Editor’s Note: The Member Corner articles come from a group of writers selected from our Writer’s Contest we had a few months ago. These writers all showed great interest in having their work posted and we’re excited to offer them the ability to do that. Keep in mind all the articles in the Member Corner are not edited by DLF, nor do they always necessarily reflect the collective opinions of us. However, we have approved these writers because of their ability and passion for writing. We hope you enjoy this whole new revamped section of DLF!
Feedback on the change in format from my NFC dynasty wrap-up articles to my AFC second half outlook articles has been positive, so I’ll continue with that new style. I’ll finish my halfway point articles with the AFC East and West.
New England Patriots
Shane Vereen, RB NE
Vereen was the highest rated prospect in the New England backfield heading into the 2011 season. Widely considered to be more talented than any other back in New England, including Stevan Ridley, his injury plagued start was a massive disappointment. Matt Waldman, one of my favorite analysts, noted he compared favorably to Jahvid Best coming in to the league. Healthy for the first time in ages, he drew the surprising start last week and largely impressed. Whether his start was about sending a message to Ridley and his recent case of fumblitis or a genuine belief in Vereen’s talent is what we need to decipher. He was impressive in limited work totaling 59 yards on ten touches. The window may be closing, but if he can still be acquired on the cheap, he’s worth a shot.
Brandon Lloyd, WR NE
Hyped in the redraft arena as a top ten wide receiver, he hasn’t produced as anticipated. After breaking out in 2010 at 29 years old with 77 catches, 1448 yards and 11 touchdowns, he hasn’t come close to those numbers again. This season he’s on pace for 930 yards and just two touchdowns. Early in the season I was recommending him as a buy-low option, but now I’m backing off that recommendation. Wes Welker is the primary target between the twenties and Rob Gronkowski is still the red zone favorite. It’s not to say he has no value, but time is running out for him to prove he’s a top flight option.
Charles Clay, TE MIA
Preseason reports out of Miami singled him out as one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the Dolphins’ repertoire. However, most of these reports came out when Matt Moore was projected to be the starting quarterback. Just before the start of the preseason he was scolded on an episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” for not knowing the offense. After that, Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback and he hasn’t been heard from since. With an offense still lacking talent in the receiving game, he may get more chances and he needs to make the most of those opportunities to stay on the radar.
Lamar Miller, RB MIA
Despite taking the league by storm in the early season, Reggie Bush’s production has faltered of late. He’s been dealing with a nagging knee ailment and his production has slipped from 302 yards at six yards per carry in his first three games to 132 yards at less than three yards per carry over his last three games. If history is any indication, we haven’t seen the last of Bush’s injuries this season. So who will step in if Bush misses time? Daniel Thomas has been a disappointment this far and is averaging just 3.5 yards per tote on 200 career carries. It’s only a matter of time before the coaching staff moves on. That brings us to Miller. He looked great in early season work and has accumulated 126 yards on 23 carries. However, he hasn’t touched the ball in the last three games. Has the coaching staff seen something that they’re concerned about or will we start seeing more of him going forward?
Bilal Powell, RB NYJ
I was so excited when I picked him in the third or fourth round of my leagues’ rookie draft last season. I genuinely believed I had the steal of the draft. Fast forward a season and a half and let’s just say I’m not quite as elated. There were some exciting early season developments this season as he made quick work of bypassing Joe McKnight on the depth chart. Then he started sharing carries with Shonn Greene before suffering a significant shoulder injury in week six. Greene wasted no time taking advantage of his workhorse role by beating up on the Colts’ lowly run defense and likely adding time to his term as lead back for the Jets.
Shoulder dislocations are major injuries and it would be a surprise to see Powell back on the field prior to the Jets’ week nine bye. Some are excited about Jonathan Grimes, but I think he’s just a guy. Even after throwing in Green’s big week, Powell is still out producing him on a per touch basis and if he can come back healthy, he has a chance to regain some value heading in to next season.
Jeremy Kerley, WR NYJ
He’s a playmaker on a team severely lacking them. Having racked up 15 catches on 26 targets in the last three weeks, he’s clearly taken over as Mark Sanchez’ go to receiver. He is also the team’s best all around receiver at the present time. He’s accumulated 238 yards in the over the past three games, including 120 yards on Sunday. Stephen Hill has the higher upside by a large margin, but Kerley is solidifying himself a solid WR3 moving forward.
C.J. Spiller, RB BUF
I won’t waste your time elaborating here. There aren’t many players I view as potential sleepers on the Bills roster. I’m not particularly high on any of the receivers or tight ends aside from Stevie Johnson. Coach Chan Gailey says he wants to get Spiller and Fred Jackson 15-20 touches per game. With their woeful defense, this may not always be a possibility. The smart move is to get the ball in Spiller’s hands as much as possible as he is clearly the superior back. He is averaging an astounding 7.3 yards per carry compared to Jackson’s 3.7 yard average. There’s two ways to look at this committee attack. First, you can view Jackson as a viable flex play for the remained of the season. Secondly, if the committee attack doesn’t change, this could be the final chance to get Spiller at an affordable price.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB BUF
A quarterback with below average physical skills and above average intelligence is not enough to win a championship. Buffalo has some dynamic players on offense and score a lot of points, but they aren’t going to win many games in the post season with him at the helm. If the Bills come to the same realization,Buffalo could become a desirable landing spot for a rookie quarterback.
Eric Decker, WR DEN
I’ve seen enough from his counterpart, Demaryius Thomas, to move him into the top ten of my dynasty wide receiver rankings. Decker also has the size/skills combo to be a number one fantasy receiver, but his yardage totals have been all over the map. He dropped from 136 yards in week three to only 21 yards in week five. He’s bigger than you think at 6’3” tall and weighs 218 pounds. That makes him just as tall as Thomas and only 11 pounds lighter. He may not be the transcendent talent his teammate is, but he has an extremely high ceiling regardless. Despite his recent up tick in production, he’s a player I’d consider buying now because I think he’s undervalued in fantasy circles.
Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
Starting the season behind Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno was a disappointment, but things turned around quickly. Coaches were still concerned about his pass protection ability in early October. This was largely attributed to his missing part of camp with a hamstring injury. However, October has since become a great month for him and he’s become the teams primary third down back and change of pace option. Coach John Fox has praised his growth in the passing game, but we don’t need the coaches to tell us that he’s improving. The simple fact that both coach Fox and Peyton Manning trust him to be out there on third down in the fourth quarter says it all. Willis McGahee is getting older, but still has relatively fresh legs for his age so patience may be in order. He’s looked “okay” in limited action, but I’d like to see him flash some more dynamic skills over the second half while avoiding rookie mistakes.
San Diego Chargers
Vincent Brown, WR SD
The electric receiver out of San DiegoState was a popular sleeper pick for many this season. He broke his ankle in the second preseason game after an explosive opener that saw him catch four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. On the bright side, for Brown that is, Robert Meachem has failed to solidify himself as a first or second receiving option. That means whenever Brown does get healthy he should jump right in as the teams’ number two receiver. Unfortunately, his return is on hold as the team announced this week that Brown isn’t close to coming back. He’s a buy-low candidate as an investment for next season and we can hope to see him on the field by years end.
Ryan Mathews, RB SD
He’s far and away the most talented weapon in the San Diego backfield. Unfortunately, injury kept him off the field early and insane coaches went with Jackie Battle for awhile for a while after that. Battle’s second chance at stardom appears to be over which means it’s Mathews’ chance to shine. I’m not calling this year a make-or-break season for Matthews by any means, but with a clear workhorse role and a favorable schedule to close out the season, he needs to show up in a big way for owners. Some have him among their elite tier running backs. However, I expect more than an average of 4.6 yards per carry 14 total touchdowns in two seasons from my “elite” running backs.
Darren McFadden, RB OAK
He was undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted and is one of the most fragile running backs in the NFL. I’m growing more concerned each week. Including his big game against the Steelers, McFadden is averaging just over three yards per carry this season. Take that game away and he hasn’t been over three yards per carry in a single game. He has several great match-ups remaining this year including match-ups with Kansas City twice, New Orleans, Cleveland, and Carolina (in week 16). Has he lost a step due to numerous lower extremity injuries? Is he still struggling with last seasons’ Lis Franc injury? He has the perfect schedule to make me look silly for asking and I hope he does.
Denarius Moore, WR OAK
Overshadowed by the likes of Julio Jones and A.J. Green, Moore has future stud written all over him. After dealing with a hamstring injury early in the season, he’s come on as of late. In his last three games he has 13 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns. He’s done that catching just half of his targets. He may not be the biggest receiver, but he is elite in terms of explosiveness. It’s probably too late to fleece him from another owner, but I’m excited to see him develop.
Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Baldwin, WR KC
It’s hard to ask for a breakout performance from a wide receiver in Kansas City. So, I’m not asking for anything incredible. He’s currently second on the team in receiving yards with 193. That is amazing for all the wrong reasons, but it does speak to his skill set as does his impressive 14.8 yards per catch average. I don’t expect the Chiefs to go away from the run game, but if he displays consistency of any kind in their anemic passing attack, I’ll be recommending him as a solid buy-low option heading into 2013.
Peyton Hillis, RB KC
The return of the White Rhino! We’re all excited right? Okay, not so much. His return bears watching though. He’s been an effective, if not exciting, runner in his career and has a respectable 4.2 yards per carry average. While Hillis has a chance at flex level value, I’m more concerned about a potentially negative affect on Jamaal Charles. Will Hillis take over on the goal line? Will they mix him in more to spell Charles?
Thanks for reading!
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