We’re kicking off a new series called the Fourth & 1 Debate in which one fantasy football writer posts a question to a panel of fantasy football writers from some of the top fantasy football sites.

Our friend Eric Stashin, the Rotoprofessor, kicked things off.  Click here to see the full article

Here’s my response:

While it is difficult to make any rash decisions after one game, the fact of the matter is that some players are to good to drop, but too bad to play.  Sometimes those players snap out of their funk.  Other times they just continue to struggle and when you finally do cut them, you missed out on all of the early season surprises.

One player I would consider cutting is Laveranues Coles.  In his debut with the Bengals he caught just one pass for 11 yards. He wasn’t facing the mighty Pittsburgh defense, rather the lowly Denver Broncos, who ranked 26th against the pass last year.  He was targeted just five times, and managed to drop three passes.  Chad Ochocinco was clearly Carso Palmer’s go-to-guy, and second-year WR Andre Caldwell looked good with 6 receptions.  Preseason superstar Chris Henry played a limited role because of a thigh injury, but his role should expand going forward.

Aside from having a lot of competition for touches, Coles is playing in a offense that could struggle to put points on the board.  Palmer is going to take some time to work off the rust.  At this point, I’m not that confident he’ll do it anytime soon.  With a bye and four games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the next eight weeks, there wouldn’t be many opportunities to even give Coles a shot.  At this point, I think it would be best to cut ties with Coles and pick up someone with more upside.

Junkyard Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com
Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
Lee of www.footballjabber.com
Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com

Laveranues Coles Bengals
Image from ESPN Photos

As long as Carson Palmer is healthy, he’s likely the best QB Coles has ever played with (at the time, relax Favre fans).  Though he throws a good deep ball, he also made a living hitting Housh on shorter routes.  Now that Housh is gone, Coles can fill that role. Plus, if Chad Ochocinco is truly back to form, Coles should find plenty of opening to do his thing.  He’s a good route runner with terrific hands and toughness.  I don’t know if he can match the TD total (7) from last year simply because Chris Henry is Palmer’s weapon of choice in close, but Coles should be a good value, especially in PPR leagues.

Coles will likely be selected in the 7th or 8th round of your fantasy draft, and should be good for 85 receptions for 1000 yards and 5 TDs.  I wouldn’t be enamored with his as my WR2, but he’s a solid WR3.

Carson Palmer throwing
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Carson Palmer is one of the more difficult players to predict this year.  He is coming of an elbow injury, his top WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh split for the riches in Seattle, and his obnoxious former top WR Chad Ochocinco basically admitted he phoned in the 2008 season.  However, when he’s healthy Palmer has as much talent as any QB in the league, Laveranues Coles should fill Housh’s void, Chris Henry should play a
full season, and if Ochocinco commits himself he can become a dynamic WR again.

He has a decent schedule with two games against the Browns, the Broncos, the Lions, and the Chiefs.  His fantasy playoff schedule works out so he doesn’t have to face either the Ravens or the Steelers.  He goes up against Minnesota, San Diego, and Kansas City, which doesn’t seem too bad.

Palmer averaged around 4000 yards and 28 TDs from 2005-2007 and has a career completion percentage of 63.7%.  The Bengals drafted TE Chase Coffman, who should help the passing game, and Andre Smith, who should bolster the line.  The talent is there.  It all hinges on #85 whether or not he’s going to be elite again.  I’m figuring him to be a top ten QB that finishes with 3800 yards and 25 TDs, which should be an excellent value in the 6th-8th round.

It didn’t take long for the Cincinnati Bengals to replace their classy possession receiver with another classy possession receiver.  The similarities don’t stop there.  They are just three months apart in age and have both made one Pro Bowl.  Plus, both Cincinnati and Seattle have used the nickname Queen City.

The Bengals signed Coles to a four-year, $28 million deal.  Houshmandzadeh’s deal with the Seahawks was five years at $40 million.  Coles hasn’t been as productive in recent years, but is consistent with 5-7 TDs in seven of his last eight seasons.  He doesn’t attract as much attention as Houshmandzadeh, which could play well with Chad Ocho Cinco. 

Coles is the second key Offensive players signed in the past two days.  Yesterday the Bengals signed Running Back Cedric Benson.  The combined contracts of Benson and Coles is $5 million less than the one inked by Housh.

Lester’s NFL Leagues Notes

25 February 2009
The Jets cut WR Laveranues Coles.  He had 70 receptions for 850 yards and 7 TDs last year.  Not only will the Jets have a new starting QB next year, but they also have to replace their #1 wideout.  That shouldn’t be hard as Jerricho Cotchery has averaged 78 receptions and 983 yards the past three seasons.  Chansi Stuckey will likely become the #2 WR.  He had 32 grabs for 359 yards last year.  Brad Smith should see an increase in playing time as well.  Coles is a solid WR and will land on his feet.  Let the Coles to the Eagles rumor start right now.  I don’t see that happening though.

The other big news in New York was Giants related.  Brandon Jacobs signed a four-year, $25 million extension with the Giants.  $13 million of it was guaranteed.  Jacobs had 1089 yards and 15 TDs.  This almost ensures that Derrick Ward will not be back.

Tampa Bay got younger by cutting RB Warrick Dunn and WRs Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard.  Earnest Graham, Cadillac Williams, and likely a Rookie RB will carry the load for Tampa.  Clifton Smith could get some play as their Third Down WR. The Bucs could also lose Michael Clayton to free agency so they’ll be active this offseason getting wideouts.

The Rams cut QB Trent Green and WR Drew Bennett.  At 38 with a history of concussions, Trent should hang it up.  Bennett never lived up to the six-year, $30 million deal he signed with St. Louis.  Neither of these moves have fantasy implications.

Trent’s former team, Kansas City, cut Damon Huard.  That also doesn’t have fantasy implications.

New York Jets Preview

27 August 2008

The Jets made some noise this offseason with the acquisition of Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, and Tony Richardson.  They also drafted Vernon Gholston.  Finally, they upgraded at QB as well.  You may have heard about it.

I initially thought the Jets main focus was going to be on the ground attack when they added Faneca and Woody to a line that already had D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.  Obviously the addition of Brett Favre to the mix means they will be a balanced attack.  You can’t key on shutting down the run because Favre will make you pay.  If you try and stop the pass, Thomas Jones and company will make you pay on the ground.  It’s amazing how much easier life is when you have an offense that can stretch the field.

Defensively is where I worry.  The addition of Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace, and Gholston should help.  How much so is the question.  Fortunately for them they get to face Miami and Buffalo twice each.  That should offset the challenge of playing New England twice.  They have looked good in the preseason, but we all know that isn’t exactly a good representation of how they will fare when the season gets underway. 

I don’t think the Jets will make the Patriots sweat out the division title, but I do think they have what it takes to win a Wild Card berth.  With Favre at the helm, a playoff victory isn’t out of the question.  I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game though.

Fantasy-wise there are some nice options here.  Obviously Brett Favre is worth having on your roster.  I’m not sure I would trust him as my starter, even in a 12 team league, but he’s showed last year he’s still capable of winning some fantasy games.  I think both starting receivers will be decent plays as well.  I liken Jerricho Cotchery to Greg Jennings (deep threat) and Laveranues Coles to Donald Driver (possession WR).  Therefore, I expect better fantasy numbers out of Cotchery.  I like Thomas Jones as well.   He should be able to produce 1400+ total yards and even crack the endzone a half-dozen times.  I also like Dustin Keller as a sleeper Tight End.  NYJ Defense will be worth using when the matchup is right.  Even Mike Nugent could end up being a solid fantasy starter.

Before I get started I wanted to direct your attention to a great fantasy football contest that one of my friends is co-hosting.  RotoNation and The Big Lead have teamed up for the First Annual Best Fantasy Football Team Name contest.  How do you enter, you ask?  It’s quite simple.  All you have to do is enter your team name using your real e-mail at RotoNation.  Don’t worry your e-mail won’t be available to the public, they just need it to let the winner know about the prizes.  Fabulous prizes, you ask?  Yes, the top five team names will win a complimentary copy of the Draft Analyzyer to prep you for your fantasy draft.  The top vote getter will get to run on guest post on RotoNation.  So get your creative juices flowing.  Let your wit and humor go to work for you.  Bragging rights in your league are just a few keystrokes away!

Serviceable WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs, Second Tier WRs, and Third Tier WRs, now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  These will likely either be your 3rd WR or make up your WR depth. 

Kevin Curtis/Reggie Brown - Curtis was decent last year for the Eagles.  He had a couple of huge games.  I’d like to see DeSean Jackson push for the starting job opposite of Reggie Brown, who should bounce back from his mediocre 780 yard 4 TD season, which would allow Curtis to got to the slot and utilize his speed like Wes Welker.  If that happens, all three could be viable plays.

Laveranues Coles – Coles had a decent season going before the wheels fell off in Week 8.  If he can produce like he did the first seven weeks (460 yards, 6 TDs), he’ll be worth an occasional start.

Joey Galloway – How long can Mr. Galloway keep it up?  Dude will turn 37 in November.  He’s registered three straight 1000+ yards seasons though.  One warning, he was very inconsistent last year. 

Santana Moss – Moss has barely matched his outstanding 2005 numbers when you combine the past two years.  However, he still has big-play ability.  He’s scary to own, and even scarier to start, but he can occasionally almost single-handedly win a matchup for you.

Javon Walker – Who knows how he’ll respond following last year’s lost season and butt-whoopin’ he took in Vegas.  When he’s healthy though, he can produce.  That hasn’t always been easy for him though.

Bernard Berrian – He’s a mystery heading into the year.  He produced in Chicago, but we’ll see how he does in Minnesota.    The Viking certainly have the running game to keep the DBs honest. I’m just leery of T-Jack’s accuracy.

Anthony Gonzalez – Here’s another guy I’d love to see end up on my team.  He gained valuable experience as a rooke, and if Marvin Harrison returns to form, he could be looking at some cupcake matchups.  He could be the poison that defenses pick, which is great news to his fantasy owners.

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