MONDAY MORNING JOLT
By Leo Paciga @FFHoudini
As we get ready to embark on another glorious and adventure filled season in the NFL, it’s time to set the stage with my weekly “in season” article, “The Monday Morning Jolt” which you’ll find here at DFW every Monday morning (hence the catchy title with the word Monday in it). The “Monday Morning Jolt” will be a look back at the happenings and performances from around the NFL each week, focusing on situations and players that caught my eye or made me scratch my head in either awe or disbelief. I’ll combine my 40 years of being a diehard NFL fan with 25 years of fantasy football experience to hopefully bring you an insightful and entertaining perspective of the NFL each and every Monday. So without any further delay, let’s take a closer look at week number two of the NFL preseason.
- Cincinnati running back Giovani Bernard is everything BenJarvus Green-Ellis isn’t…….and that’s great news for the Bengals.
- Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley looked good catching more passes than he dropped against the Rams and rookie running back Eddie Lacy appeared every bit as fierce as he’s been advertised (when healthy). NFC North teams should be worried if these two trends continue into the season.
- Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden actually looks like he’s made significant strides this off season. Through 2 preseason games, Weeden has completed 18 of 25 attempts for 229 yards and 3 TDs, but even more importantly, the Cleveland quarterback has made good decisions, strong throws, worked through his WR progressions and made solid pre-snap reads. With all of this great news, the only downfall is there will be 30 candles on Weeden’s birthday cake when the big day rolls around later this fall.
- All the hype surrounding dynasty darling Jordan Cameron seems to finally be warranted. Cameron – a former basketball player turned WR and then turned TE – has that high athletic ceiling that most fantasy football junkies crave. Up until this season, however, Cameron has done little more than whet the appetites of fantasy owners by providing small glimpses of his untapped potential. New Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner have an accomplished track record of developing and emphasizing TEs in their respective offensive schemes and Thursday night’s game only reinforced that fact. Cameron’s athletic ability was on full display while hauling in 3 passes for 42 yards and 2 TDs against the Lions and I would expect more of the same as Weeden and Cameron continue to build chemistry this fall.
- Reggie Bush may be struggling to find running room this preseason (11 carries, 20 yards), but Matthew Stafford is going to absolutely love having Mr. Bush as a security blanket this year. Reggie Bush hasn’t topped the 50 reception mark since 2008, but shattering that plateau is a certainty this season as long as he stays healthy.
- I know I’m overstating the obvious, but Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones is simply a man among boys when it comes to physical ability. No offense to fellow Falcon Roddy White, but Julio is already Atlanta’s top wide receiver.
- Somebody please tell Kansas City tight end Anthony Fasano to get out of the way so rookie Travis Kelce can live up to the off season hype I’ve already bestowed upon him. And while we’re talking about the Kansas City Chiefs, running back Knile Davis racked up 68 yards on 13 touches (10 rushes, 3 rec.) against a tough San Francisco defense. As Jamaal Charles’ primary backup, Knile Davis is far more fantasy relevant than most experts want to admit.
- Saints running back Mark Ingram looked good in his limited action Friday night. Ingram showed a nice burst running off tackle and into the end-zone when Oakland’s defense lost the edge. It also looks like youngsters Kenny Stills and Nick Toon will both be offensive factors at wide receiver during the 2013 season. Toon flashed the ability to get deep and did a terrific job tracking a long Drew Brees pass, while Stills exhibited a nice combination of speed and control all over the field. One last thought on the Saints…do not underestimate the positive impact associated with the return of HC Sean Payton. Payton will have this team focused, relaxed (oxymoron, I know) and ready to execute on a very high level come week 1 of the regular season.
- With 8 receptions for 138 yards during the first 2 preseason games, David Gettis may be emerging as a viable option in the Carolina passing attack. I know somewhere Cam Newton is smiling.
- Outside of Torrey Smith, the Ravens lack the offensive weapons needed to attack the field in more than 10 yard increments. Opposing defenses will bracket Smith down field and play everyone else so close to the line of scrimmage that it will likely suffocate any creativity HC John Harbaugh may have up his sleeve. Ray Rice‘s value in PPR leagues also gets a major boost after watching Baltimore’s first two preseason games.
- The Buffalo Bills are going to run the ball….and run the ball….and then run it some more. The Bills have rushed the ball 40 times in each of their first two preseason games. By comparison, the 49ers (a team built around the run) ran 22 running plays in their first preseason game and 24 times in week number two. That commitment to the run spells huge opportunities for fantasy favorite C.J. Spiller and his back up Fred Jackson. Two weeks ago, I wasn’t the least bit excited about the Bills quarterback situation, but after watching E.J. Manuel through two games, I’m impressed by the rookie’s overall game and hope he heals up quickly from his “minor knee surgery”. One more Bills comment, as a dynasty owner I’ve been on the Marcus Easley bandwagon since he was drafted in the 4th round out of the University of Connecticut by the Bills in 2010. Easley has a rare speed/power/athletic combination, but with a stable full of promising, young, upside wide receivers in Buffalo, Easley’s solid preseason may be too little, too late. I know I’m rooting for him regardless.
- Is there a back up running back battle more important AND less interesting than the competition between Mike James and Peyton Hillis in Tampa?
- The San Diego Chargers need to find a way to get both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green on the field at the same time. Unfortunately, even if the Chargers do manage to work those two players onto the field simultaneously, both tight ends may be required to stay in and pass protect on every single play just to keep Phillip Rivers from eating turf.
- Patriots running back Shane Vereen had a stat line of 4/29 rushing the ball and 4/46 on pass receptions in limited play. It’s a small sample size, but it’s also a good indication of the type of involvement I expect to see from Vereen on a weekly basis during the season with his 14-16 touches a game. Yes, I know…Danny Amendola looks like a lock for 125 catches, 1,500 yards and 15 TD’s after his Friday night performance. Look, I think the second coming of Wes Welker is in line for good numbers, but I’m still a little hesitant to go “all in” on the Amendola hype train. At this point, I’m not sure if the “swimmies” (or “floaties”, depending on which part of the country you’re from) I’m wearing will keep me afloat when the Amendola tsunami hits after one more big preseason performance.
- Don’t look now, but HC Marc Trestman is going to make Jay Cutler and Matt Forte as fantasy football relevant as Brandon Marshall this season.
- It was disappointing to see Oakland TE David Ausberry suffer what looks to be a serious shoulder injury during the game against the Saints. Ausberry was a late “sleeper” pick at tight end who had the potential to do some damage down the seam with his athletic ability. Seventh round draft pick Brice Butler has continued to shine at WR and at 6’3″, 214 lbs. with a 4.37 40 time, Butler makes for a great dynasty stash. The bottom line with the Raiders, however, is that unless the offensive line play improves dramatically by September, Matt Flynn is in for the longest season of his life. I’m not sure what type of mental toughness Flynn brings to the table, but by week 3 he may wish he was still in Seattle holding the clipboard behind Russell Wilson.
- Speaking of Russell Wilson, that guy is one smooth dude….seriously. The Seattle quarterback appears to be the perfect combination of speed, power, intelligence and mental fortitude. Upper management for both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs must feel pangs of “what if” every time Wilson steps onto the field. Both teams passed on Russell Wilson in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL draft; the Jaguars selected punter Bryan Anger (yes, I said “punter”) and the Chiefs preferred OL Donald Stephenson, now a swing tackle with the 2nd unit.
- After visiting St. Louis Rams camp last week, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had this to say about tight end Jared Cook, “I have not seen a better offensive weapon in all the practices I’ve seen on this training camp tour.” I certainly don’t doubt Peter King’s knowledge and insight, but after a few underachieving seasons in Tennessee; I’d like to see more than one catch for 37 yards through two preseason games from the big fella before going all in.
- I’d really like to see Dolphins running back Lamar Miller put a nail in the coffin…..and by “coffin” I mean fellow running back Daniel Thomas. Miller is far too talented to find himself in a timeshare with Thomas, but the second year back needs to start taking advantage of the opportunity he’s been given. On a sad note, the season ending knee injury to tight end Dustin Keller is a tough blow to Miami’s offense and to Keller’s future. Dustin Keller signed a one year “prove it” deal this off season with the Dolphins worth $4.25 million with just $2.35 million guaranteed.
- With an uber talented trio of wide receivers drawing attention in Denver, tight end Julius Thomas is in the perfect situation to gallop through opposing secondaries virtually unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is, until Peyton Manning uses his new weapon at TE to dissect the opposition down the middle of the field on a weekly basis. With rookie running back Montee Ball and 2nd year back Ronnie Hillman both struggling somewhat in preseason, HC John Fox must get a sense of comfort knowing that Knowshon Moreno is still on the roster. As a fantasy owner, however, that same thought will only leave you with a strong case of indigestion.
Well, that wraps up this week’s Monday Morning Jolt and a look back at week 2 of the NFL preseason. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to me here at DFW or on Twitter @FFHoudini. Until next Monday, here’s hoping all your fantasy starters perform well in practice and stay injury free.
Read more DFW articles by: Leo Paciga