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2011 Draft Prep: Don't count out Collie

Senior Fantasy Writer
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I'm afraid for Austin Collie's long-term health. After watching him take those vicious hits last season and suffer multiple concussions, I'm worried about his future if he gets hit in the head again.

But I'm not afraid of Collie for my Fantasy team. In fact, I want him in as many leagues as possible. The prediction here is Collie will return as a starting Fantasy option in 2011, and you should draft him as a Top 24 receiver as early as Round 5.

Let's start with the facts. With the way the NFL views concussions, no team would allow Collie back on the field after what happened to him last year unless he was OK. And the Colts medical staff has cleared Collie at 100 percent. He's also wearing a new helmet designed to help him avoid another concussion.

If the Colts say he is OK, and he said he feels fine, you should have faith in him as well. I understand the hesitation considering if he suffers another concussion he could be out, and it's a reasonable concern. But does that mean you're staying away from every injury-risk player?

Look at all the different draft boards, and you'll find that many of the top players have injury concerns, from Michael Vick to Antonio Gates. Even Aaron Rodgers could be considered a concussion risk since he suffered two just last year.

But you're drafting Rodgers because he's expected to play 16 games, and you should do the same with Collie. Just look at the way he played last year prior to getting hurt.

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Collie was the No. 1 Fantasy receiver through the first six weeks in 2010 when he had 44 catches for 503 yards and six touchdowns over that span. He averaged nearly eight targets a game, which makes him a Top 15 receiver in terms of targets per game from last year. By comparison, Reggie Wayne averaged 11 targets a game, Dallas Clark averaged nine and Pierre Garcon averaged seven.

It's clear that Peyton Manning relies on Collie quite a bit even with a talented receiving corps full of other options. You can even argue that Collie would have finished with more Fantasy points than Wayne had Collie stayed healthy. Wayne had 111 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns for the season. If you project Collie's stats from the first six games for a full year, he would have finished with 112 catches for 1,341 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Now, you're not drafting Collie ahead of Wayne, but Collie should move up on your draft board. His Average Draft Position is the No. 27 Fantasy receiver in Round 8. He's being drafted after receivers like Steve Johnson, Brandon Lloyd, Sidney Rice and Garcon, and I would rather have Collie over all of those receivers.

There's definitely some risk in drafting Collie this year. But as long as he stays healthy and avoids another concussion he should return as a standout Fantasy option in all leagues.

Zegura's Fantasy facts ...
Our Nathan Zegura shares his take on Austin Collie
Austin Collie: I caught a lot of flack for ranking Collie ahead of Pierre Garcon in 2010, but the numbers don't lie: Collie is the second best wide receiver on that team (don't tell Reggie Wayne, but Collie is probably the best). After an incredibly impressive rookie year in which Collie caught 60 passes for 676 yards and seven TDs, I was pumped to see what he could do in Year Two. After all, Peyton Manning is as smart as they come and Collie had the seventh best target conversion rate in the league as a rookie (66.7 percent) in addition to finishing Top 10 in Red Zone TD rate at 29 percent. To me, that spelled more chances for Collie in his sophomore season and that is exactly what he got. In 2010, Collie saw his targets per game rise to 8 (from 5.6 -- again Peyton is a smart guy) and he turned in an even better set of metrics. He led the NFL with an 80.6 percent target conversion rate, averaged 9 yards per target and dominated in the Red Zone with a 55.6 percent Red Zone TD rate (best among the 66 receivers with at least nine Red Zone chances). In other words, there was no more efficient receiver in the NFL than Collie, who totaled 58 catches for 649 yards and eight scores in only nine games. Collie was a Top 3 Fantasy scorer on a per game basis last year and if it weren't for the concussion issues, he would have been Top 10 for sure at the end of the year. Headed into his third season, the sky is the limit for Collie if he can stay healthy, and yes that is a big if. Collie is one hit away from another concussion and at some point his health and his future quality of life will become a legit and very serious concern. However, when he is on the field, Collie has Manning's trust every bit as much as Wayne or Dallas Clark and he will get plenty of opportunities to make plays week in and week out. If Collie can play 16 games he will be a Top 10 performer because I have never seen metrics like his as long as I have been covering Fantasy Football. Bottom Line: Collie is a great No. 3 wide receiver for your teams because he has legit Top 10 potential and as the 27th receiver taken in drafts, you can survive if you get a shortened season from him. He is so efficient that he is literally the perfect receiver for Manning and I expect this to be one of the most potent hookups in the NFL again in 2011.
Nathan Zegura provides Fantasy Football analysis at thefantasyconsultant.com and will contribute to CBSSports.com throughout the 2011 Fantasy season.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg .

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Danny Trevathan returns to practice Friday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:17 am ET) Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan returned to practice Friday for the first time since fracturing his left leg during training camp practice on Aug. 12, the Denver Post reports.

"I've just been working as hard as I can," Trevathan said. "I'm not really putting a time on it; I'm just working as much as I can. It just feels good to be out there with my team and just get it moving a little bit."

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(9/19/2014) Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown is undergoing a second test on his injured thumb, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports Friday. McCown left Thursday's game in Atlanta in the second quarter after hitting his hand on a helmet during a throw. According to the report, he is expected to miss "several weeks" with the injury.

If that is the case, the Buccaneers will turn to Mike Glennon moving forward. Tampa Bay will have 10 days before their Week 4 matchup at Pittsburgh.

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Lynch is dealing with a back issue. After sitting out Wednesday, Lynch returned to full practice Thursday and Friday. 


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(9/19/2014) The Cardinals have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Punter David Zastudil (groin) and linebacker Alex Okafor (thigh) were the only players officially ruled out for Sunday's game against the 49ers.

Deemed questionable were tight end Rob Housler (hip), defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf) and quarterback Carson Palmer (shoulder).

Linebacker Kevin Minter (quad), center Lyle Sendlein (ankle), running back Andre Ellington (foot) and linebacker Larry Foote (shoulder) were each ruled probable for Sunday.

Seahawks list nine on final injury report
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Only Tharold Simon has been ruled out for the game. Bruce Irvin didn't practice throughout the week, but is questionable for the game. 

Kam Chancellor, Cooper Helfet, Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Zach Miller, Mike Morgan and Kevin Pierre-Louis are all probable. 


Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Rudolph expected to go
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/19/2014) The Vikings should have their offensive playmakers for Week 3.

Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph are probable entering the game. Rudolph was limited in practice Friday, but Pattterson was able to practice in full. 


Vikings release final injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9/19/2014) The Vikings have released their final injury report before Week 3.

Chad Greenway, Rodney Smith and Brandon Watts will all enter the game listed as questionable.

The Sharrif Floyd, Phil Loadholt, Michael Mauti and Xavier Rhodes are all probable heading into the contest.

Both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph are considered probable for Week 3. 


49ers list lengthy injury report for Week 3
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/19/2014) The 49ers have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Center Marcus Martin, who's nursing an knee injury, was the only player ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.

Deemed questionable are cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring), tight end Vernon Davis (ankle) and tight end Vance McDonald (knee).

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (back), running back Carlos Hyde (calf), defensive end Justin Smith (not injury related) and tackle Joe Staley (knee) were ruled probable for Sunday.

The Raiders list nine players on final injury report
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(9/19/2014) The Raiders have nine players listed on the injury report for Week 3. Linebacker Sio Moore, who's nursing an ankle injury, was the only player ruled out for Sunday's game against the Patriots.

Deemed questionable are cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee). running back Maurice Jones-Drew (hand), tackle Matt McCants (knee), linebacker Nick Roach (concussion), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee), defensive lineman Antonio Smith (back) and wide receiver Rod Streater (hip).

Justin Tuck, who is dealing with an illness, was the only player ruled probable for Sunday.


Dolphins issue lengthy injury list for Week 3
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(9/19/2014) The Dolphins have officially ruled out running back Knowshon Moreno (elbow) for their Sunday game against Kansas City. Also out are linebacker Koa Misi (ankle) and guard Shelley Smith (knee).

Listed as doubtful are defensive end Terrence Fede (knee), center Mike Pouncey (hip) and linebacker Jordan Tripp (chest).

Tight end Charles Clay (knee) and guard Billy Turner (foot) are considered questionable.

The probables are safeties Walt Aikens (hand) and Louis Delmas (calf), tackle Branden Albert (shoulder) and linebackers Jonathan Freeny (calif), Jelani Jenkins (shoulder) and Philip Wheeler (thumb).


 
 
 
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