WR Brian Quick UP
Someone has to lead the Rams in receiving. Brian Quick is extremely raw, but extremely talented so he’s worth a late round flier like Greg Little was last year. Quick has a better quarterback than Little did. With all of the uncertainty in the Rams’ receiving corps, it’s looking like Quick will still almost definitely be a starter.
RB Chris Wells DOWN
Chris Wells is still uncertain for Training Camp after having what was initially called “minor” surgery on his knee earlier this offseason. Meanwhile, Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt challenged him publicly to “bust his tail” over the next few weeks because other running backs have looked good in his absence. They spent a 2nd round pick on Ryan Williams in 2011 and now that he has returned from injury, they plan to use him. The more time Wells misses, the better it is for Williams and the worse it is for Wells.
RB Ryan Williams UP
With Wells moving down, Williams moves up. Wells is hardly the picture of durability so Williams is not only a nice compliment, but will be a potential fantasy breakout candidate if Wells suffers a major injury. There’s upside here.
WR Mike Williams DOWN
Mike Williams already got knocked down the depth chart one spot with the addition of Vincent Jackson this offseason and now he might be knocked out of the starting lineup entirely. Preston Parker is impressing in practice and Williams is not meshing with the new coaching staff. If Parker starts, Williams would only play outside on 3-wide receiver sets with Parker moving inside and have minimal fantasy value.
WR Preston Parker UP
Parker is a fantasy sleeper this year. He had decent production last year, catching 40 passes for 554 yards and 3 touchdowns. With Kellen Winslow gone, he automatically got a boost in targets as Winslow will no longer be getting all of those over the middle targets (121 last year). On top of that, Parker is really impressing and could be a starter. He could be worth a late round flier.
RB Adrian Peterson DOWN
The good news is that Peterson will probably be back for week 1. The bad news is that he may be Toby Gerhart’s backup when that happens, in an effort to ease him back in. I wouldn’t take him in the first 2 rounds, despite his upside, and if I did take him, I would make sure to grab Gerhart as a handcuff.
RB Toby Gerhart UP
Gerhart could be the Vikings’ lead back even if Peterson is healthy to start the season. I don’t know how long that would last, but he’s a capable back and the definition as a mid round sleeper at his current ADP in the 9th round. He’s a value handcuff for Peterson owners as well.
RB Maurice Jones Drew DOWN
Maurice Jones Drew might be the most serious holdout this year. The Jaguars are refusing to even talk contract right now with him and he should miss at least the start of Training Camp unless something drastically changes. This reminds me a lot of Chris Johnson’s holdout last year and Johnson was out of shape as a result of it. MJD is also coming off leading the league in carries, which means he could be more worn down this season, and he’s on a terrible offense that isn’t in the red zone much and frequently faces 8 man fronts. He’s incredibly talented, but I’d let someone else take him in the 1st round.
RB Rashad Jennings UP
Jennings is a valuable handcuff to MJD owners the way Javon Ringer was for Chris Johnson owners last season.
RB Shonn Greene UP
Greene says he has been led to believe by the coaching staff that he will exceed the career high 253 carries he had last year. They don’t seem confident in backup Joe McKnight with LaDainian Tomlinson gone and they want to get back to running the football more. Greene isn’t very talented, but he’ll get you volume yardage as he could be one of the league leaders in carries if he stays healthy. He’ll also be added by Tebow the way Willis McGahee was last year.
RB Joe McKnight DOWN
The coaching staff does not really seem confident in Joe McKnight. McKnight averaged a mere 3.0 YPC last year in limited action and admitted the 15 pounds he put on this offseason was as a result of an unhealthy diet and not extra work in the weight room. He’s a pure handcuff for Greene and not a talented one. I wouldn’t draft him.
WR Percy Harvin UP
Harvin expressed frustration with his playing time in 2011 and could get more as a result. Harvin was actually 2nd on his own team in snaps played at receiver last year behind the mediocre Devin Aromashodu. Harvin has real fantasy value early in drafts. He was the #8 scoring fantasy football receiver last year and in his last 11 games, he had 69 catches for 784 yards and 6 touchdowns, good for 100 catches for 1140 yards and 9 touchdowns over 9 games.
He could even exceed those numbers if he plays more and with Christian Ponder playing his 1st full season as a starter. On top of that, he rushed for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns on 52 carries. He could easily be a top-5 fantasy football wide receiver this year. He’s currently the 19th receiver off the board based on average draft position because people don’t pay attention to his rushing ability. If he even matches what he did last year, he’s a steal at his current ADP and there’s definitely upside.
Ray Rice UP
When the Ravens used a 3rd round pick on Bernard Pierce, I thought it would be so that Pierce (27 touchdowns in 11 games last year) could play Willis McGahee’s old role as a short yardage back and vulture touchdowns. However, Pierce is reportedly not impressing in practice and has yet to even leap Anthony Allen on the depth chart. It sounds like whoever Rice’s backup is will be a pure backup this year, so you can feel free to take Rice early in the 1st round in fantasy leagues unless he holds out long into Training Camp. Franchise tagged players can’t sign long term deals after July 16th so there wouldn’t be much point in him doing so however.
Projection: 290 carries 1310 rushing yards 13 total touchdowns 70 catches 620 receiving yards (271 pts standard/341 pts PPR)
RB Bernard Pierce DOWN
Pierce is a pure handcuff for Rice, if he can even win the job. Don’t bother.
Projection: 80 carries 340 rushing yards 2 total touchdowns 10 catches 70 receiving yards (53 pts standard/63 pts PPR)