The final rounds of a draft can make or break a team. Many owners get in a rush and pick the first name at the top of their lists. Then after the draft you see these same owners scouring through the Free Agent pool trying to fill holes they didn’t address in the draft when they had an opportunity. I am a strong believer in building a well rounded team from my starters to my bench. Therefore, if my starters ever fail me, I have a chance to pull someone off my bench to produce.
Here is a list of players to keep in mind during the finals rounds:
RB Kendall Hunter, SF:An explosive back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is one Frank Gore injury away from being a top 10 back.
WR Greg Little, CLE: He is the #1 reciever for the Browns, and is not even getting drafted in a lot of leagues. Played all 16 games last year and had over 120 targets. If the Browns can get a decent QB to throw to him I could see 70+ catches and 900+ yards which is a steal in the late rounds.
WR Kevin Ogletree, DAL: With all of the injuries and problems that surround the top 2 Wideouts in Dallas, Ogletree has a chance to shine. Even if Bryant and Austin are healthy, I could see Ogletree grabbing 60-70 balls.
WR Nate Burleson, DET: Played all 16 games. He was targeted 110 times. He caught 73 balls. He is also goes undraft in over 50% of fantasy leagues. Go figure…
RB Felix Jones, DAL: Had a 5.0 YPC in the 2nd half last year. A nice change of pace back and backup if he can stay healthy
TE: Dallas Clark, TB- Yes he has a lot of injury issues. Before he was hurt, he was on pace for 60+ receptions, 5 TDs in 2011. That was with Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins throwing to him.
QB Carson Palmer, OAK-He showed lots of improvement as the season progressed last year. In the 2nd half- completion rate of 63.2, 17 TDs, and 5 of 8 quality starts. Also had three of his four 300 yard passing games in the 2nd half.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Without further ado, offseason grades for the NFC East
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Danny Watkins, G (1-23); Jaiquawn Jarrett, S (2-54); Curtis Marsh, CB (3-90); Casey Matthews, ILB (4-116); Alex Henery, K (4-120); Dion Lewis, RB (5-149); Julian Vandervelde, C (5-161); Jason Kelce, C (6-191); Brian Rolle, OLB (7-237); Greg Lloyd, ILB (7-237); Stanley Havili, FB (7-240)
If Casey is half as good as his brother Clay, he will be remembered as an absolute steal in the 4th round.
Philadelphia had 11 picks in this year’s drafts and when I look at how they used it I see it as “honest”. The Eagles were aware of their weaknesses and drafted position by position to tighten things up. A lot of people considered Watkins a reach in the first round, but Andy Reid believes he can be a Week 1 starter. Watkins has good strength and is an adequate pass blocker and run blocker. The one thing I always noticed when he played at Baylor is he is a “play to the whistle” type player so I think he’ll fit in fine in Philly. Jarrett was a good pick up to help solidify the safety position and Curtis Martin seemed like an obvious choice for a team that, at the time, was weak at cornerback position. Making Alex Henery the first kicker off the board made it pretty obvious that Akers was on his way out (which surprised me). They doubled up on centers late with Vandervelde and Kelce clearly acknowledging their need there. Philly did a good job of drafting in positions of need, I just don’t know how many of these players will have an impact. I love the Casey Matthews pick. He was a great player at Oregon and comes from a great line of impact players who were underappreciated in the draft. If Casey is half as good as his brother Clay (who is a leader on the Packers’ defense) then he was an absolute steal in the 4th round.
KEY ADDITIONS: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB (Raiders); Ronnie Brown, RB (Dolphins); Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB (Cardinals); Cullen Jenkins, DT (Packers); Vince Young, QB (Titans); Steve Smith, WR (Giants); Jason Babin, DE (Titans); Ryan Harris, OT (Broncos); Akeem Jordan, LB (Eagles); Evan Mathis, G (Bengals); Jarrad Page, S (Patriots); Derek Landri, DT (Panthers); Anthony Hargrove, DL (Saints)
KEY LOSSES: Kevin Kolb, QB; Quintin Mikell, S; Brodrick Bunkley, DT; Leonard Weaver, FB; Ernie Sims, LB; Max Jean-Gilles, G; Dimitri Patterson, CB; Stewart Bradley, LB
Nnamdi Asomugha was the obvious prize of free agency but I'm a big fan of the addition of Ryan Harris to this Eagles' line
A lot has been said and just how unbelievable the Philadelphia Eagles’ offseason has been. I have not seen this much hoopla about a team’s free agency since the 2007 Patriots when they brought in Moss, Stallworth, Welker, and Thomas, among others. Last season the cornerback position was a glaring weakness for the Philadelphia Eagles but they shored up that position through free agency and trade by bringing in 2 of the top 10 cornerbacks in the league. Mikell was a gigantic loss for the Eagles at the safety position but Page should make for a good replacement and I really do believe it would behoove the Eagles to, at this point, move Asante Samuel to the safety position. Steve Smith was a nice risk to take given Maclin’s mystery illness. I love the addition of Babin and Jenkins. I really believe that they will benefit from Trent Cole in the same way Kevin Smith and Ray Edwards were able to benefit by the addition of Jared Allen. Vince Young was a great pick up if for no other reason, then to do with him what they did with Kolb and McNabb – flip him on the trade market for higher value. The most unsung of this group but maybe the Eagles’ best pick up was Ryan Harris at tackle who should solidify that offensive line for the Eagles but there still remain some questions at center.
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Ryan Kerrigan, DE (1-16); Jarvis Jenkins, DT (2-41); Leonard Hankerson, WR (3-79); Roy Helu, RB (4-105); Dejon Gomes, S (5-146); Niles Paul, WR (5-155); Evan Royster, RB (6-177); Aldrick Robinson, WR (6-178); Brandyn Thompson, CB (7-213); Maurice Hurt, G (7-217); Markus White, DE (7-224); Christopher Neild, DT (7-253)
While I am not a fan of the Cornhuskers, I'm a big believer in what Roy Helu, Jr. can accomplish in the NFL
Mike Shanahan has a reputation as someone who can develop quarterbacks but where does this come from? He inherited a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback in John Elway and has not had a strong QB ever since. That being said, QB is the most obvious weakness for the Redskins and I feel that they made a huge mistake in trading down when they could have drafted, who I believe to be, the best quarterback in the draft in Blaine Gabbert. Any time you get the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback, you need to take it and I feel like this is a mistake that will haunt Washington fans for years. However, the Redskins did get great value in trading down and Kerrigan and Jenkins should do wonders for their front four. The pick that Redskins fans should be excited about is landing Nebraska running back Roy Helu in the 4th round. This kid is a strong running back who in college could easily break tackles and can accelerate in the gaps. I really think that Helu has a bright future as a number one running back in the NFL.
KEY ADDITIONS:Barry Cofield, DT (Giants); Josh Wilson, CB (Ravens); Stephen Bowen, DE (Cowboys); Santana Moss, WR (Redskins); Chris Chester, C (Ravens); Jamal Brown, OT (Redskins); Jabar Gaffney, WR (Broncos); Tim Hightower, RB (Cardinals), Donte’ Stallworth, WR (Ravens); Kellen Clemens, QB (Jets)
KEY LOSSES: Albert Haynesworth, DT; Donovan McNabb, QB; Carlos Rogers, CB; Casey Rabach, C; Maake Kemoeatu, DT; Phillip Daniels, DE; Jeremy Jarmon, DT; Vonnie Holiday, DE
Given their draft, trading defensive end Vonnie Holliday for Tim Hightower was a move that could pay dividends for Mike Shanahan
Mike Shanahan got younger in the front four completely rebuilding it this offseason. He addressed this need with the first two rounds of the draft and then went out in free agency and signed Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen who is one of the better young defensive ends in the league. Re-signing Santana Moss was a necessity and the addition of Stallworth and Gaffney bolsters that receiving corps. Chris Chester was a really solid pick-up as well to help strengthen a weak offensive line. I will continue to say that I feel like the McNabb trade was a bad decision for Washington because after passing on Gabbert and trading Donovan, the Redskins are without a QB. I do like the Tim Hightower trade quite a bit for Washington and between Hightower, Helu, and Torain, Shanahan should find a tandem that he can work with in his famous “running system”.
NEW YORK GIANTS
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Prince Amukamara, CB (1-19); Marvin Austin, DT (2-52); Jerrel Jernigan, WR (3-83); James Brewer, OT (4-117); Greg Jones, ILB (6-185); Tyler Sash, S (6-198); Jacquian Williams, LB (6-202); Da’Rel Scott, RB (7-221)
The Giants had to be excited to find a cornerback like Amukamara available to them at pick 19
From a value standpoint, the New York Giants had an excellent draft. I really did not think that Amukamara would fall past the Detroit Lions at 13 but he fell to the Giants and they were wise to take him. Marvin Austin should help out that defensive line of theirs. He fell because he lacks consistency but he has the talent to be an elite defensive tackle. The two late picks of the Giants that I really like for them is James Brewer in the 4th round who has the skills to be a servicable tackle and could help out their O-Line but I feel that they did not do enough to address their aging offensive line. Tyler Sash was a good risk to take in the seventh round. He was a standout safety at the University of Iowa and was a cornerstone of a great defense. In college he was an aggressive player who was a great tackler and had an ability to get his hands on the ball. He has some parts of his game he needs to tighten up to play at the pro level but has the potential to do well in that Giants defense.
KEY ADDITIONS: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE (Giants); Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (Giants); Ben Patrick, TE (Cardinals); Stacy Andrews, OL (Seahawks); Kevin Boothe, G (Giants); David Baas, C (49ers)
Re-signing Ahmad Bradshaw was the Giants' no. 1 priority going into the offseason
New York was so cash-strapped going into this season that they really couldn’t do much in free agency. They were able to re-sign their top two priorities in Ahmad Bradshaw and Mathias Kiwanuka. The Giants already had offensive line issues and now have lost Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, and Shawn Andrews. I do believe that David Baas is an upgrade for them over the aging O’Hara and I like the addition of Stacy Andrews but I feel this line has a long ways to go. I do see the Steve Smith loss really hurting this team because, if nothing else, he took pressure off of Hakeem Nicks. Overall the Giants were able to replace what they lost which still leaves the Giants looking pretty average in a much improved NFC.
2011 DRAFT PICKS: Tyron Smith, OT (1-9); Bruce Carter, OLB (2-40); DeMarco Murray, RB (3-71); David Arkin, G (4-110); Josh Thomas, CB (5-143); Dwayne Harris, WR (6-176); Shaun Chapas, FB (7-220); Bill Nagy, C (7-252)
Some say Smith was taken too early but if he plays well, you can never take a Pro Bowl OT too high
A lot of people criticized Dallas for not trading out of their pick to try and get more value at the offensive tackle position but the Cowboys got the man they wanted in Tyron Smith and 9th overall and I believe he was a perfect pick for the Cowboys. I believed that the Cowboys needed to fix their offensive line issues and so the fact that they waited until the 4th round to continue to do that was confusing. The Cowboys also should have addressed the cornerback position earlier. Given the departure of Marion Barber, the DeMarco Murray pick makes sense in the 3rd round. The best value pick here was Dwayne Harris who is a small, speedy receiver with great hands that should do nicely in the slot for the Cowboys offense and provide a great target for Tony Romo.
KEY ADDITIONS: Jason Garrett, Head Coach (Cowboys’ Offensive Coordinator); Doug Free, OT (Cowboys); Kyle Kosier, G (Cowboys); Marcus Spears, DE (Cowboys); Jason Hatcher, DE (Cowboys); Gerald Sensabaugh, S (Cowboys); Abram Elam, S (Browns)
KEY LOSSES: Marion Barber, RB; Roy Williams, WR; Leonard Davis, G; Marc Colombo, OT
The best offseason move the Cowboys made was removing the interim tag from Jason Garrett's title.
The Cowboys had a down year last year in a season where many had them pegged to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. With Tony Romo healthy again and a new head coach, this is a team that hopes to bounce back in a serious way. Jason Garrett was the only man for the job and as one of the hottest head coaching candidates available, the Cowboys were smart to hang on to him before he left to go elsewhere. Then Garrett turned around and brought in one of the best defensive minds in the game in Rob Ryan to help that Cowboys defense regain old form. Like the Giants, the Cowboys were limited by their cap situation but that did not stop them from re-signing most of their important players. Roy Williams was going to be gone regardless and the Cowboys are sold on the future of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice (along with DeMarco Murray) in that backfield. Sensabaugh is a good safety but the addition of Elam at that position was a great move by Dallas. The loss of Marc Colombo does hurt, but Tyron Smith should prove to be an upgrade at the position.
When I look at the landscape of the NFC East, it’s kind of a mixed bag. A strong Philadelphia Eagles team drastically improved almost overnight. The Redskins have gotten stronger at some positions and weaker at others. The New York Giants look like a team that will once again, just miss a wildcard spot, and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t do much but they did fire their head coach and they do get their Pro Bowl quarterback back in the fold which should make a huge difference. As always, this is going to be a fun division to watch.
Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!