Sleepers!

September 4th, 2008 by No comments »

The season starts today, so it’s my last chance to announce my Sleeper Picks.  In my case, “Sleeper Picks” means players who will outperform their draft spots, not just players who are totally under the radar.

WR

Anthony Gonzalez – Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Marvin Harrison will ever be able to play without knee pain.  Harrison is currently #2 on the depth chart.  This will change when reality intrudes and it’s obvious that Harrison just can’t be as productive as he was prior to the injury.  Which opens the door for Anthony Gonzalez to have a 3/4s of year of production similar to his last five games of last season (22 rec for 370 yards and 3 TDs).

Jerry Porter - News flash: Reggie Williams totally stinks.  Porter is the lone Jags’ WR with talent.  In some leagues, Porter’s not even being drafted, probably because he’s out for week 1, recovering from a knee injury.  But after his knee heals (around week 3 or 4) he’ll produce like a WR3 at best WR2.

Santoio Holmes – He’s a sleeper in the sense that I see him as a Top 10 WR, not just a Top 20 WR.

Bernard Berrian – Despite Tarvaris Jackson’s lackluster development and performance, Berrian will have a good year.  For some reason, people don’t seem to realize he’s the #1 WR on the Vikings.  Kyle and I have seen Sydney Rice and Nate Burleson go ahead of Berrian in multiple leagues, which is just incomprehensible to me.

Finally, I agree with Kyle about Bryant Johnson.  #1 receivers in Mike Martz offenses have awesome fantasy production.

RB

Rashard Mendenhall – Outside McFadden, I like him and his situation the best of all the rookie RBs.  Chris Johnson is someone whom I can see outperforming the other rookies as well.

Fred Taylor and Edgerrin James – Easy to forget, but they are far less risky this year than any rookie RB (outside McFadden).

Laurence Maroney – Like Taylor and James, Maroney is far less risky than any rookie RB, together with great upside thanks to his role as primary RB in the League’s best offense.

QB

Eli Manning – Boom!  Not as good as the playoff Eli, but not as terrible as late-season Eli either.

Aaron Rodgers – The packers are one of the best teams in the NFC.  Rodgers just has to show up, and Jennings, Driver, Jones, and Grant will get him great numbers.

Matt Schaub, Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell – I think each of these QBs will outperform their draft spot.  In each case, as long as their offenses’ #1 threat (Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Clinton Portis) is healthy or not suspended, they’ll put up great numbers.

TE

Jeremy Shockey – Shockey is moving to a pass-first, high octane offense in NO.  Yet most fantasy GMs aren’t marking up his value accordingly (especially Giants fans, who strangely seem to think Kevin Boss is just as good a player as Shockey.  Boss may be far easier to root for, but he’s not nearly as good at pass catching, especially deep or over the middle.)

Owen Daniels – I would mention Tony Scheffler, but he’s way too popular now to be considered a sleeper (I think every magazine and on-line source called him out as a TE sleeper).  Instead I refer you to Owen Daniels, who may not block worth a darn, but he’s got potential in Houston’s offense.

RB Rankings; PS Coseo Stinks

August 27th, 2008 by No comments »

By now you’ve probably drafted in most (if not all) of your leagues.  If you’re not done, just make sure you finish them before Sept. 4th, when the NFL season kicks-off as the Redskins take on the Giants.

Speaking of, this seems like an appropriate time to remind you that Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, and Plaxico Burress (and if you’re having a hard time letting go, Jeremy Shockey) are all good, but not elite fantasy players.  If you take them before players like Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens or Jason Witten, then in addition to being a stinking Giants fan, you won’t be setting your fantasy team up for success.  (This woudn’t be as dumb as say, drafting ANY Philadelphia Eagles’ Wide Receivers.  But it bears mentioning, because – lo and behold – people are still doing just that).  Finally, for any waste-of-space Redskins fans out there, it’s not that I revile your team any less than the Eagles or Giants, it’s more just that there really aren’t any ‘Skins players who are impact fantasy football players, aside from Clinton Portis).

With that said, here are my RB rankings.  These assume 6 point touchdowns and 10 yards per point.  Also, these are re-draft rankings, not Dynasty or Keeper rankings.

1) LaDainian Tomlinson – for what seems like forever, LT remains #1.
2) Brian Westbrook – Westbrook isn’t better than Adrian Peterson, but until the Eagles trade for a WR with a pulse, he and McNabb constitute their offense.
3) Adrian Peterson – Remember when Peterson had 14 carries for 3 yards in week 14 vs. the “Niners?!?  Peterson owners vividly do, especially since week 14 is a playoff week in most leagues.  You can expect AD (That’s for Adrian “All-Day” Peterson, for you non-Oklahoma University fans out there) to range from 20 to 25 carries per week this year, destroying the attempts-weighted Yards Per Carry (YPC) record while he’s at it.
4) Steven Jackson – the Rams’ O-line self destructed so badly last year that it would be like winning the lottery twice if it happens again.  He’ll improve tremendously.
5) Marshawn Lynch – eeks out the #5 spot over Addai, due to an improved YPC with an improving Edwards at QB and thus less 8 man fronts to run through.
6) Joseph Addai – is by far the safer choice than #’s 2 through 5.  Lower risk, but a lower ceiling with Indy’s pass-oriented offense.
7) Maurice Jones-Drew – ascends to Top 10 for the first time in his young career, as additional wear on ageless Fred Taylor and a bona-fide passing game bolster Jones-Drew’s opportunities.
8 Earnest Graham – Ranking him this high is unorthodox, but I think Cadillac Williams’ career is over, and Warrick Dunn is a creaky change-of-pace passing option.  The Bucs play an easy schedule – you can expect to see Graham on the field A LOT.
9) Ryan Grant – A little risky in keeper leagues since his role isn’t cemented (forget the big contract: only $4.5 is guaranteed, and that’s all for this year).  But he’s the feature back in one of the NFC’s best offenses.
10) Laurence Maroney – Teams have upgraded their secondaries and pass-rushes to try and disrupt the NE passing game.  This will open up opportunities for Maroney and the other NE running backs (Morris, etc.)  Hopefully a little load balancing will help ease Maroney’s myriad nicks and scrapes.
11) Clinton Portis – call him by whatever name or character you like, he’s less injury prone than people think.  Like Marshawn, he will benefit from an improving QB.
12) Larry Johnson – Herm Edwards is entertaing and a great motivator, but KC is a terrible team.  But I think LJ will accumulate good stats despite seeing nothing but 8 or even 9 man fronts.
13) Ronnie Brown – Who knows what to expect here.  I really don’t know if he’ll shake the injury bug, but he’s got great upside if he does.  Also, I don’t buy Ricky Williams as an alternative – I think Parcells and Co. might be trying to trade Ricky b/c they know that rookie Jalen Parmele is already a great backup.
14) Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs is a wrecking ball who’s a risk to get hurt on every play.  But he’s in his prime.  I would feel ok having him on my team, so long as I had his primary backup, Ahmad Bradshaw as well.
15) Darren McFadden – Zone blocking schemes do great, great things for running backs.  And unlike the Denver Broncos RBs that made the system famous (exception: Portis), McFadden is actually a great running back.
16) Frank Gore – Mike Martz offenses do terrible, terrible things for RB fantasy production.  Gore is still a fine choice, but as a #2, not a #1 back.  (With luck the Martz system might save wear and tear on him).
17) Marion Barber III – It’s two factors that make me want to avoid Barber this year 1) Any injury to Romo or any O-Lineman would really hurt him, and 2) Felix Jones is a rocket who’ll get 5 to 10 carries per game.  As a Cowboys fan, I hope that Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett is smart enough to keep Barber’s carries under 250.  (i.e., Barber ending up as a top 20 fantasy RB may be better for the Cowboys as a team than Barber as a top 10 RB).
18) Jamal Lewis – I don’t see as good a year as last year, but 1300 total yards is still pretty good.
19) Fred Taylor - The Jags will be good this year.  I think Taylor will cede 40+ carries to MJD.
20) Willis McGahee – Unfortunately the Ravens will stink this year, and the O-Line is really young.  I like McGahee better next year than this year.
21) Willie Parker – Pittsburgh’s line is going to be terrible this year, as their best players signed with the Jets.   “Fast Willie” is still fast, but the key is I think he’s as fast as rookie Rashard Mendenhall.
22) Rashard Mendenhall – The first of many great years for him in Pittsburgh.
23) Edgerrin James – Uses luck and a lock on the starting job on his way to 1200 total yards with a bad YPC.
24) Reggie “I’m Not a Bust” Bush – Reggie’s definitely not a bust.  He’s just not a fantasy FB all-star.
25) Thomas Jones – He and Jerricho Cotchery had to be the happiest guys in NY when Farve was signed.

Other notables: Lendale White, Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Kevin Smith, Chester Taylor, Julius Jones, Matt Forte, Felix Jones, and DeAngelo Williams.

Injury Alert – K. Curtis/McNabb and Ronnie Brown

August 21st, 2008 by No comments »

Donovan McNabb ****Breaking News**** Kevin Curtis is hurt and out for a significant portion of the season.  McNabb now has what’s looking like the worst starting receiver corps in the NFL.  If you’ve already drafted McNabb (or if you’re an unfortunate-as-usual Eagles fan) then you better hope the front office trades for or signs some WR help.  Sorry kids, Westbrook can’t do it all by himself.

As far as quantifiable impact goes, I would revise McNabb’s numbers down by 5% to 10%, perhaps even 15%.  (That’s both yards and TDs).

Ronnie Brown is hurt again.  That plus his recovery from an ACL tear means he’ll be even more beat up during the first few games of the season.  Plus as Kyle put it, “the coach said he absolutely won’t be traded, which, knowing Bill Parcells, is pretty much a guarantee that he will be traded”.

Kyle thinks the beneficiary of Brown’s misfortune will be Dolphins’ now 1st-String WR Ricky Williams.  I think the player you should really have your eye on is 3rd Stringer Jalen Parmele, who weighs in at 221 lb, but ran a 4.47 40 at the combine.   This could be a 2007 Ryan Grant scenario.  Or it could be the second (or is it third?) coming of Ricky Williams.

QB Rankings (Who’s Gisele?)

August 20th, 2008 by No comments »

I’m overdue in posting my Quarterback rankings, so here you go

It’s my duty to remind you that how you rank your QBs should depend on your league’s scoring. These assume 5 points per TD and 1 point per 20 passing yards.

  1. Tom Brady – I can’t argue with Kyle’s logic about him dating Gisele.
  2. Peyton Manning – Even if he missed the first game, he’ll end up 2nd overall. Indy’s schedule is relatively easy this year, and his receiving corp will be significantly better than last year, when – at times – he was throwing to Reggie Wayne and guys who looked like Keanu Reeves from The Replacements.
  3. Drew Brees – New Orleans threw the ball some obscene number of times last year (like 650+ attempts). You can expect more of the same this year. TE Shockey’s arrival can also be seen as a boost/lifeline for Robert Meachem’s career.
  4. Carson Palmer – Shame the Bengals defense stinks, otherwise they’d be a playoff team.
  5. Ben Roethlisberger – You’re rolling the dice with an injury to Big Ben, since his O-Line will struggle (i.e., you have to hope he stays healthy by continuing to have good luck dodging the pass rush, which he will see VERY VERY often).
  6. Donovan McNabb – Do you feel lucky? On a points per game basis, McNabb will probably outscore everyone on this list except Brady. But the million dollar question is . . . how many games will he play this year? Otherwise his absolute dearth of receivers is mitigated by Andy Reid’s pass-happy offense. ****Breaking News**** Kevin Curtis is hurt and out for a significant portion of the season. McNabb now has what’s looking like the worst starting receiver corps in the NFL. If you’ve already drafted McNabb (or if you’re an unfortunate-as-usual Eagles fan) then you better hope the front office trades for or signs some WR help. Sorry kids, Westbrook can’t do it all by himself.
  7. David Garrard – Slow and steady puts you in the top 10. Having receivers with live, active heartbeats also helps.
  8. Tony Romo – It’s purely an injury risk scenario that has him this low. One injury to any among TO, Barber, the O-Line, or himself will depress – but not tank – his value.
  9. Eli Manning – Will the real Eli please stand up? I think it’s somewhere between the regular season and the Playoffs. Frustrating, but better than your other options at this point.
  10. Derek Anderson – If Peyton Manning is Mr. Consistency, then Anderson is Mr. IN-consistency, although we do know the Browns will give him 10 or so starts to prove he’s for real.
  11. Matt Hasselbeck – Now that Bobby Engram is hurt he has no WRs to throw to. But at least he can toss dump-passes and screens to Julius Jones, instead of watching Shawn Alexander use the ball as a pillow.
  12. Jay Cutler – He’s great, but his O-Line is recovering and his receiver (Marshall) is TBD whether he can catch and hold onto the ball due to potential nerve damage in his arm and hands. Beyond Marshall he has Scheffler and a bunch of over-hyped, under-deliver guys to throw to.
  13. Aaron RodgersKyle said “all he has to do is get the ball to the receivers and they’ll do the rest”, and I can’t agree more.
  14. Jeff Garcia – This is another slow and steady argument for why he’s in the top 15.
  15. Brett Favre – Alive, alive, alive, he’s alive! The Jets O-Line is markedly improved this year, and Coles and Cochtery are good enough (a la poor mens’ Driver and Jennings).
  16. Matt Shaub – Houston doesn’t suck anymore, but this is tough for people to get for some reason. Schaub’s main question mark is also a “Can he stay healthy?” issue.
  17. Jake Delhomme – He looks like he’s healthy. If so, then he’ll be really good. He’s below the above 3 b/c of Steve Smith’s suspension.
  18. Marc Bulger – It can’t be as bad as last year, right? Right? Yes, St. Louis overall will be terrible, but Bulger will recover better than the team on the whole.
  19. Philip Rivers – Remember when Carson Palmer tore his ACL? The following he season he struggled for the first six games before righting the ship and kicking ass as usual. I expect the same/similar timeframe for Rivers. That’s why I have him relatively low.
  20. Jason Campbell – Hopefully he’ll
  21. JaMarcus Russell – He will use the most powerful arm in the NFL . . . to hand off 30x per game to McFadden and Fargus. Slightly better for Oakland, but not great for his fantasy numbers.
  22. Jon Kitna – It’s a shame to think about, but due to all the sacks he’s taken, he won’t be able to remember his own name in a decade or so. In the meantime, enough yards and TDs to warrant backup QB candidacy.
  23. Trent Edwards – At least Buffalo seems to have picked the right QB to start, seeing as Edwards improved last year while Losman just sort of . . . can throw the ball deep . . . and not much else.
  24. Tarvaris Jackson – Heavy is the head that wears the QB crown in Minneapolis. I hope it turns out differently, but I can’t help but see his time in MN resembling Quincy Carter’s performance in Dallas.
  25. Vince Young – His rushing yards help, but they only do so much. He’s not looking like a good NFL QB after last season.

Second in a Series: Draft Strategy – How to Understand What Your Competition is Thinking

August 5th, 2008 by No comments »

Most of your opponents’ draft-day preparation consists of four steps:

Step 1) Purchasing a fantasy football magazine.

Step 2) Come draft day open the magazine (for the first time).

Step 3) Flip to the Cheat Sheet.

Step 4) Draft players using the cheat sheet, and end up with whomever star players the magazine’s staff writers had man-crushes on that year.

Sound familiar? It should. Most of your opponents won’t prepare for your draft. Not in any substantiate way, anyhow. They will rely on the magazines to tell them what to do. Sure they’ll maintain some awareness through SportsCenter, or through ongoing conversations with their friends, colleagues, and you. (Yes, for the record you should not be a jerk and withhold breaking news like Steve Smith’s suspension when you converse with your friends). But when push comes to shove, it’s EPSN’s Top 200 that will drive their behavior.

This matters to you, because you need to be aware of what ESPN’s Top 200 says. You need to know how the consensus media values the top 50 or so players, because it should affect which players you target. Specifically, I think you should consider these two principles in developing your draft strategy:

1) Don’t target players whom the consensus values higher than you do. They won’t fall to you. For example, Marion Barber is currently consensus-ranked as the 8th best fantasy player. I personally do not believe Marion Barber will pan out to be worth the 8th pick. (I expect 15 to 16 players to outperform Barber). Would I love to have Barber on my team? Absolutely, but I’m not going to base my draft strategy on him falling to me with my 2nd round pick. It’s just a waste of time.

2) Equally importantly, don’t be too aggressive in reaching for players who are underrated by the consensus. In other words, if you think Joey Gallaway will have another rock-star season, then don’t be too aggressive in drafting him too early. There’s no sense in taking him with your 3rd or 4th round choice when he will likely be available in rounds 5 or 6.

Together these two principles imply that the players you should target with your early picks are the players whom you and the consensus agree on – where the value you ascribe to them is about the same as the way they’re perceived by everyone else. Take them when they are available, or otherwise they’ll be gone prior to your next pick.

I’ll leave you with a handy-dandy summary of what the “consensus” is as of August 5, 2008 (i.e., this table shows consensus rankings by popular fantasy analysts). I’ll attempt to update it in a couple weeks, but barring pre-season injuries, you shouldn’t expect it to change that much

Consensus Name Expert MFL Mock Calc Mags CBS
1 LaDainian Tomlinson 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Adrian Peterson 3 2 2 2 2 2
3 Brian Westbrook 2 3 3 4 3 3
4 Steven Jackson 4 4 4 3 4 4
5 Joseph Addai 5 5 5 5 5 6
6 Tom Brady 6 6 6 6 6 4
7 Frank Gore 7 9 9 9 7 8
8 Marion Barber III 8 7 8 8 9 10
9 Randy Moss 9 8 7 7 10 9
10 Clinton Portis 10 10 11 10 8 12
11 Marshawn Lynch 16 11 13 11 11 11
12 Peyton Manning 13 13 17 14 13 7
13 Larry Johnson 12 15 10 15 12 15
14 Reggie Wayne 14 12 12 13 15 17
15 Terrell Owens 15 14 15 12 17 14
16 Willis McGahee 21 18 16 17 14 16
17 Braylon Edwards 22 17 18 16 20 18
18 Tony Romo 19 20 19 22 21 13
19 Ryan Grant 26 21 14 18 16 21
20 Larry Fitzgerald 18 19 21 20 22 20
21 Andre Johnson 23 23 24 19 18 22
22 Maurice Jones-Drew 17 16 27 21 23 27
23 T.J. Houshmandzadeh 20 26 22 25 24 25
24 Steve Smith 25 25 26 24 25 26
25 Marques Colston 32 24 28 23 26 24
26 Jamal Lewis 30 29 25 26 27 23
27 Drew Brees 29 27 31 27 31 19
28 Reggie Bush 11 22 30 32 36 38
29 Chad Johnson 24 28 29 28 34 30
30 Laurence Maroney 47 38 20 34 19 29
31 Torry Holt 27 31 32 30 37 31
32 Plaxico Burress 33 30 35 29 33 33
33 Brandon Jacobs 40 39 23 31 32 41
34 Ronnie Brown 31 37 34 33 28 48
35 Wes Welker 35 32 36 35 38 37
36 Carson Palmer 39 40 39 40 40 28
37 Anquan Boldin 36 33 38 37 41 42
38 Earnest Graham 28 49 33 48 42 32
39 Brandon Marshall 37 34 52 36 30 47
40 Michael Turner 38 42 37 41 35 44
41 Willie Parker 41 45 43 39 29 46
42 Jason Witten 43 35 42 45 45 40
43 Darren McFadden 42 36 50 43 53 36
44 Ben Roethlisberger 46 44 45 50 47 39
45 Roy Williams 44 43 46 42 49 49
46 Edgerrin James 34 51 40 54 39 57
47 Antonio Gates 60 41 44 47 44 45
48 Santonio Holmes 50 46 49 38 50 53
49 Thomas Jones 48 55 51 44 43 52
50 Kellen Winslow Jr 51 47 48 53 51 50

Is Jessica Simpson better than Gisele?

July 30th, 2008 by 1 comment »

Quarterbacks!?! Quarterbacks?!? Yes quarterbacks. People love them the most, but they also love to hate them. So which ones should you draft? I don’t know, but I do have some sage advice for you.

Last year Peyton Manning was the #1 ranked QB in most pre-draft rankings, but then Tom Brady decided to date Gisele. That alone should’ve been enough for Brady, but he decided to break several single season passing records. Now it’s obvious that Brady is #1, but who’s #2 or for that matter #22?

Well it all starts with what your league scoring is. Do interceptions count against you? Do rushing carries count? Do you get extra points for having the last name of Manning? Knowing what your league scoring will help you figure out what players should be valued and who should be left for dead. Take for instance Jon Kitna, he threw for 4,068 yards and 18 TDs last year. Not bad right? Only if your league doesn’t count his 20 INTs last year.

So without further ado here’s my top 25 QBs as of July 30:

  1. Tom Brady – What can be said except that he’s dating Gisele.
  2. Peyton Manning – He’s a little banged up, but he’s always consistent.
  3. Tony Romo – When you have T.O. and Witten everything is easier.
  4. Drew Brees – Jeremy Shockey actually has a good QB to throw him the ball.
  5. Carson Palmer – He still has Chad Johnson and TJ Housmanzadeh to throw to.
  6. Matt Hasselbeck – Mike Holmgren is still the coach right?
  7. Derek Anderson – He has way too much talent to be bad, … right?
  8. Ben Roethlisberger – I don’t expect him to throw for more than 3500 yards, but he should still put up some good numbers.
  9. Donovan McNabb – He would be so much higher if he wouldn’t get hurt so much.
  10. David Garrard – He doesn’t have a lot of good receivers, but then again he didn’t last year when he threw for 2,509 yards and 18 TDs.
  11. Jay Cutler – He had a solid year last year despite the whole diabetes thing.
  12. Philip Rivers – If he plays like he did in the playoffs he should finish higher than this, but I won’t put a whole lot of money on that.
  13. Eli Manning – He’s a least consistent, plus his last name is Manning.
  14. Aaron Rodgers – All he has to do is get the ball to the receivers and they’ll do the rest.
  15. Marc Bulger – Take a look at McNabb’s comment.
  16. Jake Delhomme – Steve Smith’s favorite QB is back, but maybe not fully healthy.
  17. Jason Campbell – He should have a solid year with a new offense.
  18. Matt Shaub – Health is an issue, and so is inexperience.
  19. Alex Smith – He’s bound to be better. Maybe? Hopefully!
  20. Vince Young – His rushing numbers should always help him out.
  21. Trent Edwards – I feel like he’ll do better in his second year on the job.
  22. Jeff Garcia – He doesn’t throw many TDs, but he doesn’t throw INTs either.
  23. Jon Kitna – He throws a fair amount of TDs, but he also throws a lot of INTs.
  24. JaMarcus Russell – Hey he’s got some decent weapons.
  25. Brett Favre – Why not take a flyer on him just in case he does play this year. He’s better than the rest even if he doesn’t play.

First in a Series: Draft Strategy – How to Understand What Your Competition is Thinking

July 15th, 2008 by No comments »

One key element to a successful draft is correctly guessing what your opponents are going to do. This doesn’t just include the person drafting before you – I’m talking about all 7, 9, 11, or 15 other opponents in your league.

The reason? Because the picks that come before and after yours are really important to getting good value from your own. You want to know if there will be any good QB’s left in the next round if you choose a RB or WR in the current round. You want to know what RBs will be left if you choose a QB with your 1st or 2nd pick. If your league allows you to trade draft picks, this is even more important, since that gives you the ability to target specific players (or take advantage of opponents who’re targeting specific players).

Alternatively, if you react to other team’s picks without considering those teams’ other picks, then you’ll end up following the crowd, and you probably won’t end up with a very talented team. In other words, if you select your QB and TE whenever there’s a QB or TE rush, then you may miss out on a talented position player who’s still out there. (Think when the New York Giants selected WR Steve Smith with their 2nd round pick in 2007. Smith ended up being a key contributor – among many others – in their run to the Super Bowl).

So how do you find out what your opponents are thinking?

There’s several aspects to that, but the first I’ll discuss is understanding your opponents’ biases for certain players.

Everyone has biases for certain players. Everyone. If you think you don’t, then you’re lying to yourself. It’s human to be biased in things like player selections in Fantasy Football drafts. (For more detail on this topic, see this speech on Investor Overconfidence by Terry Odean)

Some biases you can’t easily guess, such as when Opponent X has been burned twice by San Diego WRs, so they’ll never draft a San Diego WR ever again. Those biases you don’t have to worry about. They’re random, and thus a waste of time to try to understand or foresee.

But some biases you can more easily see, and these typically fall into three categories:

1) Home-team players. This is the easiest to understand and guess. The idea is that So-and-So is an X fan, so they’ll favor players from Team X. For example, the commisioner in our 16 team league is a huge Eagles fan. It’s very easy to predict that he’ll have a strong desire to get Eagles QB McNabb, or WRs Curtis / Brown on his team. (He already has RB Westbrook as a keeper). This bias is stronger for some opponents than others. Just make sure to get the obvious ones down, such as those opponents who include their home team in their fantasy team names. (As a side note, you can read more about our Comissioner, Dave, here. That link also has a bio on his friend and colleague, John, who’s also in our 16 team league. John’s a huge Pats fan, and thus I’m guessing a lock to draft WR Wes Welker with his 4th round pick).

2) Players formerly on your fantasy team. In my case, when I do mock drafts, part of me screams “DRAFT LEE EVANS WITH YOUR FIFTH PICK”, even though I know full well that this is akin to choosing to see “Journey to the Center of the Earth” over “The Dark Knight” or “Hellboy II”. You don’t need to memorize every player on your opponents’ former rosters. Just try to get a sense of their top four to six players: the reason being that you’ll see some of them pick those same guys, for no other reason than that they’re familar with them.

This post talked about biases unique to each opponent. I’ll discuss biases common across all opponents in a later post.

In the meantime, you should start to get handle on the opponents within your league.

Eventually, you should be able to put together the general and specific intentions of your opponents, to understand how they should affect your draft strategy, and to know when the time is right to make a bold or unexpected pick.

Debunking The Third-Year Wide Receiver Myth

July 10th, 2008 by No comments »

Tristian Cockcroft (I’m not making that up) from ESPN.com has a great article about the so-called “breakout year” that’s commonly expected from third-year wide receivers.

If you’re obsessive about this subject, I suggest you check it out.

Alternatively, if you’re counting on Third Year WR Brandon Marshall to be this year’s #1 fantasy WR, then here’s some breaking news for you: HE ALREADY BROKE OUT LAST YEAR. Plus he think’s he’s entitled to drive like Kurt Busch on Denver’s freeways, so you might need to adjust your projections for him to account for his forthcoming suspension. (Will it be two games? four games? Preseason or Regular season? . . . . )

Sleepers Galore!

July 8th, 2008 by No comments »

The long anticipated and also long delayed return of Fantasy Champ has arrived. I think it is a pretty good time to return. Baseball is just over half way through, the Celtics just made Kobe cry, and football is just around the corner. Without further ado let’s get down to it.

 

 

I’m going to start this year off with rookies and sleepers. Everyone has their can’t miss “Sleeper” pick, and there is always stud rookies that are going to destroy the league. In all actuality there are very few sleepers and even fewer rookies that have big fantasy football impact. In turn here is my list of top sleepers and rookies.

 

 

QB Sleepers:

 


Aaron Rodgers
– Now I know some of you are going to call me a homer, … well go ahead. It really has nothing to do with Rodgers as much as it has to do with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and the rest of the skill position players. The Packers had the highest yards after catch average in the league last year.

 


Jason Campbell
– So here’s the Campbell equation: Young talented QB – Run heavy offense – Brandon Lloyd + Pass oriented head coach = More development and bigger numbers.

 


Trent Edwards
– He’s smart, has a good arm, and is very accurate. On top of all of that he has Lee Evans and Marshawn Lynch to help him out. Don’t expect big numbers from him, but he should be a serviceable backup.

 


QB Rookies:

 

Don’t draft one! Don’t be that guy that gets the rookie QB thinking he’s going to be as good as he was in college. The QB position is the toughest position to learn, so it takes at least a year or two before guys start showing how good they really are.

 


RB Sleepers:

 


Julius Jones
– Here’s the tricky thing with Jones, he’s not a 25 carry a game guy. On the flip side, he is a 15 -20 carry and 5 catches a game guy. I don’t expect him to get 2,000 yards this season just because he’s the starting RB is Seattle. I do however expect at least 1,100 yards rushing and probably 300 yards receiving. He’ll also throw in 5 TDs or so to make him a good #3 RB.

 


Thomas Jones
– A lot of people have jumped off the Thomas Jones band wagon. Well lets be honest I don’t know how many people were ever on the Jones band wagon. This year Jones has something he didn’t have last year … and that’s a good O-Line. The Jets added Alan Faneca and Damien Woody to play alongside Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Remember Jones had over 1,100 yards rushing and over 200 yards receiving last year.

 


RB Rookies:

 


Matt Forte
– Am I confident that he’ll be the starting RB for Chicago? No. Do I think he’ll definitely rush for over 1,000 yards? No. Has he got a chance to do both? Yes! That is more than can be said about most rookie RBs.

 


Jonathan Stewart
– He’s not going to be the main guy in Carolina. He may not even get more than 5 carries a game, but he will more than likely be the goal line RB. Plus, he’s got a lot of upside.

 


Darren McFadden
– Just think about Adrian Peterson’s impact last year. Nuff said.

 


WR Sleepers:

 


Anthony Gonzalez
– He didn’t really pull a Brandon Stokley or a Wes Welker his rookie year in Indy, but he did have 576 yards and 3 TDs. Now those numbers don’t look to impressive, but he put up 264 yards and 3 TDs in the last 4 weeks of the season. Looks to me like Manning has a new security blanket.

 


Bryant Johnson
– He was always a solid #3 WR in Arizona, but now he’s expected to be the #1 in San Fran. That’s not always a good thing, unless of course you have Mike Martz as your new Offensive Coordinator. With Martz around Johnson should see plenty of passing plays.

 


Jerry Porter
– He has moved out of Oakland and into Jacksonville. Reggie Williams had 629 yards and 10 TDs playing with David Garrard last year. Is anyone going to disagree that Porter is better than Williams?

 


WR Rookies:

 


I hate rookie WRs since they take about half a year to develop. Even Dwayne Bowe last year took sometime before he started killing people. But here are some guys to take late late round flyers on or to look for to pickup half way through the season:

 

 

Devin Thomas, Limas Sweed, DeSean Jackson, and James Hardy.

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