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Your team is currently being rated by the projections of David Dodds           Switch to: Maurile Tremblay       Bob Henry       Jason Wood      

QB: Philip Rivers, Johnny Manziel
RB: Arian Foster, Eddie Lacy, Toby Gerhart, Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, LeGarrette Blount
WR: Percy Harvin, DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Julian Edelman, James Jones
TE: Julius Thomas
PK: Justin Tucker
TD: Carolina Panthers


Let's start by remarking that we appreciate your old-school leanings: you have a team marked by strength at the running back position. Because the position is so sought after, a team constructed like this usually has a chance to make the playoffs. Your strength at tight end is also a plus, but with the quarterback and wide receiver both being less strong, you may need to do something to change the outlook of this team. Your deficiencies are likely to show themselves through the bye weeks, so try to manuever early in improving the quarterback and/or receiver positions before week four.

Keep an eye out for quarterbacks like Nick Foles from last year, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck from the year before, and Cam Newton the year before that. All were available cheap in August, and all contributed to fantasy championship teams. Similarly, wide receivers like Julian Edelman, Keenan Allen, and Riley Cooper were available after a lot of the drafts last season. Landing some of this year's top waiver players would be a huge help, so pay close attention to increased workloads, targets, injuries, etc.

Players we particularly like on this team include Mike Wallace, Toby Gerhart, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Justin Tucker. 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 70 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With good inseason management, we think you have about a 55 percent chance of making the playoffs.
  • With average inseason management, we think you have a 38 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 9 of 2010:

Arian Foster vs. SD: 197 combined yards, 2 TD
DeSean Jackson vs. IND: 109 receiving yards, 1 TD
Philip Rivers vs. HOU: 295 passing yards, 4 TD
James Jones vs. DAL: 123 receiving yards, 1 TD
Mike Wallace vs. CIN: 110 receiving yards, 1 TD

QB Summary:

We have Philip Rivers rated #15 among quarterbacks, so we're not even sold on him as a fantasy starter in your league. And we don't think Johnny Manziel (ranked #28 among quarterbacks) is even a viable backup. You might want to explore the possibility of upgrading at the backup QB slot, as it shouldn't cost you too much (we'll make some specific suggestions at the end of the report).

Incidentally, these two have a pretty nice combined schedule and a decent playoff schedule too. If you simply played the one with the better matchup each week, this is the schedule you'd face:

ARI | NO | BUF | JAX | NYJ | OAK | JAX | DEN | TB | CIN | OAK | ATL | BUF | NE | DEN | SF

Note that the above "thoughts" were generated by David Dodds's projections. Others have different takes:

Some of our staffers have Philip Rivers as high as #8, which would make him a fine first quarterback. Andy Hicks's take: "Philip Rivers is likely to be tremendous value in fantasy drafts this year. He ended up as the 5th ranked fantasy quarterback in 2013 and is likely to be overlooked for other guys with more upside. Production over potential and if you do decide to take a shot on a guy with top tier upside, Rivers is one guy you can safely draft as a backup. Don't be surprised if he outperforms most of these guys."

Some of our staffers have Johnny Manziel as high as #18, which would make him a fine second quarterback. Sigmund Bloom's take: "Manziel might not even start the season in the lineup, but he should get on the field at some point this year, and when he does he'll be potent in fantasy leagues. Like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III before him, Manziel relies on his legs enough to be a low-end QB1 even if his passing output is modest because of the Browns weak receiving corps."

RB Summary:

Your starting running back group is a strength, particularly Eddie Lacy as a second running back. We figure them at a combined 1.7 points per game better than an average opponent in this league. Our projections have Arian Foster ranked sixth and Lacy ranked at #7.

Your bench also looks good. Tough to do better than Toby Gerhart at RB3; he's a likely flex starter. Maurice Jones-Drew will also be among the best RB4s in the league. Darren McFadden is a handcuff, but we'd like him as a fifth running back even if you didn't have Maurice Jones-Drew.

LeGarrette Blount is a solid depth pick.

Note that the above "thoughts" were generated by David Dodds's projections. Others have different takes:

Some members of our staff have Arian Foster ranked as high as fifth, which would make him an above average first running back. Steve Holloway defends his high ranking as follows: "Arian Foster's 2013 season was disappointing as he missed multiple games and did not play after week 9. However, his production was only down due to lack to TDs scored. He matched his career average of 4.5 ypc rushing and caught 22 passes, but only scored 2 total TDs. Early pre-season talk is that he will be used heavily as a receiving option out of the backfield. With Ben Tate gone and Andre Brown signed as the back-up running back, Foster should be slated for a lot of work and potentially more receptions than he has had over the past two seasons."

WR Summary:

We see both your starters at receiver as below average. Percy Harvin is our #20 ranked receiver, and we have DeSean Jackson at #21.

Your bench looks good and should help offset the unexciting starting unit. Mike Wallace should serve as a very solid third receiver. We also see Julian Edelman as an above average WR4.

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

Note that the above "thoughts" were generated by David Dodds's projections. Others have different takes:

Percy Harvin is ranked #12 by some of our writers. Chad Parsons reasons, "Harvin is impactful on a per game basis. Any string of health in 2014 results in a strong stretch of top15 production."

Some of our staffers have DeSean Jackson as high as #13, which would make him an above average second receiver. Heath Cummings's take: "DeSean Jackson is too risky to be considered as a WR1 but he has too much upside to drop much further. With Robert Griffin III's ability to throw the deep ball and Pierre Garcon taking attention away, Jackson should put up a really strong WR2 season."

Some of our staffers have James Jones as high as #30, which would make him a great fifth receiver and even a legitimate WR3. Matt Waldman's take: "As long as Matt Schaub remains the quarterback in Oakland, I'm bullish on Jones as a fantasy starter in three-receiver leagues. If and when Derek Carr takes the helm, all bets are off, but thus far the Raiders have made it clear that they hpe Carr does not play this season. Bully for Jones. "

TE Summary:

As you are well aware, Julius Thomas is an elite tight end. We have him ranked third overall at the position. He's about 1.0 points per game better than an average starting TE in this league. Given your league rules and the presence of Thomas, your decision to roll with just one tight end is a reasonable one.

Kicker Summary:

With Justin Tucker, you should be above average at the position.

Defense Summary:

The Panthers are our #3 ranked defense, so you're in good shape here.

Is this a dynasty team? Click here to find out how it might look for 2015 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.

Relative Strength98991001019710510310410510010010110110199100

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 5 presents moderate bye week issues: Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, James Jones, and Mike Wallace are not playing.
  • Toby Gerhart and Justin Tucker are out in week 11, but your opponent will likely have comparable issues with byes.
  • In weeks 4, 6, 7, 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: Ben Roethlisberger (12), Alex Smith (6), Ryan Tannehill (5), Jake Locker (9), Joe Flacco (11), Geno Smith (11), Eli Manning (8), Carson Palmer (4), Ryan Fitzpatrick (10), Shaun Hill (4), Josh McCown (7), Johnny Manziel (4).

RB: Carlos Hyde (8), Chris Ivory (11), Ahmad Bradshaw (10), Jonathan Stewart (12), Dexter McCluster (9), Lance Dunbar (11), LeGarrette Blount (12), Knile Davis (6), Terrance West (4), Jonathan Dwyer (4).

WR: Rod Streater (5), DeAndre Hopkins (10), Golden Tate (9), Jordan Matthews (7), Anquan Boldin (8), Kelvin Benjamin (12), Malcom Floyd (10), Brian Hartline (5), Tavon Austin (4), Riley Cooper (7), Justin Hunter (9), Dwayne Bowe (6), Andrew Hawkins (4), Doug Baldwin (4), Jeremy Maclin (7), Miles Austin (4). We have all these players rated ahead of James Jones.

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

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

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

Projections and Player Summaries

Philip Rivers36355742117.6291430300259.415
Johnny Manziel23040025606.41615623263187.028

Johnny Manziel - Johnny Manziel was drafted to be this team's starter sooner rather than later. Despite veteran Brian Hoyer winning the job for Week 1, Manziel should have this job at some point in 2014. Manziel's playmaking abilities have been gracing our TV screens over the past two years, particularly in highlight packages leading up the NFL Draft. Manziel is a dynamic athlete who could immediately burst onto the rushing quarterback scene. If he's intelligent enough to keep his body intact, there's no reason to think Manziel could fall significantly short of Robert Griffin III's rookie season. In fact, Manziel's offense will be directed by Kyle Shanahan, who was the coordinator in Washington for Griffin as well. Cleveland is lacking a deep threat wide receiver with Josh Gordon's season-long suspension, but Manziel's ability to make plays outside the pocket - both rushing and passing - could make this a viable offense and could make his weapons better.

Philip Rivers - Rivers is a veteran passer known for his football intelligence, quick release, and accuracy when he gets to step into the pocket. He is a classic drop-back passer: he is a big, immobile quarterback with an excellent command of the offense, but is a liability when he is forced from the pocket and tries to improvise. He therefore depends more than most quarterbacks do on his offensive line to give him consistent protection. He has shown the ability to be a solid fantasy starter: he's been a top-five fantasy quarterback in three of the last six years. When his protection falters, however, he becomes error-prone and turns the ball over too much. While his durability is a plus, his inability to get fantasy points as a runner puts him at a disadvantage as more QBs have become true duel-threats in recent years. Consider him a high-end fantasy backup with the potential to significantly outperform his draft position if he can build on last year's success under Mike McCoy.

Arian Foster26010924.28493872207.96
Eddie Lacy27511414.110362701207.17
Toby Gerhart2259234.17382771168.016
Maurice Jones-Drew1807023.96302191134.128
Darren McFadden1355404.04241681100.841
LeGarrette Blount1003954.04856069.153

LeGarrette Blount - The Steelers helped upgrade their depth at the running back position when they signed LeGarrette Blount in free agency. Blount was a battering ram for the Patriots last year as they made another deep postseason run. This year, Blount will serve as a primary backup behind second-year back Le'Veon Bell. Blount can be a dominant player running the ball between the tackles. He's tough to bring down, running with instant power and burst as soon as he gets the ball. Blount loves to initiate contact, and he will run through arm tackles regularly because of his powerful lower body. He's a big back--a true power back in today's NFL--but Blount also has good speed with the ball in his hands. This means he's more of a threat to break off a 20-plus yard run than some think. This skill set helps in fantasy leagues that reward points for big plays. Blount is a non-factor as a receiver, so the team will only use him as a two-down thumper. In case Bell gets injured, Blount could be counted on as a reliable starter for the Steelers and your fantasy team. He was nothing more than a part-time player for the Patriots until the end of the year last year. Even on this limited basis, Blount still finished as the 29th-best fantasy running back in 2013. Blount is a valuable handcuff for fantasy owners who add Bell earlier in the draft, and he might even take goal line carries, even though short yardage running has not been a strength of his. On the other hand, an August 20 arrest for marijuana possession could result in a suspension or demotion. The Steelers can be a tough organization on character issue players, so team punishment is an unknown.

Maurice Jones-Drew - After eight years as the face of the Jaguars franchise Maurice Jones-Drew signed with the Oakland Raiders in the offseason. Jones-Drew was a perennial fantasy RB1 for the first 6 years of his career averaging more than 1500 total yards and 12 touchdowns per year. In 2012 he struggled with injuries and played only 6 games and was ineffective in 2013 in a disjointed Jaguars offensive attack. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry in 2013, the first time in his career that he's averaged less than 4.2. In his prime Jones-Drew excelled in the passing game, averaging nearly 50 catches a year from 2008-2011. At 29 years old Jones-Drew is entering the twilight of a typical running back's career but he'll have plenty of opportunities to earn touches in Oakland. His main competition for touches will be the oft-injured Darren McFadden and the unproven Latavius Murray.

Arian Foster - After three years of success and high mileage usage, Arian Foster finally took a step backwards due to knee, calf and back injuries. He was shut down after week eight last year to heal a disc injury that required surgery. Foster is planning on being back to full strength for the 2014 season, but the Texans offense is not the same as it used to be. Head Coach Gary Kubiak was replaced by Bill O'Brien and Foster's leading fullback Greg Jones appears to not be in the equation. This year is a definitely a crossroads for Foster. If he can rise to the occasion and be a success after returning from injury, playing on a team with a new coaching staff and 14 consecutive losses, then his legacy deserves to be remembered.

Toby Gerhart - Life as Adrian Peterson's backup is officially over for Toby Gerhart. He gets a fresh start in Jacksonville to be the all purpose back in coach Gus Bradley's 2nd year. The Jaguars and coach Bradley are more or less cleaning up the mess that they were left with two years ago and trying to give the team an identity. That identity is going to start with running the football and Gerhart is going to see a lot of touches right out of the gate. If you look at his 4 years in Minnesota as a total, he had some really nice production with 276 carries for 1,305 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. He also was very good in the passing game putting up 77 receptions, 600 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. He should see a big workload in Jacksonville and should have no problems with wear and tear as he has a lot of miles left after serving as Adrian Peterson's backup for the past 4 years.

Eddie Lacy - Last year's stats really feel like a floor for Lacy as he heads into this season as the top back for the Packers. Last season's offensive rookie of the year has a lot of upside, and the Packers have already committed to getting him the ball more this year. With a full season as the top back in Green Bay, 325 or even 350 touches could easily be possible for Lacy this season. Lacy is big enough to stay in for goal line carries as well, making him an excellent candidate for 10 or more touchdowns as well.

Darren McFadden - Darren McFadden struggled with injuries for the sixth consecutive season and with production for the second. His 3.3 yards per carry matched his career low from 2012 and he was outperformed by Rashad Jennnings even when he was healthy. McFadden's 10 games played in 2013 was just one below his career average and he's never made it through more than 13. McFadden looked at least a step slower in 2013, a bad sign for a back that relied so heavily on his speed. Three years ago he was an elite back that had trouble staying healthy. He was a threat to take it to the house from just about anywhere on the field and a productive back in the passing game. In 2013 his longest run was 30 yards and he caught a career low 17 passes for 108 yards. McFadden looks to be the favorite to lead what will surely be a RBBC with Maurice Jones-Drew.

Percy Harvin2014016981411.87143.420
DeSean Jackson31806594914.67138.721
Mike Wallace31507295813.36133.323
Julian Edelman21008185110.55116.136
James Jones0005474513.8498.555

Julian Edelman - Edelman signed a new four-year deal after notching his first 1,000 yard season--an astounding 821 yard increase over his 2012 totals. While Edelman has had some injury issues, he was healthy for the entirety of 2013 and we expect the same this year. However, whereas Edelman was almost the last man standing last season, he has more healthy--and more experienced-- receivers around him now. As the team moves towards more three-wide sets (per ESPN Boston), Edelman will see some of his targets fall. We don't expect the 105 catch season of 2013 to replicate itself. That will limit his impact a little, though we still see him as productive enough to warrant consideration as a WR3.

Percy Harvin - Percy Harvin is finally healthy, and will be the Seahawks' primary receiver as long as he stays that way. Harvin had been an electrifying, though oft-injured, receiver for the Vikings since being drafted in 2009. He was a top-ten fantasy receiver in 2011, the only season in which he played all 16 games. Harvin lacks size, but he is fast and quick and a terrific runner in the open field. After the Seahawks traded for Harvin during the 2013 offseason, he was diagnosed with a hip injury that required surgery, and he sat out the first ten weeks of the regular season. After a limited return in week 11, he aggravated the injury and was shelved until the playoffs. After missing the NFC championship game with a concussion, he returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. With Harvin finally healthy, expect the Seahawks to make him a big part of their passing attack, and especially to find ways to get him the ball in the open field. Harvin has top-ten fantasy potential if he stays healthy, but that's a contingency one should not rely on. Consider him a high-risk, high-reward fantasy WR2.

DeSean Jackson - Eagles head coach Chip Kelly called releasing DeSean Jackson a 'football decision.' Yet, it's hard to understand what Coach Kelly meant when you consider Jackson led the Eagles in receiving yards (1,332), receptions (82) and touchdowns (9). In spite of his size (5'9", 169 lbs.) Jackson has proven to be one an elite game-breaker. Division rival Washington was more than happy to disagree with the Eagles, signing Jackson to a 3-year, $24mm deal with $16mm in guarantees. He'll pair up with Pierre Garcon (who led the NFL in receptions last year) to give Robert Griffin III the best receiving tandem of his career. When Jackson is on the field, he'll be a borderline fantasy WR1. The only cause for concern is his size and history of concussions.

James Jones - James Jones has spent his entire seven year career as a Green Bay Packer, catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. In the offseason he left the Packers to join the Oakland Raiders where he'll likely catch passes from Matt Schaub. Jones should be the WR1 in Oakland, a position he was never asked to fill in Green Bay. In his 7 years as a Packer he topped 100 targets just once, in 2012. That was also the year that he caught a career high 14 touchdown passes. While Jones struggled with injuries in 2013, he played all 64 games in the 4 previous years. At 30 years old, Jones is expected to bring some much needed veteran leadership to the Raiders receiving corps. Jones has never topped 65 catches or 1000 yards in a season but until last season he was a consistent red zone option.

Mike Wallace - It took most of the season for Mike Wallace to live up to his contract, and even then he could be wildly inconsistent in both execution and effort. Some of the execution was on his quarterback, the equally inconsistent Ryan Tannehill, but some of it was Wallace. He was also an odd fit in Mike Sherman's offensive scheme an didn't do well stuck in one place on the field. New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor moves his guys all over the place which should allow him to matchup Wallace more advantageously. Ultimately Wallace isn't worth the money they paid him, but is a far better receiver than he looked like last year. While we expect him to be more consistent, we don't expect an explosion in production. Tannehill's success ties into Wallace's an it's a shaky slope. Still, we see Wallace as a WR3 with the potential to outproduce his drafting spot.

Julius Thomas7081911.710141.93

Julius Thomas - What a difference a year makes! Entering the 2013 season, Thomas had career totals of seven targets and one reception for five yards in two years as a pro. An ankle injury during his rookie season (and the surgery required to repair it) had stunted his growth in the NFL. It was shaping up to be a make-or-break season for Thomas last year. Thomas didn't only make it, but he made it big in 2013. His season-opening performance against the Ravens (five catches, 110 yards, two touchdowns) put him on the fantasy map and he didn't slow down much after that. The former basketball star at Portland State still has tremendous upside. He's only been playing organized football for five years now, and he's still learning the nuances of the position. Thomas has worked hard to build strong chemistry with Peyton Manning, and his work ethic shows through on the field. Thomas is a mismatch every time he lines up. Linebackers can't cover him because he's too fast and athletic in the open field. Safeties struggle to cover him because he's too big and knows how to effectively "box out" smaller defenders. He missed two games last year due to a knee injury, and Thomas still finished as the 3rd-best fantasy tight end in 2013. If he stays healthy for the full season he should push Jimmy Graham (Saints) as the best tight end in the league. Thomas is a weapon, and he's one the Broncos will use time and time again to move the chains and threaten defenses. He should be selected as high as the second tight end off the board in your fantasy draft behind Graham. Now that he's arrived, everybody knows his name--and Julius Thomas can be a great asset for your fantasy team.

Justin Tucker33373838137.03

Justin Tucker - After an impressive rookie season, in which he missed only three attempts all year, Tucker was even better in his sophomore season. He again missed only three kicks, but this time on even more attempts. He showed a knack for hitting long range clutch field goals, capped off by his monster game at Detroit (six total field goals to account for all of the ravens scoring, including 53 and 61 yarders in the fourth quarter for the win). Tucker connected on over 90% of his field goals on both years. Punter Sam Koch will again handle holding on placekicks. Long snapper Morgan Cox is back to keep the specialist trio intact. The Ravens have been in and out of the top ten in attempted kicker scoring in recent years. In 2012 year they just missed, landing in 11th place. Last year they were back in, finishing in 7th place.

Carolina Panthers491018433019.3148.13

Carolina Panthers - Concerns over the Panthers secondary were largely muted in 2013 due to the incredible play of their front seven. A defensive line with Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy coming off the edge and rookie Star Lotuleilei manning the middle caused all kinds of problems for opposing quarterbacks. Luke Kuechly continues to be one of the bright young stars at MLB while Thomas Davis proved to be a worthy (if underrated) complement. Once again the secondary looks to be a major area of concern, with the team losing it's two best players from that unit. They brought in several cheap alternatives with the hope that once again their front seven can make them look better than they are. The only real concern with this unit is that the secondary is so bad that the pass rush doesn't have time to get home.