The Next Joique Bell?

Last season, Joique Bell came out of nowhere and was an absolute stud in PPR leagues. He finished 15th out of all RB, making him a high-end RB2. Considering he was drafted as the 53rd RB in PPR leagues last season, he was a difference maker. This year, as I stated in my 10 Bold Predictions piece (which you can read here), I believe Joique Bell will have a better year than the other multi-talented RB in Detroit, Reggie Bush. My goal in this article is to outline another player who could have a similar breakout to Bell’s 2013. Before I reveal his identity, let’s have a look at the similarities between the mystery player and Joique Bell.

  • He is the #2 tailback in a Scott Linehan-run offense.
  • He is an RB who has very good pass-catching abilities
  • He is playing behind an injury-prone starter
  • He is being drafted in the 50’s for RB (similar to Bell in 2013)

Who is it? Take a guess. No cheating!

Dunbar

Give up? The answer is Lance Dunbar. Like I pointed out above, Lance Dunbar is in a very similar situation this year as Bell was in last year. He is indeed the backup to DeMarco Murray, his offensive coordinator is Scott Linehan, and he has proven in his college and NFL career that he is a good pass-catching tailback. Last year, we saw Scott Linehan help Detroit become one of the best offensive teams in pro football. The Lions produced two top 15 options at running back as well.

As a three year starter at North Texas University, Dunbar made a name for himself in the Sun Belt Conference. He garnered over 5,000 all-purpose yards (including over 1,000 yards receiving), 49 combined TD, 97 catches (5.4 YPR) and 10.6 YPC. Dunbar has shown the ability to be a dual threat out of the backfield, albeit in limited touches.

Dunbar was held out of last week’s preseason opener because it has been rumored that his role will be larger this season and Dallas wanted to protect him from injury. Both Detroit running backs recorded more than 1,000 all-purpose yards in Scott Linehan’s system in 2013. While I don’t believe Murray and Dunbar will have that kind of split, I believe Dunbar could still manage 5 TD and 750 all-purpose yards. That would give him 180 points in PPR formats, which would make him a top 25 RB. That right there would be back-end RB2 points and could wind up doing even more if Murray goes down (which is completely possible considering his checkered injury history).

I don’t believe Joseph Randle will threaten Dunbar for touches in any meaningful way. He’s been unimpressive so far this preseason and didn’t do much to garner attention in 2013. Dunbar’s touches are in line to increase and given his skills, he should be one of the more ownable handcuffs entering the season. A breakout is possible, don’t forget him late in your draft or auction.

Statistical credit: ESPN.com, fantasyfootballcalculator.com, sports-reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/YOZCGp

Doug Moore is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @DMM0822!

Going Crazy; Drafting A QB At #1 In Dynasty Rookie Draft

I have first pick in my dynasty league this year and I am thinking of doing something crazy. I am going to use that pick to take a quarterback.  Right now all of you dynasty players are thinking I am nuts. Most dynasty league rookie drafts have the first QB going around pick 15 and would never think of passing up on your RB or WR preference at the first overall pick.

Now this particular league has some quirks that increase QB value; you can read about the league setup here.

The league has 12 teams and we get to freeze 15 players every year This year a total of 27 quarterbacks were kept. Slim pickings in the draft, so in order to get a difference maker you have to take a chance on a rookie and hope he hits. So now are you starting to see why taking a QB at #1 overall isn’t such a farfetched idea?

Here is a list of the QB’s that led the last five league champions:

  • 2013 – Peyton Manning ($54)
  • 2012 – Tom Brady ($102)
  • 2011 – Drew Brees ($24)
  • 2010 – Drew Brees ($14)
  • 2009 – Drew Brees ($14)

You don’t see any mediocre guys on that list. As you can see having a marquee QB is essential to winning the title in this league. All the better if you can get one at a cheap salary so you can spend your cap space on studs elsewhere. The average price for the top five QB salaries is $56 out of a $250 cap. The salary of a first round pick is only $10. What a bargain if you can find the next stud.

So now the question becomes, which QB is the right one to take with this #1 overall pick? Obviously there are three choices:

  • Blake Bortles
  • Johnny Manziel
  • Teddy Bridgewater

Blake Bortles:

Bortles was the first QB drafted in the NFL draft. From all accounts he has the size (6 foot 5, 232 lbs) and tools to be a solid NFL quarterback.  He played at a smaller college and put up good stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 UCF 10 0 110 75 67.8 958 6 3 21 4 1
2012 UCF 14 14 399 251 62.9 3,059 25 7 87 285 8
2013 UCF 14 13 382 259 67.8 3,581 25 9 87 272 6
Totals 36 27 891 585 66.2 7,598 56 19 195 561 15

The knocks on him are that he didn’t play against top competition and when he did he struggled a bit. The offense they ran at UCF was also a quick-hitting one that didn’t require him to run through a progression. This can be worrisome at the pro-level.

Through two preseason games he has looked outstanding. He has gone through his progressions and made the proper reads and looks like he belongs in the NFL. He is passing the eye test but all of his work has come against 2nd and 3rd teamers so the hype should be tempered a bit. So far though (albeit in a small sample size) he looks like he belongs and with a two game total of 18-28, 277 yards (without throwing a pick or a TD) he has impressed.

The initial word out of Jaguars camp was that they were going to bring Bortles along slowly and start Chad Henne (who has also looked good thus far) so he can learn at the NFL level. Right now it appears he is ready and will probably get a shot at some point this season. The ceiling I see for Bortles is Roethlisberger. He is big and strong and can move well in the pocket. He can scramble when he needs to and has a strong enough arm to make all the throws, even while on the run.

Teddy Bridgewater:

Bridgewater was everyone’s first pick overall prior to the 2013 college season. He had received a lot of praise and was poised to be the first QB taken in the draft. Then the season and his pro-day happened and he fell in the draft. His career at Louisville was outstanding as you can see from his career stats:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 LOU 13 10 296 191 64.5 2,129 14 12 89 66 4
2012 LOU 13 12 419 287 68.5 3,718 27 8 74 26 1
2013 LOU 13 13 427 303 71.0 3,970 31 4 63 78 1
Totals 39 35 1,142 781 68.4 9,817 72 24 226 170 6

The major factor to his drop in the draft was a poor workout day where he was missing throws. However, the tape shows him make throws in games and he could very well end up being the best of this crop of QB’s due to his football intelligence and competitiveness. He landed in a great spot with Norv Turner molding him and getting him NFL ready. As a Viking fan I was extremely happy the they got Bridgewater as I see him as  a solid NFL QB that will make the right decisions and lead the team. I believe he will be a better NFL QB than fantasy QB. I think he has the highest floor but lowest ceiling of these three first round QB’s which generally doesn’t equate to a difference maker for your fantasy football team.

So far his NFL preseason results have been a mixed bag. His first game was average but the word out of camp is that he has struggled a bit with interceptions. This bit of adversity could be a blessing in disguise. It’s a good opportunity to see how much confidence he has and if he can turn things around. At the moment, Matt Cassel is in the driver’s seat for the starting job to begin the season but we all know what Cassel is about. This is Bridgewater’s job to take, now he just has to perform.

My comparison for Bridgewater is Russell Wilson. They are both very smart with the football can move in the pocket and make every throw while not having the cannon of an arm.

Johnny Manziel:

Johnny Football is the most polarizing player of these three.  People are either all in or all out.  There is no in between.  The detractors will point to him being undersized (6’-0”/210 lbs) and that he parties too much off the field.  His backers will say he is a fierce competitor and a winner on the field.  He is a mainstay of Sportscenter for all of his antics and off the field persona.  He is sensational in every aspect.  The question is whether or not that will translate on the field at the NFL level.

His college stats were the best of these three QB’s while he played against the toughest competition in the SEC:

  Passing Rushing
Season Team GP GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD INT Att Yds TD
2011 Manziel redshirted his freshman year and Texas A&M and did not play
2012 A&M 434 295 68.0 3,706 26 9 201 1410 21
2013 A&M 429 300 69.9 4,114 37 13 144 759 9
Totals 863 595 68.9 7820 63 12 345 2169 30

The biggest negatives on Manziel are his size and his dedication due to his off-field transgressions. His personality is not for the faint of heart and because people either love him or hate him there are a lot of people looking to bring him down with pictures or videos of his off the field exploits.

Make no mistake, when he is on the field he is electric. He can make people miss and extend plays. He has a strong enough arm to make all the throws. He is fearless and isn’t afraid of contact. There are some players that just suck you in when they are playing and he has this quality. You just have to see what happens – whether it’s good or bad – you have to watch.

Many have likened him to Brett Favre and I agree completely. I see a player that is a competitor willing his team to wins. I see him making electrifying scrambles to extend plays and incredible passes right on the money for game winning scores. I also see stupid forced throws into coverage for interceptions trying to make things happen. He will lose games and win games while running all over the field with an enthusiasm similar to Brett Favre.

My only concern is this competitiveness getting him in situations where he takes unnecessary hits and his body can’t withstand the punishment. If he learns to not take extra hits (like he did in the first preseason game with the slide after picking up a first down on a scramble) I believe he will reach his potential.

johnny_manziel_browns_jersey_switch_by_bucksfan5-d713ht3Who to take?

This is fantasy football. It’s supposed to be fun. Part of the fun is rooting and watching your players so that is a factor in this decision.  Another big factor is that I already have two quality QB so if this pick flops it won’t kill me but if it pans out I can trade one of those two expensive QB’s for other assets to help my team while I have a stud QB locked in at a low contract value.

For me, I am really choosing between Bridgewater and Johnny Football. I am removing Bortles from my decision because although he has the prototypical body and has shown well after two games in the NFL I just don’t think his upside is a difference maker. He has the potential to be a solid NFL quarterback and a 10-15th ranked fantasy QB; solid but obtainable almost every year.

So now do I go with the QB of the future of my favorite NFL team or the exciting Brett Favre clone to be?

I am a believer, I’m going Johnny Manziel. He’s exciting and dynamic. He could throw for 300+ yards or rush for 100 yards and 2 TD. He is a difference maker on the field.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of risk that his off the field personality prohibits his on the field competitor from fulfilling his promise.  There is also a chance his body won’t be able to withstand the punishment his all-out style of play will take.

I choose to look to the positive. Fantasy football is a gamble. I am a gambler. I am all in on Johnny Football.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/QW6FgG

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

5 Burning Questions: Fantasy Wide Receivers

The fantasy football Season is upon us and our team here at The Sports Script wants to make sure you are completely prepared for your draft! Our football staff will be periodically releasing questions and answers to burning questions that the readers have at each position. Our talented team of writers  has you covered! Today we continue with our wide receivers installment.

5 questions about fantasy WR:

1. Which WR are 1st round worthy?

Gallimore: Calvin Johnson is a “no doubt about it” first round pick for me. After that, I wouldn’t have a problem with your choice of Demaryius Thomas or Dez Bryant towards the latter part of round 1 and depending on your thoughts of Jimmy Graham or Peyton I could see AJ Green or Brandon Marshall sneaking in as well in deeper leagues.

Moore: Megatron, Thomas, Bryant and Marshall. Those 4 receivers are as low-risk as they come. Megatron is Megatron, Thomas is Peyton’s #1 guy, Bryant is sleeper for #1 WR in PPR and in a very pass-friendly offense and Marshall is Cutler’s security blanket.

Hines: In the 1st round a majority of people look for that stud RB to help stabilize their team. I am in the minority in regards to this strategy. After the top RB are gone (and there aren’t many) I wouldn’t blame anyone for going after Calvin Johnson. In the 1st two rounds you are looking for consistency. You can’t tell me that Calvin isn’t more valuable than Doug Martin, who is currently going in front of Johnson in some mock drafts. Anywhere after pick 4 (AP, McCoy, Forte, Charles going in those top 4 we assume), I would be okay with someone taking Calvin. The only other non-RB I would take in the 1st round is someone we will talk about in a future column, stay tuned.

Valero: I am not fond of drafting a WR in the 1st round as I like my running backs. However, in the latter half of the 1st you strongly have to consider it. Calvin Johnson is a shoe-in for the 1st round and one could select A.J. Green near the end of the turn.

2. Which WR has the biggest sleeper appeal?

Gallimore: I look to Golden Tate (mid 30’s ranking) as a great candidate to move into the top 15 when all is said and done. He comes from a running heavy system to a pass happy one with a QB that will get him the ball. Megatron will dictate coverage and Tate will be the big benefactor.

Moore: Eric Decker. He is now in sole possession of being a #1 WR on a team that will want their young QB to throw. He could haul in 90 receptions. He could be a back-end WR1/top WR2 if he stays healthy. He will be force-fed the ball as he is the only WR on that team that has it all together.

Hines: Reuben Randle. Currently Randle goes after pick 100 in drafts and is someone that I am looking to have on my team this year. Last year Randle only started in three games but had 6 TD and 611 yards. Eli targets him in the red zone, and with Cruz being double covered, Randle should get a ton of looks. Randle isn’t going to be a top option by any means, but he has the potential to be a great flex play.

Valero: Hakeem Nicks. I think he is going to have a bigger impact than most people think. Nicks is a really good WR and is the type of player that will fit right in with Luck. I can see him ending the season as the Colts’ most valuable pass-catcher.

3. Who will be the biggest bust at the position?

Gallimore: I hate to say it because I have him in a dynasty league but Percy Harvin. He has never had a 1,000 yard season and his physical style of play leads to injuries every year. On a per game basis he is usually very good but over the course of the season he won’t warrant his top 20 price tag.

Moore: Pierre Garcon. No way he gets over 180 targets and 110 receptions again. Washington has a new HC who will implement a more balanced offense and rely less on the passing game. DeSean Jackson is in Washington now as well, and will definitely eat into targets. He could have 80-90 receptions, but that might even be too much. I see him as a high-end WR2 this year instead of a mid-tier WR1, which most people are drafting him as.

Hines: I love Keenan Allen! He came out in his rookie year and was an absolute stud for fantasy owners. Regardless of the relationship between he and Phillip Rivers, there are more mouths to feed in San Diego entering 2014. Based on ADP, Allen just will not provide the value that you will have to pay to get him.

Valero: A few names that come to mind are Keenan Allen, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. Randall Cobb represents the biggest bust value, I think he has all the talent in the world but dealt with injury a season ago and doesn’t warrant his draft position.

4. Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins?

Gallimore: I most likely won’t get either as they are going higher than I would spend but if I have to make a choice I go with…both. I know it’s cheating but I take Mike Evans for redrafts and Watkins in dynasty leagues. Each has value but I would go with Evans in the short term because I trust his QB a little bit more plus he has V-Jax taking away some attention.

Moore: Sammy Watkins. He’s a much more talented receiver. He may be over-drafted, but he will still have a better year than Evans. Evans is behind Vincent Jackson, who is the go-to guy in TB, while Watkins is clearly the #1 in Buffalo. He has been doing some amazing things in camp as well. Evans will be good no doubt, but Watkins will be better.

Hines: Josh McCown is the starting QB for the Bucs this year. Now, he isn’t the best option in the world, but under Marc Trestman and the new Bears offense, McCown had a great year filling in for Jay Cutler. Now the main man in Tampa, he has a new weapon in Mike Evans to throw to. Mike comes from Texas A&M where he was the guy you saw catching the balls that Manziel would just throw up for him to get. The kid is a play-maker, and although Watkins is a future stud, I think in 2014, Evans will is the one you want.

Valero: Their ADP are within a few spots of each other and honestly maybe a little too high for my taste but Mike Evans is going to win ROY this year, go ahead and book it. He may not kill it week to week but will have over 900 yards and 7 scores.

5. What’s the highest you would draft a WR?

Gallimore: I would look to take Calvin Johnson at pick 1.07. The top 4 RB (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte) in some order, then I would also take Lacy and Jimmy Graham before pulling the trigger on a WR. I just think after those 6 players the next tier of RB has too much risk to pass on the consistency of Megatron.

Moore: 5th after AP, McCoy, Forte and Charles are gone (in no specific order). I’d rather have Megatron over Lacy personally. I can always spend the next two rounds on RB and have a little leeway with WR2. He has proven he can fight through injuries and will have Golden Tate to take some of the pressure off of him.

Hines: Again, going back to question #1, I am in the minority when it comes to this question but in standard leagues I think anywhere after 4 is fair game for a WR selection. That is assuming that AP, McCoy, Charles, and Forte are off the board. In PPR leagues I am in the same position. After those top guys, I would rather have Calvin than Lacy, Martin, or any of the other RB going in the first round. If I am 5th pick though, give me Calvin.

Valero: It depends on the draft, in PPR I would totally go around the 5th or 6th slot but in Standard leagues I would wait until probably the top half of round 2 in order to take one.

Make sure to follow Ricky, Jared, Shane and Doug on Twitter. The Sports Script is your one stop shop for fantasy football coverage in 2014.

Tom Brady; Top 5 Fantasy Option?

Many in the fantasy industry were willing to write Brady off after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Man crush bias aside, I disagree, even considering that last season was tough to stomach. There were many factors at play a year ago. Brady didn’t have his favorite target, Rob Gronkowski on the field until week 7. Gronk tore his ACL shortly after, ending his season and removing him from New England’s already shaky receiving core. Furthermore, Shane Vereen was in and out of the lineup, Brady had rookie wideouts dropping passes left and right and Danny Amendola had a very hard time staying on the field.

Even with all those issues, Brady still finished as the #13 QB via ESPN’s Player Rater system. As President of the Tom Brady fan club I’m here to tell you how Tom Brady will once again return to the top 5 at his position.

1. Gronk needs to stay on the field:

This is the most important factor. Gronk may be even more important the Patriots than Brady and that’s saying a lot. Brady is a different man when Gronkowski is healthy and on the field. Tom Terrific has 11 300+ yard performances with Gronk in the lineup and only 4 without him. Take a look:

Brady with Gronk (18 games): 5,047 passing yards (296 YPG), 64.2 CMP% and 36 TD
Brady without Gronk (14 games): 3,705 passing yards (264 YPG), 58.8 CMP% and 24 TD

The numbers don’t lie. The 6 foot 6 Gronkowski makes a world of difference, not only catching passes but opening up the perimeter of the field for the other receivers. Gronk had 10 20 yard catches in 2013, most on the team. The catch? He only played 6 games. Of course the biggest question with Gronk is whether or not he’ll be able to maintain health over the course of a full season. He has only played 18 games in two seasons and without him on the field, Brady just isn’t the same. I’m feeling lucky, I think it happens and the tandem will.

But I am in the positive thinking mood and expect us to get at least 16 (if he doesn’t miss week 1) of Gronk and that would further cement my Brady top 5 theory.

2. New England’s wide receivers need to you know, catch the ball

Julian Edelman really stepped up to the plate last season and had a year no one really expected. He caught 105 passes for 1,056 yards and 6 TD, which included 9 games of 7 or more receptions. He was a PPR machine and filled the role of Wes Welker quite well, the same role that Danny Amendola was signed on to do, yet failed to complete.

Speaking of Amendola, we all know he has all the tools to be a solid fit in this offense. He finished 2nd on the team with 54 catches even while he missed 4 games. He looks to be healthy heading into the season, and will be an important part of the offense. I remain optimistic that we see more out of the former Ram in 2014.

The Patriots also employ young pass-catchers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, who at various points in the season had a real impact in the offense. All signs point to Dobson being healthy after coming out of a boot and practicing, but it’s something to monitor. If healthy, he could be the deep threat that Brady has lacked over the last several seasons. The growth that both of these receivers show will be interesting to watch. Although Thompkins had his ups last season, he dropped a lot of passes and his role remains in flux given the off-season signing of Brandon Lafell.

Lafell has reportedly picked up the Patriots offense quickly. That is a positive sign, given how the coaching staff in New England handles their players. He may not be a big time fantasy contributor unless there are injuries or performance issues amongst some of the other players, however, he could see his fair share of red zone looks.

3.  The Running Game

LeGarrette Blount made a huge impact on this team in the 2nd half of the season and was vital in helping pick up the passing game. With Blount now smoking blunts in Pittsburgh, the Pats are left with a myriad of questions at running back. Stevan Ridley can’t hold on to the football, Shane Vereen has had trouble staying healthy and James White, albeit with tons of hype attached is a rookie playing in a complex offense.

Let’s start with Ridley, he has all the talent in the world but found himself in the doghouse too often as he just doesn’t know how to hang onto the football. He is a power back and should see a lot of carries this season but any more fumbles and we could see him buried somewhere inside Gillette Stadium.

When healthy, Shane Vereen provides a much needed pass-catching presence out of the backfield for Brady. He finished 3rd in receptions on the team and only played in 8 games last season. Of course like the rest of the questions I pose, if healthy for all 16, he should be a PPR machine and will help supplant Brady once again as an elite fantasy option.

James White seems poised to take some carries away from Ridley this year as he has impressed coaches during training camp and has been seen taking reps with Brady and the 1st team. White can be a 3-down back; he was the focal point in the Wisconsin offense last year coming out of the backfield catching 39 balls for 300 yards and a pair of TD. He also can make an impact with his pass blocking which is key in the Patriot’s offense. Lastly, he had great ball security in college as he fumbled only 2 times in 754 career touches.

Brady is the 10th QB and 73rd player coming off the board (according to Fantasy Pros). If Brady is available to you in the 7th round, scoop him up. There are question marks on this team, but with any luck Brady’s weapons will stay relatively healthy and this team will look like the New England teams of old.

Ricky Valero is a co-owner and fantasy sports writer at The Sports Script. Make sure to follow him on Twitter @rickygangster!

Sophomore Surgers: 2014 Fantasy Football

There were many rookies that exceeded expectations last year and can be considered obvious early round picks this year in fantasy. Don’t forget about these 2nd year players that are also poised to impress, my sophomore sellouts:

Ellington

1. Andre Ellington (RB, Arizona Cardinals): With the recent retirement of injury prone Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington has a good shot at taking over as the lead back with promising upside. This versatile weapon learned all three receiver sets this offseason and is hopeful to play an even greater role in the passing game, one that he already flourishes in. Not to mention putting on 10 pounds of muscle this spring, the reward outweighs the risk for this speed demon. Ellington led his team with 5.5 yards per carry last season and is expected to work with more touches this season, despite the offseason signing of veteran bruiser Jonathon Dwyer who may vulture some goal line carries. Andre Ellington reminds me of a younger version of Jamaal Charles, he can score from anywhere on the field. It seems very likely that he will receive and should receive at least 18 total touches a game. With his versatility, he has the potential to put up stud RB2 numbers in any format. A mediocre offensive line should lead to lots of check downs. Having veteran and experienced Carson Palmer calling the shots, the reliable hands of Larry Fitzgerald and late season stud Michael Floyd will free up space for the ground game. There will be a plentiful supporting cast for Ellington. Last season against divisional opponents (STL, SF, & SEA) Ellington had 60 total touches for 295 total yards, that’s nearly 5 yards a pop against his toughest matchups! He averaged only 10 touches a game and those totes can easily double this season.

2. Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Minnesota Vikings): Maybe trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks won’t be so bad after all? With the 29th overall pick the Minnesota Vikings selected Cordarrelle Patterson. #84 matured throughout the course of last season and went on a run towards the end. He showed electrifying speed, quickness and big play ability especially in the return game; like a younger Percy Harvin. Although, he has been criticized for his messy routes, Minnesota brought in Norv Turner from Cleveland as their Offensive Coordinator who had recent success with WR Josh Gordon in a pitiful offense. The Vikings need to balance their run attack by having an aerial threat. Cordarrelle has the raw talent to take the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. I expect this guy to run a few back and get open down field a lot. Regardless of who earns the starting QB job in Minnesota, I am all in on this guy.

3. Giovanni Bernard (RB, Cincinnati Bengals): Gio is way too talented and can be as deadly as anybody in open space. The law firm’s days are diminishing and even though rookie Jeremy Hill may be in the mix, Gio is the guy to have in this running back committee. He fits in perfectly with this pass heavy offense. He could very well lead the league in receptions and yards amongst running backs. Look, if Marvin Lewis wants to win a damn playoff game he will have to, I repeat he will have to give this guy the ball!

4. Jordan Reed (TE, Washington Redskins): With Jay Gruden in town, look for the Redskins to take some shots with RG3 and the air attack. Even though the WR core has vastly improved by bringing on DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the middle of the field will be wide open for this young beast to roam. With a record 14 targets in one game last year, RG3 will look his way, especially in the red zone. Double-digit TD machine this year so save your TE pick and wait for him.

5. Terrance Williams (WR, Dallas Cowboys): 3rd in fantasy points for rookie WR last year and Miles Austin has moved on to Cleveland; Williams will take over as the number two wideout for Tony Romo. You already know Dez is going to draw double teams being one of the best in the league. Williams went on a little streak of his own last year grabbing 5 TD within a 6 game span during the middle of the season. Look for his stats to improve across the board.

6. Markus Wheaton (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers): They let Emmanuel Sanders walk for a reason. 2011 version of Jordy Nelson? Maybe to a lesser degree but  get this guy late. Big Ben throws it more then you think.

7. Monte Ball (RB, Denver Broncos): Manning has to hand it off to somebody. The former Badger has the talent to handle the load if he can solve his fumbling issue and stay on the field. Manning draws enough attention. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of fantasy teams named Monte Ball so hard.

8. Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers): He put up impressive numbers last year even though he missed some time due to injury. He is a great receiver and although Blount could vulture some touchdowns, Bell’s getting his. Strong RB2 candidate.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/3VMNWJ

Jack Ghizoni is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @CapnJack2424!

5 Burning Questions: Fantasy Running Backs

The fantasy football Season is upon us and our team here at The Sports Script wants to make sure you are completely prepared for your draft! Our football staff will be periodically releasing questions and answers to burning questions that the readers have at each position. Our talented team of writers  has you covered! Today we continue with our running back installment.

5 questions about fantasy RB:

1. Who are you taking with the #1 pick? Why?

Gallimore: I am taking Adrian Peterson. With Norv Turner in town I see the receptions increasing and AP getting the ball in space which will lead to good things. Also, truth be told, I am a huge AP fan and just like watching him play. Fantasy Football is about having fun too, right?

Moore: Jamaal Charles. Not sure why isn’t getting picked #1 overall in PPR. He’s a dynamic runner and a hell of a receiver. He had more receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns than Shady last season. Sproles is an Eagle now and should eat into McCoy’s targets. Charles will once again be the team leader in Kansas City in pretty much everything.

Hines: If you haven’t looked at it yet, make sure you read my column on why I think AP should be #1 in almost any fantasy format this year. In this article I compare AP to Jamaal Charles but the stats on AP really show why I think he is looking at a huge 2014.

Valero: Peterson. Charles just got paid and while he will be good this year, he just isn’t going to finish #1 overall. I actually think he finishes outside the top 5. McCoy will finish in the top 5 and don’t hate him at #1 but Sproles is going to cut into some of his targets.

2. Which late-round RB will make the biggest impact?

Gallimore: I am considering late round as anything after pick 100. Based on that, I like Chris Ivory with an ADP of 133 right now. He will be the goal line back and I just don’t trust Chris Johnson to run hard. If Ivory stays healthy (big if) he could be in line for a nice season. The Jets are going to run the ball a whole lot.

Moore: James White. The Pats like to rotate backs and he has impressed so far in camp. If Vereen gets hurt and/or Ridley has ball security problems again, White will be a starter and could easily put up RB3 stats. He is a 3-down back and will have the chance to get some serious touches right out of the gate if he keeps this up.

Hines: André Williams went #130 in my last mock draft on ESPN and I think he has a chance to be a s-t-u-d! He was already projected to be in the mix this year in a Coughlin offense that loves to run. Unfortunately, David Wilson’s injury is going to keep him out but his carries have to go somewhere and I think they are going to go to Williams. Look for him later when people are drafting “elite” defenses.

Valero: Mark Ingram is a guy that I am targeting super late in drafts. He’s not in the best situation for a running back, but I think he could have a nice season. He is the 47th ranked RB (according to Fantasy Pros) and I think he has a chance to finish in the top 25 this year which means he’d be a steal for fantasy owners.

3. Your biggest bust? Go.

Gallimore: I’m going with Arian Foster. He is already hurt and the Texans will be running a new system. It just doesn’t appear that Foster is into football at the moment (talking about retirement a bit). I wouldn’t touch him until the late 2nd or early 3rd round and he will be taken before that.

Moore: Tie between Bishop Sankey and Trent Richardson, but since Sankey is being drafted higher. He is going to be playing in an offense where they will pass the ball a lot.  Sankey may only end up being a 2-down back and Shonn Greene will take both 3rd down and goal-line touches. Sankey is being drafted as a mid-tier RB2, but probably won’t even perform as an RB2.

Hines: Frank Gore. Year after year we think Gore is going to decline and year after year he proves us wrong. That being said, I think 2014 is the year where we finally see a decline in workload and production. The 49ers also just released their backup RB in Kendall Hunter. Carlos Hyde is currently going undrafted in 10 team drafts. If you are looking for this year’s Zac Stacy, I think Carlos Hyde could be a game changer. Don’t sleep on him.

Valero: I have a laundry list of guys I don’t like this year but I am going to roll with Le’Veon Bell. While I like him a lot and think he has a ton of talent, the signing of LeGarrette Blount is really going to have an impact on Bell’s goal-line touches. Being selected in the top 10 right now, I just don’t see him finishing there.

4. Best handcuff target?

Gallimore: I tend not to target handcuffs just for handcuff sake. I look for someone who has skills to flourish and take over if possible. The obvious name on everyone’s list is Christine Michael so I won’t go there. Instead, I am looking at Charles Sims in Tampa. Thought of as a Matt Forte type as he can do it all given the chance plus he is Lovie’s guy and might get a shot even if Martin doesn’t get hurt.

Moore: Bryce Brown. The Bills wouldn’t have traded for him if they didn’t really like him. CJ Spiller is prone to getting hurt and Fred Jackson (while I adore him), could break down and need to rest. Enter Bryce in the most run-friendly offense in the league. He has talent but was always over-shadowed by Shady McCoy in Philly. He could put up low-end RB2 numbers if opportunity knocks.

Hines: Whoops, did I just combine questions 3 & 4? Carlos Hyde is one of my handcuffs for 2014, but my biggest handcuff would be Christine Michael. Michael will be backing up Marshawn Lynch and is the RB of the future in Seattle. If you are in a dynasty/keeper league, make sure this guy is on your team. I am also looking at Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw is “backing up” Trent Richardson in Indianapolis. Remember what T-Rich did last year? Draft Bradshaw at the end of your draft, even if you pass by Richardson.

Valero: Playing the handcuff game can be tricky. I like taking starting tailbacks early and often. Joique Bell is obviously the top handcuff this season but his ADP doesn’t represent him as such. So give me Terrance West, there has been a lot of ranting and raving about the guy in practice. Ben Tate is someone I love this year but an injury to him would make this West’s team and I think he would thrive.

5. Is Montee Ball a top 5 option?

Gallimore: I don’t think Montee Ball will live up to the hype. However, now with the appendectomy clouding things, his ADP might drop a bit to a point where he is worth taking. He still doesn’t hit the top 5 because I believe CJ Anderson will steal more touches than people realize.

Moore: Nope, and I’m skeptical he will even finish in top 10. I know he is in a Peyton Manning offense and Moreno put up RB1 numbers last year, but he didn’t have the ball security issues like Ball does. I don’t trust him until I see him keep a firm grip on the rock. If Ball starts repeating last year’s mistakes, he’ll be yanked quickly. He’s on a short-leash and has ball security issues, not a good recipe for a RB.

Hines: Montee Ball is the main man in Denver now. Moreno has moved onto “bigger and better” things, leaving the former Wisconsin stud in charge behind Peyton Manning. Ball is an explosive back who will get almost, if not all, the goal line carries but is that going to be enough to make it into the elite status on RB in 2014? While I do love Ball, I think we are looking at a solid option but one that finishes in the 8 to 13 range. The elite of the elite (Peterson, Charles, McCoy, and Forte) will most likely be ranked 1-4 in any order as long as health is costant. Lacy, Murray, Lynch and Foster look to be the top contenders for the 5th spot in 2014.

Valero: I am not on the Ball bandwagon just based on the fact he could fumble his way into the dog house with John Fox. Even if he protects the rock, I don’t see a top 5 finish out of Ball. He may finish inside the top 10, but I am totally against drafting Ball at his current ADP.

Make sure to follow Ricky, Jared, Shane and Doug on Twitter. The Sports Script is your one stop shop for fantasy football coverage in 2014.

(Don’t) Teach Me How To Dougie

Fantasy football writers don’t agree on much. If you follow Matthew Berry, Evan Silva, Sigmund Bloom or Paul Charchian on Twitter, you know that they are always going back and forth on players. Berry says that Adrian Peterson should be number 1 RB this year, while the others all have trouble agreeing on Charles or McCoy. I read a lot of articles and listen to a lot of podcasts, many of them in August come from the people listed above, along with many other writers from ESPN, YahooNFL and Rotoworld. They don’t have a lot in common, except when it comes to early picks in snake drafts. You see the words “value” and “consistency” used often amongst them. With your first two or three picks, you need players who can put up numbers on a week-to-week basis. The first couple of picks are not the ones that you should be taking risks with. Take the players who stay on the field and produce every single Sunday. That being said, you won’t find Doug Martin on any of my fantasy teams this year because of his inconsistency and inability to stay on the field early on in his career. Let’s look a little deeper into Tampa’s tailback.

Doug Martin,  D.J. Ware

Martin’s 2012 campaign was nothing short of amazing. He started all 16 games, racking up 1,454 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 90.9 yards per game. To add to those impressive rookie numbers, he also had 49 catches for another 472 yards and 1 more TD. Between his rushing and receiving yards, you were getting 120.4 yards per game!

Now let’s look back to 2013. It’s August and you are getting ready for your upcoming draft. Everyone wanted a piece of Doug Martin and quite frankly why wouldn’t you? He was coming off a monster year and you knew he was durable. He was drafted in the 1st round of almost every standard and PPR draft. Going into week 1, Martin was your man.

6 games is what you got from Martin last year (127 rushing attempts for 456 yards and 1 TD). He averaged just 3.6 yards per tote and 76 total yards per game. He added 12 catches for another 66 yards and in 6 games while fumbling 2 twice. In 2012 he only fumbled only once over the course of the entire season. If you drafted him you were absolutely devastated. So what happened?

The news came on November 8th. Martin was placed on IR with an arm injury, ending his season. He had been dealing with a left shoulder injury and since the Bucs were 0-8 already, why risk further damage to their young star? Tampa’s 2013 roster was nothing special, finishing 4-12 and 4th in the NFC South for the 3rd straight season. I looked back at the rosters of the 2012 and 2013 Bucs to see what the big difference was between them. The only notable difference was the quarterback. 2012’s version had Josh Freeman under center and in his 3rd year, he impressed, passing for over 4,000 yards and 27 scores. The Bucs’ reputable passing offense allowed Martin room to run, opening up the line for him to make big plays. Last year’s slinger Mike Glennon struggled in his 13 games, passing for only 2,600 yards. He only had Mike Williams for 5 games, and while Vincent Jackson shined, there were only so many passes he could catch before defenses doubled up on him. The defenses knew the ball was going to Martin and that lead to many challenges for him. Martin’s YPC decreased while the pain in his shoulder increased. The Bucs always seemed to be trailing as well and that lead to more throwing situations in the games that Martin played. Simply stated, the 2013 season Bucs just weren’t very good, Martin included.

Consistency; remember me talking that up in the first paragraph? I am mentioning it again because it’s that important. Your top fantasy picks in your draft need to provide just this. If a player scores you 30 points in one week but only 3 the next week, you have to pick and choose when to use him. When you have to choose you spend hours upon hours wondering if you should use these players on a week-to-week basis, and when you are wrong you curse about making the wrong decision! That is why your top guys need to be consistent. Put them in your lineup and expect productivity every week of the season. Let’s break down Martin’s 2012:

Week 1: 95 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving 0 TD (11.8 fantasy points)

Week 2: 66 yards rushing, 0 yards receiving 1 TD (12.6 fantasy points)

Week 3: 53 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving 0 TD (7.4 fantasy points)

Week 4: 33 yards rushing, 9 receiving yards 0 TD (4.2 fantasy points)

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: 76 rushing yards, 55 receiving yards 0 TD (13.1 fantasy points)

Week 7: 85 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards 1 TD (18.2 fantasy points)

Week 8: 135 rushing yards, 79 receiving yards 2 TD (33.4 fantasy points)

Week 9: 251 rushing yards, 21 rushing yards 4 TD (55.2 fantasy points)

Week 10: 68 rushing yards, 51 receiving yards 0 TD (11.8 fantasy points)

Week 11: 138 rushing yards, 23 receiving yards 0 TD (16.1 fantasy points)

Week 12: 50 rushing yards, 13 receiving yards 2 TD (18.3 fantasy points)

Week 13: 56 rushing yards, 42 receiving yards 0 TD (9.8 fantasy points)

Week 14: 128 rushing yards, 4 receiving yards 1 TD (19.2 fantasy points)

Week 15: 16 rushing yards, 19 receiving yards 0 TD (3.5 fantasy points)

Week 16: 62 rushing yards, 57 receiving yards 0 TD (11.9 fantasy points)

Week 17: 142 rushing yards, 18 receiving yards 1 TD (22.0 fantasy points)

If I look at that game log and don’t know who the player is, I assume that is my RB1 but I am still concerned about some of the low fantasy totals. Anyone who drafted Martin in 2012 was happy because they drafted him in the 4th or 5th round as their RB2 or flex player. Now let’s quickly look at his 2013 game log in the weeks leading up to his injury where he was drafted in the top 10 of drafts:

Week 1: 65 rushing yards, -1 receiving yards 1 TD (12.4 fantasy points)

Week 2: 144 rushing yards, 0 receiving yards 0 TD (14.4 fantasy points)

Week 3: 88 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards 0 TD (10.8 fantasy points)

Week 4: 45 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards 0 TD (6.1 fantasy points)

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: 67 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards 0 TD (9.1 fantasy points)

Week 7: 47 rushing yards, 7 receiving yards 0 TD (5.4 fantasy points)

Week 8: IR

Scary numbers to say the least, especially when you drafted him in the first round. I know the injury was a big concern but do we know that he is 100% healthy?

Let’s look ahead to 2014:

The Buccaneers are now led by coach Lovie Smith, a defensive thinker. Looking at new OC Jeff Tedford, he comes to the NFL after a decade at California coaching the Golden Bears. If you look at his philosophy, he loves to run the ball. Tedford’s teams in the last 4 years have run the ball 1,862 times and passed 1,337 times (58% run and 42% pass). Tedford now gets to call plays for Josh McCown who had 13 TD and only 1 pick in his 8 games for Chicago last season. I see Tedford looking to throw more now that he has a QB that has shown he can succeed in the NFL plus a viable wideout core.

Doug Martin has the potential to be a superstar in the NFL. His 2012 campaign left us excited for the future, while 2013 left us asking questions about his potential and ability to stay on the field. While Doug Martin has a chance to repeat his 2013 season and become a top fantasy option, there are too many questions revolving around him. While he is going around pick 14 in current ADP, there are plenty of other players I would rather have at this point. He is too inconsistent and while his talent is undeniable, he is not worthy of a 2nd round pick in 2014 fantasy drafts. If you draft him, good luck. You’ll probably need it.

Statistical credits: http://www.pro-football-reference.com, http://www.bucsnation.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/5Dh2uu

Jared “Minnesota Nice” Hines is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Jared_Hines27!