Here’s what I’ll be watching in August

I’ve been kind of swamped this month trying to get all our ducks in a row for the upcoming season, and unfortunately for me I’m dealing with literally 30 things a day, so I haven’t had a lot of time for the blog. As I hope everyone knows, players and teams are on vacation for most of this month, so there’s not a lot to talk about. I myself will be on vacation next week.

But I’ve been meaning to post something this month. I see people debating some of our rankings on the site on our MBs, which is great and all and totally healthy. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with everything we say or have on the site.

But the point I’ve been meaning to make is that it’s really too early to make many definitive statements. I said it back in February, and I’ll say it again: I think this year’s going to be tricky. I say that primarily because last year wasn’t, so things are bound to get ugly. It’s also clear that there are a lot of situations that need to come into clearer focus, more so than this time last year.

Of course we’ll be following all the action closely from around August 1st (or a few days sooner) to the start of the season, and we’ll be tracking good vibes, bad vibes, emerging players, injuries, etc. There’s so much that’s going to happen during this  period of time, so you really can’t be too confident or critical in, for example, our rankings & projections. There are many situations out there right now that we just don’t know enough about, so I thought I’d briefly cover some of them here. If you’re drafting now, good luck; I have to say it may be your fault for jumping the 2009 gun by doing so early if you end up with a bad team.

Okay, so here are some of the situations I’m keeping my eye on.

Chris Wells’ health and play in the preseason – I need to see him healthy, and I need to see him running hard in the preseason and in their games. If all checks out, he’ll beat Tim Hightower out and will have nice value. Of course, one of the main reasons I’ve been targeting him is his draft value, and that will be less attractive if he has a positive summer.

The Raven RBs – It’s a cluster F, for sure. I need to see nothing but good vibes from Willis McGahee, which may be asking too much. I’m going to try not to get overly-enamored with Ray Rice if he has a huge preseason, which I’m thinking he will (he’s bulked up, taking first-team reps, etc). Rice is a nice player, but he didn’t show he could be a lead guy last year. McGahee is the key. If he has issues, his value drops, and LeRon McClain’s goes up – assuming McClain is slim and trim.

Terrell Owens and Trent Edwards – I would certainly like to see Owens play a little more in the preseason and for him to click with Edwards.

Jonathan Stewart’s health – This dude had better show he can stay healthy throughout training camp or else a red flag will go up. Not sure if we’ll move DeAngelo Williams up more than 1-2 spots if Stewart has issues (since he’s already high), but I’ll move more toward actually targeting him in drafts if Stewart has issues.

Cutler with Hester and Olsen – I’m going to say it, I probably shouldn’t, but I am. If Olsen can quickly establish chemistry with Jay Cutler, and if he’s healthy all 16 games, I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up as the #1 fantasy TE in a non-PPR league. Hester may only go down in our rankings, but that’s only because we already like him a lot. It would be nice to see him connecting in the preseason down the field. I still think there are enough weapons for Cutler to be just fine for fantasy.

The Bengals as whole – I’m certainly not going to go gaga over anyone here, but if the vibes are good, Chad Ochocinco will continue his ascent up our rankings, and I’ll probably move Carson Palmer up a couple of spots. I’ve loved Palmer from Day One, but I gotta see some good preseason vibes here.

If all is well in the preseason, Ill be more than happy to take Braylon Edwards off the draft board.

If all is well in the preseason, I'll be more than happy to take Braylon Edwards off the draft board.

Braylon Edwards – He could be a steal in the 5th or even 6th round based on his ugly 2008 season. If he’s healthy and appears to be properly motivated, we’ll be pushing him. He’s the go-to guy, he’s in a contract year, and the QB situation is decent. You want truly elite players on your side, and last year’s train wreck aside, Braylon’s a stud talent. Remember that.

Roy Williams in Dallas – My boy’s gotta step up, and he has to show some urgency in practice and in their exhibition games. Otherwise, I’ll pass.

Brandon Marshall – I got a great tidbit on Marshall last night that I really can’t pass along, but let’s just say I feel a little better about him. He has no leverage, and he’s not going anywhere. Let’s just say the tidbit has to do with the notion that, if Marshall does behave himself this year and proves he deserves the money on the field, he’ll probably get it. Maybe I did just give it away. Of course, that’s no lock he does, but this helps. I obviously want to see the rest of the Broncos because they need to put out some good vibes this summer.

Matthew Stafford – Our guy at the position, and he’s already shining and looking like the starter. The Lion offense might actually surprise this year, with a rookie QB no less.

Donald Brown – A huge preseason by Brown would likely be the final nail in the Joe Addai coffin for me. If Brown’s all that, that’s obviously bad for Addai, but on the other hand, Brown could finally push Addai and get the best out of him. I want to see the overall state of the Colts, too.

Torry Holt’s health – It’s really a matter of his health, since I think he’ll be rock solid if healthy. Not a stud, but surprisingly helpful for fantasy.

The Whole Chief Offense – A ton to get a handle on with KC. I need to see Dwayne Bowe look beast-like as he did last year. Gotta see how they’re using the RBs and how Larry Johnson looks, and of course the QB. And will Brad “Smoke ‘em if ya” Cottam does.

Dolphin WRs – I like Ginn, Camarillo, and Bess, but we need to see their role. Is Ginn ready to take a step up, is Camarillo healthy? Will Bess be worth much or is he going to be just a slot guy?

Watch Favre come out of retirement officially from 7/12-7/21, when Im on vacation.

Watch Favre come out of retirement officially from 7/12-7/21, when I'm on vacation.

The Vikings – Ah, yes, the Vikings. Here’s my prediction: Brett Favre will come out of retirement officially and join the Vikings somewhere between 7/12 and 7/21. Why? That’s when I’m on vacation.

The Patriots – Of course, the return of Tom Brady, although I’m already quite confident in him. I’m curious about the RBs.

Reggie Bush – The guy’s gotta be healthy. I need to see it, and I hope I see it. We know Pierre Thomas is going to be fine, but will there be two fantasy studs in this backfield?

Giant WRs – We just don’t know how this one’s going to shake out, so the key guys to watch are Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks.

Mark Sanchez – There’s no way he’s going to be Matt Ryan good, so the question is, can he be Joe Flacco good in 2009? I doubt it, but the offense will be conservative, which helps his chances of doing his job in year one.

Ill be very curious to see if Bush looks a little quicker in 2009. If he appears to have moe juice, I think the Raiders need to give him 10-15 carries a game.

I'll be very curious to see if Bush looks a little quicker in 2009. If he appears to have moe juice, I think the Raiders need to give him 10-15 carries a game.

Michael Bush – That’s right, Michael Bush. If Darren McFadden’s not a true lead back, which he isn’t, then why can’t a healthier Bush get 15 carries a game as well as a good number of the goal liner carries. He could, so I want to see him have a big preseason.

LeSean McCoy – He needs to pick up the offense quickly and play well. If so, drafting Brian Westbrook should be a fine idea, as long as you get McCoy. If McCoy is struggling, that throws a monkey wrench into the plan.

Rashard Mendenhall – I still don’t think he’s ready to beat Willie Parker out. But if he has a big preseason, I’ll open up the possibility that he does during the season. And forget about it Parker is banged up. But Mendenhall has to bring it this summer, and he has to stay healthy.

LaDainian - Will we see him this summer at all? I’d actually like to see something, unlike the last five summers. If not, he’s going to be a little bit of a mystery going into the season.

The 49ers - Frank Gore’s fantasy interest is picking up some steam, and I can see why. It’s very simple, really. If he’s truly going to get the ball a ton, he has incredible potential if healthy. The guy’s a stud talent, period.

Steven Jackson – I fully admit I’m ready to move him up over LT. I just need to see some good things from him and the Rams and/or some bad things from LT and the Chargers. I do like how the Ram OL has been beefed up.

The Buc QB situation – I gotta tell you, I’m not getting a good feeling here. If rookie Josh Freeman has been your most impressive guy, that’s not good. I basically need Luke McCown to step up big time, or else I’ll be avoiding Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow. I don’t want to see or hear anything about Byron Leftwich. If I hear anything positive, I will put my hands over my ears. I do still like their RBs.

Jason Campbell – I wasn’t fooled last summer by the impressive preseason, but I do think he needs to show some spark this summer to get things rolling in the right direction. It would also be great if those two young WRs stepped up – or at least one of them.

Category: Fantasy Football

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23 Responses

  1. Hail Skins says:

    Haha, ‘Brad “Smoke ‘em if ya” Cottam’. I love the Hansenisms. Great read Jon, keep up the good work.

  2. JOOCE says:

    That’s the thing about your projections. It must take hundreds of man hours to prepare preliminary projections, but tens of thousands of man hours of dissection are put in by your subscribers!

    I’m looking forward to end of July!

    Have a great vacation!

  3. MI-5 says:

    My top 5, not on this list.

    - Can Josh Morgan step up and post great numbers as the world just sees the Rookie?

    - Can Sidney Rice have a bounce back year as everyone looks at the Rookie (see a theme here)?

    - Can Matt Ryan ascend into a top 5 fantasy QB, like Carson Palmer in his second year as a starter?

    - Why doesn’t Drew Brees get more love, considering Shockey, Bush and Colston will all likely be heather this year. Undervalued in the second round?

    - Can any second year Redskin WR claim a starting job?

  4. Gump says:

    I can’t believe some of the Ray Rice hype I’m seeing elsewhere. This year’s Michael Turner? 1500 yards? You gotta be kiddin me!

  5. Dom says:

    I think S-Jacks above LT already, i think SJ has a huge year

  6. John Hansen says:

    Really Gump? Damn. I guess a lot of people are looking at that 21/154 game as a preview of things to come. Too bad a lot of that came out of the shotgun and this is far from a spread passing attack. I suppose that little tidbit is what separates us from everyone else. I like Rice, but he showed very little as a runner last year.

  7. Stretch says:

    John,

    You are dead on with J.Stewart’s health in regards to D.Williams. Deangelo already has this 1-yr wonder stigma posted on his back. But if J.Stewart does not play a down this pre-season to preserve him for the regular season. Deangelo’s stock will sky rocket.

    As far as B.Wells, he will have an outstanding year with 1200+ yards & 8-10 TDs.

  8. Austin says:

    One thing I want to see is how Ronnie Brown looks. He looked special before hurting the knee and he is easily the most talented player in that offense. Can he be elite again? He could be a steal in fantasy drafts…

  9. hemdilly says:

    And I think the Addai/ Donald Brown situation will be fun to watch. I’m assuming Addai is and will be the starter, but if Brown get lots of reps and looks good, it could be a RBBC, with one of them eventually winning the mail role. It could take half the season to work out, but it will all start in August.

  10. ToothDocter says:

    Fully agree with Michael Bush. He was a stud at ‘ville before the injury and is just effective when he runs the ball. McFadden is a wuss and a gust of wind blows him down. Bush can move the chains.
    I will be looking to see how the Dolphins use Ricky Williams and how effect he is. If reports are true about Brown, he could post huge numbers because the kid can flat out play.

  11. ANT says:

    my top-2 things to watch, since i think my gut tells me they’ll be huge for fantasy.

    Felix Jones – i think he gets close to 180 touches (run/pass)
    Percy Harvin – 100 touches minimum, Childress already is on record saying he’s wowed by Percy’s playmaking ability comparing him to Peterson that they have to get him the ball…i think 50 rush, 50 receptions is not out of the question.

    Will DAL/MIN braintrust use these 2 guys to their ability? thoughts on the 2 players, John?

  12. Idiot Savant says:

    Roy Williams…does he look comfortable ready to step up… and Stewart…D Brown …but really all your list John…but also

    How do Cassel and Orton look adapting to their new teams?
    Who wins the S.F. QB position?

    Is Crabtree looking special?

    Slaton, does he look stronger (he supposedly gained 10 lbs)…

    Does Marshall look focused.

    Is Moore healthy …if not does the N.O. braintrust seem to trust bonehead Meachem any more than last season.

    Who looks to backup B Jacobs (A Brown or other)…with Bradshaw.

    Does D Ward walk away with the starting role and seem to get feature carries or something less.

    Does J Lewis look washed up…and who looks to emerge if he goes down.
    Is Ced. Benson focused, and who is likely to emerge if he goes down or fails.

    Is Knowshown the goods…rep says he can run , block , catch..does he?

    Does Shawn Merriman have his burst…if so I love the S.D. Defense.

  13. Idiot Savant says:

    oh…and does Cutler throw screens to Forte…or is Forte to become moe one dimensional with more carries, less rec.

  14. John Hansen says:

    Felix Jones no doubt gets a lot of touches. He may even be the key to their offense, since he’s so special and explosive. I’m not as sure about Harvin but I can easily envision it. The thing about Harvin is that he didn’t run typical NFL routes in college, so we can’t expect him to in the pros. It then comes down to his and the coaching staff’s ability to get him the ball so he can make other types of plays. No one knows that will happen for sure.

  15. Jackson Carter says:

    Never thought I would pay to join any fantasy expert organization; however, John Hansen’s comments and insights, alone, are worth the cost!

  16. John Hansen says:

    Thanks, Jackson. I think, by the end of the year, when you considered everything we have and offer, you’ll say to yourself, “Damn, that was definitely worth $1 a week.” That’s still my goal, for it to be that. Certainly not all about me and my opinions for the $.

    It’s actually a lot less than a $1 a week if you order early enough.

  17. PackFan says:

    I just read where Braylon Edwards attended the same party that Donte Stallworth was at before Stallworth ran over the guy who was trying to make it to the bus stop. If Stallworth was drunk and stoned at 7:00 AM, I’m wondering what condition Edwards was in – especially since he apparently didn’t offer to become the designated driver.

    The fact that Edwards spent an entire season dropping passes kind of concerns me right now …

  18. John Hansen says:

    I hear you but it’s hard for me to be too hard on a young guy out having some fun in March just because someone he was with someone who did what he did. And who knows if he was drunk or actually driving around that night. It’s a little disconcerting, but I wouldn’t hold it against Edwards unless something else comes out.

  19. Manny says:

    I’m very curious about the Chargers. Wondering how healthy Gates will be in 2009, and looking at the run game for the Chargers. Will the Chargers be stubborn about using the FB Tolbert, when he whiffed a ton last year leading the the way for LT? Will the Chargers employ more of Brandon Manumaleuna as a lead blocker? They seemed to be more successful with a better lead blocker for LT.

    Thanks for the info.

  20. Wax Man says:

    I’ve been drinking the Ray Rice kool-aid that was mentioned above. I do not see McGahee going too deep into the season. I thought L. McLean was going to stay at FB and Rice would see the majority of carries at HB. S. Wilcots on the Sirius Blitz was pouring the R. Rice kool-aid if you really want to know. He actually predicts a 1,000 yard season out of him too. Thought it may be a great sleeper pick, but now I’m having second thoughts.

    I want to hear why McLean would move from FB to HB when McGahee goes down.

  21. John Hansen says:

    Pretty simple, Wax. Big time power running game. They use 3 TEs a lot, and that they didn’t add a receiver of note in the off-season is a clear indication they still want to do that. Rice didn’t do squat running the power stuff last year; all his stuff was out of the shotgun and in passing situations. I do like Rice, but again, I’m not totally getting the love.

  22. LJP says:

    John,

    Love the gutsy call on Olsen. He is an elite talent and has not been fully utilized by the Bears. With Cutler throwing to him and no clear-cut #1 WR, I would not be surprised at all if he finishes in the top 3 at TE.

    There are a number of middle & late round RB’s that are going to win leagues this year. Injuries or under-performance of the perceived starter will thrust these guys into a key role. I agree on Wells (Hightower flopped as the starter last year) and will most likely be rolling the dice on guys like Donald Brown, Felix Jones, Mendenhall, Sproles, & Michael Bush.

  23. Fantine says:

    I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost imsposlibe.

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