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NFL Barometer: Another Back Takes the Reins in Buffalo

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RISERS

Mike Williams, WR, SEA – With the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Williams takes over as Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver. He is back in playing shape and has his former college coach’s trust; and the Seahawks play in a division that could feature plenty of shootouts. Still, Williams has never made an impact in the NFL, so even given an ideal situation and a real opportunity, there’s hardly a guarantee he will produce. Williams is worth adding in most formats as the top guy in Seattle, but expectations should remain tempered.

C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF - Spiller sure does pass the eye test. There is plenty working against him on paper – bad offensive line, shaky QB, two other competent backs competing for touches – but Spiller looks like he could be something special. He won’t need 20-plus carries each game to be highly productive. We have seen coaches stick with veterans over younger, more exciting options plenty of times, but come on, Fred Jackson? The latter graded out as the worst blocking RB in football last season, so Spiller should dominate third down work. And he already looks like Buffalo’s best offensive player, so if the Bills’ coaches want to keep their jobs, they’ll get him on the field as much as possible. Spiller might get caught for losses instead of taking what’s there too often, but he’s a big play waiting to happen.

Malcom Floyd, WR, SD – Floyd is now locked in as San Diego’s No. 1 receiver with Vincent Jackson unlikely to ever suit up for the club again. Floyd had a ridiculous 10.5 YPA last year and could see last season’s 74 targets increase by 50 percent. He has one of the five best quarterbacks in the league throwing to him, and San Diego plays both the AFC West and NFC West this season. Floyd should be treated as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver, if not top-15.

Louis Murphy, WR, OAK – He is the Raiders’ best wide receiver, which means he’s at least relevant in deep fantasy leagues. Zach Miller may be Jason Campbell’s top target, but Darrius Heyward-Bey won’t exactly command a bunch of looks. With an upgrade at QB and an easy schedule, Murphy could emerge in his second year. He certainly showed signs as a rookie last season.

Max Hall, QB, ARI – Hall’s presence was one of the reasons the Cardinals felt comfortable releasing Matt Leinart. He should be owned in all dynasty leagues, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he saw a bit of playing time as soon as this season. Hall is the Cardinals’ quarterback of the future at the moment.

FALLERS

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAX – First, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that there were "questions and doubts around the league" regarding Jones-Drew’s mysterious knee injury, then later in the week the running back wasn’t even listed on the injury report. He appears good to go for Week 1, but this issue may linger. He should not fall past the sixth pick in standard leagues, but it’s probably worth taking Ray Rice, Michael Turner, or Frank Gore over him at this point.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, BAL – While declining in talent, at least he was in a decent setup in Seattle as the team’s WR1 in an easy division. Now, Houshmandzadeh moves to an entirely new system and to a tough AFC North. Houshmandzadeh upgraded at QB with the move, but he’ll cede plenty of targets to Anquan Boldin, and the Ravens are likely to remain run-heavy. He’s barely worth owning at this point.

Chris Wells, RB, ARI – Wells’ latest injury is apparently a bit more worrisome than originally thought; he sat out Thursday’s practice with what was termed a “knee bruise.” Wells looks like a game-day decision for Week 1, and coach Ken Whisenhunt has hinted he is more concerned about Wells’ long-term availability than playing him Sunday. Proceed with caution.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG – No one should be taking Jacobs ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw at this point, and it’s not particularly close. The former may still be the favorite for short-yardage work, but if the latter can get 4.8 YPC (and 13.8 yards-per-catch) on two bum wheels last year, imagine what he can do now that he is healthy. Speaking of health, Jacobs’ linebacker frame is a leg injury waiting to happen, and while admittedly I can’t guarantee New York’s staff agrees, I see no reason why Bradshaw (5-9, 200) can’t withstand 20 carries a game. Jacobs is clearly taking a backseat in New York’s backfield.