Archive for category Wide Receivers

The Thundering Blurb Show – 3/31/10

It was all Matt Waldman all the time as we get the author of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio on the line for an entire hour to talk about the RSP (which conveniently drops 4/1).

We cover the three big offensive skill positions: quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

Some of the bullet points:


  • Matt’s a pretty big fan of Jonathan Crompton and has him ranked 5th.
  • Juice Williams is ranked 9th but is very boom or bust.
  • Tim Tebow isn’t even in Matt’s Top Ten. We expect lightning to strike Waldman down any second now.
  • Matt’s thoughts on some lesser covered QBs who might be worth a look late.

Running Back

  • Like me, Matt loves him some Toby Gerhart. We talk about why.
  • We also cover why he has CJ Spiller at 6. The answers will shock and horrify you (actually they probably won’t).
  • We talk about why he isn’t as high on Jonathan Dwyer as some.
  • We also touch on the prospects of late round possibility Deji Karim from S. Illinois and Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State.

Wide Receivers

  • We talk about how he’s a genius for ranking Damian Williams from USC as his #2 receiver.
  • What are Marty Gilyard’s prospects?
  • Will Jordan Shipley succeed at the next level?
  • We talk another dark horse prospect, this time as a wide receiver.

Matt’s great and I could do two hours chatting with him.

You can buy the Rookie Scouting Portfolio over at as of April 1st.

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Fantasy Rankings: WR

So if you’ve been reading the site, you know I’ve been doing weekly rankings for fantasy football with some of the other hosts on the Fantasy Sports Channel over at

This week I thought I would give a little insight into some of my rankings here at the Blurb site.

It took a while but FINALLY – here is some of my reasoning behind some of the wide receivers and where I ranked them.

The easy, handy-dandy sortable list of all the rankings can be found here.

As I said in the earlier post about Tom Brady, I think the Pats bounce back

Moss looks to bounce back big in Week 3

Moss looks to bounce back big in Week 3

this week – Randy Moss among those who will explode. This isn’t a damning of the Atlanta defense. This is: 1) a praising of Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who shut down Moss last week and Andre Johnson the week before and 2) a reading of Moss’ veritable outrage and denial he got shut down.Revis is THAT good folks and Colston, Steve Smith and some other WRs had better be ready for him. Moss is THAT angry folks and the Falcons lack a guy like Revis to contain him.

Moss has a chip on his shoulder this week. He’s due.

I think Greg Jennings bounces back as well, and we can just pretend that donut last Sunday didn’t happen though it does eat at the back of my mind. I don’t think we’ll see it again though.

If DeSean Jackson plays, he could have an outstanding day. I just read he

Jackson will do what it takes to get in the end zone

Jackson will do what it takes to get in the end zone

practiced Friday – with Kolb likely throwing he ball, the Eagles will air it out and I think Jackson’s groin holds up and he has a great day.

Brandon Marshall (28) is easy to explain – still struggling with the plays, too many other weapons. Eddie Royal (25) might even be too high. I covered a few concerns for him earlier this week in my Trendspotting column and as I said there, it’s a pretty big Fantasy weekend for Royal.

Bottom line – he’s got targets, he needs to catch them.

Meanwhile, Johnny Knox shot up to 34 – a pretty big jump. I’m a believer in him and I think Jay Cutler is as well. Knox could be in line for many more targets and I believe he is a receiver who combines speed with route running and hands.

He’s a slower Hester with actual wide receiver skills. I mean, Hester is still trying to figure out this whole WR thing and is getting better but Knox has the better overall tools.

Wes Welker and Antonio Bryant are two guys who could go. If they do, my feelings on them are very different.

Welker is a blue-collar worker who has proven the last few seasons that he is

Welker's return would be a welcome one for Tom Brady

Welker's return would be a welcome one for Tom Brady

a solid, reliable receiver. If he comes back, look for him to have a big impact in the game – Brady may use him as a warm comfy blanket of security to get back on track. His value will rocket up the list.

If he plays. For now, I don’t know what he will do or if he will play. So he’s down on the list.

Bryant? He is not moving. One great season do not a Welker make. Bryant has burned us more than helped us and the knee injury, leg injury Byron Leftwitch and shaky offense have me worried.

He can play all he wants but unlike Welker, he gets no benefit of the doubt.

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Fantasy Rookies 2009: The Wide Receivers (Part Two)

Welcome to part two of my look at the rookie wide receiver draft class and it’s potential impact on your fantasy team.

Today we look at some players who are shakier than the first group but may have just as much long-term potential.

A few could even produce this year.

Kenny Britt, TEN
Britt is a guy with a nice combination of ability and opportunity. Britt joins a decent but no-exactly Pro Bowl group with oft-hurt Justin Gage and inconsistent vertical threat Nate Washington. With his good hands and physical play, he should be able to carve out a niche in the offense and could become a possession receiver who is Kerry Collins’ best friend next season. However, it’s not like Collins throws 100 times a game so how much productivity will he have? Britt is a fringe guy for the top 5 rookies and if he has a good camp, might be worth a late flier in a redraft. I think Dynasty-wise he’s worth a look in the first few rounds (not first though).

Brian Robiskie, CLE
Robiskie is in an interesting situation and so far has impressed in camp. Tony Grossi from the Cleveland Plains Dealer says his two TD catches from Brady Quinn in red-zone drills along with the as-advertised crisp routes and overall polish make him an early leader for a #2 spot. There is a glut of other WRs there (including fellow rookie Mohamed Massaquoi), we don’t know who will be QB (though Quinn is looking good) and what impact Braylon Edwards has are all unanswered right now. Robiskie (and perhaps Massaquoi) could emerge during the season as a nice WR3 or 4. I would be careful in redraft but in Dynasty, Robiskie looks like a good bet to succeed down the road. Hopefully this will clear up a bit during training camp.

Mike Thomas, Jarrett Dillard, JAX
There isn’t much to prevent either of these two guys from breaking out other than Tory Holt and the bad history of wide receiver drafting in Jacksonville. However, Holt is a great person to mentor these guys and there is a lot to like about Dillard and Thomas both which might have been lacking in previous picks. Both rookies are already huge presences at the team facilities and are getting accolades from coach Jack Del Rio. Dillard was a great leader at Rice who, while a bit undersized, can leap to make grabs and plays bigger than he is. Thomas is also a little smaller than you’d like in a WR, but is a tough guy across the middle, has some speed and was very productive at Arizona. Both of these guys have upside, I expect the OLine and overall offense should be snappier and Holt isn’t a long term solution. Watch these guys and see which seems to emerge in August as a potential late round Wr or a dynasty pick who could be productive by the end of the year.

Juaquin Iglesias & Johnny Knox, CHI
With Jay Cutler coming to town you have to take a hard look at the wide receiver corps. There are a bunch of guys they will compete with – Hester, Bennett, Davies – but none have captured the first spot and run away with it. Hester (allegedly) is looking better than ever. But even the #2 slot on this team could be huge with Cutler throwing the ball. Iglesias is a tough, with good body control and a willingness to go across the middle. If he can become a reliable target, he could see a lot of work thrown his way though he might fight from looks with tight end Greg Olson. Knox is a vertical threat and he’ll see more competition from Hester. I’m still not sold on Hester and think there is room for Knox to move in, but it can be a risk. I would avoid either one in a redraft but either one could be a decent lat pick in a rookie draft.

Brandon Tate, WR
Tate is an intriguing guy – he has talent but he’s coming off of an injury which was pretty bad. Testing positive for drugs at the Combine doesn’t speak well of his smarts either. Even if Tate comes back and keeps clean, he’s a few years away from impacting the lineup. Undraftable in redraft and not worth anything more than a late spot on most Dynasty rosters as well.

Other guys I like:
Ramses Barden, NYG – Barden has to beat out Nicks and learn to use his body better but I’m a well known Barden Booster and I think he will emerge as a player in a year or two. He was prolific at the college level, even though he played against lesser quality opponents. He’s a hard worker and while there are a bunch of wide receivers to vie with for time, I think he has what it takes to succeed.

Patrick Turner, MIA – There aren’t a ton of world beaters in Miami and Turner has a shot to compete for a starting spot. He’s not a speed demon, doesn’t get much separation and isn’t a deep threat. He’s an aggressive player – and tough – so he could carve out a red zone/short yardage niche in the offensive scheme.

Derrick Williams, DET – A guy who is not likely to explode for several years but might match up nicely with Calvin Johnson down the road. He has the speed to be so – but he was never terribly productive at Penn State so his ceiling is a big question mark.

Fantasy Rookies 2009: The Wide Receivers (pt 1)

Welcome to the next installment in our look at the incoming NFL rookies and their impact in you upcoming fantasy season.

Today we look at part one of the wide receivers – which we began to look at on last night’s Thundering Blurb Show on As is the case with everything this early, there are varying degrees of reaction to the rankings and breakdowns.

Last night I certainly heard some disagreement from the callers on the last few guys we spoke about. That’s the point as far as I’m concerned, so feel free to join in below in the comments.

First of all, while I think there are more rookie wide receivers who could impact your fantasy season right now than any other position, receivers have a high bust rate and even when they succeed, it can take a long time.

Keeping that in mind – here is part one of the rookie wide receiver breakdown.

Michael Crabtree, SF
The 49ers had to be thanking their lucky stars that Crabtree fell to them, right?

It all depends upon how much stock you put in the character concerns surrounding Crabtree just before the Draft. Still, even if he has an attitude problem, head coach Mike Singletary has experience dealing with that.

So that issue aside, let’s talk about his skills. Simply put, the man makes plays.

He has phenomenal ball skills, makes amazing catches with his leaping ability and works very hard. Sure, he’s not winning any wind sprints. But he can ball.

Two big questions: 1) How will his foot heal and will it affect his play this season? And 2) The 49ers are loaded with talent at wide receiver. Where will he fit in 2009?

In my opinion, the answer to the first is that it probably will be ok and not affect his overall ability. To be honest, I’m no doctor, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so this is about as arm-chair QB as you can get.

But the whole reason he skipped Pro Days and workouts was to get surgery to heal the foot. If he rehabs well – and as I said, the dude is known as a hard worker – then the foot won’t be a huge factor in his game.

It may factor in his playing time though. Like it or not, he won’t be on the field until late this summer. That is time lost. We know Isaac Bruce can play. We’re pretty sure Josh Morgan can play. Brandon Jones was brought over from the Titans because he can play.

OK, Jason Hill and Arnaz Battle aren’t that big a factor, but still – that’s quite a few wide receivers.

Morgan has the biggest impact, as they play the same spot on the field – the ‘X’ or split end position. There is every chance that because Crabtree may miss the bulk of mini camps, OTAs and maybe even a little Training Camp, that Morgan could start the season there and Crabtree could be eased in.

Down the road, I think Crabtree will take over. But Morgan already looks good in mini-camps and OTA’s and Crabtree will be playing catchup. Rookie wide receivers always have lots to catch up about.

Likely a top five pick in most leagues, depending on need and scoring. But keep in mind that wide receivers have a high bust rate – a huge factor in no wide receivers going in round one of the 2008 NFL Draft. Also, keep in mind that we have no idea who will be throwing the rock this year or next.

Still, those questions (and the few I listed earlier) aside – you’re looking at the top WR in a Fantasy Dynasty draft. I may not take him first overall, but he should be gone no later than 5.

You know that high bust ratio I just mentioned? It makes drafting rookie wide receivers even riskier in redraft. We know Crabtree will get his shot but when and how often? I think he’ll make it on the field at some point, but I’d be cautious how much I needed him as a fantasy wide receiver, especially early in the season.

That makes him about as valuable as kick return/WRs and part timers. But when comparing Crabtree to, say, Kevin Walter – you have to determine upside. And it’s my opinion Crabtree will carry more upside than a #3/Kick returner.

So while I am looking to pick him up somewhere in the eighth or ninth round, and around WR35-40, I’d take him before guys like Walter, an aging guy like Tory Holt or an unproven guy like Devin Hester.

Jeremy Maclin, PHI
Most people will have Hakeem Nicks here, but I like Maclin more. Yes the Giants lack a #1. Yes, DeSean Jackson is a stud.

Still, I think Maclin is in a very good situation. Kevin Curtis won’t be a big threat as he will be more of a situational player. And Jackson will benefit from Maclin as well as Maclin will from him.

He does need to polish his route running and sometimes loses concentration, but I think his speed and overall ability to catch the ball totally outweighs those concerns.

The biggest problem is how he fits into this offense. As I said, I don’t think Curtis keeps him benched, provided he has a good camp. If that happens – and I believe it will – they will have to throw him the ball to keep defenses off both Jackson and Westbrook.

All draft season I was told ‘Andy Reid doesn’t draft offense in round 1’. He did – which means he intends to use him. And if he does Maclin could have a solid year.

In my mind, Maclin is a top ten rookie pick in nearly any rookie draft. He may not pay off immediately and I don’t expect numbers like Jackson had last season, but the presence of DeSean will help him by room to make plays and he can do that for sure. He could lag a bit in picking up the game – rookie WRS often do – but he will look very nice next year then, if that’s the case.

Don’t get too fooled by DeSean Jackson’s 2008 numbers. I love Maclin – even for this year – but last year’s numbers will be hard to match. He’s more of an upside pick but is one of three guys I think have an excellent chance to provide some points for you and will be invaluable during bye weeks or in deep leagues.

Hakeem Nicks, NYG
Many are predicting instant (or nearly instant) success for the talented junior out of North Carolina. And given the situation he landed in – Toomer gone, Burress a victim of himself – you have to think he’ll get a shot.

Nicks is an outstanding route runner who can make amazing and tough catches consistently. He’s very competitive and will fight for the ball and has no fear going across the middle.

He does have some question marks in his game. He’s not terribly quick and doesn’t get much separation. Nicks can also be a bit inconsistent in his efforts and isn’t all that helpful as a blocker.

Now, there have been some outstanding WRs who haven’t gotten separation. Guys who make their bones being a hard-ass WR who makes plays. And you can learn to block.

But given that there are a grip of other wide receivers – Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and his fellow 2009 rookie Ramses Barden (a Blurb favorite) – so he’s no lock to start beyond a #3 and it Barden has a better camp….

I think Steve Smith and Barden are threats more than Hixon or Manningham. Hixon seemed to fade after a big Super Bowl and when he should have stepped up he didn’t. And I’m not a big believer in Manningham. Barden has to learn to use his body better and that’s one thing Hicks does better.

It’s his edge – can he keep it? I’m not sure I am sold.

Hicks is a guy I seem to love less than a lot of analysts. Still, he’s in a position to succeed if he applies himself and warrants a look in your rookie draft’s first round. I think he has a little bit less distance to go than Barden, so I give him the edge.

But be prepared to sit him most of the year. If you are ok with that, he should produce within a year or so and has the upside to be very good. But if Barden starts using his huge body the way he can – it might be a fight.

You’d probably pick him up around the time you’ll pick up NFL #3s and fellow rookies like Heyward-Bey and – depending upon how risk averse you might be – Percy Harvin. Nicks COULD produce, but the glut of WRs around him have me worried right now.

Hicks is one of the WRs who could move up my draft board though, with continued good news out of OTAs and Training Camp. Right now though, not sold enough to risk more than a #3 or 4 spot for my lineup.

Percy Harvin, MIN
Harvin has already had his share of trouble with some concerns over character and drug use – and raised eyebrows when he missed mini camp due to dehydration. When rumor has it you biffed a drug test you knew you would take at the Combine…

Well – let’s just say ‘red flag’.

Despite that, he is expected to be at OTAs and Sidney Rice himself says he expects to have to battle Harvin to for the starting flanker or ‘Z’ position at wide receiver.

The fact that Rice is coming off a knee injury which contributed to a lackluster year (one we expected him to break out in) gives Harvin a leg up – so to speak – but by no means do I count Rice out.

In reality both WRs bring different skills to the table – Rice can make big leaping catches and use his body against opposing secondary while Harvin can both get separation to be a vertical threat as well as work the middle.

Fact is, while Rice’s knee contributed to his lackluster 2008, the clock is ticking and if Harvin can keep his head on straight, he can duplicate some of what Rice can.

Aside from the worries about Harvin’s attitude, I don’t have a ton of worries. As I said on the podcast, all these guys have question marks. Some – Crabtree and Maclin – have talent which makes those questions not as big.

But most of the rest don’t quite fall in that category so they should shuffle all summer long. Harvin has a ton of talent and I think he’ll overcome his penchant for bad decisions at least enough to stay on the field.

Beyond anything else, they will get him involved. If he doesn’t beat out Rice, they’ll put him in the slot or occasionally split him out wide – whatever it takes to utilize his abilities.

Also – this ranking could change radically if His Royal Favreness becomes a Viking. I can’t say if I think that is bad or good yet, but it could change the landscape.

Harvin is a guy who certainly has some risk but also a tremendous amount of ability. Like the Vikings, you’re banking on the fact that he can overcome his penchant for bad decisions to fully reveal his ability, which is great. He may not vault to superstar status immediately but I think he will emerge down the road as a solid wide receiver – perhaps more than that – for your Dynasty squad.

Harvin is also a risky pick for a redraft owner but could end up being productive. As always, minimize your risk. And consider that since most redraft leagues don’t draft until late summer, you are in a good position to see where Harvin stands and pick accordingly. If you had to pick him right now, I would wait quite a long time, and he wouldn’t be any higher than mid to late WR 50.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, OAK
Ok, let’s forget for a moment the ridiculousness of the pick by the Raiders. DHB was still a guy we all felt was a receiver who could be a first round pick.

He’s got his faults. At Maryland, he had big problems with drops and he rarely if ever played against press coverage. He wasn’t productive, but you can blame that on an offense that never used him to his full capabilities.

DHB also lacks special teams experiance, though that was always more of a factor for me in terms of the actual draft versus fantasy purposes.

I would be positive Heyward-Bey could improve his overall game if it wasn’t for one thing – that would be the play of JaMarcus Russell.

Now I’m not calling Russell a bust. I will, however, point out that he is already struggling in OTAs. According to Jerry McDonald – beat writer for the Oakland Tribune – Russell’s performance as recently as Wednesday (5/21) was ‘awful’.

Head Coach Tom Cable says the problem with Russell is his unfamiliarity with the new offense. But a guy who can throw 70 yards from his knees should be much better in an offense which goes vertical like this one should while in shorts and with no hitting.

So while Russell is no bust, he’s starting to list that way and if he struggles, what does that mean for DHB? And before we cry for Garcia, he’s not going to allow Heyward-Bey to stretch the field the way Russell should.


Heyward-Bey could develop into a very good receiver or at worst, a Nate Washington type who can stretch the field often, if not be incredibly productive. In my mind, I have big concerns that are not really stemming from his potential. One I mentioned – Russell and his development or lack thereof. Second though, is the organization itself. The Raiders are a mess – is this a place that will be able to develop a wide receiver successfully?

As that is the case, he probably slips down into the second round of a rookie draft for me. He’s got some very good upside – but I am unsure he will realize it for some time.


With the disarray of the wide receiver corps in Oakland, who is in his way? Chaz Schilens? Javon Walker? If Russell can get his game on – or even if Garcia is a reasonable replacement – DHB could become a decent producer of fantasy points.

But – and this is a large but – this is not an offense I think is primed for big things. So sure, he could be the best wide receiver (2nd best receiver overall next to Zach Miller) on the Raiders – but that might be like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

So that’s it for this edition of the Wide Reciever Breakdown. Next week I will have the rest of the bunch – and I think there are several guys who have a great deal of value especially in Dynasty leagues.

If there is someone you really want me to cover, throw it in the comments or email me at and I will tackle them.

Not literally.

NFL Draft: Positional Class Grades

Each season a new crop of college athletes take part in the NFL Draft Process, and every year what the overall strengths and depths of the class are will change as often as the needs of the teams doing the drafting.

This year is no exception.

In 2008, we saw a class with good overall running back talent, quicker than anticipated impact at the quarterback position and great depth at the defensive spots.

The 2009 class has its own set of advantages and strong spots, but also more than a few positions of questionable depth and talent.

When the layman looks at the Draft, they think in terms of the ‘sexy positions’. The quarterback, the running back, the high profile names on the offense. It’s where many new draftnicks and casual observers get caught up.

But once you’ve spent any time listening to any analyst or scout worth his salt, it turns out that’s not always where the value is in any given year.

This year is no different and while there is some value and depth in those skill positions, once again the most value appears to be in the trenches and on the defensive side of the ball.

Let’s take a look at the overall talent in the NFL Draft class of 2009.

High SideMatthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez
Low SideCurtis Painter, Graham Harrell
Overall GradeC+
Explanation – While I am a big fan of Stafford and Sanchez, I don’t know either would have cracked the top of last year’s class. Still, both athletes have the tools to be worthy of a top pick in 2009. Stafford solidified a high pick slot with an outstanding Pro Day showcasing his accuracy and arm strength while Sanchez will have an opportunity to prove his doubters wrong by showing off his own accuracy and allaying injury concerns on April 1st at USC’s workout. In his own tier behind them is Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. I’ll be honest – any other year and Freeman isn’t going in round one. His accuracy issues, streaky nature and occasional lapses in decision making worry me. Still, after Sanchez and Stafford, Freeman is the guy you want, though he’ll take more time to develop than the first two. After that – it’s personal choice. Every quarterback behind them is a big question mark and a project, so it becomes about who teams fall in love with. One team might love Pat White’s versatility, while another may love Sam Houston State QB Rhett Bomar’s huge arm and intangibles. Or a team may wait a bit and snag any number of high upside, long term projects like Fresno State’s Tom Brandstater (good short touch vs shaky deep throws), Alabama’s John Parker Wilson (great intangibles vs lack of size and arm strength) or recently hot prospect Mike Reilly from Central Washington (good short accuracy and touch vs spread offense worries). My choice for dark horse? Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State. Tough, determined and with good accuracy on the West Coast-Style slants and short passes, Carpenter played behind an atrocious offensive line, with no run game and still managed to put up very good numbers. Sure thing? Not at all. But in the right scheme? Could be very successful. But he’s indicative of the class – all upside, all projects. Few sure things. Here is where I think a smart team can make a big future impact with a pick that’s low risk, but potentially high reward. One of these guys in the right system and with patience could turn out to be another Matt Cassel – assuming people remember the patience it took over almost four years to develop him.

High SideKnowshon Moreno, Chris Wells, LeSean McCoy
Low SideIan Johnson, Marlon Lucky
Overall GradeB
Explanation – These backs don’t have the marquee value of a Peterson or a McFadden but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any solid backs here. Knowshon Moreno has great instincts and is a big, tough runner with good hands. Chris Wells is a strong runner with good burst, but injury and durability worries. UCONN running back Donald Brown is quick to the hole and had very good vision and can catch the ball well out of the backfield. Behind the big three are a ton of solid, though perhaps unspectacular running backs. It’s not to say that a guy like Pitt’s LeSean McCoy, Liberty’s Rashad Jennings or Andre Brown from North Carolina can’t have a very good and very productive careers. But none of these backs hold the excitement that the top of the line studs usually do. The class has some depth, players with defined roles versus the projects that litter the quarterback class. A guy like Jeremiah Johnson out of Oregon would make an outstanding change of pace back. While he doesn’t have elite speed and has never been a workhorse, he’s shown ability, can play in special teams and has shown good vision and patience. He may never become the bell cow, but he also shouldn’t take three years to develop into a solid player. Or a team can grab a guy like Marlon Lucky from Nebraska, a runner who has a good combination of size and speed, who can run for tough yards but doesn’t have the ability to be an every down back. He can certainly fill in – and quickly – on special teams as well as be the type of back to grind yardage out and get the hard yards. Though he will never be a home run hitter, Lucky could be another guy who can be picked late and yet still contributes early in his career. The running back class is filled with these solid, though perhaps unspectacular, backs. Because of this, a team can lay in the weeds and fill other positions of need, yet still have a shot at a quality back who can contribute in a specific role pretty quickly. While the ceiling isn’t extraordinarily high, the floor for many of these guys is pretty good.

High SideTony Fiametta
Low SideBrannon Southerland
Overall GradeC-
Explanation – Like with centers and kickers, top shelf fullbacks are few and far between and that’s why guys like Tony Richardson get the dollars he does blocking for backs like LT and Adrian Peterson. You aren’t likely to see any fullbacks go on day one, and maybe just a handful will be drafted over all. In the last nine drafts, the top fullback has been selected in the fourth round four times and the fifth round three times. The top fullback has only been pulled in the third round twice including last year when Jacob Hester went to the Chargers. And while he was the top fullback in the 2008 draft he was also the type of guy San Diego looked at as a potential full time running back. Again, it’s rare for a full blown fullback to go early. While a blocking fullback is worth his weight in gold, it’s easier to convert a running back or sign a fullback off the street. So even the top guys like Syracuse’s Tony Fiametta will be unlikely to go earlier than the middle rounds. This is not to say Fiametta isn’t a capable player. The former Orangeman is a fantastic blocker who works hard and has the versatility coaches love which allows him to block for other backs, catch the ball out of the backfield or even work special teams. It’s that flexibility which will attract teams and players like Fiametta. But many other guys have too many question marks. Georgia’s Brannan Southerland has some real conerns about his ability to stay healthy, Eric Kettani needs to fulfill his Naval service before he can play and lack experience in receiving and special teams so is limited while Jason Cook from Ole Miss is basically a blocker – and that’s all. Once you get past the top one or two players, a team might as well wait and sign these guys after the draft or look for a late round running back, see if they can develop him as a regular RB and if not, move him to fullback. Less fullbacks are being used in College football, and Pro teams are using tight ends and other players to block when necessary. As a result, this class which is thin on depth will likely see few players taken on draft weekend and perhaps even during the rookie free agency signing period.

PositionWide Receiver
High SideMichael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin
Low SideSammie Stroughter, Tiquan Underwood
Overall GradeB+
Explanation – A huge step up from last year and we should see a bunch of receivers pulled in the first round and over the course of the first day. There are some projects, but there are also plenty of very solid top prospects here. You can start with the names we’ve all become familiar with over the last few months. Michael Crabtree with his phenomenal size, body control, reach and outstanding ball skills. Fluid and elusive Jeremy Maclin with his ability to stretch the field and vertical ability. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin. All are names you’ve heard about endlessly. But this class differs from the 2008 bunch in more than just the top end players. This class has a full compliment of depth, guys who will be effective early in their career and could have long-term impact. Some, like OSU wideout Brian Robiskie seemingly emerged out of nowhere, lighting up the NFL Scouting Combine with an outstanding 40 and showing more athleticism than expected. He continued to impress at his Pro Day and is poised to get picked somewhere in the second or third rounds. Robiskie’s route running and instincts make him a player who could be ready to contribute immediately and while he may not be the next Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss, he’s a solid player and could be so for a long time to come. Slipping down a few spots to Ramses Barden, from Cal Poly. Barden has the size and strength to dominate defenders, he just needs to use it a little more confidently. And he can get yards after the catch. A little more of a project, but he can still develop into a good wide receiver and an excellent guy to move the chains or red zone target. Other guys who provide the depth on this squad are Washington State’s Brandon Gibson (experience, great hands, good routes, so-so speed, not enough separation), USC’s Patrick Turner off a great Pro Day (great routes, hands and tough attitude but not a great blocker or much of a deep threat), Quon Cosby out of Texas (athletic, quick, great ball skills, but a little older and limited separation) and Dominique Edison from Stephen F. Austin (decent speed, great hands and a good vertical threat, but not too physical nor sudden off the line) all will go second day and could carve out roles as at least #3 receivers. Even guys like the players at the bottom of my list, like Oregon State’s Sammie Stroughter and Rutgers’ Tiquan Underwood could contribute, though it might take a little longer.

PositionTight End
High SideBrandon Pettigrew, Jared Cook
Low SideRyan Purvis, Bear Pascoe
Overall GradeB-
Explanation – There are at least 5 TEs in this class that could be impact players at the next level, but not much depth and overall it won’t dominate the draft. You may never be able to have too many wide receivers or running backs, but you don’t need that many tight ends. Also, the position plays a little different now. You want a tight end who can block AND catch, not one but able to learn the other. Pettigrew is the class of the positional group, he can run, he can block, he can catch – and he’s a tough SOB. The guys behind him are all very athletic – Jared Cook (great speed and quicks, great hands, but little blocking ability), Cornelius Ingram (great ball skills, soft hands, can go vertical, but not tough, inexperienced) and Travis Beckum (great speed, good routes, elusiveness after the catch but not bulky enough, not physical enough and there are durability issues) – but have some question marks. Still, they have the offensive skills to play for some time. The low end like Bear Pascoe (great blocker but very stiff and not fast) and Ryan Purvis (good hands, willing blocker but not fast or explosive) seem to be the flipside – blockers who might develop into full tight ends. The fact you could get production from the late rounds with guys this deep into the class is what makes this class just a bit better than average.

PositionOffensive Tackle
High SideJason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Andre Smith
Low SideGarrett Reynolds, Joel Bell
Overall GradeB+
Explanation – Once again a great crop of OTs and we could see another run on the position in the first round. The game is won in the trenches and there are a lot of fine tackles in the 2009 class, even if it isn’t quite as deep as the 2008 group. Jason Smith, Monroe, Andre Smith and Oher will be gone in the top 15 in all likelihood and you could see guys like Eben Britton out of Arizona and recently hot Phil Loadholt from Oklahoma who could sneak into the first as well. There are other good tackles behind these guys but they could go anywhere from late second to beginning of the third, guys like William Beatty (UCONN), Troy Kropog (Tulane) or Jamon Meredith (South Carolina). All have something they need to work on be it a lack of prototypical size, mobility or a lack pf perfection either in the run or pass portion of the game. But all of them will be productive. As you go further away, the projects grow more shaky but there are so many who could slip in or will get picked up immediately as a street free agent, if a team misses out on one guy, they have the possibility of grabbing a project late and spending less money, yet still seeing production.

High SideDuke Robinson, Andy Levitre
Low SideRyan Durand, Travis Bright
Overall GradeB-
Explanation – A decent group, but not a ton of depth. You’ll see them go starting in the second, but there aren’t more than a dozen guys who are good bets to go. A bunch of guards will go as rookie free agents, but not much excitement. Most interesting thing I have seen is the contradicting evaluations of Greg Isdaner of West Virginia. Some rankings have him as the second or third guard. But some don’t even have him going on Draft weekend. The top of the class are definitely Oklahoma’s Duke Robinson and Oregon State’s Andy Levitre. But while maybe one slips into the first, guards don’t go early. Overall it’s a decent class but there are not a ton of guards who will go on draft day, especially when some tackles can move over to guard if they don’t work out.

High SideAlex Mack, Max Unger, Eric Wood
Low SideCecil Newton, Dallas Reynolds
Overall GradeC
Explanation – Top flight Centers are tough to come by, which is why Jeff Saturday just got re-signed by the Colts. You don’t let one go. This class is ok at the top, but there is a significant drop-off after that and if we hit double digits drafted, I’d be surprised. But the top of the class is pretty good. Cal’s Mack is whip-smart and incredibly flexible in what he can play – center, guard, what have you – he not only can do many things, he’s willing to. I have seen him slip a bit in some mocks, with Wood jumping in as the center taken in the first round. The Louisville center isn’t the most powerful guy and finds himself pushed around a little too much for me. But again, a smart guy who is a hard worker.

WR Rankings for week 17

Here are the WRs – RBs in a little while.

Wide Receiver

  1. Steve Smith (CAR)
  2. Andre Johnson
  3. Marques Colston
  4. Roddy White
  5. Larry Fitzgerald
  6. Calvin Johnson
  7. Reggie Wayne
  8. Vincent Jackson
  9. Greg Jennings
  10. Brandon Marshall
  11. Derrick Mason
  12. Randy Moss
  13. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  14. DeSean Jackson
  15. Antonio Bryant
  16. Terrell Owens
  17. Wes Welker
  18. Eddie Royal
  19. Hines Ward
  20. Santana Moss
  21. Jerricho Cotchery
  22. Torry Holt
  23. Domenik Hixon
  24. Donald Driver
  25. Santonio Holmes
  26. Dwayne Bowe
  27. Anquan Boldin
  28. Lee Evans
  29. Bernard Berrian
  30. Kevin Walter
  31. Muhsin Muhammad
  32. Anthony Gonzalez
  33. Braylon Edwards
  34. Isaac Bruce
  35. Laveranues Coles
  36. Mark Clayton
  37. Dennis Northcutt
  38. Donnie Avery
  39. Davone Bess
  40. Deion Branch
  41. Devin Hester
  42. Steve Breaston
  43. Bobby Engram
  44. Justin Gage
  45. Bryant Johnson

WR Rankings for Week 16

With the huge weekend, I expanded my last week of rankings (unless there is a huge outcry) so we’re covered no matter what! So without further ado -

Steve Smith peaked at just the right time, huh? He’s topped 100+ yards for 4 straight weeks and has scored in the last two games as well. He’s on fire and even against tough defense like NY, he’s a lock to your lineup. Delhomme may be on his way out, but he’s finding Smith early and often (49 times in his last five games) and Smith is having success against even difficult matchups. Get him in and keep him in.

Megatron or Calvin Johnson as he is known as by some, can do a lot with a little. But last week he had a deluge of targets (16, 9 of which he caught) has scored 4 TDs over the last five games, with no less than 60 yards each game. The Saints are ranked 26th vs the pass although they have played better the last few weeks. Still Johnson should do well even with a meager amount of targets – and I think Orlovsky will continue to try and force him the ball and he’ll get his chance again to have another big game.

Andre Johnson should continue to benefit from Matt Schaub’s current hot streak. Johnson himself has been a tad streaky, but while he won’t mount another 200+ yard game he should put up some great numbers nonetheless. Johnson thinks Nnamdi Asomugha will shadow him but Oakland doesn’t usually do that. Still, even if it happens, Johnson is good enough to find room to move and catch plenty of balls as well.

Here we are again speaking of Greg Jennings who is STILL a guy that I never see/hear anyone talking about him. Maybe that’s why I always feel like he’s pretty underrated. As I think Rodgers is going to have a big day, you know Jennings will be his favorite target as always. He’s automatic and been very stable as a fantasy WR and will be so again here in the Fantasy Championship.

While I do fully expect Michael Turner to be getting a ton of carries, Atlanta will need to pass on occasion to keep the defense honest. And Matt Ryan always looks for his top option, Roddy White. White should have no problem finding room to function against the 22nd ranked pass defense, though while they do not get too many interceptions, they also don’t tend to allow many TDs (just 13 in 15 games). I do believe you’ll see White in the end zone once though and he is sure to get good yards for you as well.

Wide Receivers

  1. Steve Smith, Panthers at Giants
  2. Calvin Johnson, Lions vs. Saints
  3. Andre Johnson, Texans at Raiders
  4. Greg Jennings, Packers at Bears
  5. Roddy White, Falcons at Vikings
  6. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals at Patriots
  7. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers vs. Chargers
  8. Marques Colston, Saints at Lions
  9. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs vs. Dolphins
  10. Vincent Jackson, Chargers at Buccaneers
  11. Brandon Marshall, Broncos vs. Bills
  12. Randy Moss, Patriots vs. Cardinals
  13. Wes Welker, Patriots vs. Cardinals
  14. Isaac Bruce, 49ers at Rams
  15. Lance Moore, Saints at Lions
  16. Braylon Edwards, Browns vs. Bengals
  17. Hines Ward, Steelers at Titans
  18. Lee Evans, Bills at Broncos
  19. Terrell Owens, Cowboys vs. Ravens
  20. Davone Bess, Dolphins at Chiefs
  21. Donald Driver, Packers at Bears
  22. Santana Moss, Redskins vs. Eagles
  23. Kevin Walter, Texans at Raiders
  24. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets at Seahawks
  25. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals at Browns
  26. DeSean Jackson, Eagles at Redskins
  27. Derrick Mason, Ravens at Cowboys
  28. Eddie Royal, Broncos vs. Bills
  29. Michael Jenkins, Falcons at Vikings
  30. Bernard Berrian, Vikings vs. Falcons
  31. Domenik Hixon, Giants vs. Panthers
  32. Santonio Holmes, Steelers at Titans
  33. Steve Breaston, Cardinals at Patriots
  34. Chad Johnson, Bengals at Browns
  35. Devin Hester, Bears vs. Packers
  36. Nate Washington, Steelers at Titans
  37. Steve Smith, Giants vs. Panthers
  38. Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers at Giants
  39. Deion Branch, Seahawks vs. Jets
  40. Donnie Avery, Rams vs. 49ers
  41. Torry Holt, Rams vs. 49ers
  42. Laveranues Coles, Jets at Seahawks
  43. Bryant Johnson, 49ers at Rams
  44. Bobby Wade Vikings at Falcons
  45. Amani Toomer Giants vs Panthers

Top WR Performances for Week 15

Andre Johnson 11/207/1 – Johnson continues to combine yards and TDs. The last three games have been a successful combo of both and while it’s not an easy matchup against Oakland’s secondary, clearly they can be beat. Johnson is a must start even if 200+ yards is a rare thing, he’s on a roll and you should ride him to a win.

Steve Smith 9/174/1 – Smith is another one who is playing very well right now. He’s amassed 100+ yards in four straight games and a TD in each of the last two. He faces a tough matchup in the Giants defense, but like Andre Johnson, you have to be playing him each week. He’s too hot not too and has peaked at just the right time.

Calvin Johnson 9/110/1 – 1 fumble – Aside from a bad fumble, Megatron finally got both the targets AND the yards. He’s had two games in a row with a TD as well. New Orleans’ secondary can be beat and let’s face it – in this gunfight, the Saints should come out blazing. It’s hard to believe they’ll get him that many catches again, but Johnson has been stellar all season long, with only a few true clunkers to his name. He’s a guy who is too good to be contained by the defense in most games. And he’s too good to to keep out of your fantasy lineup no matter what he faces.

Antonio Bryant 8/108/1- Here he is again. Antonio FREAKING Bryant. I can say that with venom as he escorted me out of one set of playoffs last week. That aside he is hot right now and you should have him playing each week. Is he a bona fide WR1? Probably not – but two straight 100+ yard games and three straight with at least 1 TD? He’s hot enough for at a #2 spot. And with confidence no less. Whoda thunk it after the relatively unspectacular season?

Dennis Northcutt 5/136/1 - Is Northcutt the new ‘go-to guy’ in Jacksonville with Matt Jones finally on time out? Well with Mike Walker pretty much a no show, Jerry Porter on IR and Reggie Williams the other option, he probably is. I can’t feel good about recommending him as anything but a WR3 or 4 but he may be the type of late year player worth having in the lineup. But careful – Indy is ranked seventh against the pass with only 5 TDs allowed.

Randy Moss 5/136/1 - A pretty darn good game that normally would have had him near the top of this list – he’s essentially tied for 5 on it anyway and I’d recommend him over Northcutt in a heartbeat – but you were already playing him each week right?

Best of the rest –

Hines Ward 8/107 – Ward has been spotty all season long and now is facing a pretty good Titans defense. He should get a lot of short work but don’t expect a big game.

Vincent Jackson 6/97/1 – 1 fumble – Another solid game from a guy normally relegated to WR3 or 4 status who probably should be a #2 on many teams by now. Had a rough patch a few weeks back, but seems to have passed it.

Marques Colston 6/84/1 – Still not consistent but should be in the lineup most weeks. While Pierre Thomas may go buck wild on the toothless Lions, Brees is Brees and will throw the ball. I would start Colston as aWR3 or 2 with confidence. However I reserve the right to change my mind as we close on the weekend.

Reggie Wayne 7/104 - Should have another good game against JAX on Thursday. Yes he’s been ‘meh’ this season. But he’ll end strong for you in the Championships.

WR Rankings for Week 15

Larry Fitzgerald has really come on for the last few weeks – Anquan Boldin will not continue to struggle but Fitzgerald has been THE MAN for the Cardinals the last few weeks and rock solid for the whole season. He should see a lot of work since the best way to beat the Vikings is through the air. And of the dynamic duo, Fitz is the hotter and I think he will get a ton of work from Warner.

It took a while to happen but Steve Smith finally started producing really nicely. The Broncos can get thrown against with or without Champ Bailey and Smith has made some great catches. Even though Delhomme is not a great start and has struggled, Smith has still been able to put up good points and will do so this week as well.

On the opposite sideline, Brandon Marshall will succeed, probably just because of the sheer volume of passes Cutler will heave at him. I don’t expect Bell to do much save for keeping the defense honest and I think the Broncos will not rely on any of the collage of also rans and never was RBs they’ve collected. Marshall has the ability to overcome the defense and with Eddie Royal and tight end Tony Scheffler, he’ll find some single coverage.

Greg Jennings, like Aaron Rodgers, puts up fantasy points even when the Packers lose. As Rodgers does well, Jennings does as well because Rodgers loves him some Jennings. He’ll look at him pretty frequently and lucky for him, Jennings can catch anything thrown at him. Jennings is a reliable fantasy starter every week and again when the big fantasy names at WR get talked about, his name is not brought up often enough.

Roddy White faces a dangerous secondary in Tampa Bay who will harrass and attack both White and Matt Ryan. However, White has more than earned his auto-start in your lineup and while it’s a bad matchup, he has seen those before and succeeded. Ryan struggled against this secondary in it’s own house before. But he is more experiance and home, so expect a better game from him and a great game from White.

Wide Receiver

  1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals vs. Vikings
  2. Steve Smith, Panthers vs. Broncos
  3. Brandon Marshall, Broncos at Panthers
  4. Greg Jennings, Packers at Jaguars
  5. Roddy White, Falcons vs. Buccaneers
  6. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs vs. Chargers
  7. Reggie Wayne, Colts vs. Lions
  8. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals vs. Vikings
  9. Calvin Johnson, Lions at Colts
  10. Randy Moss, Patriots at Raiders
  11. Terrell Owens, Cowboys vs. Giants
  12. Andre Johnson, Texans vs. Titans
  13. DeSean Jackson, Eagles vs. Browns
  14. Wes Welker, Patriots at Raiders
  15. Derrick Mason, Ravens vs. Steelers
  16. Lee Evans, Bills at Jets
  17. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets vs. Bills
  18. Vincent Jackson, Chargers at Chiefs
  19. Isaac Bruce, 49ers at Dolphins
  20. Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers at Falcons
  21. Santana Moss, Redskins at Bengals
  22. Davone Bess, Dolphins vs. 49ers
  23. Deion Branch, Seahawks at Rams
  24. Eddie Royal, Broncos at Panthers
  25. Kevin Walter, Texans vs. Titans
  26. Donald Driver, Packers at Jaguars
  27. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals vs. Redskins
  28. Hines Ward, Steelers at Ravens
  29. Bernard Berrian, Vikings at Cardinals
  30. Marvin Harrison, Colts vs. Lions
  31. Braylon Edwards, Browns at Eagles
  32. Santonio Holmes, Steelers at Ravens
  33. Hank Baskett, Eagles vs. Browns
  34. Steve Breaston, Cardinals vs. Vikings
  35. Reggie Williams, Jaguars vs. Packers

Top WR Performances for Week 14

Here’s a list of guys who – for the most part – are VERY UNLIKELY to repeat top 5 success. But they had big weeks nonetheless and if you faced them, they could have contributed to your downfall. It’s incredibly frustrating to have a great team, only to lose on a mediocre players one week fantasy binge and purge – but that’s the game we both love and loathe.

Antonio Bryant – 9/200/2 – AKA Andrew’s Fantasy Death Knell Special. Bryant played out of his mind last night and will not do this again. Don’t get me wrong – he will play well – but he won’t sniff a day like this again this year and maybe ever. Hope you had him in – he goes back to the WR3 or so he normally tops out as. A PHENOMENAL performance regardless. Games like this is why these lists get posted on Tuesday now. If you faced him, you had a very unpleasant surprise.

Brandon Marshall – 11/91/2 - A great performance by a guy who is often sniffing the top 5 or so in fantasy leagues. Marshall came up big for Cutler multiple times and will be looked upon often to make up for yet another RB injury in the backfield. Could the Rb troubles allow secondaries to double him? Probably not as Royal, Scheffler and other players make teams pay when they do that.

Steve Smith – 9/117/1 – Here is the game we have been hoping to see more of from Steve Smith but has been missing because of the great running game. Smith blew up last night and while Bryant had a monster day, here’s a guy who is more consistent and solid than Bryant has ever been. Looking at the numbers you can be blinded by Bryant’s big day, but Smith did very well by his owners too.

Kevin Walter – 6/146/1 - Probably the best flex play any owner has at this point, Walter continues to add good yard totals with touchdowns. Schaub played very well (far better than I expected) in his return and Walter didn’t miss a beat either.

Wes Welker – 12/134 & 1 2pt conv - Already a PPR monster, Welker had a good day even in standard scoring. A TD would have been nice, but his totals show you why he is always a play.

Best of the rest –
Roddy White – 10/164 – No TDs is a bummer but White continues to be a valid fantasy force. he should do somethign nice for Matt Ryan and Mike Turner.
Vincent Jackson – 5/148/1 - If only he could do this more consistently. Still a good WR3 or 4 most weeks.
Deion Branch – 4/88/2 – Was this because he faced his old team or is he finally healthy and ready to roll? I think somewhere in between. How much does Wallace like him is question 2.
Larry Fitzgerald – 6/73/1 - Boldin had another quiet day while Fitz got yards and TD again. Start him – always.
Calvin Johnson – 3/84/1 – I really wish he would get more than three catches, ever. Just think of what he could do if he had a team that could do that?