I Wouldn't Be Surprised If...
By Bob Henry
August 27th, 2010

I hope you find this sort of "free thinking" article useful. It's not packed with statistical analysis, just things that go through my mind whilst updating projections, doing TC updates, watching preseason games and doing our rankings.

I Wouldn't Be Surprised If...

  • Jermichael Finley is the clear number one fantasy tight end this year, and among the top 10 receivers in the league overall, maybe higher. He's that good and Aaron Rodgers is that good, too.
  • Kareem Huggins is the player that nobody will talk about going into draft day, but when the owner who drafts him does so, he immediately commences to tell the rest of you suckers how smart he is. Kareem Huggins. Championship. Believe it.
  • The Packers support four different receivers for fantasy usefulness - Finley, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones.
  • Joseph Addai is undervalued once again and finishes with 200+ carries, 40+ catches and 10 TDs.
  • Johnny Knox finishes the season flirting with WR1 status.
  • Jay Cutler looks like a top 3 fantasy quarterback for the first half of the season, but after their bye (week 8) Cutler ultimately misses some games due to the beating he's going to take in Mike Martz's (lack of) protection schemes. The early schedule features several teams with questionable defenses last season (Detroit, Dallas, Green Bay and the NY Giants all had troubles against the pass last year). After the bye, Cutler will be facing teams with good secondaries (Buffalo) and/or pass rushes (Minnesota twice, Philadelphia, Miami and New England is known for creativity in their coverages/blitzes). If he gets off to a fast start, I'm of the opinion that it's time to sell. As Prop Joe said on The Wire, "buy for a dollar, sell for two".
  • Aaron Hernandez outperforms already high expectations. I love his talent and the opportunity. He'll keep Tom Brady relevant amongst QB1s and the Patriots just became a better team in the red zone with their rookie tight end tandem.
  • Ricky Williams pulls a Garrison Hearst or Thomas Jones, and continues to exceed expectations. Run Ricky Run. I love Ronnie Brown, but fool me once shame on you...
  • Michael "Uh Oh" is among the best deep sleeper tight ends in 2010. Rookie QB? Check (and he looks pretty good, too). Lack of receiver talent? Check. Daniel Fells might be the guy. Fendi Onobum might be. Uh oh might be, too. I have a feeling one of these three will be sleeper relevant all season.
  • I may be completely wrong on this one, but as Victor Cruz gets all of the attention for his wonderful preseason with the Giants, his counterpart at UMass - Jeremy Horne - winds up being just as viable as a dynasty prospect. Check him out. Chambers is getting a bit long in the tooth; McCluster seems like a better fit in the slot. You could be looking at the future No. 2 receiver in KC opposite D-Bowe.
  • Louis Murphy is the obvious choice as the most fantasy relevant receiver on the Raiders, but he continues to slide right into your lap on draft day. Seriously, I think he's the No. 1 receiver for the Raiders. Forget about Schilens. The jury is out on Heyward-Bey. Let's just say he's in the "show me" stage.
  • Tony Moeaki stays healthy and becomes a solid TE2 as the season progresses.
  • And Matt Cassel has enough big games to more than exceed expectations if you pair him wisely. At a glance, the schedule looks favorable at the beginning of the season and during the playoffs, too.
  • Lance Moore is closer to 2008 stats than what we saw out of him last year. Robert Meachem put up nice numbers last year, but it's like they've traded places like Louis and Billy Ray.
  • Vince Jackson really does sit out the entire season. The Chargers aren't budging and A.J. Smith almost seems to enjoy these predicaments. Either Jackson caves in, or he sits out. I've always been on the "cave in" side, but if he sits out then you're burning a pick on him, even if it's feels like a value at the time. An unnecessary risk is how I'd categorize VJ at this point.
  • Joe Flacco is the real deal Holyfield. Check out the historical numbers produced by other quarterbacks that have led the Air Coryell offense currently perpetuated by Cam Cameron and the Ravens. If he stays healthy, 4,000 yards and 25 TDs seem like the baseline, and our projections end up being, well, modest.
  • Mike Sims-Walker has the never-go-away hamstring from hell and Mike Thomas ends up catching 60+ balls for the Jaguars.
  • Laurent Robinson and Donnie Avery both struggle with injuries (Ed: This was written prior to last night's injury to Avery). The No. 4 and No. 5 receivers are never out of the mix in St. Louis. The question becomes does anyone care? If Sam Bradford is more like Matt Ryan and less like Brady Quinn, then we might end up caring about Mardy Gilyard, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. Maybe Danario Alexander, the most brittle of them all, stays healthy and comes out of nowhere.
  • Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson BOTH bomb as the Cardinals starting QB this year. Can you say Max Hall or John Skelton? After the initial viewing of Hall, I'm intrigued.
  • Felix Jones is like the reincarnation of Tatum Bell. Ultimate tease. I'm not sleeping on Marion Barber or Tashard Choice, but if Jones passes me by... then oh well.
  • Fred Jackson is still the best fantasy option in the Bills backfield. With a broken wrist/hand, his ADP was knocked down to the point where he's an excellent value. Spiller will get the ball plenty, but I see him more in a Reggie Bush role to Fred Jackson's Pierre Thomas. Spiller looks great, but I'm not convinced that Gailey will hand him the ball 200+ times. I'm thinking 140-160 carries and 40-50+ receptions, while Jackson (or Marshawn Lynch) gets the bulk of the carries between the tackles and enough receptions to maintain relevance as a RB3/flex option for most leagues.
  • Marquez Branson is a solid TE2 option this year. Coaches say he did a great job working on the scout team last year as Antonio Gates. Not saying he'll be another star like Gates, but he passes the eyeball test for me and the opportunity is there for him to emerge.
  • Brett Favre throws 20+ interceptions and this streak is broken this year for consecutive starts. The chances of him repeating last year's fantasy production are very slim.
  • Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw both miss a couple games or more this year and not only does oft-injured Andre Brown stays healthy, but the Giants running game doesn't miss a beat if/when he's pressed into action.
  • The Patriots have four or more different backs that rush for 80+ yards in a game this year. Good luck picking which back in which game though.
  • Dennis Dixon STILL usurps Byron Leftwich, and starts, at least two of the four games during Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. I know I'm not the only one that feels that way.
  • Hines Ward, Donald Driver and Derrick Mason all stave off Father Time for one more season of rock solid WR2/WR3 production.
  • The Deion Branch bubble bursts quickly opening the door for, dare I say, Mike Williams and Deon Butler to emerge as WR2 and WR3 while Golden Tate disappoints initially in his rookie season but shows flashes of his playmaking ability late in the year.
  • Legedu Naanee puts up better numbers than Malcom Floyd, at a much better ADP, too.
  • Sammie Stroughter becomes a solid WR3/WR4/flex option in PPR leagues.
  • (and a shout to my IDP friends)

  • Draft Jonathan Casillas in the late rounds. Do it.
  • Draft Brandon Graham if you can get him on the cheap. He's a manimal.
  • Larry Grant becomes a viable LB3 as the starting WLB for the Rams.
  • Lastly, I wouldn't be surprised if someday, Josh McDaniels ends up coaching the Raiders some day.

    Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to henry@footballguys.com.

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