As we approach the beginning of many leagues' drafts (and the month when football officially begins), there are always a few loose ends to be tied up. Who you choose to play for your fantasy team and hopeful championship is not always just about talent but timing. If you have the luxury of waiting to see how things play out and get a couple of preseason games in, you will have some advantage. If you have to draft in the next few weeks you might need to start thinking about three key players and what their future holds for 2012.
1. Mike Wallace - The speedster from the North is holding out and trying to leverage the most un-leverage-able of organizations. The Steelers quickly struck a deal extending Antonio Brown's contract in an act nearly out of spite. Wallace right now would be playing for $2.7m if he signs his tender and reports. That is about $9 million less than what he wants with no guarantee he won't be a free agent next year. What can you expect from him this year, will he play for the Steelers, and how do you approach his draft positioning given a top 10 talent at WR?
Zeus- Mike Wallace turned down a 5 year, $50 million deal. Unreal huh? Guess what Mike Wallace? You are NOT Fitz. It is the Steelers' way to pay their players how they think they should be paid. It is the Steelers' way to do it on their timetable, and Wallace will be no different. If he was smart he would get into camp and learn his new offensive scheme. Haley is installing something quite different from what Wallace is used to and if he doesn't get into camp soon he will fall behind and not be as productive. If he gets in hastily he could flourish in the pass-happy offense, but the timer is ticking on you Mr. Wallace. Proceed with caution if you draft in the next couple weeks.
Thayse- My personal opinion is he does NOT play for Pittsburgh this year. There are too many teams looking for a WR and will come after him. He is going to be unreasonable to deal with and I don't see him reporting under the current situation. Understand that Pitt needs to get rid of him. Their cap position is terrible and getting worse. They can say all they want about not wanting to trade him, but I am telling you Wallace is in a new uniform by September. I still say draft him around the 12-14 WR off the board in about the third round. If he goes past that snap him up as a value pick.
2. Dwayne Bowe - One of the stories from this off-season that hasn't got as much coverage as Tebow going to the Jets, is the Dwayne Bowe saga. He is holding out and no one knows when this will end. Where should I draft Bowe and should I have confidence missing training camp won't hurt him?
Zeus- This story irks me. Yes, it irks me. Dwayne Bowe has nothing to gain by not coming to camp, absolutely nothing. He has two choices this year. One is to play for the 9 plus million dollars his franchise contract tender is signed for, and the other is to sit out the year. He is doing himself no good burning his team, and most important to you, he is burning his fantasy owners. They have a new crew of leaders there in KC, and every minute of camp he misses scares me. He is a talented WR, but missing camp hurts him. I say let others take the gamble on him unless he falls into the 8th round or so.
Thayse- Last I checked the amazing Baldwin was basking in the KC rays with no Bowe around to take catches. What ever happened to work hard, prove yourself, and expect to be compensated accordingly? Since when did this league turn into a bunch of kids sitting home until they get their way? Bowe is going to make good money this year and should take it and hope to get a long term deal by doing the right thing. From a fantasy perspective, I don't like it. The Chiefs are going to run the ball a lot this year and then run it some more. Yea he will get his catches, but the only consistency out of Bowe the last few years has been his inconsistency. Hold out for at least the fifth round on Bowe. That is my take right now.
3- Maurice Jones Drew- Another player with no new news as of late. MJD is not only holding the Jaguars hostage, but he is tying fantasy owner's arms as well. MJD refused to report and is holding out for a big money extension. Should the 2011 NFL leading rusher still be drafted in the 1st round or has his stock dropped below sea level?
Zeus- MJD has no other option but to sign. I don't see the Jags bending, and you know what? I like it. MJD is set to make $9.65 million over the next two seasons. Doesn't sound like a ton, but he made nearly $22 million in the last 3 years, so the Jags held up their end of the agreement. Some fantasy owners may be afraid of a CJ type situation, but I feel that MJD will be fine. He will come to his senses and play football week 1 and be fine. I say that you draft MJD as you normally would. He is Jacksonville's only real weapon and they will pound him this year.
Thayse- Ehhhhh.... Gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there big guy. Specifically about the draft normal, meaning likely first round in most leagues. I do agree MJD gets the rock a lot and he is a beast, but his performance will slip from last year and the disgruntled mood could come into play. I also suspect that the completely new coaching regime may want to see what they really have in a QB and brand new hardware at WR. Jennings is going to snag some extra touches too. I'm pushing MJD down into the early second round on my big board.