At first blush, the most obvious benefactor is fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski’s three TDs are tied for second most in the NFL, but part of what makes him so successful is working in tandem with Aaron Hernandez.
Another thing to consider is the season ending injury to center Dan Koppen, placed on IR on Wednesday with a broken ankle. Losing a starting offensive lineman generally requires a tight end to block more and since Gronkowski is an absolute beast at 6-6, 265, why wouldn’t he help out in protecting franchise QB Tom Brady?
So who benefits the most? I think receiver Deion Branch does.
Thru the season’s first two weeks, Branch quietly has 15 catches for 222 yards, averaging over seven catches and 111 yards per game. Though he has no TUDs, Branch is Brady’s “go to” receiver when the Pats offense needs a big play. We know what we’re going to get from Ochocinco (straight-line speed) and from Welker (tirelessly working the middle) but Branch is the real x-factor this week.
Also, this week’s opponent, the Buffalo Bills, in the first two games this year have only allowed opposing tight ends to accumulate six catches for 55 yards, and for a team that runs a base 3-4 shutting down the TE makes sense.
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Fantasy owners are fickle, especially if one player costs your team a game. LeGarrette Blount had a bad first week, there is no other way to slice it- five carries for 15 yards isn’t going to cut it. In one fantasy league I am in, Blount went from being started on 98% of the teams to 75% which is indicative of the dip in his perceived value across most fantasy leagues.
Detroit’s defense deserves a lot of credit for limiting Blount and the entire Buc offense in week one, as I mentioned here. Tampa was consistently in third and long scenarios throughout the game, which gave back-up Ernest Graham a lot more work that anyone, even the Bucs, expected. A big part of that was head coach Raheem Morris’ decision to run the two minute offense for the entire second half, an offensive set that rarely includes Blount. Morris later stated he regretted the decision. “We have a weapon in Blount, we want to be able to run the ball with him,” Morris said Monday. “Maybe as a coach, I went too fast, I went too early to the two-minute offense.”
Sunday, Blount and the Bucs travel to the Metrodome to face the Vikings which could be exactly what he needs. The Vikings gave u[p the most fantasy points to running backs in week one, allowing Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert to combined for 224 total yards and three TD. With Morris publically question his decision making, you’ve got to think Blount will be featured early and often.
It was really hard for me to not title this post “The ‘Suh-ner’ The Better”. But after seeing a million articles entitled “Aginn and Aginn” after Teddy Ginn Jr’s performance last week, I decided to spare you, reader. You’re welcome.
Coming into the 2011 season, no team has been as hyped as the Detroit Lions, particularly their defense. Which is what makes this week’s match up against the Chiefs at Ford Field even more significant particularly from a fantasy perspective and something you, as a fantasy owner, should capitalize on.
Last week the Chiefs offense was dominated by a Bills defense that was one of the worst in the NFL in 2010, including dead last against the run. Kansas City mustered just 213 total yards and one TD and was overmatched the entire game. So what do you think will happen when they face off against Detroit? Even without stud rookie defensive tackle Nick Fairly, the Lions have arguably the best front four defensive linemen in the game which frees everything else up for the LB’s and DB’s.
The Lions are coming off of a 27-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Bucs, but that score is not indicative of how good the defense played. Excluding an INT for TD and a long kick return that setup a Bucs FG, the Lions defense really only gave up 10 points last week, the one TD occurring with 1:35 left in the game. They also held Tampa running backs to 30 yards on 12 carries, sacked Josh Freeman twice and forced one turnover.
Major and Paul discuss Boat Shoes, fighting robots controlled by humans and the fantasy Sunday that was!
Why does everyone hate Cedric Benson? Sure, if you were his roommate at some point it may not have been great, or if you went boating with him, but as a fantasy owner, why are so many people avoiding him until the fourth or even fifth round of fantasy drafts?
At a recent draft I selected him in the third round and I was laughed at. Openly condemned. Judged. Later in the day at another draft he was still there in the fourth round, so I selected him again. And again, I was met with the same jeers and condemnation that had assailed me earlier. But why? As far as RB’s go he is in as close to an ideal situation as any RB could be.
Bears fans will never forgive him and that’s understandable, but Bengals fans love him. After getting picked up off the scrap heap he blew up in Cinci and surprisingly his yardage totals, along with his carries have increased in each of his six years as a pro and yet this year will be the first time in his career he is an undisputed #1 RB.
Even last year, when had had a career high 321 carries and 1,111 yards rushing, he was involved in a RB rotation, with back-up Bernard Scott playing every third series. Now that the rotation has been dumped Ced Ben’s going to get the ball until his legs fall off. In a league dominated by the “committee” approach to RB’s, how does this not increase his value?
Sure, you see all the “measurables” and get enamored and your rational mind shuts off, just like during “Ladies Night” at that bar you frequent. At 6-4, 225, he’s a perfect red zone target. He’s the “number one” wide receiver on arguably the best passing offense in the league. But don’t get sucked in.
Anyone who owned him last year can tell you how debilitating it was for your “number one” wide receiver to not have a TD catch or 100+ yards until the seventh game of the year. For you non-mathematicians, that’s almost two months. And it was brutal and cost you victories.
Colston had seven TUDS but four of them came in two games. And as far as the red zone, teammate Lance Moore had “Moore” TUDS and yards inside the red zone. As a former Colston owner, having the “in game” touchdown highlight showing how the Saints scored, and presumably how Colston scored was especially depressing when it wasn’t Colston. So you rationalize it to yourself. “It’s only the second quarter- plenty of game time left for Colston to grab one. I’m good.”
Drafting wide receivers and inserting them into the starting lineups of NFL teams immediately has long been considered a risky proposition. The prevailing belief in many circles is that it takes a wide receiver at least three solid years in an offensive scheme to develop and “break out” in his third year. Recent history suggests this is generally true. Over the last three NFL Drafts 8 wide receivers have been drafted in the first round and on average had a rookie season stat line that looked similar to this: 34 receptions, 487 yards and 3 TD.
There may not be a rookie wide receiver walking into a better situation in recent memory than Julio Jones. With an established player at every major skill position, and a young stud QB, Jones could put up numbers immediately. During the preseason, no WR has had more passes thrown his way than Jones, a sign that the Falcons are trying to speed up his development thanks to shortened camp schedule. Through three games, Jones’ 10 catches led the team and his 157 yards were second. “Everything has slowed down for me now,” said Jones. “It’s a learning experience every time I get out there.
If Jones has the ideal setup for a rookie WR, Bengals rookie AJ Green is in a decidedly different position, but he could still excel because of it. With the Bengals retooling their entire offense Green becomes the centerpiece in a passing game led by another rookie, Andy Dalton. As the number one pass catching option, Green was second on the Bengals in catches (nine) and yards (98) this preseason, and caught the teams only passing TD.
Something about Arian Foster just makes me nervous. In a recent draft I held the number one pick, and I eschewed selecting the consensus number one overall pick of Foster, selecting Tom Brady instead. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I was so adverse to Foster. But then after his hamstring injury it hit me; Foster is Domanick Davis, version 2.0.
Domanick Davis was the Texans dual threat running back from 2003 to 2005. He burst on the scene as a rookie with a 1,031 yard, 8 TD, 47 reception season and became one of the best young backs in the league. He followed that up with 1,188 yards and 13 TD on the ground, with 68 catches for 588 yards and an additional receiving TD. He was the “can’t miss” fantasy back heading into 2005 and thru 11 games that year he totaled 976 yards on the ground to go with 39 receptions for 337 yards and five TDs. In that 11th game he injured his knee and never played again, leaving the scene as fast as he arrived.
The season Foster had in 2010 is eerily similar to Davis’ 2004 season. Foster had 1,616 yards and 16 TD on the ground, combined with 66 catches for 604 yards and another two scores, leading the league in total yards. And now with a hamstring injury that could cause him to miss anywhere from one to four weeks, the similarity to Davis is even more apparent.
At “The U”, the famous motto in the early part of the decade was that they were never forced to rebuild, just reload. And the New Orleans Saints are doing the same thing with two former Miami tight ends, releasing Jeremy Shockey and inserting Jimmy Graham into the starting lineup for 2011.
The maddening inconsistency of Shockey forced the Saints to ultimately release him. For as heralded as the Saints are for their depth and production at wide out, they also like to use the tight end a lot. And Shockey just couldn’t keep up.
In 2008 Shockey (50, 483, 0 TD) was out produced by his back up, Billy Miller (45, 579, 1 TD). In 2009, David Thomas (35, 356, 1 TD) nearly out produced Shockey (48, 569, 3 TD) in about half as much on field time.
So do the Saints really like to spread it around between two different TE’s? Or have they just never had one that was very good? My money is on the latter which is why I think Graham will produce.
Last season the Bengals were 15th best versus the pass in the NFL and the overall defense was 11th best in points allowed. With some key additions this offseason, there is no way both of those numbers don’t improve. Why? Because this past offseason the Bengals have added two former first round draft picks, raising their total in the secondary alone to five.
Here are the principals:
Leon Hall (first rounder 2007)
Pacman Jones (first rounder 2005)
Nate Clements (first rounder 2001)
Kelly Jennings (first rounder 2006)
Jonathan Wade (five year vet)
Brandon Ghee (third rounder 2010)
The veteran led group is loaded with talent and experience. Pacman Jones will start the season on the PUP list due to a neck injury, which is what made the addition of Kelly Jennings from Seattle this week even more important. Adding Nate Clements for WAY less than what the Niners paid him is a move for a premier corner that didn’t get the credit or ”coverage” it deserved. Pairing him with Leon Hall, who has quietly averaged nearly 5 INT’s per year in four years, gives the Bengals one of the best CB duos in the NFL.