The week 1 pre-season matchups are complete and now we have an opportunity to look back at who have been the risers and fallers pre-draft for most of your leagues. First let’s look at the players who have already had season ending injuries as this will be the last time we focus on them.
• Dennis Pitta (BAL) TE – Pitta not only dislocated his hip which just sounds unbelievably painful, but he fractured it as well. The only positive worth mentioning may be there was no ligament damage. Still, his season is over and I would question if he will be ready next year. With Anquan Boldin leaving for the 49’ers he was ready for a breakout season. Pitta was to catch plenty of check downs and curls while Flacco looked over the field. Now Joe Flaccos’ offense has changed significantly since the Superbowl and not in a positive way. Baltimore has signed Dallas Clark to fill in. Good idea, just don’t expect any miracles.
• Jeremy Maclin (PHI) WR – Maclin tore his right ACL for the second time! First you have to feel terrible for him and his career. I understand medicine and technology has come a long way, but I can’t imagine he will be able to be the same player. Maclin was going to be the 1B. to DeSean Jackson’s 1A. in Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense. Phili’s offense is still a work in progress. They lost not only Maclin but recently signed Arrelious Benn to an ACL tear. We’ll talk about their situation a little bit later
• Bryan Bulaga (GB) OL – Why mention an OL in a fantasy football article? Simple, he protects one of the premier QBs in the league. The loss of Bulaga to another ACL tear will cloud Rodger’s numbers a little. A left tackle is a pretty vital part of an offensive game plan. Though e was never to catch a pass. His protection would have allowed guys like Randall Cobb, and James Jones more confidence that when they turned their heads towards to ball, first, it would be there, and second their quarterback would be standing up. I still believe Aaron Rodgers will be a top 5 QB. I still believe their offense will be right on just as we have consistently seen over the last few years. However when GB plays teams that have a tremendous pass rush, I would limit my expectations.
Now then, let’s talk about how this affects the healthy players still on the field as well as the players that are making headlines over the weekend, both good and bad. Let’s start with the risers.
• Andrew Luck (IND) QB – I hate doing this, but Reggie Wayne started it. He’s the one who mentioned Luck and Peyton Manning in the same breath. That would mean little coming from some players, but Reggie is as stoic as Jason Dufner. When he speaks, you listen. His comments that Luck shows signs of being that methodical type of QB we’ve grown to see from Peyton is something else. Luck was a surprisingly effective QB1 last season, but this season he may be a top 5, upper tier QB1 in Pep Hamilton’s efficient offense. With Both Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton as his starting WRs, Coby Fleener his Stanford teammate, and Dyane Allen his two TEs, fantasy teams should be taking notice of the Indianapolis Colts on draft day. Luck will put himself in the upper echelon of QBs by season’s end and I would not be afraid of drafting him after the third round.
• DeSean Jackson (PHI) WR – Jackson is a riser almost by default after both Benn and Maclin as mentioned earlier are out for the year. It’s hard to be a riser when you already are the best option in the passing game. Yes, we don’t really know what to expect from Chip Kelly yet. Yes, LeSean McCoy is still an amazing player and most likely going to lead the Eagles skill players in yardage. Jackson however, will be thrusted into a WR1 Position with the ability to catch 80+ passes. He will also be used in a punt/kickoff returner. If you’re playing in a league that gives points for that as mine does, this makes him even more appealing.
• C.J. Spiller (BUF) RB – Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was quoted as saying, “He’s either got to tap out or throw up on the field,” for Spiller to loose carries to Fred Jackson. Last year Jackson and Spiller spilt duties until Jackson was injured which left Spiller with a heavy workload that he handled commendably. Now it’s his job with no arguments. He should expect a lot, and I mean A LOT of carries and passes. I was a fan of Spiller before this news. Now this makes him a top 5 fantasy pick. To make matters more interesting Manuel will be the starting QB for the Bills which will make the defense have to play a safety or corner on the QB instead of focusing on Spiller instead. If Manuel can handle himself in the pocket, the Bills should be a fantasy friendly offense for years to come. Don’t miss the boat!
• Vernon Davis (SF) TE – Davis was invisible during his time with Alex Smith as his starting QB. But the bond he and Colin Kaepernick formed during the playoffs is very relevant from a fantasy standpoint. Now, Kaep is the only QB throwing to Davis, and he should feel like a man freed of his chains, which should help him move the chains (see what I did there.)Davis has been seen at camp playing a hybrid WR/TE position which would be intriguing to watch in a pistol offense. It also matches his amazing athleticism and his great hands, should move him into the top 8 TE’s in the league. It will also be a huge boost in PPR formats for his value. No one can say for certain where the TDs are going to come from in the SF offensive system, but I would bet Davis puts up the best numbers he’s had since 2009 when he caught 78 balls for just under 1,000 yards and 13 TD’s.
Unfortunately not everyone is seeing the glass half full. Let’s make note of a few players that are having a rough go at it. – The Fallers