Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Franciso 49ers

In 2012, safety Donte Whitner said Colin Kaepernick’s nickname was Jafar from AladdinWorks for me. But Jafar was the villain. And Kaepernick is a hero. He led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first year as the starter. Ron Jaworski said, “I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.” Then things started to change. Defenses figured out the read-option. As his weaknesses were exposed, the criticism mounted. Trent Dilfer in 2013 said, “While Kaepernick remains an incredible player and an incredible athlete, his development as a passer has ‘plateaued’ this season, and he hasn’t made enough progress in his second season as a starter.” The hero was slowly turning into the villain.

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Week One of the NFL season is finally here!  Months and months of drafting and prepping your fantasy football teams has reached it’s end.  Invite your friends over, get some charcoal for the grill, and stock your fridge full of your tastiest beverages, ‘cuz it’s gonna be a helluva ride the rest of the way.

As always, I will bring you my “Ambulance Chasers” articles each and every Wednesday during the entirety of the football season.  So, while you’re sipping on a cold one, let’s go over some fantasy football players that may or may not be “on ice” this week, starting with New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski. [Jay’s Note: Because of course.]

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It’s almost the end of February, MLB Spring Training is fully underway, and Spring is just around the corner (hopefully). I know, I know, you’re asking yourself “What the hell does any of this have to do with football or my fantasy team?” Well, I’m getting there. This weekend every year, all NFL scouts, coaches, and executives descend upon Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy to watch a bunch of college kids work out in their underwear at the NFL Combine. As discussed in the Senior Bowl review, this time of year is dedicated to the draft, with the Combine being a crucial piece of the proverbial puzzle. The Combine kicked off yesterday with the offensive linemen (who hold zero individual fantasy value) and Tight Ends taking the turf to show their skills. The tight end class this year definitely has some great talent, maybe the most in recent years, and multiple guys could be of interest to fantasy owners, not only in dynasty leagues, but perhaps even this year in redraft leagues.

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Doc is back and has another room full of patients after last week’s spate of season-ending injuries.

Rob Gronkowski was lost for the season after tearing two ligaments in his knee. Arizona lost safety Tyrann Mathieu to a torn ACL and LCL which ends his strong rookie season. Baltimore wide receiver Brandon Stokely suffered a concussion and is done for the season. Green Bay put seldom-used receiver Myles White on IR with a knee injury and it leaves the Packers few options in the passing game. Brandon Jacobs of the Giants is done after getting a cartilage graft in his left knee.

You get the idea. People are dropping like flies at the end of the season but most of them aren’t fantasy-relevant which makes it easier to sift through the impacts of said injuries.

Gronkowski being done makes Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman better options, especially in PPR formats. When you factor in Kenbrell Thompkins (hip) being questionable for this week, it makes both of those wide receivers Tom Brady’s top targets. Shane Vereen is also back there too but when it comes to deep passes he really has two choices.

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The 2013 NFL draft was ripe with talent on the defensive side of the ball, and there are quite a few guys picked that should go on to be perennial Pro Bowlers. But even the best defensive players may not start lighting up the stat sheet until the end of their first season, or even later. JJ Watt and Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t take the league by storm until their second year, Ronde Barber didn’t truly break out until his fourth season in the league, and we’re still waiting on Vernon Gholston to show us what he’s got.

From a fantasy perspective, this year’s draft doesn’t have anyone who is likely to match Luke Kuechly’s LB1 output in 2012. In fact, we’ll be lucky to see something like Vontaze Burfict’s LB24 finish. The top talent is probably at Defensive Tackle, and while the big boys are vital to a team’s defensive success, they don’t tend to have much of an impact in IDP leagues that don’t require their presence.

But that doesn’t mean we won’t have any impact rookies this year, it just may take some time to figure out who they are. Here is a look at each position and how relevant the rookies will be in 2013 IDP leagues.

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