Due to calf/back problems, few have seen Foster in uniform this summer. (USAT)
Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders this week.
Conjuring fears in Fantasyland, Arian Foster, who’s missed extensive time with a back injury that is now requiring injections, average touches per game this fall 22.5
Brandon – OVER. Foster has been synonymous with preseason health concern the past couple years, and each time it's ended up being much ado about nothing. He's banked enough credit that I'll give him the benefit of the doubt until he actually disappoints once real games get underway.
Scott – UNDER. Basically, I'm ranking Foster low enough these days that he won't be my problem. Running backs get chewed up and spit out in this game, and I prefer my early picks to be floor-driven more than anything else. Caveat emptor.
Brad – OVER. The high level of concern over Foster's prolonged absence is warranted, but with three weeks until the regular season starts, I'm not jumping ship just yet. After averaging nearly 25 touches per game since 2010, his workload is bound to decrease, but I still think he nets close to what he did two years ago (25.4 tchs/g), another year off a worrisome preseason injury (hamstring).
Newly named starter Michael Vick, gaining tremendous buzz in his nearly flawless preseason performances, rushing yards in Chip Kelly’s pound-you-into-submission offense 599.5
Scott – UNDER. The body chemistry hasn't changed, the age hasn't changed, the physicality of the NFL hasn't changed. Vick's played one full season in his career, amigos. Tread carefully.
Brad – UNDER. Obviously injury downside plays a factor, but I'm not thoroughly convinced Vick will run wild in the Chipster's system. Kelly has always maintained he only wants his QB to run occasionally. Assuming his excellent protection holds up, he'll play it a bit more cautiously than people think. Bank on 400-500 rush yards.
Dalton – OVER. This takes a leap of faith the 33-year-old stays healthy, but I'm buying into Vick having success in Kelly's system. The Eagles also have an underrated offensive line.
Fill in the blank. Jordan Cameron, fresh off an impressive two-TD effort against the Rams, totals _____ receptions for ______ yards and ______ touchdowns and finishes No. ______ in the TE pecking order.
Brad – 64 receptions, 784 yards, 9 touchdowns, No. 6
Dalton – 70 receptions, 765 yards, 6 touchdowns, No. 7.
Andy – 50-550-4 and No. 18. Almost universally, fantasy experts have taken their Cameron hype to a very strange place, off one solid preseason performance. (Never mind that in Cleveland's exhibition opener, the first pass he saw hit him in the face and bounced away.) I understand and appreciate the arguments about the Browns' coaching staff, but I don't yet believe Cameron will be a top option in this passing game.
Much to the chagrin of the fantasy community, second-year standout T.Y. Hilton is still behind Darrius Hewyard-Bey on the Colts depth-chart. Receiving yards for the sophomore wideout this season 899.5
Dalton – OVER. Hilton had 861 yards last year as a rookie while seeing just 90 targets. I'm not too worried about DHB (although getting the WR2 job is key, since Indy's new system will feature many two TE sets), and Reggie Wayne really declined over the second half of last season.
Andy – OVER. Hilton nearly reached 900 yards last season (50-861-7), despite the fact that Donne Avery saw many more snaps and targets. We've already seen him produce at a useful level while serving as the No. 3 for Indy.
Brandon – OVER. This number is only 39 yards more than T.Y. hauled in as a rookie, in technically the No. 3 role in the Colts' passing game. DHB may, in theory, be ahead of him on the depth chart, but Hilton has been great in camp and there's little doubt that Andrew Luck likes to try to utilize his explosive skill-set. I have no worries that Hilton won't take another step forward simply because a somewhat fragile DHB is standing in his way.
Eddie Lacy, who resembled Grimace just two weeks ago, appears to have a substantial lead in the Green Bay running back race. Total touchdowns for the rookie this season 8.5
Andy – UNDER. If you think he's gonna visit the end zone nine times or more, then you should probably draft him as a late-first or early-second round pick. That's a heck of a year. Green Bay has already demonstrated, over multiple seasons, that the team doesn't feel compelled to ride a single workhorse back. I think Lacy is going to lead the way, but I doubt he'll work alone.
Brandon – OVER. I think he'll finish with double-digit TDs. A lack of talent in the backfield has led the team to de-emphasize the position in the red zone the past few years. But Lacy is the most skilled back the Pack has had in years, and he's ideally built for goal-line work.
Scott – I'm torn here because I expect Lacy to be the lead back in Green Bay and have a nice season. But this is a passing offense, rookies are often benched at the drop of a hat after a mistake, and Aaron Rodgers figures to steal a few of the rushing chippies at the goal. UNDER is the call.
Bernie Kosar would surely say nothing bad about Weeden. (USAT)
Sifting through the bargain bin. Pick one: Alex Smith, Sam Bradford or Brandon Weeden
Brandon – SMITH. This one is a no-brainer, in my book. Andy Reid is about as pass-happy as they come, and Smith should be able to fit into his West Coast scheme without too much trouble. Smith has big-time playmakers in Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, and it's worth mentioning that Kansas City's schedule grades out as one of the easiest in the league for the QB, based on fantasy points allowed to the position by opposing defenses last season.
Scott – SMITH has been my summer go-to, a vote of confidence for the men around him: Reid, Charles, Bowe. I'd take Bradford over Weeden, and give me some Givens hype while you're at it.
Brad – WEEDEN. Looking like a brand new man in Year 2, the Browns QB appears to have made major strides. As long as he's protected well, the signal caller should thrive in Norv Turner's vertical offense. Most importantly, given Cleveland's suspect defense, he could be thrust into several high-volume situations. Roughly
In the Denver backfield battle, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball did little to inspire last week in Seattle. Hillman coughed up the rock on a controversial fumble at the goal-line while Ball underwhelmed in pass protection. Forgotten man Knowshon Moreno missed the game with a tender knee, but, off a respectable effort in six starts last year, percentage chance the veteran emerges as THE Broncos back to own 14.5 percent.
Scott – OVER. At the end of the day the Broncos want a back they can trust, especially in pass protection ("pass pro" to the cool kids). Moreno hasn't been the electric back expected back on Draft Day 2009, but he played some solid football last year. A terrific sleeper pick for the late rounds.
Brad – OVER. After last week's dreadful efforts by depth-chart toppers Hillman/Ball, it's entirely conceivable Moreno will be given a LONG look this week. Remember, he was quite useful a season ago, averaging over 100 total yards per game in six starts. He's also a fantastic pass protector, a must-have characteristic when playing with Peyton Manning.
Dalton – UNDER. 15% sounds about right to me, so this was close. I just have no faith in Moreno being able to stay healthy for any stretch of the season.
Pierre Garcon, a staple on pundit undervalued lists, final wide receiver rank this year 14.5 (In other words, will he be a top-15 WR?)
Brad – UNDER. All indications suggest RGIII will be under center Week 1. Because of Shanny's insistence to instill trepidation in his running QB, it seems likely 'Bob's' average pass attempts will rise substantially, benefiting Garcon. Roughly 8-10 targets per game are likely. Let's just hope his wheels hold up.
Dalton – UNDER. This is right around where I have him ranked, so again, this one was close. Garcon needs to stay healthy obviously, but the upside with RG3 throwing to him is through the roof.
Andy – OVER. No, I don't view him as a WR1. He's never produced at that level in his five-year career, he carries the injury red flag, and his team ranked just 30th in pass attempts last season.
Staking his claim to the Rams starting RB gig, Daryl Richardson average touches per game this year 15.5
Dalton – OVER. Around 16-18 sounds about right for Richardson, who's clearly taken control of St. Louis' RB1 role. With Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Jared Cook, Jake Long and further development from Sam Bradford, the Rams' offense should no longer be among the worst in the league.
Andy – Close, but I'll go UNDER. I think the 13-16 range seems about right. Clearly, Richardson is the Rams back to own, if you have to own one. But I'll be surprised if he emerges as an every-down, all-situation rusher for St. Louis.
Brandon – OVER (just barely). I have Richardson down for 250 touches (something like 205 carries, 45 catches). For 16 games, that's just slightly over this number (15.63).
Summer Sizzlers. Pick one: Golden Tate, Chris Givens or Vincent Brown
Andy – TATE. I'll bet on the Wilson-Tate connection all day. Givens is a threat, but Brown should be quickly ruled out of this debate, because ... well, because Philip Rivers.
Brandon – TATE. He was top 35 at WR last season, and his snap count is only going to rise this season as head coach Pete Carroll has talked about him now being involved in every offensive set they have. In his fourth season (a contract year, to boot), he's primed for a true breakout campaign.
Brad – TATE. I'm was extremely tempted to side with the Rams long-bomber, but sans Percy Harvin, Seattle's Golden Boy is the clear-cut choice. Primed for a 'breakout season' per the Post-Intelligencer, he's destined to finish well-inside the WR top-30.
Dalton – TATE. I like all three, but I'd take Tate first among this group. There isn't a receiver with a lower ADP with as much upside as him.
Scott – TATE. Looks like we're all chewing Trident this fall. Tate had a growth season last year that was somehow lost in the shuffle.
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