Fantasy football stock watch

Fantasy football stock watch
August 10, 2012, 7:12 pm
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By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

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Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: There are buzzy skill players all over the Atlanta offense (Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rogers), and by osmosis, that has to bump Ryan's draft stock up a few slots. And all signs point to Michael Turner receiving a smaller share of the workload this year, which should open up red-zone passing attempts. Maybe Ryan doesn't have enough upside to chase a 40-touchdown season, but something in the mid-30s is doable. The dome-heavy schedule doesn't hurt. Don't sleep on this team.

Josh Freeman, QB, Buccaneers: He dropped 20-30 pounds in the offseason and the coaching change came at the right time - last year's offense was toxic in every sense of the word. Freeman is going to have a ball throwing deep to Vincent Jackson (and short to super back Doug Martin), and third-year pro Mike Williams can't be as bad as he looked in 2011. Freeman doesn't have to be selected as your No. 1 quarterback, but he's a backup with upside. He'll throw in 300-400 rushing yards as a bonus.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals: A lot of roto players are sweating Fitzgerald's supporting cast, but if he could post 80-14-11-8 in this mess last year, what's the big worry? Kevin Kolb's spotty exhibition debut is a blessing in disguise - it increases the chance of John Skelton winning the QB gig, someone who will stand in the pocket and make intermediate and deep throws. You'll at least recoup your draft day investment on Fitzgerald, and there's plenty of room for profit.

Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: Everything is about precision and trust in the Peyton Manning offense; you have to be where he wants, when he wants you there. That's good news for Decker, the most polished route runner of the young Broncos receivers. Maybe raw but athletic Demaryius Thomas will eventually make beautiful music with Manning, but it looks like Manning and Decker have the early jump when it comes to building rapport.

Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots: He's basically the new BenJarvus Green-Ellis in New England, a no-name back, absent of pedigree, who could sneak into the rotation. Bolden has the same body type as the Law Firm, and the Patriots don't seem to be head-over-heels for Stevan Ridley or Shane Vereen. Most of your league doesn't even know Bolden's name right now, and they might regret that a month from now. Earmark him for the final round in medium and deeper groups. 

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: Everyone has flipped for Robert Griffin III and we're on board, too. But we also have to remember that Luck is more experienced and polished, and he might be under less pressure in Indianapolis as well. Look for a reliable rookie year right out of the chute, enough that veteran receiver Reggie Wayne becomes a target player as well.

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Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers: Although he broke his collarbone on Thursday and will miss 4-6 weeks, the majority of the fantasy community isn't bailing on Mathews: most still see him as a Top 12 running back. That's good news for you; you'll make a profit by shorting this stock (again). Mathews has been hurt in every season dating back to his college days, and he's also had ball-security problems as a pro. And heck, why do you want to spend a premium pick on a high-attrition player who already has a major injury? Step to the side, let your opponents trip themselves up.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: His best receiver (Mike Wallace) isn't happy, the offensive line is a mess, the offensive system is new, and there isn't a special talent on the outside after Wallace (though Antonio Brown is very good). Roethlisberger also brings on extra contact every year, since he'll hold the ball for an eternity on any snap, hoping to make a deep connection. That's a wonderful thing when it works, but it also leads to a bunch of nagging injuries - and Big Ben has already disclosed a rotator cuff issue. So many red flags here; go look at someone else. It's a deep position.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: He's had a laundry list of surgeries on his feet and ankles, and the Giants spent a first-round pick on rookie David Wilson. It's not hard to connect the dots. As gallant as Bradshaw has been over the last few years, playing through pain, you can't cheat this sort of thing forever.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets: The electric 2009 season (and playoffs) got everyone excited, but Greene hasn't been much of a pile mover since then, despite a better-than-average offensive line and a scheme committed to the running game. Last year's stat haul is probably the upside for Greene, and he's still a poor fit for work in the spread package and on third down. Look for a better upside back for your third or fourth option.

Brandon Marshall, WR, Bears: While he was a reception and yardage monster in the Denver days with Jay Cutler, the duo didn't do much with touchdowns - just 14 in 36 games together. And Marshall's allergy to the end zone continued in Miami, albeit the mediocre QBs there didn't help. Don't let preseason buzz and hype affect your Marshall projection: he'll probably get his 6-8 scores this year, but he's never been a dynamic option in the scoring area.