September 21, 2011

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Predicting the NFL Week 3 Fantasy Studs

By: Rick Jarrell

Like many media personalities, I’m going to take a stab at predicting which NFL players will have spectacular statistical performances this upcoming weekend. But unlike many media personalities, I’m going to predict the top five players in the league – Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, etc – will have a great week. That’s a cop out. Anyone can do that. The following are my somewhat bold predictions for NFL Week 3 fantasy studs.

Rex Grossman

I’m still surprised the Washington Redskins didn’t decide to go with Jon Beck as their starting quarterback, but I digress. Grossman has shown flashes of the good and bad we saw during his Chicago Bears days. Mike Shanahan may be reeling in the gun slinger, creating a reliable starter, and the suspect Dallas Cowboys’ secondary provides a solid match up. Where Dallas’s secondary lacks, it’s run defense makes up for it, with playmakers on the defensive line, which leads me to believe the Skins will be even more inclined to take it to the air as much as possible. But I caution you, as always, Grossman will throw a pick or two on his way to a 400 yard game.

Rob Gronkowski & Chad Ochocinco

Gronkowski has already been tearing it up this year, with three touchdowns in two games, even while splitting time with fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez (often in two tight end formations). But now that Hernandez will be out the next 2-4 weeks, Gronkowski should benefit even more by being additionally targeted by Tom Brady.

But one man can only do so much. There has to be another benefactor, someone who hasn’t tallied as many receptions as normal on the team. Someone who’s very vocal, but strangely not the last two weeks. That man, of course, is Ochocinco. He’s crowded behind the aforementioned athletic tight ends and very Patriot-minded players Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman. Even with Brady throwing for 500 yards a game, that’s a lot of love to spread around. Expect Ocho to benefit from Hernandez’s absence, possibly more than Gronkowski will.

The Entire San Diego Chargers Team

The Kansas City Chiefs surprised everyone last year by winning the division handily but have stumbled out of the gate this year. They lost their Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in Week 1, and Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2. Both to ACL injuries. Both are out for the year. Couple that with the wide perception the team would take a step back this NFL season, it will likely be a very long year for the team and their fans.

The beneficiary of the Chief’s misfortunes this week will be the division rival Chargers. Moving the opposite direction of the Chiefs, as they are widely perceived to have underperformed last year, stud quarterback Phillip Rivers should have a huge game against the depleted secondary. Who catches the ball the most – Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates – is irrelevant, as it’s probable all three will have very favorable games for their fantasy owners.

Mike Kafka

That’s right, I said it – Mike Kafka. League rules state Michael Vick has to sit out at least one game after his concussion (at least I think those are still the rules). So unless they change the rules specifically for him, Kafka is the man for Philadelphia this Sunday. The former Northwestern quarterback is highly unknown, but I can tell you this – it seems no matter who the Eagles put in at quarterback, they still win. Donovan McNabb, AJ Feely, Kevin Kolb, Vick, and now Kafka, who went 7-9 after Vick’s departure this past weekend.

Don’t expect Kafka to turn into Drew Brees. Not even close. They’ll probably try to establish the run, with LeSean McCoy having a breakout season so far. But the Giants have a strong defensive line. They’re weak in the secondary. So in a situation where you’d think Andy Reid would limit pass attempts to below 20, it may actually eclipse 30.

I hope none of you drafted Peyton Manning and David Garrard and are already hounding the waiver wire. But for the few that exist, Kafka is a decent option. Assuming Grossman is unavailable, that is.

August 23, 2011

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AFC Preview

By: Joe Williams

New England, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. That’s really all you need to know about the AFC. One of those teams has been to 11 of the last 16 Super Bowls and 9 of the last 10. So will one of them be playing in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 or will the run of dominance come to an end or will a team like Baltimore or the Jets break through?

AFC EAST

This appears to be a two horse race. The Patriots are the two-time defending division champions, but the Jets have been to the last two AFC title games. Both teams have added big name players who come with baggage. For New England, it is Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. The Jets have added Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason. The team that gets the most out of these new players will likely finish the season on top in the division. Buffalo and Miami have made some interesting moves as well but are still not in the league of the Jets or Patriots.

Division winner: New England

AFC NORTH

The Steelers and Ravens both won more games last year than the Bengals and Browns combined. That could happen again. Colt McCoy and the Browns seem to be headed in the right direction. Carson Palmer and the Bengals do not. The lockout gives an advantage to teams that have stability at quarterback and coaching positions. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are two of the most stable franchises in the NFL. The Steelers are the defending AFC champs. The Ravens have several veterans looking for one more shot at a ring. They meet in week 1.

Division winner: Baltimore

AFC SOUTH

2011 is an important year in the South. Just once in the last eight seasons has someone other than Indianapolis finished the season at the top of the South. If the Colts are going to stay at the top, it is going to be on the strength of Peyton Manning’s neck. If he is able to go another season without missing a game, the Colts have a great shot to keep their thrown. It’s now or never for Gary Kubiak and the Texans. Every year we think this is the year they take that giant leap forward. Every year they disappoint. But now Wade Phillips is on board to fix the defense. If he can, the Texans will be playing in January. The Titans and Jaguars both appear to be transitioning to their newly drafted quarterbacks of the future.

Division winner: Houston

AFC WEST

Kansas City was the surprise division winner in 2010. That might be enough to get San Diego to play the first month of the season as if the games actually count. The Chargers continually start terribly and finish strong. The Chiefs finally made them pay. Philip Rivers and company will have a battle on their hands for the West crown. Kansas City has plenty of young talent and should be tough for years to come. The Raiders improved to .500 but won’t be much better. The Broncos are still trying to dig out of the hole Josh McDaniels left them in.

Division winner: Kansas City

Wild Card winners: New York Jets, Indianapolis

AFC champion: Baltimore