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QB: Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith
RB: Marshawn Lynch, David Wilson, Stevan Ridley, Darren Sproles, Rashard Mendenhall
WR: Jordy Nelson, Pierre Garcon, Anquan Boldin, Eddie Royal
TE: Owen Daniels, Jermaine Gresham
PK: Alex Henery
TD: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Overview:

We think you're looking good at quarterback and running back. The receiver corps is a concern though.

The good news is that, of all of the weaknesses to have, this one is usually the most survivable. At receiver, it's often relatively easy to find fill-in guys on a weekly basis until a better player emerges during the season.

Last year wide receivers like James Jones and Cecil Shorts went undrafted. But these guys likely helped the fantasy teams that landed them in 2012. Stay atop the news and watch the target report to find the break out players weeks before the rest of the world wants them and you'll be in the mix.

Players we particularly like on this team include David Wilson and Rashard Mendenhall. We have both these guys ranked ahead of where they are typically being drafted.

Bottom line:
  • With great inseason management, we think you have about a 70 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With good inseason management, we think you have about a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With average inseason management, we think you have a 34 percent chance of making the playoffs.

In any event, we wish you the best of luck. Here's hoping all your weeks are like week 2 of 2013:

Marshawn Lynch vs. SF: 135 combined yards, 3 TD
Eddie Royal vs. PHI: 90 receiving yards, 3 TD
Aaron Rodgers vs. WAS: 480 passing yards, 4 TD
Pierre Garcon vs. GB: 143 receiving yards, 1 TD
Jordy Nelson vs. WAS: 66 receiving yards, 2 TD
Alex Smith vs. DAL: 223 passing yards, 57 rushing yards, 2 TD

QB Summary:

You don't need us to tell you this, but we'll tell you anyway: Aaron Rodgers should ensure that your production at the quarterback position is among the best in the league. We have him as the #2 QB according to your scoring rules, and we figure he gives you about a 2.2 point-per-game advantage over an average starting QB.

Our projections don't show Alex Smith as being a top-notch backup, but the issue will be moot as long as Rodgers stays healthy.

Incidentally, Smith has what we project as a neutral matchup (NYG) during Rodgers's bye.

A quick note about the Rodgers/Jordy Nelson hookup you've got here: while we think the effect of the quarterback/receiver hookup has largely been exaggerated in fantasy football circles, it does have a tendency to make your team somewhat more inconsistent than comparable scoring duos from different NFL teams. But if you like the players at both ends of the connection, we do not see any need to make a change because of it.

RB Summary:

Your starting running backs should, as a unit, be adequate but not great. In particular we like David Wilson as a second RB. Our projections have Marshawn Lynch ranked eighth and Wilson ranked 14th.

Your bench looks good and should help offset the unexciting starting unit. Stevan Ridley looks great as a third running back; he's a likely flex starter. We also very much approve of the selection of Darren Sproles, and not just because you can hold the LeSean McCoy owner hostage. He's a fine fourth running back in his own right.

Rashard Mendenhall is an excellent depth pick, though you may not end up using him much.

WR Summary:

We see both your starters at receiver as below average. Jordy Nelson is our #13 ranked receiver, and we have Pierre Garcon at #18.

Anquan Boldin is a little below average as a third receiver. Eddie Royal is also a liability at fourth receiver.

TE Summary:

Owen Daniels is viable but below average as a starting tight end (we have him ranked #10). We're also not too fired up about Jermaine Gresham as a backup.

Kicker Summary:

We don't think Alex Henery is starter quality in this league. Keep a sharp eye on the waiver wire.

Defense Summary:

When you don't have an elite defense, one option is a committee approach. That is, try to get two cheap defenses whose schedules fit well together. Here are a few teams who we think may be available and whose schedules fit best with the Buccaneers', along with the combined schedule that each would create:

Buccaneers   +   Browns   =   NYJ | BAL | MIN | ARI | BUF | PHI | ATL | KC | BAL | MIA | CIN | PIT | JAX | BUF | CHI | NYJ
Buccaneers   +   Chargers   =   NYJ | PHI | TEN | ARI | OAK | PHI | JAX | CAR | SEA | MIA | MIA | DET | CIN | BUF | SF | OAK
Buccaneers   +   Dolphins   =   NYJ | IND | ATL | ARI | BAL | PHI | BUF | CAR | CIN | MIA | SD | DET | NYJ | BUF | SF | BUF


Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2014 season.


Schedule Analysis

Green means GO (good matchup), red means STOP (bad matchup). Main starters highlighted

At the bottom of the table, the Relative Strength row shows you how strong we project your team to be, relative to your usual strength, in that week. This accounts for byes and matchups.

12345678910111213141516
Aaron RodgersSFWASCINDETBALCLEMINCHIPHINYGMINDETATLDALPIT
Alex SmithJAXDALPHINYGTENOAKHOUCLEBUFDENSDDENWASOAKIND
 
Marshawn LynchCARSFJAXHOUINDTENARISTLTBATLMINNOSFNYGARI
Rashard MendenhallSTLDETNOTBCARSFSEAATLHOUJAXINDPHISTLTENSEA
Stevan RidleyBUFNYJTBATLCINNONYJMIAPITCARDENHOUCLEMIABAL
Darren SprolesWASSDKCDENNYGTBDALNYGOAKGBWASARIDETMINCHI
David WilsonDALDENCARKCPHICHIMINPHIOAKGBDALWASSDSEADET
 
Anquan BoldinGBSEAINDSTLHOUARITENJAXCARNOWASSTLSEATBATL
Pierre GarconPHIGBDETOAKDALCHIDENSDMINPHISFNYGKCATLDAL
Jordy NelsonSFWASCINDETBALCLEMINCHIPHINYGMINDETATLDALPIT
Eddie RoyalHOUPHITENDALOAKINDJAXWASDENMIAKCCINNYGDENOAK
 
Owen DanielsDENCLEHOUBUFMIAGBPITCLECINCHINYJPITMINDETNE
Jermaine GreshamCHIPITGBCLENEBUFDETNYJMIABALCLESDINDPITMIN
 
Alex HeneryWASSDKCDENNYGTBDALNYGOAKGBWASARIDETMINCHI
 
Tampa Bay BuccaneersNYJNONEARIPHIATLCARSEAMIAATLDETCARBUFSFSTL
 
Relative Strength102981019910110310410599101104100100999998

Schedule and Matchup Notes:

  • Please note that the Relative strength numbers above account for both byes and matchups.
  • Remember that you might have starters on bye in a given week, but still have a high relative strength. This could occur because of favorable matchups, or it might be because you are projected to be missing less production than an average opponent will (your opponents have to deal with byes too).
  • Pierre Garcon and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out in week 5, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • Rashard Mendenhall, David Wilson, and Anquan Boldin are out in week 9, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • In weeks 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10 you'll probably be better off than your opponent, as far as byes are concerned.


Potential Free Agents

Listed in order of preference. We don't know exactly who is available in your league, but here is a list of players who might be available and could be upgrades over some of your depth players, listed in order of preference. Your players are listed in red for comparison. Players who might not mesh well with the bye weeks of your key players are grayed out.


QB: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

RB: we don't necessarily recommend any roster moves here.

WR: Josh Gordon (10), Kenny Britt (11), Lance Moore (5), James Jones (7), Michael Floyd (9), Justin Blackmon (9), Sidney Rice (12), Denarius Moore (7), Tavon Austin (11), Greg Little (10), Golden Tate (9), DeAndre Hopkins (8), Brian Hartline (6), Rueben Randle (9), Kenbrell Thompkins (10), Malcom Floyd (8). We have all these players rated ahead of Eddie Royal.

TE: Jermichael Finley (4), Kyle Rudolph (5), Jared Cook (11), Owen Daniels (8), Antonio Gates (8), Dwayne Allen (8), Marcedes Lewis (9), Brandon Pettigrew (9), Brandon Myers (5), Jordan Cameron (10), Martellus Bennett (8), Fred Davis (5), Julius Thomas (9), Zach Sudfeld (10), Ed Dickson (8), Coby Fleener (8). We have all these players rated ahead of Jermaine Gresham.

PK: Matt Bryant (6), Josh Brown (9), David Akers (9), Steve Hauschka (12), Blair Walsh (5), Kai Forbath (5), Dan Bailey (11), Adam Vinatieri (8), Mike Nugent (12), Mason Crosby (4), Greg Zuerlein (11), Rian Lindell (5), Robbie Gould (8), Shaun Suisham (5), Alex Henery (12).

TD: Houston Texans (8), Cincinnati Bengals (12), New York Giants (9), Arizona Cardinals (9), St. Louis Rams (11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5), Denver Broncos (9), Atlanta Falcons (6), Cleveland Browns (10), Minnesota Vikings (5).


Projections and Player Summaries

PlayerCmpAttYDY/ATDINTRshYDTDFPTRank
Aaron Rodgers37255044008.03810502402388.02
Alex Smith34056037256.72310451451278.816

Aaron Rodgers - Top two fantasy quarterback for the last five seasons. Only 14 interceptions in the last TWO seasons. 84 passing touchdown over the last two seasons. Over 500 yards rushing and five touchdowns over that same time span. Aaron Rodgers is about as consistent of a fantasy quarterback as you can have. When Greg Jennings went down to injury last season, he just found other options to throw to and the Packers kept rolling. No running game? No problem. Rodgers is comfortable throwing from his own end zone, or on his opponent's one yard line. Rodgers is a stud that anyone can build their fantasy team around.

Alex Smith - It's easy to forget after the performance of Colin Kaepernick, but Alex Smith was actually enjoying his best season ever before a concussion and the play of Kaepernick derailed it. Through eight weeks he was the 15th amongst quarterbacks in fantasy points, which is as close as Smith has ever come to sniffing QB1 territory. His completion percentage (70.2%) would have been tied for the fifth best of all-time had he finished the year and he raised his yards per attempt almost a full yard higher than his career best. Smith steps into a very good situation in Kansas City and it's easy to wonder if he can match his production from the first half of 2012. He arguably has better weapons in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but he will not enjoy the same protection behind Kansas City's revamped offensive line. That lack of protection leads to injury concerns, but a need to scramble could lead to more rushing yards for Smith if he can stay healthy. While many of Smith's struggles early in his career were attributed to a lack of stability, Head Coach Andy Reid does not believe that this change will have the same effect on Smith. At the NFL owners meetings this offseason Reid said of the change: "I think the last couple years, that will carry over. And he did, he had a ton of change. Most quarterbacks that go through that, they're ruined. They never come out on the positive side. They get crushed. But he was able to work through all that. Even the year before Jim [Harbaugh] got there, you could see him, his production starting to go up. But what he was doing there, the terminology will be very similar; scheme for the most part will be very similar. I don't think it will be a big transition."

PlayerRshYDY/RshTDRecYDTDFPTRank
Marshawn Lynch30014004.711252002250.58
David Wilson26012254.710302101224.514
Stevan Ridley26011504.41215950204.020
Darren Sproles653255.01806857189.022
Rashard Mendenhall2158904.18181200158.029

Marshawn Lynch - Marshawn Lynch was a first-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007, and was traded to the Seahawks during his fourth season in the league. He has been a great fit in the Seattle offense, and was a top-five fantasy RB in each of the last two seasons. Lynch is known for his intense running style: he runs with relentless effort and determination, using sheer will to keep his balance and moving forward after contact. With the Seahawks' addition of WR Percy Harvin to keep defenses honest, Lynch should face fewer eight-man fronts this season and another top-five fantasy finish is a realistic possibiliy. But there are concerns. First, Lynch has suffered back spams for several seasons now. While they did not cause him to miss an regular season games in 2012 (and caused him to miss only one game in 2011), they frequently limited him in practice and caused him to be listed as questionable nearly every week. Second, Lynch has a June trial date for a DUI he was arrested for last year. If he is convicted, he'll face a two-game suspension to start the year. Third, Lynch has struggled with ball control, and now that the team has terrific depth at running back (in Robert Turbin and rookie Christine Michael), a poorly timed fumble could open the door for another back to steal carries. All that said, Lynch's proven track record and upside potential will ensure that he's off the board by the middle of the first round in most fantasy drafts.

Rashard Mendenhall - Rashard Mendenhall was a first-round pick by the Steelers in 2008 and has a couple of 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. He played out his contract in Pittsburgh and signed with the Cardinals this offseason, where he will likely be starter at running back. When he is healthy, Mendenhall is a no-nonsense runner who stays north-south and gets the tough inside yards. He has been somewhat injury-prone so far in his NFL career, but the Cardinals are used to that in their running backs. Mendenhall will have to fend off Ryan Williams, as well as rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, for carries. Because the Cardinals' running game has lacked luster in recent seasons, and because Mendenhall is no sure thing to maintain the starting job all season, he should not drafted as a fantasy starter in leagues that start only two running backs.

Stevan Ridley - Stevan Ridley has taken the chance to be lead back for the Patriots seriously, showing up to the team's conditioning program having added quite a bit of muscle. He was already a load to tackle in the first place, and if he added the muscle without sacrificing speed and agility, he could be a nightmare for defenders. Ridley topped 1200 yards for the first time last season and if he can stay healthy (he was knocked out of the AFC Championship game with a concussion) could be looking at similar production as the Pats will likely run just as often.

Darren Sproles - Darren Sproles has a well defined role for the Saints and has been extremely effective in the offense. He has had his two most productive seasons in the NFL as a member of the Saints, after leaving the Chargers after the 2010 season in free agency. Sproles broke the NFL record for most single-season all purpose yards his first year with the Saints in 2011 with 2,696 yards and had career highs with 603 yards rushing, 710 yards receiving and a combined 9 TDs. He is also the first player in NFL history to have over 2,200 all purpose yards in four different seasons. He continued that success. He enters the 2013 season as a 30-year old, but continues to be both quick and fast. He has averaged 80 catches per year as a Saint and should continue to be an effective outlet for Drew Brees.

David Wilson - When the Giants drafted David Wilson in the 1st round of the 2012 rookie draft, it was an acknowledgement that the team needed more productivity from a running back position that had failed to deliver on a week in, week out basis. Brandon Jacobs was sent packing and Wilson was going to slot in behind starter Ahmad Bradshaw for a season or two, and play a significant albeit complementary role. But the NFL is a fickle beast, and the 2012 season didn't go according to plan. Ahmad Bradshaw did his part (1,015 yards rushing in 12 starts) but battled injuries throughout the season - but Wilson fell into his coaches dog house early and had to dig himself out of a deep hole. Coming out of Virginia Tech, Wilson had the requisite size, speed, power and vision to be an NFL feature back. His main red flag was a tendency to fumble and, sure enough, he put the ball on the ground in Week One of his rookie season. Wilson barely saw the field until injuries to both Bradshaw and Andre Brown forced Coach Coughlin's hand. In Week 13, Wilson amassed 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 13 carries, and we finally saw the skills that made him a 1st round choice. Although he didn't play many offensive snaps as a rookie, Wilson did lead the league in kickoffs and kick return yardage, another illustration of his explosiveness. Entering 2013, the picture is decidedly brighter for Wilson as the Giants have parted ways with Ahmad Bradshaw, Wilson has been the lead back throughout training camp, and is set to receive the lion's share of carries as Andre Brown unfortunately broke his leg again in the final preseason game. Wilson could emerge as the league's next great workhorse.

PlayerRshYDTDRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Jordy Nelson00076114015.08200.013
Pierre Garcon00078108013.87189.018
Anquan Boldin0007496513.06169.533
Eddie Royal0003040513.5161.591

Anquan Boldin - Anquan Boldin took the league by storm as a rookie in 2003, catching 101 passes for 1,377 yards, and has been a tough, reliable NFL wide receiver ever since. He spent his first seven seasons with the Cardinals, then joined the Ravens for three seasons, where he is coming off of a Super Bowl victory against the 49ers. Indeed, Boldin was a big part of that victory, catching six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers, operating under the maxim, "if you can't beat him, sign him" will make Boldin their number two wideout this season as he lines up across from Michael Crabtree. Boldin, like Crabtree, is a physically imposing receiver who plays with the strength and determination catch the ball in a crowd and hold on after taking a hit. Bolding was never a speed burner, however, and after ten years in the league he could slow down at any time. Moreover, he's in a run-heavy offense and will have to compete for looks with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. His upside potential is therefore fairly limited. Boldin is an excellent bye-week fill-in because he's a dependable receiver who can be counted on to score a few points every week, but he lacks the dynamism that fantasy owners should look for as an every-week starter.

Pierre Garcon - The Redskins lavished Pierre Garcon with a 5-year, $42mm contract including $20.5mm in guaranteed money last offseason, believing Garcon was the perfect WR1 to help Robert Griffin III reach his star potential. Garcon opened the 2012 season against the New Orleans Saints, and torched the beleaguered defense for 109 yards and a touchdown. The Redskins investment in the former Indianapolis Colt seemed well deserved. Sadly, that marked the pinnacle of Garcon's season; he tore ligaments in his foot in Week One and was limited throughout the year. Garcon missed six games and played hurt through the rest, finishing with a disappointing 44 catches for 633 yards and four touchdowns. Garcon opted not to have surgery in the offseason, and acknowledged that his foot may not be 100% again in 2013. That's a red flag, and no one should be surprised if Garcon opts for surgery at some point over the next calendar year. However, Garcon has looked great during training camp and shown no signs of last year's impediment. Assuming he can play through the pain, Garcon has the deep speed and ball tracking ability to blow the top off opposing defenses.

Jordy Nelson - With Greg Jennings hurt for a big part of last season, Jordy Nelson had a chance to shine as Green Bay's #1 WR. He posted some impressive performances, including posting more than 240 yards and 4 TDS in two games against Houston and St. Louis in week six and seven. He missed a little time at the end of the regular season, but returned to post eight receptions for 97 yards in the playoffs. Jennings has moved on to Minnesota now, and Nelson will the the #1 receiving option this season. If he stays healthy, he could post the best stats of his career. Note: Nelson just had surgery to repair a nerve issue in his knee. Initial thoughts are that he'll miss the entire pre-season and recovery will be about 3-4 weeks. Keep an eye on this but don't abandon Nelson just yet. If his recovery is slow, he could possibly miss a game but he's still a solid option and may not miss any time at all.

PlayerRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Owen Daniels6169511.44124.010
Jermaine Gresham474359.3491.023

Owen Daniels - Owen Daniels has 54 and 62 receptions over the last two years, totaling nine touchdowns in that span. Those numbers culminated in a Top 8 fantasy ranking last year, giving him three Top 10 finishes in his seven year career. In 2012 Daniels was second on the Texans in targets (130) behind Andre Johnson. In Houston's dynamic offense, Daniels is a big part of the game plan. He represents a consistent option at tight end with the potential to finish in the Top 10 once again in 2013.

Jermaine Gresham - While Jermaine Gresham is a very athletic former first-round pick, Cincinnati decided to invest another first-rounder in Tyler Eifert. Gresham should begin the season as the top tight end and net more snaps than Eifert, but coaches have already been singing the rookie's praises this offseason. Gresham has the inside track because of his experience and blocking ability that go along with his pass-catching skill set, but his production (which was already middle-of-the-road with career highs of 64 catches and 737 yards) could be dissolved into by Eifert.

PlayerFGMFGAXPMXPAFPTRank
Alex Henery23283737106.021

Alex Henery - Henery needs 42 more attempts to qualify for the NFL career field goal percentage list. He is currently on pace to join the list at the number two spot. His long range attempts have been sparse, going 1 of 3 from 50+ yards. This year Henery will once again be working with a new holder. It will most likely be free agent punter signing Donnie Jones, who was with the Texans last year. Although, undrafted rookie signing Brad Wing (LSU) is not out of the realm of possibility. Jon Dorenbos was re-signed at the magician / long snapper position. The trio will be working under a new coaching staff, including HC Chip Kelly, OC Pat Shurmur, and STC Dave Fipp. After ranking either 1st or 2nd in attempted kicking points for three years, the Eagles dropped to 20th in 2011 and 24th last year.

PlayerSackFRINTTDYd/GPt/GFPTRank
Tampa Bay Buccaneers361118435623.8127.912

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Anyone could see where Tampa Bay struggled last year: The Buccaneers rush defense topped the league in 2012, but were dead last against the pass. The front office made a big splash in dealing for stud cornerback Darrelle Revis who should go a long way in improving the pass defense. Not finished there, Tampa Bay added veteran safety Dashon Goldson and excellent rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks. The improved secondary will help, but the Buccaneers also lost pass-rusher Michael Bennett. They'll need to find someone to pressure the quarterback because even the best cover guys around can't blanket receivers forever. Overall, there are too many holes in this unit to give them much consideration on draft day.


Player News (last 7 days)

"Our view" written by footballguys.com's Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom. Click here for all the news around the NFL, updated constantly.

Chiefs | Interest in Teddy Bridgewater - Draft stock for Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater appears to be falling based on recent workouts, so the Kansas City Chiefs may take a flier on Bridgewater if he is available with the 23rd overall selection. The Chiefs do not have a second-round pick and it is believed Bridgewater would be insurance for QB Alex Smith. Mon Apr 14, 01:51 AM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: We've seen Bridgewater's draft stock fall since his average pro day performance. Some feel he could fall to the 20s in the first round--and perhaps even further. Bridgewater is an incredible quarterback who would be a great fit for the Chiefs. They haven't won a game with a quarterback they drafted since 1987 (Todd Blackledge). The Chiefs need to find a young prospect to groom as a future starter.