sb51
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It was a tale of two halves. In the end, my pick of the Patriots came true giving me a 9-2 mark in the postseason.
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Regular Season Record: 151-103-2 (.594)
Playoff Record:  9-2 (.818)
Overall Record:  160-105-2 (.603)

 sb51
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I nailed the Super Bowl match-up. I am going with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Experience, coaching and defense should prevail.
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Regular Season Record: 151-103-2 (.594)
Playoff Record:  8-2 (.800)
Overall Record:  159-105-2 (.601)
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Super Bowl LI Pick
New England Patriots over Atlanta Falcons
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Also check out:

Michael Turner running
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The NFC South is pretty loaded in the running back department.
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Atlanta’s Michael Turner leads the way. He ran for 1371 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He gets a downgrade in PPR leagues as he only caught 12 passes for 85 yards last year, but he’s a solid RB1. Turner has averaged 91.7 rushing yards and 0.91 rushing touchdowns per game over the past three years. Jason Snelling is one of the game’s best handcuffs because the Falcons hardly missed a beat when he filled in for Turner in the past. If he is a restricted free agent, he could be back with the club. If he is unrestricted it could be hard for them to bring him back. The Falcons drafted Jacquizz Rodgers, but he’ll strictly be the third down back.
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Tampa Bay got a pleasant surprise from LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1007 yards with six touchdowns. He did his damage in just 201 carries (5.0 ypc).  Cadillac Williams is a free agent, but has expressed his desire to return to the Bucs. Blount is expected to get the bulk of the carries while Cadillac would play in passing situations. Rookie Allen Bradford isn’t expected to steal too many carries.
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Jonathan Stewart (and his keeper league owners) are perhaps second only to DeAngelo Williams and his agent in interest in where D-Will lands next year. If J-Stew has the backfield to himself, he could easily produce top five numbers, though Cam Newton could steal some of his touchdown runs. If Williams returns, Stewart can still be a viable fantasy option. They can definitely coexist for the Panthers and fantasy owners alike. D-Will could also be an elite fantasy option this year if he lands in the right place. If he signs with the Broncos, he could replace Knowshon Moreno as the team’s lead back. D-Will is an important piece in determining next year’s fantasy running back landscape.
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Pierre Thomas looked to be in a great spot when the Saints signed him to a four-year extension. Then they went and drafted Mark Ingram. That move likely sealed the fate of Reggie Bush, who will be sent packing if he doesn’t take a large pay cut. Thomas will likely move to change of pace and third-down duty while Ingram would carry the bulk of the snaps. This is a messy situation that will cause fantasy owners some heartache. Ingram should be a solid RB2 while PT23 should be a solid RB3.
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Also check out:

 


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The NFC South features three of the top quarterbacks in the league and a rookie that wants to become an icon.
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Drew Brees sets the bar for the NFC South, and you need a ladder to reach it. Brees topped 4000 yards for the fifth straight year, 4620 to be exact. His 33 touchdown passes marked his third straight year with at least 33. Brees is remarkably accurate, productive, and consistent. He’s a bona fide star and top tier QB1. It doesn’t seem to matter who is catching the ball for him.
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Matt Ryan made a nice jump into borderline QB1 territory last year. He threw for 3705  yards and 28 touchdowns. Roddy White is one of the most explosive receivers in the league. The Falcons traded the moon for rookie WR Julio Jones to compliment Roddy. I’m not sure Ryan can be much more productive than last year, given their commitment to Michael Turner and the running game, but he should be as good or slightly better. Ryan is a low-end QB1, high-end QB2.
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Josh Freeman quietly turned in a solid season, throwing for 3451 yards and 25 touchdowns. Perhaps as impressive was his INT total (6). He added another 364 yards on the ground. Given his size, I expect Freeman to record his first rushing touchdown next year. His numbers are a little bloated thanks to a five touchdown performance against a dismal Seahawks pass defense in Week 16, but he remains a terrific QB2. Freeman really developed a nice rapport with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn is ahead of schedule on his ACL recovery and should be more effective in 2011.
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Then you have Cam Newton. He is an amazing athlete, capable of being very productive with his arm and his feet. The lockout could prevent Newton from becoming comfortable with the offense, but he will still have the instincts to make plays with his feet. He’s worth a look late in the draft as a QB2, but he could run hot and cold in 2011, especially if Steve Smith gets his wish and is dealt to a contender.
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Also check out:


Image courtesy of Icon SMI
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Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of advantage. If your players do good, you can perhaps be a little more cautions with your team. If your players did not put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk hoping for a bigger reward to make up for it. You also get a feel for your lineup depending on how your opponents players did.
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With the first Thursday night game in the books, let’s take a look at the fantasy ramifications.
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Quarterbacks:  Both Matt Ryan (316 yards, 3 TDs) and Joe Flacco (209 yards, 3 TDs, INT) had productive games. Flacco’s lack of yardage and INT give him a slightly above average score. I wouldn’t change anything based on his performance.  Meanwhile Matty Ice put up a monster game. Depending on what your opponent is throwing at you, you may want to go with some safer picks rather than trying to hit a home run with a sleeper.
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Running Backs:  If you started Michael Turner (39 yards), you’re in a bit of a bind. He did not produce . You probably weren’t banking on a big game against the Ravens, but this score was just brutal. I can see taking a risk somewhere trying to make up the points. If by some chance you had Jason Snelling (67 total yards, TD) in your lineup, kudos to you. Ray Rice (102 total yards) had a typical day. Nice yardage numbers, but he failed to reach the end zone. Don’t make any drastic roster changes based on his performance. If you took a shot on McGahee (4 total yards), my condolences. continue reading »


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Most QBs struggle as a rookie and come back better the following year. When you add a future Hall of Fame tight end, the likelihood should be even greater. Unfortunately Atlanta QB Matt Ryan took a step back in virtually every offensive category.

 

For starters, he missed two games after playing in all 16 as a rookie. They came in weeks 13 & 14, which could have left a lot of fantasy players in a bind during a crucial part of the season. Injuries are part of the game, and Ryan is not at the point where he’s an injury risk.

 

Games played wasn’t the only area he slipped though. His completion percentage dropped from 61.1 percent to 58.3. His yardage went from 3440 to 2916. His TD production increased from 16 to 22, but his INTs increased from 11 to 14. Finally, his passer rating decreased from 87.7 to 80.9. His rushing numbers took a hit as well going from 104 yards to 49.

 

Though he may not have lived up to everybody’s expectations, his per game averages were about the same as he did last year. When you consider that Ryan and RB Michael Turner dealt with injuries last year, it’s not all that surprising that he didn’t have the year we were expecting of him.

 

The Falcons didn’t make any noise by adding another playmaker on offense, but a healthy Michael Turner should be enough to keep defenses honest. He has formed a great rapport with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez remains one of the best tight ends in the game. Michael Jenkins is an decent #2 WR and Ryan has the ability to make things work.

 

Atlanta has a pretty nice schedule, figuring they will be in two shootouts with the Saints (Week 3 & 16), as well as the Cardinals (2), Eagles (6), and Packers (12). They also have favorable match-ups against the Browns (5), Bucs (9), Rams (11), and Seahawks (15).

 

The best part is Ryan is a QB that you can wait on a bit as you fill your skill positions. By the time you add him as a QB, you should have 2-3 RBs, 2-3 WRs, and possibly a TE. You may want to consider adding a high end QB2 so you can basically alternate between QBs depending on the match-ups.

 

Prediction:  3600 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs

 

What do you expect from Matt Ryan?

 

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The Falcons took a step back from their stellar 2008 season, but still managed to win 9 games. Michael Turner’s injuries were a downer, but the glass half-full view saw improvement (at times)  in Matt Ryan. A healthy Turner and an even more seasoned Ryan should lead to big things for the Dirty Birds.

 

Fantasy Playoff Schedule:  Moderate
The Falcons play at Carolina and Seattle and then host the Saints. I wouldn’t call this either an easy or a tough  schedule at this point. Weather should not play a factor.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
Michael Turner – Despite playing in just 11 games (178 carries), Turner managed to run for 871 yards and 10 TDs. He is in better shape than last year, which should serve him well. He also should avoid overuse thanks to Jason Snelling’s performance last year when Turner was out.

 

Roddy White – Tony Gonzalez’s arrival did not prevent Roddy from putting up a fantastic season (85-1153-11). He has averaged 85 catches for 1246 yards and 8 TDs over the past three years.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Matt Ryan – Ryan threw more TDs (22 compared to 16) last year, but was down elsewhere (2916 yards, 58.3 completion percentage, 80.9 rating compared to 3440, 61.1, 87.7). I expect him to continue to develop into one of the game’s best QBs (both in fantasy and in reality) in his third season.

 

Tony Gonzalez – He’s 34, but showing no signs of slowing down. Last year he caught 83 passes for 867 yards and 6 TDs. With Turner and White commanding so much attention, Gonzo should turn in another solid year.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Jason Snelling – Snelling filled in admirably for Turner last year running for 613 yards on 142 carries (4.3 ypc) with 4 TDs. He is the primary handcuff to Turner.

 

Falcons Defense/Special Teams
The Falcons weren’t particularly strong at producing sacks or turnovers last year. They can be used when their match-ups are favorable.

 

One Star Fantasy Option
Jerious Norwood – Norwood is a change-of-pace RB that tends to get hurt about every third time he touches the ball. In all seriousness, he’s only a viable option if Turner goes down and his workload is increased.

 

Michael Jenkins – Jenkins only topped 45 yards on five occasions last year. He managed 50 catches for 635 yards and a score, but you can’t rely on that 40 yards per game average.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Matt Ryan Out Week 13

30 November 2009

It’s never too early to start planning for next week’s fantasy match-up, especially as the fantasy playoffs draw near. Even though their is an epic Patriots-Saints game tonight, those of you that own Matt Ryan have other issues on  your mind.

The second-year QB has already been ruled out for Week 13. Maybe they learned their lesson after the way they handled Michael Turner’s injury. He should have never played last week, but that’s a different story for another day.

It’s nice to know he’s out before waiver claims are set. Ryan owners don’t have to hold out hope like Big Ben and Kurt Warner owners did last week.

So who should you pick up?

Chris Redman, Atlanta Falcons
In deep leagues you won’t many choices, especially not ones with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez at their disposal.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars
If he’s available in your league, he’s a nice plug-in play this week. He plays extremely well at home, which is where the Jags play this week.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have turned into a pass-first team because of their personnel. They play the Seahawks who have been fantasy-friendly to opposing QBs.

Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos
The long rest between games should do his ankle well. He’s a nice play against Kansas City this week.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans
I don’t see VY throwing for a ton of yards against the Colts, but he should produce with his feet and do enough with his arm to be a decent emergency fantasy play.

Roddy White flip
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Roddy White is fresh off a fat, new contract.  I just hope his desire to prove he’s worth that big contract is equal to the drive he showed while auditioning for that contract.  White followed up his breakout third season of 83 receptions for 1202 yards and 6 TDs with an impressive 88 reception, 1382 yard, 7 TD performance.  This while playing with a Rookie QB in Matt Ryan, and a heavy rushing attack led by Michael Turner. 

It would be natural to expect another increase in production had the Falcons not acquired Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez.  While Gonzo’s presence will help take some pressure off of Roddy, Gonzo’s going to get his share of receptions, which will cut into Roddy’s numbers.  Having Gonzo in the mix is great the Falcons, it diminishes everyone outside of Matt Ryan’s fantasy value.  Michael Turner’s TD total is bound to drop as Gonzo is great in the red zone.  Roddy and Michael Jenkins’ touches are going to decrease.  Even Gonzo will be targeted less with more weapons to share with.

So where does that leave Roddy in fantasy terms?  I would still take him as a #1 WR, but not until the third round when I have two RBs (or one RB and Brees, Peyton, or Brady).  I’m expecting 75 receptions for 1200 yards and 7 TDs.

Michael Turner running
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Michael Turner more than proved he was capable of stepping out of LT’s shadow to be a feature back.  Early in the season he was inconsistent.  He would dominate bad Defenses [Detroit, KC, GB (injuries), Oakland, Denver] and get bottled up by good ones [TB, Carolina, Chicago, Philly].  Something happened in Week 12 though as he destroyed Carolina for 117 yards and 4 TDs.  He became a machine putting up solid games against everyone he faced, including TB and a tough Minnesota run D.  He had 100+ yards and/or a TD in his last nine games. 

There is some cause for concern though despite the monster numbers (1699 yards, 17 TDs).  He had 376 carries last year.  That is a lot for a back even if he didn’t have much mileage prior to the season.  Historically, RBs with such a huge workload see a dip in production the following year.  I’m already calling for his TDs to reduce because of the addition of Tony Gonzalez, who is great inside the 20.  He’ll face a tougher schedule this year with games against Miami, New England, Dallas, Washington, NY Giants, Philadelphia, and the Jets, along with two games against Carolina and Tampa Bay.  His fantasy playoffs schedule consists of matchups with New Orleans, the Jets, and Buffalo, which isn’t terrible.  Despite the likely dip in production I still think Turner will be a top 3-4 back.  I’m expecting 1700 total yards and 13 TDs.


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