With training camps winding down and preseason games underway, it’s time to unveil the first Fantasy Market Report of the 2009 season. Let’s take a look at which players are increasing in value and which players are falling down the board as of Aug. 11.
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On the rise
1. Shonn Greene RB New York Jets
Biggs broke the news last night (and Lombardi has been hinting at it for months) that the New York Jets are shopping starting running back Thomas Jones. Why? Because Greene is the same type of back, only younger and more economically viable (he’s a third-round pick so his price tag is cheap).
If the Jets can find a taker for the soon-to-be 31-year-old disgruntled back, look for Greene to assume the starting role (and the goal-line carries) in New York.
2. Josh Morgan WR San Francisco 49ers
A relatively unknown wideout except to us fantasy geeks and Bay Area natives, Morgan is sitting pretty in San Fran right now. Coming off a rookie season that saw him average 16.0 yards per reception, Morgan has very little competition for reps in practice at the current moment.
First-round draft pick Michael Crabtree is going all diva-fabulous on the Niners, demanding a vault of cash and threatening to sit out the 2009 season (what a joke; you can’t make it rain without a contract, you fool), and wide receiver Brandon Jones just went down for eight weeks with a fractured shoulder. Life is good for Morgan.
3. Pierre Thomas RB New Orleans Saints
One of the more popular sleeper picks of the 2009 fantasy season, Thomas may be in line for more touches than most of us originally thought.
While most of you already know he’ll be handling the goal-line, short-yardage and between-the-tackles carries, what you might not know is that pass-catching back Reggie Bush is hurting right now more than you probably realize.
He missed practice last week with a knee injury, only to return to action and see it swell up again, forcing him back to the sidelines.
Matt Bowen wrote a good article about this last week. Knee problems, plus a very public breakup with the world’s most famous center of gravity, Kim Kardashian, may be expanding Thomas’ role as we speak. Who knows if Bush’s head is right?
4. Laurent Robinson/Keenan Burton WRs St. Louis Rams
One man’s loss in another man’s (or two guys’) gain. Projected No. 1 wideout Donnie Avery is out for the next four to six weeks after suffering a foot injury in practice last Saturday. That means Robinson and Burton will have every opportunity to step up their game and make a case for the top spot on the depth chart.
Even if Avery comes back and gets the job, the winner of the Robinson/Burton showdown will be the Rams’ No. 2 and a decent late-round fantasy option in deeper leagues.
5. Chase Coffman TE Cincinnati Bengals
The rookie opened training camp at No. 3 on the Bungals’ depth chart, but after Reggie Kelly was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and Ben Utecht was taken to the hospital with a concussion, the door swung open for the former Missouri Tiger to get some quality reps with Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer.
This kid can play, but his role in the Bengals’ offense may be limited this season. Keep him on your radar.
Making some noise
1. Knowshon Moreno RB Denver Broncos: He’s signed, in camp, and looking good.
2. LeSean McCoy RB Philadelphia Eagles: With starting running back Brian Westbrook still out, McCoy is getting all the first-team reps.
3. Nate Washington WR Tennessee Titans: One of the NFP’s favorite sleepers this season, our boy looked good in his preseason debut with the Titans on Sunday night. This guy’s got speed.
4. Mark Sanchez QB New York Jets: Reports out of New York say the rookie from USC looked impressive during the Jets intrasquad scrimmage the other night. More impressive than Kellen Clemens.
Falling down the boards
1. Dwayne Bowe WR Kansas City Chiefs
We didn’t really like him as much as everyone else back in the spring when the Chiefs traded future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Falcons. We liked him even less when he showed up to camp fat.
Now, reports out of Barbeque City say the chunky wideout has been benched by new head coach Todd Haley. Anyone still feel like making a case about how this guy is going to blow up this year? He’s not worth the early draft pick that some sucker in your league is going to use on him.
2. Reggie Bush RB New Orleans Saints
We mentioned Bush’s problems above when analyzing Pierre Thomas, so we’ll keep this brief.
The guy is not off to a good start. Knee injuries and heartbreak rarely equal fantasy success. Keep him in mind in PPR leagues, but his value in Standard Scoring formats is staring to plummet.
3. Steve Smith WR Carolina Panthers
This (much like the news on the next guy on this list) sucks. It’s never good to hear about a well-known fantasy stud going down with a significant injury that could keep him on the sidelines until Week One.
But that’s the case in North Carolina, where Smith injured his right shoulder in practice Monday and was carted off the field. It’s still too early to tell, but Smith may not be able to catch any footballs for a few weeks. Don’t drop him too far in your rankings, but be advised: He could get off to a slow start in 2009.
4. Antonio Bryant WR Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bryant is out for the rest of the preseason after undergoing knee surgery to clean out his ailing left knee. As we mentioned above with Smith, missing the entire preseason (including valuable time to build a rapport with your new starting quarterback) is bad news.
Don’t drop him off your draft board, but be very careful about where you consider drafting Bryant. We’re now projecting him as a fourth-round or later pick.
5. Michael Crabtree WR San Francisco 49ers
This was mentioned above, but it bears repeating: Crabtree is a clown. It’s one thing to argue over $500,000. It’s a completely different story to get drafted No. 10 overall and demand to be paid like the guy who was drafted No. 7.
Why? You weren’t drafted seventh, so why should you get paid as if you were? That, sir, is a fool’s argument.
I’m sure when Bowen was drafted in the sixth round he would have loved to have been paid like the seventh overall pick. Hell, when I graduated from law school I would have loved to have been paid like the seventh overall pick. But unfortunately, some employers just didn’t buy that argument.
I can’t wait to see coach Mike Singletary make this kid cry when he finally gets his butt into camp. Rookie wide receivers have a tough time adjusting to the NFL game; rookie wide receivers who don’t practice have an even tougher time. Good luck.
1. Braylon Edwards WR Cleveland Browns: Mysterious injuries and a problem with his contract have Edwards’ value being red-flagged in fantasy leagues.
2. Beanie Wells RB Arizona Cardinals: The rookie running back who battled injuries at Ohio State is (you guessed it) battling injuries with the Arizona Cardinals. Keep that in mind.
3. Donnie Avery WR St. Louis Rams: Avery is in danger of losing his sleeper status now that he’s out for the next four to six weeks.
4. Jeremy Maclin WR Philadelphia Eagles: A nine-day contract holdout has him behind the eight ball in learning the Philly offense.
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