By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports
Just like every season, we have our fair share of position battles this season. There are numerous spots up for grabs, which could impact the coming fantasy season. You'll want to keep up to date on the position battles to have a leg up on the competition in your league. Below are many of the key position battles you'll want to watch. As always, we'll keep you updated in our player notes and stories before the start of the season.
Cardinals Quarterback. Kevin Kolb was supposed to be the answer at quarterback for the Cardinals last season but didn't exactly light it up. And when out hurt, backup John Skelton might have played better than Kolb, which is why the two are competing for the right to start this season. Kolb probably is the more talented of the two and has the big contract so he'll be given first crack at the job but the Cardinals aren't going to just hand it to him. He'll have to play better than Skelton.
Bears Receiver. The Bears finally have a No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall but the second starting spot is up for grabs. Rookie Alshon Jeffrey is the future at the position but the Bears will make sure he is ready to start before throwing him the in lineup. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester will give Jeffrey the competition at the position. Jeffrey is the favorite to start, though, unless he really struggles to pick up the playbook.
Bengals Receiver. A.J. Green is the legit No. 1 for the Bengals at receiver but after him, it is far from set for the Bengals. Right now, it looks like rookie Mohamed Sanu might be the favorite to start opposite of Green. But Jordan Shipley, Brandon Tate and Armon Binns should be in the mix to start as well. Shipley is the best fit for the slot but if the others don't show much in camp and preseason, don't discount Shipley to start.
Browns Quarterback. The Browns took Brandon Weeden in the first round, hoping to have found their starting quarterback for the next several seasons. Weeden isn't your typical rookie, coming into the league at age 28. He has a little more experience than a normal rookie. Colt McCoy has started the last few years but did little to distinguish himself in that role. He will battle Weeden to start but all signs point towards the rookie winning the job.
Broncos Receiver. Last season, the Broncos receiving spot brought little to fantasy teams. But this year looks to be a different story with Peyton Manning at the helm. They will be a pass-first team that should produce for fantasy teams. There are plenty of openings at receiver with Eric Decker, Andre Caldwell, Jason Hill, Brandon Stokley and Matt Willis battling for playing time. The only sure thing is Demaryius Thomas, who will be the No. 1. But after him, you'll want to see how things shake out at receiver because one or two of the aforementioned players could be a help to fantasy teams.
Lions Receiver. The Lions have two talented, young receiver pushing veteran Nate Burleson for playing time. Titus Young started making more things happen at the end of last season and rookie Ryan Broyles is an exciting talent that seems a good fit for a starting spot in the NFL. Burleson could be the odd man out but he played well in a starting role last season, so don't count him out just yet.
Colts Running Back. The Colts continue to look for that No. 1 back. Donald Brown played well down the stretch last year and seems the favorite to start but his career to date has been far from exciting. A new coaching regime could have other ideas in place for the coming season. Second-year back Delone Carter will be the top competition for Brown. Carter has the skill set to start in this league but needs to make a lot of strides at the position if he hopes to unseat Brown. Carter had his struggles during his rookie season.
Jaguars Quarterback. Jacksonville invested a lot in Blaine Gabbert but after his dismal rookie season, nothing is 100 percent certain with his future. He most likely will open the season as the starter but will be on a short leash. And if he really stumbles in camp and preseason action, we wouldn't totally discount Chad Henne opening the season as the No. 1 quarterback. This could be a make or break year for Gabbert, trying to prove to a new coaching staff he can start in this league.
Dolphins Quarterback. Ryan Tannehill is the future at the position for the Dolphins. He will be given a chance to compete with Matt Moore for the starting job but isn't likely to win the job. Tannehill is pretty raw at the position and probably would do well with sitting and watching for a year or two. Moore should be the starter from day one this season but Tannehill could get in the mix if Moore has any struggles. Veteran David Garrard also is on the roster but seems a long to play well enough to get any playing time this year, especially after missing all of last year.
Patriots Running Back. You never know how the running back situation in New England will shake out but expect Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley to be the top candidates to start this season. Vereen might be the favorite to start as he is the more versatile option but nothing is certain right now. Veteran Joseph Addai also has a chance to be in the mix but his best days are behind him, so the chances of him playing a big role are slim.
Patriots Receiver. Just like at running back, the Patriots have several players battling for playing time at receiver. Wes Welker is about the only sure thing at the position. After Welker, you have Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney vying for time. Lloyd seems the best bet for the most playing time out of this group but all have talent and could play decent sized roles in the offense if they fit in well.
Jets Quarterback. The Jets claim Mark Sanchez is their starter but you would have to think if Tim Tebow starts making waves in camp and the preseason, he could start for the Jets. Either way, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in New York. If Tebow really starts stealing time from Sanchez, the value of Sanchez takes a big hit for the coming season.
Raiders Tight End. Not that the starting tight end spot in Oakland scores much, but the starter might be worth a spot start or two in a pinch. And the position is wide open right now. Brandon Myers and David Ausberry are the frontrunners to start for the Raiders. Auberry is the more intriguing fantasy option of the two as he was a receiver in college.
Seahawks Quarterback. The Seahawks nabbed Flynn during the offseason, getting another option at quarterback for the coming season. Seattle also used a draft pick on Russell Wilson, who might be the long-term option for the team at the position. Tarvaris Jackson was the starter last season and didn't do too badly in a starting role. Flynn has the most upside of the group, but will need to prove he is ready to take over a starting role. But at this point, you would have to think Flynn is the favorite to start.
49ers Receiver. The 49ers revamped their receiving corps, which means there will be plenty of competition for playing time. Michael Crabtree probably is the most likely to start for the 49ers abut after him, you have Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and rookie A.J. Jenkins vying for the other starting spot. You never know what you will get with Moss at this point of his career but early reports are favorable for him. Manningham was great as a No. 3 the last few seasons with the Giants but might be an even better fit for a starting job. And Jenkins is the future at the position but could be given a little time to learn the position.
Rams Receiver. St. Louis is another team that revamped the receiver position but much is still to be decided when it comes to starters. Danny Amendola will man the slot but the two starting spots are wide open. Rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens might be the best bets to start but will need to prove they are ready. Others that have a legit shot to start are Greg Salas, Steve Smith and Danario Alexander.
Bucs Running back. Rookie Doug Martin is likely to start for the Bucs unless he somehow falls on his face. He is the complete package at running back, doing well as a runner and receiver. LeGarrette Blount was the starter much of the last two seasons, though, and isn't going to just hand Martin the job. He has something to prove in this might be his last chance to keep a starting job.
Titans Quarterback. The Titans have an open competition at quarterback. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck was the starter last season but Jake Locker made some plays when given a chance to play. Locker has more upside and is the future at the position, so you would think he has a very good chance to start from day one this season. Locker just brings more to the table. But don't discount Hasselbeck, who was able to hold off Locker last season.
Redskins Running Back. Roy Helu really took over down the stretch and performed at a high level for the Redskins in a starting role his rookie season. But the Redskins aren't just handing him the starter's job for 2012. The brought back Tim Hightower as competition for the starting job. Hightower played well before tearing his ACL last season and seemed a pretty good fit for the offense. Helu has a ton more upside, though, so it makes much more sense for him to start.
If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at firstname.lastname@example.org