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.

  1. We were much better off during your break, you should consider taking another, much longer break. Some of us can write, and some of us can’t (but are still dumb/arrogant enough to put on a blog).

  2. FiddlestixBob,

    Cute name. Im thinking maybe 7-8 weeks this time around? Ill have a poll so we can all figure this out. Thank you for your continued support.

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