- The Bills claim that C.J. Spiller should get 20 touches a game. Stop me if you’ve heard that before. With the addition of Bryce Brown thanks for a trade involving a 4th round pick, it’s hard to imagine Brown not seeing some playing time.
- Temper your Chris Johnson expectations as New York is widely assumed to use a committee approach. Johnson will never approach workhorse status again but could be a decent pickup in PPR leagues.
- Get your final bids in for either Patriots receiver Josh Boyce or Kenbrell Thompkins. They’re battling for the last receiver spot in New England.
- Stop me if you heard this before but receiver Kenbrell Thompkins is looking good in Patriots camp. Any receiver in New England will be a risk thanks to the crowd they’ve accumulated.
- Raiders receiver Andre Holmes is also looking good in camp. He has far less competition in Oakland and could be a starter sooner rather than later. However, he doesn’t exactly have a quarterback that’s shown to be reliable for 2014.
- Expect the Ravens to tone down the passing and become a more run-based offense under new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. This is great news for Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice owners.
- Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will have ankle surgery but should be ready for training camp. If there was ever a time to buy-low on Newton, it’s now.
- Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins officially signed with Cleveland where he’ll be the new slot receiver. Between his signing, and the arrival of Ben Tate, the Browns offense is shaping up to be a very supportive cast for whoever ends up as the quarterback in 2014 and beyond.
- The Giants signed receiver Mario Manningham, who will be no better than fourth on the depth chart.
- Now that the Patriots have re-signed Julian Edelman and added Brandon LaFell, the fifth spot on the depth chart will be between Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce. Both had some dynasty appeal heading in to last year but it turned out to be inflated. Neither are expected to hit it big this year.
- The Ravens signed recently cut receiver Steve Smith over the weekend. It should be a non-impact move as Smith’s value in dynasty had sharply decreased and isn’t expected to increase in Baltimore. It’s also not expected to affect Torrey Smith or Dennis Pitta’s value.
- At the opposite end of the impact spectrum, Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Broncos. His value should be at an all-time high heading in to 2014.
- The Patriots signed receiver Brandon LaFell to a short-term deal. He’s expected to compete with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins for catches. You shouldn’t expect much from LaFell in dynasty.
- Speaking of Patriots receivers, they re-signed Julian Edelman. Edelman’s dynasty value wouldn’t be higher anywhere else and he should continue to be a WR2/3.
- In free agent running back news, the Browns signed Ben Tate who will be penciled in as the starter heading in to 2014. Tate only signed a two-year deal so he has limited time to prove his worth.
- In non-free agency news, Arian Foster has been medically cleared by his doctors after a season-ending back injury. He could be a decent buy-low candidate to pick off from those scared off by Foster’s injury history. You shouldn’t rely on him as your RB1 in dynasty but would make an excellent RB2.
- Seahawks tight end Zach Miller re-worked his contract to stay with the team. Luke Willson dynasty owners might have to wait a little longer to cash in on the dynasty hold.
- Patriots rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins is quickly becoming Tom Brady’s favorite target not named Gronkowski. Thompkins still is learning, which is evident when you consider Thompkins had 11 targets but only six catches. But he offers the most ability for Tom Brady and is the receiver to own in dynasty circles.
- With Stevan Jackson still out, the Falcons continue to split running back duties, giving Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling equal billing. Whoever wins the battle to the death is the backup to own in Atlanta as Stevan Jackson, as we’ve seen, might be breaking down more and more.
- Patriots running back Stevan Ridley continues to be downplayed by Bill Belichick. At this point last year he had 74 carries. This year? 47. Something is up but until Ridley has a breakout game, He’s a risk. Of course, his value has also taken a dive so he’s a good hold candidate at the moment.
- The Patriot rookie receivers came alive with Aaron Dobson being targeted a team-high 10 times and pulling in seven while Kenbrell Thompkins caught the first two touchdowns of his career. Kudos to those that bought low or held on.
- Meanwhile, running back LaGarrette Blount ended up leading the Patriots in rushes with 14 over Stevan Ridley‘s 11. It could be due to the blowout win but Ridley’s opportunities and performance have been up and down this year. Hopefully it stabilizes before dynasty fantasy owners are forced to look somewhere else.
- Tom Brady continues to jell with the rookie receivers mentioned above and with Rob Gronkowski expected back any week now, now might be the time to buy on Brady.
- On the other side of the field, Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin had another pedestrian day. Martin is also an excellent buy low candidate.
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got dinged up yesterday but is expected to play in the next pre-season game. All Brady fantasy owners (myself, included) can relax. For now.
- Chargers rookie Keenan Allen is back at practice getting treatment on the same knee that knocked him out of his college career.
- Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be able to audible at the line more this season. The hope is Romo won’t be forced to play in as many disadvantageous situations as before.
- Seattle receiver Golden Tate is getting high praise in Seattle camp. He’s pairing is athleticism with more crisp route-running, With Percy Harvin out indefinitely, this is a ‘golden’ opportunity for Tate. Pun INTENDED.
- Rookies Zach Sudfeld, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Aaron Dobson continue to impress in Pats camp. So much so that they cut Michael Jenkins. All three went in the first two rounds of our rookie mock draft.
- Johnathan Franklin hasn’t shown it yet. Yikes.
- Redskins coach Mike Shanahan praised Alfred Morris’ receiving. Any improvement to his 11 receptions last year will be a bonus.
Go get ’em.
The time is (almost) here. Your dynasty fantasy football draft. Where you can finally put all your Madden Franchise mode skills to use. Unlike re-drafts, where the choices are obvious, you’re playing GM to your very own franchise. You have to take into account need, potential, opportunity and, most of all, skill. Let’s see who DFFC would take in an IDP, 12-team PPR league:
Round 1, Pick 1 – RB-Le’Veon Bell (PIT) – After finishing 26th in rushing, Pittsburgh needed an injection of talent in the running game. After long-time incumbent Rashard Mendenhall moved on Pittsburgh determined that holdovers Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are not suited for the top spot. Enter Bell. At 6′ 1″ and 230 pounds, the Michigan State product can be a punishing runner. Pittsburgh is also implementing a zone-blocking scheme along the lines of Mike Shanahan’s offenses in Denver and now Washington that will allow Bell to see the holes created by his lineman and strike where convenient. Bell is already penciled in as the starter and has a chance to become the rare rookie that contributes both now and later.
Round 1, Pick 2 – RB-Eddie Lacy (GB) – The Bruiser from ‘Bama was thought to be the top running back in the NFL draft but fell to 61 and Green Bay. With little (to no) competition, Lacy has been able to establish his starter status after some impressive practices. Becoming what New Orleans had hoped for fellow ‘Bama running back Mark Ingram appears to be the goal – someone who can convert the 3rd and 1, 1st and Goal, etc. However, there are some real concerns with Lacy’s long-term health which caused several teams to refrain from taking him in the NFL draft. Lacy’s doctors insist he’ll be ok but it’s still something to watch. If healthy, Lacy will be a fine compliment to the passing attack of Aaron Rodgers and co. He, like Bell, has a chance to be a contributor very early in his career.
Round 1, Pick 3 – RB-Giovani Bernard (CIN) – The first running back taken in the draft, Bernard is probably the most explosive. He’s being compared to Ray Rice thanks to his short stature but big build and versatility. He’s so versatile the Bengals even have him lining out wide. Skill-wise he’s set but it’s all about opportunity. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was signed in 2012 to a three-year contract. He could aways be cut earlier but chances are they’ll let his contact run out after 2014 and block Bernard’s path to an everyday role. The hope is Green-Ellis falls flat and they turn the ball over to Bernard sooner than expected. At the moment, he’s a RB3, at best, but could be up to RB1 by the end of the season.
Round 1, Pick 4 – RB-Montee Ball (DEN) – Drafted in the second round out of Wisconsin, Ball was probably the most experienced of the running back class after almost 1,000 attempts in college. He entered a high-powered offense but a crowded backfield. Knowshon Moreno has had four years to show he’s not the long-term answer but Denver will still use him sparingly. It’s Ronnie Hillman that’s blocking Ball’s path to fantasy greatness. Hillman was drafted in the 3rd round of last year’s draft and has ‘earned’ the starting spot. He’s currently the 1A to Ball’s 1B which sounds eerily familiar to Coach John Fox’s last team where the Panthers refused to favor one of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Fantasy owners don’t need to be reminded of that hot mess. It’s ok to draft Ball but don’t expect a workhorse role for at least a year.
Round 1, Pick 5 – WR – DeAndre Hopkins – In the first upset of the first round, I have Houston first round pick DeAndre Hopkins as the first receiver off the board. At 6′ 1″ and 214 pounds, Hopkins fits the mold more as a long-term receiver than Tavon Austin. Drafted by Houston, he was the immediate favorite for the ‘Z’ position and has not disappointed. He had a fantastic week of camp, including a 40-yard bomb, and has already established the trust of the coaching staff. There is no one to challenge him as the heir apparent and he’ll get the benefit of learning from one of the best (very Terrell Owens-esque). He’s already slated for at least 50 catches his rookie year with that number sure to grow. Grab him early, grab him often.
Round 1, Pick 6 – TE-Tyler Eifert (CIN) – With more NFL offenses utilizing their tight ends as receivers, expect more rookie tight ends to be drafted higher. Tyler Eifert, drafted in the first round in 2013 is first up. Even though Cincinnati had an established tight end, and not necessarily a bad one, they still opted to draft the Notre Dame product. He’s lining up wide and catching passes in traffic which is music to dynasty fantasy owners ears. And with the likes of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski going in the first or second rounds of drafts, Eifert could be right up there with them and soon. There’s no doubt that tight end is the position with the most disparity between first and worst. If you can grab a difference maker, you take him. Eifert could be that.
Round 1, Pick 7 – WR-Kenbrell Thompkins (NE) – Who? Exactly. Thompkins went undrafted this year and only earned a spot because of the massive upheaval in New England’s receiving corps. But boy is he making it count. Not only is a vertical threat but has shown signs of being a possession receiver as well. Of course, it always helps when you’re on the same page as Tom Brady. Brady threw the ball 637 times last year and with four of his top five receivers gone, the competition for targets is wide open. Thompkins has been the most impressive so far. Impress your friends and take him.
Round 1, Pick 8 – RB-Christine Michael (SEA) – Michael’s the first player off the board not walking into an obviously advantageous position but he could be thrown into one soon. Michael was a first round talent but fell to the second due to off-field issues. His tough, explosive running style is an ideal fit in Seattle and not that much different from incumbent Marshawn Lynch. But Lynch has his own off-field issues to deal with which could propel Michael to the starting lineup. Current backup Robert Turbin is just now getting back on the field so if Michael continues to impress, this first-round talent could be the recipient of Seattle’s powerful running game. The upside is huge.
Round 1, Pick 9 – WR-Tavon Austin (STL) – The highest receiver drafted at #8 overall, Austin is going to be a ping-pong ball and bounce all over the place. Out wide, in the slot, in the backfield. It’s just a shame he’s heading into an offense of such uncertainty. Sam Bradford is in a make-or-break year, they appear to have full-blown RBBC on their hands and there’s no skill position players coming back to estabslish some sort of consistency after the departure of Steven Jackson. Don’t get me wrong, he’s justified his draft position. But throw in the fact that Brian Schottenheimer is his OC, he of the almost 500 rush attempts last year, and the passing game is even murkier. Austin is a talent but doesn’t enter the best situation. And at this point, opportunity is half the battle.
Round 1, Pick 10 – QB-E.J. Manuel (BUF) – The first quarterback taken in the NFL draft, Manuel should also be the first quarterback off dynasty fantasy boards. Manuel is a big boy at 6′ 5″ and 230 pounds. He’s the captain of the rebuilding effort of the Buffalo franchise and should be given plenty of opportunities. Just the fact that he’ll be the starter in Buffalo at a minimum of 2-3 years props up his value since there’s only a finite number of starting quarterbacks in fantasy. His weapons are an asset as well as Buffalo has surrounded him with rookie receivers Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Da’Rick Rogers and rookie tight end Chris Gragg. Throw in all-world running back C.J. Spiller and perennial 1,000 yard receiver Stevie Johnson and Manuel has no excuses. We’ll have to wait and see him in game action to determine if he’ll be a fantasy starter in years to come but Manuel is definitely in the right place in the right time.
Round 1, Pick 11 – TE-Zach Ertz (PHI) – Drafted in the second round, Ertz looked as if he walked into a less than ideal fantasy situation. New Philly coach Chip Kelly had been a run-first coach at Oregon and there were already two tight ends in front of him. Incumbent Brent Celek and free agent James Casey. Originally, Celek would have been the in-line tight end with Casey as the ‘move.’ However, Ertz has earned first-team reps in practice and is now predicted to have more catches and yards than either of the other two Philly tight ends after impressing the team. As with Eifert and Manuel, Ertz plays a position with a finite amount of quality players. Don’t be afraid to draft Ertz.
Round 1, Pick 12 – WR-Markus Wheaton (PIT) – Drafted in the 3rd round, Wheaton is the heir apparent to the departed Mike Wallace. However, he’s also been drawing comparisons to Hines Ward. Physically, both don’t/didn’t stand out but Wheaton has shown the ability to go over the middle and catch balls in traffic (at least in camp). Then comes the good news that Wheaton is already practicing with the first team and lining up in the slot or the outside. Using Ward as a comp, I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in a guy with six 80+ receptions/1,000 yard seasons. His status may be murky this year but shouldn’t be after that.
Almost ready for the first full week of pre-season. Let’s see what we got:
- The plan for Buffalo running back CJ Spiller is 30 touches a game. Giddy up. Spiller will be a top five running back in dynasty leagues for years to come.
- Mark Ingram should be getting more carries in New Orleans this year and in the future. Finally.
- New Atlanta running back Steven Jackson has been lining up all over the field. While definitely older, Jackson is worth a look as a value pick who will contribute heavily this year. It could be worth to flip him later in the year.
- Rookie receiver Chris Harper has been doing well in Seattle camp. He’s currently behind free agent-to-be Golden Tate on the depth chart so he could be worth a stash on your taxi squad.
- Indy tight end Coby Fleener is due to make a jump this year. Maybe he can get some separation from fellow second year tight end Dwayne Allen in the passing game.
- San Diego rookie receiver Keenan Allen is getting more reps in the wake of the Danario Alexander injury. Now’s the time to draft Allen as at least a taxi squad stash.
- New England rookie receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has really shown promise in camp this year. While none of the New England receivers look to stand out, it doesn’t hurt to draft one of the three rookies in Thompkins, Josh Boyce, and Aaron Dobson.