Feb 17, 2011
One of items included in my annual Lessons Learned article dealt with continuity and how important it is for NFL teams and thus, fantasy.
It looks like it is going to be even more important in 2011. Obviously, we don’t know where the labor talks are going to go in the next few months, but we do know things are looking a little grim right now, at least in terms of getting a deal done in the early-to-mid spring.
If no deal is done for a few months, teams are going to be absolutely scrambling. Even worse, there are a ton of coaching and coordinator changes, so there will be little stability, more uncertainty, and hardly any continuity.
So right now, I’m fully prepared to move teams that will have continuity and stability on their side in 2011 to the top of the fantasy pecking order, if they’re not there already. Players from the following teams will be more desirable than ever.
Atlanta Falcons – They need help at WR, but there is really solid continuity here. If they can add one more difference-maker at receiver, we know their offense will be efficient and productive – as long as Mike Turner doesn’t fall off a cliff.
Baltimore Ravens – They did lose Jim Zorn, but OC Cam Cameron has been here a number of years, so there is still more than enough continuity. They just need a playmaker at receiver.
Chicago Bears – They’re going to be as stable as a team led by Jay Cutler can be at this point, since this will be year two with Mike Martz running the offense. That helps, and if the OL is actually solidified, that really helps.
Dallas Cowboys – This is a big one. While HC Jason Garrett’s relationship with QB Tony Romo will change a bit now that Garrett’s the head coach, there is clearly strong continuity here, since all the key players and Garrett have been together for several years.
Detroit Lions – The Lions made all their big moves last year, so now it’s just a question of fine-tuning – and keeping Matt Stafford on the field. I’m not 100% sold on a healthy Stafford just yet because the sampling is actually pretty small, but there’s no question I’ve loved what I’ve seen. His injury issues are more severe than Matt Schaub’s, but regular readers should remember our position on Schaub as far back as 2007: 30 TDs if he can play all season was our call. I actually like Stafford more than I ever liked Schaub.
Green Bay Packers – How did the Packers win the Super Bowl despite losing their starting RB and one of the most gifted skill players in the league? Continuity.
Houston Texans – There’s plenty of continuity here, and possibly a completely healthy Owen Daniels, which could make this offense downright scary.
Indianapolis Colts – They have been dealing with some reshuffling, and they lost O-line coach/consultant Howard Mudd, which isn’t great. But as long as Coach Manning is here, things will work out.
New England Patriots – They really started something in 2010, and there’s every reason to believe they’ll be able to pick up where they left off last year and build on it.
New Orleans Saints – Overall, there is a ton of continuity here. Their running game is a mild concern, but it’s easier to find a rushing attack when you have Sean Payton still calling the shots and Drew Brees pulling the trigger.
New York Giants – The injury situation with WR Steve Smith is a buzzkill, and there may be some changes in their backfield, but overall the situation with this team is quite stable.
New York Jets – Assuming they keep at least WR Santonio Holmes, this situation is very stable – even if they do decide to let LaDainian Tomlinson walk.
Oakland Raiders – Although there have been changes, I’m actually optimistic for their offense with Hue Jackson taking over completely. I’m actually giving QB Jason Campbell a chance to show us the best he has to offer in 2011. Granted, that may not be terrific, but it’ll be a big improvement from 2010 – if they find him a go-to wideout.
Philadelphia Eagles – People accuse me of being a Philly homer because I live in the area, but I’ve never rooted for this team per se. They were not “my team” growing up. However, for the last decade, I have consistently advocated their players and, other than Reggie Brown, I haven’t really regretted that. Say what you want about Andy Reid, but the guy’s a rock (okay, a mountain), and that helps.
Pittsburgh Steelers – No major issues here, other than their QB’s improvisational style of play, which usually works out quite well for them.
San Diego Chargers – I’m a huge Norv Turner guy, as I outlined four years ago in this blog when he was hired . I said there he’d be great for Philip Rivers, and he has been. He’s great for everyone, at least in term of fantasy, which is all I care about.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh Freeman plans to work out with his receivers even if there is a lockout. Josh Freeman gets it. Josh Freeman is quickly emerging as the league’s next elite QB. He’s not there yet, but he’s on the right path.
Notice a similarity among all these teams? They’re good. It just goes to show that stability is key in the NFL. The teams that know how to keep it and make good personnel decisions are always in the mix to make noise, and the teams that don’t basically stink.
The parallel to fantasy will be even more prevalent in 2011.