Fantasy Newsbreakers - July 5, 2004
Vikings: Elling showing signs of improvement
Vikings' kicker Aaron Elling may need to have a strong training camp to keep his job. At least one person, Vikings' kicking consultant Doug Blevens, predicts that Elling is in for a big season. "Aaron has the potential to be one of the best in this league," Blevens told Viking Update in an interview published Sunday. "I really believe that. Aaron's first season was very similar to Adam Vinatieri's rookie season. A lot of people in New England thought (Vinatieri) should be replaced and he ended up being very good. You will see Aaron have a much more phenomenal year this season." Elling converted on 18 of 25 field goal attempts last season.
Elling appears to have the confidence of Vikings' head coach Mike Tice, who has said he will not be bringing in a veteran kicker to compete with Elling during training camp. However, that could change if Aaron struggles during the preseason or even if a veteran kicker becomes available. Tice showed little confidence in his rookie kicker last season. There were several occasions when the third-year head coach chose alternative options to allowing Elling to attempt field goals longer than 40 yards in distance. If Aaron does improve this year, he could be a deep fantasy sleeper. The Vikings have a high-powered offense that should be among the league leaders in total points again this season, which would seem to bode well for Elling or whomever handles their kicking duties.
Buccaneers: Clayton could start if McCardell's holdout continues
Michael Clayton is living up to the first-round draft pick hype. The former LSU wide receiver earned praise from Buccaneers' head coach Jon Gruden following a three-day minicamp held last week. "I was impressed with every aspect of Michael Clayton," Gruden told the Tampa media. "He's a big, physical, tough guy with great hands, and he's quick. What he did since the draft, learning this system and operating against a great defensive team, says a lot. I like the kid tremendously. I think he sincerely wants to be great. He understands his responsibility as a No. 1 draft choice, and he's a heck of a football player." During training camp, Clayton will compete for a starting role with Joey Galloway, Joe Jurevicius, Charles Lee, and perhaps contract holdout Keenan McCardell.
Clayton could be the Buccaneers No. 2 wideout on opening day if McCardell continues to holdout during the regular season. Buccaneers' officials are taking a firm stand on the holdout, in part because Gruden believes he can win with Galloway and Clayton as his starting receivers. Michael's current fantasy value is highest in keeper leagues, but his stock would soar in all fantasy leagues should he be named an opening day starter.