Gregg Rosenthal

Offseason Low Down

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Minicamp Tour: Wideout Drama

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Rotoworld continues to rank Chad Johnson as if his offseason drama isn't happening. The best way to deal with bad behavior is to ignore it.

Since Day 1, we have believed that Johnson will show up to work well before it's time to get paid. And once he's on the field, he'll perform like a top-10 wide receiver, like he always does. Johnson's adventures at minicamp convinced us more than ever that this is the right approach for fantasy leaguers to take.

It's as if Ocho Cinco wants to pull a T.O., but he doesn't have the heart to go that loco. By the final minicamp practice, Johnson was practicing fully with the first team. He was discussing how to improve plays with Carson Palmer. There are bound to be headlines coming out of Johnson's mouth in the coming season, but don't expect it to affect the box scores.

***

This is the second part of my minicamp wrapup. I looked at the the AFC East and North last week, and now will focus on the AFC West and South.

AFC West

Oakland Raiders: Javon Walker was having a rough offseason even before being found unconscious on a Las Vegas street Monday with an orbital bone (eye socket) fracture. It's too early to understand the long-term implications, but this is a serious setback. Walker was already being chided in Oakland for being out of shape. I wondered if his conditioning was simply the effect of his knee injuries making him look slow. Hopefully he can recover from this latest setback, but he's been through a lot over the last two years. We were already skeptical of a rebound.

Rotoworld man-crush Ronald Curry is back from surgery to remove a bone spur in his foot. With Walker's abilities uncertain, Curry still could emerge as a big factor in Oakland this season. He needs to stay healthy and have JaMarcus Russell develop; one of the two will probably fall short. We rank him as a WR4, but ahead of Walker. … I am not buying the Drew Carter hype. He has a role in the offense, but he's exactly the type of player to look good in faux football practices that take place in shorts and t-shirts. … Russell's offseason work was reportedly inconsistent. Dynasty leaguers have to worry that he's improving his short game in a West Coast offense, then may have to re-learn a brand new system when Al Davis inevitably pushes Lane Kiffin out the door. … Michael Bush's strong offseason only further clouds the value of Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas. This could be a three-man committee. Look for the Raiders to be among the most run-heavy teams in the league.

Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan didn't wait for training camp to lay surprises on us at running back. The latest was second-year pro Andre Hall running as Selvin Young's backup at minicamp. Michael Pittman, who figures to be a third-down back, was going third. Rookie Ryan Torain was fourth. Torain remains the most likely candidate other than Young to start in 2008, but this depth chart was a good reminder to be prepared for anything. If Hall can maintain his spot until late August, which we doubt, he's going to be draftable in fantasy leagues after the first 100 picks.

Brandon Marshall is expected to begin catching passes with two hands on June 22. Early reports regarding his progress from surgery to repair nerve damage in his arm have been positive. If all goes well in August, he will be in our top ten receivers. … No unit has received more puff pieces this offseason than the newfangled Denver receiver corps. My early take is that Keary Colbert has a legitimate chance to knock off Darrell Jackson for a starting job. And the winner either way is a sleeper. Brandon Stokley better stay healthy or he risks losing playing time to them or rookie Eddie Royal. … The boot is off Tony Scheffler's foot, but he wasn't 100% before practices ended. He's one of the injured players to watch closely in July.

Kansas City Chiefs: We didn't learn much from Chiefs minicamp, but we know Larry Johnson is healthy enough to practice every day. His value is causing a plenty of debate, but the majority of drafters aren't that concerned about him bouncing back. He's going in the top ten. Rotoworld has him at the end of the second round because the Chiefs offense should still be among the league's worst. … Devard Darling is the favorite to start opposite Dwayne Bowe, but rookies Will Franklin and Marcus Price have a shot. At least Bowe has Tony Gonzalez and Johnson to deflect attention. … Damon Huard could be used as trade bait. He's fallen behind Tyler Thigpen on the depth chart. Because I don't trust Brodie Croyle to be particularly healthy or productive, Thigpen will probably start some games this season.

San Diego Chargers: Antonio Gates' foot is a greater concern than Philip Rivers' knee. It would be a great upset if Rivers doesn't play in Week 1, even if his play is diminished. Gates is a total mystery and isn't even running yet. We projected a "Big three" at tight end that includes Gates, Jason Witten, and Kellen Winslow. Gates needs to show something by mid-August or lose his place atop that group. … If Gates misses any playing time, Vincent Jackson will benefit like he did in the playoffs last season. … LT2 owners looking for a handcuff should currently go for rookie Jacob Hester. Darren Sproles is just a role player.

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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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