Install Theme
Fantasy Buddha

Atlanta WR Julio Jones was cleared today to begin practicing on a limited basis.

The fourth-year wideout is recovering from a broken bone in his foot, which he suffered in a Week 5 loss last season on Monday Night Football.

Jones had come out of the 2013 gate as hot as any receiver in football, posting 41 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns in those first five games. So his foot surgery could not have come at a more inopportune for his fantasy owners.

Jones will surely have one of the biggest spotlights on him when HBO’s Hard Knocks comes to Flowery Branch, GA for Falcons training camp. If you carry the premium cable channel or have access to HBO Go, it is certainly a story worth following.

Jones and his teammates are likely to experience a slight bump in their average draft position once the show kicks off on August 5. His current ADP is the sixth wide receiver off the board at number 20 overall. For a move player coming off an injury like this, that draft slot is very high risk but could still provide a very high reward. Jones has long tantalized fantasy footballers with his complete package of skills and is capable of outscoring every other receiver in the league — including Calvin Johnson.

Moral of the story? Be prepared to pay the price if Julio is a player you covet.

(Source: usatodaysports)

Five 2nd Year WR Breakout Candidates

image

In 2013, Keenan Allen became only the fifth wideout since 1998 to top 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie. Of that lot — Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, Michael Clayton, A.J. Green — only Clayton trailed off into fantasy irrelevance thereafter. So there’s a great chance Allen will only build upon his 71 catch, 1089 total yard, 8 touchdown debut campaign. Especially as the undisputed WR1 for the resurgent Philip Rivers.

So, while Keenan Allen does fall into the 2nd Year WR category, he has already broken out in fantasy terms and will therefore not be lumped in with the players to follow.

image

Terrance Williams - The rookie from Baylor eased into 2013 with low expectations, then the annual Miles Austin hamstring injury thrust him into a prominent role in Big D. Williams responded with a seven-week stretch of useful bye week fill-in performances and flashed signs of what fantasy owners can expect on a more regular basis in 2014. With Austin now in Cleveland and the potential for QB Tony Romo to threaten 700 pass attempts with Scott Linehan calling the shots, it’s a fairly safe bet that Williams will not only improve on his 44/740/5 stat line from last season, but elevate his numbers to something more like 65/1100/7 this year. As a fantasy WR3, those would be welcome numbers to add in rounds 8-10.

image

Cordarrelle Patterson - Ever since Patterson finished last year with a five-game flourish of big plays and electricity, he has become a fetish property in fantasy football circles. That frenzy has driven his average draft position up to a seemingly ridiculous 4th round cost. But it’s easy to see why fake footballers are swimming around this raw athlete from the University of Tennessee like sharks smelling blood. He has a size-stats split that puts him in very rare company in the history of the NFL. According to this graphic from my buddies over at RotoViz, Patterson is one of only five players ever to fit this very specific profile:

image

That is some heady fantasy company, for sure, but I probably will not pay the price to own Patterson in many redraft leagues this season. He essentially has to break out big in order to just justify that runaway freight train ADP. However, I will be doing whatever I can to lock down Patterson in dynasty and keeper leagues, because he has a shot to become a superstar for years to come.

image

DeAndre Hopkins - As recently as a week ago, things were really looking up for young Nuk. Talk was swirling that Mr. Texan himself, Andre Johnson, was going to be dealt. Alas, the Houston front office swiftly shot down those rumors and the dream of Hopkins becoming the Texans numero uno was put on hold. But it’s only a matter of time. For now, Hopkins is still the heir apparent to AJ and a nice upside third wide receiver play for fantasy owners. He was solid throughout his rookie season, and the result was 55/802/2. Ryan Fitzpatrick is really not as bad you think — Stevie Johnson and Kendall Wright will vouch for him — so 1K is in play with Hopkins. Just make sure to keep the TD expectations low. Arian Foster should still be Houston’s primary weapon in the red zone. Even with the limited touchdown ceiling, Hopkins is a steal as the 46th wideout off the board.

image

Aaron Dobson - Dobson was expected to contribute much more than he did to the Patriots cause in 2013, but he simply wasn’t ready. Sure, he had the size and speed to make an immediate impact, but he lacked the strength, the hands, the ability to stay healthy and — perhaps most importantly — the mental preparation to be an above average NFL receiver in Year 1. Dobson was active in 12 games, but was only really relied upon in eight of those. He often looked confused when he was able to get onto the field and that disorientation led to those seven drops.

But I’m not here to bury Aaron Dobson, rather to build him up. My expectation — and it is borne out in my WR rankings — is that Dobson will offer the single most value of any 2nd year WR in 2014. The cost — pick 172 in overall ADP — is very negligible for upside this high. Dobson is so undervalued, that targeting him in the next to last round of your drafts will even allow you to reach one round earlier for that D/ST you may covet.

image

Tavon Austin - I was very torn about which player I would include in this final slot. Strong cases can be made for Justin Hunter, Markus Wheaton, Kenny Stills and even Robert Woods. But Austin just kept circling back around in my brain. The Rams have so much invested in this kid and he never really got the chance to develop with Sam Bradford due to an ACL tear that ended the quarterback’s season in Week 7. Austin had actually come out of the gate looking like the PPR contributor (18/126/2 through three games) many had hoped to see. His production then tailed off, along with his role in the offense, and he was only really heard from again in Weeks 10 & 11 before getting shut down with an ankle injury after Week 13. That injury is of no concern now and Austin will be fine heading into training camp. 

But why do I like him here? Because of three hopeful conceits:

1-Austin will become the focus of the St. Louis passing attack in 2014.

2-Bradford cwill continue to demonstrate the advancements in his game he has shown over the previous two seasons.

3-The undersized WR club — Antonio Brown, Wes Welker, Randall Cobb, DeSean Jackson, Kendall Wright, Julian Edelman — still has room for new members.

If you have faith in those things happening, then don’t hesitate to pick up Tavon Austin around pick 130 on Draft Day. If not, sit tight and snag one of the other guys I was considering for this piece a little later.

Make sure to get some skin in this game, though. 2nd Year WRs are the new 3rd Year WRs.

Reports are that Giants third-year running back David Wilson will be cleared by team doctors this Monday to participate in training camp.

Wilson suffered a potentially career-ending neck injury in Week 5 last season against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Despite the promising news, my rankings will not include Wilson until he is able to get into some preseason games and show that he is indeed healthy. In recent history, promising players like Jahvid Best and Jonathan Franklin have been forced into retirement with similar type injuries. As a result, I’ll be taking a “better safe than sorry” approach with David Wilson.

If you draft prior to Wilson presenting any tangible evidence of his health, I cannot recommend investing a pick in the first ten rounds.

Marshawn Lynch owners beware. Beast Mode is in danger.

The likelihood that he slips back into RB2 country — or worse — is higher than you think.

And he has ultra-talented Christine Michael breathing down his neck if he falters, so the price you pay to handcuff this duo is worth it for the peace of mind it will provide you.

(Special thanks to Jamey Eisenberg at CBS Sports for the graphic)

If you’re looking for a late round lottery ticket at wide receiver on Draft Day, the Cleveland Browns may just provide you with this year’s Julian Edelman.

Former Bengals slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, much like Minitron in 2013, is going undrafted in virtually all leagues despite having the opportunity to become a WR1 in Cleveland.

The Browns are in dire need of a reliable receiving option aside from tight end Jordan Cameron, with last season’s breakout superstar Josh Gordon facing a possible year long suspension for a variety of transgressions.

In addition to the acquisition of Hawkins, the team also signed Miles Austin in an attempt to offset the loss of Gordon. Austin is currently being taken at WR60 in the 15th round of 12-team drafts, but represents more of a risk than Hawkins due to age, injury and diminished skills. The erstwhile Cowboy missed five games in 2013 and was unable to break double digit fantasy points in a single one of the 11 games in which he did participate.

That takes us back to Andrew Hawkins and his comparison to Julian Edelman. Hawkins comes to Cleveland having posted 86 receptions, 1053 yards and 4 touchdowns in his 35 career games in Cincy. Edelman, on the other hand, had 69 catches for 786 yards and four TDs in his 48 career games prior to last year’s spike. Both guys have played in the shadow of higher profile receivers — A.J. Green for Hawkins, Wes Welker for Edelman — and had very brief stints of PPR usefulness before it was time to answer the bell and step up. Edelman got his chance and responded with 105/1,207/6 in 2013. Now it’s Hawkins’ turn. 

Typical projections for Hawkins are in 55/650/4 range, but 90/1000/6 is a possibility, if only out of necessity. Chances are we’ll be able to recognize just how valuable Hawkins can be within the first month of the season and you’ll be able to cut bait in time to make the necessary bye week preparations if he flounders. In the meantime, he could make you like a genius as your final round selection or as a $1 investment in 12-team PPR leagues.

kickoffcoverage:

DID YOU KNOW?

Deion Sanders is the only person to hit a MAJOR LEAGUE HOME RUN and score an NFL TOUCHDOWN in the same week.

PRIME TIME!

NFL preseason action is right around the corner.

The boys over at Dude Perfect are known for their trick shot videos, but this fantasy football stereotypes video is fairly accurate and should cause you to recall specific league mates and/or moments from your fantasy past.

So which guy — or combination of guys — are you?

kickoffcoverage:

Now that Lebron has decided to take his talents back to Cleveland, we can now focus on the only thing that matters…. NFL FOOTBALL!

Same.

Poor little, lonely Dwyane.

Maybe he can “go home” to Chicago and make a run at his 4th ring.

Dear Andre,

We would like to wish you a happy 33rd birthday.

Also, we will not be trading you. So you’re stuck with us.

Sincerely,

The Houston Texans

How bad are the prospects of playing with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage?

Evidently, so bad that Andre Johnson is ready and willing to restructure his contract to get out of Houston. Pronto.

The Texans lifer and potential NFL Hall of Famer will be 33 years old this season and he is not ready for a rebuilding project.

The potential for Johnson to land somewhere exciting like Carolina or New England still feels like a longshot, however. If Houston trades Johnson, they could be stuck with over $11 million in dead salary cap money. Not exactly a small chunk of change for the franchise to eat.

If the Texans do give A.J. what he wants, the fantasy potential is more exciting than you probably think.

Tony Gonzalez was the same age when he moved to Atlanta back in 2009 and he maintained a very high level of production for five seasons.

Keep in mind that Johnson has posted 221 receptions for over 3,000 yards the past two seasons. But the touchdowns. Those pesky touchdowns. Johnson has only scored nine TDs over that same period of time and has never — I repeat, never — rung up double digits in his 11-year career.

You would have to think guys like Cam Newton and Tom Brady would make that a top priority because Johnson profiles as a big-time red zone target at 6’3” and 220 pounds with the ball skills he possesses. Unfortunately for him, the Texans were always a run first team inside the 10-yard line.

It’s all speculation right now, but a trade could potentially vault Andre Johnson back up into my Top 10 WRs. We just have to wait and see.

Positional rankings now include tier cutoffs to help keep you from chasing those position runs too far.