Michael Turner running
The NFC South is pretty loaded in the running back department.
Atlanta’s Michael Turner leads the way. He ran for 1371 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He gets a downgrade in PPR leagues as he only caught 12 passes for 85 yards last year, but he’s a solid RB1. Turner has averaged 91.7 rushing yards and 0.91 rushing touchdowns per game over the past three years. Jason Snelling is one of the game’s best handcuffs because the Falcons hardly missed a beat when he filled in for Turner in the past. If he is a restricted free agent, he could be back with the club. If he is unrestricted it could be hard for them to bring him back. The Falcons drafted Jacquizz Rodgers, but he’ll strictly be the third down back.
Tampa Bay got a pleasant surprise from LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1007 yards with six touchdowns. He did his damage in just 201 carries (5.0 ypc).  Cadillac Williams is a free agent, but has expressed his desire to return to the Bucs. Blount is expected to get the bulk of the carries while Cadillac would play in passing situations. Rookie Allen Bradford isn’t expected to steal too many carries.
Jonathan Stewart (and his keeper league owners) are perhaps second only to DeAngelo Williams and his agent in interest in where D-Will lands next year. If J-Stew has the backfield to himself, he could easily produce top five numbers, though Cam Newton could steal some of his touchdown runs. If Williams returns, Stewart can still be a viable fantasy option. They can definitely coexist for the Panthers and fantasy owners alike. D-Will could also be an elite fantasy option this year if he lands in the right place. If he signs with the Broncos, he could replace Knowshon Moreno as the team’s lead back. D-Will is an important piece in determining next year’s fantasy running back landscape.
Pierre Thomas looked to be in a great spot when the Saints signed him to a four-year extension. Then they went and drafted Mark Ingram. That move likely sealed the fate of Reggie Bush, who will be sent packing if he doesn’t take a large pay cut. Thomas will likely move to change of pace and third-down duty while Ingram would carry the bulk of the snaps. This is a messy situation that will cause fantasy owners some heartache. Ingram should be a solid RB2 while PT23 should be a solid RB3.
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The NFC South features three of the top quarterbacks in the league and a rookie that wants to become an icon.
Drew Brees sets the bar for the NFC South, and you need a ladder to reach it. Brees topped 4000 yards for the fifth straight year, 4620 to be exact. His 33 touchdown passes marked his third straight year with at least 33. Brees is remarkably accurate, productive, and consistent. He’s a bona fide star and top tier QB1. It doesn’t seem to matter who is catching the ball for him.
Matt Ryan made a nice jump into borderline QB1 territory last year. He threw for 3705  yards and 28 touchdowns. Roddy White is one of the most explosive receivers in the league. The Falcons traded the moon for rookie WR Julio Jones to compliment Roddy. I’m not sure Ryan can be much more productive than last year, given their commitment to Michael Turner and the running game, but he should be as good or slightly better. Ryan is a low-end QB1, high-end QB2.
Josh Freeman quietly turned in a solid season, throwing for 3451 yards and 25 touchdowns. Perhaps as impressive was his INT total (6). He added another 364 yards on the ground. Given his size, I expect Freeman to record his first rushing touchdown next year. His numbers are a little bloated thanks to a five touchdown performance against a dismal Seahawks pass defense in Week 16, but he remains a terrific QB2. Freeman really developed a nice rapport with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn is ahead of schedule on his ACL recovery and should be more effective in 2011.
Then you have Cam Newton. He is an amazing athlete, capable of being very productive with his arm and his feet. The lockout could prevent Newton from becoming comfortable with the offense, but he will still have the instincts to make plays with his feet. He’s worth a look late in the draft as a QB2, but he could run hot and cold in 2011, especially if Steve Smith gets his wish and is dealt to a contender.

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8 March 2011

By Andy Boyum
In July of 2010, after ten years and 1.35 million units, Chrysler Group discontinued production of the PT Cruiser. A mere three months later, the New Orleans Saints were considering ceasing production of their cruiser of a similar name.
From ’07-’09, Pierre Thomas, a.k.a. PT Cruiser, was one of the most impressive backs on a per-play basis with 326 carries for 1669 yards – 5.12 ypc – and 16 touchdowns. The young and vibrant, yet undrafted back was surely in store for a breakout season in 2010 with plenty of, if you’ll excuse the poor pun, tread left on the tires.
Before the season began, Thomas signed a one-year $1.684 million tender offer from the Saints in hopes of working out a long-term deal in the future. In Week 3 vs. Atlanta, Thomas injured his ankle in what would turn out to be one of the most frustrating injury predicaments to plague players, coaches and fantasy owners alike. What was supposed to be a minor tweak turned into a ten-week-long ordeal that even had Sean Payton and the powers that be pondering a possible trade to New England, and to eventually bring in Julius Jones.
With an ADP of 33, fantasy owners had high-hopes for Thomas to propel himself into the upper echelon of fantasy backs. Following a two-and-a-half month layover and fantasy playoffs beginning many owners felt as though they could not in good faith insert Thomas into their lineups. That is, if they were lucky enough to make the playoffs at all. They would be proved correct. “PT-23” finished the season out with 122 yards rushing on 37 carries and a score.
After sitting out Week 17, he completed his contract-year campaign with an abysmal 3.24 ypc and was designated to the IR in the week leading up to their wild-card matchup with the Seahawks. Suddenly, Who-Dat Nation was not the odds on favorite repeat as NFL Champion. continue reading »

Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com


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Many people think that 2010 will finally be the year that Pierre Thomas fully breaks out and explodes onto the scene.  My question for those people is…  Why?


Don’t get me wrong, Thomas is a solid running back and could emerge as a Top 10-15 RB, but that’s about his upper limit in my mind.  However, he’s currently the 16th running back being drafted (with an ADP of 29.00 according to Mock Draft Central).


Basically, he’s being drafted about where I think his best-case scenario is.  I know, he’s likely to finally be the #1 running back in New Orleans, but there are a few reasons that I’m skeptical heading into the season.


First of all, the presence of Reggie Bush.  While Thomas may get the bulk of the carries, Bush has proven to be a dynamic third down/change of pace back.  He’s going to be in the game as a receiving option and a playmaker, but don’t discount his ability to run the ball as well.


Granted, the team is not likely to hand the ball off to him time and time again, in order to keep him healthy.  Still, this past weekend he proved just how dangerous he could be on the ground rushing seven times for 49 yards and a touchdown.
continue reading »

Westbrook Soars
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Brian Westbrook finally has a new home. After spending his first eight seasons with Philadelphia, Westy is headed West to San Francisco to join Frank Gore in the Niners’ backfield. Westy is an electric playmaker when healthy. He has dealt with an assortment of injuries in the past, but it is his string of concussions that have his career in jeopardy. Even when he was limited to eight games last year, he managed 25 catches as well as a 4.5 ypc on 61 carries. One more concussion could end his career so don’t expect him to be much more than an insurance policy should Frank Gore go down. Anthony Dixon had a strong showing in the Niners’ preseason opener, and will challenge Westbrook for the backup spot.


Westbrook wasn’t he only former NFC East runner moving westward. Ladell Betts also spent eight years with his first team, in his case the Washington Redskins. Betts only topped 100 carries once in his career, and isn’t expected to do so with his new club. Betts will essentially replace Lynell Hamilton as RB depth for the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. While Westbrook has limited fantasy value, Betts has even less. Even if Pierre Thomas were to go down, I would not expect Betts to even match the production Mike Bell had last year.


A couple of running backs are in the news for completely different reasons. Former Raider RB Justin Fargas signed a deal with Denver. He doesn’t really have any fantasy value unless Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and Correll Buckhalter (back) remain sidelined. The Broncos also signed LenDale White last week, but he is also sidelined with leg cramps. Fargas, who isn’t exactly a durable runner, could struggle to make the team. If he looks good during the preseason, perhaps he could catch on since LenDale White will be out the first four games due to a suspension. Stay tuned to see how the Broncs RB situation plays out.


Meanwhile, Saints RB Lynell Hamilton, who was expected to be the short yardage back for the Saints, suffered an apparent knee injury that could put his season (and career) in jeopardy. Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush should see additional carries, while P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory could work their way into the mix.

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Pierre Thomas combined for a modest 1095 total yards (793 rushing) and 8 TDs (6 rushing) last year. He entered the season with high expectations, but the start of the season was derailed because of a knee injury. He came back with a vengeance piling up 126 yards and 2 TDs against Buffalo. He followed that game up with 132 total yards and a scored against the jets. From there it was a mixed bag, alternating between solid and subpar performances. He only got 12 carries in the final three weeks and 31 in the final five with just 1 TD.


Along the way Mike Bell vultured 654 yards and 5 TDs and Reggie Bush added 725 total yards (390 rushing) and 8 TDs (5 rushing). He had over 15 carries just once during the year (Week 4 vs. Jets). He seemed to pick it up a bit in the playoffs though rushing for 143 yards and a TD on 36 carries with 12 catches for 111 yards and 2 TDs.


He again enters the season with optimism thanks to Mike Bell’s departure to Philadelphia. PT is going on average with the 27th pick (16th RB). I personally have him higher (click to see my RB ratings). He is a perfect RB for the Saints’ system and picks up yards in chunks. Last year he averaged 5.4  yards per carry. Despite Reggie Bush’s presence, he still managed to catch 39 passes last year.


In the nine games last year in which he had 10+ carries he averaged 93.7 total yards with 7 TDs. In six double-figure carries games in 2008 he averaged 112.8 total yards with 9 TDs. He doesn’t need 20+ carries to do serious damage. As long as he gets about 15-18 touches he is capable of putting up RB1 numbers.


Without Mike Bell stealing his carries, PT is almost guaranteed to have that kind of usage. That, of course, is provided he stays healthy.


Prediction:  1300 total yards (1000 rushing), 8 TDs (7 rushing), 35 receptions


What do you expect from Pierre Thomas?



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The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints are a fantasy friendly bunch. Big things should be in store for them in 2010 as well.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule: Moderate
On paper they have a cakewalk (Rams in Week 14), a dogfight (Ravens in Week 15), and a tough divisional match-up (Falcons in Week 16). The Baltimore game is in the road, and they could possibly run into some tough weather.

Five Star Fantasy Options
Drew Brees – Brees is easily one of the premier QBs (fantasy and reality) in the league. Throwing for 4000+ yards and 30+ TDs has become commonplace. He’s as consistent as they come.

Marques Colston – He has more weapons to share with Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson’s development, but he is still the go-to-guy.

Four Star Fantasy Options
Pierre Thomas – Staying healthy is the key, but PT is one of the most versatile backs in the league. He could approach 1500 total yards and double-digit scores.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Reggie Bush – Bush is obviously more valued in PPR leagues, but he has some value in standard leagues as well. He could easily approach 1000 total yards and 8-10 TDs.

Two Star Fantasy Options
Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson – I like both of these young WRs, but I value Meachem a little more. Meachem had 722 yards and 9 TDs. Henderson had 804 yards and 2 scores.

Jeremy Shockey – His mouth could lead you to believe he’s better than he actually is. He will get some yards, but he’s just as likely to injure himself.

Saints Defense/Special Teams – Their D isn’t great, but they are well coached. Darren Sharper is a perfect fit for this defense racking up INTs.

One Star Fantasy Options
Lynell Hamilton – Hamilton will take over for Mike Bell. He’ll need a PT injury to have consistent value.

Lance Moore – Injuries cost him last year, and given the success Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem shared, he could see few opportunities in 2010.

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Chris Johnson said yesterday that despite skipping offseason workouts he doesn’t have a problem with the Titans. Of course, today he tweets “Just got off the phn w/ my agent & its not gd news I’m feeling lk @Revis24 rt now at least dey offering him something dey not offering me nothing”. That doesn’t sound like  somebody without some animosity. This situation could get ugly if it drags on.


Marshawn Lynch attended his first offseason workout today for the Buffalo Bills. Lynch is third on the depth chart at this point behind Fred Jackson and rookie C.J. Spiller. The odds of a trade, perhaps to Seattle, remain high at this point.


Pierre signed his one-year tender yesterday. A long-term deal is in negotiations. With Mike Bell in Philly, PT could put up some serious fantasy numbers without costing you too high of a draft pick. Of course, he’ll have to stay healthy.


Finally, Ryan Moats signed with the Vikings. He gives the Vikings a veteran presence following Chester Taylor’s departure. He’ll compete for backup duty with Albert Young (12 career carries), Ian Johnson (practice squad last year), and rookie Tobey Gerhart.


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The 2010 NFL season will open with a bang as the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints lock horns with the NFC runner-up Minnesota Vikings. The game will be on Thursday, September 9th. Are you ready for some football?

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