We are inside a week away from the start of the 2011-2012 NFL season, which begins with a big showdown featuring the last two Super Bowl teams, the Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints. Hopefully this game will kick off a great fantasy season for all owners. Unfortunately many fantasy owners also understand that the best laid plans sometimes need to be reviewed and revised. I don’t doubt this year with the lock out and CBA coupled with the short free agency period and even shorter training camps injuries could play a major factor this season.
Many owners have already drafted their teams or will be the next few days. As owners often do, I know because I am always doing it (now), is trying to speculate on talent as we get deeper in the NFL season. Not a week goes by we don’t think about injuries. There are times we will need to review our team because we have players on our team who are not performing. I figured it’s never too early to put together a list of possible players that will be picked off the waiver wire.
Roy Helu RB WAS
The rookie out of Nebraska has big play ability, which was something the Redskins lacked much of the year. Last year Ryan Torain showed flashes at times, but Mike Shanahan was shuffling RBs at random. This year Tim Hightower is the starter but Helu has a chance to be the “change of pace” RB Washington needs. He needs to work on pass blocking and picking up the blitz. With Torain now healthy, Helu will compete for carries. The way Shanahan used RBs last year makes Helu look like a good prospect as the season goes on.
Delone Carter RB IND
The only thing certain in the Colts backfield is Joesph Addai will be the starting running back. There was rumor last year’s back up and replacement would be waived by Indy when teams cut rosters down to 53 players. Brown is still on the depth chart, but it’s Syracuse rookie, Delone Carter who has “impressed” during preseason. He is a strong and explosive back who should win the back up over Brown. Addai’s track record of staying healthy isn’t all that impressive, which means Carter could find himself handling he ball sooner than later.
Deji Karim RB JAX
I had some doubts even including Deji Karim on this list since Rashard Jennings has been lost for the season due to a knee injury being placed on IR. Karim now gets bumped to the back up role for Maurice Jones-Drew, who missed 2 games last year because of injury. With the lose of Jennings, MJD might be relied upon more with Karim as the back up. I suspect MJD will get nicked with minor injuries, which could put Karim in a time share with MJD or getting spot starts for the Jags.
Eric Decker WR DEN
This wide receiver seems to be sliding under the radar during preseason play. Some draw comparisons to Ed McCaffrey. With injuries to Eddie Royal (hip) and Demaryius Thomas (Achilles), Decker is working on starting opposite Brandon Lloyd. Coach Fox is high on Decker as well “expecting big things.” Receivers are usually plentiful, but with the thin air and Orton at QB, you might watch this kid.
Antonio Brown WR PIT
Brown has suddenly ended up on many fantasy lists as a deep sleeper because of his performance during preseason. Not to get caught up in the hype, Brown played well and the Steelers talk highly about his speed and confidence. As it stands now he is not going to be a star on your fantasy team unless injuries occur. He is a name to put away as the progresses.
Brian Robiskie WR CLE
Robiskie came on the final 3 games of the 2010 season recording 3 TDs and 152 yards, which indicates a rapport with Colt mcCoy. This year indications are he will hold off rookie, Greg Little and start opposite Mohamed Massaquoi. Colt McCoy will be running the West Coast offense this season, but with Hillis in the backfield you have to think they will still be a run dominated team. Add to that the ability of Evan Moore and the stalwart, Ben Watson at TE. I still believe Robiskie should be looked at in deeper leagues.
Other notables: Kendall Hunter, RB SF, DeMarco Murray, RB DAL, Stevan Ridley, RB NE, Jerome Harrison, RB DET, Greg Little, WR CLE, Jerome Simpson, WR CIN, Dezmon Briscoe, WR TB, Danario Alexander, WR STL.
It will be clearer as the the season gets underway who could potentially be the hot pick up, even after Week 1. For owners in keeper leagues, some of these players will be better suited for the long term than an immediate impact. Still if you are researching players, it’s never too early to start your watch list going. Fantasy football is dynamic and one injury or lack of output could have you looking to make a move to better your team.