Boser’s Tweetbeat: NFL Draft Fantasy Fallout

May 5, 2011


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Boser’s Tweetbeat –
Sifting through the hashtags to bring you the hottest trending Twitter topics in the Fantasy Football industry.
By Ryan Boser

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Before I’d even cracked my second beer last Thursday night, the speculation was already swirling—how would the NFL’s newest employees impact fantasy football? Wait, are they employees? A non-unionized workforce? Icons? Conversationalists? Slaves? Screw it, I can’t keep up.
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Now that fantasy geeks have had a week to let the fresh meat marinate, here’s what they’re saying:
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WINNERS
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Matt Ryan won big. His Falcons overpaid to acquire Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones. Adding a 6’3″, 220-lb. specimen who runs a 4.39-second 40 (on a broken foot) opposite Roddy White is intriguing, to say the least.
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The 6’4-1/2″, 228-lb. Jonathan Baldwin gives Matt Cassel another legitimate target to pair with Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City.
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Peyton Manning also came out of the draft smiling. The Colts used their first two picks to put 628 pounds of beef between Manning and opposing defenses. Tackles Anthony Castonzo and second-round pick Ben Ijalana (who will likely slide inside) should give Manning even more time to dissect defenses.
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Here, Pro Football Focus’ Mike Clay takes a look at players who got a boost by teams neglecting to add competition.
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UNDETERMINED
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Roddy White and Dwayne Bowe are in similar situations, as each was their respective teams’ sole receiving threat last season. While it’s likely that rookie first rounders Julio Jones and Jonathan Baldwin will steal some targets, they’ll also force defenses to play a bit more honest. And so goes the debate—which way will the scale tip?
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White led all receivers with 179 targets and 115 catches (for an outstanding 64% catch rate) last season. It stands to reason that he has nowhere to go but down, and I’m a bit surprised that most experts haven’t downgraded him at all.
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While White was able to beat double and triple teams last season, Bowe struggled greatly down the stretch as defenses caught on. He managed just 14 receptions in his final five games of 2010, and wasn’t even targeted in the team’s playoff loss to Baltimore. Baldwin should open things up for Bowe, but he’s also a bigger red-zone target. Like White, nobody’s making any drastic adjustments to their rankings of Bowe.
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LOSERS
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Jahvid Best is probably the biggest loser. The Lions traded up to select Illinois bruiser Mikel Leshoure in the second round. Leshoure is a lock for goal line duty, and though it’s not likely to happen immediately, he’s better suited for first and second down work than the 5’10″, 195-lb. Best.
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With the Bengals drafting A.J. Green, I guess I can forget about my Jerome Simpson man-crush.
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Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams likely go from “little” to “no” fantasy value after Miami moved up to select Kansas State’s 6’0″, 230-lb. Daniel Thomas. Of the two veterans, Brown’s the more likely to return, but Thomas is set to take over as the main man.
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Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Reggie Bush (if he returns) absorb crippling blows with the addition of former Heisman winner Mark Ingram.
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead got some unexpected competition when Bill Belichick made the puzzling decision to draft running backs in the second (Shane Vereen, California) and third (Stevan Ridley, LSU) rounds. Throw out last year—we’re back to fantasy headaches in the New England run game.
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Demarco Murray muddies the waters even more in the Dallas backfield.
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Ryan Torain‘s days as a fantasy RB2 are probably over. Washington selected two backs—fourth-rounder Roy Helu and sixth-rounder Evan Royster—to compete for his job. Helu may unseat Torain altogether.
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Arizona’s second round selection of Ryan Williams makes the Cardinals backfield (Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells) even less dependable than before. Avoid.
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THE ROOKIES
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The common perception is that none of the rookie quarterbacks are worthy of redraft consideration. However, there are some (myself included) who think Christian Ponder may be the one guy with the chance to sneak into QB2 territory. The fifth-year senior has a strong supporting cast in Minnesota, pro style experience, the intelligence to pick up a playbook quickly, and no real competition at the position. His mobility and accuracy in the short-to-intermediate passing game is a nice fit for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s version of the West Coast offense.
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Daniel Thomas has risen to the top of most rookie boards. He’s not the most talented back, but his situation in Miami is prime for immediate fantasy contributions.
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Mark Ingram is a very good all-around back entering one of the league’s best offenses. The expectation is that he’ll win the starting gig, but share a sizable chunk of the workload with Pierre Thomas. Reggie Bush is not expected to be back, and Chris Ivory is now nothing more than a depth guy.
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Mikel Leshoure excites me. He’ll begin as the power compliment to Jahvid Best, giving him nice early touchdown potential. However, if Best remains brittle this season, Leshoure could easily become the top rookie runner.
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Ryan Williams and Roy Helu are worth late-round looks. Both enter murky situations, but have the potential to emerge as feature backs. Williams has the game-breaking upside, and Mike Shanahan is already gushing over Helu.
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Most have A.J. Green a notch higher than Julio Jones, but I have them flip-flopped. Green is NFL-ready, and he’s a lock to get more targets than Jones as the Bengals’ best receiver. However, with that comes a No. 1 cornerback. He’ll also be catching passes from rookie Andy Dalton (I still don’t think there’s any chance Carson Palmer returns). Conversely, Jones inherits Matt Ryan as his quarterback. An explosive playmaker, Jones projects as a weekly boom-or-bust fantasy play opposite Roddy White.
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Wide receivers Jonathan Baldwin and St. Louis’ Leonard Hankerson are names worth stashing as well.
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Consider this a first take. With the labor negotiations holding up the free agency and trading periods, this is still a very fluid situation.
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Ryan Boser is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA), and regularly contributes writing and commentary to numerous media outlets. Ryan’s own website, Out of My League, covers both fantasy football and the Minnesota sports landscape.

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