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Team 12, rated by footballguys.com

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QB: Andrew Luck, Eli Manning
RB: LeVeon Bell, Frank Gore, Ameer Abdullah, DeAngelo Williams
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Emmanuel Sanders, Victor Cruz, Michael Crabtree, Brandon LaFell
TE: Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph
PK: Mason Crosby
TD: St. Louis Rams

Overview:

We think you're looking good at quarterback and running back, and tight end is a plus for this team as well. Your squad is therefore easy for us to like despite a bit of weakness at the receiver position. But as weaknesses go, this is one is survivable. It's usually relatively easy to find fill-in guys on a weekly basis until a better player emerges during the season. As long as you stay on top of things inseason, you should be the league favorite or very close to it.

Players we particularly like on this team include Eli Manning, Kyle Rudolph, Ameer Abdullah, the Rams defense, and Mason Crosby. We have all these guys ranked ahead of where they are typically being drafted.

Bottom line:
  • With great inseason management, we think you have about a 99 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With good inseason management, we think you have about a 90 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With average inseason management, we think you have a 82 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 4 of 2013:

Victor Cruz vs. KC: 164 receiving yards, 1 TD
Frank Gore vs. STL: 153 combined yards, 1 TD
LeVeon Bell vs. MIN: 84 combined yards, 2 TD
Alshon Jeffery vs. DET: 107 receiving yards, 1 TD

QB Summary:

You don't need us to tell you this, but we'll tell you anyway: Andrew Luck should ensure that your production at the quarterback position is among the best in the league. We have him as the #1 QB according to your scoring rules, and we figure he gives you about a 3.8 point-per-game advantage over an average starting QB.

We also love Eli Manning as a backup. In fact, we think he's good enough to be someone's starting quarterback in this league. With Luck in place as your starter, he's something of a luxury for you. If he plays like we expect, you should be able to get good value for him in a trade after quarterback injuries hit some of your opponents.

Incidentally, Manning has what we project as a neutral matchup (NE) during Luck's bye.

A quick note about the same-team Luck/Frank Gore duo you've got here. Though the effect is probably negligible, this kind of pairing is likely to make your team more (not less) consistent than a comparable-scoring different-team pair. See this article (which was written before the 2008 season) for more discussion.

RB Summary:

Nice work here. We like both your starting running backs, as our projections indicate that they give you a combined 1.6 point-per-game advantage over an average opponent in this league. Our projections have LeVeon Bell ranked at #3 and Frank Gore ranked at #15.

Your bench also looks good. Ameer Abdullah looks great as a third running back; he's a likely flex starter. And we're OK with the selection of DeAngelo Williams as a handcuff to LeVeon Bell even if we wouldn't otherwise consider him strong fourth RB material.

WR Summary:

We like Emmanuel Sanders as a second WR, but we consider your starting receivers, as a group, to be a little below par. Alshon Jeffery is our 11th ranked WR, Sanders is #15, and we have Victor Cruz 50th.

We don't particularly like Michael Crabtree as a fourth receiver.

Because you're not particularly strong overall at the position, adding some depth here was a good idea. But we're not convinced Brandon LaFell is the right player for the job. Check the end of the report for some alternative suggestions.

TE Summary:

As you are well aware, Greg Olsen is an elite tight end. We have him ranked third overall at the position. He's about 1.3 points per game better than an average starting TE in this league. We also think Kyle Rudolph is a starting quality tight end in this league. He's a luxury.

Kicker Summary:

With Mason Crosby, you should be above average at the position.

Defense Summary:

The Rams are our #2 ranked defense, so you're in good shape here.


Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2016 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
Andrew LuckBUFNYJTENJAXHOUNENOCARDENATLTBPITJAXHOUMIA
Eli ManningDALATLWASBUFSFPHIDALNOTBNEWASNYJMIACARMIN
 
Ameer AbdullahSDMINDENSEAARICHIMINKCGBOAKPHIGBSTLNOSF
LeVeon BellNESFSTLBALSDARIKCCINOAKCLESEAINDCINDENBAL
Frank GoreBUFNYJTENJAXHOUNENOCARDENATLTBPITJAXHOUMIA
DeAngelo WilliamsNESFSTLBALSDARIKCCINOAKCLESEAINDCINDENBAL
 
Michael CrabtreeCINBALCLECHIDENSDNYJPITMINDETTENKCDENGBSD
Victor CruzDALATLWASBUFSFPHIDALNOTBNEWASNYJMIACARMIN
Alshon JefferyGBARISEAOAKKCDETMINSDSTLDENGBSFWASMINTB
Brandon LaFellOAKSDBALKCSEABUFPITCLEHOUARISTLCLEPITSFDEN
Emmanuel SandersBALKCDETMINOAKCLEGBINDKCCHINESDOAKPITCIN
 
Greg OlsenJAXHOUNOTBSEAPHIINDGBTENWASDALNOATLNYGATL
Kyle RudolphSFDETSDDENKCDETCHISTLOAKGBATLSEAARICHINYG
 
Mason CrosbyCHISEAKCSFSTLSDDENCARDETMINCHIDETDALOAKARI
 
St. Louis RamsSEAWASPITARIGBCLESFMINCHIBALCINARIDETTBSEA
 
Relative Strength991019898100102971061071009410210010010097

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).
  • Week 11 presents serious bye week issues for you: Eli Manning, LeVeon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, and Victor Cruz are off.
  • Week 7 presents moderate bye week issues: Alshon Jeffery, Brandon LaFell, Emmanuel Sanders, and Mason Crosby are not playing.
  • Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph are out in week 5, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • Michael Crabtree and St. Louis Rams are out in week 6, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • In weeks 4, 8, 9, 10, and 12 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: Alfred Blue (9), Charles Sims (6), Darren McFadden (6), Bishop Sankey (4), Knile Davis (9), Reggie Bush (), Roy Helu (6), Javorius Allen (9), Andre Williams (11), Damien Williams (5), Fred Jackson (), James Starks (7), Benny Cunningham (6), Chris Johnson (9), Khiry Robinson (5), David Johnson (9), Theo Riddick (9), DeAngelo Williams (11).

WR: Marques Colston (), Doug Baldwin (9), Markus Wheaton (11), Rueben Randle (8), Kenny Stills (5), DeVante Parker (5), Victor Cruz (11), Marvin Jones (9), Steve Johnson (10), Malcom Floyd (), Eddie Royal (7), Allen Hurns (8), Devin Funchess (5), Michael Crabtree (6), Percy Harvin (), Dwayne Bowe (), Kenny Britt (6), Brandon Coleman (11), Brandon LaFell (7).

TE: Dwayne Allen (10), Kyle Rudolph (5), Jordan Cameron (5), Tyler Eifert (7), Heath Miller (), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (6), Coby Fleener (11), Owen Daniels (), Zach Ertz (8), Josh Hill (11).

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

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


Projections and Player Summaries

PlayerCmpAttYDY/ATDINTRshYDTDFPTRank
Andrew Luck37059545997.73615582443395.41
Eli Manning36555342307.6321718271323.28

Andrew Luck - Andrew Luck began his highly anticipated career with two back to back seasons of 23 touchdown passes before exploding for 40 last year. Many expected him to take a sizable leap forward in 2014, so they weren't surprised when he finished the year as the top ranked quarterback in the league. Luck has risen to the top of the quarterback mountain in just his third year as a pro. The expectations for 2015 are high once again and they're backed by a prominent supporting cast of receivers that includes free agent signee and future Hall of Fame candidate Andre Johnson. The addition of Johnson, plus T.Y. Hilton combined with the youth of rookie Philip Dorsett, Duron Carter and Donte Moncrief, give the Colts an edge on offense. Expect Luck to be among the best fantasy quarterbacks in the game on a weekly basis. He should be one of the highest priced daily options and likely one of the first two quarterbacks off the board in your draft.

Eli Manning - Eli Manning's career has been a roller coaster. The 2-time Super Bowl champion was on a downward trajectory entering the 2014 season. In 2013 he led the NFL with 27 interceptions, and many wondered if Manning's best years were behind him. Thanks to new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the emergence of Odell Beckham Jr., Manning erased those questions and arguably delivered his best season. Manning completed a career-best 63.1% of his passes, threw for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and most importantly cut his interceptions in half (14). Entering his 12th season, Manning could be in-line for a career year, with 5,000-yards within the realm of possibility. Lest you think that hyperbole, remember that Odell Beckham only played 11 games last year, and missed the entirety of the preseason. Generally teams improve in the second year of a new system, and Victor Cruz is on track for a Week One return. Add to that RB Shane Vereen -- an excellent receiver out of the backfield -- and Manning has his best supporting cast in years, if not his career. Manning has a top 10 fantasy floor with top 5 upside, in spite of costing a bit less.

PlayerRshYDY/RshTDRecYDTDFPTRank
LeVeon Bell2359994.39574793217.83
Frank Gore2208914.17383192171.015
Ameer Abdullah1656854.25453692145.423
DeAngelo Williams1003653.731398062.361

Ameer Abdullah - Ameer Abdullah arrives in Detroit as a 2nd round pick out of Nebraska and will earn immediate playing time as the 3rd down back and as a change of pace to power back Joique Bell. Abdullah could potentially carve out an even bigger role due to his impressive training camp performance and Bell's nagging injury issues. The biggest knock on Abdullah is his size at only 5'9 and 205 pounds. He does not have the ideal build for a true 3-down RB. Abdullah does run hard though and generates some power with his leg drive and low pad level. A smaller knock on Abdullah is his lack of blazing long speed as he only ran a 4.60 40-yd. dash at the combine. Where he really excels however is with his quickness and ability to hit top speed quickly. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and should step right into the role vacated by Reggie Bush as the primary pass catching back in Detroit as he is more talented than Theo Riddick. Abdullah should be viewed as a RB2 with upside, particularly in PPR leagues. Abdullah could emerge as the RB1 in Detroit by the middle of the season.

LeVeon Bell - Le'Veon Bell proved last year that he's one of the best--if not THE best--young running backs in the game today. He improved his yards per carry from 3.5 as a rookie in 2013 to 4.7 last season. His 1,361 yards rushing ranked only second to former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (1,845). Bell's 616 yards after contact ranked third last year behind Murray (738) and the Seahawks Marshawn Lynch (707). He moved the chains 73 times last season, and Bell gained a first down on 25.2 percent of his carries in 2014. In addition to getting it done at a high level on the ground, Bell is a fantastic receiver out of the backfield. It's easy to make the argument that he's the best receiving back in the league. Bell was targeted 105 times in 2014, the same number as Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald--and second overall among running backs in the NFL. He ran 487 routes, caught 83 passes for 854 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns. Clearly, Bell is a RB1 for fantasy owners and an every-week starter. This season, Bell will begin the year on the suspended list for the first two weeks. Fantasy owners should still consider Bell at the top of the draft. The Steelers will cover for him with DeAngelo Wiliams in the starting lineup but after that Bell should be tearing up the league once again. He'll be available for most of the season and--most importantly--the fantasy playoffs. If you can land Bell in your draft at any point, then consider yourself fortunate.

Frank Gore - The Colts signed veteran running back Frank Gore in the offseason and all indications suggest he'll be the primary back in a potent Indianapolis offense. Gore will be 32 when he laces up his cleats for his 11th training camp as a pro and first with a different team other than the 49ers. The league has plenty of aging running backs whose skills diminish after age 30, but Gore bucks the trend. He has played in 148 of a possible 160 regular season games in his career and has totaled 1,000+ yards rushing in eight of the last nine years. The Colts are looking for him to be a veteran presence and be the base of a running game that Trent Richardson struggled to uphold. His strong work ethic and knowledge of the game and position gives the Colts an improvement at running back, compared to 2014 and years prior. Two hundred carries is within reach this year and some believe if the running game takes shape, that number could creep up to 250+ carries. Gore is a durable, safe fantasy running back selection with an RB2 outlook without a high round price tag.

DeAngelo Williams - With Le'Veon Bell suspended the first three weeks of the 2015 season, the Steelers will be leaning on veteran DeAngelo Williams. Last year, Williams struggled to stay healthy and put up the worst numbers in his nine-year pro career. The Steelers picked him up after the Panthers cut him earlier this year with the idea that he'll provide valuable veteran depth. Williams isn't the same player he used to be, but he should be able to be a solid starter for the Steelers while Bell is out. During those first three weeks, the Steelers should rely less on the rushing attack and more on Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game.

PlayerRshYDTDRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Alshon Jeffery422076104913.810165.111
Emmanuel Sanders630078104513.47149.515
Victor Cruz0005269213.3599.250
Michael Crabtree1405766711.7491.157
Brandon LaFell0003746612.6682.662

Michael Crabtree - Crabtree signed a modest one-year deal to move across the bay from San Francisco and looks like his strong training camp performance will easily be enough to win the job as the Raiders' #2 WR across from Amari Cooper. Crabtree was drafted 10th overall in 2009 by the 49ers and improved each of his first four seasons, culminating in a strong 85 catch, 1,105 yard and 9 touchdown season in 2012. He seemed on the verge of becoming a star, but injured his achilles the following offseason. The injury was considered potentially career threatening but Crabtree was able to return late in the 2013 season and play a handful of games. The injury seems to have sapped Crabtree of some explosiveness and he struggled through a mediocre 2014 campaign in which he had a hard time getting on the same page with QB Colin Kaepernick and openly questioned his role in the offense. Crabtree's reputation as a poor presence in the locker room and lack of big plays since his injury dampened the market for his services this offseason. But he remains a strong route runner and is able to create separation with his quickness and strong technique and is a strong fit for the Raiders' needs at the position. While Crabtree's deep speed may be questionable, he should be a strong option as a veteran possession receiver for QB David Carr and has WR3 upside if Carr can take a step forward in his second season.

Victor Cruz - Victor Cruz was recovering well from a torn patellar tendon, and both he and the Giants expressed confidence in his availability for Week One. Unfortunately a calf injury sidelined Cruz again and he's now set to miss at least the first week of the season. Assuming for a moment he makes a full recovery, Cruz enters the 2015 with a different role than the past two seasons. Cruz is no longer the Giants' top pass-catcher; that role belongs to Odell Beckham for the foreseeable future. Cruz will now be able to test his mettle against team's secondary cornerbacks. He'll also face single coverage in most situations. At his best, Cruz is a smart route runner with vacuum hands. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in his ability to gain separation, particularly on crossing routes. His days as a fantasy WR1 are probably over, but Cruz can re-emerge as a viable WR2 if fully healthy.

Alshon Jeffery - Alshon Jeffery missed the Bears' first preseason game due to a calf injury suffered earlier in the week. Following the game, Jeffery was seen in a walking boot. Head coach John Fox is calling Jeffery's injury a day-to-day thing, but who really knows. The Bears played coy when it came to Kevin White's shin injury, one of which has kept him out all of training camp thus far. So it's really hard to gauge if there's something more to what Jeffery currently is going through. Jeffery had been looking great in camp before the injury, and the Bears will need him if they plan to surprise the masses and finish the season with a winning record. Stay tuned.

Brandon LaFell - After years of not fulfilling the promise he had coming out of LSU, Brandon LaFell finally put his 'big boy' pants on and put together a great season for the New England Patriots. LaFell actually looked like the guy we thought he could be when he entered the NFL and his 957 yards on 74 catches were by far the best totals of his career, as were his seven touchdowns. As an integral part of the Super Bowl win last February, LaFell will continue to find himself frequently targeted by Brady. We'll have to see if Danny Amendola gets back on track this season, but if not, LaFell should see another season of very good production. He's worth a look in the latter rounds of the first half of your fantasy draft, but he has the upside to outproduce his draft slot.

Emmanuel Sanders - The numbers for Emmanuel Sanders will be the most drastically altered in the Broncos new-look passing game. Last year, Sanders put up career-best numbers with 101 catches, 1,404 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Nearly every week he made big plays for the Broncos as a deep target, with his run-after-the-catch ability or with his toughness catching passes in the middle of the field. In fact, there was only one game last year (Week 6 vs New York Jets) where Sanders scored less than seven points in PPR formats. This year things will be different for a couple of reasons. First, the Broncos are going to emphasize using two tight end formations. Some of the receptions that went for Sanders last year may be going to the likes of Owen Daniels and Virgil Green. Second, the Broncos want to use second-year receiver Cody Latimer more this season. When Latimer is on the field, Sanders will move inside to his more natural position of slot receiver. Latimer is a good red-zone target because of his wingspan and leaping ability, and that could take some touchdown opportunities away from Sanders. Finally, second wide receivers under Gary Kubiak historically don't do that much. The most productive second wide receiver Kubiak had in Houston was Kevin Walter. His best season (2008) saw him catch 60 passes for 899 yards and nine touchdowns. Expect Sanders to catch around 80 passes for about 1,000 yards and five touchdowns in 2015.

PlayerRecYDY/RecTDFPTRank
Greg Olsen8293511.47135.53
Kyle Rudolph6060010.0696.09

Greg Olsen - Greg Olsen enjoyed a stellar 2014 season with a new career-high 123 targets translating to 84/1,008/6 receiving (Olsen caught more passes than anyone else on the team last year, again), and wound up fourth among all fantasy tight ends last year. He set a then-career-high 111 targets for 73/816/6 receiving during 2013 - Olsen is a linchpin of the Panthers' passing attack and Cam Newton's most trusted receiver. Since Newton arrived in Carolina, Olsen has seen over 100 targets for three straight seasons (he had 104 targets for 69/843/5 receiving during 2012) and has been a top-ten tight end all three of those years. Again, Olsen caught more passes than any other Panther during 2014 AND 2013.

Kyle Rudolph - Rudolph has struggled to stay healthy over the past two years only playing in 17 games combined in that time frame. When healthy and on the field he is a huge asset for the Vikings offense and even more so now with Teddy Bridgewater starting a new chapter in Minnesota. The Vikings are trying to build a steady offense and if Rudolph can stay on the field for a full 16 game season he can help open up the running game, passing game and be a huge problem for defenses when the Vikings are in the redzone. If you combine his past two seasons together (17 games) he had a 54/544/5 statline which would be good for a top 10 TE numbers.

PlayerFGMFGAXPMXPAFPTRank
Mason Crosby29345053137.04

Mason Crosby - After enduring some shaky moments over the years, Crosby has leveled off as a dependable and productive kicker. He finished tied for #4 in kicker scoring by making 27 of his 33 field goal attempts and tacking on 53 of 55 extra point attempts. The Packers also gave Crosby seven shots from 50+, and he made more than half of them (4), with one of the better distance legs in the league. He might not be worth the top 10 kicker pick he costs in drafts because of his past bouts with inaccuracy, but being connected to a great offense is a strong argument for Crosby.

PlayerSackFRINTTDYd/GPt/GFPTRank
St. Louis Rams441215533420.5128.02

St. Louis Rams - Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald form the core of an excellent defensive line rotation that can create feeding frenzy games that overwhelm even the best of opponents at times. Like the Rams team, the D/ST can fluctuate wildly in results, but their ability to have the #1 week at just about any given time, especially when they are at home, makes them one of the D/ST's that will get drafted in every league once again this year. If Nick Foles is even an incremental improvement of the cast that has replaced Sam Bradford and Todd Gurley is as advertised this year, the Rams could be more competitive and post more top end D/ST weeks this year.


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.

Colts | Owner wants Andrew Luck signed soon - Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck is having serious contract negotiations with the organization, and owner Jim Irsay said he would like Luck signed by the start of training camp in July. Sun May 1, 08:48 AM     [Link to story]

Bears | Chicago negotiating with Alshon Jeffery - Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, according to general manager Ryan Pace. Wed Apr 27, 02:26 PM     [Link to story]

Giants | Victor Cruz glad to be back - New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (calf, knee) was glad to be back among his teammates and coaches during the Giants' first offseason workout Tuesday, April 26. Head coach Ben McAddo is taking it slow with Cruz this offseason, but said he's ready to practice. Cruz anticipates being the same player he used to be before suffering his prolonged injuries. 'I'm not in the business to go out there and be half of myself or half of what I was,' Cruz said. 'I want to go out there and be 100% and be the same player that I once was.' Tue Apr 26, 06:21 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: Another day, and another positive report about Cruz. We get it, he's a fan favorite who is battling back from a serioius knee injury. He may never be the same player he used to be, but we're cheering for Cruz to at least be an effective starter for the Giants. We'll know more about how realistic that hope is once training camp gets here.

Steelers | Le'Veon Bell appears to be on track - Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell (knee) posted a video on Twitter showing himself dunking a basketball. Mon Apr 25, 07:25 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: That's good news for the Steelers. If healthy, Bell will be a top fantasy back once again this year. The Steelers may mix in a bit more of DeAngelo Williams to help keep Bell fresh. Monitor the discussion about a possible RBBC in Pittsburgh during training camp. The split should heavily favor Bell.

Bears | Alshon Jeffery not working out - Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) did not show up for offseason workouts, according to a source. He is training in South Florida, according to a source, with the Bears' permission. Jeffery has already signed his franchise tag and is training in order to fix the soft tissue problems in his hamstring that plagued him in 2015. Mon Apr 25, 05:54 PM     [Link to story]

Footballguys view: If he's there with the Bears' permission, then this is a non-issue. Jeffery is expected to report for mandatory minicamp from June 14 to June 16, if not sooner.