Were there any significant quarterbacks traded over the last week in the NFL? Seriously, the Tim Tebow trade has been hashed to death and I'm guessing there won't be any shortage of coverage of the Jets this season. That being said, is it time that Rex Ryan is on the hot seat and is potentially in danger of losing his job? Ryan heads into the final year of his four-year contract writing a lot of checks with his mouth that his team hasn't cashed. While his teams have made two deep runs into the playoffs, outside of the 2010 regular season, the Jets have gone 17-15 with him as a head coach. While Tony Sparano was likely one of the driving forces in bringing Tebow to New York, the opportunity to shine the light a little brighter on Ryan and his team had to endear him to the trade. Here's who the Jets will play this season:
Home - BUF, NE, MIA, HOU, IND, ARZ, SF and SD
Away - BUF, NE, MIA, SEA, STL, PIT, TEN and JAC
The toughest games at this point (taking home/away into consideration) appear to be the Patriots (2X), Houston, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. The next tier of difficulty has to have the Bills (2X), San Diego, Seattle and Tennessee. The games that should be the easiest are Miami (2X), Indianapolis, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Arizona. So the schedule's level of difficulty isn't off the charts considering there are six teams in the lowest tier and only five in the top tier. If the Jets end up 8-8 or worse and miss the playoffs, is Ryan gone after this season?
From a fantasy standpoint, the Tebow deal takes a lot of the value away from Sanchez that even optimists would have had for 2012. Without a doubt, Tebow should be on the field every game taking away snaps from Sanchez and potentially disrupting any rhythm he develops during a drive. Near the goal line, it's likely that Tebow gets some of the work, taking away either rushing or throwing touchdowns from Sanchez. Would it surprise you to know that Tebow and Sanchez were tied for second among quarterbacks last season with six rushing touchdowns each?
What are the Bears going to do with Matt Forte? After placing the dreaded franchise tag on him, the Bears went ahead and signed Michael Bush to a four-year deal. While I can see how Forte could be disgruntled after not being offered a long-term deal over the past two seasons, the Bears have played this perfectly. First, Forte getting hurt reinforces why the Bears didn't give him a long-term deal. Running backs, even elite ones, get hurt every season. With Bush in the fold, the Bears now have two running backs who have something of an injury history, but unlike last season not all is lost if one or the other goes down. If Forte can prove he's back to 100 percent after last season's injury, the Bears would be wise to lock him up with a new deal. Forte just turned 26 and was on pace to post the following stats in 2011:
Rushing - 271 carries, 1,329 yards (fourth in the NFL)
Receiving - 69 catches 653 yards (both would have been third among running backs)
With those stats you can see how valuable Forte could potentially be to not only the Bears but fantasy owners, especially in PPR formats. The one knock against Forte is the lack of goal-line carries. Through 12 games last season, he only managed three rushing touchdowns, a number that isn't going to suddenly spike with the presence of Bush.
I discussed last week the possibility of BenJarvus Green-Ellis heading to another team, with Cincinnati being one of his suitors. After signing BJGE to a three-year deal, the Bengals have another prodder in a long line of similar running backs they've trotted out since Corey Dillon. While many will point to the fact that he's never lost a fumble in his 510 carries, he doesn't show a lot of upside. Even in the high powered Patriots' offense which saw a lot of dime and nickel packages, Green-Ellis only averaged 3.7 yards per carry and did not have a single run over 20 yards despite getting 181 carries. He should be viewed as a low-end No. 2 running back in most standard formats, based on the likely volume of work and his getting the goal line carries.
With Green-Ellis now out of New England, the Patriots will likely use their 2011 draft picks, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen as their primary ball carriers. Danny Woodhead will still be in the mix, but the two second-year pros will have more upside for the 2012 season. Both players battled injuries during their rookie season and Ridley was the only one to make an impact on the field (87 carries, 441 yards, 5.1 YPC). While last season's production will have most higher on Ridley than Vereen, keep in mind that Vereen (56th choice overall) was thought of much higher than Ridley (73rd overall) by the Patriots coming out of college. While the backfield will likely result in a committee in New England, this wouldn't be a bad opportunity to look for a handcuff given the explosive nature of the Patriots' offense.
It's been a roller coaster ride the last two weeks if you're a San Francisco fan. After becoming a surprise entrant in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes and potentially being the Super Bowl favorite, a sigh of relief was in order after they re-signed Alex Smith to a three-year deal. Potentially losing Smith to a team like the Dolphins would have been seen as a disaster after it seemed like heading into the offseason that it was a forgone conclusion that he would re-sign. Somewhat under the radar was the Josh Johnson signing, something of a fit given his collegiate history with Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. The signing has to bring into question how much faith the organization has in Colin Kaepernick, the 36th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Johnson (cousin of Marshawn Lynch) is only 18 months older than Kaepernick and has more experience in the league. The addition of Johnson could push Smith to take the next step in his development, but it could also mean a quicker hook if he were to struggle.
If there's a deep sleeper to keep an eye on for tight ends this season, it's James Casey. The Texans lost starting fullback Lawrence Vickers to Dallas in free agency so it's possible Casey could be the starter there. Throw in that Joel Dreessen has jumped ship to the Denver Broncos and with Houston running a lot of two-TE sets, more playing time could be available. Speaking of Dreessen, if he's the starting tight end in Denver, where would you rank him after Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham? Top-5 overall, right? Keep an eye on Casey, who is a long shot to become fantasy relevant but someone to keep tabs on.