FantasyGuru.com Meeting Notes – AFC North/South

Today let’s post up notes from the AFC North and South, these from our annual staff meeting.

BALTIMORE

  • Morphed into power team, 3 OTs in heavy formations. In these sets, McClain was the feature back
  • Offense needs to dictate fronts and coverage to get their guys one-on-one. This is what you need to do when you don’t have #1-type WRs. McClain is the right RB for this type of scheme.
  • Mark Clayton a factor because of their approach to offense, the right offense for him. With the scheme, you can create opportunities. Cam Cameron very good at getting his players chances through schemes.
  • Still, need to get Flacco weapons. He could be hurt if they don’t add him weapons he can get to downfield.
  • McGahee will have to win job and might have to fight to make team (gone if his contract wasn’t huge). Is he all about football? He’s not going to work in the NFL if he doesn’t focus all of his attention.
  • McClain has great feet for a big guy. If he can morph into a Jerome Bettis type, he can take most, if not all, of McGahee’s carries.
  • Rice is a change-of-pace guy in space, but he’s not explosive. He’s effective in spread formations because of the seams created by the scheme. He can make people miss in space.
  • Rookie RB Cedric Peerman plays much slower than his timed speed.
  • If Oher will play, he’ll play RT. Willie Anderson will be used for depth if he’s still on the team and Oher beats him out. Gaither is a good player at LT. Good, underrated O-line.
  • New D-Coordinator Greg Mattison won’t be as successful if he can’t call a game like Rex Ryan could. Playcalling and the way you use players is an art. The Ravens will struggle to be as good as they were last year.
  • Rookie LB Paul Kruger is very similar to Jarret Johnson, who is already on the team. But Johnson is actually a better athlete and more powerful.

CINCY

  • Coles is a perfect fit for Palmer’s timing and “feel” passing game. He’s a smart receiver, and that’s a good mix if they spend the offseason working together.
  • They want the running game to be the foundation. It’s hard to win while throwing all the time, especially with a quarterback who isn’t mobile.
  • Whitworth can’t be LT in spread-type offense. He’s like David Diehl. He’s a fighter and a mauler. He can work in a running offense with multiple TE sets. If the Bengals can play the way they want, he can certainly be serviceable.
  • Andre Smith will play RT.
  • Benson looked very quick in Cincy, Still has the talent to be a workhorse back. He’s not a burner, but he can be an Eddie George type. He was probably a reaching the draft, but people tend to forget that he’s only 26 and can certainly continue to improve. He can dictate the “terms of engagement” and allow the Bengals to use play action. They haven’t run much play action, and they want and need to use more of it. When they had Rudi Johnson at his best, it was hard to stop them.
  • Will the Bengals be able to control the eighth guy?
  • C Jonathan Luigs is a rookie, but he’s going to compete to start.
  • Defense was a lot better than people think. Base 3-4, but will play both fronts. Mike Zimmer is really good at mixing the defensive fronts.
  • Bengals think they have the makings of a seriously good LB corps. Maualuga, Rivers and, surprisingly, Dhani Jones. Jones graded consistently high on a week-to-week basis.
  • Tank Johnson is a good player, and can provide pressure.
  • Rookie Michael Johnson will be a situational pass-rusher.
  • Jerome Simpson couldn’t pick anything up, so they want Andre Caldwell to step up to be the #3 receiver (Reggie Wayne type movement). Caldwell’s a smart kid and will almost certainly be better than his brother.
  • Palmer likes the TE, which makes the Coffman pick a good one. They could use 2 TEs in their base package.
  • Sixth-round pick RB Bernard Scott has major character issues, but he’s a first-day talent. Some agents wouldn’t touch him.
  • RB Kenny Watson is a good third-down back.
  • Did Palmer start forcing balls to Housh? Is he still an elite QB?

CLEVELAND

  • The QB has to be Quinn. He wasn’t a reach, and he needs to play. If the scheme is put around him, he can be very successful. He’s not an obscene talent. He’s more like Drew Brees. He can put up big numbers in the right offense.
  • Robiskie and Massaquoi are good fits for Quinn’s intermediate passing game. He doesn’t have a big arm, and he’s a timing guy.
  • Jamal Lewis is the guy for another year. At his best, he and Benson are similar players. He’s the type that can sustain drives when he’s playing well, which is exactly what Quinn needs.
  • Quinn needs to be put in situations where he can succeed. Need to keep him out of third-and-long early in his career. He can take some shots on first down if the Browns establish the running game.
  • C Alex Mack wasn’t too much of a reach in the first round. The Browns thought they needed a center, and he was the best one in the draft. He’s a fighter and a mauler, and he’s tough. He can also play guard.
  • Brought in PorkChop Womack, but he isn’t very good. John St. Clair will play RT, and he played well in 2008 in Chicago.
  • Braylon is probably staying. If they REALLY want to get rid of him, they’ll have to give him away, which they won’t do. Mangini was asking NYG for Umenyiora, they told him to get bent.
  • Braylon started to cradle everything and lost his confidence. If he gets back to that, he will be a quality NFL WR. Edwards can certainly be a #1 WR in a possession-type offense.
  • Should Mangini say outright that Quinn is his QB? Probably.
  • Heiden and Royal solid TEs. Neither are true starters, but you can definitely get by with them.
  • James Davis no toughness or physicality, but can make plays. “Light in the ass.” Got drafted where he should get drafted, but he has potential. He’s the type of guy that needs seams to be successful. You can’t teach toughness.
  • RB Jerome Harrison is a package player. He’s got talent, but he needs to be put on the field to be successful.
  • Still a 3-4 defensive scheme. How will Mangini use Kamerion Wimbley? He has elite pass-rusher potential.
  • They love last year’s seventh-round pick, Alex Hall, as a situational pass-rusher.
  • Mangini loves S Abram Elam, a guy they got in the Mark Sanchez trade. Both he and DE Kenyon Coleman will contribute, though they aren’t marquee players.
  • CB Brandon McDonald was not good at all. CB Eric Wright is talented but was very inconsistent in 2008. McDonald has been talking, but he’s probably not a starting-type corner.

PITTSBURGH

  • Signed WR Shaun McDonald. He’ll replace Nate Washington in the slot, but he’s a different type of player. He’s more of a possession-type slot receiver and not a burner.
  • Mendenhall is incredibly talented. At his best, he’s a feature back, Steeler-type back. Missing most of his rookie season is going to hurt him in terms of fantasy value for this year. Coming out, he looked better than Jonathan Stewart. Ability is not the issue with Mendenhall.
  • Moore is a third-down back, but he can give them a receiver out of the backfield. He won’t factor as much into the offense as Parker or Mendenhall. He’s a package guy that can make plays and should see the field.
  • Parker’s role is decreasing. He’s injury-prone and he has emerging players behind him. But he’s tougher than people think he is.
  • OL was not as bad as the numbers showed last year. Ben is going to make his line look worse than it is. Ben is insanely gifted, but he’s not a precision quarterback and he doesn’t have a great feel for the passing game. Ben makes great plays on the move, but he moves for no reason. He avoids the pressure, but he puts himself in those situations in the first place.
  • It’s not a good line, but it’s certainly average at the worst. Rookie Kraig Urban, second-round pick, is really tough and could start right away.
  • Really good defense. It was complete. No weak links.
  • Timmons will now start because Foote is gone.
  • Rookie DE Ziggy Hood fits their scheme very well. He’s not a prototypical 3-4 DE, but he is a good nickel player, and the Steelers will play nickel more than half of the time. He’s a mover. He plays DE like a running back.
  • Defense and commitment to running game disguise Ben’s weaknesses. His inconsistencies are his fault. Fantasy-wise, he’s tough to get a read on.

HOUSTON

  • Schaub has great timing and rhythm. He gets hit a lot because of his style, but is fragile and that’s not good given his style of play. His pocket awareness is still pretty poor.
  • Schaub a little bit late when he delivers the ball?
  • Schaub isn’t elite because he can’t make EVERY throw EVERY time. But having a balanced offense and good playcalling can help him to shine as a quality NFL QB. He can’t do it himself, but he can surely win in the NFL. But he won’t put up great fantasy numbers against great defenses, like elite quarterbacks will sometimes do.
  • Schaub can make impressive downfield throws to Andre Johnson and Andre Davis when they run play action, use run personnel and take the defense off-balance.
  • Slaton is the guy, but he wore down at the beginning of last season. He’s a lot like Brian Westbrook. He’s a lot tougher than people thought he was. He runs physically, and that makes him good. But it’s also going to hurt him in the long run.
  • Chris Brown, if he can stay healthy, is a solid complement to Slaton. But his injury history is awful.
  • Antoine Caldwell is a versatile lineman who will be given the chance to start as a rookie. RG is the issue in Houston.
  • LT Duane Brown wasn’t very good last year. Without Ephraim Salaam, he’s going to have to get it done alone this year. He could be the key to the entire offense. If he struggles, they’ll have to bring in a veteran.
  • James Casey will help them scheme and keep the D in its base packages, letting Owen Daniels break free. He’s a mover, an H-back type. He helps to dictate matchups, which is becoming a major trend in the NFL.
  • Is Connor Barwin as athletic as people think he is? He won’t play offense, and will only back up Mario Williams. Workout warrior bust potential.
  • DT Amobi Okoye was very inconsistent. Doesn’t play to his ability, but he’s still only 21.
  • DE Antonio Smith is a good football player and it’s a big-time upgrade opposite Williams. He can play inside in nickel situations.
  • Cushing will play SLB, Cato Lune WLB.
  • Secondary remains a problem. Safety play has always been bad.

INDIANAPOLIS

  • Love Donald Brown. Most complete back in the draft.
  • Offense will be more of the same, and why wouldn’t it be?
  • Going to find out what type of receiver Gonzalez is now that he has to start in the absence of Marvin Harrison. He’s going to catch a lot of balls, thanks to Manning. He won’t ever be an elite receiver, but he’s certainly talented enough to put up numbers. He’s never had to play 60 snaps before.
  • Austin Collie is a great draft pick for Indy in the slot. Perfect Brandon Stokley type. Better than the fourth-round pick they spent on him. Almost certainly will play.
  • They use Dallas Clark a lot in the slot. Jim Caldwell’s initial reaction was saying Clark would be his slot guy.
  • Tony Ugoh has problems with competitiveness. He has great ability but he tends to have mental lapses. Fortunately for this OL, Manning makes a decent line look great because of the near-perfect clock in his head.
  • Injuries forced a lot of guys on their line to play last year, so the depth is good and experienced now.
  • Making some changes defensively. They want to get bigger. Getting away from the Tampa 2 and trying to hunker down on the run. Going to change the fronts.
  • DT Fili Moala is a great athlete, and is incredibly versatile for his size. He should play right away. Plays 40 pounds lighter than he actually is.
  • Cover 2 might be their base, but the front seven is going to be bigger and will move a lot.
  • Underrated corners. Marlin Jackson is back, they drafted Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden just signed a big extension.
  • Really good football team.

JACKSONVILLE

  • Will Tra Thomas actually be there? His contract isn’t huge and they might want to get the young guys on the field.
  • Monroe was a top talent, could have been the top pick. The Jaguars drafted him because he was the #1 player left on their board.
  • Eben Britton will play either RT, or could shift inside to guard. Britton doesn’t project as a dominating LT at the next level, but he will be a solid player for a really long time. It’s a good spot for him because Monroe was drafted as the anchor at LT. He won’t be asked to do something he can’t.
  • Will MJD be able to handle the burden? Some think he can, some think he can’t. He’s short, but he’s not small. He’s bulky. His body type is Barry Sanders. The Jaguars are making the commitment to him. They think he can be the guy.
  • Greg Jones will see some time at RB, and he has quick feet. Additionally, in the seventh round, Rashad Jennings could be the steal of the draft.
  • Torry Holt will have a very solid year in the context of the Jacksonville offense. Everything fell apart in St. Louis. He’s a professional that is going to want to prove his doubters wrong. He’s going to be a factor.
  • QB David Garrard needs help, but he throws a nice ball. If the Jags have a balanced, complete offense, he can be a good QB.
  • Holt and Mike Walker really isn’t a bad WR duo. Walker is a good route runner and a prototypical possession type. Mike Thomas and Tiquan Underwood were good under the radar picks that can contribute in the slot.
  • TE Marcedes Lewis is terrible. He can’t run at all.
  • Will Derrick Harvey ever live up to his draft status? Quentin Groves is looking like he could be a better pass-rusher.
  • This team could be going to some 3-4, and that might actually fit their personnel.
  • Made some major organizational mistakes. Signing Drayton Florence, signing Jerry Porter and trading up to get Derrick Harvey have all been mistakes. Harvey isn’t a bust yet, but he hasn’t shown the type of play that warrants a trade to the #8 pick.

TENNESSEE

  • Kenny Britt will be a quality pro with the potential to be better than that. He’s not a finished product, but no one is. They don’t have WRs, so Britt is going to have a chance to contribute as a rookie.
  • LenDale White apparently has lost a lot of weight, which could help him to take advantage of his good feet. He has discipline issues, but if he comes in light, he can still be a player.
  • Great receiving options at TE. Jared Cook looked like Shannon Sharpe running routes. Cook is a fluid athlete.
  • They’ll do what they do: they’ll run the ball and play defense.
  • Losing Haynesworth is huge, but they love young Jason Jones. They signed Jovan Haye, a rotational guy, and drafted Sen’Derrick Marks. They’ll be fine at DT.
  • Too many receivers that can’t play. Washington, Gage and Britt will be their guys.
  • Like Adams, the backup to Mawae.

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