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Feeding Frenzy

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Welcome to the Feeding Frenzy. Every week throughout the season I’ll be giving you a unique look at some of the top waiver wire targets. I’ll let you know if I think a guy is worth going after or if you should take a pass and look elsewhere.
 
Let me give you a brief introduction so you know what you’re getting into. I’ve been a fantasy writer for 13 years now. Like all fantasy analysts I’ve had my share of good times (Priest Holmes) and bad times (Cade McNown). I don’t claim to know all but I do put a lot of time and effort into my analysis.

I’m a college football fanatic. It’s been my favorite sport since I was a little kid and I follow it religiously. I haven’t missed a 14-hour Saturday shift in 12 years. No weddings, no wife bothering me, nothing but football. So while most of you are out enjoying your lives and acting like productive members of society, I try to be your eyes and ears every Saturday.

Then on Sunday it’s back to the recliner for my six hours of the Red Zone Channel. I’ve gotten the NFL Sunday Ticket every year since it first came out in 1994 but now I’m basically paying $400 to watch the Red Zone Channel. That’s the best thing to ever happen to fantasy football.

Just know that whether you agree or disagree with me, my only goal is to help people win fantasy titles. I don’t do this to look smart. I’m not smart. I’m just a guy who watches a lot of football and who can put a few sentences together. So I look forward to a great year here at Fantasy Sharks. Let’s see if we can all work together and hoist that championship trophy at season’s end.

To kick off the Feeding Frenzy I thought I would tap into my college football insight and take a look at some rookies after two weeks of preseason action. Here are my thoughts as of Aug. 22:

Looking Good

Stevan Ridley , RB, New England – I thought Ridley was the most underrated player in college football last year.
 
This kid put up 1,147 yards and scored 15 touchdowns with Jordan Jefferson as his quarterback. Jefferson and the LSU passing attack were so anemic last year that he threw just seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Throw in the fact that Ridley put up those numbers in the toughest conference in America and it makes what he accomplished all the more impressive.

The surprising thing about Ridley this preseason has been his ability to catch the football out of the backfield. Ridley was rarely used as a receiver at LSU. A majority of the time Ridley was used to pound the ball between the tackles in college, so his emergence as a pass catcher in the preseason has been an added bonus.

Ridley will see a lot of time in the Patriots backfield this season. The kid has proven to be a great receiver and Ridley has always been a force down by the goal line. Once a draft day afterthought, Ridley is rocketing up most people’s rankings after two impressive performances in the preseason.

If you want Ridley, you may now have to grab him as early as Round 10 or 11 in some drafts. That’s still not a bad spot for a versatile back on a great offense.

Mark Ingram , RB, New Orleans – Ingram is a Top 10 talent who had the good fortune of being drafted to one of the most explosive offenses in recent history. Do I really need to go on?

OK, so there are a couple of obstacles between Ingram and fantasy greatness, most notably Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. However, while Ingram may not be a reception machine, I believe he’s going to do most of the heavy lifting near the goal line for the Saints.

I love Thomas. I will argue that perhaps no player in the NFL gets more out of their God-given ability than Thomas does. He’s still going to be a fantasy factor but the bottom line is Thomas isn’t the pure every-down runner that Ingram is and will be over his NFL career.

Ingram has been moving up draft boards of late and for good reason. He has a legitimate shot at 900 rushing yards and 10-plus scores. Expect Ingram and Thomas to split carries early in the year but for the rookie to shoulder more of the load as the season goes on.

Julio Jones , WR, Atlanta – I originally thought Jones was being overdrafted early on but he looks to be a perfect fit for the Falcons offense so far in the preseason.
 
While it’s easy to fall in love with Jones’ blazing speed, his best quality is his size and physical style of play. Think of Jones as a much faster version of Keyshawn Johnson, meaning he’ll do most of his damage across the middle of the field.
 
It appears early on that Jones will be used more on underneath routes, while Roddy White continues to be the big-play guy. Plus, Harry Douglas could emerge as a dangerous slot receiver. The three should complement each other well all year long. Matt Ryan has to be chomping at the bit for the season to start.

Sometimes the planets align and a player and team come together to make a perfect fit. I think that’s the case with Jones and the Falcons. Jones is probably still a little overvalued but 60 receptions looks like a distinct possibility for the talented rookie.

Jones is getting drafted on average in the neighborhood of Round 7. If you can get him as a third receiver, you’re doing good work.

Lance Kendricks , TE, St. Louis – Here’s another kid I loved in college and who landed in a perfect situation. Kendricks couldn’t have been drafted by a better team for fantasy purposes. The Rams have absolutely nobody standing in front of the talented Kendricks and a starting gig.

Some people have correctly pointed out that tight ends aren’t typically a big factor in Josh McDaniels’ offense but I’ll argue that he’s never had a guy like Kendricks before. Kendricks has the versatility to line up all over and create mismatches in the passing game. He has enough size to overpower defensive backs and be a factor in the red zone while possessing enough speed to create big plays down the field.

Kendricks had a great career for a Wisconsin offense that doesn’t necessarily live and die by the forward pass. The Badgers ran the ball so often last season they came up just four yards short of becoming the first team in college football history to have three running backs go over 1,000 yards. Imagine going from that to McDaniels’ high-flying offense. Kendricks must be pinching himself right about now.

I’ve been targeting Kendricks in my drafts from Day 1. He’s having a great training camp so far and considering the Rams don’t have many options at tight end, Kendricks is a good bet to start on opening day. I would advise drafting him to be your second tight end with the expectations that Kendricks could be your starter as early as a couple of weeks into the season.



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