NFL 32 Team Preview: Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons are the next team scheduled to talk about on our NFL 32 Team Preview. The Dirty Birds went 13-3 last season, in a tie with Denver for the best record in the NFL. Some questioned the hiring of Mike Smith in 2008, but he’s gone 57-28 with the team including 1 Playoff win. Atlanta is one of the heavy favorites to go to the Super Bowl in New York. They need to take advantage of their window and win the Falcons its first Title in franchise history. Mike Smith, being the Defensive minded coach that he is, needs to lead the Defense to a better ranking than 24th overall in 2013.

Offense: Atlanta placed 8th in Total Offense last season, ranking 6th in passing and 29th in the run. The key piece to the Birds’ Offense is Quarterback Matt Ryan. With 16 fourth quarter comebacks and 23 game winning drives in his career, Ryan might arguably be one of the most clutch quarterbacks the NFL has to offer. Matt had a career year passing last season with 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and a 68.6% completion percentage (tied for 1st with Peyton Manning). His two main targets, Julio Jones and Roddy White, are considered the best receiving tandem in the league. They both totaled 35 plays for 20 yards or more for the franchise last season. White has more than 80 catches and over 1,150 yards each season since 2007, with a total of 49 touchdowns. Roddy is a four-time Pro Bowler, who was already one of the best in the game when the organization chose Julio Jones with the 6th overall pick in 2011. He has had over 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns during his 2-year career. Harry Douglas, Drew Davis and Tim Toone will be responsible for filling in during the advanced receiver sets. They’ll have plenty of chances to make plays with Defensive Backs focusing on the other main threats on field. Notably, Martel Moore was signed as an un-drafted free agent who played big for Northern Illinois in his college career. He has a great opportunity to see playing time with a solid performance during Training Camp. Another main threat that members of the Secondary have to account for is Tight End Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez returned this season, for a 17th year only, only due to the fact that he believes they’ll be contenders for the Super Bowl. Gonzalez had his best showing as a Falcon with 93 catches, 930 yards and 8 touchdowns. If White/Jones/Gonzalez can put up combined numbers of 3,509 yards and 25 touchdowns again this coming season, Atlanta shouldn’t have much problem being the force they’re expected to be through the air. On the ground the Birds’ needed improvement badly, so they made it a point to go after Steven Jackson during Free Agency. For the eighth season, Jackson went over 1,000 yards in 2012, scoring 4 times. Jackson is going to bring an element that will make the Falcons scary on Offense if he can stay healthy. He’s only started 16 games 3 times in his 9-year career.  Jackson, if healthy throughout the 2013/2014 season, will be one of the more talked about x-factors on Atlanta. Backing him up will be Jacquizz Rodgers, who is a speedy passing catcher out of the backfield. Blocking upfront for the runners and signal-callers is Sam Baker, Peter Konz, Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, and Mike Johnson. Baker (Left Tackle) and Johnson (Right Tackle) are going be personally responsible for keeping Ryan on his feet. Opening holes for the running game will be Blalock and Reynolds at Guard, with Konz at Center. Konz started 10 games for the team in his rookie year of 2012. Blalock was solid for the team last season while Reynolds’ season was shortened by a back injury. Atlanta has everything they need on Offense to be number 1 ranked by the end of the 2013 campaign. Defensive Coordinators are going to have trouble defending the run in receiver sets of 3 or greater if Steven Jackson is playing as he’s expected too.

Defense: Atlanta’s defense played better than it’s 20th rank against the rush and 23rd versus the pass. They were one of the top teams in turnovers with plenty of interceptions in the Secondary. The franchise has a great pair of Safetys in Thomas DeCoud and William Moore. With 156 tackles between them, DeCoud picked off 6 passes while Moore had 4. They both were selected to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and have a good probability of returning after 2013. Cornerback begins with Asante Samuel who, tied for 34th All-Time with 50 interceptions, took away 5 passes (one for the only Defensive score of the season) in his first year as a Falcon last season. He also led the team in pass deflections with 19. Desmond Trufant (22nd) and Robert Alford (60th) were selected early in the 2o13 Draft. Trufant should start right away; Alford should see significant playing time throughout the season. Trufant intercepted 6 passes over his 4-year career at Washington, while Alford intercepted 9 over the past two seasons playing at the smaller school of Southeastern Louisiana. Another Cornerback, Robert McCain, was claimed off waivers in 2011 and he deflected 10 passes last season. The Defensive Line got a pass rushing threat when they signed Osi Umenyiora off the Free Agent market. Having 75 sacks in his career, Umenyiora will be a pleasant addition to the line. Kroy Biermann, who registered 4 sacks in 2012, and Umenyiora should be moved around between End in a 4/3 and OLB in a 3/4 depending on the look that the Defense is giving. Jonathan Babineaux led the team in tackles for loss and will be at End and Tackle depending on the scheme being played. He has trouble playing the run so, with it being a contract year for him, he’s going to need to bring his best effort in this next season. Peria Jerry and Corey Peters are players who should see playing time as well along the line. At Linebacker, Stephen Nicholas was Atlanta’s main tackler in last year with 97 total tackles, 2 sacks, an interception and forced fumble. Almost mirroring those numbers was Sean Witherspoon with 95 total tackles, 3 sacks, an interception and forced fumble. Atlanta will need both of these players to be on top of their game throughout the entire season to help stop the running game. Linebacker Akeem Dent started 13 games for the franchise last season. He’ll be looked upon to be a full time starter for the first time in his career this coming year. The whole key for this Defense is to be able to bend but not break. They have plenty of ball-hawks in the Secondary to have turnovers in 2013, and will need their pass rushers to put pressure on Quarterbacks to create opportunities. If the Falcons can hold teams to under 20 points a game, they’ll win a lot of games.

End Result: It seems a little low, but when ranking how Atlanta would finish, I came to the conclusion of 10-6. I think their division will be a very difficult one to play in next season, as 3 out of the 4 teams have a legitimate chance to make the Playoffs.

NFL 32 Team Preview: Houston Texans

The next team up on our NFL 32 Team Preview segment is the Houston Texans. They’ve played only 4 Playoff games in their 11-year existence, all 4 in the last two seasons. Houston won the 2011 and ’12 Wild Card rounds of Playoffs but lost in both Divisional rounds to the eventual AFC Champion. They’re one of the favorites to be a Super Bowl contender this season under Head Coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak holds a record of 61-55 since being hired by the franchise in 2006. Some feel that if he doesn’t get the team to take a step forward in one of the next few seasons, it could cost him his job.

Offense: One of the more high-caliber Offenses in the league, Houston ranked 7th last season (8th in rushing and 11th in passing). Matt Schaub is the one who will be responsible for calling the plays in the huddle. Schaub consistently puts up over 4,000 yards passing when he plays full seasons and often throws in the mid 60’s percentage wise in his completions. Schaub is steadily one of the better Quarterbacks in the NFL year after year but fans have concerns about him being the one who will lead them to the Promised Land. This upcoming campaign is going to be huge for Schaub in proving “he is who we think he is”, to steal a line from Dennis Green. Matt isn’t the only face of Houston’s franchise, as Arian Foster is arguably one of the best Running Backs in the game. Foster has played 4 seasons with the Texans, running for 4,521 yards and 44 touchdowns over that span. His running style isn’t his only forte, as he’s very reliable in the passing game. He’s come a long way since coming to the team un-drafted, which is what Ray Graham will be trying to do in 2013. Graham was a playmaker at the University of Pittsburgh that fought back from a torn ACL in 2011, and ran for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He’s a wild card but has all the abilities a Running Back needs to shine in the league. Ben Tate was thought to be a force backing up Foster when drafted in 2010. He’s fought injuries throughout his career and will be nice compliment, if healthy, to Arian during the season. Opening up the holes for these runners will be an Offensive Line led by Chris Myers and Duane Brown. They’re 2 of the best at their positions and both should see returns to Hawaii after the end of the season for the Pro Bowl. Myers holds down the job as Center, as Brown handles the duties at Left Tackle. There are concerns over the consistency at the Right Tackle. The job should go to Derek Newton who started 14 games for the team in 2012. If he can’t play at a high level, the team took Brennan Williams in the 3rd round of the Draft. Williams could win the starting job during camp if he provides impeccable play throughout August. Wade Smith is a Pro Bowler as well who starts at Left Guard. He and Brandon Brooks should get the nods as starters. The Wide Receiving crew for the Houston Texans is full of explosive talent. Andre Johnson has been one of the top players at his position in the NFL for quite some time now. Johnson had 23 plays for 20 yards or more last year and was responsible for 79 first downs. He has totaled 818 catches, 11,254 yards, and 56 touchdowns in his career. He’s been the go-to-guy for Schaub for years now and should be a top producer at his position again. To try and have another major threat, the Texans drafted DeAndre Hopkins 27th overall. Hopkins scored 18 touchdowns for Clemson last year and was a consistent asset for the team during his time there. If he can make some big plays during his rookie year, it’ll take a lot of attention off Andre Johnson and make the Houston’s passing game a lot more dangerous. They’ll need their other wideouts (Lestar Jean, DeVier Posey, and Keshawn Martin) to take advantage of the opportunities they are given and make a name for themselves. The starting Tight End position has belonged to Owen Daniels since 2006. He had one of his better years receiving last season, while bringing in a team and career-high 6 touchdown passes. He’ll be backed up by Garrett Graham who started 9 games for the Texans last year while hauling in 3 scores. Houston has everything they need to be one of the top Offenses in the league next season. If they’re healthy, Schaub should lead the team to a record similar to their 2012 performance.

Defense: Ranking 7th in Total Defense, the franchise was 7th versus the run and 16th against the pass in 2012. J.J. Watt was a big reason for it’s success and is arguably the best Defensive Linemen in the NFL. Playing at End and Tackle, Watt tied for the team high is pass deflections with 16, led in tackles for loss with 23, led in forced fumbles with 4, and led the team in sacks with 20.5. He’s one of the most effective and disruptive players the game has to offer. Antonio Smith will play at the other Defensive End position and he racked up a career-high 7 sacks last year. Earl Mitchell is the team’s anchor at Nose Tackle. He started 3 games last year and will be looking to put up good numbers in his first season as a full time starter completed. The Linebackers for the organization begin with Middle Linebacker Brian Cushing who is coming off a torn ACL. Cushing is the heart of this corps and will need to stay healthy while having his typical 100+ total tackle season with 4 sacks or more. Starting 11 games for the team over the last 3 years, Darryl Sharpton should be the other starting Middle Linebacker for the Texans. Starting at Outside Linebacker will be Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus. Reed had will be looking to rebound after a poor 2012, as Mercilus will be trying to build off a strong rookie campaign where, only starting 4 games, he brought the Quarterback down 6 times. The team drafted Sam Montgomery in the 3rd round to play at OLB. I personally think that after he builds up his strength, he’d be a perfect fit as a Defensive End. Notably, Trevardo Williams was taken in the 4th round and led his conference in sacks during his senior season with 11.5. The Defensive Backfield for the Texans got a lot better with the signing of Ed Reed during the Offseason. Reed, 10th All-Time in interceptions, is looking to help take the organization to the Super Bowl for the first time. Coming off winning one in 2012 with the Ravens, Ed will bring supreme playmaking ability and knowledge to a Defense that ranked 14th in interceptions last season. There is some concern that Reed might not be ready for the beginning of the coming year. If that were true, D.J. Swearinger could be seeing time ASAP. A 2nd round pick in 2013, some felt Swearinger was a steal in the Draft. He’s battled injuries in college, but brings a hard-hitting presence that will be needed when called upon. In 2012, Danieal Manning, who will be moving to Strong Safety, picked off 2 passes in his 7th year. It’ll be interesting to see if Swearinger’s play will be good enough to demand time over Manning when Reed is on the field. Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph make up the starting Cornerback tandem in Houston. Jackson led the team in passes taken away with 4, setting a career high, in his 3rd year as a pro. Joseph is going into his 3rd year with the team and looking to rebound from an injury filled 2012. Throughout his 8 years in the league, he’s only started 16 games twice. Brice McCain, responsible for the Slot Receivers, has played decent in his 4 years with the team. McCain is someone the team is looking to have one of his strongest seasons yet. The Houston Texans will have their moments on Defense in 2013, but in the end should hold up pretty well. One thing they should see a lot more of is turnovers, with the presence of a ball hawk at Safety, to go along with a nice group of pass rushers.

End Result: I have the Texans at 10-6. My prediction involves the team having some struggles in the beginning of the year but finishing the season as one of the hotter teams.

NFL 32 Team Preview: Washington Redskins

We’ll be hashing over the Washington Redskins in today’s 32 NFL Team preview. The burgundy and gold have come a long way. Winning the NFC East last year, the Redskins hosted their first home Playoff game since 1999. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen seem to have done just what they promised. They’ve got the Skins’ back on top, but now have to keep them there. Shanahan needs to have a winning season in 2013 to turn his 21-27 overall record with the team into a positive one. Washington’s goal will be holding more home Playoff games this upcoming season.

Offense: An Offense that struggled in 2011 was reborn with the addition of a Quarterback in the 2012 Draft. Robert Griffin III led the Skins’ with 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards, 20 passing/7 rushing touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He only lost 2 but he needs to shore up putting on the ball on the ground as he fumbled 12 times in his rookie year. Griffin possesses arm strength and accuracy that’s rarely seen in a player at his position who’s considered a running threat. If RGIII has another season where he carries the team on his back with big numbers, he’s going to be considered one of the best in the game. Notably, Washington has Kirk Cousins at back up. If Robert Griffin isn’t available to play the first few weeks due to his knee injury, Kirk will fill in fine as he proved last year. The team has a solid pair of Tight Ends in Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen. Davis, coming off an Achilles injury, really seemed like he was beginning to build a rapport with RGIII until the injury. Paulsen stepped in and was a key 3rd down guy that caught a majority of his targets. Jordan Reed was taken in the 3rd round of the Draft and, though a project player, a lot of fans have faith that he’s going to be a force in the passing game. The Skins’ have a lot of talent on their hands at his position. Pierre Garçon missed time and was never 100% healthy in 2012, but still managed to lead the team in receiving (44 catches, 663 yards, and 4 touchdowns). He and Santana Moss are the key complement players in the passing game. Both tied for most plays over 20 yards receiving (10) and first downs (26). Moss ended last season with 8 touchdowns. Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson will pretty much round out the rest of the positions. Morgan is a reliable Receiver who does great in run blocking. Robinson snuck past Defensive Backs a few times for big plays last season, and will be looking to have more of those in this coming year. Leonard Hankerson was big for Washington in the middle on slants and posts. Making sure Robert Griffin has time to throw is the responsibility of the Offensive Line. Left Tackle Trent Williams is quietly one of the better players at his position in the league. He’s only allowed 8.5 sacks the past 2 seasons, playing against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, many who reside in the NFC East. Tyler Polumbus will be the team’s starter at Right Tackle. Will Montgomery, Center, played solid for someone who many fans had concerns about handling the position going into last year. Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger will be the franchises Guards. Josh LeRibeus played solid when called upon at the end of the season. So if Chester or Lichtensteiger have an issue, he should have no problem taking over. Alfred Morris is the Running Back they’ll be opening lanes for. Morris ran for 1,613 yards in his rookie campaign, along with scoring 13 touchdowns. Nobody expected him to have numbers this big, being a 6th round pick, so I’m curious to see how 2013 is going to go for him. Notably, Roy Helu and Chris Thompson will be fighting to back Alfred up. Helu was a nice pick up for the Redskins in 2011, setting the team record for catches in a game, but missed almost all of 2012 due to injury. Thompson was always a home run threat at Florida State and was chosen in the 4th round of the draft. He’s a long shot, coming off season-ending back and ACL injuries in 2011 and ’12, but could prove to be an explosive player. The Redskins offense, 5th overall in 2012 (1st in rushing, 20th in passing), all falls on to the shoulders of its Quarterback. They’re a solid group, but he takes them to another level and will need to be healthy throughout 2013 for success.

Defense: Defensively the Skins’ ranked 28th in the league last year (5th versus the run and 30th against the pass). The leader of the Defense is 16-year vet, Middle Linebacker, London Fletcher. Fletcher led the Redskins in tackling (139 total) and interceptions (5) last year, also registering 3 sacks. London’s presence alone brings certain inspiration to Washington, who will be starting beside Perry Riley. Perry had good stats for his first full year as a starter with 3.5 sacks and 129 total tackles. Brian Orakpo forms a solid pairing with Ryan Kerrigan at Outside Linebacker. Orakpo put up 28.5 sacks over 3 years before being injured in the second game of 2012 and missing the rest of the year. Kerrigan has totaled 16 sacks for the Redskins since being drafted in 2011. They should have the most significant amount of pressure on Quarterback’s than anyone else on the team. Rob Jackson is a notable here as he was a force while replacing Orakpo during his injury. He led the team in tackles for loss with 5 and had 4 interceptions with 4.5 sacks. The Skins’ Defensive Line is responsible for their stellar play against the run last season. Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker should be the team’s starting D-End’s. In 2012, Carriker suffered a season-ending knee injury and missed a majority of the season. He still might not be ready to play when the season starts and, if so, Jarvis Jenkins would take his spot. Bowen has made the most of his opportunities to be a starter in Washington since being signed in 2011. Another player they signed that same year Barry Cofield, one of the better Nose Tackles in the game, is good at putting stress on pass throwers. Second-String is Chris Baker who comes in at times to spell Cofield, mainly during rushing situations. The Secondary of the Redskins needed a lot of help during the Offseason. The team did just that, making a lot of moves on limited funds. Phillip Thomas was drafted along with Bacarri Rambo to compete for a starting Safety position. Thomas led the NCAA in interceptions with 8 in 2012 and is the favorite to win the position. Rambo has a playmaker for Georgia that will be a nice player to have if Brandon Meriweather cannot make it through the season. Meriweather missed all but one half of football in 2012. In that game, his strong performance had fans envisioning what he would have looked like with the team all season if healthy. The depth at Cornerback got younger and deeper when the team selected David Amerson 51st overall. Amerson led the NCAA in interceptions with 13 in 2011, but had some coverage problems at NC State in 2012. He should be a perfect fit with Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall. Hall tied for the lead on the Redskins in tackles for loss (5), led in pass deflections (14), intercepted 4 passes and had a sack in 2012. Wilson forced 3 fumbles while picking off 2 passes last year. The remaining members of the Cornerback group are E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield, and Richard Crawford. Biggers was signed to the team during Free Agency from Tampa. Minnifield came to the team as an injured rookie last season and is trying to see playing time in 2013. Crawford made a big difference in the return game and seemed to feel more comfortable as the season ended. He’ll be the player that I’ll have my eye on early. The Defense for the Redskins is going to get a big boost with Orakpo and Carriker coming back. Their Secondary is young and will have some growing pains, but the team should be noticeably better against the pass. Quarterback stress by the D-Line will be the key to how effective they’ll be in 2013.

End Result: This season is only going to go as well as Robert Griffin does. If he and key members on the team stay healthy, I predict the Redskins will be 12-4 . Now Washington, being last alphabetically, was finished before I had the chance to tag them with the 11-5 record I had in mind. Either way, I had them taking a step forward after 2012.

5 Players I am Targeting on Draft Day

The NFL season is inching closer and closer, meaning Fantasy Football is gearing up in full swing. Today I go over the 5 players that I am targeting throughout my Drafts.

Marques Colston – Current ADP 49th overall – 18th ranked WR (13th in my rankings)

You have Bowe, Nicks, Amendola and Welker all being drafted ahead of Colston. Heck even Randall Cobb, who we haven’t seen play a full 16 game season yet, is being drafted ahead of him. There are some serious questions surrounding every one of the guys being drafted ahead of him.

What you get with Colston: 4 straight season with 80 receptions and 1000 yards, 100+ targets, 1000+ yards and 7 or more TDs in 6 out of the last 7 seasons.

Colston is consistent and the fact these guys are being drafted ahead of him is ridiculous. With a questionable receiving group and Drew Brees throwing the football, he’ll do great next season. He is currently being drafted in Round 4-5. If you run into a situation where you’re considering taking one of these players, I’d go with Colston.

Chris Johnson – Current ADP 21st overall – 14th ranked RB (15th in my rankings)

His ADP and rankings are just fine with me. The Titans beefed up the O-line this offseason and, with some new coaching regime in town, I think CJ is poised for a breakout. There are talks of getting him more involved in the passing game this year and that could be great for his Fantasy value. He had 29 carries last year of 10 or more yards, which was most in the NFL. I expect him to have a much better season this year than he did last.

Reggie Bush – Current ADP 43rd overall – 21st ranked RB (12th in my rankings)

I favor him more in PPR than I do standard. Bush has the potential to have a Darren Sproles like season in Detroit. I think he will be a 3 down back for this team and that alone makes him an easy RB1 this year. He may not get as many TDs, because I think LeShoure is going to be the goal line back, but I could easily see him catching 50-60 balls this year with 900+ yards on the ground. That alone would make him a top 10 back in PPR league this year and in the top 20 for standard leagues.

Jordy Nelson – Current ADP 44th overall – 15th ranked WR (11th in my rankings)

I am really big on Nelson this season. With Jennings playing for the Vikings now, he has a good shot of stepping up and being the Packers #1 WR. I think he has a better value than people are giving him credit for. I don’t like that Cobb ranks ahead of him at all. I see Nelson with 1200 yards and 10+ TDs for the 2013 season making him a solid WR1 in 2013.

Late Round QBs

I, for one, am not big on drafting QBs. Last year, in one of my bigger leagues (16 team) I played in, I took my QBs (Alex Smith/Russell Wilson) in 2 out of the last 3 rounds. I drafted LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Julio Jones, Frank Gore and Stevan Ridley in the 1st 5 rounds. I then took a late flier in the draft on CJ Spiller. So I was pretty loaded at RB, as well as looking good at my WR position. Another player who decided to go QB (Brees) in the 1st round was in need of a RB in week 3. I spun Jamaal Charles (after his big 200+ yard game) for Brees. With my depth at RB, I was able to make this trade and not worry about the lack of depth. This move, along with positioning myself well in FA, allowed me to go on and win my 2nd title in 3 years in that league.

So I don’t think you have to snag a QB in order to win a championship. It can help but you miss out on sure-fire RBs and are left to settle with a RB with “potential” upside. This year there is a lot of pairings that I think will work well for you. Any of the following guys are being drafted in the 9th round and beyond.

Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Josh Freeman & Alex Smith.

If you could pair any of these two guys up on your team and start them when a matchup favors them. You could be looking at a solid roster. This would mean you are snagging some of the better guys near the top of the draft instead of worrying about getting one of the top-tier QBs.

So remember come draft day and any of these guys are available at the right moment make sure to snag them.

 

NFL 32 Team Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers is next up to discuss on our 32 NFL Team breakdown. The Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, has been with the team 8 years now. He holds an impressive 68-36 record, taking the team to 2 Super Bowls but only winning one. He finished with the worst record of his career in 2012 (8-8) and will be looking to rebound, with a trip to the Playoffs.

Offense: Ben Roethlisberger is the face of the franchise in Pittsburgh. He almost holds every major passing record in Steelers history and, with 22 more touchdowns in 2013, he’ll be the franchise leader in that department as well. Having multiple injuries slow him up last season, Big Ben still managed to throw for 3,265 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. Pittsburgh, in the emergency that Ben happens to miss time due to injury (missed 3 in 2012), got a lot younger in the Depth Chart at back up. They signed Bruce Gradkowski during Free Agency, and Drafted Landry Jones in the 4th round of the Draft. I’ve always been a huge fan of Landry Jones; arguably the greatest Quarterback in Oklahoma Sooners history. I felt that, going into the Draft, places such as the Giants, Steelers, and Cowboys were ideal spots for Jones to land. He’ll have a chance to become accustomed to the play style and learn the offense well while sitting. Who’s running the football for the team next year is undetermined. Pittsburgh picked Le’Veon Bell with the 48th selection in the Draft, and he has the best opportunity to become the starter. Bell is a big man with very nice footwork. He needs to work on his pass protection however if he expects to be an every down back. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman had their opportunities to prove they could handle the duties last year, but the team ranked 26th in the run. Dwyer was playing well during the 2nd quarter of the season but his play seemed to decline during the rest of the season. Opening holes for the Running Back will be a very talented Offensive Line. Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert will be the team’s starting Tackles next season, but which side each is playing isn’t solidified. Adams was stabbed during a car jacking in the Offseason, but should be fine by the time Training Camp rolls around. Roman Foster will be returning to starting Right Guard, while David DeCastro will try to make it through his 2013 season. A rookie in 2012, DeCastro missed a lot of time due to injures and will be a welcome presence this upcoming season. Maurkice Pouncey is arguably the best Center in the NFL. Pouncey is the anchor of the line and has made the Pro Bowl in each of his 3 NFL seasons. The main receiving options for the Steelers will consist of Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. They combined for 6 touchdowns for the team (21 plays for 20+ yards) during the 2012 campaign. Markus Wheaton, Jerricho Cotchery, and Plaxico Burress will be looked at to win their 1 on 1 coverages with those main threats on the field. Burress is on his last leg as an NFL receiver. This could possibly be his last season in the league. Cotchery is a 10-year vet who had one of his worst seasons statistically in 2012. Wheaton was drafted out of Oregon State and should have plenty of big plays for the team as their main slot receiver. He was a consistent player in college, so Pittsburgh is hoping they get the same results out of him. Heath Miller reinvigorated himself last season, setting career highs in yards (816) and touchdowns (8). If the Tight End continues to play that well in his 9th year with the franchise, he’ll be the usual security blanket for Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh ranked 21st overall last year in Total Offense, mainly due to their lack of a running game and Quarterback missing games due to injury. If Bell can run for 1,000 yards in his rookie year, it’ll make things a lot easier on Big Ben in the passing game, and the Steelers will be a dangerous team to play against.

Defense: Doing what they’re known to do best, the Steelers’ Defense led the NFL last year (1st against pass and 2nd versus run). Lawrence Timmons was a big reason for the team’s success, registering 106 total tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions (team leading), and 6 sacks (tied for team lead). He should be a Pro Bowl candidate this season at Middle Linebacker, starting along side Larry Foote. Foote led the team in tackles with 113 total in his 11th year, also recording 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Lamarr Woodley is the team’s top pass rushing specialist, but hasn’t be able to play a full 16 games the past two seasons. He needs to return to his 10 sacks or more standard of play in the upcoming year. The combination of Woodley and Timmons, playing at the top of their games, is a major difference maker. Joining Woodley at Outside Linebacker will be either Jason Worilds or rookie Jarvis Jones. Jones was regarded one of the top picks in the draft at one point, so he was a steal for the Steelers at 17. In the past 2 seasons at Georgia, Jones had 28 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. Worilds brought the Quarterback down 5 times last year and, going into his 4th year, should be the starter for the team. It’ll be interesting to watch how that plays out because Worilds will have to play solid not to have fans grumble over when a 1st round pick will be ready to start. The duo at Secondary of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark have been a force, when healthy together, for many years. Troy has had a rough last 2 seasons. Injuries have plagued him and if he doesn’t prove that he can be healthy enough to play the position, rookie Shamarko Thomas will be waiting in the shadows. Ryan Clark is going into his 12th season. Every year that has passed, he’s gotten statistically better at tackling, and totaled 102 over 2012. The starting Cornerbacks for Pittsburgh, Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen, only combined for 3 interceptions in 2012. They’ll need to double those numbers, at least, with the stress that the Steelers put on the passer. Terry Hawthorne was acquired during the Draft, helping out with William Gay and Curtis Brown, to fill in during other advanced receiver sets during games. Hawthorne intercepted 5 passes in his 4 years at Illinois. After leaving in 2012, William Gay signed back with the Steelers during the Offseason. Going into his 3rd year as a player, Brown is still looking for his first career interception. Steve McLendon will be the starter for the first time in his 4-year career. He’ll get the nod at Nose Tackle and should be an interesting person to watch as the season goes on. If by any chance he can’t hold up, Alameda Ta’amu is a large individual who the Steelers selected in the 4th round in 2012. The probable Defensive ends are Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel. Some would like Cameron Heyward to win one of those positions with strong play in Training Camp, but there are a lot of questions surrounding his consistency. Hood has started 80 games in a row for the organization. Ziggy is very stout out End who is a force against the run and can put some pressure on the Quarterback. Keisel has been a fan favorite for quite some time now and had 8.5 sacks in 2012. The Defense will be just as big an impact as they were in the previous year if they can have all their key players firing on all cylinders.

End Result: I think Pittsburgh makes a Playoff run – going 12-4 in 2013.

2013 Fantasy Football TE Rankings

We have entered Fantasy Football season folks. We are only a few weeks away from our 1st preseason games and I am here to give you my updated Fantasy Football rankings. As the season nears check back daily for up to date rankings and articles helping you with this years Fantasy Football draft.

2013 Fantasy Football TE Rankings

Rank Player Team BYE
1 Jimmy Graham NO 7
2 Rob   Gronkowski NE 10
3 Vernon Davis SF 9
4 Jason   Witten DAL 11
5 Jered Cook STL 11
6 Tony   Gonzalez ATL 6
7 Brandon Myers NYG 9
8 Dennis   Pitta BAL 8
9 Martellus Bennett CHI 8
10 Kyle   Rudolph MIN 5
11 Greg Olsen CAR 4
12 Owen   Daniels HOU 8
13 Antonio Gates SD 8
14 Jermichael   Finley GB 4
15 Brandon Pettigrew DET 9
16 Jordan   Cameron CLE 10
17 Fred Davis WAS 10
18 Heath   Miller PIT 5
19 Jermaine Gresham CIN 12
20 Dustin   Keller MIA 6

2013 Fantasy Football WR Rankings

We have entered Fantasy Football season folks. We are only a few weeks away from our 1st preseason games and I am here to give you my updated Fantasy Football rankings. As the season nears check back daily for up to date rankings and articles helping you with this years Fantasy Football draft.

2013 Fantasy Football WR Rankings

Rank Player Team BYE
1 Calvin Johnson DET 9
2 AJ Green CIN 12
3 Dez Bryant DAL 11
4 Demaryius Thomas DEN 9
5 Brandon Marshall CHI 8
6 Larry Fitzgerald ARI 9
7 Julio Jones ATL 6
8 Vincent Jackson TB 5
9 Andre Johnson HOU 8
10 Victor Cruz NYG 9
11 Jordy Nelson GB 4
12 Roddy White ATL 6
13 Marques Colston NO 7
14 Randall Cobb GB 4
15 Dwayne Bowe KC 10
16 Percy Harvin SEA 12
17 Hakeem Nicks NYG 9
18 Steve Smith CAR 4
19 Mike Wallace MIA 6
20 Danny Amendola NE 10
21 Antonio Brown PIT 5
22 Wes Welker DEN 9
23 Reggie Wayne IND 8
24 Eric Decker DEN 9
25 Pierre Garcon WAS 5
26 T.Y. Hilton IND 8
27 Torrey Smith BAL 8
28 Desean Jackson PHI 12
29 Greg Jennings MIN 5
30 Cecil Shorts JAX 9

2013 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

We have entered Fantasy Football season folks. We are only a few weeks away from our 1st set of preseason games and I am here to give you my updated Fantasy Football rankings. As the season nears check back daily for up to date rankings and articles helping you with this years Fantasy Football Draft.

2013 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

Rank Player Team Bye
1 Adrian Peterson MIN 5
2 Arian Foster HOU 8
3 Jamaal Charles KC 10
4 Doug Martin TB 5
5 LeSean McCoy PHI 12
6 CJ Spiller BUF 12
7 Ray Rice BAL 8
8 Alfred Morris WAS 5
9 Trent Richardson CLE 10
10 Marshawn Lynch SEA 12
11 Matt Forte CHI 8
12 Reggie Bush DET 9
13 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 14
14 Steven Jackson ATL 6
15 Chris Johnson TEN 8
16 Stevan Ridley NE 10
17 Frank Gore SF 9
18 Darren McFadden OAK 7
19 DeMarco Murrary DAL 11
20 Lamar Miller MIA 6
21 Le’Veon Bell PIT 5
22 Ryan Matthews SD 8
23 David Wilson NYG 9
24 Chris Ivory NYJ 10
25 Montee Ball DEN 9
26 Darren Sproles NO 7
27 Eddie Lacy GB 4
28 Rashard Mendenhall ARI 9
29 Shane Vereen NE 10
30 Giovani Bernard CIN 12

2013 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

We have entered Fantasy Football season folks. We are only a few weeks away from our 1st preseason games and I am here to give you my updated Fantasy Football rankings. As the season nears check back daily for up to date rankings and articles helping you with this years Fantasy Football draft.

2013 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

Rank Player Team BYE
1 Peyton Manning DEN 9
2 Aaron Rodgers GB 4
3 Drew Brees NO 7
4 Tom Brady NE 10
5 Cam Newton CAR 4
6 Matt Ryan ATL 6
7 Matthew Stafford DET 9
8 Robert Griffin III WAS 5
9 Tony Romo DAL 11
10 Russell Wilson SEA 12
11 Colin Kaepernick SF 9
12 Andrew Luck IND 8
13 Eli Manning NYG 9
14 Michael Vick PHI 12
15 Jay Cutler CHI 8
16 Joe Flacco BAL 8
17 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 5
18 Andy Dalton CIN 12
19 Josh Freeman TB 5
20 Ryan Tannehill MIA 6
21 Sam Bradford STL 11
22 Carson Palmer ARI 9
23 Phillip Rivers SD 8
24 Alex Smith KC 10
25 Matt Schaub HOU 8