Fantasy implications of Randy Moss to the Vikings

New England Patriots Randy Moss (R) and quarterback Tom Brady (L) sit on the bench in the final minutes of their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 19, 2010. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Boston Herald is reporting that a Moss-to-Minnesota deal could be finalized by Wednesday.

Wow, this one sure came out of nowhere. Though I suppose we should have seen the writing on the wall given Randy Moss’s preseason griping about the fact that he doesn’t have a long-term contract. While a move away from Tom Brady and the Pats’ pass-happy offense might seem like a hit to Randy’s stock, it isn’t. He was targeted a total of four times in the last two weeks and his goose egg in Week 4 is alarming. In fact, he is #41 amongst WRs in total targets (22, or 5.5 per game), and even with his 3:1 completion to TD ratio, that’s not enough work to justify his first or second round ADP. As a Packer fan, I cringe at the thought of a happy and motivated Moss back in the purple and gold, but as a fantasy owner (in two leagues), I’m happy he’s getting a change of scenery. I’d expect him to get all of Sidney Rice’s targets (7.7 per game, maybe more) as long as Rice as out.

For the Vikings, this is a big bump for the entire offense, save for Visanthe Shiancoe, who probably won’t enjoy quite as many looks now that Brett Favre can chuck it downfield with more confidence. Farve obviously gets a bump, Percy Harvin should have more room to roam, and there should be one less man in the box trying to stop Adrian Peterson.

For the Patriots, I’d expect Brandon Tate and Aaron Hernandez to pick up most of the slack, but Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski should get a bit of extra work as well. The Patriots are getting less vertical with this move, so it’s going to hurt Tom Brady a little because he’s going to have one less weapon in his arsenal. And it was one of his big weapons, for sure. This could mean the running game will be featured more, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis seems to be coming into his own.

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Five fantasy takeaways from Saints/Vikings

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 21: Pierre Thomas  of the New Orleans Saints scores a touchdown against the Houston Texans at the Louisiana Superdome on August 21, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Well, it wasn’t a particularly well-played first game of the NFL season, but it was a tight game nonetheless. Here are five things that fantasy owners can take away from last night’s opener:

1. Pierre Thomas is a stud, and Sean Payton forgets that sometimes. (Adrian Peterson is a stud, and Brad Childress forgets that sometimes.)
In the first half, Payton gave Thomas three touches for -1 yards. He did have a 10-yard catch that was called back due to penalty. In the second half, the Saints tried to establish the running game in earnest and Thomas 72 yards on his next 16 carries — an impressive 4.5 ypc average during that span against the league’s #1-rated rush defense of 2009. He also found the endzone and caught three passes for 15 yards.

Meanwhile, “Chilly” abandoned the run when the Vikings were behind by just five points in the second half. Anthony Stalter has the details:

Down 14-9 with just over nine minutes remaining, Childress called seven straight pass plays. There was plenty of time for him to remain balanced with his playcalling, but he went pass-heavy and the result was a stalled drive at the New Orleans’ 44. He essentially made Gregg Williams’ job a hell of a lot easier once the Saints’ DC new he didn’t have to respect the running game.

The bottom line is that Childress appears to trust Favre more than AP, and that should be worrisome to Peterson owners. AP did finish with 101 yards on 22 touches, but failed to find the endzone.

2. Brett Favre loves him some Visanthe Shiancoe. Not so much the Percy Harvin.
Almost as important as actual production (catches, yards, TDs) is the number of targets each receiver gets throughout the course of the game. I’ve been high on Shiancoe all preseason — mostly due to Favre’s long-established affection for his tight ends — and he didn’t disappoint against the Saints, turning eight targets into 4-76-1. Conversely, Harvin only got five targets and looked out of sync with Favre all night. This is probably due to the time that both players missed in training camp due to migraines (Harvin) and being a total drama queen (Favre). I wouldn’t panic on Harvin just yet — it will probably just take a week or two for the chemistry to return, but I would consider sitting Harvin down next week if there’s a better option on the bench.

3. Don’t expect another 2009 from #4.
In all of his years in Green Bay, Favre never played with a receiver as physically gifted as Sidney Rice, and that was a big reason for his outstanding numbers last season. With Rice on the shelf for at least the first half of the season, Favre can’t just chuck the football downfield and expect Rice to go up and win virtually every jump ball. Without that deep threat, the Vikings are going to have to manufacture more first downs and longer drives, and as we saw last night, it’s not always going to be pretty.

4. Garrett Hartley is on the hot seat.
Good grief, Garrett. Make a field goal, will you? Hartley was often one of the first two or three kickers off the board and he was miserable last night, shanking two make-able field goal attempts. He’s lucky that it didn’t cost the Saints the game because there are a few capable kickers out there in free agency.

5. Robert Meachem/Devery Henderson are both startable in deep formats, though they’re not dependable.
On the heels of his breakout campaign last season, Meachem was going in the middle rounds (8th-10th) of fantasy drafts this summer, even though he’s coming off of a toe injury. Meanwhile, Henderson was available in the later rounds due to his inconsistency and history of burning fantasy owners. Both players saw four targets from Drew Brees. Henderson posted 2-38-1 while Meachem generated 3-33 and just missed a 14-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. I think Meachem is the better wideout and if he can stay healthy, he should finish the season as the Saints WR2, but Henderson looked pretty good in his own right. There’s enough offense for both of these players to finish in the Top 40, but don’t expect consistency week-to-week until one guy grabs the WR2 job (and WR2-type targets).

Fantasy impact of the Sidney Rice news

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre celebrates after throwing a 45-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Sidney Rice during the fourth quarter of their NFC Divisional Playoff against the Dallas Cowboys at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis on January 17, 2010. The Vikings won 34-3. UPI/Brian Kersey

In case you haven’t heard, Sidney Rice will be out until midseason after undergoing hip surgery. Obviously, this is a big loss for the Vikings, but what about the fantasy implications?

Let’s start with Rice himself. He’s going to miss the first half of the season and that assumes his recovery goes to plan. Rice is no more than a late-round pick. Stash him on your roster if you have the space and hope that he makes it back for the stretch run.

This news theoretically bumps up Harvin’s stock a bit, but with his migraine issues, there’s no guarantee he’s going to play 16 games either. He’s been going 6.10 over the last week, and while I’d rather have Santana Moss at this point, Harvin is not a bad pick in the 6th or the 7th. But don’t draft him unless you have a high tolerance for week-to-week uncertainty. That’s just how it’s going to be with Harvin, at least for this year.

Bernard Berrian seemingly gets the biggest bump of all the Viking players, and a 29 years old, he has plenty of football left to play. But Berrian is not Rice, so don’t expect anything more than fantasy WR3-type numbers. He’s currently going in the 14th, but I’d start to think about him in the 10th. And remember, he could be pushed back to the bench midseason if Rice comes back.

I’d also bump up Visanthe Shiancoe a bit more. I already liked him as a mid- to late-round sleeper after he posted TE5-type numbers over the last half of the ’09 season. Favre loves to throw to his tight end, especially around the goal line, and with Rice out, he’ll lean on Shiancoe even more.

As for Favre himself, this will probably hurt his numbers. He has a tendency to throw the ball up for grabs, and Rice excelled at using his length and leaping ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air. I’d expect fewer yards, fewer TDs and more picks. That’s just the nature of the beast.

The last guy to consider is Adrian Peterson. With Rice out, the defense will be able to crowd the box a bit more, but he’ll likely get more carries with the Vikings taking a more conservative approach offensively. His ypc will probably dip a bit, but more carries could offset this. I would still draft him in the top 4.

Favre denies sending text message to Vikings – will play if healthy

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 20: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

According to ESPN.com, Brett Favre has denied sending text messages to Vikings officials and teammates telling them that he had decided to retire and also told Ed Werder that if he’s healthy, he will play this season.

Favre also insisted that the decision isn’t about money, even though Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Vikings have offered Brett a raise that would increase his 2010 base salary from $13 million to $16 million.

Favre responded to a Star Tribune report that the Vikings were prepared to offer him more money for the 2010 season if he would play by insisting that his salary is not a factor in the decision. “It’s not about money,” he said.

Well, I would hope it’s not about money considering he’s made over $100 million during the course of his career (which doesn’t include the millions more he has made through endorsements). Money has played a factor in everyone’s decisions at some point or another, but it would be asinine to think that he would play next season for $16 million, but not $13 million.

Here’s the part of the story that I don’t get:

On Tuesday, Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said Favre texted his teammates and told them he plans to retire. Shiancoe added he did not receive any direct messages from Favre, but learned of the texts from several teammates.

“He told a couple guys on our team he’s going to retire,” Shiancoe said after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t told me yet. I’m going to check my phone right now, but it hasn’t been said publicly yet so I don’t know what to believe.”

So did Favre send the text messages or not? Because if he didn’t, why did Shiancoe say that Favre told some of his teammates via text messages that he was going to retire? Something doesn’t add up here. Either Brett is a lying windbag or there’s a bad game of telephone going on inside the Vikings’ locker room.

Regardless, this report proves that this situation is far from over. As reported all day yesterday, Favre has yet to make up his mind about whether or not to return. Shocking.

2010 Fantasy Football Preview: TEs

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a catch against the New York Jets during AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

The tight end position is often overlooked in fantasy football, but in leagues that award a point per reception, a stud TE can be quite valuable indeed. Over the past decade or so, NFL offensive coordinators have increasingly built game plans around their talented tight ends. It used to be that the position was meant to block in the running game and catch the occasional pass or two. But, more and more, the tight end has become a spot for a big playmaker with soft hands who can block a little.

The position isn’t nearly as deep as QB, but since many fantasy owners don’t consider taking a tight end until the fourth or fifth round, value is often found in the middle rounds. A vast majority of championship teams will get at least average production from the position, so no matter your strategy, you have to find a decent TE somewhere in your draft if you hope to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

Here are a few TEs I’ll be targeting this season along with the round in which each player becomes a good value.

Antonio Gates in the 4th
With Vincent Jackson prepared for a long holdout, Gates will get a ton of targets from Phillip Rivers. It appears that his foot injury is behind him, so he’s in line for another Top 4 year. Gates is as consistent as they come.

Dallas Clark in the 5th
Clark was a stud last season, but with Anthony Gonzalez back and the continued development of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, one wonders if he can post 100 catches again. His previous high was 77, so the gut says ‘no.’ Still, even if he takes a 20% cut in production, that still would have been good enough to be TE3 in ’09.

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