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Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of advantage. If your players do good, you can perhaps be a little more cautions with your team. If your players failed to put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk, hoping for a bigger reward to make up for it. You also get a feel for your match-up depending on how your opponents players did. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners will be feeling about their players.
Top of the World
With the fantasy playoffs on the doorstep, you can’t help but swell with pride based on the numbers these guys dropped.
Michael Vick – My #1 ranked QB this week did not disappoint. He threw for 302 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. He added 48 yards on the ground. He’s definitely in the MVP hunt (both in fantasy and reality).
Matt Schaub – Vick did his thing, but Schaub was no slouch. He threw for 337 yards, 2 TDs, and an INT. If you stuck with him (despite my #18 ranking) kudos to you. If you sat him because of me, my apologies.
Arian Foster - Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. 109 total yards (83 rushing, 26 receiving) and a score on the ground and through the air. You’ve been counting on  him all year, and he didn’t disappoint.
LeSean McCoy – Not to be outdone, McCoy accumulated 130 total yards (44 rushing, 86 receiving) as well as a rushing and receiving touchdown. If you own McCoy, you can breath a sigh of relief.
Andre Johnson –  So he didn’t score a touchdown. His six catches for 149 yards and two carries for ten yards got his owners off to a great start. It wasn’t enough to change your strategy, but it’s certainly a good start. continue reading »

Written by Eric Stashin of


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LeSean McCoy showed enough in his rookie campaign to allow the Philadelphia Eagles to let oft injured veteran running back Brian Westbrook walk in the offseason.  Selected in the second round of the 2009 draft, McCoy now has a chance to put his skills on full display.


The question is, how good do you think he will be?  In abbreviated appearances (only 4 starts despite appearing in all 16 games) last season he managed to rush for 637 yards and 4 TD.  He averaged 4.1 yards per carry, a more then respectable number.


As has always been the Eagles nature, he was a great option in the passing game.  He had 40 receptions for 308 yards, showing the same type of ability as Westbrook did.  In their offense that uses a lot of screens, Westbrook accumulated as many as 90 catches in a season and was always a threat.


With Kevin Kolb manning the quarterback position, it’s quite possible that the focus on using the running backs increases.  Despite the ability Kolb showed last season, there’s a big difference starting week after week, as opposed to starting just one or two games (you can click here for my full thoughts on him).


He could easily feel the pressure.  The Eagles could easily script the plays in order to protect him, limiting the risks he’s forced to take.  That means more screens, more check downs to his running back or tight end.  That means more opportunities for McCoy to excel.


The offensive line, however, will need to hold up to allow him to run rampant.  The last time they stepped on the field, they allowed four sacks to the Dallas Cowboys, including a pair from DeMarcus Ware. continue reading »

Perhaps no NFL team will look more different in 2010 than the Eagles. After all they one of the most familiar faces in franchise history when Donovan McNabb was dealt to the Redskins. Brian Westbrook, a staple in Philly’s offense for the past seven years is also gone. That said, the Eagles should, in theory, continue to hum right along as one of the league’s best offenses.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
I’m not going to say that you should bench the likes of Kevin Kolb, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and Brent Celek, but you should know going into the year that the Birds face the Cowboys in Dallas (Week 14), the Giants in New Jersey (15), and the Vikings at home (16).


Five Star Fantasy Options
DeSean Jackson – Jackson certainly cannot be measured by his stature (5’10″, 175). His quickness is off-the-charts. He is working with a new QB, but one that he racked up 10 catches for 250 yards and 2 TDs with in Kolb’s two starts last year. Like Westbrook, he can scare you a little with injury concerns, but he can put up fantasy points in a hurry.


Four Star Fantasy Options
Kevin Kolb – While I appreciate the talent level Donovan McNabb possess, I do believe that the system and the players in that system play a big role in the success of a player. Brett Favre is an amazing talent, but when he left Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense didn’t miss a beat. Same with Joe Montana to Steve Young. Now I’m not saying Kolb is going to put up Steve Young or even Aaron Rodgers, but the pieces are in place for a real solid season.


LeSean McCoy – Everything I mentioned above regarding McNabb and Kolb, paste in Westbrook and McCoy. Actually McCoy has an easier hole to fill. He is replacing a talented RB that was basically missing in action all of last season anyway. Kolb has to replace a franchise QB. McCoy has the perfect skill set for this offense. Yardage will be the name of the game for McCoy. Mike Bell and Michael Vick will likely get the short yardage TDs for the Eagles.


Brent Celek – Celek caught 76 passes for 971 yards and 8 TDs. Like Jackson, he played great with Kolb under center. In Kolb’s two starts Celek had 8 catches for 104 yards each game with 1 TD. He’s a big target in the red zone, which could allow him to approach double-digit TDs.


Three Star Fantasy Options
Jeremy Maclin – Maclin had a solid rookie season catching 56 passes for 773 yards and 4 TDs. With Jackson and Celek garnering so much attention, Maclin could lead the team in receptions.


Eagles Defense/Special Teams – Their fantasy playoff schedule keeps me from giving them a four star rating. That and the fact that they face the Packers, Falcons, Titans, Colts, and Texans along with two match-ups each against the tough NFC East. You know Donovan McNabb will be gunning for them in Weeks 4 & 10.


Two Star Fantasy Options
Mike Bell – Bell will be used to get the tough yard, most notably near the goal line. He could also be used to close out games. Michael Vick’s potential to snipe short TDs could keep Bell from being a viable flex option.


One Star Fantasy Options
Michael Vick – Vick is a rare backup QB that could actually put up some numbers week-to-week thanks to the Wildcat. If Kolb gets injured or is overwhelmed by the role of starting QB, Vick could be called upon.


Charles Scott – The rookie RB out of LSU could also be used in short yardage situations, as well as to close out games. He will need an injury or ineffectiveness from McCoy or Bell to become a fantasy threat, but the potential is there.


Jason Avant – Avant will work the slot in three-receiver sets. He has great hands , but won’t get enough touches week-to-week to be a true fantasy threat. 329 of his 587 yards (56%) came in Weeks 2, 10, and 12. He didn’t top 45 yards in any other game.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

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Two young running backs that will be moving up the draft boards as we prepare for the 2010 season will be Felix Jones and LeSean McCoy. Jones put on a show at the end of the year for the Cowboys leading to the speculation that he’ll be the primary ball carrier in Big D next year. Meanwhile, the Eagles cut ties with Brian Westbrook, which eliminates any doubt as to who will be toting the rock in Philly next year. The question is, given the choice, which RB would you rather have.

It’s hard to deny that Felix Jones is the more explosive back of the two. He has speed for days and has the ability to break one each and every time he touches the ball. He averaged with 5.9 yard per carry during the regular season and jumped that up to 7.2 ypc during the playoffs. I’d like to see him more involved in the passing game as he had just 19 receptions during the regular season and 4 in the playoff games when he was playing a larger role with the offense.

LeSean McCoy didn’t exactly light things up this year despite Brian Westbrook’s absence for the bulk for the year. He had just four games with 55+ rushing yards. He did supplement his total yardage with 40 receptions for 308 receiving yards. McCoy finished with 945 total yards (637 rushing, 308 receiving), 4 TDs, and a 4.1 ypc.

Both have a ton of potential, but find themselves in situations that are far from ideal. Felix Jones, barring a trade of Tashard Choice or Marion Barber III, finds himself in a three-back rotation. Even if he is the lead back, he’s going to yield carries and red zone touches. LeSean McCoy, at least at the moment, doesn’t have any direct competition. However, he finds himself in an offense that heavily favors the pass. Both situations have become the new model of the NFL. Passing and running back by committee are here to stay.

While I would be happy with either back, I give McCoy a slight edge.

Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard.

Click here to see my early 2010 NFL Running Back rankings.

Written by 
Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Before we get started, let’s take a look how last week’s sleepers fared (click here to read the original article):

Mark Sanchez – 18-31, 272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Ahmad Bradshaw – 60 yards rushing, 0 TD; 3 receptions, 11 yards, 0 TD
Sydney Rice – 2 receptions, 17 yards, 0 TD
Brandon Pettigrew – 0 receptions, 0 yards, 0 TD

While Bradshaw may not have had the biggest game, I think I’d say I went 2-2 with those picks, not spectacular, but respectable.

As the injuries begin to mount (i.e. Anthony Gonzalez) and some already begin to panic after a slow start to their season (i.e. Brandon Jacobs, Frank Gore & Larry Johnson), let’s take a look at a few players who may be available on the waiver wire who have potential to help you this week:

Jamarcus Russell – Oakland Raiders – vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs defense is not very impressive, having allowed 300 yards through the air to second year quarterback Joe Flacco and a Baltimore Ravens offense that is not all that impressive.  That’s not to say that Russell and company are an impressive bunch…

Last night against the Chargers, Russell was not spectacular, but he wasn’t completely awful either as the Raiders moved the ball well, especially early on.  He completed 12-30 passes for 208 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.  Of course, one of the picks came on a hail mary on the last play of the game, so that shouldn’t be counted against him.  He needs to improve his accuracy, but a weak Chiefs defense could be a good medicine to help correct that.

Remember, it may just not be his arm that does the damage.  The Chiefs defense also allowed 198 yards on the ground, second most in the league, and Russell can run. 
Owned in 9% of Yahoo Leagues and 11.9% of ESPN Leagues

Running Back
LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. New Orleans Saints
He’s the second string running back, but with Donovan McNabb potentially out, or at least limited, there is going to be a strong focus on the Eagles ground attack.  While Brian Westbrook may get the bulk of the carries, McCoy proved last week that he has the ability to make the most of his opportunities when he averaged over five yards per carry (and the Eagles are going to try to preserve Westbrook, which should mean a fair amount of carries).

The Saints only allowed 33 yards on the ground last week, but they were also playing from ahead, forcing their opponents to the air to try and stay in the match-up.  They also faced the Lions, which says a lot. 
Owned in 47% of Yahoo Leagues and 1.6% of ESPN Leagues

Wide Receiver
Antwaan Randle El – Washington Redskins – vs. St. Louis Rams
The Rams are not a good team, simply put.  While Randle El is the second receiver on his team, he stepped up against a tough Giants defense, catching 7 passes for 98 yards.  Granted, the Giants secondary was beat up, but it still was an impressive performance.

He only had seven catches in a game three times in the past two seasons (and hadn’t done it since 2004-2005 prior to that), so there should be concern that he is going to take a step backward next week.  You also have to assume that Santana Moss is not going to be completely silenced once again.

With how bad the Rams defense appears to be, there should still be plenty of opportunities for everyone, however.  He may get the chance to run the ball.  He may get the chance to throw the ball (they tried to run a play for him in Week 1, but the Giants read it).  He definitely is going to get the chance to catch the ball.  While his catches and yards may decrease slightly, he’s going to have plenty of chances to contribute and potentially find the end zone.
Owned in 14% of Yahoo Leagues and 1.6% of ESPN Leagues

Tight End
Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Seattle Seahawks
He seems to be a perpetual sleeper, doesn’t he?  The former first round draft choice has all the talent, it’s just a matter of him maturing and being able to utilize it on a consistent basis.  There has been signs that he may finally be getting there.

Coach Mike Singleton has said that he is one of the locker room leaders, a bold statement considering he was buried in his doghouse last season.  He also produced on the field, catching five passes for 40 yards.  Maybe this is finally the season?
Owned in 47% of Yahoo Leagues and 13.1% of ESPN Leagues

How do you think these players are going to perform in the season’s first week?  Are there any other sleepers you are eyeing?

By Marc Mancuso

As Chris Rock used to say… “Insurance is around in case s&*t happens.” For these guys its happened too much over the last 2 years so getting their backup is a smart move. These are insurance policies (handcuffs) for 1st/2nd rounders who are not in a defined timeshare AND either coming off injuries in 08, aging, or have an injury history.

In this age of multi-back attacks, some folks are not into this strategy, but I have to disagree. I recall my best fantasy team ever in 2005 when I had Domanick Davis as my lead back who went down to injuries during the season. I had the foresight to grab Jonathan Wells who saved my season and took me to the promised land of a fantasy championship. Wells got the bulk of the carries and I took him in the final rounds of the draft.

You will NOT see the RB1A’s of the world (LenDale White, Jonathan Stewart, Ahmad Bradshaw, etc.), but you will see guys who can save your season if your stud goes down.

Darren Sproles, San Diego Chargers – LT has brought much happiness to FFL owners over the years, but father time is catching up fast to him. Sproles, like Rudy is 5 foot nothing a hundred nothing, but unlike him he is electrifying and doesn’t get killed on the field. Sproles has made a career of proving the doubters wrong, and San Diego nearly cutting LT should tell you how highly they think of him. Look for Sproles starting in round 8 in 12 team leagues.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles – “Shady” backs up Brian Westbrook who is coming off yet another surgery and is always a threat to miss games. The knock on McCoy is that he can’t pass block and that is a concern in the West Coast offense. The good news is that his performance in camp has shown he’s an adequate blocker and he already resembles Westbrook’s running and receiving style. If Westbrook goes down McCoy becomes a very desirable starter in 12 team leagues. Like Sproles you’re looking to grab him starting in round 8.

Jerious Norwood, Atlanta Falcons – Michael Turner coming off 382 touches (376 carries, 6 receptions) in 2008 scares me and I need to be prepared if the Burner goes down. Norwood has been a threat to score each time he touches the ball and has been for the last three years. People are overlooking Norwood yet again, and you can grab him late and be assured that if Turner hits the skids that you’ve got a game breaker on your roster which will only cost you a 10th round or later pick

Ladell Betts, Washington Redskins – Another forgotten man who when given the opportunity can save your season as he did in 2006 when Clinton Portis went down with injuries. Unfortunately for Betts, Portis has been very durable over the years, which has limited his value. However, given how the game is, it may be a matter of time before Portis is sidelined due to the overall workload and the law of averages in such a violent sport. Betts’ combination of running and receiving skills make him a very smart handcuff for Portis owners. As long as Jason Campbell is the QB, don’t expect Washington to turn into the Saints anytime soon, so they will continue to be a conservative offense. The best part is that Betts is pretty much off the radar for many folks so you can hold off until after round 12 to grab him.

Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings – News flash – Adrian Peterson is a beast. Coming into the NFL he was a brittle beast. While he’s avoided the injury bug since joining the league, his upright running style and heavy workload is a risky proposition. Taylor is a very productive back when given the chance, and he can produce solid results in the event that he needs to fill in due to injury. Smart owners should begin looking to handcuff Peterson with Taylor starting in round 9.

Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers – There is no real competition for Frank Gore and he’s looking fantastic in camp, so he will be getting the rock a lot this year. However, this is the same Frank Gore who has been hobbled in recent years and has an injury history dating back to his days at Miami. Coffee may not be as skilled as some of the other backs listed here, but opportunity is everything in fantasy and he has gotten good reviews from his coaches thus far. You should be able to grab him in the final rounds if you have roster space. In keeper leagues he has even more value.

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Some of the best breakout performers in football fantasy leagues are rookies, who we’re not quite sure what we are going to get from.  Let’s take a look at who my Top 5 rookie running backs will be for this season.

1. Knoshown Moreno – Denver Broncos
He was ranked #19 on my Top 25 running backs list (click here to view), so naturally he’s going to take the top spot on this list.  He was the first back off the board, taken #12 overall, and enters the season with little competition in the backfield.  Does anyone really think Correll Buckhalter or LaMont Jordan offer much of a threat to his carries at this point?

Despite Mike Shanahan no longer leading the way, the Broncos have long been a team capable of creating running backs seemingly from nothing.  Moreno should be the next in a long line of success stories as he develops into a must use option in all formats.

2. Chris Wells – Arizona Cardinals
The other rookie who found his way into my Top 25 (#22), he posted back-to-back 1,000+ yards, averaging 5.9 and 5.8 yards per carry.  That may be college, but it is still worth noting.

With Edgerrin James jettisoned during the off-season, his prime competition will be Tim Hightower (399 yards and 10 TD last season).  I would be surprised if they didn’t at least split carries, but Wells has significantly more upside and should ultimately see the bulk of the carries.  He may lose some TD potential by sharing time with Hightower (which is the major difference between himself and Moreno), but that’s something that can be said about many at this point in the NFL.

3. Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts
Even with Joseph Addai, the Colts saw an opportunity to add talent to the backfield and quickly took it.  It’s tough to imagine drafting a running back in the first round not to give him significant carries, so you have to imagine the Brown is going to get a chance to shine.

While Addai struggled last season, playing in only 12 games and picking up 544 yards, he began his career with back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons.  It’s hard to imagine him not getting an opportunity to play as well, which certainly will decrease Brown’s potential value.  That’s what keeps him a step behind the other two backs selected in the first round, he’s definitely in a situation to share carries.

4. LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
Make no mistake, McCoy is going to be the back to provide a rest for Brian Westbrook, who we all know always tends to be battling an injury.  If Westbrook were to go down, opening up more playing time for McCoy, he could prove to have significant value for fantasy owners in all formats.  At this point, however, he’s not likely to be more of a bye week fill-in, as he doesn’t have the potential to put up huge numbers on a week-to-week basis.

5. Andre Brown – New York Giants
Last season the Giants employed a three running back set, with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw.  With Ward now calling Tampa Bay home, the Giants needed a new back to join their three-headed monster.  In the fourth round out N.C. State, they may have found that man.

At 6′0″, 224 lbs., his stature is very similar to that of Ward and the Giants may lean on him to mimic his performance if they determine that Bradshaw is better suited as a third down back.  If that were to happen, Brown could see significant carries and really be a weapon in deeper fantasy formats.  Wait and see, but he’s a player worth keeping an eye on.

Honorable Mention: Shonn Greene, New York Jets

What do you think of these rookies?  Who will have the biggest performance?  Who’s likely to fall flat?

Westbrook Soars
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Before I get started on Westy, let me once again offer my sympathy for the Eagles organization and the Jim Johnson family, who truly lost a great one this week.

Brian Westbrook is one of the best players in all of football when healthy.  That’s the problem though.  He is currently rehabbing an ankle injury and will turn 30 in September.  He has battled through a myriad of injuries the past few years, only missing four of his past 48 games after missing five in 2004 & 2005. Despite playing in 14 games he finished with 1338 total yards (936 rushing, 402 receiving) with 14 TDs.  His total yardage was down 36.4% last year though.  It appears that is a sign of things to come.  Every year there is some risk associated with drafting Westy, and I feel it’s even great this year, which is why he is sliding to the second round in fantasy drafts.  Aside from the age and injuries, the Eagles drafted LeSean McCoy who, like Westy, is a dual threat.  McCoy could seriously cut into Westbrook’s touches.

It’s important for Westy to be in the lineup out of the game.  In Weeks 2 & 3 the Eagles face New Orleans and Kansas City.  They also face the Raiders in Week 6.  As dynamic a player as Westy is when he’s healthy and the offense is humming makes matchups a little insignificant, but it’s nice to know he has a good fantasy playoff schedule of the Giants, who he dominates historically, the 49ers, and the Broncos.  It’s hard to put a number on Westy because of his health, but I’m expecting a 1500 total yard, 8 TD campaign.

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ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio and John Clayton are reporting that Brian Westbrook will have his ankle scoped.  There are varying reports of the recovery time, but it should not keep him out of any preseason action.  It will be Westy’s second procedure this offseason as he had knee surgery a couple months ago. 

The wear an tear of being a smaller RB has been taking its toll on Westbrook.  He will turn 30 right before the season kicks off, which is typically the beginning of the end for RBs.  Westbrook has 1247 carries for 5721 yards and 401 receptions for 3609 yards.  Additionally he has 39 punt returns for 498 yards and 23 kick returns for 487 yards.  Westbrook has 66 (36 rushing, 28 receiving, 2 punt return) career TDs.

When he’s healthy he’s one of the best RBs in the league.  I would have a hard time picking him in the first round of a fantasy draft though, especially with the addition of LeSean McCoy.  I’d prefer to let him be someone else’s problem to worry about.

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We continue our NFL Draft Preview with a look at Pitt RB LeSean McCoy.  McCoy followed up a successful 2007 season (276 carries for 1328 yards, 14 TDs) with an even better 2008 campaign (308 yards for 1488 yards, 21 TDs).  He added 65 receptions for 549 yards and a score.  McCoy scored a TD in all but two games last year with six multiple TD games.  Unfortunately for Pitt fans, one of the games happened to be the heartbreaking 3-0 Loss to Oregon State in the Sun Bowl.  He scored in 8 of 12 games as a Freshman.

McCoy has a nice build (5’11″, 204 Lbs), but his forty time (4.50) wasn’t great.  He did not participate in the Combine because of the flu and did not set the world ablaze at his Pro Day.  According to Rob Rang, The SportsXchange,, “McCoy was stunningly unimpressive at his Pro Day, registering a 29-inch vertical jump that was matched or exceeded by every running back tested in Indianapolis and nearly half of the offensive linemen”.  Not exactly the explosive back NFL teams are looking for.  He is a hard tackle, has good hands, and is great at finding cutback lanes.  The knock on him though is his inability to run the ball inside effectively.  That, perhaps more than anything, is what will keep McCoy from being a first round selection.

Here’s a look at where some of the experts have him pegged:
Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown:  #53 to the New York Jets  #60 to the New York Giants

Consensus Draft Services:  #31 to the Arizona Cardinals

The Football Expert:  #45 to the New York Giants

War Room Report:  #36 to the Cleveland Browns

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