Sidney Rice Fallout and More
Just when the Vikings’offensive situation started to clear up with the return of Brett Favre and Percy Harvin, top target Sidney Rice goes down for at least the first half of the season. And so another cloudy haze hangs over Minneapolis with regard to the Vikes’aerial attack. But that’s just the headliner on this week’s Stock Market report. For the most part, preseason performances —and not off-the-field news —are dictating who is rising and who is falling.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings
Merry Christmas to owners who, like me, took Berrian as a late-round flier in earlier drafts this summer. In a matter of two days, he has risen from the land of the fantasy forgotten to a potential fantasy WR1. The talent is there, as we saw in Chicago in 2007 and Minnesota in 2008, but prior to Rice’s potentially season-ending hip surgery, the opportunity was not. Now, despite the acquisitions of Javon Walker (free agency) and Greg Camarillo (trade with Miami), Berrian is primed to start opposite Percy Harvin this year, and to potentially become Brett Favre’s new favorite target. He is a smaller version of Rice and is best at stretching the field. He might never be a true PPR WR1, but in non-PPR leagues and performance-based scoring formats, he could end up being an every-week starter.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Broncos
I know this is just the preseason, but have I been watching the same Jabar Gaffney this year? I mean, this guy looks like a legit NFL wideout capable of putting up some serious digits this year as Brandon Marshall’s replacement. A job that could have gone to rookie Demaryius Thomas if not for a foot injury setback in early August now has Gaffney’s name written all over it. There’s no question at this point that he’s the top WR to own in Denver, and with the state of their defense, the Broncos are likely to be playing (and passing) from behind for most of the season, which should equal large totals for Gaffney, who hauled in six balls for 98 yards in preseason Week 2 against Detroit.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions
I have to be honest, I just saw this guy play for the first time Wednesday night on an NFL Network replay of the Lions’preseason Week 2 game against Denver. He plays bigger, stronger and faster than his measurables dictate, which is huge. There is no doubt that this kid is the real deal. He has Chris Johnson-esque speed to the edge and is a game-changer, flat out. My only concern with him is the presence of Kevin Smith, who is also a gamer and won’t go away. Smith’s surgically repaired right knee is supposedly 100 percent. I believe the two will share carries in 2010, but the Detroit offense is improved enough for both to be productive. There’s no question, however, that Jahvid is the Best value (sorry for the horrible pun). Seriously, though, Best in Round 5 of any seasonal league is an amazing value.
Sean Jones, SS, Buccaneers
IDP owners, here is your sleeper DB of 2010. In 2006 and 2007, Jones was the top fantasy defensive back as a member of the Cleveland Browns. After an injury-plagued 2008 season, a stop in Philly last year did him no good as he spent the year either playing behind lesser players or playing out of position at free safety. Now, after signing as a free agent with Tampa this offseason, he has beat out Sabby Piscittelli and is primed for a comeback year. He’ll start at strong safety opposite Tanard Jackson and is a great late-round IDP sleeper.
Dan Connor, MLB, Panthers
If you’ve had your eye on Connor as a deep-sleeper pick, the cat probably got out of the bag after he registered six solo tackles in preseason Week 2 against the Jets. That’s what happens when a stud tackler takes over the starting MLB job. After Thomas Davis went down with his second torn ACL in 18 months, Panthers coach John Fox elected to move Jon Beason to WLB and insert Connor as the starter in the middle. It has gone so well that it could stick, making Connor the true LB to own in Carolina, and rendering Beason overrated.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
Ahem ... fallen. While we knew he wasn’t 100 percent all offseason due to a hip injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game against New Orleans, nobody expected him to have potentially season-ending surgery this week. A huge “oops”by the Vikings, who could have encouraged him to get this problem taken care of in February, which would have increased his chances 10-fold to be ready by Week 1. Instead, his seasonal value is completely shot, and even his dynasty value is up in the air with Brett Favre likely coming back for only this season. Then again, who really knows.
Paul Hickey is the lead contributor for Athlon Fantasy Football and operates the website NoOffseason.com, a site that appeals to all fantasy heads but offers a special emphasis on dynasty formats and IDP leagues.