Rotoprofessor Fantasy Football 3-Pack

Sep 8, 2009

The season is approaching and the Rotoprofessor has stepped up his game to give you great fantasy football coverage.

Joe Flacco: Sophomore Stud or QB to Avoid?

Joe Flacco became a darling of the league last season, bursting onto the scene as a first round draft choice equipped with a big-time arm.  It’s rare that a rookie quarterback can walk into the NFL and immediately guide his team to a winning record, yet alone the playoffs.  He accomplished that, starting all 16 games en route to an 11-5 record and a wildcard playoff birth.

Before we dub him a great fantasy option this season, we need to be cautious.  First off all, the Ravens clearly protected him in their game plans, limiting him to 428 attempts.  That placed him 19th in the league.

He only managed 2,971 yards and 14 TD.  His strength was managing the game, throwing just 12 interceptions and stepping up to make a play when the team needed it most.

It is obvious that the offense was focused around the running game, however, something that is likely to be repeated in 2009.  When you have Ray Rice (who I profiled recently, so click here to read), Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain, do you really blame them?

You also have to take into account the questions surrounding the men on the outside.

Derrick Mason?  Is he retired?  Well, it seemed like it, but he had a change of heart.  While he does have seven seasons of over 1,000 yards, he is now 35-years old and you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank.  As a number two-receiver maybe, but he enters the season as the top receiver for the Ravens.

Mark Clayton? We’ve all heard about the promise and talent, but only once has he posted a season of over 700 yards or score more than three touchdowns.  Until he proves he can do that, he’s going to be surrounded with question marks and shouldn’t be considered a reliable option.

After that, whom else do they have?

  • Kelley Washington (73 career receptions)
  • Demetrius Williams (55 career receptions)
  • Yorman Figures (2 career receptions)

I would be a lot more comfortable with Flacco if he had a big-time, dependable young wide receiver who he could just throw the ball up to and watch him make a play.  Couple that with the Ravens desire to focus on the run and it makes it tough to consider Flacco as a usable fantasy option this season outside of deeper two-quarterback formats.

Even in shallower formats, I’d lean against stashing him as my reserve QB.  While it’s possible that he could post a good week now and then, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to come in the week that you need him.

What do you think?  Is Flacco a QB you’d consider drafting?  How good do you think he’ll be this season?

Is Donnie Avery a Fantasy Starter?

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To look at Rams top wide receiver Donnie Avery brings a litany of questions:

  • Will he be able to progress from his rookie season and assume the pressures as the team’s top receiver?
  • Will his QB be able to get him the ball?
  • How will missing the majority of the preseason affect his performance?
  • Will he even be able to take the field for Week 1?

A second round draft pick in 2008, Avery was second on the Rams in 2008 with 53 receptions and 674 yards, trailing just Torry Holt in both categories.  With Holt now calling Jacksonville home, Avery was thought to enter 2009 as the team’s prime target but injuries have derailed those plans a bit.

He had been sidelined since August 7 after suffering a stress fracture in his foot during a scrimmage.  It was questionable if he would recover in time to open the season, but he was in the line-up for Thursday’s final preseason game.

He was only in the game for the first two series and didn’t have a single pass thrown his way, but being able to take the field was a huge victory.  While it is possible that he’s still hindered by the injury for a week or two into the regular season, the fact that he will be able to take the field gives him a chance to be productive.

Marc Bulger has also been limited this preseason, just helping fuel the questions about his potential success in 2009.  Once regarded as one of the elite quarterbacks in the game, he has been mired with injuries only once starting all 16 games in a season.

Last year he did manage to play in 15 games, but still had just 2,720 yards.  Over the past two seasons he’s thrown just 22 touchdowns compared to 28 interceptions.  His completion percentage hasn’t exceeded 58.5% each of the past two years.

Even this preseason, he’s been sidelined with a fractured pinkie.  Considering that the projected second-string quarterback is Kyle Boller, with a career passer rating of 71.9, there is reason to worry that Avery could suffer this season from poor quarterback play.

Will Bulger be healthy?  Can he rediscover his Pro bowl status?  What if Boller is forced into duty?

With that said, let’s take a look at what I would expect from Avery this season:

Receiving – 61 catches, 835 yards, 5 TD

When looking for a wide receiver, you want someone who you can count on.  With Avery, I don’t think you get that.  He proved to be good last season, but he was far from elite.  Throw in the questions about his QB and the fact that the Rams are going to be a team to ride Steven Jackson into the end zone at any time possible, and you get a WR with more questions then answers.

He has upside, however, considering he will be his teams top receiver.  He’s worth getting, but too me I don’t want to be depending on him as one of my top three receivers.  While he could prove worthy of a starting spot, he’d look better on my bench as a #4 who I can reap the benefits from if he outperforms my projections.

What do you think?  Do you think Avery will be a must start fantasy WR option or is he better as your fourth option?

Match-Up: Hester vs. Breaston

While neither Devin Hester (ADP of 95.48) nor Steve Breaston (ADP of 93.81) would be ideal starting WR in most formats, both players could prove valuable to your fantasy roster when all is said and done.  Which player would make the better bench option?  Let’s take a look.

After starting his career as a cornerback and return specialist (returning 11 kicks for TD between 2006 & 2007), the Bears wanted to get his speed on the offensive side of the ball.  In 2007 he began lining up as a wide receiver, though was more of a decoy then a consistent target.

Last season he began to be more integrated into the offensive schemes.  He amassed 51 catches for 655 yards and 3 TD.  Those are solid numbers, especially when you consider that Kyle Orton was his QB, and he enters the 2009 season as a starter for the Bears.

As I’ve said before when discussing Eddie Royal (click here to read), Jay Cutler, who now mans the Bears QB position, completed 55 passes for 20+ yards and 7 for 40+ yards.  Compare that to Orton’s 34 completions of 20+ yards and 3 completions of 40+ yards and you have to like Hester’s potential for the big play a whole lot more.

The difference with Breaston is that you know he is going to be the third receiver on his team, unless an injury or some other situation calls him into duty.  When you play in an offense that boasts Larry Fitzgerald & Anquan Boldin, there’s not much you can do.

Breaston plays the Wes Welker role well, however, picking up 77 catches for 1,006 yards last season.  With Kurt Warner at QB, you know there’s going to be plenty of balls put into the air in Arizona, but can you safely assume he’s going to be able to match what he did last season?

The Cardinals, remember, are a team that didn’t boast much of a rushing attack in 2008.  Edgerrin James was the team’s leading rusher, and he amassed just 514 yards on 133 carries.  It was obvious that the team felt more comfortable putting the ball in the air whenever possible.

Things should change this season, however, after spending their first round pick on Beanie Wells.  You do not select someone like Wells if you do not intend to use him, and do so heavily.

A greater focus on the running game is going to mean less balls going in the air.  Who do you think is going to get less opportunity to make plays?  It’s certainly not going to be your stars, so it would appear unlikely that Breaston can repeat his performance.

So, when it comes to drafting your backup wide receiver and it comes to a decision between these two players, it would appear that Hester has a greater upside in having a big season.  Isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for?  A player with tremendous upside?  I’d make him your selection every time.

What about you?  Which of these two players do you prefer and why?

Photos courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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One Response so far | Have Your Say!

  1. sandra742
    September 9th, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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