Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

I wouldn’t quite call Johnny Knox a sleeper based on his ADP of 149 according to Mock Draft Central, but he could prove to be a nice value pick, if you buy into the hype.

 

The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs tweeted that Knox is emerging as the Bears #1 WR during training camp. Plus, the Bears radio analyst Tom Thayer predicted that Knox will put up the best numbers of the Bears’ WRs. ESPN North analyst Kevin Seifert noted that Cutler targeted Knox more frequently than any of the Bears WRs.  Former Bears QB Brett Basanez, on ESPN radio, said that Knox is better suited for Mike Martz’s system than the other WRs because of his elite speed and route running.

 

That doesn’t have Knox going higher than Devin Aromashodu (35th WR, 87th overall) or Devin Hester (52, 141) though. While your competition is busy hoping one for the two Devins will breakout, you can slyly grab Knox for WR depth and hope the rapport continues to build with Cutler.

 

Knox ranked fifth in receptions on the Bears (3rd among WRs) with 45 catches. However, he ranked fourth in yards with 527 and second with 5 TD catches. Greg Olsen led the team with 8 TD catches, but Martz has not had a great track record with tight ends. While, I still think Olsen will have a solid year, I can see the argument that some of his production will go to the WRs. From what I’m hearing, it’s Knox that could see the biggest bump.

 

He has blazing 4.34 speed and Cutler has the arm to get him the deep ball. Plus, Martz has the creativity to put Knox in position to make plays. It’s going to take a leap of faith though, as Knox only topped 45 yards on three occasions as a rookie.

 

What are your thoughts on Johnny Knox?

The season is approaching and the Rotoprofessor has stepped up his game to give you great fantasy football coverage.

Joe Flacco: Sophomore Stud or QB to Avoid?

Joe Flacco became a darling of the league last season, bursting onto the scene as a first round draft choice equipped with a big-time arm.  It’s rare that a rookie quarterback can walk into the NFL and immediately guide his team to a winning record, yet alone the playoffs.  He accomplished that, starting all 16 games en route to an 11-5 record and a wildcard playoff birth.

Before we dub him a great fantasy option this season, we need to be cautious.  First off all, the Ravens clearly protected him in their game plans, limiting him to 428 attempts.  That placed him 19th in the league.

He only managed 2,971 yards and 14 TD.  His strength was managing the game, throwing just 12 interceptions and stepping up to make a play when the team needed it most.

It is obvious that the offense was focused around the running game, however, something that is likely to be repeated in 2009.  When you have Ray Rice (who I profiled recently, so click here to read), Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain, do you really blame them?

You also have to take into account the questions surrounding the men on the outside.

Derrick Mason?  Is he retired?  Well, it seemed like it, but he had a change of heart.  While he does have seven seasons of over 1,000 yards, he is now 35-years old and you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank.  As a number two-receiver maybe, but he enters the season as the top receiver for the Ravens.

Mark Clayton? We’ve all heard about the promise and talent, but only once has he posted a season of over 700 yards or score more than three touchdowns.  Until he proves he can do that, he’s going to be surrounded with question marks and shouldn’t be considered a reliable option.

After that, whom else do they have?

  • Kelley Washington (73 career receptions)
  • Demetrius Williams (55 career receptions)
  • Yorman Figures (2 career receptions)

I would be a lot more comfortable with Flacco if he had a big-time, dependable young wide receiver who he could just throw the ball up to and watch him make a play.  Couple that with the Ravens desire to focus on the run and it makes it tough to consider Flacco as a usable fantasy option this season outside of deeper two-quarterback formats.

Even in shallower formats, I’d lean against stashing him as my reserve QB.  While it’s possible that he could post a good week now and then, there’s no guarantee that it’s going to come in the week that you need him.

What do you think?  Is Flacco a QB you’d consider drafting?  How good do you think he’ll be this season?

Is Donnie Avery a Fantasy Starter?

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To look at Rams top wide receiver Donnie Avery brings a litany of questions:

  • Will he be able to progress from his rookie season and assume the pressures as the team’s top receiver?
  • Will his QB be able to get him the ball?
  • How will missing the majority of the preseason affect his performance?
  • Will he even be able to take the field for Week 1?

A second round draft pick in 2008, Avery was second on the Rams in 2008 with 53 receptions and 674 yards, trailing just Torry Holt in both categories.  With Holt now calling Jacksonville home, Avery was thought to enter 2009 as the team’s prime target but injuries have derailed those plans a bit.

He had been sidelined since August 7 after suffering a stress fracture in his foot during a scrimmage.  It was questionable if he would recover in time to open the season, but he was in the line-up for Thursday’s final preseason game.

He was only in the game for the first two series and didn’t have a single pass thrown his way, but being able to take the field was a huge victory.  While it is possible that he’s still hindered by the injury for a week or two into the regular season, the fact that he will be able to take the field gives him a chance to be productive.

Marc Bulger has also been limited this preseason, just helping fuel the questions about his potential success in 2009.  Once regarded as one of the elite quarterbacks in the game, he has been mired with injuries only once starting all 16 games in a season.

Last year he did manage to play in 15 games, but still had just 2,720 yards.  Over the past two seasons he’s thrown just 22 touchdowns compared to 28 interceptions.  His completion percentage hasn’t exceeded 58.5% each of the past two years.

Even this preseason, he’s been sidelined with a fractured pinkie.  Considering that the projected second-string quarterback is Kyle Boller, with a career passer rating of 71.9, there is reason to worry that Avery could suffer this season from poor quarterback play.

Will Bulger be healthy?  Can he rediscover his Pro bowl status?  What if Boller is forced into duty?

With that said, let’s take a look at what I would expect from Avery this season:

Receiving – 61 catches, 835 yards, 5 TD

When looking for a wide receiver, you want someone who you can count on.  With Avery, I don’t think you get that.  He proved to be good last season, but he was far from elite.  Throw in the questions about his QB and the fact that the Rams are going to be a team to ride Steven Jackson into the end zone at any time possible, and you get a WR with more questions then answers.

He has upside, however, considering he will be his teams top receiver.  He’s worth getting, but too me I don’t want to be depending on him as one of my top three receivers.  While he could prove worthy of a starting spot, he’d look better on my bench as a #4 who I can reap the benefits from if he outperforms my projections.

What do you think?  Do you think Avery will be a must start fantasy WR option or is he better as your fourth option?

Match-Up: Hester vs. Breaston

While neither Devin Hester (ADP of 95.48) nor Steve Breaston (ADP of 93.81) would be ideal starting WR in most formats, both players could prove valuable to your fantasy roster when all is said and done.  Which player would make the better bench option?  Let’s take a look.

After starting his career as a cornerback and return specialist (returning 11 kicks for TD between 2006 & 2007), the Bears wanted to get his speed on the offensive side of the ball.  In 2007 he began lining up as a wide receiver, though was more of a decoy then a consistent target.

Last season he began to be more integrated into the offensive schemes.  He amassed 51 catches for 655 yards and 3 TD.  Those are solid numbers, especially when you consider that Kyle Orton was his QB, and he enters the 2009 season as a starter for the Bears.

As I’ve said before when discussing Eddie Royal (click here to read), Jay Cutler, who now mans the Bears QB position, completed 55 passes for 20+ yards and 7 for 40+ yards.  Compare that to Orton’s 34 completions of 20+ yards and 3 completions of 40+ yards and you have to like Hester’s potential for the big play a whole lot more.

The difference with Breaston is that you know he is going to be the third receiver on his team, unless an injury or some other situation calls him into duty.  When you play in an offense that boasts Larry Fitzgerald & Anquan Boldin, there’s not much you can do.

Breaston plays the Wes Welker role well, however, picking up 77 catches for 1,006 yards last season.  With Kurt Warner at QB, you know there’s going to be plenty of balls put into the air in Arizona, but can you safely assume he’s going to be able to match what he did last season?

The Cardinals, remember, are a team that didn’t boast much of a rushing attack in 2008.  Edgerrin James was the team’s leading rusher, and he amassed just 514 yards on 133 carries.  It was obvious that the team felt more comfortable putting the ball in the air whenever possible.

Things should change this season, however, after spending their first round pick on Beanie Wells.  You do not select someone like Wells if you do not intend to use him, and do so heavily.

A greater focus on the running game is going to mean less balls going in the air.  Who do you think is going to get less opportunity to make plays?  It’s certainly not going to be your stars, so it would appear unlikely that Breaston can repeat his performance.

So, when it comes to drafting your backup wide receiver and it comes to a decision between these two players, it would appear that Hester has a greater upside in having a big season.  Isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for?  A player with tremendous upside?  I’d make him your selection every time.

What about you?  Which of these two players do you prefer and why?

Photos courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

With the Brett Favre saga finally over, Bernard Berrian gets a bump in value.  Berrian had a solid year with 48 catches for 964 yards and 7 TDs despite playing with the likes of Gus Frerotte and Tavaris Jackson.  With Favre he should surpass the 1000 yard mark he’s been hovering around the past two seasons.  Berrian has averaged 6 TDs a year over the past three seasons, a number that could also increase with #4 on board.  Even if Favre did go down, Sage Rosenfels would be an adequate replacement.  Berrian is going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts, though he’ll likely begin to creep up the draft board with his new QB.  I would roll with Berrian as a WR3.  I expect him to catch 65 passes for 1100 yards and 7 TDs.
 
Devin Hester is another speedy WR that got a shiny, new Quarterback this year.  Even though he annoyed Jay Cutler recently, I think Hester could have a real nice year.  With another year at WR under his belt, he should be more comfortable.  Having a QB with a big arm to take advantage of his speed should also help.  He was spotty at best last year with just three games with over 70 receiving yards.  He had six games with less than 30 yards.  You would think he would have rushing numbers to increase his value, but he ran just six times for 61 yards.  He had 11 return TDs in his first two years, but failed to reach paydirt last year.  He isn’t slated to do any returns this year, so don’t expect any bonus scores.  Having him concentrate full-time on his WR duties should help him stay focused and healthy, but it also takes away what comes naturally for Hester.  I expect him to be more consistent with Cutler, but I still don’t think I would want to rely on him as a WR3.  He’s going in the 7th round in fantasy drafts.  I’m expecting 55 catches for 850 yards and 6 TDs.

Steve Breaston is another speedy WR that is being counted on in 2009.  Only he’s the third WR on his team, which means, barring injury, that I would want him as a WR4 at best.  He had a great year catching 77 passes for 1006 yards and 3 TDs.  He was very inconsistent with eight games with 77+ yards and eight games with fewer 55 yards (five with fewer than 40 yards).  He only added 3 TDs.  The Cardinals are going to balance their offense more this year with the addition of first round pick Beanie Wells.  Unless Boldin or Fitz get hurt or Boldin is miraculously traded, Breaston’s fantasy value takes a hit in 2009.  He is going around the ninth round of fantasy drafts, which is a bit early for my tastes.  I’m expecting around 55 catches for 825 yards and 4 TDs.


Written by Lisa Danhof

Fair Warning: I’m not clairvoyant. I don’t even play one on TV. That said, it really doesn’t take a crystal ball to anticipate some changes for your team. So, with a bit of deductive reasoning, logic, and historical evaluation you can finally stop reacting and start anticipating. For once you won’t be sniped at the waiver wire, but actually be ahead of the curve.

Some things you just don’t see coming. Like if I would have predicted that Roy Williams was going to be traded to the Cowboys, I’d probably be able to quit my day job. However, the trading deadline is behind us, so I should be OK from here on out.

1.  Greg Camarillo – WR Miami Dolphins 14%
Camarillo poses an intriguing dilemma.  Would you rather be the first Wide Receiver out of 9 options, or the 2nd of 4? I guess it would really depend on who’s throwing the ball.  When the answer is Chad Pennington I’d personally prefer to be the 2nd of four instead of the first of nine like Camarillo is, but given time Camarillo has the real possibility to distinguish himself from the pack and get more receptions. He seems to be getting plenty of looks, it’s a matter of getting good looks and good passes. He’s only caught one touchdown, but is averaging 5 catches per game with double digits in yards per catch.  Definitely one to watch as the chemistry between he and Pennington improves week to week.

2.  Ryan Torain – RB Denver Broncos 11.4%
Before his early August elbow injury, Mike Shanahan called rookie RB Ryan Torain “one of the most gifted Running Backs I’ve been around for a long time.” – www.espn.com.  Torain was also being compared to the likes of Terrell Davis.  He easily could have been put on IR at the start of the season, or on the DL, but he wasn’t.  His spot was saved, which to me says a lot about his value to the Broncos coaching staff.  His original predicted recovery date was week seven – while he won’t quite make that date, he started catching balls in week six, and will be practicing in week seven.  Given that the Broncos have a bye in week eight; Torain will have a full extra week to practice with the offense.  Look for him to have a possible breakout game in week 9 against Miami given Coach Shanahan’s penchant for running back unpredictability.

3.  Devin Hester – Chicago Bears 36.6 %
Hester gets my vote for taking an opportunity and making the most of it.  Brandon Lloyd has been sidelined with a knee injury, which has given Hester the opportunity to show that he’s more than just a flashy kick returner, but has actual down-to-down value.  In the last three weeks, he’s averaging almost 5 catches per game with a high of 87 yards against the Falcons last week with a solid upward trend.  He didn’t have a touchdown in last week’s game, but had one in each of the previous two.  Hester is expected to have continued high participation in the passing even after the indeterminate return of Lloyd.  If your league has points for punt returns by individual players, then Hester is an absolute must this week, just ask Reggie Bush about Minnesota’s special teams coverage.

Chicago Bears Preview

3 September 2008

 

David Funk of the Fantasy Sports Depot was kind enough to preview his beloved Bears for me.  Here is a look at his solid work.

 

There has been more talk about the starting quarterback controversy in Chicago in the past two years, that it’s easy to forget this is a team that is one year removed from playing in a Super Bowl. The Bears are hoping that Kyle Orton can bring consistency to the position, and won’t have to be in situations where he’s relived upon to win games.

The running game was equally as bad, if not worse, than the quarterback play for the team a year ago. Troubled and mostly ineffective running back Cedric Benson is now gone from the team, and Tulane standout Matt Forte was drafted to challenge for a starting job anyway. Former Lions running back Kevin Jones was signed to help restore a running game as well.

The offensive line for the Bears is a question mark especially with the uncertainty of first round pick Chris Williams hurting at this time. The team is thin on depth as a result, and this isn’t good news for an offense that has issues and concerns in other areas already.

The Bears have talent have wide receiver, but they’re mainly unproven. Marty Booker returns to Chicago to give the team a veteran presence while Brandon Lloyd and Mark Bradley have something to prove. Earl Bennett, the team’s third round choice this year, could figure into the equation, too. But the big move was Devin Hester moving to wide receiver full-time to give them a big-play threat, and he’s expected to be just that for them.

On defense, Chicago fell off last year because of injuries, ineffectiveness, and consistent play-calling.  Brian Urlacher is being looked upon to return to form this year, and Lance Briggs is also back to return what should be one of the league’s best linebacking duos.

The defensive line will have to get back to controlling the line of scrimmage which proved to be a problem at times a year ago. Tommie Harris is a force up the middle, and Mark Anderson will have to provide a consistent pass-rush at for the team to get back to having one of the league’s better defenses.

The secondary is returning healthy which wasn’t the case for a stretch last year. Emphasis was put on adding depth to the unit in the draft to ensure this isn’t an issue for the second year in a row.

Hester will be given many opportunities to score on returns, and the Bears special teams unit is one of the best in the league. Robbie Gould is a reliable kicker and the return coverage has been a strong point for them, too.

Lovie Smith has been a successful coach since he came to Chicago, but has been criticized by many for the decisions made on the offensive side of the ball in particular. The distractions of Benson, Tank Johnson, and the starting quarterback job has dominated much of the talk in the Windy City the last two years.

Fantasy-wise, Hester is a strong pick especially in leagues that count return yardage and touchdowns. Tight end Greg Olsen could be a sleeper pick as well.

The Bears should have enough to contend for a division title because other teams also have question marks at the quarterback position as well as elsewhere. The team will have to get back to winning games the way they did in 2006 with a power running game and strong defense to get back to the playoffs. Special teams play will be good, but should they not get back to their ways of 2006, it will be a long and very cold season in the Windy City in 2008.

Nice job David.  I’m putting the Bears on a 7-9 season and 3rd in their division.  Sorry pal.


I did my tenth Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today.  This time I used Mock Draft Central.  The thing I liked about this site is there is much more flexibility.  You can sign up for a variety of team sizes, rounds, and even styles.  If you are in a PPR league you can do a PPR mock draft.

I had the ninth pick in a ten team 15 round mock draft.   I opened up with Larry Johnson.  I followed up with Reggie Wayne in the 2nd round.  He’s just more likely to reach lofty numbers (1400 yards, 10 TDs) than some of the second tier RBs.  In the 3rd round I went with Steve Smith.  I went with Reggie Bush in the 4th round.  In the 5th I opted for Roy Williams to finish off my starting WR corps.  In the 6th I grabbed Kellen Winslow, Jr.  In the 7th I chose LenDale White for RB depth.  In the 8th I added WR depth with Dwayne Bowe.  In the 9th I decided I must grab a QB so I took Eli Manning.  I couldn’t resist Marc Bulger in the 10th despite having Eli.  In the 11th I opted for Kenny Watson for RB depth.  In the 12th I selected Philadelphia Defense.  In the 13th I chose Sammy Morris for RB depth.  In the 14th I took Devin Hester for giggles.  I finished up with Jason Elam since i was forced to take a Kicker.

QBs
Eli Manning
Marc Bulger

RBs
Larry Johnson
Reggie Bush
LenDale White
Kenny Watson
Sammy Morris

WRs
Reggie Wayne
Steve Smith
Roy Williams
Dwayne Bowe
Devin Hester

TEs
Kellen Winslow, Jr.

DEF
Philadelphia

K
Jason Elam


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