Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Second Annual FGR Fantasy Football Preview

So who else missed
football season?
This was such a big hit last year, let's run it back. Here's hoping that you're drafting as late as my league this year. If not, let this be a referendum on the what you've already accomplished (or screwed-up as the case may be). We'll be applying the same concept of inserting ourselves into the 7th spot in the ESPN Fantasy Staff twelve team standard scoring draft. A few points of full disclosure: (1) the ESPN draft took place two weeks ago so I have the benefit of more data at my disposal but I can assure that nothing that happened over the last two weeks affected my picks, (2) I did almost no research before writing this and (3) I could see which picks were coming-up so I knew exactly when I had to take a player I wanted like Matthew Stafford (I can't believe I just wrote that . . . thank God this is an imaginary team).

Don't expect a lot of in depth analysis. If you want that kind of insight, I would recommend Matthew Berry at ESPN.com. Despite the fact that he claims co-writing Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles as an accomplishment,* Berry understands that having a successful fantasy football season is all about figuring-out what a player is going to do this year and how that can often have very little to do with what he did last year. Berry also actually writes about fantasy football as opposed to just giving you a bunch of lists and meaningless historical data though, like most successful fantasy sports writers, he does tend to wander-off on tangential personal stories.

This is clearly the year of the running back as the first thirteen picks below were ball carriers along with sixteen of the first twenty-four. Aaron Rodgers is the only quarterback to go in the second round which demonstrates the perceived depth at that position. The question this year comes down to whether you want a thrower (Rodgers, Brees, Manning, etc.) or a runner (Newton, RG, III, Kaepernick, etc.). 50+ yard running games from your quarterback are nothing to sneeze at especially when he's putting-up as many touchdowns as a third tier running back. At the same time, it's highly unlikely that you're going to see Drew Brees almost separated from his right leg by a 300 pound defensive tackle while diving for a first down so pick your poison.

No more small talk. Let's get down to it.

Round 1

1. Adrian Peterson; 2. Arian Foster; 3. Ray Rice; 4. Doug Martin; 5. C.J. Spiller; 6. Jamaal Charles . . . and the FGR pick at no. 7 is: Lesean McCoy . . . 8. Marshawn Lynch; 9. Trent Richardson; 10. Alfred Morris; 11. Steven Jackson; 12. Matt Forte.

"Back to Philadelphia again?
Are you f-cking serious?"
Chip Kelly's offense could be a colossal flop in which case this will be a disastrous pick but I see the Eagles putting-up at least decent numbers for two reasons: (1) I think the design of Kelly's system will get the ball out of Michael Vick's hands quickly thereby keeping him healthy and (2) their defense is going to be off the charts bad. They could be the NFL's version of the 1981-82 Denver Nuggets who scored 126.5 points per game while allowing 126.0. We might actually see Scott Hanson's head explode on the Red Zone Channel (warning: this video is not for the faint of heart).**

Round 2

13. Stevan Ridley; 14. Calvin Johnson; 15. Maurice Jones-Drew; 16. Frank Gore; 17. Aaron Rodgers . . . and the FGR pick at no. 18 is: Chris Johnson . . . 19. Dez Bryant; 20. A.J. Green; 21. Brandon Marshall; 22. Julio Jones; 23. Demaryius Thomas; 24. Larry Fitzgerald.

Forgive me Father for I have gone back to the Chris Johnson well again. I'm sorry, I just can't help myself and when you look at the next five running backs selected can you blame me? David Wilson is completely unproven, Darren Sproles is a part-time player, Montee Ball is a rookie and picking Reggie Bush or Darren McFadden is like standing on a table made of Lego to change a light bulb.

Round 3

25. David Wilson; 26. Drew Brees; 27. Peyton Manning; 28. Jimmy Graham; 29. Darren Sproles; 30. Roddy White; and the FGR pick at no. 31 is: Randall Cobb . . . 32. Montee Ball; 33. Andre Johnson; 34. Vincent Jackson; 35. Reggie Bush; 36. Darren McFadden.

I'm buying the Randall Cobb hype this year especially because you know Aaron Rodgers is going to do everything he can to get Cobb to the Pro Bowl to stick it up Greg Jenning's ass. I would not be the least bit surprised to see Rodgers pull a Nuke Laloosh and drill Jennings on the sideline with an errant screen pass nor would I be surprised to see the rest of the Vikings look the other way because he had it coming.

Round 4

37. Wes Welker; 38. DeMarco Murray; 39. Cam Newton; 40. Tom Brady; 41. Lamar Miller; and the FGR pick at no. 42 is: Marques Colston; 43. Chris Ivory; 44. Mike Wallace; 45. Victor Cruz; 46. Eddie Lacy; 47. Danny Amendola; 48. Matt Ryan.

"Bring it!"
Time to pick the receiver with the fewest fleas. I have no faith in the Dolphins' passing game (Wallace), I don't trust Victor Cruz for some reason and I don't think Danny Amendola has ever made it to Halloween in one piece. I also think that Drew Brees, Sean Payton and the rest of the Saints are going to try to pull-off something epic like 60 touchdown passes, 600 points and being the first team to put a bounty on a ref.

Round 5

49. Dwayne Bowe; 50. Ryan Mathews; 51. Reggie Wayne; 52. Le'Veon Bell; 53. Rob Gronkowski; 54. Robert Griffin, III; and the FGR pick at no. 55 is: Jason Witten; 56. Colin Kaepernick; 57. Ahmad Bradshaw; 58. Steve Smith; 59. Antonio Brown; 60. Cecil Shorts.

I took a really hard look at Kaepernick here but I'm not a full believer yet and the fact that he lasted until the 5th round means I'm not alone. When in doubt in the fifth round, take your tight end while there are still difference makers available. It's up there with, "when in doubt, order the steak" and "when in doubt, just don't say anything."***

Round 6

61. Hakeem Nicks; 62. Eric Decker; 63. Tony Gonzalez; 64. Torrey Smith; 65. Giovani Bernard; and the FGR pick at no. 66 is: Matthew Stafford; 67. Vernon Davis; 68. DeSean Jackson; 69. Jonathan Franklin; 70. Pierre Garcon; 71. Shane Vereen; 72. Andre Brown.

"If we need that extra push over the
goal line, you know what we do?"
Stafford threw the ball 727 times last season and somehow only managed to have 20 of those passes result in touchdowns. Apparently, Lions receivers led the league in getting tackled inside the opponent's five yard line last year. To correct that, coach Jim Schwartz took a page from Nigel Tufnel's book and built a practice field that goes up to 110.

Round 7

73. James Jones; 74. DeAngelo Williams; 75. Tavon Austin; 76. BenJarvus Green-Ellis; 77. Daryl Richardson; 78. Jordy Nelson; and the FGR pick at no. 79 is T.Y. Hilton; 80. Steve Johnson; 81. Greg Jennings; 82. Rashard Mendenhall; 83. Russell Wilson; 84. Andrew Luck.

I'm not sure I keep drafting T.Y. Hilton in every league because I genuinely believe he could be the modern version of Joey Galloway in his prime or because I love saying his name really loud in a crowded room (TEEEEEE YYYYYYYY HILTON) but whatever the reason, I've already got him on two teams. Funny story about Galloway. In 1997, I traded him and Rod Smith for Carl Pickens. Galloway and Smith combined for over 2,200 yards and 24 touchdowns that season while Pickens racked-up a whopping 695 yards and 5 touchdowns. Oh man that's funny. Still gets me like a well-placed whoopee cushion or two-inch nail straight into the bottom of my heel.

Round 8

"Would you like to come
over and pet my dingo?"
85. Vick Ballard; 86. Miles Austin; 87. Mike Williams; 88. Chris Givens; 89. 49ers; and the FGR pick at no. 90 is: Shonn Greene; 91. Anquan Boldin; 92. Josh Gordon; 93. Tony Romo; 94. Emmanuel Sanders; 95. Kenny Britt; 96. Ryan Williams.

Unfortunately, when you're buying insurance for things like Charlie Sheen's dingo petting zoo or Chris Johnson, it's pretty expensive which in this case means an 8th round pick.

Round 9

97. Lance Moore; 98. Bryce Brown; 99. Michael Floyd; 100. Mark Ingram; 101. Golden Tate; 102. Ronnie Hillman; and the FGR pick at no. 103 is: Bernard Pierce; 104. Jared Cook; 105. DeAndre Hopkins; 106. Jacquizz Rodgers; 107. Fred Jackson; 108. Ben Tate.

If God forbid something happens to Ray Rice, Pierce is going to immediately be a top ten back. (Why would something happen to Ray Rice? Why would you even write that? Now if he gets hurt, it's on you. Hope you're happy. Asshole).

Round 10

109. Vincent Brown; 110. Roy Helu; 111. Justin Blackmon; 112. Ryan Broyles; 113. Michael Bush; and the FGR pick at no. 114 is: Alshon Jeffrey; 115. Danny Woodhead; 116. Sidney Rice; 117. Malcom Floyd; 118. Isaiah Pead; 119. Rueben Randle; 120. Denarius Moore.

I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure who Alshon Jeffrey is but I do know that he's not an injury prone wide receiver (Rice and Floyd) or a 5'5" running back who made his name playing for one of the best offenses in football but is now playing for a Chargers' offense that could be a raging dumpster fire this year (Woodhead).

Round 11

Are you serious Matt? They
haven't started singing the
National Anthem yet.
121. Seahawks; 122. Mikel Leshoure; 123. Zac Stacy; 124. Bears; 125. Greg Olsen; 126. Brandon Myers; and the FGR at pick no. 127 is: Eli Manning; 128. Kyle Rudolph; 129. Martellus Bennett; 130. Kendall Hunter; 131. Kendall Wright; 132. Jonathan Stewart.

Tough call between Manning and Vick for my back-up here but when you take Stafford as your starter, you better have a durable contingency plan and the words "Vick" and "durable" have not been used in the same sentence since his lawyer told him "do not ever grant your brother Marcus durable power of attorney."

Round 12

133. Knile Davis; 134. Michael Vick; 135. Owen Daniels; 136. Michael Turner; 137. Aaron Dobson; and the FGR pick at no. 138 is: Knowshon Moreno; 139. Marcel Reese; 140. Brian Hartline; 141. Cordarrelle Patterson; 142. Texans; 143. Jermichael Finley; 144. Ben Roethlisberger.

You know you're in garbage time when the guy picked seven spots later (Brandon Lloyd) is a free agent. Moreno probably won't amount to much but at least he has a jersey with his name on it.

Round 13

145. Brandon Lloyd; 146. Broncos; 147. Joe Flacco; 148. Robert Woods; 149. Pierre Thomas; 150. Robert Turbin; 151. Kenbrell Thompkins; and the FGR pick at no. 152 is: Julian Edelman; 153. Daniel Thomas; 154. Austin Collie; 155. Bilal Powell; 156. Patriots.

Someone has to catch the passes in New England and I find it highly unlikely that we're going to find-out that a guy named "Julian Edelman" has a criminal past (why? . . . because "Julian Edelman" sounds like a such a great name for a serial killer?). Dammit!

Round 14

157. Antonio Gates; 158. Sam Bradford; 159. Andre Roberts; 160. Lance Dunbar; 161. Joseph Randle; and the FGR pick at no. 162 is: Ravens; 163. Marquise Goodwin; 164. Rams; 165. Jeremy Kerley; 166. Isaac Redman; 167. Justin Forsett; 168. LaMichael James.

The rest is just kickers, defenses, back-up quarterbacks and the inevitable Santana Moss/Toby Gerhart selections because you know, this could be the year. Here is what we ended-up with:

QB: Matthew Stafford, Eli Manning
RB: LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, Shonn Greene, Bernard Pierce, Knowshon Moreno
WR: Randall Cobb, Marques Colston, T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffrey
TE: Jason Witten
DF: Ravens
K: TBD

This looks like a pretty solid squad until Stafford, McCoy and Colston are all out by week 7. I'm giving myself an A- for value, a B+ for potential and a D for durability. In the final analysis, that adds-up to about a 4th place team and, since I assume you're not playing just to win your entry fee back, I'd take a look at where I went wrong and learn from my mistakes. (Probably not bad advice for just about everything I write).

Email the Fantasy Golf Report here.

Endnotes

And to think, we had
such high hopes after
we saw the poster.
* I'm reluctant to take a cheap shot at Berry because his writing career certainly outshines mine (in that he has one and I don't) but this bit of self-reflection from his recent Love/Hate piece demands comment: "I was a 35-year-old screenwriter who was miserable, and the thing that made me happiest was my dumb little fantasy sports websites I had started. I wanted to chase happiness by trying to make a full-time living at fantasy sports at a time when only a few people actually did that." Come on Matt. You had just written Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, a movie about which the New York Times critic wrote, "it's a greatest hits collection . . . where nostalgia and comedy are run through a food processor until they become flavorless paste." It's also your last writing credit on IMDB.com so let's at least acknowledge that your decision to start writing about fantasy sports was not completely voluntary.

** Remember a few weeks ago when I said that it took parents awhile to adjust to the HBO era because they always assumed that if it was on TV, it was OK. Well that scene is from the 1981 film Scanners which may have provided mom and dad with their first wake-up call (and if that didn't do it, a deadly silver ball with spikes sticking out of it flying around the halls of a funeral home in Phantasm certainly did . . . yikes).

*** This applies to more situations than I could possibly cover here but it definitely includes the following: (1) conversing with a police officer, (2) anytime you're drunk around your boss and (3) anytime your drunk and your wife is angry (which is pretty much a combination of (1) and (2)).