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Post Lockout: Draft Changers

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Post Lockout: Day 1

The lockout is finally over. Owners have been waiting for real news all summer and this week promises to be filled to the brim with fantasy goodness. Let’s get to the biggest stories of Monday.

Willis McGahee released by the Ravens

Willis McGahee’s release by the Baltimore Ravens was clearly the biggest fantasy story of the day. Not because McGahee is a fantasy stud and suddenly he’s going to get a chance to become a Top 10 running back again. McGahee’s days of glory are far behind us now and his destiny will continue to be only as nothing more than a worthy bye week replacement. He’s a good goal line vulture but nothing more.

The reason this news is huge is because it has a direct impact on the Top 5 running back rankings. I’ve said previously that the Top 5 overall picks in fantasy drafts should be:

1) Adrian Peterson

2) Arian Foster

3) Chris Johnson

4) Jamaal Charles

5) Lesean McCoy

I had Ray Rice at No. 6 but the fact that McGahee is finally gone significantly raises Rice’s value. McGahee, scourge of Ray Rice owners, had been stealing touchdowns from Rice for years. If the Ravens don’t sign another goal line vulture running back in free agency, and that doesn't seem to be the focus for the Ravens right now, I’m vaulting Rice all the way up the fourth spot.

Make no mistake about it – if I’m at a draft in the middle of August and Chris Johnson hasn’t reported to camp yet, I’m putting Rice as third overall. We’re talking about an amazingly talented back, especially in points-per-reception leagues. In the last two years, Rice has averaged 1,910 all-purpose yards per season and he has more than 3,820 yards from scrimmage.

The only knock on Rice has been his lack of touchdowns. He had eight touchdowns two years ago but only six last season. Unlike Jamaal Charles, he doesn’t have Thomas Jones to worry about, and unlike LeSean McCoy he won’t have rushing touchdowns stolen by a quarterback (Michael Vick). The Ravens will no doubt pick up another running back in the coming weeks, but as long he’s not a goal line vulture, Rice has a chance to become a real superstar this year.

Kenny Britt Hype Train Gets Assist from the NFLPA

Yahoo Sports reported Monday that the NFL Players Association wasn’t willing to put up a fight for misbehaving players during the offseason. There was some who thought that since there was a lockout and the players’ union was decertified, maybe players would not have consequences for their various multiple arrests, DUIs and numerous other crimes. With the NFLPA already raising a white flag, expect NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to bring his hammer down hard on a number of players.

Perhaps no player in the NFL has been arrested more times than future fantasy football superstar-in-waiting Kenny Britt. Since April, Britt has been arrested an incredible three separate times. After Goodell has taken care of James Harrison for his transgressions, expect a multi-game suspension for Britt. Britt could easily face a four-game suspension and could face even worse than that depending on how bitter Goodell is feeling on that day.

Of course, this is fantastic news for owners looking to draft Kenny Britt. Britt’s average draft position (ADP) right now is somewhere in the beginning of the eighth round. Once Goodell suspends him, Britt’s ADP could fall even further. We’re talking about a potential No. 1 receiver, who you could only miss the first month of the season, and you can get him in the eighth round.

Let’s not forget how amazing Kenny Britt is. By the time he got injured in Week 8, he already had seven touchdowns. Some might point out that three of those touchdowns he got in one game when he went bezerk against the Philadelphia Eagles and also had 225 receiving yards. I point to that game as the reason Britt should be valued so highly. He’s a stud that has the potential to get three touchdowns and 225 receiving yards in one game. That’s his ceiling.

And after missing significant time due to injury last season, he still came back and was excellent in his last three games, going for 15 receptions, 302 yards and two touchdowns. If he can be somehow had in any round south of the sixth, he could truly be the biggest steal of this year’s draft.

The Santonio Situation

I’m deeply concerned about the New York Jets this offseason because they could be a team that gets gutted through free agency. Rumors have been building over the offseason that the Redskins are going to make a serious run for Santonio Holmes. (They did, but Holmes re-signed with New York). If this had happened, the Jets would have lost their No. 1 playmaker.

This would have been bad news for just about everyone. Bad news for Santonio Holmes’ owners because he’d be going from a winning franchise to a wasteland and his numbers would surely take a hit, catching passes from the likes of John Beck and Rex Grossman. It’s also bad news for Shonn Greene owners because with Holmes gone, defenses would be more willing to stack the box and force Mark Sanchez to beat them.

Braylon Edwards is also a free agent this offseason and he could be gone, which would be partly devastating. Braylon Edwards has been overrated for most of his career but he’s certainly better than Jerricho Cotchery, who would have gone back to being the Jets’ No. 1 receiver if both Holmes and Edwards had left.

It was a realistic scenario that Holmes and Edwards could both leave the Jets in the coming days, until Holmes re-signed. If that happens, the only fantasy player to benefit is the criminally underrated Dustin Keller. Keller has proven in the past that he can rise to the occasion. Last season, before Holmes came back from suspension, Keller was excellent, scoring five touchdowns in his first four games, including two games where he scored twice. Keller’s ADP is currently at the end of the 13th round but depending on how desperate things get in New York, his value could skyrocket.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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