Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. The Eagles are my and most people’s favorites to win the NFC in 2011. This is largely due to the ABSURD amount of talent added in free agency over the past week, which includes Ronnie Brown, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC), Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin. Jenkins is a wall of a defensive tackle with a particular talent for getting his hands up into the passing lanes and batting down short passes (he holds the Green Bay Franchise record for this statistic in a single season by a D-lineman with 9 in the 2007 season). Rodgers-Cromartie is a very solid Cornerback that has been getting better each year since drafted 16th overall in 2008. He has made a name for himself by coming up with big plays in crucial situations, namely a 99 yard INT return for a touchdown against the Rams in his rookie season which secured the division title for the Cards. Jason Babin was also brought back to Philly this offseason through free agency off the heels of a 12.5 sack season in 2010. The least attractive addition to the roster for the Eagles is the most recent, Ronnie Brown. Don’t get me wrong, Brown makes the team better and will probably handle short yardage and goal line touches. But, with all the blockbuster players picked up on defense, its easy to barely acknowledge this one. Lastly, the biggest surprise acquisition for Andy Reid’s ball club was Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha is in most people’s eyes the 2nd best cornerback in the entire league. With three cornerbacks that are talented enough to be the top guy on any team in the league and a formidable pass rush the Eagles defense is, on paper, the best in the NFL for the upcoming 2011 season. It is difficult to see what could stand in the way of this team’s success apart from a slew of injuries.
If we set aside all the off-field issues and pretend that Britt would play in all 16 games, I would have him as a top 15 wide receiver this season. Now he will be facing some disciplinary actions and I expect him to see a four game suspension and have it reduced down to two. He was not likely to crack my top 20 at WR given Jake Locker looked to be the starting QB for this seasuon but now that Matthew Hasselbeck is in Tennessee, Britt has a QB that can accurately and reliably hit an open receiver. Last season, when Britt was on the field, he looked like a man among boys in what was otherwise a very pedestrian passing attack. Britt got hurt in week 8 and did not return until week 14, but despite missing all this time to injury, he still amassed 775 yards and 9 TDs. Most impressive to me was how much more successful the Titans were with him on the field. The first 7 games of the season were all played with Britt in the lineup and the Titans were sitting at 5-2. Starting the week that Britt got hurt, the Titans slid on a 6 game losing streak. This was more to do with poor QB play from Rusty Smith and Kerry Collins, but Britt is by far the best receiving threat the Titans have on their roster and defenses are forced to keep 8 in the box in an effort to contain Chris Johnson.
The Cards were in a tough spot this offseason. They wanted to do everything they could to make Larry Fitzgerald happy, so that he would not leave the team after the 2011 season. In order to do that, they needed to get him a QB. The draft did not provide this for them, but a trade with Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb did. He cost them Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a 2nd round pick, but you don’t often get a potential franchise QB cheap, so it was worth the risk. DRC was expendable after the drafting of Patrick Peterson and in the sub-par NFC West; the Cards are playoff contenders again.
I don’t think the Vikings are going to be in the running for the division title, but with Adrian Peterson carrying the load and a solid defense to keep the offense on the field, McNabb is able to prove that he was not the problem in Washington last season. Losing Sidney Rice hurts but with Roy Williams, Johnny Knox and Devin Hester at receiver, McNabb has a better receiving corp than many of his pro bowl seasons in Philly. Fantasy owners shouldn’t expect McNabb to be more than a QB2, but Vikings fans can be happy to have someone who can potentially take them back to the playoffs.
If you are familiar with me, you know I am a big Bills fan. I might be just excited for my team here, but Buffalo made two very nice acquisitions this week in Free Agency. Unfortunately, Buffalo lost Paul Posluszny early in the Free Agency period to Jacksonville, but Pos is a better 4-3 middle linebacker than he is ILB in the 3-4 and since the Bills are still adjusting their personnel to suit the new scheme, this won’t likely hurt too bad. Especially after drafting Kelvin Sheppard and signing Nick Barnett, they should be okay at ILB. The Bills are also set up to take serious advantage of the new 3rd-QB rule, or lack there-of. Buffalo took an explosive playmaker from their division-rival New York Jets when they signed Brad Smith. Smith can now be placed at the 46th roster spot (3rd QB) and take snaps from under center. Previously, using your 3rd QB before the 4th quarter meant that your 1st and 2nd string QB’s could not re-enter the game. Buffalo needs excitement brought back to their football team badly and even the idea of CJ Spiller and Brad Smith in a Wildcat formation is pretty darn exciting. I expect Buffalo to remain a losing football team next season, especially since they are still in the AFC East, but look for a lot more big plays and fantasy points in 2011.
After Hasselbeck left town for Tennessee, Tavaris Jackson signed a deal to reunite him with his old offensive coordinator in Seattle. There will be some competition between Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, but my guess is that his understanding of the offense and his relationship with fellow former Viking and newly acquired Seahawk Sidney Rice makes Jackson the heavy favorite to win the starting job. Throw in the addition of Zach Miller to the receiving corp for good measure and now Seattle might actually have an offense. Jackson has a lot of talent and play-making ability so if he was able to work on his down field accuracy and pocket-presence, he may be able to resurrect his career with this opportunity. In my eyes, it comes down to how consistent Marshawn Lynch can be to take the pressure off the passing game.