This week's question:'In the aftermath of the 2010 NFL Draft this past April, which team's fantasy offense is expected to show the biggest improvement ?'
A little over a week ago, people were snickering at the possibility of the Raiders drafting Bruce Campbell with their top pick, but now some are actually considering them a legitimate threat in the AFC West. That’s probably taking it a little too far, but it is clear that the Oakland Raiders pulled a complete 360 during this year’s draft. Maybe it would be more accurate to say “during the 2012 draft” considering that the most significant move they made was acquiring a legitimate starting QB in Jason Campbell for just a fourth rounder in 2012.
The addition of Campbell not only drastically improves an offense that ranked #31 in points scored last season, but also opens up a new fantasy landscape where it becomes feasible for us to consider Raiders’ players not named Zach Miller as decent fantasy options. As for the players actually drafted, the Raiders did pretty well there too. The back-to-back defensive selections of LB Rolando McClain and DT Lamarr Houston in rounds 1 and 2 should pay immediate dividends and by taking O-Tackles Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell in the third and fourth rounds, Oakland is left with some insurance against one of them not panning out (at least they learned something from drafting JaMarcus Russell). Consider it an added bonus if any of their later picks work out.
Derek of FantasyFootballManiaxs.Com says:
When people are looking for the offensive fixes in a draft they usually think the skill positions. The St. Louis Rams turned their offensive fortunes around by drafting Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. The Dallas Cowboys will have an even more explosive offense with Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant in the mix. The Bills offense just became more exciting with Clemson HB C.J. Spiller in the mix.
That is all fine and good, but any great offense needs an offensive line that is going to be able to open holes for the running back and protect the quarterback to give him time to throw. Offensive lineman may not get the loud cheers from the crowd, but ask any offensive coordinator how important a good offensive line is to his offense. An offense cannot function with poor offensive line play.
That leads me to the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did they use a first round pick on Rutgers T Anthony Davis, but they also added Idaho G Mike Iupati. That has the potential to be a 660 lb wall on the left side of the 49ers offensive line for the next decade.
There are a lot of 49ers players that are smiling about these acquisitions right now. First, RB Frank Gore has to be ecstatic. This has the makings of a 1,500-yard season with 12 to 15 touchdowns if that line can stay healthy and contribute immediately. Tight End Vernon Davis is smiling, because the more the offensive line can pick up a pass rush, the more often he can go out for a route. Wideout Michael Crabtree is going to have more time to find the opening in the secondary and create big plays down the field. If all those players are going to improve, that means that QB Alex Smith is not going to have to shoulder as much of the load.
This means that a San Francisco offense that was #27 in yards gained and #18 in points scored can begin to compete with some of the better offenses in the NFL. It means the defense can force more turnovers, because they can afford to gamble. They do not have to worry about the 49ers falling behind 14-0 early in the game and not having the ability to comeback.
Offensive line play is one of the key factors in an offense being able to put up points. I am not saying the 49ers will equal the Greatest Show on Turf, but I think this struggling offense’s fortunes were single-handedly turned for the better by drafting these two offensive linemen. They are an offense that could take a big step forward, even though they did not add one player in the first round of the draft that will score a fantasy point in 2010.
Jeff of DynastyKings.Com says:
I'm going to pick two teams here to discuss - Denver and Detroit.
Denver moved several key components out of Colorado prior to April's NFL Draft, shipping disgruntled WR Brandon Marshall off to Miami. The Broncos followed this move by trading TE Tony Scheffler to the Lions, creating an interesting lineup right up until NFL Draft Weekend. Denver chose to skip over Dez Bryant (which I'm practically certain that they will regret) to take Demaryius Thomas, followed by a crazy deal to get Tim Tebow later in the first round. Luckily they may have grabbed their best overall receiver on the roster with Eric Decker on Day 2, a player who could become the starter opposite of Thomas in the not-so-distant future.
Detroit comes next as they added Jahvid Best before the end of the draft's Round 1, moving up to get their feature back of the future - and probably the present as well. The trade for Scheffler (along with the free agent signing of Nate Burleson) transformed their set of skill players from complimentary to Calvin Johnson last season all the way up to significant threats to move the ball and make plays all over the field. Kevin Smith could come back, but right now that would be gravy to the meat and potatoes Matthew Stafford now has around him - Best, Johnson, Burleson, Scheffler and the probable return of Brandon Pettigrew. Assuming an offensive line can buy Stafford time, the Lions will have real firepower to post some points.
Honorable mention has to be given to the Cowboys for having arguably the best offensive talent fall into their laps at the bottom of Round 1. Dez Bryant could be a game changer and make Dallas a strong contender not just in 2010 but for many years to come.
Russ of FantasyFootballStarters.Com says:
There were several teams to choose from for this roundtable discussion, but the team I’ll pick is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay (correctly) identified that they lacked any type of playmakers at the WR position and on the offensive side of the ball, that’s the only position they drafted for.
Drafting Illinois WR Arrelious Benn in round 2 and Syracuse WR Mike Williams in round 4 was not just addressing need; it was also getting great value in my opinion as both players could be big time playmakers for a team that was bereft of any at the WR position going into the draft. There is a good chance both of these rookies could be starting week 1 since the competition consists of Michael Clayton, Reggie Brown, Sammie Stroughter, and Maurice Stovall. Benn and Williams are both bigger WR’s with good pass catching abilities and solid run after the catch skills and are clearly more talented than any of those four. This will give Josh Freeman better weapons to throw the ball to as he continues to develop as an NFL quarterback.
Freeman’s development is key to the success of the Bucs for fantasy football player projections, and entering only his second season, he will have his struggles so Benn and Williams may not pay immediate big dividends, but after losing Antonio Bryant in the off-season, the Bucs have reloaded, and reloaded with solid football talent at WR to help him out. Depending on what happens throughout the OTA’s and training camp, both Benn and Williams could be nice fantasy football sleepers as bench WR’s in 2010. In dynasty style fantasy football leagues, both are clearly players to target as one (or both) could emerge as top talents in a couple of seasons.
Ryan of LestersLegends.Com says:
I am a firm believer that you build your team in the trenches. Offensive lineman are about as sexy as that fifth piece of cheesecake, but they open holes for running backs, give receivers and tight ends time to get open, and allow quarterbacks to go through their progressions. In basic terms, if you offensive line has hole, you will struggle to move the ball.
Nobody made more of an effort to bolster their offensive line in the 2010 NFL Draft than the San Francisco 49ers. They spent not one, but two first round picks on their line with the selection of Anthony Davis at 11 and Mike Iupati at 17. They should be able to step in and contribute immediately. Along with Joe Staley, the Niners should be set for years to come.
Jake of JunkYardJake.Com says:
From a fantasy perspective, where rookie runningbacks receive the most attention, the Chargers with Ryan Matthews and the Texans with Ben Tate will most likely generate the most interest on fantasy draft day. However, in evaluating the overall quality of offensive picks, I think the teams that might have most improved the fortunes of their offensive units are the Patriots and the Panthers.
For New England, it would have been nice to see them target a runningback in the draft, but I think they did an excellent job in securing two of the most talented tight ends available in the draft this year. In the 2nd round, they selected Rob Gronkowski, who has great size at 6-6, and exceptional hands. Gronkowski doesn’t have the speed to constitute a consistent threat on deep plays, but he is a terrific blocker and should develop into a reliable short and intermediate target. The Patriots then selected Aaron Hernandez in the 4th round, who could turn out to be a steal. Hernandez gives Tom Brady another potential target with soft hands, and in contrast to Gronkowski, the former Florida Gator has top-notch speed for his position and should develop into a formidable downfield threat. In between Gronkowski and Hernandez, New England also addressed their shallow wide receiver position in the 3rd round with Taylor Price from Ohio. Price is a bit small at 6-0, and has been a bit inconsistent over his college career, but there is no denying his 4.36 speed, sharp cutting ability, and his solid route running.
The Panthers also seemed to have boosted the quality of their offensive unit, as they were able to fill their void at quarterback with Norte Dame's Jimmy Clausen in the 2nd round. Clausen may have frightened off some NFL teams with his below average Wonderlic score, but his clean mechanics, arm strength, accuracy as well as his good leadership skills and experience in a pro-style offense make him a premier prospect for a team in dire need of a franchise quarterback. Carolina also found another nice value at quarterback when they selected Tony Pike in the 6th round. Pike was expected by many to go as high as the 2nd round, and his good size and impressive accuracy make him an intriguing pick. The wide receiver position was also addressed by the Panthers, as they may have finally found a promising complement to Steve Smith when they selected LSU's Brandon LaFell in the 3rd round. At 6-3, 210 lbs, LaFell has prototypical size to go along with good hands and decent speed. Perhaps his best attribute is his physicality, as he knows what to do with the ball in his hands, and is an excellent blocker. The team also added depth at receiver with David Gettis in the 6th round. Gettis is considered a bit of a project in terms of route running, but his size/speed combination makes him an interesting player to watch.
Jim of FanaticFantasyFootball.Com says:
My gut just screams the San Francisco 49ers when I’m thinking of which offense is going to finally produce someserious fantasy points after some excellent drafting the last two years.
San Francisco landed some big names, and big bodies, in the 2010 draft. Quarterback AlexSmith will have some real protection along the offensive front. Opposing defenses will have their work cut out for them when trying to get around 6-5, 323 pound Anthony Davis, the #11 overall pick in the first round. Davis is considered one of the best tackles in this draft class. He played both right guard and left tackle during his two years as a starter for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. With the #17 overall pick in the first round the 49ers selected Mike Iupati, a 6-5, 331 pound offensive guard. Iupati is a hard-nosed guard known for his attitude, toughness, and athleticism. Both Davis and Iupati will be serious challengers for starting jobs this year.
The rushing attack received some support in the form of 6-0, 233 pound Anthony Dixon, a running back out of Mississippi State. Coach Singletary said he envisions Frank Gore getting 50%-60% (20-25) touches with Glen Coffee and Dixon splitting the remaining touches.
Second year wide receiver, Michael Crabtree, will headline the receiving corps. Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr., and speedster rookie wide receiver Kyle Williams, will battle for two positions. Williams will most likely see action as the slot receiver. He can also be used to return punts and kick-offs.
I see the San Francisco 49ers winning the division in 2010 and will be the team to beat for years to come.
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