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Five Things to Know: 5 Developing Situations in the NFL

Mario Puig

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Jim Harbaugh, James Harrison and David Bowie.

While most of the big free agency and trade headlines made their appearance last week, there still has been a decent amount of activity in recent days. Here's a quick rundown of a few developing situations in the NFL.

1. No QB Competition in Denver?

Not only is Kyle Orton reportedly receiving all the first-team reps in Denver's training camp, but he's reportedly performing better than Tim Tebow.

Of course, everyone should expect the first-team quarterback to look better than the second when the top quarterback is facing a pass defense that was one of the three worst in the NFL a year ago. Plus, it's not as if Tebow ever got anywhere on style points. Comparing the two according to who looks like the sharpest passer isn't a competition - Orton wins every time.

But when the regular season starts and everyone starts hitting for real, I'm still picking Tebow without thinking twice if I'm John Fox. Even if it was ugly, Tebow put points on the board and didn't turn the ball over as a rookie last year. And unlike Orton, Tebow will probably improve with experience.

That said, if the Broncos stick with Orton, down goes one of fantasy football's best sleepers heading into this year. Tebow possibly would bolt for at least 10 rushing touchdowns if he were to start 16 games.

2. Will Roy Williams find his way back to 2006?

Make no mistake, Williams was a disaster in Dallas. Jerry Jones would have to pull off something truly monumental to make a worse trade than he did the day he sent first-, third- and sixth-round picks to the Lions in exchange for 1,324 receiving yards in 40 games.

But as bad as Williams was, he could bounce back in Chicago to some degree. He won't be quite as good as he was in 2006, as Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett will steal a decent number of receptions, but Williams has been surprisingly productive whenever he hasn't played for Dallas.

In his 60 games with the Lions, Williams caught 262 passes for 3,884 yards and 29 touchdowns. That's an average of 70 receptions for 1,036 yards and 7.7 touchdowns over 16 games. It's worth noting, though, that even as a Cowboy, Williams averaged a touchdown every 6.25 catches the last two years. That projects to roughly nine touchdowns on a modest 55 receptions.

In my opinion, it's pretty clear that the pressure in Dallas went to Williams' head. As disappointing as his play was for the entirety of that doomed three-year stretch, he was also frequently close to brilliance. It's just that whenever the moment of truth came, he'd crumble in the spotlight and find some inexplicable way to throw away everything.

A change of scenery to Chicago is the perfect proverbial chill pill for Williams. No one expects anything from him now, and it's easier to catch the ball when you don't have to stare into the spotlight.

3. Zach Miller leaves Oakland for ... Seattle?

Either John Carlson is going to be traded soon, or Seattle easily has the best tight ends in the league after Tuesday's signing.

While Oakland is typically a career graveyard, this is still probably not good news for the fantasy talent pool at tight end. Jason Campbell is hardly a good quarterback, but he at least was capable of getting the ball to his tight end. Both Miller and Chris Cooley put up big numbers in Campbell offenses.

Even if Tarvaris Jackson gets it to the tight end as much as Campbell did, the fact that Carlson is still around is a threat to the monopoly Miller had on tight-end production in Oakland.

Of course, Seattle could trade Carlson before the season starts. If that happens, you can probably get by with Miller as a starting fantasy tight end this year. Who knows - that might still be the case even if Carlson doesn't leave. It just won't be as likely.

4. The Panthers sign Derek Anderson

Doesn't get much more boring than that.

BUT - At least this makes it a near certainty that Cam Newton will get around eight or so starts this year, at least. While it might be ugly to watch Newton throw the ball against NFL defenses after playing in a one-read spread option offense at Auburn, Newton's running ability and general propensity for the improbable could make him an entertaining player to watch.

Unlike a Michael Vick or Aaron Rodgers, moreover, Newton is the extraordinarily rare quarterback who's built to take the beating of an NFL running back. As long as he runs as smart as he did in the SEC, the enormous Newton should dish out nearly as much punishment as he takes. Despite his tall build, Newton showed the ability to run low and avoid big hits at Auburn. But when he does get the chance to lower that shoulder, some linebackers and defensive backs might get embarrassed.

Thus, it wouldn't be shocking if Newton does what Tim Tebow did last year: score a rushing touchdown in each of his starts. I doubt he does it, but with the right matchup, Newton can put up some surprisingly nice fantasy numbers.

5. New Orleans signs former 49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin

Defenses are mostly a chore to deal with in fantasy football, but take a look at what the Saints are building.

Franklin is generally regarded as one of the league's best run-stopping tackles, and he teams up with an already formidable duo of Sedrick Ellis and Shaun Rogers. Throw in first-round steal Cameron Jordan, Turk McBride and Will Smith (four-game suspension aside) at defensive end, and you've got what could turn into the meanest run-stopping front four in the game.

Look at the secondary and you see a similar wealth of talent. Even with Tracy Porter (knee) uncertain for the season's start, Jabari Greer remains a standout corner league-wide while Patrick Robinson (2010 first-round pick), Johnny Patrick (2011 third-round pick) and Fabian Washington provide great depth. The duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper at safety is also quite strong.

Franklin's signing alone means a downgrade for Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and LeGarrette Blount on my draft board.