Saturday, August 21, 2010

Five (still) unanswered questions this preseason


1) Who is going to be the #2 WR in Indianapolis?

Anthony Gonzalez is back from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last year. Gonzalez looks healthy are ready to contribute in a very explosive offense. One problem, Austin Collie filled in so well for him last year (scoring 7 TDs) that you can’t put Collie on the bench. Adding even further to this conundrum is the emergence of Pierre Garcon. Many believe Garcon (I have him at #111) will be the starter once he returns from an undisclosed injury. Garcon is certainly a talented WR who found good chemistry with Peyton Manning late in the year. You’re safe drafting Reggie Wayne (I have him at #18 right now) and Garcon will be the starter and worth a mid and late-round pick. Pay attention to who the Colts play in the slot as their #3 WR. It will either be Collie or Gonzalez. My advice: draft Wayne early, grab Garcon later and whichever WR wins out in that battle for #3 WR, they should get a spot too.

2) What is going to happen in Buffalo’s backfield?

By default rookie C.J. Spiller (I have him at #71) will be the opening day starter. He is fast, he is versatile, but he's also a rookie. I don’t see him being a carry the load RB, or a guy who will sustain solid numbers on a regular basis. The Bills do have options at RB with Fred Jackson (I have him at #99) and Marshawn Lynch (off my board). Both players are injured, Jackson out 4-6 weeks with a hand injury and Lynch out 2-4 weeks nursing a banged up ankle. Once those two guys are healthy, Spiller’s touches will decrease bringing down his value. Another thing to keep in mind, Buffalo’s offense is suspect. Defenses will crowd the line of scrimmage forcing the Bills to throw the ball. Spiller showed some nice flashes in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, but don’t expect consistent play from him this year. My advice: grab Fred Jackson with a late round pick. He may be the best option at RB for Buffalo when healthy. Also, keep an eye on Lynch to possibly get traded once healthy. Avoid Spiller unless you're in a keeper league.

3) Who’s going to catch passes from Brett Favre?

Every team will deal with injuries during the season, but the injury problems the Vikings are dealing with are worrisome. I’ll start with Sidney Rice, who had all offseason to get healthy from a hip injury suffered in the playoffs. Here we are less than three weeks from the season opener and Rice has yet to step on the practice field. Rice worked hard to achieve elite status last year, but injury will take him a step backwards. Injuries have plagued Rice during his career, forcing him to miss several games (before last year). Every week that he doesn’t play, he should slide down your draft board. Rice is still worth a pick (I have him at #33), but prepare for him to miss action this year. Percy Harvin is also a concern for the Vikings. His recent bout with migraines has kept him off the practice field as well. And things didn’t get any better once he returned, Harvin passed out on the practice field after suffering a migraine. Harvin’s stock is plummeting in most leagues, as well it should be. Harvin (I have him at #104) is behind on his preparation and his health could knock him out of the lineup at any moment. I would avoid Harvin at this point unless you have a late round flier pick. So the question becomes, who’s left? WR Bernard Berrian will be undervalued in most drafts. He was slowed last year by a lingering hamstring injury, but looks healthy this year. Berrian could become Brett Favre’s deep threat real quickly. The other guys who will see plenty of targets from Favre is Visanthe Shiancoe. The TE caught 11 TDs last year and has thrived with Favre at QB. Favre has always treated his TEs well and I expect the same to happen again this year. My advice: draft Shiancoe (I have him at #97) and Berrian (I have him at #114); let others grab Rice and Harvin.

4) Who will be the main RB in New England?

Never an easy question to answer. The way head coach Bill Belichick rotates his RBs is maddening to a fantasy football owner. During the Patriots first two preseason games, Belichick showcased two different RBs. In the first game the Pats had BenJarvus Green-Ellis (off my board) working with the first team, while in the second game they had Fred Taylor (off my board) in with the starters. It left me wondering what does this mean for Laurence Maroney? Maroney (I have him at #125) is considered the starter, but with all the other options at RB, I don’t expect him to carry the load. Add Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk to the mix, and my advice on drafting a Patriots RB: don’t. It’s smarter to use your draft picks on your starter’s back-ups and players you can count on being on the field every week.

5) What will happen with Dallas’ backfield?

The Dallas Cowboys are expected to be a playoff team with thoughts of a Super Bowl. If they want to get there, they are going to need a strong running game. The Cowboys have three backs worthy of consideration on draft day. The first RB option from Dallas is Marion Barber III. Barber (I have him at #52) has been Dallas’ bruising runner for the better part of the decade. He has proven reliable in the red zone and will continue to get those carries. Dallas’ other option is Felix Jones. Jones (I have him at #60) will be the yardage guy, but needs to prove his reliability inside the red zone. In the first preseason game Jones fumbled inside the 5 yard line. Those type of mistakes will land him on the bench when the team closes in on a score. The third option for the Cowboys is Tashard Choice. Choice is primarily a third down RB that will only see more action if Barber or Jones are injured. My advice: grab Barber and Jones as starters, use a late pick to land Choice as a bench player.

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