Chad Henne: Chad Henne possesses all of the intangibles to be an excellent NFL quarterback. He is a smart passer with a big arm and great accuracy. Passing behind one of the better offensive lines in the league, Henne is supported by an extremely strong rushing attack. Entering his third year, Henne should remain an effective passer and should hover around a 65 percent completion rate. The Dolphins wide receiver corps. is full of solid router runners with very good receiving instincts. Davone Bess, Brian Hartline and Greg Camarillo have all proven to be very good possession receivers in their short Miami careers.
The addition of Brandon Marshall, one of the premiere players in the league, will immensely help Henne’s progression. Marshall has topped the century mark in receptions in each of the past three seasons and could very well reach that milestone once again. Marshall showed no ill effects downgrading from Jay Cutler in ’08 to Kyle Orton in ’09. Chad Henne should prove to be more accurate with a stronger arm than Kyle Orton. Marshall and Henne could become one of the top duos in the NFL.
Tight end Anthony Fasano, who caught two touchdowns in Week 2 of the Preseason, is a solid receiver and should be a quality security blanket for Henne. The situation is similar to Eli Manning and Kevin Boss.
Although the Dolphins are a run first team, their passing attack will prove to be just as efficient with Henne behind center. The Dolphins will have a balanced offensive attack and will keep defenses guessing each down. Henne should finish the season with around 3,500 yards, 20 TD and 10 INT.
Mark Sanchez, NYJ: A major concern with Sanchez is the amount of pressure that is riding on him. The entire team has Super Bowl aspirations, but may only go as far as Sanchez can take them. His ability to progress into a great quarterback in his second year will be the hot topic throughout the season. Sanchez proved in the playoffs last season that he is ready and willing to stand toe to toe with ‘the moment.’
Sanchez will miss Santonio Holmes’ big play ability in the first four games of the season. However, he still has Braylon Edwards’ big play ability to have fun with.
Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cothery and Laveranues Coles are all very good possession receivers. Cotchery could even be considered one of the best in the league with that label. Cotchery creates good separation and has two of the most reliable hands in the league.
Keller and LaDainian Tomlinson will be extremely effective working underneath the coverage. They will both be great check down options for Sanchez. Sanchez, like Tony Romo, needs to cut down on turnovers for his team to excel.
The Jets have arguably the best rushing attack in the league. The offensive line excels in both passing and rushing protection. Sanchez will have plenty of time to read the defense. He needs to be more effective and accurate with his throws instead of trying to make the big play each time. This should come with experience. However, the Jets’ fantastic supporting cast can accelerate this progression.
Although Sanchez threw 20 interceptions last season, 15 came in four games. It would be surprising if Sanchez throws five interceptions in one game like he did against the Buffalo Bills of all teams.
The Jets appear to have a rather difficult schedule against secondary’s, but a soft spot in the schedule during bye weeks means Sanchez could be a solid bye-week fill in. The Jets battle Detroit, Cleveland and Houston in Weeks 9 to 11 when quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Philip Rivers, and Aaron Rodgers have bye weeks.
If Sanchez can play as well as he played in the postseason, he can provide solid return value as a late round selection or waiver-wire pick up. Sanchez has the potential to throw 20-24 touchdowns with 3,000-3,500 yards while dropping his interceptions to around 15.
Willis McGahee, BAL: Baltimore has one of the top offensive lines in the league. They are excellent in both passing and rushing protection. Although Joe Flacco is the key to the team’s success, they need the rushing game to be on point to win the Super Bowl.
Ray Rice may be a top pick in fantasy, but the Ravens will want to keep Rice fresh for the postseason. There will be plenty of carries to go around for the Ravens.
McGahee proved last season he could be effective in a limited role. More importantly, he proved to be very effective scoring touchdowns as he had 12 rushing and two receiving. His Week 17 three touchdown performance was meaningless to most fantasy owners, but nine touchdowns in 15 games should not be overlooked when evaluating late round potentials.
Look for McGahee to receive more carries than last year. While his touchdowns should be on the wrong side of 10, he could still rush for 700 yards.
Bernard Scott, CIN: Scott stays in the sleeper role because Cedric Benson finally proved that he could play. The Bengals are a run first offense as of last year and it proved to be a winning success.
The Bengals added veterans Terrell Owens, Matt Jones, and Antonio Bryant (rumor is he could be cut because of his balky knee). They also drafted quality receiving options in Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley. These additions bode well for the ground game. The team might actually be able to run more this season because defenses will look to stop the dynamic-diva-duo of Ochocinco and Ochouno and the rest of the stacked receiving corps.
Benson is not the most durable player in the league. In the two games Benson missed, Scott totaled 207 yards on 39 carries and three receptions for 32 yards. The Bengals like Scott’s abilities. Head coach Marvin Lewis could very well choose to give Scott more carries this year to prevent Benson from breaking down.
If Benson were to miss time again, Scott will be reliable fill in. He has arguably the most upside of any late round running back and would be an every-week fantasy option if given the opportunity to start.
Ryan Torain, WAS: The Redskins backfield is simply a mess. They ‘boast’ three veteran running backs in Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and ‘Fast’ Willie Parker. Larry Johnson and Willie Parker both seem to have lost valuable steps. Neither is appealing at the moment based on preseason action and reports out of Washington. Portis remains the back with the most upside in the rotation as he reunited with head coach Mike Shanahan. However, he is not the only one.
Ryan Torain is also reuniting with Shanahan. Torain has not played since 2008 when he was coached by Shanahan in Denver.
He has only played in two games in his career and only received meaningful playing time in one game. In that one midseason game against Cleveland, he tallied 15 carriers for 68 yards and a touchdown. One would think Shanahan signed Torain for a reason. The Redskins’ offensive line is decent at best, but Shanahan’s systems have always produced. More importantly, they have produced obscure fantasy options.
Torain has the freshest legs of the rotation, which may prove to win out in the end in this bizarre backfield.
Kareem Huggins, TB: Cadillac should bounce back again, but the Caddy has stalled before. The deepest sleeper of the bunch, Huggins would only be considered for playing time if injuries forced him into the rotation. Derrick Ward is still on the team, however, and management may want to see some return on their investment. Ward is a solid player in all facets, but he does not present much of a threat to defenses. Coaches could look to the young back for a spark if the opportunity presented itself.
Louis Murphy, OAK: Chaz Schilens could be gone due to a knee injury. If he were to play, he would provide the biggest target for Jason Campbell with the most big play potential. Zach Miller is clearly the best receiving option on the team. Louis Murphy is second.
Murphy may be the most complete receiver of the bunch. He has good hands and runs solid routes. Murphy appears to be the best possession receiver on the team.
Last year, Murphy had 34 receptions for 521 yards and four touchdowns with an abysmal quarterback situation. Someone has to catch passes besides Zach Miller. Murphy’s ceiling could potentially be around 60 receptions, close to 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.
Brandon LaFell, CAR: LaFell was one of the better receivers in this year’s draft. Matt Moore and Steve Smith showed excellent chemistry last season. Moore is a capable quarterback who should be able to accurately find LaFell all over the field.
Steve Smith is one of the toughest and skilled receivers in the league. He commands a ton of attention from opposing defenses. Receivers opposite Steve Smith have proven to be solid bye week or flex options in the past. LaFell, with good speed, ball skills, and footwork could be added to the list in his rookie campaign.
Blessed with a phenomenal rushing attack and playing alongside one of the premiere receivers, LaFell could be a rookie of the year candidate.
Mike Thomas, JAX: Mike Thomas is on most fantasy analysts’ sleeper lists. Thomas has looked good through two preseason games. He has received high praise from last year’s breakout receiver, teammate Mike Sims-Walker. He finished 2009 strong with 15 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown in the final three games.
Mike Sims-Walker’s knee could be a concern. If he were to miss games, Thomas would be the No. 1 receiver on the team. Regardless, Thomas will have a lot of opportunities to shine this year with the lack of other receiving options on the team.
Sims-Walker’s 2009 sophomore campaign of 63 receptions, 869 yards and seven touchdowns could be duplicated by Mike Thomas in his 2010 sophomore season. The touchdowns may not be there, but the receptions and yards could be there for Thomas. He will provide excellent value.
Legedu Naanee, SD: Vincent Jackson is suspended for at least three games of the season and has threatened to sit out all season as he seeks for a new contract. Malcolm Floyd would step in as the No. 1 WR on the team and has thus spring-boarded up draft boards. He had a good 2009 season and turned into a quality deep threat option for Philip Rivers.
However, Floyd has never proven to be too successful. In weeks Vincent Jackson disappeared, Floyd didn’t step up. Without Vincent Jackson on the field with him, Floyd could have a difficult time as the main the receiver.
Legedu Naanee will see less attention from opposing defenses. He is a shifty receiver with some big play potential of his own. Naanee is quick and has decent hands. Rivers could look Naanee’s way in the red zone as much as he looks to Floyd, although Antonio Gates will get the most looks in this offense at all times. Naanee caught a 28 yard touchdown from Philip Rivers in Game 1 of the preseason.
Bo Scaife, TEN: Bo Scaife may be one of the most underrated receiving tight ends in the league. He should reemerge now that he is healthy and has Vince Young starting. Vince Young does not look down the field too often, which is perfect for Bo Scaife. Scaife is a big target with reliable hands. Young will look to Scaife early and often.
In the past three seasons, Scaife has only missed two games. He averaged 49 receptions, 474 yards and a touchdown the past three years. Scaife has the potential to reach 60 receptions and 600 yards. Not bad for a tight end generally undrafted.
Shawn Nelson, BUF: Nelson is a big, quick tight end with good hands and speed. He is suspended for the first four games of the season. Nelson could come back and instantly become the favorite target for whoever the quarterback is for the Bills. Lee Evans, the only respectable receiver on the team, should see most of the coverage shifted his way. Someone has to catch the ball in Buffalo.
Ben Watson, CLE: Cleveland has a decent group of young wide receivers. Ben Watson, the veteran of the group, is a big target for QB Jake Delhomme in the red zone. Watson made a spectacular one handed touchdown grab in Game 2 of the preseason.
Watson performed fairly well for Brady when called upon. Delhomme is no Brady, but he should be able to find the athletic tight end. Watson may not be called upon much to block as the Browns have a solid offensive line. Watson has six touchdown potential united with a quarterback who looks for the tight end.
Aaron Hernandez, NE: Tight ends have been decent options for Brady in the past. He is known to spread the ball and does look to his tight end in the red zone, mostly because they draw so little attention with Randy Moss and Wes Welker as primary options.
Rookie Aaron Hernandez has been showcased through the first two preseason games. A big body, he also has the speed and athleticism to compete in the NFL. He has seven receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown through two preseason games. Hernandez could be a serviceable waiver pick up in the middle of the season.
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Written by Brandon Galvin