Welcome to the "Original" Dynasty Rankings Fantasy Football Blog

This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Player Notes: Playoffs Week 2

Gregg Rosenthal covered the bad news on Selvin Young today:

Selvin Young was one of fantasy football's randomly big stories all year. He was an undrafted rookie with seemlingly limitless potential while he waited in vain for Travis Henry to get suspended. It never happened, but Young did finish among the top-five in the NFL in yards-per-rush, and led Denver runners in rushing and receiving. And now, oddly, his potential is diminishing.

Asked if Young could carry the load next year, Mike Shanahan was definitive:

No, definitely not. Any time a guy's been hurt as many times as he did, you know that there's no possible way he can carry the ball 20, 25 times a game. The body just won't hold up. He went down too many times this year. But you are looking at a guy that you know has big-play potential.

At best, Young is going to be a high-upside committee member or third-down back. It's a mystery who will start for Denver, because Travis Henry must take a huge pay cut or get released. I bet he gets cut, just like Javon Walker. Look for another drama-filled Denver offseason.

I had been a fan of Selvin Young ever since Shanny's early season proclamation that he is "definitely a starter in this league" after just a couple of NFL games. After all, a tenured head coach's endorsement is as close as it gets to pure gold for dynasty prospects. Young was impressive as a big play back during the season, but I had soured on him just a bit by the end of the year. By Week 17, I saw Young as a Jerious Norwood type of RB who will split carries and always be replaced near the goal-line. Partly out of desperation for a playoff eligible RB and partly because I no longer saw Young as a every down RB, I traded him for Najeh Davenport just over a week ago. Now that it's clear that Young is headed to Norwood territory, he has lost quite a bit of future value.

In the same press conference Thursday, Coach Shanahan addressed the Javon Walker situation:

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said he will let emotions cool off before speaking with Javon Walker about the receiver's future with the team.

On Dec. 31, the day after his injury-riddled season ended, Walker said he didn't fit in with Denver's offense.

The only way Walker likely will remain in Denver is with a restructured contract.

Shanahan said that in the next two to four years Walker could need microfracture surgery on his right knee, which has been repaired twice in two years.

If Walker isn't back, Denver would need a No. 2 receiver to pair with Brandon Marshall. Shanahan said he is happy with Brandon Stokley, but believes he is best suited as a No. 3 receiver.

Ouch. Shanny dropped the possible microfracture surgery bomb. Even if it's pure guesswork on Shanny's part, that word is taboo for dynasty owners. In my estimation, Walker has now become the Kevin Jones of wide receivers. You simply cannot count on him from one week to the next. He's swampland in Florida, and if history is any indication, he's swampland that is not likely to humble himself to a paycut in order to stick around. Kudos if you managed to find a taker for him over the past couple of months.

Earlier this week, Gregg Rosenthal also covered the Mike Martz impact in San Francisco:

One can question the way that Mike Martz was hired by the 49ers. It's a sign that Mike Nolan's powers really haven't decreased in San Francisco, and that there is a lot of turmoil within the organization.

That doesn't mean it was a bad hire. The 49ers will be interesting again, and Martz should squeeze out a lot more yards from one of the worst passing attacks in history. Here's my take on the Martz effect for the 49ers.

Alex Smith - Gives him a fighting chance. Smith fits a more-aggressive offense like Martz better than the West Coast hybrids he worked in during his rookie and third season. Smith's smarts are supposed to be his biggest strength. Martz could resurrect his career quickly.

Shaun Hill - On the other hand, Hill isn't too far from the Marc Bulger-Kurt Warner-J.T. O'Sullivan-type scrap heap projects that Martz usually likes. There will be a competition for the starting job.

Frank Gore - Evan Silva and I debated this. In the end, I think that more yards, more points, and a better passing game helps Gore. Martz is giving lip service to making The Inconvenient Truth the centerpiece of the offense, but Martz's public statements are worth as much as a Jon Kitna guarantee.

Marshall Faulk had his best years under Martz and had plenty of touches. Kevin Jones, a similar player to Gore (but worse), was having a fine season in 2006 before getting hurt. Gore's carries may go down, but hopefully his catches rise, making him an elite receiving back. And a catch is generally worth two rushes. Gore's talents are too diverse for Martz not to take advantage of. That's my take and I'm sticking to it, no matter how low his ADP drops.

Vernon Davis - Martz has never really used tight ends as receivers. That is worrisome, although he can't exactly ignore one of his best potential playmakers because he doesn't fit the system. Can he?

49ers wideouts - Darrell Jackson has a chance to rebound if he's kept. Ashley Lelie is fast, but I don't trust him to learn the offense. Arnaz Battle fits the Shaun McDonald/Mike Furrey mold and could flourish. Jason Hill's upside rises.

My quick take on the Martz impact: I don't think Alex Smith is accurate enough to win over Mike Martz, and Hill seems to fit the rags to riches profile of similar Martz QBs Kurt Warner and Jon Kitna. Hill also runs the offense better and gets the ball out quicker. I expect the 49ers to give their former #1 overall draft pick every opportunity to take the job, but I see Hill as a more likely Martz choice.

D-Jax was going to struggle this year regardless of Alex Smith's struggles. It's very rare for a non-superstar wide receiver to meet his expected production in his first year with a new team. He did start to come on a bit with Shaun Hill under center later in the season, but he's never going to reach the heights of his Seattle days again even if he flourishes in Martz' offense. Arnaz Battle, hoping to continue following the Hines Ward career path, could see a nice bump in production if he can master the slot role that is so heavily utilized in Martz' offense.

Any analysis of Martz' effect on Vernon Davis is complete speculation. Martz has never had a tight end as anything more than a spare part in his offense, but he's also never had a tight end any more talented than Ernie Conwell who pales in comparison to Vernon Davis. It's entirely possible that Davis may get lost in the crowd of Martz' voluminous playbook, but a brilliant offensive mind will find a way to get his second best offensive weapon the ball....and by all accounts, Martz is a brilliant offensive mind.

That leaves the most important question: how will Mike Martz affect Frank Gore's value? My initial reaction was similar to Rosenthal's: great news that Martz already plans on making him the centerpiece of the offense, but can Martz be trusted? Expect inconsistent carries (which is really no different than Gore's usage this season), but a significantly increased role in the passing game. Martz will keep the defense honest, allowing Gore more room to run. And let's not forget Rosenthal's most important point which is being lost in the midst of Martz' use of Kevin Jones this season: Marshall Faulk's MVP-caliber and fantasy hall of fame seasons came under Martz as did Kevin Jones' best work of his career early last season. Martz is far from the fantasy death knell for RBs that he was commonly portrayed as late this season.

Here's an interesting article from today's Contra Costa Times where they interviewed former Greatest Show on Turf stars Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner for their take on the Martz impact:

In search of answers, we called two people who ought to know. Say hello to Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner.

The running back and quarterback combined to take the St. Louis Rams to rollicking heights under Martz from 1999-2005. They reached two Super Bowls during that span (winning one) and led the NFL in scoring three times.

Faulk won an MVP award. Warner won two.

Each agreed to give MediaNews a scouting report on the offensive coordinator the 49ers hired this week. The consensus? The big winner with Martz's arrival is Gore -- although not for the reasons you might think.

Faulk, for example, said Gore would flourish not by doing more but by doing less. He said Martz's knack for relying on other playmakers means defenses will stop loading up on the 49ers' lone threat.

"The one thing Mike does is find multiple ways to win games," said Faulk, from Culver City, where he was preparing to go on air as an analyst for the NFL Network.

"There will be times when the defense will be focused on Frank, and that's the time of the game when you find out whether your third or fourth options were paying attention in practice.

"Are those players prepared? Can they handle the pressure? With Mike, it's in the details and he'll find as many ways as he can to win."

In other words, there will be no repeat Why didn't it work out for Martz in Detroit?"Who said it didn't work out," Faulk protested. "It was very difficult for the offense because the defense wasn't getting off the field. The Lions had the feeling that they had to score, that they had to push it, that they had to put the ball in the air."In San Francisco, it won't be like that. He'll have more time to be patient with the running game.''of what happened when the 49ers played Seattle last Nov. 12. On a fourth-and-one play, everybody within range of the Northwest knew Gore would get the ball. Gore even hopped up and down in anticipation of the handoff. The Seahawks promptly pummeled him for no gain.

"Mike will move him around," Warner said. "Mike will get the most of Frank because Gore is a tremendous player, and he finds creative ways to use his playmakers."

Martz used Faulk all over the field, frequently lining him up as a split end. That's how the runner wound up joining former 49ers star Roger Craig as the only backs to amass 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.

Faulk is also the only player with at least 100 rushing touchdowns and 30 receiving touchdowns.

Gore has decent hands (114 catches over the past few seasons), although it's tough to imagine him being as nimble a receiver as Faulk. No matter, Faulk said, because Martz will capitalize on Gore's other skills.

"Frank is a much better inside runner than I ever was," Faulk said. "That's good for Mike because it gives him another weapon."

Of course, Gore's performance will be wasted again if the 49ers can't get more out of their moribund passing game. Alex Smith and Shaun Hill are expected to compete for the starting job, a competition that coach Mike Nolan has indicated he will let Martz decide....

Why didn't it work out for Martz in Detroit?

"Who said it didn't work out," Faulk protested. "It was very difficult for the offense because the defense wasn't getting off the field. The Lions had the feeling that they had to score, that they had to push it, that they had to put the ball in the air.

"In San Francisco, it won't be like that. He'll have more time to be patient with the running game.''

No comments: