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Fantasy Football Preview: Part 2
Here is the second installment of my three-part fantasy football preview. Up next features kickers and wide receivers.
Kickers are in the same boat as defenses as far as adding and dropping is concerned. If you remove David Akers (SF) from last season’s totals, the point differential between the top 20 kickers is 2.4 points per week! My theory with kickers is to keep it simple. Take a kicker on a team that you think should win easily and he will naturally get more points. This week the available kickers I like are Jason Hanson (DET), Matt Bryant (ATL), and Shayne Graham (HOU).
Hanson and the Lions are playing against the aforementioned Rams at home in week 1. Detroit has one of the most potent offenses, led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Worst case scenario, you get a field goal to go along with a handful of extra points out of Hanson.
Bryant’s Falcons open at Kansas City in week 1. With Atlanta favored, and with an offense that is expected to be one of the most explosive in the league with Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones, I see Bryant getting plenty of opportunities to pick up fantasy points
My favorite kicker pick up this week is Shayne Graham. One of the most accurate kickers of all time has secured the full time gig in Houston this year. Also, he is available in almost 93 percent of leagues! Houston opens at home against Miami this week and is expected to win big. Miami could possibly be the worst team in the NFL this year and the Texans are not going to struggle scoring points against them, which bodes well for Graham and his accurate leg.
This year wide receiver is deep, and I mean deep. I’m not going to bother talking about Calvin Johnson (DET), Wes Welker (NE), or Larry Fitzgerald (ARI). I want to talk about the undervalued receivers that you can trade for or pick up and give your team an extra edge. Headlining this list are Jordy Nelson (GB), Percy Harvin (MIN), Nate Washington (TEN), Vincent Jackson (TB), Kendall Wright (TEN), and Jon Baldwin (KC). I also want to mention the one wideout that I think should be avoided at all costs. Dez Bryant. His immaturity and general demeanor make me want to wait at least until he can show he is mature enough to be a productive fantasy player.
Nelson had a breakout year in 2011 with 15 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 receiving yards for the Packers. He did that all with only 68 receptions! I anticipate his receptions and receiving yards to go up, but his touchdowns dip. It would be remarkable for him to approach his 15 total TD’s from last year, especially when five of them came in the final two weeks of the season when nearly everything had been decided for the playoffs.
I have always had a soft spot for Percy because I am just in awe of his pass catching and rushing ability. Last year, he had a phenomenal year, finishing as the eighth-ranked fantasy receiver. With Adrian Peterson coming back from his ACL and MCL tear; the Vikings will be sure to ease the star running back back into action. That leaves the door open for even more Percy. I predict Harvin will have 100 receptions for 1,000 yards while rushing for an addition 400 yards with probably 10 total touchdowns. You don’t have to like him, but bottom line, he touches the ball an awful lot.
Few people know that Nate Washington finished with more fantasy points than high profile receivers, Greg Jennings (GB) and Dez Bryant (DAL). Sounds shocking considering you probably only heard Washington’s name a handful of times in 2011. He was the most targeted receiver when the current starter Jake Locker was quarterback last season. I don’t anticipate a boost in production. In fact, I think he will regress. With Kenny Britt coming back from suspension and injury, and the addition of newcomer Kendall Wright, Washington should see fewer balls. However, he has chemistry with Locker, and as receiver, that goes a long way.
Vincent Jackson was hit or miss last year for fantasy owners. As one of those owners, I was extremely frustrated with him. After his move to Tampa Bay this offseason, I think we will see a much more consistent Jackson than we have seen in the past. Third-year quarterback Josh Freeman is looking to bounce back after a bad 2011, and he should have to look no further than the big play veteran wideout. An 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown year seems feasible with a significant upside if the two develop any sort of chemistry.
The aforementioned Kendall Wright is a rookie for Tennessee that is getting a lot of buzz from training camp and the preseason. He lacks noticeable size, but he is going to get an opportunity to play right away because of Britt’s suspension. Aside from that, I just like him because he is available in more than 60 percent of leagues and he will be starting week 1 versus the Patriots. Don’t start him unless you have to in your lineup this week, but he is worth keeping an eye on.
Jon Baldwin made a name for himself last year when he broke his thumb punching a teammate in training camp. That is not exactly the news you would like to make as a rookie. This year, however, he has impressed in camp and that is enough for me to look into him considering he is available in 75 percent of fantasy leagues. With Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston the only receivers taking catches away from Baldwin, he becomes intriguing if he can stand out early on and earn the trust of quarterback Matt Cassel. I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting him week 1, but like I said earlier, wide receiver is incredibly deep this year so you shouldn’t have to.
Stay tuned for part three tomorrow, which features quarterbacks and running backs.