Gore and S-Jax could see improvements

February, 28, 2009

• The Niners reacquired fullback Moran Norris Friday, a move which could signal a return to elite status for Frank Gore. Under the Mike Martz regime, Norris was waived and spent a lost year in Detroit. But recall that in 2006, when Norris was Gore's full-time lead blocker, Gore ran for a franchise record 1,695 yards. Given that Mike Singletary is now the head coach and Jimmy Raye is the offensive coordinator in San Francisco, you can bet this is a team gearing up to play hard-nosed offense and low-scoring games. The power rushing attack that disappeared under Martz (San Francisco was 27th in rushing yards this past year) looks like it'll return in a big way. That's great news for Gore's fantasy value; I have him at No. 4 overall right now.

• The Rams landed the most coveted offensive lineman of the 2009 free-agency class Friday when they signed ex-Ravens center Jason Brown. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the deal is for five years and $37.5 million, with $20 million guaranteed. Brown spent his first three seasons in Baltimore playing guard but moved to center this past year. Considering how much St. Louis has struggled at center over the past two seasons, you can almost certainly expect Brown to helm the middle of the Rams' O-line. While the team still needs more effective bodies on that line and it remains unclear whether the Rams will cut Orlando Pace, Brown played a big part in aiding Baltimore's interior run game in 2008, making a fantasy star out of Le'Ron McClain, so most of all from a fantasy perspective this is at least the beginning of sweet music for Steven Jackson. Jackson has disappointed two years in a row, but I'm still probably going to have him in my top five overall.

Jabar Gaffney left the Patriots on Friday, choosing to follow his former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to Denver for four years and $10 million, with $3 million guaranteed. Gaffney caught seven touchdowns in New England as the third receiver over the past two years, and was a favored red zone target of Tom Brady in 2007; now he'll likely be either third or fourth on the Broncos' depth chart, since the team has Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley. Remember, though, that McDaniels favors four-wide sets a large percentage of the time, so Gaffney will see the field in what should be a pass-happy arrangement. He's good from the numbers out, and he's good in the end zone. That means he'll still have late-round value in deep leagues.

• And how about the Jets' D? With new head coach Rex Ryan having just helmed one of the scariest defensive units in the league in Baltimore this past year, you already knew a tougher mind-set was coming to the Big Apple. And now that Bart Scott will join David Harris in the middle of the Jets' D, this is looking like a very, very difficult unit to run against. Add corner Lito Sheppard, whom the Jets have apparently acquired from the Eagles, and you're starting to have something. Sheppard isn't a great player, but he's much better than Dwight Lowery or Ty Law or whatever other mess the team was trotting out by the end of '08.



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