It's mid July so that can only mean one thing: the Hall of Fame Game and beginning of football is here! Today we have some quick hits on the AFC. Look for the NFC tomorrow and sleepers on Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice will be the best all around back in the league-especially in points per reception leagues. Boldin and Stallworth will provide quality targets for Flacco at WR opening it up even more for Rice.
Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is a solid #2 fantasy QB going into this year. The Bengals tried to add some depth in the receiving core, but I don’t think it’s enough to make Palmer your starter, but definitely a competent bye week QB. Benson put up legit numbers on the field last year, unfortunately he’s putting up the wrong kind of numbers (as in arrests) off the field.
Cleveland Browns: Cleveland is cursed. When you’re kicker is your most consistent player it’s a bad sign- when they’re bringing in Bobby Engram as FA it’s a worse sign. Quarterback of the future(?) Colt McCoy should hold on to his clipboard like it’s his lifeline. Jake Delhomme has been in a funk since his playoff implosion a couple of years ago so not good news for Massaquoi. Jerome Harrison is the only bright light on the Browns.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Losing your starting QB for 4 games hurts. The only good thing about it is that the Steelers go into training camp knowing this and can prepare for it-unlike Brady going down in the first game a couple of years ago. Runningback by committee is the most frustrating evolution for NFL fantasy owners and this could be the Steelers MO. If you have the chance- pick up Mike Wallace. He’ll be the number one target this year. There D will be solid as always.
Houston Texans: Andre Johnson has been arguably the best receiver in the NFL for the last few years. He’s a keeper and first round pick in any league. Jacoby Jones has been my Mr. Preseason for the past few years-if it ever translated into the regular season he’s worth a pick in the late rounds-a sleeper that has yet to wake up. Matt Schaub is frustrating for his inconsistency, but can put up some huge numbers and remains a starting fantasy QB.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton will continue being Peyton. Wayne, Garcon, Gonazlez, Collie and Dallas Clark give him plenty of quality targets. Reggie and Clark are his favorite targets in goal line passing situations. It will be interesting to see how Gonzalez bounces back from surgery, but could be Colts #2WR. Addai is good depth, but not a fantasy starter. Donald Brown will be the better back this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: MJD will see his production drop this year, but he’s still a top 10 back and a starter on any team. Sims-Walker proved to be a quality receiver and #3 fantasy/flex player option this year. He’s not the issue, but the QB is.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson exploded last year-especially with VY as QB. That’s probably because the Titans have a more conservative, run friendly offense with VY under center. On any play Johnson's likely to break it for 30+ yards. It will be interesting to see if teams make the Titans beat them in the air and put 8 in the box daring Young to pass. That being said, Young had a solid season and is worth picking up in the late rounds or off the wire.
Buffalo Bills: No QB, no WRs, a good rookie in RB CJ Spiller to compete with Lynch. With the exception of Spiller, best to stay away from the Bills.
Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall, if he can avoid suspensions is a top WR. Brown/Williams are both solid RBs for the Dolphins, but not necessarily in Fantasyland. They can add some depth, but neither should be a starter. Biggest question for the offense is if Chad Henne is ready for the spotlight.
New England Patriots: They aren’t what they used to be but Brady and Moss are still starters in any league. Welker was missed last year and if he can return to 2008 form after a brutal injury then he’s definitely a starter in a points per reception league. No real RBs that are starters.
New York Jets: I’m still not sold on Sanchez as being a starter, but the Jets have made a lot of moves this offseason to help him. LT is not the LT of old, but he is running behind the best O-line in the league. The real beneficiary of this will be 2nd year stud Shonn Greene. Cotchery, Holmes, and Edwards could make Sanchez look like the best QB in the league. Edwards has worked all offseason on doing something revolutionary for a WR-catching the ball! Cotchery and Holmes are the real deal with Kellar being a good #2 option at TE. Hard to say which receiver will be Sanchez’s go-to guy, but all should put up good numbers and can be # 2/3 fantasy receivers.
Denver Broncos: I am not a Tebow fan. I really wonder what Josh McDaniel’s et.al were thinking by using a first round pick on a fullback. Moreno is the only guy on this team that can be a starter.
Kansas City Chiefs: I like the Chiefs to improve a lot this year. Cassel is not a starter and not even a back up in a 10/12 team fantasy league, but Bowe very well could be this year. He’s a stretch as your 1, but if he’s on the board in round 3 or 4 he’s definitely worth picking up. Look for Jamal Charles to have another productive year. Thomas Jones will provide him a breather he needs and could steal away some goal line carries. Keep your eye on Rookie Dexter McCluster-he’s a player that can pick up a lot of all purpose yards as a WR/RB/KR.
Oakland Raiders: Jason Campbell might get this team out of the basement. Questions still around the O-line and unproven WRs, but Schilens will probably improve the most w/Campbell behind center. A good late round pick up who could be a sleeper. Zach Miller has been a consistent TE fantasy starter. His numbers will only get better this year. Avoid the RBs. McFadden at this point is still more promise than production, but is a safe spot on the bench of your roster.
San Diego Chargers: I love Rivers. Top 5 QB in the league. Sproles and Matthews (rookie) will compete for the starting spot, but its Matthew’s to lose. He’s definitely worth a look and could be a top back this year with the heavy load of the carries. Jackson and Gates are still the top targets. Look for Floyd to get a lot more looks if you need to add a WR deep in the draft in a pass friendly offense.