Posts Tagged ‘LeSean McCoy’

The NFC East is always a fight. Whether it is among the fans or on the field, it will never be claimed easily. Last season, it was taken via heist on the field, when a new arrival in Washington DC took the previous season’s bottom feeders to a level the organization had not reached in 13 years, and in a fashion they’d never seen before.

But staying on top has much more struggle than reaching it, and Robert Griffin III and his Redskins are primed to discover this. The battle to hold the crown will be highlighted by a brand new approach in Philadelphia, a coach that’s likely pushing to hold onto his livelihood in Dallas and a Giants team that’s search for a new identity with familiar faces.

There were some gutsy wins a year ago, such as the Redskins sweeping the season series from Dallas, and the Eagles pulling out their last win in what would prove to be in nearly a two month span over the Giants, which ultimately ended up costing New York a playoff shot. There’s not many division that break down the middle closer than the NFC East does, and once again there may very well be only one ticket to the Playoffs provided from this division. So there will be no love lost once again, not as if there ever was any in the first place.

All-Division Team

QB: Robert Griffin III, RB: LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, WR: Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, TE: Jason Witten, OT: Jason Peters, Trent Williams, OG: Todd Herremans, Kory Litchensteiger, C: David Baas

DE: DeMarcus Ware, Jason Pierre-Paul, DT/NT: Jay Ratliff, Issac Sopoaga, OLB: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, MLB: Sean Lee, Demeco Ryans, CB: Morris Claiborne, Brandon Flowers, FS: Nate Allen, SS: Brandon Merriweather

K: Dan Bailey, P: Donnie Jones, KR: David Wilson, PR: Desean Jackson

Coming off his second consecutive 8-8 year, Romo is facing a season where a corner is needed to be turned.

Coming off his second consecutive 8-8 year, Romo is facing the task of leading the way for what needs to be turning the corner season, as well as a return to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

DALLAS COWBOYS (8-8 in 2012)

The Good: It finally clicked for Dez last year, and he began to deliver on the warehouse full of talent that he’s had for years. In his breakout season, he posted totals of 1,382 yards on 92 catches and 12 touchdowns, and became a regular playmaker in an offense full of steady, but not game breaking talents. 16 games of him playing at the level he finished 2012 at could change everything about the potential of this offense, and yes, even Tony Romo.

The Bad: Are they ready to play hardnosed football yet up front? Two of their previous three first round picks have been dedicated to bettering the offensive line, between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, so the effort is on. But with the perennially fragile Demarco Murray and an immediate need to keep Romo upright to deliver to the plethora of targets on offense, the difference between a run for the division or not starts with the development upfront paying out.

X-Factor—Sean Lee: The rangy, tackling machine in the middle of defense is the key to the success of the unit. He ran up big games of 10 and 14 tackles early in the year, before heading the PUP list after a toe injury in week 7 a year ago. His health and availability is a non-negotiable element of the success of a team whose linebacker corps are young and now without DeMarcus Ware, who moves to defensive end.

Record: NYG (W), @KC (W), STL (W), @SD (W), DEN (L), WSH (L), @PHI (L), @DET (W), MIN (W), @NO (W), @NYG (L), OAK (W), @CHI (L), GB (L), @WSH (L), PHI (W)

Prediction: There’s always going to be questions about the Cowboy’s consistency as long as Romo is calling the shots, but the biggest issue for them is finding consistency within the division. Jason Garrett is likely running short on opportunities to produce this, and health of his defensive unit will likely be the deciding factor for the season. A tough late season run with trips to Chicago and Washington, as well as hosting Green Bay will call the difference in a division title or the mud of a wild card push, with the former being more likely. 9-7


Cruz topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, and has found the endzone 19 times in the previous two years.

Cruz topped 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, and has found the endzone 19 times in the previous two years. He returns to be responsible for more of the production in NY than ever before.

NEW YORK GIANTS (9-7 in 2012)

The Good: They have undergone a steady change over the past few years, and it has returned several promising offensive tools. Between Rueben Randle, Brandon Myers and Ramses Barden, the offensive unit has a lot of breakthrough potential this season. Add in the luxury of staying in complimentary roles around Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks leading the way, along with Eli Manning, who has an underrated ability to bring out the best in young receivers, calling the shots for them.

The Bad: Will the defense have found its identity this time around? Osi Umenyiora is gone, Jason Pierre-Paul is rebounding from back surgery and the secondary is in transition. In a division with the type of offense that the NFC East, not to mention dates with Green Bay, Seattle and Detroit, the will be tested often. There will have to be a unit that overachieves to help steady the team’s outlook.

X-Factor—David Wilson: Wilson showed his big play potential in open space last year, with an NFL-best 1,533 kick return yards, but never quite figured out the nuances of running between, off or anywhere near the tackles. But with Ahmad Bradshaw gone, he’ll be leaned on heavily to be the same type of all-purpose back that his predecessor was. Picking up the details in year two will be a must.

Record: —@DAL (L), DEN (L), @CAR (W), @KC (L), PHI (W), @CHI (L), MIN (L), @PHI (W), OAK (W), GB (L), DAL (W), @WSH (L), @SD (W), SEA (L), @DET (W), WSH (W)

Prediction: They certainly could factor into the mostly even landscape of the NFC East, via the points potential of the best QB/receiver combo in the NFC alone. But they are thin on proven depth, as well as exactly what type of production they can count on from the defense week in and out. If everything goes right, they could steal the division. Yet if one unit lags, they could just as easily slide out of the playoff picture complete. This is likely a team that has stretches with both and has a record that reflects it. Record: 8-8.

McCoy has had at least 250 touches in each of the past three seasons, and is in line to be among the busiest backs in football in Philly's new scheme.

McCoy has had at least 250 touches in each of the past three seasons, and is in line to be among the busiest backs in football in Philly’s new scheme.


The Good: The new scheme certainly fits the pieces. It’s still not completely certain how Chip Kelly’s up tempo offense will be translated into the NFL, but he certainly has the right pieces to make it go. Desean Jackson, Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick can be instant offense, and the return of Jason Peters, coupled with massive first round pick Lane Johnson gives them the right bookends to build a persistent threat on offense.

The Bad: Defensively, there’s been a major turnover in the secondary, and it could be a target early on often for Romo, Manning and RGIII for the majority of the season. Without a promise of consistent pass rush (a team total of 30 in 2012), nor much change that would change the league-worse 13 turnovers they scrounged together, they could still be among the worst units in the League.

X-Factor—Michael Vick: The enigma that is Vick continues to take on new faces. Ideally, he is the perfect option for the type of offense that is being installed. However, he hasn’t been the most flexible decision maker on the run, especially standing up to the constant pressure that he has been subjected to the last few years. If he can play within himself and put to bed the rumors of the looming Nick Foles (again), the entire picture for the team could change.

Record—@WSH (L), SD (L), KC (L), @DEN (L), @NYG (L), @TB (W), DAL (W), NYG (L), @OAK (W), @GB (L), WSH (L), ARI (W), DET (L), @MIN (L), CHI (L), @DAL (L)

Prediction: There are a lot of elements going on at once that are not point towards much of a step forward in Philly. There is unrest at quarterback, a completely new offensive scheme under a rookie head coach, an offensive line bookended by a comeback attempt and a rookie, as well as a thin defense. Add in the usual brutality of the NFC East, and you have another long season in PA. Record: 4-12.


Griffin lead the Redskins to heights they hadn't reached in over a decade in route to becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year. But how much of a price did he pay?

Griffin lead the Redskins to heights they hadn’t reached in over a decade in route to becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year. But how much of a price did he pay?

Washington Redskins (10-6 in 2012)

The Good: For all of the steps forward that the Skins took last year with RGIII at the helm, they were never truly at full strength. Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis, Trent Williams and Brian Orakpo all spent significant time off the field. All are slated to be back and in the fold from day one this year, which along with a miraculously ready (we think) Griffin back from knee surgery, this could be one of the most explosive teams in the NFL, both again and on a new level.

The Bad: Is the defense ready to carry their part of the bargain? They return much of the same unit as last year, and didn’t have many early draft picks to get creative with to infuse new life into the mix. The team won last year in spite of a bland pass rush and porous secondary. The pass rush will be improved with Orakpo back, but there have to be more elements than himself and Ryan Kerrigan to it.

X-Factor—Fred Davis: When he tore his ACL in week 7 last year, he was averaging just over 13 yards per catch and was a major target over the middle for Griffin as defensive were stuck between guarding the run and fearing the bomb. If he stays healthy and still has his unique mix of size and separation speed, he could be one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL.

Record: PHI (W), @GB (L), DET (W), @OAK (W), @DAL (W), CHI (W), @DEN (L), SD (W), @MIN (L), @PHI (W), SF (W), NYG (W), KC (L), @ATL (L), DAL (W), @NYG (L)

Prediction: RGIII may be the biggest difference maker in the NFL, for any team. Regardless of how he is deployed this year, having his full selection of tools around him this year makes him that much more dangerous and primed for an even better season. Combined with a strong complimentary threat in Alfred Morris and the bonus of the division’s best linebacker group in Orakpo, Fletcher and Kerrigan, and the Skins look to be able to repeat what could be a regular position atop the East. Record: 10-6.

Stay locked over the next week, as the previews keep coming and I walk the prediction plank. Either I look dumb, great or like the Giants. For the real-time development, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

On Monday we did the intro to this series on previewing the upcoming fantasy football season, and it’s drafts. The quarterback spot led it off and now let’s get into the most pivotal position in all of the game:

Running Back

This position is the most critical in all of fantasy because it is guarantee spot. The ball gets to the RB’s hands without contest from the defense, so he has a chance to make an impact regardless, unlike quarterbacks and receivers. Also they are called on in the red zone to hold the majority of close scores, which makes them invaluable in the touchdown department. In the game now, many more running backs also are crucial in the receiving department, which gets them many easy, short-range targets, with a chance to go far with it.

Can Chris Johnson possibly reach the heights he did in 2009? His status as a #1 overall depends on it.

While there are a grouping of elite backs that can carry the load on their own, more and more teams are utilizing multiple and specialized backs, many of whom are focused on different parts of the game. It is important to understand what you are getting when drafting many RBs, due to how that can impact what you expect from that player. Don’t count on big touchdowns from a guy that gets yanked every time they reach the goal line. Likewise, don’t expect big yardage from the goal line hammers. Of course there are guys that just get it done everywhere and ones that can score as easily from 70 yards out as they done from seven. If you snag one of these guys you have a lot less to worry about (and most likely you have a top 3 pick in the draft). Let’s get into breaking them apart and putting it all together in part 2 of the fantasy preview.

1. Adrian Peterson-Minnesota Vikings

–          2009: 1,383 rush yards, 18 TD; 436 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 1,494 rush yards, 13 TD; 276 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: The most balanced of all NFL backs, Peterson has both a rushing title in 2008 and touchdown title in 2009. There is nowhere that he won’t make a difference at, and with Chester Taylor leaving in Minnesota, there should be more runs for him in 2010. With Brett Favre in tow, the defense cannot stack up on him and he has room to run. Fumbles are a concern, but not enough to not make him one of the top 2 players off any draft board. Trend: Steady

His yards went down, but his scores went up in 09. A meeting in the middle is top pick heaven in Peterson.

2. Chris Johnson-Tennessee Titans

–          2009: 2,006 rush yards, 14 TD; 503 receiving yards, 2 TD

–          2 year average: 1,617 rush yards, 11 TD; 381 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          Summary: Coming off one of the great seasons in NFL history, the sky seems to be the limit for Johnson in 2010. He showed he can carry the whole load in ’10, and set the single season total yardage record in 2009, and also adds a scoring threat as a receiver as well. However, there could be some decrease in his workload this year, to extend his durability, but with his ability to score from anywhere, he is a must grab with either the 1 or 2 pick, or a steal at 3 overall. Trend: Upwards

3. Maurice Jones-Drew-Jacksonville Jaguars

–          2009: 1,391 rush yards, 15 TD; 374 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          3 year average: 994 rush yards, 12 TD; 448 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          Summary: MJD doesn’t get the fanfare of the either of the top two names, but over the course of a season he gives almost the same worth. He has had only one season in his four-year career where he didn’t notch double-digit rushing scores and finished with 9 that season. In his second season as the featured back, he should get just as many touches as he did last season, which makes in a must grab in the upper first round. Trend: Steady

4. Ray Rice-Baltimore Ravens

–          2009: 1,339 rush yards, 7 TD; 702 receiving yards 1 TD

–          2 year average: 896 rush yards, 3 TD; 487 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Rice took the biggest leap forward of any back not named Chris Johnson in ’09. In Baltimore’s run heavy offense, he became the main open field option on the team and a dangerous threat in the receiving game. While he was not used in goal line situations often, he still managed to score 8 times. His impact in the receiving game could be impacted by Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth joining, but it should make him a more effective runner. A safe pick at any point after #3 in the first round. Trend: Steady

5. Michael Turner-Atlanta Falcons

–          2009: 871 rush yards, 10 TD; 35 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 962 rush yards, 9 TD; 30 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Injuries limited Turner’s ability to repeat his 2008 season, where he surpassed 1,600 yards. He missed 2 full games and parts of others, but still reached 10 touchdowns. He is being reported as being in good health for this year and a median impact between his two Atlanta seasons should be in order. A solid pick between the mid to late first round. Trend: Upwards

With 5 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, Jackson is the model of consistency for the lowly Rams.

6. Steven Jackson-St. Louis Rams

–          2009: 1,416 rush yards, 4 TD; 322 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 1,153 rush yards, 5 TD; 324 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Mr. Everything in St. Louis finished as the second leading rusher in the NFL in ’09. He accounted for virtually the entire Ram’s offensive showing, and should be leaned on similarly while they break in rookie QB Sam Bradford. He has had some health issues, as a result of the constant runs he takes, but is a safe pick in the mid to late first round. Trend: Steady

7. Frank Gore

–          2009: 1,120 rush yards, 10 TD; 406 receiving yards, 3 TD

–          3 year average: 1,086 rush yards, 7 TD; 405 receiving yards, 2 TD

–          Summary: When he’s healthy he’s great, but he has missed several games per season over the last 3 years and makes it dangerous to build an entire draft around him. However, he will give a few great games a season and is a steady high tier producer, especially as a receiver at the RB position. Played best at the end of the season when the 49ers first employed the scheme they will use this entire year. Mid to late round 1 pick. Trend: Steady

8. Ryan Grant-Green Bay Packers

–          2009: 1,253 rush yards, 11 TD; 197 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 1,137 rush yards, 7 TD; 152 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Off backs with 3 plus years as a starter, Grant is among the top five in consistency in football. Playing in Green Bay’s pass heavy offense limits some of his opportunities, but he takes full advantage of what he gets and is a safe bet for 1,000 plus yards, even if he doesn’t reach the end zone in double digits. Early to mid round 2 pick. Trend: Steady

9. Rashard Mendenhall

–          2009: 1,108 rush yards, 7 TD; 25 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          2 year average: 583 rush yards, 3 TD; 139 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: He stepped up and took over as full-time back in ’09 and capitalized on his potential that was shortened after four games in a disappointing rookie year. With Willie Parker gone and Ben Roethlisberger sidelined for the beginning of the year, Mendenhall could be one of the most productive RBs in football early in the year. Trend: Upwards

10. DeAngelo Williams-Carolina Panthers

–          2009: 1,117 rush yards, 7 TD; 252 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 1,116 rush yards, 9 TD; 182 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          Summary: After one of the best finishes of any player in 2008, Williams was pegged as a top 5 overall fantasy option for 2009. However, injuries and the emergence of Jonathan Stewart decreased is impact on 2009. As now part of certain shared backfield, his decreased impact should be more of what is expected this year, while still giving a very solid output that could reach double digit touchdowns. A mid to late 2nd round pick. Trend: Downwards

The emergence of Stewart has decreased Williams' time in the endzone.

11. Shonn Greene-New York Jets

–          2009: 540 rush yards, 2 TD; 0 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Headed into his second season, and coming off a huge playoff breakout performance, Greene should be the most improved runner in football. With both Thomas Jones and Leon Washington out of the backfield, he will get many more opportunities. If he overcomes rookie injury problems, he should be able to give a top 10 performance this year, even while being spelled by newly acquired LaDainian Tomlinson at times. Good for the late 2nd to early 3rd round. Trend: Upwards

12. Jonathan Stewart-Carolina Panthers

–          2009: 1,133 rush yards, 10 TD; 139 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          2 year average: 984 rush yards, 10 TD; 93 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: Stewart started off the 2009 as the backup to DeAngelo Williams, but soon his overall talent took him into and equal to greater role than him by season’s end. In both his first two seasons, he has reached 10 touchdowns and should get equal carries as Williams this season, which should equal, if not improve, his 2009 totals. An early to mid third rounder. Trend: Upwards

13. Cedric Benson-Cincinnati Bengals

–          2009: 1,251 rush yards, 6 TD; 111 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          3 year average: 890 rush yards, 4 TD; 139 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: In his first full season in Cincy, Benson’s career revival went into overdrive, with him passing 1,000 yards for the first time. Although the passing game will get much more emphasis, Benson’s impact should stay about the same. A safe late 2nd to third round selection. Trend: Steady

14. Ryan Matthews-San Diego Chargers

–          2009*: 1,808 rush yards, 11 TD; 122 receiving yards, 0 TD (*College stats)

–          Summary: The second RB drafted should have the biggest immediate impact. With LaDainain Tomlinson moving to New York and Darren Sproles showing he is not a full-time option, Matthews will get plenty of opportunities to make an impact in his rookie year. As with an unproven player, don’t jump to take him too early, but feel safe in the 3rd round to add him as a complimentary back if possible. Trend: Upwards

Matthews is the only rookie with a starting guarantee and a playoff supporting cast in place.

15. Beanie Wells-Arizona Cardinals

–          2009: 793 rush yards, 7 TD; 143 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: In an up and down rookie year, where he would fluctuate between heavy to little usage, Wells finished the year strong. In his sophomore campaign with the now Warner and Boldin-less Cardinals, he should be used even more and totals that surpass 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns could be the result. Middle third to fourth round pick. Trend: Upwards

16. Pierre Thomas-New Orleans Saints

–          2009: 793 rush yards, 6 TD; 302 receiving yards 2 TD

–          3 year average: 556 rush yards, 5 TD; 245 receiving yards, 2 TD

–          Summary: With Mike Bell leaving, Thomas will get much more of the rushing load in 2010. While Reggie Bush will still get looks, the goal line chances should belong to Thomas, along with virtually all of the primary runs. This should lead to an increase of 5 to 10 chances a game, which could go a long way for him, since he already averages around five yard per carry. A solid pick in the fifth round, a great value in the sixth. Trend: Upwards

17. LeSean McCoy

–          2009: 637 rush yards, 4 TD; 398 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          Summary: After being used as third down/back field receiving threat as a rookie, McCoy will be unleashed as more of an every down threat in 2010. He will be most likely leaned upon frequently as new starting QB Kevin Kolb gets established and should approach 1,000 yards with little difficulty, despite Mike Bell being added to support him. Trend: Upwards

18. Jamaal Charles-Kansas City Chiefs

–          2009: 1,120 rush yards, 7 TD; 297 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          2 year average: 738 rush yards, 3 TD; 284 receiving yards, 1 TD

–          Summary: Charles finished the season on fire in 2009 and showed the potential to be able to do a lot more this year. However, he will most likely be limited in effect by Thomas Jones’ presence in KC this year. He will still get plenty of looks, but not on the level of a premier starting back. He is a great complimentary RB and solid sixth round option. Trend: Steady

Despite one of the fastest finishes in football, Charles could be slowed by his own backfield mate.

19. Matt Forte-Chicago Bears

–          2009: 929 rush yards, 4 TD; 471 receiving yards, 0 TD

–          2 year average: 1,083 rush yards, 6 TD; 474 receiving yards, 2 TD

–          Summary: Forte suffered along with the rest of the Bears offense in his second season. He was one of the most productive backs the NFL as a rookie and being used in Mike Martz offensive scheme should have some improvement, but nothing to the level of his rookie season. A solid compliment grab in the sixth round. Trend: Steady

20. Joseph Addai

–          2009: 828 rush yards, 10 TD; 336 receiving yards, 3 TD

–          3 year average: 814 rush yards, 9 TD; 302 receiving yards, 2 TD

–          Summary: Addai’s decline in yardage was offset by his ability to still reach the end zone at a premier rate. He has not surpassed 1,000 yards in two years now, but being the premier back in the Colts offensive machine guarantees he will be in place to score frequently and is good second back if a first or second tier RB is already selected. Look for him in the seventh round. Trend: Steady

Top Sleeper Options: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Thomas Jones, Jahvid Best, Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller