The AFC East is a division without a dominant running back.
Tthe class of the division is Shonn Greene, but isn’t that what we expected last year? LaDainian Tomlinson is still in the picture, but he seems to be a peace with not being the featured back anymore. Greene is a powerful runner that should have a solid season. He’s better suited to be an RB2, but if you went WR or QB with your first pick or two, he is capable of putting up RB1 numbers. Heck, he’s capable of putting up top ten numbers. LT should still be owned, but don’t reach because of his name. He’s best suited for PPR leagues. Joe McKnight also could work his way into the mix, but the lockout will probably lead to more of a veteran presence early. Rookie Bilal Powell is best suited for dynasty leagues.
In New England you have a fantasy mess. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was voted Running Back Most Likely to Regress by his classmates. With Danny Woodhead and rookies Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley the Pats’ running back pool is to murky to rely on. At some point it could sort itself out, but Bill Belichick is not concerned with fantasy numbers. Winning is the name of the game, and he’ll mix and match his RBs as he sees fit.
Buffalo is a full-blown RBBC. Fred Jackson remains the starter and without OTAs will keep a foot up on second-year back C.J. Spiller. We’ve seen more committees lately that have allowed for two effective fantasy players to coexist so don’t be scared off. Jackson makes a solid RB3 and Spiller a solid RB4. If one of the backs goes down, the other’s value will jump dramatically. Once again Jackson will likely be undervalued on draft day.
Then we have Miami. We still don’t know what will happen with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Assuming only one returns, that back will have the advantage on rookie Daniel Thomas thanks to the lockout. Both veterans have excelled in a RBBC so they will be willing to share the carries. Thomas will have to get up to speed quickly picking up blitzes to stay on the field. He very well could end up the top rookie runner this  year and has a bright future in keeper leagues.
Now that you’ve strolled through the muddy AFC East running back terrain, be sure to wipe your feet.
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Tom Brady throwing
The AFC East is truly a case of the “haves” and the “have nots”.
The quarterback position is the most glamorous one in the league, and the Patriots have the most glamorous one at that position. Not only does Tom Brady have the model wife and movie star looks, but he puts up video game numbers. Most quarterbacks would struggle after losing a talent like Randy Moss, but Brady got better. He finished with 3900 yards and 36 touchdowns while throwing just four interceptions. Jay Cutler did that in one game last year. Look for Brady to be the class of the division and among the best in the league again.
Mark Sanchez doesn’t put up the monster numbers like Brady as he three for just 3291 yards and 17 TDs (13 INTs) last year, but he’s also a winner having been to two consecutive AFC Championships. With their rushing attack Sanchez doesn’t have to carry the team, but he is more than a caretaker. Look for Sanchez to improve once again for the Jets, assuming he gets Santonio Holmes and/or Braylon Edwards back.
While Ryan Fiztpatrick is a far cry from Tom Brady, he actually was fairly effective for the Buffalo Bills. He threw for 3000 yards and 23 TDs (15 INT) despite playing just 13 games. There were thoughts that the Bills would grab Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft, but Buffalo opted to stick with the Harvard quarterback. He developed a nice rapport with Stevie Johnson, which should continue going forward. Questions remain as to whether or not the Bills will pick up Lee Evans option. If he leaves, it will be a blow to Fitzpatrick. If he stays, Fitzpatrick makes a solid QB2.
Then there’s Miami. Chad Henne isn’t the answer. There is some talk that the fins will deal for Kyle Orton. He was be a quality QB2 if  he’s reunited with Brandon Marshall. We’ll have to see who ends up getting the nod before we can rate their quarterback situation.

It’s Thanksgiving time, and what better way to thank my wonderful readers than to run a contest with a cool prize. The prize, is a sweet fantasy football shirt from SMW Clothing. Not only can you beat all of your friends in fantasy every week, but you can look good doing it.
So how do you win the contest? Simple. Whoever guesses the combined yardage that Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco have against the Jets on Thanksgiving night without going over wins. No repeat answers.
So leave a comment with your best guess and be sure to check out SMW Clothing.

Braylon Edwards could be facing an NFL suspension after getting arrested for a DUI early this morning. Edwards previously had a run-in with the law in the highly publicized incident when he was with the Browns and punched a friend of LeBron James. Edwards has six catches for 54 yards and a TD on the year. He played a good game on Sunday against the Patriots with five catches for 45 yards and a score. Stay tuned to see how Roger Goodell handles the incident. This would be a blow to Mark Sanchez and the Jets, who are already without Santonio Holmes.
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Last week we gave away a wine rack to Tommy the Swammy who, with a prediction of 393 yards, was the closest (without going over) to predicting the combined passing yards by Drew Brees and Brett Favre in the season opener.


MMA Industries was kind enough to offer a $15 gift certificate so we can run another contest this week. MMA Industries was kind enough to offer a $15 gift certificate so we can run another contest this week. They sell MMA shirts, other MMA clothing, and even MMA gear if you want to get into the sport.

Upon scanning this week’s schedule the game that stood out to me the most was the Patriots-Jets game. While the Peyton-Eli match-up is intriguing, we did a QB contest last week. Plus, Randy Moss vs. Darrelle Revis is a little more contentious, which makes for a better contest.

That said, this week’s challenge is to predict (without going over) how many receiving yards Randy Moss gets against the New York Jets.

Jay Glazer is reporting that Ryan Grant is done for the season with leg and ankle injuries. Run, don’t walk, and make a bid for Brandon Jackson. However, you have to understand that he’s not going to get you what Grant would have. If you don’t get Jackson, Fred Taylor or Peyton Hillis are other RBs to target.
In other injury news, two players that could not be any more different in stature, but both dramatically affect the way their team defends the run could miss the season as well. Of course I’m talking about the Colts’ Bob Sanders (torn bicep) and the Jets’ Kris Jenkins (knee). Feel free to downgrade both defenses, particularly when it comes to stopping the run.

Is Dustin Keller a TE1?

17 August 2010

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I like Dustin Keller. He’s the kind of TE you end up with if you choose to focus on your QB, RB, and WR situations before turning to your tight end. He has an ADP of 151 (7th pick of 13th round) according to Mock Draft Central. He is the 15th TE coming off the board and 13th in my TE rankings (click to see 2010 Top 25 TE rankings) so he is right on the fringe.


Keller did little during the regular season to even merit TE1 consideration. He finished with 45 catches for 522 yards and two TDs. He started off with 116 yards and a TD in the first two weeks before going through a five game stretch which yielded just eight catches for  97 yards. He rebounded in Weeks 8-12 averaging 60 yards along with his other regular season TD. Then he hit another dry patch producing just nine catches for 69 yards in the final five games.


In the playoffs is where Keller stepped up his game, leading to optimism for the upcoming season. Keller scored in all three playoff games, totaling 12 catches for 181 yards for an average of 4 catches for 60.3 yards and a TD per playoff game.


He built a nice rapport with Mark Sanchez, who should have a little more freedom in his second season. The Jets are still a run-first team, but I expect them to open things up this year. With Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards stretching the field, Keller should be able to work the underneath routes and serve as a check down option.


The best way to use Keller is to pair him with another fringe TE1 like John Carlson, Visanthe Shiancoe, Heath Miller, Greg Olsen, etc. With two solid options at TE, you can play the match-up game. You’d also have a bargaining chip if one of your opponents were to lose their starting TE to injury.


Prediction:  55 catches, 650 yards, 6 TDs


What are your expectations for Dustin Keller?

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After last season’s playoff success in which he piled up 263 yards and 2 TDs in wins over Cincinnati and San Diego, Shonn Greene began climbing up draft boards in the minds of fantasy owners. Then the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson rather than bringing Thomas Jones back. That only strengthened the case for fantasy owners. While LT may still have a little left in the tank, it seems like he’s closer to E than Jones is.


While I like the second-year back out of Iowa, I am not as high on Greene as most are. Mock Draft Central has an ADP of 14 for Greene, which seems a bit high. Personally I don’t even have him that high among RBs (click to see my RB rankings) let alone all players.


He is going ahead of guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Cedric Benson, and Ryan Grant. I can see passing on the QBs since there are plenty of good options later in the draft, but an unproven RB over Moss and Wayne, who you can basically pencil in for 1000+ yards and 10 TDs? I don’t see how you do that based on a handful of games. Even guys like Grant and Benson, that have proved they can contribute for a full season without getting hurt, seem like wiser decisions to me.


The Jets do have an excellent offensive line and play smash mouth football, but don’t expect them to be as run heavy this year. Mark Sanchez is older and wiser. Plus, the Jets brought in Santonio Holmes to help the Jets have a more balanced offensive attack.


Taking a guy 14th overall in a fantasy draft that has just two career TDs is risky, especially when he caught as many passes during the regular season as you did. It’s not like I would expect him to improve dramatically in the pass-receiving department. Even in his one breakout year of college he caught just eight passes.


LaDainian Tomlinson will catch the ball out of the backfield, and with 138 career rushing TDs look for LT to get the call at the stripe. So basically you’re looking at a yardage machine that won’t get many receiving yards and is unlikely to crack double-digit TDs. That doesn’t sound like a top 15 pick to me.


Prediction:  1280 total yards (1180 rushing), 6 TDs, 12 catches


What do you expect from Shonn Greene?


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The Jets front office is as bold as their brash coach (Rex Ryan). The passing game got a shot in the arm with the addition of Santonio Holmes. As long as they figure a way to make Darrelle Revis happy, they should be a force, both in fantasy and reality.

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
Not exactly a walk in the park for the Jets. They face Miami at home in Week 14 followed by road games in Pittsburgh and Chicago. Weather could play a role in all three games.

Five Star Fantasy Options

Four Star Fantasy Options
Shonn Greene – Greene is probably more like a 3.5 star player given his limited track record (108 carries as a rookie), but I’ll bump him up to four given his upside and the Jets’ strong offensive line.

Jets Defense/Special Teams – Assuming Revis plays, this will be a tough unit once again. Rex Ryan has this unit playing with a swagger, and keeps you guessing. Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson were brought in to make their secondary even tougher. They clearly are building a defense to keep up with the Colts, Patriots, Saints, and Vikings.

Three Star Fantasy Options
Mark Sanchez – Sanchez should not only improve in his second year, but he should get a little more freedom after proving his worth. With a trio of solid WRs in Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edward, and Jerricho Cotchery, along with TE Dustin Keller, Sanchez will have plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Santonio Holmes - He’ll miss the first four games because of a suspension, but is easily the Jets’ best WR. He could take a game or two to get up to speed, but Holmes should be strong for the stretch fun.

Dustin Keller - Keller and Sanchez really started to gel in the playoffs with Keller catching a TD in each game.  His numbers could slip when Holmes returns, so he could possibly be a guy you want to unload after the first four games if the price is right.

Two Star Fantasy Options
LaDainian Tomlinson – LT isn’t what he once was, but he did go to a team that is committed to the run. Plus, Greene hasn’t had the opportunity to show he can handle the full load until now. If he can’t (or gets hurt) LT’s value increases dramatically. He’s a good flex option as he’ll likely be the goal line back.

Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery - Edwards and Cotchery will get a month to work with Holmes in the penalty box. When he returns Cotchery will likely handle slot duties. Edward is the best threat to lead the team in TDs. Cotchery, with the four game head start on Edwards, could lead the Jets in receptions for the fourth straight year.

One Star Fantasy Options
Joe McKnight - McKnight will handle third down duties for the Jets. He is extremely quick and has great hands out of the backfield. He’ll likely break a few explosive plays during the course of the year, but as long as he’s the third-stringer, he’s not a good fantasy option.

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

The Seahawks must have hired Ty Pennington to perform an Extreme Makeover on their backfield. What started as a not-so-lethal combo of Justin Forsett and Julius Jones transformed into LenDale White, Leon Washington, and Forsett with JJ likely on his way out.

LenDale White will likely take over as the primary ball carrier and red zone back. He should be a solid RB3 next season. Washington, when healthy, will combine with Forsett to give the big fella a breather and offer a change of pace. They will also be used in passing situations.

Forsett and Washington don’t have much value.

In other Jets news, they released Guard Alan Faneca. Their running game should still be one of the best in the league.

Out West, the Raiders made some noise by acquiring Jason Campbell, who became expendable when the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb. He is certainly an upgrade for the Raiders passing game, most notably TE Zach Miller. Campbell remains a borderline fantasy backup at best.

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