Dec 4, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) goes for 7 yards on a catch against the Minnesota Vikings in the first quarter at the Metrodome. The Broncos win 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Early NFL Fantasy Watch: Hot and Not?

Since there are many Fantasy Football folks out there (including myself) I figured I’d share my early impressions. These are just guys to keep an eye on, not to target yet. Most fantasy drafts are still months away, but it’s never too early to know who to watch out for. Here’s what I have so far, and in no particular order while we wait for the hype later about Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers. Since Rivers lost V-Jax he’ll have to throw to someone, and other fantasy owners know it so they’ll probably be watching as well.

Remember, he does have a near 1,000-yard receiving year behind him (980 as a rookie with Cutler throwing), and his QB for most of last year was either really really bad at throwing the ball or Tim Tebow.

Robert Meachem may muddy the picture, so don’t forget to watch and compare and contrast each against the other to get a feel for how the ball is being spread between them and how things are trending. His career high is 722 yards after 5 seasons, so Royal’s the one with the upside left between the two.

I don’t think the Chargers will hit the WR spot with their first-rounder with their needs and a deep draft class at the position. Watch everyone’s draft, of course.

Now is a good time to bring up Sabremetrics. If you’re seriously into Fantasy Football (I’m not), you might want to start looking at them. I’m just now getting an interest in it myself, and they’ve got some oddball but very telling statistics.

Perhaps consider comparing things like times targeted, downs played, targets on 3rd down, targets in red zone, etc. You can find pretty much whatever you want (and a ton of stuff you don’t) if you dig enough.

It’s interesting in any case. Another thing to consider, or not, as you prefer. Ignore it at your own peril.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions. Jahvid Best now actually falls into the same category since he went from I think a 2nd round pick 2 years ago to unreliable due to a series of concussions. That will keep him in this category until fantasy draft day pending the real one coming up.

Best’s value is precarious, and can only fall. Ignore any reports by doctors or Javhid’s being “confident” he can return, he’s damaged goods and will be until he proves otherwise now.

Fellow RB Mikel LeShoure is getting busted for pot nearly as often as Snoop Dogg, and there aren’t really any other options. The Lions have multiple needs elsewhere (CB, LB, OT) to spend another 2nd-rounder on a RB even if he hangs out at Onterrio Smith’s crib.

Listen out for anything regarding how well/poorly Smith is keeping in shape especially and any talk about Detroit’s backfield in general. If they don’t make any major preseason additions, LeShoure might be worth something after his suspensions whatever they are/will be.

Chad Henne, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars. With Gabbert around, it’s probably only a matter of time before Henne’s jumping him on the depth chart. It isn’t that Henne is that good, it’s that Gabbert has the ceiling of John Beck.

Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans. Still a mystery to us all, but Tennessee drafted him for a reason. They’re apparently following a plan, and it may or may not include starting Locker this fall. I would think it would, given NFL history. You don’t normally sit a rookie QB more than a year before he’s supposed to take things over if he’s taken in the draft that high.

For him, keep your eyes and ears peeled for everything and anything you can find out, or talk about the Titans’ QB situation in general. Hasselbeck is a decent veteran to start but he’s not ever going to carry an offense. We’ll probably find out if Locker is that guy this season, and that won’t change.

Zac Efron, TE, Miami Dolphins. Zac has a very Kurt Warner-ish backstory, but ran a 4.43 at the BYU Pro Day with a 39 vertical and a 10’3″ broad at 240 pounds. I don’t see how they can’t keep him as the 3rd TE on their roster when your best is Anthony Fasano.

If Efron seriously makes the final roster, draft him in the last round of your draft. Never ever draft a kicker, you can pick them up off waivers in most leagues just fine anytime.

Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Everyone knows of the V-Jax acquisition and figures rising 3rd-year pro Arrelious Benn would step up to the #2. Well..he has never lived up to the hype. Not even 500 yards worth either season.

Briscoe had 6 TDs last year, Benn has 5 over 2 seasons, and has yet to play a full 16 game slate which Dezmon did last year. 3 of Briscoe’s 6 TDs were in his last 3 games.

I’d keep an eye on that kid.

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