One game can either ease your nervousness on specific players or completely turn your stomach upside down. One game is a small crack into the door to peak through but it is indeed large enough to catch a little of the bigger picture. We’ve already learned a lot from the first game and will continue to do so as the season progresses. Heading into Week 2, here are my early dynasty thoughts stemming from the first round of play. I do feel the need to warn you though that it’s mostly in relation to value downfall.
1 – Peyton Manning – “Thank you, Captain Obvious!” I know. We all know that Manning had an additional neck surgery and is expected to be out until roughly midseason. That being said, what do you think the Indianapolis Colts’ record will be upon his return? The Houston Texans now have a huge window of opportunity to finally claim the crown in the division and intend to do so. The Colts will put up a couple of wins thanks to the gifted weapons in Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, but don’t expect Kerry Collins to win in crunch time. The offensive line of the Colts is average at best and it takes an extremely gifted quarterback to feel the oncoming pressure and step up at the correct time to maximize the protection. Collins does not fit that mold. By the time that Manning is probable to return the season could already be lost to their divisional rivals in Houston.
Do you think that the Colts would use Manning in a lost season? Manning will be rested and begin to prepare for competition next season when it’s all said and done. I have no doubts that Manning can return as an effective NFL quarterback. But wouldn’t one think that being a year older, coming off an injury, and losing range of motion doesn’t bode well for a return to perfect form? Manning will remain a viable starter further down the line but don’t expect a Tom Brady post knee injury type of return.
2 – Reggie Wayne – Cut off the snake’s head and the body will die too, right? Though Manning’s situation does obviously impact those around him, mainly his primary target, other factors do play into Wayne’s value slide. Outside of Manning, Wayne’s biggest factor has become his age. Wayne will be 33 years old at seasons end. We went through this same situation a few years back with Marvin Harrison. Harrison’s age was constantly in question yet the receiver kept piling up numbers. But the Colts’ former receiver did eventually fall off and in big fashion, too. You can’t afford to have one of your top picks go down in flames and win your league at the same time. How many Randy Moss owners last year made it to the championship? Wayne will be leaned on heavily in 2011 by Kerry Collins. He’ll still put up more than 1,000 yards and his usually 8-9 scores. Just be aware of the fact that the most reliant position in fantasy is the wide receiver on the quarterback. If Manning’s best days are behind him then Wayne’s have to be as well.
3 – Arian Foster – A round of applause for those who saw Ben Tate as a huge threat to Foster’s stats in 2011. Foster’s hamstring injury has opened the door for Tate to get his fair share of carries now. While the hamstring injury isn’t a dynasty issue due to it not having long term effects (except in Denver), the aftershock of lost carries is what hurts Foster. The more time that Foster misses equates to more carries earned for Tate in the future. Look at James Starks and Ryan Grant in Green Bay. Grant misses time and Starks performs adequately enough in 2010 to earn a role in the future, being the now of 2011.
Foster could quickly find himself in a running back by committee role with Tate. I have no doubt about Foster’s ability to run for huge yardage, catch a ton of passes, and hit pay dirt frequently. Just don’t expect his numbers to reach those he achieved in the 2010 season. It is only Week 1 so we don’t know the full impact yet. But keep in mind that even six carries a game to Tate works out to be about 100 less carries for Foster at season’s end.
4 – Ryan Mathews – Even though Mathews is back and healthy he’s still managed to see his value slide to start 2011. Mike Tolbert looks more like the featured back in San Diego than the former first-round pick Mathews does at the current time. We knew that Tolbert had earned carries in 2011 thanks to last year’s production. But I don’t think that anyone saw him taking away passing plays from Mathews. Tolbert was used in a mix of situations, including passing downs and redzone work. That really limits the amount of opportunity for Mathews. Those who took Mathews expecting the replacement for LaDainian Tomlinson may be stuck with far less production than expected.
5 – Steven Jackson – Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for seven years, shame on me! How much more evidence do we possibly need to see that Jackson’s injury rate is what keeps him from being worth his early draft spot? The sun will rise tomorrow, the sky is blue, and Jackson gets hurt every year. The potential was there for a monster 2011 campaign thanks to a much needed balance on offense for the first time since Torry Holt’s glory days. Jackson is on the wrong side of the running back life span with far too many miles on the tires. When Jackson finally does return don’t be surprised to see him lose carries to Carnell ‘Cadillac’ Williams to keep him healthy for a potential playoff run.
Don’t be fooled either about whose team the Rams are, Sam Bradford now runs the show in St. Louis. The Rams aren’t necessarily dead in the water without Jackson like they have been in the past. The mixture of help in the backfield, a newly established offensive mindset, and injury concerns knock Jackson the furthest down the dynasty list as he has ever been.