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Fantasy Football Preview - Brandon Marshall

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With the loss of Javon Walker in free agency, the Denver Broncos #1 wide receiver is now Brandon Marshall.  OK, so Brandon Marshall was pretty much the #1 WR last year too.  Marshall had a great season that flew under the fantasy radar for a lot of people - 102 catches, 1325 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.  With people counting on him to play as a #1 WR, will he continue to perform like one in 2008?  

Reasons to Upgrade - Walker barely played last year anyway, so his loss shouldn't change things.  This will be Marshall's magical 3rd year.  Jay Cutler continues to develop into a solid quarterback.  

Reasons to Downgrade - Opposing defenses will be focused on figuring out a way to stop Marshall this year.  Somebody is going to need somebody to step up and take some of the defensive pressure away and Brandon Stokely hasn't been consistent or consistently healthy.  The once-mighty Broncos running game has become a mashup of Travis Henry and some guys you've never heard of.  Most importantly, Marshall crashed into an entertainment center wrestling with his brother and sliced up various parts of his body.  He won't be ready for the start of spring workouts and might not be ready for the start of camp.  Can a guy with only two years' experience afford that late start?

Conclusion - Signs point to a downgrade for Brandon Marshall this season. Keep a close eye on how he's healing and whether or not Stokely starts muscling into the #1 WR slot in camp.  A lot of fantasy owners will be looking at Marshall's 1300 yards and see a solid #1 fantasy WR, but there's a lot more to his situation than that.  I would draft Marshall expecting lower stats than last season.

I'll be traveling the next four days, but on Monday we return to the SBNation NFL Mock Draft!