got sniped by Marc of Bruno Boys on Steve Johnson. Great value there. I'm a big fan of any WR who can consistently get good separation and Wright definitely qualifies. He is a young and emerging talent who reminds me of Steve Smith in that he is elusive in open space, but he can also be a reliable target down field - 61% reception percentage. His ceiling is largely dependent on his QB, so there is some concern there with Jake Locker. If he increases his yards per catch of 9.8, look out. He quietly totaled 60 receptions as a rookie despite not having as many snaps as Kenny Britt and Nate Washington. Interestingly enough, he still led the team in targets with 104. He's a great talent waiting to emerge. I seriously was considering him over Steve Johnson, now it's a no-brainer pick for me. Thanks Marc")
12) TE Tyler Eifert (FantasyIndex; comment: "Sniped on Pitta. Nice pick! Hope Eifert is a quick study, cause I need him.")
Observations from round 8:
*-The TE run kind of happened and I'm sure Cook wouldn't have come out of this round. Taking him at the end f round 7 was the right move. When you pick at the corners of a draft, you have to be able to know when the runs are happening and decide whether you can weather the run and still come out okay, or be ahead of it.
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse got one of my favorite pre-NFL draft RB sleepers in Zac Stacy. I was really hoping Stacy would make it back to me in round 9. But, apparently, I'm not the only one who believes Stacy is a lot more likely to be the future (and likely the present as well) for the Rams than either Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Pead.
*-DraftCalc's point about Britt's age has validity, but in reality Britt is only 49 days younger than Green while he is 5 months older than Jones. But that wasn't the point. His point was that Britt is the same age as these other two and has displayed big time ability like both, but doesn't get the same consideration as them. But a lengthy rap sheet and injury history will do that to any high upside player.
Quarterback and Wide Receivers runs dominate these rounds
Another day, another 2 rounds in the books of the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League. We have worked thru rounds 5 and 6 and teams are taking shape. You can see my comments about the first 4 rounds thru these links:
Here is what happened in round 5:
1) WR DeAndre Hopkins (DraftCalc)
2) WR Torrey Smith (FootballGuys; comment: "There may be some better wide receiver options on the board in regards to 2013 production, but Torrey Smith is an up and coming young talent waiting to emerge. I like his chances to branch out this year as the Ravens primary receiving target. I expect him to lineup all over the field, running the entire route tree, including being a big red zone threat. He is a gem waiting to happen.")
3) QB Colin Kaepernick (Bruno Boys)
4) QB Drew Brees (RotoProfessor)
5) WR Jordy Nelson (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
6) QB Russell Wilson (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "QB stampede is winding down. I don't necessarily see top 3 potential from Wilson, but steady QB1 for a long time? Absolutely.")
7) WR Wes Welker (Wild Thing Football)
8) WR Tavon Austin (FantasyIndex; comment: "Too soon? Mebbe, but if the guy turns out to be a difference-maker rather than the safer but less dynamic options available at this point, I want him on my team.")
9) QB Matt Ryan (DrFootball; comment: "Youth over Brady")
10) RB Ryan Mathews (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) QB Matthew Stafford (Fantasy Taz)
12) QB Tom Brady (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "While he lacks long term appeal, for the next few years Brady is still among the elite fantasy QB's and to get him here is nigh criminal")
Observations from round 5:
*-As I said yesterday, I knew the QB run was going to happen from late round 4 thru this round and when all was said and done, 9 QB's were selected since the 8th pick of round 4 thru the end of this round. I really wanted Colin Kaepernick as he is not just ranked in my top 10 fantasy QB's for 2013, but should also be a dynasty league stud for years to come. But I knew he wasn't going to fall to me when I failed to be able to make a trade up to get him. However I was very happy to get Brady as I was getting nervous after watching Brees, Ryan, and Stafford all go before my picks. Thankfully, in my opinion, Xs & Ys selected Russell Wilson instead of one of the QB's I really was hoping would fall to me. If Brady had been gone and Wilson had fallen to me, I probably would have held out until round 7 to take a QB as I am not convinced Wilson is a future star. In that scenario I was ready to go back to back with WR's in rounds 5 and 6.
*-Two rookie WR's went this round in DeAndre Hopkins and Tavon Austin. While both have a lot of upside, I'm not sure I like either over more proven guys like Marques Colston and Dwayne Bowe. But if they hit, they'll be great for years to come. I just am always leery of buying into rookie hype as it's more often just that: hype. And there has been a lot of hype with both of these rookie WR's.
1) WR Marques Colston (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "3 consecutive years with 80+ receptions, over 1,000 yards and 25 total receiving TD's makes Colston a solid WR2 and while he only likely has another 3 years at a high level, I'll bank them over the other options available here")
2) WR Eric Decker (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Mike Wallace (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
4) TE Jason Witten (DrFootball)
5) WR Josh Gordon (DraftCalc)
6) WR Danny Amendola (Wild Thing Football)
7) WR Dwayne Bowe (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Nice high-upside No. 3 in start-three-receiver format. Don't love Alex Smith by any means but No. 1 target in Andy Reid offense does intrigue")
8) WR Reggie Wayne (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) WR Antonio Brown (RotoProfessor)
10) RB Frank Gore (Bruno Boys; comment: "His age is against him, however can't pass on a RB3 that averaged 4.7 yards per carry last year and plays on one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL.")
11) TE Kyle Rudolph (FootballGuys; comment: "I really contemplated this pick an awful lot. As I said when I took Aaron Hernandez, a stud TE is huge in dynasty leagues. Getting two is a luxury and lineup saver, especially when I can flex one if needed. Rudolph has Gronk-like efficiency in the red zone and likely will be the main goal line target this year and many years to come.")
12) WR Jeremy Maclin (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
Observations from round 6:
*-I figured there was going to a WR run this round and there was. 10 WR's were selected this round. Colston's age concerns me a little but his production just stood out as clearly better than the other options. Dwayne Bowe was my next highest ranked WR and he went a few picks later.
*-While Dynasty Football Warehouse took his 5th WR in 6 rounds, he also pulled off a trade during this round where he sent Julio Jones to Xs & Ys Podcast for RB LeSean McCoy. I think it was a straight up deal but if I had been Xs and Ys, I would have made draft pick swap part of the deal since DFW had a serious need for a RB (I turned down trading Jamaal Charles for A.J. Green) and McCoy was selected several spots ahead of Jones.
*-DraftCalc had traded away the last pick of this round in a prior deal with Fantasy Knuckleheads. But Smitty also made a trade with FantasyIndex to get back into this round and acquired the 5th pick of round 6 along with the 5th pick of round 20 in exchange for the 12th pick of round 8 and the first pick of round 9. His selection of Josh Gordon disappointed me as I was really kind of hoping Gordon would fall another round or two as he has great dynasty upside.
RB's and WR's continue to dominate until near the end of round 4
Continuing to update you on the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert's League draft, we have blown thru rounds 3 and 4 now. It's always easy to make selections in the first couple of rounds as the highest quality players are easily identified. But starting in round 3, that's usually where you start to see the vast differences in how each expert ranks players and how they are going about putting together their teams.
If you haven't been following you ca the results from the first two rounds:
We had our first trade in round 3. Smitty at DraftCalc traded back into round 3 for a second pick. He acquired the 5th pick of the round and the 8th pick of round 20 from Ray at Fantasy Knuckleheads for the 12th pick of round 6 and the 1st pick of round 7.
Here is how round 3 shaped up:
1) RB Lamar Miller (DraftCalc; comment: "Can't pass up this Monster breakout of ours! We could be looking at a top 5-10RB season out of Miller this year!")
2) TE Aaron Hernandez (FootballGuys; comment: "Hernandez is going to be a fixture of the Belichick offense for years to come. He is a tight end in a wide receiver's body that is perfect for New England's offense. There's not a lot of high end tight ends and Hernandez fits that role - plus he still has youth on his side. It's good to have position dominance in dynasty leagues. I'll have a good weapon for my tight end for years to come.")
3) WR Larry Fitzgerald (Bruno Boys)
4) RB Matt Forte (RotoProfessor)
5) WR Victor Cruz (DraftCalc; comment: "An undervalued low-end WR1.")
6) RB Stevan Ridley (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Young, no health concerns and he's carrying the mail for a prolific offense. Should get lots of goal line looks. One of the safer bets at a scary position.")
7) WR Andre Johnson (Wild Thing Football)
8) QB Cam Newton (FantasyIndex; comment: "Quite happy to have Cam Newton, fake smile and all, leading my team for the foreseeable future.")
9) RB Le'Veon Bell (DrFootball; comment: "most upside w/o injury risk")
10) WR Hakeem Nicks (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
11) RB Eddie Lacy (Fantasy Taz)
12) RB Reggie Bush (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "Bush has been a top 15 ppr fantasy RB the last 2 seasons in Miami. Last year in Detroit, the trio of Joique Bell, Mikel Leshoure, and Kevin Smith caught 96 passes. No reason to think that Bush won't catch 60+ this season in the motor city.")
My observations from round 3:
*-Again, Smitty at DraftCalc isn't afraid of making the bold move. There's a lot of hype surrounding Lamar Miller and while he is easily the top RB in Miami, he needs to prove he can handle a full load. Explosive potential though.
*-If Carson Palmer stays upright in Arizona, Bruno Boys getting Larry Fitzgerald in round 3 will prove to be a steal.
*-Gutsy move by FantasyIndex making Cam Newton the second QB selected. If Newton develops more consistency as a passer, this could be a brilliant pick. His production the last half of 2012 was stellar as he went from being a fantasy bust the first 8 games to finishing as a top 5 fantasy QB. However I rated 4 other available QB's higher than Newton as I am concerned about his being able to take the step up to consistently producing.
*-Fantasy Taz snatched Eddie Lacy right before my pick. I was really hoping to get Lacy as I am not concerned about his toe or attitude and do believe he'll be a top 10 fantasy RB for the next several years. Luckily for me, 2 of the 3 RB's I had pegged for my back to back picks were still available. They're just not young like Lacy with many years left.
1) RB Steven Jackson (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "I knew the run on the remaining good RB's was going to happen before my turn came around again in round 5 so I had to get 2 more here. I wanted Lacy but am more than happy to get Jackson. While he lacks long term appeal, I think he has at least one great season left in him, and possibly more than one as the Falcons new featured RB.")
2) RB Darren McFadden (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Michael Crabtree (Dynasty Football Warehouse)
4) WR Roddy White (DrFootball; comment: "Couldn't pass him up")
5) RB DeMarco Murray (FantasyIndex; comment: "Uh, not a Cowboys fan. But since I considered Murray last pick, I am pleased to get him here. If he can stay healthy, he will be a nice back to have over the next several seasons")
6) RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Wild Thing Football)
7) RB Darren Sproles (Xs & Ys Podcast; comment: "Not a sexy pick from the dynasty perspective, but Sproles can still be a PPR powerhouse in the short term.")
8) QB Peyton Manning (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) RB Giovani Bernard (RotoProfessor)
10) WR Vincent Jackson (Bruno Boys; comment: "Too good to pass up at No. 46 overall")
11) QB Andrew Luck (FootballGuys; comment: "Very pleased to find Andrew Luck waiting for me at 4.11. I see Luck and Cam Newton as the premier young quarterback talents to target in dynasty leagues. When the QB run comes in the late 4th, early 5th, be prepared. I am thankful that I was on the early side of the run and was able to pick the quarterback I coveted.")
12) QB Robert Griffin III (DraftCalc)
My observations from round 4:
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse drafted WR's in each of the first 4 rounds. I know we start 3 and can flex another but sooner or later he's going to need to go for another position. However, I can say that he landed one of my favorite breakout WR's in 2013 in Michael Crabtree here. He now has 3 of my top 10 fantasy WR's for 2013.
*-Was a little surprised that Peyton Manning was the 3rd QB selected in this draft since it is a dynasty league, but can't argue too much about it as he was back with the elite in 2012 and should be even better in 2013. Fantasy Knuckleheads is going for the sure thing with few years left over high upside young guys. That's always one of the conundrums when drafting in dynasty leagues.
*-Really liked the Giovani Bernard pick as I think he'll catch 40-50 passes this season and split rushing duties with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Then in 2014, I expect Bernard will be the 3 down starter for the Bengals.
*-I tried trading back into the last half of this round as I knew the QB run was going to happen near the turn and I was right. But I couldn't get a deal done. Failing that I resign myself to knowing that while I'm not going to get the young guy I really want by the time I get to pick again at the end of round 5, I think likely that I will still get a high quality QB at that spot, it is just a matter of which one?
Some surprise picks; 1st QB taken
Round 2 of the DraftCalc Classic Dynasty Expert League draft is in the books and we saw the first rookie taken. Yesterday I posted the round 1 results, and here are the selections in round 2 (note: we are a serpentine style draft so the order goes 1-12, 12-1 but we also allow the trading of picks; none happened this early though):
Round 2 (in order, with comments if the expert left any)
1) WR Brandon Marshall (Fantasy Football Starters; comment: "A ppr machine and in Trestman's offense should be amongst the top producers again. And right in the prime of his career")
2) TE Rob Gronkowski (Fantasy Taz)
3) WR Julio Jones (Dynasty Football Warehouse; comment: "Can't pass up the opportunity to have both AJ Green and Julio Jones")
4) WR DeMaryius Thomas (DrFootball)
5) WR Dez Bryant (FantasyIndex; comment: "Had I taken Megatron earlier, as I considered, I'd have gone with Lynch here. Not sure which combo would have been better. We'll see.")
6) RB Marshawn Lynch (Wild Thing Football)
7) WR Percy Harvin (Xs & Ys Podcast)
8) RB Montee Ball (Fantasy Knuckleheads)
9) WR Randall Cobb (RotoProfessor)
10) RB David Wilson (Bruno Boys)
11) RB Chris Johnson (FootballGuys; comment: "I am surprised and pleased to have Chris Johnson fall to me at 2.11. I like what the Titans did with their offensive line woes, collecting Andy Levitre at LG and Chance Warmack at RG. The duo definitely bolsters the line, which benefits Johnson and his ability to slash through open holes on his way to daylight. I hope he sees a lot of daylight as a result of the improved OL. Johnson is a workhorse back who has dropped in value recently, mostly due to the offensive line's inability to spring him free. Even among the down times, Johnson has never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in his career.")
12) QB Aaron Rodgers (DraftCalc; comment: "It's hard to not like having arguably the top RB and QB heading into 2013. Rodgers is a steal at 2.12.")
My observations from round 2:
*-It was either Marshall or Dez Bryant for my pick at the top of the round. While I love the upside of Bryant for a longer period of time (Bryant is 24 years old while Marshall is 29), I also had just enough reservations about his thumb injury to make me go with the safer pick in ppr monster Marshall. Julio Jones and DeMaryius Thomas were also considerations, but there are a lot of hands to feed in Denver now with the Wes Welker acquisition and Jones still has a couple of seasons of Roddy White to contend with for passes.
*-It's obvious that Jim at Fantasy Taz is planning on using a TE in his weekly flex spot after taking Jimmy Graham in round 1 and Rob Gronkowski in round 2. Gronkowski has produced obscene numbers the last two seasons but his inability to shake off infections from his arm injury is a big concern in my opinion.
*-Dynasty Football Warehouse could have 2 of the top 5 ppr fantasy WR's for the next decade in A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
*-The first rookie came off the board when Fantasy Knuckleheads took Denver RB Montee Ball. Despite John Fox's historical reluctance to rely heavily on his rookies, Ball should have no trouble in establishing himself as a 3 down featured RB for the Broncos. Having Peyton Manning is a real plus for his fantasy upside.
*-A little surprised it took until the last pick of the second round for the first QB to be selected. No surprise at all though it was Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers will remain amongst the elite fantasy QB's for the next 5-8 years ensuring Smitty positional stability there.