Week 1: PPR Watch
Caution - Available in the waning rounds, Davone Bess and his 76 catches seem like a PPR steal. However, though the future may be bright, it's too early to assume he's Miami's Wes Welker. In the week 3 pre-season dress rehearsal, Bess had no catches on two targets (and both came from Chad Pennington after Henne, Marshall, and Hartline were out of the game). Bess is officially third on the depth chart, and with Marshall's 100 catches a year and Miami likely to still rely heavily on the running game, it's hard to be sure if there will be enough balls to go around. Hartline deserves more consideration than he's been getting; if Bess is on your bench he should remain there until it's clear how he's going to be used.
Caution - With the arrival of McNabb, Cooley was anointed the TE steal of the draft. But, while McNabb does love the TE, Washington's pass blocking unit needs all the help it can get. With McNabb already banged up in the early going, we may see Cooley staying in more often to protect. A strong Dallas pass rush won't make things any easier in week 1. Add to that the fact Cooley is returning from injury and the emergence of Fred Davis (whose 6 TD's were twice Cooley's total in 2008, 2009 combined) and red zone targets are pretty up in the air as well. When all is said and done, Washington TEs may well catch 100 balls, but even if Cooley manages a 65% reception share, it will be a disappointing year for owners.
Avoid - If there were ever a guy who no longer gets the benefit of the doubt it's Braylon Edwards. Santonio Holmes' suspension does nothing to increase Edwards' value. Edwards has only had more than 65 catches once in his career, and at this point his '07 numbers are dead and gone. Yes, dead and gone. Bury them in your mind and let yourself forget. Mark Sanchez has done nothing to change his "game manager" status this pre-season, and if Edwards has any value at all it's as an occasional downfield TD threat, not as a consistent PPR force. If you have any WR depth on your bench going into the season use it and make Edwards earn his spot in your lineup. Baltimore's defense is a terrible matchup anyway.
Avoid - There's a lot of factors coming together that may have people reaching for Taylor as a flex play. Pull your hands back, this is not the time. Yes, Forte's coming off a poor season, Taylor had some nice carries in the pre-season, and Chicago is expected to have a shootout with Detroit. But, until we've seen him get 12-15 touches a game on a consistent basis and do something with them, he's a gamble at best. Taylor's upside is in the passing game, but receiving is Forte's strength as well and Taylor has far more potential to minimize Forte's fantasy impact than to amass a body of stats that makes him worthwhile on his own. On a superior team with a vastly superior line Taylor averaged only 3.6 YPC in '09 and scored only 2 touchdowns. A darn good football player? Yes. A good flex play out of a backup role? No.
Sleeper - There's a good chance Todd Heap is still sitting in your free agent list, and if you don't have a quality backup this is the time to go get him. The last time Heap had an excellent quarterback (2005/2006) he had 70+ catches and 6+ TDs. Though he's spent most of the last three years either injured or blocking, if you watched him amass 6 catches for 69 yards and a TD in the first half against the Giants this pre-season, you'll probably need little convincing he's healthy and impressive. The Ravens may need Heap's blocking prowess more than his offense against Rex Ryan's blitz attack, but with a strong Jets secondary locking down the obvious passing weapons, it could be an opportunity for Heap to slip up field and give Flacco another option. Either way, a solid performance against the Jets would be a huge indicator of success the rest of the year.