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Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is by far the best in the division. The writing was on the wall the wall he handled the Brett Favre situation while still delivering on the field. A concussion cost Rodgers from reaching 4000 yards for a third straight year, but fantasy owners can live with the 3922 yards, 28 TDs (11 INTs), 356 rushing yards, and four rushing TDs. If he’s not the best fantasy quarterback in the league, he is certainly a top three choice.
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Chicago’s Jay Cutler cut his interception total from 26 to 16. His yardage (3274) and touchdowns (23) also dipped, but the Bears were winning and more committed to the run. He doesn’t have great weapons around him, but he makes do. The Bears drafted Gabe Carimi to provide some much needed improvement on the offensive line. His toughness may have come into question, but his arm strength never will. He’s a solid QB2 that is really hit or miss.
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Detroit’s Matthew Stafford just can’t seem to stay healthy. The Lions did not invest heavily in their offensive line, as their play was actually not that bad. They did give him some complimentary weapons in the form of Titus Young and Mikel Leshoure to add to Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, and Jahvid Best. Don’t look now, but the Lions are on the rise. If the injury bug bites again, Shaun Hill has shown that he’s more than capable to step up.
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The Vikings finally addressed the quarterback situation with a long-term solution. Christian Ponder is a good fit for the offense and has the experience to play right away. The team will likely add a veteran to mentor Ponder, but it appears he’ll get his shot. If Sidney Rice does not return, the Vikings will need to give Percy Harvin some help at WR. Adrian Peterson will make the life of a rookie quarterback easier.
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Also check out:

 


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Not according to Grant’s ADP at Mock Draft Central that has him going on average with the 21st pick. A number that is staggering to me, considering Grant is coming off a 1450 total yard (1253 rushing), 11 TD season. In fact, it was the second consecutive 1200+ yard season for the fourth year back that will turn 28 during the season.

 

He’s going after guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Shonn Greene, and Ryan Matthews who are far more unproven. He’s even going after WRs like Calvin Johnson and Miles Austin who have bigger question marks entering the new season.

 

Grant picked it up down the stretch averaging 92.7 total yards with 5 TDs in last year’s fantasy playoffs (Week 14-16). He didn’t turn in many monster weeks, but he didn’t have many duds either. He was a steady source of fantasy points all year long.

 

Grant has little competition for carries. Top backup Brandon Jackson always seems to get nicked up. Rookie James Starks isn’t ready to take on meaningful carries. Grant’s main threat is Aaron Rodgers stealing rushing TDs. The Packers would be wise to let Grant run in short TD passes and save their franchise QB from the hits.

 

Grant isn’t going to fool anyone for Ray Rice or MJD with his pass-catching ability, but he has averaged 24.3 catches for 152.7 yards in his three seasons.

 

I am expecting 1450 (1300 rushing) total yards and 9 TDs from Grant, which is enough to have him as my 8th ranked RB (click to see my updated 2010 fantasy RB rankings) and 9th overall (click to see my 2010 Top 50 fantasy rankings).

 

What are your thoughts on Ryan Grant? Would you take him in the first round of your fantasy draft?

The Packers enter the year as one of the most explosive fantasy units in the NFL. They have studs at QB, RB, WR, and TE. If you want a Packer on your team this year you’ll have to get ‘em early.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They should open the playoffs with a bang against the Lions even though it’s on the road. Things get tougher though as they travel to New England and come home to face the Giants. You’ll want to roll with Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and Jermichael Finley regardless of the match-up. You’ll have to make a decision on Ryan Grant and Donald Driver.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Aaron Rodgers – He’s my pick at the #1 2010 fantasy QB. He not only piles up passing numbers, but has rushing yards and TDs that put him over the top.  He has so many weapons to choose from.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Ryan Grant – Somewhat quietly ran for 1253 yards and 11 TDs last year. He added 25 catches for 197 yards. Grant scored six TDs in the last four weeks.

Greg Jennings – TDs were down (4), but he managed to catch 68 passes for 1113 yards. Not a bad year, but I’m certain he can do much better.

Jermichael Finley – Very athletic TE that is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. He’s big and physical, but has the speed and athleticism making him a tough cover for secondaries and LBs alike. Finley had 55 catches for 676 yards and 5 scores and really made noise down the stretch averaging 67.4 yards and 0.8 TDs in his last five games. He really stepped it up in the playoffs grabbing six passes for 159 yards.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Donald Driver – Despite finishing slow Driver had 70 catches for 1061 yards and 6 TDs last year. He’s 35 and had surgery on both knees. Time will tell if that will help or hinder is 2010 production. I’d take him as a WR3, but would prefer him as a WR4 at this point.


Packers Defense/Special Teams – They play the Lions and Bears twice, which could account for 10 INTs or more. They also play the Bills. Unfortunately they face Minnesota twice, the Eagles, the Jets, the Cowboys, the Falcons, the Patriots, and the Giants.

Two Star Fantasy Options
James Jones –  He’ll need an injury to become a factor, as well as improved hands. He can be used as a spot starter in favorable match-ups. Last year against Detroit twice, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay he had 198 yards and 4 TDs. If Driver’s knee become an issue, his value will increase dramatically.

One Star Fantasy Options
Jordy Nelson – Nelson is even farther down the food chain, but does have good hands. If given the opportunity he can contribute. Until then, he should remain on the waivers.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week.  Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers - You have to play him because he’s taking on St. Louis, but there is a good chance that this game gets out of hand early and the Pack let Ryan Grant handle the heavy lifting.

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans - Johnson has a tough matchup this week playing the Jets on the road.  You can’t bench your first-round pick in Week 3, especially after his monster performance against the Texans, but expect something closer to his Week 1 numbers.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions - It seems like I’m picking on the second-year backs in the early going.  I’ll pile on with Kevin Smith.  I don’t like his matchup against Washington.  If he’s not active in the passing game, it will be a long day for his fantasy owners.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs - Bowe faces the Eagles this week.  That ought to be a lot of fun, especially after they got crushed by the Saints.  You almost have to play him, but don’t pencil him in for too many points.

Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals - Ocho gets to go up against the Steelers this week.  It’s a home game for the Bengals, but still a tough draw.  Carson Palmer will have his hands full.  Ocho and Palmer were both impressive against Green Bay, but the Steelers are going to be fired up after falling to the Bears.

Greg Jennings cutting
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Greg Jennings hardly missed a beat in the transition from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers.  His TD total dipped from 12 to 9 without #4, but his receptions jumped from 53 to 80 and his yardage from 920 to 1292.  Aaron Rodgers should be even more comfortable this year, assuming the Packers aren’t serious about the Michael Vick Sweepstakes. 

Jennings had five 100+ yard games and had 90+ yards and/or a TD in 12 of his 16 games. Aside from TDs (3 home, 6 away) Jennings’ home-road numbers were nearly identical. The bulk of his receptions (48) were thrown ten yards or less, but he did show the ability to get deep with ten receptions on passes thrown over 20 yards, including four 41 yards or more.

Jennings is going in the second or third rounds of fantasy drafts and could be a great value depending on how late you get him. I’m expecting 85 receptions for 1300 yards and 10 TDs.

760 Packers v Buccaneers
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Not many players, perhaps in NFL history, had to deal with as much scrutiny as Aaron Rodgers did last year.  It’s one thing to follow a legend, but basically being thrown into a media circus as that legend attempts to make a comeback is a completely different matter.  It was crystal clear that the Green Bay Packers chose Aaron Rodgers over Brett Favre.

In order to keep the masses from revolting, Rodgers would have to prove to not only be durable, but to also be productive.  He had some bumps and bruises along the way, but he was able to fight through them and have an amazing season.  He was a dual threat passing for 4038 yards and 28 TDs and running for 207 yards and 4 TDs.  With a plethora of weapons like Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Donald Lee, and Ryan Grant, I see no reason while Rodgers shouldn’t be a fantasy force again this year.

Rodgers should get off to a nice start out of the gates facing Cincinnati and St. Louis in Weeks 2 & 3 and Detroit and Cleveland in Weeks 6 & 7.  After that his road gets a little tougher.  In fact, he would be a guy who I would try to move after week 7.  Facing
Baltimore, Chicago, and Pittsburgh in Weeks 13-15, which is the heart of the fantasy playoffs, is less than desirable.  Despite the tough finish, he should still put up solid numbers.  3800 yards with 25 TDs and 200 rushing yards with 3 TDs is my low watermark for Rodgers.  Getting that production in the 4th or 5th round is a great value.

drew-brees
1. Drew Brees 
Brees is still top dog.  Although Tom Brady has answered some early questions, he still is more of a risk than Brees as the top gunslinger.
Previous Ranking:  #1

2. Tom Brady
Brady has answered some questions like I stated.  I moved him up a slot because now Manning has questions.  Brady and Bill will want to prove they are the reason for the explosive offense.
Previous Ranking:  #3

3. Peyton Manning
You have been able to pencil Manning for a solid 4000 yard, 25-28 TD season for forever, but without Dungy and Harrison, Manning doesn’t seem to be the lock he once was.
Previous Ranking:  #2

4.  Kurt Warner 
Boldin is still in town.  Warner’s fantasy football playoff schedule of  San Francisco, Detroit, and St. Louis in Weeks 14-16 solidify his high ranking.
Previous Ranking:  #4

5.  Aaron Rodgers
It’s been a quiet offseason for Rodgers and the Packers.  After last year’s fiasco, it must be very welcoming.  Rodgers can concentrate on playing football, something he did quite well last year despite the distractions.  I expect him to be even better in 2009.
Previous Ranking:  #5

 
philip-rivers-handoff
6.  Philip Rivers
They won’t throw as much, but Rivers has so many weapons (Gates, LT, Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Floyd, Sproles, etc.) that he’ll be just fine.
Previous Ranking:  #6

7.  Tony Romo
Romo is another one who has to be enjoying the relative quiet the departure of T.O. has created.  If Roy Williams can step up, Romo could be better by subtraction.
Previous Ranking:  #7

8.  Donovan McNabb
The addition of Jeremy Maclin, even if he’s similar to DeSean Jackson, is enough for me to move him up a couple of slots. 
Previous Ranking:  #10

9.  Matt Ryan
Ryan wasn’t in the first top ten group, but Atlanta has added Tony Gonzalez, the best pass-catching Tight End in NFL history.  With Gonzo, Roddy White, and Michael Jenkins, Ryan will have plenty of options.
Previous Ranking:  Unranked

10.  Carson Palmer
Palmer is still in my top ten, but he’s fading fast.  It appears that Ocho Cinco is going to be a problem again in 2009. 
Previous Ranking:  #9

*Jay Cutler was previous #8, but his move to Chicago and the lack of weapons moved him out of my top ten.

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Top Ten QB Rankings #1

This is my preseason top ten.Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

drew-brees
1. Drew Brees
All he did was pass for 5069 yards and 34 TDs last year despite having his top wideout, Marques Colston, miss five games.  In his three years with New Orleans Drew is averaging 4637 yards and 29 TDs.  To put it into perspective, Peyton Manning has never thrown for 4600 yards in a season.
2. Peyton Manning
Old reliable.  He has never thrown less that 26 TD passes in a season.  Only twice has his passing yardage dipped below the 4000 yard mark.  You can pretty much pencil him in for 4200 yards and 28 TDs.  Others may finish ahead of him, but the come at a higher risk.  For example, in 2006 the top five QBs were Manning, Brees, Bulger, Palmer, and Kitna.  In 2007 it was Brady, Romo, Manning, Big Ben, and Brees.  Last year it was Brees, Rodgers, Rivers, Culter, and Warner (Manning was sixth).  The two constants are Brees and Manning, who happen to be my top two fantasy QBs for 2009,

3. Tom Brady
I know he’s coming off a major injury, but he’s had far more time than Carson Palmer had to rehab when he tore his knee.  Brady had 4806 yards and 50 TDs in 2007.  50 TDs.  Randy Moss and Wes Welker are still there.  Plus, don’t you get the feeling Bill Belichick wants Brady to put up huge numbers to discredit Josh McDaniels’ influence?  Matt Cassel was seventh in QB scoring last year, and with all due respect to Mr. Cassel, he is no Tom Brady.

4.  Kurt Warner
QB is the one position where players can maintain their excellence well into their thirties.  As long as Anquan Boldin is with the Cardinals, Warner remains one of the top QBs.  Even if he holds out or forces a trade, Warner has great weapons in Fitz, Steve Breaston, and Jerheme Urban.

5.  Aaron Rodgers
Rogers impressed me last year.  He was the second highest scoring QB despite having to deal with the Brett Favre circus and expectations.  With a year under his belt and a training camp in which he can just focus on football, I expect Rodgers to be the top young QB next year.  He has plenty of weapons and his ability to add points with his feet are a huge help.
philip-rivers-handoff
6.  Philip Rivers
I would rank Rivers higher, but I think he’ll have a couple of factors working against him next year.  First and foremost, I believe the Chargers Defense will be better in 2009.  They won’t be in as many shootouts next year.  Second, as their D improves, their reliance on the ground game will increase.  LT should be healthy and Sproles will get more carries.  Rivers’ yardage will remain around 4000, but the TD number (34) will take a hit.
7.  Tony Romo
Romo will miss T.O. on the field.  It’s had to replace a double-digit TD guy.  Roy Williams is solid, but he’s not T.O.  Defenses will be able to key in on Jason Witten more, meaning is go-to-guy could have more difficulty getting open.  Plus, with a trio of backs in MB3, Felix Jones, and Choice, the Cowboys could get back to more smashmouth football.
8.  Jay Cutler
In a perfect world Jay Cutler would probably be the third guy on my list.  Unfortunately there are several strikes against him.  Namely the ongoing drama with his new Coach and the potential four-game suspension of his top target Brandon Marshall.  He has the ability to climb this list, but as of now I’m a little leery of his situation.
9.  Carson Palmer
A healthy Palmer should easily be able to crack the Top 10.  Laveranues Coles is no T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but he’s a solid wideout.  As long as Chad Ocho Cinco doesn’t force his way out of Cincinnati, Palmer should be able to throw for 4000 and 25 TDs.
10.  Donovan McNabb
Even if his team won’t give him the tools he needs to do his job, McNabb will find a way to make it work.  He always does.  Kevin Curtis should be healthy and DeSean Jackson has a year of experience.

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One thing I know for sure.  This offseason won’t be nearly as dramatic as last year’s for the Packers.  No worrying about who the QB is going to be.  No retirement and comebacks.  No media circus. 

The Offense is in good shape.  Rodgers looked solid for a debut QB.  Ryan Grant quietly ran for 1200 yards.  Brandon Jackson appeared to be a capable backup.  Greg Jennings hardly missed a beat without #4 and Driver had a solid campaign.  James Jones didn’t deliver as the #3 WR like many expected.  The Pack have enough young wides in place though, that I don’t see it being a key position to fill.  Donald Lee was decent at TE.  Even the backup QBs were addressed last year.

On Defense is where Green Bay needs to improve.  They took a major step back last year.  Injuries were part of the problem.  They have some key free agents on that side of the ball in Brady Popping, Mike Montgomery, Tramon Williams, and Atari Bigby.  Al Harris will turn 35 in December and Charles Woodson will turn 33 in October.  Clearly they will have to get  younger at Cornerback. They also need to give Aaron Kampman some help on the D Line.  Considering the QBs they faced in their division, it’s almost a crime that they only had 27 Sacks (25th in the league) last  year.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
FB Ryan Powdrell ERFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
WR Jake Allen Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
WR Shaun Bodiford RFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
WR Lorne Sam Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
P Durant Brooks Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
OT Mark Tauscher UFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
C Brennen Carvalho Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
OL Tony Palmer RFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
DL Jason Hunter RFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
DL Mike Montgomery UFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
DT Fred Bledsoe Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
LB Michael Hawkes UFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
LB Brady Poppinga UFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
CB Joshua Abrams Re-signed Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
CB Jarrett Bush RFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
CB Tramon Williams ERFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent
SS Atari Bigby RFA Green Bay Packers Free Agent

Fantasy Football Out on a Limb is back for another season.  I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week.  I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending, and the ever-important hunch.  To mix things up I’ll occasionally do some two on one matchups or even pit RB or WR duos against each other.  Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points. 

Scoring
6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard. 

Last Week
Tony Romo
(20) over Tom Brady (3.8) WHICH I WON
Michael Turner (34.6) over Ryan Grant (9.2) WHICH I WON
Selvin Young (9.6) over Darren McFadden (5.7) WHICH I WON
Randy Moss (17.6) beat Larry Fitzgerald (9.1) WHICH I LOST 
Jerricho Cotchery (14.0) over T.J. Houshmandzadeh (4.4) WHICH I WON
Super Stetch:  Ray Rice (8.3) over Fred Taylor (2.7) WHICH I WON

Regular Picks:  4-1
Super Stretch Picks:  1-0
Overall:  5-1
Breakdown: QB: 1-0, RB 3-0, WR: 1-1

Season Record
Regular Picks:  4-1
Super Stretch Picks:  1-0
Overall:  5-1
Breakdown: QB: 1-0, RB: 3-0, WR: 1-1

Quarterback
  
Aaron Rodgers 
over Brett Favre
Of course I’m going to go there.  Rodgers looked good against a bad Vikings Pass Defense last week.  Favre put up solid numbers vs. the Dolphins.  I think they will both have success this week, but I see Rodgers torching Detroit much worse than Favre will do vs. the reeling Pats.

Running Backs
 
Brandon Jacobs
over Marshawn Lynch
Jacobs gets to take on the lowly St. Louis Rams.  Yeah, he’s playing on the road, but the G-Men have no problem on the road as evidenced by their run last year.  Jacobs is healthy and should bowl over their pitiful D.  Meanwhile Lynch gets to face a Jacksonville team coming off a loss.  Plus he’s playing in Jacksonville.  You see where I’m going with this?

 
Larry Johnson
over Steven Jackson
I like LJ in this battle of Redemption Backs.  LJ gets to face a soft Oakland team at home.  I can see 100 yards and a pair of TDs for the big fella.  Meanwhile S-Jax gets to face the G-Men while he’s still trying to get his legs under him from missing training camp.  LJ is going to be the one who looks like a first round pick this week.

Wide Receivers
 
Marvin Harrison
over Chad Ocho Cinco
I’ll go with the Old Man over the Young Buck.  No way does Indy fall to 0-2.  Sorry Vikes.  The Colts are going to go into the Dome and pass, pass, pass.  Wayne and Harrison will have big days.  Harrison records his first TD since Week One last year.  Meanwhile the Bengals are just rotten right now.  Unlike the NFL and Reebok I won’t charge Chad $500 K to use his legal last name.  You think they would pull that stunt if he changed it for religious reasons?  Last time I checked when Kobe switched numbers it was one of the most popular jerseys in the NBA.

   
Santonio Holmes over T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Santonio Holmes wasn’t invited to the Pittsburgh TD party last week.  Have no fear Holmes owners, Big Ben will work him in this week.  He should light the lamp vs. Cleveland.  Meanwhile Housh plays for the Bengals, who I am down on big time. 

SUPER STRETCH
 
David Patten
over Wes Welker
With Marques Colston out with a thumb injury the Saints will have to rely on David Patten more.  He’ll likely be Drew Brees’ top target.  That’s a much more enviable position to be in than the #2 option for Matt Cassel.  Welker relied on timing plays with Brady and that’s going to take time to get down.


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