The NFL Annual meeting took place over the last dew days, where team owners, GM’s and coaches meet to deal with league issues, but also speak with the press. While much of the coverage will be about bounty-gate and the Cowboys/Redskins fine, this article will purely be about the fantasy aspect of the meeting!
I recently read a few articles about the meetings that were pretty good, but this podcast from the guys at CBSSports is the best information I have come across about the meeting with a pure fantasy perspective. They have guys who were actually at the meetings and spoke with coaches and GM’s.
Here’s the 45 minute podcast: http://bit.ly/H5tBiZ
And heres my recap of the things they discussed and what I do and maybe don’t agree with.
The podcast had great information at large numbers of players, namely running backs. I will go through them first then cover QB’s, WR’s and TE’s at the end.
And lastly… Follow me on Twitter @Blackie_Mike
Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis – Green-Ellis gets a boost in the move to Cincinnati as he will now have more of a featured back role. He doesn’t fumble which means he will likely get carries around the goal-line, and the Bengals offence was better than expected last year and should be potent again this season. However, as one of the guys points out, and I totally agree with is that Ellis is still not an explosive runner; he seems almost incapable of breaking out large 20+ runs.
Stevan Ridley – With Ellis gone, is seems likely that Stevan will take over as the primary ball carrier in NewEngland; Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead will also see carries. It is argued in the podcast that owning Ridley could be more valuable as he has the ability for big plays; he does however play for a past-first team. Right now to me Green-Ellis is easily the safer pick as he will be getting a consistent number of carries.
Ryan Mathews – One of my friends recently told me he thought Ryan Mathews has a great chance to be a top-5 RB this year. The more I look into Mathews, his situation, and that of many RBs around the league, I certainly see why. Mathews has big play ability and no longer has Mike Tolbert around to steal goal-line carries, something that killed Mathews’ value last year.
Adrian Peterson & Rashard Mendenhall – Will these guys be ready for the regular season, that is the big question when both of these players are brought up. The podcast says that the Vikings are hopeful Adrian Peterson is ready for week 1, while the Steelers are unsure about Mendenhall’s status. How can the Vikings be so optimistic when Peterson’s injury is believed to be worse and was only suffered a week or two earlier. I would be hesitant drafting both of these players on draft day; their is no guaranteeing if they will be ready to go, and even if they are, how much training camp and conditioning will they have had.
Jamaal Charles & Peyton Hillis – Which player will get more carries, will it be split 50-50? This is going to be tricky for those who are looking to draft, or end up drafting either Hillis or Charles. I would love to see Charles get the majority of the carries, but I have to agree with the guys in the podcast that Hillis could end up getting quite a few carries, likely more and more as the season goes on.
Frank Gore & Brandon Jacobs – Frank Gore gets a bit of a downgrade now that the 49’ers have signed another former Giant, Brandon Jacobs. It is hard to be sure how he will be used, but one could assume that Jacobs, will his size will be getting a few goal-line touches that could have been Gore’s. The podcast makes a great point in that the signing of Jacobs could largely be to help keep Gore healthy. Gore has a history of wearing down as the season wears on, so Jacobs could see more action than some people expect.
Chris Johnson – The guys in the podcast seemed to have some high hopes for Chris Johnson this season. The argument: Johnson is not dealing with the contract issues of last season, he will have more training camp and likely be in better shape, and things can’t really get worse than last year. The basic thing that I took out of it was that Johnson is easily a top-10 RB, and a much safer pick than players with injury worries like Adrian Peterson and Rashard Mendenhall.
Matt Forte & Michael Bush – Forte’s value takes a big hit with the arrival of Michael Bush. Forte is still the starter and a very talented RB, but Bush is a veteran player who had a great 2011 season in Oakland replacing an injured Darren McFadden. Forte likely wont be seeing the massive workload that he did last season.
Demarco Murray – With downgrades to players like Peterson, Mendenhall, Forte and Gore, Demarco Murray is creeping up the draft boards of those paying attention. Murray showed last season on basically every opportunity he got that he is the better running back between him and Felix Jones. The biggest problem with Murray was that he got injured, a problem he also had in college.
Mikel Leshoure – Mikel Leshoure went down in the preseason to a season ending injury, but is on the track to recovery and is back on the radar on fantasy analysts. Kevin Smith was a great fill in a RB for the Lions last year, but they are expecting LeShoure to develop into a starting RB very soon. The consensus seems to be that LeShoure should be the first Lions RB off the draft board before Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith.
Willis McGahee & Knowshon Moreno – With Peyton a Bronco now, the team will obviously be moving to a pass-first system. Provided Manning stays healthy, it’s hard to imagine McGahee getting the number of touches he got last season. I personally am not a Knowshon Moreno fan and don’t give him much fantasy value in the first place.
Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers & Tight Ends:
Matt Flynn & Sydney Rice – Rice was pretty banged up last season and apparently still is, but the team is expecting him to be ready to play in week 1. I, and most of the football world expects Matt Flynn to be the starter at QB at that time as well, giving Rice a boost. I have little faith in Tavaris to have a consistent season and though we have seen very little of Matt Flynn, I do see potential in him. You likely can’t expect him to come in and be a fantasy starter, but I do believe he will put together a decent first season, helping out Sydney Rice, if he can stay healthy.
Sam Bradford – The Rams definitely need to add some weapons if Bradford wants to regain his form. He struggled most of last season, especially getting the ball into the end-zone. The team has lost Brandon Lloyd, but could be drafting the very talented WR Justin Blackmon in April. Amendola might not be ready week 1, but when he is ready he is one of the premier WRs in PPR leagues. Steven Jackson also gives the team an always quality running game. The consensus seems to be that you should draft Bradford as a #2 QB and hope he gets back to playing like he did in his very impressive rookie year.
Alex Smith, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham & Michael Crabtree – A lot of mouths to feed, and not very trusted quarterback. Smith had the best season of his career, but many still believe that Harbaugh has the training wheels on him. Hopefully you wont end up with Smith a your starter this season, the 49’ers will still be winning games with their defence and solid running attack. Moss, Manningham and Crabtree are all WR’s that will be very hard to trust on a week to week basis. One of the guys in the podcast was very adamant that Moss is receiver that everyone should try to take a waiver on very late in drafts; we all know what he is capable of. But then again his QB is going to be Alex Smith….
Jordy Nelson – Nelson had a great season with limited action compared to other WRs on the team. While Nelson may not haul in another 15 TDs, one of the guys in the podcast stated that he was a lock for 1200 yards and 10 TDs. The way the Green Bay Packers offence is running in recent seasons, their isn’t much of an argument as to why he wont. The bottom line: draft Jordy with confidence.
Robert Meachem – The guys in the podcast believe that Meachem gets a boost in the move to San Diego, and I agree with them. He becomes a #1 receiver in the process, and gets another very talented QB. Although Rivers in not as good as Drew Brees, The Chargers do not have as many people to throw the ball to as compared to New Orleans. Meachem was buried beneath Colston, Graham, Sproles and mixed in with a few other players as a Saint, as a Charger he takes the reigns. While likely won’t explode into a #1 fantasy receiver, he will have the potential to be surprise people.
Kenny Britt – I have very high hopes for Kenny Britt in 2012, I think he has the talent to be a top 10 receivers in the NFL. He has already showed flashes of greatness when healthy, and with moderate quarterbacks. The Titans organization apparently also believes that Britt will be a huge factor for them in the coming season.
Jared Cook – Cook had the attention of many fantasy experts last season, with many expecting him to make a splash in the fantasy world. While he didn’t have the biggest season in 2011, he did have a few big games and showed what he is capable of. Cook is a big, strong an fast TE, prototypical of the current TE trend that is taking place. As one of the guys in the podcast pointed out and I have to agree with, if Chris Johnson plays well and Kenny Britt is healthy, Cook will have some great opportunities.
Jacob Tamme – Tamme gets a big boost with his move to Denver along with Peyton Manning. For anyone who isn’t aware, Tamme was also a Colt for the past few seasons and was a massive waiver wire acquisition when Dallas Clark went down with an injury. Tamme should be able to have a good season alongside Manning as a Bronco.
Jermaine Gresham – Gresham was a solid TE last season and should be again this year, with the young and talented Andy Dalton leading the Bengals offence. The guys at CBSSports seem to see a lot of potential in Gresham, with many of them saying that they currently have him ranked above Jacob Tamme and Jared Cook going into the 2012 season.