Torry Holt is thankful to escape the mess that is the St. Louis Rams.  Not that Jacksonville is a passing mecca, but they are a team that should rebound after a disappointing 2008 season, unlike the rams, who should continue to be bottom feeders.  Because he has been an elite WR for so long it seems that Holt is older than he actually is.  While he’s no spring chicken, he’s still just 33.  He had the worst season of his career last year, but St. Louis as a whole struggled last year.  His string of 1000+ yard seasons ended at eight.  He is easily the best wideout that Jacksonville has had since the days of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell.  His days of 1300 yard seasons are behind him, but he still makes a solid WR3 and a great WR4.  He is going in the 8th round of fantasy drafts, and could end up being a great value.  I think he’ll catch 80 passes for 1000 yards and 4 TDs.
Derrick Mason briefly retired following former teammate Steve McNair’s tragic death.  I think he was just evaluating his life, and clearly he feels he has some football left in his system.  Good news for Ravens fans because it would have left their WRs pretty thin.  Mason had another fine year with 80 catches for 1037 yards and 5 TDs.  You would think a 35 year old WR with 12 years in wouldn’t have much upside, but Joe Flacco should be a little more comfortable with the pace of the league and should get a longer leash in 2009.  Mason is a nice WR4, especially in PPR leagues.  He’s going around the 9th round in fantasy leagues.  I can see a 90 catch, 1000 yard, 5 TD season from Mason.

Muhsin Muhammad is another veteran that continues to produce despite being 36 and entering his 14th season.  Moose had 65 catches for 923 yards and 5 TDs last year.  He was a bit inconsistent with eight games with 50 or fewer yards, but he salvaged two of them with a TD.  He ended the year on a relative high note averaging 76.3 yards in his last three games.  Most of the focus will be on Steve Smith and the running game so Moose should be able to find his spots.  He’ll be challenged by Dwayne Jarrett, but if the Panthers are in contention again they will likely lean on the veteran.  He’s a solid choice to add depth to your bench and spot start, perhaps in Week 8 (Arizona) or Week 9 (New Orleans). I’m expecting 65 catches for 800 yards and 6 TDs.  Not bad value for a guy going in the 13th-
15th round.

Chris Chambers had a disappointing 2008 season with just 33 catches for 462 yards and 5 TDs.  The year before he had 66 catches for 970 yards and 4 TDs in split duty with Miami and San Diego. Clearly he’s not the same guy who caught 82 passes for 1118 yards and 11 TDs for the Dolphins in 2005.  With LT, Gates, Vincent Jackson, Sproles, and Malcom Floyd, it doesn’t appear as if that is going to change anytime soon.  He’s still young enough (31) to bounce back though, especially with a talented QB like Philip Rivers.  His days as a fantasy starter are likely over, but he is still worthy of a roster spot.  He’s being taken in the 10th round of fantasy drafts, but I’d probably wait a little longer.  He should be good for 50 catches for 750 yards and 5 TDs.

Happy Birthday Sean!

NFL RAVENS BENGALS
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Baltimore WR Derrick Mason is calling it a career after 12 successful seasons.  Mason had 1000+ yards in seven of those seasons, including five straight from 2001-2005 with the Titans and the past two for the Ravens.  He finishes with 790 receptions for 10,061 yards and 52 TDs.  He also had three return TDs (2 PR, 1 KR) in his career. 

Mason was a decent third or fourth fantasy WR.  It leaves the cupboards pretty bare on the Ravens WR shelf both in reality and in fantasy.  Mark Clayton gets a bump in fantasy value while Joe Flacco takes a hit. 

Mason made the announcement on jocklife.com.  He was negotiating a pay increase, but says that wasn’t a reason behind his sudden retirement.  My guess is after the tragic passing of his friend and former teammate Steve McNair, he has a different outlook on life.  He was quoted as saying “Right now, I am content with the decision I am making. All good things come to an end, and I am ready to see what else life has to offer.”  He did leave a slight door open saying “right now” so we’ll see.

Baltimore Ravens Preview

30 August 2008

The Baltimore Ravens brought in John Harbaugh to be their new Head Coach this offseason.  They are still known for their Defense and Harbaugh will have to play up to that strength because he’s limited offensively.

At QB Kyle Boller’s shoulder has eliminated him from the QB competition.  Troy Smith looked to have the starting gig locked down until he was derailed with tonsillitis.  That opens the door for Delaware Rookie Joe Flacco.  I figured Flacco would get the starting job at some point this year, but didn’t anticipate it coming in Week 1, as it appears to be the case.  Whoever mans the offense has a few options at their disposal.  For the ageless Derrick Mason, who caught an amazing 103 catches last year.  He also has the underachieving Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams.  If Todd Heap can stay healthy he would add a little more firepower.  At Running Back Willis McGahee’s knee has kept him out of action.  He will be limited early on.  Fortunately for the Ravens Rookie Ray Rice has looked excellent in the Preseason, and could have a major role early on.  Life will be a little tougher though without Jonathan Ogden. 

Defensively this team is still led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  They are complimented nicely by Kelly Gregg, Dawan Landry, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, Chris McAllister, and Samari Rolle.  They aren’t the dominating Defense they once were, but they still one of the better units in the league.  Age could come into play for the Ravens, as many of the key starters are on the wrong side of 30. 

The Ravens aren’t going to offer any false hope of making the playoffs next year.  If they can get to 6 Wins they should consider it a successful season.  They are just lacking too many weapons on Offense and are too vulnerable on Defense because of their age.  This team could very well win 3 games next season.

Fantasy-wise the Ravens offer very little.  Willis McGahee is worth having, but I don’t have an easy felling about him.  Based on where in the draft you get them, I would rather have Ray Rice on my team.  Derrick Mason is worth having as a third through fifth wideout.  No matter who is quarterbacking this team, Mason makes a nice security blanket.  Todd Heap is worth the risk as a low-end starting TE or high-end backup.  He needs to prove he can stay on the field.  The Defense is still worthy of being one of the top Defenses selected, but don’t be foolish and take them too early.

You’ve seen the Sleepers.  Now it’s time to explore the players who I feel will be disappointments to fantasy football owners.  Here are the Wide Receivers I’d avoid.

Anquan Boldin – Boldin isn’t happy about his contract.  He has also had a hamsting issues thus far.  That’s a recipe for disaster in my book. 

Santana Moss – The Redskins brought in a couple of high-profile rookie WRs in Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly.  I wouldn’t be too keen on that if I were a Santana Moss owner.

Javon Walker – He nearly retired.  Extreme Buyer Beware!

Derrick Mason – There is no way he can match last season numbers.  No way.

Greg Jennings – No way do I see him coming close to matching 2007 production with Aaron Rodgers instead of Brett Favre.

Reggie Williams – He won’t come close to 10 TDs like he had last year.  Look elsewhere.


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