The Know-It-All Fantasy Football News & Notes

Fantasy Football News & Notes

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Rounds 2 – 4

Player on the Rise:

Hakeem Nicks, NYG–  Averaged 2.14 fantasy points per catch the previous 3 seasons. Should see Redzone targets increase.

Player on the Decline:

Adrian Peterson, MIN–  I am still seeing his ADP in the mid to late 2nd round. To me that is insane. Recent news has shown he may not even be fully ready till week 3. He is safe in the 6th round or later.

The Conservative Pick:

Roddy White, ATL  He is going to get you 1,300 yards and double digit TDs.

High Risk, High Reward:

Reggie Bush, MIA  Finished 2011 with 6 of 7 quality starts. Seems to be comfortable in Miami and is the main option. Injuries are always the big risk. The bigger gamble is that he doesn’t have a consistent track record of production.

The Steal:

Miles Austin, DAL–  A healthy Austin should be back to receiving 170+ targets and being a huge playmaker for Romo this year.

The Rookie:

Doug Martin, TB  Has the skills to be a PPR league beast. I am thinking Matt Forte 2.0

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

American Futbol

A special thanks to Mark Muzzi (one of the inspirations in the “M&M Gems” name) for his assistance with this blogpost.

What if America's best athletes played soccer?

In the past couple of years soccer has made significant gains in vying for fans.  Last season the MLS averaged larger crowds than both the NBA and the NHL.  ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup in 2010 led to more people in the United States watching the event than ever before.  And the MLS Cup on Sunday promises to have the largest viewership the event has had in years.  While men’s soccer continues to grow in the United States, our success on the international stage is lacking. (We have of course experienced much success in women’s soccer.

I’m a firm believer that the United States has the best athletes in the world and I feel like the collegiate and professional leagues that we boast are perfect proof of this.  We have the best hockey, basketball, and baseball leagues (and football of course) in the world.  We have dominated Olympic competition in nearly every sport except men’s soccer.  Soccer is a sport where successful teams are defined by speed and athleticism which begs the question:

If America has the best athletes in the world, why has the United States been so unsuccessful at men’s soccer?

Seems like a difficult question but the answer is really simple: because in every other country in the world, the best male athletes play soccer – in America this just isn’t true.  Our best athletes are in the NBA and NFL which caused my friend Mark and I to think about the soccer team the United States would field in the World Cup if our best athletes did indeed play soccer.   In putting together this team, we focused on American athletes who play sports professionally (except for soccer of course).

America’s All-Athlete Soccer Team:

Goalkeeper: Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver; Arizona Cardinals

In soccer a goalkeepr’s job is simple (in theory at least) keep balls from getting in the net.  The most valuable commodity that a goalkeeper can have is a great pair of hands considering that they are the only player on the pitch allowed to use them.   Fitzgerald has the height, ability, and agility necessary to defend a goal and nobody can deny that he has large hands that can catch almost anything and was the obvious choice for goalkeeper.

Centre Back: Ed Reed, Safety; Baltimore Ravens

Ed Reed is one of the best safeties to ever play football and those skills would translate well to the soccer pitch.   In the NFL, Reed is notorious because of his vision and the ability he has to “see the entire field”.   He is also known for his speed and instincts that allow him to cover a lot of territory very quickly and always be near the ball.  As a center backer these abilities would suit him perfectly in his primary responsibilities: stop the other team from scoring and force turnovers.

Centre Back: LeBron James, Small Forward; Miami Heat

Oguchi Onyewu is the tallest player in U.S. National team history and is known as a hellacious defensive player.  But, athletically – he has nothing on LeBron James.  LeBron has great height and quickness.  Coming off the corners he would be nearly impossible to stop.  On the court he is known for his ability to make the big play on either end of the court.  As a centre back, James would swarm to the ball and make Fitzgerald’s life a lot easier.  He has the strength and the height needed for a good centre back combined with the instincts that would make him difficult to score on.

Left Back: Darelle Revis, Cornerback; New York Jets

If Revis Island can be where big plays go to die in the NFL, why not in the MLS or FIFA World Cup?  Darelle Revis possesses a rare combination of athleticism, speed, and depth perception.  He has instincts  that allow him to see how a play will unfold before the fact.  He is a master of reading body position and understands how that position plays into his opponent’s next move and his own.  A good fullback is expected to have a lot of stamina and be able to cover the flanks with blazing speed.  This is what makes Darelle Revis an obvious choice for this position.

Right Back: Eric Berry, Safety; Kansas City Chiefs

A couple years back I watched Tennesee play LSU on national television and I realized just how special Eric Berry really was.   His combination of speed, instinct, and agility was simply astounding to watch.  Even now in the NFL (before he was injured) Eric Berry seemed to always be at the point where the ball was.  Eric Berry is like Visa, he’s everywhere you want to be and that would make him an exceptional right back.  With an amazing awareness for where the ball is and ability to cover large amounts of the pitch very quickly, Berry would be a ferocious defender.

Center Mid-Fielder: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback; Green Bay Packers

I still don’t think Jon Gruden has gotten off his knees yet from watching Aaron Rodgers dismantle the Vikings on Monday Night Football.  After that cacophony of praise I am having a hard time giving credit to Rodgers but there is no doubt he is a phenomenal athlete.  What makes Rodgers such a great quarterback in the NFL is his ability to distribute the ball and make the players around him better.  In a sense a center mid-fielder is the quarterback or point guard of his team.  There is no doubt that Rodgers is a natural leader and can distribute the ball.  On top of that anyone who has ever seen him run a bootleg knows that he has the speed and athleticism to lead his team down the pitch.  Watching Rodgers is like watching an artist at work.  He is deceptively fast and incredibly efficient.  Think of Spain’s Xavi here but even better.

Center Mid-Fielder: Chris Paul, Point Guard; New Orleans Hornets

Like Rodgers, Paul is a great ball distributor and makes his teammates better.  He is quick and has great feet.  He is a natural leader and understands match-ups.  There was no doubt in either of our minds that Chris Paul would make an excellent mid-fielder.  He has the speed and natural instincts necessary to master this position.

Left Mid-Fielder: Reggie Bush, Running Back; Miami Dolphins

If you want to understand the ability that Reggie Bush has to change direction and cover a lot of space very quickly – just go watch the USC vs. Fresno State game from his junior year.  When you see the play I have in mind you’ll know it – he somehow ran from one sideline to the other and back again to scamper more than 30 yards for a score.  He is naturally left-handed and left-footed which makes him a natural fit for this position.  Anyone that has seen him return a punt knows his ability to get up the field.  Mark described Reggie Bush as having “world class speed and agility.  Think [Tottenham Hotspur’s] Gareth Bale but more agile.”

Right Mid-Fielder: Devin Hester, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner; Chicago Bears

Devin Hester has an amazing ability to understand defense.  He naturally can find the ball and once he has it – find a seam that he can exploit to go the distance.  If you find Devin Hester unguarded with the ball breaking away down the right sideline – good luck stopping this guy because you won’t be able to catch him.  Hester could be a world-class right mid-fielder.

Centre Forward: Derrick Rose, Point Guard; Chicago Bulls

The centre forward has one job – to score goals.  If you ever watch the Bulls play, Rose has the ability to penetrate defenses and drive to the basket.  He has an incredible ability to shoot a gap and an understanding of angles to know what steps he has to take to get to the goal.  When you think of Derrick Rose translating his skill set to soccer, think Carlos Tevez.

Striker: Darren Sproles, Running Back; New Orleans Saints

Mark always likes to describe Sproles as having “phone booth quickness” and to be honest, I really can’t disagree.  Despite his size, this guy amazes me with his speed, quickness, agility, and ability to make guys miss.  I believe that he has the footwork necessary from the multiple times I’ve seen him tiptoe 40 yards down a sideline for a score.  As Mark put it, “If Sproles has any kind of skill, Messi can kiss it!”

The Subs

Reserve Goalkeeper: Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver; Detroit Lions

The only reason that Calvin Johnson is dubbed Megatron instead of the Freak is because “the Freak” was already taken (twice actually).  Calvin Johnson is a remarkable combination of size, speed, and agility and lives by the motto of “If you can touch it, you can catch it.”  I feel that Johnson would be incredibly difficult to score on and with his remarkable height, strength, and leaping ability – would be a prime candidate if you needed to throw someone in the game to head a ball in.

Substitute: Adrian Peterson, Running Back; Minnesota Vikings

Peterson plays the game of football with a sense of violence and urgency that could come in handy inside of the penalty box.  He is difficult to tackle and once he has momentum, incredibly difficult to stop.  Peterson has quick feet, is very shifty, and can change direction on a dime.  In a game his best fit would probably be as a right mid-fielder.  While not as quick as Rose or Sproles, he could also serve as a full back in his ability to attack a gap and naturally figure out where he needs to be in order to get to the goal

Substitute: Metta World Peace (Ron Artest), Small Forward; Los Angeles Lakers

There is no denying the athletic ability of the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest.  This was purely a Mark pic but I can’t deny the reasoning.  Artest would be great at getting to the ball and tipping it in when it bounces off the goal.  “Every team needs a garbage player” and nobody could feel that role better than whatever his name is this week.

There is no doubt in my mind that if our best male athletes were brought up playing soccer as opposed to basketball, football, and baseball – that our FIFA teams would enjoy similar success to our women’s teams.  The question has to be though – here’s our team:

WHO WOULD YOU PLACE ON YOURS?

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

2011 NFL Offseason Grades – AFC East

Sorry for the delay, without further ado, here are my offseason grades for the AFC East.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Nate Solder, OT (1-17); Ras-I Dowling, CB (2-33); Shane Vereen, RB (2-56); Stevan Ridley, RB (3-73); Ryan Mallett, QB (3-74); Marcus Cannon, OT (5-138); Lee Smith, TE (5-159); Markell Carter, DE (6-194); Malcolm Williams, CB (7-219)

Solder is a big, athletic tackle who can bolster the Patriot's line starting Week 1

I think the New England Patriots had a stronger draft than most people give them credit for.  The glaring hole that I see in their draft is that they failed to address the wide receiver position and waited until the 3rd round to address their running back need.  Nate Solder is a perfect fit for this line as he is a large athletic tackle that can be plugged in immediately.  I really like what the Patriots did in the 3rd and 4th round as much as anyone.   Stevan Ridley was a highly underrated running back in college who could be a strong addition to the backfield in another year or two.  I also think Ryan Mallett can be a starting quarterback in this league and I feel like the Patriots will soon pull a “Cassell” or “Kolb” and be able to turn this 4th round draft pick into more draft picks.  The best thing the Patriots did in this draft is set themselves up nicely seeing as they now have 2 first round and 2 second round picks in 2012.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Logan Mankins, G (Patriots); Matt Light, OT (Patriots); BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB (Patriots); Albert Haynesworth, DT (Redskins), Chad Ochocinco, WR (Bengals), Shaun Ellis, DE (Jets)

KEY LOSSES: Marcus Stroud, DT; Tully Banta-Cain, LB; Ty Warren, DE; Nick Kaczur, OT; Alge Crumpler, TE

It's not unreasonable to think that Chad Ochocinco could hit double digits for receiving touchdowns in 2011.

The New England Patriots did not make the big splashes that other teams did but what’s important is they made the necessary one.  They were able to re-sign Mankins and Light so with the addition of Solder this is a solid offensive line going into next season.  They were able to bring back BenJarvus Green-Ellis who was able to provide a ground attack for the Patriots last season.  Most importantly, if Albert Haynesworth can return to Tennessee form the Patriots got him for a ridiculously good value and by pairing him with Vince Wilfork, the Patriots might have the tools necessary to shut down that dangerous running game of the New York Jets.  In addition they were able to go and get Shaun Ellis from the Jets to give the Patriots a great defensive line.  Chad Ochocinco was another great value trade who I think will have a great year in New England.  Not a ridiculous year but his presence should also open up the field for Wes Welker and those young tight ends.  I project a 9 – 10 touchdown, 1100 yard season for Ochocinco in this offense which makes this an excellent pick-up.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE (1-30); Kenrick Ellis, DT (3-94); Bilal Powell, RB (4-126); Jeremy Kerley, WR (5-153); Greg McElroy, QB (7-208); Scotty McKnight, WR (7-227)

 

Greg McElroy has won everywhere he's been and provides an interesting developmental project for the Jets

Going into the draft, the New York Jets biggest concern had to be their defensive line – getting younger and more athletic at the position.  They finally gave up on bust Vernon Gholston and the aging Jason Taylor will not be back.  Additionally, they also lost Shaun Ellis to the rival Patriots.  I feel like Wilkerson will be giving quarterbacks in the East nightmares for years.  He is a tall, athletic, fast defensive end with great strength and instincts.  Kenrick Ellis could be a great force upfront for the Jets.  I do like the Greg McElroy pick in the 7th round.  A lot of times, draft experts talk about intangibles which really means “we don’t know what else to call it but we like it” or someone being a winner.  The difference between Super Bowl contenders like the Jets and teams like the Broncos – is the Jets took a quarterback who is a winner, but they grabbed him in the 7th round as opposed to trading up in the first.  Overall this was a really good draft for the Jets without a lot of picks.  The only downside is I feel like their linebacker corps could also use some help.

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Santonio Holmes, WR (Jets); Antonio Cromartie, CB (Jets); Mark Brunell, QB (Jets); Plaxico Burress, WR (Inactive); Nick Folk, K (Jets); Wayne Hunter, OT (Jets);  David Harris, LB (Jets); Derrick Mason, WR (Ravens)

KEY LOSSES: Braylon Edwards, WR; Shaun Ellis, DE; Jason Taylor, DE; Brad Smith, KR/WR/QB

Re-signing Santonio Holmes was a priority for the Jets heading into the 2011 season.

The New York Jets did some excellent things in the free agency period.  Braylon Edwards was a big loss but with his pending suspension, the Jets felt like Plaxico Burress was a better risk to take.  Re-signing Santonio Holmes was a must and then the addition of the ageless wonder Derrick Mason gives the Jets a strong receiving corps.  Bringing back Cromartie was necessary once they lost out on the Asomugha sweepstakes and since the kicker market was relatively weak, it was so important for the Jets to re-sign Nick Folk.  The big losses for the Jets are Shaun Ellis who left for the rival Patriots but the Jets anticipated this loss in their draft.  One really big loss for the Jets, that most don’t realize, was do-it-all Brad Smith.  His long kick returns, and ability as a wild cat QB was a big part of the Jets success the last two seasons and he will be missed more than most Jets fans realize.  Overall, the Jets did a great job in the offseason.

 

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT CLASS: Mike Pouncey, C (1-15); Daniel Thomas, RB (2-62); Edmund Gates, WR (4-11); Charles Clay, FB (6-174); Frank Kearse, DT (7-231); Jimmy Wilson (7-235)

 

Even though he played at Division II Abilene Christian, Gates has the speed, hands, and athleticism to be a successful slot receiver in the NFL.

For me, the Miami Dolphins draft was kind of a mixed bag.  But overall there were a few things I really liked about the draft for the Dolphins.  First off, I love the Mike Pouncey pick for him in the first round.  While it has been a slow process, the Dolphins have been doing a good job of building their offensive line.  They got their tackle in Jake Long a few years back and now they have the second most position in the line in a strong, athletic center in Pouncey.  I really am a fan of Daniel Thomas and think he could be a great addition to that backfield.  The fact that the first running back went off the board late in the first round makes almost any running back with starter potential, such as Thomas a good value.  The player I love in this draft for the Miami Dolphins is Edmund Gates.  Having watched several Abilene Christian games, I can tell you this about Gates – he’s got great awareness, excellent hands, and amazing athleticism.  He is a raw talent but when he gets in space, watch out – he was one of the fastest players in this year’s draft.  He is going to be compared to the Chicago Bears’ Johnny Knox (also from ACU) but I expect, with some development, that Gates will be better than Knox.  Great value pick in the 4th round. I’m intrigued to watch him develop.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Reggie Bush, RB (Saints); Kevin Burnett, LB (Chargers); Matt Moore, QB (Panthers); Tony McDaniel, DE (Dolphins); Marc Colombo, OT (Cowboys); Ronald Fields, DT (Broncos); Jason Taylor, DE (Jets)

KEY LOSSES: Ronnie Brown, RB; Tyler Thigpen, QB; Channing Crowder, LB

The Reggie Bush trade should work out to be one of those rare trades that was a great move for both teams

I have not been big on Reggie Bush these past few years but I think this is a trade that makes sense.  He is a pass catching running back and a great athlete and may be the heir apparent to the now departed original Wildcat, Ronnie Brown.  He also gives the Dolphins a threat as an excellent punt returner.  The addition of Marc Colombo gives the Dolphins a pretty good offensive line and I like the additions they made on defense with Fields and Burnett.  Crowder will definitely be missed.  Of course the biggest question for the Dolphins in my mind is who is going to play quarterback?  I am not going to go as far as to say Chad Henne and Matt Moore are never going to be more than a number 2 but for a team that improved overall in the offseason, they actually took a step back at the quarterback position.  It’s a sad state of affairs when losing Tyler Thigpen actually weakens your QB position.  There were a number of serviceable starters available via trade and draft and I think the Dolphins should be calling Cincy around the clock to see what it would take to get Carson Palmer there.  While I believe he is retired for good, this is one of a small handful of teams that should be calling Favre and it might not hurt them to give Randy Moss a call either.

 

 

BUFFALO BILLS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT CLASS: Marcell Dareus, DT (1-3); Aaron Williams, CB (2-34); Kelvin Sheppard, LB (3-68); Da’Norris Searcy, S (4-100); Chris Hairston, OT (4-122); Johnny White, RB (5-133); Chris White, LB (6-169); Justin Rogers, CB (7-206); Michael Jasper, G (7-245)

 

Marcell Dareus is a strong, fast defensive lineman that could play either the nose tackle or defensive end position in Buffalo's 3-4 D

I don’t know if Buffalo really drafted the positions they needed but they drafted a lot of good players.  A lot of good teams have been built on the basis of B.P.A. (Best Player Available) and when you are as bad as the Bills were last season, the focus really does need to be on getting as many good players as possible.  While I will continue to argue that I believe Patrick Peterson was the best overall player in the draft, I believe Marcell Dareus was a perfect defensive pick for the Bills.  The Bills run a 3-4 defense and as a pass-rusher, Dareus could easily be converted into a defensive end.  I also love the Williams, Sheppard, and Searcy picks.  This defense should be much improved this coming season.  The biggest questions have to be though, why the Bills did not address their offensive line until day 3 or use a single pick on a wide receiver or tight end.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Nick Barnett, LB (Packers); Drayton Florence, CB (Bills); Brad Smith, WR/KR/QB (Jets), Tyler Thigpen, QB (Dolphins)

KEY LOSSES: Paul Posluszny, LB; Donte Whitner, S; Lee Evans, WR

Barnett, while not Posluszny, was as good of a replacement as the Bills were going to find.

One of these offseasons, Buffalo is going to have to make a splash if they ever hope to compete with the Jets and Patriots.  Losing Paul Posluszny and Donte Whitner was significant.  But the Bills re-signed the guy they needed to in Drayton Florence.  Nick Barnett is a nice replacement for Posluszny and I could see this being a stout defense that now features the likes of Aaron Williams, Marcell Dareus, Shawne Merriman, Nick Barnett, and Jairus Byrd.   I also like the Tyler Thigpen signing as he is a solid back-up quarterback and it was a good move to take Brad Smith away from the rival Jets.  Gailey did some wildcat looks in Kansas City with Thigpen and in this offense he could find places for Thigpen and Smith.  However, the offensive side of the ball needs plenty of work.  The offensive line is non-existent and they traded away a highly underrated receiver in Lee Evans which I believe they will regret.  But if this defense can hold teams to 10 points a game, the Bills might just have a shot.

Overall the AFC East had a pretty strong offseason.  The New England Patriots definitely improved.  The Bills and Dolphins should field a better team than last season and the New York Jets look about the same to me.   As always this should be a very tough division and I expect great defense across the board from all four teams.

 

 

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