The Know-It-All Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rundown

Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rankings

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

NON-PPR Formats

1st Round Buys & Sells

Buy:

Aaron Rodgers, GB–  Best Player in this format. Has all the weapons and the offensive line.

LeSean McCoy, PHI– Yes I had him as a bust in PPR formats, but in TD leagues he produces. Expect 1300 yards & 15 Total TDs

Drew Bress, NO– 40+ TDS & 5,000 yards are almost a sure thing for him. Plays a schedule that is top 3 for Quarterbacks this season.

Ray Rice, Bal– 22% Redzone success rate in 2011. Consistent and the go to guy in Baltimore

Brandon Marshall, CHI– If you end up with a late 1st rounder, I would consider Marshall. He is reunited with Cutler where in Denver he averaged 1,300 yards and hit double digit TDs. Some people will bring up his off the field problems, but statistically I look at this as a safe pick.

Sell:

Chris Johnson, TEN–  He doesn’t score TDs anymore. Played 16 games last year and ended up with 4 TDs. Only scored once in the first 8 games.

Cam Newton, CAR– Defenses figured him out in the 2nd half last year. He is a dual threat, but not a big enough threat in the air. He is the most overrated player in Fantasy Football this year. He could have 10 rushing TDs, but if he only passes for 15-17 you are not getting much overall. If you don’t land a Brady, Rodgers, or Bress- wait and get a Romo, Rivers or Ryan in the 6th Round or later.

Matt Stafford, DET– No we are not related. You see 41 TDs last year and you dream big. Let me bring you back to reality. The Lions will be forced to run the ball more this year and they have a nice 3 back set to accomplish that. He threw for a career high 663 times. If you break down his YPA and his TD/ATP ratio, they are horrible. He is no Aaron Rodgers, who threw 162 less passes and had 4 more touchdowns. A top QB, but not elite.

DeMarco Murray, DAL– Through 13 games he only scored twice. Overall he scored on only 5% of his Redzone touches. He is Felix Jones 2.0.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC– Hate to pick on him two days in a row, but he just has too many negatives going against him in NON-PPR Formats. His below average offensive line and under performing QB cannot get this successful scoring RB into the redzone. The holdout ordeal doesn’t help either.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

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My NFL Player Awards

With the conclusion of the 2011 NFL regular season, comes the individual player awards.  So before the award winners are named and the season is complete I would like to throw out who I believe deserve the awards, who I believe will win, and my preseason predictions.   So without further ado, my 2011 NFL award winners.

2011 NFL MVP

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

My Preseason Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

My Midseason Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Who I Believe Will Win: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

This has been an unbelievable year at the quarterback position and traditionally the MVP award goes to a quarterback (unless a running back or wide receiver just has an off-the-charts year) so I continue that tradition.  Prior to the 2011 season there had only been two instances of a 5,000 yard passing season and now this year we saw three such performances including Brees becoming the first QB to ever pass for 5,000 yards in a season twice as he shattered Dan Marino’s record for passing in a single season.   We have witnessed the 1st, 2nd, and 5th best passing yardage totals in NFL history this season.  He also set an NFL record for most 300 yard games in a season and completion percentage while leading the most prolific offense in NFL history in terms of yardage and first downs. This is a tough call because I cannot discount what Rodgers has done this season – posting a 122.5 passer rating and passing for 45 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions while leading the Packers to a 15-1 record – and I’ve been conflicted the last couple of weeks between Rodgers and Brees but luckily something happened today that gave the edge to Brees.  Today Matt Flynn took the reins of a great Packers team and did something no Packers QB has ever done, not Rodgers, not Favre, not Starr.  He threw for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns – both Packers franchise records.  I am not trying to discount Rodgers but the MVP award is for the Most Valuable Player.  Without Rodgers, the Packers would still be a playoff team – this is not true of the Saints.  I believe that Drew Brees is more valuable to his team than any other player in the NFL and  for that reason he’s my MVP.

*On a sidenote Steve McNair and Peyton Manning showed us a few years ago there can be co-MVPs and this is one year where I would completely satisfied with Brees and Rodgers sharing the award

But High Fives all around to:

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

2. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

3. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

5. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

Offensive Player of the Year

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

My Preseason Pick: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

My Midseason Pick: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

Who I Believe Will Win: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

This was another tough award because a case can be made here for any of the 3 5,000 yard club quarterbacks, Calvin Johnson, and of course the all-purpose yards record holder Darren Sproles but I have to give the nod to Gronk.  He shattered the record for touchdowns by a tight end in a single season with 17.   If you throw in his more than 1,300 yards receiving and you realize that doesn’t make Gronkowski an elite NFL tight end, it makes him an elite NFL receiver.  When you look at his numbers you will begin to realize that he was responsible for nearly a third of Tom Brady’s passing yards this season and almost half of his touchdowns.   I would argue that Gronkowski was the Patriots’ MVP this year and was a big part of New England wrapping up the #1 seed in the AFC this year and Tom Brady posting the second best passing yards total in NFL history.

But High Fives all around to:

1. Darren Sproles, RB, New Orleans Saints

2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

3. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

4. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

5. Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Defensive Player of the Year

Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

My Preseason Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

My Midseason Pick: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

Who I Believe Will Win: Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings

It is a shame that the Vikings were so bad this season because Jared Allen just turned in one of the best defensive seasons any player has ever had.  He capped off an amazing 22 sack season with a 3.5 sack performance against the Bears on Sunday falling half a sack shy of Michael Strahan’s record.  Of course in Allen’s defense he didn’t have Brett Favre to fall on the ground for him like Strahan did.   Many know that I define Future Hall of Famer as someone who if they were to retire from their sport today they would get elected into the Hall of Fame.  This season with his 22 sack performance and becoming the 2nd fastest player to the 100 sack club, Jared Allen is indeed worthy of that title.  This was one of the easiest awards for me to choose because after today’s performance – who else would you choose?

But High Fives all around to:

1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

2. London Fletcher, ILB, Washington Redskins

3. Brian Cushing, ILB, Houston Texans

Comeback Player of the Year

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Preseason Pick: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Midseason Pick: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Who I Believe Will Win: Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

There were many who were ready to label former #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford a “bust” in just his third season in the league because of an unbelievable streak of unrelated injuries.  There were many who thought he was just another cursed Lions quarterback.  Then all of a sudden this season not only did Stafford stay healthy, he became just the 4th quarterback to pass for over 5,000 yards in a season and had 41 passing touchdowns leading the Lions to their first playoff appearance in over 10 years.  There were some great comeback stories this year but in challenging for the NFL MVP award, Stafford takes the cake.

But High Fives all around to:

1. Nick Barnett, ILB, Buffalo Bills

2. D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, Cleveland Browns

3. Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver Broncos

4. Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Jets

NFL Coach of the Year

Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

Preseason Pick: Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

Midseason Pick: Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills

Who I Believe Will Win: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

The only thing I had the 49ers wrapping up in Week 17 before the season started was the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  I never really thought the 49ers would make the playoffs, let alone win the NFC West or wrap up a first round bye.  What Harbaugh has pulled off this season is nothing short of incredible.  His team neglected to draft a 1st round quarterback when many (myself included) said that was what needed to be done and lost their second best defensive player and in turn they put together maybe the best defense in the League and have gotten a solid season out of Alex Smith.  I have been really impressed with Harbaugh and believe the 49ers will compete for years to come.

But High Fives All Around to:

1. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

2. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

3. John Fox, Denver Broncos

4. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions

5. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

NFL Executive of the Year

Mike Brown, Owner/President, Cincinnati Bengals

My Preseason Pick: N/A

My Midseason Pick: Mike Brown, Owner/President, Cincinnati Bengals

Who I Believe Will Win: Mike Brown, Owner/President, Cincinnati Bengals

I have had a few months to soak it in and am still in absolute awe of what Mike Brown has pulled off this season.  He shipped Chad Ochocinco to New England for a draft pick and then he used his first round draft pick to draft the ultra-athletic A.J. Green who just turned in the best rookie WR campaign since Anquan Boldin in 2003.  He then used his 2nd round draft pick on QB Andy Dalton who had a Pro Bowl caliber season and led the Bengals to the playoffs and just their third winning season in the last 20 years.   Nobody saw this kind of success for the Bengals but Brown had a plan.  And if that wasn’t enough, Brown then took a quarterback who was sitting on his couch and the Bengals had no use for (Carson Palmer) and traded him right before the deadline to the Raiders for two first round draft picks.  Brown has the Bengals in position to not only compete this year but for years to come.

But High Fives all around to: Just Mike Brown, no one else even comes close…

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Preseason Pick: Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

Midseason Pick: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

Who I Believe Will Win: Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

I often discussed Cam Newton as a high risk/high reward draft pick for the Panthers and my personal thoughts were high risk and that he was going to be garbage.  I could not have been more wrong.  Cam Newton was not only impressive, not only did he turn in one of the best QB seasons of all time – he turned in  one of the best quarterback seasons of all time.  He became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and the first quarterback to ever throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 in the same season.  Newton’s 4,051 yards passing and 706 yards rushing are impressive enough but even more amazing is that Newton set a record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season with 14.  Which by the way was more rushing touchdowns than every running back in the league except LeSean McCoy.   I have been amazed by Newton this season and looking forward to some really great things from him and the Panthers in coming years.

But High Fives All Around to:

1. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

2. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

3. Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

4. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys

5. Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

My Preseason Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

My Midseason Pick: Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

Who I Believe Will Win: Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos

When the clock started ticking last April for the Denver Broncos, I thought Von Miller was the obvious choice.  Miller reminds me alot of Patrick Willis his rookie year, someone that just came into the league and right away and established himself as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.   I thought coming into the draft that Von Miller or Patrick Peterson were the most talented, NFL-ready players in the draft and Miller did not let me down.  In his rookie season, he finished 3rd in the AFC in sacks and while all the talk was about Tebow, Miller is the bigger story and the real hero of the Broncos making their postseason run.  He was the young leader of one of the NFL’s best defenses and he will be a premier linebacker for seasons to come.

But High Fives All Around to:

1. Aldon Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers

2. Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals

3. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington Redskins

5. Mason Foster, MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!


2011 NFL Midseason Awards

It’s hard to believe but we’re already 8 games into the NFL season.  I always enjoy taking the middle of the season to take a look at what we’ve seen thus far and of course to see how what we’ve seen so far matches up to my predictions.  The people who I would give my midseason awards to are players who, if the season ended today, I believe would be taking home those awards.  There are some of these I really don’t expect to change much and others that I could see fluctuate drastically (especially rookie awards given that some rookies have only 2 or 3 weeks under their belts).  Without further ado – My Midseason NFL awards.

NFL MVP – Aaron Rodgers, QB; Green Bay Packers

2011 Stats (7 games): 2,372 yards passing, 20 TDs, 2 rushing TDs, 3 INT, 71.5% Completion

Aaron Rodgers is definitely running away with this award.  Right now he is only pace to finish the season with over 5,000 yards passing, 45 TDs, 4 rushing TDs, and only 7 interceptions.  The most important stat of all is that his Packers are 7-0 right now and poised to become the first team to repeat as NFC Champions since, well, the Green Bay Packers.

My Preseason Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB; Green Bay Packers

But high fives all around to: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Fred Jackson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Calvin Johnson

Comeback Player of the Year – Matthew Stafford, QB; Detroit Lions

2011 Stats (8 games): 19 TDs, 2,179 yds passing, 4 INT

The Detroit Lions have brought the college spread offense to the NFL.  With so many talented athletes and young offensive weapons, the Detroit Lions (yes, you heard me right) have one of the most exciting offenses in the NFL.  Stafford has led the Lions to a number of thrilling comeback victories.  The former #1 pick has rebounded from multiple injuries in a big way and has shown that he has what it takes to be the first Lions franchise QB in over 50 years.

My Preseason Pick: Matthew Stafford, QB; Detroit Lions

But high fives all around to: Nick Barnett and D’Qwell Jackson

Offensive Player of the Year – Calvin Johnson, WR; Detroit Lions

2011 Stats (8 games): 47 Receptions, 804 yds, 11 TDs, 17.1 YPC

Megatron has shown the freak athleticism that made him the #2 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft.  He has established himself as an elite NFL wideout.  He is a big part of the reason that Stafford is having such a breakout year and that the Lions are fighting for 1st place in the NFC North.   He is on pace to finish with over 1600 yds receiving and 22 receiving TDs (1 shy of Randy Moss’s single-season record).

But high fives all around to: Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers, and Adrian Peterson

My Preseason Pick: Adrian Peterson, RB; Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Player of the Year – Jared Allen, DE; Minnesota Vikings

2011 Stats (8 games): 12.5 sacks, 34 TKLs, 3 FFs, 1 INT

On a dreadful defensive unit, All-Pro Defensive End Jared Allen has been the sole bright spot.  He has had a sack in every game this season and is currently on pace to shatter Michael Strahan’s single season sack record of 22.5 and Chris Doleman’s Vikings franchise record of 21.  Allen has shown that even with half of the famed “Wall of America” no longer there he is still a force to be reckoned with.

My Preseason Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT; Detroit Lions

But high fives all around to: Patrick Willis, Darelle Revis, Justin Smith, DeMarcus Ware, and Charles Woodson

Coach of the Year – Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills

Many were quick (myself included) to crown the New England Patriots the AFC East Champions and the New York Jets the runner-up and AFC Wildcard.  The only thing we had crowned the Buffalo Bills was the winners of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  Gailey though has his Bills sitting in 1st place at the halfway mark in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL.  He has gotten the most out of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and running back Fred Jackson.  He has a defense that is making plays and Nick Barnett has resurrected his career.  The Buffalo Bills have been exciting to watch and appear to be a team destined to make the playoffs.

My Preseason Pick: Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans

But high fives all around to: Marvin Lewis, Jim Harbaugh, Jim Schwartz, Gary Kubiak, and Mike McCarthy

NFL Executive of the Year – Mike Brown, Owner/President; Cincinnati Bengals

Is there anyone right now that deserves more credit than Mike Brown?  He shipped Chad Ochocinco to the New England Patriots for two draft picks because he had grown weary of him.   Mike Brown then refused to trade Carson Palmer and instead let him retire.  He followed that up with an unbelievable draft by getting the athletic A.J. Green at WR in the first round and then QB Andy Dalton in the 2nd round who already have the Bengals with more wins than most thought they would have all season.  Regardless of all that, Brown takes home the prize for taking a retired QB that he was getting nothing out of in Palmer and trading him to Oakland for, potentially, two first round draft picks.  The Bengals are poised to compete for years to come because of the resolve of Mike Brown.

My Preseason Pick: N/A

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Cam Newton, QB; Carolina Panthers

2011 Stats (8 games): 11 TDs, 9 INT,  2,393 yds passing

I won’t lie, I thought Cam Newton was going to be garbage in this league.  While it is still too early to say what kind of Newton will have the future indeed looks promising.  The Panthers came out in Week 1 and Cam Newton became the first QB in NFL history to pass for more than 400 yards in his rookie debut.  The following week he passed for more than 400 yards again when he played the Green Bay Packers.  Because of Newton, Steve Smith, who was once unhappy playing for Carolina, is now leading the league in receiving yards and Newton generates the large majority of his team’s offense whether it be in the air or on the ground.  While I have been very impressed with this year’s rookie class (and crop of young quarterbacks), Newton is the obvious choice.

My Preseason Pick: Mark Ingram, RB; New Orleans Saints

But high fives all around to: Andy Dalton and A.J. Green

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Von Miller, OLB; Denver Broncos

2011 Stats (7 games): 26 TKLs, 6.0 sacks, 2 FFs

I thought the Von Miller was an obvious pick for the Denver Broncos.  As far as players go, I really thought he was the most NFL-ready player in the entire draft.  While Denver has just been awful, Von Miller has been a real bright spot for this team.  As a rookie he already has 6.0 sacks!  Though not as prolific, I see a lot of similarities between his rookie year and that of Patrick Willis.  I fully expect Von Miller to keep up this production and be a Pro-Bowler for years to come.

My Preseason Pick: Von Miller, OLB; Denver Broncos

But high fives all around to: Ryan Kerrigan, Aldon Smith, Marcell Dareus, and Patrick Peterson

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!


 

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

 

Week 4 Weekend Player Updates

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

You are either one of two people at the moment. You are sitting high and mighty at 3-0/2-1 or you are in a state of panic and disbelief at 0-3/1-2. I have been in both situations in the past. It can be easy for the team at the top to get complacent about their place in the standings and not work their team hard enough. You can also reach a level of discouragement being the guy at the bottom and want to just stop working your team.  The Fantasy Season is about 25% of the way thru. Don’t give up and don’t get complacent. There is a hard lesson I am learning in my Fantasy Baseball League at the moment, It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish……..

Digging for Gold:

Ending Week 3, injuries continue to be the trend. There are still players in the Free Agent Pool that can help, but in some cases you can’t fix a stab wound with a band aid…example Jamaal Charles owners.

Quarterback:

Matt Hasselbeck, TEN– Hasselbeck has put up very consistent fantasy numbers this season. He is averaging 300 yards a game and has two games of 20 or more fantasy points scored. You could see a drop in production with the news of Kenny Britt tearing his ACL and landing on the IR. Hasselbeck faces Cleveland, Indy, and Cincy over the next 5 games.

The Jets are turning into a passing team with Sanchez under center

Mark Sanchez, NYJ–  Sanchez is quietly having a solid start to the fantasy year. He has passed for over 330 yards twice, has thrown for 2 touchdowns in every game, and has a QB rating of 90.0 for the year. The only big negative for Sanchez is Interceptions. If he can cut down on the turnovers I can see him as a valuable start if the matchup is favorable.

Running Back:

Steve Slaton, MIA– It is still a mystery what happened to this former fantasy 1st round talent. Now that he was claimed by the Dolphins, he is worth a look. Slaton seems to have overcome his injury problems, but was the low man in a crowded Houston backfield. With Reggie Bush as an hourly injury concern, Slaton could pick up some valuable carries and targets behind rookie Daniel Thomas. Remember he once rushed for 1,282 yards, 9 Touchdowns with only 268 attempts. He also caught 50 balls that year.

Roy Helu could overtake the starting spot in Washington

Roy Helu, WAS- In a Mike Shanahan backfield, you never know who will emerge. Helu seems to be splitting carries with Tim Hightower, but it is a matter of how many touches he gets. He is a nice handcuff for Hightower owners, and could emerge as the #1 option.

 Wide Receivers:

David Nelson, BUF-  It’s time to drink the Kool Aid in Buffalo. Nelson has been a consistent target. If Buffalo could find him in the endzone more then he would be a top fantasy sleeper pick. He has had back to back 80+ yard performances, scoring 24 fantasy points in week 2.

With Kenny Britt on Injured Reserve, Nate Washington will be the #1 Wideout

Nate Washington, TEN– With Kenny Brit out for the year, Washington takes over the #1 Wideout spot. Titans have proven that they are not afraid to throw the ball, so Washington should receive an above average amount of targets. He has favorable matchups 3 of the next 5 games, and blasted Denver for 8 receptions, 92 yards, and a touchdown.

Antonio Brown, PIT- Last week I had Brown on my list for players that were on the decline. In Week 3 I noticed a trend. If you look at Brown’s targets, they have increased every week. He has 22 totals targets this year, more than Hines Ward at 18. He has also clearly out-performed Emmanuel Sanders the past 2 weeks. I am not a fan of Pittsburgh Wideouts, but Brown is worth keeping an eye on.

Tight Ends:

Todd Heap, ARI–  He has passed Jeff King as Kevin Kolb’s favorite Tightend. The Cardinals offense looked horrible Sunday, but Heap was able to grab 6 balls for 61 yards. He is not going to put up huge numbers. If you are looking for some low consistency to get you by, Heap is worth the look.

Brandon Pettigrew, DET– Finally broke out for 11 receptions and 112 receiving yards. As Stafford continues to grow this year, I see this connection becoming stronger.

 

The Ups & Downs:

Three weeks of football has displayed to us some valuable trends that show us a lot about how players are developing.

Players on the Rise:

Matt Schaub QB, HOU: After a disappointing week 1, Schaub has improved the last two weeks. He posted 373 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Saints on Sunday. As long as Andre Johnson is running routes for the Texans, Schaub will always have the chance to score big.

 

Manning carved up the Eagles for 4 touchdowns Sunday

Eli Manning QB, NYG: Against a stacked Eagle Secondary, Manning threw for 250+ yards and 4 TD’s. He was mediocre the previous 2 weeks, but he is starting to move on without Steve Smith.

 

Ryan Mathews RB, SD: Mike Tolbert is not stealing Mathews spotlight as of late. The second year back is finding his was into the endzone and racking up plenty of yards in the process. Mathews has all the tools to do his best LT impersonation in San Diego, but has Norv Turner finally put his trust in him?

 

Wes Welker WR, NE: Count them up… 20 targets in one game! Wow… some #1 Wideouts have that many for the season so far. The Welker-Brady connection continues to thrive in New England and the sure handed Welker is putting up “off the chart” numbers. 16 catches/216 yards/2 touchdowns on Sunday. He is by far the top Receiver option in Fake Football at the moment.

 

Players on the Down:

 

Santonio Holmes WR, NYJ: He has been decent at best. Bothered by a sore quad in week 2, and too many forced balls his way have given Holmes a slow start to the season. He has the talent to bounce back, but currently Plaxico Burress is showing him up.

 

Santonio Holmes has not lived up to his potential this year

Steven Jackson RB, STL: The Rams have overloaded Jackson with carries since he was drafted and it is catching up to him. When he is 100%, he is easily one of the Elite Backs in the game, but with a lingering quad injury and a poor team around him, there is not much hope for this star.

 

DeAngelo Williams RB, CAR: Carolina was thought to be a run centered team in preseason. The emergence of Cam Newton has changed that. With less carries and Jonathan Stewart being the favored back, Williams should be stored away on your bench until fate turns in his favor.

 

Reggie Bush RB, MIA: With no Drew Bress throwing him the ball and no Sean Payton drawing up plays for him, Bush has looked below average at best in Miami. Rookie Daniel Thomas has taken over the #1 spot, and newly acquired Steve Slaton could also steal the show from Bush. High Powered Passing attacks is what appeals to his skill set and Miami just doesn’t have it.

Sam Bradford QB, STL: The trend of Spread Offense Quarterbacks coming out of the college is normally not good. Bradford seems to be following that trend this season. Granted, his team around him has not improved, but his costly mistakes are what have made him a Non-Fantasy Option.

 

Buy or Sell:

You should always be looking to buy low off another team’s rosters and sell high on your roster. Just don’t get trade happy. The goal is to upgrade your current position.

 

Buy Low:

Josh Freeman QB, TB-                        Freeman has a favorable schedule, and has shown improvement

Jimmy Graham TE, NO-          Is becoming the option Shockey never could fill

Phillip Rivers QB, SD-              Stock is down a little, a chance to buy low. He will produce

Reshard Mendenhall RB, PIT- Has had a slow start, but will come around

 

 

 

Sell High:

Darren Sproles RB, NO-          Top 7 RB, value will never be higher

Is Mike Vick worth the injury risk for your team?

Steve Smith WR, CAR-              Rookie QB, and tough schedule ahead

Antonio Gates TE, SD-             2nd season of foot problems, cannot stay on the field

Robert Meachem WR, NO-    Colston is on his way back, sell him before his targets disappear    

Mike Vick QB, PHI-                 When he is good, he is elite… BUT can’t stay healthy. See if you can get good value in return

 

 THE GOLDEN RULE:

Fantasy Sports is all about Perseverance. When you are down you have to work 10x harder than the rest of the league to get to the top…..and when you are at the top you have to work 20x harder or someone might catch you by surprise.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep: Week 2 Edition

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

 

Week 2 Weekend Player Updates

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Injuries continue to be the theme this season. We saw plenty of season ending injuries, to the nagging injuries continue this week. Could it be poor conditioning due to the lockout? It is important to keep an eye on injury reports. Brandon Lloyd was a surprise late scratch. Arian Foster started but was pulled in the second half because of his hamstring. Injured players can also contribute. Santonio Holmes and his bum ankle started and scored, Miles Austin and his bad hammy put up 41 fantasy points, and Tony Romo brought the Boys back with fractured ribs.

Digging for Gold:

As we wrap Week 2, we are starting to see trends begin with players. Cam Newton and Ryan Fitzpatrick stayed on the list for the second straight week. There is plenty of gold still left in your Free Agent Pool. Injuries by star players are giving backups the reps to shine.

Quarterback:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF– If Fitzpatrick is still in your FA Pool, now is the time to pick him out. Fitzpatrick is completing over 60% of his passes and spreading the ball around nicely. His biggest asset is the guy calling the plays, head coach Chan Gailey. The Bills offense has racked up two 38+ point performances back to back, which means more opportunity for Fitzpatrick to shine. He has 7 TDs to 1 Int for the season.

Cam Newton is putting the doubters to rest...for now

Cam Newton, CAR– Wow…. If you saw this coming, shut up and sit down because you are a liar. Newton is still breaking records in only his second week as a pro. He looked very comfortable in the first half but got too comfortable in the second half. Still I am sitting here trying to dig for the negatives about this kid and trying not to buy the hype. The fact that he is a rookie and that Carolina has the NFL’s toughest schedule are the only big negatives I can come up with. Here are the positives that make it worth taking a chance on him. Newton is completing over 60 percent of his passes. Newton is a threat to run, 2 rushing TD’s this season and over 50 yards rushing in week 2. Carolina is clearly letting him air it out, 46 attempts in week two and back to back 400 yard passing games. Worth the waiver claim.

Running Back:

Thomas Jones, KC– Jamaal Charles is done for the year with a torn ACL and in steps the veteran. The 33 year old running back’s better days are way behind him, but he is the first in line to handle the running game for the Chiefs. The Chiefs do not have another clear choice to go to so Jones job looks safe. I would not expect huge results from Jones, but he is worth the bench spot on your team, until a better option emerges.

Former K-State star Daniel Thomas is emerging as the #1 back in Miami

Daniel Thomas, MIA- Was the only bright spot for Miami on Sunday. Rushed for over 100 yards in his debut with a 5.9 yards per carry. Has had some minor injury concerns, but Thomas complements Reggie Bush as the between the tackles back. If Bush goes down this year… ok not if but WHEN Reggie Bush goes down you will see Thomas have a chance at more targets in the passing game. If he is not on your bench then this is the week to pick him up. Could develop into a nice flex option.

 

Wide Receivers:

Eric Decker, DEN-  Trying to do his best Ed McCaffrey impression wearing #87, Decker filled in for the injured Brandon Lloyd and made the best of the 9 targets thrown in way. 100+ yards receiving and 2 Touchdowns helped the Broncos to victory. He is competing with the underperforming Eddie Royal for a starting spot. Lots of injuries have given Decker this opportunity. Kyle Orton is known to favor one receiver and load them down with targets. So when Lloyd returns you will see a decline in Decker’s numbers.

The Crypt Keeper aka Al Davis still controls the Oakland Offense

Denarius Moore, OAK– The rookie posted 146 yards and a touchdown Sunday. With Ford and Murphy injured this is another speedster that Al Davis has picked to “Go Long”. Oakland hasn’t been able to produce a consistent wideout since Tim Brown, but as long as Al Davis is “calling the plays”, you expect the Raiders to look for the deep threat.

Preston Parker, TB- With Mike Williams producing negative yardage, Josh Freeman found comfort in Parker. Eights targets produced 98 yards for the second year player. With Josh Freeman trying to find a rhythm, Parker could shine in the slot as Williams demands the double team this year.

Tight Ends:

Scott Chandler, BUF–  Chandler found the endzone again. Only 2 catches, but 3 redzone targets. Fitzpatrick seems to be building a nice relationship with his tightend.

Dustin Keller, NYJ– Six targets, Six catches. 101 receiving yard and a Touchdown was a big day for Keller. Mark Sanchez has always looked his way, I still don’t understand why people refuse to draft this consistent TightEnd. As Sanchez grows, Keller will get more chances to shine.

 

The Ups & Downs:

With the amount of injuries in week 2, several players have stood out.

 

Players on the Rise:

Matt Ryan QB, ATL: Ryan came to play against the tough Eagles Defense. He got banged around all game, but was still able to get the ball in the endzone and find open receivers. The Falcons high powered offense in finally taking off.  Hopefully this is the year Ryan takes his game to the next level.

 

Can Matt Stafford stay healthy for 16 games?

Matt Stafford QB, DET: Another great performance by Stafford with a 30+ fantasy point production. Stafford has been predicted by some to top 30 touchdowns this season, that’s if he can stay on the field.

 

Matt Forte RB, CHI: Forte has put up huge total yardage numbers again. He just hasn’t been find the endzone enough. Looks like a poor mans Marshall Faulk.

 

Javid Best RB, DET: If Javid Best is on your bench, move him up now. This second year back is a threat on the ground and in the passing game. If Stafford and him stay healthy, this connection has very high potential. Best had 110+ total yards and had the ball 25 times. Health and the curse that he is a Lion are his only downfalls.  

 

Players on the Down:

 

Knowshon Moreno RB, DEN: Being in a pass heavy offense the past 2 seasons has not helped Moreno’s cause. Now with more injury problems in 2011, Moreno’s chances of living up to the fantasy hype are running away from him. If you currently own him, try to sell as high as you can. If you have room on your bench you can store him there and hope for better health and a bigger role in the Broncos offense.

 

Arian Foster RB, HOU: One of many running backs battling to get on the field, Foster has yet to win the battle. I urged everyone to stay clear of him in the draft, and I will continue that theme throughout the season until he can prove he can play 100% and stay 100%. Ben Tate is also stealing Foster’s thunder. The Texans would be smart and shut him down for a few weeks, and get him back 100%. You would also be smart staying away from this 2010 Fantasy Stud for the obvious reasons.

 

Kerry Collins has to be missing retirement

ALL INDY WIDEOUTS: With Kerry Collins wishing he would have stayed retired, and Curtis “I Should Have Been A” Painter as the next best option, all hope looks about as broken as Peyton Manning’s neck. Reggie Wayne has been decent with 33 pts so far, but he can hardly receive targets because Collins can’t get the ball out of his hands fast enough with that swiss cheese O-Line in front of him. If you look back at a previous article ( Player Evaluations), I explain how it is important to draft and acquire players from successful teams. The Colts, Chiefs, and Seahawks are reinforcing my point.

 

Antonio Brown WR, PIT: Before this season this kid was on my sleeper picks, and then he was on everyone’s sleeper list before long. The only thing that scared me was the Steelers anti-pass offense. That and the emergence of Emmanuel Sanders has limited Brown’s targets. Many wideouts have left Pittsburgh complaining about this issue and it is something to consider when drafting #2 and #3 wideouts on the Steelers.

Donovan McNabb QB, MIN: I do not blame Sunday’s loss on McNabb, it was the head coach that lost them the game. BUT! McNabb came into this season with a lot to prove to all the doubters in the Redskins and Eagles organizations, and he has yet to show us anything. After a disaster performance against the Chargers, he rebounded with 60% completion rate and did throw more than 39 yards. No Touchdowns, or game changing performances on Sunday makes one to wonder when Christian Ponder will be getting his first snaps in Minnesota.

 

Buy or Sell:

You should always be looking to buy low off another team’s rosters and sell high on your roster. Just don’t get trade happy. The goal is to upgrade your current position.

Buy Low:

Mike Thomas WR, JAC-          Didn’t do much against a tough Jets D, but is the #1 option in Jacksonville

Matt Ryan QB, ATL     –           4 TDs against the Eagles. Lots of Weapons around him. The Sky is the limit

Shonn Greene RB, NYJ-           Has been low key so far, added 6 more carries in week 2 and is a nice option as LT wears down

Fred Davis is becoming a favorite target in Washington

Daniel Thomas RB, MIA-        Will take over the lead back role in Miami, if he can stay healthy big numbers are ahead of him

Fred Davis TE, WAS-               Grossman’s favorite target. Put up great fantasy value back to back weeks

 

Sell High:

Chris Johnson RB, TEN-           Fire Sale! If you didn’t listen to me last week, Trade him this week

LaDainian Tomlinson RB, NYJ-            Has seen his better days behind him, now a mentor to Shonn Greene.

Felix Jones RB, DAL-                Cannot stay away from injuries. Even with his high ceiling, he has little value if he can’t play 

The D Bowe show is wrapping up in Kansas City

Dewayne Bowe WR, KC-         With the current trend in KC, Bowe might find himself on the IR. With his attitude he will have a hard time finding motivation with the Chiefs.

Cam Newton QB, Car-                        His stock could not be higher, will probably have one more stellar week against the Jaguars, but then that tough schedule kicks in.

 

 

 

THE GOLDEN RULE:

Stay Focused on the Free Agent Wire. Good chance “That Guy” dropped Ben Tate for Cam Newton this week. Seize the Moment.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

 

 

Week 1 Weekend Player Updates

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Week One is solid proof why we lust for football. So many storylines, So many unpredictable’s. Let us take a look at the impact Week 1 had on our Fantasy Football Leagues and Teams.

Digging for Gold:

Let’s start out and keep this in perspective. It’s just one week. Say that again, It’s just one week. Remember to think big picture. In looking at the possible Free Agents there are several gems that shined, and a couple options that might be worth taking over an injured player.

Quarterback:

Ryan Fitzpatrick, BUF– The Chiefs defense made Fitzpatrick look like a Pro Bowler. He ranked in the top 20 in 2010 out of all fantasy players. I would not expect 4 TDs and a pass rating of 133.0 every game, but he was very efficient spreading the ball around. Five Buffalo receivers had 5 or more targets verse an above average KC secondary.

Cam Newton ties record with 422 pass yards by a rookie

Cam Newton, CAR– 422 yards, 2 TD, 1 Int, & 110.4 passer rating are off the charts for not just a rookie, but any quarterback would love to have their name next to that stat line. I would try very hard not to get caught up in the hype though. The Panthers were handed the NFL’s toughest schedule this year. Newton will face off against the Packers, Bears, & Saints over the next 4 weeks. I was impressed with his play, as were many. Newton was going up against a weak Arizona secondary that was starting a rookie who they targeted one on one with Steve Smith all game.

Running Back:

Ben Tate, HOU– The scouts seem to have got it right. A healthy Tate carried the ball 16 times for 116 yards and one touchdown. Tate does have several obstacles in his way. If Arian Foster gets back healthy, then that limits Tate’s chance at getting carries. Derrick Ward also looked good on Sunday and was a former 1,000 rusher with the Giants. Health concerns also follow Tate who was banged up in Sunday’s game. I would say Tate at least belongs on your bench, if not in your flex spot.

Cadillac Williams, STL- To no surprise to me, Steven Jackson is injured. Strained Quad, questionable for Week 2 vs. Giants and will probably linger throughout the season. In enters Cadillac Williams, who rushed for 91 yards and was productive in the passing game (6 catches, 49 yards, 10 targets). Williams has a well documented history of injuries, but when healthy he is a top fantasy performer. Would be a great flex start against a Giants Defense who gave up 70+ yards and a touchdown to Tim Hightower.

Wide Receivers:

Doug Baldwin, SEA- The former Stanford receiver signed as a rookie free agent with Seattle as a kick returner. On Sunday, he was Tarvaris Jackson’s go-to receiver with 4 catches, 83 yards, 1 Touchdown, and 6 Targets. At 5 10, Baldwin may be hard to spot on the field but his speed and elusiveness stood out against the 49ers. Worth a look on your bench as you are dropping Danny Amendola this week.

Doug Baldwin looks to be the option in Seattle until Sidney Rice comes back

Jerome Simpson, CIN– In 2010, Simpson shined at the end of the season with back to back 120+ yard games. Even though he did not put up major stats (4 catches, 44 yards) he was targeted 9 times. As this young Bengal team develops, Simpson’s targets may turn into more catches.

Roy Williams, CHI- The former 1st round pick looked very efficient on Sunday. Four targets, Four catches. He is a big receiver that doesn’t mind going over the middle. He has the opportunity in a Mike Martz pass heavy offense to shine. Look back in Denver when Cutler had a big and tall wideout named Brandon Marshall.

Tight Ends:

Jermaine Gresham, CIN–  If Andy Daulton comes back from his wrist injury, Gresham is his safety blanket. Eight balls came his way against the Browns, with Gresham hauling in 6 catches and a touchdown. In an offense that is going to rely heavy on the run this year, Gresham will be a nice sure handed option in the passing game.

Fred Davis, WAS– Rex Grossman almost made my list for FA Quarterback, but then I remembered his years with the Bears and I got my head straight. Grossman did show us that he prefers Fred Davis over Chris Cooley. Davis had 6 targets with over 100 yards receiving. Grossman has always relied on his TE over the years, so it is worth watching how this connection develops.

 

The Ups & Downs:

With teams still trying to scramble and implement their playbooks post lockout, there where many players that stepped up and also plenty that took a giant leap back.

 

Players on the Rise:

Jay Cutler QB, CHI: With already a year under Mad Martz, Cutler is figuring it out. Did a great job of distributing the ball around. The Falcons Defense may have came into the season a bit overrated but this was a matchup of the #1 and #2 seeds from last year. Cutler carved them up with 312 yards and 2 TDs. Cutler may have 30 TDs this season, but the only concern is will he have 30 Ints to go along with it?

 

Mike Thomas WR, JAC: The 5 foot 8 inch Thomas is the top target in Jacksonville. With 11 targets thrown his way, we can only hope Luke McCown can turn into a decent quarterback. He has big play ability deep, and can also find success in the open field.

 

Anquan Boldin WR, BAL: Boldin is finally healthy and it showed. Four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. With Derrick Mason gone, Flacco has Boldin as his main option. You just hope Baltimore doesn’t abandon the pass game like they have done in the past.

Boldin is the main target in Baltimore

 

Javid Best RB, DET: If Javid Best is on your bench, move him up now. This second year back is a threat on the ground and in the passing game. If Stafford and him stay healthy, this connection has very high potential. Best had 110+ total yards and had the ball 25 times. Health and the curse that he is a Lion are his only downfalls.  

 

Players on the Down:

 

Chris Johnson RB, TEN: The Titans could have used a little help on Sunday from their recent  investment, but Johnson performed like he was still holding out. 49 totals yards was all Johnson could come up with. With his huge payday behind him and stuck on a mediocre team, Johnson has little to play for. While many fantasy owners are all in on Johnson, I have been very skeptical since his holdout. A quick look at recent history, I would say the Larry Johnson effect is on in Tennessee.

 

Donovan McNabb QB, MIN: McNabb should have considered retirement after his last season with the Eagles. This once top Quarterback could only produce 39 yards with a pass rating of 47.9. This not only effects the production from the talented Viking receiving core, but the Vikings are going to have to rely on Adrian Peterson even more. Unless McNabb can find some of his old magic, the Vikings are likely to end up at the bottom of the NFC North.

McNabb looks to be leading the Vikings to the bottom on the NFC

 

Rashard Mendenhall RB, PIT: Mendenhall had a disappointing outing against Baltimore again. Just like the last time Mendenhall faced the Ravens, he couldn’t rush for more than 45 yards and produced zero touchdowns. I would not push the panic button yet on Mendenhall, but the Steelers also like his backup Mewelde Moore.

 

Vincent Jackson WR, SD: Two Catches for 31 yards is not what you expect from an elite fantasy wide receiver.  Jackson looked uninterested and sloppy on Sunday. Luckily for the Chargers, Philip Rivers found Gates and Floyd for 21 total targets. Jackson is capable to putting up huge numbers, but holdouts and contract distractions have been his biggest highlight over the last 12 months.  

 

Buy or Sell:

You should always be looking to buy low off other team’s rosters and sell high on your roster. Just don’t get trade happy. The goal is to upgrade your current position.

Buy Low:

Newton stole the show Sunday, but Kolb got the win

Michael Turner RB, ATL-        Put up a quiet 100 yards on Sunday

Plaxico Burress WR, NYJ-        Looked like the Plax of old against the Cowboys

Mike Thomas WR, JAC-          Most owners don’t realize his potential because he plays in Jacksonville

Ryan Mathews RB, SD-           Had 118 totals yards on Sunday, and Tolbert’s health is in question

Fred Jackson RB, BUF–            The Curtis Martin of this era, give him his due

Kevin Kolb QB,ARI-                  Another 300+ yard game. Consistent and nice weapons.

 

Sell High:

Chris Johnson RB, TEN-           I would get value for him now, before your season is over

Joseph Addai RB, IND-            The Colts probably have the worst overall team in the league, get what you can out of Addai

Frank Gore RB, SF-                  Even though the 49ers won Sunday, the offensive line looked horrible. I don’t see much for the aging Gore.

Reggie Wayne WR, IND-        Curtis Painter is one Kerry Collins injury away from being the starting QB. This would be devastating for Wayne owners. Sell Now!

Cam Newton QB, Car-            His stock will never be higher in 2011, claim him off waivers and trade him.

 

THE GOLDEN RULE:

Do not panic, it’s only Week One……. Unless your roster is Peyton Manning, Arian Foster, Steven Jackson, Danny Amedola, and Tony Moeaki…. Then by all means…. panic

 

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

2011 NFL Offseason Grades – NFC South

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

NFL DRAFT

2011 NFL DRAFT PICKS: Cameron Jordan, DE (1-24); Mark Ingram, RB (1-28); Martez Wilson, OLB (3-72); Johnny Patrick, CB (3-88); Greg Romeus, DE (7-226); Nathan Bussey, OLB (7-243)

 

It's very rare that you see the best running back in the draft fall all the way to the 28th pick.

With the exception of maybe Cleveland, nobody was more impressive the first night than the Saints.  I was shocked when they had Cameron Jordan just sitting there for them with the 24th overall pick.  What I always noticed about Jordan when he played at California was his long arms that made it next to impossible for anyone to get around him to the outside.  He has great speed and size and a work ethic that comes from his father Steve who spent 13 years in the NFL as a tight end with the Vikings.  To be able to follow up the Jordan pick by trading up to land the best running back in the draft in Mark Ingram 28th overall was an unbelievable value.  The Saints didn’t fare as well in later days, neglecting the huge need they had for an offensive tackle but in regards to value I was definitely impressed by the pick up of Martez Wilson in the 3rd round.   He was a great run-stopping linebacker at Illinois who I thought would go in the mid to late 2nd round but some off the field issues and a 2 injuries (a herniated disc 2 years ago and a stabbing last year) probably led to his fall into the 3rd round.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Abrayo Franklin, NT (49ers); Darren Sproles, RB (Chargers); Lance Moore, WR (Saints); Roman Harper, S (Saints); Clint Ingram, LB (Jaguars); Jermon Bushrod, OT (Saints); Scott Shanle, LB (Saints); Zach Strief, OT (Saints); Alex Barron, OT (Cowboys); Will Herring, LB (Seahawks); Fabian Washington, DB (Ravens)

KEY LOSSES: Reggie Bush, RB; Akin Ayodele, LB; Remi Ayodele, DT; Jeremy Shockey, TE

Franklin is a big, physical nose tackle who transforms the Saints' rush defense overnight.

While everyone was distracted by the Philadelphia Eagle’s Miami Heat-like stockpile of talent, few took the time to notice the impressive job that the New Orleans Saints did in free agency.  They were able to land the biggest defensive line prize of the free agency period in Abrayo Franklin.  Franklin is a largely unknown player but he is one of the premier nose tackles in the league who should fit nicely into Greg Williams’ scheme down in New Orleans.  In a division that boasts Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Johnathan Stewart, and LeGarrette Blount, stopping the run is a must.  They traded Reggie Bush away for a 2nd round draft pick and then were able to pick up the exact same player, maybe a better version, in Darren Sproles for a lot lower price tag than Bush would have demanded.   They brought in Fabian Washington and Clint Ingram to tighten up that Saints secondary and then did the most important thing that any team can do in free agency, they re-signed their top free agents.

ATLANTA FALCONS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Julio Jones, WR (1-6); Akeem Dent, LB (3-91); Jacquizz Rodgers, RB (5-145); Matt Bosher, P (6-192); Andrew Jackson, G (7-210); Cliff Matthews, DE (7-230)

 

The Falcons clearly think that Jones can help them win now.

For the Falcons, this draft will be mostly gauged in the future on the success of Julio Jones.  The Falcons sold the farm and then some to trade up and grab him so it’s clear that they believe he is the missing piece that can help them win now.  If he does nothing more than open up the field more for Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner – that alone could help the Falcons take the next step.  The Akeem Dent pick in the 2nd round makes a lot of sense and I like the addition of Jacquizz Rodgers in the Falcons backfield.  I see him being more of a pass catching back which could be a nice change of pace for the Falcons offense.  I am also a fan of the Cliff Matthews pick in Round 7.  Many have scrutinized this draft and while the price paid for a player with a high ceiling and good chance of getting injured was high.  I like the “all-in” move.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Ray Edwards, DE (Vikings); Justin Blalock, G (Falcons); Stephen Nicholas, LB (Falcons); Mike Peterson, LB (Falcons); Tyson Clabo, OT (Falcons); Eric Weems, WR (Falcons)

KEY LOSSES: Michael Jenkins, WR; Jamaal Anderson, DE; Jerious Norwood, RB; Harvey Dahl, OT

Ray Edwards will once again be in a defense where he plays opposite an All-Pro defensive end.

I really like what Atlanta did in the free agency period.   They did the first thing they needed to do, re-signed the large majority of their free agents.  The loss that probably hurts them the most is the departure of Harvey Dahl who was a very physical force on that Falcons line in previous seasons.  Then the Falcons went out and made the move they needed to by getting the second best defensive end on the free agent market in Ray Edwards.  There has been a lot of criticism that Edwards was a product of being opposite All-Pro Jared Allen on the Vikings front four.  Great – now he’s opposite All-Pro John Abraham.  The Falcons needed containment help in a division that has Drew Brees, Josh Freeman, and now Cam Newton.  I think Edwards is a perfect fit here and will have considerable success in Atlanta.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Adrian Clayborn, DE (1-20); Da’Quan Bowers, DE (2-51); Mason Foster, ILB (3-84); Luke Stocker, TE (4-104); Ahmad Black, S (5-151); Allen Bradford, RB (6-187); Anthony Gaitor, CB (7-222); Daniel Hardy, TE (7-238)

I firmly believe that this could soon be the most feared defensive end pairing in the NFL

 

I cannot say enough good things about how well Tampa Bay drafted this offseason.  They went out with their first round pick and drafted Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn.  A player who can play either the defensive tackle or the defensive end position.  Either way he’s a game changer.  Then the Bucs took what I consider the most low-risk/high-reward pick of the draft in taking Bowers in the 2nd round.  Prior to getting injured, Bowers was considered to be a top 5 draft pick.  The Bucs needed DE help and responded by taking two of the top ten defensive ends in this year’s draft.  The late pick that I love of theirs is Ahmad Black.   At Florida, Black was a hard-hitting safety who had excellent awareness and great instinct for finding the ball.  Tampa probably should’ve addressed secondary concerns earlier but could not have done better in the 5th round than Black.

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Quincy Black, LB (Buccaneers); Davin Joseph, G (Buccaneers), Jeremy Trueblood, OT (Buccaneers); Michael Koenen, P (Falcons)

KEY LOSSES: Barrett Ruud, LB

 

The Bucs needed to re-sign Davin Joseph to have any hope of competing in a very tough NFC South.

As many good things I can say about their draft, I can say as many terrible things about the Buccaneers free agency period.   They re-signed the majority of their impact free agents but the only really significant signing they made was luring Michael Koenen away from the rival Falcons.  When your best free agency move is grabbing a punter (while yes, Koenen is a very good punter) you know your free agency has been less than desirable.

 

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS:Cam Newton, QB (1-1); Terrell McClain, DT (3-65); Sione Fua, DT (3-97); Brandon Hogan, CB (4-98), Kealoha Pilares, WR (5-132); Lawrence Wilson, OLB (6-166); Zack Williams, G (6-203); Lee Ziemba, OT (7-244)

 

The Panthers have entrusted the next 10 years of their franchise to Cam Newton.

Much like the Falcons and Julio Jones, the whole Panthers draft will be weighed in the future of Cam Newton.  While I find him to be an incredible athlete, I do not believe he has the intelligence or discipline to play the quarterback position.  I still feel like Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, Blaine Gabbert, or Patrick Peterson would have all been better choices.  But now it is up to Newton as to whether or not he will succeed, it’s not a question of talent but of work ethic and leadership.   The majority of the Panthers draft in taking players like McClain, Fua, and Wilson (who clearly fill needs) follows the same pattern as Newton.  These are all players with great potential but the question is whether or not they pan out.  Three years from now this will be remembered either as an excellent draft or a terrible one.

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Charles Johnson, DE (Panthers), DeAngelo Williams, RB (Panthers); James Anderson, LB (Panthers); Thomas Davis, LB (Panthers); Greg Olsen, TE (Bears); Jeremy Shockey, TE (Saints); Ron Edwards, DT (Chiefs); Omar Gaither, LB (Eagles); Olindo Mare, K (Seahawks); Derek Anderson, QB (Cardinals); Ben Hartsock, TE (Jets); Ron Rivera, Head Coach (Defensive Coordinator, Chargers)

KEY LOSSES: Matt Moore, QB; Dante Rosario, TE

Re-signing Charles Johnson was the best move the Panthers could have made in free agency

Like the Saints, the Panthers had an unbelievable (but highly unnoticed) free agency period.  What I love about what the Panthers did is they started off by finding their head coach in Ron Rivera who I believe perfectly fits the tradition of defense that the Panthers have.  I thought this was an excellent hire.  Then they turned around and re-signed every single one of their high profile free agents, they got Steve Smith excited about being a part of the Panthers, and just recently they extended Ryan Kalil.  From their they got to work, they went from having no good tight end to having the best tight end receiving corps in the league in Olsen, Shockey, and Hartsock.  They brought back the best defensive end in free agency in Charles Johnson and re-signed DeAngelo Williams (which I didn’t think they’d pull off).  Then they brought in Gaither and Edwards to improve their front 7.  And while often overlooked, they brought in Olindo Mare as a great replacement to the aging John Kasay.  Overall a fantastic job for Ron Rivera in his first free agency period.

 

 

Overall, the NFC South as a whole probably improved the most of any division.  While I am not a huge fan of what the Bucs did in free agency or the Panthers did in the draft, all four teams in this division should be considerably better next season.  I am excited to see how this division plays out.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!