May 7, 2007
2007 Subscribers take note: We posted our initial batch of offensive player rankings & projections.
I mentioned in my last post how we had one of the best NFL scouts/analysts/minds in our office on Friday. We do this each year as a prep for the magazine and the upcoming season. I have my opinions on all the players, but this individual is privvy to a lot more information than I am, and he’s broken down a ton of coaches tape, so he sees a lot more than I do. So after talking to him for a day and getting more information on players, my opinions on some of them can change.
Our guy is more of a passing game guy, so here are a few things that stick out to me from our coversations on Friday:
- There should be some inconsistency with the Patriot passing offense because their scheme does not fit with WRs Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth. Sure, they will likely adjust that scheme and go downfield more, but I still think consistency will be an issue because neither one of these receivers does much in the middle of the field in the intermediate passing game.
- I have to be a little cautious on Tony Romo. There are many indications he will be very good, but also some that offer some downside. First of, we really don’t know a lot about new OC Jason Garrett. Romo needs to be coached up still, so hopefully we can see some signs of that this summer.
- I wanted to rank QB Philip Rivers higher, but after speaking with our guy I kept him out of our top-12. He can make all the throws and he an elite passer, but his mechanics can break down and when they do he is dreadful, and he also showed he would play too fast at times. If he has a clean pocket, he can make all the throws and pick a defense apart, but he has to show he can be consistently mechanically sound.
- Jay Cutler’s still a work in progress, but he will put up numbers in this system this year. I’m not quite there with Cutler where I was with Carson Palmer in summer of 2005, but I’m in that ballpark.
- Vince Young is going to run around like a Wildman this year. He’ll have to, but he’s nowhere near ready as a passer, and he’s lost his top two offensive weapons in Travis Henry and Drew Bennett. I still hope he will not become the next Michael Vick in many ways, but for 2007 anyway, I think he’ll resemble the Vick from 2005 who was about the 10th best fantasy guy at the end of the season, but was certainly an average fantasy guy to have.
- The Steelers will be going with more of a spread passing offense this year under new OC Bruce Arians. Arians did this a few years ago in Cleveland with mixed results. The problem here is running a system like that is probably setting Ben Roethlisberger up to struggle in NFL terms. He needs to play out of a basic formation with a strong running game behind him. If you ask him to take deeper drops and have to see more of the field then you might be setting him up to fail because he does not process information very quickly. They are likely doing this to open up lanes for RB Willie Parker and because they do have a nice little stable of receivers with Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson behind the starters. And by the way, this can’t be good news for Hines Ward’s catch and yardage totals.
- Eagle WR Kevin Curtis is going to be just fine, as is the whole Eagle offense as long as Donovan McNabb is healthy. This is one of the few offenses that does not need a typical #1 WR.
- Things are setting up to be very ugly in New York with the Giants. They will have serious pass pro issues with their LT from last year gone, and TE Jerramy Shockey freelances too much. If you’re hoping Eli Manning will suddenly show a willingness to make stick throws, and that Shockey and Plaxico Burress will stay focused all year – under Kevin Gilbride no less – then you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed.
- Steve McNair’s skills have clearly eroded, so he and the Raven receivers will look a lot like they did last year, average.
- It’s still painful to watch Chad Pennington throw the ball, and they didn’t add anything to their receiving corps. Maybe WRs Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery can come up with good seasons again, but this is not a place to mine fantasy gems, that’s for sure.
- Jake Delhomme is on a short leash this year. I hope to God he can come through because I’d hate to see Steve Smith playing with David Carr.
- There are very clear signs that Matt Leinart will be very solid, starting right now. This is not a freak talent, but he is clearly poised and he sees things very well. Keep in mind he has one of the best receiver groups in the league.
- Tarvaris Jackson is the guy officially in Minnesota. And after drafting Adrian Peterson, he is officially manning the controls of the most conservative offense in the NFL. These guys may run it 70% of the time.