We’re roughly two weeks away from the start of the 2010 NFL season and I’m practically giddy. The kick-off game between New Orleans and Minnesota should be excellent. I’m fully entrenched in preparation for my fantasy drafts and I’m cannot wait to finally have a roster(s) to call my own. The recent news of a proposed 18-game season doesn’t sit well with me, but it doesn’t look like it will be a serious issue until 2012. Will there be a lock-out next season? Can America function without football in 2011? The owners print money with their teams. It’s hard to believe that an agreement can’t be reached. Look for a beginning-of-the-season Power Rankings column from resident NFL expert Mike Schaedler in the next day or two. Now I know I’ve already laid out my basic fantasy football strategy guide. Read it. Win your league. But now I’m taking it a step further. I’m breaking down each team, looking at the possible fantasy value and who I think you should target. Let’s do this.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills suck. Maybe C.J. Spiller will have a couple nice, long TD runs in garbage time of blow outs, but I don’t see him as the breakout rookie running back worth the hype he’s getting.
Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have an interesting team this year with four potential studs: Brandon Marshall, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Chad Henne. Yes, Chad Henne. He’s a solid number two QB that could give you points as a spot starter against weaker defenses. I have high hopes for Marshall, who will be a beast in PPR leagues. The time share success of Williams and Brown depends on them staying healthy. It feels like the league has figured out their “wildcat,” but both have the opportunity to be productive.
New England Patriots: Look for Randy Moss to actually try this season since it’s the last year of his contract. He should be the number two receiver off the board. Be wary of Captain Comeback Wes Welker. Sure, he’s back, but unless you’re in a PPR league where lame bubble screens make a difference, or you get points for players who love sliding and avoiding contact, be cautious.
New York Jets: The hype around Shonn Greene is probably deserved. But look out for LT to vulture at least three goal line scores from him. Also, the D seems to be a bit overrated in fantasy terms. If Revis doesn’t sign, it takes them down another level with interceptions. Do not draft a defense before the tenth round.
Cincinnati Bengals: Their receivers are great on paper, but stay clear. Carson Palmer hasn’t been the same since his knee surgery.
Cleveland Browns: Do not talk yourself into Massaquoi. Sexy sleeper who will be in a coma all year.
Pittsburg Steelers: Rashard Mendenhall is an easy number one back, especially for the first half of the season. It will be interesting to watch what happens once Rothlsdick comes back. Could be an interesting late-round selection to stash on your bench. Unfortunately, I don’t see Mike Wallace blossoming until #7 returns.
Baltimore Ravens: The sexiest team coming into the season. I honestly think Ray Rice will finish as the number one back in fantasy. Flacco is high risk, high reward depending on where you can get him in the draft (round 8 or lower). I love Boldin as a player, but he’s just not a great fantasy player. He’ll make the Ravens better, but temper your expectations with him not playing opposite of Larry Fitzgerald.
Houston Texans: Take your pick on this offensive juggernaut. Schaub, Johnson and Daniels should all have great seasons. Word out of camp is that Arian Foster is now the starting back, so he could be a valuable mid-round target.
Indianapolis Colts: Do not pass on Peyton Manning. He’s boring and unsexy, but he’ll consistently give you 15+ points a week. Also, having a Colts receiver on your team is never a bad thing. I think Clark will regress slightly from last year. Look for Pierre Garcon to pick up where he left off as last season’s break out receiver.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Once Maurice Jones-Drew is off the board after the first five picks, forget they even have a team in Jacksonville.
Tennessee Titans: Unless you have the first or second pick, there’s no need to think about Chris Johnson. Get over it. I actually think he regresses. If you look back, tons of his points were earned on 70+ yard carries and screens. Chances are that’s not happening again. Johnson is fun to watch (or painful if playing against him), but he’s not sneaking up on defenses this year. Again, do not talk yourself into Vince Young, a guy who was on suicide watch last year and got into a fight at a strip club this summer over taunting of his alma mater. Sure, he’s matured all right.
Dallas Cowboys: A lot of people are anointing the Cowboys as fantasy gold this year. The weapons are there. Draft at will.
New York Giants: Look for Hakeem Nicks to emerge at WR and Brandon Jacobs to keep sliding downhill in the backfield.
Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin Kolb is intriguing as a back-up/spot starter. DeShawn Jackson is overrated. Brent Celek is money.
Washington Redskins: Will McNabb be valuable on a new team with shitty receivers? No.
Chicago Bears: Who gives a shit about Mike Martz? Cutler will still throw a ton of pics and get sacked several times a game. Matt Forte was such a bust last year, that he might just surprise people with above average stats this year.
Detroit Lions: The Lions remind me of the Cardinals from a few years ago–terrible team, but interesting fantasy weapons. They’ll be playing from behind in most games and looking to catch up through the air. Calvin Johnson, Matt Stafford, Jahvid Best are all great picks.
Green Bay Packers: Did you see the Packers offense shred the Colts with 59 points on Thursday? I’d take any of the Packers starters before any number two.
Minnesota Vikings: Purple Jesus blah blah blah. Like I said with Chris Johnson: unless you’re top two, let it go. The loss of Sydney Rice and Harvin’s migraine’s scare me off from everyone else on the Vikings.
Atlanta Falcons: I’d hate to be drafting eight and have to choose between Michael Turner or a number one WR. Turner isn’t sexy, but he scores touchdowns and has a badonkadonk. Same with Roddy White. Not the flashiest pick, but he’ll get you points.
Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart or D’angelo Williams? I go the former and you can get him several rounds later.
New Orleans Saints: Pick a Saint, any Saint. Hard to go wrong with their offensive production. The biggest problem is that when the Saints blow teams out by 30 points, their top studs will be sitting in the fourth quarter.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This team is undraftable. When does Cadillac Williams get his nickname demoted due to his lack of durability?
Arizona Cardinals: I loved Kurt Warner. With his retirement he takes with him the fantasy value of one of the games best receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is a late third round pick. I’ve seen Leinart and Anderson in the pre-season and…my god are the Cardinals fucked. A lot of hype for Beanie Wells, but I expect eight in the box all season until their QB proves he can deliver.
St. Louis Rams: Steven Jackson has this team on his back. How long can this first round pick stay healthy?
San Francisco 49ers: Expect Vernon Davis to come back to earth this year. Michael Crabtree is an interesting mid-round gamble, since most of his points will be off YAC.
Seattle Seahawks: I have a hard time talking myself into Justin Forsett. This team is rebuilding with Pete Carroll and I just don’t see anyone I’d want on my roster.