Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Arian Foster's Hammy About to BREAK OUT!

Everybody has 15 minutes of fame.
Turns out the Texans aren't too thrilled with their star running back disclosing his hamstring pull, which could cost Foster 3 weeks. He's saying that he's good to go for week 1, but let's just say the people who drafted Ben Tate are bouncing off walls right about now.
What's bad for Houston's nondisclosure policy is a confusing mess for fantasy owners. What was once a no-brainer top 3 pick is now a bit more questionable. Three weeks isn't the end of the world but it's kind of a long time to be without a number one pick when Ray Rice, Andre Johnson and Shady McCoy are sitting right there winking at you.
So how far does he fall? By claiming that he'll be available for week 1 Foster throws a haze over the whole proceeding.
So it's just a matter of:
a) do you believe Foster's tweet or do you believe the follow up? and/or
b) is Foster missing the first 3 weeks worth passing him up?
I'd bet that he goes in the top 5 unless his Hammy tweets more bad news.

Better Know A Steeler

Wide Receiver Antonio Brown. What do we know?

>>He's 3rd on the depth chart behind Mike Wallace and Hines Ward.

>>He was practically useless last year playing in about half the games. BUT 5 of those games were the last 5 games of the year where his production was minimal but got increasingly better/

>>He blew up like a teen pop star in the Steelers 3rd preseason outing, going for 137 yards and 2 TDs.

So what does it mean? Taking a number 3 guy is always a risk. But depth charts lie. Hines Ward probably isn't the real number two any more. I mean the guy's tough, but he's also 35. Not many 35 year old guys can continue to do the things that he had to do to be successful. So if Brown is getting some decent playing time on the other side of Wallace then he could be very successful with Wallace drawing the heavy coverage.

And while it's easy to think of the Steelers as the prototypical physical, grind it out kind of offense, the reality is that Ben likes to put some air under the ball. Definitely worth a look.

-Eric Edwards

A one man debate: Starring Michael Vick

Hi! I'm Mike.

You might know me from such hits as "The Hokie Wonder," "6 Seasons in the ATL," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Eagle Has Landed"

If you haven't already drafted me, you are probably wondering if you should. So let's sit for a quick minute and chat about my pros and cons and cons.

Pro: Nobody in the league can do what I do on the field.

Con: Nobody in the league has done what I did off the field.

Con: But I believe that only the media cares about that issue which is obviously in my rear view mirror and can someone please get me a dog!

Pro: I just got signed to a 6-year deal. So somebody up there in Philly thinks I'm worth it.

Con: Lots of guys get big contracts then immediately turn into unmotivated piles of stool. See Eli Manning.

Con: The whole team just got paid a bunch of money so multiply that problem times a whole lot.

Pro: This contract is negotiable in 3 years and that will probably be my last chance for a HUGE paycheck, so let's get some rings, Baby! Plus, every dime I make on this contract goes to get me out of the red.

Con: Defenses seemed to figure me out at the end of last year

Con: Desean Jackson only works 8 weeks out of the year

Pro: Jeremy Maclin probably doesn't have cancer.

Con: Probably.

Con: We're not exactly sure what his problem is if it isn't cancer. Whatever it is he can't sleep, or eat and he's lost a bunch of weight. Might be an issue on the field.

Pro: Shady McCoy and Ronnie Brown can take a ton of pressure off me.

Con: My O-Line can't.

Con: What's a "Wildcat?"

Pro: 49 point fantasy game last year. Any game I start is a game you are never out of. I practically run for 100 yards a game on my own so you are guaranteed at least that. Bonus, in my last 9 games of the regular season last year my lowest fantasy total (depending on league settings) was 23.

Con: Margin of victory isn't worth kibble.

Con: I'm bound to get injured this season

Pro: You are going to kick yourself when you miss out on the most obvious draft pick of all time. I'm going to be the season high scorer by like 100 fantasy points and I will single-handedly keep you in every game.

Con: Or I won't

Con: Or I'll violate my parole and finish up the season in Leavenworth. No Biggie.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Where's the love for Boldin?

Just kidding. I totally get it. But allow me to esplain. No?

I've been getting ripped in the comments for taking Anquan Boldin in the 2nd round (with pick number 17). And I will absolutely agree that this was a reach, I'd like to set the table a little. One of the owners in this league (a gentleman who also follows this blog) pointed out, in a keeper league you have to take draft position with a grain of salt. When I took Boldin at 17, 40 players were already off the board by the time you calculate in keepers. Many of those keepers are top 30 picks thus leaving the talent pool somewhat weakened before the draft even starts.

So there I am, I own Jamaal Charles, the next best running back that I would have taken (Legarrette Blount) just went two spaces before me and I happen to need a WR pretty badly, and I happen to think VERY highly of Boldin, so I take him. lord knows he won't be there when I pick again with the 32nd pick. Literally zero chance.

Now, I'll give you doubters a little leverage here because in the end it was a personal preference pick. I could have taken Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall or Desean (BTW, all those guys were off the board in the next 6 picks). But I think Reggie is getting older and I don't trust Manning as much as I used to. I think the Marshall argument can be made but I think he's shaky, you know, in his melon. So there I am, Desean or Boldin? Well, I've already got Vick on my team and I don't trust him or the Eagles 100%. So I really don't want to get too heavily invested so I go with Boldin. And here's the thing, Boldin is probably the toughest man in football. He's strong and he never, ever gives up on a play. I've always said that the year he and Fitz took the Cards to the Superbowl he was actually outproducing Fitzgerald until, if you recall, he got his face broken into a thousand pieces. His X-Rays were so full of metal they got confused with Barbaro's. But damn if three weeks later he's not back in the game running across the middle, taking end arounds, basically participating in insane behavior for a man whose face has just recently been crushed. From there on out it was pretty much the Fitzgerald show, and that's fine. But what I saw was a Boldin who would not be denied. And so he left for B'more where he started slowly, but late in the season he was a force. And a year later he knows the system and he's probably going to team up with Ray Ray to murder someone on the field. So yeah, I like Boldin a little.

Monday, August 29, 2011

What's more savage than a draft?

Each year, drafting seems to get a little bit harder.
There are a variety of possible explanations for this, early onset dementia, my own personal loss of fantasy knowledge, maybe an aggregate boost of all the knowledge of the owners I'm drafting against. Or it might be as simple as the old adage: The more you learn, the less you know.

When I drafted my first team back in the summer of 2000 my fantasy IQ was registering somehwere in the lower ranges of imbecile.
"How hard can this be?" I thought as I imagined how I would spend my winnings? Maybe one of those new Segways, those'll be everywhere in 5 years, I'm sure of it.
What could have been an ugly experience turned into fantasy gold when I lucked into the first overall pick and Marshall Faulk in year when Faulk turned in one of the most dominating fantasy years ever. I ended up finishing in second place that year and was pretty convinced I was a fantasy genius.
Eleven years and countless drafts later, nothing seems as simple as it did on that blistering Florida day. Now I realize that not only do I know very little about how things will shake out, I know even less about how they should shake out. None of us really do. Sure, at the draft I'll call someone an inbred sissy for taking Matt Forte in the first round, but I have no idea how Forte will do. If Forte makes the man happy, who am I to judge?

Having traded away my first round pick to gain keeper rights over Michael Vick in the 15th round I took Anquan Boldin in the 2nd. Then, after a massive run on RBs that removed names like AP, Rice, McCoy, Foster, Jackson, Turner, Blount, Gore, Bradshaw, Best (Deep Breath) Bradshaw, Felix, Gore, CJ, Benson, Moreno and Deangelo (nevermind keepers like Shonn Green, Jamaal Charles, MJD, Mendenhall & McFadden) there was hardly a second string running back to be found. So I went with Mark Ingram. I'm not sold on it, probably my biggest stretch of the draft, but when they all start going you have to rewrite the plan.
And that's the reality of understanding fantasy drafts. Since you can't spend an entire draft picking sleepers, and you can't rely on other people to only pick guys you hate, you have to be able to react and roll with the punches (sometimes literally).

My other league is an online draft and due to a fairly large percentage of doofuses who can't remember times or dates or who insist on being in equatorial New Guinea that weekend we get a lot of autodrafts. And of course if you have the computer picking for 3 guys it helps to dampen a run on a commodity, because the computer doesn't care that 23 running backs are off the table before the middle of the 3rd round, autodraft just says: "You need a quarterback in the 3rd round - enjoy Tony Romo" and just like that, it happens.
On the other hand participating in a live draft - where everyone is in attendence - is a bit like going to the zoo 5 minutes after they just unlocked all the cages. Absolute chaos. Drunk people staring at the draft board for 5 full mintues and then accidentally selecting somebody's keeper. The constant din of disapproval alone would be enough to cause an inexperienced hand to head to a corner and weep uncontrollably. And I'm personally responsible for probably less than 60% of that public derision, so yeah, there's a lot to go around.

I think my team is OK. Like anyone else we'll get devoured if we get a bunch of injuries and we might not make the playoffs if at least one of our questionable picks doesn't turn into something decent ahem Ingram . But pretty much everyone is in the same boat -- except the guy who drafted Forte -- he's toast.
And whether I get any smarter, any dumber or any more polite in the years to come it really is irrelevant - I come for the competition but I stay for the theater. If I thought my wife, kids or parents wouldn't watch it I'd sell the rights to our draft to a reality producer and make a killing. I swear a good draft will make the Housewives of New Jersey look like a Junior League bake sale.
And we may not have much - but we have a killer draft.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Twas the 'night before Draftmas

And I came up with a shtick,
that'll be lamer than Hell,
but will rhyme with Mike Vick.

OK. A better writer than me would have given that stanza more than 13 seconds of thought before rhyming shtick with Vick. more importantly, a better writer than me never would have bothered with imbecilic rhymes in the first place, but I live with two toddlers who respond only to things that rhyme. For example:

This diaper of yours
is always so full
I'm beginning to think
that you are part Bull

Fine, I'll stop. Back to business. Like many of you I have my first draft of the season this Saturday. Two of them in fact. The first for my own league and the second for my favorite league - my keeper league. After 9 seasons of fantasy ball and 4 seasons in a keeper-style league I can honestly say that if you can convince your commissioner to take the extra time and energy to go keeper, you should do it. The advantages far outnumber the weaknesses (which as far as I can tell fall solely on the person managing the league - sorry Steve).

In no particular order
1) When you can keep a few players (we keep 2) you can develop a core team around which you build over time. Maybe you have a stud QB and a stud receiver, you know that you won't have to be overworried about those positions with your first couple of picks. This is especially nice if you can keep a top QB. The guy who won last year has been keeping Drew Brees since he became a Saint. This will be his last year to hold him, thankfully - but he created a championship team out of his ability to keep a top tier QB.

2) Consequently you get more interesting drafts. Since everyone isn't chasing blindly after the same top tier guys you get a lot more diversity among the picks. Our drafts aren't even remotely similar to any Average Drafts you see online. Last year Peyton Manning went 1st. That guy didn't finish in the money or anything, but he thought a top QB was his best chance so he took it.

3) This format opens to the door to more generational thinking. Last year a team named the Stompers picked up Michael Vick off waivers (in this league the lower you take somebody the longer you can keep them - so this was a huge windfall for the Stompers). This year my team traded the Stompers my 1st round pick in 2011 and my 3rd round pick in 2012 for rights to Vick. Could be a huge mistake on either of our parts, but it certainly will provide for a lively draft.

4) This particular keeper format moves any potential keeper up two rounds each year they are kept, and you are not allowed to keep anyone drafted in the 1st two rounds. So guys that come out of college with a ton of buzz can almost never be keepers, but all those sleepers that come out of nowhere can sit on an owner's team for as long as 7 years before they are forced back into the general draft pool. A few years ago a guy took a 9th round flyer on Chris Johnson who was (at the time) getting split evenly with Len Dale White. A few sandwiches later White is a non-entity and the Chris Johnson gets to be kept the next 3 seasons. Wham!

Not that there's anything wrong with the standard draft. Shaking up the fantasy snow globe every year means everyone always starts with a clean slate. But where's the fun in that? The best players can reap sometimes small, sometimes huge year-over-year benefits from drafting wisely, and we all like that.

A general question for those wiser than I

I'm entering my first Auction-Style league this year. What have you learned? What are important drafting strategies beyond: "Don't overpay for Eli Manning!"

I'm anticipating a bit of a learning curve here, but the draft is no time to find out all the things you don't know. Post your tips in the comments. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fantasy Beer Run

Time to stock the fridge, hide the delicates, give the neighbor the keys and get down to some serious draftin'!

If 2010 was the year of Arian Foster and inappropriate pictures of Favre's QB, then what will 2011 be? Will it be the year the league lowered our expectations so much that anything short of a strike would make for the greatest football season ever? I'm afraid so.* But what the hell, quality entertainment isn't everything, just look at ABC Family (shudders to think.)

So on with the show. I'm not going to bother telling you about Michael Vick or Adrian Peterson because you are going to draft them 1 & 2 no matter what I say. Which is fine. For once the top 8 or 9 picks are all quite workable. No Frank Gores, Steven Jacksons or Randy Mosses out there cluttering up the top line with their emeritus status. Jackson and Gore have finally slipped peacefully into the second round where they will still be drafted too high, and Moss has straight cashed out. Thank God!

The last thing you want is that debate over the return on your investment. And barring injury, this years top pix ought to have no trouble bringing the fantasy points. Ray Rice is the only guy on that list who stands out as a question mark and I'd take him in a second.

Players I love:
Calvin Johnson - It's easy to be dismissive of the Lions because of, well, they are the Lions. But you don't profit from buying a stock when it's at the apex, you buy low then ride that to the top. Megatron could be the best receiver to have in the league this year if no one's shoulder shatters (looking at you here Stafford).

Larry Fitzgerald - There are two things that can happen to a wide receiver to ruin their year: Injury and crappy QB play. Last year the Cards had a lot of the latter. Kevin Kolb should be an enourmous upgrade at QB and captain dreadlocks can help him get there.

Matt Forte - Roy Williams and Marion Barber should help Forte get back to the level he played at his rookie season. Not saying that Roy is be all end all at WR, he clearly isn't, but for the Bears he's an upgrade from Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, which opens the game up for Cutler and therefore opens it up for Forte.

Miles Austin - You simply can't overstate chemistry between QBs and receivers and Romo loves himself some Miles Austin.

DeAngelo Williams - He is a bargain in the 4th round. Offense will be better and when Cam steps in he'll draw a lot of attention away from the other backs.

Wes Welker - His knee is made of Christmas miracles, what else do you need to know?

Ryan Grant - Average Draft position is top of the fifth round. If he stays healthy he's far and away the best rushing option on a wide open offense. No one's stacking the box against Green Bay.

Felix Jones - You know what? Fine. I say this every freaking year. And every freaking year this guy gets run out of Dallas by Marion Barber. But Barber is gone and you can't lose carries to a guy who isn't there. Having said that I retract this pick if the Cowboys pick up Tiki Barber in free agency (which they won't, right, seriously, they'd better not).

Fred Jackson - (See Felix Jones only replace the name Barber with Lynch). After Marshawn left Fred had a good season. I think he's a monster waiting to happen. You don't like it? Well, that's why you didn't finish in 3rd place in 2 out of 3 leagues last year. My creds are huge.

Time is running low here so let's hit a coupla sleepers and then say one thing in general about quarterbacks before the battery on my iPad dies (I've been watching Friday Night Lights for 16 hours straight).

1) Sleepers - Tim Hightower, Michael Bush, Danny Amendola, Rashad Jennings, Ben Tate and Steve Breaston.

2) QBs. Really? Does it matter at this point? The rules are so QB friendly that 8 guys are solid starts. If you can't figure out which they are then, well, I'm sorry. So don't reach for Rodgers or Vick, someone will and you can just wait a minute and get yourself a Stafford or a Rivers or a Brady. Those guys are pretty good, you know.

*Speaking of lowered probably thought I was going to hit you with a linear run down of top picks position-by-position, didn't you? Not this year, baby. But I'll guarantee you this, if you draft 3 of the guys I've mentioned and you put a cork in your QB envy, you'll finish in the money and if you don't I'll let you read this site for free all next year.

Good luck, bro.