WR Sidney Rice DOWN
Sidney Rice is not expected to be cleared for contact for most of the Preseason. It’s mostly precautionary and he should be out there week 1, but it’s definitely not a good sign. Neither is the fact that they’ve signed Antonio Bryant (eventually cut 10 days later), Braylon Edwards, and Terrell Owens in the last couple weeks. He’s still got upside if he can stay healthy and he’s worth a late round flier, but his current ADP in the 9th round is too high. He’s had 3 concussions and 2 shoulder surgeries in the last calendar year. He’s almost definitely going to be a fantasy dud this season.
WR Doug Baldwin UP
Sidney Rice is a major injury risk, Braylon Edwards is no sure thing, and Terrell Owens is done. Doug Baldwin will probably lead the team in receiving again. In his 2nd year in the league, he could definitely improve on his 51 catches for 777 yards and 4 touchdowns from last season, especially if Matt Flynn proves to be an upgrade at quarterback.
WR Dwayne Bowe DOWN
I don’t know why Dwayne Bowe is holding out. He can’t be signed to a long term deal anyway. All he’s doing is hurting himself because other guys are impressing in his absence and other guys will have a better grasp of the new offense with a new coaching staff coming in. Jonathan Baldwin has been a stud in his absence and will almost definitely eat into his production this season. All he’s doing is costing himself money on his next contract. He could also end up getting out of shape. He probably won’t miss any regular games, but let him be someone else’s problem this season.
WR Jonathan Baldwin UP
Baldwin didn’t do much as a rookie last year, but he as a 1st round pick and a bad rookie year is already damning for a receiver. Baldwin has been impressing in Bowe’s absence and should be able to nail down a starting job, moving Steve Breaston to the slot. Breaston had 61 catches for 785 yards and 2 touchdowns last year with inferior quarterback play. Baldwin is more talented and definitely has upside as a late round flier. Unfortunately, he’s limited by his quarterback and Bowe’s presence, as well as the presence of Breaston and Tony Moeaki.
WR Brandon Lloyd UP
Brandon Lloyd is reportedly dominating in Patriots Training Camp. He’s their best deep threat since Randy Moss gave a shit and he is obviously very comfortable in Josh McDaniels’ system. Remember, this guy led the league in receiving two years ago. He won’t do that because the Patriots just have too many options, but he could easily go for over 1000 yards receiving.
WR Wes Welker DOWN
Brandon Lloyd should have a strong year, which will eat at the aging Welker’s targets. He doesn’t average a lot of YPC or score a lot of touchdowns. He’s mostly a volume receiver, who ranked 2nd in the league in targets this season, and he should see a smaller volume of targets this season. Tom Brady is good, but he’s not good enough for Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez ALL to have their career high levels of production at the same time.
TE Rob Gronkowski DOWN
Same thing with Welker. Welker, Gronkowski, and Lloyd could all have 1000 yard seasons, but it’s unlikely that any of the 3 will have much more than that.
TE Aaron Hernandez UP
My previous projections for Hernandez, who is reportedly dominating in Training Camp, were too low. He’ll take a statistical hit with Lloyd coming in too, but not a huge one. Remember, he’s never played a full 16 game season either, playing 14 a piece in his first 2 seasons, so if he does that, he could have a career high in yardage. He’s also being used as a fullback and could get you yardage on the ground. He had 45 yards on 5 carries last year in the regular season and then rushed for 61 yards on 5 carries in the playoffs against the Broncos. He could surpass 100 yards rushing.
RB Stevan Ridley UP
Of the Patriots two 2nd year backs, Stevan Ridley has been the most impressive. He looks poised to take over almost the entirety of BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ old work load (410 carries in the last 2 seasons), leaving Vereen as most a change of pace back. He’s much more explosive than BJGE too and could have double digit touchdowns on this explosive offense.
RB Shane Vereen DOWN
While Ridley is impressing in Training Camp, Vereen is struggling to distance himself from undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Bolden. He’s not worth a whole lot in fantasy circles, except as a handcuff to Ridley.
QB Tom Brady UP
I’m moving Brady’s production up a little with Brandon Lloyd dominating in camp. Tom Brady was 346 for 470 (73.6%) for 4420 yards (9.4 YPA), 39 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions when throwing to Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez last year. Throwing to everyone else, he was 131 of 216 (60.6%), 1719 yards (8.0 YPA), 7 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions (the rest were throw aways and other non-targets). Brandon Lloyd will undoubtedly help, as will the presence of Josh McDaniels.
WR Brian Hartline DOWN
Hartline was the default favorite to be the Dolphins’ #1 receiver this season, but he’s missed most of Training Camp with injuries and might not end up being a starter. He doesn’t really have much value at all unless he’s getting a large volume of targets. I’d pretty much just stay away from Dolphin receivers.
WR Hakeem Nicks UP
I moved Nicks down a little bit when he got hurt, but he’s running pain free already and looks fine. He won’t miss any time, so I moved him back up.
RB Kevin Smith UP
Mikel Leshoure is still coming back from an Achilles tear and will be suspended for the first 2 games of the season. Jahvid Best is reportedly “weeks” away from being cleared to practice. Smith will almost definitely be their week 1 starter and could be much more if he impresses early. There’s definite sleeper value here.
RB Jahvid Best DOWN
Jim Schwartz says Jahvid Best is still “weeks” away from practicing. Even when he returns, he’ll only be used in a Darren Sproles role to keep him fresh. Sproles is good in fantasy circles in the Darren Sproles role, but he’s the only one. If Best has the mere 87 carries Sproles had last season, he’ll be undraftable in non-PPR leagues. Sproles only had fantasy value because he averaged 6.9 YPC and caught 86 passes for 710 yards and 7 touchdowns. Not a lot of guys can do that.
RB Brandon Saine DOWN
Brandon Saine was the #2 back on Green Bay’s depth chart, until Alex Green got healthy and started impressing in camp. He’s not worth anything now unless injuries hit (which they could).
RB Alex Green UP
Alex Green is finally healthy and impressing in Training Camp. He’ll be a change of pace back to James Starks, but Starks is oft injured. Green has the ability to pass catch and break off long runs and is a major sleeper. The only issue with him is he’s never had more than 146 carries in a season either in college or in the NFL and he’s coming off a torn ACL.
TE Heath Miller UP
Heath Miller is going to be a bigger part of Todd Haley’s offense, especially if Mike Wallace misses time. He’s a nice high end TE2.
WR TY Hilton DOWN
I had Hilton as a deep sleeper because Bruce Arians has had success with young speedsters like him before (Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown) and because of how thin the Colts’ receiving corps is. However, he’s currently behind not only starters Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie on the depth chart, but also Donnie Avery and LaVon Brazill, a 6th round rookie.
WR Austin Collie DOWN
Austin Collie only has any fantasy value if he’s the starter. He could lose his starting job to either 6th round rookie LaVon Brazill or, more likely, Donnie Avery, who appears to be finally healthy. He’s pretty worthless in fantasy.
WR Donnie Avery UP
Donnie Avery could end up starting opposite Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis. He’s a perfect fit for Bruce Arian’s offense with his speed and Reggie Wayne could have a major statistical decline at age 34 this year. There’s some upside with Avery, who would be the major beneficiary of a Wayne decline.
RB Joe McKnight DOWN
Joe McKnight could end up being the 3rd string back behind Shonn Greene and 2nd year player Bilal Powell and might not even see the field on 3rd down. He’s pretty worthless.
RB Bilal Powell UP
Bilal Powell looks like the favorite to be Shonn Greene’s primary handcuff. He’ll only see passing downs at first, but Greene is a pretty average runner who only has fantasy value because of the large volume of touches he figures to get. It wouldn’t shock me if Powell impressed and started eating into his workload on a run heavy team. He’s an interesting handcuff for Green and late round sleeper.
TE Kyle Rudolph UP
Kyle Rudolph is a 2nd year tight end having a very strong Training Camp. Meanwhile, #2 tight end John Carlson could miss a large portion of the preseason. If he had even the 70 targets that Visanthe Shiancoe, the incumbent starter who is gone, had last season, he would have had 47 catches for 450 yards and 5 touchdowns. Heading into his 2nd season in the league, with possibly improved quarterback play, he could exceed those numbers and end up being the 2nd leading receiver on a weak receiving corps. He’s a high-end TE2 with upside.
WR Laurent Robinson DOWN
This is not what you want to hear. Laurent Robinson, a one year wonder who could regress after signing a giant contract with a team with that has a terrible quarterback, is reportedly really struggling in Training Camp and he and his team even admits it. I guess that’s what happens when you give 32.5 million over 5 years to a receiver who was a final cut last offseason. Stay away.
WR Justin Blackmon DOWN
Justin Blackmon was bound to struggle anyway this season because his quarterback sucks and because rookie receivers rarely do anything. On top of that, he missed a large portion of Training Camp with a contract dispute. Stay away.
WR Eric Decker UP
Eric Decker and Peyton Manning reportedly have great chemistry in Denver, much better than him and Demaryius Thomas. This makes a lot of sense because Peyton Manning loves crisp route runners with reliable hands, rather than pure athletic freaks like Thomas. With Peyton Manning likely to show diminished arm strength this season at age 36 after 4 neck surgeries and a year out of football, Decker should lead the team in receiving and Peter King’s prediction that Decker will rank among the league leaders in catches doesn’t sound too crazy.
RB Mark Ingram UP
Mark Ingram is healthy and the Saints reportedly want him to have 200 touches or more this season. He was on pace for 213 as a rookie in 10 games, missing 6 with injury. There’s definitely upside with him potentially having a breakout year in 2012. He’ll also get the goal line carries, which there figure to be plenty of in New Orleans.
RB Pierre Thomas DOWN
Mark Ingram being healthy is bad news for Pierre Thomas. There’s not enough room for Ingram, Sproles, and Thomas to all have fantasy value. He’s a pure handcuff to Ingram.
WR Nate Burleson DOWN
Not only could Nate Burleson lose his starting job to the vastly more talented Titus Young, he could also begin losing slots in the snap to Ryan Broyles, a 2nd round rookie pick who was cleared for Training Camp after tearing his ACL in November. Burleson has absolutely no value this season in fantasy.
RB Vick Ballard UP
Vick Ballard, not Delone Carter, is listed as Donald Brown’s primary backup. Ballard is the only one of Indianapolis’ 3 backs drafted by the current regime and in an unclear backup, that means a lot. If Brown gets benched, which will probably happen, Ballard will become a starting running back and even until then, he’ll serve as a power compliment to Brown.
RB Delone Carter DOWN
Delone Carter opens Training Camp 4th on Indianapolis’ depth chart. The new regime has no allegiance to the 2011 4th round pick, who was disappointing as a rookie. He’ll need several guys to slip up to get a shot at the job. He’s not worth a draft pick.