Fantasy flops and flashes

August 24, 2009

As you stumble into your fantasy draft for the upcoming season, here’s a few random thoughts on the players to get – and the players to avoid – from Florida’s three NFL franchises.

FLASHES:

1. Maurice Jones-Drew: Despite my overall concern that he’s not going to provide enough offense to help the Jacksonville Jaguars make it back to the promised land, you would be a fool to not take him for your fantasy team. As long as he’s the main offensive weapon, he will remain a great fantasy running back. He will still lose some touchdowns to fullback Greg Jones but that is more than offset by the fact that he is great catching the ball out of the backfield.

2. Derrick Ward: This was probably the best off-season acquisition for the 3 Florida teams. Ward showed against the Jaguars last weekend why he could have a monster season. Yes, the Bucs have other tailbacks on their roster but Ward was a 1,000 yard rusher last year for the N.Y. Giants who could put up those numbers again if he’s given the chance.

3. Ronnie Brown: There are those nay-sayers who think that relying on Brown is a risk. But with the Dolphins still keeping the Wildcat in their playbook it’s easy to see that Brown will be the man in Miami. Don’t be surprised if he passes the 1,000 yard mark this season.

 4. Chad Pennington: Make him your No. 1 quarterback? Uh no. But Pennington would be a great guy to have if the injury gods target your main quarterback. Pennington had over 3,600 yards passing and 19 touchdowns last year and there’s nothing to think he can’t match those numbers or do a little better.

5. Ted Ginn Jr: This is essentially a make-or-break year for Ginn. He is the main target for Dolphins QB Chad Pennington  and he needs to emerge as the go-to guy or Ginn will be labeled a draft bust. That said Davonne Bess has shown flashes of potential and has the skills to become a leading receiver on the team.

FLOPS

1. Antonio Bryant: Let me count the ways: He’s coming off surgery, he’s only had one season where he had more than 70 catches, and oh yeah, see flop No. 4, which is there will be  no one decent getting him the ball.

2. Torry Holt: Don’t be the sucker who thinks that all the Jaguars have been waiting for is a great receiver. Holt was a great receiver when he played for the St. Louis Rams. But at the end of the day the Jags will rely on Mojo and not a 33-year-old receiver to get the job done.

3. Cadillac Williams: The off-season signing of Ward just confirmed the news that Cadillac’s days as a dominating back are likely behind him. Right now he’s way down on the depth chart and there doesn’t appear to be much of a chance that will change.

4. Whoever winds up starting as the Buccaneers quarterback. There’s a reason that head coach Raheem Morris can’t make up his mind during training camp on who should be quarterback. That’s because either option is mediocre at best.

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5 burning questions for the upcoming season

August 1, 2009

Ah training camp.

That wondrous moment has arrived when we know that another great NFL season is about to rise. And it’s a time when you are supposed to be filled with great optimism for your favorite team. After all parity is king in the NFL and any time can suddenly find itself in the Super Bowl, like say Arizona.

Unfortunately I remain a bit skeptical about this season’s prospects for Florida’s trio of NFL teams. The Bucs and Jags, and to a lesser extent the Fins, have some issues to work out in the next few weeks that could determine their fortunes in the upcoming season.

So here’s the 5 burning questions for the upcoming season.

1. Can anyone play quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? The Bucs quarterback situation is a mess. Any fan should think the prospect of Byron Leftwich battling Luke McCown for the starting job is depressing. Some Bucs apologists may like to think this is a short-term solution until rookie Josh Freeman is ready, but team officials have already tried to dial down expectations by suggesting Freeman will spend the season on the sidelines. At this point in time, I think it may be better to bring in Jeff George from retirement. Yeah, that’s how bad I think it is. Unless someone emerges as a bonafide starting quarterback, the Bucs will be lucky if they win six games.

2. Is Maurice Jones-Drew the answer? Hate to sound like a broken record on this score, but I remain utterly unconvinced that Mojo will be able to handle the load of a full-time running back in Jacksonville. He can be explosive and he catches the ball out of the backfield, but I’m just not sure he can run the ball 20-25 times a game and still be effective. If I’m wrong, the Jags fortunes this season look up. But if I’m right that puts a lot more pressure on David Garrard to revert back to his winning form of two seasons ago.

3. Another year of magic for the Dolphins? Last year was an amazing turnaround for Miami. To go from 1-15 to 11-5 is simply astounding. And there are a lot of reasons why it happened. But this year the schedule is much harder, New England is expected to get Tom Brady back from injury, and the Wildcat offense may not be the big surprise it was a year ago. The Bills brought in Terrell Owens, the Jets brought in a new coach and a new rookie quarterback, you get the idea. The AFC East could easily be one of the most competitive divisions in the league.

4. Will Jack Del Rio keep his job? This is easily a make or break year for Del Rio. There’s no doubt that his offensive line was devastated last year and it contributed mightily to the team woes. But Del Rio also showed signs of losing control of his team. It’s hard to believe this team almost made it to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. This year Del Rio has to rebuild his defense and hope that additions like Torry Holt will breathe life into a lackluster offense. If it doesn’t happen, Del Rio will likely be history.

 5. Will Ted Ginn Jr. ever live up to the hype? The great thing last year about Chad Pennington is that he didn’t rely on just one receiver to get the job done. And with expectations that incoming West Virginia quarterback Pat White could help run the Wildcat offense, there may be even less pressure on the Fins squad of wide receivers. But let’s not forget that Ginn was a first-round draft pick back in 2007. The Fins passed on Brady Quinn despite their need for a quarterback. But even if Quinn hasn’t lived up to the hype, neither has Ginn. He had a solid season last year but I’m not sure 56 catches and 2 touchdowns is worth a No. 9 pick. Fellow Ohio State receiver Anthony Gonzalez was drafted at No. 32 by the Colts and last year caught 57 catches and had 4 touchdowns.