Tony Gonzalez: John Amis/AP
Before the NFL Draft even took place over the weekend, there was a pretty significant fantasy player move, as Kansas City Chiefs veteran Tony Gonzalez was dealt to the Falcons.
For his durability (Gonzo's missed just two games in 12 seasons) and his production (76 career TDs, nearly 11,000 yards receiving), he's already a shoo-in for the NFL Hall of Fame and Fantasyland's HOF.
The aging process isn't affecting him much, either; at age 32, Gonzalez caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 TDs for a lousy offense last year. Now he moves to a potent offense with quality options at each of the skills positions -- QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White. So what does this move mean in fantasy terms for Gonzo next season?
I expect only a slight dip in his overall production but for him to remain a top five TE.
Surely with all the talent around him, Gonzo won't have 155 passes thrown his way in '09, as he did last season. But since defenses won't be able to key on him as much, he should be able to do more with the passes he does reel in. And he's sure to remain a quality goal-line option. A realistic projection for Gonzo might be 80-85 catches for 900+ yards and 7-8 TDs.
Whether they're reacting to what they think is a good move by their team (or a bad one), I always enjoy watching the crowd reaction at Radio City Music Hall when the Jets make a trade or draft pick. Most seemed pretty thrilled when Jets management moved up in the first round to draft USC's Mark Sanchez, though there were several who clearly didn't want the boy from Troy.
Sanchez's inexperience leaves plenty of questions, but when you're in New York, I don't see any reason to not roll the dice on landing a potential franchise quarterback. He has plenty of the things needed to succeed at the next level, even under the bright glare of the New York media spotlight. He also has a legit shot at having some fantasy success right out of the gate.
Take a look at what SNY.tv's Michael Salfino has to say about the rookie, with his breakdown of each pass thrown by Sanchez in the Rose Bowl this year.
If you're from the Detroit area like I am, the beginning of each offseason for the Lions makes us feel like we're tuning into a new Wile E. Coyote episode we haven't seen before. Technically, there's a renewed hope that this might be the time. Forget about what's happened every season or episode since decades before we were born. This! This is the time the Lions finally turn things around! This is the time that Wile E. Coyote finally catches and devours that damn bird!
But alas, we know better. Don't we? Wile E. never catches the Road Runner. And the Lions always find a way to fail.
That said, my assessment of the Lions' draft choices is somewhat positive. I think they could have made some better choices -- I've been begging for an offensive line for decades, but they didn't seem to find that too important -- but they didn't completely screw up, which for the Lions is pretty unusual.
They took Matthew Stafford first overall. Even if he somehow unseats Daunte Culpepper in training camp, he'll have fantasy value limited primarily to two-QB leagues or as an occasional lineup-filler. He does have Calvin Johnson to throw to and a decent pass-catching RB in Kevin Smith. But with no offensive line to speak of, you can't expect any consistency -- but you can expect plenty of turnovers.
Their other first-rounder was Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew, who is a stellar blocker and helps me cope with the club not taking an offensive lineman here instead. He has some long-term fantasy upside, but he's going to spend the majority of his rookie campaign trying to keep his franchise quarterback off the turf, not catching passes.
Knowshon Moreno: Ed Andrieski/AP
The Broncos selected Georgia RB Knowshon Moreno with the 12th overall pick in Saturday's draft. The idea of the most well-rounded back in the draft landing with Mike Shanahan and the Denver Broncos would have made fantasy junkies salivate. Most of the time Shanahan had a series of mystery RBs rotating in and out of the starting role: If you were lucky enough to add the right one at the right time, though, you'd hit the fantasy lotto and win your league.
But now Shanny's gone, and so is Jay Cutler. So what does this mean for Moreno's rookie season?
The good news is that Shanahan didn't take his quality offensive line with him when he was canned, so Moreno will have plenty of holes to run through. That alone will probably make him the top rookie RB taken in drafts this fall.
But there are negatives to consider, beginning with Kyle Orton being his quarterback rather than a Pro Bowler in Cutler. Will Orton keep defenses from stacking the line against the running game? There's also the fact that Broncos' new coach Josh McDaniels used a Shanahan-like RB-by-committee approach as the OC with the Pats, so it's likely that Moreno will not be an every-down back, even if he's the featured back in a group setting.
Still, I like his general potential this year once the surefire backs are off the board, especially if he earns the goal-line workload.