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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Little Distracted

Ok, I told a bit of a Boras Tale.  Wanted to analyze the few remaining trouble positions, but found myself a little preoccupied.  In any case, sit Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson temporarily if you have a relatively decent alternative.  For instance, I'd play Ben Tate over either.  Even at 10-15 carries a game, he can provide you with some better production.

QB, there aren't too many worries.  Cam will put it all together down the stretch.  Even playing poorly, he's generally a solid bet for 200 passing, 50 rushing, and 1-2 TDs.  Garbage time is his best friend.

Stafford, also, has had a rough start.  He's in a pass-first offense, and has some elite weapons.  He'll easily surpass 30 touchdowns, making him a must-start in any leagues (except those weird 6 team leagues).

Tight End, I'd be most concerned with Finley and Gates.  Finley will find plenty of opportunities in the Green Bay offense.  Cedric had a nice game, but he's not going to steal too many touches from the Packers' receivers.

Gates is a worry, as always.  Any "Questionable" status with him should be an automatic "Doubtful" in your mind.  If someone loves him in your league, trade him now.  His value will only decrease as the Chargers' run game comes to life.

Enjoy your weekend, and good luck!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

All-Panic Team: Wide Receiver

There are quite a few Fantasy owners out there with their fingers on the panic button.  I've even heard of Wes Welker and Jamaal Charles being dropped.  I don't care the format; it's way too early to make a sound decision on these elite players.  We're not talking about "I'll take a shot on him" 6th rounders like Steve Johnson or Mark Ingram.  These are 1st and 2nd round draft picks.  These are guys who, when operating at maximum potential, are Top 5 positional players.  You dropped them?  You make me sick.

Still, even the most savvy, experienced, soul-dead fantasy player is a little worried about some of the big guns out there. Tough not to be.

So, leading up to Sunday, I'll give you two "Panic Button" players at each position, and decide which one deserves the starter spot.

First up:

Wide Receiver

Wes Welker VS Greg Jennings



Wes Welker
"I farted on your team hehehehe."
I've mentioned him significantly since this blog's inception (can you even use this word anymore without being distracting?), and for the first time I find myself swayed into dropping him from elite status.  Past seasons, if Wes wasn't on my fantasy team, I wanted him.  I'd try and fail to trade for him.  And when I did have him, he'd have his Once-A-Year bad game.  Still, I drafted him as my #1 receiver this year.  How could I not? I'm in a PPR league.  In 5 seasons with New England, Welker has averaged over 100 catches a season.  His last three seasons have been demonstrations in PPR dominance.  In 2009 he caught 123 passes in only 14 games.  In 2010, recovering from a torn MCL and ACL, he managed an impressive 86 catches.  And last season, Welker grabbed 122 passes for over 1500 yards.  These are not benchable numbers - at least not in fantasy football.  In reality, they must be, as Julian Edelman (the guy who would sub for Welker during injuries) has taken over Wes' spot on the depth chart.  On top of this, Brandon Lloyd has been the most targeted receiver (21) for Tom Brady so far.  More than Welker (16) and Gronkowski (15). 

Still, I can't recommend benching/dropping him.  In Standard Scoring leagues you have more of an argument, especially given the WR depth out there this year.  But in PPR, it's simply a foolish, irrational, panicked move.  Welker barely played in Week 1.  He was supposedly benched in Week 2, and has still managed double Edelman's targets.  His 50% success rate on targets is not sustainable given his history with Brady and the type of routes he'll run (especially with Hernandez out a few games).  I say "not sustainable", in that it will steadily rise to around 65-70%.  This means Welker will average around 9 targets a game, catch 6, and likely finish the year somewhere between 88-105 receptions.  That should land him in the Top 10, as far as WR reception leaders.  And all of this is assuming he has a bad year. 

Hernandez is out a few weeks.  Brandon Lloyd is questionable week 3, and he's also had a bit of a knack so far for killing drives.  Edelman is at worst Brandon Stokley, and at best Lance Moore when Meachem was still around.  To Boras, this is a recipe for a 20 reception game, or at least a couple 10+ers.  And that puts Welker right back on track to lead the league in receptions.  

Do I think he will?  I do not.
Do I think he could?  Yeah...did you not just read that?
Do I think he will finish Top 10 in receptions?  Almost automatic.  Like a Gostkowski field goal....ohhhhh.
Greg Jennings

"Don't worry, Mom.  I still get paid."

Here's a player I'm much more likely to bench/shop than Welker.  The last two seasons, Jennings has carried a shade less risk than Andre Johnson.  And that ain't good.  Lots of injuries.  Lots of reasons not to rush him back - perhaps the worst problem for Jennings' owners is that the Packers tend to be really good.  A lazy interpretation of his career stats tells us Jennings follows two good seasons with a bad one.  That isn't what owners in 2012 want to hear.  2007-2008's combined 21 touchdowns was followed by 2009's monumentally disappointing 4.  In 2010/2011 he combined for 21 touchdowns again.  Uh oh.

Need I remind you Greg only played in 13 games last year?  If he can manage 13 games this year, I still see him scoring more than 4 TDs.  Even so, with Jordy Nelson's emergence as an elite receiver, and Randall Cobb's versatility on constant display, there are plenty of reasons for Green Bay to ease Jennings back in, and limit his touches going forward.

So, between Welker and Jennings, I'm going to give the edge to Welker in all formats.  At this point it's far more likely Wes has 100 catches (5 times in career) than Jennings catches 10+ TDs (2 times in career).
_________________________________


For the love of Tebow, this article doesn't mean you should drop Greg Jennings for Andrew Hawkins.  But if we're being real, I'd try and trade Jennings.  And maybe Welker too.  More reliable doesn't mean very reliable.  But that's just Boras being Boras.  The real point here is it's too early to panic on elite players.  As sick as ESPN wants you to feel about Welker, he's coming off a 5 catch 95 yard day.  And Greg Jennings is likely to play in Week 3.  Throw them out there with confidence.  

Next article we'll see how Jamaal Charles stacks up against Chris Johnson.
Until then, see who passed through waivers, and get geared up for Thursday Night Football.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Boras Week 2 Q&A

Had a fun time answering classic "Tell me about my roster" and "Who the hell should I start this week" questions on Reddit.  It's always helpful to seek a second opinion, especially with the frustrating, inconsistent nature of fantasy football.  While I don't get paid for my thoughts and advice, my views carry as much weight as any fantasy football expert out there; and that weight is a big ol' 0 pounds 0 ounces.  When you know the cast of characters, it all comes down to dumb luck.  The eye test is the best measurement.  Fortunately for you, I see a lot.

Here are a few excerpts from last night's Q&A (Full link below):
[btw - Im_MrBucket = Boras]



________________________________
[–]ObeyYourPath   ago
Who do I start at WR: Pick 2, PPR Dez Bryant vs Seahawks Antonio Brown vs Jets, Revis is not playing Reggie Wayne vs Vikings

[–]Im_MrBucket[S]   ago
Wowwwww that's a tough one. Before last week I would've said Bryant and Brown, no doubt. It's hard for me to ignore Reggie's huge week. Keep in mind also that Donald Brown had 0 receptions, Collie is still concussed, and Garcon is Gar-GONE! Wayne is a fantastic receiver, and has some obvious chemistry with Luck.
That said, I like Dez getting more Red Zone targets than Antonio, so I think you're rolling out Bryant and Wayne.
It's a shame to leave a talent like Brown on the bench. But Revis or no, I see Miller and Wallace snaking more TD passes from Brown than Witten/Austin/Ogletree from Dez. It's a comfort thing.
_____________________________

[–]sirnack   ago
Thanks for doing this man. I've got Harvin @Ind, Wayne vs. Min, and Austin @Sea. I need to start two.
[–]Im_MrBucket[S]   ago
Take Harvin and Wayne.
Austin's a very solid receiver. Three reasons I bench him:
  • Of Indy, Minn, and Sea, the Hawks have the most formidable secondary. It's also one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.
  • Dez and Ogletree can easily blow up as much as Austin. I foresee a lot of 4 catches for 50 yard games this season for Miles.
  • Harvin and Wayne are the focal points of their respective teams. On top of this (and this is fantasy irrelevant), you're gonna enjoy the hell out of what could be a complete stinker of a game!
    ______________________________


    [–]kkataro   ago
    Choose 1 please: Steve Smith, Brandon Lloyd, Jeremy Maclin, or Mike Wallace?
    EDIT: Standard scoring
    [–]Im_MrBucket[S]   ago
    Welker's lack of touches was "part of the game plan." Lloyd led the Pats in targets. This could easily switch this week. It's too uncertain.
    Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown face a physical Jets D, though Revis is out. I think Wallace will have the bigger game of the two, though I'm not expecting huge numbers.
    Maclin is questionable. I'm sure he could play, but why would they rush him out against one of the nastiest defenses in the league?
    You've got to start Steve Smith. RG3 picked the Saints apart, and now it's Cam's turn. And you'd better believe he's determined to bounce back from last week. Smith is the obvious beneficiary.
    More good news:
    You have an incredibly deep pool of receivers to choose from. You may find it frustrating week to week to decide who will have the best game, but overall they are going to finish with similar point totals this season. Good problem to have. Even better if you flip one or two for a positional upgrade.
    ____________________________

    [–]alexanderfsu   ago
    I have Malcom Floyd, Nate Washington and DeSean Jackson. Choose 1 for WR2.
    For my Flex I have 2 of the 3 receivers up there, Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall.
    I'm leaning towards Dwyer for my Flex instead of Washington or Jackson. Jackson has an injury. Washington is struggly with one too and Jack Locker is out. Dwyer looked solid.
    [–]Im_MrBucket[S]   ago
    Fortunately, DeSean plays the early game, so you'll be able to make your decisions before the games get started Sunday. If Desean is playing, it likely means Maclin isn't. You've gotta start him, even against a tough defense like Baltimore.
    If you're determined to start Malcom Floyd (who I'd take over Nate), Dwyer isn't a terrible flex play.
    In a PPR league, I'd go with Floyd and DeSean (if healthy). Standard league it's closer. I'd still give the edge to that receiver combo. If DeSean is out, Dwyer and Floyd's the smart move.
Click through the full discussion (use Find) for thoughts on your own players.  If it ain't there, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Slaaaaam Dunk!

2012's opening week taught us a number of things.  For starters, Vernon Davis is still an elite tight end.  But he can't dunk.


That's...embarrassing.

We also learned - or at least relearned - why tight ends were drafted a little higher in 2012.  Jimmy and Rob looked every bit the late 1st round to 2nd round picks.
They are large people.

Tight ends are an exciting, confusing position in the NFL.  While the Fullback disappeared from the NFL in the wake of two and three-headed Running Back sets, the Tight End has emerged as a consistent target for QBs.  

Vernon Davis failed to dunk, but his head was in the right place.  There's a good reason basketball players are becoming Tight Ends.  Their size, quickness, and great hands are a recipe for QB boners.  
_________________________________________

Here are your Top 5 Positional Scorers in Standard Leagues.  I will then provide the patent-pending TAR (Tim's Actual Ranking).  This is where Boras predicts where they will finish by Week 16.  
Remember, Week 17 is fucking bullshit.


QB
Matt Ryan Gets Owned
That's Kablamo.  Dude can take a hit.  Sorta.  

1.  Matt Ryan (TAR: 4) 
Shown getting demolished above, Ryan demolished the Chiefs' battered secondary.  "This is Matt Ryan's year, blah blah blah."  Everyone's saying it, but do we really believe it?  To me, "Matt Ryan's year" is barely outscoring Stafford to finish 4th.  Rodgers, Brady, and Brees, barring injury, will be your Top 3.  Think of Ryan as Andy Roddick in his prime.  Really good, just not as good.

2.  Robert Griffin III (TAR: 8)
Definitely impressive.  I don't get overly excited by quick slants into broken coverage, but I do get excited about game-clinching bullet passes down the middle.  Do I think he could outscore his closest comparison, Cam Newton?  Yes.  Do I think he will?  Ask me again after Week 3. 

3.  Tony Romo (TAR: 7)
The best sign for Romo owners was DeMarco Murray's beastly running.  When Murray is chugging along like that, Dez, Miles, and Ogletree will run free.  A healthy Witten for that extra Red Zone target makes Romo an elite starter.

4.  Aaron Rodgers (TAR: 3)  
Rodgers did his thing against arguably the league's best defense.  Jennings' groin injury could prove problematic, but we saw Aaron thrive last year without him.  The emergence of Randall Cobb to balance the deep threats of Jordy Nelson and James Jones should quell any Rodgers-owners' worries.

5.  Drew Brees (TAR: 2)
Drew had a bit of an off day in terms of accuracy.  The good news is one of his bad days still resulted in a Top 5 finish.  He might break Drew Bledsoe's record of passing attempts in a season.  In fact...he will.  You heard it here.  692 attempts in 2012.  I've got Brees finishing the season the #2 QB, behind Tom Brady.

RB


Get well soon, Freddy.
1.  C.J. Spiller (TAR: 9)
PPR, I have CJ finishing 6th.  Either way, with Fred Jackson out of the picture for at least 3-4 weeks, look for Spiller to have big numbers.  He closed last year with elite numbers, and you can expect 20+ touches as Buffalo tries to recover from Week 1's beatdown.  Even if Fred returns, CJ will have the larger portion of total touches.

2.  Alfred Morris (TAR: 15)
Look, he had a great game.  And he looked great too.  I will also recommend him as the #1 waiver pickup.  However, let's not forget how frustrating Washington's running game is for fantasy owners.  We went through it with Ryan Torain.  Then Roy Helu.  Then Tim Hightower.  Then Roy Helu again.  For now, he looks like a solid option for 20 carries.  But, it only takes one fumble, one missed block, or one big drop, and poof, he's 3rd on the depth chart.

3.  Adrian Peterson (TAR: 5)
Deep down, in the lower cockles of your heart, you feel like clapping.  What an incredible feat.  His career could easily have ended. He could have hurt himself irreparably on his first run.  He could have simply taken the year off.
Nah, he decided it'd be better to return Week 1 and score 2 TDs.  So go on, clap.

Citizen Cane Clapping GIF

Feels good to approve.

4.  Ray Rice (TAR: 1)
Not much to say on this guy.  He and Arian Foster were 1-2 preseason, and 1-2 after Week 1.  I give the edge to Ray because he doesn't have a Ben Tate around to steal 5-10 carries.

5.  Kevin Smith (TAR: 10)
I'm not sure about calling Smith a Top 10 RB, but I'm doing it anyway with two major caveats:
  • He starts 13 games
  • Jahvid Best is unable to return
If (big if) these two happen, you'd better believe Smith has the skills, and the right offense, to finish Top 10.  

WR
He poops touchdowns.

1.  Kevin Ogletree (TAR: 20+)
He beat out a number of great receivers and a number of great fantasy days to be Week 1's Top WR.  I have him finishing outside the Top 20, but the Top 30 this year are all reasonable starts.  Maybe he cracks the Top 20, maybe he finishes 21st, or maybe 29th.  I still expect decent numbers from Ogletree.  If he finishes the year with 50 catches and 6-7 touchdowns, he will nearly match Torrey Smith's production from 2011, which was good enough for the 22nd WR.  Not bad, right?

2.  Julio Jones (TAR: 4)
Perhaps the most hyped player in fantasy football.  He came through big.  Many view Roddy White as a hindrance to Julio's success, but another 100 catch season for Roddy may be the best thing for Julio.  It only takes 3-4 touchdowns to counterbalance 20 receptions.  And he'll have plenty of chances for TDs.  I've got him finishing 4th, but I won't be surprised to see him finish #1.  Brandon Lloyd did it with Orton.  I think Julio can manage a little better than that.  

3.  Lance Moore (TAR: 19)
Of course I grinned when Brandon Lloyd dropped a wide open TD pass, and Lance Moore hauled one in shortly after.  And of course I'm sticking by my prediction.  Moore won't finish Top 10.  But he could.  He's the 3rd option behind Graham and Colston, and as I said, Drew Brees is going to pass close to 50 times a game.  That's a lot of opportunities to go around.

4.  Stephen Hill (TAR: 20+)
He had excellent separation, and Sanchez didn't look too shabby.  I still don't trust this offense, and placing him outside the Top 20 is a no-brainer.  However, he's a decent WR pickup if Cobb, LaFell, and Ogletree are gone.

5.  Andre Johnson (TAR: 7)
A former consensus #1.  I may eat my words when he finishes there again.  I don't see him outpointing Julio, Calvin, or Brandon Marshall, even if he plays 16 games.  And that's one of the biggest ifs in fantasy sports.  Still, those who drafted him high despite the risk are feeling good.  And everyone deserves to feel good.  GROUP HUG!

TE

Take notes, Vernon.

1.  Jimmy Graham (TAR: 1)
As I said earlier, Drew Brees had an off day.  Graham finished #1.  Terrifying, isn't it?
He finishes #1 in 2012.  He leads the league in TDs.  He signs a 12 year 425 million dollar extension this offseason.  This is known.


2.  Dennis Pitta (TAR: 13)
He looks big and strong.  So does Dickson.  And there's your real problem.  Consider also that both have battled nagging injuries.  Regardless, you could do worse picking him up off waivers.  Just don't act cocky when you do.  Try to put on the face you'd make if you were picking up the guy who finished 5th this week.

3.  Rob Gronkowski (TAR: 2)
Gronk's a ridiculous talent.  He and Graham are the Foster/Rice of Tight Ends.  They'll finish 1 and 2, but the edge goes to Graham because of Aaron Hernandez.  There are only so many TDs to go around, and Hernandez might snake a few more this year.  

4.  Tony Gonzalez (TAR: 5)
Gotta love this guy.  Every year he is undervalued, and every year he proves us wrong.  Ryan loves the guy, so you should too.  And I bet he can dunk better than Vernon.  In fact, I know he can:

Don't hurt yourself, old man.

5.  Heath Miller (TAR: 9)
Yeah, this guy.  Now put on that face.  Like you sharted in the pool.
I'll give him a Top 10 nod right now, only because Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace open up the middle of the field quite a bit.  The run game doesn't look fantastic in Pittsburgh, which means less blocking, and more 8 yard receptions for Heaaaaaaaath.

_________________________________

Boras' Top Waiver Pickups

(By Position, with Current % Owned)

RB

Alfred Morris - 18.2% -
20+ carries, for now.
Dexter McCluster - 3.9% - 

Highly targeted.  PPR value much higher than Standard Leagues.  Still a decent option.  Hillis looked bad.
Jonathan Dwyer - 18.2% -

Strong runner.  Respectable speed.  Safe to say he's moved up to #1 on Pitt's depth chart.

WR
Randall Cobb - 13.4% -

Already looked like a legit #2 receiver before Jennings went down.  Have him just behind Alfred Morris for the top waiver pickup.
Kevin Ogletree - 49.8% -

At first I had LaFell ahead of Ogletree.  The more I think about it, the more I trust Romo over Cam, and the more I trust Miles or Dez taking a few games off.
Brandon LaFell - 19.2 - Steve Smith's injury history makes LaFell an attractive option.  However, despite his touchdown, he was targeted only 5 times.  Not a bad option, but he's worth a look.
Stephen Hill - 7.4% - 

Loved him in College.  Looks faster in the NFL, if you can believe it.  Let's see if Sanchez can string a couple solid games together before putting Hill in the rotation.
Rod Streater - 0.7% - 
A solid deep league option while Denarius Moore is out.  Heyward-Bey is overpaid and under-qualified.  Streater looks like a hard worker, and Carson will heave it up a ton (2nd in attempts behind Drew Brees in 2012 if he keeps the job).  This is a recipe for good fantasy numbers.

QB

Mark Sanchez - 12.3% - 
I'll give him the nod for his solid game.  Also, Matt Cassel and Sam Bradford are owned in substantially more leagues.  He's at least as good as them.
Carson Palmer - 66.3% -
Should be owned higher.  There was plenty of talk about Palmer's close to the 2011 season.  He was very good.  It's easy to forget that a bad team doesn't necessarily mean bad numbers.  Palmer is going to throw the ball a ton, and that alone could help him crack the Top 10.

TE

Dennis Pitta - 2.5% -
You could do worse.  But don't be surprised when Dickson gets the TD.
Martellus Bennett - 36.7% -
Eli loves his tight ends.  Kevin Boss wasn't a terrible fantasy option a few years ago.  Bennett passed the eye test Week 1.  We'll see how it works out.
___________________________________

That's all for now.  Good luck in Week 2, and as always, hit me up with any roster questions or trade advice.  

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday Night Football Recap


That's a wrap. Ravens and Chargers are your MNF Week 1 Winners.

Final: Ravens 44, Bengals 13
Final: Chargers 22, Raiders 14
Fantasy Recap:

Baltimore
  • Joe Flacco: 21/29 299 yards, 2 TD 0 INT (Looked solid. Great arm strength.)
  • Ray Rice: 10 carries 68 yards, 2 TDs, 3 catches 25 yards (Every bit the #1.5 Fantasy Back)
  • Torrey Smith: 2 catches 57 yards, 1 carry 13 yards (Ravens' #1 receiver - don't panic)
  • Anquan Boldin: 4 catches 63 yards 1 TD, 1 carry 3 yards (A good flex play)
  • Jacoby Jones: 3 catches 46 yards (had a good drive - clearly not reliable)
  • Dennis Pitta 5 catches 73 yards, 1 TD (Dickson makes him a wildcard)
Cincinnati
  • Andy Dalton: 22/37 221 yards, 0 TDs 1 INT (Tough start, but has 3 good receivers going forward)
  • AJ Green: 5 catches 70 yards (Not a stellar day, but clearly highly targeted)
  • Benjarvus Green-Ellis: 18 carries 91 yards 1 TD, 1 catch 4 yards (Fantasy owners should be pleased with his performance. Approaching RB1 territory)
  • Jermaine Gresham: 3 catches 30 yards (Disappointing. Lot of TE depth out there to supplant him on fantasy rosters)
  • Andrew Hawkins: 8 catches 86 yards (Nothing like a big MNF game to put you on people's radars)
Oakland
  • Carson Palmer: 32/46 297 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs (A solid fantasy day, due to a ton of throws. Poor man's Drew Brees?)
  • Darren McFadden: 15 rushes 32 yards, 13 catches 86 yards (A very Forte-esque day. He's every PPR player's dream RB.)
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey: 3 catches 43 yards (It was a ragged day, but Heyward-Bey had opportunities to shine. Continues to disappoint - perhaps the most overpaid player in the NFL.)
  • Rod Streater: 4 catches 27 yards, 1 TD (Could be a serviceable deep-league flex play, but this Raiders receiving core isn't appealing so far.)
  • Brandon Myers 5 catches 61 yards (You can find better TEs than Myers, but today's day wasn't awful.)
San Diego
  • Phillip Rivers: 24/33, 231 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs (The lack of turnovers is encouraging.)
  • Antonio Gates: 4 catches 43 yards (Another injury scare. Surprised?)
  • Robert Meachem: 2 catch 49 yards (Caught a bomb. Then disappeared.)
  • Malcolm Floyd: 4 catches 66 yards, 1 TD (Looked very good. Has the egde for #1 Chargers receiver)
  • Ronnie Brown: Gross. Who really cares, right? Get healthy already, Mathews. Brinkley had a bad running day - 1.2 ypc - but 3 catches for 28 yards. Brinkley may get the start next week if Mathews can't play.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Week 1 Discussions Worth Perusing

You've gotta love Reddit.  All the friendly, informative discussions, and witty shit-talking banter you expect from Forums or Comment sections...just a little more articulate.

Enjoy these links:

Week 1 Waiver Wire Targets

MNF Discussions

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Early Returns

Jay Cutler might finally have "that season."  
He looks locked in. Need proof?

Smooth.

Other 1st half reactions:
  • Aaron Hernandez will lead all tight ends in receptions, surpassing Jimmy Graham's 99 in 2011.
  • Jimmy Graham will lead all tight ends in touchdowns - just reiterating.  And he'll lead the league.  Yup.
  • Brandon Lloyd will be the best free agent WR signing, IF... he gets more than 5 touches.
  • Pierre Garcon will be the best free agent WR signing, IF...he can stay on the field 3 plays in a row.
  • Julio Jones will lead all WRs in TDs, IF...Roddy White catches 100 balls for a 3rd straight season.
  • Jamaal Charles?  Looks healthy.
  • DeMarco Murray?  Looks healthy.
  • Adrian Peterson?  Looks healthy.
  • Team ACL lives!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stress


There is no such thing as a relaxing year of fantasy football.  Like life, it will have its peaks and valleys.  The lows are painfully low, and the highs are incomparably high.  I’ve chronicled my own successes, and painfully transcribed my stunning losses

Miracles happen in this game.  And everyone associates a miracle with an amazing, exciting, positive event. 

It’s easy to forget about the shit end of the stick. 

Yeah, you play this game and there’s a good chance you end up part of a miracle.  But there’s a 50% chance you’re the person crying in the corner, whispering to your pillow, 

“I don’t know who I am anymore.”

Here’re a few reflections I’ve had over the years concerning Fantasy Football:

It challenges your memory, it creates traitorous allegiances, and tests your loyalty. 

It causes your heart to race.  It can ruin a day.  A week.  An entire offseason.

It makes you lie to others (specifically so you can stay home Sunday)

It demands your full attention, like a puppy, or a special lady.  -->

It affronts your dignity, pride, and intelligence.

It tests the boundaries of friendship. 



Look, no matter the positives, that’s a glaring list.  
How is this worth it?  
Why do we do this to ourselves? 


We do it to etch our names on a trophy.  
We do it for the bragging rights.  
We do it to win. 

Stress is an appropriate measurement for this week’s player analysis.  By now you have drafted and are ready to go.  But that doesn’t mean your planning is done.  As always, the cornerstone of my blog is a complete detachment from your players.  They are tools, investments – pawns in your quest for victory.  No one is off limits if it keeps you on the road to victory.  

With that in mind, here are the Stress Players, ranked from most (Tier 4) to least (Tier 1) reliable:

Tier 4 - 
Nothing A Beer Won't Solve




This tier has some small questions to answer.  But on the whole, these are First Round picks, and that's the way it should be.

Matthew Stafford
Had some injury troubles to start his career.  Played 16 games last season.  Half of Fantasy's best duo.  Could finish as the Top QB.

Calvin Johnson
The other half.  Forget the Madden Curse.  Forget the historically expected drop-off.  Believe your eyes.

Arian Foster
I
n the same boat as Stafford.  He's missed a few games.  Fortunately, one of his games is worth two of nearly every other RB.  He's a monster.  

Drew Brees
New coach?  New offense?  No matter.  He's the most accurate passer in the league, in a pass-happy offense, and his team is healthier this year than last.  Could also finish as the Top QB.  And even more likely to do so than Stafford.

Tier 3
Squeeze One Off, You'll Feel Better

The tier of holdouts, contract disputes, and bad blood.  Don't expect these guys to make DeSean Jackson-ish claims about effort.  They get plenty of touches, but you never know how far pride will take some people.

Chris Johnson
He is the least of my worries, as his holdout did result in a new contract.  However, if Tennessee gets off to a bad start, might we see this freshly paid back's effort deteriorate?

Maurice Jones-Drew
I think we all cringed a bit when MJD reported to the Jags.  "They wouldn't trade me, they wouldn't pay me, so I came back."  I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of his press conference.  How much is he really going to give the Jags?  And how long until he's permanently splitting time with Rashad Jennings?

Wes Welker
He's the best receiver in football, in the more literal sense, in that he catches the most balls.  There are ungodly physical talents in the NFL, all of whom should overshadow Wes; Andre, Calvin, Larry, AJ, Julio, Dez.  But Welker consistently outshines the majority.  It's a combination of skill, effort, and an all-time great quarterback. He can't feel loved after getting the Franchise Tag.

Mike Wallace
He was a Top 10 receiver last year.  A brief holdout made him plummet in the rankings.  On the field, he's one of the best deep threats in the league, and his QB takes full advantage.  But with trade talk looming, and no new deal imminent, those 50 yard bombs might sail just over his fingertips.

Tier 2 - 
Not Exactly Glass-Half-Full, Are You?


Frequent injuries and an unreliable history might derail this tier's seasons.  They are all Top 15 at their position, and Top 15 on the "Most Likely to Miss 8 games" list.

Andre Johnson
He used to be The Johnson.  Now he is a total question mark.  Like his teammate Arian Foster, few can rival Andre's talent.  Unlike Foster, he doesn't bounce back from injury the same way.  It's Top 5 or bust for Andre.  There's no middle ground.

Ryan Mathews
Especially in PPR leagues, Ryan Mathews has McFadden-like potential.  He's as solid receiving as he is running, but his durability is deplorable so far.  Also, he doesn't have a lot of career touchdowns.  The major upside is the departure of Mike Tolbert.  Aside from Mathews, the San Diego running game is weak, so expect big things if Mathews can heal up.

Frank Gore
Gore is a workhorse, and despite his injury history, he played 16 games last season.  Any given game, Frank is a threat for 100 yards and 2 TDs.  Can't argue that.  But we aren't naive.  Kendall Hunter looks good, and the Niners are looking to the future.  Good things can happen, but you should be skeptical.  

Marshawn Lynch
He had an incredible year in 2011.  He almost cracked the RB Top 5.  He just got paid.  Sounds promising, right? Let's crush that right here.
He's never played 16 games.  He's never averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry in a season.  His QB could change daily.  His back hurts.  Oh yeah, and he's a criminal.

Tier 1 - 
You're High Or Stupid.  Either Way...Pray.

Finally, the tier of players who have no right being out of a wheelchair.  True, they can win your season for you.  But there's no better way to lose your season outright than having one of these guys go down.  Remember the golden rule of running backs:
Talent is important.  Working legs are essential.
I would cringe watching these five walk a dog, let alone sprint into a pile of 300 pound beasts.

Jamaal Charles
Coming off a torn ACL

Adrian Peterson
Coming off a torn ACL

DeMarco Murray
Coming off a broken ankle

Darren McFadden
Needs a Feet Transplant

Michael Vick
Made of Glass



One final player worth mentioning - Matt Forte.  He's coming off a contract dispute, and was understandably unhappy about Michael Bush's arrival in Chicago.  However, I expect Forte to have a career year.  He's a huge part of an improved Bears offense, and despite getting paid already, I expect a stellar performance.

There's reasons to love and hate all these players.  And to Tim Boras, that means there's a great reason to trade them.  Know the risks, know the value, and pull the trigger.  

Tim Boras' Top 3 Predictions:

1.  Matt Forte finishes the #3 RB, edging out Shady McCoy.
2.  Lance Moore outscores Brandon Lloyd.
3.  Jimmy Graham leads the league in touchdown receptions.

That'll do it.  
Welcome back to Fantasy Football, and good luck in Week 1!