Chris Wesseling

Draft Analysis

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The Upside Index

Friday, August 31, 2012


26. Fred Jackson, RB, Bills

27. Matt Forte, RB, Bears - Jackson and Forte were neck-and-neck for the NFL lead in scrimmage yards until injuries ended their seasons prematurely in November. Both could end up losing value to talented backups, though F-Jax remains his team’s red-zone weapon of choice. Forte is a lock to be pulled for Michael Bush at the goal line.

28. A.J. Green, WR, Bengals - Green is a bonafide top-five receiver on talent alone, but Andy Dalton hasn’t moved this offense consistently since before Thanksgiving.

29. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots - There are a lot of mouths to feed in New England, but Lloyd finished as fantasy’s top receiver the last time he played a full season with Josh McDaniels calling the plays.

30. Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs - Charles will enter the season in a 50-50 timeshare with Peyton Hillis. His ceiling in that scenario may be limited to borderline RB1 production, but it skyrockets if Hillis goes down with an injury.

31. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams - Warrior.

32. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants - The G-Men’s true No. 1 receiver.

33. Trent Richardson, RB, Browns - The favorite for rookie of the year honors before an early-August knee scope, Richardson would be at least 10 spots higher if the season started closer to Halloween.

34. Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

35. Greg Jennings, WR, Packers - Nelson’s per-game stats since the playoff blowout at Atlanta in January of 2011: 4.6 receptions, 79.4 yards and 0.85 touchdowns. Jennings’ numbers over the same span: 5.4 receptions, 75.5 yards and 0.65 touchdowns.

36. Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers - Is it debilitating for an uber-talented receiver to miss training camp practices under a new coordinator? A hamstring injury kept Kenny Britt off the field for roughly four weeks last August while Chris Palmer was installing his offense. Playing under a snap-count, Britt exploded for 14 receptions, 271 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games of the regular season.

37. Eric Decker, WR, Broncos

38. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos - With Peyton Manning as his quarterback, Austin Collie was fantasy’s No. 1 receiver through six weeks before undergoing thumb surgery back in 2010. Decker is a souped-up Collie. Extrapolated over a full season, Thomas’ final seven games would have left him as the No. 2 fantasy receiver in 2011. Never let it be said that Tim Tebow’s first read doesn’t produce fantasy numbers.

39. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers - Gates comes in at No. 22 in Evan Silva’s Top-150.

40. Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots - The historic seasons of Gronkowski and Graham obscure the fact that Hernandez averaged more points per game than Jason Witten did while leading all tight ends in fantasy points two years ago.

41. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants - Eli Manning loves throwing to the receiver lining up in the slot, and Cruz finished with the third-most yards after the catch. The breakout season wasn’t a fluke, but Cruz’s five scores over 65 yards were the second-most in a season in NFL history. One-third of his fantasy value came on those five plays.

42. Roddy White, WR, Falcons

43. Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons - Ryan is this year’s best bet to go Matthew Stafford on the league in Dirk Koetter’s up-tempo offense. It’s Julio Jones, not White, who will be the offensive focal point, however. Look for White’s reception numbers to fall in line with his 2007-09 average of 85.3 as opposed to the 107.5 over the past two years while leading the NFL in targets.

44. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens - @RotoPat has been conducting the Torrey Train all offseason, but it was Silva who first compared Smith to an early-career Roddy White, type-cast as a drop-prone deep threat but still creating “cavities of separation.” Silva suggested this week that Smith has top-10 fantasy upside if coordinator Cam Cameron sticks with the no-huddle attack used heavily in preseason action.

45. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles - Maclin was on pace for 90 receptions and over 1,200 yards before shoulder and hamstring injuries limited him to 19 catches and 253 yards in the second half of last season. Beat writers and teammates spent the offseason issuing “breakout alerts” for Maclin.

46. Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears - Combing through the fawning Windy City newspaper coverage all offseason, I’m left pondering the following question: Should we play out the season or just hand the Bears the Lombardi Trophy right now?

47. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars - There’s a sentiment in Jacksonville that the new coaching staff had planned to increase Rashad Jennings’ role in an effort to keep Jones-Drew’s legs fresh even before the protracted holdout. After witnessing Chris Johnson’s collapse last year, I have a hard time finding the upside in drafting Jones-Drew this summer.

48. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans - See Mike Wallace’s comment.

49. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers - Stewart has been one of the handful of most talented backs since he entered the league in 2008. He’s an every-week stud if an injury forces DeAngelo to sit out multiple weeks for the third time in four seasons.

50. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs - Bowe needed a perfect storm of inept defenses to rack up 15 touchdowns two seasons ago.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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