Happy Friday everybody, Steve here with my now-weekly ramblings. Did you miss me?
A couple of hirings and firings since we last talked, let’s take a look:
The Redskins have hired offensive coordinator Jay Gruden away from the Bengals to be their new head coach. It’s an interesting fit with Gruden being a west coast offense guy going to a team with the definition of a read option QB in Robert Griffin. I’ve decided to drop the ‘III’ when writing about RG. If too many readers want clarification as to whether I’m referring to Griffin(III), his father(II), or his grandfather(I) then I’ll start using it again. Anyway the latest rumor is that the Redskins tight ends coach, 27 year old Sean McVay, will be promoted to offensive coordinator. I’m not real familiar with McVay’s coaching history or style so I can’t say what type of offense he’d run other than I’d imagine it will feature tight ends.
So with an inexperienced offensive coordinator, will the new head coach impose his preference for a west coast offense, or maybe more accurately his supposed disdain for the read option? Gruden said he loves it but we’ll see. He also said he’ll be calling the plays so it will be up to him apparently. The chosen scheme may end up being crucial to Griffin’s offseason and future development so it will be interesting to see which way this goes. Either way my thinking is Griffin will benefit from a healthy offseason and will be more successful in 2014. Whether he returns to the fantasy gold he was in 2012 remains to be seen.
Potentially lots of changes in Cinci, with the latest rumor being that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is poised to become the Minnesota Vikings head coach. I like the move both in real life NFL terms and for fantasy. The Vikings biggest fantasy weapons are Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph. Seems tailor made for a defensive coach to come in and stress defense, the running game, and short safe passes.
And how will the loss of Gruden affect the Bengals from a fantasy perspective? They promoted Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator, so I would expect a bigger focus on running the football and an overall more balanced attack. Andy Dalton will be less relied upon to drive the offensive bus which will be great for his development but not good for his fantasy value. AJ Green is locked in as an elite receiver but his stats may take a bit of hit. Then again, if defenses need to put more emphasis on stopping the run things could open up downfield for Green. Obviously Giovani Bernard’s value would go up as would BenJarvus Green-Ellis assuming he’s still around.
If rumors are true and the Texans end up hiring ex-Titans coach Mike Munchak to be their offensive line coach, RB Arian Foster should be a top five if not top three pick in 2014 fantasy drafts. Munchak didn’t have much success as a head coach but let him focus on the thing he knows best and Houston’s already talented offensive line will be dominant. Also if the new regime decides to keep Case Keenum the success of the line will be a huge benefit to his development.
Shocker! Mr. Football Johnny Manziel has declared for this May’s NFL draft. It will be interesting to see where he gets drafted, less interesting to hear the endless debate over whether or not he’ll be able to become a franchise QB at the NFL level. At this point I think it will come down to which team drafts him and how patient they’re willing to be with him as he grows into a pro quarterback. Not comparing the two as draft prospects, but the last time I remember so much debate over whether a star college QB would be a successful pro we were talking about Tim Tebow. Yikes.
A less heralded announcement came yesterday when Auburn’s RB Tre Mason indicated he would enter the draft. I love this kid’s ability, I think he’ll go early in the second round at worst.
Seahawks WR Percy Harvin is practicing in full and should play Saturday. It remains to be seen how many snaps he’ll get but assuming Seattle survives their first playoff game it will be interesting to see how Harvin performs the rest of the way. At that point we should be able to provide a better fantasy projection for 2014 just by confirming he’s fully recovered.
Time for my playoff predictions. I was pretty horrible last week going just 1-3, hopefully I’ll have a little more luck this time around
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
My pick: Seattle
Kind of a no-brainer here, especially after the Seahawks demolished the Saints earlier in the year. It won’t be a huge blowout like last time but I see the Seahawks getting the job done comfortably. The Saints won’t be able to run the ball like last week so the offense will go through Drew Brees who should be a solid fantasy QB. Other than TE Jimmy Graham I don’t see the other Saints receivers being much help for fantasy. Expect a big day out of Marshawn Lynch and I’ll go out on a bit of a limb and say returning WR Percy Harvin has a nice fantasy day. QB Russell Wilson will likely be economical and therefore not much good fantasy-wise.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
My pick: New England
Interesting stat, the Patriots under Bill Belichick are 8-0 in the playoffs when they did not face their opponent earlier in the year. You guessed it, the Pats didn’t play the Colts in 2013. As we saw last week you can’t ever count out Andrew Luck but I think New England gets a decent lead and the Colts make it close late. Tom Brady will be a good fantasy option at QB and Julian Edelman will have a big day at WR. Tough to say which Patriots RB will be a fantasy asset so I’d leave all of them alone. If you must take one I’d go with Stevan Ridley redeeming himself with a big day. Andrew Luck will get his yards and at least a couple of TD passes, WR TY Hilton will be his main beneficiary.
San Francisco Forty Niners at Carolina Panthers
My pick: San Francisco
I’ve been on the Panthers bandwagon since week 1 but it’s time to get off. San Francisco is every bit as good defensively and offensively but they have the big game experience Cam Newton and company don’t have yet. It will probably be a tough day fantasy wise with these two teams, I can see both tight ends Vernon Davis and Greg Olsen having big days though. Both Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick may have big rushing totals as they’re forced to scramble frequently.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
My pick: Denver
Man I would LOVE to take San Diego for the upset but I really think their Cinderella season ends at Mile High. It should be a shootout so lots of fantasy value to go around, but especially with the Broncos getting Wes Welker back they will be too much for the Chargers to handle. Take both Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning for huge fantasy days. Knowshon Moreno will get the bulk of the early game work so I can see him being a nice fantasy option at RB. I’m not confident the Chargers will get the same kind of production from Ryan Mathews or any of their other RB’s. Throw a dart to pick which Bronco WR has the biggest fantasy day and throw TE Julius Thomas into the mix as well. For San Diego lets go with Keenan Allen continuing his impressive season at WR for fantasy.
That's it for me, have a great weekend everybody. Feel free to follow me on twitter @steve_ghb