Archive for August, 2011

Sleepers and Poopers Part Two

Now for the final segment of our 3 part fantasy series. Rather than saying this is a team full of outright busts, it is really more a team consisting of players I am looking to avoid. A lot of these players will still submit some very productive seasons. But based on where they are being drafted, I believe the costs to acquire them will far outweigh the numbers I believe they are going to produce.

2011-12 ALL-POOPER TEAM (same format as the last two days)

QB: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles. This was a pretty close call between Vick and Manning, but something tells me that Manning will find a way to get on the field for the season opener. I really don’t have very much against Vick, hell, he helped carry one of my teams to a fantasy championship (and a hefty prize) last season. I just don’t think people realize the type of punishment his body takes because of the style of football he plays. If you could tell me that Michael Vick would play even 15 games at the level he played at last year, I would have to think about taking him with the top pick in the draft. But the fact of the matter is, I don’t think he will be able to register a full season or play at the all-pro standard he submitted last year. Even if you subtracted every single one of his rushing attempts, his style of passing attracts an unusual amount of hits in the pocket. Now, when you add in his greatest strength (his ability to scramble), his body takes a true pounding every game. Moreover, it seemed apparent that defenses began to figure him out towards the end of last year. His TD/INT Ratio in his first seven games was an astounding 11:0. In his last six games (including his wild card loss to Green Bay), it was a more human 11:7. He also started getting sacked at a higher rate and fumbling the ball more to boot. I am completely OK with Vick being in that elite class for quarterbacks this season. His talent and the weapons around him are too tantalizing to ignore. But with the way he was trending towards the end of last season, coupled with the logical health risks that come with his style of play, the price tag he is commanding this season is too high for me.

Team Reserve: Peyton Manning

RB: Arian Foster, Houston Texans. Like Vick, this is another case of a very talented player who will likely produce at a pretty high level this season. I just don’t think it will be terribly close to the incredible marks he set last year.* The aggravated hamstring (althought I’m sure he will be fine) isn’t doing much to calm my fears. And I don’t want to put too much stock into Vonta Leach when determining the first round of a fantasy draft, but the numbers simply do not lie (refer to my paragraph on Ray Rice in Monday’s column). Maybe he won’t lose a yard per carry like other running backs who lost an all-pro fullback, but some regression on his averages is a very reasonable thing to expect. Moreover, while there is no contesting that Foster will be receiving the overwhelming majority of the work out of the backfield, the return of Ben Tate has been interesting to say the least. If you will recall, Tate was a 2nd round pick out of Auburn in 2010 and went on to suffer a season ending injury before the season began a year ago. He is now fully rehabilitated and has been earning the praise from his coach not only for his running ability, but his pass protection too. Again, Foster is the man in this situation. But if he needs a breather, or needs to have some limited carries because of that hamstring, Tate sounds like the right guy to come in and steal some production.** Make no mistake, Foster will produce some good numbers this season, and will be an asset to any team who owns him. But at what cost? For me, his ADP (the highest of any player in all of Yahoo!) is too high for me to be taking that kind of risk. You can have Vick and Foster. I’ll stick with the likes of Rivers and Peterson.

*Guys I would rather have than Foster this season: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, and Ray Rice. Maybe even Chris Johnson and Rashard Mendenhall (not even joking on the last one).

 **Recall, if you will, Rashad Jennings’ expanded role for the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. For anyone who owned Maurice Jones-Drew like I did, Jennings’ name is not one you relish hearing. I think Tate could have a very similar impact on Foster’s numbers this season.

RB: Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers. I really could have put any of the reserves below in this spot, but because Matthews is in such a concrete time share (one in which he will not be having the goal line carries), he takes the cake. This is a shame, because he has made some good strides this preseason and might be the best running back in this group. That said, Mike Tolbert is going to be getting somewhere around 40% of the workload plus a pretty good amount of touchdowns, which does not bode well for the Fresno Kid. Matthews could stay healthy all season and be no more than MAYBE a flex option. This kind of value is not what I’m looking for from a running back that is being drafted in most leagues as a RB2 option. If Tolbert were to get hurt at all, than Matthews immediately becomes a pretty valuable commodity, but I’m not taking those chances. I like the talent of Ryan Matthews quite a bit, but he just isn’t in a situation conducive to being a fantasy star. Not yet at least.

Team Reserves: Cedric Benson, BenJarvus “The Law Firm” Green-Ellis, Jahvid Best, Daniel Thomas

WR: Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs. As much as it hurts me to say, this was a pretty easy call. For all of the strides Bowe made on the field and in the locker room last season, there is NO WAY he can sustain the kind of production that made him one of the highest scoring receivers in the game. He did some great things but the numbers are a little flukey. 15 touchdowns on only 72 receptions is an absurd number, and one that he will not come close to replicating this season. Yahoo! currently has him ranked 15th at his position going into the season, but his ADP of 37 is just too high. Maybe I’m wrong (he is going into his age 27 year, so he has that going for him), but I think all of this increased attention on him and the team, coupled with a schedule chalk full of difficult opposing defenses will make it too difficult for him to even be a legit, every week WR2 option. I think he will serve as a microcosm of his team this season. More on that in my Chiefs season preview though.

WR: Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers. I don’t know about you guys, but doesn’t it seem like there is always something wrong with Vincent Jackson? Granted, he has had a couple very good seasons, but nothing yet that warrants his current ADP of 31. I actually wouldn’t mind him being a WR2 on my team, but a lot of people are drafting him as their top receiving threat, and that is not leaving their teams in a good spot. You certainly cannot deny the deep ball connection he has with Phillip Rivers. But in a PPR league like mine, that is almost a detriment.* For me, the consistency isn’t there to explain how high he is going in drafts. Again, this isn’t a case of me avoiding a player alltogether. If I can get him at the right time and at the right price, I’d welcome him on my squad. But at the price he would cost my team the way he’s currently being drafted, he’s too big a risk.

*I’ll take the points where I can get them, but the high volume reception guys will always be more valuable in PPR leagues than the deep ball threats like DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, and the like.

Team Reserves: Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne

TE: Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons. This was easily the most painful addition to the squad of any player. Tony Gonzalez is not only the greatest fantasy football tight end of all time, but the greatest tight end in football history. Period. A first ballot HOF without any question. As far as football purposes go (I mean, like, real football…on a field), he’s one of the better tight ends in the game. But for our intents and purposes, his contributions have been growing less and less for consecutive seasons. Age, it seems, is finally beginning to catch up to Tony the Tiger, and the addition of Julio Jones into the Falcons’ offensive mix will certainly hurt the amount of times Matt Ryan looks his way. The facts are facts. Last year was his first since 2002 to average below 50 yards receiving per game. That almost never happens to T-Gon. Now, if my regular TE1 is on a bye week, Tony is the first guy I’m looking to add via the waiver wire. The only problem is, he won’t be there because he’ll have been previously chosen in the draft, and the fact of the matter is that this tight end class is too deep for that. There are way too many options that present much more upside.* Again, in the right setting, Gonzalez could find a way to contribute on fantasy teams. As of now though, his cost is too high. I am really hoping that he proves me wrong this year and takes a big step toward being the first tight end ever with 100 touchdown catches. But I’m not betting on it.

*If this is any indication, in my reasonably crude power rankings, Gonzalez ranks somewhere in the teens.

Team Reserves: Dallas Clark, Zach Miller

DEF: Baltimore Ravens. As I said yesterday, when selecting someone for your team, at any position, you need to be careful that you’re not selecting based on reputation rather what that commodity has done the last few years. That warning can apply to Tony Gonzalez for people who are picking him to be a TE1, and I also think it applies to people drafting Baltimore to be an every week starting defense. For real football purposes, this is still a pretty good defense. But as some of their best players continue to age, this unit has started to show cracks in the real and fantasy world. This is a team that actually dropped to 10th among defenses in fantasy points last season, yet Yahoo! has them projected as their second best defense and people are drafting them as the fifth best defense in all of fantasy. Under the right context (against average to bad offenses), this is a good defense to employ. And for the criteria I just used in the previous sentence, maybe that means they’re a decent start ten weeks out of the season. But that is not what the people drafting them so highly are expecting. There are a lot of solid options out there this season that I think will have better, more consistent seasons than this Baltimore unit. I am a huge fan of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed (a fan of the whole team for that matter). But this is just another case where the cost to acquire a player or team outweighs the future benefits.

Team Reserve: Not really a reserve necessary for this spot.

And that concludes my fantasy preview for the season. To hedge one more time, there is a good chance that a lot of these picks in the last few days will totally blow up in my face. But if I can even get a few right, than this just might have been worth it. Sometime later this week/early next week, look for a season preview of my Kansas City Chiefs (may split it to two parts). And the day before regular season football begins next week, look for an NFL-wide season preview of what I believe is to come this football year. Go football, go America.

Sleepers and Poopers Part One

Editors Note: Apologies to anyone offended/annoyed by the word poop. For me, it has never stopped being funny, so I continue to use it at least once a day. Moreover, after finishing my ALL-SLEEPERS team and looking at the word count, I figured I didn’t want to give you guys more than you could digest in one day (because I have NEVER done that before. Ever.). Which is why you will be finding just sleepers in today’s column, while the excrementary players will have their very own column tomorrow. That is all.

Now down to business.

2011-12 ALL SLEEPER TEAM (Same format as yesterday)

QB: Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns. This pick could be a bit of a stretch, but as far as rookie campaigns go, what Doc McCoy did last year was as impressive as I ever could have expected. A half decent QB Rating and a 60% completion is no small feat for an NFL first timer. Obviously, the expectations are tempered. If he continues to improve, and some skill guys on that offense step up this season, there’s a chance he could be a solid QB2 in most leagues (at the very least a spot starter when he has a juicy matchup…again I’m hedging here). It also helps that he’ll heap on 2-3 points per game from his rushing alone. I wanted to choose Mark Sanchez very badly. Third year guy, improved rating, improved TD-INT Ratio, but the completion percentage was still well below average and his December (read: fantasy playoff time) splits are just plain awful. And Matt Stafford isn’t really much of a sleeper, as the amount of hype he’s received this off-season has left him just a tad over-priced. Plus even a tight bearhug has a minor chance of reinjuring that shoulder. Sanchez and Stafford are high profile guys, and McCoy fits the definition of a true sleeper.

Team Reserves: Kyle Orton (who is being drafted WAYYYYYY too low)

RB: Tim Hightower, Washington Redskins. No matter what kind of list you’re putting a Mike Shanahan coached running back on, its a huge risk. But for the purposes of this blog, thats a risk I’m willing to take. With Roy Helu slowly slipping out of fantasy relevance (never say never though), Tim Hightower has secured the drivers seat to take the lions share of carries in this backfield. He is averaging over 6.5 yards per carry this preseason and is playing for a coach who’s zone-blocking scheme breeds successful running backs like clockwork (for how long they are successful is a different story entirely). Hightower proved during his time in Arizona that he can be useful catching balls out of the backfield (always a handy skill) and is quite the bargain (Low 100’s ADP) for the kind of return you could be getting. Again this is classic case of huge risk/huge reward, but thats what sleepers are usually all about anyways. CAUTION: This is still Mike Shanahan we are talking about here. If I were you, I would keep an eye on the entire Redskins’ stable of backs throughout the year, just to be safe.

RB: Delone Carter, Indianapolis Colts. On one hand this guy is third on the running back depth chart. On the other hand, the two backs in front of him are the underwhelming/injury prone Joseph Addai and Donald Brown. There is the chance that those two guys stay healthy and are productive albeit in a time share. There is also a pretty decent chance that they both get hurt (I’m not kidding), and Carter takes the reins as the lead back. Addai and Brown will both be drafted relatively low because they are splitting carries, but what I can also tell you is that if either one of them would be getting 70-80% of the workload, that player would be a top 40 draft pick (the kind of value Carter may very well have at some point this season). Moreover, Carter is tough, durable, and an excellent between the tackles runner (read: goal line carries). So if you can get that kind of potential value from a guy who will likely go undrafted in most leagues, why not nab him and stash him? If things work out, you are a genius and will ride him into the fantasy playoffs. If not, its only a late round pick. For me it boils down to a crapload of things going in the pro column, and Joseph Addai and Donald Brown in the con column. Thats about it.

Team Reserves: Beanie Wells, James Starks

WR: Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams. Not too many people know this guy’s name, but he had 85 receptions last year. 85! Thats a lot. Unfortunately, 689 yards and 3 touchdowns is not. But in a PPR league (and especially one that includes return yards like mine, despite the new crappy rule) there is still some value to be had from those numbers. He has exceptional hands, and has a year under his belt building a great rapport with Sam Bradford. On the other hand, a lot of people said that the addition of Josh McDaniels to the Broncos a few years ago (McDaniels is now in St. Louis, which is why I’m throwing this tidbit out there) would make Eddie Royal a beast out of the slot (like what he did with Wes Welker in New England), and that didn’t exactly work out. But for a guy that is going behind Randy Moss in most drafts (he is retired people), I think he is certainly worth taking a later round flier on. Again, the yardage and touchdowns marks are ugly considering all of those receptions. But if you can get a guy who had 85 catches (85!!) this late in a draft, I think its absolutely worth the risk. Hey maybe, some of those receptions start turning into touchdowns or he makes a few guys miss in the open field throughout the course of the season. Furthermore, the improvements Sam Bradford will have made in his game this offseason should only have a postive impact on the numbers for Danny Boy. I think this is a low risk, high upside pick. And those are a rare thing in this game.

WR: James Jones, Green Bay Packers. I’ve been keeping an eye on this guy for awhile now (he’s the most exciting big play guy in the game that nobody knows about), and with the diminshing skills/production of an aging Donald Driver, I think Jones will be the one to benefit from the increased role in this vaunted offense.* Jones has seen an improvement in his numbers between the last 3 seasons, can take the top off of a defense (big play waiting to happen), and is now entering the magical age 27 year for wide receivers. Great value too (currently ranked 59th on Yahoo! among WR’s). A lot of things seem to be adding up here. The hands have been an issue, and have been the biggest road block for playing time, so hopefully he can correct that problem. Assuming he can supplant Driver on the depth chart, Jones could be a very interesting late round pick/waiver wire addition for any team in need of receiving help.

*To be honest, it could just as easily be Jordy Nelson, but I just think James Jones brings a little more to the table. Regardless, keep an eye on both.

Team Reserves: Earl Bennett, Andre Roberts, Mike Thomas (not an overwhelming offense in Jacksonville, but a No. 1 receiver is a No. 1 receiver)

TE: Dustin Keller, New York Jets. Just another one of the tight end combine freaks coming out of college. this dude has been putting up some sneaky solid numbers in his first 3 seasons as a pro. I am expecting a bit of a progression this season. Being a young quarterback’s safety blanket over the middle is always a bonus, and if Mark Sanchez can improve on his numbers at all (year 3 for a quarterback, I’m banking on him doing just that), Keller should see a spike in his own. The exit of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery (and the addition of the less superior Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason), should also have a positive impact on the number of targets Keller receives throughout the season. He is currently being drafted 19th among tight ends, and I am expecting  him to be a borderline weekly starter at the very least. If things go according to plan? He will be entrenched as a legit TE1 option in all 10-12 team leagues. Two last tidbits. Of all the WR/TE options on the New York Jets entire team, he has easily the most seasons of experience with his quarterback. Second, he is entering the magical age 27 year for a receiver folks! If that doesn’t send you over the edge, I’m not sure what will.

Team Reserves: Greg Olsen, Brandon Pettigrew (who I also love this year if Stafford can stay healthy).

DEF: Atlanta Falcons. This category was a little harder to figure out, as I’m judging an entire side of the ball, rather than just a player. Despite these massive difficulties, I came out on the other side with the Atlanta Falcons. For a team that finished 9th overall in fantasy scoring (this could differ a little from league to league, considering the subtle nuances each commissioner may like to employ) and actually got better this offseason,* it is a little puzzling to understand why Yahoo! has them projected to finish 14th overall among defenses and why they have the fifth worst ADP in fantasy leagues (that makes literally no sense at all). This just doesn’t add up for me. At the very worst case, this is a defense that can be employed when they are going against a poor offense. If they live up to its billing of talent (and there is plenty), they could easily become a weekly starter in all leagues. Name brand defenses (Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the like) are always nice stalwarts to have on a fantasy squad. But that can be a dangerous game to play when a teams reputation exceeds its prowess on the field. In my league last year, Atlanta actually scored 5 more points throughout the season than the fantasy legend Raven defense. And yet the Ravens are being drafted MUCH higher than the Falcons. All I’m saying is that judging a defense on name alone doesn’t work (Pittsburgh is probably the only exception), and is probably why this defense has slid so undeservingly far down the rankings.

Team Reserve: Dallas Cowboys

*With the addition of Ray Edwards on the defensive line and the development of key young players like Brent Grimes, Curtis Lofton, Sean Weatherspoon, and William Moore.

2 days in a row with a column. I’m coming for you DiMaggio. Anyways, thanks again for stopping by, and I’ll see you guys tomorrow with my fecal All-Americans.

Fantasy Preview

Well, I can’t say I didn’t warn you. The lack of things I felt like writing about, coupled with the fact that I am a generally lazy person, created a perfect drought of material, resulting in my nearly two month hiatus from blogging. Rest assured though, with the MLB playoffs and the opening of the 11-12 NFL season just around the corner, I should be pretty busy.

To help apologize for my long absence (to the few of you who noticed), I will be doing a lot more work in the coming weeks (read: several columns in the next couple weeks…yeah im shocked too). Hopefully that should keep everyone busy until I decide to start being lazy again. Most of what I will be doing for the foreseeable future will be football related, and I figured I should start off my run of columns with something fantasy* related. And to open things up, I will begin today’s post in the same manner that every single NFL game is opened up, with our national anthem (nevermind that the video takes place at an NBA all-star game).

*I’m just trying to cope with the devastation of being officially eliminated from playoff contention in my fantasy baseball league yesterday. It’s almost like raising a puppy for five months (thats how long the fantasy regular season is). You put in so much work with it, you end up getting a little too attached, and you know that someday its going to be a great dog, once it learns how to stop shitting all over everything. But just when it starts to turn things around, it runs away. And you never see it again. Not quite that intense but something like that.

Now obviously, Whitney’s Super Bowl or Jimi Hendrix’ guitar only anthem may be more iconic. But for me, this just takes the cake without a doubt. From the way he sang it to the way the background music was arranged, Marvin Gaye made this national anthem his bitch, and there is something to be said for that. The way he sings “broad stripes” really just says it all. And can you actually hear some of the people just losing their minds in the background? I mean, if we’re going to talk about cultural impact, this man’s voice is responsible for the existence of tens of thousands of people today (think about that for a second). Now that is impact. But I digress.

As we trudge through the final weeks of the preseason*, that means that we are officially in draft season. And I figured, why not throw a few players out there that present some serious value, serious upside (sleepers), or serious downside (poopers). So on that note we will now begin the first of my two part series, the first part being…

*Crisp Collection‘s own Ryan McCarthy made the brilliant point that watching preseason football is like trying to drink a nonalcoholic beer. There’s just no point.

2011-12 ALL-VALUE TEAM (1 QB, 2 WR, 2RB, 1 TE, 1 DEF, usual scoring, with points per reception as well)

The thing to keep in mind here is that all of these players I’m mentioning are well known commodities to the fantasy universe. More than anything, this is kind of a sleeper list for established stars. Relative to where they are being drafted, I believe all of these players could perform well above the standards set on them by the uncleansed fantasy serfs of the world. Note: doing a FLEX category or a kicker just seemed like more work than I was willing to put in. With kickers, find someone who kicks for a good offense. Rinse, repeat.

QB: Anthony Romo, Dallas Cowboys. Im bullish on pretty much the entire Cowboy team this year (as you will find out in my league-wide season preview coming soon), and Tony Romo is no exception. The field for elite quarterbacks this year is considered seven deep (Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Vick, Manning, Rivers, Romo, and Cassel….kidding on the last one), so why not go for the guy who is usually being drafted last among these 7 giants, when he could easily pace the entire quarterback field? I love this offense, and Jason Garrett proved to us after taking the reins that good things happen when you emphasize the run first and let the pass develop from there. Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee actually put up some solid numbers last year while Romo was hurt. Now imagine the type of stats an above average quarterback can put up getting to play for this team. Obviously, health has to be a major concern. But Romo’s toys are too lethal to ignore. Not too many quarterbacks can boast Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Felix Jones as weapons. Quarterback is a deep field with good secondary choices this year. Drafting Romo and getting some quality insurance from Joe Flacco and the like shouldn’t be too difficult.

Team Reserve: Matt Ryan

RB: Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens. I am a huge RayRay 2.0 believer this year and while this definitely isn’t an under the radar choice, I still believe he is being drafted too low (Yahoo! projects him to have the 4th most points among RB’s, his ADP is 6.4). While those are generous figures, I think he is ready to take the running back crown and pace his position for the season. The exodus of Willis McGahee certainly helps and the addition of Ricky Williams is not as big of a deal as people think. Rice is the man in Baltimore, and he will be seeing a lot more of the goal line this season. And obviously, the amount of receptions he gets in a PPR league is just huge. The offensive line is young in a few spots but I think it’ll patch together quite nicely. But with all of the above, I don’t think it would be enough to push Rice-aroni to the top overall RB spot, which is why I will now present to you my ace-in-the-hole: Vonta Leach. You may not know his name (even though he was voted to the all-pro team last season), but I’m sure you’ve heard of Arian Foster, the man Leach paved all of those gaping holes for last season. I think the additioin of Vonta Leach to the Baltimore Ravens will pay huge dividends for Rice, and he will be ready to take advantage. Don’t think a good blocking fullback is a big deal? Check out Larry Johnson after 2006* or LaDainian Tomlinson after 2007.*

*When Tony Richardson and Lorenzo Neal left their respective teams via free agency. Also look at the statistics of the running backs the year they receive a good blocking fullback to play behind. It’s a big deal folks.

RB: Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys. Another Cowboy here but I couldn’t resist. As I said above, Jason Garrett showed last year that as head coach, his first priority is establishing the run, which would seem to fit Jones’ skill set relatively well (he is a running back). Marion Barber and his touchdown thieving ways are now gone, and Tashard Choice hasn’t done enough in camp to show that he can steal 40% of Felix the Cat’s workload. Make no mistake, Jones is the guy in this backfield, and given the kind of offense he’s playing in and the kind of coaching he’s playing for, his high 80’s ADP (currently 27th among RB’s) seems a bit low for me. If I’m assembling a squad in a 10-12 team league, Felix Jones as a certifiable RB2 stud is absolutely fine with me. If you can put him as a FLEX option every week, its an outright steal.

Team Reserves: Ryan Grant and Steven Jackson

WR: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers. Like the field for quarterbacks, there is a general consensus on the elite options at wide receiver this year and the list is five deep. It consists of my mancrush, Andre Johnson, Calvin “MegaTron” Johnson, Larrald Fitzgerald (that one was a bit of a stretch), Roddy White, and Hakeem Nicks. That’s fine and dandy, but what to do after that? Look no further than Mike Wallace. His prediction to amass over 2000 yards receiving this season is a little ambitious, but at least we know he’ll be trying. For me, Wallace making this value team is as simple as receivers I don’t like nearly as much (Greg Jennings, Miles Austin, Reggie Wayne) going in front of him. Reggie is starting to get up there and if Peyton’s health situation is even a little iffy, Wayne’s stock should plummet. Even with a totally healthy Manning, I think we’d see some regression in Reginald’s numbers this year regardless. I think Jennings is also a regression candidate. And with Dez Bryant now entrenched as a legit #2 WR for Dallas, Miles Austin will be seeing less looks as the season progresses (I think he’ll put up similar numbers to last year’s campaign). I like the connection Wallace established with Big Ben last season, and of the four second-tier WR’s mentioned in the last few sentences, I think Wallace is easily the best bet to ascend to elite status.

WR: Mario Manningham, New York Giants. I’ve liked this guy since he was in college (probably pulled a groin when the Giants, and not my Chiefs, drafted him a few years ago) and he has shown the ability to be one of the best #2 wideouts in the league. He has already put up some very intriguing numbers in the last two seasons, and with the departure of Steve Smith and the absence of a true pass-catching tight end on the roster, Manningham (and Hakeem Nicks as well) should see a decent spike in the amount of times they are targeted throughout the game. Look for Manningham to assert himself this season as a very solid WR2 (WR3 at the very least…always have to hedge just in case) option in all 10-12 team fantasy leagues. I like him over guys that are going several picks ahead of him such as Sydney Rice or Austin Collie. I also like him over guys that are going several rounds ahead of him such as Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, and Dwayne Bowe.

Team Reserves: Wes Welker and Santonio Holmes

TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints. This guy is an absolute freak athlete (played basketball at Miami (FL)) but is still very raw (only 2 seasons of football under his belt, one in college and the other in New Orleans). That aside, he started developing a very nice rapport with Drew Brees towards the end of the season, and if that offense is any indicator, this guy is an easy pick, with high upside, to be a TE1 in all fantasy formats. Sean Payton and Brees love to spread the wealth in their system. And while this philosophy is absolutely a detriment to the wide receivers there (see: Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem), I think it plays right in the soft hands of Jimmy “Moonlight” Graham. I should just stop on the nicknames. Owen Daniels and Dallas Clark are going ahead of this guy in most Yahoo! drafts. But if it came down to those three, I’m going with Graham.

Team Reserve: Kellen Winslow

DEF: San Diego Chargers. This is a squad that finished last year 8th in points allowed, tied for 2nd in sacks (the cheapest way to get a guaranteed couple points every week), 4th in rushing defense, 1st in passing defense, and 1st in total defense (yards allowed per game). They have an improved secondary, spent a first round pick on a defensive lineman, and hopefully have a better special teams unit (at least it can’t get any worse than last year), and yet they are being drafted as the 11th best fantasy defense? Something just doesn’t add up here to me. I think they will exceed that draft day value and then some.

Team Reserve: New York Giants

Again, sorry for the prolonged work stoppage. Going to make it up to you guys over the next few weeks with all of the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs, and fantasy information you could possibly need. I’ll see you guys tomorrow when I go through my ALL-SLEEPER (actual sleepers this time) and ALL-POOPER teams.