Josh Gordon
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The NFL will allow Josh Gordon to play in Week 5 despite numerous transgressions. He’ll serve the same suspension time in 2016 as Tom Brady, further proving the idiocy of Roger Goodell. That’s neither here nor there though. The important thing to determine is if Josh Gordon can help your fantasy team
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With Gordon there is always going to be a disclaimer. Any projection for Gordon is subject to whether or not Gordon can keep his nose clean. That is obviously the risk you take if you use a draft pick on Gordon. Another failed test or incident will end his season and possibly his career.
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Gordon has not played since 2014. It seems like an eternity ago that he dominated the league by catching 87 passes for 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing two games due to suspension. Going that long without playing and even longer since he was a dominant performer causes some concern, but Gordon is just 25 years old.
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When Gordon dominated he did so with a combination on Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer. He doesn’t exactly have Bernie Kosar throwing it to him, but Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown figure to provide better quarterback play than Gordon previously received.
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Gordon, at 6’3, 225 pounds is a physical receiver with great speed and athleticism. Although I wouldn’t draft him as a #15 fantasy receiver, I do believe he has the capability of performing like one. Total numbers will take a hit because he’ll miss four games, but the final 11 or 12 games (depending on your league rules) are more important that the first four. I currently have him ranked as a low-end WR2.
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How you choose to draft Gordon will depend on how much of a risk taker you are. He is certainly a wild card.
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When I put together my early 2011 fantasy football running back rankings Peyton Hillis missed the cut. After 1654 total yards (1177 rushing, 477 receiving) and 13 touchdowns (11 rushing, 2 receiving) there are questions at the validity of my rankings. Well, I’m here to defend my rankings.
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Cleveland GM Tom Heckert admitted that Hillis received too many touches last year. After just 68 carries and 18 catches in his first two seasons, Hillis had 270 carries and 61 catches. His numbers suggest that the heavy workload led to Hillis wearing down. After 11 touchdowns in the first 11 games, he went scoreless in the Browns’ final five games. After averaging 116.6 total yards through the first 13 games, he averaged 46 over the final three games.
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If that decline doesn’t give you pause, you have more intestinal fortitude than I do.
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Let’s not forget that Montario Hardesty missed all of last year with a knee injury. Hardesty was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft with the notion that he would challenge for the starting gig. He injured his knee early and the rest is history.
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Reports suggest that  Hardesty’s knee rehab is on schedule and he shouldn’t miss any training camp when and if the lockout is lifted. If he is even close to 100 percent, he’ll cut into Hillis’ carries, which would jive with Heckert’s plans to lessen Peyton’s workload.
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It’s not that I dislike Hillis, but there are a lot of good backs this year. Arian Foster, AP, CJ2K, Jamaal Charles, Turner, Mendenhall, Run DMC, Rice, McCoy, and MJD. That’s ten backs that I think without question should be ranked ahead of Hillis. Throw in veterans Gore and S-Jax and you have 12. Shonn Green is expected to carry a heavier load. J-Stew could be operating with D-Will, which could make him shoot up the draft board. Matt Forte has a better track record of success.
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Maybe Green or Forte could be bumped for Hillis, but they don’t give me a bad feeling like Hillis does.
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Finally, we have to discuss the elephant in the room. I am generally not a superstitious person, but Hillis is on the Madden cover. While I would not necessarily let that affect my drafting decision, you are tempting fate when you take the bruising running back.
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Where do you rank Peyton Hillis?
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While the AFC East running back landscape is a mess, the AFC North is a goldmine.
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Ray Rice is a force, both running and catching the football. He regressed some last year, but still managed 1776 total yards (1220 rushing, 556 receiving) and six touchdowns (five rushing, one receiving). Willis McGahee is up in the air, but it makes sense for him to return to Baltimore next year. Rice is a top five to eight fantasy running back depending on your format.
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Rashard Mendenhall followed up his 1108 yard, seven touchdown season with an even more impressive 1273 yard, 11 touchdown season. Mendy is a clear RB1 and a top eight to ten fantasy running back depending on your format. I actually like him a little better than Ray Rice in non-PPR leagues. He may make some bonehead comments, but he is a fantasy force with little competition for carries.
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Cedric Benson is a free agent, but is likely to return to Cincinnati. He is a workhorse back that should crack the 1000 yard mark again. Benson is a solid RB2 that also shouldn’t receive much competition for carries. If he does part via free agency, all bets are off in Cincinnati.
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Peyton Hillis‘ impressive season landed him on the cover of Madden 12. Obviously there is a curse that supposedly goes with it, but after the way he ran roughshod on the Ravens last year, he may be able to stand up to the curse. He slowed towards the end of the year, and the Browns have already stated that they want to reduce his carries. Montario Hardesty should be in the mix for carries, but Hillis has earned the feature role. Hillis is a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2.
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This week’s topic
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What top 15 running back do you feel is poised for a fall?
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My response:
Even before winning the Madden NFL 12 cover contest, I was down on Peyton Hillis. Now that he also has the Madden Curse to deal with, that pretty much sealed his fate for me. The likelihood that he will be available when I am comfortable drafting him is razor thin.
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Browns GM Tom Heckert admitted that the Browns overused Hillis last year. There is little chance he gets as many touches this year. Montario Hardesty should be fully recovered from his ACL surgery, which will put them both smack dab in the middle of a RBBC. Hardesty was supposed to be the featured back before suffering the injury. Obviously Hillis played his way into a healthy workload, but he will have to share.
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As Colt McCoy becomes more comfortable in the offense, I anticipate the Browns attempting more than the 478 passes they did last year, which could also cut into the workload.
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Hillis finished the season averaging 35.7 rushing yards in his last three games and 54.4 in his last five. After scoring 13 touchdowns (11 rushing) in his first 11 games, he failed to score in his final five. Like I said, the writing was on the wall before the Madden cover. Do you really want to test the Madden Curse with an early draft pick?

Big Ben
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Like the AFC East this division is split between teams that have established quarterbacks and teams that are hopeful that their young quarterbacks will deliver.
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Ben Roethlisberger may be better equipped to deal with the lockout than any quarterback in the league. After all he sat out the first four games last year and stepped in with a three-touchdown performance in his season debut. Despite playing in 12 games he finished with 3200 yards and 17 TDs (5 INTs). Big Ben knows the offense and knows his players. If the lockout drags on, the veteran Steelers could actually be at an advantage. Big Ben is a solid QB1 that you should to be get at a good value.
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Joe Flacco had a solid season throwing for 3622 yard and 25 TDs (10 INTs). Unfortunately his number seem to decline at the end of the year. Last year he averaged 169.7 passing yards in Weeks 14-16 and 249 yards in the first 12 games. In 2009 he averaged 210 yards in Weeks 14-16 and 240.1 in the first 12 games. In fantasy championship week, typically week 16, he has averaged 134 yards the past two years. The Ravens added speedster Torrey Smith to help stretch the defenses. He should be a nice compliment to Anquan Boldin. Flacco remains a borderline QB1 and should put up solid numbers once again.
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Colt McCoy is back with some experience under his belt. He didn’t light the world on fire, but he didn’t crash and burn either. He completed 60.8 percent of his passes, a number that should rise as he is well-suited for the West Coast Offense the Browns run. They could have added Julio Jones, but opted to trade out of the sixth pick in the draft. They did add Greg Little in the second round, who could end up being one of the best receivers in this class.
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Finally we have the Cincinnati Bengals. Carson Palmer is as good as gone. Whether he is traded, retires, or just sits out the year is the question. Andy Dalton was taken in the second round and he has a good chance to open the season as the starter. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are also likely to be gone, but Jerome Simpson came on at the end of the year and they added A.J. Green in the draft. With Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham, Dalton has a good chance to be a solid QB2 as a rookie.
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Having fun with the SMW Clothing t-shirt contests? Good, because the fine people over there are hooking you up with another chance to add to your wardrobe.
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For this week’s contest, you have to guess, without going over, how many total yards Cleveland running back Peyton Hills will get against Buffalo on Sunday. For the record, he’s averaging 116.5 total yards per game with a high of 220 yards and a low of 61.
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The Bills are one of the worst defenses in the league allowing more rushing yards (170.9 per game) than any other ream in the league.
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So leave a comment with your best guess and be sure to check out SMW Clothing.

2-QB League News

14 September 2010


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If you are in a super deep league or a 2-qb league, it is worth noting that Cleveland Browns QB Jake Delhomme is sporting a walking boot according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Seneca Wallace could be preparing to take the first-team snaps in practice, which could put him in line to make the start this week against Kansas City. Given Delhomme’s 59.2 QB rating in the opener, Wallace could make his case for the starting gig with a strong showing.
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In other news, Matt Moore, who suffered a concussion in the Carolina Panther’s loss to the Giants on Sunday, is expected to participate in practice this week, and take the field on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Monitor his progress in practice this week before using Moore. Jimmy Clausen would get the nod if Moore is unable to go.

Whenever you have Eric Mangini as the head coach of an NFL franchise, there are going to be question marks.  He has become well known for giving out as little information as possible, whether it is about injuries or the depth chart.

 

The unknown drives fantasy owners crazy, requiring us to guess what we think will happen.  When it comes to the “Man-genius”, it’s mind-blowing, because you really never know.  And that’s where we stand for the Browns backfield.

 

Who will ultimately be the main man?  Who knows, but here’s my take on things:

 

Jerome Harrison
The injury to Montario Hardesty may have cemented his spot as the top running back entering the season, but will he be able to hold down the job long-term?  He averaged 4.4 yards/carry last season, the first time he’s seen more then 35 carries in a year.

 

Overall he rushed for 862 yards and 5 TD.  The bulk of that damage came in the seven games he started.  In those games he rushed the ball 168 times for 778 yards and all 5 TD (these all came in the final three games).  That is an average of 4.6 yards/carry.

 

Those final three games were tremendous, all over 100 yards (including a 34 carry, 286 yard games against the Chiefs).  It was a tremendous show (561 yards), and it certainly gained plenty of attention.

 

The problem with Harrison is that he spent significant time in Mangini’s doghouse in 2009.  From October 11 – December 10, he barely touched the ball.  While he looks like a good play over the first few weeks, the fear that he could once again fall out of favor looms large.

 

He has showed what he can do, but drafting him as anything more then a RB3 would be a mistake.  There are just too many question marks, be it from competition or a repeat of 2009.

 

Montario Hardesty
The second round pick was expected to battle Harrison for starting duties, but an injury has held him out for all of training camp.  While he’s expected to return later this week, the damage is likely already done for the beginning of the season.

 

That’s not to say he should be written off, however.  If he can stay healthy, it’s likely only a matter of time before he forces his way into shared running duties.

 

Of course, should Harrison struggle or fall out of favor, he likely would be given the chance to get full-time duties.  The uncertainty makes the youngster worth the gamble, but don’t select him as more then a depth option.  Despite the upside, he has a long ways to go and needs to prove his health before becoming trustworthy.

 

James Davis
He has a ton of potential, falling in the 2009 draft to the sixth round after losing carries his senior year to C.J. Spiller.  Now, a year after missing most of 2009 due to shoulder surgery, he’s going to need a lot to happen to breakthrough and make a significant impact.

 

He averaged over five yards per carry his first three years, including a 17 TD performance his sophomore year.  Keep an eye on him, but expect him to break camp fourth on the depth chart.

 

Chris Jennings
He averaged just 3.5 yards per carry in limited duty last season and was arrested in the offseason (though he is not going to be charged with a crime).  Given his place on the depth chart, chances are he doesn’t break camp with the team.

 

Peyton Hillis
Acquired in the deal that sent Brady Quinn out of Cleveland, he has led the team in carries (14) and rushing yards (54) thus far in the preseason.  Part of that could have to do with Hardesty not yet playing, but it certainly still is worth noting.

 

Chances are that, if he does spend time at tailback (he could also play fullback), will likely be the third man on the depth chart.  Of course, if injuries or trips to the doghouse derail the two ahead of him, he could be a major sleeper.  Keep tabs on this situation throughout the season, because you never know when/if he’ll take over, but he’s not worth drafting in any format.

 

What are your thoughts on the Browns’ running back situation?  Who would you draft?  Who do you see as having potential fantasy value?

The Browns finished on a high note winning their last four games of 2009. Jerome Harrison ran hog wild (561 yards and 5 TDs in the last three games). They brought in a trio of QBs (Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, and Colt McCoy) and Mike Holmgren as team president, but they still have a long way to go both in reality and in fantasyland.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
Who on the Browns are you actually counting in the fantasy playoffs regardless of who they play? That said, it’s still a pretty bumpy road. They start off OK playing Buffalo on the road. That has the makings of a low-scoring bad weather game. Then they head out to Cincinnati and return home to face Baltimore.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Jerome Harrison – Yes, he finished strong, but it came against the Chiefs, Raiders, and a left-for-dead Jaguars team. No way I’m counting on Harrison as even a #2 fantasy RB in 2010. I don’t really even like him as a RB3.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Benjamin Watson – The receiving corps leaves plenty to be desired. Watson is a big target with good hands and athleticism. He’s worth a look as a TE2.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
Jake Delhomme – Delhomme will likely be the starting QB, but he’ll probably split time with Seneca Wallace before eventually giving way to McCoy so he can get some experience.

 

Montario Hardesty – Surely you don’t think Harrison can carry a full load. He had just 77 carries in his first three years before toting the rock 194 times last year. If Harrison gets nicked up, Hardesty could steal the job and has some value.

 

Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chansi Stuckey, Brian Robiskie – Maybe someone will emerge from this group and become the primary receiver.  I wouldn’t take any of them as anything other than a WR5. If I had to choose, Massaquoi would be my top choice.

 

Browns Defense/Special Teams – The best bet for Cleveland’s DST is for Cribbs to break some returns. That’s not exactly a sure bet. Look elsewhere.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Larry Johnson signed a three-year deal with the Washington Redskins. He basically serves as Clinton Portis insurance. Honestely, with their aging line and age (LJ) and mileage (Portis) working against them, I don’t see either back being all that productive in 2010.

LJ’s character issues remain while his burst and ability have dried up. The signing truly makes no sense. That’s Washington for ya. You may want to take a flier on LJ at the end of your fantasy drafts. I’d probably just pass on him though.

In other news, Ben Watson signed with the Browns. Though a more low-profile signing, it has significantly more fantasy relevance. Watson is a gifted tight end that often got lost in the Patriots’ arsenal. In Cleveland there are fewer mouths to feed. Don’t be surprised if Watson becomes a top ten fantasy tight end for the Browns.


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