Here is a look at some top recent news items from around the NFL and how they impact Fantasy owners.
Item: DallasCowboys.com reported Dwayne Harris is ahead of rookie Terrance Williams to be the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver this season.
Fantasy Angle: The Cowboys inexplicably played Kevin Ogletree over Harris until late last season when it was obvious Ogletree had no business being on the field. Once he got a chance to play, Harris showed some promise, catching 17 balls for 222 yards and a score over Dallas’ final seven games. The smart money is on Harris winning the No. 3 receiver job and with Miles Austin’s injuries starting to pile up, the third-year wideout makes an intriguing deep sleeper candidate on a Dallas offense that loves to throw the football.
Item: The Miami Herald reported the Dolphins are confident RB Lamar Miller is ready to have a breakout season.
Fantasy Angle: The Dolphins are putting a lot of faith in Miller, despite the fact that he only ran the ball 51 times for 250 yards as a rookie. But with Reggie Bush in Detroit, there is not much standing in Miller’s way. Daniel Thomas has been a major disappointment since being selected with the 30th overall pick three years ago. It is clear that this is Miller’s job to lose. If he plays well early in the year Thomas will be nothing more than a complementary back and occasional annoying goal-line vulture. Right now Miller is a high upside RB2 with an Average Draft Position of Round 4. He should be going a round earlier giving the amount of carries Miller is likely to see this season.
Item: Texans RB Arian Foster has a strained calf and will not participate in team activities until training camp.
Fantasy Angle: Foster is starting to rack up some minor injuries but this is nothing to be overly concerned about assuming he is ready for training camp. OTAs and mini-camps are more important for rookies and players trying to earn their way up the depth chart. Unless Foster’s calf problem lingers into the preseason, he is still entrenched as a Top 5 Fantasy pick this summer.
Item: Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone told the Buffalo News he plans on using RB C.J. Spiller in all situations this season. “My philosophy has always been if someone starts off and they’re running well, keep feeding them the ball,” Marrone said.
Fantasy Angle: Marrone also noted Spiller would get the ball in goal-line and short-yardage situations, which is great news for Fantasy owners. Spiller will finally get an opportunity to emerge as a Fantasy stud even with Fred Jackson still on the team. Unlike previous seasons, Jackson comes into 2013 as the clear-cut backup to Spiller. This will not be a timeshare situation as long as Spiller can stay healthy. Currently in early drafts Spiller is getting selected on average at the end of Round 1. That is borderline robbery. I would take Spiller in the Top 5 with extreme confidence.
Item: Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano predicts second-year TE Coby Fleener’s reception total will double this season.
Fantasy Angle: Last season Fleener was asked to block a lot, but that is expected to change this year under his former college offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. With Hamilton directing the offense at Stanford, Fleener was used more like a wide receiver, catching 62 passes for 1,107 yards and 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons. Fleener enters 2013 as a TE2 but he is a candidate to see a big increase in production. Fleener was over-drafted as a rookie but he will be under-drafted this year. He makes for a great value pick as your TE2 later in the draft.
Item: ESPN New York reported third-year WR Rueben Randle has shown major improvement and is the leading candidate to be the Giants No. 3 receiver this season.
Fantasy Angle: With both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz missing OTAs because of contract disputes, Randle has been running with the first-team offense and making the most of his opportunities. Randle was raw coming out of LSU, where they would rather punt on third down than throw a forward pass, so it took him some time to improve his route-running and technique. Right now Randle sits behind one of the most talented tandems in the NFL but Nicks has been bothered by injuries over the last couple of seasons. If Cruz or Nicks goes down this year, Randle has the talent to put up strong Fantasy numbers playing in the Giants’ offense. Keep him on your Fantasy radar.
Item: The Cincinnati Enquirer reported rookie TE Tyler Eifert has stood out and made a big impression in Bengals’ OTAs.
Fantasy Angle: Eifert has been lining up all over the place, so it is good news for his immediate Fantasy value. Cincinnati is expected to run a lot of two-tight end sets this season with Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, but expect the Bengals to also use Eifert in the slot so they can get the versatile rookie on the field more. Because of the presence of Gresham, Eifert is looking more like a TE2 in 2013 but he has a high ceiling in dynasty leagues.
Item: ESPN’s Ed Werder stated David Wilson will be the Giants’ main ball carrier this season, with Andre Brown playing a complementary role. ESPN New York reported Brown will be the Giants’ goal-line back this season.
Fantasy Angle: Both reports seem to be saying the same thing; that Wilson will be the Giants’ primary ball carrier and Brown being used in specialty situations. The problem for Fantasy owners is one of those specialty situations is carrying the ball into the end zone. Tom Coughlin has won two Super Bowls but he badly misused Wilson last year, especially after the rookie’s 100-yard performance against the Saints in Week 14. In the Giants next three games, Wilson saw just 30 carries, with half of those coming in Week 17 when New York was out of playoff contention. Coughlin will not make the same mistake again this season. Wilson has the ability to be a special player and he will get the majority of carries. However, Brown is a strong runner between the tackles and he was very successful in short-yardage situations last year, scoring eight touchdowns. This is shaping up as one of those backfields where one guy (Wilson) dominates the carries and yards, while the other (Brown) comes in and steals the short scoring opportunities, so be prepared. Wilson does have the speed though to still rack up scores that are not from close range, so he is worth a third or fourth round pick as a high-end RB2.
Item: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported the Vikings want to bring rookie WR Cordarrelle Patterson along slowly behind veterans Greg Jennings and Jerome Simpson.
Fantasy Angle: It is not surprising that the Vikings want to ease Patterson into the offense. Despite having immense talent, Patterson only played one season of Division I FBS ball at Tennessee, so he is still developing. Patterson will make noise as a return man and big-play receiver as a rookie but look for his biggest Fantasy impact to come one or two seasons down the line. Patterson will likely get over-drafted in a majority of Fantasy leagues in 2013 based on potential but people will be disappointed in his weekly production.
Item: The Nashville Tennessean reported WR Kenny Britt is running pass patterns with no problems after having two knee surgeries last year.
Fantasy Angle: Britt is in a contract year and is said to be in excellent condition this offseason. Britt always teases fantasy owners with his upside but injuries, off-field problems and playing in an inconsistent offense have been his downfall so far. He may clear two of those hurdles this year but playing in an inconsistent offense could still prevent Britt from becoming a legitimate No. 1 receiver even if he stays healthy and out of trouble. The Titans are hoping third-year quarterback Jake Locker takes a big step forward in 2013. There are just too many question marks to expect strong Fantasy production from Britt on a weekly basis. Until he proves otherwise, Britt is a talented preseason tease and WR3.