Saturday, June 29, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football: Tight Ends

1. Jimmy Graham: After a spectacular season in 2011, Jimmy Graham saw a large drop-off in 2012. His 1,310 receiving yards in 2011 fell to 982 yards in 2012. Graham still managed to finish the year as the number one ranked fantasy tight end in the league. Next season, head coach Sean Payton will return from a suspension, and the New Orleans Saints offense will be clicking on all cylinders. Don't be surprised if Graham exceeds 15 receiving touchdowns in 2013.

2. Rob Gronkowski: Gronk's offseason has been a complete train wreck so far, as he underwent a surgery to repair a herniated disc, where the recovery period will last up until the start of the regular season. New England's star tight end has had five surgeries so far since November of 2012, and there is no telling how prepared Gronkowski will be for the 2013 regular season. Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez will not be present next year in the Patriots' offense, so if Gronk is ready to play, he should expect more targets from Tom Brady. When healthy, Gronkowski is the best fantasy tight end in the league, but the many surgeries should make fantasy owners nervous.

3. Dennis Pitta: Dennis Pitta had a breakout season in 2012, as he recorded 669 receiving yards with 7 touchdowns. Pitta is Flacco's favorite target in the red zone, with a combination of size and extraordinary leaping ability. Anquan Boldin will be leaving for San Francisco, so it is more than likely that Pitta's statistics improve as the number of targets increase. Joe Flacco is now entering the prime of his career, as proven by his sensational playoff run. Put this all together, and you have a lethal fantasy football weapon.

4. Vernon Davis: After Colin Kaepernick took over for San Francisco last season, Vernon Davis saw few passes come his way, and as a result, Davis averaged 2.6 fantasy points per game. Despite his disappointing regular season, Vernon Davis recorded 254 receiving yards and a touchdown throughout the playoffs, proving that there is chemistry between Kaepernick and his tight end. If this chemistry continues into next year's regular season, Vernon Davis deserves consideration over Gronk and Pittta.

5. Jason Witten: Jason Witten recorded a career high in receptions with 110, as well as 1,039 receiving yards. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, Jason Witten has struggled to find the end zone throughout his career in the NFL, where he has yet to record double digit touchdowns in a single season. Witten is competing with wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin in Dallas. Luckily, Witten also saw a career high in targets, so clearly, Tony Romo trusts throwing to his tight end.

6. Tony Gonzalez: Originally, Tony Gonzalez pledged to his team that 2012 would be his last year in the NFL, but the Atlanta Falcons managed to bring him back for one more year. Obviously, Tony Gonzalez will play a key role in 2013 for this offense or else the Falcons would not have forced him to come out of retirement. At the age of 37, Gonzalez no longer has the same speed or leaping ability he had in his prime, but his size will continue to make him a dominant force in the red zone. His productivity in terms of receptions and yards will drop, but I believe the touchdown total will stay the same in 2013.

7. Greg Olsen: As Cam Newton enters the prime of his career, and Steve Smith become less and less efficient with age, tight end Greg Olsen will become one of Netwon's favorite targets. Olsen played on 98 percent of the Panthers offensive snaps, and he also hasn't missed a game from injury since 2007. With 843 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns, Olsen finished sixth overall among fantasy tight ends. Olsen's potential makes him an extremely valuable fantasy option if players like Witten and Gonzalez are off the board.

8. Kyle Rudolph: At 6'6" and 260 pounds, Kyle Rudolph recorded 9 touchdowns on 53 receptions last season, despite lacking an elite quarterback in Minnesota. With Christian Ponder as the quarterback, there is a clear chemistry between these two players; however, after signing Matt Cassel in the offseason, it is possible Rudolph will not see as many targets in the red zone. As seen with Vernon Davis after Colin Kaepernick took over, quarterback changes can drastically affect a players fantasy value.

9. Owen Daniels: After Kyle Rudolph, there is a serious drop off among fantasy tight ends. Owen Daniels has never scored more than six touchdowns in an NFL season, as he competes with Andre Johnson for targets. Also, the Houston Texans rely on their running game, so Daniels is not utilized in Houston's offensive scheme. Finally, Owen Daniels' health remains a concern for fantasy owners, as he has not played all 16 games in a season since 2008. Daniels will finish in the top 10 among fantasy tight ends, but he is not a consistent scorer, and should be avoided if possible.

10. Brandon Myers: While playing for the Oakland Raiders, Brandon Myers caught a whopping 79 passes for 806 yards, as he provided offense to a team in desperate need of scoring. In 2013, he will be playing for the New York Giants, and though no tight end is challenging him at the position, he will have to compete with wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. It is highly unlikely he can replicate the same numbers in New York with Eli Manning having so many other options. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NFL Report Update: Aaron Hernandez

Breaking News: At 8:45 earlier this morning, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was put into handcuffs by North Attleboro police and placed into a police cruiser. Hernandez is charged with the murder of semipro football player Odin Lloyd, as well as five weapons counts in connection with the murder. Hernandez and two other men picked up Lloyd at his home at 2:30 in the morning, and nearly an hour later, workers at the industrial park reported hearing gun shots. Two hours after Hernandez's arrest, the New England Patriots announced Hernandez had been released from the organization, which will have a significant impact on the Patriots in 2013.

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers

1. Calvin Johnson: For the second year in a row, Calvin Johnson led the league in fantasy points by year end. From Week 9 to Week 16, Johnson averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game, and this magnificent run helped Megatron break Jerry Rice's single season receiving yard record. Calvin Johnson was tackled on the opponent's one yard-line six times last year, so expect the touchdown total to increase in 2013. Defenses are still stumped by Johnson's pure athleticism, and he will continue to dominate for years to come.

2. Brandon Marshall: Brandon Marshall is the ideal fantasy wide receiver; great hands, reasonable size, and enough speed to make him a legitimate deep threat. After reconnecting with quarterback Jay Cutler in Chicago last season, Marshall recorded 1,508 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite a weak offensive line and constant double teaming from opposing defenses, Marshall finished as the second best fantasy wide receiver in the league. Not much should change in 2013.

3. AJ Green: In just his second year in the league, AJ Green recorded 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns in Cincinnati, proving he is an elite wide receiver in the league. A weak quarterback and no second string wide receiver to to take the pressure off Green has not deterred Green from producing astounding numbers. Cincinnati's offense revolves around Green, since quarterback Andy Dalton struggles with the deep ball. AJ Green will have relatively inconsistent numbers unless Dalton can strengthen his arm.

4. Percy Harvin: A sprained ankle prevented Harvin from finishing the 2012 season, but fantasy owners have high hopes for Harvin next year. Percy Harvin recorded 62 receptions for 677 yards, and six of his first eight games resulted in double digit fantasy points. Harvin is always at risk of injury, but instead of quarterback Christian Ponder throwing him the ball, Rookie of the Year candidate Russell Wilson will be taking the snaps. If Harvin can remain healthy, this wide receiver could give Calvin Johnson a run for his money as the top fantasy wide receiver in the league.

5. Dez Bryant: Through the first three weeks of the 2012 season, Dez Bryant was averaging 5 fantasy points per game, causing many fantasy owners to grow concerned. It was not until Week 10 when Dez Bryant was able to score consistent fantasy points week after week. In Bryant's final 8 games of the season, he averaged 17.75 fantasy points per game, and finished the year with 1,382 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. The slow start last season may be a red flag during the draft, and hopefully Bryant will be more consistent in 2013.

6. Larry Fitzgerald: Larry Fitzgerald had a disastrous 2012 season, with no injuries to blame for the drop-off. The quarterback problems in Arizona (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton) were awful, as they threw for many interceptions and a low completion rate. Hopefully, newly-acquired Carson Palmer can help Fitzgerald get back on track. We have high hopes for Fitzgerald in 2013, and we expect him to exceed expectations.

7. Julio Jones: Julio Jones has dangerous competition in Atlanta, as he shares a backfield consisting of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Steven Jackson. Jones has incredible hands, capable of catching a passes across the middle, or snagging a ball out of the air deep in the end zone. Luckily, teams can not double team Jones or else Matt Ryan will dump the ball off to White or Gonzalez. Jones has the advantage over White in terms of athleticism, but the two are capable of tremendous statistics each week.

8. Randall Cobb: Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings signed with the rival Minnesota Viking in the off season, and as he leaves Green Bay, someone will have to fill the void. We believe Randall Cobb will be that guy. Randall Cobb plays out of the slot in Green Bay, and will dominate the middle part of the field. His 954 yards and 8 touchdowns is expected to see a drastic increase in 2013, and Cobb adds to his value with a decent running ability, as he recorded 132 rushing yards last year.

9. Roddy White: As mentioned before, Roddy White has fierce competition in the Falcons' backfield, and as a result, he has not replicated the same numbers from years earlier. White will be 32 next November, but he is still capable of performing. White scored just 7 touchdowns last year, as Ryan prefers to pass to tight end Tony Gonalez or Julio Jones in the red zone. White has enough left in the tank to be a top 10 wide receiver, but he will not be a first round draft pick unless Jones and Gonzalez are out of the lineup.

10. Demaryius Thomas: Once Peyton Manning arrived in Denver, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas transformed into a star. Thomas finished fifth overall in fantasy points among wide receivers, even with teammate Eric Decker finishing eighth. Now, slot receiver Wes Welker will be playing for the Denver Broncos, and it is more than likely that he will take away a large portion of Thomas' targets. Thomas will remain Peyton's number one target, but Wes Welker clearly hurts his draft value.

Monday, June 10, 2013

NFL Report Update: Tim Tebow

Breaking News: According to ESPN, quarterback Tim Tebow will sign with the New England Patriots. Tim Tebow will be reunited with coach Josh McDaniels, as the two played together in the Denver several years ago. After leading the Denver Broncos into the playoffs in 2011, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets, where he served as a back-up to Mark Sanchez.

Friday, June 7, 2013

NFL Report Update: Notre Dame

Breaking News: After Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson was suspended from the school, head coach Brian Kelly announced Tommy Rees will be the starting quarterback in 2013. Golson led Notre Dame to the BCS National Championship, where they lost to Alabama 42-14. Tommy Rees was the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish at one point in time, with an overall record of 14-4 as a starter at Notre Dame.

2013 Fantasy Football: Running Backs

1. Adrian Peterson: There is no disputing that Adrian Peterson is the greatest active running back in the National Football League. Peterson rushed for more than 2,000 yards last season in the wake of an ACL injury. Peterson's knee will only strengthen over time, and it is very likely the Minnesota Vikings rely heavily on their star running back in 2013. Opposing defenses will focus on the AP due to the poor passing game in Minnesota, so it is highly unlikely Peterson replicates the same statistics seen in 2012.

2. Arian Foster: In the category of yards per carry, running back Arian Foster has seen a gradual decrease in production over the past three years. In 2012, Foster averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which is good, but not elite. Foster made up for it by scoring 15 touchdowns over the course of the season. Foster is no Adrian Peterson, but is clearly worth the second overall pick in the draft.

3. Marshawn Lynch: "Beast Mode" has finally taken the league by storm, as Marshawn Lynch's pure tenacity proves to be a challenge on opposing defenses. What Lynch lacks in size is made up for with speed and strength, as the Seahawks running back ran for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns. Despite the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin, head coach Pete Carroll has said he will center his team around the running game in 2013. Lynch's consistency makes him extremely valuable in fantasy football, and is a valuable pick up after AP and Foster.

4. Ray Rice: A large part of Baltimore' success in 2012 can be credited to running back Ray Rice, who played a key role for Baltimore throughout the postseason run. Ray Rice saw a decrease in attempts in 2012, but by averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Rice ran for 1,143 yards. At age 26, Ray Rice should be entering the prime of his career, yet his productivity has gradually decreased over the years. Bernard Pierce, who proved himself as a consistent rusher, will also steal attempts from Ray Rice in 2013.

5. Alfred Morris: Alfred Morris, a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, broke out as a star in Week 1, and then consistently posted sensational fantasy points week in and week out. Morris' 1,613 rushing yards ranked third all-time among rookie running backs, and there is no reason why Morris can't replicate these same numbers in 2013. In fact, Robert Griffin III is injury-prone, so when RGIII is off the field, Morris will be the main guy to help move the chains.

6. Doug Martin: In a Week 9 game against the Oakland Raiders, Doug Martin caught the eyes of football fans everywhere when he rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns, a grand total of 51 fantasy points. Martin's inconsistent play after Week 9 is worrisome as a fantasy owner, because who says Martin can replicate such numbers again. Defenses will begin to focus on Martin unless Josh Freeman can elevate his game; otherwise, "The Hamster" may be at risk of extinction.

7. LeSean McCoy: After coach Andy Reid was fired, The Philadelphia Eagles brought in Chip Kelly from Oregon, a coach who loves to utilize the run game in order to win. LeSean McCoy will be extremely valuable to Kelly in 2013, despite missing a large portion of 2013 with a concussion. When LeSean McCoy was healthy, he averaged 11.25 fantasy points per game, even though he scored just 2 touchdowns in 12 games. McCoy likely had an off-year, and will bounce back when Chip Kelly makes his debut in Week 1.

8. Trent Richardson: Trent Richardson's rookie season was a gleam of hope for the Cleveland Browns organization, who have had just one winning season in the past 10 years. Richardson is a one man show, with a weak quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a practically non-existent offensive line. The heavy work-load last season led to several different injuries, and unless the Browns supply an improved supporting cast, Richardson will continue to be at risk of injuries.

9. CJ Spiller: When running back Fred Jackson was injured in 2012, CJ Spiller jumped in to rescue Buffalo's running game. Spiller's extraordinary speed allowed him to rush for 1,244 yards and an extraordinary 6.0 yards per carry. The Buffalo Bills believe Fred Jackson is a better running back closer towards the end zone, so Spiller is unlikely to score any touchdowns next season; however, if Fred Jackson is injured once again, CJ Spiller will transform into one of the most valuable rushers in the league.

10. Jamaal Charles: Jamaal Charles underwent surgery to repair his ACL in 2012, yet he still managed to rush for 1,509 yards, a career high. Throughout his career, Jamaal Charles has averaged 5.8 yards per carry, but he has trouble finding the end zone. Under Andy Reid's new scheme as head coach, Jamaal Charles' speed and agility will make him a fantasy football star.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks

1. Drew Brees: Amidst the chaos that took place within the Saints organization last season, Drew Brees still managed to score the most fantasy points of any player in 2012, even though he was missing star tight end Jimmy Graham for a large portion of the season. Not bad, right? In the upcoming season, head coach Sean Payton will return from a one-year suspension, and the New Orleans Saints should regain control of the NFC South. You can count on Brees dominating the league in 2013.

2. Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers had an off year in 2012, and by off year I mean 4,279 passing yards with 42 TDs. The offensive line in Green Bay is one of the worst in the league, causing Rodgers to be very inconsistent throughout the season. In a draft loaded with offensive linemen, the Green Bay Packers did not draft a lineman until the fourth round. Also, the departures of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver should have a negative impact on Rodgers' 2013 performance.

3. Peyton Manning: Peyton Manning ended his 2012 season with a costly interception against the Baltimore Ravens, but his return to the game was nothing short of incredible. Manning was the runner-up to Adrian Peterson in the Most Valuable Player voting, but Manning beat AP for Comeback Player of the Year. The addition of slot-receiver Wes Welker creates one of the leagues most lethal wide receiver corps in the league. Manning is the NFL's iron man, but at age 37, his game will likely deteriorate as the season progresses.

4. Tom Brady: The loss of wide receiver Wes Welker in the off season will have a larger impact on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots than people think. Brady was reportedly "enraged" at the franchise when they let Welker go, and Danny Amendola is supposed to replace the missing slot receiver. Tom Brady will likely see a drop-off in 2013.

5. Cam Newton: A combination of size, speed, and arm strength makes Cam Newton one of the most valuable fantasy quarterbacks on the market. Newton's 2012 season started slowly, but after Carolina's Week 6 Bye, Cam regained his dominance at the quarterback position. His season totals last season did not replicate his rookie numbers, but hopefully, Newton will shake off the rust early in 2013 so he can put up some spectacular numbers.

6. Matt Ryan: Before 2012, Matt Ryan was an average fantasy quarterback with relatively consistent statistics that hovered around 10 fantasy points each week. Last season was a breakout year for Matty Ice, and he was even included in the MVP discussion by years end. Roddy White and Julio Jones will both be playing for Atlanta in 2013, and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez has decided to return to the Falcons for one more season.

7. Andrew Luck: Andrew Luck's first season in the league resulted in 4,000 passing yards, but also a very high turnover count. Luck threw 18 interceptions as a rookie, with just 23 passing touchdowns. Despite a mediocre start to his career, Luck's size makes long term injuries unlikely, allowing him to escape the pocket and record 5-10 rushing touchdowns a year. Luck will only get better in time, and his resemblance to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is uncanny. If you can't snag Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in the early rounds, Andrew Luck is your guy.

8. Russell Wilson: Russel Wilson's poise throughout the playoffs created buzz around the rookie quarterback. His poise against some of the league's top teams may be a sign of things to come in Seattle. Wilson threw for 26 touchdowns in the regular season, with a passer rating of 100.0. When needed, Wilson would escape the pocket, compiling 489 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Newly-acquired Percy Harvin joins Sidney Rice and Golden Tate at the wide receiver position, giving Wilson the options he needs to succeed.

9. Robert Griffin III: RGIII's upside is extraordinary, will have to weary of the injury risk associated with the reigning Rookie of the Year. Doctors surgically repaired Griffin's ACL over the winter, and there is no telling what the effects will be of this surgery on RGIII's performance next season. Members within the Redskins organization have advised their yards and 5 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. Newly-acquired Percy Harvin joins Sidney Rice and Golden Tate at the wide receiver position, giving Wilson the options he needs to succeed.

10. Colin Kaepernick: In the divisional round of the playoffs, Colin Kapernick proved himself worthy of the starting job in San Francisco, as he passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, Kaepernick set a record for quarterbacks when he rushed for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 11.31 yards per carry. Kaepernick's spectacular conclusion to his rookie season will more than likely carry over in 2013, and the addition of Anquon Bolding won't hurt either.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

2013 Fantasy Football Preview

     The 2012 football season has long been over, as well as all the festivities associated with the NFL regular season, including fantasy football. Looking ahead to the 2013 season, The NFL Report will analyze the top 10 players at each position so that you will be prepared for the fantasy football draft in 2013. These lists will be updated later in the summer, but be sure to comment on your opinions.