Greetings and salutations faithful followers and also, a very happy belated father’s day to all! “How was your Daddy Day Ryan?” Well, I’m glad you asked. To begin with, I had Long John Silvers for dinner on Saturday. You see, I have this occasional craving for the LJS and when those instances occur I must indulge myself. After eating LJS, I realized that I am 100% over LJS. After ingesting fried pieces of breading, chicken fingers and hush puppies; I found myself with an oily coating in my mouth that took days to dissipate. That night, I spent two hours playing Mario Kart 8 (well worth the purchase of a Wii-U) and then indulged myself in my first present father’s day present, Bioshock. Bioshock is easily in my top 3 games of all time and I always enjoy revisiting Rapture. Would you kindly continue reading this column? Sunday I was able to sleep until about noon, woke up and played more Bioshock. When the wife and kid returned home, I received my final gifts; Dead Space 2 (I like the classics), a card, and a pre-order notification for The Raid 2. If you’ve not seen The Raid, you should go out of your way to watch this fantastic action flick. The Raid 2 only ups the ante, and I am so excited for July 8th when it releases. I implore you all to go out of your way to see this gem when it releases. So, my father came over around 3 and we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. Slightly disappointed in the food, but still had a great time eating wings and drinking beers. After he left, my son went to bed, more video game playing, and then watched the first two episodes of “House of Cards” which is a tremendous show. All in all, it was a fantastic father’s day. With levity in my heart, I wanted to have a good time with my article and play a little game (that I made up) called, “Repeat or Retreat”.
The premise of this game, is to list a player who had an impact season in 2013; and determine whether they will Repeat (Improve) or Retreat (Regress). It should lead to some interesting discussions in the comments section, and with those lovely non-trolls on reddit. Let’s jump right into it and play, “Repeat or Retreat!” (You have to imagine it being said with a studio audience reading the cue cards).
QB – Philip Rivers
After his 2010 performance, Philip Rivers was on pace towards being considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. That season, he averaged 19.6 points per game with 4700 yards, 30-13 TD/INT ratio, and 357 completions. In 2011 his regression had begun. The yards and touchdowns went south, while the interceptions headed to the land of the Starks and Boltons. 2012 was an even worse outing for Rivers, as the yards and TD’s once again dropped, with the only saving grace being the slight reduction in interceptions (15 from 20). Going into the draft last season, most people had proclaimed him yesterday’s news and were ready to assume he was on the downside of his career. In my primary league (The IFFL), Rivers went completely undrafted, and did so without any comment from the peanut gallery. To note, there are lots of comments from the peanut gallery in my draft; usually in the form of my friend Brent singing “My Sharona” while drafting Rob Bironas. Anyway, Rivers was a player I picked up after week one and never looked back. Rivers, to his immense credit, went on an absolute tear last season with a career high in fantasy points per game (19.8), a career best completion % (69.5 which is damn impressive) and a tremendous TD/INT ratio of 32-11. Rivers, along with Ryan Mathews and Keenan Allen, assisted in the Chargers having their first winning record since 2010, and also earned a trip to the playoffs. His resurgence netted him “Comeback Player of the Year” by both the Associated Press and Pro Football Writers Association.
All of that said, am I ready to proclaim Rivers a repeater or retreater? I believe in Keenan Allen and think a healthy Vincent Brown will add greater dimension to the offense. Antonio Gates is on his last leg, but they have a fine replacement in the form of Ladarius Green. Finally, I would be remiss to not mention the very improved running back core of Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, and Donald Brown. The Chargers are not to be slept on this year, and will absolutely shock people.
The Verdict: Repeat!
RB – Knowshon Moreno
Last year, Knowshon Moreno finished the season as the 5th highest scoring fantasy running back in the NFL. Moreno had a tremendous 1586 all-purpose yards, 13 touchdowns and an impressive 60 receptions. Moreno was a key player in the NFL’s strongest offense in the history of the game. His history has shown that, when healthy, he is able to produce very solid numbers and was a key addition to many fantasy rosters. The Broncos, however, felt differently and allowed Moreno to test the glorious waters of free agency. After being courted by the Giants, Raiders and Dolphins, Moreno opted to head to beautiful South Beach.
Dolphins first year GM Dennis Hickey decided to do everything he could to improve upon one of the worst offensive lines in franchise history (they were 26th in rushing and allowed a franchise record 58 sacks) by signing Pro Bowl tackle Branden Albert and Shelley Smith. The team also drafted Ja’Wuan James and Billy Turner in the 1st and 3rd rounds respectively. This renewed focus on the offensive line, which now sports two pro bowl players, should allow Moreno to succeed as a starting back in beautiful Miami.
Now, with all that optimism out-of-the-way, let’s have some real talk. We’ll even look at this from most recent news to a bit of old statistical news. So far, the Dolphins have relegated Moreno to the 2nd team. He reported to training camp out of shape and overweight, which was something even Moreno himself acknowledged. The Dolphins even have named Lamar Miller as the first option on the depth charts. Ryan Tannehill is a fine quarterback, but outside of Brian Hartline the Dolphins don’t present enough threats in the passing game (Mike Wallace is dead to me) to allow Moreno the same soft run defenses that he saw in Denver. Moreno faced 6 man boxes in 65% of his rushing attempts last season, and was the benefactor of having Petyon Manning under center. Tannehill is no Petyon Manning and teams will have no problems stacking the box should the running game pick up. On top of the previously outlined points, Moreno is very injury prone and at times really showed the lingering effects of multiple knee injuries. The final paragraph says all that we need to render our decision.
The Verdict: RETREAT!
WR: Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery was an unbelievable breakout star last season as his numbers sky rocketed from 2012. Jeffery, in 2013, amassed 89 receptions on 150 targets, 1421 yards, and 7 TD’s. Jeffery produced in a big way in 2013, though he seemed to make a name for himself once Josh McCown became the starter in Chicago. Jeffery became the primary target and had his most productive game of the year against the Minnesota Vikings in which he had 12 receptions, 249 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Jeffery made his first pro bowl as well as being named the most improved player in the NFL. Jeffery seems to have freakish strength, hands, and leaping ability. The big questions is whether Jeffery can repeat his big numbers from last season. With the WR duos lofty projections, Marshall #5 and Jeffery #9, the assumption is that the two of them will continue to put up monster numbers.
The one knock on his fantasy value is the rebuilt defense in Chicago. The Bears drafted two highly touted defensive players, Kyle Fuller and Brock Vereen, while signing Jared Allen and Lamaar Houston. They have openly stated that they want to throw the ball less, and become more balanced in the run game. With Cutler favoring Marshall over Jeffery in terms of targets (1.5 to 1), some of Jeffery’s value will drop. This is not to say that Jeffery won’t have a fantastic season, as I anticipate him increasing his touchdowns while seeing a reduction in receptions.
A great many eyes will be on Alshon Jeffery to improve upon his numbers from the previous season. Teams will always feel the need to double team Marshall, which should create plenty of opportunity for Jeffery to make big play after big play. I for one, despite a gut feeling that says otherwise, have rendered my verdict.
The Verdict: REPEAT! This one seems very obvious, but I have this weird gut feeling he may not do it. However, numbers rarely lie and I have to believe that Jeffery will be a legit top 10 WR again.
TE: Jordan Cameron
I’m going to be a bit selfish on this one, and say that I was one of the few people who was incredibly on board with Jordan Cameron last year. Going into the season, it was very evident that Cleveland was going to lack any offensive play makers, and they did not have any stability at quarterback. Whenever I hear the previous statements, I immediately begin to look into the tight end option. Cameron was a 3rd year guy who saw steady improvement from 2011 to 2012. His targets and receptions tripled; while his yardage jumped from 33 to 226. He had decent speed for a tight end, and was a stout 254. He would represent a valid option for TE for the Browns. I’m one of those drafters who believes in drafting a tight end late if you cannot score one of the big three. Cameron represented potential in a Cleveland Browns team which was vastly improving on both sides of the ball.
Cameron formed an instant rapport with Brandon Weeden, catching 9 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. The week after, a slight regression (5 for 95) but absolutely exploded once Brian Hoyer took the helm. What’s most impressive was the continued output by Cameron despite the return and ascension of Josh Gordon. Cameron scored double-digit in 7 of 15 games played, and averaged 11.13 fantasy points per game and finished as the 5th best fantasy tight end in 2013.
Cameron will have the luxury of either being thrown to by Brian Hoyer, whom we already know very much values the tight end, or Johnny Manziel. Statistically, Cameron will reap greater rewards with Hoyer behind center due to the established relationship, but Manziel will represent an equal, or better option. Reports out of training camp state that Manziel has looked his best in plays where he’s targeting Cameron. Whether it be bootlegs or play action, these two young studs are complimenting one another in some big ways.
Lest I fail to mention, Josh Gordon is all but guaranteed to be suspended for the year which greatly increases the value of this highly touted tight end. I am, however, very aware of the inclusion of Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, and Earl Bennett; all respectable players in their own regard. However, there is nothing quite like having a sure handed tight end with some speed. Jordan Cameron is a top 3 fantasy tight end this season. You heard it here first!
The verdict: REPEAT!
Thank you for reading everyone, and please let me know whether you agree or disagree in the comments section. Depending on the feedback and/or response; I may do this one more week as I had a really good time writing it. Next week, I believe I’ll stretch a little bit more on some players, and try to include some lesser known options.
Finally, I’m happy to report that I will begin my QB rankings July 2nd! The schedule will look sort of like this. QB’s 1-16 July 2nd, QB 17-32 July 9th, RB 1-30 July 16 and RB 31-60 July 23. Be sure to bookmark majorleaguefantasysports.com as well as subscribing on the front page. Cheers and have a great weekend everyone.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio starts on Sunday July 13th and will run every Sunday for the rest of the season at 11:30am – 12:30pm EST until the season is finished on Sports Palooza Radio Network.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio will continue every Monday from 1-2pm EST. We will wrap up the N.L. side of the amateur draft with Bryan Luhrs as well as discuss some players to sell with Bryan Robinson. Use this link for the June 23rd show.
We will be starting the baseball show a half hour early on Monday the 30th of June at 12:30pm – 1:30pm so we can accommodate a featured guest. You will want to tune in for Phil Weiss. He is a financial expert, has been on numerous TV shows, is a Major League Fantasy Baseball owner, youth baseball coach, and is a sabermetric expert.