NFL fantasy football: LeSean McCoy easing workload?

Spreading wealth: Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy told Dave Zangaro of he wouldn’t mind sharing snaps with Dion Lewis. “He’s a good player. You go out in the league and see a lot of teams who rotate and last year we didn’t rotate … not enough really, so I think it will be a good year,” McCoy said. The Pittsburgh product amassed 321 total touches in 2011, racking up 1,624 yards and 20 touchdowns. His heavy workload no doubt contributed to him having a career year, so fantasy football owners might want to temper expectations of McCoy continuing that level of production. However, it won’t be due to sharing the ball with Lewis. In 2010 and 2011, backs not named McCoy toted the ball a total only 61 and 65 times respectively. The bigger reason for his added workload last season was due to Michael Vick, who went from 100 rushes in 2010, to 76 rushes in 2011. The percentage of touches to the backfield didn’t change, but those extra 24 opportunities factored into McCoy’s total production. The dynamic back hasn’t finished worse than seventh in scoring among fantasy backs the last two years, and he is projected to finish third in scoring this season. With his current ADP of 5.16, expect McCoy to fly off the board quickly in the first round, regardless of his workload possibly taking a small hit.

Will a lighter load affect LeSean McCoy’s fantasy value? (Brian Garfinkel/Associated Press)

Bolting back: According to San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle, tight end Antonio Gates will “be the best tight end in the NFL this year.” Speaking with Bill Williamson of ESPN, Weddle added “Antonio is the best. He looks that good. He hasn’t looked this good since my rookie season.” After being hampered by injuries the last two seasons, the Kent State product has reportedly dropped weight, and is as fast as he’s ever been. Fantasy football owners can select Gates around the sixth round in drafts given his ADP of 51.26. Even with the injury issues, he still finished seventh in scoring among all tight ends in 2011. Now that he is healthy, Gates carries good value for owners who miss out on the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham.

Reliable targets: NFL Network and reporter Jeff Darlington reports Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning “might have realized he now has two very reliable targets.” With Eric Decker nursing a slight groin strain on Thursday, Darlington says fellow wideout Demaryius Thomas “looked tremendous in Decker’s absence.” While Decker is the favorite to be Manning’s top target, the showing by Thomas will gain the veteran’s confidence as he tries to play the role Pierre Garcon filled with the Indianapolis Colts. As was the case in the NFL fantasy experts league mock draft, Thomas is being selected in the fourth round, compared to Decker’s sixth round selection. Both players are likely to thrive with Peyton at the helm, and both provide good value considering their potential versus draft status.

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