Which coaching staffs will have no respect for fantasy nation in 2012 . . .
There are the traditional and perennial offenders so like we trust Marcellus to be Marcellus, we trust Belichick and Shanahan to be absolutely maddening managing their running back corps. One of the newer trends is receiver and tight end by committee as well, and there will be some fantasy victims. Basically, a rule of thumb is to always avoid taking players in a competition. Are you able to store Jake Locker on your bench until Hasselbeck falters? Is that the best play? Is his upside so amazing that he is even worth trying? Usually not.
Here are the committee situations to proceed with at your own peril:
NEW ENGLAND always has a committee and they always have a back who performs – just never the same one two weeks in a row. BJGE was great for TD only leagues the last couple years, but his startability as an every-week fantasy back never reached consistent status. This year Stevan Ridley likely steps in to the lead role, but with Joseph Addai, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, and especially Shane Vereen in the mix for carries, can you really draft anyone here and again, is it worth it? If this were even a two-back situation we’d like it a lot better, but Belichick has a clear disregard for fantasy and a “hot-hand” approach.
WASHINGTON has the King of Confusion in Mike Shanahan. He is now saying that Tim Hightower is his starter if healthy because of his blitz pick up and ball security. Only Helu was the third best back in the NFL picking up the blitz last year and fumbled far less than Hightower with far more touches. Add Evan Royster into the mix after a few big games last year and you have one bona-fide fantasy mess. It is my belief that Roy Helu gets nearly ALL the Redskins carries, and he does have the upside in PPR leagues to justify the risk. Hard to recommend drafting another Redskins back and temper expectations early in the year until we see if Shanahan is using magician’s patter or if he is really going to start Hightower at Helu’s expense.
CAROLINA is very likely to be the most annoying of all the situations because all three of their backs have great fantasy potential, which means all three will have virtually none. Is D’Angelo Williams an adequate every-week back, even as your number 2 back? I can’t see Williams, Stewart, or Tolbert as draftable or anything more than flex positions because they will all perform just well enough to kill each other’s value. Add Cam Newton scoring some rushing TDs of his own into the mix, and this becomes a situation to avoid. Again, why take the chance? The best possible reward is one gets hurt and now you are in a three-man committee for carries instead of four (Newton).
SAN FRANCISCO will have one of the league’s most potent rushing offenses. But they have no fewer than 4 talented backs capable of creating dynamic plays. Gore will be the lead back but is coming off a career low YPC. Brandon Jacobs was added, presumably to spell Gore for tough yards, and LaMichael James was added for swing yards. Kendall Hunter proved last season he should be in the mix for carries as well. Gore is likely to lead the attack and could put together a string of solid games, but I see him as a weak #2 back despite objections from every writer on my staff and every other publication. I just don’t see why I need an aging Gore on my roster with 3 potential vultures on his offense and a wide open board of players available.
MIAMI is a total conundrum. Reggie Bush finally broke out last year and proved he could handle the featured role, but a new coaching staff with a new offensive system have arrived, and it’s unclear how they will use his talents. Add last year’s first round pick Daniel Thomas who is finally healthy, and rookie phenom Lamar Miller, and it is unclear how much of the action Bush will get. Goal line carries are up in the air, and Bush has to stay healthy again. I suspect Bush is the right fantasy play and Joe Philbin will figure out how to use this dynamic weapon, but it is feasible he loses touches to Thomas just enough to make a big impact on his fantasy totals.
DETROIT may be the most interesting and short-lived committee. Right now everyone is high on Jahvid Best, and Mikel LeShoure is just high. But Best has never been able to take any punishment and one big hit ends his season again. The Lions will have to limit his workload and I am taking heat because he is barely in my top 40 RB’s, even in PPR leagues. He isn’t worth the one or two games he MIGHT give you. Kevin Smith will get the tough yards early, but come Game 3 LeShoure gets added to the mix and should take over the lead role over the next few weeks after that. I believe LeShoure is the only draftable Lions back.
What are the Chiefs doing? Scott Pioli may be trying to recreate the Gronkowski/Hernandez offense with TE Kevin Boss and TE Tony Moeaki. Until one gets hurt neither is likely to have any value . . .
New Orleans receivers are more frustrating than ever as Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, and rookie Nick Toon compete for balls with TE Jimmy Graham and RB Darren Sproles. With Drew Brees likely to call more plays at the line than ever, he’ll spread the ball more than ever as well and focus on exploiting weekly matchups which will result in a big game here and a big game there for most receivers, but little consistency. Colston is the obvious leader, but the others all have minimal fantasy value, especially in PPR leagues . . .
Looking to start a new committee will be Ronnie Hillman (RB, DEN), David Wilson (RB, NYG), and Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, ATL). These two rookies and second year man have designs on the jobs of the aging backs in front of them and the talent to make an impact. Wilson should get touches immediately and Hillman is expected to play a major role in the Broncos offense. Atlanta OC Dirk Koetter has insisted he will be reducing Turner’s workload and getting Rodgers the ball more.
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