Fantasy Football Offseason Analysis: Mendenhall, Vick, Geno Smith And More!
Most Fantasy owners were excited about the prospect of Rashard Mendenhall once he was signed with Arizona. Beanie Wells is gone, and Ryan Williams was his only competition? What could go wrong? The addition of Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington, that’s what. Taylor has been compared to a poor man’s Vick Ballard, but the rookie to keep an eye on is Ellington. He’ll stay buried behind Mendenhall and Williams on the depth chart for now, but an injury to either makes him a rookie to watch. Mendenhall is now almost a year and a half removed from ACL surgery, but he did struggle last year. Williams has been hurt seemingly forever and is an injury risk. It is unlikely that Arizona will use a running back by committee, as that isn’t Bruce Arians’ style. Look for Mendenhall to have the job and Ellington to be his backup. Draft Mendenhall as a low RB2 in standard leagues, with Williams as his backup. But don’t be surprised if you wish you had Ellington by the end of the season.
New York Jets
I suppose it’s time to speculate on what is going to happen with the Jets this year. Currently, the QB depth chart features Mark Sanchez at the top of the list, followed by Geno Smith and Greg McElroy. David Garrard has retired from football and Tim Tebow was cut from the team. From the perspective of the Jets, they know how Sanchez can perform and they know that didn’t get them wins. Look for Smith to be given an opportunity, for better or worse. Unfortunately for either quarterback, the Jets’ receiving corps leaves much to be desired. Santonio Holmes tops the list, but he is still recovering from Lisfranc foot surgery. He’ll sit out most of the offseason practices. He’s followed by Stephen Hill, who is recovering from a knee surgery as well. Hill didn’t have an impressive rookie season, but could potentially step up. The healthiest receiver at the top of the depth chart is then Jeremy Kerley. He’ll play the slot and has the best chance to succeed this year. Don’t look at any of the receivers as guys that will truly help your team, but the one to take a chance on is Kerley.
While the Bucs organization originally said that they have their starting quarterback (in Josh Freeman), don’t be surprised if Mike Glennon makes an appearance on the field at some point this year. Freeman is currently backed up by Dan Orlovsky, but it is likely that Glennon will surpass Orlovsky on the depth chart. Orlovsky proved he could get the job done if needed (in Indianapolis), but he isn’t a true backup. The Bucs likely believe that Glennon would benefit from a year of watching Freeman and then becoming their starter, but if Glennon can outshine Freeman in practice, they may just give him the gig. With Vincent Jackson still as the top receiver, a quarterback can succeed. Doug Martin gave the Bucs an above-average run game, so with a quarterback who can spread the field, the team could succeed. V-Jax has limited value because either quarterback isn’t exactly a stud, but he is still a WR2, regardless of which guy is at the helm.
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers drafted Keenan Allen with the No. 76 pick overall. While the rookie wide receiver may be low on the draft board, he may prove to be competition for Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown. Danario Alexander is the clear No. 1 receiver in San Diego, but the No. 2 spot is up for grabs. Floyd currently has the spot, but with his 814 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year, the spot isn’t necessarily his. Brown didn’t play in 2012 because of an ankle injury, but he should be good to go in 2013. It’s hard to rank him at this point as he hasn’t been on the field. According to the National Fantasy Championships, Brown’s ADP is 153, Floyd is 136 and Allen is 236. Allen is worth drafting in dynasty leagues, but for now, he isn’t on the radar for standard leagues.
While everyone focuses on the quarterback controversy that is going on with the New York Jets, another one is slowly brewing in Philadelphia. Michael Vick sits atop the depth chart with Nick Foles as his backup. This appeared to work last season and seemingly was the plan for 2013 as well. Until the Eagles traded up to get Matt Barkley on their team. Barkley is known for his accuracy but not for his arm strength. Vick is known for his arm strength, but at times his accuracy leaves much to be desired. He’ll likely be the Week 1 starter, but don’t be surprised if Barkley passes Foles on the depth chart. With Vick’s injury history, expect to see Barkley starting a game at some point this season. For now, all Barkley does is continue to lower Vick’s Fantasy value. Another rookie to keep an eye on is Zach Ertz. While the Eagles did acquire James Casey in free agency, look for Ertz to replace an aging Brent Celek. While Celek’s yards only took a slight dip from 2011, his touchdown total plummeted. He only had one TD in 2012, his lowest since 2008. Avoid all Philadelphia tight ends on draft day until it is sorted out. For now, Casey looks like the best bet, but he’s only a low TE2.
While Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt have the No. 1 and 2 slots set for the Titans, Justin Hunter will come in as the third receiver. He needs to, according to sources, bulk up a bit, but he should be on the field quite a bit in 2013. The problem for the Titans is Jake Locker. The receiving corps is solid, but the quarterback play is not. Hunter doesn’t really have much value in standard leagues, and he doesn’t threaten Wright and Britt at this point. He may take some receptions away from Delanie Walker or Nate Washington, but the Titans aren’t going to throw the ball 30 or 40 times a game. Washington is buried on the depth chart, and may not even be on the team come Week 1. Draft Britt as your WR2, Wright as a WR3/4 and leave Hunter and Washington alone for now.