To take Andrew Luck — or Robert Griffin III?
The PFW staff weighs in on this and a handful of other fantasy-football issues in our latest "roundtable" chat. Here's our questions and answers.
PFW: Which quarterback would you rather have on a single-season fantasy team in 2012 — Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III?
Associate editor Arthur Arkush: I lean slightly toward RG3 — mainly because of his added value as a rusher — but Luck’s performance early on in the preseason certainly has been impressive. I think protection for both rookies will be an issue, but RGIII is more adept at turning negative plays into positive yardage.
Executive editor Dan Arkush: I think I have to go with RG3 because of the dynamic Cam Newton-like rushing dimension he brings to the draft table. Both Luck and Griffin got off to very impressive starts in their preseason debuts, and I could strongly consider either of them as a fantasy backup. Another edge Griffin has over Luck is better overall weapons, although neither of them has an embarrassment of fantasy riches at his disposal by any means.
Senior editor Eric Edholm: A month ago, I was thinking Griffin. Now I am sliding toward Luck. He won’t be the rushing hero RG3 is, but I think he’ll have 800-900 more passing yards. Why? Bad Colts defense (really bad, meaning lots of deficits to throw back from), a stunted run game (whose best contributor, Donald Brown, looks better catching the ball) and the confidence of the coaches that the rookie QB can handle some ups and downs. They're close in fantasy terms, but I’ll take Luck.
Associate editor Kevin Fishbain: Most of the offseason I would have said Griffin because of his added element as a runner, but I'm getting a little concerned about that O-line and how much the Redskins really want RG3 running. It's easy to forget Luck has a pair of very good wide receivers in Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie — though Collie’s health is obviously a concern. Today, I'll go with Luck. He's going to be throwing it a lot, will have plenty of opportunities, and has done little else but impress this preseason.
Fantasy writer Pat Fitzmaurice: It's still RG3 by a narrow margin. Luck is safer, but Griffin’s rushing ability gives him the higher ceiling. I'm starting to get nervous about RG3 's offensive line, though. It's a Trent Williams injury away from catastrophe.
Associate editor Dan Parr: I think Griffin III could be quite a bit more productive than Luck in 2012. His ability to make plays with his arm or his legs offers versatility that has to intrigue fantasy owners.
Senior editor Mike Wilkening: I’ll take Luck. I think he’ll go slightly later in drafts, but I think he’ll be the higher scorer. I think he runs for a handful of TDs, a la Aaron Rodgers, too.
PFW: Assuming Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald are off the board, who’s next on your draft board at wide receiver?
Arthur Arkush: Roddy White. Mark him down for 100 catches, 1,200 receiving yards and 10-plus TDs every year. With all the extra attention paid to Julio Jones, I’ll gladly swoop in for Matt Ryan’s go-to target in the red zone, and the Falcon with whom Ryan still has the best rapport.
Dan Arkush: Wow, that’s a tough one! Until I really looked at the group behind “Megatron” and “Fitz,” I didn’t realize just how big a drop-off there was in quality. I probably would go with either Andre Johnson, in the hope he can stay healthy, or Roddy White, who I don’t think has reached his ceiling just yet. I’ll tell you a real sleeper — how about Jordy Nelson, who for my money might be the league’s most dependable, productive pass catcher since he caught fire down the stretch in 2010 leading up to the Super Bowl? In our PFW draft board, he’s ranked 14th, six spots behind teammate Greg Jennings. At the very least, I’d have those guys switch places. I love Nelson. He is so much bigger and faster up close, which was the case when I visited the Packers’ training camp.
Eric Edholm: Toss-up between A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall. I love both players’ chances to be dominant this season. Green is special. He’s ready for monster numbers after emerging as the best young receiver since Johnson to enter the league. Marshall has been killing it in camp. He will go big again.
Kevin Fishbain: For one thing, that's not an enviable spot, in terms of wanting the No. 3 wideout, I'd almost just go get Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, or a back, then get a wideout next round. There are good options with plenty of more question marks than Megatron and Fitz. I would lean toward Roddy White. I know Julio Jones is the story of the preseason, but White is very reliable and maybe defenses will worry more about Jones, giving White better opportunities.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Victor Cruz. Love his situation, love his ability to chew up big yardage after the catch. But really, you could make a case for any number of guys: Andre Johnson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, even Jordy Nelson.
Mike Wilkening: I’d lean toward A.J. Green, but wideout is very deep this year, so those who wait on the position will probably still end up OK, too.
PFW: Which is your most underrated offense entering 2012, and which is your most overrated offense?
Arthur Arkush: The most underrated offense has to be the Bears. Sure, I’m concerned about the protection, but I think the reunion of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall results in career years for both players. Rookie Alshon Jeffery will surprise some people and Michael Bush represents a great insurance policy after stud Matt Forté. The most overrated offense is the Chargers. Losing Vincent Brown, arguably the team’s best receiver, is a major blow. So, too, is the loss of Ryan Mathews, which will make for tough sledding early in the season. I was on the Philip Rivers bounce-back bandwagon, but these injuries serve as a wet blanket.
Dan Arkush: As far as underrated offenses go, I think my pick would the Chiefs, with Jamaal Charles coming back after missing last season to team up in the backfield with Peyton Hillis, who I believe will benefit greatly from a change of scenery. Getting TE Tony Moeaki back also helps. In the overrated department, I’d flip a coin between the Chargers, who ranked sixth in total yardage last season, and the Raiders, who ranked ninth. I doubt either team will have a top 10 offense this season. I think the Chargers will miss Vincent Jackson, and I’m starting to think Ryan Mathews could be a real china doll. I think Carson Palmer will have more problems in his second season in Oakland than a lot of people think he will. Like Mathews, Raiders RB Darren McFadden’s injury history is a risk not worth taking.
Eric Edholm: For underrated offense, I would go with the Chiefs, Buccaneers or Vikings. They were all ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in yards and points a year ago but have better health, more talent and they expect improved QB play. For overrated, I would pick the Bills, Raiders and Texans. They each have a few key fantasy performers who will carry the units, but none of them are consistently explosive.
Kevin Fishbain: They certainly aren't underrated in Chicago, but nationally and from a fantasy perspective, the Bears could get a little more respect. Matt Forté is a No. 1 fantasy RB, Jay Cutler is a low-end starting QB who could have a monster season with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. I also think Michael Bush and Kellen Davis have some late-round intrigue. As for overrated, from a fantasy perspective, the Bills. Because they spread it out and have a lethal RB duo, it could be perceived that there are some fantasy sleepers on this team, but I see it as a lot of unknowns based on Ryan Fitzpatrick's play and who steps up as a No. 2 wideout. Aside from Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller (as a flex) there are no other Bills worthy of fantasy starting lineups in standard leagues.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Underrated: Kansas City. The Hillis-Charles combo offers a nice multidimensional one-two punch, Bowe-Baldwin is an intriguing WR combo, Moeaki and McCluster are interesting wild cards, the offensive line is solid, and Cassel … um, he isn't awful. Overrated: Atlanta. The passing game isn't as good as it's being made out to be.
Dan Parr: I could see the Browns' young guns being more effective than people think. As for an overrated offense, there is a ton of buzz about the Falcons, and I'm a believer when it comes to their skill-position players. However, I think some folks might be overlooking their offensive line, which could very well turn out to be average at best. The issues up front will have a limiting effect on the entire offense.
Mike Wilkening: My pick for underrated offense: Baltimore. I believe QB Joe Flacco will have a strong season. Also, the Ravens’ WR and TE talent is solid, too. And, of course, Ray Rice is one of the game’s top backs. My pick for overrated offense, from a fantasy perspective? I’ll go with Denver. Who’s to say the Broncos will be Colts West with Peyton Manning coming off the yearlong lay-off? I believe the Denver offense will have its moments, but I don’t think it will be dominant.
PFW: Which Chargers wideout do you like most: Robert Meachem, Vincent Brown or Malcom Floyd? (Note: Editors were asked this question before Brown suffered a broken ankle. Answers were left as is, with Brown potentially being a late-round or waiver-wire consideration.)
Arthur Arkush: I think Brown has the potential to be the best of the bunch. Of course, with him on the shelf for approximately the first half of the season, I lean toward Malcom Floyd, who has shown flashes of being a very good one.
Dan Arkush: I guess if I was forced to pick one of them, I would go with Meachem, who I always felt was a bit underutilized in New Orleans. But I really don’t like any of these guys for fantasy purposes since opportunities could be hard to come by with all the snap-sharing that will probably be going on.
Eric Edholm: I love Brown. He had an up-and-down rookie season, but I love the little bursts he showed, and the kid seems to have some maturity to his game. Meachem, for me, always has been a risky play: huge one week, disappears the next. Maybe that had a lot to do with the Saints’ hydra of an offense. But I see him as more of the explosive-play type with Brown and TE Antonio Gates doing more of the heavy lifting on a weekly basis.
Kevin Fishbain: I go into a fantasy football season focused on making the playoffs. Anything can happen by then. So guys with injury histories, like Malcom Floyd, don't scare me off as much. If he can get me 10-12 weeks of quality play to help put my team in playoff contention, so be it. Floyd has the most experience with Rivers and should get more targets with V-Jax gone.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Floyd has a hard time staying healthy, but he's the best of the bunch — an underrated receiver. Brown is intriguing. Don't write him off for this year even with the ankle injury — he'll be back. I'm not a Meachem fan. If he had stardom in him, he'd have gotten there by now.
Dan Parr: I'll be staying away from Brown in drafts after he suffered a fractured left ankle, and I wonder if it will take Meachem a little bit of time to get fully adjusted to a new offense and establish a connection with QB Philip Rivers. I like Floyd the most of the group. He could be a solid No. 4 receiver in most formats.
Mike Wilkening: I’ll say Floyd appeals to me most in the early part of the schedule, but Brown, if he recovers on schedule, could help fantasy teams down the stretch. If he goes undrafted, Brown is a player to keep tabs on and add a couple weeks before he returns to the field.
PFW: Which Saints back do you like most: Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas?
Arthur Arkush: Hard to go with anyone but Sproles here. He is a major weapon in the passing game and a home run waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. I didn’t see enough from Ingram as a rookie to be a believer and I think Thomas is a good back who could get lost in the shuffle of a loaded backfield.
Dan Arkush: This question is a lot easier to answer than the Chargers' WR question. I am a HUGE Darren Sproles fan because of the threat he offers both as a rusher and a receiver out of the backfield. The other two backs are pretty darn good in their own right, but Sproles shapes up as a more dangerous all-around threat in my mind.
Eric Edholm: I side with Sproles, although your chances of “stealing” him are not great. He’s still going high in drafts. Ingram worries me a little, fantasy-wise; I like the football player more than I do the fantasy performer. The same is most definitely true with Thomas. If I were a coach, I’d love him. As a fantasy owner, however, he’s average.
Kevin Fishbain: I'd have to go with Sproles, even though a) I don't expect him to put up last year's ridiculous numbers and b) I imagine the Saints want to get more out of Ingram. Sproles established a great rapport with Drew Brees and while the TD numbers weren't necessarily there, his production should be higher than his fellow New Orleans backs.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Sproles. Not sure if he will lead the New Orleans running backs in TDs, but I'd be surprised if he didn't lead the way in total yardage.
Dan Parr: Sproles gets the nod over Ingram, my second choice, on this one. I could see Sproles' numbers declining after having a career year in 2011, but he's still going to be heavily involved as a rusher and receiver. He makes the most plays of the three.
Mike Wilkening: Sproles likely will have the most fantasy value of the group. He has a defined role and should rack up more than 1,000 combined yards this season. Ingram and Thomas need to be on rosters, but I have to think they’re more “flex” considerations than anything else, and in smaller leagues, some owners may not even bother with that, considering how each back could cancel the other out.