• Inside the overall top-five the argument may not reside with who goes one, two or three, but rather who rounds out the field. Several candidates, including Marshawn Lynch, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Spiller and Alfred Morris are deserving of such a designation. Jamaal Charles, however, is increasingly becoming a near lock to join the elite, especially in PPR formats.
According to the Associated Press, the JC of KC is yielding heavenly results early in training camp, drawing a Brian Westbrook comparison from Andy Reid. His outstanding route-running ability, soft hands, shiftiness and drag-racer wheels are indeed reminiscent of the former fantasy monolith. Because Alex Smith doesn't have a reliable secondary option outside Dwayne Bowe and due to the passer's check-down tendencies, it appears likely Charles could establish a new career benchmark in total yards and receptions. Recall during Westbrook’s peak years from 2006-2008 he netted 17.2 fantasy points per game in standard formats (Much higher in PPR), a mark which would’ve ranked only behind Adrian Peterson among the RB ranks a season ago. McCoy was no slouch under Reid’s direction either.
The biggest question with Charles is predicting how many times he’ll cross the chalk. Not once in his four-year career has he reached double-digit scores. With rookie Knile Davis expected to act as the Chiefs’ closer and Reid’s affinity for passing inside the red-zone, it’s unlikely he’ll exceed 10 scores. Still, his anticipated mammoth total yardage – cracking the 2K mark isn’t unreasonable – could make up for the TD difference. Keep in mind his 5.79 yards per attempt is the highest in NFL history for a rusher with at least 300 carries, better than legends Barry Sanders, Jim Brown , Gale Sayers, Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson … everyone.
Running behind an above average offensive line and likely to carve out a weighty role within Reid’s West Coast Brand, bow down to JC.
• Anytime after the top-30 wide receivers fall off the draft board, make a date with Golden Tate (117.8 ADP, WR47). The receiver, who is the direct beneficiary of tragically hipped Percy Harvin, is wowing onlookers at ‘Hawks camp, routinely silencing Legion of Boom members Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. The Seattle Times called him “the most impressive player in training camp thus far.”
It only makes sense for Tate’s role to grow. Harvin’s primary work underneath is the same area of the field the ex-Golden Domer feels most comfortable. He’s essentially a running back functioning as a wide receiver. His 6.1 yards after contact per catch, which ranked top-10 among WRs last year, is indicative of his mean streak. In the bubble screen game, few are better.
So, exactly how far should you extend the go-go-gadget arm for his services?
At this juncture, he should be categorized alongside mid-level WR3s Danario Alexander, Mike Williams and Kenny Britt. Because Sidney Rice was recently spotted in Switzerland, not consuming chocolates or learning the art of yodeling but rather receiving an experimental knee treatment, and with Zach Miller increasingly looking like a long shot to suit up Week 1, it’s conceivable Tate finishes in the neighborhood of 65-75 receptions 900-1000 receiving yards with 5-7 TDs. Similar to last year, he may also chip in an additional 100-plus rushing yards. Reach a round or two early.
• Similar to Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zukhof, Bert and Ernie and Eddie Lacy and the entire Little Debbie catalog, David Wilson and Andre Brown could be one fantastic tag-team this year. The pair, tabbed ‘co-starters’ on the Giants’ initial depth-chart released Thursday, are expected to battle for the club’s lead gig, though a likely 60-40 or 50-50 split seems inevitable.
Admittedly, I’ve pulled no punches in my derision of Wilson in recent weeks. He’s a marvelous, explosive talent, but his lagging play as a receiver and pass protector hinders his overall potential, rendering his 33.0 (RB21) ADP pricey. Mule-stubborn Tom Coughlin simply won’t rely on a player who doesn’t execute the little things, no matter the talent level.
Everyone assumes Wilson is the superior talent, but he forced the same number of missed tackles (8) as Brown did on an almost identical number of carries last season. Brown is better at picking up the blitz, has more reliable hands and runs harder between the tackles. Roughly 1100-1200 yards are likely for the overhyped Wilson, but Brown, going some 50-60 picks later (81.0 ADP, RB34), should dominate goal-line looks. Roughly 8-10 scores and 850-1,000 total yards are in my fearless forecast. Early drafters, if you purposely dodge Darren Sproles, Le’Veon Bell or Lamar Miller for Wilson, thinking you just nabbed a top-10 RB, you’re chasing ghosts.
• Lost in the tight end carnage, Washington’s Fred Davis is quietly writing a stunning comeback story. Last week, The Washington Post gushed about his “recaptured speed and explosiveness,” adding he’s “run routes without limitation and gotten open, beating cover by linebacker and safeties.”
Remember two years ago, Davis developed into a quality pass-catcher. That season he hauled in just over 70-percent of targeted passes and was a challenge to take down, compiling 6.1 yards after catch per reception, the sixth-best output among tight ends with at least 50 snaps played per Pro Football Focus. Overall, his 59-796-3 output and resulting 8.1 fantasy points per game ranked No. 5 among tight ends. Quality.
More bright days could be on the horizon.
Outside Pierre Garcon, who is criminally underrated in his own right, the Redskins lack dependable targets. Former Saint Devery Henderson is a one-trick deep threat, Josh Morgan is a better blocker than pass-catcher, Santana Moss was born in the Pleistocene Epoch and Leonard Hankerson couldn’t catch rabies if a diseased fox bit him in the backside. With that in mind, Davis will be leaned upon.
Because Mike Shanahan is insistent on keeping RGIII upright and tied to the pocket, the miraculously healed passer will have to rely more on his arm to keep the chains moving. Garcon will be his primary weapon of choice, but given the tight end's wonderful size/speed combination, he’ll likely emerge as option No. 2. If there’s one late-round TE (147.1 ADP, TE15) who could vault into the position’s top-five, it’s Davis.
• This is the year Ryan Mathews breaks out another bone an obscene amount of times. New Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who just weeks ago sung the rusher's praises, appears to have changed his tune. According to San Diego sleuth Mike Gehlken of the Union-Tribume, McCoy recently hinted at implementing a multi-back system this season deploying Mathews on early run-oriented downs with Danny Woodhead, and occasionally Ronnie Brown, dominating pass/third-down work.
In PPR drafts, knock on Wood.
The plucky ex-Patriot is the appropriate Chargers back to target. He's clearly become the apple of Rivers' eye in training camp, catching everything in sight even, unusual for a RB, on fade routes. Based on reports, he's slated to become San Diego's version of Shane Vereen, a hybrid back who will be shifted all over the field in order to exploit favorable matchups against unsuspecting linebackers. Given the weaknesses of the Bolts' offensive line, his role as check-down du jour could yield a fantasy bounty. Without a doubt, he'll be indispensable in PPR settings, possibly finishing inside the RB top-24. McCoy's dink-and-dunk emphasis certainly plays to his favor. Recall last year he reeled in 40 catches with New England and averaged a robust 9.3 yards after catch per reception.
Touchdowns won't be scored in abundance, but a final tally in excess of 45-55 receptions, 1,000 total yards and 4-6 scores is certainly attainable. Alongside Pierre Thomas, Woodhead (ADP: 111.3, RB45; AAV: $1.2) is arguably the brightest diamond-in-the-rough around for PPR players.
Bull rush Brad on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here) and online at Yahoo! Sports (Watch here)