Preseason games haven’t even started and one WR2 option is already lost as the 49ers will be without Michael Crabtree for the majority of the upcoming season. Anquan Boldin is a serviceable #2 but we think he’ll be hard pressed to replace Crabtree’s production resulting in a moderate downgrade for Kaepernick.
A few WRs will be returning from injury riddled 2012 campaigns as Percy Harvin, Miles Austin, Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Hakeem Nicks will be risky selections heading into the season but each has the potential to post rock solid WR2 value if they reach their potential and can avoid the trainers table. Justin Blackmon (4 games) and Josh Gordon (2 games) will see their fantasy stock take a hit based on suspensions but they make for solid value plays later in your draft.
The chart below references the SOS (strength of schedule for games 1-16) from FFToolbox.com.
- SOS – lower the better so The Eagles WRs could fly high based on the favorable 2013 schedule.
- The ADP data (by position and Overall) is as of June 30th.
Headache Harvin headed to Seattle:
This is one of those moves that has more far-reaching impact than just what it will do for Harvin’s fantasy stock. Harvin is a malcontent and a head case but he’s a rare talent and the Vikings took steps to replace him with both veteran and rookie talent in Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Paterson.
The combination of Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin will be productive and dynamic for as long as Harvin can stay healthy and doesn’t pull his malcontent, diva act. Last season Harvin had 84 touches (22 rushes, 62 catches) and we expect that number to be over 100 this year, well over 100 if he stays healthy. That, however, is a big “if”. ESPN.com projects 101 catches and 44 rushes. We have trouble seeing him staying on the field long enough to amass those numbers.
Outside View: Our friends at ProFootballFocus.com, the most accurate rankers in all of fantasy football according to FantasyFootballCrystalBall.com, have Harvin ranked 12th in their 2013 staff composite rankings.
Vikings spice up WR corps with Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson
Greg Jennings moves from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Ponder.
That, ladies and gentlemen is what you call a “downgrade” and the early expert rankings reflect that. For what it’s worth we like the move for the Vikings. As we discussed, Harvin is a head case and Jennings presents a more traditional and stable, if less dynamic, receiving talent and the addition of rookie Patterson should help Ponder continue to grow.
The spokesman for Old Spice signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract, including $18 million guaranteed. Jennings will turn 30 this September and has missed 11 games the past two years (8 games last season) due to knee and groin injuries. From 2008-2010, he averaged 75 catches for 1,223 yards per season and has totaled 53 touchdown catches (7.5 per season). Despite the injury risk, Jennings makes for a borderline WR2 / solid WR3 as he is expected to man the flanker position – same position Percy Harvin racked up 80 targets in the first half of the 2012 season.
The Vikings traded back into round 1 to select Patterson at #29 overall. He has ideal size (6-3, 205 pounds), but played just one D-1 season (Tennessee) where he set a record with 1,858 all-purpose yards. CP tested very well at the combine (4.42 forty with a 37-inch vertical and 10-foot-8 broad jump). Growing pains should be expected but the dynamic playmaker is worth a late round flier (especially in dynasty leagues). His current ADP has him coming off the board in rounds 10/11.
Outside View: Let’s stick with PFF Fantasy since we shared their opinion of Harvin’s worth post-trade. They have Jennings all the way down at #30 at WR and as for the impact on the Packer’s remaining receivers the guys at PFF predict good things. They have Randall Cobb at #13 and Jordy Nelson at #14.
Niners lose Michael Crabtree and add Anquan Boldin
Shortly after stealing Boldin from the team that beat them in the Super Bowl the Niners lost Crabtree to a torn Achilles. They have yet to replace the star receiver who seemed just at the cusp of realizing his full potential and that should equate to a big season for TE Vernon Davis. Boldin is a very solid receiver who makes clutch catches but he’s not dynamic. The Niners will look to a stable of young receivers to fortify their receiving group, although a free agent pick up at the position still isn’t out of the question, and lean on their versatile TE Davis.
If you can beat em, join em. That’s what happened when Boldin joined the 49ers after traded for approximately a bag of chips and a couple footballs. It’s a shame for Crabtree who had finally come into his own after several disappointing seasons and being sort of a pain in the ass all around.
Outside View: FFToolbox projects 192 fantasy points for Davis making him their 4th ranked TE. Boldin comes in at #45 among the receivers.
The Chip Kelly Effect in Philly
Desean Jackson seems like the kind of player that will excel under Chip Kelly. That hasn’t been the case early on, however, as it appears the Kelly and Jackson, who is another wide receiver diva and a head case (are you noticing a theme here?), are off to a rocky start. The Eagles are retooling their offense and contrary to what most predicted it’s looking a heck of a lot more like the Patriots offense (sans murdering tight ends) and less like the system he ran at Oregon. Jeremy Maclin and Desean Jackson are both capable of top 20 fantasy production position but a lot will depend on the system and the QB that ends up winning the job. This is a developing story line that has experts divided on the results they believe it will yield.
Outside View: Jackson is a top sleeper according to Rantsports.com. They point to how Chip Kelly has the speedy WR lining up all over the field. If Jackson is used in a similar fashion to how the Vikings used the versatile Percy Harvin he could be in for a big year.
Larry Fitzgerald meet a NFL caliber QB!
The congo line of mediocrity (that’s being kind) the Cardinals have tried to pass off as starting QBs seems to have come to an end. Carson Palmer isn’t great but he’s far better than the guys who have been failing to get the ball to Fitz for years.
Carson Palmer (33 years old) is coming off a 4,000 yard season in Oakland. Larry Fitzgerald should be thrilled after enduring his worst season to date (71-798-4). Palmer has yet to top 28 touchdowns in a season and will be hard pressed to stay under center for all 16 games with zero mobility behind one of the weakest O-lines in the league. He has posted four 4,000+ yard seasons and armed with Fitz, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd another could be in the cards.
Outside View: Larry Fitzgerald ranks in the bottom of the top 10 for all three CBS fantasy football experts. Nathan Zegura has him highest at #8 at the position.
Rams Take Tavon Austin as First WR in NFL Draft
The Rams let Danny Amendola sign with New England and while he is getting hurt again up north the Rams will be trying to re-create the greatest show on turf with Austin. Before you get excited about Austin, particularly as a rookie, you have to take into consideration that there are question marks about the cast surrounding him in St. Louis. What has Sam Bradford done to make you comfortable he can put Austin in position to be worth starting and how about the rest of the WR corp for the Rams. Not exactly the talent set that made for the greatest show on turf of yester-year. Rookie wide outs have proven they can be high level fantasy producers lately but we don’t see Austin as top 30 fantasy WR this year.
Outside View: The guys at ESPN debate the question and while the majority opinion seems to be that there is a lot to get excited about in keeper and dynasty leagues you can’t expect starting numbers regularly from Austin this year. One analyst disagrees with our assertion that Austin isn’t top 30 material as a rookie. Rotoworld tends to agree that the rookie hype makes Austin an overvalued commodity.
Giants WR Contract Woes
Both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz want big contracts and the Giants don’t just hand those out willy-nilly. Nicks isn’t a free agent but, hey, why would that stop him from making noise and skipping OTAs without so much as a phone call to the team to let them know he won’t be attending. The nice thing about Nicks is that he’s being undervalued because of his injury plagued 2012 season and current contract dispute. The Victor Cruz situation could be more complicated. He’s a restricted free agent while Nicks is under contract. It’s too soon to predict what impact the contract situation will have on each player, that will become more clear that season draws nearer, but it’s something you should watch closely since you will have to invest a fairly high pick to get either player.