The Redskins made a big splash by adding Donovan McNabb in the offseason. After a couple years of actually having some weapons in the passing game, McNabb takes a major step back with Washington’s offering. He always seems to find a way to make it work, so expect the Skins’ offense to improve.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They open up the fantasy playoffs against Tampa Bay at home in Week 14. They then go on the road to face Dallas and Jacksonville.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Donovan McNabb – Normally I would give him a five star rating, but he does have an injury history, and he has the aforementioned drop-off in talent at WR. Perhaps his best options are TEs Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Clinton Portis – The Redskins brought in competition in the form of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker. McNabb’s presence should open things up for the ground game. If he can stay healthy, Portis brings the most to the table.

 

Santana Moss – Moss isn’t the player he once was, but he hasn’t had a QB the caliber of McNabb, perhaps ever. He is notoriously inconsistent, but he should have some big games still left in him. Brian Orakpo should pile up the sacks.

 

Chris Cooley – The Skins have a good problem having two talented TEs. Mike Shanahan is gifted enough to figure out a way to get both Cooley and Davis involved in the passing game.

 

Redskins Defense/Special Teams – The Redskins will need Albert Haynesworth to make nice with the team to remain a decent fantasy defense. Highlights include the Rams (Week 3), Lions (Week 8), and the Bucs (Week 14).

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Larry Johnson – If Portis were to go down or finally hits the wall from the extensive use in his career, LJ would be the one to step in and carry the load. I think he still has some football left in him. It’s just a matter of how many  opportunities he’ll get.

 

Devin Thomas – He hasn’t lived up to his expectations yet, but McNabb should help. He is not afraid to rely on young receivers. Thomas has good size (6’2″, 215) and speed. He just has to put it all together.

 

Fred Davis – Davis stepped in when Cooley went down and ran with his opportunity. He had 41 catches for 464 yards and 6 TDs in the Skins last ten games. The Skins can’t ignore that kind of production, especially with a sub par receiving corps.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Willie Parker – If he can stay healthy, he should be able to produce in spots for the Skins. That won’t help your fantasy team go. Unless he can earn the #2 RB gig, he’s not a viable fantasy option.

 

Malcom Kelly – Kelly is a 6’4″ receiver that has failed to score a TD in 21 games. That should change with McNabb, but don’t expect him to transform into a stud.

 

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You can’t truly evaluate the Titans until you know what is going to happen with Chris Johnson. That said, like the Titans the show must go on with or without him.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Titans tackle the Colts and Texans at home in Weeks 14 and 15, followed by a road match-up against Kansas City. You have to love the fantasy championship match-up (assuming Chris Johnson plays).

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Chris Johnson – I actually assume that he’s going to miss some camp at the very least with the holdout, which will have a negative impact on the season. I can’t, in good faith, give him anything short of a five star rating as long as there is the possibility that he’ll play. That’s how good he is.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Vince Young – As long as he doesn’t make any more dumb decisions off the field, I think he should have a solid season on the field. I expect him to contribute more in the rushing game than last year, particularly around the goal line. If he can limit the mistakes in the passing game, he could be a decent spot starter and backup fantasy QB.

 

Titans Defense/Secondary – To say the Titans were ravaged by injuries on defesnse last year would be putting it mildly. If they can stay healthy, along with the addition of Derrick Morgan, the Titans should be much-improved on defense.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Javon Ringer – If Chris Johnson does sit out, Ringer could move up a star. It would be a RBBC though to replace the premier RB in the league. If Johnson plays, you can push Ringer down to a one star. I expect he’ll get less touches than last year, but I don’t see anyone taking significant carries from Johnson.

 

Kenny Britt, Justin Gage & Nate Washington – This is a run first team with a QB with questionable accuracy so it’s hard to bank on the WRs. Britt is the one with the most potential. He has good size and speed, and had flashes last year. Washington is the best deep threat and Gage will likely play the slot position.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
LeGarrette Blount – Blount only has value if Johnson holds out.

 

Damian Williams – He’s probably a year or two from being relevant for fantasy teams, but is someone to mention in case of injury to one of the top three WRs.

 

Bo Scaife and Jared Cook – Scaife is the Titan TE to own, but he is limited by Cook’s presence and his inability to score TDs.

 

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The Bucs do not bring much to the table for fantasy owners. Aside from Kellen Winslow, there isn’t a reliable option. That doesn’t mean you should avoid them all together.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Favorable
Too bad the Bucs don’t have more fantasy options because their schedule, on paper anyway, is very soft. They start off against the Redskins at home in Week 14. Then they have two home games against fellow bottom dwellers Detroit and Seattle.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Kellen Winslow – Winslow is forever an injury risk, but he has shown enough toughness to fight through the pain that you can rely on him. He has had at least 77 catches and 875 yards in three of the last four seasons.  The main knock on  him is that he doesn’t score TDs (only 16 career TDs). He has added value in PPR leagues.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Cadillac Williams – The Auburn duo of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown have had more of their share of injuries. There aren’t many players that I pull for more than Cadillac because of everything he’s endured. He was overlooked last year because of the acquisition of Derrick Ward, yet managed to compile a 1040 total yard (823 rushing), 7 TD (4 rushing) season. You have to be a little skeptical that Ward will play a larger role, but as of now it appears Williams is the Bucsback to own.

 

Reggie Brown – Newcomer Reggie Brown has a chance to start over in Tampa Bay. He was passed in Philly’s depth charts by youngsters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. He’ll have to hold off veteran Michael Clayton and rookies Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams.

 

Buccaneers Defense/Special Teams – For starters I like their Week 15 and 16 match-ups against the Lions and Seahawks respectively. They also take on the Browns (Week 1) and Rams (Week 7).  Plus, their second match-up against the Saints is after the fantasy season.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Josh Freeman – Freeman has the tools to become a good NFL QB, but it’s going to take some size. Without quality options at the WR position or a solid ground game, it will take a little longer. He’ll have his moments, but they will be few and far between.

 

Derrick Ward –  Ward did not exactly live up to the hype last year combining for 559 total yards (409 rushing) and 3 TDs (1 rushing). His paltry 3.6 yards per carry didn’t help matters. He could make a run at the starting gig this summer, but until he earns the gig, his stock is very limited.

 

Michael Clayton, Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams – After an impressive 80 catch, 1193 yard, 7 TD rookie season, Clayton has just 141 catches for 1743 yards and 3 TDs over the past  five seasons. Surely you don’t expect him to suddenly remember how to be an elite fantasy WR. Benn could beat out Clayton or Brown for a chance to start, but I wouldn’t put much faith in a rookie WR given Tampa Bay’s offense. Williams has the tools, but will likely take longer to make an impact.

 

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The Rams selected their QB of the future in Sam Bradford. Unfortunately the pieces aren’t in place for him to turn things around too dramatically this year. At least there is hope.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They take on the Saints on the road in Week 14 followed by home games against Kansas City and San Francisco. It’s not a terribly frightening schedule, but aside from Steven Jackson, who are you counting on from the Rams?

 

Five Star Fantasy Option
Steven Jackson – My hope is that Bradford will at least keep defenses honest. Jackson was such a warrior battling through injuries to amass 1738 total yards (1416 rushing) and 4 TDs. He could have easily quit given the Rams’ ineptitude, but he didn’t. Gotta respect that. If the team is any better, which I expect it to be, Jackson should easily be a top 5-8 fantasy RB.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Donnie Avery – Avery burned fantasy owners last year, so he should come at a value. He will have some consistency issues with a rookie QB under center, but he at least has a competent one this year.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Sam Bradford – I’m not the biggest fan of this year’s QB class, or rookie QBs in general, but Bradford has the tools. He could start the year watching A.J. Feeley, but you have to imagine he’ll get his opportunity.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
A.J. Feeley – While he’s probably an upgrade over the QBs the Rams had last year, he does not have a firm grip on the job. Even if he holds off Sam Bradford, he will eventually yield to the future.

 

Kenneth Darby & Chris Ogbonnaya – Unless Steven Jackson goes down, you needn’t worry about this duo.

 

Keenan Burton, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson – None of these options excite me, but Burton and Robinson, assuming they have recovered from injuries, are the ones to watch.

 

Daniel Fells & Michael Hoomanawanui - Neither TE does anything to excite me.

 

Rams Defense/Special Teams – The Rams’ D would have taken a step in the right direction if they took Ndamukong Suh. That said, I see why they wanted a franchise QB instead. There is no reason to think the Rams’ D will be fantasy worthy in 2010.

 

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I expect Pete Carroll to be successful with the Seahawks…eventually. They just don’t have the pieces in place for it to happen right away.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:   Difficult
The Seahawks take on the Niners in San Francisco in Week 14. Then they play the Falcons at home. They have a nice match-up against Tampa Bay in Week 16, but it’s on the road. Plus, how many Seahawks are you going to rely on in the fantasy championship.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
John Carlson – Somebody has to catch the ball. Carlson has been effective despite the Seahawks struggles, averaging 53 catches for 600 yards and 6 TDs the past two seasons.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Justin Forsett – For now, Forsett is probably the best option. If Leon Washington is healthy or Marshawn Lynch is acquired, you can all but write Forsett off. Until then, he’s the best option they have in the running game. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield. Very quick and elusive.

 

T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Housh had a choice between the Seahawks and the Vikings last year. I wonder if he’d still go for the money if he could do it over again. He has good hands and size so he’ll have some moments. He’s just not in a good situation. He is playing with either an old or an inexperienced QB. There isn’t much of a running game to keep defenses honest. There aren’t a lot of other receivers to keep defenses from keying in on him.

 

Golden Tate – As long as he isn’t too tempted by late night snack runs, Tate should have some moments along the way, but consistency will be an issue.

 

Seahawks Defense/Special Teams – If Washington returns to form, the Seahawks will have a strong return game. Their defense should improve with rookie Earl Thomas’ arrival.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Matt Hasselbeck – He’s old. He can’t stay healthy. He has very few options in the passing game. If you’re taking Hasselbeck as your QB2, you may be drafting the name.

 

Charlie Whitehurst – He’s going to get his snaps so Carroll can see what he has. It’s hard to gauge a QB that has never taken a snap at this level. When you have a bad line, non-existent running game, and limited options at WR, you can’t get too excited over his prospects.

 

Julius Jones & Leon Washington – Jones bores me to tears while Washington must prove his back from a horrific leg injury. Jones will have a few solid games if he gets 15-20 carries, but they will be few and far between. Forsett’s skill set is similar to Washington, which could limit his fantasy impact.

 

Deon Butler – Butler has good speed, but will likely be fighting for crumbs after Carlson, Housh, and Tate have been fed.

 

Half Star Fantasy Options
Louis Rankin & Quinton Ganther – Since the Seahawks’ RB situation is so cloudy, this duo should at least be mentioned. They could get meaningful carries at some point of the season. That said, You surely don’t need to draft them unless they ascend up the depth charts (unlikely) during Training Camp.

 

Deion Branch – Branch has had too many injuries to be a factor any more.

 

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For the first time in a long time the 49ers enter the year with quality fantasy options at RB, WR, and TE. They also have a good chance to win the division.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Very Favorable
The Niners open the fantasy playoffs against Seattle at home. They play the Chargers in San Diego Week 15 and finish up against the Rams on the road. Frank Gore owners have to be licking their chops.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Frank Gore – Aside from the cushy fantasy playoffs schedule, the Niners invested two first round picks in RT Anthony Davis and LG Mike Iupati. Gore is a talented RB that can get it done on the ground and through the air. As long as he stays healthy, the sky is the limit.

 

Vernon Davis – I am a little skeptical that he can perform near the level he did last year, but any time a TE catches 78 passes for 965 yards and 13 TDs, you have to take note. He’s a freakish athlete that has finally figured things out. If he stays healthy, another big year should be in order.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Michael Crabtree – In 11 games Crabtree caught 48 passes for 625 yards and 2 TDs. He was remarkable consistent catching between 3-6 passes every game. With a full training camp and preseason, Crabtree has plenty of room to grow.

 

Niners Defense/Special Teams – I love the Niners D for the fantasy playoffs. Also along the way they face Seattle (Weeks 1, 14), Kansas City (3), Oakland (5), St. Louis (10, 16), and Tampa (11). Ted Ginn, Jr.’s arrival should bolster their return game.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Alex Smith – His leash probably isn’t as long as other starters, but as long as he produces he should keep his grip on the starting job. With increased confidence and a variety of talent on offense, Smith makes for a solid QB2.

 

Josh Morgan – Morgan has the potential to join the long line of third-year WRs to breakout. He has the size and speed to do it, but he’s fourth in pecking order after Gore, Davis, and Crabtree.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Ted Ginn, Jr. – Maybe a change of scenery is all Ginn, Jr. needs. I’m not holding my breath that he’ll improve his hands since by switching coasts, but the potential is there for him to be a solid slot receiver.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Glen Coffee/Anthony Dixon – Neither of these players are fantasy worthy unless Frank Gore goes down. Of the two I like Coffee’s chances better.

 

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The biggest concern the Chargers are facing is the possible holdouts of Vincent Jackson and Tackle Marcus McNeill and not LaDainian Tomlinson’s departure. It appears unlikely that they will have the services of these two key players any time soon.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
The Chargers should start the fantasy playoffs with a bang in a Week 14 match-up with Kansas City at home. Next they face the Niners at home before playing the Bengals in Cincinnati in the fantasy championship.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Philip Rivers – Losing Vincent Jackson would hurt, but Rivers would make do. He would still have Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee have potential. Plus, Darren Sproles is effective catching the ball out of the backfield.

 

Antonio Gates – Despite his decline, LT still scored12 TDs. It’s hard to imagine rookie Ryan Matthews will punch in that many. Gates should get plenty of looks in the red zone and a return to double-digit TDs is highly likely. If V-Jax does holdout, Gates will get more looks. He could easily be the top scoring TE in 2010.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Ryan Matthews – I know he’s only a rookie, but he is in a good situation. If McNeill does hold out, bump him down to a three star. Matthews should get plenty of carries between the 20s. He could yield some red zone carries to Darren Sproles because of Sproles’ versatility, but the one-yard plunges should belong to Matthews.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Darren Sproles – Sproles did not have the season many expected him to, but still finished with 840 total yards and 7 TDs. He should be able to at least match those numbers, and even top them if Matthews struggles to adjust to the speed of the NFL.

 

Vincent Jackson – If he doesn’t hold out, you can easily move him up to the five star level. He’s that talented. He’s big, he’s fast, and is a good bet for 1000+ yards and 10+ TD if, and it’s a big if, he can come to terms with the front office.

 

Malcom Floyd – If Jackson holds out, you can move Floyd up to at least a 3.5 star rating. He’s a big play threat averaging 17.2 yards per catch the past two seasons. He could produce a 1000 yards season if given enough looks.

 

Chargers Defense/Special Teams – They aren’t the force they once were, but the do play the Chiefs twice (Weeks 1, 14), Raiders twice (5, 13), Seahawks (3), and Rams (6).

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Legedu Naanee – Naanee could add a star if V-Jax sits out. He has good size (6’2″, 220), but has yet been given the opportunity to show what he can do. There is a bit of risk in drafting Naanee, but do remember who his QB is.

 

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