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Fantasy Intelligence Report: Megatron, Manning and Martin

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When fantasy football owners sit down and assess who they should select at wide receiver this season, most will pencil in Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald on their wish lists. But which player comes first?

Well, according to Mlive.com, Fitzgerald himself make it clear during a ESPN Sportscenter broadcast that he believes that fantasy owners should be selecting the one who wears the silver and blue '81', and not his red and white '11'. Why?

“Megatron and Matthew Stafford have a great connection up there in Detroit,” Fitzgerald said. “They put together a phenomenal year - 5,000 yards by Stafford - so I would definitely take Megatron and Matthew Stafford. They got it going. We have some questions right now in Arizona. We’ve got to work training camp out to figure out who our starting quarterback is going to be. So as of today, I think that’s the safe choice.”

Knowing Fitzgerald’s stand-up character most will insist that he’s being humble and honest, and that’s probably the prime reason why he made those statements. However, at the same time, I have to believe that he knows he’s not getting any younger and that deep down inside he wanted to send a message to the Arizona front office that he isn’t too pleased with who is throwing him passes. Heck, I would feel the same way too if their last names were (John) Skelton and (Kevin) Kolb. More on this to come, I’m sure.

Peyton Manning’s valuable?

There has been one overwhelmingly parallel thought coming out of the mouths of many of my industry colleagues as I skim through mock drafts. In so many words, “Peyton Manning is a great value pick.”

Indeed, with a Myfantasyleague.com average draft position (ADP) of 73.83, one of the game’s best quarterbacks ever would indeed be a “great value pick” if, and only if, he was fully healthy and acclimated with his new team. Because, as the Associated Press recently pointed out, Manning may not be there with either yet, as he continues to rehab and adjust to the change of scenery.

“I still have work to do, but certainly it’s nice to be back on the field,” Manning said. “There’s constantly something to learn, something to adjust to, new players, new teammates, new coaches, new surroundings. So when you’re 14 years in one place, you do kind of become institutionalized. Everybody keeps saying, ‘Are you settled yet?’ ... I don’t think anybody can get settled in a couple of months. So it’ll take some time, but I’m embracing the challenge and looking forward to getting to know my teammates more and more.”

Lucky for Manning, the adjustment period won’t be nearly as painful as what other past veteran quarterbacks have endured when making a move to other teams. In fact, according to the Denver Post, the Broncos’ message from the offensive coaches seems to include conforming to their new quarterback’s style.

“We’ve said it during mini-camps, during our (organized team workouts), and the same will be true in training camp: We’re going to go at the quarterback’s speed,” Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “And everyone knows our quarterback has played a long time and understands a great deal of things. Everybody is going to have to keep up with him. That’s how it has to be.”

With familiar targets Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley along for the ride, Manning should be able to find a groove pretty quickly if he can stay upright. The biggest challenge for the future Hall of Fame gunslinger will be pacing the offense properly to fit the style of play and pace that makes the Broncos defense churn properly.

Overall, taking all factors in to consideration - health, familiarity and style of play adjustment - it’s pretty safe to peg Manning as a potential Top 10 quarterback with an ADP of 73.83, right where fantasy owners should draft him. He’s nothing more than a middle-of-the-road value, at least for the 2012 season.

Running battle in Tampa Bay?

There is a key positional battle brewing in Tampa Bay that many fantasy owners will have their eyes on once training camps kickoff next week. It’s between the one-dimensional sleep deprived LeGarrette Blount and the explosive, multi-talented first round rookie out of Boise State, Doug Martin.

And while most have pretty much pegged Martin as the front runner to steal away all the touches, according to Pewterreport.com, head coach Greg Schiano isn’t favoring the rookie just yet.

“I don’t have any favorites,” Schiano said. “Most positions we will dish out the reps in an appropriate manner and then we will see where the chips fall.”

Schiano can deny having a favorite all he wants, but based on the fact that the Buccaneers traded back in to the first round of the draft, it’s pretty clear to most that they see something in the rookie that they don’t see in Blount. Plus, there are reports surfacing that Blount may lack the commitment the Bucs are after. 

This makes me believe that Martin himself knows that he has a clear advantage before even stepping foot on the gridiron.  Furthermore, his explosiveness as a runner, his ability to catch the ball, and willingness to be an effective pass-blocker are all but icing on the pirate ship.

“Like I said before, the versatility of being able to catch the ball out of the backfield is an advantage,” Martin said. “In this league, that it’s a passing league, that’s definitely an advantage to have. My versatility; that is definitely (another) advantage. Going into the season and training camp I’ll be able to run and catch balls out of the backfield and pass protect so I really think it’s that versatility.”

Martin’s current average draft position in re-draft formats is 54.13, while Blount’s continues to drop and is currently 126.55.



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