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Training Camp: Week Three Review

We’re through week three of training camp and as is the case every year, some notable moves, injuries and camp battles are starting to formulate what is sure to be an exciting 2010 season in the NFL.

Sit back, take in the information and use it to benefit your team in any way that makes sense.  Please do NOT be overly impulsive to anything that is read during this time of year, whether from me or any “insider” professing to have the inside track on a situation.  Coaches use the press far more for player performance incentive than for getting the most up-to-date information into the hands of fantasy coaches and NFL fans. 

In a system where each writer is trying to beat his peers to the next big story, an impulsive fantasy coach can be lead to making a knee-jerk reaction to what amounts to nothing more than a guess by a local writer or coachspeak meant to motivate a player.

Let’s dive in by following our previous format:

Quarterbacks

I have been a little surprised at how slow the news has been on QB battles, roster adjustments and annual drama.  Perhaps I should check with Eli Manning prior to making that statement.

It was said last year that there has been a noticeable drop in the talent of non-starting QBs in the NFL and that certainly seems to be playing itself out thus far in 2010.

In St. Louis, Sam Bradford continues to develop, but at an extremely slow pace.  I’m personally high on Bradford, but couldn’t help but feel sorry for him when the Rams called his name.  It is very possible that Bradford has an Archie Manning or Joey Harrington type of career in which he just can’t overcome the lack of talent on the team to rise to any level of notable performance.  Outside of Steven Jackson, the Rams don’t have a significant fantasy producer.  Bradford should get at least three years before any judgment is made.

In speaking about the non-starting QB talent pool, I present the Buffalo Bills.  Trent Edwards looks to be the clear winner at the position and if you are having to follow this battle closely, your team is in trouble.  Much like St. Louis, the Bills just don’t have the core to make for a successful offense at this juncture.  Edwards is a QB3 on a good day in fantasy, clearly superior to Brian Brohm. That’s not saying a lot.  I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention that Edwards almost looked like a NFL passer in preseason week 3 vs. IND.  Let’s keep our expectations low.

In Cincinnati, I have been quietly high on Carson Palmer.  Now two weeks deep into the preseason, I’m not as steadfast in my belief that Palmer will outplay his dropping ADP value.  Palmer has looked tentative and flustered.  I expect that the addition of T.O. to pair with OchoCinco will eventually pay dividends, but he has work to do.  You have to believe that Carson sees their wideout situation as the circus being in town for four months.  I don’t envy him.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but Dennis Dixon deserves to be rostered in most every deeper dynasty league.  Dixon has been impressing me with his poise, arm and decision making.  I’d like to see him hang in the pocket a bit more, but he has capitalized well on his opportunities.  Leftwich is the clear front-runner for the start of the season, but I believe Dixon is more deserving of the opportunity.  Coach Tomlin is in a tough situation in that Leftwich’s experience is what the team will most desire to start the season, but should he start slowly, Dixon will get the call.

One of my favorite QBs for 2010 is Joe Flacco.  Finally, it appears that BAL has shed its anemic passing attack perception through the addition of elite possession receiver Anquan Boldin and the speedy, something-to-prove receiver, Donte Stallworth.  Toss in Ray Rice and BAL is an offense to watch in 2010.  I believe Flacco makes a strong move this year into the top 10 of fantasy QBs.

In Washington, Redskin fans are getting nervous, and well they should be.  There’s more drama in D.C. than in Snooki’s life on the Jersey Shore.  Shanahan, Haynesworth, Daniel Snyder, McNabb and a stable of has-been RBs will sure to be in the news early and often this year.  Enjoy it Washington!  That giant sucking sound you hear is McNabb’s fantasy value – at least until they find him a set of dynamic receivers.

Carolina’s Jimmy Clausen continues to get good reviews from the coaching staff, but starter Matt Moore is still the team’s choice.  This is something to watch going forward as Clausen has not endeared himself to the team it would appear. 

In Denver, Brady Quinn has looked like, well, like Brady Quinn.  Tebow should be the #2. 

In Oakland, Jason Campbell is the new Jim Plunkett, but without the defense, receivers, arm, football intelligence and intangibles.  Much better looking though!

In Arizona, you just have to wonder how long the Matt Leinart experiment is going to last.  It really highlights the mental makeup of the NFL game and the killer instinct that the NFL QBs must have to be ultimately successful.  Leinart just has never fit into that mold.  He’s a laid back SoCal boy that loved the college party scene.  On the field, that same attitude is readily apparent.  He’s got a relatively good situation in Arizona and it has lead me to believe that he could significantly outplay his ADP position, but I can’t say that with any level of confidence.  Just for the record, I have thought the same thing about Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo.  Good QBs, great even in fantasy, but without the killer instinct needed to be a Super Bowl champion.  Leinart has a long way to go to even reach their level.

Oh.  In case you haven’t heard, Favre is back!

Running Backs

A lot of good stuff happening this week.

The biggest news of the week was in the shocking announcement from Glenn Coffee that he was retiring from football.  While Coffee hadn’t been lighting it up in camp, he had added weight and better focus.  He’ll be serving the church, has formally filed his retirement paperwork ,and will not be coming back.  RB3 Anthony Dixon gets an immediate upgrade.  Additionally, the 9’ers have now signed Brian Westbrook to compete with Dixon.  Don’t be fooled by Michael Robinson or the coach speak here, Dixon is the clear #2 and has been impressive in his last two outings.  I have been very impressed at his lateral mobility and vision for a back of his size.  I think the odds are good that Gore doesn’t finish the season healthy in 2010 and Dixon would be the primary benefactor.

In Buffalo, Marshawn Lynch is now assured of being a Bill in 2010 (something that no doubt can’t please him).  It’s not because of his stellar performance, but due to Fred Jackson’s fractured hand.  Lynch, himself, went down with an ankle injury, but should be returning by week one of the regular season.  Jackson won’t be out long but likely won’t be ready once the regular season starts.  C.J. Spiller gets a big boost in value as he will likely be the primary ball carrier on opening day.  Unless you play in a PPR format, he’s best left on your bench until we see what he can do running behind that far-from-stellar offensive line.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true sleeper alert, but Kareem Huggins in TB qualifies as just that.  Running onto the scene, literally, Huggins has caught the eye of everyone in Tampa and may have done enough to even land the RB2 role behind incumbent starter Cadillac Williams.  At 5’9″ and 198 lbs., Huggins isn’t your prototypical every-down RB, but he has shown plenty of ball skills to be given another opportunity in the future.  He should be rostered now!  Previous RB2, Derrick Ward, may be flying the Jolly Roger no more.

In New England, Fred Taylor looks 29 again and is running with good power and young legs.  Many have forgotten that Taylor used to be known as “Fraud Taylor,” a back not without significant talent, but the inability to stay on the field due to injury.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run hot and cold but has done enough to stick.  Perennial sleeper Laurence Maroney curiously didn’t see a touch during their week 2 game vs. Atlanta, leaving many to wonder whether they are simply protecting him until he can get hurt in week 1, or if perhaps he’s in the doghouse.   With Belichick, you never know.

The Steelers are intrigued with bigger back Isaac Redman, who is making the most of his opportunities at the expense of the underwhelming Jonathan Dwyer.  Dwyer hasn’t been able to stay on the field, hasn’t shown any urgency and may be running out of time.  Dwyer won’t find himself out of football any time soon, but he may be missing a great situation in PIT.  Redman on the other hand has been running hard and turning heads.  Don’t get too excited, he”ll be 26 in early November and only short yardage carries are up for grabs.

As expected, Ahmad Bradshaw’s value continues to climb as it now appears that he’ll be taking over the lead back role from Brandon Jacobs.  Bradshaw is a tough runner with a nose for the end zone and should get at least 15-18 carries per game.  Jacobs will still garner short yardage carries but is simply too big of a target at the goal line.  Look for the Giants to go with Bradshaw at the stripe unless they are up against an undersized defensive line.

In Washington, the carousel of backs continues to spin.  I simply don’t see how Portis doesn’t end up as the RB1, but with Shanahan at the wheel, I have about as good a chance to start as does Portis, Parker, Johnson or Torain.  Take your pick. Either way, I don’t believe it matters.

The Cleveland Browns are steaming to a well balanced RBBC.  I remain doubtful that Montario Hardesty will get enough meaningful touches to warrant a starting spot on any fantasy roster in 2010 and Jerome Harrison is too risky week in and week out.  RB3 James Davis would seem to have the talent to be a starter in the NFL, but doesn’t appear to have the eyes of the coaching staff.  If Hardesty can stay healthy, he’s a kid to keep an eye on for 2011.

Don’t look now, but owners of one Jamaal Charles may be getting nervous.  Coach Haley continues to heap praise onto Thomas Jones, likely in an attempt to motivate Charles.  Haley is a tough coach to read but is usually true to his comments.  Jones has too much power and value to not get a significant number of carries, but Charles is far too dynamic of a play-maker to not match or exceed the touches Jones gets.  In the preaseason, Charles continues to chew up big chunks of yardage, while Jones has been underwhelming.  That said, Jones is the tougher runner and has the body type that Haley prefers.  It’s best to have both of these backs on your roster if you have one.

In Jacksonville, RB2 Rashad Jennings has apparently held off intriguing camp prospect Deji Karim.  I’ve liked Jennings from day one and believe he can be a starter in this league if he can learn how to run with a lower pad level.  It doesn’t help that he’s running behind MJD, but he does have potential should Jones-Drew go down.

Sorry, but I’m not on the Forsett train in SEA.  Nor am I on Julius Jones or Leon Washington. This is a clear RBBC and Forsett will certainly give you a game that forces him into your lineup the following week, but he’ll break your heart.  Flame on if I’m wrong.  SEA needs to trade Washington and Jones and bring in Marshawn Lynch to pair with Forsett in 2011.

Bonus points to Detroit’s Kevin Smith for working hard to get back prior to week 1.  Smith is a kid that everyone can like, but can’t eclipse the raw talent of Jahvid Best.  I do believe that fans and media are too quick in anointing Best as a clear RB1, but he sure looks the part.  His injury history is still a concern and Smith is still a better between the tackles runner.  I also believe Smith is very underrated in the passing game, just not dynamic.  This is likely a 60-40 RBBC with Best getting the majority of touches.

In Oakland, Darren McFadden continues to disappoint.  For those of you that love impressive collegiate RBs, McFadden may be the perfect example for the situation when you want to trade away that #1 pick for a known NFL producer.  McFadden had me fooled as well.  I’m in a constant state of amazement that DMc hasn’t been able to put it together in the NFL as of yet.  I liked him as much as I did Peterson and thought he was a a sure thing.  Instead, Michael Bush seems to have taken the lead and will likely handle a majority of the work in Oakland.  Good thing for both DMc and Bush in that owner Al Davis hasn’t compared either of them to Bo Jackson – the season is still young.

My favorite running back situation is in Green Bay, where there are more moving parts than a Swiss watch.  Another limb – Brandon Jackson is going to be a featured back 2011.  Jackson continues to get stronger and his body language is such that he’s playing confidently.  His blitz pick-ups are where they need to be and his hands have always been very good.  Notice I didn’t say that he’s be starting as a Packer in 2011.  It appears as though James Starks was drafted to be  Grant’s eventual replacement but the coaching staff remains disappointed in Starks’ inability to get on the field.  Should Starks end up on IR, that would then be two missed years of competition.  RB4 Quinn Porter looks to be a practice squad player but could end up as the RB3 if Starks is unable to return.

Matt Forte‘ is looking very, very motivated.  And he’s my comeback player of the year.

Quick hits:  Toby Gerhart is looking very average while Albert Young is looking very capable.  Javon Ringer is going to be a player at some point and LeGarrette Blount will be the target of every defensive player on game day –  he’s a liability that TEN cannot afford to have.  Most are underestimating Tim HightowerBarnard Scott could be a starting RB today!

Wide Receivers

The Redskins are desperate for a good WR2 behind Santana Moss.  The problem is that Moss himself is really a WR2 and not at the same level as McNabb’s favorite diminutive weapon in Philly, Desean JacksonDevin Thomas looks to be the WR2 oppositve Moss,  but there are plenty of red flags across this entire group.

In San Francisco, Crabtree and Morgan remain your starters.  The WR3 will come down to Ted Ginn Jr. and Dominique Zeigler.  For the record, I like how Zeigler moves and I’d like to see more of him.

The most intriguing WR battle, arguably, is going on in the emerald city of Seattle.  Houshmandzadeh is a lock to remain a starter for another year, Golden Tate is being lined up all over the field and Deion Branch appears to be the odds-on favorite to hold down the WR2.  Deon Butler and Mike Williams have both been coming on and the renewed commitment by Williams to his old college coach is paying dividends.  Butler and Williams won’t have significant production in 2010, but 2011 could see an entirely younger starting group including Tate, Williams and Butler.

Chicago’s starting three will remain Hester, Knox and Aromashodu.  All have seen relatively equal targets in the preseason and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will be the most fantasy productive in the Mike Martz offense.  Concern is growing that Hester’s lackluster route running ability will keep him from being a true WR1.  I most certainly agree.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel believes that James Jones has held off Jordy Nelson for the WR3 role in Green Bay.  Whether this is premature or not, I have been on the side of Jones for the last year as Driver’s ultimate replacement.  Jones has the better NFL body and reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin, but with more ability to get deep.  Nelson has a knack for getting behind defenses and is quick for a receiver of his size, but I believe he’s better in the slot.  A year from now, both should be starting along side Greg Jennings in a very potent offense.

The Minnesota receiving situation has me concerned.  Percy Harvin’s value is dropping quickly and he is off my board for any sort of acquisition due to his migraine situation.  Something more seems to be at work and I have little confidence that he can be a long term producer until proven otherwise.  Sidney Rice’s hip is a concern as well and Rice, who is a workout warrior, is questionable for the start of the season.  The end of training camp often cures many ailments and my hope is that both Harvin and Rice have a bit of camp Favreitis and will be fine as week 1 approaches.

In Carolina, rookie wideout Brandon LaFell seems to have the inside track on the WR2 opposite Steve Smith, but color me unconvinced.  He’s been said to be coming on in camp but I haven’t been impressed with the few plays that I’ve seen.

In New Orleans, Lance Moore should be on the radar for many fantasy coaches.  Brees has been looking for the slot receiver often and he’s having a great camp.  It would be easy to say that there aren’t enough balls to go around in the Big Easy, but Brees has a way of keeping many receivers viable during the season.  Don’ t lose sight of Adrian Arrington.

In Tampa Bay, Mike Williams is your WR1 and Sammie Stroughter looks to be the WR2.  Rookie Arrelious Benn looks like a so-so prospect, but it’s early.  To wit, in my most recent rookie draft (July), I selected Mike Williams over Benn to the disbelief of a few in the league.  Stroughter is scrappy and not without ability but he seems to be destined for fantasy mediocrity.

The Bills are a mess.  Stay away.

In perhaps the best story of training camp, Wes Welker is looking fast and sharp in his recovery from an ACL.  It really does seem that he will be starting come week 1.  Don’t forget, however, that an ACL injury recovery is a two-fold process.  First is the six month physical rehab, followed then by the 6 m0s. mental rehab where the player must learn to trust the joint.  Welker has mentioned that he doesn’t yet fully trust his ACL.  Watching him this past Saturday though, I came away impressed.

In KC, Dwayne Bowe is coming on and could be a sneaky comeback play.  He’s a player that needs a lot of attention to keep his head in the game and the Chiefs will be a running team in 2010.  With uninspiring choices lining up beside Bowe, it is likely that there will be periods of lack of focus leading to subpar production.  Bowe has always been an inconsistent performer, so it will be interesting to see what the new offense can conjure.

The wheels appear to be moving just a bit in San Diego where the Vincent Jackson saga continues to roll on.  Seattle is said to be in contract discussions with Jackson and it’s now likely that Jackson is done in San Diego, especially if he ends up on the roster exemption list.  There just won’t be enough money available to him to return after week 10.  His huge contract demands may also be a major sticking point for any potential acquirer.  Rising on cheat sheets everywhere are Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee.  Floyd has huge hands and is a big red zone target and Naanee is an intriguing player that I’d like to see further develop.  Both should be rostered.  Buster Davis is said to be coming on for the WR3 role and is worthy of the deep sleeper tag.

It’s really hard to find anything to like about Oakland or Cleveland in the receiver area.  Much like Buffalo, just stay away.

As mentioned earlier, Cincinnati is a circus and I feel badly for Carson Palmer.  Rookie Jordan Shipley should benefit as the WR3 and will be a breath of fresh air for Palmer and CIN fans alike.  Shipley is a quiet, hard-working kid that could play a Wes Welker role in that offense.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull down 70+receptions in 2010.

In Jacksonville, Mike Thomas is staking his claim to the WR2 role beside Mike Sims-Walker.  Sims-Walker is appealing, but his injury history cannot be ignored.  Thomas isn’t without talent and is a good route runner, but can’t be relied on.

Quick Hits:  Kenny Britt is still young and I was hoping for more by this time in 2010.  Dez Bryant is recovering well and should be back in the lineup by week 1.  Too many are too high on Jeremy MaclinAnthony Gonzalez is the odd man out in IND, at least for a starting position.

Tight Ends

The tight end group looks sufficiently boring beyond the usual suspects.

In Cincinnati, rookie Jermaine Gresham is moving well and looking the part.  I don’t see top 10 written on his jersey, but that is a rarity for a TE in their first year.

The big news is that Buffalo’s problems get worse with the four game suspension of Shawn NelsonJonathan Stupar is your new starter.  Nothing to see here, move along.

Out with the old.  The clock is ticking for both Todd Heap and Jeremy Shockey.  In BAL, Dennis Pitta or Ed Dickson will be the TE1 by the end of 2010 and Jimmy Graham should be starting for New Orleans full time in 2011, if not before. All three are intriguing options as starters in their respective offenses.

I’m also doing the DLF forum faithful proud by mentioning Fendi Onobun in St. Louis.  He’s catching a few eyes and in that offense, anything is possible.  We’d still like to give Fendi some love here on DLF with his own dedicated season/camp blog as a feature throughout 2010.  He has a rabid following here at DLF!  Hit us up Fendi!

This just in, Jermichael Finley is looking like everything that he was expected to be as the 2009 season came to a close.  He’s tall, fast and makes for a match-up nightmare for opposing linebackers.  Look for the Packers to move him around to maximize his ridiculous skills against slower defenders

Defense

The Patriots suffer a huge blow by losing Ty Warren to a torn hip labrum.  The already shaky defense couldn’t afford a blow like this and the once dominant defense is now looking very vulnerable.  LB Brandon Spikes is making plays and IDP leaguers shouldn’t forget his name.

Not a lot of movement in New York where the battle continues for the MLB spot.  Still appears that the battle will come down to Jonathan Goff or veteran Keith Bulluck.  My money is on Bulluck  but he was released by the Titans for a reason.

Keep an eye on Larry Grant in St. Louis.  The young OLB is turning heads and is flying around the field.  At 6’1″ 250 lbs., Grant could put up numbers should he find himself starting on a defense that is going to see a lot of rushing attempts against it.  He’s no threat to MLB Laurinaitis but he’s one to watch.

That does it for week 3 of training camp.  The next two weeks are the most fun as the 3rd game is typically the one that dictates the projected starting depth chart as well as the most starter minutes played.  The last game will be played for final roster spots and the practice squad.

Less than 3 weeks remain until kick-off of the 2010 NFL season.

Jeff Haverlack
6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Josh

    August 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

    I am all in favor of the Fendi Blog!!!

  2. Phish Brigade

    August 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    “I am all in favor of the Fendi Blog!!!”

    If I only had an emoticon… :rolleyes:

    =P

  3. Mcnasty

    August 24, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Any word on Taylor Mays?

  4. Chris D

    August 25, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Yeah he cost himself millions by staying for his senior year because he was exposed. Another Aubrey Beavers who looks great in shorts

  5. Dlf_JeffH

    August 25, 2010 at 6:45 am

    He’s also in a heck of a battle with Reggie Smith. Smith would seem to have the early lead over Mays at this point, but not by much. Smith returned an INT for a TD and those plays look great on tape.

  6. Chris R.

    August 25, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I’m pretty baffled that you actually lumped Matt Leinart into the same group as Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo. Really? That’s even more insulting to Romo, who was an UDFA and has gotten better each season he’s been in the league. He can’t compensate for the defense and offensive line each year, really neither of those guys should even be lumped into the same sentence as Leinart, it’s really not fair and is way off base IMO. Leinart isn’t even “good”, he’s not even 1% of the leader nor does he carry the leadership qualities that Romo and McNabb both have, he doesn’t have the grit to pull his team from behind to lead them to victory(remember the Dallas game in Buffalo on Monday night), there really are no correlations between them at all. Leinart is terrible in every aspect of being a QB.

    I also have been taking Mike Williams over Benn in rookie drafts(he’s been my most coveted rookie as i have him in 6 of 7 dynasties), and a few people raised eyebrows but not so bad. It just shows that people actually know what they are doing, and that some people just are drafting guys who were drafted in real life earlier.

    Mike Williams has always been the better talent, and I’ve never been a fan of Benn since before he was drafted, people blamed his situation on the QB but he just has a long way to go before he develops and he reminded me way too much of DHB, both guys who were completely off of my draft board no matter where they fell to.

    I feel the same on Shipley, he’s a stud in ppr drafts that I wish had in more because he’s been going in the 4th rounds, but he’s a guy who will eat the slot alive. I liked him pre-draft and felt he would have thrived in a spread offense like NO or NE, that would have been best for him. Cincy may not pass enough for him 2 catch 70 passes, but I love the optimism, he is just a safe player that does everything right.

    As far as TE’s, I feel like I’ve been short changing Finley, he could pull in numbers close to 90/1200/12 and I don’t think that’s a stretch. He looks like the #1 red zone target, catches everything, no one can cover him, in the dynasties I don’t own him im trying my hardest 2 trade for him.

    Now I noticed you mentioned Heap and Shockey are done soon. Do you have a favorite out of Dickson & Pitta yet? I had 2 pick up both in 1 dynasty and will keep both until 1 seperates themselves. I have Graham in a few and love him longterm, just upset he’s been hobbled and Hernandez has outshined him.

    Btw surprised you didn’t mention Hernandez since he’s done so well and looks to be featured before any of those other guys, wondering if you saw his longterm outlook better then Graham.

    I took Graham as my #1 TE in a few leagues, but wondering if I should have opted for Hernandez.

    Nice article, would be interested in some of your answers 2 a few questions if you had time.

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