Fantasy football draft kit 2.0

August, 9, 2011

We called it "Restoration Day."

This NFL preseason has been uniquely challenging in that the delayed free-agency and trading period which usually precedes our ranking, projecting and profile-writing of close to 500 players -- 650 if you include IDP -- created an information vacuum, and a lot of assumptions had to be made, first when Christopher Harris set out to write the skills-player profiles, then when we got our group together to create the initial rankings. (Have you been following our video summit series? It's a great chance to see what we're thinking about when making rankings decisions, and it makes it clear that sometimes, a decision to place Player A over Player B is made by only the slimmest of margins.)

But now, the NFL teams have caught up. Running back committees have been formed. Almost every team has a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback. Wide receiver roles are being defined. So it was our turn. We made many changes in the days that followed the opening of free agency, but nothing short of a complete review of our material would ensure that the assumptions we made months ago were replaced by the decisions based on the facts that we know today. Christopher Harris reviewed every single one of the profiles written and suggested rankings changes to match. We also massaged the projections to make sense based on the changes. (Please allow until Wednesday at noon for the projections changes to have fully propagated the site.) Here, then, are the highlights for the changes we've made to the draft kit in the past 48 hours, along with some of Christopher's comments on the profile updates that were made. So welcome to the Draft Kit 2.0, and Happy "Restoration Day"!


Profile changes

Josh Freeman (just some verbiage about his offensive line)
John Beck (added mention of Kellen Clemens as camp competition)
Ricky Stanzi (slight rewording to include Tyler Palko in the KC mix)
Kyle Boller (made him more of an obvious No. 3)

Ranks Changes:

Some shuffling of the backup quarterbacks; Blaine Gabbert to QB 39, Bruce Gradkowski to QB 37, Matt Moore to No. 52.

Running Backs

Profile changes

Darren McFadden (clarified Michael Bush's status)
Matt Forte (cleared up some Marion Barber wording)
DeAngelo Williams (changed notion that he'll be paired with Stewart "for years to come"; Stewart may be FA next year)
Ryan Grant (it sounds like he's the starter, and I changed verbiage to reflect that)
James Starks (he's more of a backup/handcuff now, and verbiage changed to reflect that)
Beanie Wells (Wells looks like the early-down starter now)
Ryan Williams (Williams looks like he'll play in passing downs and spell Beanie for early downs)
Ryan Torain (updated to account for his broken hand)
• Michael Bush (rewrote, because he wasn't a FA after all)
Montario Hardesty (wrote about his injuries recurring at the beginning of camp)
Ben Tate (put in a note about the fact that Tate has to beat out Derrick Ward for the backup's job)
Tashard Choice (rewrote, because there are rumors swirling that he's on the roster bubble)
Anthony Dixon (rewrote some stuff to indicate he's clearly ahead of Kendall Hunter)
• Kendall Hunter (rewrote some stuff about him, because he's struggled in camp in pass protection)
Jordan Todman (his projection was WAY too optimistic on my part a few months ago)
• Derrick Ward (he's more of a factor for the No. 2 job than I gave him credit for)
Brian Westbrook (cleaned him up to indicate he still hasn't signed anywhere)
Kregg Lumpkin (wrote him a profile)
Kevin Smith (clarified that he's a free agent)
Brandon Jackson (he looks a bit more valuable with Hardesty already hurt)
Charles Scott (updated to include his car accident)
Lynell Hamilton (updated to indicate he was cut by the Saints)
Kahlil Bell (updated to include Marion Barber on the Bears)

Ranks Changes

LeshoureLeon Halip/Getty ImagesAn injury to a player such as Mikel Leshoure can have repercussions all over the fantasy depth chart.

• The Mikel Leshoure injury and subsequent signing of Jerome Harrison; Harrison upgraded to RB 41 and given 90 carries and three extra TDs, upside given due to Jahvid Best's injury history. Maurice Morris to RB 82, Aaron Brown to RB 102. Leshoure to RB 125 (last ranked RB).

• Ryan Grant to RB 24, projection updated to 215 carries. James Starks to RB 36 as a high-level backup, projection downgraded to 130 carries.

• Beanie Wells to RB 31 to reflect that he is the starter to begin the season, but keeping Ryan Williams close since he has starter upside, at RB 34. Took 25 carries from Williams and gave them to Beanie.

• Upgraded Willis McGahee's projection to better reflect his RB 41 rank, adding 15 carries and upgrading his YPC to career average of 4.0 (up from last season's 3.8) and adding a touchdown.

• Downgraded Montario Hardesty to RB 49, reflecting that he has not yet gotten on the field. Brandon Jackson upgraded to RB 72.

• Upgraded Ricky Williams to RB 43 as backup to Ray Rice and projection updated to 140 carries but with two more touchdowns.

• Tashard Choice downgraded to RB 68 (see above profile note) and projection halved.

• Kendall Hunter downgraded to RB 70 (see above profile note) and projection halved.

• Jordan Todman looks like a special-teams player for this season. Downgraded to RB 79 and projection downgraded to 20 carries.

Tim Hightower upgraded to RB 49 to reflect our thoughts on Redskins backfield. Projection updated to 125 carries and 40 targets.

• Derrick Ward upgraded to RB 63 and projection updated to 75 carries to reflect our thoughts on Texans backfield.

• Kregg Lumpkin downgraded to RB 107 after reassessment of Buccaneers backfield.

• Swap between Giants RBs Charles Scott and Da'Rel Scott, at RB 111 and RB 119.

Lonyae Miller is generating a mini-buzz in Dallas. Moved to RB 93.

Wide Receivers

Profile changes

Johnny Knox (I acknowledged the training camp madness in the profile, but told people not to worry about it. The more I think about it, the more I say ... let's just leave Knox where he is. The Bears have to understand starting Hester would be incredibly stupid.)
Emmanuel Sanders (his foot problems probably make him a worse sleeper than I originally hoped)
Louis Murphy (acknowledged that Chaz Schilens is also in the mix)
Titus Young (changed the analogy of what his "downside" is)
Andre Caldwell (changed some verbiage to be a bit more pessimistic about the possibility of Caldwell starting)
Bernard Berrian (fixed some wording about his competition)
Mohamed Massaquoi (included a note about the chip fracture in his foot)
Devin Hester (changed to include thought that Bears are saying he's a starter right now, but also saying we don't believe it)
Eddie Royal (added more possibility of him beating out Eric Decker)
Edmond Gates (tried to downplay the possibility he'll be a factor this year)
• Chaz Schilens (changed to indicate that right now he's running with the first team in training camp)
Tandon Doss (changed to reflect a good training camp so far)
T.J. Houshmandzadeh (just made it clearer that he's a free agent at the moment)
Ramses Barden (re-emphasized that his ankle is still bothering him)
Harry Douglas (getting Michael Jenkins out of his profile)

Ranks Changes

Wes Welker downgraded to WR 22 to account for Chad Ochocinco's presence. Targets readjusted to 125 from 129.

• Emmanuel Sanders downgraded to WR 62, Antonio Brown upgraded to WR 69 to better reflect what's going on with the Steelers receivers. Sanders' projections downgraded by 10 targets, Brown upgraded to 65 targets.

• Andre Caldwell downgraded to WR 101; there's no indication he's seriously in the mix to start.

Randy Moss projection cut by 25 percent, under the assumption that if he signs, the season will already be under way.

• Bernard Berrian upgraded to WR 65 and projection adjusted to 85 targets, now that he looks like WR2 for Vikings.

• Eric Decker downgraded to WR 83, he's apparently currently losing his battle to be WR2 in Denver to Eddie Royal. Projection downgraded to 65 targets. Royal upgraded to WR 89 with 85 targets.

• Despite our doubt in his ability and eventual role, Devin Hester upgraded to WR 81 and projections adjusted to 70 targets.

Darrius Heyward-Bey and Chaz Schilens ranks swapped (WR 99 and WR 109) to better reflect Raiders depth chart. Schilens projection upped to 65 targets, Heyward-Bey reduced to 55 targets.

• Swap Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz at WR 106 and WR 128. Cruz looks like a significantly better bet to play Week 1. Cruz given 55 targets while Jernigan downgraded to 40.

Andre Roberts bumped up to WR 67 to reflect his upgraded projection.

• Edmond Gates name changed to Clyde Gates, as per Miami Dolphins web site. Downgraded to WR 139. Projection halved.

Cecil Shorts downgraded to WR 140. Projection halved.

• Tandon Doss upgraded to WR 98 due to good reports from camp.

• Harry Douglas upgraded to WR 126.

Tight Ends

Profile changes

Tony Moeaki (made reference to his knee scope this offseason)
Jared Cook (inserted Matt Hasselbeck reference)
Kris Wilson (changed to indicate he's on the Ravens now)

Ranks Changes

Brandon Myers downgraded to TE 61 to account for Kevin Boss signing. Targets halved to 20.

Dennis Pitta upgraded to TE 40 to reflect that he could win the job from Ed Dickson. Targets increased to 30.

Travis Beckum upgraded to TE 27 as the Giants' starter. Projection updated to 45 targets.


Profile changes

Nick Folk (took out mention of Nick Novak -- we'll deal with a change if and when it happens)
David Buehler (made it clearer that he has to win the job in camp)

Ranks Changes

• Removes Matt Bosher, who will punt for the Falcons this year, not kick

• Removes Joe Nedney, as he has retired

Dave Rayner upgraded to K 36 as the top free-agent kicker.

Up next, updates to our IDP top 150, projections and profiles.



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