East: BUF | MIA | NE
AFC North: BAL
| CIN | CLE | PIT
AFC South: HOU
| IND | JAX | TEN
AFC West: DEN
| KC | OAK | SD
With many drafters either in the middle of drafting their teams
or about to start, some of my loyal readers asked for updated projections
they could use to either complement their use of the Cheatsheet
Compiler/Draft Buddy or maybe just to impress their friends.
Whatever the reason, many of the projections below have changed
for my initial release (AFC
and NFC) earlier this month.
So, in an effort to help your draft-day experience a successful
one, let’s get right into the updated projections.
Note: My final Big Board will hit the site on Thursday.
If you have any questions regarding the color-coding below, please
refer to my last Big Board.
Otherwise, the key to the stats is below, in case they are not
PYd – Passing Yards
PTD – Passing touchdowns
RuYd – Rushing Yards
RuTD - Passing touchdowns
ReYd – Receiving yards
ReTD - Receiving touchdowns
Rec - Receptions
Thoughts: I’m still at a
loss at whether I should place Jones or Marcus Easley into the
WR2 role. If Jones recovers quickly from his “head”
injury (that is what the team is calling it anyway), he should
be the pick to replace Lee Evans opposite Johnson. Do keep in
mind, however, that Buffalo probably would not have dealt Evans
if it wasn’t happy with its depth at the position, so if
Jones is slow to recover, Easley could very well run away with
the WR2 job. Don’t sleep on this position battle as there
figures to be at least two fantasy-worthy receivers
in this offense.
Thoughts: One of the bigger fantasy stories this preseason is
the use (or lack thereof) of Thomas. Despite being 6-0 and 230
pounds, Thomas is more of a glider than a pounder (think Matt
Forte and Marion Barber, respectively), which was pretty obvious
to just about anyone who watched the K-State rookie in college.
Despite showing more power than I thought he had, it still isn’t
enough for HC Tony Sparano, who expected Thomas to be more of
a physical runner. The quicker Miami realizes the kind of back
it has in Thomas (right now, an all-purpose back that needs a
lot of work in pass protection), the better. Thomas should get
that chance if/when Bush shows he cannot handle a full-time workload.
Thoughts: I expect Ridley to eat into Green-Ellis’ workload
at some point, be it due to injury or production. I believe the
“Law Firm” is still the back to own between the two
(simply because the Pats should hold their share of fourth-quarter
leads this season), but a repeat of 2010 is unlikely. Hernandez’s
preseason has made me rethink his overall numbers, so his spike
from my initial projections comes at the expense of Ochocinco
Thoughts: The major change here is Keller, who will benefit from
the increased attention his high-profile new teammates (Burress
and Mason) should receive. It would come as little surprise to
me if he ended up as Sanchez’s second-favorite target in
Thoughts: Getting out of Buffalo should help Evans immensely
in the consistency department. It took him just a few days to
show chemistry with Flacco during preseason action. Because his
game is speed, he won’t ever be the most consistent fantasy
force, but for owners looking for a potential WR3 at a WR4 price,
he’s worth it. I have seen nothing yet from Smith this season
that makes me think he will overtake Evans (or even deserve to
play ahead of Doss).
Thoughts: After watching each of the Bengals’ first three
preseason games, it appears they have a shot at being useful in
plus fantasy matchups and should be avoided at all costs in the
less-than-plus matchups. One observation I made with Dalton is
that he was much more accurate on the run in the Panthers’
game – he has been very erratic in the pocket this preseason.
While Green’s long-term future is bright, his short-term
success figures to be capped significantly by Dalton if the preseason
is any indication of the way his rookie year will go.
Thoughts: I believe I have made several major changes for the
Browns. With Jackson likely out until at least the bye, Hillis
gets a big bump in PPR leagues since he will add primary passing-down
back responsibilities to the lead-back role he already had. Little
is clearly fourth on the depth chart as we speak, so I have projected
accordingly and will give him a slow first month. It’s hard
for me to believe he’ll remain behind Robiskie all season
long. Lastly, Norwood makes his first appearance. The former Eagles
practice-squader is locked in as the slot receiver. And with HC
Pat Shurmur already comparing him favorably to Danny Amendola,
there’s enough reason for fantasy owners to keep a close
eye on him.
Thoughts: Much like the Bills’ WR2 situation, it’s
hard to get a read on the Steelers’ WR3 outlook. Sanders
is the more accomplished route-runner, but Brown has enjoyed a
great preseason and has remained healthy – something that
Sanders cannot say. As much as I’d like to say I currently
have the two players projected correctly, the fact of the matter
is that it will probably boil down to whether or not Sanders can
ever get his injured foot right. This has all the makings of a
fast Brown start and slow finish while the opposite can be said
Thoughts: Foster’s re-aggravation of his hamstring injury
caused me to lower his yardage output a bit early on, but I’m
still comfortable with him No. 1 overall in this prolific offense.
Based on preseason action, it’s easy to get excited about
Tate’s prospects, but his rise to RB2 on this team is still
speculation at best. (Sometimes, what seems obvious to fantasy
football owners isn’t always what happens on the playing
field.) About the only other item I’ll mention here is Dickerson,
who has no business being on 99% of fantasy rosters at the moment.
His projected production could easily fall into the lap of TE/FB
James Casey, who the team has wanted an excuse to play for some
Thoughts: Very little has changed here since my initial projections.
We still have little idea on Manning’s’ early-season
effectiveness or availability, although Monday’s return
to limited practice was an encouraging sign. Obviously, just about
every player on this team and their fantasy stock depends on the
successful return of Manning. While Kerry Collins’ addition
likely helps this situation from being a total loss should Manning
miss a game or two, just about every player above should be considered
one step lower (Wayne goes from a WR1 to WR2, for example) than
they would be with Manning under center.
Thoughts: While Gabbert has impressed casual observers on the
practice field with his strong arm, the preseason has exposed
enough flaws that Garrard could make it through the season without
losing his job. Still, I have a hard time seeing Garrard remaining
the team’s QB following the bye, even though the rookie
would not be ready to take over. The fantasy chaos will likely
carry over to the RB and WR positions, where it has been confirmed
by the Jags’ coaching staff that Jennings has “earned”
more work, meaning MJD is probably coming off the board a bit
too high right now. At WR, I expect Shorts to overtake Hill in
the starting lineup at some point. Whether he is worth a pick-up
in your league at that point will be based on the size of your
Thoughts: Britt will not be suspended by the league, so he’s
as safe as he’ll ever be to draft. The problem with him
will never be talent, but his ability to stay out of trouble.
I’m holding tight to a late preseason return by Johnson,
but I have adjusted his early-season numbers because a slow start
at this point should be expected – if he even shows up.
Harper could – and probably should – steal some red-zone
looks from either Johnson or Ringer, but Johnson’s new contract
will probably suggest otherwise. It’s quite possible I have
him undervalued here.
Thoughts: Perhaps no team has undergone
more change since my initial projections than Denver. McGahee
has been confirmed as the goal-line RB and, as a result, is a
good bet to top Moreno in that category. The ex-Bill and Raven
should be a solid flex play in PPR and non-PPR. Lloyd has received
a significant boost now that Tim Tebow is either fighting for
the QB2 job or the fourth-best QB on the roster (depending on
what source you choose to believe). And finally, keep the rookie
Thomas in mind with your last pick in deep leagues. Thomas is
the latest college basketball-to-pro-tight end transition player
and appears to be following in the footsteps of Jimmy Graham in
that regard. (Let’s spare the kid the pressure of living
up to Antonio Gates right now.) He’s earned the name “Mr.
Red Zone” from his teammates during training camp, so keep
his name in mind late in drafts.
Thoughts: While Denver has received upgrades just about everywhere
for their work this preseason, it’s hard to like anything
the Chiefs have done. Let’s go ahead and write off Jonathan
Baldwin for now since it is highly questionable when he will return
from his broken thumb, but the fact of the matter is that his
attitude may be what needs to addressed the most. It’s very
likely his rookie season will be a wash. Charles has fallen in
my eyes since my initial projections simply because it is doubtful
HC Todd Haley will ever ask him to eclipse 300 touches. While
his sterling career yards/touch help him make the most of his
workload, it’s a lot to ask Charles to produce this season
– especially in Weeks 11-15 - like he did against a much
softer schedule in 2010.
Thoughts: Like Kansas City, Oakland understands it is a running
team. Unlike the Chiefs, HC Hue Jackson has decided to hitch his
wagon to one runner – McFadden. Yes, Bush will get his and
be a great play if/when McFadden suffers his annual hamstring
injury, but this is McFadden’s show. And since Jackson has
even adjusted the Raiders’ previous zone-blocking scheme
to a power-blocking one that suits McFadden’s running style,
I believe he will match and maybe even exceed last year’s
numbers, even if he sits out the three games I have him projected
to miss. If he puts together 16 games for the first time in his
career, McFadden has a great shot at being the top fantasy back
in 2011…that’s a big if, however.
Thoughts: I keep going back and
forth on Mathews and Tolbert, but have settled on Mathews for
now being the slightly more valuable fantasy property. (That could
change at any time, however, so my best advice is to either make
sure you grab both or draft Tolbert and use him as a flex until
Mathews gets hurt). I’ve also increased Jackson’s
numbers as he will be playing for a contract (or so he hopes)
and will be able to start his season when everyone else does this
Suggestions, comments, musings about the article or fantasy football
in general? E-mail me.
Doug Orth has written for FF Today
since 2006, appeared in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview
magazine in each of the last two seasons and served as a weekly
fantasy football analyst for 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C. this
past season. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.
You can also follow him on