Tag:Fantasy Football
Posted on: September 23, 2008 9:17 am
 

LT running in slo-mo because of sore toe?

I got a good look at LaDainian Tomlinson running the ball last night against the Jets, and I didn't like what I saw.

I don't know if his toe is the problem, or if his age is the problem, but Tomlinson simply isn't the same back we've come to lean on in Fantasy Football. In fact, I'm not even sure if he's a No. 1 Fantasy RB anymore.

What I am about to say is going to make you groan and cringe: Last night, Tomlinson reminded me of Shaun Alexander, circa 2007.

Ugh, I feel dirty just TYPING that.

I'm a big fan of Tomlinson, especially since he's such a big part of Fantasy Football. Like all the other big name offensive NFL players, someone in every single league relies on LT each week, so it's in everyone's best interests that he plays well.

But in Week 3, with the national spotlight on him, Tomlinson's electric moves and trademark acceleration were replaced by a seemingly magnetic draw to Jets defenders on every single carry he had. Shaun Alexander and Cedric Benson were two rushers who had that last year, and they're both out of the league now. It's not surprising at all that Tomlinson's longest run of the game -- on 26 carries -- was five yards. The two touchdowns were both short-yardage jobbers where all he had to do was dive. It was painful to watch.

Worse yet, there were times when San Diego ran the ball, and I did see that trademark speed. "Oh, there he is," I thought. But every single time, it was Darren Sproles.

After the game, Tomlinson pinned his shaky yardage on his sprained right big toe.

"Today was going to be one of those physical running days," Tomlinson said. "Making one cut and going straight ahead is not a problem for me."

He added that he was happy with how his toe felt after the game.

"I think I'm pretty close. If my toe feels like it does now, I think I'll practice for the full week this week," he said.

So the bottom line is that Tomlinson feels his toe is holding him back. For now, we have no choice but to take his word for it. And for the sake of the millions of people who start Tomlinson in their Fantasy leagues week in and week out, I hope he's right.
Posted on: August 30, 2008 10:37 am
 

Fantasy impact of losing OT Bryant McKinnie

The NFL has suspended OT Bryant McKinnie four games. What does this mean for Adrian Peterson?

Surprisingly, not as much as it will mean to Tarvaris Jackson (or whomever is starting at QB for Minnesota).

Let's drill deeper ...

McKinnie's suspension is for four games for violating the Personal Conduct Policy. I'm a huge fan of McKinnie, a fellow Hurricane and someone who used to talk to him on a weekly basis back when he was going through the draft process, and I think he's a solid left tackle and a big reason why the Vikings' run game is so good.

But his absence will make an impact. Artis Hicks, a seven-year veteran, will start in his place.

WEEK 1: Minnesota at Green Bay. Hicks will go head-up with Packers DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on passing downs and Cullen Jenkins on running downs. This matchup isn't as fearsome as you might think as KGB has taken a step back and is actually hurt right now. Jenkins is a versatile big boy but he shouldn't overmatch Hicks.

WEEK 2: Indianapolis at Minnesota. Hicks will take on Dwight Freeney. Oof. Freeney is well rested after missing a chunk of last year with an injury. Even though he'll be at home, I don't think he'll do very well against the speed and quickness Freeney utilizes.

WEEK 3: Carolina at Minnesota. Hicks draws Julius Peppers as his opponent. Double Oof. Peppers has been a house of fire this preseason, something new from him. Obviously, he realizes his 2007 season was a huge bust and if he's going to cash in on his contract year, he needs to play inspired ball. I don't like Hicks' chances here, either.

WEEK 4: Minnesota at Tennessee. Assuming Hicks isn't benched by now, his opponent here is Kyle Vanden Bosch, who is a powerful bull rusher who not only can get to the quarterback, but also stop the run. To be honest, this is the only matchup I'd be a little nervous about Adrian Peterson not performing well in.

Ultimately, I think Jackson will see much more pressure in the pocket than Peterson will have against the run. Peterson remains a top-five Fantasy pick, but I might go elsewhere for a backup QB.
Posted on: August 21, 2008 4:39 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2008 4:41 pm
 

Fantasy Huddle: DeSean Jackson


Since Terrell Owens left Philadelphia in a huff in 2005, the Eagles have been desperate for a game-breaking receiver. Spurned in their effort to sign Randy Moss away from the Patriots this offseason, the club spent a second-round pick on DeSean Jackson. While it appeared at the time that the Eagles were adding another short, speedy receiver to their corps of wideouts, we now know that they picked someone who can attract quite a crowd.

And now with Kevin Curtis sidelined with a sports hernia for the start of the regular season, Jackson is cruising to a starting job.

Aside from a hamstring strain that kept him off the field at the start of training camp, Jackson has been lights-out with the Eagles. He's displayed his break-neck speed in practice and learned from a good mentor that studying the playbook is the most important thing he can do. It's paid off: Jackson is leading the team in receptions this preseason with 122 yards on a dozen catches.

In his most recent preseason game vs. the Panthers, Jackson started and saw time with the first- and second-team offense (thanks to teammate Reggie Brown leaving early with a hamstring injury). His seven-catch, 71-yard performance was impressive. So were the 14 passes he was targeted for, including a deep lob down the left sideline where Jackson had his man beat by a yard but couldn't catch up to Donovan McNabb's pass. By the start of the regular season, that will be fixed.

Jackson spoke after the game and talked about how he developed into a reliable offensive threat so early on in the preseason, who he's modeled his game after, and much more about his spot with the Eagles.

You saw a lot of reps against the Panthers, playing with the first- and second-team offense. Did you know coming in that you'd see so much playing time?

Jackson:
"I did. It was great."

What feeling do you have when you're asked to contribute so much right away?

Jackson:
"It's great. There can't be no better feeling than to be in this offense with Donovan, Westbrook and all of the receivers. I'm just going to keep doing my work and every practice, every game, I'll just do the best I can."

Does it surprise you that you were thrown at 14 times?

Jackson:
"I'm not surprised. They've been giving me a lot of balls in practice. I'm just happy, but I'm a young rookie in the NFL and I've got a lot of work to keep doing."

You're listed at 5-foot-10, and I imagine that you've had to defend your size at every level you've played at.

Jackson:
"I can't worry about my size. It is what it is, and that's what you get. You have got to go out there and play football and have fun."

Would you say you play beyond your size because of your great vertical and the way you play?

Jackson:
"I feel like I do. I feel like I don't play nothing like my size. I can catch the ball across the middle, I can do whatever I need to get open and help this team."

Is there someone in the pros now who you feel like you've modeled your game after?

Jackson:
"Steve Smith. I watched him when I was younger. I've always liked his after-the-catch ability and what he's able to bring to the football field, scoring deep touchdowns and being very quick and versatile."

It's well documented that you've worked on your game with Jerry Rice. What are some things that he may have taught you that you've run into in these first few games?

Jackson:
"The biggest thing Jerry taught me was to work hard, understand the playbook, put in the extra work and just do the little things to get better to stay in this league for a long time. The biggest thing for him was, he was in the league for 17 or 18 years, and every year he worked like it was his first year. Nothing changed, he kept doing the hard work. So I'm just trying to do that."

Did he teach you anything about the West Coast offense?

Jackson:
"No. He's out of the game now and he doesn't really know this offense (compared to the version he was in). Coach Marty (Mornhinweg) used to coach him, and so there's a little similarity. Like I said, the biggest thing he taught me was to stick my head in that playbook."

What's the hardest part about learning this offense?

Jackson:
"There's just a lot of plays. That's the hardest thing. Once you feel like you've got the offense, there are more things that come in there that you're like 'Whoa.' That's the biggest thing."




Category: NFL
Posted on: August 21, 2008 1:36 pm
 

Latest rankings updated

Lots of changes following our most recent rankings and projections movement. The projections have been updated; here are the highlights from the rankings:

QUARTERBACK

Carson Palmer and Derek Anderson flip flop. Palmer's receiving corps gets better with Chris Henry coming aboard while Derek Anderson's sour play this preseason knocks him down a step. Both are still No. 1 Fantasy QBs, but they obviously have more questions surrounding them than you'd like with your starting passer.

Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck take a dip; Eli Manning benefits. The Eagles lost WR Kevin Curtis, which will undoubtedly hurt McNabb's early-season stats. Marc Bulger's early departure against the Chargers is construed as what's to come for him thanks to a subpar offensive line. Matt Hasselbeck's back is in worse shape than his receiving corps. All this while Eli Manning has played moderately well without Plaxico Burress this offseason, and his receiving crew is awfully deep.

Jon Kitna, Matt Schaub inch up. Based on the strength of their preseason play (especially Kitna's).

RUNNING BACK

Backups on the rise. Just making an adjustment on Maurice Morris, Derrick Ward and Fred Jackson. All three are expected to see some sort of playing time in Fantasy circles this season and should be drafted.

WIDE RECEIVER

Bengals on the move. Chad Johnson slid past Wes Welker and could slide further depending on the severity of his shoulder injury. We thought nothing of it until they added Chris Henry. Now there's talk he might miss some time. Henry debuts at 58th among WRs, by the way.

One Lion jumps another. Calvin Johnson is flying up draft boards, so we took another look at him and his teammate, Roy Williams. Citing Kitna's tendency to chuck it at Johnson every time he's in single coverage, he's got a shot to put up better numbers than Williams, who should still do well as he's in a contract year. Johnson is 15th, Williams is 16th, and I think even Williams -- a Fantasy buff like you and me -- wouldn't argue for long about that one. Jon Kitna's looking really nice right about now.

Kevin Curtis stumbles, fumbles and crashes. A sports hernia surgery, which is scheduled for Thursday, by the way, is serious stuff, especially for a receiver who relies on speed. Our guess is that he will miss the first three weeks of the season. If that happens, then he'll be away from Fantasy owners for four of the first seven weeks of the season. Not a lot of value left there, especially considering his inconsistent production. DeSean Jackson should get the first chance to step up and be a factor in Philly's passing game. It looks like he's got a solid knowledge of the offense already. Reggie Brown is still saddled low. Anyone else wondering why McNabb's stock is tumbling?

Bears WRs down, Eddie Royal up. Royal is catching on strong with the Broncos and should start the season with the first-team offense. Meanwhile, Kyle Orton's arm isn't so good for Marty Booker and Devin Hester. The deep game is better with Grossman, believe it or not.

TIGHT END

Ben Utecht down. Chris Henry will take some catches off of his plate.

Agree with these changes? Disagree with these changes? Sound off on the message board below. I'll check out the responses and jump in the conversation.
Posted on: August 8, 2008 3:27 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2008 3:28 pm
 

Fantasy Huddle: Brandon Jacobs

After the Giants-Lions preseason game, I had the chance to talk with Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, who had no yards on his first carry, and 27 yards on his second in one series of work.

In person, Jacobs is a walking brick wall. Linebackers aren't as huge as him. But because he's so big, he gets hurt a lot. As Giants GM Jerry Reese told me, "(Jacobs) takes a lot of shots because he's got a lot of mass to hit."

Anyway, it's nothing earth-shattering, but here's our conversation.

First and foremost, how is your body doing?

Jacobs:
"I feel pretty good. I didn't play that much or get hit that much. I just had the chance to get out and run in the open field. I got to see what I was working with. Everything will be fine. I think we'll come together as a unit, work in all this stuff and we're going to figure out what kind of a team we are."

What are your expectations for work during the regular season?

Jacobs:
"I have no idea, and it doesn't even matter. Just as long as every time I'm out there, I'm productive."

Is the contract in the back of your mind at all?

Jacobs:
"No, I'm done with that. There's nothing I can do about that situation, so I'm just going to go out there and compete."

So it's easier to just forget about it rather than try to resolve the problem quickly?

Jacobs:
"Well when you're talking about money like that, it's never easy to forget about it. But I won't let it interrupt my performance."

During the game, I saw that you lined up wide and ran a short in pattern. Eli Manning had you in his sights but the ball got tipped. Is this something new for you this season?

Jacobs:
"No, I do it. I like it because it's just another way to get out there and make a play. I know I can catch just as well as I run."

What's your assessment of the Lions defense?

Jacobs:
"I think they're going to be pretty solid. They were missing a few people, but they have a lot of speed over there. It's a preseason game, you can't really find out what's going on, but I think they'll be pretty good."

Finally, what are your goals for the upcoming season?

Jacobs:
"I've got some, but I'm keeping them to myself. They're big. Real big."
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 1, 2008 3:52 pm
 

The latest on Brandon Marshall

Through an e-mail exchange with NFL Vice President of Public Relations Greg Aiello Friday, CBSSports.com has learned that the NFL will not take action this week on Broncos WR Brandon Marshall's violations this offseason of the personal conduct policy.

Aiello wrote "expect something soon, perhaps next week."

Marshall has had a laundry list of off-the-field issues this offseason, including DUI and domestic violence charges. That's in addition to Marshall seriously injuring his right arm in a horseplay accident in late March.

Marshall is working at training camp to get into football shape and has passed muster with his coaches. "He hasn't skipped a beat," head coach Mike Shanahan said earlier this offseason.
Posted on: July 30, 2008 1:44 pm
 

Our latest rankings changes

Here's a look at the changes to our positional and top 200 rankings. Please comment below if you agree or disagree with them.

QUARTERBACKS

Only noticeable move is Rex Grossman jumping up to 27th, ahead of Brodie Croyle and the rest of the garbage No. 3 Fantasy QBs. I am sure this rattles your world. Grossman moved up because of a bump in projections for Devin Hester (more on that in a bit).

RUNNING BACKS

Between LaMont Jordan signing with the Patriots and the Seahawks being coy about how and when they'll use their running backs, we had a shakeup among the 16th and 19th overall running backs. Brandon Jacobs moves up by default, and could rise some more since it looks like he'll play out his contract this year, a move that should motivate him to play big often. Laurence Maroney is next, and with Jordan signing it's pretty clear that he's not going to be the only useful running back in New England. Starter? Of course. 15 touches per week? You never know with the Pats, but if any RB is going to get 'em, it's Maroney. Goal-line work? I think Jordan can lay claim to that now, at least until it starts snowing, and even then ...

Julius Jones falls in next. He should still be a nice total yardage producer but the touchdowns will be iffy. I'd like to see him outshine Maurice Morris this preseason, and I'm sure the coaches in Seattle hope for it too. Makes their decision on who to play easier. Rudi Johnson rounds out this foursome, though we're developing some ideas for what he might be able to rebound to after being hurt last year.

The next significant movement was sliding Deuce McAllister out of the Top 40. OK fine, he had his knee drained and a negative MRI, but it's pretty obvious that he'll be an injury risk all season long. Healthier alternatives for RBs capable of 800 yards and 5-to-7 TDs will go before him. Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas also enjoyed positive movements in these rankings.

Lorenzo Booker also made the Top 50. News out of Philadelphia suggests that he's fitting in exceptionally well with the Eagles' offense and could see playing time with Brian Westbrook. If that happens, that could mean another 100-200 yards to Donovan McNabb's bottom line since he'll just throw dumpoffs to him and Westy all day. I like Booker as a solid late pick in drafts.

Kevin Jones is sliding and could slide off the list depending on what his status is come the end of the preseason. More and more, it's looking like Chicago signed him to boost the running game after Week 6, when he can come off the PUP list. Jones tore his ACL late last year and is still in the process of rehabbing it.

Other tiny moves: Matt Forte ahead of Fred Taylor, and Chris Johnson ahead of Jerious Norwood. We're going to end the preseason with Johnson as the trendiest mid-round sleeper pick thanks to his unrivaled speed and tremendous versatility. He might end up playing three downs for the Titans and being a boon for Vince Young.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Isaac Bruce and Arnaz Battle are up while Bryant Johnson is down, this after learning that Johnson is still taking second-team reps. The Niners may opt to lead with a three-WR set in 2008, which would mean plenty of playing time for Johnson, but the fact that he can't unseat Bruce or Battle makes us hesitate on him.

Devin Hester's new $30 million deal suggests that the Bears are going to plug him in at wide receiver for much of the season. I'm not sure if he can hold up to the physical nature of the position, much less the nuances and playbook recall required for the position, but his offensive stats should be much improved from last year. He'll be drafted in most leagues late.
Category: NFL
Posted on: July 25, 2008 9:33 am
 

Sophomore slump for Adrian Peterson?

Thought I'd pop open the ol' Inbox this morning and see if we had any interesting emails. Indeed we did.

From Ken Z.: Dave, In years past, several FF analysts have mentioned the sophomore slump of several RBs. Adrian Peterson is in his second year, yet I have not heard anyone mention a possible down year for him. Does everyone think AD is simply just that good and he won't have a down year? I think AD is going to be the biggest first round bust. Thoughts?

I did a lot of research this offseason, but one item I didn't get to was this one. Let's take a look at the running backs who were Rookies of the Year and how they did in their second season (keeping in mind that their first season was obviously amazing, otherwise they wouldn't have won the award):

1993 ROY: Jerome Bettis
1994 season: 1,025 on 319 carries (3.2 avg.) with 3 TDs; 293 receiving yards and a receiving TD, a slight improvement over his rookie year.
Sophomore Slump? Yes.

1994 ROY: Marshall Faulk
1995 season: 1,078 yards on 289 carries (3.7 avg.) with 11 TDs; 475 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs much improved from rookie season
Sophomore Slump? Nope.

1995 ROY: Curtis Martin
1996 season: 1,152 yards on 316 carries (3.6 avg.) with 14 TDs; 333 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs, also an improvement
Sophomore Slump? Nope.

1996 ROY: Eddie George
1997 season: 1,399 yards on 357 carries (3.9 avg.) with 6 TDs; only 44 receiving yards, but with a touchdown
Sophomore Slump? It's borderline, but statistically speaking, yes.

1997 ROY: Warrick Dunn
1998 season: 1,026 yards on 245 carries (4.2 avg.) with 2 TDs; 344 yards receiving but with no touchdowns
Sophomore Slump? Yes, but again that's statistically speaking.

1999 ROY: Edgerrin James
2000 season: 1,709 yards on 387 carries (4.4 avg.) with 13 TDs; 594 receiving yards and 5 TDs through the air.
Sophomore Slump? No way. In fact, James is the only RB on this list so far whose rushing average INCREASED in his second year.

2000 ROY: Mike Anderson
2001 season: 678 yards on 175 carries (3.9 avg.) with just 7 starts. Oh, he also had 4 TDs; he had 15 in his rookie year.
Sophomore Slump? Oh yeah.

2001 ROY: Anthony Thomas
2002 season: 721 yards on 214 carries (3.4 avg.) with 6 TDs and four games missed. Receiving stats were minimal.
Sophomore Slump? Yessir.

2002 ROY: Clinton Portis
2003 season: 1,591 yards on 290 carries (5.5 avg.) with 14 TDs and 314 receiving yards. Matched his average from his rookie year.
Sophomore Slump? No way.

2005 ROY: Cadillac Williams
2006 season: 798 yards on 225 carries (3.5 avg.) with 1 TD. He added 196 receiving yards.
Sophomore Slump? Yes.

2007 ROY: Adrian Peterson
2008 season: ?????


The thing to note is that other than Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis, every single ROY RB listed above had a worse yards-per-carry average in his sophomore year than his rookie year. Six of them failed to average even 4.0 yards per carry.

That said, keep in mind that Peterson averaged 5.6 yards per carry as a rookie, and that was on 238 reps. We expect him to top that 238 carry total, which will likely mean a drop in his yards per carry average anyway.

The other thing to remember is that the history of other running backs on other teams in other years has no bearing on Peterson's 2008. The Vikings' offensive line is one of the best in football, and the gameplan they run tends to focus more on rushing than passing. Even though Peterson will lose some carries to Chester Taylor, he's still expected to produce high numbers.

We don't foresee a sophomore slump for Peterson. We like him between third and fifth overall in drafts this summer.
Category: NFL
 
 
 
 
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