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   2001 Sneak Peek: AFC analysis:  Feb. 1, 2001
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2001 Sneak Peek: AFC analysis
By Adam Caplan
The Guru Report

 

The following article is simply an early reference point for the 2001 season, which is obviously in its preliminary stage. Each team's plans for the coming season depend heavily on free agency and the NFL draft.

AFC EAST
Buffalo Bills
QB - Rob Johnson remains the starter, but with his tendency to be injury-prone, he's just worthy of being a fantasy backup until he proves otherwise. Backup Doug Flutie may be a cap casualty soon.

RB - Starter Shawn Bryson didn't exactly establish himself in 2000, and the running back position remains one of serious question. Backup Antowain Smith is in the last year of his contract at over $1 million and isn't expected back. Backup Jonathan Linton is a restricted free agent. Look for the Bills to address this position in the draft or in free agency.

Eric Moulds
Wide Receiver
Buffalo Bills
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
16941326785
WR - Eric Moulds is an unrestricted free agent but will likely have the franchise tag slapped on him so he doesn't leave. However, a team like the Eagles would probably give up two first round picks, which is what it would cost if the Bills didn't match the offer. Peerless Price has been a disappointment so far. Jeremy McDaniel did a decent job in limited time and will likely challenge Price for a starting job next season.

TE - Starter Jay Riemersma's only problem has been staying healthy. He missed almost half of the 2000 season, but still put up decent numbers. Backups Bobby Collins and Sheldon Jackson are simply backups.

Indianapolis Colts
QB - Starter Peyton Manning came on late to have solid final numbers. Once he can find a decent, reliable second receiver, Manning could reach 35 touchdown passes. Kelly Holcomb remains his backup.

RB - The only debate here is who Edgerrin James' backup will be in 2001. As of now, Lennox Gordon and Kevin McDougal are the reserves.

Marvin Harrison
Wide Receiver
Indianapolis Colts
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
1610214138314
WR - Jerome Pathon came on late in the season to put up decent numbers as the starter opposite Marvin Harrison. However, he's hardly reliable. Terrence Wilkins is best used in a situational role and the oft-injured E. G. Green is a restricted free agent.

TE - Starter Ken Dilger had a solid season but faded late. His backup, Marcus Pollard, is an unrestricted free agent.

Miami Dolphins
QB - Jay Fiedler is the incumbent, and Damon Huard remains his backup. Fielder, when healthy, is a fantasy backup at best.

Lamar Smith
Running Back
Miami Dolphins
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
1630911396714
RB - One of the biggest surprises in 2000 was Lamar Smith. He returns for the 2001 season as the starter, and there is no reason to believe he can't repeat or come close to last year's numbers. J.J. Johnson and Autry Denson are the backups.

WR - The only receiver who will be back for sure is Oronde Gadsden. Veteran Tony Martin is likely to be a cap casualty. Head coach Dave Wannstedt said he wants veteran O.J. McDuffie back in 2001. Leslie Shepherd, Lamar Thomas and Bert Emanuel are all unrestricted free agents. Look for the team to address this position early in the draft.

TE - The team is high on young Jed Weaver, and they think he can develop into a decent starter. As for his fantasy prospects, he's still a backup.

New York Jets
QB - New head coach Herman Edwards said Vinny Testaverde will enter training camp as the starter, but he will make it an open competition. Keep in mind Testaverde was hurt most of last season, so he's likely to be ready to have a much better season in 2001. Ray Lucas is an unrestricted free agent and isn't expected back, leaving Chad Pennington as the likely backup. New offensive coordinator Paul Hackett is a West Coast Offense guy, so it may not be bombs away.

Curtis Martin
Running Back
New York Jets
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
163161204709
RB - Starter Curtis Martin will be the man for the next few seasons and despite all the carries, hasn't shown to be wearing down a bit. Starting FB Richie Anderson proved to be a decent third fantasy back at times but that will likely change with a new offensive coordinator.

WR - Starter Wayne Chrebet proved that he's not a No. 1 receiver and is best suited for the No. 2 role. The Jets have to either draft one or sign a free agent who can take pressure off Chrebet. Laveranues Coles had his moments until a late season knee injury limited his progress. He remains a player to watch in 2001. Starter Dedric Ward could be affected by a West Coast Offense and is only a marginal fantasy receiver to begin with. Windrell Hayes remains a project at this point.

TE - Hackett is likely to use the tight ends much more than his predecessor, Dan Henning. Look for starter Anthony Becht to get more looks in 2001.

New England Patriots
QB - Starter Drew Bledsoe was under siege all season, due to a weak offensive line. He needs offensive line help and should get it in this year's draft. He'll be a marginal fantasy starter until his offensive line does a better job of blocking.

RB - This position remains a weakness. The club tried three players at the position but none of them was able to establish himself as the starter. J.R. Redmond did a decent job when he was healthy, but he did little to dispel the injury-prone tag he had in college. Kevin Faulk is best used in a third down role, and Patrick Pass isn't a starter in any situation. Keep in mind the team will bring Robert Edwards (knee) to camp if he's ready. It's still up in the air what they will do in free agency, or in the draft, for this position.

Terry Glenn
Wide Receiver
New England Patriots
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
1678947556
WR - Starter Terry Glenn got a huge contract but produced little numbers in 2000. He's a No. 2 fantasy receiver at best in 2001. Fellow starter Troy Brown put up decent numbers but isn't a fantasy starter unless you start three receivers. Backup Tony Simmons is likely a goner in 2001. Deep backups Shockmain Davis and Dane Looker could get more playing time next season. Look for the team to address this position early in the draft.

TE - Jermaine Wiggins came on late in the season after the Jets let him go on waivers. He'll likely enter as the starter in training camp, and he could be a decent spot starter for your fantasy squad.

AFC Central
Baltimore Ravens
QB - Starter Trent Dilfer is an unrestricted free agent and may not return as the starter. The hot rumor has Brad Johnson signing there. Chris Redman is a few years away from challenging for the starting job. Tony Banks is signed, but the club reportedly has an option on his contract.

RB - Starter Jamal Lewis should be the man for the next five to seven years. Backup Priest Holmes is an unrestricted free agent.

WR - Brandon Stokley surpassed starter Patrick Johnson on the depth chart in the playoffs and could be the No. 3 WR in 2001. Johnson is a restricted free agent. Starter Qadry Ismail should benefit from a better QB. Travis Taylor is coming off of a broken collar bone but should resume his starting job next season.

Shannon Sharpe
Tight End
Baltimore Ravens
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
1667810475
TE - Starter Shannon Sharpe is still putting up solid numbers after being in the league as long as he has. Backup Ben Coates is an unrestricted free agent.

Cincinnati Bengals
QB - New offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said recently that he thinks he can get former first round pick Akili Smith on the right track. We'll see. Smith is still a fantasy backup,at best, even if he starts next season. Veteran Scott Mitchell is an unrestricted free agent.

RB - Starter Corey Dillon is a restricted free agent. There is probably about a 75 percent chance that the team will match any offer Dillon gets. Backups Brandon Bennett, Michael Basnight and Curtis Keaton are all signed, and each would compete for the starting job if Dillon left.

Corey Dillon
Running Back
Cincinnati Bengals
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
163151435847
WR - There is no guarantee that starter Darnay Scott (leg) will be ready for training camp. If the team doesn't improve at the QB position, Peter Warrick's numbers won't improve much. Danny Farmer will challenge for a starting job if Scott isn't ready.

TE - Tony McGee and Marco Battaglia remain fantasy backups.

Cleveland Browns
QB - Starter Tim Couch returns after thumb surgery. His backups are Doug Pederson, Ty Detmer, and Spergon Wynn. Detmer is coming off of Achilles surgery. Once the team gets its coaching staff together, more will be known about what to expect from Couch.

Errict Rhett
Running Back
Cleveland Browns
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
1671258150
RB - There is a rumor floating that the team is prepared to offer free agent Corey Dillon to be the highest paid RB in the NFL. If so, he will go to a team with a terrible offensive line. Until then, Errict Rhett, who is coming off of a broken foot, and Travis Prentice will battle for the starting job.

WR - Starter Kevin Johnson had a terrible 2001 season after a great rookie season. With Couch healthy, however, his numbers will improve. JaJuan Dawson is coming off an injury and will compete for a starting job against Dennis Northcutt and David Patten, if he re-signs. Patten an unrestricted free agent. My money is on Dawson to start opening day if he's healthy. He looked great in preseason and won the starting job, only to get hurt shortly thereafter.

TE - Aaron Shea did a decent job as a starter and is worthy of being a fantasy starter at times in 2001. Backup O.J. Santiago is an unrestricted free agent. Mark Campbell remains Shea's backup.

Jacksonville Jaguars
QB - The team is pushing for starter Mark Brunell to get his contract redone, as their cap number is huge for 2001. Jaime Martin is his backup. Brunell remains a spot fantasy starter. He's still one of the most overrated fantasy players.

RB - Once again, starter Fred Taylor is one of the best fantasy backs when healthy. Backup Anthony Johnson is an unrestricted free agent.

Jimmy Smith
Wide Receiver
Jacksonville Jaguars
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
16911213718
WR - Starter Keenan McCardell is rumored to be a cap casualty soon. If so, they may likely tab Alvis Whitted as his replacement. Starter Jimmy Smith remains as one of the best fantasy receivers. Rookie RJ Soward was a bust and could be released next season.

TE - Starter Kyle Brady had his moments but really is a marginal starting fantasy tight end. His backup, Damon Jones, is coming off major knee surgery.

Pittsburgh Steelers
QB - It appears starter Kordell Stewart has staved off the team trading for a veteran such as Trent Green, for now. Nevertheless, Stewart is only a spot starter for your fantasy team in 2001. He will be working with his third offensive coordinator in the past four years. Backup Kent Graham had shoulder surgery and may not be back, as he's due over $1 million next season.

Jerome Bettis
Running Back
Pittsburgh Steelers
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
163541330788
RB - Starter Jerome Bettis is an unrestricted free agent, but the team wants him back and he wants to return. Richard Huntley, who couldn't stay healthy last season, remains his backup.

WR - Starter Hines Ward is a restricted free agent, and the team does want him back. Starter Courtney Hawkins is an unrestricted free agent and isn't likely to return. Backups Bobby Shaw and Will Blackwell are restricted free agents. Shaw is likely to return. Rookie Plaxico Burress started out as a bust, then suffered a broken wrist. He'll challenge for a starting job if he's healthy, though. Backup Troy Edwards turned out to be a product of Gary Crowton and isn't a lock to be on the roster next season. The former Bear offensive coordinator had coached him in college, and it showed last season.

TE - New offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey said he wants to get starter Mark Bruener the ball more and he plans to increase the numbers of looks Bruener gets.

tennessee Titans
QB - Starter Steve McNair was beat up for most of the season, as were his receivers. McNair, despite his hype, is a marginal starting fantasy quarterback. Neil O'Donnell remains his backup.

RB - Not much to say here, as Eddie George continues to impress and not wear down, despite the number of carries he gets from game to game. His backup remains Rodney Thomas.

WR - There were times this season when the team had only one or two healthy receivers. Highly paid free agent Carl Pickens was hurt for most of the season, as was the oft-injured Yancey Thigpen. Starter Kevin Dyson suffered a torn ACL early on.
Frank Wycheck
Tight End
Tennessee Titans
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
1671654384
Derrick Mason, who took over as a starter early on, had a breakout season and is an unrestricted free agent. The team would like to re-sign him, but they have cap problems. The Eagles are reportedly interested in him.

TE - Frank Wycheck remains as one of the best fantasy tight ends. His backup is Erron Kinney.

AFC West
Denver Broncos
QB - Starter Brian Griese just had shoulder surgery and won't be able to throw for a while. He is a restricted free agent. Griese said he wants to re-sign with the team, and he will. Backup Gus Frerotte is also a restricted free agent. Griese, if he can stay healthy, is capable of throwing over 30 touchdowns.

RB - All three backs are signed for 2001, but only two will likely be on the roster. Terrell Davis is coming off of an injured leg but is expected to start running soon. He'll start opening day. Backup's Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary, however, are another story. There is a strong possibility that Anderson could be moved to fullback. Gary is coming off of ACL surgery and could be traded if he's healthy.

Rod Smith
Wide Receiver
Denver Broncos
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
161001602948
WR - Starters Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith remain the best combo in the AFC. The team continues to search for capable backups.

TE - Starter Dwayne Carswell is really just a blocker. Backup Byron Chamberlain is an unrestricted free agent. Head coach Mike Shanahan told me late last spring that backup Desmond Clark is going to be a starter some day. Clark's day in the sun may come in 2001.

Kansas City Chiefs
QB - Starter Elvis Grbac is due a $10 million roster bonus on March 1 and the team is trying to get him to re-do his deal. Look for them to come to a resolution next month that keeps him on the team for year's to come. New offensive coordinator Al Saunders said he will run an aggressive offense with a lot of passing, which should keep Grbac's fantasy numbers close to the top five again in 2001. Todd Collins is his backup.

RB - You'll likely see the Chief's perennial "running back by committee" end in 2001. New head coach Dick Vermeil favors one back who can carry the load. The candidates for the starting nod are currently Mike Cloud and Frank Moreau. Tony Richardson may be moved back to fullback. Also, the feeling is that they will try to sign a free agent or draft a running back high in this year's draft. Don't rule out them trading for Ricky Watters or signing him if the Seahawks cut him. Going after Corey Dillon remains a very slight possibility.

Derrick Alexander
Wide Receiver
Kansas City Chiefs
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
167813918110
WR - Starters Derrick Alexander and Sylvester Morris should improve on last year's numbers. Morris could benefit the most in the new wide open passing game. Backup Kevin Lockett is an unrestricted free agent.

TE - Tony Gonzalez has become the best fantasy tight end in a short period of time. Backup's Troy Drayton and Jason Dunn are unrestricted free agents.

Oakland Raiders
QB - Starter Rich Gannon had a career year and should be able to put up similar numbers in 2001. Bobby Hoying remains the backup.

RB - Starter Tyrone Wheatley had a decent year, but not as good as many thought he would. Napoleon Kaufman remains his backup.

Tim Brown
Wide Receiver
Oakland Raiders
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
167611286611
WR - Starter Tim Brown should have Andre Rison back. Although Rison is an unrestricted free agent head coach Jon Gruden said he wants the veteran receiver to return. James Jett is an unrestricted free agent and isn't expected to be re-signed. Look for Jerry Porter to challenge for the third-receiver spot. That is, unless the team signs Jerry Rice, which remains a possibility.

TE - Starter Ricky Dudley is an unrestricted free agent and is coming off of a poor season. If he doesn't re-sign, Jeremy Brigham could start.

San Diego Chargers
QB - There is a strong possibility that all three QB's on the roster right now might not be on there come June 1. Ryan Leaf is expected to be released after the team drafts Michael Vick to take his place. Veteran Jim Harbaugh is an unrestricted free agent and Moses Moreno is a restricted free agent. The rumor is that if the Cowboys release Troy Aikman he would be reunited with new Chargers' offensive coordinator Norv Turner for a few seasons until Vick is ready to play. Turner should help the offense immediately.

RB - It's anyone's guess what Turner will do at running back. He's currently reviewing tape, but it's obvious Terrell Fletcher, Robert Chancey or Jermaine Fazande aren't the answer. Look for the Chargers to draft a running back early this year.

WR - This is actually the only position on offense the Chargers don't need help in. Starter's Curtis Conway
Freddie Jones
Tight End
San Diego Chargers
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMRECYDS AVGTDS
1671766455
and Jeff Graham will do well with better quarterbacking. Trevor Gaylor will compete for playing time next season against Reggie Jones if he re-signs. Gaylor a restricted free agent.

TE - Just imagine how good starter Freddie Jones will be when he has a better quarterback throwing to him.

Seattle Seahawks
QB - It's obvious that head coach Mike Holmgren will do something about this position as he has hinted as much all season. Jon Kitna is an unrestricted free agent and might not be back. Holmgren wanted to give Brock Huard a strong look last season but he couldn't stay healthy. Look for Holmgren to make a trade offer for Packers' backup QB Matt Hasselbeck, who he reportedly offered multiple first round picks for last season. Green Bay turned that offer down but they probably wouldn't this time. However, Seattle probably would only part with one of their two first round picks to get him. The other possibilities are they may make an offer for Rams backup QB Trent Green or Redskins QB Brad Johnson, who is a restricted free agent.

Ricky Watters
Running Back
Seattle Seahawks
 
2000 SEASON STATISTICS
GMATTYDSAVGTDS
162781242737
RB - Starter Ricky Watters didn't attend the last team meeting because he thinks Holmgren will hand Shaun Alexander the starting job next season. Holmgren added he still wants Watters back for the last year of his contract. Look for Watters to be traded or released. The Chiefs, Patriots and Bears could be potential suitors.

WR - Seattle lacks speed at the position and will look to get some in the draft or free agency. Starter Sean Dawkins could be a cap casualty. Derrick Mayes flopped after his strong 1999 campaign. The only bright spot was Darrell Jackson and he'll likely be a starter next season. James Williams and Karsten Bailey will compete for playing time next season.

TE - The only two names worth mentioning are Christian Fauria and Itula Mili. Mili is a restricted free agent but could be re-signed. Fauria will likely enter training camp as the starter. He's a marginal fantasy starter at this point.

To subscribe to The Guru Report's FREE offseason e-newsletter, head to www.fantasyguru.com/football.

Also See
• 2001 Sneak Peek: NFC analysis

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