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You might as well call it the NFC Mess. Aside from St. Louis, this division is riddled with questions.
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Sam Bradford set the rookie completion record and truly delivered as the first overall pick. Bradford still has a ways to go before he can be considered a QB1, but he certainly has the makings of one. He only had six multiple touchdown games and just one 300-yard effort. Amazingly he did it without many weapons. The Rams added  tight end Lance Kendricks and receivers Austin Pettis and Gregory Salas in the NFL Draft.
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Matt Hasselbeck would probably be the second best quarterback in the league, if he returns to Seattle. That has become a major question mark. Charlie Whitehurst didn’t quite cut it. We’ll have to wait and see who wins the starting gig next year we can say if their quarterback has fantasy value next year.
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Alex Smith is expected to be back with the 49ers, but Colin Kaepernick is expected to be the future. Smith can be a decent spot starter if he wins the job, but he may not respond well to looking over his shoulder. Seems like a situation to avoid.
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Then you have Arizona, who is in dire need of an upgrade at the position. They are rumored to be the front runners in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes. If he does land in the desert, he would instantly become the second best quarterback in the division. Other than St. Louis, this really is a wait-and-see division.
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Also check out:


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This week’s topic:
Who would you rather have Sam Bradford or Josh Freeman in a redraft league for next year?
Click here to see the full article.

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My response:

While I like both quarterbacks heading into 2011 and beyond, this exercise requires that I choose one. Both are talented kids with strong arms and great poise. Both possess leadership qualities that helped their respective teams have vast improvements last year. However, I do prefer one of these young quarterbacks.
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Sam Bradford set the rookie record for completions with 354. He threw for 3512 yards with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He ran for another 63 yards and a score. Bradford had a stretch between Week 7 and 11 where he averaged two touchdown passes. He ended on a sour note though throwing just one touchdown pass in the final three games. He threw six interceptions over that stretch. Bradford could have been better had he had some weapons on offense.
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That’s where Josh Freeman has the advantage. He formed a great rapport with Mike Williams, one that should be great for years to come. He didn’t throw for as many yards (3451), but he tossed 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions. The lack of interceptions really helped bolster his fantasy numbers. He also got a boost from his 364 rushing yards. Surprisingly he hasn’t scored a touchdown in two years despite totaling 525 yards on the ground. At 6’6″, 248 that will likely change in the near future. While Bradford struggled down the stretch, Freeman got better. He averaged 252.3 yards with nine touchdowns in Tampa’s final four games.
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Again, I like both of these quarterbacks a great deal. I just favor Freeman because of his weapons and his ability to add fantasy points on the ground.

 

Mark Clayton never quite made the splash everybody was expecting him to in Baltimore. Things did not look good when Baltimore acquired Anquan Boldin. Then the acquisition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh sealed his fate. Obviously going from a playoff team to a 1-15 team is not good for your chances of winning, but will the move be good for his fantasy value?

 

I’m in the camp that thinks it will. For starters he doesn’t have much competition in St. Louis. Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola, Mardy Gilyard, and Brandon Gibson aren’t exactly the who’s who of NFL wideouts. My guess is Clayton will eventually force start opposite of Robinson and Amendola to the slot.

 

Clayton won’t have a lot of time to build a rapport with Sam Bradford, but it shouldn’t take long for the two former Sooners to get on the same page. You won’t want to use him the first couple of weeks as he gets used to the system, and potentially will be matched up with Nnamdi Asomugha in Week 2. After he gets by Washington in Week 3, it should be smooth sailing for a few weeks (Seattle, Detroit, San Diego, Tampa Bay).

 

Clayton represents a low risk, but he could end up paying dividends. If you have question marks at WR, it wouldn’t hurt to give Clayton a shot.

 

You can also check out my Week 1 Rankings:
Week 1 QB Rankings
Week 1 RB Rankings
Week 1 WR Rankings
Week 1 TE Rankings
Week 1 K Rankings
Week 1 DEF Rankings
Week 1 IDP Rankings

The Rams selected their QB of the future in Sam Bradford. Unfortunately the pieces aren’t in place for him to turn things around too dramatically this year. At least there is hope.

 

Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They take on the Saints on the road in Week 14 followed by home games against Kansas City and San Francisco. It’s not a terribly frightening schedule, but aside from Steven Jackson, who are you counting on from the Rams?

 

Five Star Fantasy Option
Steven Jackson – My hope is that Bradford will at least keep defenses honest. Jackson was such a warrior battling through injuries to amass 1738 total yards (1416 rushing) and 4 TDs. He could have easily quit given the Rams’ ineptitude, but he didn’t. Gotta respect that. If the team is any better, which I expect it to be, Jackson should easily be a top 5-8 fantasy RB.

 

Four Star Fantasy Options
None

 

Three Star Fantasy Options
Donnie Avery – Avery burned fantasy owners last year, so he should come at a value. He will have some consistency issues with a rookie QB under center, but he at least has a competent one this year.

 

Two Star Fantasy Options
Sam Bradford – I’m not the biggest fan of this year’s QB class, or rookie QBs in general, but Bradford has the tools. He could start the year watching A.J. Feeley, but you have to imagine he’ll get his opportunity.

 

One Star Fantasy Options
A.J. Feeley – While he’s probably an upgrade over the QBs the Rams had last year, he does not have a firm grip on the job. Even if he holds off Sam Bradford, he will eventually yield to the future.

 

Kenneth Darby & Chris Ogbonnaya – Unless Steven Jackson goes down, you needn’t worry about this duo.

 

Keenan Burton, Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson – None of these options excite me, but Burton and Robinson, assuming they have recovered from injuries, are the ones to watch.

 

Daniel Fells & Michael Hoomanawanui - Neither TE does anything to excite me.

 

Rams Defense/Special Teams – The Rams’ D would have taken a step in the right direction if they took Ndamukong Suh. That said, I see why they wanted a franchise QB instead. There is no reason to think the Rams’ D will be fantasy worthy in 2010.

 

Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Two quarterbacks displayed great accuracy during their recent pro days. Sam Bradford hit 49 of 50 of his passes, showing that his shoulder was just fine. He wasn’t able to prove that it could stand up to a hit, but it was good to see him display great accuracy and arm strength. Bradford remains a strong candidate for the first overall pick.

Colt McCoy went a step further by completing all of his 58 passes during his pro day. He doesn’t have the arm strength of a Bradford or a Jimmy Clausen, but his accuracy is unmatched.  McCoy lacks the prototypical height and arm strength of an NFL quarterback, but is a leader and a winner. McCoy will likely go in the second round.

While Bradford and McCoy seemingly did everything right, wide receiver Dez Bryant did not fare as well. Not only did he forget his cleats, but ran a 4.52 forty time. Bryant needed to be better prepared after already having some character issues. Bryant was suspended for ten games for lying to the NCAA about his relationship with Deion Sanders. Bryant will still likely be the first receiver to come off the board, thanks to his 87 catch, 1480 yard, 19 TD sophomore season. It just appears to be later than originally expected.


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