Tag:Fantasy Football
Posted on: July 8, 2011 4:00 pm

Training during the lockout

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – The NFL lockout has left players working out on their own this offseason without the guidance of coaches. Most teams have organized player-only minicamps, but that's not enough to be ready once training camp starts.

That's where Tony Villani comes in. He has his NFL guys ready to go.

You might not know who Villani is unless you're a regular reader of this blog. We first introduced you to Villani last year around this time.

Villani is the founder of XPE Sports, which stands for Xtreme Performance Enhancement. It is a training program designed for NFL players, and it's based in South Florida.

Villani works with rookies entering the NFL Draft to help them prepare for the combine. He also trains current players in the offseason to prepare them for the rigors of a 16-game season, and he has a proven track record.

Fantasy owners are definitely aware of Villani's work since in the past he has trained Hines Ward, Jamal Lewis, Takeo Spikes and Osi Umenyiora. More recently, Villani has worked with Anquan Boldin, Pierre Garcon, Jacoby Ford, Eric Berry, Kareem Jackson and Major Wright. He also has trained rookie running backs Daniel Thomas and Ryan Williams and rookie tight end Rob Housler.

"It's very important because I know Tony is going to have me ready for the season," Berry said. "I worked out with him last year before I went to OTAs and camp. I came in feeling good. I was in shape, running around all day and I didn't have any injuries. I felt like he had me very well prepared for the season."

Villani's goal is to help players improve, and it's personal trainers like him who help NFL stars succeed. We're all aware the NFL has become a year-round profession, and players now want an edge along with OTA workouts, minicamps and training camp. That's where Villani comes in.

He works on fitness level, explosion workouts and speed drills -- any kind of training to help players gain an extra step. He's not afraid to go off the field and out of the weight room, and his players respect that.

When I watched him train players this year, he had former NFL standout wide receiver and current ESPN analyst Cris Carter working with him. Carter was instructing the receivers on different moves, and he wasn't afraid to challenge players like Ford to work harder.

"You can't ask for anyone better than that," Ford said of working with Carter. "He's a legend. He's helping me out as much as possible. … I like when he gets on me. It shows he cares."

Carter said working with Villani will help players not just this season, but also in the future.

"Getting guys ready for the season for what they're going to endure, a lot of these guys don't understand the type of conditioning it's going to take," Carter said. "It's not just speed work, it's strength work. He knows what type of shape you have to be in going into camp. I believe his business is more valuable now because you don't have access to the facilities with the strength coaches. This is the way that you're not going to lose your skill."

For Villani, working out with players is his passion. He talks openly about wanting players to have a career year and earn a bigger paycheck.

And when the lockout ends, he wants his players to be ready for a big year in 2011.

"A lot of agents and athletes think they shouldn't be working hard because they'll be hurt," Villani said. "Then you got the other group of athletes that are going to use this time to get better. Of course I'm in the business of trying to get people better so I like the guys on my side that are out here working hard. I want them to go into camp and be better than all their teammates. It's non-guaranteed money in the NFL so it's always a contract year. The guys that are laying off and not trying to get hurt are going to get hurt in training camp."

Villani's players don't get hurt often. That's because they are usually in the best shape of their life thanks to working out with a standout trainer.

For more information on Villani and his training program visit www.xpesports.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @TonyVillani.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 4, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 9:01 pm

Jared Allen helping soliders and Vikings

Like most Americans, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen had to be proud of what took place this week with the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden. Allen is a strong military supporter.

On June 18, Allen will host his second annual charity golf tournament called Night Ops II to raise money for his foundation, Homes for Wounded Warriors. The tournament, located in Scottsdale, Ariz., consists of nine holes of day golf and nine holes of night golf. This includes battlefield themed competitions for prizes, and United States Marine Drill Sergeants are stationed at every tee box giving orders to the “recruits.”

“It’s a crazy tournament,” Allen said in a recent phone interview.

Allen is proud of his foundation and the work they have done in a short time. Homes for Wounded Warriors work with soldiers injured in service to help make their lives easier when they return home.

Allen said the purpose of the foundation is to help re-model and design homes to accommodate soldiers who need help from injuries or the loss of limbs. He said so far they have done one house in Minnesota and two more in Arizona, and they work in conjunction with local VA hospitals.

“We’ll go wherever we can to help,” Allen said.

Along with working on his foundation, Allen is also staying in shape for the upcoming 2011 season. He is working out in Arizona, which is his offseason home, and he trains by doing kickboxing, MMA workouts and mountain biking.

Allen, 29, plans to maintain his place as one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. In 2010, he had 11 sacks, which was the fifth time in the past six seasons, including four years in a row, that he’s finished with double digits in sacks. He has 83 sacks for his career, and his goal this season is to get 100.

“I’m always trying to get better,” Allen said. “I’m constantly working on areas where I need to improve.”

Allen knows the Vikings need work after last year’s 6-10 finish, and he hopes that rookie quarterback Christian Ponder can be a difference maker as the replacement for the retired Brett Favre. The Vikings selected Ponder at No. 12 overall in the NFL Draft, and Allen said he trusts personnel director Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier to make the right decision to get Minnesota back in playoff contention.

“What he brings to the table remains to be seen, but I trust Rick and coach Frazier to do what’s right,” Allen said of Ponder. “They want to win now and never liked the rebuilding thing. I trust them not to put us in a bad situation.”

Allen knows the Vikings will also be aggressive in free agency and look to improve on defense. In 2010, Minnesota was No. 8 in total defense, including No. 9 against the run and No. 10 against the pass.

“We want to be No. 1 across the board,” Allen said.

Allen is confident the season will start on time despite all the problems with the labor negotiations. In the meantime, he will continue to stay in shape in the offseason and also do some good to help wounded soldiers.

For more on Homes for Wounded Warriors you can visit Allen’s website at jaredallen69inc.com. For more information on the golf tournament, including participation and sponsorships, contact Dylan Vicha at dylan@jaredallen69inc.com.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 6, 2011 8:44 am
Edited on: April 6, 2011 8:50 am

Boldin using offseason to improve

Anquan Boldin is looking forward to a busy summer, lockout or not. The Ravens wide receiver has a lot on his plate and plenty to accomplish.

First off is his annual charity function, Q-Fest, which is celebrating its seventh year to benefit the Anquan Boldin Foundation. Boldin established the foundation to help improve after-school programs in his hometown of Pahokee, Fla. His eventual goal is to build a community center for kids of all ages.

Q-Fest is a three-day event beginning April 14 with a charity golf tournament played at PGA National, which is home to the Honda Classic, a celebrity basketball game at Boldin’s alma mater at Pahokee High and a kid’s day at the park. Boldin’s peers always lend a helping hand, and this year’s guest list includes NFL stars like Ed Reed, Ray Rice, Tim Tebow, Darrelle Revis, Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester and Pierre Garcon, among others.

“I’m very excited,” Boldin said. “Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. I’m definitely looking forward to it. It means a lot to the community. They look forward to it every year. People always ask me about the next one every time they see me. I’m definitely proud of how it’s turned out.”

Boldin was also proud of his first year in Baltimore in 2010, which ended with a second-round playoff loss against Pittsburgh. Boldin finished the season with 64 catches for 837 yards and seven touchdowns on 108 targets. But he knows he’s capable of more.

He said if the lockout continues, he plans to work with quarterback Joe Flacco and fellow teammates to organize workouts in Baltimore. Flacco has also spoken about getting together with teammates and plans to work out in Arizona with tight end Todd Heap.

For Boldin, he wants to become more familiar with Flacco. He felt that was a problem at times in their first year together. Prior to joining the Ravens, Boldin was a standout receiver in Arizona, and he had an excellent rapport with former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. Boldin hopes to develop that same kind of chemistry with Flacco in 2011.

Boldin said last year when Flacco was in trouble or needed to make a play, he would look for Heap or fellow receiver Derrick Mason. Flacco has played with Mason and Heap for three seasons, and they have become a security blanket for the young quarterback.

“It was good, but it was definitely not to the level that it could be or the level that I had with Kurt,” Boldin said of his rapport with Boldin. “Once things got rolling, he went to his safety valve, which was Mason and Heap. That just makes sense. We’ll have a better feel for each other next year.”

Boldin got off to a fast start with the Ravens in 2010, which made Fantasy owners happy. He had 38 catches for 518 yards and five touchdowns in his first seven games.

But things tailed off from there as Boldin closed the year with just 26 catches for 319 yards and two touchdowns in his final nine outings, and Fantasy owners were left disappointed. He began to see extra coverage, and Boldin said his goal was to “open things up more for Mase and Heap.” Still, not being heavily involved on offense bothered Boldin.

“It can get frustrating, especially coming from the system I came from,” he said. “But I know I’m not an outcast. I understand when it gets down to it you’re going to go where you’re comfortable. Joe and I will get there.”

That’s why Boldin is excited to work out with Flacco as often as possible this offseason, and he has high praise for his new quarterback. Even though Boldin loved playing with Warner, he thinks Flacco has the makings of a star.

Boldin said Flacco has the potential to be as good as Warner, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.

“He progressed over the season,” Boldin said. “The scary thing is he hasn’t reached his potential yet. He has the best physical tools of anyone I’ve ever played with, including Kurt. He can make every throw on the field.”

We consider Flacco a high-end No. 2 Fantasy quarterback with upside. If he plays as Boldin predicts then he would be a steal with a mid-round pick. It helps that the Ravens have an excellent schedule this year with out of division opponents in the AFC South (Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Tennessee) and the NFC West (Arizona, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle), which boasted some of the worst passing defenses in 2010.

That should help Boldin, Mason, Heap and Ray Rice all post outstanding years as well.

“With the weapons we have right now we can be one of the top offenses in this league,” Boldin said. “I think we have the chance to be special.”

As for Boldin, he remains a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver worth a pick around Round 4 or 5. We expect him to have a more consistent year in 2011, and his overall stats should improve.

Boldin is looking forward to a busy summer. And if all goes as planned, that should lead to a productive fall.

For more information on Q-Fest or the Anquan Boldin Foundation, visit anquanq81foundation.com.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 25, 2011 3:20 pm

Where will Ronnie Brown play in 2011?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Ronnie Brown enjoys giving back to the community. The running back likes to lend a helping hand to kids whenever he can.

He created The Ronnie Brown Project, which is a comprehensive program consisting of specific initiatives designed to address critical issues and challenges faced by the youth of South Florida on a daily basis. One of his programs is 23 Ways to Stop Youth Violence, which is an anti-violence campaign aimed at middle school and high school students

Last week, I caught up with Brown at a park for a football camp to support the Jason Taylor Foundation. Taylor and Brown were helping to instruct about 150 kids ages 7-14 doing a variety of drills.

“It’s exciting,” Brown said. “To come out here and give your time back, it means so much to the kids. When I was a little kid, I never had a camp to go to. I think it’s pretty good to give these guys a chance to come out here and exercise and utilize their time in a positive way.”

Added Taylor: “We try to do as much as we can and spend some time with each kid. We have a great football camp. It’s kind of become seamless where it runs itself. It’s great this year to have Ronnie Brown join us with it.”

Taylor and Brown were former teammates with the Dolphins, and they might have something else in common soon. Taylor left Miami last season to play with the Jets – he said one kid at the camp called him a traitor – and Brown, a free agent this offseason, could also be looking for a new team.

He understands that his six years with the Dolphins might have come to an end. He knows a lot could change depending on what happens with the lockout, but Brown is prepared to move on if that’s the next phase of his career.

“It’s tough,” Brown said. “You don’t know what your future holds. I’m excited about it, but at the same time you don’t know what to expect. It’s an exciting time to see what’s next with your future, but at the same time it’s kind of weird not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Brown said he would welcome a return to Miami, but the Dolphins might want to start fresh in their backfield. Coach Tony Sparano said this past week that the team might explore free agency or look to the draft for their starting running back in 2011. Ricky Williams, like Brown, is also a free agent and could be gone.

For Brown, he wants to go somewhere where he can “win and win championships.”

“Obviously, I’d like to be back with the Dolphins, but at the same time it’s a business decision on both ends for them and me,” Brown said. “Whatever fits for me and makes sense for everybody that’s what I’m open to. At the same time I want to win, so that will probably weigh into my decision as well.”

He also wants to be a significant factor on offense.

“I want to be somewhere where I can utilize my talents as far as trying to do everything. Whatever situation, whether it’s here with the Dolphins or somewhere else, I want to make sure I’m in a situation where I can play and be utilized as a player. … I want to be an every-down back. I want to play first, second and third down. Whatever I’m called to do, I feel like I can do it. I have a lot of confidence in myself in that area.”

Brown, 29, is coming off a disappointing season in 2010 when he played 16 games for just the second time in his career and finished with 200 carries for 734 yards (a career-low 3.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns and 33 catches for 242 yards and two fumbles.

He still has the potential to be a quality running back and a starter, and where he plays in 2011 will determine his Fantasy value. In the right situation, Brown could remain a No. 2 Fantasy running back, but he will likely be drafted as a No. 3 option in the majority of leagues with a mid-round pick.

Off the field, Brown plans to continue his charity work, whether he’s in South Florida or somewhere else. Like Taylor, he’s not going to stop giving back just because he might not be with the Dolphins any more.

For more on The Ronnie Brown Project, visit his website at theronniebrownproject.org.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 18, 2011 4:35 pm

Kellen Winslow excited for 2011

Kellen Winslow is expecting a big year in 2011, and he has a good reason to be optimistic. He finally has a franchise quarterback throwing him passes.

Winslow was impressed with how Josh Freeman played in 2010 when Tampa Bay was one of the surprise teams in the NFL since the Bucs went 10-6 and nearly made the playoffs. He said in a recent phone interview that Freeman can be even better in 2011 – and so will the Bucs.

"Josh made it look real easy," Winslow said."He puts the time in to be successful. He's so calm out there on the field, and we know who our leader is out there. The sky's the limit for him."

Freeman had a breakout year in his second season with 3,451 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions and 364 rushing yards. We consider Freeman a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback heading into 2011, and you won't get any argument from Winslow on this status.

Winslow thought Freeman would "struggle" more in his sophomore campaign, but now he expects his quarterback to become a star.

"He can be up there with the Drew Brees' of the world, the Peyton Manning's of the world," Winslow said.

While we won't go that far, there is plenty to like about Freeman, and the same goes for Winslow. After a slow start in 2010, Winslow closed the season on a tear.

He had 30 catches for 337 yards and no touchdowns in the first eight games of the season, but he finished with 36 catches for 393 yards and five touchdowns in the final eight games. It wasn't the best year of his career (that came in 2007 in Cleveland), and he even regressed from his first season in Tampa Bay in 2009 when he had 77 catches for 884 yards and five touchdowns.

But Winslow feels like he's building something with the Bucs, and the main reason is Freeman.

"I have a great quarterback out there, and we can grow together," Winslow said. "I finally have a guy to click with in Josh Freeman."

Fantasy owners should draft Winslow as a No. 1 option with a mid-round pick. He's not a Top 5 or even Top 10 tight end, but the potential is there if he and Freeman can put together a full season like they did in the final eight games last year.

Aside from Winslow and Freeman, the Bucs have two other starting Fantasy options this season in running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Mike Williams. Blount should be considered a solid No. 2 Fantasy running back after the way he played in 2010.

Blount, who went undrafted out of Oregon following his unfortunate incident when he punched a player at Boise State and was cut by Tennessee in training camp, finished the season with 1,007 rushing yards and six touchdowns. But Blount did not start until Week 11 against San Francisco, which shows his potential.

Winslow said when he first saw Blount on film he said "where did this guy come from? He just ran with it."

Winslow was also impressed with Williams, another rookie who finished with 65 catches for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams is worth drafting as a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver, and like Winslow, he benefits from playing with Freeman.

"Mike really came out and showed who he was," Winslow said. "He showed he can play in the NFL."

Winslow, 27 and entering his eighth year, is the elder statesman of this group, but he's OK with that. He will continue to stay in shape during the offseason, and he splits his workouts between San Diego, Miami and Tampa Bay.

This could be a big year for the Bucs, and Winslow is excited. He is ready for the season to begin.

For more on Winslow, visit his website at kellenwinslow.com.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:30 pm

Owen Daniels is back

Now that Owen Daniels is staying with the Texans he can continue to work on his dream. On the field that means trying to win a Super Bowl. Off the field it means trying to make a difference.

Daniels, who signed a four-year, $22 million contract extension Thursday, runs the Owen Daniels' Catch a Dream Foundation. The mission of the foundation, which was started in Houston in 2010, is to provide opportunities, support and resources to children and families in need.

His latest project, Owen's Locker, is designed to enrich the lives of chronically and critically ill children by providing them and their families access to a variety of electronics and games to help pass time during treatment and recovery. He has set up this program at the Texas Children's Hospital with the goal of expanding to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital later this year and Houston Shriners in 2012.

"Anything we can do to help out," Daniels said in a recent phone interview with CBSSports.com.

It was important for Daniels to stay in Houston to continue his charity work, and he also wants to help the Texans succeed. Daniels was drafted by the Texans in 2006, and he feels the team is on the verge of becoming a legitimate playoff contender.

When Gary Kubiak was retained as the head coach for 2011, Daniels knew he wanted to return, and the Texans rewarded him with a contract extension.

"I've grown to love the city," Daniels said. "A big reason is coach Kubiak. I like the way he works."

Kubiak is a big fan of Daniels – and so are Fantasy owners. He got off to a good start in his first three seasons when he was a marginal Fantasy starter before having a breakout year in 2009.

In his first eight games of that season, Daniels had 40 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns. He was the best Fantasy tight end at that point of the year, but then he suffered a torn ACL and was out for the season.

When last year started, Daniels was ready for a full recovery, but he suffered a setback in training camp when he injured his kneecap. Once his knee got healthy, he dealt with a hamstring injury that cost him five games.

He said last year was "extremely frustrating," but at least he ended it on a high note. He finished the season strong with 22 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games. For the season, Daniels finished with 38 catches for 471 yards and the two scores.

"I'm just thankful to finish the season healthy and to be making progress toward where I was before," Daniels said. "There's peaks and valleys with everything. I'm just hoping to get back to the peak."

Kubiak said during the final four games of last season that Daniels was playing at a Pro Bowl level, so that gives him encouragement to start this year. He doesn't have any problems with his knee or hamstring and is looking forward to a full offseason or training as opposed to going through rehab.

Kubiak said Friday that he's counting on Daniels to succeed. He should resume his role as the No. 2 receiving threat behind wide receiver Andre Johnson. We consider Daniels a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, and he's worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all leagues. We expect him to return to his form of 2009.

"If you look at his numbers from two years ago, it looked like he was going to be a 1,000-yard receiver at tight end," Kubiak said. "Those guys don't come along very often. If you look at what he did last year on a limited basis, if he plays the whole season, he'd have done it again. Those guys are hard to find like that. Owen, like I said, is a team guy and gives us a lot of versatility as an offensive football team. I just like what he stands for."

Everyone should like what Daniels stands for. He is a quality player on the field and a star off it for his charity work. He's the kind of player we all like to root for.

Category: NFL
Posted on: February 10, 2011 1:09 pm

Lauren Shehadi poem

This was a poem Lauren Shehadi wrote for our Fantasy Football Update podcast on Thursday.

By Lauren Shehadi

Fantasy Football, we miss you so.
Jamey wants to talk about last season, I say dude, no.

Dave's obsessed with draft status and who he's picking in Round 1.
All I really want to tell them is if I'm in their league, they're done.

Dave says Lauren, is the first defense off the board the Steelers or the Jets?
I say it's February, shouldn't we be more worried about the Mets?

I was looking forward to the offseason since I would have more pens in stock.
But all these Fantasy Football guys want to talk about is, of course, their mock.

So keep it here on CBSSports.com since Dave and Jamey are obsessed, it's what they live for.
Our viewers are our motivation and next season we want you to soar.

Jamey's opinionated and Dave has too many notes
All these guys really want to do is be in Disney World on Aaron Rodgers' float.

The season is over, I say take a breath and relax.
Jamey says in a minute, Tim Tebow, did you just get more stats?

Posted on: January 28, 2011 5:20 pm

The value for Brandon Lloyd in 2011

Friday's Twitter question @jameyeisenberg: What are your thoughts on Brandon Lloyd in 2011?

We'll start with your responses ...

@collinjc775 I thank him for my '10 Victory but HC and QB situation tell me to avoid until late rounds when he'll be some1 elses headache
@Ross_Spargur I would't draft him any earlier than sixth round. Can't trust him at all and would hate to have an early pick go to waste

@gingerdad1 7 yrs- 15 tds. 2010- 11. 2,370 yrds prior, 1,448 in 2010. 4th tm, new coach, QB? I'll let someone take him as a #1, not me.
@BrandonEichholz i'm expecting a dropoff like Miles Austin. should be a solid WR2.
@ONN8 just have some hesitation believing in him. Especially w a new QB.
@iMarques82 I think he'll have 4 TD's and 850 yards. A decent no. 3 receiver.
@oCLAYBOYo I think Lloyd's numbers looked good this year because Denver was always playing from behind and no run game. 6th or later
@phishnguy Lloyd falls back to earth. Have a hard time seeing him with wr2 value.
@AgentJR3 easy, one hit wonder under mcdaniels. Fox will lean on ground game. Back to mediocrity for blloyd.
@AP_Manning think he's too risky, came out of nowhere and now has new QB and coach. Too much uncertainty to take in 1st 4-5 rounds
@wulfy Brandon Lloyd - "Can't Trust Him. Can't Win With Him. Can't Draft Him Before The 7th"

@cDrow Can't help but think Lloyd takes a step backwards. New coach (who loves to run) and maybe Tebow at QB
@ninocapo I wouldn't draft him any higher than a WR2. Probably won't be on my teams cause don't think he has enough upside.

I agree with the majority of your thoughts. He's not someone I want on my Fantasy team. Not that I expect him to be a total failure, but there are too many things working against him.

- A new offensive system with Josh McDaniels gone. Under John Fox, you can guarantee more rushing and less downfield passing.

- Tim Tebow isn't the same quarterback as Kyle Orton. Not that Tebow can't get Lloyd the ball, but he's not attempting 35-plus passes a game.

- The improvement of Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Remember, the Broncos invested a lot in these rookies in 2010, especially Thomas, and it will be time for them to produce or at least see more targets.

- Body of work. He has one-year wonder written all over him.

Now, Lloyd does have some things working in his favor. He will be in a contract year in 2011, and maybe he's found a home with the Broncos after bouncing around the league. He also benefits from playing in a weak division that just lost Nnamdi Asomugha.

I have Lloyd ranked as a No. 2 wide receiver at No. 19, but I'd rather draft him as a No. 3 option. The advice here is let him fall to you on Draft Day and don't reach for him before Round 5 at the earliest.

Category: NFL
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com