Saturday, August 27, 2011

Elite QB Strategy Vs. Two-QB Strategy

       For the past several years in fantasy football, the value of a quarterback has gradually increased. While it used to be uncommon for a quarterback to go in round 1, we have seen a large amount of quarterbacks drafted in the early rounds. While there are 6 clear elite quarterbacks this year, and maybe a seventh in Tony Romo, the depth at quarterback has also increased. While some prefer to jump on the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick, others prefer to wait for a combination like Matt Stafford and Eli Manning. There can be benefits to either strategy.
       While in the past I would have waited to draft a QB like Ben Roethisberger later, I have now become an advocate of taking a QB in rounds 2-4. Each draft will vary, but you cannot argue with the consistency and production from this year's top 7. Besides Michael Vick, you almost know what you will get from these top quarterbacks. Even Tony Romo last year was on pace for a solid 4280 yards and 29 touchdowns before he got injured. Just take a look at the averages for the past 3 full seasons for each elite quarterback. 

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Aaron Rodgers
Drew Brees
Michael Vick (just last year's)
Philip Rivers
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Tony Romo

       Obviously, with players like Rodgers and Vick, they see their points increase greatly thanks to rushing stats which also helps their argument as surefire first rounders. But you can see why it is to your benefit to grab one of the elites. They have the marks of consistent production year in and year out. That said, overpaying can leave you short-handed at key WR and RB positions, so be careful. Snagging someone like Philip Rivers, for instance, who is not too different from Rodgers, is a better bargain being drafted 2-3 rounds later. But stretching for someone like Peyton Manning, who I have advised to be avoided in drafts for now obvious reasons, can be a poorly valued pick.
       So the question that arises is, "What if I want to wait altogether on a quarterback? How much do I lose by going with the likes of Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford as opposed to Tom Brady?". The answer is not simple. For one, you lose a bench spot to a quarterback. With a top 7 QB, you hardly need a backup save their bye weeks. For any other quarterback, you will surely need a backup. In addition, playing matchups can become stressful and it makes for tough weekly decisions.

       So let's take a look at some scenarios that may have played out in just last season. I will assume that the best decision possible was made each week in these 2-QB scenarios.

Passing Yards
Passing Touchdowns
Eli Manning/Ryan

       So, clearly the two quarterback strategy can work. In fact, it can even work better than an elite quarterback. But this strategy is risky and far from a given. Playing the matchups perfectly is nearly impossible to do. And the fact that these quarterbacks are not as consistent as the elite leaves you vulnerable to implosions. 
       The quarterbacks being drafted later are drafted for clear reasons. Some may be injury-prone like Stafford, others may be pick magnets like Manning, and some are still young and unproven like Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford. I do believe that there is great potential for some of these quarterbacks, but they no doubt have a risk and a bit of an "unknown" factor. That is, we still do not really know how they will do. This is a sharp contrast to someone like Brady or Rodgers. Consistency is a big issue as well; thus, making matchup playing a nightmare. 
       Is it worth it? To me, the answer is no. To others who think they are brilliant coaches and matchup wizards, go for it. But I would much rather have the safety of a Rivers, Rodgers, or Brady than a mixture of Eli Manning and Matt Stafford. I figure, you save a bench spot for a non-quarterback and avoid stressful decision making during the week. Not only are you going to get consistent, solid production, you will have the luxury in knowing that you have a top quarterback who does not need to be subbed out. 
       If you do miss out on an elite quarterback (Tony Romo signifies the end of the elites), don't panic and be patient. Who knows, getting Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford could be a blessing in disguise. This year there is potential outside of the top 7 for similar production to an elite quarterback. While you won't be nearly as safe, you can still have a top-notch team that can crack the playoffs. I still advise getting a top tier QB, but at least for this season, it is not the end of the world to miss out. 

all stats from ESPN stats and game logs

Friday, August 19, 2011

Players that I L.O.V.E

       Love is a powerful word. Love is what holds the world together. Love conquers all. It's a love story baby just say yeah.
       Every year, there are players that for some reason or another, I absolutely love and will target in nearly every draft. The hardest part about loving players in fantasy is to not reach on them. And then there's the grey area of picking players from your favorite team that you love. No doubt, it can make your season that much more fun. Unless you're a Cincinnati Bengals fan.
       So for every draft, it is a good idea to have a list of players that you absolutely love. These can be picks that you think will be bargains, gut feeling break out players, or players whose point per game difference (at their respective position) is greatest (Michael Vick and Antonio Gates). Whoever your "love" players are, it is best to avoid unnatural love. Like love for players with awesome names. Anyone remember Tim Biakabutuka? Or Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala? Or the current T.J. Houshmandzadeh, now known to many as T.J. Who's Your Mama. Despite awesome names, clearly guys like these shouldn't be among your loved fantasy players. You get the picture.
       But there are many things I love in this world. Football, duh. Ultimate Frisbee. Taylor Swift. Chocolate apple juice. Jesus (he's the one I love the most and the reason I live life the way I do). The Packers.
       Anyways, here are some players that I love and think you should too.

       Shonn Greene (RB, NYJ, ADP 61): Last year, Greene was way overvalued. This year, he is far too undervalued. Experts were calling for his breakout season last year when LaDanian Tomlinson spoiled hopes of that. But now, Shonn Greene should take off and produce like many thought he would last year. LT's role will be much more limited and Greene will be a force. Draft him. For his draft value, you won't regret it.

       Ahmad Bradshaw (RB, NYG, ADP 35): For someone who put quietly put up 1,500 total yards and 8 touchdowns, he is a great value being selected as the 16th running back. I expect more of the same from him and think he will outperform the likes of DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden, and LeGarrett Blount. And maybe more.

       Matthew Stafford (QB, DET, ADP 109): If only Stafford could stay healthy, he may be a top 10 quarterback. Unfortunately, he has only played in 13 of 32 possible games. But Detroit has loads of talent including this guy by the name of Calvin Johnson. Maybe you heard of him. He and Stafford have great chemistry and Megatron will see his value boosted if Stafford stays healthy. Now Stafford is not one that I would neccessarily draft, but he will be a great addition in deeper leagues and for those who miss on one of the elite quarterbacks.

       Larry Fitzgerald (WR, ARI, ADP 22): This a bit of an obvious one, but I think Fitzgerald will make a return to the top 5 thanks to Kevin Kolb. Considering what Fitzgerald did last year with three mediocre quarterbacks, I think Fitzgerald should now be drafted in the top 5 over Greg Jennings. Kolb may not live up to they hype, but that doesn't mean that Fitzy won't benefit. He will. And if Kolb does bust, it can't be much worse than Derek Anderson or Max Hall. Right?

       Neil Rackers (K, HOU, ADP 121): Ha, just kidding. You know how I feel about kickers.

       Wes Welker (WR, NE, ADP 57): Welker's knee appears to be fine and I think Welker will make a return to triple digit receptions this season. While Chad Ochocinco won't stretch the defense quite like Randy Moss did, I think Welker will be able to benefit nonetheless. He will once again be a monster in PPR leagues and should be in line for a solid season. He is currently being drafted as the 19th receiver, but will perform more in the 10th to 15th range.

       Philip Rivers (QB, SD, ADP 24): Why do I mind not getting Aaron Rodgers as my quarterback? It's because of this guy right here. Three consecutive 4,000 yards seasons with 28 plus TD passes and Rivers is not far behind. He is being drafted much later allowing you to get an elite running back or wide receiver. I will take Rivers and Ray Rice any day over Rodgers and Cedric Benson.

       Jermichael Finley (TE, GB, ADP 56): Hopefully this isn't a love due to my allegiance to the Super Bowl champs. However, Finley is absolutely loaded with talent and if he can finally stay healthy, who knows what kind of numbers we may see. And if he gets hurt, so what? There are plenty of other tight ends who won't be very different from the 6th to 15th ranked ones. You may miss out on a value pick, but I see Finley putting together a season to remember. If you don't believe me, watch this.

       Shawn Johnson: You are my soul mate and will always have a place in my heart. Love, Nate.

       Matt Forte (CHI, RB, ADP 29): Another PPR stud, Forte has put up solid numbers his whole career and is still a bit on the undervalued side. He should get you 1,500 total yards and will get his share of touchdowns.

       Jahvid Best (DET, RB, ADP 47): Best is another running back that I can see breaking out and he will be a stud in PPR leagues. With Mikel Leshore done for the season, Best and his Charles-like potential will be in for a fun ride.

       Austin Collie (IND, WR, ADP 75): Collie was on path to a monstrous season last year when multiple concussions derailed his hopes. For someone being drafted behind Chad Ochocinco, I don't see how you can go wrong. He has evident low end number 1 potential and can be drafted as your third, maybe even fourth receiver. He is definitely worth a chance and can bolster any lineup. Think of his stats like Vick's from last year projected over a full season. Ridiculous. 103 catches, 1153 yards, and 14 touchdowns. And that's including the game where he was re-injured.

       Ryan Grant (RB, GB, ADP 55): Another running back makes my love list and in the form of another Super Bowl champ. He missed basically all of last year but appears to be at full strength this year. Despite competition from James Starks, Grant will be the go-to-guy and can pick up where he left off in 2009. He won't be a number 1 back, but can definitely put up 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns, making him a very solid mid-round pick.

       Plaxico Burress (WR, NYJ, ADP 103): Plaxico has slowly moved up the wide receiver ranks and is reaching a point where he may be drafted too high. He is as far away from a surefire pick as you can be and may end up doing absolutely nothing. But, I think he is a worthy pick in the late rounds because he has huge potential. Despite obvious concerns, you will be mad is you didn't use your 15th rounder on him and he goes on to have a productive year. He is replacing Braylon Edwards and has the size to still be effective. Let's just hope he doesn't shoot himself in the foot or anything with the second chance.

       Tim Tebow (QB, DEN, undrafted): I just love the man. Clearly, most of his sleeper value is gone. But, that doesn't mean I can't love a man who cares about the game, people, and Jesus. I think any hate directed at him is unwarranted and unnecessary. But yeah, don't draft him (this year).

       LeSean McCoy (RB, PHI, ADP 11): While his rushing stats are solid, it is his receiving game that makes me love him so much. Even if Vick goes down, McCoy will get his carries and his catches. I would take him over MJD and Ray Rice, making him my fifth rated running back. In PPR leagues, he can goes as high the number 1 pick, although he will most likely be between the 2nd and 4th.

       BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB, NE, ADP 52): This may be my one of my least popular love picks. Bill Belichick always seems to make life difficult when choosing New England running backs. And with two early draft picks spent on running backs, Green-Ellis may find himself limited. And while he isn't the most talented of running backs, I don't see himself faltering. Maybe this is a gut feeling, but I think BenJarvus puts together another solid season and proves his worth as a number 2 back being drafted as your 3rd or 4th.

       Mike Sims-Walker (WR, STL, ADP 132): Sims-Walker was already a low risk late pick, but now that he is almost guaranteed a roster spot, my hopes are even higher. Sam Bradford throwing to him makes him a great comeback candidate in an improving offense.

Oh, JaMarcus.
       JaMarcus Russell (Hot dog eater, IKEA couches, sleeping): I just love making fun of him. What's not to love about a former quarterback built like a lineman? He still is in possibly the funniest "yahoo answers" questions that I have ever seen, "Did JaMarcus Russell refuse to take HGH because it didn't come in a chewable bacon-flavored form?"

       Brandon Lloyd (WR, DEN, ADP 52): Now I guess he isn't one I love, but someone I really really like. Much like Green-Ellis, not many people are expecting anything close to last season. But with Kyle Orton throwing, Lloyd really blossomed and should put up serviceable numbers this season. If Denver keeps up their losing ways, they will once again be forced to throw a ton, thus enhancing Lloyd's value. If he falls in your draft like he most likely will, keep an eye on him and don't be afraid to snag him.

        Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, ATL, undrafted): Now that's a cool name.

       Miles Austin (DAL, WR, ADP 33): While Dez Bryant may actually outproduce Austin this year, I think Austin will still be a tremendous pick. With a healthy Tony Romo, both Austin and Bryant may be in for big seasons. I like Austin a bit more than Bryant as he is more of a sure bet than Bryant, but both have huge potential in a potent offense.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hate is a Strong Word, But I Really Really Don't Like These Players

       Darren McFadden (RB, OAK, ADP 23): At last, Darren McFadden burst onto the fantasy scene with his first 1,000 yard season. And with nearly 1,700 total yards and 10 total touchdowns, he was a great late round steal. But, McFadden is a huge injury risk much like Brian Westbrook was. McFadden has played at most 13 games in a season and will at some time appear on the sidelines. In some of my drafts this year, I have seen him go as high as in the first round. This. Is. Ridiculous. While there is obvious potential based on his athleticism, he is too risky I would not draft him unless he fell much further.

       Any Saints Player Not Named Drew Brees: The Saints potent offense figure to put up major points again this season but my concern is in the overload of talent there. Their backfield is a fantasy nightmare with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles all getting some carries as well as a receiving corps that Brees spreads the ball to. Every week there is potential for someone else to put up numbers but none can be trusted on a weekly basis. Marques Colston is the closest to consistent as he should put up decent number 2 WR numbers this year even with his injury risk. Ingram and Jimmy Graham each have potential to shine but will also find it very tough to be consistent fantasy contributors.

       Reggie Bush (RB, MIA, ADP 111): His value lies solely in PPR leagues and nowhere else. He has proved that he never has been and never will be a reliable fantasy option. Do not waste a pick on him.

       Dwayne Bowe (WR, KC, ADP 38): Bowe finally broke out last season thanks in large part to overachieving play from Matt Cassel. In fantasy, touchdowns are extremely hard to predict, but I expect Bowe to fall far short of his league-leading 15 TD's last season. Last year Bowe and Cassel benefited from an easy schedule that took a bad turn towards the end of the year. Bowe struggled with only 14 catches in the last 5 games and much of his success depends on the untrustworthy Cassel. While Bowe could put up good numbers and certainly has potential to be a number 1 option, I just don't see him coming close to last season's totals.

       Peyton Manning (QB, IND, ADP 21): Manning is no doubt one of the most consistent fantasy performers year after year and you always know what you will get. While he is obviously still one of the seven elite quarterbacks this year, I actually have him ranked 6th. Someone like Philip Rivers, who has actual wide receivers to throw to this season, is a much better bargain and less of a risk. Manning's neck injury worries me and Reggie Wayne may finally be slowing down a bit. With a poor offensive line and the usual suspect running game, Manning may see his numbers take another slight dip.

       Ryan Matthews (RB, SD, ADP 41): For him to be a top 20 running back this year is just absurd. Last year, countless owner fell for his potential and took a chance on him much too early. He produced just one game with more than 15 points and that was in week 17. Well this year, Matthews continues to miss camp time with some nagging injuries. That combined with Tolbert taking his fair share of carries makes Matthews a player to avoid on draft day. For now, I see Matthews as no more than a flex starter and someone being drafted far too high.

       Ryan Torain (RB, WSH, ADP 100): In the games that Torain played last season, he was actually quite productive and a good pickup. However, he is constantly being injured and has already lost the starting spot to new acquisition Tim Hightower. With Roy Helu also figuring to get some carries, I see Torain getting lost in the mix. If you can get him in the late rounds of the draft, he may be worth a flier but don't count on him staying on the field too much.

       Cedric Benson (RB, CIN, ADP 64): None of the Bengals should excite you this year. Period. Benson was last among the top 36 rushers with 3.5 yards per carry and has very limited potential. While he is going to get a great deal of carries, he is consistently average and nothing more. And while rookie wideout A.J. Green has huge potential, this year should be a rough ride for Andy Dalton and company. Their lackluster offense has little potential for THIS season and I would avoid all of the Bengals' players.

       Sidney Rice (WR, SEA, ADP 80): Sidney Rice burst onto the fantasy scene when Brett Favre helped him produce his best season in 2009. In his four other seasons, he has not eclipsed 400 yards! Having Tavaris Jackson as his QB again does not help either. I do not see Rice being much of a factor this season. Avoid the misconception of him returning to an elite receiver.

Long gone are his glory days. So why is he even being drafted?
       LaDanian Tomlinson (RB, NYJ, ADP 114): At the beginning of last season, LT gave us flashbacks of his elite glory days. But now, those are far, far gone. After week 6, Tomlinson failed to put up more than 10 fantasy points and his play plummeted. While he will still be utilized, I don't see why one would bother with a pick on him. Oh, and as you'll see later, Shonn Greene is one of my favorite undervalued players this year. He will be the man, not LT.

       Greg Jennings (WR, GB, ADP 18): As much as it pains me to say this, I think my boy Greg Jennings is being overvalued this year. He has never been a true number 1 receiver nor the most consistent. That said, he will put up great numbers, just not top 5 numbers. With the return of Jermichael Finley and a running game in Green Bay, I think Jennings will get less targets and less scores. He should have no doubt a solid season, but since he is being drafted so high, I have to put him in my really don't like column.

No, not this Jay Cutler with muscles like mine.
        Jay Cutler (QB, CHI, ADP 115): While not many people actually like him in fantasy, he is still being drafted far too high for such an inconsistent quarterback. Last year more than half of Cutler's starts resulted in 15 or less fantasy points. Major concerns with the Bears offensive line are not helping his cause and the loss of steady Olin Kreutz is a crushing blow. Cutler should not be drafted except in the deepest of leagues.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Draft Day Tips: Rookies To Watch For

       Last year, only a couple rookies really made a splash in the fantasy football world. Those who stumbled upon the likes of Mike Williams and LeGarrette Blount had to be extremely pleased with their solid production. Others, mainly Ryan Matthews and C.J. Spiller, were major disappointments and brought little to the table. But finding a solid rookie who can instantly produce is tough to come by these days and hardly predictable.
       For instance, someone like Jimmy Clausen who had one of the easier paths to becoming a starter, failed miserably to put up even decent quarterback numbers. But Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, rookie tight ends on the same team both became serviceable options at some point during the season. Last year's class is fairly promising for THIS years draft with Dez Bryant, Jahvid Best, Sam Bradford, and others looking to breakout this year. But, as for this years draft, here are my top rookies and the level of impact they will have this season.

       Daniel Thomas (RB, MIA, ADP 76): With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams gone, Daniel Thomas will be the main feature in Miami. Oh wait, Reggie Bush is now there. But don't fret, Bush will keep his role as a third down back and won't hurt Thomas' value too much. This bruiser out of Kansas State should see a great amount of carries and will be Miami's workhorse. But, we all know that doesn't mean instant success for a rookie. Expect a solid impact with potential to be a high-end number 2 back.
       Mark Ingram (RB, NO, ADP 65): Once again, the New Orleans' backfield has become a three-headed monster with Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Darren Sproles. While early indications are that Ingram should see the bulk of the carries, there is no doubt that Thomas and Sproles both have potential to get their fair share. This limits Ingram's value despite his tremendous upside on the high-powered Saints. I would generally avoid Ingram considering his draft position, but he could put up solid stats. Expect a decent impact with solid number 2 RB potential.
       Julio Jones (WR, ATL, ADP 105): While fellow rookie wideout A.J. Green is being taken higher in drafts, I think Jones has more potential for his rookie campaign. Jones is being set into an already great offense with a fantastic quarterback in Matt Ryan. There are rave reviews right now for Jones and he could end up making a difference with Roddy White drawing double teams. Do not expect an immediate impact, but a good impact later in the season. Keep your eye on him.
       Roy Helu (RB, WSH, ADP 130): Regarded highly by Coach Mike Shanahan, Helu will definitely see some playing time. How much that is relies heavily on injury prone Ryan Torain and newly acquired Tim Hightower. While it is a cluttered backfield, Helu has great potential and could emerge as Shanahan's new guy. If Torain gets hurt, I think Helu could really shine and have a big fantasy impact. But until then, expect just a marginal impact on behalf of Helu.
       A.J. Green (WR, CIN, ADP 89): A.J. Green is in the perfect situation. He is a promising rookie wide receiver expected to start in week 1. And he plays for the mighty, oh, wait. Cincinnati Bengals. At least he has Carson Pal... Oh. Maybe not. Well, Green does have a promising future ahead of him with Andy Dalton looking to develop. But the Bengals, without Chad Ochocinco and Carson Palmer, may have a rough time against punishing defenses like Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice a season. And with the chance of Bruce Gradkowski throwing to him, Green will find it tough to be fantasy relevant. Expect a marginal fantasy impact with potential to be a low-end number 3 receiver.
       Ryan Williams (RB, ARI, ADP 91): Arizona made a surprising pick with Williams despite taking Beanie Wells in the first round just two years ago. Williams will get carries, but needs time to adjust to the NFL especially coming off an injury. I do not see Arizona giving up on Beanie so quickly, but Williams could make a splash if Wells struggles again. Expect a moderate impact from Williams.
       Alex Henry (K, PHI, ADP 152): If you know me, then you know my thoughts on kickers. But Henry may actually end up being the most fantasy relevant rookie (kind of). He is on the high-powered Eagles and will see plenty of points. But is any kicker really more fantasy relevant than another? Even if you take him (it better be in the last round), it's not like he will be any different from any other kicker. Hard to predict (and even harder because he's a rookie) and not a difference maker. But he could finish in the top 10 at his position. Which is why I guess I have to say that he will have a solid fantasy impact.
       Cam Newton (QB, CAR, ADP 131): There is really no reason to draft him. Although he can compile rushing yards, expect no fantasy impact from Newton this season.
       Jacquizz Rodgers (RB, ATL, undrafted): Rodgers' value falls solely in PPR leagues. He is still the third man in Atlanta and very undersized. But he is electrifying and should find the field at least a little bit. Monitor him for leagues that give points for catches. Other than that, he really has no value.
       Dane Sanzenbacher (WR, CHI, undrafted): Consider him a very, very deep sleeper. His chances of even making the team are not that high, but they seem to improve every day. He is even challenging Earl Bennett for FIRST team slot reps. Who knows? He could be the next Wes Welker. While realistically he won't have value this season, I think he could surprise and see the field more than one would think. If you are in a deep league, give him a shot.
       My former fellow Illini Mikel Leshore would have made this list if not due to a season ending injury. He still has a promising future ahead of him. But with the luck the Lions have had drafting, maybe they should look at fellow Fighting Illini Nate Amodio who rushed for 1 touchdown in the intramural season. He could make the transition from QB to RB as long as the NFL makes a rule for the max player weight to be 150.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Draft Day Tips: Bang for Yo' Buck, Value Picks

       Value, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the relative worth, utility, or importance. A value pick in fantasy is someone who can be picked later than others at his position, but has potential to produce on par or even better than those drafted ahead. By identifying key value picks in your draft, you should be able to really bolster your lineup and have depth on your bench. Here are some players who I think provide great value for where they are being drafted.

       Tony Romo (QB, DAL, ADP 45): Romo being drafted will most likely signify the end of the elite quarterbacks in your draft. Although drafting him coming off his injury is a bit risky, he provides great value for a 4th to 5th round pick. Before last season, he put up at least 26 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons and over 4,000 yards in two of them. Expect him to return to those numbers making him a solid number 1 option and great value if you want to wait a bit for a quarterback, while still grabbing an elite one.

       Kevin Kolb (QB, ARI, ADP 112): With a fresh new start in Arizona, Kolb has a chance to piece together a solid season with his new team. Despite his lack of experience and poor touchdown to interception ratio, look for Kolb after the 10th round. Here, he can provide backup value with potential to be a low end starter. Keep in mind that if you do grab a top 7 quarterback, there is really no need for a backup. But those who go for a two QB strategy or aren’t sure of their starter, Kolb should be your man.

       Ahmad Bradshaw (RB, NYG, ADP 35): Now back with the Giants, speedster Bradshaw is looking to pick up where he left off last year. Even with Brandon Jacobs in the mix, Bradshaw saw more carries and produced 1,500 all-purpose yards and 8 touchdowns. Look for more of the same from Bradshaw who has great potential for a 3rd or 4th round back. And with him being drafted close to Knowshon Moreno and Ryan Matthews, I would take Bradshaw in a heartbeat over the two.

       BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB, NE, ADP 52): This is where the site you use for fantasy changes one's value greatly. In my drafts on, I have gotten tremendous value for him in the 9th round. But on ESPN, it appears as if he is going more towards the 5th round. Nonetheless, Green-Ellis has a knack for the endzone and provides good value if you can snag him after the 5th round. Just be wary of Bill Belichick who tends to mix up his backfield quite a bit. And with New England using their recent 2nd and 3rd round picks on running backs, Green-Ellis may get lost in the mix. However, I expect Green-Ellis to have another productive season as he is one of my favorite mid round running backs.

       Shonn Greene (RB, NYJ, ADP 59): Last year many people, expected Greene to be a breakout candidate with a bigger role in New York. Unfortunately for his owners, LaDainian Tomlinson reemerged and bumped Greene down to a small role. But this year Greene should get the bulk of the carries and will play more like he did against Chicago in week 16. For a 5th or 6th round pick, Greene could bring the value of 2nd or 3rd round pick. And folks, this year will be his breakout year.

       Brandon Lloyd (WR, DEN, ADP 53): Again, the site you draft on could greatly change someone like Lloyd’s draft spot. Since people tend to draft generally based on the site's rankings, I’ve seen Lloyd go anywhere from the 5th round to the 8th round. If you can get Lloyd anywhere after the 6th round, he could be a steal. Don’t expect last year’s numbers, but with Orton still throwing and Lloyd his go-to guy, I think he will surprise us again. And in my league where he is my 4th receiver, I couldn’t be happier.

       Austin Collie (WR, IND, ADP 72): Collie was having a stellar season till a series of concussions derailed his season. But he showed that he is capable to be a great number 2 wide receiver and is a bargain in the 7th round. In just 9 games last season, he had caught 58 passes for 649 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Colts have lots of receiving options, but Collie should be able to shine in the slot. Albeit a bit of a risky pick given his concussions, Collie is a fairly low-risk high-reward pick in the middle rounds.

       Mike Sims-Walker (WR, STL, ADP 131): Look for Sims-Walker to be an absolute steal late in your draft. While you shouldn’t expect him to be a number 1 option, don’t be surprised if he puts up 800 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Sam Bradford throwing, Sims-Walker could rebound, assuming that he does in fact make the team. The St. Louis camp is extremely crowded with average wide receivers and it is possible for Sims-Walker to not make the team. But given where he is being drafted, he is certainly worth the risk.
It's cool to punch a hole in a drywall, let alone catch a ball thrown from the other side. Skills. 

       Chris Cooley (TE, WSH, ADP 121): Long gone are the days of Cooley being an elite tight end. But last year, Cooley was still targeted plenty of times in the red-zone even with Fred Davis looking to grab the tight end spot. Cooley finished second among tight ends in catches and third in yards, but had only 3 touchdowns. Don’t be afraid to take Cooley in the late round if you miss out on the elite tight ends. While gone are his 6 touchdown seasons, he will still be a productive option. And, he still has one of the coolest "NFL Fantasy Files".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Draft Day Tips: Players to Avoid

       Every draft, there are players who owners may just be dying to get, whether its someone like Michael Vick, or their surefire sleeper. At the same time, there are those players who nobody wants to touch and with good reason. Here, I present some players and (their average draft position according to ESPN) that should generally be avoided.

Quarterbacks to Avoid:
       Jay Cutler (CHI, ADP 116): If Cutler makes your roster as a backup, then you should be fine because of his potential. If he somehow ends up as your starter, then you are in big trouble. His inconsistencies outweigh any of his productiveness and is wildly hit or miss. Last year, 8 of Cutler's 15 starts produced 15 or less fantasy points. Not ideal for a QB who will be missing his Pro Bowl center.
       Matt Cassel (KC, ADP 115): Cassel produced a fantastic season amidst low fantasy expectations. But he still has just a 59% completion percentage and is on a run first team. Last year, Cassel beat up on some of the league's worst defenses but now will face a much, much tougher schedule.
Running Backs to Avoid:
       Darren McFadden (OAK, ADP 22): McFadden finally became the runner he was expected to be out of Arkansas as he racked up nearly 1,700 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. This is despite missing 3 games for the season. However, McFadden was nearly non-existent some weeks and poses serious injury concerns. That and him being drafted so high (I've seen him go late first round) and I would avoid McFadden. Unless he drops to you in the third round, he is not worth the risk.
       Ryan Matthews (SD, ADP 43): Matthews ended his season with his only good game of the year of 120 yards and 3 touchdowns. His season as a whole was a major disappointment and opened the door for fellow teammate Mike Tolbert. Now, missing some camp time with a toe injury and coming off wrist surgery makes Matthews risky. And with Tolbert possibly stealing goal line carries, Matthews is a very risky pick.
       Any Saints RB's: When Reggie Bush was traded, it looked like Mark Ingram (ADP 65) may be the feature back. Na uh. Think again as they brought in Darren Sproles (ADP 138) to make another three-headed backfield. With Ingram, Pierre Thomas (ADP 89), and Sproles all getting carries, their draft stock is limited. Ingram still has the most potential and Thomas is the most proven, but none should excite you when drafting.
       Ryan Torain (WAS, ADP 100): In 3 of his 8 games, Torain rushed for over 100 yards and became a useful option last year (while he was not hurt). Coach Mike Shanahan and the Redskins not only drafted Roy Helu, but traded for Tim Hightower who will be in the mix. Shanahan reportedly really likes Helu and this is another backfield with limited fantasy potential.
Wide Receivers to Avoid:
       Marques Colston (NO, ADP 47): Colston is no longer the number 1 receiver he once was despite the juggernaut Saints' offense. Brees just spreads the ball out so much that every week it seems to be someone different racking up yards and scoring touchdowns. This makes all Saints' players besides Brees tough to predict. Nonetheless, Colston is still the best for the Saints and does warrant a mid round selection. Just don't overpay for him.
       Hakeem Nicks (NYG, ADP 23): It's not that you should necessarily avoid Nicks, just do not jump on him too early. He is often being drafted before Larry Fitzgerald because of his strong season last year. But I would rather have Fitzgerald who put up 1,100 yards and 7 touchdowns with terrible quarterbacks Derek Anderson, John Skelton, and Max Hall. With Kevin Kolb now, imagine the possibilities and do not take Nicks over him. Nicks should still be a top 7 WR, but he's not worth grabbing so early.
Tight Ends to Avoid:
       Owen Daniels (HOU, ADP 79): I actually like Daniels a lot, just not enough to draft him in the eighth round. He is viewed as the number six tight end and a great comeback candidate, but I would avoid him solely based on draft position. You can still grab very comparable tight ends much later in the draft and hardly lose any value. If you miss on a top five tight end, wait patiently, and let the draft come to you.
Kickers to Avoid:
       Have you read my thoughts on kickers? Pick one, unless he has Bill Gramatica potential. This marks one of my favorite childhood football memories by the way.
Defenses to Avoid:
       Arizona Cardinals (Not drafted): Arizona finished last season ranked 9th for defenses. I can guarantee that it will not happen again. Most of their points came on defensive touchdowns even though they were continually torched by opposing offenses. The loss of playmaker Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie hurts them even more. Do not draft them. Period.