Gregg Rosenthal

Offseason Low Down

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NFL Notes: Burying Benson

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Cedric Benson's release could oddly hurt Matt Forte's fantasy stock depending on who Chicago adds to their backfield. Look at it this way; If Benson played like he did in 2007, he wasn't much competition for Forte. If the Bears look into signing Kevin Jones or LaMont Jordan (once released), carries could be split more evenly.

While I don't expect a move anytime soon, the Bears are likely to make an addition by late July. I doubt they are fully comfortable with Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe as second and third running backs. It's possible Chicago will simply sign a camp body or a journeyman veteran like Ron Dayne. In that case, Forte is likely to hit 300 touches as a rookie and looks like a surefire top-50 fantasy pick. The situation won't be so clear, however, if they get him better competition. And it's hard to imagine it getting any worse than Benson.

Benson's release was the big news from Monday, but we have plenty more to get to in our team-by-team notes. We'll start with the AFC East and North today.

*** Benson has already been taken off our 2008 cheat sheets, available in our constantly updated 2008 Football Draft Guide.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: It appears that Marshawn Lynch's legal problems won't be resolved this week, but they should be relatively soon. The district attorney believes Lynch was driving the vehicle involved in the alleged hit-and-run accident. My gut feeling jail time is extremely unlikely. If Lynch pleas to a misdemeanor, it seems unlikely that the league will punish him as a first-time offender. We're not changing his top-ten overall ranking yet. Lynch is largely ranked so high because we expect his workload to be among the league leaders. The Bills want to throw the ball more to him, which would also help.

Lee Evans' offseason shoulder surgery and contract questions have flown under the radar. He's expected to be fine, but we'd keep an eye on him at the start of camp. … Trent Edwards will not face competition for the starting job despite J.P. Losman's continued presence on the team. Rookie James Hardy will have to earn his starting gig, but he's the heavy favorite to start opposite Evans. We're not recommending any rookie wideouts in redraft leagues this season.

Miami Dolphins: Ricky Williams' strong offseason makes it likely that the Dolphins will start the season in a committee with him and Ronnie Brown. It's anyone's guess whether Ricky can hold up, but this is his first fill offseason since 2004. That was the year he suddenly "retired" in July, memorably disrupting my last day of vacation for the year. He's a hard player to evaluate, but hoping for his 2005 numbers (768 yards, 6 TDs) is reasonable. He's not in my top-40 running backs yet, but he's not far off. … From a fantasy perspective, all the position battles in the Miami passing game mean little. The winner of the Beck/McCown battle royale is undraftable. Ernest Wilford and Derek Hagan probably will cancel each other out. Ted Ginn should start and is enjoying a fine offseason, but he's a flier pick. For the record, Wilford is likely to start over Hagan. And while preseason will determine the starting quarterback, Beck probably gets the edge in case of a tie.

New England Patriots: Wes Welker had a mysterious absence from full-fledged minicamp work. There are no indications his injury is serious, but don't be surprised to learn sometime in 2009 that he had a minor unreported surgery this offseason. … With Donte' Stallworth gone, Chad Jackson will have a chance to get a lot of snaps opposite Randy Moss. Jabar Gaffney fits better in the slot or as a blocker. Jackson is a sleeper if he can earn consistent snaps. I've seen Gaffney be overdrafted so far, which is to say he's drafted at all. … Ben Watson is never a great bet to play 16 games, and he still isn't practicing after ankle surgery this offseason. You can't expect consistency from him, healthy or not. … While the Patriots were just doing their homework, their workout of Kevin Jones is more proof that Laurence Maroney is a shaky bet to approach 300 carries. Don't forget Sammy Morris on draft day.

New York Jets: Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington have started their summer-long quarterback battle. Clemens appeared to have a slight edge in OTAs, but that isn't surprising because he throws prettier passes. Clemens' problems come with decision-making and poise in the pocket. Those issues showed up more in mandatory minicamp sessions. Pennington is the slight underdog, but I see him winning out.

Rookie tight end Dustin Keller is a fine long-term prospect, but he's probably not a good enough blocker to stay on the field every down. We'd rather invest in a veteran if drafting a second tight end. … It's early to start evaluating average draft position data, but Laveranues Coles is a value player to watch. He is getting unnecessarily downgraded for missing his first four games in seven seasons. Target him if he continues to fall to WR3 levels. … Backup running backs Jesse Chatman and Musa Smith may battle for one roster spot.


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Gregg Rosenthal has directed Rotoworld's football content since 2003. He co-hosts the NBC Fantasy Fix and covers the NFL for NBCSports.com and Profootballtalk.com. Catch him on Twitter.
Email :Gregg Rosenthal



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