By Dustin Pritchard, 8.25.2013
The NFL season begins in 10 days. 10 (hopefully short) days! It’s crazy how quickly we’ve blown through this off-season, but here we are. Some of you have already drafted your team, some of you haven’t. For your reading pleasure, we identified several commodities that have fallen in or out of favor in our fantasy hearts recently.
LeSean McCoy – “Shady” is an artist in space. Not incredibly fast, he changes direction on a dime and has lateral explosiveness that is unmatched. In short, he’s the Teflon Don of running backs, very elusive. New HC Chip Kelly’s goal is to get McCoy the ball a lot, particularly in space. The offense will be decidedly run heavy and a big bonus is the Offensive Line, now healthy and vastly underrated due to recent injuries. McCoy is a stud RB, a top 5 back for sure. If you want to take him at #2 overall in standard leagues we won’t try to stop you. He’s our #3 RB.
Mike Vick – We’re not Eagles fans we swear (not that there’s anything wrong with that), we just love this underrated offense. We mentioned their O Line and their coach (whose no huddle offense is likely to push for the most total offensive plays in the NFL) . Now we need to mention Mr. Vick who, while not having played more than 13 games since 2006, is still at the age of 33 one of the league’s most explosive players and a top dual threat QB. Playing a full season is great, but this is still a weekly game and Vick will likely deliver QB1 numbers in most starts. If you land him, make sure you keep an eye on Nick Foles for when Vick inevitably goes down a week or two. Mikey V is our #12 QB.
David Wilson – After popping off this 84 yard TD run in the first play from scrimmage in the Giant’s third preseason game, we were forced to reconsider this player. Obviously one play is a small sample size, but there are probably only a handful of backs in the NFL today that can hit that hole and take it to the house untouched. That’s special talent. We think Andre Brown is a very good back, and a far superior pass blocker to Wilson, but Brown’s injury history is kind of ridiculous, whereas WIlson is one of the more rock steady guys out there, with no legit evidence of potential injury proneness. A few games into 2013 it’s easy to see Wilson’s freakish speed and power combo forcing Coughlin to ignore his possible pass blocking deficiencies. The best part about owning Wilson is that he doesn’t need more than 15-18 touches to put up great numbers. He’s the #17 RB, an average RB2 with RB1 upside if Brown goes down.
Daryl Richardson – What once looked like a quagmire of middling talent, the situation in the St. Louis Rams backfield cleared up and from the muck emerged 2012 7th rounder Daryl Richardson, the team’s clear-cut starter. HC Jeff Fisher has a strong history of producing workhorse RBs (see Eddie George and Chris Johnson). Richardson’s skill set might not allow him to be a true workhorse back, but the team did name him starting RB and he will certainly look at 15-20 touches per game. He’s our #24 RB, a great RB3/flex option.
Kenbrell Thompkins – We’re sure his 8 catch 116 yard performance in the Patriots 3rd preseason game let the cat out of the bag with this undrafted rookie from University of Cincinnati. Nonetheless, he’s likely to be a good value wherever you draft him. He has serious off field concerns (arrested 7 times before his 19th birthday), but at this point looks to have turned his life around and the talent is real. He doesn’t have blazing speed, or outstanding size and leaping ability. But he is incredibly smart on the field, with a knack for finding soft spots in defenses, and has a nasty competitive streak more often than not winning 1 on 1 battles with DBs. As the #2 WR in New England, if historically fragile Gronk or Amendola miss any serious time, he instantly becomes Tom Brady’s first or second target. As Wes Welker and Randy Moss would tell you, that’s not a bad place to be. He’s the #39 WR, but has the right combination of opportunity and talent to move way up.
Philip Rivers – Outside of Ryan Mathews as an RB3, we don’t want any piece of the San Diego Chargers offense if we can avoid it. Norv is out, new HC Mike McCoy is in. Given the personnel, this is far more likely to be an offense built on the ground than through the air. The pass blocking is just terrible, leaving little time to throw for an aging QB with diminishing arm strength. Rivers is not worth a roster spot in 1QB leagues, and is likely nothing more than a middling bench QB in 2QB leagues.
Alfred Morris – He’s a solid RB. Tough, smart, good vision, and hard to bring down. The Butler does have a few factors working against him though. The Washington Redskins offense was electric in 2012 (5th in NFL YPG/ 4th PPG). The Skins have a fantastic offensive line, but the biggest reason they were so good in 2012 was Robert Griffin’s incredible dual threat ability, his skill set baffling defensive coordinators across the league. By all accounts RGIII‘s progress this off-season has been superhuman and he is likely to start week 1, but will he have the kind of year he did last year? We’re not so sure. Noted QB Expert Ron Jaworski thinks the knee injury will impact his throwing mechanics. Sporting a knee brace all season, he won’t be as effective a runner as last season either. Obviously there is also the potential for serious re-injury. What this means for Alfred Morris is that defenses are less likely to respect Griffin, thus making it harder for Morris to find the wide open running lanes between the tackles he enjoyed last season. Be worried about 3rd year RB Roy Helu as well. Helu excelled in his rookie season and was merely limited by injuries last year. He is without a doubt the team’s 3rd down back, and will eventually push Morris for 1st and 2nd down snaps. There’s a case to be made that a healthy Helu, not Morris, is Washington’s most talented back. We bumped Morris out of our top 10 RBs, to #11.
Kenny Britt – The Tennessee Titans passing game is another unit we want to own zero part of. Jake Locker is having a decent preseason, but he’s a historically inaccurate quarterback. Recent Offensive Line and backfield personnel additions make it very likely that this team will be a ground and pound attack, limiting the ceiling of all the receivers. Kenny Britt is the de facto #1 WR, but with his history of injuries and off field trouble we are steering clear of the former Rutgers standout. He’s the #44 WR, a WR4/5 option.