For a deeper review of players that are either new to the scene or playing differently than expected, Double Coverage will give the respective views of John Tuvey (Start Bench List) and David Dorey (Game Predictions and Player Projections). We'll bring 47 years of combined fantasy football experience to bear and hopefully a few things to think about as you manage your fantasy team.
For the remaining weeks of the regular season, we will be reviewing players for next season considerations.
Third Year Wideouts in 2013
WR Jonathan Baldwin (KC)
DOREY: I have to give Baldwin an incomplete so far. I have actually not written him off yet, though it would be easy enough to do. HC Romeo Crennel says that Baldwin has been slow to develop. But last summer they were saying how mature and focused he seemed and that he was "sensational" in training camp. So he entered the year with some hype and expectations. And yeah, he has certainly been disappointing against those but who on the Chiefs has not been disappointing besides maybe Jamaal Charles? Dwayne Bowe has three touchdowns. All combined, the Chiefs have only eight passing touchdowns. THEY ARE STARTING BRADY QUINN. Look, Baldwin maybe is an idiot who got into a fight with Thomas Jones as a rookie, But the guy is a first round pick of 2011 and is 6-4, 230 pounds. I may not be buying next summer, but I will be watching. Has to be some turnover in KC and we'll see where it all settles. I just do not think we can completely evaluate him based on this KC team.
TUVEY: Things will get blown up in KC this offseason, and that’s a good thing. You can expect—or at least hope—the Chiefs to get better at the quarterback position, and with Dwayne Bowe all but gone and a first-round pick invested in him the decidedly untested Baldwin should be the WR1. Oh joy; he’ll take over the top spot for a unit that even with Bowe scored fewer fantasy points than any other group of wideouts in the league. On the bright side, he’ll come extremely cheap—what with only two career touchdowns and zero 100-yard games. But for him to be anything other than a late-round fantasy flier next year it’ll take an extreme leap of faith—or him flashing something over the last month of this season that we thus far haven’t seen from him. Maybe an enticing new QB makes him a fantasy sleeper, but right now that’s tough to picture.
WR Torrey Smith (BAL)
DOREY: Here is my problem with Smith. I don't like his team. I don't like their offense. Heck, I don't even like Joe Flacco who apparently becomes a free agent in the offseason and the Ravens are in no big hurry to stop that from happening. As a rookie Smith turned heads with about 2 really good games and 14 flops. He was a long baller only. This year he has improved in the sense that he's more than just a deep threat. He has turned in four really nice games, and then mostly mediocre games that pretty much kill your fantasy team. He gets fewer than seven targets in over half his games. Next year is his third year and the only way I can buy into a breakout year in the making is if... well... I don't know. When a team has a really good defense, they don't throw as much. This year was supposed to be taking off all the limitations and letting the offense loose. Meh - nothing happened really. What they need and they do not have is a commitment to the passing game and enough weapons to make it all work. Be really tough for me to like Smith more than a lot of other people. Kind of like this year.
TUVEY: Smith should get to eight touchdowns (he’s already matched last season’s total of seven) and has an outside shot at a 1,000-yard season (on pace for 976)—the two benchmarks for a quality wide receiver. So heading into Year 3, things are definitely looking up. After all, Anquan Boldin is fast approaching mandatory retirement age and there isn’t another wideout on the Baltimore roster to threaten Smith’s ascension to WR1—if he isn’t there already. Concerns that he might be limited by Ray Rice and the ground game are alleviated by OC Cam Cameron’s insistence that he’s smarter than us, throwing more than a team with Rice really needs to. About the only quibble with Smith is that he’s inconsistent, prone to peaks (four of 120 yards or more in his career) and valleys (17 of 30 career games under 50 yards). He’s evened out the touchdowns this season, with his current three-game scoreless stretch his only multiple-game streak aside from goose eggs in Weeks 1 and 2. Joe Flacco may not be elite but he knows how to get the ball deep to Smith, and all signs point in the right direction form Smith to remain a solid fantasy contributor—with the upside of less of a bite from the WR2 and more experience leading to improved numbers.
WR Vincent Brown (SD)
DOREY: I must confess something here, your honor. I already know this defendant because I drafted his ass in a number of leagues last summer including a 32 team league where losing your #1 WR is pretty catastrophic. So yeah, I was in like with him. His broken ankle has been plenty slow to heal which made this entire season a lost cause. I have a feeling that I am going to like Brown next summer more than most. Safe enough to assume he free falls in drafts since no one saw him this year and no one remembers two years ago. He only had 19 catches as a rookie so he has plenty of catching up and developing to do. But the Chargers are going to go into a big upheaval in the offseason with coaches if not players so we need to see what they look like next July. But I will be watching and he is the sort of guy that you can get a nice value on next year and will carry some upside depending on what the Chargers look like.
TUVEY: Brown flashed briefly in 2011 but won’t play a down in 2012 due to the ankle injury he suffered in the preseason—and the Chargers he’ll return to in 2013 will look a whole lot different than the ones he knew previously. He’ll likely have a new coaching staff, for one, which could mean a new offense as well. And the addition of Danario Alexander pushes all the wide receiver openings down a peg as well. Usurping Robert Meachem shouldn’t be tough, but Brown will have to battle Alexander and Malcom Floyd to crack the starting lineup. Then there’s Philip Rivers’ backslide to consider as well. The shine is certainly off Brown, and he’ll have to flash something serious in the preseason—or fall into a new offensive scheme that promises to make three wides fantasy-relevant—to earn a spot on my draft board next August.