Archive for category New Orleans Saints

2009 NFL Running Back Battles to Watch: Part 2

Welcome to part two of the 2009 NFL Running Back Battles To Watch. Yesterday we looked at a bunch of great backs including – but not limited to – the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers.

Today we’ll be looking at some more interesting backfield situations and seeing what they might mean for their respective teams.

We’ll start off with a team that has a clear-cut number one back but also some questions as to what to do if he cannot carry the full load over the course of the 2009 season.

Jacksonville
We all think Maurice Jones-Drew aka ‘The Human Bowling Ball’ aka ‘The Bad Little Man’ will be the bell cow here and get most if not all the work. The man can do it all and despite his size, usually stays healthy. With no Fred Taylor, he should get every carry Freddy used to get, right?

Well, yes and no. While MJD is a stud and the offensive line is much healthier and better than 2008’s version, the Jaguars will by no means risk burning out Jones-Drew before the playoffs. I expect one of the backs behind him to get a fair share of carries as well.

Note that I am not saying they will cut significantly into his totes – but that it will factor in and probably in a good way.

Former USC tailback Chauncey Washington patiently waited for his shot, but now has to hold off former Liberty stud Rashad Jennings a guy who improbably fell to the Jags in the seventh round – something I still can’t figure out.

Both players have the ability to fill in for MJD but despite being a USC Homer, I like Jennings better. He can catch, he can slide into holes but he has decent size. Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio and footballguys.com said it best; ‘what you should know about Jennings is that he’s a bigger back with finesse’.

That size combined with the skills Waldman alludes to make him a very attractive compliment to Jones-Drew and a guy to watch for long term on his own as well.

Jennings has some issues finishing a run and will need to improve that if he wants to catch Washington.

And lest we forget, Greg Jones has been occasionally stud-like when he has had a shot in the past and is a great 3rd down back. Jones has never quite been the same since a knee injury and is often hurt.

Who ends up spelling MJD could have some real value for fantasy owners and Jags fans. It should be a horse race between these three.

New Orleans
Will Reggie Bush stay healthy? Will Pierre Thomas? Who gets the ball on third downs and at the goal line?

Big questions for an offense which needs to improve it’s run game to take some pressure off the pass game. It looks like Thomas has the between-the-tackles work locked down while Bush will continue to play scat-back.

But both have some injury questions (Bush his legs and Thomas’ wrist) so the Saints have journeyman Mike Bell, second year player Lynell Hamilton, and undrafted free agents P.J. Hill and Herb Donaldson.

Mike Bell has played well in camp so far but don’t discount the rookies. The Saints went hard into the street free agent market post-draft so they clearly have some concerns with the tailback position.

Bell has played well before and then faltered. Hill has some serious character concerns but seems to realize he screwed up and is motivated to prove he has the ability and maturity to make an impact. All three are big backs, something the Saints lost when they let Deuce McAllister go.

It will be interesting to see if any can make ground on Thomas and given the injury issues (for both Thomas and Bush) and Thomas’ size, one of these guys could see action this season.

Philadelphia
With Brian Westbrook banged up again (What? Stop lying Garda! NEVER!) every Eagles fan – and many, MANY fantasy football owners – want to know who to grab for this year’s version of Westbrook Insurance.

Aside: Should Westbrook and/or the Iggles talk to Geico about a sponsorship? I mean, in these troubled economic times, shouldn’t a club be looking for cash wherever they can?

I’m not saying, but I am just saying is all.

But all shenanigans aside who backs Westy up resonates hard an long amongst the NFL community of fans and it goes beyond fantasy football folks. As much as I like the receivers and the passing offense this year, they need the run game hitting on all cylinders.

With the very real possibility that the last two years of 15 games might have been an illusion in terms Westy’s health the Eagles need to know they can throw another guy in there and crank out the yards effectively.

Which leaves you with this question: LeSean McCoy or Lorenzo Booker?

Booker was a guy who I had high hopes for coming to Philadelphia last season after being virtually ignored by Miami previously. With his ability to catch the ball and his general shifty running style, I thought Lo-Book was going to get some traction finally but sadly that didn’t happen.

Booker barely saw the field and then the team went and drafted LeSean ‘Shady’ McCoy who is plays very similarly to Westbrook’s game. And while a tad undersized, McCoy plays tough and isn’t afraid of contact.

It will be a battle in the most literal sense and no other fracas may impact the whole offense of a team like this one. If they cannot move the ball on the ground – and lack a player at the RB spot who can catch the ball as effectively as Westy – defenses could key heavily on the pass game.

San Francisco
I spent a lot of time the past few months looking oer the 49ers and there are a ton of questions surrounding this run game and what it could be.

New offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye keeps saying this will not be a run heavy playbook, but if you look at his resume, he’s definitely developed some very strong rushing attacks. So does that mean Raye is tossing some disinformation out there?

Maybe not.

The 49ers often run a game where a strong rushing attack sets up a vertical passing attack. It hasn’t worked well for many reasons – not the least of which is the lack of a permanent solution at quarterback.

So it isn’t far fetched that Raye is being truthful – a rarity in today’s NFL it seems. With the weapons at both running back and wide receiver, the Niners are set up to have an effective attack from either direction.

We know Frank Gore is the stud-bell cow-big dawg-whatever you call it in the backfield. But he cannot do it alone as we saw when he wore down last season.

So who is the backup who could share in his carries? A great question as the backs behind him all have questions.

Michael Robinson has functioned more as a fullback and special-teamer and while Thomas Clayton tends to shine in preseason games, he hasn’t played worth a tinker’s damn during the season. Neither of them have quite been able to give the team a consistent and safe backup to Gore in the past few years.

Two rookies – third round pick Glenn Coffee and street free agent Kory Sheets – have a shot at spelling Gore. Coffee is a solid one cut runner with great vision, who can aggressively attack the hole. He’s a powerful runner who could help the short yardage game, something that occasionally struggled in 2008.

Sheets has great acceleration and burst and is a very good receiver out of the backfield. He can be very elusive and shows patience behind the line with good vision and instincts. I think he could emerge as a nice compliment to Gore in the vein of a Leon Washington or Reggie Bush.

Adding Sheets as an extra weapon is nice, but ultimately the 49ers need to get someone to consistently and reliably spell Gore to save him for a potential run at a playoff spot this year.

Seattle
Somehow the Seahawks ended the draft without a replacement for the long departed Shaun Alexander, instead relying on Julius Jones and TJ Duckett for a solution at the running back position.

I can’t say I am enthusiastic about that, however I am cautiously optimistic.

With a healthy pass game – which they lacked from the get-go last season – the Hawks could find themselves in possession of a consistent though not spectacular rushing attack.

Julius Jones has shown some skills in the past and will probably make a good two-down runner for the team, getting a lift from a new zone-blocking scheme which he fits into well. However, even though he was the top running back for Seattle last season, he was pretty inconsistent and has to correct that if the team is to depend upon him.

People keep talking each season about how this is TJ Duckett’s time to shine, but I haven’t heard a lot of that yet this off-season. Maybe that bodes well for the former Falcon/Redskin/Lion. He has always possessed a nose for the end zone and he’ll get most of the redzone/end zone looks in my opinion – at least when the team isn’t throwing the ball to Houshmandzadeh or second year tight end John Carlson.

The question – aside from will Edgerrin James or Duece McAllister sign prior to the season – I am asking is where do guys like Justin Forsett end up? If Duckett is more suited to the short yardage/goal line role, will Forsett a second year man out of California, end up as Jones’ backup? Or will he be relegated to special teams?

I want to watch this battle closely as teams all know the Seahawks are gearing up to throw the ball a lot. So who ends up running the ball is of paramount importance. If they cannot move the ball on the ground, the wide receivers may find it very tough to get room to work in the secondary.

That’s it for now – if you don’t hear from me in a few days, have someone send a cop to check on me. I might be buried under an avalanche of moving boxes.

Thursday Game Breakdown – Saints at Bears – Saints Breakdown


New Orleans @ Chicago

Saints

Drew Brees – The Bears run D is tougher, the pass D is ranked 28th with 15 TDs given up and an average of 234 yds a game. Now, they have 19 INTs, so you can expect a decent chance Brees turns a ball over but you can also assume that this is where the Saints attack the Bears and Brees will have success.

Reggie Bush – Bush faces a tough defense but the fact that he catches so many balls makes hi ma safer start. It ain’t great but as a RB 2 he should pile up enough yards to give you a good amount of points.

Pierre Thomas – he will get the carries but will he have success. I think as a flex, he might and if Brees is slinging the ball around as much as we think he will, Thomas will have some room on the ground. A shaky start but I think a safe enough one for a flex spot.

Deuce McAllister – McAllister missed practice yesterday due to a death in the family but should be in Chicago with the team tonight. That said, I don’t expect him to be a big part of the plan unless Thomas implodes. So he’s not a safe start tonight at all.

Marques Colston – Colston is starting to re-emerge as a consistent target (12 and 8 targets the last two games) but isn’t holding onto the ball. He should have a good chance in Chicago BUT he has fallen from WR1 status. At this point he should be a WR 2/3 – with huge upside, but potential low game as well.

Lance Moore- He’s NOT getting the targets he was – though still getting about 6 the last three weeks. The last two weeks he has caught less and DONE less than the weeks prior. He could be in for a good day as Brees will throw but with Colston, Bush, Shockey and others there perhaps he is fading back into the background. Might be a WR3, but a 4 or flex is safer.

Jeremy Shockey – Shockey has put in some decent catches the last few weeks but isn’t making a ton of noise. You gotta start him, probably and he’s more consistent than some others. But don’t expect fireworks.

Some friday Notes – Parker and Bush

Reggie Bush was limited in practice today, however the New Orleans Times-Picayune expects him to playand if that’s the case, they’ll probably give him a decent load. While I hesitate to jump on the 20-25 carry bandwagon right off the back, they will probably use him both in the pass game and the ground game.

I think he will be a decent start and I think Pierre Thomas gets most of the secondary carries. McAllister? I don’t know but I don’t feel he is a very safe play this weekend.

I didn’t have Bush on my RB rankings – I would slot him around 20 (give or take) as I am unsure what kind of touches he will get and Payton has eased his star players into the gameplan more than once. This is a game the Saints have to win though and I expect him to be a factor somehow.

Willie Parker practiced for the second straight day without any limitations, though he is still listed as Questionable for Sunday. Assuming he steps in no gopher holes, he should go against the Pats this Sunday. My biggest concern is he might tweak that knee again like he did. Add to that the fact that while the Patsies can be run on, they rarely cough up a TD (4 to Ronnie Brown way back in Week 3) and they just held the Dolphins to less than 60 yards running last week. Parker will probably better that yards total, but a TD may be hard to come by. And that’s assuming he’s healthy all game.

Shockey OUT 3-6 weeks

After playing well yesterday and seemingly being 100%, the Saints have announced TE Jeremy Shockey will undergo sports hernia surgery and miss at least the next 3-6 weeks, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

I don’t know if that’s a short time or a long time for hernia surgery (thankfully) but it cuts the Saints weapons down further. You have to be worried about Drew Brees & Co. with two of it’s main weapons out. Who will get the targets is hard to know – I had been talking up Billy Miller prior to the season based on some talks he had with HC Payton before the Shockey trade happened. But it’s hard to say if they will be utilizing him the way they were going to back then. Still, the Saints will need to find more ways to get the ball moving with Shockey out. we’ll have to watch and wait for some indication as to where they will go. Patten was a hot pick for a while, though dissappeared last game. Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem? A ton of very mediocre players at the wide receiver position. Someone will have to step up but it might change week to week.

Best bets in the offense for receptions will be Bush – I think Miller will see enough to be a decent bye week or TEBC choice. Beyond that, we won’t know for a while.

End of Wednesday News

Hey folks – show went well – you can download it here or on ITunes or listen via the streaming shows on the right side of this page. Also had a great appearance on Reality Football with Marc, Brian and Cakes. Quick but good. Show was fun to listen to as well.

Let’s wrap things up so I can get some beauty sleep….

New England Patriots
So Tom Brady may or may not be hurt – who can ever tell with New England – but he practiced like a man who was feeling no pain. Like I said multiple times today, you weren’t going to bench him. I also am not of the mind that the Pats will run the heck out of the ball whether or not Brady is hurt. If they do, it will be a RBBC, not just Maroney. Regardless, while Brady will suffer a drop off from last year (who wouldn’t) he will play – and probably play well given that KC is a mess.

Miami Dolphins
As I mentioned on the show tonight, Greg Camirillo has moved into the first team offense and according to HC Tony Sparano, he may see a lot of action against the Jets. He spoke pretty glowing of him –

“We really haven’t given him a lot of opportunities to be on the field for long periods of time,” Sparano said. “He’s got really good awareness. He gives the quarterback a pretty sound target. The guy has excellent hands, can run after the catch. He’s sneaky fast. I really like what the guy has done.”

I wouldn’t start him this weekend with Darelle Revis and rookie Dwight Lowery at the corners, but he could be good to stash on your bench and see what pans out.

Houston Texans
First of all, HC Gary Kubiak denied ever having Tatum Bell in for a visit. That’s how low things have sunk for Tater – he may have been misunderstoon in this mess (yeah, I had problems saying it like you did reading it) but it seems unlikely that he will catch on anywhere.

And with the RB situation as murky as it is, maybe they could have used another RB. Ahman Green is ‘healthy’ and the starter – but only until he gets hurt which will probably be…. right….. about ……… NOW. Seriously, I call Chris Brown ‘Mr. Glass’ but Green must be the original owner of that name. He’ll be hurt – so is it Steve Slaton or Chris Taylor. They will use all three this weekend but you won’t know who to start. However keep an eye on the game anyway – Taylor or Slaton could break out and give you an idea of the next RB you need to own in Houston. (Myself, I like Slaton.)

New Orleans Saints
TE Jeremy Shockey is not on the injury report – which means he will debut (finally) for the Saints against the Bucs this weekend. He may be a mismatch for that secondary so he should casue soem real problems for the defense. How much will he do, stats-wise? Hard to say. I feel wierd saying start him given he hasn’t played a snap in any game in quite some time. But the matchup isn’t bad and if you run TE-BC you could do worse.

That’s all for now unless something reveals itself during the repeat of NFL Live starting now. I will see you all tomorrow for the morning post and the Thundering Blurb Daily News Stampede at noon EST/9am PST.

Morning News, then on to Cowboy Camp!

First, great 2 hour Drive Block last night – we cover everything from news to Auctions to IDP leagues. Check it out at BlogTalkRadio or on ITunes.

Between this and the Blurb, tons of great info each week.

Secondly, the next update here will be late – heading to Cowboys camp in Oxnard today. But I will catch up when I return.

On to the news -
New Orleans Saints
As we covered on the Drive Block last night, Saints second year wide receiver Robert Meachem had a great game. He needs to have a big year or else the Saints will go get another WR in the draft next year to start opposite Colston. 4 catches for 129 yards and a TD is a pretty strong showing. he has ability – he just needs to prove he has the drive and can stay healthy. Last night was a very good start.

New York Jets
In all the Favre and Pennington hubbub one thing that has been overlooked is the strong camp being had by receivers Chansi Stuckey and David Clowney. Stuckey caught 3 passes for 44 yards while Clowney blew up with 4 for 163 and 2 TDs. YOu could say he ‘clowned’ the Browns… eh? eh? Is this thing on?

Seriously, it’s worth tracking who is hot going into the season -while Coles and Cotchery will get most of the love, if gunslinger Favre decides one of his other receivers is his favorite, the #3 in NY could end up having some good value as a #4 or byw week filler. Right now, Clowney is the guy over Stuckey and Brad Smith.

Brett Ratliff had a great game as well, going 14/20 for 252 with 2 TDs. It may be hard to stick with Favre coming in, Clemens still heir apparent and Ainge playing ok. But worth keeping an eye on if Ainge struggles. Certainly the future of the Jets QB situation remains up in the air.

Denver Broncos
It seems that rookie Eddie Royal has supassed Darrell Jackson on the Broncos depth chart. Now this is early and it could change however with Marshall facing a three game time out, Royal will definitely get three starts, barring injury. All he needs to do is play well and he could keep that job. Jackson isn’t that far removed from good numbers but he’s clearly not doing well enough in camp. Keary Colbert hasn’t the track record to lead me to believe he will challenge. Stokely will hang in the slot.

Royal could have godo value and will be available in the latter half of most drafts.

Kansas City Chiefs/Chicago Bears
Chiefs receiver Will Franklin had a pair of catches for 31 yards, but looked rough in his first preseason outing. As I have said, all he has to do it beat out Devard Darling, which should be possible. He has to DO it though. It’s debateable how valuable anyone not named ‘Bowe’ or ‘Gonzo’ will be in this offense. But take a late flier on him if he can be more consistent.

With the Bears, Orton and Grossman looked ok, but were outplayed numbers-wise by Caleb Hanie, a rookie from Colorado State. I wouldn’t read much into it yet but suppose – just suppose – Hanie started doing really well? Do you think Grossman or Orton has done so well that they are untouchable? Nope, me either. It’s unlikely that he wins. But it’s also that Grossman or Orton is going to be consistent enough to be a starter for your fantasy team. Grossman has more upside, btu his valleys are deeper and he’ll cost you as much as he’ll help you. Orton is only there to manage a game and he won’t put up numbers worth starting. And we’re probably several weeks away from knowing who will be unlikelythe guy in Chicago – which only matters so much as it affects Mat Forte, who had 7 carries for 35 yards and looked decent doing it.

That’s it for now – back tonight with more and some insights from Dallas Cowboys Camp!

Favre Leaves Camp and other tidbits

Continuing our last story on this, Brett Favre has now left Packers camp and will be meeting – along with his family – with GM Ted Thompson later. Some earlier reports via The Sports Network have pegged him as once again asking for his outright release, something that likely won’t happen and would – as I have said – would be akin to assisted career suicide for Thompson. Adam Shefter over at NFLN reported yesterday that the Bucs were still talking with the Packers about a possible trade, so perhaps the meeting will involve something along those lines. Shefter feels that the Bucs trade or retirement are the only choices. As rumors have said the discussions yesterday with Favre and McCarthy centered on team unity and avoiding an ugly lockerroom situation, he may be right.

I say Favre should take the trade, if he really wants to play. I also think the Packers should try to make a deal as best they can and be flexible in what they want for Favre so he has a selection of choices.

The sad thing is, something tells me that this brouhaha has probably so sapped Favre of energy and desire that he migth just walk away. And as much as I think a lot of his actions here in this have been badly executed and thought out, I think that would be too bad. Favre wants to play – somehow that shouldn’t be THIS hard to make happen.

In other news –
Jacksonville Jaguars
The wide receiver situation in Jacksonville is no clearer despite the current depth chart. With Porter and Williams out, Troy Williamson and Dennis Northcutt are the first team, while Mike Walker and Matt Jones are second team. I still have hopes for Walker, though not as high – being on Jones’ squad isn’t a ringing endorsement. However, HC Jack Del Rio has spoken well of Jones’ effort in camp. So you never know.

I’ve said this before but this is like the Pats prior to last year, only with less yards. It’s going to be hard to know who will get yards consistently and while Garrard will be an effective starter (though not a dynamic one) for fantasy teams, no receiver here will be good enough, often enough to be better than a #3, at best. But the offense overall should be pretty effective, regardless of who catches the ball when.

New Orleans Saints
Reggie Bush is going to get some opportunity to return punts again, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune . Still, he won’t do it that often, though he might make for a few really impressive run backs. Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas is “competing for a lot of touches” according to Head Coach Sean Payton, via the Baton Rouge Advocate . Thomas is a guy I have been touting all off season and with Deuce returning from another knee injury and Thomas impressing last season, expect the guy to get a good amount of touches.

More from the article:

“He has good vision and good balance,” Payton said. “He’s a guy that has proven that you can hand him the ball more than 15 or 20 times in a game and he can carry the load.”

That’s a good sign if you happened to have snagged him when I told you to for your Dynasty Teams. I think he will compliment Bush very well and he certainly looks to take over for McAllister, who is nearing the end of being a useful full time back.

New York Giants
I don’t normally want to call out other Fantasy Guys, especially those I don’t know. And in all fairness I can’t recall who said it. But I did a little reading in Alaska and out of curiosity, I read some Fantasy Football magazines. I don’t do magazines. At the Journal last year, we did an online one that updated weekly. I read Footballguys, in part because I know so many people involved and I like what they do. I read Pro Football Weekly’s for the excellent team breakdowns. This year, I picked up ESPN’s as well.

I won’t critique it much here, but will point out once again my frustration with some of the content there. So late in their mock draft (which was allegedly done in 45 minutes – thanks guys, good job being thorough – and with little explanation of any picks), in the final round in fact, one guy picks up Mario Manningham. He touts the pick, how clever he is. Manningham is great!

Manningham is also the only rookie WR taken. You know, over James Hardy, Devin Thomas, Limas Sweed – or what I like to call ‘Guys who can contribute maybe this year’. Manningham – behind the likes of Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Steve Smith.

The same Manningham who today, according to the New York Post , has bleeding in his strained quad. Thats’ bad and it could put him on the PUP, if not IR if it’s bad enough.

Which just goes to show you that you ALWAYS need to use your own judgement and use the mags and everyone’s opinions online and everywhere else to help form your own. Anyone reading this column is unlikely to have made that pick – because you probably know the upside of the other rookies and you pay attention. It ain’t that hard.

But I look back at that mock and shake my head even harder at the $7 or whatever that I spent. Thank God I get to write it off next year.

More later….

Tuesday Wrap Up

A few notes to end the Tuesday Camps – and remember – The Thundering Blurb goes live at 6pmPST/9pm EST tomorrow!

Jacksonville Jaguars
Reggie Williams hurt himself again today, re-injuring his knee (recently sprained) and being carted off the field. Did I mention enough lately that I dislike Williams and think Mike Walker, John Broussard and almost anyone else in the core. Again, Marcedes Lewis looks good to me as well.

New Orleans Saints
Sedrick Ellis has finally signed and should be in camp. If he can catch up, he can still make an impact off and on during the season and might work as a bye week filler guy on your IDP squad.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Cowboys are still interested in Chris Simms but the Bucs are still asking for too much. Would that change if they acquired Favre. we may soon find out. The Cowboys certainly would be happy to upgrade the #2 slot from Brad Johnson.

Buffalo Bills
JP Losman jammed his right thumb – for those of you who thought he might sneak in and be a fantasy force…. all two of you in the Buffalo/Canada area….

Thats all for now – see you tomorrow!

Extensions and NON-extensions

Today one fellow got signed like I said he would a while back while another is threatening to boycott Training Camp if he doesn’t get shown the money very soon.

According to Brad Biggs at the Chicago Sun Times, Kick Return Phenom turned wide receiver Devin Hester is unhappy with his contract and may skip training camp in a huff.

Now, what that means is, he’ll have to work hard to overcome Brandon Lloyd and self-proclaimed #1 WR Marty Booker later on.

Considering the two names I just typed, Hester’s threat is a real one. While I am dubious as to his value as a wide receiver Hester is the most dynamic thing in a Bears uni, so they need to get him into camp. I don’t think he should be asking for giant boatloads of cash, but making sure the only highlight you have had the last several years is happy, secure and a BEAR, is pretty vital. I think the Bears may need to blink here, though once the penalties for missed camp hit, Hester may have to get a job at Der Weinerschnitzel or White Castle to get by.

Maybe a team the Bears should look at would be the New Orleans Saints, who signed wide receiver Marques Colston to an extension which has locked him up through 2011. Adam Shefter reported on the NFL Network that the Saints were only too happy to keep Colston smiling. While he has been dinged up on occasion, he is a great target for Brees and with the addition of Shockey and the (hopeful) return to health of Reggie Bush, Colston could find a few less double teams coming his way. We haven’t heard the terms yet but whatever it was was worth it – you can’t put a price on your best target (well, clearly you CAN but you can’t always be cheap about it).

Colston has the potential to be a top 5 Fantasy reciever this year and if he’s healthy could challenge for the top spot.

Getting back to Hester – while the guy isn’t worth Colston money (again, whatever that is), he’s the best thing the Bears have offensively. If he blows town or really holds out, they could be in trouble.

I wouldn’t pay him like a top offensive weapon but I would make sure he leaves the table as happy as I could make him.

send thoughts, questions and complaints to thunderingblurb@gmail.com or post in the comments below as you see fit.

Taylor and Shockey

So while I was in flight yesterday, two (long expected, in my mind) trades have come to fruition. One was an abandoned Draft Day deal that was revisited and one was the final goodbye for a player who hasn’t gotten along with the new regime since… well ever since they showed up.

Of course, I am referring to the trade of Jeremy Shockey to the New Orleans Saints and the trade of Jason Taylor to the Washington Redskins.

Shockey was supposed to be in black and gold back in April – it was such a done deal that I have it on good authority that at least one Saints player called Shockey to welcome him to the fold. But something went wrong and the deal died and we all assumed it would stay dead. Until yesterday. Assuming Shockey passes a physical on wednesday, he’ll be the #1 TE on the team, with Billy Miller, Eric Johnson and Mark Campbell fighting for the last couple of roster slots.

MY TAKE: If Shockey stays healthy, he could have a huge season. we all know how much Brees loved to throw to Antonio Gates in San Diego. We also know there is no solid #2 option in the passing game after Marques Colston (ok, Reggie Bush, but in terms of a pure receiver?). Shockey won’t have to stay in and block as much as he did for the G-men. It should be a match made in heaven. From a fantasy standpoint, Shockey might crawl back into top 5 status. As for the rest – I think Eric Johnson is on his way out. He can’t stay healthy, he was signed after Billy Miller this off season and the Saints were already looking to make Billy Miller a big part of the offense. I think maybe Johnson hangs on, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it. I think Miller will still do a bunch for the Saints, but clearly a lot less than he might have without Shockey.

As for the Giants – some might say Kevin Boss isn’t a lock to start – and maybe he ain’t. But I think he will get every shot and he played so well late last year that he made this trade possible. The Giants didn’t suddenly have so much faith in Darcy Johnson and Mike Matthews that they could ship Shockey off. While Boss still has to work on blocking – and both other guys will get plenty of snaps pre-season – Boss was the one who made this move possible, in my mind. He won’t be a top 10 TE in Fantasy, but he should do very well otherwise and I expect a good season from him.

Meanwhile, Jason Taylor wasn’t winning friends in Miami with his Dancing with the Stars appearances. Bill Parcells made it clear he wasn’t in love with Taylor’s absence and this move – while not to a place I was expecting prior to this weekend – was bound to happen. Once Washington lost two Defensive Linemen to injury in the space of a couple of days, Taylor made sense.

MY TAKE: I have said all off-season that Taylor has more in the tank. I don’t think the Skins overpayed – a 2nd next year and a 6th the year after. Taylor may only play another year – but even so, Washington needed help now. Rumors are they may use him as a Linebacker as well as a Defensive End and that should give him some opportunity to make some open field plays. He should head over to the left side, which means Andre Carter will stay at the right. It should make Carter’s numbers jump up a little as teams might avoid Taylor.

From an IDP perspective (that would be Individual Defensive Player for you non-fantasy geeks) Taylor just went back up in cost. If you had an auction already and had the chance I hope you grabbed him cheap. He could be a good addition to your squad, though how much impact will depend on how he jells in camp. For Miami, this works as well. As much as they could use Taylor, Parcells has set the team up to live on without him. The writing has been on the wall for weeks. The only thing this does for them is get more draft picks – something Big Tuna loves.

Back with more later – remember an all new DRIVE BLOCK starts at 7pm PST/10EST tonight. Stop on by! You can also catch it on the Footballguys podcast Itunes feed (The Audible) or come here and listen to it.