We're about 4 hours out from game time on Thursday night, and I'd like to take the time to suggest a few players who may have an impact this week fresh off of the waiver wire. If you are looking for a bye week fill in at your FLEX spot, take a look at these guys.
Shaun Draughn RB KC - I have been mentioning Draughn for a couple of weeks now, and it seems that he may finally have a chance to show his true colors this weekend vs. San Diego and their stout run D. With McCluster and Hillis out, I think KC will look to check down to Charles and use his speed on the edge. Draughn is a big, bruising back who could be used in the trenches against a tough D-Line this week. Look for about a couple of catches with 40-50 total yards and a score from the 13% Y! owned Draughn.
Andre Roberts WR Arz. - With Beanie Wells out with turf toe for quite some time this season, and Fitzy grabbing constant double coverage, I think the Cardinals will try and use Roberts to exploit a Dolphins defense that has given up 313 passing yards and a score per game this season. Andre has already posted up an impressive 9-111-2 line as he continues to improve in his third season. Roberts has already tied his career high in touchdown catches, as well, and I think he will keep adding to that total with the way things are unfolding in Arizona. I think the 7% Y! owned Citadel star is capable of delivering a 5-70-1 line this week.
Brandon Myers TE OAK - Myers is a 4th year TE out of Iowa, who at 6'3" 260 has probably been a bit underutilized up until this season. Myers had just 32 catches in his first three seasons combined, but don't be fooled by his past seasons' stats. He has managed to catch a whopping 15 passes through three games this year for a cool 206 yards. Denver has been atrocious this year at stopping the TE, and I think that trend continues. Look for Myers to grab his first touchdown of his career in Denver, to go with about 5 catches for 60 yards.
Mario Manningham WR SF - Though I'm not a huge fan of Manningham in his situation in SF, I think he could get it done this week. Alex Smith has relied heavily on Crabtree and Vernon Davis thus far, but the Jets have had a terrible time covering teams' #2 WR's. And with Revis gone, that should only get worse. Manningham has posted a decent-enough 4-38 average in the first three games, and I think he should build on that as he builds chemistry with Smith. Manningham was quoted as saying "We're still trying to get on the same page," and this could be the game is begins to happen. Try a line that rings to the tune of 6-72-0 this week and take the sure points at your FLEX spot.
Lamar Miller MIA RB - I know Miami has three solid running backs on the roster, but Joe Philbin ran a Packers offense last year that loved to run and were using some pretty bad backs a year ago. Add to that the fact that Reggie Bush lines up wide from time to time in the wildcat, and Daniel Thomas has only been getting about 10 touches a game over his past 15 games. Miller is a bowling ball out of UMiami at 5'10" 220 and has 19 carries for 113 yards and a score over the past two weeks. Grab Miller if you are in a deeper league and need a bye week fill in at your flex spot.
Carson Palmer QB Oak - Palmer has quietly looked pretty good over the past three weeks, compiling 879 yards and five scores vs. some pretty tough defenses (PIT, MIA, SD). Give Palmer a call if you have a week 4 bye at QB, as they face a Denver team that has given up 233 yards/game and 8 passing TD's already. Carson has a good enough team around him to generate some offense in Oakland. Don't forget that Palmer is just a half a season removed from a 4000yd 26td campaign with Cincinnati, and is owned in just 49% of leagues.
Heath Miller TE Pit - Big Ben has openly stated that he is trying to get Miller into the pro bowl this season. That's a tall order for a guy who plays in a league that features Gronk, Gates, and Hernandez at TE to name a few. But Miller, who has always been reliably consistent, seems to have developed a rapport with Roethlisberger that has risen to a new level. Through three games, Miller has 15 catches and 4 scores on a Pittsburgh team that has Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders at the receiver positions. Look and see if Heath is available - he's only owned in 42% of Y! leagues - and grab him if you're a starting guys like Jermaine Gresham, Owen Daniels, Dustin Keller, or Coby Fleener.
Jeremy Kerley WR NYJ - Kerley can be sneakily useful as a 4th or 5th receiver in deeper leagues, or as a bye week fill in on a team in a league with two flex spots. The second-year, 5'9", fifth round pick out of TCU offers the hands and speed that a guy like Rex Ryan drools over. Kerley is slowly gaining the trust of Mark Sanchez, as he has put up more than 45 yards in all three games thus far, and has scored in two of them. Grab the 12% Y! owned receiver as he seems to be slowly becoming the real deal in NY.
Jackie Battle RB SD - I said about a week ago that Battle could put up some points. After putting up 55 yards on 3 carries last week as Ryan Matthews returned, Battle seemed to take a backseat in the SD run game. But coach Norv Turner has said that he plans on using another back at the goal line in an effort to reduce Matthews' fumble problems. That other back figures to be Battle - a 6'2" 240lb beast - who already has well over 100 yards and 2 scores in just two games thus far. This could turn into a Le'Ron McClain ca. 2008 type of situation. Expect at least 6-8 scores and 500 yards or so out of Battle the rest of the way. That's not a bad bet for points in a pinch.
James Jones WR GB - If an owner dropped the 30% owned Jones, or he is available in your league, take a long look at Mr. 5 for 55. With Aaron Rodgers leading the way, you could certainly do worse for your bye-week-flex spot than a nearly guaranteed 7 or 8 points week in and week out in PPR leagues. Take a look at Jones, even in 10 team leagues as a depth receiver or for your bye weeks. I like him more than 68% Y! owned fellow GB receiver Randall Cobb for consistent points, and the Pack play some easy teams in the coming weeks.
Ramses Barden, the newest Kevin Ogletree and Brian Hartline of the season, exploded onto the scene last night on Thursday night football. Barden was given an opportunity to shine as WR's Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon were both out for the Giants. Eli Manning continues to impress this year, racking up over 1000 yards through three games. And his receivers and TE's are reaping the rewards. Here, I will take a look at whether breakout Barden should warrant a roster spot or not.
- Barden is a 6'6" 230lb. match-up nightmare at WR who can run a 4.5 - 40.
- He is a former third-round pick out of little known D1AA Cal Poly. (Giants think highly of him)
- He has averaged more than 13 yards per reception in limited NFL game time.
- The Giants have had lots of injuries and high rate of turnover at the receiving positions over the past few seasons.
- Even when the Giants receivers are healthy, the G-Men run lots of 3 WR sets and Eli loves to spread the ball around.
- NFL.com compared him to Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall entering the 2009 draft.
- He broke Jerry Rice's NCAA record (26) by scoring touchdowns in 32 games during his college career.
- Has played in just 20 career games over four seasons, which speaks volumes for a former third-round pick.
- Nearly doubled his reception and yardage total for his career in Thursday's breakout performance.
- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Martellus Bennett, Domenik Hixon, and Ruben Randle should all continue to contribute when healthy and with regular time on the field.
- Martellus Bennett will keep stealing red zone looks from all of the aforementioned receivers. He has one in all three games this season.
- Barden has limited open field speed, and seems to have trouble dominating small cornerbacks.
- Has been characterized as lazy at times, and seems to need improvement with his hands.
All in all, I'd say that Barden will keep improving as a receiver on this Giants team. Last night may be a fluke, as we saw with Kevin Ogletree in week one. But just like K.O., Barden has the skill set and is in the right place to put up at least half-way decent fantasy football numbers. My advice here is to put in a waiver claim in 12 team and deeper leagues, and wait and see if he clears waivers in 10 team and shallower leagues. Barden just may continue to put up big numbers - a 60-600-4 line on the season may not be unattainable. Just don't be too surprised if the other receivers in New York start to bump him off of those numbers a bit when healthy.
Jackie Battle should continue to steal TD's in SD.
Week two brought us fantasy footballers a dose of reality - you just never really know who is going to stand up and produce on a week to week basis. Us who play the sport know that sometimes a Peyton Manning vs. the Falcons match-up is not all it's cracked up to be. Peyton was outplayed by the likes of Brandon Weeden, Ryan Tannehill, and Matt Cassel last week, and anyone who played him expecting major MNF points was severely disappointed. We all know that does not mean you should rush out and drop PM for one of these guys, what I'm saying is that there are always ways to improve on your team each week through the waiver wire. Anyone who took a flier on Danny Amendola after week 1's 5-70-0 outing vs. Detroit were rewarded handsomely with his 15-160-1 outburst this week. Anyone who took heed to my column on the three rookie kickers (and how they could help) were pleased to garner at least 10 points a piece (all three were at least 2-2 on FG's; Tucker led all K's in points). I know one team that I beat in week two managed just one point from his K (I even gave him the advice to pick up Justin Tucker.) Point here is this: there is absolutely no reason to stay put every week in FFL's. Although managers will grab just a mirage of a fantasy starter once in a while, every week turns up at least one fresh face that rewards the manager who acted on him. Here are a few guys who could be that diamond in the rough that managers are looking for this week.
J. Tucker, B. Walsh, G. Zuerlein K - This is the last call on my blog about these guys. All three rookie kickers are contributing big time for real-life and fantasy teams alike. Tucker is leading FFL kickers in points thus far, Walsh is number two in kicker points, and Zuerlein is currently ranked 8th. I urge you to grab one of these guys unless you have one of the three or four veterans in the league that consistently rack up FF points (Crosby, Bryant, Gostkowski, Akers...) All three of these rookie kickers are perfect on the season, including an eye popping 11/11 from 40+.
Shaun Draughn RB, KC - We all thought that Kansas City would be more than all-set this season at running back. But with Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis not playing up to par (Charles has 109 total yards, Hillis a costly goal-line fumble,) the 6', 210lb rookie is punishing defenses with authority. He has a modest 120 yards and a score this season, but that is with just 14 touches through two weeks. Look for Draughn to steal some important carries in the fast paced KC offense. He is just 3% owned and faces a NO team that gave up 219 yards on the ground last week.
Brandon Gibson WR, StL - I've always loved Sam Bradford, and I think he could be a top 15 QB in this league whenever he finally gets some trusty WR's to throw to consistently. With Amendola looking like a true #1 WR that can handle the load, Gibson is quietly stepping up into a solid #2. Gibson has averaged 12 yards per catch over his three year career, and with a full time starting gig while healthy, look for him to continue to post lines very similar to his week-one line of 4-51-1. Not a bad #3 or #4 WR at all.
Brent Celek TE, Phi - Though I'm not a huge fan of Celek, he is putting up some fantastic numbers in Philly and should continue to do so. He is owned most leagues, but one could argue that he should be owned in just about all of them. Celek has very quietly amassed over 3000 yards in his 5+ year career, twice eclipsing the 800 yard mark. Celek has never missed a game and is relied heavily upon by the unreliable Mike Vick. Last week's 8-157-0 line certainly helped out those that started him, and Celek should be one of the top waiver pickups in leagues in which he is on the wire. Take a gander, and consider adding him if you drafted Aaron Hernandez, or are a frustrated owner of Dallas Clark, Heath Miller, or Fred Davis. Celek leads all TE's in yards thus far.
Brian Hartline WR, Mia - Now one of the many rules in drafting receivers is that if he is on a bad team, he could pay dividends as they try and play catch-up every week. So long as Tannehill continues to build on his week two performance and not his week one performance, the 4% Y! owned Hartline could keep his owners happy as a #4 or #5 WR. One of several Welker-lite's in the league, Hartline is a hybrid slot receiver with size. He has reportedly been shadowing Tannehill around the 'Fins facilities, and it showed with their 9-111-0 connection last week. Keep your eyes on BH, and if he keeps nabbing 5+ catches a week, you could be in for a treat in PPR leagues.
Sam Bradford QB, StL - Bradford was all the hype just two years ago, former #1 overall pick, solid young nucleus on his team, and nowhere to go but up. Well, after his 3500 yard, 18 TD rookie season, Bradford played in just 10 games a year ago and posted an ugly 2100 yards and just 6 scores. The Rams have done a nice job of bringing in some players (an offensive line, 6'4" TE Mulligan, S. Smith) and developing guys (Amendola, Gibson, Kendricks), making Bradford's job easier. Smooth Sam has responded with a 112 QB rating, 500+ yards, and a 4:1 TD:INT ratio. Bank on Bradford as a lock as your #2 QB who is still sitting on your wire. He has outperformed most QB's including Cutler, A. Smith, Freeman, Dalton, and Fitzpatrick to name a few, and is owned in just 22% of Y! leagues.
Jackie Battle RB, SD - Ronnie Brown is looking like an old situational back, Brinkley looked awful in whatever game action I have seen him in, and Matthews has a glass jaw. All of this paves the way for more touches moving forward for the 6'2" 240lb bruising back. A former KC cast-off, Battle has averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in his past two seasons, and looks to be at least the SD goal-line back this year. The Chargers will look to keep Matthews healthy, and use Brown in passing-downs only. Battle is owned in just 3% of leagues, and had two TD's in his limited game action this season. Grab him and wait for the opportunity. You won't be sorry you did so.
Pierre Thomas RB, NO - Thomas is owned in less than 50% of leagues, and the reason why is obvious - too much depth at RB in Nawlins. But the Saints like to spread Sproles out wide and use him in passing downs. Ingram is a great back but still very raw, and Chris Ivory is looking more and more like the odd man out in NO. The knock on Pierre is that he's only played a full season once in his six years in NO, but Thomas has shown several times that he is capable of carrying the load. He has amassed more than 560 yards on the ground three times in a little over four seasons, and he's caught at least 30 passes three times as well. If Thomas is available in your league, grab him now.
Dexter McCluster WR/RB, KC - Dex carries the valuable double eligibility tag in leagues and produces enough to warrant ownership in more than three-quarters of leagues in my opinion. He is owned in 39% of Y! leagues - which is not nearly enough in my opinion. McCluster has more catches than Randy Moss and Nate Washington combined, and more yards than Meachem and Greg Little combined. All four of those players are rostered in more leagues than Dexter. The Cheifs like to spread McCluster out wide (like Sproles-lite), and they run him once in a while, too. Look for about 5 catches and 70 yards per game moving forward. Oh yeah, and did I mention he's got that tricky dual eligibility?
I know it's totally taboo to even think about your kicker position after the draft, but if your league has no roster-moves limit, or a high limit, we think you should consider checking out three rookie kickers who could have an impact for your team. I know any serious fantasy footballer has lost at least one game because of a Neil Rackers 50+ yarder at the end of regulation or a Billy Cundiff shank late in the game on a Sunday night. Though there are several seasoned veterans out there who could also make an impact, see Nick Folk or Josh Scobee, the youngsters are where it's at for kickers. The game is less in their head, they're probably a little more limber, and they are kicking for jobs. As I told a friend the other day: I look for a young kicker, on a bad team (or one that just doesn't have a good red zone game), preferably in a dome or fair-weather city. Just look at Dan Carpenter or Dan Bailey a few seasons back. This is why I am suggesting Blair Walsh in MIN, Greg Zeurlein in StL, and Justin Tucker in BAL. All three had very surprising games in week 1, and should continue to impress.
Blair Walsh - Walsh has a horrible 2011 for Georgia, but had a stellar first three seasons in college. Minnesota took him as the third K overall in round 6, and were rewarded with a win that Walsh single-handedly secured. Walsh hit all four attempts, including a game-tying kick and a game winner in OT. He also nailed a 55 yarder. Did I mention Minnesota is a fantastic place for kickers and shouldn't score nearly as much as most teams?
Greg Zeurlein - St. Louis took Greg "The Leg" (ironically) just four picks ahead of Walsh in the 6th round at the 2012 draft. In 2011 for DII Missouri-Western Zeurlein was 9-9 on kicks over 50, including two 58 yarders. In his NFL debut for the Rams, he hit a 29, 46, and 48 yarders, perfect on the day. He should compete with Walsh, amongst others, for the point lead in the NFL.
Justin Tucker - Tucker, an undrafted rookie kicker out of Texas beat out Billy Cundiff this pre-season and should impress as a rookie in Baltimore. The Ravens should have tons and tons of scoring opportunities, albeit outside in a cold-weather city. I can see plenty of 19-10 or 26-20 games for Baltimore this season, and Tucker should benefit. He nailed 39, 40, and 46 yarders to finish perfect on the day. Not bad for his first game.
So unless you were one the 25 managers in the fantasy football world to draft or pick up Kevin Ogletree before Wednesday, (like the man-genius Big-D in one of my leagues,) kudos. If you were one of the 0.1% of all managers to START Ogletree, well, you must have been in a league where names pertaining to plant matter were required on every team. I can imagine a league where the first round included the selections of A.J. Green, Reggie Bush, Michael Crabtree, Carson Palmer, and your man Kevin Ogletree. After Wednesday's breakout performance that produced a line of 8-114-2, owners rushed to the waiver wire to put in a claim on him. Here are some facts to consider about Ogletree that should help in your decision to add him or just ogle:
- He is an undrafted, fourth year receiver who has played in 32 total career NFL games (including Weds.)
- Wednesday was Ogletree's first two touchdown catches of his NFL career.
- He is the third receiver on the depth chart of a team that features two running backs that can catch the ball and Jason Witten as the TE.
- The Cowboys play some very, very stingy pass D's this year.
- Ogletree steps into the role that Laurent Robinson played in a year ago. Robinson put up a 54-858-11 line last year. Robinson is owned in just 50% of leagues and is now a #1 WR in Jax..
- Ogletree had just a total of 117 catches, 1332 yds., and 9 total TD's in three years at Virginia. That's an average of 39 catches, 444 yds., and 3 TD a season.
- Kevin's Wednesday night NFL break-out was almost a third of those numbers.
With that being said, Ogletree certainly looks to have the ability to thrive in a system that heavily favors slot receivers. Remember this is a system that allowed the likes of Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Laurent Robinson to have career years, all of whom were more than rosterable during the years they played the Dallas slot position. In my opinion, there are other guys I'd rather have on the wire (maybe even Robinson in Jax.), but Ogletree has definitely made himself a case to be owned in at least two-thirds of all leagues out there. I think that guys like Robinson and Austin had a better pedigree, so they set loftier expectations for Ogletree at the position. But remember that Robinson was a game-breaker at times, and put up some serious points in Dallas last year as the #3. Temper your expectations on Ogletree and his breakout performance - it may well have been a career night - but go ahead and add him if guys like Santana Moss, Lance Moore, Greg Little, and Titus Young are gone already. And don't forget that Sunday will bring plenty more surprises, so watch your waiver priority. Expect a line that goes something like 48-725-9 for a season total (closest to that of Patrick Crayton's Dallas slot days with 50-697-7). Just keep in mind that defenses will no longer let Ogletree roam free across the middle. It'll be fun to see if he can adjust.
The fantasy football draft season is winding to a close, as managers tidy up their rosters in preparation for the upcoming season. One thing any good manager knows is that your team is never 'complete.' There are always those one or two moves made in the beginning of the season that can change a team for better or for worse. Sometimes not making a move is the good choice, but other times that one crucial move can alter a team positively all year. I like to call it "constant tinkering," and any manager who has played in my leagues knows that I am always looking to improve my roster. I usually reach the max-moves limit, but I also know that I am usually up for debate at the end of the year for best free agent pick-ups throughout the season. Point is this: you can never be too prudent with your team. Make that move you are considering. Worst case is you make another move down the road to make up for a bad call earlier in the year. I am compiling a list of players available in either of my two leagues, and trying to make a case for you to pick one of them up if they are also available in your league(s).
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein
Evan Royster RB Was. - Royster is only owned in 33% of Y! leagues, and it should probably be more. With Tim Hightower injured and off the team, this opens the door for either Royster or rookie Alfred Morris. Both are first round picks, Royster being a big, bruiser out of Penn State with some NFL experience under his belt. With Cooley and Hightower gone, and Helu unproven, the 'Skins need some playmakers to step up. This is a Shannahan offense, so it could be any of these three backs who steps up to the plate, but Royster is certainly more than capable.
Alshon Jeffery WR Chi - Jeffery is a big, physical, up-the-field threat in a perfect city to start what should be a fine NFL career. I don't necessarily trust rookie WR's, especially those not taken in the first round, but Jeffery is certainly an exception. At 6'3" 210, and starting opposite Brandon Marshall on a Bears team that has no O-line to speak of, Alshon could be your guy. He is owned in just over a third of Y! leagues, and should see plenty of starting time with single coverage and an above-average QB throwing to him. This kid has all the talent in the world, and if he is given to time to play consistently, should be a top 50 WR that might just go undrafted in your leagues.
Jared Cook TE Ten - Some of us don't even take a TE in our drafts. TE is like the catcher in fantasy baseball. You either break the bank on a top guy (Gronk, Graham, Gates) or skip it entirely. In fact, one of my leagues just started carrying a mandatory TE position for the first time this year. If you are one of those who neglected the TE position and are scrambling for an option this week, take a peek and see if Cook is available. He is owned in 2/3 of all Y! leagues, but should be almost universally owned. At 6'5" 250 and a second year quarterback at the helm, Cook could see in excess of 60 catches and a handful of TD's. Cook is big, physical, and quick, and Locker will look to him underneath often. In week 15 last year, with Locker in at QB, Cook caught 9 of Lockers 11 completions and accounted for 103 of Lockers 108 passing yards. This might be the start of something special.
James Starks RB GB - I'm not a huge fan of Starks, and he burned me bad last season as a sleeper pick on a great GB offense. But the guy has little standing in his way of at least a part-time starting gig. With a full season under his belt, and if the chips fall right in Wisconsin, I.E. an injury or Alex Green not working out (which are not too far fetched), Starks could step in and gain some points for your team. Don't hold your breath, but keep him on your watch list. Any starter in Green Bay is worth your consideration.
Ed Dickson TE Bal - Dickson is going to be a matchup problem for any LB in the league if he can learn how to hold onto passes. He has plenty of speed (4.59 40yd.) and tons of size and strength (6'4" 260) to succeed in the league. If you need a tight end, or backup tight end for your team, take a peek at the 14% Y! owned Dickson.
Alex Smith QB SF - If you are looking for a backup quarterback in a deeper league right now, then turn to Alex Smith. He is more of a game manager in San Fran, but has plenty of weapons around him, and should outproduce some of the QB's I've seen go late in drafts as backups. Smith is owned in less than 50% of leagues, and put up 3100 yards and a 17/5 TD/INT ratio last year. Add to that the fact that the 49ers brought in Manningham, Moss, and Jacobs for him to play with, and you got yourself a deep league backup QB option on the waiver wire.
DEEP LEAGUE SLEEPERS:
David Nelson WR Buf - OK, I know this isn't a guy you would run right out and grab, hell, he's only owned in under 10% of all leagues. But I am a fan of this Bills team. Their revamped D will give the offense many more opportunities, and that means more action for Nelson. Big Dave is a 6'5" 220 lb. physical freak, much in the mold of a poor mans Vincent Jackson. Nelson has enough speed to get down field, the size to box out defensive backs, and good enough hands to catch most of the passes thrown his way. Nelson is not primed for the starting gig, but with Fitzpatrick throwing to him and Stevie Johnson taking double teams, look for Nelson to AT LEAST match his performance from a year ago. Look for a 65-750-5 line as your un-drafted #5 WR.
Mohamed Sanu WR Cin - I think that eventually the Jerome Simpson departure in Cincy will have cleared a path for the 6'2" 210lb Sanu. The gifted receiver out of Rutgers was a third round pick in the past draft, and there is not much on the Bengals roster in his way. Sanu had 115 receptions in college last season, and will compete with Brandon Tate for a starting gig across the field from A.J. Green on what seems to be shaping up as a potent Cincy offense.
The NFL season is scheduled to start next week, so in short it's about time to post my predictions for the year. This past off-season there were several headlines that will play a big part in the standings this year. We saw Peyton Manning take his act (and repaired neck/shoulders) to Denver. RG3 and Andrew Luck were all of the hype at this years draft and could pay major dividends to their respective teams. We saw the Bills defense beef up, Josh McDaniels reunite with Brandon Lloyd and bring in Greg Salas to New England. Jahvid Best is already injured, Chad Johnson and T.O. have already been cut from their teams, and Tebow is in the Big Apple.
It's hard to pick any other teams than the Patriots, Texans, and 49ers in their divisions. The AFC South is looking like a college football division. The Patriots have brought in some outstanding pieces to add to their lethal offense, and their D has been beefed up as well. The 9ers don't have too much competition in the Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams, but you never know who will surprise.
Without further ado, I will provide my outlook on the season, as well as some sleeper teams, teams on the rise, and teams on the decline.
Call me crazy, but one team that I think will take it to another level this season is the Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick is an amazingly smart quarterback, who knows how to manage a clock. He has some very solid WR's in Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, and David Nelson is a great possession receiver. Spiller and Fast Freddy are good backs. I think with their revamped D (Kyle Williams, Mario Williams) and Chan Gailey finally getting comfortable with this team, they will surprise. I also like the Cheifs, Redskins, Buccaneers to all improve with new coaching, new players or both. I think Peyton Hillis makes a bid for comeback player of the year, and Cam Newton settles down and bit and we see some sophomore struggles. The Broncos, even with Peyton Manning could be the worst team in the playoffs, simply because of the division they are in and I think Manning slows down toward the end of the season. Robert Griffin III outplays Andrew Luck in their first years, only because of the better team that he is taking over the helm for. Give the Colts a couple more years to get back on their feet, and they will be laughing all the way to the bank as the Broncos pay Peyton Manning and cringe with each hit on him.
I think this is the year that the Eagles finally play the way they are supposed to have been all along, and I think that Aaron Rodgers finally shows that he is human, as he can't carry the Packers by himself. They are getting old on D, and they have no running game to speak of.
I think that Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, and Alshon Jeffery have the best chance at winning the Offensive ROY this year, as they both step into great situations: Cutler will look Jefferey's way often as Marshall is double teamed. I think Alshon is a All-Pro in the making. Griffin III as I said earlier, is a great bet to transition the smoothest of this draft class, but Shanahan has a way of tangling an offense up. Doug Martin is in an unbelievable situation in Tampa Bay, as he is running behind one of the best lines in football, and has been given the keys to the Tampa Bay hypothetical car.
My favorite two players for Defensive ROY this year has to be Chandler Jones in New England and Luke Keuchly in Carolina. Jones is rushing the quarterback on an unbelievably talented NE front seven. Jerod Mayo, Wilfork, Hightower, Cunningham etc. will all lead the way, leaving single coverage for the 6'5" 270 speedster on the edge. Look for 10+ sacks from Jones. And I'm not joking. The kid is for real. Keuchly is an extraordinary linebacker coming out of Boston College in this years draft. He had more than 190 tackles last year, and should crack 100 in the NFL level. He has a great mentor back in Carolina in Jon Beason, who should clear space for Keuchly to roam free. Keuchly could single-handedly help carry Carolina to a playoff spot in his rookie season.
This is the year the Patriots bring the trophy to New England.
1. NE Patriots 12-4
2. Buffalo Bills 10-6
3. NY Jets 8-8
4. Miami Dolphins 5-11
The Pats should have no trouble putting this division away. They have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. The Bills finally contend this year and secure a wild card spot. Tebow is not the answer in NY with an awful Jets offense.
1. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
2. Baltimore Ravens 9-7
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7
4. Cleveland Browns 6-10
This division is going to be gritty, for sure. The Ravens and Steelers should be a lock for the playoffs, but the Bengals could seriously surprise if their cards are played right. I think the Bengals edge out the Steelers for the W.C. spot. The Browns improve with a new qb and lawfirm carrying the ball.
1. Houston Texans 12-4
2. Tennessee Titans 8-8
3. Indianapolis Colts 6-10
4. Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
This could be the softest division in football. Unless the Titans play strong, the Texans should be one a few sure-fire locks to make the playoffs. They need AJ and Schaub to stay healthy though. The Jags and Colts will struggle to find wins this year, but Luck is a champion at QB.
1. Denver Broncos 10-6
2. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
3. Oakland Raiders 7-9
4. San Diego Chargers 6-10
The AFC West could be a very tricky division this year. Peyton has a great situation in Denver this year, but I don't think he will necessarily work wonders. The Chiefs have a solid D, and I think this is a great landing spot for Peyton Hillis. Oakland and the Chargers should cancel each other out, and I think inexperience and injuries could affect these teams.
1. Philadelphia Eagles 12-4
2. NY Giants 11-5
3. Washington Redskins 9-7
4. Dallas Cowboys 7-9
The NFC East is probably the most competitive division, and I don't think any of these teams will have a losing season. The Eagles have one of the best D-Lines and secondaries in football, and the Giants and Tom Coughlin know how to win. The Cowboys seem to be in a tailspin and the Skins will continue to improve as RG3 learns the NFL game.
1. Green Bay Packers 11-5
2. Chicago Bears 11-5
3. Detroit Lions 9-7
4. Minnesota Vikings 5-11
Another very tough division, I liken this one to the AFC North - cold, gritty, muddy, defense first football. The Bears and Packers could tie in this division because I am not sold on the Packers running game, and the Bears have only slightly improved their O-Line. The Lions cannot continue to rely on solely Stafford and Megatron. They need to continue to shore up the D and running game very soon.
1. Atlanta Falcons 12-4
2. New Orleans Saints 10-6
3. Carolina Panthers 9-7
4. Tampa Bay Bucs 8-8
I like the Bucs more than this if they played in most other divisions. The Falcons are just about unstoppable with that offense. I think the Saints take a step back this season but they could play somewhat inspired after the scandal last season. Cam Newton is good, but not good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. Steve Smith is getting old.
1. San Fransisco 49ers 10-6
2. Seattle Seahawks 7-9
3. Arizona Cardinals 6-10
4. St. Louis Rams 5-11
The 9ers are not the best team in the league on paper, but they play inspired football and are coached very well. They have a very touch schedule, too. The rest of this division is a jumbled mess of problems and question marks. Seattle is a tough place to play and that should be the saving grace for the Seahawks this year. This division has the toughest schedules in football in my opinion.
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills over Denver Broncos
NE Patriots over Buffalo Bills
Cincinnati Bengals over Houston Texans
Patriots over Bengals
Chicago Bears over NY Giants
Green Bay Packers over San Fransisco 49ers
Atlanta Falcons over Green Bay Packers
Chicago Bears over Philadelphia Eagles
Falcons over Bears