- Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce should be ready for training camp starting next week. Kelce could fly under the radar a bit in your dynasty leagues with the presence of some pretty good rookies.
- Speaking of rookie tight ends, Jets tight end Jace Amaro lined up all over the place in OTA’s. We like Amaro as the top rookie tight end thanks to his immediate opportunity, lack of competition, and great receiving ability.
- Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley should shine in 2014 but be careful about his dynasty value. He’s a restricted free agent after this season and could see inflated value in the off-season.
- Redskins receiver Andre Roberts should handle return duties this year thanks to DeSean Jackson coming to town. If your league awards points for that, Roberts has some dynasty value.
- The Bucs have all but anointed rookie Charles Sims as their third down back, taking some of the load off Doug Martin. Martin will still be a RB1 but probably isn’t in the top-tier as many thought he could be.
- Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce isn’t participating in OTA’s and there’s currently no timetable for his return. Kelce could be a break out candidate if he ever sees the field. He’s still a buy for me.
- With the news of Vernon Davis holding out, at least initially, it should get more work in for second year tight end Vance McDonald. McDonald will be able to show what he has which could lead to more playing time.
- Eagles running back Darren Sproles should get 6-8 touches per game in the up-tempo Philadelphia offense. However, Sproles will be 31 and there’s a lot of touches to go around. His dynasty value is extremely low.
- Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is still learning the new offense in Houston. New coach Bill O’ Brien will probably utitlize the team’s strength which is in the running game. We don’t expect a big leap from Hopkins unless Andre Johnson is shipped out.
- Initial thoughts had Anthony Hitchens being first up to replace Dallas linebacker Sean Lee in the middle but now it could be second-year linebacker DeVonte Holloman. It’s a fluid situation and definitely one to monitor.
- Credit Mike Vick for saying the right things as he re-iterated that the quarterback job is Geno Smith’s to lose. With upgraded weapons, whoever ends up taking snaps could be a decent QB2 in 2014.
- It’s possible Shonn Greene dynasty owners could be in for a rude awakening if Greene is cut this off-season. He’s still recovering from a knee injury and the Titans have plenty of other, albeit average, options. But why keep spinning your tires on a washed up veteran? A Greene cut would also catapult Bishop Sankey’s dynasty value to at least the third overall pick, if not higher.
- A name to watch in training camp is backup chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris. Another converted basketball player, Harris has the skills to be a ‘move’ tight end behind Travis Kelce. Additionally, Kelce is coming off microfracture surgery so his recovery isn’t guaranteed.
- The Raiders finally sent quarterback Terrelle Pryor out-of-town, trading him to Seattle for a seventh round pick. Expect Pryor to play all over the place but not to be a solid dynasty contributor.
- Giants running back David Wilson expects to be cleared by OTA’s next month. It’s a great sign for Wilson but carries a huge risk for himself and dynasty owners. With the signing of Rashad Jennings in New York, it’s no guaranteed Wilson sees meaningful playing time even if he comes back.
- Bears linebacker Shea McClellin is taking the switch to the position seriously after intense training for it this off-season. He’s a sleeper LB in IDP dynasty leagues in 2014.
- Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is progressing well from surgery last season. Kelce was high on dynasty mock drafts last year after being drafted in the third round. He was slated to be the third option in the Chiefs offense before going down with the injury. With no apparent upgrades on offense, expect Kelce to reclaim that role.
- More Green Bay tight end news as the Packers are inching closer to not resigning Jermichael Finley. Him and Andrew Quarless are free agents, leaving Brandon Bostick as next in line. Assuming the Packers don’t draft or sign a higher profile tight end, it’s Bostick’s job to lose.
- Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has yet to be cleared from his neck injury, another troubling sign for the promising linebacker. It’s getting to the point where Lee just gets injured way too much to be reliable. His value could be viewed as either good or bad, depending on your dynasty league.
- Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is expected to get a ton of playing time next year and is a better receiver than any other tight end on the current roster. Kelce could be a buy-low candidate with the group of tight ends entering the 2014 NFL draft.
- The Giants as a team continue to look bad. Eli Manning threw for less than 50% with a 5.9 YPA. Manning needs improvement on his line and running game before he gets back to sea level.
- Additionally, the Giants played from behind most of the game which eliminated the running game. David Wilson only had 13 carries which won’t be productive for anyone. If he doesn’t get a chance to prove himself, he’ll never fulfill his full potential.
- The lone bright spot for New York was Victor Cruz and his 16 targets and 10 catches. Re-signed in the off-season, Cruz is set up to be a dynasty stud for many years to come.
- Chiefs tight end Sean McGrath had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. This is just a preview of what Travis Kelce can do if he ever gets healthy.
- Chiefs receiver Donny Avery only caught two balls on 10 targets. Any illusions about Avery contributing to the offense should cease. Kansas City should continue to look for a second receiver.
- Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali was the linebacker du jour with two sacks and a tackle for a loss. With the exception of Derrick Johnson and his tackles, there is no consistent linebacker in Kansas City to roll with.
- The studs did what they were supposed to do. LeSean McCoy had 150 yards rushing for Philadelphia, solidifying himself as one of the few workhorse backs left in the league.
- Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles had 170 total yards to go along with seven catches. As long as Alex Smith is the Chiefs quarterback, expect a lot of check downs to Charles.
- In a battle of young, catch-first tight ends, Travis Kelce (injured) of Kansas City and Zach Ertz of Philadelphia (one reception) continued to disappoint. Would be a good time to buy-low on either.
- Mychal Kendricks continues to be a tackle machine, racking up nine. Still just 22, Kendricks could be your lead tackle linebacker for a long time.
- Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston had a monster game with 4.5 sacks. Houston, 24, isn’t exactly new on the scene as he had 10 sacks last year.
With the season a little over a week away, position battles are solidifying.
- With the recent injury to Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki, Travis Kelce is all-systems go from Week 1. Kelce didn’t show much in pre-season and is even coming off injury but with a lack of talent in this year’s rookie class, he’s one of the more highly rated tight ends to pick.
- Pat White looks like the third-stringer QB in Washington. Depending on how deep your league goes, he might be an option for RG3 dynasty owners as a taxi-squad candidate.
- Roy Helu has sewn up the backup running back spot to Alfred Morris. Already the passing down back, Helu is only 24 and has extreme dynasty potential. Plus, with the always shifting Mike Shanahan, you never know who’s going to be the main man. Get Helu if you can.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey is locked in as the #2 receiver in Indy this year. This puts a damper on T.Y. Hilton’s value but it may be a blessing in disguise. Hilton’s value is sure to drop early on as Indy plans to run more. But don’t sleep on him in your drafts or even in a trade if you can get him for the right price.
- Johnathan Franklin is not ready to contribute to the Green Bay running game this year. We’ve always been skeptical of just how Green Bay planned to use Franklin. He’s currently being overdrafted in dynasty drafts. Stay away.
That’s it for this Tuesday. Go get ’em.
We kicked off the series looking at the potential first round of rookies drafted in dynasty leagues here. Next, we look at the next set of picks in a 12-team, PPR league.
Round 2, Pick 1 – WR-Cordarelle Patterson (MIN) – In his first NFL game, first round pick Patterson exhibited exactly what scouts were drooling over at the draft which was his play-making ability. He totaled 104 yards and had a beautiful 50-yard catch after catching the crease. Patterson is still extremely raw but talent will win out over time in dynasty leagues. The only draw back will continue to be Christian Ponder and the quarterback situation in Minnesota. Not to mention, the current NFL MVP dominates the playbook (as he should). Patterson won’t be in a position to get big numbers early in his career but he’s got the talent to do some special things.
Round 2, Pick 2 – WR-Aaron Dobson (NE) – As with fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, the opportunity for Aaron Dobson is the better than any other in the league. Massive turnover has opened up the opportunity for anyone to be the starting X receiver. He’s played well and is making plays in camp but he’s also getting into shoving matches and not exactly setting the world on fire in-game action. He’ll move on from that but he may not be able to beat out Thompkins for first crack. The talent is there, and the competition is bare, so Dobson is an excellent value pick in the second. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady lobbing passes either.
Round 2, Pick 3 – TE-Travis Kelce (KC) – The first pick of the third round, Kelce is a physical specimen at the tight end position at 6′ 5″ and 260 pounds. He’s also a great receiver and athletic and can block. His only major downfall was character concerns. He was suspended the whole 2010 season which, in this day and age of leniency, means he majorly messed up. The hope is he’s moved on since then and seemingly has since he hasn’t had any issues since. Looking at his situation, he’s got a pass-happy coach who has committed to throwing more. Alex Smith will have the first shot of getting Kelce the ball. Smith didn’t have a problem getting Vernon Davis the ball so there is hope. He’ll have to battle Anthony Fasano and Tony Moeaki for snaps but his sheer athleticism should take care of that. Kansas City does plan to line him up in a variety of positions. Giddy up.
Round 2, Pick 4 -QB-Geno Smith (NYJ) – Drafted in the second round, Smith was drafted to inject some life into the abysmal Jets offense. Originally graded to be the first quarterback taken, Smith slid to the second after several off-field issues regarding agents and attitude. But the football skills are all there and Smith looks like the real deal. With little competition ahead of him (see: Sanchez, Mark), Smith has a golden opportunity to join E.J. Manuel as the only starting rookie quarterbacks. He did trip a little leading up to his first pre-season game but turned in a solid performance. The supporting cast is a different story. With zero legitimate targets to throw to, it’s hard to imagine Smith putting up even decent numbers his first year. The hope is he takes his rookie year to sort things out and be ready to utilize whatever new targets the Jets bring in. He’s a taxi-squad candidate at this point.
Round 2, Pick 5 -WR-Robert Woods (BUF) – Second rounder Woods is already stated to start in Buffalo. Like Spider-Man, that can be a gift and curse. Woods was the most NFL-ready coming in to the draft and has impressed so far in camp. He’s a part of the renaissance in Buffalo with rookie E.J. Manuel quarterbacking. But he’ll be tied to Manuel’s growing pains which will prohibit huge numbers from any Buffalo receiver for the foreseeable future. Not huge upside but has the chance to be a steady contributor for years to come.
Round 2, Pick 6 – WR-Keenan Allen (SD) – Unlike Robert Woods, Allen is a project. Drafted in the third round, the skill is there as he set the Cal record for receptions. The injury bug also has afforded Allen the opportunity to use those skills early on. However, Allen has had an up-and-down camp so far and everyone agrees that Allen has ways to go. Originally projected as a first round pick, he’s not immune from injuries either after missing the last couple games of his college career. The path is certainly clear for Allen to take over but it’ll remain to be seen if he can stay healthy.
Round 2, Pick 7 – RB-Marcus Lattimore (SF) – The ultimate taxi squad player in dynasty drafts this year, Lattimore was a legit first round talent before shredding both knees in college. Drafted in the 4th round, neither fantasy owners or San Francisco has any hope that he’ll contribute this year as he hopes to follow in the foot steps of fellow knee-injury victims Willis McGahee and, you guessed it, Frank Gore. He enters a delicious situation with Gore’s contract ballooning to $6.5 million in 2014 (at age 31), Kendall Hunter with just 184 carrie to his name, and LaMichael James as nothing more than a passing situation back. With San Francisco’s power running scheme, Lattimore is sure to be in the mix. Draft him and stash him.
Round 2, Pick 8 – TE-Zach Sudfeld (NE) – Another undrafted rookie for New England, Sudfeld has rapidly found himself playing with the first string unit. At 6′ 7″ and 255 pounds, he’s being compared to that other New England tight end (who’s still on the team) and could get work as the injures dictate. Jake Ballard was originally supposed to take over Aaron Hernandez’s production but that now appears to go to Sudfeld, who’s catching everything in sight. He’s a huge unknown but New England seems to trust him. Don’t be afraid to draft him in the second round and look like a genius.
Round 2, Pick 9 – RB-Johnathan Franklin (GB) – Franklin steps into an ideal situation for a pass-catching back. The Green Bay offense, and Aaron Rodgers in particular, will continue to pass the ball despite the presence of Eddie Lacy. He won’t be an every down back but if Franklin can establish himself as a passing-down back, he could be in for a bunch of catches. Of course, he’ll have to shore up his pass protection to even see the field. Assuming he can work those issues out, he’ll be an intriguing change of pace back.
Round 2, Pick 10 – WR-Stedman Bailey (STL) – While Bailey only sits at #4 on the depth chart, he’s had a good camp so far. St. Louis claims to be opening up the offense more which would mean more opportunities to spread the wealth. Of course, it remains to be seen if Sam Bradford can handle that load. If so, Bailey stands to gain in the long-term. If not, Bailey wouldn’t be worth a taxi squad spot.
Round 2, Pick 11 – QB-Tyler Bray (KC) – Signed as an undrafted free agent, Bray already has the strongest arm in Kansas City camp (which isn’t saying a whole lot). His lack of maturity was what set him back in the draft but he seems to have overcome those. Setting behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel, Bray doesn’t have a clear shot to starters minutes but could develop into a tradable asset. He’s not a bad pick to stash on taxi squads especially with other rookie quarterbacks struggling.
Round 2, Pick 12 – WR-Kenny Stills (NO) – Drafted in the fifth round, there was not clear spot for Stills until Joe Morgan went down with an injury and smaller injuries allowed him to play with the first string. Now entrenched as the 3rd down receiver, Stills has put together a quietly good camp and could receive considerable attention from Drew Brees and co. He should man the slot between Marques Colston and Lance Moore. If Sean Payton works his magic upon his return, they’ll be plenty of targets to go around including ones to Stills.
by Jonathan Scott
Over the next few days we will be taking a look at the eight teams in the NFL that made coaching changes in the off-season and how that might affect the dynasty fantasy outlook of the offensive players on those teams. Numerous factors go into the success/failure of a team and coach but we’ll be primarily looking at just a few for each team. Murdering other people in the off season will not be one of those factors considered. The first coach we’ll look at is the most experienced – long time Eagles coach and new Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
PERSONNEL / X’s and O’s
Many things can be and have been said about Andy Reid but what can’t be argued is his offenses can produce. Reid has been a mastermind at putting his star players in a position to succeed. The best part is he’s position agnostic – quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs have all been the stars of his offensive attack. This year should be no different.
The star of this offense, for at least 2-3 years, should be Jamaal Charles. Reid should love the type of speed and versatility he brings. For years the Eagles were known as a screen heavy team in comparison to the rest of the league and there is every reason to think this team will be no different. Versatile running backs with good hands, vision, and speed as well as light, quick offensive lineman are necessary for the screen game to succeed in Kansas City and the good news is, well, we’re half-way there. Charles is the type of multi-dimensional back that can run between the tackles, bounce it off tackle for a home run, or be a heavy proponent in the passing game. Currently, Charles sits at #7 in dynasty rankings.
The offensive line, however, is a work in progress. Truth be told the only lineman even considered large is Geoff Schwartz weighing in at about 340. The rest of the line is light, athletic, and fits the mold Reid is looking for but are extremely young and lacking experience. With three linemen under the age of 24 and the oldest being former first round pick Brandon Albert at the age of 28, they are going to have to gel, and fast. If Andy Reid is as good at coaching lineman as his reputation states then this could be a top 15 offense for a few years. If they have trouble getting on the same page with Alex Smith (a notorious perfectionist who needs to trust what he sees) then this offense could have stagnant periods. With Rodney Hudson already being pushed for his starting spot at center after starting OTA’s and Training Camp as the starter, things aren’t off to a flying start.
Expect a pretty big year out of Dwayne Bowe as well. Reid has a penchant for using big, physical receivers in the way big, physical receivers should be used. Drags across the line of scrimmage, nine routes off tight coverage, and crossing routes letting them use their bodies to box out smaller DB’s. Not only does Bowe excel at these types of routes but Smith is excellent at the 15-18 yard dig/in cut and fade routes/deep balls. Smith will need a clean pocket and plenty of time to see the dragging receiver come across the line of scrimmage to make that throw accurately and on time. With this offensive line that may not be something that is afforded to him. Still, two out of three ain’t bad right? Bowe currently projects as the 15th top dynasty receiver.
As for the other receivers, Jonathan Baldwin has yet to prove he’s a viable wide receiver in the NFL despite having the physical traits scouts kill for. If he doesn’t do it this year I’m afraid he’ll never do it. Dexter McCluster could be fun for a gadget play here or there and a good third down option against safeties out of the slot but his lack of strength really limits his ceiling in this offense. I don’t expect any wide receiver to take a HUGE leap in this offense but if one does I would place my money on Donnie Avery. Injury history aside, with a competent coaching staff and a clean bill of health he has shown in the past he can at least be a contributor. He offers the one thing no one else on this roster can which is straight line, take the top off the offense speed if played tight on the line of scrimmage. He’ll play a role one way or another on this team. If anything take a flyer on him and, if he stays healthy for four or five weeks and puts up numbers, immediately flip him for an asset or pick. Let’s face, Avery will get hurt at some point. Currently, there are no other Chief receivers in the top 70.
At tight end there isn’t a lot to get excited about. Fasano is the obvious in line guy with blocking duties and occasional bootleg action on the goal line but expecting anything more. The real “battle” here is between Travis Kelce and Tony Moeaki. With the trade rumors floating around Moeaki you have to think his days are numbered. Between his sketchy health (had another knee surgery this off season) and a ready-made, younger, cheaper replacement already in house, I’d be willing to bet he gets traded. If you’re going to take a chance on someone here make it Kelce but really, if you’re taking chances on a Kansas City tight end you get what you deserve. Kelce is currently the 18th ranked tight end in dynasty ranks due to this age and the clear path to starting.
THE WILD CARD
Alex Smith, although not an uber-talented quarterback, has a skill set that Andy Reid values and can use to make the offense function. And the key word here is function. Without being disrespectful to the other quarterbacks that have played under Reid, I believe it’s safe to say Smith is going to be the smartest one he’s had and have the fullest grasp of the playbook that any of them has had. People will line up in the correct places, check with me’s will be a big part of the offense and, 99 percent of the time, Smith will make the right audible and get them in the right play. Despite that I want to stress there is a HUGE difference between grasping the entire playbook and being able to execute the entire playbook. Smith will not be able to throw from far hashes to the far sideline and he won’t be able to hit deep plays longer than 60 yards. His arm shrinks the field for the defense without them having to try to do it themselves. Luckily the one way to stop a defense from squatting on a quarterback with a below average arm is get them on the move with bootlegs and counters. Smith is an extremely athletic quarterback and insanely accurate outside the pocket who can keep a defense honest by utilizing these skills. When the Chiefs offense has the ball between the 20’s I would expect a lot of screen action and bootleg action to generate wide open receivers down field that Smith can hit with ease. The flip side is Smith is notorious for holding onto the ball too long in the pocket and taking unnecessary sacks instead of getting rid of the ball. He is a tough guy who can take a hit but he also refuses to take a risk when pressured. Smith currently stands at 27th quarterback dynasty ranks. He’s only under contact for two more years with rookie Tyler Bray quietly climbing the depth chart.
This doesn’t sound like a lot to be excited about but we are taking a non-functional quarterback and coaching staff in Kansas City in 2011 and replacing them with above average representations for both. This should equal a big boost in numbers and opportunities for Charles, Bowe, and the other starved Chiefs skill position players. A jump from the 32nd offense in the league to the 18th offense in the league is still the same relative jump from the 18th offense to a top 5 offense.
I think of all of the coaches hired this year Andy Reid will have the biggest positive impact fantasy-wise. He has big play options at running back and receiver with that fit his style and offense. I expect a big season out of Charles and would target him as a RB1 option if he just happens to be available for trade in your dynasty league. Bowe finally got paid and looks to be happy. By all accounts he’s also a hard worker who takes pride in his craft. He continues to be a low tier WR1 or high tier WR2 in my eyes. The offensive line, although not perfect, is athletic enough to execute the type of blocking scheme and second level attacking that Reid loves in his offense and should get better as the year goes on with the youth they have. He’s also getting a substantial upgrade at quarterback in Alex Smith, a relatively weak division with the AFC West (Hello Chargers and Raiders!), and a team that already has six Pro Bowlers on the roster, albeit mostly on the defensive side of the ball. Add it all up and it’s easy to see the Chiefs going from an absolute train wreck of an offense last year to a middle of the pack, respectable offense in 2013.