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Randall Cobb Has Star Qualities but is Not a Good Fantasy Pickup Yet

Randall Cobb was a revelation for the Green Bay Packers Thursday night. Playing his first career game, the rookie second-round pick out of Kentucky scored two touchdowns. He tied an NFL record by returning a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, somehow managing to avoid touching the ground when he was almost certainly down. That kickoff return for was one of the difference-makers because it turned the contest into a two-score game.

Cobb also scored late in the first quarter on a short in from the slot. He took the pass, made a sweet move on the safety, and then laid down a stiff arm before diving into the end zone. Cobb played great and he was a big reason the Packers won the game. He certainly is talented, but don’t let the praise he’s received a day later persuade you to grab him off your waiver wire.

Cobb isn’t one of Green Bay’s regular receivers. He only caught two passes in the game. Greg Jennings is their top target, Jermichael Finley and Jordy Nelson are generally the next options, and Donald Driver is also ahead of him on the depth chart. That doesn’t even count receivers James Jones and Tom Crabtree who enter the game when Green Bay really wants to spread things out. Recognizing that Cobb is extremely talented, the Packers may utilize him more as the season goes on but don’t get carried away after one game; Cobb is a really good player, but he likely won’t be a fantasy asset this season.

NFL Orders Teams to Show Fantasy Football Stats on Scoreboards at Stadiums

Still not convinced that fantasy football has taken over the universe? Here at LBS we have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks bringing you hardcore fantasy analysis, and that is because people crave it.  Fantasy football is an addiction — one that has turned a sport that we already obsess over into an even more important aspect of our lives.

The NFL understands how popular fantasy football has become this decade, and while it has contributed to increased interest in the league there is also some concern that it — along with high definition TV, NFL Sunday Ticket, and advanced home theater — could make fans want to stay home on game day.  That is why the NFL has mandated that all teams must show individual player fantasy statistics on stadium scoreboards this season.

“The reason is simple,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the USA Today. “In today’s struggling economy, the NFL is worried fans will watch games free at home rather (than) shelling out cash for tickets, parking, food, and beer at stadiums. We know we have to continue to do more to keep fans coming to our games. We’re looking at ways to further replicate the at-home experience in the stadium.”

People can always track stats on their phones, so I doubt wondering how your fantasy football team is doing would be enough to keep a person home.  Still, the NFL is obviously worried about where technology is heading.  With the way ticket and concession prices are climbing and the in-home experience is improving, they have every reason to be.

Chest bump to Shutdown Corner for the story.

How I Drafted the Worst Fantasy Football Team in the League

“Dear Mr. Fantasy, play me a tune, something to make us all happy.” With apologies to Traffic, I imagine Steve Winwood was not singing about my latest foray into fantasy football; and, if he was, the tune was discordant, and the only people being made happy are the eleven other teams by whom I’m planning on being massacred this season.

Yes, fantasy football is big business in this country. You can probably find more people who take part in this venture than folks who voted for Cher in the recent Presidential election, and that’s saying something. Let me preface this rant by saying I used to be a regular purveyor of fantasy sports, part of an alliance of people in this country who spend one to two days out of the week each fall bellowing at the television like a yak (while possessing hygiene on par with that brand of bovine) because their wide receiver’s YAC is not up to par.

I vehemently resisted the clarion call to return to fantasy football for six full years, instead turning my undervalued attention to opining on sports. When it became patently obvious that I spent just as much time and lost as much money doing the latter, I returned to my roots (which coincidentally involve pulling them out of my head as well). And, as an ode to my storied heritage, Team Deja Jew was born, with the king of schmaltz, Fyvush Finkel, starring as my emoticon. What follows is the first-person account of the harrowing journey that was draft day …

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Brandon Marshall, Lance Moore, Nate Burleson Highlight Undervalued Receivers

We have provided you plenty of fantasy football advice leading up to the start of the season. We’ve recommended two groups of running backs, a few different quarterbacks, and some tight ends. Now here are a few wide receivers who are being undervalued in fantasy drafts (they’re going lower than where they’ll finish the season).

Brandon Marshall is known for being a troublemaker, not to mention his recent borderline personality diagnosis. I suppose he always carries the risk that he could bail on a season Randy Moss-style, but I just don’t see that happening. Here’s the deal: Marshall has been ranked lowly by a few fantasy sources and can be had for a cheap price. I recently took him in the sixth round of a draft and believe he’ll provide fourth round production.

There are two reasons Marshall has been ranked lowly by fantasy outlets. One, his numbers last year were not very good (86 catches, 1,014 yards, three touchdowns). Two, his quarterback is Chad Henne. While Henne certainly limits his upside with the Dolphins (don’t expect 1,400 yards or double-digit touchdowns), Marshall had respectable numbers despite playing in 14 games. Give him a full season and you can expect something like 95 catches, 1,100 yards, and six touchdowns. Marshall won’t knock your socks off, but he’s a fourth-round player you can get in the fifth or sixth round of some drafts.

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Rob Gronkowski, Jared Cook, and Lance Kendricks Emerging as Sleeper Tight Ends

As we get closer to the start of the NFL season, we’ll continue to provide you fantasy football advice. We’ve given you tips on a few different running backs and quarterbacks thus far, and now it’s time for a few sleeper tight ends to keep your eye on.

Rob Gronkowski is a player I’ve targeted in each one of my drafts. Gronk was one of the two tight ends the Patriots selected early in the draft last season and he had a dynamite rookie season. He caught 42 passes for 546 yards and an impressive 10 touchdowns. More importantly for fantasy purposes, most of his stats came in the second half of the year as he became more comfortable in the offense. 28 of his 42 catches and seven of his 10 touchdowns came in the second half.

Reports have said Gronkowski was dominant throughout training camp and unguardable in the red zone. Tom Brady will rely on Gronk and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez as some of his best weapons in the passing game. Gronkowski’s yardage numbers might not be great, but if the guy gives you 12 or more touchdowns, you can’t go wrong.

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Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan Poised for Breakout Seasons

You know LB likes to drop in some fantasy advice when it comes up, and he’s already done so recommending a few running backs. Now it’s time to recommend a few quarterbacks who are going to take that next step to the elite level.

It goes without saying that Aaron Rodgers is a stud. So are Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Michael Vick (though Vick is more risky). Peyton Manning is elite but his neck injury is a concern for me (he should be humming by week four or five). Tony Romo and Matt Schaub ordinarily round out the top group of fantasy quarterbacks, but I think two more will join them this year: Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan.

You know I’ve been all about Matthew Stafford since the draft when he dominated the Wonderlic. His explosive preseason has done nothing to quiet my praise that began a few weeks ago. Stafford has gone 24-31 for 356 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions during the preseason. His numbers remind me of what Aaron Rodgers did in the 2009 preseason. In his second year as a full-time starter, Rodgers went 29-41 for 465 yards, six touchdowns and no picks in the preseason. He went on to destroy the league for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns — his best statistical year. Saying Stafford will put up those numbers is asking a lot, but there is little doubt he’s going to become a star this year.

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Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno Receiving Rave Reviews

When players receive constant praise and recognition during training camp, it generally is an antecedent to a successful season. Running backs Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, and Knowshon Moreno fit that bill, so they’ve turned me into believers.

Darren McFadden has missed some of training camp because of a fractured orbital bone, but when he’s practiced he’s turned heads. Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald recently wrote that it “Doesn’t matter how much [McFadden] practices. No one else close.” Oakland offensive coordinator Al Saunders said McFadden was in the same class as Priest Holmes, Marshall Faulk, and Marcus Allen. Head coach Hue Jackson has said McFadden is one of the most complete and elite runners in the NFL. When that many sources agree on something, it generally means something.

Rashard Mendenhall hasn’t received the same amount of praise as McFadden, but he’s received extremely positive reviews. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he thought Mendenhall still had room to grow even with his successful past two seasons. Running backs coach Kirby Wilson says there’s nothing Mendenhall can’t do and that he has a bright future. National writer Dan Pompei says Mendenhall “showed up to camp in ‘wow’ shape.” He also says that Mendenhall is more comfortable now that he’s in his fourth year with the team. Pompei says Mendenhall is out to make people recognize him for his play, not his bin Laden comments.

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