Like many of you, I survived Earthquakepocalypse 2011 unscathed. Those were a hairy few seconds in Philadelphia, and I’d like to break the news that Michael Vick, your No. 5 overall player in average draft position (ADP) at NFL.com, came through this natural disaster with all of his limbs and wits intact. That’s more I can say for the mock drafters, taking Vick that high. Ya’ll are crazy taking Vick that high. Sure, he’ll put up tons of points, but you’re passing up on an elite RB for Vick with that pick, and there are other elite quarterbacks available up to two rounds later. It’s all about the relative value, gang.
|The surest way to tell you’re having a bad draft? Cedric
Benson is on your team.—Photo Credit: Icon SMI
The once-promising Arizona offense is crashing harder than Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Things were looking pretty good for the Arizona offense with the drafting of Ryan Williams and the acquisition of Kevin Kolb. Combined with the otherworldly skills of WR Larry Fitzgerald and a guy that at least resembles a TE, Todd Heap, the Cardinals looked poised to tear up the NFC West, a division notorious for its soft defenses.
That popping noise you just heard was not just Williams’ patellar tendon, but also hopes for Cardinals players without a signed $120 million contract to provide Fantasy owners with a high level of value. Williams reportedly looked bullish in training camp, so much so that the Cardinals felt safe in dealing away butterfingered utility RB Tim Hightower to the Redskins. In hindsight, that trade was an utter disaster.
Unfortunately for Arizona, they are now all-in with Beanie Wells. To say that Wells was soft in his first two seasons would likely invite a slander suit from the Jell-O Pudding Co. for disparaging their good name and making Bill Cosby cry. There was a reason that Hightower saw so much playing time over first-rounder Wells, and it wasn’t because Hightower was Marshall Faulk reborn. When Wells wasn’t injured last year, the alleged power RB rushed for 3.4 yards per carry (YPC) and two TDs.
Now the ball is totally in Wells’ hands, and he’s basically working without backup. The entire 185 pounds of LaRod Stephens-Howling will provide an occasional breather and be the team’s third down RB. He’s not a player that is capable of shouldering the load, even for a short time. If you’re desperate for RB depth late in your draft, take a shot with the Howlin’ Wolf, but don’t be surprised if his contributions don’t amount to much.
On the flip side, Wells’ protection up front is a serious concern. Arizona has the worst offensive line in the league by a country mile. The best guy on that unit might struggle to find a starting job in the UFL. It’s actually quite amazing that a team can collect so much detritus in one place without prompting scrutiny from the EPA. Wells is not going to be able to create his own holes running behind this unit.
Don’t overdraft Wells based on name recognition. I dug deep into my basement to find my super-sunny face, and even still, the highest projection I could come up with for Wells was RB3, somewhere in the area of another player I have little use for, Marshawn Lynch.
Ohio: Where Fantasies Go to Die
It’s time once again for my annual screed denouncing the Fantasy value of any NFL player plying his trade in the state of Ohio. That’s right, it’s a huge limb I go out on to rag on Browns and Bengals players, but that’s why they pay me the big bucks. Go bold or go home, says I.
Let’s start with the Bengals. With rookie QB Andy Dalton at the helm, it will be difficult for anyone on that offense to find their footing. Dalton has absolutely zero Fantasy value, and his struggles will certainly affect the WR corps. While A.J. Green has loads of God-given talent, Dalton’s presence at QB doesn’t even put Green in the same class of Fantasy value as fellow rookie WR Julio Jones. There may occasionally be good numbers, but nothing approaching consistency. I like Jerome Simpson a bit more, due to the experience factor and his availability for a late flyer. That’s strictly for bench fodder, though. I’ll know my draft is a failure if RB Cedric Benson somehow winds up on my squad. Benson is Cincinnati’s most high profile threat, as sad as that sounds. Expect him to face eight in the box all season, as no one will respect the Bengals passing game. His ADP currently stands at 71 (8th round), but even there, I wouldn’t want his career 3.7 YPC messing with the karma of my team. And while I like Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley as players, the league hasn’t been invented yet that’s deep enough for them to have any Fantasy value.
While there are a few Browns that fare slightly better than their Cincy brethren, they’re not lovable as a whole. The main attraction is RB Peyton Hillis, who is at or near the top of my list of most overrated players. He hit the wall at 90 mph with no seatbelt, rushing for 107 yards and no TDs in the last three games). There’s little reason to think the same thing won’t happen again. Hillis’ running style invites a lot of punishment from defenders, and the recent history of oversized RBs staying healthy hasn’t been good. Neither Brandon Jackson nor Montario Hardesty looks primed to spell Hillis for any length of time, so the Browns will likely run Hillis into the ground again. An ADP of 30 (4th Round) is too much to pay for a player that surely won’t survive the season with all his limbs intact. While QB Colt McCoy has the upside of a scrappy but lovable lost cause, he’s a QB4. You should probably make your move for a backup QB before it comes to that. In the WR corps, there’s nothing much to see. Mohamed Massaquoi will be lucky to hit 550 receiving yards, so no value there. There is buzz around rookie Greg Little, but realistically, he hasn’t played football in two years. The odds of him suddenly blossoming with McCoy as his gardener are slim. The only Brownie that holds any real interest for me is TE Benjamin Watson. He had 68 catches for 783 yards and three TDs last season, and remains the team’s best receiving threat. As a low-end TE1 or a quality backup, and for a pretty cheap price, Watson has excellent potential.
Sizzlin’ like hibachi at Benihana.
Ben Tate: Dude finally woke up and hit the field. He racked up 95 yards and a TD on nine carries, and looked every bit the guy they drafted in Round Two last year.
Kendall Hunter: Blazed past the competition at light speed on the way to 105 yards and a TD on nine carries. If he keeps pass blocking like he did against the Raiders, he’ll get enough playing time to provide some decent bench depth.
Brandon Gibson: He’s on the radar now, and there’s no reason he can’t step up and be the main man in a thoroughly mediocre WR corps.
Willis McGahee: Caw! Caw! McGahee is the greatest and most reviled TD vulture since Mike Alstott. With Knowshon Moreno’s injury history, McGahee could also be doing more than just picking up scraps.
Shonn Greene: No matter that Greene is hurting right now, he’s the best they’ve got. LaDainian Tomlinson looks REALLY old and broke down. Many (like me) were burned by Greene last year, but I’m wishcasting a much better season in 2011 for Greene at a fraction of the cost.
Felix Jones: Dude is looking real good. We’ve been here before with Fragile Felix, so I’m still a bit cautious, but the arrow is pointing up.
Kevin Ogletree: Has five catches for 49 yards as a starter in place of Miles Austin. He’s the clubhouse leader for the No. 3 WR job, and with the fragility of the two starters, he could get a fair amount of playing time. Not worth a draft pick, but keep an eye on him for a pickup.
Vincent Jackson: Over 100 receiving yards in the preseason, and he hasn’t even seen that much action. Philip Rivers might be trying to prove a point, and it’s one well-taken. V-Jax will be a solid WR2 this year.
Mario Manningham: No Steve Smith to get in the way this year, and Eli Manning loves to hit Manningham on that nine route. With Jeremy Maclin ailing, Manningham might be the best No. 2 WR in the league for Fantasy purposes.
Mike Thomas: I like Thomas a bit, even though the Jaguars passing game looks terrible overall. The other WRs on this team are awful, so Thomas’ value is pumped up because of their ineptitude.
Falling harder than the Steve Carlton bobblehead that fell off my desk during Earthquakepocalypse 2011.
Peyton Manning: In a first, I’ve downgraded Manning to a QB2 in my latest Top 250 Player Rankings. I’m not yet buying the hype that he’ll miss games, but the floor on his value just got a lot lower. I might have a tough decision to make between Manning and Matt Schaub when I’m drafting.
NY Giants DEF: CB Terrell Thomas and DT Marvin Austin are out for the season, and CB Prince Amukumara won’t be back until October. A formerly deep Giants unit is looking really thin. I wonder if C.C. Brown is looking for work?
Tim Tebow: Blown out of the water for the backup QB job by Brady Quinn. I can’t imagine the shame he’s feeling right now. While he might get some crazy Wildcat points, those opportunities will be too few and far too unpredictable.
Michael Crabtree: He’s still walking around in one of those corrective boots. Meanwhile, Braylon Edwards is looking pretty sharp catching wounded ducks from Alex Smith.
Fred Jackson: Much talk coming from Buffalo that they want C.J. Spiller to start over the criminally underrated Jackson. Decisions like that are why the Bills stink. I’m holding steady on F-Jax as a sixth rounder.
Zach Miller: Not that anyone would want to stay in Oakland, but Miller’s new situation in Seattle doesn’t look promising, either. Tarvaris Jackson in a different uniform is still Tarvaris Jackson, and Charlie Whitehurst has about as many football skills as lackwit Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Reggie Wayne: As Peyton goes, so goes Reggie. Peyton is going down, therefore Reggie loses value. It’s a simple law of trigonometry. Of course, I almost failed that in high school, so maybe I’m wrong here.
James Starks: Ryan Grant looks fine to me, and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Starks is nursing an ankle injury and is now fighting rookie Alex Green for playing time. That’s not a good look for a draft pick. Like wearing white after Labor Day.
Jahvid Best: Once again proving he can’t take the daily beatings that come with being an NFL RB. The Lions have no other options, though, so they’ll keep throwing him out there as long as he can stand. There’s gotta be some value in that, right?
Marques Colston: Another year, another knee surgery. He usually rounds into shape, but he’s also a lock to miss a few games. It’s such a fine line with Colston, measuring value and availability.
Ben Roethlisberger: The poundings are starting early as the offensive line falls apart. They’ve already allowed six sacks. How many car crashes can one human being walk away from? We may find out this year.
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