NFL 32 Team Preview: New Orleans Saints

The Saints of New Orleans will be the team we’re discussing today on our NFL 32 Team Preview. New Orleans is coming off its first losing season since 2007. The team couldn’t be happier to have Head Coach Sean Payton returning next year. The NFC South is one of the hardest divisions in the NFL and, with a career record of 67-37, Payton is as important to this team as any player on the field. New Orleans should be in topics of appearing in the Super Bowl throughout the entire 2013 season.

Offense: New Orleans Offense didn’t struggle as bad as some would think without Sean Payton in 2012. They were the league’s best passing team thanks to Quarterback Drew Brees. Drew threw for more touchdowns (43) than any other player at his position, as well as accomplished passing for over 5,000 yards for the 3rd time in his career. Brees has throw 89 touchdowns in the last 2 seasons alone, and is the player that dictates this Offense. The team envisioned having a better running game at this point when they drafted Mark Ingram in the 2011 NFL Draft. This will be a make-or-break year for the Running Back with the Saints. He’s only carried the football 278 times total, putting up 5 touchdowns in each of his NFL seasons. Ingram hasn’t played horrible by any means. He just hasn’t lived up to the hype surrounding him when he arrived in New Orleans. Darren Sproles is one of Brees’s favorites, targeting him on 104 passes last year. The Running Back has been a game changer since signing in 2011, combining for 2,224 total yards and 17 touchdowns in the Offense. Notably Pierre Thomas gets time at this position as well. I think that the team needs to focus on Ingram in 2013 though, with Sproles being the main 3rd down guy. Jimmy Graham is one of the best Tight Ends in the league and is another one of Bree’s favorite targets (135 in 2012). Graham was considered to be very raw with little experience when going into the 2010 Draft. Since that time, Graham has caught 215 passes for 2,648 yards and 25 touchdowns. Benjamin Watson will be backing up Graham going into his 10th season. Marques Colston has quietly been one of the best receivers since joining the league as a 7th round pick in 2006. He’s had over 1,000 yards receiving 6 out of his 7 years playing, totaling 58 touchdowns. Colston was number 1 on the Saints in plays that went for 20 yards or more with 15 last year. Lance Moore, who has been with the team for quite some time now, had his most productive year with the team last season with 1,041 yards on 65 receptions. Chris Givens and Courtney Roby will see more time on the field in 2013, but will be competing with Kenny Stills for the 3,4,5 spots on the depth chart. Stills is a play making Wide Receiver out of Oklahoma who had 204 catches, 2,594 yards, and 24 touchdowns in his 3 years. If Stills can build a rapport with Brees, he could have a big rookie season stat wise. The Guards for New Orleans are one of the better duos in the game. Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs will be responsible for the interior of the line. Tackle, both right and left, are a bit of a concern for the team going into the new season. Charles Brown will get the opportunity at left but has missed a lot of time due to injuries during his career. The Saints did draft Terron Armstead in the 3rd round of the Draft, so should Brown not hold up, he’s is the second option. Right Tackle should be Training Camp battle between Zach Strief and Jason Smith. In 2009, Jason Smith went 2nd overall and was thought to be the sure thing of the Draft. Today, Smith is fighting to stay in the league. If he is healthy and can play, he’d be a solid plus for the Saints line. I don’t think he’s going to be a factor for the team at all though. Center will be Brian de la Puente, who started all 16 games for the team in 2012. Things are set up to be business as usual in the Big Easy this coming season. The only thing that will stop this team is Brees getting injured or being sacked 50 times.

Defense: What was lack thereof, the Defense for the Saints was the worst in the league and posted 31st against both the run and pass. Trying to shore things up in the Secondary, the team selected Kenny Vaccaro with the 15th pick in the Draft. He’s good in coverage but has had some concerns with his tackling going through the Draft process. There are a couple of scenarios that could happen during Training Camp; either Vaccaro starts at Free Safety, which would move Malcolm Jenkins back to corner, and have Roman Harper as the starting Strong Safety. Or, Jenkins would be the starting Free with Vaccaro as the starting Strong. I believe the 1st scenario will take place because it makes more sense for the team’s layout. Harper had 115 total tackles last season (leading the Saints in solo tackles with 88) with 2 interceptions. In 2011, Roman registered 7.5 sacks, which is very productive for a player at his position. Jenkins was New Orleans’ 1st overall pick in 2009 and started his career at Cornerback. Jenkins is coming off of a hamstring injury, but should be ready by the time camp comes around. Keenan Lewis was signed in the Offseason to a 5-year $26 million dollar deal. He should start along side whoever wins the Jabari Greer/Patrick Robinson competition. Robinson is the favorite, in my opinion, intercepting 7 passes in the past few seasons. Going into his 4th NFL season, he needs to solidify his coverage skills and take a step forward to being a consistent corner. Greer is a 10-year vet who, over the past 6 seasons, has 12 interceptions. The Defensive Back situation is going to be the most interesting part of Training Camp, as to who steps up and plays where. The Middle Linebackers for the Saints would be David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton if I had a say. Lofton led the team in tackles (123 total) and tackles for loss with 6. Lofton will most certainly be one of the starters along side either Jonathan Vilma or Hawthorne. Vilma’s presence alone energizes the team but he’s going into his 10th NFL season. Hawthorne is a few years younger and has over 100 tackles 3 out of the last 4 years. Notably, New Orleans signed un-drafted rookie Kevin Reddick, who many though would go in the 2nd-4th round, but dropped mainly due to his pass coverage liabilities. I think Reddick has the tools to be a star. Victor Butler was signed via Free Agency to rush the Quarterback from the Outside Linebacker position. Butler only started two games in his 4-year career, and has registered 11 sacks. However, Butler injured his ACL a few weeks ago and will be replaced by either Martez Wilson or Junior Galette. Chase Thomas is a notable un-drafted signee who, in his Stanford career, brought the Quarterback down 27.5 times. The question will be if Will Smith starts at Linebacker or End. Smith had 6 sacks for the team in 2o12 and, with the newer 3/4 Defense, will start at one of those positions. If he starts at Defensive End, Martez Wilson and Junior Galette will battle for the starting OLB. Both are young players who only have 3 total starts combined. If Smith doesn’t start at Defensive End, then Akiem Hicks most likely will. Hicks, who was a rookie last season, hasn’t seen a lot of time but is a big 6’5 324 pound body. The real showcase End for the Saints is Cameron Jordan. Cam had a break out season last year with 8 sacks and will be looking to build off of that in 2013. John Jenkins, 6’3 359 pounds from Georgia, was drafted in the 3rd round to anchor the Defensive Line. If Jenkins is conditioned enough to play the position throughout the season, then Brodrick Bunkley would be backing him up. Bunkley is a little undersized to be a Nose Tackle, so I could see him interchanging at End some as well. The Defense has players who should produce better for New Orleans after a disappointing 2012. If they can rank in the Top 15, and you know their Offense should be in the Top 5, then New Orleans will win a whole bunch of games this upcoming season.

End Result: If they stay healthy throughout the season, I predict the Saints will have the NFL’s best record at 14-2.

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NFL 32 Team Preview: Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills will be the next team we feature on the NFL 32 Team overviews. Buffalo hasn’t been to the Playoffs since 1999 and have only one season where they’ve finished with more wins than losses. The Bills have seen 4 head coaches and one interim alternate through the position. Doug Marrone has been hired as the Head Coach for 2013. He’ll be responsible for seeing the franchise return to being a more popular topic of conversation again. In his 4 years as Syracuse’s Head Coach (2009-2012), he held a record of 25-25; before Syracuse, he was a part of the Jets, Titans, and Saints. Doug Marrone is more known for his coaching on the Offensive side of the football, where he’ll help a Bills team that ranked 19th in Total Offense.

Offense: A fluid rushing game that placed 6th in the NFL in 2012, the Bills have a dangerous set of 2 Running Backs in Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Both are duel threats out of the backfield, which can hit a home run at any time, and should be a huge impact for Buffalo next season. Jackson has had leg injuries that have cut his last 2 seasons short — Spiller combined for 1,703 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2012. C.J. ran for 54 first downs and had 12 rushes for 20 yards or more. During the Offseason, the Bills added many players at Wide Receiver in hopes the 25th ranked passing offense would be more explosive. Stevie Johnson has been a pillar of consistency lately and registered his 3rd 1,000 yard receiving season in a row. Johnson tied for the team lead in touchdowns (6), while leading the Bills in yards (1,046) and plays over 20 yards (12). Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin were selected in the 2013 Draft. Woods put up 32 touchdowns in three years at USC. He’ll bring great route running and reliability in key moments to Buffalo. Goodwin is a speedster from the University of Texas who looked much like Mike Wallace on deep routes during Senior Bowl week. Marquise should be an instant deep threat for whomever is throwing the football. T.J. Graham is another notable Receiver for the franchise in 2013, along with un-drafted free agent Da’Rick Rogers. Graham caught 4 touchdowns for the Bills Mafia in his rookie campaign. Rogers was an extremely talented pass catcher in 2011 for Tennessee but, after failed drug tests and character concerns, was kicked off the team and finished 2012 with Tennessee Tech. If he can prove to have his immaturity issues behind him, Rogers could turn out to be the most productive un-drafted rookie. Eric Wood is the most talented Offensive Linemen for the Bills. He’s the starting Center and is going into his 5th season with the team. With the departure of Andy Levitre, Wood is going to have to be the solid anchor of this line. Cordy Glenn (Left Tackle) will pair with Chris Hairston (Right Tackle) to form Buffalo’s starting Tackle duo. Glenn was drafted by the Bills in 2012 and played fairly well in his rookie year. Chris Hairston is the favorite to win Right Tackle but will be in competition with 8-year veteran Erik Pears. Hairston, a 4th round pick in 2011, has started 15 games for the team since ’11. Sam Young, Colin Brown, and Doug Legursky will be fighting for starting Left Guard. Kraig Urbik is expected to be the Right Guard starter but, with the addition of Legursky, could be in competition for his spot as well. Tight End Scott Chandler has been an effective security blanket for the Bills scoring 6 touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s recovering from an ACL injury but, if 100% when the season starts, will be key for the player who wins the Quarterback competition. E.J. Manuel was taken in the 1st round of the Draft to compete for the job with Kevin Kolb. Manuel was the most talented player at his position in the Draft and will become a player that Buffalo fans will gush over quickly. He’s very mobile with a strong arm that will struggle at times with accuracy. Kevin Kolb has never been able to start a full 16 game season due to injuries, and is facing his possible last stop in the NFL with the Bills. Never throwing for over 2,000 yards in a season, Kolb has 28 touchdowns with 25 interceptions over his 6 years. Kolb has a big arm but I feel E.J. is going to win this battle in camp. His mobility, with the weakness of the Offensive Line, is going to be a factor throughout the season. The Receivers and Backs are such talented playmakers with the ball in their hands that, as long as Manuel doesn’t turn the ball over, Buffalo could score a ton of points this upcoming season.

Defense: 22nd overall last year, the Bills struggled against the run (ranking 30th) but played the pass very nicely (ranking 10th). Mario Williams was brought in to put stress on signal-callers, which is just what he did in 2012 with 10.5 sacks. He’ll be one of the cornerstone pieces at Defensive end in Buffalo’s 3/4 scheme switch, making Kyle Williams the other. Williams led the team with 6 tackles for loss last season and put up 5 sacks. He’s a solid player who is a bit overlooked with the other talent that surrounds him on the line. Marcell Dareus, 3rd overall pick in 2011, has registered 5.5 sacks in each year in the NFL and will anchoring the line at Nose Tackle. Dareus did a good job of swatting passes last year, deflecting 6 passes. This group of players is extraordinarily talented and will be the biggest factor in the Defense’s success next season. Kiko Alonso, who was chosen with the 46 overall pick in the Draft, should get the start at Middle Linebacker. He’ll be accompanied by Nigel Bradham who started 11 games for the Bills in his 2012 rookie campaign. Combining for 57 tackles, he and Alonso will be very intriguing to watch this year. The speedy Manny Lawson was signed during Free Agency, and Jerry Hughes was traded for from the Colts to be the starting Outside Linebackers. Hughes, picked in the 1st round of 2010, had a career high 4 sacks last year. Lawson hasn’t been a full time starter since leaving San Francisco in 2010 and played with Cincinnati the last few seasons. Mark Anderson is a notable player at this position; he only played 5 games with the team last year due to knee issues. He’s always been fairly good at putting pressure on the Quarterback when healthy. The Secondary for Buffalo has a few big time players. Jairus Byrd has intercepted 18 passes since entering the league in 2009. The team was worried about losing him to Free Agency, since he was thought of as one of the best available, so they placed the franchise tag on him for this season. One of the best Free Safetys in the NFL, Byrd is key to this Defense. Strong Safety will be a competition between Duke Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, and Jonathan Meeks. Meeks and Williams were both middle-round Draft choices in 2013. Searcy played for the organization the last two years but has only started 3 games. Stephon Gilmore quietly had an impressive rookie season for the Bills with 61 total tackles, 3 forced fumbles, an interception, and 16 pass deflections. He can prove to be one of the better Cornerback’s in the game with the same stats and a few more interceptions in year two. Leodis McKelvin was the Bills 11th overall pick in 2008, but hasn’t played up to the expectations with only 6 career interceptions. They’ll combine to be the starting Cornerbacks with Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers, and Ron Brooks vying for playing time as the backups. As long as Buffalo can put a ton of pressure on the Quarterback in 2013, they’ll be just fine. Their new duo of Middle Linebackers is going to have to be solid versus the running game as well.

End Result: I had the Bills 5-11 when grading out all of the teams in June. After all of New England’s troubles during the Offseason, if the Offense gets rolling with Manuel (assuming he’s the starter), they could win more games than 5.

2013 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings

I have gone through my rankings of QB’s (2013 Fantasy Football QB Rankings), my RB’s (2013 Fantasy Football RB Rankings), my WR’s (2013 Preseason Fantasy Football WR Rankings) & my TE (http://wp.me/p2MUTr-aM). So today I hit you with my Kicker rankings. Want to Download my rankings and print them off? Or Just keep them as a folder for when it’s draft time?

Rank Player Team BYE
1 Matt Bryant ATL 6
2 Stephen Gostkowski NE 10
3 Matt Prater DEN 9
4 Blair Walsh MIN 5
5 Sebastian Janikowski OAK 7
6 Phil Dawson SF 9
7 Garrett Hartley NO 7
8 Justin Tucker BAL 8
9 Greg Zuerlein STL 11
10 David Akers DET 9
11 Steven Hauschka SEA 12
12 Dan Bailey DAL 11
13 Lawrence Tynes TB 5
14 Josh Brown NYG 9
15 Mason Crosby GB 4
16 Alex Henery PHI 12
17 Robbie Gould CHI 8
18 Adam Vinatieri IND 8
19 Shayne Graham CLE 10
20 Kai Forbath WAS 5

NFL 32 Team Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

We’ll be talking about the Philadelphia Eagles today on our breakdown of 32 NFL Teams. Chip Kelly has been the topic of discussion during the Offseason and whether his college-style Offense will hold up in the pros. Kelly’s high speed Offense led Oregon to a 46-7 record over the past 4 seasons with a lot of big game appearances. Some question if Kelly left Oregon because he knew that an NCAA suspension was going to be placed on him. The Eagles are looking for their first winning season since 2010 and for a return to the Playoffs.

Offense: Philadelphia ran the 15th best Total Offense last season, but turned the ball over far too often; notably 37 total fumbles. Mike Vick played in 10 games for the Birds last season, throwing 10 interceptions, and fumbling 11 times (5 lost). Vick did throw for 12 touchdowns and 2,362 yards, but some were impressed by the play of rookie Nick Foles. Foles threw for 1,699 yards, 6 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 8 fumbles (3 lost) in 6 starts. He has a strong arm but many question if he’ll be able to execute Chip Kelly’s style of Offense properly. Notably the Eagles acquired Matt Barkley in the middle-rounds of the Draft. Barkley was the face of USC for his college career, but I find his arm too suspect at the time being. He has good accuracy but his ability to put zip on the ball needs to improve. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson will be the main targets for whoever is throwing the football. Maclin has been consistent when healthy, accruing 3,453 yards receiving with 26 touchdowns in his 4-year career. He led the team with 12 plays over 20 yards in 2012. DeSean Jackson suffered fractured ribs and missed time last season. Jackson hasn’t quite lived up to his elite level of play in the past few campaigns so, hopefully, the addition of Chip Kelly will get him back to his high number of explosive plays. Philadelphia has many other notables at Wide Receiver, such as Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Arrelious Benn and Greg Salas. All will be fighting for playing time as well as a roster spot throughout Training Camp, and the season. Brent Celek has been the starting Tight End for the Eagles for 4 seasons, being reliable for the team during that time scoring a total of 18 touchdowns. Celek and Zach Ertz, who played for Stanford and was selected 35th overall in the Draft, will receive the main playing time. Ertz was thought to be a Jason Witten style of talent entering the Draft, so Celek’s reign as the starter might soon be coming to an end. LeSean McCoy solidifies the Running Back position. McCoy was on his way to this 3rd straight 1,000-yard season until a concussion knocked him out of the remainder of the season. McCoy scored a total of 20 touchdowns in 2011 and will be looking to regain that form under Kelly. He’ll be a key player in how the Offense is going to be run in 2013. Bryce Brown and Felix Jones will be fighting for the roll as number 2 back. Brown had a lot of character issues coming into the NFL, but ran 115 carries, for 564 yards, and 4 touchdowns in his rookie year. Felix Jones never lived up to the hype of being the explosive 1st round pick out of Arkansas, so he’s looking to get a fresh start to prove he wasn’t a total bust selection. Jason Peters missed the entire 2012 season with a ruptured Achilles, so he needs to show he’s still a solid option at Left Tackle. For the future, Philadelphia drafted Lane Johnson 4th overall and he’ll start out his rookie season at Right Tackle. If Peters can’t hold up or struggles in this upcoming year, I’m sure the team will not hesitate to switch Johnson over to the left side. Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans should be the Eagles starting Guards. Notably, the Eagles still have Danny Watkins, who they selected in the 1st round of the 2011 Draft, but he’s not consistent enough to start. Jason Kelce is returning from an MCL injury and will be the team’s starting Center. Kelce is regarded to be an ideal fit for the Offense that Chip Kelly is bringing over. This is going to be one of the most watched and scrutinized Offenses in the league this year. If all can stay healthy, Philadelphia has plenty of playmakers who can score a lot of points in the upcoming season.

Defense: Philadelphia only tallied 8 interceptions in 2012, ranking 15th in Total Defense (23rd against the run and 9th versus the pass). DeMeco Ryans led the team in tackles (113 total, 14 for loss) and is the starting Middle Linebacker. He was brought in from Houston to be the leader of the Defense last year, and that’s just what he did. Mychal Kendricks will be his partner in the middle. Kendricks was taken in the 2nd round of the 2012 Draft. He started 14 games for the Birds during his rookie year with 75 tackles. Casey Matthews, brother of Clay, is still a back up on the team that cannot seem to find his way onto the field. Trent Cole had a shockingly bad season for the Eagles with only 3 sacks. It was the worst of his career and he’ll have plenty of pass rushing opportunities to redeem himself as Outside Linebacker in the 3/4. Connor Barwin was brought in during Free Agency to start at the other Outside Linebacker. Barwin was disruptive in 2011 with 11.5 sacks, but only managed to bring the Quarterback down 3 times in 2012. Everette Brown is attempting to rejuvenate himself at back up along with Brandon Graham. Graham has been a major disappointment since being selected 13th overall in 2010, only accomplishing 8.5 sacks in 12 total starts. He did tie for the team high in sacks with 5.5 last season. The Defensive Line is very big and powerful for Philadelphia. Fletcher Cox had a good rookie campaign with 5.5 sacks. He’ll get the nod at End along with either Clifton Geathers or Vinny Curry. Clifton is a huge player at 6’7 330 pounds, and has a football bloodline similar to Matthews. He’s seeing his 6th team in 3 years and is hoping to stick and contribute. Vinny Curry was highly spoken of during the 2012 draft, and was thought to have been a steal for the Birds in the 2nd round. He couldn’t find his way onto the field a lot during his rookie year, so he improved his strength over the Offseason to be able to fit the Eagles’ new Defense. The anchor of the 3/4 will be Isaac Sopoaga, who comes from the 49ers. Sopoaga will be solid for the team against the run immediately. Antonio Dixon might sub for him during pass situations. Fans feel that Dixon is a perfect fit at Nose Tackle for Philadelphia’s new look, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs when given the opportunity. The Secondary for the Birds was totally rebuilt during Free Agency. Kenny Phillips, who was brought in to play Free Safety, has had trouble staying healthy and was a playmaker for the New York Giants. Patrick Chung will be starting at Strong Safety and was a key member of the Patriots over the past 4 seasons. If both of these players can stay healthy throughout 2013, they’ll be a strong pairing for Quarterbacks to face. Kurt Coleman is a notable back up who intercepted 7 passes over his 3 year career, as well is Nate Allen who hasn’t panned out for the Eagles since being drafted 37th overall in 2010. Fletcher Bradley and Cary Williams were signed to be Philly’s starting Cornerbacks. Bradley has injury concerns but is a good pass coverer when on the field. Williams won a Super Bowl with Baltimore in 2012, intercepting 4 passes. Brandon Boykin will more than likely have the duty of covering the slot receivers as he tries to prove that he shouldn’t have been overlooked in the 2012 draft. Some thought Boykin was the steal of the Draft in round 4, so he’ll be looking to have a productive 2013. The Eagles have a lot of great talent that is and isn’t proven. If some of the guys that haven’t lived up to expectations can step up for the team in 2013, they could turn out to be a nuisance.

End Result: I predict that Philadelphia will struggle going 4-12, while trying to lay the foundation for seasons to come under their new Head Coach.

NFL 32 Team Preview: Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts are next up on our NFL 32 Team Preview. Indy has made the Playoffs 12 out of the last 14 seasons. Their newly appointed Head Coach in 2012, Chuck Pagano, missed a majority of the season fighting cancer. He is in remission and eager to get his first full year going. The Colts held an 11-5 record, making the Playoffs, but lost the Wild Card round for the 2nd time in as many appearances. Pagano’s main challenge this upcoming season will be improving the 26th ranked Defense as he is known for specializing on that side of the ball.

Offense: Andrew Luck was brought in to replace Peyton Manning at Quarterback, during the 2012 Draft, and started off filling big shoes well by leading his team to the Playoffs. Indianapolis placed 10th in Total Offense last year with Luck leading the team to 7th in passing. Luck had stellar numbers for a player who was sacked 41 times in his rookie campaign. He totaled 4,374 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions, leading to a Pro Bowl selection. The advantage of Andrew as a mobile Quarterback is huge for Indianapolis due to their poor Offensive Line. Anthony Castonzo starts at Left Tackle and was chosen with the 22nd pick in the 2011 Draft. He played decently last year but will need to strive forward after allowing 11 sacks. Indy brought in Gosder Cherilus to try and sure up Right Tackle. Cherilus only let 5 sacks occur in 2012, while he played all but one snap for the Detroit Lions. Donald Thomas was also acquired in Free Agency. He has started 21 games in his 5-year career and will be starting Left Guard. Right will be a battle between rookie Hugh Thornton and Mike McGlynn. The spot should go to Thornton since McGlynn played very poorly last year. Samson Satele should begin the season as Indy’s Center unless the 121st overall pick, Khaled Holmes, starts for show reliability during practices. They’ll need to be sure Luck has time to throw the football, as well as open holes for a rushing offensive that ranked 22nd the past year. Ahmad Bradshaw was huge addition for Indianapolis in the Offseason, bringing along a 4.6 career yard per carry average with 35 total career touchdowns. He and Vick Ballard will handle the main workload. Ballard perform nicely in his rookie season, gaining 814 yards on the ground. Donald Brown and Delone Carter are notable names that will be fighting to keep their jobs on the roster during Training Camp. Dwayne Allen was consistent for the team in his rookie year at Tight End. He ended with 521 yards and 3 touchdowns, while other rookie Coby Fleener accounted for 281 yards with 2 scores. They’ll both be vital players for Luck in 2013, however, not as vital as Reggie Wayne. Wayne was back to his old ways for Indy last season with 106 receptions (22 for 20+ yards), 1,355 yards, including 5 touchdowns. Reggie needs 135 catches for 1,518 yards to pass Marvin Harrison as the All-Time leader in those categories. T.Y. Hilton is the other main option for Luck and had a stellar rookie season with 50 catches for 861 yards, including 7 touchdowns. Darrius Heyward-Bey was added to try and solidify the group. Heyward-Bey is thought of as a bust selection after the reach Oakland made on him in the 2009 Draft, but has been a lot more consistent the past few seasons. Tallying 9 touchdowns in his last few seasons with the Raiders, Darrius will be key for the Colts when they’re not coming out in 2 Tight End formations. If Bradshaw can bring to Indianapolis’s Offense that he did New York’s, the Colts will be a serious contender in the AFC.

Defense: Indianapolis finished 21st against the pass and 29th versus the run last season. Their Secondary is steady group of guys that start with Antoine Betha at Free Safety. He’s had 696 total tackles in his 7-year career, with 12 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles. Betha will be paired with a Strong Safety who pass-catchers fear when going across the field. LaRon Landry is one of the strongest hitters in the league and signed a four-year deal with the team in the Offseason. He’ll immediately make an impact with his presence alone. Darius Butler will get starting Cornerback duties along with Vontae Davis.  Butler intercepted 4 passes, a career high, while Davis took away 3. Both need to tighten up their tackling but might have found a home in Miami. The 5-year vets are hoping to produce, at least, the same numbers as they had in 2012. A great addition to the Cornerback group was Greg Toler. Toler has fought injuries in his 4 years at Arizona, and was one of the most sought after Defensive Backs while Free Agency was going on. Toler, in his career, has a total of 5 interceptions. During Free Agency, the Colts signed Ricky Jean-Francois from San Francisco to play Defensive End. He’ll be a solid addition against the run and should be an impact quickly. Cory Redding is going into his 2nd season with the franchise and looking to prove age is not catching up to him after registering only 2 sacks last year. Aubrayo Franklin is another player trying to show he still has it after 11 years and will be the anchor for the Defense at Nose Tackle. Franklin hasn’t quite returned to his San Francisco playing form over the past few seasons. He’s been on four teams over as many years now, and this might be the last stop for Franklin if he can’t prove to play steady. Indy selected Montori Hughes in the 4th round of the Draft in case Franklin doesn’t hold up. To rush the Quarterback off the edges, Bjoern Werner and Robert Mathis will be the starting Outside Linebackers. Werner is a rookie out of Florida State with a big motor that I compare to Ryan Kerrigan of the Washington Redskins. He mainly played D-End in college but should be fine rushing the passer and playing the run in 2013. Mathis is the longest tenured player on this Defense, putting up 91.5 sacks over his 10-year career, and also made the Pro Bowl last season. Erik Walden was brought in be in the rotation with these players and has 3 sacks in each of the last 3 years with Green Bay. Opinions are Indianapolis overpaid for this player, so he’s going to have to prove his worth by applying Quarterback stress. After bouncing around the NFL and CFL for a while, Jerrell Freeman found a home in Indy last season. He led the team with 145 total tackles (team high 6 for loss), 2 sacks, and an interception. Freeman will be starting at Middle Linebacker with either Kelvin Sheppard or Pat Angerer. Angerer was looking to be one of the more promising young Linebackers in the league until his injury plagued 2012. Sheppard was brought over in case Angerer isn’t ready for the season or plays poorly, and I was very intrigued by him when he entered the 2011 NFL Draft. He started all but 1 game for Buffalo last season and should be reliable if the team needs to call on him. The Defense is going to need to hold up throughout the year for this team to be very successful in the upcoming campaign. They have all to tools to compete well against the pass, but will need to hold steady to stop the run.

End Result: I think the Colts are going to be very much in the mix of things in the AFC, finishing with a record of 10-6.

Jordy Nelson > Randall Cobb

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

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Randall Cobb – Current ADP 31st overall – 10th ranked WR (16th in my rankings)

A big debate in the fantasy world right now is where to rank Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson. Well I have Nelson ranked 11th in my rankings and I have Cobb ranked 16th. I am not as high on Cobb as most and I just think Nelson will be a better option this coming year. I know the Packers plan on using Cobb in various formations which will result into some more handoffs this season. I just don’t think he will be as good as Nelson this season. I also think that Rodgers likes to throw to Nelson more as well. It shows in the number of targets each guy received in games they both played in last season.

Game Nelson Cobb
09-Sep 7 9
13-Sep 9 2
24-Sep 3 2
30-Sep 12 8
07-Oct 5 4
14-Oct 12 10
21-Oct 9 8
18-Nov 5 12
25-Nov 4 7
05-Jan 6 2
12-Jan 7 6

*I didn’t include games in which Cobb or Nelson didn’t play together in*

As you can see in the chart above Rodgers targeted  Nelson more than Cobb in 8 out the 11 games they played together. Nelson also had a better YPC 15.2 to 11.9 and only scored 1 less touchdown (7 to 8) in 4 fewer games. Nelson was also targeted 11 times in the Red Zone compared to Cobb’s 7. The fact that Nelson is a full 4 inches taller than him benefits him as well.

If I have the choice in the middle of Round 2 of taking Cobb (Where his current ADP is) or snagging a RB and waiting till the middle of round 3 for Nelson. I am waiting and getting Nelson every time.

I project their 2013 stat lines to look like this.

Randall Cobb – 95 receptions – 1140 yards – 7 TDs – Fantasy Points – (156 standard) (251 PPR)
Jordy Nelson – 80 receptions – 1200 yards – 12 TDs – Fantasy Points – (192 standard) (272 PPR)

NFL 32 Team Preview: Seattle Seahawks

There are 14 teams left on our 32 NFL Team reviews, and today’s squad is the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll has a record of 25-23 since returning to the NFL in 2010. He’s gotten 2 Wild Card Playoff wins, and lost twice in the Divisional round over the past 3 seasons. Carroll has done a great job molding a franchise that’s forming a tough opponent for other teams to deal with. They have a great home field advantage and didn’t lose one game at home in 2012. Some believe the road to the Super Bowl is going to go through Seattle this upcoming season. With the Super Bowl playing in cold New York, if that prediction does come to fruition, whoever represents the NFC will be well prepared for the weather.

Offense: The Seahawks selected the steal of the 2012 Draft in the 3rd round last season when they chose Russell Wilson with the 75th overall pick. I was one of the few who had complete faith in the former Wolfpack and Badger Quarterback. The way he switched teams in college, and was immediately named a Captain, jumped out to me first. He completed 72% of his passes that season with 33 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. I couldn’t understand any other reason why he wasn’t projected to be a 1st round pick, other than his height. He stepped right in for the Seahawks and, after starting a little slow, really started to get this team rolling offensively. He led Seattle down the stretch in their final 8 regular season games, only throwing 2 interceptions and accounting for 20 total touchdowns. Russell is becoming the face of the franchise, but he’s more a “Robin” to the “Batman” that is Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had a career year in 2012 with 1,590 yards on the ground and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 5.0 yards per carry, which is stellar for a Running Back with over 300 attempts. Opening holes for the Running Back, and keeping the Quarterback upright, is the job Pro Bowlers Max Unger and Russell Okung. Okung played his most games in a season (15) and didn’t miss consecutive games for the first time in his career. If he can continue to stay on the field, he’s a difference maker for the Offensive Line. Center, Max Unger, is quietly becoming one of the best at his position. Max has started every game expect 1 for the Seahawks the past 2 seasons, and has only given up 1.5 sacks. James Carpenter was picked 25th overall in 2011. He has had nothing but injury problems since his arrival while playing both Tackle and Guard. Carpenter should be one of the team’s starting Guards. Breno Giacomini, who should be the Seahawks starting Right Tackle, played all 16 games for the organization in 2012. He only gave up 4 sacks, but was penalized 12 times. John Moffitt and Paul McQuistan will be in competition for the starting Guard spot. McQuistan was solid for the Seahawks last season. Moffitt is younger blood that the franchise selected 75th overall in 2011. Seattle’s Wide Receivers made a good amount of plays in 2012. Both Golden Tate (12) and Sidney Rice (11) had numerous plays for 20 yards or more, and both caught 7 touchdowns each. Rice showed flashes of his 2009 form and has the chance to be one of the most productive pass-catchers in 2013. The threat of Percy Harvin, who Seattle traded for during the Offseason, is just adding another weapon for this Offense going forward. Harvin played in 9 games before his injury last season; his name was at times discussed as mid-season MVP. If all the names mentioned can stay healthy, along with Doug Baldwin, they’ll be an obnoxious bunch for Defensive Backs to handle. Zach Miller is the Hawks’ starting Tight End. A reliable target, Zach really shined in the playoff game against Atlanta, with a torn ligament in his foot. He’ll be a nice security option for Wilson, if fully healthy. Seattle added Christine Michael, Running Back, in the Draft. He’s explosive but carries red flags for both injuries and character. He’ll be battling Robert Turbin who had solid play when called on in his rookie year last season. Without a doubt, the Hawks will finish better than last year’s rank of 17th in total offense and score a ton of points next season.

Defense: 4th overall in 2012, Seattle’s Defense tied for 5th in forced fumbles (20) and 8th in interceptions (18). The Seahawks cover the pass well and have a talented set of Defensive Backs. Earl Thomas is arguably the best Free Safety in the NFL. In his 3 NFL seasons, Earl’s combined for 240 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. He and Kam Chancellor, Strong Safety, cover the field as good as any duo in the league. Chancellor, about the size of a Linebacker, and the former Virginia Tech Hokie, has moved around from Cornerback to Safety.  The Cornerbacks for Seattle consist of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Sherman tied for 2nd in the league with 8 interceptions. With 12 in the last 2 seasons, Sherman needs to have another solid campaign to prove he’s on the level of a Darrelle Revis standard of play. Browner is a rare 6’4 specimen at the Cornerback spot, who has intercepted 9 passes in his 2 years as a pro. To handle the slot receivers, the Hawks brought in Antoine Winfield. Going into his 15th season in the NFL, Winfield will be looking to be the final piece to what is already a masterful Secondary. Bobby Wagner, Middle Linebacker, was the leading tackler on the team in 2012, tallying 140 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 interceptions. Very impressive for a rookie; Bobby will be a force for the team this upcoming season. K.J. Wright, one of Seattle’s starting Outside Linebackers, posted good stats in his second NFL season, finishing 2nd on the team in tackles. Bruce Irvin, Malcolm Smith, and Heath Farwell will be fighting for the other Outside Linebacker opening. Pete Carroll stated, Seattle plays a 4/3 scheme but they tend to give a lot of 3/4 looks. Irvin will be very effective at this position during these looks showcasing what he does best, coming off the edge. He brought the Quarterback down 8 times in his rookie season, so the coaches are trying to find ways to get him on the field more. Red Bryant and Cliff Avril will be serving as the starting Defensive Ends. Bryant excels at blocking kicks and is a big body that forces a double team. Avril had 29 sacks in the past 3 seasons with the Detroit Lions, and will be a prefect addition if he can keep that production up. Chris Clemons led the team with 11.5 sacks and has been known in his career for putting stress on the Quarterback. It was his 3rd straight season achieving 11 sacks. Michael Bennett was also signed during Free Agency and put up 9 sacks for Tampa Bay in 2012. The starting Tackles for the Defense will be Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel. Mebane is the longest tenured Seahawk going into his 7th season, a sign of how young this Defense really is, and plays the run extremely well. McDaniel was brought over from Miami and is thought to start immediately. Seattle should post a top 3 ranking in Defense in 2013, barring injuries. They’re extremely young as well as talented, and will be a force for years to come.

End Result: I believe that Seattle will tie for 1st in their division with the St. Louis Rams, at a record of 10-6. No matter what their final record will dictate in 2013, it will involve plenty of home wins.

NFL 32 Team Preview: San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are next up on our 32 NFL Team breakdowns. San Diego hired Mike McCoy to fill their Head Coach vacancy during the Offseason. Norv Tuner was fired after the team had its first losing season since 2003. McCoy has a had a lot of NFL coaching experience with Carolina and Denver, but this will be his first go-around as a Head Coach. He’ll be looking to make sure that the Chargers don’t miss the Playoffs for the 4th consecutive year in a row.

Offense: The most intriguing part of the hiring of McCoy was the pairing of him with Philip Rivers. McCoy led Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow to career years and worked very well with Peyton Manning last season. Rivers needed a fresh start and McCoy should help him get that and improve on the 24th ranked passing offense from 2012. Rivers was arguably one of the better Quarterbacks in the league at one point, but over the past few seasons hasn’t been his vintage self. Last season, Rivers went down a total of 49 times, and threw 35 interceptions the past 2 years. San Diego knew they had to help keep Rivers standing up and acquired D.J. Fluker with the 11th overall selection in the Draft. Fluker has been questioned if he can handle the Right Tackle position due to his footwork. There has been talk of moving him to the Guard position but I think he’ll handle Tackle fine. He’s a good addition at either position to an Offensive Line that needs new life. Max Starks was brought in to fill the Left Tackle need during Free Agency. Starks had one of his better years only allowing 3 sacks for Pittsburgh last season. With Fluker at Right Tackle, Chad Rinehart would be the starting Right Guard. Rinehart played mostly with the Redskins and Bills. He missed part of 2012 with a season-ending ankle injury but was reliable during his time in Buffalo. Rich Ohrnberger and Johnnie Troutman will be the lead candidates for the Left Guard position and will be battling during Training Camp. Nick Hardwick had one of his worst years last season. The Center needs to rebound and become the pillar of the line once again in 2013. To help Rivers give someone to throw the ball to, the Chargers acquired Keenan Allen in the 3rd round of the Draft. The Wide Receiver was an impressive playmaker at Cal-Berkeley; he fell in the draft due to a knee injury suffered last season. If he can stay healthy, Allen will be a great asset to pair with Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander. Floyd led the team with 56 receptions, in 2012, that went for 814 yards (15 of which were for 20 yards or more) and 5 touchdowns. He accounted for the most first downs on the team with 48. Danario Alexander made a huge impact on the team, catching 37 balls, for 658 yards and 7 touchdowns, in only 10 games played with 6 starts. He quickly became one of Rivers favorite targets when he saw playing time. San Diego will also be getting back Vincent Brown who is a solid route runner and will fit in nicely with the realm of receiving group. Eddie Royal is a notable player here. He didn’t live up to the type of numbers the fans expected him to have last season. However, he could be the odd man out, if everyone stays healthy at this position, and be limited to just return duties. Antonio Gates has been a fixture at Tight End but had disappointing numbers in 2012. He caught 49 passes for 538 yards, his lowest since his rookie year in 2003. He did account for 7 touchdowns but Rivers will need him to be more reliable in his 11th year. Ladarius Green is a physical 6’6 target that some feel could be the next starter at Tight End. Green is going into his second year as a pro and he’ll be someone to keep an eye on when he gets his opportunities this upcoming season. Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead will be the Chargers’ two main Running Backs. Matthews was a player I was enamored with coming into the NFL, but he hasn’t lived up to the expectations I had for him. Partial blame can be put on the Offensive Line, but Matthews hasn’t had a 100-yard game since 12/11/11 vs. Buffalo. Ryan only had one run for 2o yards or more last season. He’s working hard on trying not to fumble as much and needs to be a 1,000-yard back for this Offense to be explosive. Woodhead was a free agent signing who played with the Patriots most of his career. Danny is a versatile back who will help the Offense more on 3rd downs and in the Red Zone. McCoy has a lot of good pieces to work with for this upcoming season in San Diego. The team is going to have to stay healthy and keep Philip Rivers comfortable in the pocket to be successful in 2013.

Defense: San Diego placed 9th in total defense last season, and forced 20 fumbles to go along with 14 interceptions. They’ll hope to get more pressure on signal callers now with the addition of Dwight Freeney. Freeney didn’t really seem like he was a strong presence in the 3-4 scheme with the Colts last season. He had the second lowest sack total of his career with 5, and has digressed in sacks over the last four seasons. Jarret Johnson will be the other starting Outside Linebacker. He was more known for his “we don’t know how to win” comment last year than his play. His backup, Larry English, has never lived up to the hype that surrounded him as a 1st round pick. Donald Butler will be returning at Middle Linebacker. Butler is solid when he’s on the field, but missed 4 of the last 5 games because he was hurt, and was forced to miss his 2010 rookie campaign due to injury. He’s the most reliable starter in the Linebacker group, so the Chargers would like him to rub some of his knowledge on to rookie Manti Te’o. Te’o was thought of as a Top 5-10 pick in the 2012 and 2013 Drafts. We all know the reason he dropped on a lot of organization’s boards, so where he landed in San Diego was a steal in the 2nd round. Te’o intercepted 7 passes in his final year at Notre Dame. He’ll bring a solid tackling presence and good pass coverage immediately to a position that needs talented youth badly. Defensive End Corey Liuget took a step forward in his game last season, as the former 2011 1st round pick put up 7 sacks, leading the Chargers in tackles for loss with 6. Kendall Reyes will be looking to build off his 5.5 sack rookie season and perform to Liuget’s level of play at the other End. Scouts questioned if he’d be able to put pressure on the Quarterback going into last year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in this upcoming season. Cam Thomas is a nice-sized body to anchor the Line at Nose Tackle. Thomas has racked up 6 sacks in his 3 years with the franchise. San Diego signed Derek Cox via Free Agency to play Cornerback. Cox is a solid player who missed 14 games due to injuries over the past 2 seasons and has 12 total interceptions in his 4-year career. He’s by far the best choice for top of the depth chart at the position; Johnny Patrick, Cornelius Brown, Shareece Wright and Steve Williams will be the other players fighting to play at Corner. Marcus Gilchrist was always considered more suited for Safety and will be switching over from Cornerback to become the team’s starting Strong Safety in 2013. Gilchrist is a solid tackler who’s decent in the passing game. He’ll be paired with a player that’s quietly been one of the best at his position, Free Safety Eric Weddle. Weddle led the team in tackles with 97 last year, also registering 9 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and a sack. If Eric can produce the same numbers with a few more interceptions, he’ll surely be a Pro Bowl selection in 2013 for the second time in his career. San Diego’s Defense has all the right players in the middle of the field, at Middle Linebacker and Safety positions, to continue off their 2012 success. They’ll need to hold up on the outsides and put stress on the Quarterback frequently in order to be extremely effective this year.

End Result: I foresee McCoy leading his team to a winning record of 9-7, with Rivers and the Offense showing major improvement.

5 Fantasy Football Picks to Avoid

The NFL season is approaching fast! Mock and real Drafts are taking place nightly across the board. I’ve done a few mocks this year already and, like everyone else, am ready for the football season to get started. We all have guys circled on our draft boards that we are hoping fall onto our rosters come draft nights. This discussion will be pointing out 5 guys that you might want to avoid come draft night.

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is coming into his first full season as the starting quarterback for the 49ers, after he took over midway thru last year. Kaepernick is drawing attention across fantasy drafts like crazy, but I’m not sure he’s worth a high pick this year. He’s being drafted at an average of 7th best quarterback in ESPN leagues and I think you can find better value than Kapernick at those points. He’s got a very thin wide receiving core and he’s going to be without his best wideout from last year, Michael Crabtree. He’s got Anquan Boldin now, but I’m not sold Boldin can replace the production Keapernick got from Crabtree. Kaepernick does have his running skills and playmaking ability to keep him afloat in fantasy. I think you can avoid him however, and find better production in other players at the quarterback position.

Maurice Jones-Drew

Maurice Jones-Drew is coming off a Lisfranc injury. I’m not sold he can fully recover and return to the old MJD we all were accustomed to. The Jaguars offense is not that talented, so MJD will have to shoulder most of the load at running back. Drew is going off the board in the second round in some drafts now, and may even go higher if proven to be healthy when training camp starts. He’s not going to be that high on my draft board, as I’m not a believer in him being fully healthy at the start of the year. If I’m taking a running back around the 2nd round, I have to be looking for a guy who’s going to start all of my games but maybe 2. MJD is not that guy.

Rashard Mendenhall

Rashard Mendenhall is on a new team, but don’t expect him to be a steal in the later rounds of the draft. Bruce Arians the head coach of the Cardinals now led the Colts last year. Arians called nearly 60% passing plays with the Colts and will do the same with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald on his team now. Mendenhall should get the starting job, but look for the young running back, Ryan Williams, to take his spot as the starter at some point in the year.  If Williams doesn’t, keep in mind the Cardinals also took two RB’s in the draft. Who knows what happens at RB for the Cardinals next year.  I highly recommend when round 5 rolls around, if you see Rashard Mendenhall’s name there pass him over.

Wes Welker

Wes Welker left the Patriots this year to join the Broncos. He will join an offense, led by Peyton Manning, that already includes WR of Demaryious Thomas and Eric Decker. Welker was the main WR in New England, and caught over 100 balls becoming a PPR machine for fantasy teams. Welker has already said that if he catches 100 plus balls this year, then something is wrong in the offense with all the guys around him. Welker is not a threat to catch many touchdowns, especially with Thomas and Decker on the field as well. If Welker falls to the 5th round, you might consider taking him, but don’t reach for him in the 2nd or 3rd rounds like some of the others will.

Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson is going into his 2nd year with the Cleveland Browns and is ranked in the top 10 on most fantasy sites. I’m not sold on him being a proven top 10 pick in this years draft. He’s coming off a rookie season where he averaged just 3.6 years per carry but he was able to produce 11 touchdowns. Many fans, including myself, think that T-rich is injured prone and not something you want in a top 10 draft pick. Richardson even went as far this offseason to state he’s not injured prone all the time, but I’m sorry Mr. Richardson you will have to prove to me otherwise.

There you have 5 guys that I won’t be picking at their average draft positions this year. I’m not saying they don’t have good value if they start to slip, but be careful where you draft these guys. Try to avoid them if at all possible.

@mattbell211