Alshon Jeffery
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Alshon Jeffery entered the Halloween match-up with the Minnesota Vikings without a touchdown. Jay Cutler returned to action and Jeffery responded with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Now that Cutler is back, is Jeffery a WR1 again?
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Jeffrey averaged 63.8 yards from Week 3-7 without a touchdown while Cutler was on the shelf. Those numbers were WR3 at best.
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While Jeffery didn’t start the season with a score he did have 105 yards against the Houston Texans and 96 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles with Cutler under center. Throw in his game against the Vikings and he has averaged 88 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game.
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Given his rapport with Cutler, Jeffery should continue to be peppered with targets. He comes out of the bye to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who just got lit up by the Falcons last night. He also has plus match-ups with the Giants, Titans, Niners and Lions.
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I like Jeffery’s prospects to close out the year in style.
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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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Matt Forte had an unbelievable rookie season compiling 1715 total yards (1238 rushing) and 12 TDs (8 rushing). Jay Cutler was brought in to keep defenses from stuffing the box. He was going in the top five of fantasy drafts. Then 2009 happened.

 

It wasn’t an utter failure as he piled up 1400 total yards (929 rushing) and 4 TDs, but a far cry from his brilliant rookie season and fantasy owner’s expectations. He failed to top 70 rushing yards in 11 games last year. He had 62 or fewer total yards, without a TD I might add, in four of his first six games. Imagine getting 6.2 or fewer points from your number one pick four out of six times to start the year. He killed fantasy owners.

 

That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise why his ADP, according to Mock Draft Central, sits at 44 (22nd RB).  I have him right around the same place (click to see my 2010 RB rankings). With Chester Taylor and Mike Martz in town, it’s easy to see why people have soured on Forte. He didn’t help matters when he ran for seven yards on four carries in the preseason opener against the Chargers. Things, however, may have changed in the Bears’ second preseason game.

 

Forte ripped off an 89-yard touchdown run on his way to 109 yards on five carries. Clearly the burst that seemed to be missing is back. While Chester Taylor’s arrival may hurt him in the passing game, and subsequently knock his PPR value down a bit, Forte could be better served by having fresh legs down the stretch. That could be important because the Bears play in Buffalo, Green Bay, and four times in Chicago from Week 9 (November 7th) on. With those potential bad weather games, Forte could be very busy as the season winds down. Having somewhat fresh legs will go a long way.

 

If you aren’t able to draft Forte, you may be able to get him early in the season as he plays the Cowboys, Packers, and Giants in Weeks 2-4. If he struggles early, he could become an excellent buy low candidate. With a fantasy playoff schedule of New England, Minnesota, and the Jets, he may not help when you need it the most, but he can help get you there.

 

What are your thoughts on Matt Forte?


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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 Bears are a complete mess. Their leader on defense is having it out with the team’s legends. Not surprising given the name of this site, I support the legends. As far as their fantasy outlook, they are perhaps the most volatile bunch in the league. Cutler and Forte could emerge or they could disappear to the fantasy wasteland.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Extremely Difficult
First up in Week 14 is the New England Patriots. They are playing at home so weather could be a factor. Next up is the Minnesota Vikings on the road. They won’t have to deal with the elements, but they will be facing back-to-back Super Bowl contenders. The road doesn’t get any smoother in the fantasy championship game as the return home to face the Jets.

 

Five Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
Jay Cutler – I know he’s not loved around the league  or by fantasy owners, especially after the 26 interceptions he threw last year, but he is a talented QB. Mike Martz was brought in to improve the offense, and I think Cutler will be the main benefactor.

 

Greg Olsen – I know Tight Ends don’t excel in Martz’s offense, but when has he had a TE of Olsen’s caliber? He had Vernon Davis, but that was before he emerged. Olsen followed a 54 catch, 574 yard, 5 TD sophomore season with 60 catches for 612 yards and 8 TDs. He remains the Bears’ best option in the passing game, and he will be utilized.

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Matt Forte – Forte was one of the major disappointments last year, but I think Chester Taylor’s presence will help. Taylor is a crafty veteran who will help show Forte the ropes. He will also take away some of the pressure on Forte making him a more effective runner.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Chester Taylor – Assuming Forte holds onto the starting gig, Taylor only makes for a decent backup RB or flex option. He can do it all. Run, catch, block. His work ethic could win him the starting job at some point, which kind of makes him a 2.5 star guy.

 

Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox – The Bears have four capable receivers. Unfortunately there isn’t much separating them. Hester had the most catches and yards. Knox had the most TDs. Aromashodu had an explosive finish. Bennett was #2 in catches and yards. Hester is probably the safest bet. Aromashodu has the most upside. While all four should be owned in most deep leagues, I wouldn’t want any of them as anything more than a 4th or 5th WR.

 

 

Bears Defense/Special Teams
The arrival of Julius Peppers and the return of big mouth Urlacher should make them a viable option again. They play the Lions twice, the Bills, and the Seahawks. Unfortunately they draw the Vikes twice, the Pack twice, the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Patriots.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

RP4
Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Eddie Royal return
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In 2008, rookie Eddie Royal looked like a budding superstar.  He was the #2 wide receiver on his team, yet he was on the receiving end of 91 catches for 980 yards and 5 TD.  He was lucky enough to have a Pro Bowl quarterback at his disposal.  His reception total was the second most ever by a rookie (to Anquan Boldin’s 101).  Unfortunately, as we close in on the start of the 2009 season, everything has changed.

First of all, he’s now the main man on the outside for the Broncos, thanks to the antics of Brandon Marshall.  Will Marshall ultimately take the field this season as a member of the Broncos?  Unless something major changes, he certainly will, but in the his role could be limited thanks to his suspension during training camp and the wedge he’s driven between himself and the franchise.

Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler also had a falling out with the organization, leading to his trade to the Chicago Bears.  That leaves Kyle Orton to lead the offense, a certain downgrade.

Last season Orton completed just 34 passes of 20 yards or more, compared to Cutler’s 55.  He had 3 completions of 40 yards or more, compared to Cutler’s 7.  We’ll find out soon enough if it is the system, conditions or supporting cast, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who would consider Orton even close to the QB Cutler is.  Cutler has emerged as one of the elite, while Orton is anything but.

Now that we’ve covered the obvious, where exactly does that leave Royal?  Last season the Broncos put the ball in the air 620 times, third most in the NFL.  That allowed Marshall & Royal to combine for 195 receptions, but it is highly unlikely that the trend continues. 

With Knowshown Moreno brought in to improve a rushing offense that saw its leader have 343 yards, there should be a renewed focus on a ground attack.  Coupled with the regression in QB play, the strategy shouldn’t be a surprise.

Thanks to Marshall’s indiscretions, there’s one less receiver to target.  That’s good, because his receptions are going to go to someone.  It’s bad, because it is one less star for defenses to focus.  In turn Royal could see some double coverage this season, especially early in the season if Marshall does not take the field

While he was a second round draft choice, you also have to consider that his college career numbers at Virginia Tech were nowhere close to his professional success.  For his four-year career, he had just 119 receptions and 12 TDs.  Obviously, there’s no correlation, but you have to wonder if he will be able to repeat last season’s success, especially if Marshall is not a main focus of the offense and with Cutler no longer on the roster.

Let’s take a look at what I’d expect from him this season:

Receiving – 87 catches, 1,010 yards, 6 TD

Everything appears to be stacked against him from taking a huge next step forward this season.  That doesn’t mean that I would expect him to completely disappear into football obscurity, however.  He showed too much last season and should be able to post at least similar statistics, making him a low-end WR #2, but more of a great WR #3 in my book.  He was initially ranked as the #25 WR on our Top 25 list (click here to view), further cementing my view on him. 

What do you think of Royal for next season?  Do you think he’ll take a step forward?  Regress?  Post similar numbers?

Here are some Quarterbacks that have played well in the preseason.  Let’s evaluate them to see if they can translate their preseason production into fantasy worth when the season begins.

Matt Leinart, Arizona Cardinals – Leinart is the preseason leader with 517 passing yards.  He also has completed 61.3% of his passes with 3 TDs to 1 INT.  His passer rating of 97.3 is the 4th best.  If Warner goes down, I think he’ll be ready to finally produce.

Joe Flacco
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
- Joe is looking like a decent QB2 this season completing 65.6% of his passes for 470 yards and 1 TD.  He has yet to throw a pick and sports a 94.3 passer rating. 

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks - Hasselbeck continues to have an outstanding preseason completing a ridiculous 71.7% of his passes for 414 yards and 4 TDs.  He has thrown one pick and has a robust passer rating of 111.7.  He’s looking like a solid low-end QB1.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans - VY solified his backup role with the Titans.  He is 5th in the league with 377 yards.  He has completed 59.6% of his passes with 3 TDs and 3 INTs.  His passer rating is 75.0.  I would not draft Vince Young and only consider picking him up should he play well for a couple games should Kerry Collins go down.

Jay Culter under center
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
- Cutler had a nice game in a hostile environment as he returned to Denver.  He has completed 63.6% of his passes for 329 yards and 2 TDs.  His passer rating is solid at 92.0.  He is a low-end QB1 with the potential to move up.

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RP4
Written by
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Greg Olsen first down

Last season Greg Olsen was a solid tight end in his second professional season, catching 54 passes for 574 yards and 5 TD.  Considering that he only started seven games and had Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman throwing him the ball, that’s actually pretty impressive.

He was actually the team’s second leading receiver in both catches (Matt Forte had 63) and yards (Devin Hester had 665), while leading the squad in TD.  Desmond Clark, who had been the starter, figures to be the second tight end this season, giving Olsen even more opportunity to mature and take the next step.

You also have to take into account that Jay Cutler will now be manning the QB position, a significant upgrade.  While Bears QBs combined for 3,229 yards and 14 TD, Cutler passed for 4,526 yards and 25 TD.  Needless to say, there are going to be significantly more opportunities to make plays, even in the dismal winter weather in Chicago.

Having not imported any significant WR to help upgrade the position, the extra completions have to go to someone.  While Forte figures to be one of the safety valves for Cutler, Olsen should be the other.  There were only seven tight ends who caught over 700 yards last season, a mark that I would fully anticipate Olsen exceeding.

The team’s tallest receiver stands at 6′3″, and that’s Brandon Rideau who has appeared in just two games after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 by the Browns.  At 6′5″, Olsen should prove to be a prime target in the red zone and should be among the leaders in TE for TD.

With that said, let’s look at what I’d expect from him in 2009:

Receiving – 78 catches, 870 yards, 8 TD

Those numbers would easily place him among the top five tight ends in the league.  His ADP is currently at 79.75, the sixth TE coming off the board.  My original rankings had him at #7, but that obviously has changed.  When the new rankings come out, he’ll be at #5, having jumped ahead of Dallas Clark & Kellen Winslow.

What are your thoughts of Olsen?  How good do you think he could be?

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Brandon Marshall catch
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Brandon Marshall, like Dwayne Bowe, is being sent a message as new Coach Josh McDaniels has Marshall listed on the second team on the Broncos’ depth chart.  Marshall has asked to be traded, had another run-in with the law, and has been unable to practice because of injury.  Not exactly the way to endear yourself to you new Coach. 

Marshall had two monster games in his return from suspension last year (18 receptions for 166 yards against San Diego & 6 receptions for 155 yards vs. New Orleans).  He only topped 100 yards one more time the rest of the way.  Yet, he finished with 104 receptions for 1265 yards and 6 TDs.  That of course was with QB Jay Cutler, who forced his way out of Denver.  New QB Kyle Orton doesn’t have the arm strength of Cutler, but he has proven to be a winner.  It will be interesting to monitor both QBs to see how they do in their new homes.  The questions surrounding Marshall make it difficult to rely on him as your #1 WR.  That’s the risk you’ll likely have to take on him as he’s going in third round of fantasy drafts.  I expect him to have another stellar year, assuming he does not get suspended.  He should catch 95 passes for 1200 yards and 7 TDs.  All things considered though, I would lean towards a WR that wasn’t quite as risky.

Jay Cutler
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Jay Cutler had a quiet offseason remaining out of the spotlight while he worked on his craft.  In reality, he was the most visible QB other than Brett Favre.  He comes to Chicago with a lot to prove.  He is arguably the best QB they’ve had since the days of Sid Luckman.  What remains to be seen is how Cutler can perform in an inferior Offense.  They have a pair of solid Tight Ends in Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark and Matt Forte led all backs with 63 receptions last year.  Devin Hester and Co. though are a far cry from Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.  It will be interesting to see if Cutler makes Chicago WRs better and if Denver’s wides slide dramatically. 

Cutler has a tough playoff schedule facing Green Bay, who should improve, Baltimore, and Minnesota.  The Packers and Vikings games are in Chicago so weather could be a factor.  Plus, the second Lions game comes in Week 17, which is after fantasy season in most leagues.  Cutler is actually a guy that could be a Sell High candidate after he faces Detroit in Week 4, and Cincy, Cleveland, and Arizona in Weeks 7-9.

Cutler will likely go somewhere in the 6th-9th rounds depending on league size, scoring format, and available second tier QBs.  Cutler is going to see a big dip in production in 2009.  I’m putting him on a 3700, 20 TD season.


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