Posts Tagged ‘football’

The first game of week 2 is already in the books, and most of week 1’s heroes have already seen a sharp increase in their fantasy ownership. But, there is still plenty of talent available for fantasy owners looking to bolster their rosters headed into the NFL’s second week. Below I’ve compiled a list (in no particular order other than being sorted by position) of players who are still available and have considerable upside for this week and/or the rest of the season. The parentheticals ()() beside each player’s name will give their ownership percentage in NFL.com and ESPN fantasy leagues respectively.

To be included on this list a player must be owned in less than 30% of leagues, though there are sometimes exceptions. If these names go a little too deep for your league or you’re wondering about some of the more popular pick-ups from this week you can check out my previous post, Five players that should be owned in all leagues. All right, enough intro, let’s get to some names:

Karlos Williams, RB, Bills (3.0% on NFL)(17.5% on ESPN) The Bills new coaching staff loves Williams, don’t believe me? They cut fan favorite Fred Jackson before the season to give Williams a better chance at getting on the field early. Follow a season opener that saw Williams log just 6 carries (which he took for 55 yards and a TD) they released Bryce Brown, who had been competing with Williams for the primary backup job. LeSean McCoy continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury and Williams physical running style fits what Greg Roman and Rex Ryan want to do on offense. If you’re counting on McCoy this season, Williams is a definite must own as he will be the guy in a run heavy offense if McCoy misses time, and if he can continues to run well, could become a well balanced dose of thunder to McCoy’s lightning.

Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys (2.9% on NFL)(13.7% on ESPN) With Dez Bryant sidelined for the foreseeable future with a broken foot, Dunbar’s Dallas teammate, Terrance Williams, has gotten a lot of the love from fantasy owners. But Williams he won’t be the only one who sees an increase in targets with Bryant on the sidelines. Dunbar caught 8 passes for 70 yards in the opener, clearly establishing himself as the passing down back. The Cowboys next 4 opponents are the Eagles, Falcons, Saints and Patriots, so passing downs may not be as hard to come by for big D as they were last year.

Brandon Coleman, WR, Saints (4.1% on NFL)(35.4% on ESPN) Coleman followed up an impressive preseason with a solid week 1 showing. Saints fans have been excited about the Rutgers product since he was signed following the 2014 NFL draft, and the fact that the Saints traded wide receiver Kenny Stills and cut Nick Toon (both of whom were expected to play big roles in the offense following the Jimmy Graham trade) should tell you how the coaching staff feels about Coleman. No one’s going to confuse him for Calvin Johnson, but at 6’6, 220 lbs. he’s a mismatch for defenses, especially in the red zone and will have value even if he continues to only play in three wide receiver sets. (His ownership on ESPN has spiked out of my usual range, but is still available in nearly all NFL.com leagues, so I figured he’s worth talking about.)

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (8.3% on NFL)(22.4% on ESPN) Lockett is must own if you’re in a league that counts return yardage. For the rest, he’s still a worthwhile target whose role will likely only expand in the Seahawks offense as he gets more game time under his belt. Lockett is a special sort of playmaker and looking at the impact he’s had so far I can’t help but think: this is the guy the Seahawks thought they were getting when they traded a first and a third round pick for Percy Harvin, this is the guy they thought they were getting when they drafted Paul Richardson in the second round of the 2014, this is the explosive playmaker they’ve been waiting for. Maybe I’m wrong, and he’s just a return specialist who never sees more than a handful of targets in the pass game, but the upside is tremendous and if you’ve got the roster spot, Lockett could be worth stashing for the next few weeks to find out.

Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens (0.1% on NFL)(0.6% on ESPN) It’s easy to make a case against Brown, he’s flashed potential, but never been consistent, the Ravens will likely be run first due to their limited weapons in the passing game, but at some point Baltimore will need someone to step up as a starter alongside Steve Smith Sr. and I think Brown is their best bet. He’s 6’4 with good speed, quickness and solid hands. As it stands he’s just not seeing many targets, but that should change with Kamar Aiken failing to impress in week 1. I like Brown’s chance to catch a TD this weekend if you’re looking for a dart throw player, but i’m more interested in what he could become as the season goes on.

Tedd Ginn Jr., WR, Panthers (0.4% on NFL)(1.8% on ESPN) There’s something encouraging about the fact that Ginn was targeted seven times in week 1…though it is equally discouraging that he caught only two of them for 54 yards…then again that’s a per catch average of 27 yards. I guess what I’m getting at is I really like the opportunity for Ginn, who remains a starter for Panthers, especially in this week 2 match-up with the Texans. It’s a big risk/big reward play to be sure, but if you’re desperate you could do a lot worse.

Jared Cook, TE, Rams (3.4% on NFL)(8.7% on ESPN) Nick Foles likes throwing to his tight end (remember Zach Ertz?) and Cook is one of the best pass catchers on the Rams. Despite their best efforts, the Redskins are still weak when it comes to pass protection in the middle of the field. In his last trip to FedEx Field, Cook caught 4 passes for 61 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Redskins proved stout against the run in week 1, so expect the Rams to be throwing, with plenty of targets going Cook’s way.

One to Watch: 

Ryan Grant, WR, Redskins (0.0% on NFL)(0.1% on ESPN) Okay this is a deep pull, with plenty of caveats, but keep an eye on second year receiver Ryan Grant. With DeSean Jackson missing the next few weeks Grant stands a chance at more playing time, and an outside chance at garnering a start. Andre Roberts is better known in Washington for his drops than his receptions and the team sees rookie Jamison Crowder as strictly a slot receiver for the time being. Grant has also shown chemistry with starting QB Kirk Cousins in the preseason. With Jackson out and TE Jordan Reed questionable, Grant is the ‘Skins next best shot at a reliable set of hands behind Pierre Garcon…it’s just a matter of whether or not the team will see it that way.

 

Johnny Manziel has seen his stock rise from a number of draft analysts following an impressive performance at Texas A&M’s pro day, and that has the media outlets buzzing about his potential. Specifically, Manziel has drawn what seems like high praise from two very respected names in the world of football. Former Head Coach and QB Guru Jon Gruden, and Hall of Fame Receiver Jerry Rice have both compared Manziel to hall of fame QB and Super Bowl champion Steve Young. Why do I say that only seems like high praise? Well, because they aren’t comparing Manziel to the finished product, but rather the fresh out of BYU brimming with potential Steve Young who saw his professional career begin in the USFL, before being picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a supplemental draft. It always seems to be lost in the legend, at least to the casual fan, but Steve Young was not an overnight success. Young had a record of 3-16 as a starter in two years with a struggling Buccaneers squad before being traded to the 49ers where he would serve as Joe Montana’s back-up for a few years before claiming the starting job.

For what it’s worth I think the comparisons are accurate. Manziel is a few inches shorter shorter than Young, but both were considered undersized and used their legs to get out of trouble often. Young didn’t become a truly great QB until he learned to throw from the pocket, and it’s no secret that Manziel will have to do the same. There is a lot of potential and raw talent in Manziel, but the trouble with any team drafting him in the first round, particularly in the top 10 is that there will be pressure to start him right away and that could be a mistake. Teams need to be willing to take the Aaron Rodgers approach to Manziel, let him learn from the sideline for a bit. Or, if the talent is just too tantalizing, at least settle for a Russell Wilson approach, let him come in and compete for a job, just don’t feel pressure to make him the day one starter if he’s not coming along as quickly as you hoped.

The NFL is littered with draft picks who were rushed into a bad situation and suffered because of it. The Jaguars Blaine Gabbert serves as the most recent glaring example. Gabbert had all the physical tools to succeed, but coming from a spread offense had trouble picking up blitzes. Given a year on the sidelines to study and adjust he may have learned enough to protect himself. Instead he was rushed into the starting line-up and a porous O-Line mixed with a tendency to hold on to the ball too long lead to sack after sack. Gabbert never looked comfortable in the pocket after that…something the 49ers are hoping to fix this season after acquiring the passer for a late round pick.

In short, if Manziel really is the next coming of Steve Young it’s not the Jaguars, Texans, or Browns that should be looking at him, but rather the Saints, Patriots and Manziel’s childhood favorite team the Cowboys that should be looking to Manziel as a Superstar to be groomed behind an aging franchise QB.

I’m hoping to do a more complete list at some point as their are a lot of guys I think might be flying under the radar this season, especially at WR and TE, but since I’m already behind here are a few of my favorites:

Quarterback

Alex Smith, Chiefs:

Maybe I’m just the last guy to give up on Alex Smith’s fantasy value, but I think he has a chance to be a consistent fantasy QB this year, and as deep as QB is this year things get dicey after the elite guys, and the biggest question, especially once you pass the top 10 guys is consistency. Smith’s upside is he’s accurate, he’s mobile and he has everything to prove. He also left behind a very run friendly San Francisco offense and now leads Andy Reid’s pass happy attack. He also may have the most complete complement of weapons either coach or player has ever had: Bowe can be a true #1, Baldwin should be primed to produce and Avery, looks to prove he can be a consistent target. Add Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster as guys who can really move with the ball in space, and TE Tony Moeaki and Anthony Fasano as red zone targets and what you get is a QB with a high floor and plenty of upside.

Sam Bradford, Rams:

Bradford is a perennial sleeper candidate ever since he teased fantasy owners with a promising rookie campaign, only to fall short of anyone claiming to be sure of his fantasy relevance, but this year might actually be different. Bradford found a connection with last years 4th round pick Chris Givens and while it’s still only preseason Tavon Austin is rumored to be living up to the hype that made him the #8 overall pick in the 2013 draft which means Bradford should have the most complete group of receivers in his Rams tenure. It’s also worth mentioning that Jared Cook adds a big bodied presence in the middle of the field and that Jake Long also figure to be the best blindside protector Bradford’s ever had. This will be Bradford’s first year without Steven Jackson, and with the run game up in the air and the current leader for the starting job (Daryl Richardson) being a talented pass catcher Bradford will be throwing often.

(Editor’s Note: My first draft featured Miami Dolphin’s 2nd year QB Ryan Tannehill rather than Sam Bradford, but I credited a good deal of Tannehill’s sleeper value to TE Dustin Keller who will now miss the entire season after tearing multiple ligaments in his knee.)

 

Running Back

Giovanni Bernard, Bengals:

Been high on Bernard since the pre-draft process, and I like the fit with the Bengals. He’s going to be splitting carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but he’s the more versatile back and assuming he stays healthy he could have the Law Firm relegated to Goal Line and short yard work by mid season.

Daryl Richardson, Rams:

Coach Jeff Fisher has come out and said that Richardson is the leader for the starting job so far and I just don’t see him giving it up that easily. He’s already the more experienced back and he’s making the most of his first team reps. Not to mention Pead still has a one game suspension to serve so unless either Pead or Stacy set the field on fire in the next few weeks, I think Richardson runs away with the job and doesn’t look back. He’s a bargain in the mid/late-rounds and well worth the pick if you end up missing out on an elite runner in the early rounds and are hurting for RB depth.

Wide Reciever

Kenny Stills, Saints:

If you’ve been watching the preseason this shouldn’t come as a surprise for you. The Saints have been giving Stills special attention in games, presumably to help him develop chemistry with Drew Brees. (He had 4 receptions for 64 yards and a TD in game 2 and a few nice catches to go with a few close misses in Game 1) Now of course preseason numbers don’t count for the season, but Still projects to the Devery Henderson role of deep target, and he’s probably no better than the 3rd or 4th option behind Colston, Graham and maybe Lance Moore, but he’ll have some big games and some bad games, but that should make him worthy of a late round flier.

Chris GivensRams:

This should be a no brainer. Givens emerged as a favorite target of Sam Bradford last year and the additions of Tavon Austin and Jared Cook only means more one on one match-ups outside for the second year burner out of Wake Forest. You can draft Givens as a #4 receiver and he has #2 upside. The Rams will be better this year and when all is said and done Givens is going to be the guy Bradford looks for.

Tight End

Jordan Cameron, Browns:

I’ve been high on Cameron since the Browns failed to sign Fred Davis away from Washington, and his stock has shot through the roof since then, but he’s still flying under most people’s radars due to the depth at TE and emergence of the position as a legitimate offensive threat. What’s going to set Cameron apart is earning the trust of his 2nd year QB playing for a team in need of playmakers in an offense that isn’t afraid to showcase the TE. (see Gates, Antonio)

Rob Housler, Cardinals:

Similar to Cameron, I’m not quite as high on Housler, but Larry Fitzgerald can’t do it alone and we learned last year that Carson Palmer likes to check down to his tight end. Not to mention the aforementioned Larry Fitzgerald has praised Housler’s hands. And even at 6’5, 250lbs the third year has plenty of speed to keep up with new Head Coach Bruce Arians vertical passing game. He’s well worth a late round flier and could make a steady stand-in with plenty of upside if you’re also drafting Rob Gronkowski.

Defense/Special Teams

Colts:

Coach Chuck Pagano may have been away from the team much of the 2012, but he’s back on the sidelines, and with another offseason to help build his defense this should be a much improved unit. Remember Pagano is a defensive guy, and the Colts quietly had a very nice offseason. Aubrayo Franklin should be a solid addition at Nose Tackle and could hopefully mentor rookie Montori Hughes. Adding versatile former 49ers Defensive Lineman Ricky Jean Francois is great for depth. The pass rush could be much improved if Erik Walden plays up to his contract and Bjorn Werner plays up to his draft status. The secondary looks to at least be a more physical unit with LaRon Landry coming in at Safety and former Cardinal Greg Toler at Cornerback.

Chiefs:

This is another unit that stands to be much improved after being pretty terrible last year. The offense will be better, which should help keep the defense fresh, and assuming they can stay healthy this is a formidable secondary featuring Eric Berry at Safety, and an impressive trio of CBs in Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson with nearly across the board pro bowl linebackers and what looks to be an improved defensive line. Dontari Poe has a full season under his belt and looks to improve, and adding Mike DeVito at DE could be a difference maker.

Kicker

Kai Forbath, Redskins:

I know, a kickers a kicker to most people, but Forbath seems to have gotten lost behind the emergence of Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein, but after taking over full time kicker duties midway through last season Forbath didn’t miss a kick. I’m not saying reach for him, but if your pick is in the later half of the final round he should be sitting there and should be a solid option all season long.

I know it’s not even July yet, but I’m already pumped up off the reports from minicamp. QB looks like it could end up crazy deep this year thanks to an infusion of young talent and league’s growing penchant for pass heavy offenses. I’m considering the rankings to be in flux and will update as necessary.

1. Drew Brees, Saints (2012 Rank: 1): Jimmy Graham is healthy, Sean Payton is back. Still not convinced? LT Jermon Bushrod and WR Devery Henderson are liable to miss New Orleans more than the Saints miss them. I two promising rookies to fill their shoes Combine Hero and owner of one of the NFL’s most fun name’s to say Terron Armstead at LT and Kenny Stills at WR.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (2012 Rank: 2): Even with Greg Jennings doning purple and gold this season Green Bay features one of the better WR corps. Jermichael Finley is still in town and Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin are both adept at catching passes out of the backfield (though they may end up stealing a few TDs.)

3. Peyton Manning, Broncos (2012 Rank: 6)
I’m iffy putting Manning this high, but the addition of Wes Welker gives Manning 3 stellar options in the passing game, and I expect the Broncos may actually run a bit less the year in hopes of easing Montee Ball’s legs into the transition of NFL bell cow back.

4. Tom Brady, Patriots (2012 Rank: 3): Welker left via free agency, Hernandez has been released following his arrest and Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back from injury. But Brady is far from dead in the water: Jake Ballard will likely pick up the slack at TE, rookie WR’s Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have the ability to contribute from day 1 and Donald Jones is a previously undrafted 3rd receiver who flashed his potential with a division rival (Bills) before signing with the Pats…If that’s not just the classic Patriots recipe for success I don’t know what is.

5. Matt Ryan, Falcons (2012 Rank: 7): In a year full of QB question marks Matt Ryan is an exclamation point. Atlanta returns all it’s offensive firepower from a year ago minus Michael Turner, but adding Steven Jackson. Going from one of the league’s worst pass catching backs to one of the best pushes Ryan into the top 5.

6. Cam Newton, Panthers (2012 Rank: 4): If the Panthers had Robert Woods or DeAndre Hopkins lining up across from Steve Smith I’d probably have Newton at #3. I like the addition of Ted Ginn, but when OC Mike Shula talks about Cam running less and throwing more I worry about who’s on the other end of those throws.

7. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012 Rank: 5): Surgically reconstructed knees and questionable week 1 status could have Griffin drop further, but for now well if Adrian Peterson is Wolverine consider RG3 Deadpool (another comic book character with supernatural healing powers.) Unfortunately Griffin and fellow rookie, RB Alfred Morris made the Redskins O-Line look better than it was last year. Still, I like the weapons and the talent.

8. Andrew Luck, Colts (2012 Rank: 8): The Colts cleaned up the O-Line a bit and brought in Darrius Heyward-Bey to line up across from Reggie Wayne. The thought is that new OC Pep Hamilton is going to reel in Luck’s big play number’s from his rookie season with a more conservative offense in 2013. If that’s true then the speedy, 6’2 Heyward-Bey was the wrong guy to add to the line up. RB Ahmad Bradshaw was a nice add, but make no mistake, he’s not a bell cow back and I expect the Colts to be throwing early and often in Luck’s second year.

9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (2012 Rank: 1): If Michael Crabtree hadn’t gotten hurt he’d be higher, like flirting with the top 5 higher. Still Kaepernick has weapons. Anquan Boldin has already established himself as the top target, and I expect TE Vernon Davis will be second, building off the chemistry built in last season’s playoff run. After that it’s all about who you ask with AJ Jenkins receiving most of the praise after taking his rookie year to learn the playbook, but don’t count out this year’s rookies WR Quinton Patton and TE Vance McDonald. It’s important to remember the 49ers still love to run the ball, luckily for Kaepernick he does that pretty well too.

10. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012 Rank: 10): The talent is there, but the question with Wilson is opportunity. As a 49ers fan I hate admitting it, but the Seahawks have a top defense and running game. They added an explosive receiver in Percy Harvin, but I just don’t know how many chances Wilson will get to light up the scoreboard like some of his peers.

11. Tony Romo, Cowboys (2012 Rank: 9): While the rest of the NFL was busy googling Travis Frederick, Cowboys GM Jerry Jones was bolstering the Cowboys passing game by adding TE Gavin Escobar and WR Terrance Williams. Escobar has a chance to take over the #2 role vacated by Martellus Bennett two seasons ago and Williams is an ideal fit to play on the outside in 3 receiver sets. Bottom line: Romo will be throwing plenty, and while it won’t always be pretty, he’ll get his numbers.

12. Matt Stafford, Lions (2012 Rank: 11): The much anticipated encore to an impressive 2011 season fell flat. While a sub par line and injuries to the receiving corps may have been a part of that it still wasn’t pretty. Adding Reggie Bush and returning Ryan Broyles will help, but this is still a team with a lot to prove in a tough division.

13. Eli Manning, Giants (2012 Rank: 1): I’m a little torn on Eli. Hakeem Nicks’ injury issues hurt him bad last year, but with Nicks and Cruz both playing for contracts I think Eli could have a big year. Brandon Myers fits what they want to do at TE and 2nd year receiver Reuban Randle’s progress and free agent acquisition Louis Murphy’s quick chemistry with Eli make this a much deeper group at WR. With the defense ailing he’ll be throwing plenty.

14. Andy Dalton, Bengals (2012 Rank: 12): If the Bengals threw more I’d probably like him more than Stafford. Still, despite playing on a run-first team lacking offensive firepower Dalton finished 12th in scoring among fantasy QBs. I love the additions of Eifert as the TE #2 and Bernard as a change of pace and passing down back, but until the Bengals show their willing to put the game in Dalton’s hands this is where he ranks.

15. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (2012 Rank: 24): Nine spots is a big jump for a second year QB, but I think Tannehill is in a much better spot this year than last. Mike Wallace is a deep threat to showcase Tannehill’s arm strength. Brian Hartline is one of the best pure possession receivers in the NFL, Brandon Gibson could develop as a threat in the slot and Dustin Keller is also an upgrade at TE. Following all the free agent signings and the Patriots offseason troubles the biggest difference for Tannehill and the Dolphins could be confidence.

16. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2012 Rank: 18): The offensive line is healthy and that’s big. Roethlisberger’s tendency to get dinged up bothers me, but not nearly as much as the fact that I’m not sure he buys in to OC Todd Haley’s short and intermediate passing game and that’s a problem.

17. Sam Bradford, Rams (2012 Rank: 16): Despite playing in a tough NFC West with a lack of offensive talent he finished 16th among QB’s last year. Jeff Fisher likes to run the ball, but until one of the 3 young backs proves he can be a work horse the offense will run through Bradford. Tavon Austin is a play maker in the slot, Chris Givens developed chemistry with Bradford in the second half of last season, Austin Pettis quietly blossomed as a red zone target and Jared Cook reunites with the coach that drafted him on a team desperate for the presence of a big man over the middle (sorry Lance Kendricks.)

18. Matt Schaub, Texans (2012 rank: 20): The offense goes through Arian Foster in Houston, but look for this year’s team to be more balanced. Foster is nursing a calf injury and after carrying the ball 351 times in 2012 scaling back on his work load might not be a terrible idea. After all Schaub now has a plethora of weapons in the pass game to go along with Foster: First round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins joins last year’s rookies LeStar Jean and Keyshawn Martin and offensive staples Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels return to give the Texans the weapons to air it out if they so choose.

19. EJ Manuel, Bills (2012 rank: n/a): Okay fine, he has to win the job first, but I think he could be the week 1 starter, and I really like what the Bills have done. Robert Woods is a perfect compliment to Stevie Johnson, Da’Rick Rogers was a steal as an undrafted free agent (I’m hoping he earns playing time on the outside if Stevie is moved to the slot in 3 wide sets) I also think Marquise Goodwin is better than people think and could contribute early. I see Manuel as this year’s Josh Freeman. He won’t and shouldn’t be drafted, but he’ll put up some big number games and be owned in more than a few leagues by the end of the season.

T20. Philip Rivers, Chargers (2012 Rank: 21):
Rivers has become something of a sleeper. The Chargers boast a formidable stable of WRs when they’re all healthy, unfortunately that’s no guarantee. Even 3rd round draft pick Keenan Allen is only recently recovered from injury.  Throw in an aging Antonio Gates and the oft injured Ryan Matthews and you see how things can get bad quickly in San Diego. Former Patriot pass catching HB Danny Woodhead was brought in to spell Matthews and perhaps even serve as the primary back up which I find encouraging, and new Head Coach Mike McCoy is respected for his work with QBs so maybe there’s a decent chance Rivers numbers improve.

T20. Carson Palmer, Cardinals (2012 Rank: 17): Playing in a Bruce Arians offense with Larry Fitzgerald and promising 2nd year WR Michael Floyd is a big upgrade for Palmer. Unfortunately the opposition is getting upgraded too as he’ll trade the spotty secondaries of the AFC West for some of the leagues best in the NFC West.

I’ve been following this offseason a lot closer than I’ve followed any of the previous ones, and there have been a few teams that have caught my eye, the Buffalo Bills are one of them. The Bills made headlines last offseason after their splashy signing of Mario Williams. This season is was the draft where the Bills made their splash by making EJ Manuel the only QB taken in the first round.

While I don’t know that he was worth the first round pick, I was a big proponent of the Florida State QB as the most underrated passer in the draft; especially early in the process when his name got lost under the hype surrounding Geno Smith and Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib. Manuel has the size and arm strength to be a superstar. That said, I really hope he isn’t forced to be the week 1 starter. The way the 49ers brought along Colin Kaepernick should serve as the model here. Give him a year holding the clipboard and learning how to play in the NFL. Ideally you’d like a stronger mentor(s) than Kevin Kolb and Tavaris Jackson, but hey a poor man’s Colin Kaepernick is a heck of a lot better than Ryan Fitzpatrick.

My biggest concern with the Bills offensive is the offensive line. They still haven’t quite addressed the hole left at guard by Andy Levitre’s departure and they could still use another tackle to pair with Cordy Glenn, but as far as the skill positions are concerned I think the Bills have set themselves up nicely. I’m really looking forward to seeing this passing attack as Buffalo managed to grab 3 of my favorite prospects from this wide receiver class. I think Robert Woods is a great hands guy to compliment Stevie Johnson and Marquise Goodwin may need some coaching, but he’s already a great speed guy. Then they added Da’Rick Rogers shortly after the draft who, if he keeps his nose clean and stays out of trouble, will also be a key contributor. I’m not sure what Buffalo’s current cap situation is, but if they have the space, I still think they should look into the addition of LT Brandon Albert via trade, that the Chiefs have Eric Fisher. Or if the team’s comfortable with Cordy Glenn playing LT, adding free agent RT Eric Winston could be a cheaper option, reuniting him with former Texans teammate Mario Williams and keeping him off the rival Dolphins roster. Solidifying that line could make this offense very scary, very quickly.

On defense things also seem to be trending upwards. Kiko Alonso adds a big bodied presence to the middle of the field and I like the signing of Manny Lawson to play outside linebacker. I also think the team will benefit from the switch to a hybrid scheme. I’m disappointed the secondary wasn’t better addressed with such a deep class at cornerback, and really the whole back half of the draft leaves something to be desired, at least on paper, but the two safeties they drafted seem to have some fan support from their college careers and Dustin Hopkins could be this year’s Blair Walsh or Greg Zuerlein. Regardless, this is a Bills team that’s got a lot of promise, and while they’re probably still a year or two from challenging for the division title, if they get the line sorted, and some rookie and sophomore players come along quicker than expected, this is a team that could surprise some people.

The Buffalo Bills hold the 8th overall selection in this years draft, but despite the high pick Buffalo could find all 3 top LT prospects off the board by the time they get their chance at the podium. Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher may be gone in the 1st two picks. The Eagles (4) and Lions (5) could also target a LT if either of the top two fall and it seems almost assured that the Cardinals will use their 7th overall pick on a LT expected to be Lane Johnson.

Now, LT may not be the biggest need for the Bills, but it would certainly be a nice boost to add a strong blindside protector, allowing last year’s second round pick Cordy Glenn to slide to the right side. This not only allows the team to bolster a line that lost a key player in guard Andy Levitre to free agency, but also frees up the team’s first round pick to be used on the QB of their choice.

I know, Bills fans are reluctant to go after a QB in the first, but if after going through work outs with the top prospects, there is a clear winner then it is worth the pick. While many have questioned the talent available in this year’s draft the popular theory seems to be that QB needy teams will pounce early in the 2nd round. In the second the Bills will be picking behind the Jaguars, Cardinals, and Jets who are all be looking to add a signal caller, but are unlikely to spend a first round selection on one.

Now it’s true the Bills could just trade back up into the bottom of the first to grab a QB, but this is a class with some depth, so being able to get your first choice for a franchise QB and add a solid young LT with the first two picks while maintaining a hold on later picks to add depth to the roster could turn what has been a rough offseason into Buffalo into a positive step forward for the franchise’s future.

Don’t let anyone tell you the Chiefs should have waited for the 49ers released Alex Smith, or until the cost of a trade came down, because neither option was on the horizon. If anything Alex Smith’s stock was on the rise. It’s no coincidence that this deal is announced to be all but complete just days after this year’s rookie QB’s worked out at the combine in Indianapolis. Tyler Bray of Tennessee was about the lone story of a QB who threw significantly better than expected, and the major knock against Bray was never his arm. What the combine largely proved for the QB class was, what you saw is what you were getting.

New head coach of the QB needy Cardinals, Bruce Arians, said the group lacked a ‘wow’ factor. That could only be good news for Smith as while the draft seemed to lack significant first round talent it was believed most of the teams looking to draft their franchise signal caller this year would do so in the 2nd round. This likely became the baseline.

Remember, even though we only heard reports out of Kansas City and Arizona that their was a high level of interest in Smith, a lack luster QB combine could have spiked interest, particularly in Cleveland where Alex Smith’s old OC Norv Turner currently resides with a head coach who’s fond of mobile QB’s (Smith may not be Cam Newton, but he’s leagues ahead of Weeden.) I also think Buffalo could have come calling. They’ve already got a bit of money tied up in Fitzpatrick and Jackson, but if they weren’t wowed by their interviews with the rookie prospects it would be a worthwhile investment (especially since Smith was likely to restructure his deal with a new team anyway.) The Cardinals, I expect were willing to part with a second rounder, that otherwise was expected to go to Matt Barkley. Smith would provide all the football intelligence of the USC product, plus a stronger arm and NFL experience.

So, no, the Chiefs should not have simply waited. Alex Smith wasn’t going to be released and while the second round pick is a particularly high one, and finding out that there is a second conditional pick headed to San Fran next year may sting this is the price that must be paid to lock in a starting QB. And those of you who were hoping for Nick Foles (Andy Reid may well be amongst this group) he was reportedly unavailable, and based on the reports out of Philly is unlikely to come available anytime before training camp, which just leaves too much uncertainty. No, the Chiefs paid what they had to to secure Smith’s services and lock in a starter at QB, which essentially takes them from rebuilding project to contender’s in the AFC West (the Broncos will be tough to overcome, but the Raiders and Chargers…not so much.)