Fantasy Football Cut-N-Go: Wes Welker Continues His Speedy Recovery
Masslive.com reports that, without missing a beat, New England wide receiver Wes Welker resumed full-contact 11-on-11 drills at practice Thursday after coming off the PUP list just last Sunday. By all accounts, Welker looked great and "popped" up quickly from a couple of big hits by teammate Jerod Mayo.
From a fantasy perspective, this means a few things. Obviously, you can put a check mark by Welker's name on your draft-day cheat sheet, as he looks like a steal at this point. He has outpaced expectations at every stage of his recovery process. Hence, it's safe to expect a start come Week 1, yet he will remain available at a bargain price due to the "injury" label.
Secondarily, Tom Brady's stock elevates materially with each step Welker takes toward getting back to 100 percent. Brady should have a big season regardless, given his improved offensive tools, but Wes Welker remains a very key component to the Brady offense. Welker's ability to provide the outlet option for Brady almost serves as a second running game. He has that rare talent for finding the open space over the middle and on short routes that you cannot simply replace with another good athlete. There's a reason why Welker catches so many passes; he gets thrown to a lot (162 targets in 2009, 150 targets in 2008).
Finally, I think this works out to be a modest positive for Randy Moss. The New England running game doesn't earn enough respect these days; without Welker, Moss would get way too much attention. Sure, it reduces his looks to an extent, but Moss' best days with the Pats come with Welker in the game.
In Other Fantasy Relevant News:
• Via the ubiquitous Adam Schefter on Twitter, the spark-plug of the Denver defense, Elvis Dumervil, tore his pectoral muscle and will miss at least four months, and more likely the season. Denver looks to be in crisis mode and at this point, you can forget anything you've heard about their D/ST as a fantasy option. Without Dumervil, that explosive pass rush is just average and the rest of the defense already had holes.
• The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Roger Goodell explained to reporters that Ben Roethlisberger will serve a minimum of a four-game suspension as opposed to the six that was previously expected. Goodell expressed that Roethlisberger has been going above and beyond expectations, and that "he's been doing great." This bodes well for Big Ben, but from a fantasy perspective, he should be available on the waiver wire at Week 4 or Week 6. There's no need to draft him.
• According to the Nashville Tennessean, Kenny Britt got stopped for driving with a bad license and was issued a misdemeanor citation, which is his second traffic violation issue this offseason. While this does not directly spell trouble for Britt, it does spell "moron." I love Kenny Britt on the field, but I'm not buying, as nothing is more frustrating than players who blunder their careers with off-the-field issues.
• Mike Triplett tweeported that Pierre Thomas is already back at practice and "made a nifty shoestring catch." This is the kind of non-event injury you want to jump on as a fantasy player. Thomas may fall to the third or even fourth round, which is a really nice value for a clear-cut starter who catches a lot of passes.
• Finally, the folks at ESPN conducted their second mock draft as we enter the final month of preseason. Besides a nice discussion about the merits of points-per-reception, they revealed some interesting picks: Ray Rice went second overall right off the bat; Cedric Benson lasted until the third round; and Joe Flacco seems to be gaining steam notching his way up to the sixth round. Also, somebody actually drafted Kevin Smith.