Whether you are an avid fantasy football fan, a newbie or even a fantasy football writer, this time of year is incredibly hectic. With so much focus on rankings, sleepers and advanced fantasy football advice—just to name a few instances—it is really easy to get caught up in the current.
One of the most difficult aspects of fantasy football to navigate is what and who to believe. But an even bigger undertaking is trying to unearth the points of interest that simply aren’t always mentioned at this point in the year.
Projected NFL situations are just as important as even the most intricate formula that many professionals use in any given year—sometimes moreso.
Today, I thought I would take a very quick look at a few apparent changing scenarios around the league that could indeed have profound fantasy repercussions.
One small caveat I would like to put out here is that these are “expected” changes, and since it is only mid-July, the jury is still out on whether or not these changes will actually happen, and if they do happen, for how long.
So let’s take a very small breather and see what could be on the horizon.
Atlanta Falcons to Pass More?
This is probably one of the biggest mentions I can think of right now for several reasons. Question number one is which WR will have the better fantasy season: Roddy White or Julio Jones.
Question number two has many of us wondering whether or not Michael Turner will give way to Jacquizz Rodgers, and if so, who is the better value.
The Rumor Mill Hypothesis:
The Falcons emphasized run more than pass in regard to value, but passed more than they ran in 2011. What this means is the team as a whole had specific plays dialed up for specific situations. In 2011, Atlanta passed 57.12% of the time and their two main receivers (Julio Jones and Roddy White) combined for 2,255 yards, 16 TDs (8 a piece) and five 100+ yard games (5 a piece).
This year, however, the team not only wants to pass more, but also utilize the pass catchers they do have more than ever. Roddy White has already said that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter plans to use him less in favor of Julio Jones, but also admitted that Koetter plans to use all the players he has at his disposal. This situation suggests that Jones’ fantasy ceiling is rising while White’s ceiling is about to regress—information that fantasy owners must consider when draft time comes rolling around.
Both receivers are currently projecting as third-rounders. Is that a bit high? Perhaps, but if you really want to take a chance on this apparent change it doesn’t matter if the ADP is too high; the only thing that will matter to you is whether or not you get your man.
The RB situation isn’t that much different. Michael Turner isn’t the guy he used to be, but he too is projecting as a third-rounder. RBs coach Gerald Brown gave a small suggestion that Turner won’t be the “workhorse back” has has been for Atlanta in recent years, and it does make sense with the focus on total team contribution taking center stage.
Jacquizz Rodgers figures to see more work in 2011, and if this happens, who will hold more potential draft-pick value: Turner as a third-rounder, or Rodgers as an 11th rounder?
I like Rodgers over turner personally.
With more focus on the pass-attack, an uptick in player distribution and a sort of changing of the guard, fantasy owners would be wise to monitor this situation as camp progresses. You viewpoints on a few players may significantly change before your own draft day.
Are the Giants Set To Regress in 2012?
If you’re a Giants fan this is the last question you wanna see on a computer screen, but we are talking about fantasy football here. When I mention regression, I simply mean the heavy chance of the team changes having a hand in a possible regression.
The Giants lost Mario Manningham to San Fran, and as it currently stands, Domenik Hixon is projected to be the flanking receiver opposite of Hakeem Nicks, with last year’s phenom sensation Victor Cruz again in the slot.
Three things here: Defensive focus, Quarterback understanding and Injuries.
The Rumor Mill Hypothesis:
Eli Manning is an exciting fantasy prospect in 2012. He showed that he took the “next step” in 2011, and knows how to run an offense. The benefit of Manning that fantasy owners need to know, is that he favored the slot quite a bit in 2011 which accounted for Victor Cruz’s breakout season—well that and Cruz’ sick level of talent—but there is little chance that Cruz will turn in another season like he did in 2011.
Cruz is a darling, but expected regressed numbers in 2012.
Both Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw are healing from foot injuries which has a few fantasy owners that I’ve talked to concerned, and rightfully so.
Both are taking things slow in an effort to be ready by Week one, and the consensus is that they should be. But in the case of Bradshaw, the Giants have a brand new toy in rookie David Wilson who is already getting accolades which has a few of those concerned fantasy keeping a vigilant eye on Wilson, NOT Bradshaw.
Assuming the Giants enter the season 100% healthy, however, the defensive focus will be heavily tilted towards Nicks and Cruz—at least in the get-go—which could curb their overall fantasy output for 2012.
Both Bradshaw and Cruz are currently projected as third-rounders with Nicks as a fourth-rounder. In my estimation, only Cruz and Nicks are worth their ADP, and I’d rather take a stab at another RB prospect with better fantasy potential in the early rounds than waste a third or even fourth round pick on Bradshaw.
So you all know, David Wilson is projecting somewhere between the ninth and tenth round.
Hidden Gem Galore In Carolina?
Here’s a quick rundown. Everyone should be aware that Cam Newton is one of the best rising talents at QB in the NFL right now and WR Steve Smith is bound for yet another exciting fantasy season, but is that it?
The Panthers brought in TE Greg Olsen last year who finished with 540 yards on 45 catches and five TDs in 14 games—TE 2 territory for sure. But the Panthers are expected to include him even more in the passing game in 2012—unreal value at his current 14th round ADP projection don’t ya think?
The Panthers ran only 42% of the time in 2011 with an active time-share that didn’t go quite as well as the team, or fantasy fans, would’ve hoped for.
But there’s change on the horizon.
The Rumor Mill Hypothesis:
Cam Newton was just as much of a threat as any other RB in the league last season when the Panthers reached the goaline. Newton, by way of usage, “stole” quite a bit of touches away from Johnathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams mostly due to his athleticism.
Newton finished the 2011 season with 4,051 passing yards, 21 TDs and 17 INTs and had a completion rate of 60%, but he also ran for an unbelievable 706 yards and 14 TDs on 126 carries.the Panthers want to focus more on his obvious skills as a true pocket-passer than him being the next Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham with his legs. This approach will not only bode well for owners of Steve Smith and Greg Olsen, but it also opens the door for a possible upswing from the RB department.
In 2011 it was Jonathan Stewart, not DeAngelo Williams, who played on more offensive snaps. Stewart played on 55.2% compared to Williams who played on 42.7%.
Stewart is becoming a candidate for sleeper status.
Stewart is in a contract year this season, but he is the better back when compared to Williams, and I believe the Panthers will give Stewart far more work in 2012 than he had a year ago.
Stewart averaged 5.35 yards per carry, added 413 passing yards (8.78 ypc) on top of his 716 rushing yards but his low TD total (5) really kept fantasy owners away from him. The thing is, though, this guy did all of this while only touching the ball 11.8 times a game, suggesting he is certainly Top 10 material, and let’s not forget this is the same guy who had back -to-back 10 rushing TD seasons his first two years as a pro.
Again, the point to all of this this is to know what developing scenarios from around the league will have the biggest potential fantasy impact, and in this particular scenario, keeping your finger on the pulse of the Panthers’ camp development is paramount.
As for the other scenarios, the same rule applies: The reported changes have the potential to add value to certain players if things play out as expected. Those scenarios not only need to be monitored, but also factored into your own rankings come time draft day.
Hope this helps a few of you out, and if you have a team-specific question regarding other scenarios, ask away.
Be sure to check out other great articles at Fantasy Knuckleheads.