Author Archives: Mike MacGregor

Post-NFL Preseason Week 3 Projections and Rankings Update, Team Notes

Doug Martin (22) of the Buccaneers runs the ball during the NFL regular season game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. October 13, 2013; Photographer: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

Rookie Charles Sims looked good through training camp, threatening our relatively high ranking on Doug Martin. Now Sims is out injured and Martin has a more solid hold on a heavy workload out of the Bucs backfield. Photo: Icon Sportswire

The late nights are catching up with me, but before we know it, football will officially be here! Many fantasy football drafts are done, and still many more to go. There was a lot of news and value changes – some big, some small – as a result of Week 3 NFL preseason games, including another concussion for Wes Welker and another ACL tear for Sam Bradford. Without further adieu, here are the notes to accompany our newly updated player projections and cheatsheet rankings.

A new copy of Projection Pal with the updated projections will be available shortly for Draft Buddy users.

Buffalo Bills

WR Sammy Watkins was inactive for the Bills less than stellar preseason performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has sore ribs. The wilder E.J. Manuel looks, and now this, the more difficult it is to get excited about Watkins to start the season.

Baltimore Ravens

All this while it was looking promising Bernard Pierce would open the season as the starter while Ray Rice sat out, suspended. If Pierce impresses during his short stint, then who knows what could happen. However, Pierce suffered a head injury in preseason action against the Washington Redskins. They are not calling it a concussion, which is positive, but there is some added risk here.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton has a hairline fracture to one of his ribs. Sounds painful! But, I expect Cam will tough it out and start Week 1. We aren’t adjusting our already low ranking, but fantasy owners will surely be wincing every time he takes off to run for the next little while. This puts a small damper on the Kelvin Benjamin hype building from the Panthers last preseason game.

Cleveland Browns

After a lackluster Week 2 preseason game by both quarterbacks, the Browns named Brian Hoyer their regular season starter, and Johnny Manziel will sit, learn and bide his time. For the significance of the news, there won’t be much of a rankings change. Hoyer jumps from Tier 8 to the bottom of Tier 7, while Manziel holds steady.

Denver Broncos

WR Wes Welker suffered a concussion in the Broncos Week 3 preseason game on a hit by safety D.J. Swearinger of the Houston Texans, and on a poor decision by Peyton Manning to throw it to him in heavy traffic. Welker’s value now plummets. The team line is they hope he is cleared to play Week 1, but on his third concussion in recent memory, don’t count on it.

K Matt Prater is suspended for the first four games of the season. Great offense, but still, just a kicker. The Broncos have a bye in Week 4, so he can return prior to Week 6. Maybe pick him up off waivers before Week 5 if your kicker isn’t cutting the mustard.

Green Bay Packers

TE Brandon Bostick has a slight fracture of his fibula and will be on the shelf at least a few weeks into the regular season. Some more clarity of the tight end situation in Green Bay through attrition. It won’t be Bostick and it won’t be Colt Lyerla, out for the season. Richard Rodgers appears to be the guy if you have to have a piece of this action. Andrew Quarless, who is not good (for fantasy), but a veteran, is still kicking around.

Miami Dolphins

UDFA RB Damien Williams is ahead of Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee on the depth chart. Considering what little we’ve seen from Knowshon Moreno so far, and it is late in the preseason, this is somewhat significant. A name to keep in mind.

Update – I started to write this prior to the Dolphins-Dallas Cowboys game – Moreno ran 10 times for 64 yards. Nice stat line.

TE Charles Clay is expected to play in the Dolphins third preseason game. Keep on eye on it. We’ve got him down the rankings from a bunch of places since he’s been sitting out with a knee injury. Update – he did play, so that is good news.

Minnesota Vikings

New report the Vikings just officially named Matt Cassel their starting QB. Don’t draft Cassel. Drafting Teddy Bridgewater is highly speculative in redraft leagues unless it is of the 2QB variety or with exceptionally deep rosters.

New England Patriots

RB Shane Vereen is rising up boards with his continued strong preseason play. He looks good. I was ready to take him in the early 4th round in a draft on Saturday night (some keepers in play, but not a lot) when he was snapped up a pick before me.

New York Giants

WR Odell Beckham Jr. missed the Giants third preseason game with a hamstring injury. This is the same hamstring he’s dealt with most of preseason. He’s behind the curve now and probably shouldn’t be drafted in most redraft leagues unless they use fairly deep rosters.

Philadelphia Eagles

RB LeSean McCoy sprained his thumb during the team’s Week 3 preseason game. Doesn’t look serious but wanted to mention it.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are in trouble with police – charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and Bell is also being charged with driving under the influence, since it was his car and he was behind the wheel. Nice job, L.B. and L.B. No news on punishment from the team or league right now. Should be minimal, and potentially take a while, so no change in rankings really but understand there is an element of risk hanging over Bell in particular.

St. Louis Rams

Much to the chagrin of our own Dave Stringer, die hard Rams fan, QB Sam Bradford was diagnosed with a torn ACL and is out for the season. Backup Shaun Hill takes over. NFL AM on NFL Network can’t help themselves bringing up the flimsy parallel between this and the Trent Green-Kurt Warner circumstances from 1999. Stealing a line from another oft-annoying network, “C’mon Man!”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Since our last update, rookie Charles Sims hurt his ankle in practice and will miss significant time. Although the Bucs still have decent depth behind Doug Martin in Mike James and Bobby Rainey, they will lean more on Martin. Fantasy owners were down on Martin all preseason for different reasons, including more even splitting the workload in Tampa than we would hope for from an RB1. Now that is off the table, he should move up in drafts. We consistently had him higher than most, currently RB8, so no move necessary in our rankings.

Pre-NFL Preseason Week 2 Projections and Rankings Update, Team Notes

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) on the field following the end of the fourth quarter at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. December 1, 2013; Photographer: Andrew Richardson/Icon Sportswire

More questions than answers about Rob Gronkowski’s health and status to start the regular season, yet fantasy players are loving the chance to add him in the late 2nd to early 3rd round in redraft leagues. I’m preaching more caution than that. Photo: Andrew Richardson

Another week closer to the start of the season as Week 2 of preseason is underway. Lets get this week’s projections and rankings update done prior to the weekend, for those drafting in the next few days.

I’ve got an auction draft over at Reality Sports Online on Friday night. Here are the team news and notes to compliment the changes you’ll find in our projections and rankings since last time.

Have you got Draft Buddy yet? It help create custom cheatsheets and track your draft. Please forgive this unabashed plug, but check it out and sign up here! I’ll update Projection Pal for our projections so you can easily import them into Buddy.

Arizona Cardinals

The Andre Ellington bandwagon is picking up steam on reports the Cardinals hope to get him 20 touches per game, and they aren’t going to play him much in the preseason. (Yes, I understand there is some hypocrisy where if some players don’t play = bad; others don’t play = good. It’s a tricky balancing act, just roll with it.) At any rate, we’ve got a butt cheek on the wagon and at this point I believe I would take him above Arian Foster, while rankings partner-in-crime Dave would not.

Ron Jaworski is excited about Cards rookie QB Logan Thomas. We love Jaws, but he does get overly excited at times. Nothing to see here for redraft, folks.

Atlanta Falcons

RB Steven Jackson continues to miss practice with a hamstring injury. He’s an okay bet as a third running back on your fantasy team. Similarly, rookie Devonta Freeman is an okay bet as a rookie and handcuff who may be thrust into more opportunity than planned when the Falcons drafted him.

Baltimore Ravens

WR Steve Smith is getting good reviews out of Ravens camp. Guy is a baller. I remember the last time he was considered done and a complete after thought in fantasy drafts prior to the 2011 season. 2011 stats: 79 for 1,394 and 7 TD. Going to be tougher to do it now, but if he’s sitting there near the end of an auction going for just a few bucks, I’ll buy.

Chicago Bears

TE Martellus Bennett is back after his suspension… in fact, he was welcomed back about 5 minutes after our last update in which I downgraded him. However, it isn’t like I didn’t expect him back at some point. The downgrade was more because of the limited upside he offers relative to some guys who were just below him. I’m not moving him back up.

Cincinnati Bengals

WR Marvin Jones has a broken foot and will miss at least a few weeks and quite possibly a lot more. This opens up things for Mohamed Sanu who should start in Jones’ place. I wouldn’t consider Jones a great stash for later pick.

Cleveland Browns

Since every update needs a comment about the Browns QB situation, here goes… they signed Rex Grossman and waived Tyler Thigpen. Kidding! Well, that is true, but not what you were after I assume. The Browns are indicating they want to decide who the regular season starter is after their Week 3 preseason game.

Latest on Josh Gordon is a decision expected next week as to whether his year long suspension gets reduced or not.

Detroit Lions

WR Calvin Johnson is wearing a protective split on his finger that required offseason surgery. The finger didn’t bother him, or his fantasy owners, last year, so lets chalk this up as a report I felt should be mentioned to keep you in the know, but a non-issue otherwise.

Green Bay Packers

UDFA TE Colt Lyerla tore his ACL and is done for the season. Dynasty players and draftniks may be more familiar with the name. We wiped all Packers out of our TE rankings week ago given the uncertainty with their depth chart.

Houston Texans

The Texans released RB Andre Brown. This is somewhat surprising as Brown played well for the New York Giants and was the clear favorite to backup Arian Foster. Dennis Johnson also got the axe. Jonathan Grimes is the name to put on your radar, along with rookie Alfred Blue.

Indianapolis Colts

RB Ahmad Bradshaw says he expects to play Week 1 of the regular season. He is the primary backup behind Trent Richardson. You could do a lot worse late in your draft adding Bradshaw as a speculative upside pick.

Miami Dolphins

RB Knowshon Moreno will miss the Dolphins second preseason game but is slated to be back in action for their third game.

TE Charles Clay is still missing practice with a knee injury. Clay was a surprise and big boost to his fantasy owners last season, most of whom grabbed him off the waiver wire. Given this injury however, look to upside picks at TE like Zach Ertz or Jordan Reed, or even more reliable options like Delanie Walker, before Clay until he’s healthy.

New England Patriots

Rookie RB James White is making a good impression, earning first-team reps in practice while Stevan Ridley works with the second-team. The way the Pats use their running backs is potentially maddening for fantasy owners, but White is going so late in drafts he’s worth a shot. Ridley would appear to be a pass, let someone else take him, at this point.

Rob Gronkowski is apparently 50-50 for the opener. I guess that is as good a guess as any. We can be certain the Patriots won’t spill the beans either way. Picture Bill Belichick doing an impression of Ivan Drago: “If he plays, he plays.”

Listen, I understand if/when Gronk returns to action he is a huge boost to your fantasy lineup on a PPG basis, BUT, he isn’t even guaranteed to start the season. Yet I see tweets to the effect of: “Got Gronk 2.12.” “Seriously? Steal!” “Yeah, take that every time.” Say what? Its not like the second or early third round are throw caution to the wind picks. Gronk is not a must-have to win your league. At that price let someone else take the risk.

BTW, Friday news update: Gronk apparently favoring his knee and limping at practice. The saga continues…

New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees remains out with an oblique injury. This one has me slightly worried, knowing how bad oblique injuries can be for baseball players. They are less common in football. Brees will sit this week’s preseason game and hopefully he’ll return to action next week.

A recent Saints depth chart indicates Pierre Thomas is third in the pecking order at running back behind Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. The Saints love the RBBC, and Thomas is their best pass catcher (although Ingram is no slouch), but this would seem to indicate Ingram and Robinson are performing well. We’re going to squeeze these guys closer together in the rankings.

New York Giants

Rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr. is at practice, working his way back into the swing of things after a hamstring injury sidelined him. He’s behind the curve right now, but this is the first positive news is some time. Jerrel Jernigan is working with the starters and playing the slot. The Giants passing game looks… uninspiring.

New York Jets

RB Chris Ivory is still limited due to a rib injury, but still not moving Chris Johnson up.

WR Eric Decker is not practicing due to a quadriceps injury. Will revisit if we are concerned or not closer to the start of the season.

Oakland Raiders

TE Nick Kasa tore his ACL. Who? He got a very minimal mention in our last update, so this became newsworthy.

Philadelphia Eagles

WR Riley Cooper is still out with a foot injury but hopes to play in the team’s third preseason game. Check our recent Players To Avoid article for my comments on Jeremy Maclin. Same applies to Cooper, except less talent and less injury prone. I don’t see a lot of reason to draft this guy even in the bottom half of the draft.

Players to Avoid for 2014 Fantasy Football Drafts

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarelle Patterson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin; Photo: Icon Sportswire

Hopefully Dave, Tony, Tim and I are not kicked out of the fantasy football experts union, but we can’t in good conscience recommend these players, including Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarelle Patterson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin. Photo: Icon Sportswire

Our website contributors – Dave Stringer, Anthony Fashoda, Tim Grinstead and yours truly – each came up with our own top players to target and players to avoid lists for 2014 fantasy football drafts, from which I summarized into two articles. Yesterday I posted Top Players To Target. This is our Top Players To Avoid.

The players are organized into groups based on the number of times they were on each list. All of the 2 Vote or greater picks are here, plus some select honorable mentions that only received 1 Vote each. Most of the players listed are relative to their current average draft position, so keep that in mind as ADP can change between now and draft day for players.

3 Votes

Trent Richardson (Dave, Tim, Mike)

Dave feels that with an ADP of 5.04, Richardson is a major reach, getting bumped up on name recognition only considering his efforts from a year ago. He could be solid but why would anybody bank on that at this point in a draft? Tim doesn’t see evidence of greatness in T-Rich. Donald Brown was a better runner last year, while Richardson plods along. He could benefit in the touchdown department from the otherwise strong offense he’s in, but we are looking for a good two-down back between the 20s at this stage, not one who has to score a pair from the goal line to have decent fantasy value.

Percy Harvin (Dave, Tony, Mike)

Dave says Harvin is a supreme talent but injury prone, and in an offense that is all too happy to pound the ball, you can expect some major inconsistency. Tony and I are also worried about Harvin’s ability to stay healthy, and he’s never been a big touchdown guy. He scored 8 in 2011 (excluding special teams) on 87 catches and 51 rushes with the Minnesota Vikings, and we don’t have a lot of confidence the Seahawks will use him that much. There are much safer WR choices in the same ballpark as Harvin.

Eric Ebron (Dave, Tim, Tony)

We joked about this one via email because Ebron has been both pulled up and pushed down our rankings at different times since the Detroit Lions drafted him. Now we have consensus to avoid, with Ebron struggling to learn the playbook and listed third on the team’s depth chart. Only Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez performed well enough as rookie tight ends in recent memory to be worthy of spending a draft pick in most redraft league formats. Consider Ebron a wasted pick in the 11th round.

Kyle Rudolph (Dave, Tim, Mike)

Rudolph is very touchdown dependent for his fantasy relevance to this point of his career. He was on pace for 60 catches and 626 yards last year, which would each be career highs, so maybe there is something for Norv Turner to work with here after making Jordan Cameron and Antonio Gates before him fantasy stars, but there are lots of available tight ends with similar or more upside at the same price. There is no real reason to reach for Rudolph and be disappointed.

2 Votes

Cam Newton (Tim, Mike)

Its one thing to not have top shelf quality receivers, and quite another to lose your top three veteran wide receivers all at once, replacing them with scraps from other teams and a rookie. Newton also lost his starting left tackle, and there is still uncertainty about how effective he will be on his surgically repaired ankle. That doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy when my running quarterback potentially has an ankle problem. Given these changes and risks, there are a lot of quarterbacks with lower ADP we’d rather draft.

Doug Martin (Dave, Tony)

Martin is coming back from injury, needs to prove himself again to a brand new coaching regime, and there are whispers of a RBBC in a talented and deep backfield in Tampa Bay. There are numerous red flags for Martin which, albeit each might be small, add up to him being a little too risky for such a high pick. If you draft Martin, then keep in tune with how rookie Charles Sims is performing.

Arian Foster (Tony, Mike)

As mentioned in our Players To Target article, we have an even split on the prospects of Arian Foster. Dave and Tim say target, Tony and Mike say avoid. Might need to put an ice bucket challenge on the line for this one.

Speaking for both Tony and I, we’re obviously concerned about the wear and tear on Foster that caught up with him last season. He is already in and out of practice with a hamstring injury. While he’s in line for plenty of touches in this offense, expect some major growing pains for the Texans that will deflate his fantasy points per touch. Tony adds that Foster spoke of considering retirement after last season, so he questions how much his mind is in the game, especially on a rebuilding team. For this high a draft pick, don’t bank on a big rebound.

Cordarrelle Patterson (Dave, Tim)

Patterson has all the talent in the world but is extremely raw, and fantasy players, as they often do, could be jumping the gun here expecting a lot more targets for Patterson than the coaching staff is going to be ready to give him. He is just too much of a boom or bust option at his current price. His ADP has him above guys like Roddy White, Desean Jackson and Michael Crabtree, receivers in better offenses that provide a lot more certainty they will provide positive return on investment.

Sammy Watkins (Dave, Tony)

Watkins could turn out to be better than the 30th ranked wide receiver, which is his current ADP, but Dave isn’t grabbing him at that point with players such as Marques Colston, Terrance Williams and Kendall Wright still available. Tony feels Watkins will be capped by poor quarterback play from E.J. Manuel. Even if the Buffalo Bills force feed Watkins to earn a high catch count, defenses are going to figure that out pretty quickly unless Manuel takes a huge step forward in his development.

Honorable Mention (1 Vote)

C.J. Spiller (Tim)

Not one, but two quality running backs, Fred Jackson and Bryce Brown, are champing at the bit for carries behind Spiller. The passing game is a huge question mark with a strong lean to being pessimistic, from which defenses will load the box against the run. There is some hyperbole from coaches of transitioning Bryce Brown to become the starter given Spiller is in the last year of his contract.

Jeremy Maclin (Mike)

Maybe this is redundant now that Maclin suffered a hamstring injury in the Philadelphia Eagles joint practice with the New England Patriots, and he will miss their next preseason game. Prior to this late breaking news, I was going to say, I see an injury prone so-so talent. Sometimes one has to reality check the excitement about a player being a cog in an exciting up-tempo offense, and dig a little deeper. I dug a little deeper and decided I would rather have a lot of other receivers regularly drafted later than Maclin.

Larry Fitzgerald (Dave)

Fitzgerald may be Hall of Fame bound but he has become incredibly touchdown reliant, failing to surpass 1,000 yards with a subpar yards per catch in each of the last two seasons. Feeling confident that Michael Floyd will bust out in 2014, that means drafting Fitzgerald earlier doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Kansas City Chiefs Defense / Special Teams (Tony)

In 2013, the Chiefs played an easy early schedule which set them up well, but they fell off when playing true competition. They scored 6 of 7 defensive touchdowns in the first nine weeks. Fifth defense off the board in drafts this year? No thanks.