Week 1: PPR Watch
For too long PPR leagues have been fantasy football second-class citizens. PPR is an after thought, a quick mention at the end of the column, as though it were unworthy of sound research and a singular focus. Well no more brother. PPR honors the role players of the NFL, the first down makers, the guy that goes over the middle, and even occasionally, the wise running back that catches a pass for negative yardage. PPR is here and our time is now.
Sure Thing - I love Maclin in this game against the Rams, and I love Maclin for as long as Vick stays healthy. He's entering his third year after improving significantly last year in all major statistical categories. His health problems scared some people off, making him a high value play and he could even end up the most valuable PPR receiver in the Eagles offense. Maclin was targeted more often than Jackson in 2010, scored more often, and caught a higher percentage of his targets. (60% compared to Jackson's 48%). Jackson will have more big plays, but if we're looking for consistency, Maclin is the guy I want. I think he starts the year off with a bang against a middle of the road Rams secondary.
Confident - Chester Taylor can catch the ball, and Arizona signing him could be an indication that they still have doubts about Wells' ability as a receiver. But for those who didn't read the 'What Changed' preview edition, I'll say it again. Kolb completed 33 passes to running backs in his 4 starts last year in Philly. No, I don't think Wells is going to catch 8 passes a game, but I do think there will be opportunities for him in the passing game this year that haven't been there before. Whether he takes advantage of that opportunity is up to him. Wells has a great match-up against Carolina in week 1, the Panthers were bad last year against the run, and even worse this pre-season. Get Wells in your PPR lineup.
Confident - If you drafted Gonzo, you're probably getting nervous with all the downgrades you've seen this summer and it's time for some good news. Well, here it comes: Gonzalez was still the 4th most targeted TE in 2010, a year which was absolutely brutal on TE production. Yes, his yardage was well down and yes, the Falcons are going to stretch the field with Julio Jones and Harry Douglas, but who's to say that won't open things up for Gonzalez to make bigger plays as well? Matt Ryan is smart enough to take what's given to him, and Gonzo's savvy enough to use the extra space. Gonzalez has been the most durable and consistent TE in football for a decade, and there's something to be said for that at a position that has to absorb huge hits over the middle. He's not someone I personally targeted on draft day, but you've got him, so use him. You can always sub in a Kendriks or Cook later in the year if they pan out.
Caution - Moreno has not been as advertised, and the addition of Willis McGahee is a clear sign that Fox intends to use a committee like he did in Carolina. The result could be good for Denver's running game overall, but probably won't be for Moreno's fantasy output. McGahee doesn't have a lot of wear on the tires, and he's a proven commodity at the goal-line. Moreno may get his opportunities inside the 5, but he won't have as many as last year, and he better convert when he does. I still like Knowshon as a receiver -- last year he snatched up 37 balls in just 13 games. Unfortunately, even if he takes the 70% share of a split, it will be hard for those numbers to improve. Overall I think he's a wait and see guy, but in deeper leagues the match-up against the Raiders may be too enticing, so you do what you've got to do.
Caution - Hopefully you drafted Ford late enough that you don't have to start him. Wait, let me start over. I like Ford a lot. I've drafted him almost everywhere, and though he may never be a PPR force (like DeSean Jackson), his speed and big play ability make him a great value in all formats. That said, this is week 1 and as I've said with several other guys, it's often better to know what you've got before you insert someone into your starting lineup. Ford missed most of the pre-season with a broken hand, and he hasn't had much time to get in sync with a new offensive coordinator. Jason Campbell is hardly a confidence builder at quarterback, and this is a run first team. Ford has the ability to be a difference maker in fantasy football, but if you can, I'd wait and see if the Raiders can get him the ball first.