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NFL Barometer: Star of the Show

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RISERS

Tony Romo, QB, DAL
Romo is coming off a season that was cut short after just 5.5 games, but despite the Cowboys' disappointing record at the time, he had completed 69.5 percent of his passes and was on pace to toss 32 touchdowns while taking few sacks. Because of Dallas' third-place finish last year, its schedule gets easier in 2011, including facing the weak NFC West. Moreover, with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, few teams can match the weapons at Romo's disposal. That's just gravy, as Romo is a true superstar in his own right, as his career 8.0 YPA ranks fourth overall in NFL history, and the three ahead of him played in the 30s, 40s and 50s. It's possible DeMarco Murray becomes a dominant goal-line back, but the safe bet is that Dallas relies on its passing attack this year, and there's a reasonable argument Romo should be the third quarterback off the board.

Percy Harvin, WR, MIN
This is pure speculation at this point, but all reports indicate Sidney Rice is going to the highest bidder, which would be good news for Harvin, who would see an increase in targets if Rice leaves. The Vikings' QB situation is obviously shaky, but then again, it can't be much worse than last season, when Brett Favre posted an 11:19 TD:INT ratio (Joe Webb and Tarvaris Jackson were even worse). After forcing the second most missed tackles as a rookie, Harvin ranked fifth in the category last year, despite modest targets. He's clearly a special talent, and claims to be over his migraine issues, so he could become a standout wideout during his third year in the league, especially if Rice departs.

Shonn Greene, RB, NYJ
Greene burnt fantasy owners last season, but I believe the Jets coaching staff when it says it's going to make him the team's featured back in 2011, especially since LaDainian Tomlinson himself has even admitted he's best suited for solely third-down work at this stage of his career. Moreover, the Jets have run the ball 1,141 times the last two years since Rex Ryan took over as head coach that's 147 more carries than the next closest team (the Chiefs). Greene takes a hit in PPR formats, but after recording just two catches over the first 20 games of his career, he hauled in 14 receptions for 103 yards over his last nine contests in 2010. That's not exactly Marshall Faulk in his prime, but 200 additional receiving yards yearly is better than what Michael Turner gives you, and further development can be expected, even if Tomlinson dominates third-down work. Who gets the goal-line carries will be key, and though Greene got just three attempts there last season, he's certainly built to be successful in short-yardage situations. I've been wrong writing off Tomlinson the last couple of years, but he's now 32 years old with 3,099 career rushing attempts and averaged just 3.28 YPC over the second half last season. Few players typically available as third- and even fourth-round picks offer as much upside as Greene in 2011.

FALLERS

Kenny Britt, WR, TEN
Britt was one of the most dominant deep threats in the NFL last season, recording 13 catches for 20-plus yards, which ranked fourth in the NFL despite playing just 12 games and being a sophomore (his "deep ball" catch rate of 56.52 percent was best in football) and only two receivers hauled in more touchdowns on long balls (Calvin Johnson and Mike Wallace). Britt has the talent to be a top-five fantasy receiver in 2011, but he's dealing with an uncertain QB situation, and equally important, some continued problems with the law. While it would be irresponsible to predict what (if any) kind of suspension he receives for his infractions during the lockout, the main takeaway is that Britt has clearly not learned his lesson, and the "knucklehead" factor remains. There's a real chance he misses some games because of his off-field behavior.

Cedric Benson, RB, CIN
Speaking of arrests, Benson was once again incarcerated recently with the charge of misdemeanor assault. He averaged just 3.46 YPC last season while fumbling seven times (losing five) and being worthless as a receiver so unlike Britt, there's no need to overlook the headaches that come with Benson's off-field behavior. In fact, the Bengals should have aimed higher in their backfield as a rebuilding team anyway.

Peyton Manning, QB, IND
Manning has never missed a single game during his 13-year career, and while there's no reason to truly panic, his recent neck injury is certainly some cause for concern, considering his participation in training camp is in doubt. Manning's 6.9 YPA last year was his lowest since his rookie season, and he's now 35, so combined with his current injury (he's had two surgeries on his neck in as many years), he's no longer quite as safe of a QB option as in the past. I'd expect a rebound in YPA if healthy, but unless you're in a two-QB league, pass on Manning's name value and take a RB or WR in the first five rounds instead.