Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Draft Prep: Players to Avoid

Avoid these players. Whether it's for injury concerns, fluke seasons, or being drafted too high, I would recommend a rethink if you are wanting to draft any of these guys.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, "Avoid every kind of evil". While these players are not evil by any means, the things they may do to your team may seem evil. And while you are at it, avoid using Bible verses out of context. Psh, I mean, who does that? But seriously, those who use individual verses to prove points miss the context and point of passages. In order to not do that, it helps to use the ladder of abstraction, which helps us find an underlying universal principal in context. For instance, when there is foot washing in the Bible, it is not proper to extrapolate and say that we, in today's culture, need to wash our neighbors' feet. Instead, we see how foot washing was a way to keep your house clean. We also can take away the theme of serving one another with humility and being hospitable.

Um, well, how does this connect at all? It does not really. But for those who find research saying that  Eric Dickerson tanked after a 380 plus carry season does not necessarily mean that Maurice Jones-Drew cannot handle it. Times are different. Athletes are built differently. In short, the game has changed. So when it comes to finding research about current situations, like Adrian Peterson's torn ACL, it can be good to look into the past for reference. Just do not hold it as truth for what will happen next.

So. Back to the actual point of this article. Here are players you should avoid on draft day.

Peyton Manning (QB, DEN, ADP 42.1): For a career filled with twice as many indoor games as outdoor games, Manning now faces 15 outdoor games this year. His outdoor numbers, while not terrible, do in fact drop significantly from his indoor numbers. That plus his age, his neck, and a brand new team makes me want to avoid Manning this year. While being the eight quarterback selected sounds like a bargain, there are much better, surefire options.

Eli Manning (QB, NYG, ADP 31.9): Both Mannings make this list as this year Eli is actually being overvalued. While he did produce a stellar 5,000 yard season last year, he still was one of the more inconsistent quarterbacks. He had six games with under 15 points and finished the year with only 29 touchdowns. Good, but not great. Of the eight other quarterbacks to ever throw for 5,000 yards in a season, they averaged 41 touchdowns. So the question: where were Manning's?

Matt Stafford (QB, DET, ADP 13.0): For a guy going borderline first round, I do not want to touch him. No doubt he has the talent to be a top five quarterback. And he has Calvin Johnson. But, he has played only one full season in his career, has a poor offensive line, and little running game. Do I want to pick a player in the first round based on one great season? Nope.

JaMarcus Russell (QB, Biggest Losers, ADP (average donuts per day) 12): Avoid him. He may just eat you, too.

Darren McFadden (RB, OAK, ADP 25.5): The thing about McFadden is that he is one the best fantasy running backs out there. The other thing is that he can rarely stay on the field. If you are feeling dicey, then McFadden could be one of the biggest steals this year. He is the epitome of a high risk, high reward player.

Frank Gore (RB, SF, 35.2): No longer viewed as a number one running back, owners should see Gore as a solid number two. Gore finally lasted a full season, but saw his workload decrease as the season went on. That said, he now has Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, and Kendall Hunter all in the mix to steal carries. Don't be surprised if there is another decline in Gore's carries and productivity.

Roy Helu (RB, WSH, 52.6): I love this guy. He showed immense potential in his rookie campaign by compiling over 1,000 all-purpose yards to go along with 49 catches. In PPR leagues, he will be a great option. But anytime Mike Shanahan is your coach, we actually have no idea who will get the bulk of carries. For all I know, Terrell David could come out of retirement and Shanahan will give him the carries. Any Redskins' running back is risky, although Helu hopes to break the Shanahan curse and be the go-to guy.

Willis McGahee (RB, DEN, 54.3): Remember Joseph Addai in the high powered Colts' offense. Remember his incredible numbers? . . . Oh, wait. Well, McGahee, who turns 31 this year, could end up a replica of Addai, only worse. McGahee does not catch well and is poor in pass protection, which means he may not do too much this year with Manning. Before you think McGahee will ride on coattails of last year, think again.

Calvin Johnson (WR, DET, 6.8): Madden curse? Is it true? Does it affect a robot? Who knows? Other than the curse, there are no actual viable concerns for this beast of a player.

Mike Wallace (WR, PIT, 26.5): This man is still holding out. So watch out come draft day. Wallace did very little toward the end of last season and Antonio Brown emerged as a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger. In Wallace's last 9 games, he scored double digits just TWICE! For the consensus top eight wide receiver, he is one to be drafted with caution. He still has lights out potential, but has a moderately high risk component.

Vincent Jackson (WR, TB, 53.8): He has never caught more than 68 passes in a season. Or double digit touchdowns. Or 1,200 yards. A guy that always seems slightly overrated, Jackson now leaves his comfort of Philip Rivers and goes to run-heavy, Josh Freeman led Tampa Bay. Things do not look good, my friends.

Victor Cruz (WR, NYG, 31.8): This is more based on draft position than on talent or production. Cruz has the ability to replicate last year's numbers. But he almost surely will not. He scored on touchdowns last year of 68, 72, 74, 74, and 99 yards. Think he can do that again? I like Cruz and think he can still produce like a top 20 receiver, just not the top 10 where he is currently being drafted.

Andre Johnson (WR, HOU, 14.3): Yup, you read it right. For a guy who has failed to stay healthy the past two seasons, I cannot advise taking him so high this year. He has played just 20 games the past two years and while he has been productive, he has been a headache to deal with. And now Houston has become a run first team, meaning Johnson will have less chances to produce like he once did. I am not saying that Johnson is done by any means, I am just saying he is no longer the Andre we knew and used to draft first of wide receivers.

Vernon Davis (TE, SF, 52.5): He's a great talent hurt by his quarterback Alex Smith. While Smith is by no means a bad quarterback, Davis just does not get the same chances that a Jimmy Graham or even a Jason Witten get. Davis was very inconsistent last year and that is due to him getting mainly underneath throws from Smith. If Smith can air it out more, perhaps Davis will return to the top five. Till further notice, he is just a solid top 10 option.

Jermichael Finley (TE, GB, 67.0): At least he is not being drafted as early as Davis, but Finley was perhaps the most inconsistent of all fantasy players. He was plagued by drops and had only four double digit games. He has ridiculous potential, but still has not reached it.

Stephen Gostowski (K, NE, 110.1): WHY ON EARTH DO PEOPLE PICK KICKERS THIS EARLY? Wait till the LAST ROUND, close your eyes and point at the screen. There, you have your kicker! Last year, if you removed David Akers' season, there was only a 15 point difference between the 1st and 10th kicker! Even with Akers, it was still only 49 points.

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Running Back Tiers

Tier 1: The Elite
1. Arian Foster
2. LeSean McCoy
3. Ray Rice

Who I want the most: LeSean McCoy. I love Arian Foster. I love Ray Rice. But like last year, I really love LeSean McCoy. And after these guys, well, let's just say the running backs are a crap-shoot. These are hands down the elite, the most proven, and the closest to a surefire running back you will get this year. So why McCoy? In the explosive Eagles offense, McCoy piled up 1,600 all purpose yards and twenty touchdowns. Even if his touchdowns decrease, he will still be a top five back. "Shady" had only 273 carries last year and is just 24 years old. He also does not have a Ben Tate guy who could steal his carries. And while Rice might be the safest choice here, I'll take McCoy and his ridiculously high upside.

Tier 2: The "Sigh, I Don't Get an Elite Running Back..."
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Chris Johnson
6. Ryan Mathews
7. Matt Forte

Who I want the most: Matt Forte. As consistent as MJD has been, this could be the year he falls off. MJD just tallied a 380 touch season and to his dismay, he has Blaine Gabbert as his quarterback. Meanwhile, Forte now heads up what could be the best Chicago offense in years. Even if Michael Bush takes away some carries, Forte will still be the center of attention. Last year, Forte was on pace to lead the league in yards from scrimmage and he has the chance to do the same. As sad as I am to recommend drafting a Bears player, Forte is your guy.

Bust alert: Chris Johnson. For a guy who ran for 2,000 yards in 2009, he has been on a steady decline since. His yards per carry have gone from 5.6 to 4.3 to 4.0. Will he ever run again like he did in 2009? Maybe his "get away from the cops speed" will return. Or maybe he will disappoint multitudes of owners again.

Tier 3: These Guys Might Really Be My Best Running Back?
8. Marshawn Lynch
9. DeMarco Murray
10. Steven Jackson
11. Trent Richardson

Who I want the most: Steven Jackson. He may actually go a round later than most of these guys and he should be a pretty safe pick. Then again, no one outside the top 3 is safe this year. He isn't flashy, nor is his offensive line any good, but he gets the job done. Only Isaiah Peed can take away carries but, Jackson will still be the man. Richardson has the highest upside here as will be the best playmaker on the Browns. With that said, he could be line for a Adrian Peterson rookie-like year. Then again, he is on the Browns...

Tier 4: The Hospital Bed
12. Darren McFadden
13. Jamaal Charles
14. Adrian Peterson
15. Fred Jackson

Who I want the most: Adrian Peterson. He's a freak. He's a monster. He can overcome a little ACL injury. Well, maybe. If you take a look at previous great running backs before and after ACL injuries, then you know things do not look bright. But of all the players here, Peterson is your guy. Even if he doesn't start the season healthy, he will be back sooner than later and can put up his usual numbers. Charles is splitting with Peyton Hillis. McFadden, I'm pretty sure has a spot reserved in the Oakland hospital. And Fred Jackson now has C.J. Spiller to split carries with. Go with Peterson. And pray. Lots.

Tier 5: The Okee Dokee
16. Michael Turner
17. Frank Gore
18. Roy Helu
19. Darren Sproles
20. Ahmad Bradshaw

Who I want the most: Michael Turner. Many are predicting a steep decline for Turner. While the age is there and the carries are piling up, I do not see Turner declining as much as people think. Atlanta is still a run first offense and Turner has been stellar the past two seasons. Gore is risky. So is Bradshaw. And my goodness, I do not think I will draft another Redskins running back as long as Mike Shanahan is there. Roy Helu looks like the man which probably means he is indeed not the man. And Darren Sproles is a fantastic PPR option and just an average standard league option.

Tier 6: The Cedric Benson Tier
21. Benjarvus Green-Ellis
22. Reggie Bush
23. Shonn Greene
24. Jonathan Stewart
25. Ben Tate

Who I want the most: BGE. Hands down. He will get plenty of carries and will "thrive" like Benson in the Bengals pound it relentlessly offense. He has yet to fumble in his career and in the past two seasons, he has 24 touchdowns! You can definitely expect Benson-like numbers or better this season.

Bust alert: Shonn Greene and Reggie Bush. Bush has Daniel Thomas AND Lamar Miller, both of whom may cut into his carries. And Shonne Greene. Man, I'm starting to dislike this guy. My favorite sleeper the past two seasons were met with nothing spectacular. He did end the season strong, but with Tim Tebow there, he may actually lose some goaline carries. Of course, the year I predict him to do nothing is the year he will break out. Just wait, feel free to take him just because I said he will continue to be the worthless underachieving running back he is.

Tier 7: The Uninspiring
26. Jahvid Best
27. Wilis McGahee
28. Isaac Redman
29. DeAngelo Williams
30. Beanie Wells

Who I want the most: Isaac Redman. None of these guys may get through a full season. Best is the definition of a boom or bust player. McGahee is the definition of a 31 year old running back. Wells is a lock for less than 16 games and Williams will be running alongside Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert. Did I convince you on Redman?

Tier 8: The Back-ups
31. Mark Ingram
32. Stevan Ridley
33. C.J. Spiller
34. Peyton Hillis
35. Michael Bush
36. Doug Martin

Who I want the most: Doug Martin. If only LeGarrette Blount would just go. Or fumble the ball away lots like last year. Martin has perhaps the highest upside here given he will get a good chunk of the carries. But all the guys here are great options especially if injuries happen to their counterparts.

Tier 9: What? There're Actually Starters Here?
37. James Starks
38. Donald Brown
39. Toby Gerhart
40. LeGarrette Blount
41. David Wilson
42. Daniel Thomas

Who I want the most: Donald Brown. He could be a nice surprise this season. If Andrew Luck and the offense get rolling, Brown figures to play a key role. Of all these guys, he has little competition and could be a great late round flier.

Tier 10: The Rest
43. Kevin Smith
44. Pierre Thomas
45. Shane Vereen
46. Brandon Jacobs
47. Jonathan Dwyer
48. Ryan Williams
49. Felix Jones
50. Bernard Scott

Who I want the most: Kevin Smith. He had his out of nowhere game last year against Carolina, then managed just two okay games after. He still has the highest upside of the bunch and is emerging as the possible starter in Detroit. Take a chance.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Early 2012 Tight End Tiers

Tier 1: Gronk
1. Rob Gronkowski

Who I want the most: Brandon Manumaleuna. Just kidding, but I always get a kick out of his name. Last year, Gronkowski may have been the biggest difference maker of ANY fantasy player. Take away all his touchdowns and he is still the number TWO tight end! He ranked right behind Calvin Johnson for all WR/TE and would give you the biggest positional advantage in fantasy football. He is worth a first round pick (although I still have reservations in taking a tight end in the first) and he, barring injury, will without a doubt be a top five tight end.

Tier 2: The Elite
2. Jimmy Graham
3. Antonio Gates

Who I want the most: Jimmy Graham. Graham was sixth among all receivers in targets last year and has freak Antonio Gates-like potential. And speaking of Gates, injury concerns and Philip Rivers throwing to the other team concerns make him a moderate risk this year. For those who do not want to use a first rounder on Gronk, Graham is a great option in the late second or early third round.

Tier 3: The Near Elite
4. Jason Witten
5. Jermichael Finley
6. Vernon Davis

Who I want the most: Jermichael Finley. None of these options are nearly as appealing as last year but they round out the cream of the crop. Finley has all the potential in the world, but has been a disappointment. His drops are as aggravating as ever and he was a mark of inconsistency. He had only four double digit games but still ranked as the number five tight end. He has the highest ceiling of this group and hopefully he does not actually "freestyle" too much this year.

Tier 4: The Solid
7. Aaron Hernandez
8. Jacob Tamme
9. Tony Gonzalez
10. Brandon Pettigrew

Who I want the most: Jacob Tamme. I'm much higher on Tamme than others but I think he will have a fantastic year with as Manning's top tight end. Remember when Dallas Clark went down and Tamme stepped up? Well, now Tamme has a chance to really gel with Manning, and he will be one of Manning's top options. Take a chance on him as you can get him much later than other tight ends. And as we have seen in many of the past years, once we get out of the top five, most tight ends will produce almost the same.

Tier 5: The Rest
11. Fred Davis
12. Jared Cook
13. Owen Daniels
14. Dustin Keller
15. Jermaine Gresham
16. Kellen Winslow
17. Lance Kendricks
18. Brent Celek
19. Coby Fleener
20. Greg Olsen

Who I want the most: Owen Daniels. Even though the Texans have gravitated towards a run-heavy offense, Daniels is the proven and still has great potential. 

Sleeper: Jermaine Gresham. Gresham was very solid last year and can blossom as Andy Dalton continues to improve. Take a chance on him late if you are not very confident in your number one tight end.

Deep Sleeper: Lance Kendricks. He has flashed potential but never really had a chance to prove himself. On a team that lacks superstar receivers, this could finally be Kendricks' year. If Sam Bradford bounces back, Kendricks should produce like a top 12 tight end.