Friday, August 31, 2012

Preseason finale - Sleeper of the season

We've spent three weeks telling you who makes us cringe. A list of unaccountability. Now with less than a week to kick off we'll offer 5 players you can count on to dominate at their position. 

Sleeper - Michael Bush
 Benjamin Franklin reminds us the only thing more certain than death and taxes is the precipitous decline in production of a player who has just signed a new contract. Franklin also knew that the animosity which came along with said contract is inversely proportional to the player's success in the first year of that contract. Other variables in this calculus include players the team may have signed at the same position, and how much money the team doled out to other players while making Player A sweat. So no one will be surprised when Matt Forte dislocates his nose and turns the Bears' rushing duties over the the very capable, dying-to-be-featured-back Michael Bush. Bush is the understudy who trumps the lead. He did it to RunDMC in Oakland and he'll do it to Forte in Chicago. Don't sleep on that.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 5 Players who will perform - Calvin Johnson

We've spent three weeks telling you who makes us cringe. A list of unaccountability. Now with fewer than 10 days to kick off we'll offer 5 players you can count on to dominate at their position. 

Wide Reciever - Calvin Johnson

Grinding out points on the ground and in the air is one way to make a fantasy living, but not one that appeals to a man so dangerous they named him after the leader of the Decepticons. In 2011 Calvin Johnson delivered on the promise Andre Johnson has been making for years - the promise to grab Randy Moss' earth-shattering, 330+ point fantasy season, stuff it in a shoebox and kick it under the bed where the playboys and the Nintendo live. With 16 receiving TDs and almost 1700 yards, Megatron established himself as the Mega-ist of all trons. Unless Matt Stafford develops a serious case of the Vicks, we are expecting more of the same.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 5 Players who will perform - Ray Rice

We've spent three weeks telling you who makes us cringe. A list of unaccountability. Now with fewer than 10 days to kick off we'll offer 5 players you can count on to dominate at their position. 

Running Back - Ray Rice

  All sensible leagues reward those whose precious hands pull the ball from the sky and carry it onward to glory. The usual tender is a point, or at least half-a-point, anything less is an insult. This isn't soccer after all. Of course not all of these hands belong to receivers. Some players, like Ray Rice, primarily frighten their enemies with terribly quick cuts and almost brilliant speed, then slaughter them with short receptions for long gains. This one-two-punch is the prototype for total fantasy coverage.

With two high-end wide receivers on the flanks the only question is how will QB Joe Flacco manage this stable. The defense might not be up to previous years' excellence, but as we're fond of saying: They had a step to lose. Rice stands to be the biggest beneficiary of one of the sleeping-est offenses in the NFL.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The 5 Players who will perform - Chris Johnson

We've spent three weeks telling you who makes us cringe. A list of unaccountability. Now with fewer than 10 days to kick off we'll offer 5 players you can count on to dominate at their position.

 Running Back - Chris Johnson

Because of alcohol, and microwaves and catchy pop tunes that will eventually be re-recorded by a Muppet, it is hard to remember that a mere 3 seasons ago Chris Johnson -- he of the dazzling grill and the dreads and the 2000-yard, 430+ point fantasy season -- was the holy grail of running backs. A let-down season and a holdout later and you have given your heart to another. Namely Arian Foster. And Foster does a lot, he's a thoughtful and giving player when it comes to the endless needs of fantasy owners. Well, if you can forget about the hamstring that does seem to keep him off the field from time to time. But enough about Foster, think back to your first love. He's sitting right there, his 2,000 yard smile glimmering in the Tennessee sun. He's ready to show you that he loves you too, and that he means it this time. He wants things to be like before. He thinks maybe you do, too. So come on over here and cuddle up to the self-proclaimed fastest man in the NFL. CJ2K4EVR. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The 5 players who will perform - Tom Brady

We've spent three weeks telling you who makes us cringe. A list of unaccountability. Now with fewer than 10 days to kick off we'll offer 5 players you can count on to dominate at their position.

Today's top performer: QB Tom Brady

 The ripest fruit in the garden of the unknowable is Bill Belichick's brain. From this font of befuddlement annually springs an offense with all the confounding grace of a Three-Stooges' slap attack. Don't be misled by the Stevan Ridleys, the Brandon Lloyds, the Wes Welkers, the dozens of tight ends who may or may not be sleeping with porn stars - Tom Brady is the flowering blossom on the vine. His fantasy points could very well exceed his 2007 production.

No quarterback, other than maybe Aaron Rodgers, has had the offense specified to his strengths. Brady's TE's are 5% blockers and 95% high-end receivers. His slot receivers are deadly, his running backs sure handed and he's lost Chad Johnson in favor of Brandon Lloyd.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - It's a wrap


We are now 13 players deep into our first ever Player Haters' Companion, and it seems we've run out of hate. We've warned you about guys who are injury prone (Mike Vick), sub-performers (Jermichael Finley)  or suspension risks (Dez Bryant). We've offered up players we think are too old (Steven Jackson) and too ouchy (Peyton Manning) and too grouchy (Jay Cutler).

But there are a lot of guys who didn't make this list because we either don't exactly hate them (Chris Johnson) or there isn't enough tape on them (Andrew Luck) to draw a proper conclusion. But we've heard from readers about players they love to hate so we thought we'd append this list with a couple of days of players we just aren't sure we completely trust. We did four yesterday and are closing out he series today, just in time for drafting to start.

Darren Sproles - Sproles was a bright spot for so many fantasy owners last season. And he caught just 3 passes shy of the Great Gronkowski. And going low in the 2nd round doesn't sound like a bad deal unless you consider that the Saints didn't draft Mark Ingram to be the water boy. And the more time Ingram spends in that offense the better he is going to get and you can almost feel the slippage from Sproles this season. Don't get me wrong, the guy will be fine, maybe even great, but he's going to have to come down a little from last year's performance if Ingram is to really develop. We're keeping our fingers crossed he's there in the 3rd.

Julio Jones - If we were Roddy White we'd spend my whole summer watching movies where the scrappy youngster thinks he's getting a step on the wily vet only to learn the hard way that the wily vet still has a few good moves left. Roddy White went for 1,300 yds and 8 TDs last year but now the only thing anyone can talk about is Julio Jones who was really good, but maybe known a little bit more for a ridiculous pre-game grab where he jumped so high he practically came down with an air marshal. I love Julio, I just don't love him more than White. And I think there's a lot more to fear with the "sophomore slump" than there is with the "3rd year of post graduate studies slump."

Torrey Smith - We must finally admit that Anquan Boldin is no Roddy White. He's a tough guy and he's had some good years. And he may benefit from running opposite a speedster like Smith. But Smith looks like he'll be Flacco's main target. So what's the problem? The problem is that Smith's rookie season numbers look more like a NASDAQ volatility study then a reliable fantasy WR. Look at the fantasy points starting with game 3 -- 40.5, .5, 9.5, 4.5, 6.5, 15.5, 4.5, 29, 3....and on it goes. We can easily imagine the guy who picked up Smith after week 3, started him in week 4, benched him, started him, benched him, benched him, started him, benched him and finally hung himself in his garage.

Larry Fitzgerald -We just hate the Cardinals. Bottom line.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - More questionable than hateable, really

Better than Brees? C'mon.
We are now 13 players deep into our first ever Player Haters' Companion, and it seems we've run out of hate. We've warned you about guys who are injury prone (Mike Vick), sub-performers (Jermichael Finley)  or suspension risks (Dez Bryant). We've offered up players we think are too old (Steven Jackson) and too ouchy (Peyton Manning) and too grouchy (Jay Cutler).

But there are a lot of guys who didn't make this list because we either don't exactly hate them (Chris Johnson) or there isn't enough tape on them (Andrew Luck) to draw a proper conclusion. But we've heard from readers about players they love to hate so we thought we'd append this list with a couple of days of players we just aren't sure we completely trust. We'll do four today and close out the list tomorrow.

Jimmy Graham - OK, we totally trust this guy. But did you know that in many leagues the Saints' tight end is getting drafted above Drew Brees? That's like drafting the peanut butter part of a Reece's Cup before you take the chocolate. Peanut butter is great, but c'mon, chocolate is the clear headliner. We're always leery of tight ends in the first round, and more than a little amazed that any tight end could go before Rob Gronkowski. But someone taking Graham in the 1st is reaching and it's not going to be us.

Jamaal Charles - At his best Charles is an elite running back who in 2010 rushed for almost 1500 yards on only 230 carries while he unevenly split time with RB emeritus Thomas Jones. That's an astounding 6.4 yards per carry over 230 possessions. Yeah, he also had almost 500 receiving yards and a total of 8 TDs. Unfortunately his ACL went on strike at the beginning of the 2011 season and owners who had drafted him highly were left holding the bag. He's a risky play, but in many leagues he's moved to the top of the 2nd round despite the rave reviews his new RB mate Peyton Hillis is getting. We'd wait until the 3rd.

All of the New England Patriots' offense not named Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd -  Tom Brady has so many weapons he is going to throw for 6 million yards this year, and only Brandon Lloyd really stretches the field for him. Beyond that we've got Wes Welker in the slot, Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez , Visanthe Shianco and Alex Silvestro all lined up at tight end, and a bunch of role players like Deion Branch, Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman who are playing underneath coverages. Who's it going to be? Who's going to get fed in this system? Our money is on Welker and Gronk, but we don't feel confident about that.

Maurice Jones-Drew - MJD is entering his 7th NFL season. In running back years he'll be 55 (not to be confused with Steven Jackson who is 55 in human years - and carbon datable in RB years) which is a red flag from the get go, but then he misses most of training camp and the preseason due to a hold-out and you can see where the ground his massive little legs are treading on gets pretty shaky. CJ2K held out last year and it ruined his fantasy season, and we think CJ2K is a more prime cut than MJD.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Preseason Gut Check: I'm legitimately terrified of Mike Vick

Back, and to the left...back, and to the left...
For the non-keeper leagues of the world Michael Vick's preseason follies are an amusing aside at best.
His helmet-bait thumb combined with the target that seems to be pasted on his ribcage has made the 2012 preseason games feel an awful lot like the dismal 2011 regular season where Vick missed three games with a cracked rib and left a game early after smacking his thumb on his own lineman's helmet.

For those in keeper leagues who in many cases have Vick as a deep round keeper these miscues are mortifying. In my keeper league we get to keep two players a season and they can't be at the same position. So having decided to roll the dice on Jamaal Charles as my 10th round keeper my remaining spot ought to go to Vick in the 13th round. Mike Vick in the 13th round sounds like a dream. But what good does it do me to have Vick - even in the late rounds - when I have to go out and draft an actual starting quarterback who stands a chance of starting and finishing more than 12 games this year? For my team the opportunity cost of keeping Vick is that I can't keep the Patriots TE, Aaron Hernandez, who despite being injured and sharing a bench with no fewer than 16 other tight ends, will still manage to outplay Jermichael Finley this year.

What's an owner to do? Keep Vick as a reserve and go after one of the Big 3 in the first round? Keep Vick as a starter and go after a hot rookie in the middle rounds? Throw Vick off the team, keep Hernandez and start a fresh, Vick-free life?

It's possible that Vick is just playing it safe and sitting out when he could easily be on the field, it is only the preseason after all. But what is undeniable is that Vick's most proficient stat so far this season is that he is 2 for 2 on trips to the locker room in the first quarter. He keeps this up they are going to rename the team MRI after him.


Player Haters' Companion - Matt Schaub

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and Ocho Cinco is too worried about the demise of his reality show to even care that he got released by the Dolphins, so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.

Player You Hate: Matt Schaub*

If you've never owned Matt Schaub, it's hard to hate him. If you've ever owned him, you will appreciate his inability to live up to that hype. If you've always owned him, you hate Matt Schaub. There is, in our estimation, a few free passes players are allowed before we kick them to the hate curb. These passes are calculated through a complicated algorithm that includes things like "weapons charges," "shrinks from  preseason expectations" and "wears a stabilizing boot." So while Schaub has been given a little extra time for not being a gun-toting jock, he fails miserably on a number of other important metrics. Basically Schaub has had some fantastic seasons - when he plays the whole season - but he has ended more seasons with a red cross by his name than is acceptable for a guy who has been a top 10 QB draft for the past many seasons. Nothing kills a fantasy season like having your No. 1 QB go down (especially if you'd taken him higher than the 4th round). Also there is a direct correlation between Schaub and top tier receiver Andre Johnson's success. When Schaub's ankle hurts himself that is one thing, when it affects AJ, that's unacceptable. And for that, we hate Matt Schaub.

*It would appear however that fantasy owners are all over this as his average draft spot has fallen into the 10th round this year. Considering the cesspool of a division he is playing in, and the RB strength surrounding him, we do feel that picking him up in the 7th might not be a horrible crime, just don't be surprised when he only plays half the snaps this year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - DeSean Jackson

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and Ocho Cinco is too worried about the demise of his reality show to even care that he got released by the Dolphins, so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.



Player You Hate: DeSean Jackson


It's hard for us to get our heart fully into this one. In terms of on-field talent DeSean Jackson is a one percenter. If there was an "occupy" movement for freakish speed Jackson wouldn't be able to leave his house. When he brings it, man does he bring it. And frankly, if he lasts into the 5th round (as some "experts" are "predicting") then we'll gobble up this hate-inducing little man faster than you can say Rumplestiltskin. But it is fair to note that Jackson is in all ways mercurial. He's a flake's flake. A trouble-making, injury-prone, loud-mouthed, fight-picking, end-zone-diving, concussion-tempting nightmare for a fantasy owner. He sulks, he whines, he mopes, there are whole series where he appears to be participating in a sleep study. So yeah, he's definitely not for everyone, and especially not for the risk-averse. Our advice is not to make Jackson the cornerstone of your wide receiving corps, be happy if you can make him your second option.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Felix Jones

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and Ocho Cinco is too worried about the demise of his reality show to even care that he got released by the Dolphins, so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.




Player You Hate: Felix Jones

 Felix Jones is a man on the cusp. Well, he was a man on the cusp last year, and the year before, and the year before that. No man has spent more time as the No.1 RB  in waiting than Jones. Only when the waiting was over and his speed and agility were in full bloom Jones blew out an ankle and had to sit idly by while the world discovered the great and talented DeMarco Murray. Sure, they'll split carries - a little - but everyone watching Murray on the field could tell you that Felix's days as a top tier back - short tho they were- were over. So while the sensitive and understanding part of us knows we're hating Jones for a crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, no one has excelled at playing that part quite like Jones. So we're sticking with the hatred. His only hope is if Murray goes down, in which case he'll be the top dog for approximately 12 more minutes before Phillip Tanner turns into the Smash Williams that Texas has been dreaming about since season 3 of Friday Night Lights. You know the Texans like FNL more than they've liked any Cowboys team since the mid 90s. Who wouldn't?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Eli Manning

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and Ocho Cinco is too worried about the demise of his reality show to even care that he got released by the Dolphins, so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.


Player You Hate: Eli Manning

You can't spell Elite without Eli. That's what they've been saying. Guy is just a soft-spoken champion. Just going out there and winning games. Well, sure, that was true last season. CBS Sports even billed last season as "the passing of the torch with Eli Manning becoming the better quarterback than brother Peyton." Sure, pick on the guy with the broken neck...who does that? Oh. Whatever.
The point is that while Eli put together a pretty nice season, finishing the 6th best fantasy QB behind Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Cam Newton, we should pull up on those reins a little before we go calling him Elite. In fact, we're going to take it a step farther by putting him on our hate-list. Not only does he mope around the field like he lost his puppy when things aren't going his way, there's the little matter of 2010 to consider. Also known as the year he lead the world in interceptions with 25 (he also had 31 TDs, which is not too shabby). Consider if your league settings only allowed, say, 4 points for a passing TD but -2 points for an INT. You know what you'd do? You'd hate the ever-loving snot out of Eli Manning. But that's not all. You have to go back to 2005 to find a year in which Eli was a top 5 fantasy QB. In each season between '05 and '11 he ranged between the 9th and 12th best QB. It's what you might call a "comfort zone." Granted, his receivers are better now then they ever have been, and the NFC East should see some high scoring games. But if you are on average the 10th best QB in fantasy then you are in no man's land. Too good to be a backup, not good enough to build a championship (fantasy) team around. But given that he's probably the 10th best fantasy QB in the league, and he should be drafted somewhere after the 6th round, we're going to draft an actual elite QB and then bide our time until we can get a decent backup in the 10th or later.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Peyton Manning

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and until yesterday no one could tell you how Ochocinco would work out, so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.


Player You Hate: Peyton Manning


Every time we see that commercial where he's beating up Eli in the halls of ESPN we think: We love Peyton Manning. Same goes when we see SNL reruns of him whipping a football at some poor Pop-Warner kid. And when he puts on that mustache and talks about his laser-rocket arm. Peyton is awesome. Then it dawns on us: Hey, none of those things have anything to do with actual football. Then it further dawns on us that he's got a freakin' broken neck. Then we think - wait a minute...the only reason we are even thinking about drafting Manning is because we know if we don't take him someone else is going to, and we're going to feel like dopes if he turns into 2009 Peyton. 
To that we say: Going through life worrying about the other boobs in your league is no way to build a fantasy team, son. So far this year Manning is drafted on average in the late 6th round. Ahead of Eli, and Phillip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger! But we feel it is of no small import that his neck was - very recently - all broke. Manning could have a fine year, but he is guaranteed to get drafted much to high to be on your team. So make it easier on yourself and forget about those commercials and get to hatin' Manning.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fantasy Ode to OchoCinco - with apologies to Barry Manilow, and anyone else who reads this.


(Sung to Mandy)

We remember the Cincy days,
We thought your name would never change
Touchdowns everywhere
Gold smiles without a care
OCinco,
O you came and you gave without taking
But your condoms remained,
OCinco
Your wife found the receipt
Maybe punched you in your teeth,
OCinco
Now the cops took you downtown
Gold smile is now a frown,
OCinco,
Dolphins have kicked you to the curb
Little chance you can find work,
OCinco,
And your fantasy owners are mourning
They know you were never boring
OCinco...

Player Haters' Companion - Michael Vick; Bonus Ochocinco update.

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco* will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.


Player You Hate: Michael Vick


And not necessarily for the same reasons PETA hates him. No need here to address his past transgressions. Vick introduced the league to more badness and ethical mayhem than 10 Michael Irvins ever did. And Irvin is known for two things: fat ties and bad behavior. We have no proof there's a correlation, but yeah, there is. Even still, we are fantasy football owners and like Jerry Jones - we're going to overlook an awful lot of horrible stuff if the guy is dropping 60 point games. As far as we're concerned Roger Goodell is the conscience of the league so we don't have to be. It's his sole reason for living. What is much, much less forgivable is a guy who puts together transcendent performance after transcendent performance, week after week, filling our fantasy heads with the sense that something magical is brewing. An unstoppable scoring force has been unleashed on the league and to own him is to laugh in the face of your opponents, dominate titles, rule the world. You  know, until you spend your entire allowance to get him and then he turns into Mary Poppins. Never overspend on a guy coming off a contract year. It's just stupid. And there you have it - Michael Vick made us feel stupid. So we hate him. Also he appears to be turning into Glass Joe, so he can't even under perform a full season worth of games.

*And now we know: Chad Johnson has been released from the Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly "head-butting" his new bride over an argument that may or may not have started over a box of condoms. Let this be a lesson to newlywed guys out there - you don't keep old love letters, pictures of the ex or a box of memory condoms. You'll end up in jail and off the team.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

NFC West - A Country for Old Men

First Randy Moss finds new life and perhaps fresh legs in San Francisco, and it seems that Terrell Owens -- he of the blazing smile, locker-room sit ups and multiple surgeries -- has now found a bunch of suckers Seahawks to let him into their roost.

There's a scene in Tombstone in which a wheezing Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday explains that he's moved out west to find relief from his tuberculosis. Then he killed a bunch of dudes before succumbing to the disease.

And now it is the recuperative airs of the west coast that has called two wily vets who's time may have come and gone. And like Wyatt Earp relied on Doc to have a magnificent last act, so too are fantasy owners pushing some chips onto the table that coaches Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco and Pete Carroll in Seattle are able to rekindle the embers of these two Hall-of-Fame-bait receivers.

And while the 49ers have upgraded the offense across the board and considering the ferocity of it's defense probably won't need to be in the middle of too many shootouts - dreams of the 2007 Moss may be enough of an enticement for some gamblers to jump in and take Moss high in the 9th round, ahead of some perennial question mark guys like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Santonio Holmes.

For T.O., whose open contract and late arrival in Seattle leave room for questions about whether or not he'll make the team, there is a lot less certainty. He's still a big guy, and apparently faster than ever before. But unlike Moss the question for T.O. has always been: Can he hold on the ball? In 2010 in Cincinnati he was the 8th most targeted receiver in the league with 139 balls thrown at him, but only 17th on the reception list with 72 grabs. To be fair he had 9 TDs, and almost 1,000 yds receiving, which is nothing to sniffle at. And the Seahawks promise to be down a lot this season and therefore quite amenable to throwing the football.


Player Haters' Companion - Kenny Britt

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.

Player You Hate: Kenny Britt

You remember it like it was yesterday: The lingering warmth of Summer hung in the air; your frosty beverage sitting beside you, beckoning; and Kenny Britt - who you drafted in the 6th round - coming off two massive, league-leading performances, was facing a Denver Broncos' team not yet in the grips of Tebow-mania. Then it happened - the knee (was it the left? right? who cares?) extended just an inch farther than nature intended and poof, the three most annoying letters in pro sports brought your fantasy right back down to reality. 

Kenny Britt and the Awful ACL. But hey, if your guy has to go down with a season ending injury you want it to happen early so he can be amped to go next Fall. You know, until one surgery turns into a second and finally a third on the whole other knee. That's bad. 

And if a trifecta of surgeries weren't enough, did you know what an ACL won't keep you from doing? It won't keep from getting a DUI. That's right. The next three most annoying letters in pro sports. Britt's been in the league for 4 years, he's been arrested 5 times and has had three knee surgeries - that's Player Hater Hall of Fame territory right there.

For up to date reports follow me on Twitter @ericdedwar 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Jermichael Finley

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.



Player You Hate: Jermichael Finley


Finley is 6'5", his physique was crafted in the image of Olympians. Year in and year out he is among the top three TEs taken in your league. Yet year in and year out something keeps him from ending the season one of the top three. One year he's horribly injured, the next year Aaron Rodgers simply has TOO MANY open receivers to need him. 2011 was particularly maddening as his team racked up enormous point totals but somehow managed to keep those points off Finley's dinner plate.
In the same time frame the Patriots took two good TEs and made them BOTH better than Finley. JF is that rare, most bothersome fellow that you simply can't bench under any circumstance. So you find yourself every Monday morning repeating the phrase that'll kill your season: "I have to start him...right? I mean, he's Jermichael Finely...he's bound to come alive." And in truth he is. He's bound to explode the second you lose faith in him and introduce him to your bench. A fantasy vampire, other owners long for his potential but you know that underneath it all he's sucking the life right out of your team.

For up to date reports follow me on Twitter @ericdedwar 
 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tim Hightower & LeGarrette Blount = Not dead yet.

"Unless your opponent has studied as a leaper."
LeGarrette Blount
 In 2010 when Legarrette Blount was hurdling defenders and running of people with his 6' 250 lb frame he looked like the second coming of Jim Brown. Of course this was 2010 -Josh Freeman looked like Drew Brees and Mike Williams looked like Larry Fitzgerald.

In 2011 Mike Williams looked more like Steve Breaston, Freeman looked like Matt Hasselbeck and Blount, well, Blount looked a lot more like Donald Brown than Jim Brown. Together the three put on such a clinic in slumpiness that they've been all but written off by fantasy owners and Tampa fans alike. The addition of the perpetually delighted Vincent Jackson has de facto moved Williams off the map, while perhaps raising Freeman's stock to about sea level, but the addition of rookie running back Doug Martin has had many an eyebrow raised about LeGarrette's future with the Bucs. But Tampa is reporting that Blount is the top feeder on the team's depth chart leading fantasy owners to cross their fingers that the slump was just that.


Tim Hightower
 The Redskin's RB is another kettle of fish entirely. He appeared rejuvenated at the beginning of last season, posting good, if not astounding, fantasy numbers until tearing his ACL in week 7 opening the door for Roy Helu to show 'Skins fans what he could do. Helu put together a nice season posting 3 hundred-yard games to go along with a couple of TDs. The assumption has been that Helu would take the starting mantle in 2012, but the Redskins are, apparently, seeing things differently, as they have placed Hightower at the top of their depth chart going into preseason games.

Both guys are trading VERY low at the moment - with Blount going in the 10th and Hightower middle of the 12th. If both maintain their positions atop their respective depth charts those numbers should bounce quite a bit.

Player Haters' Companion - Steven Jackson

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.

Player You Hate: Steven Jackson 


But Steven Jackson is a great guy. But Jax has played his whole career in St. Louis. But Steven is DeSean Jackson's grandfather. What!? Since 2005 Steven Jackson has had 7...SEVEN...thousand-yard seasons. In between his first 1,000 yard season and his last I've moved cities, I've gotten married, I've had two kids, I got a dog, gas prices rose 6,000 percent, my parents retired, I bought a car, the show Lost ended and a Democrat was elected president. About the only things that are the same from 2005 to now are The Simpsons are still on and bacon still isn't health food. How can I draft this guy? He's been over the hill since before I started this blog 3 years ago. But there he is, pounding out yards, being the focal point for his crappy team's offense, DARING you to take him, then MOCKING you when you don't. Unlike many who deserve to be on this list for failure to fulfill their potential Jackson is a victim of having far outlasted his potential. For that, we hate Steven Jackson.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Jay Cutler

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.



Player You Hate: Jay Cutler

His numbers are good, the Bears are getting healthy, they've finally re-signed one of the league's best running backs and they've made free agent moves to acquire the services of one of football's most certifiable "crazy/good" receivers in Brandon Marshall, who B-T-W, Cutler has a connection with from his Denver days. So where's the hate? C'mon, who are you kidding? Just like you, we hate his face. He walks around with that same foul body language and expression that haunted Eli Manning until well after he won his first Super Bowl. We have now learned that after two Super Bowl wins a sour puss gets redefined as intensity. 

Short of those two rings you'd better smile a little more or people are going to think you're a jackass. And that's where we are with Cutler -- if you sulk around on the field like the anti-Romo, you are going to make people think you have a lousy attitude. When the Bears win the Super Bowl this year we're sticking to our guns and giving all the credit to Brian Urlacher (just like everyone else will). 

For the sake of my professional integrity we won't go into how this mopey lout landed Kristin Cavallari. Just know that we hate him.

 For up to date reports follow me on Twitter @ericdedwar 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Player Haters' Companion - Dez Bryant

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.


Player You Hate: Dez Bryant

You've been burned by Bryant every year he's been in the league. Taken him too high and put too much faith in him as a guy who delivers more than 1 quarter of effort a game. Anyone who can go for 90 yards and a TD in the the first 15 minutes then takes the next 3 quarters off is maddening. And yet he still might have me salivating if his hobbies did not include "beating-up-his-mom." Because while I am not automatically offended by athletes who happen to run afoul  of the law, most of us can agree that mother-beating is beyond the pale. Especially when it might take an already unreliable guy off the field for at least a game or two. As hard as Roger Goodell comes down on other offenses you'd have to think assaulting your mother would warrant losing a couple of paychecks.
When Cowboys' owner/puppeteer Jerry Jones finally got around to discussing Dez's mother-beating ways with Bryant and then the media he reported that he doesn't know how the situation will play out, but that "we had a great visit." This is clearly an indication that Jones and Bryant, like fantasy owners everywhere are waiting on the commish to address this issue, and until such time as he does, Bryant is in limbo.
Frankly a two-game suspension isn't the end of the world but Dez's history suggests this isn't his last misstep. So whether Goodell pounds Bryant or takes it relatively easy on him, we can be assured that the next time Dez finds himself in a cloud of controversy he's going to get nailed. We're staying away from Bryant unless he dips below the 5th round, which we think is the Mendoza line for crazy athletes.


 For up to date reports follow me on Twitter @ericdedwar

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Best case scenario

The Detroit Lions are reporting that running back Javhid Best (brain) is not considered a day-to-day prospect but rather a week-to-week prospect to get on the field. But what is bad news for Best is good news for fantasy owners who have been seeking clarity. With Best sidelined for at least the short term, drafting Kevin Smith is a lot safer of a prospect then it was a day ago, especially with Mikel Leshoure serving a two-game suspension. Those three guys have been bunched up in the 8th and 9th rounds, so none of them rate much higher than a RB3, but still, those thinking about gambling on Best in the 7th maybe are rethinking that move.

We will fondly recall Jahvid Best as the speedy, durable, agile RB who torched the Bears for 163 rushing yards, a TD, and he probably made out with Jay Cutler's sister after the game just last October. We will also recall  the very next week (6) against the 49ers when Best got knocked out of the game with a  concussion and missed the rest of the season.  Best's lack of the ability to retain total consciousness throughout a football game is a serious concern for Fantasy owners who can't afford to draft guys who are one good sneeze away from retirement.

For up to date reports follow me on Twitter @ericdedwar

Fantasy Trend: Injured running backs' knees are all good to go

Adrian Peterson surprised everyone Wednesday when he announced he'd been cleared to play as early as preseason games after suffering a season ending knee injury last December.

Not to be outdone KC Chiefs' stud Jamaal Charles told the Kansas City Star that he's got his "mojo back."

Of course Charles' recovery is much more reasonable to believe considering it happened in Week 2 and not in Week 16, as Peterson's did. And while we assume the return of his Mojo means his knee is all healed up  it might actually mean that with that soul-crusher of a coach Todd Haley out of picture Charles is ready to grind the AFC West into little pieces of well-seasoned meat, grill them up KC style and serve them to fantasy owners who are starving for Charles to show us the good stuff.

Of course the biggest fear about Charles hasn't been his knee as much as his new teammate, the rhinoceros known as Peyton Hillis, who could conceivably step into the Thomas Jones role of stealing carries from Charles. Especially near the goal line. From a practical standpoint Hillis can't take more carries from Charles than Jones did unless Charles dies in his sleep. Todd Haley was the league's greatest abuser of the two-back system in that he ran the crappier back WAY more than the good back. Like if Adrian Peterson carried the ball 45% of the time and Toby Gerhart 55%.

Romeo Crennel, however,  is not likely to be as insane a human as Todd Haley is despite what Antonio Brown would have us believe. We're buying Charles even if he does miss out on goal line stuff. That was never his meat and potatoes anyway. He's going to break off huge chunks of field, rack up yardage bonuses and score on long run outs.

Am I blinded by devotion because he's one of my keepers? Perhaps. But his 2010 season was inspirational, especially considering he had to run with tho yoke of Todd Haley around his neck.

Oh yeah - since two running backs announcing their knees are good to go doesn't make a trend, I give you the Saints' Mark Ingram. He had knee surgery in May and then took a scary hit in a scrimmage yesterday, tho CBS is reporting that he has returned to practice. So there you have it, running backs' knees are officially indestructible.

I only want what's good for you so: When the season starts you'll want to be following my ludicrous tweets @ericdedwar. I've never tried to stay live on the games, but this season I'm going to give it a shot. I can't promise I'll cuss as much as Samuel L. Jackson does, but I can't promise I won't.

Player Haters' Companion - Marshawn Lynch

It's August and fantasy football is upon us. Any mistakes you make in your upcoming drafts are mistakes that could haunt your season like corned beef haunts your lower GI. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers is a winner, and no one can tell you how Ochocinco will work out so we're making it easy by picking the players we love to hate and hate to draft.

Player You Hate: Marshawn Lynch

Like Reggie Bush before him, Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch started slowly and came on strong after the Seahawks' bye in week 6 leaving owners wondering if the real Lynch had finally stood up.*

His underperformance for the first half of last year wasn't catastrophic, he was most owner's 3rd RB option at best. Expectations were low and so mediocre performance wasn't as enraging an experience. Just ask Chris Johnson owners how your outlook is colored by expectations.
This year Lynch has crept up to late in the 2nd round in many drafts. No one needed Lynch to be massive last year, this year he will have a lot riding on him. Maybe that's why he got all drunk and drove himself into a DUI which might result in some missed playing time. And so we hate him for becoming a tempting possibility then screwing it up b/c his cab was 5 minutes late, or whatever his excuse was. On the plus side - as unsavory as a DUI charge is, it's not like the weapons wrap that resulted in Lynch's 2009 suspension. So he's getting better. Unfortunately when he finally tones his criminal activities down to the fluffy stuff, like disturbing the peace and jaywalking, he'll be too irrelevant for us to care about it.

*This trend toward running backs starting slowly and heating up halfway through the season is maddening. After watching a guy drag your team down for weeks you don;t want to start him, you can't possibly trade him for value and if you drop him to try and upgrade he's guaranteed to turn into Walter Payton for the rest of the season. So you stack him on your bench and pray you don't get struck by some goofy little short-term  injury that'll force you to drop him in order to free up bench space for a replacement tight end or some such nonsense. Now that Adrian Peterson has been cleared to play in preseason games I have to wonder if this won't be his curse this year.

We'll add a player to the list every day until we run out of hatred or someone tells us to stop messing around and get to work...whichever comes first. They will be posted in no particular order.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Adrian Peterson taunts fantasy owners with talks of preseason play

Peterson rubs 'tussin on knee, good to go for preseason

Last Christmas Eve as you were hanging the stockings by the chimney with care, Adrian Peterson was in Washington D.C. tearing every ligament in that magnificent knee of his. He's been pretty much written off as a first rounder this year by most fantasy owners, because, you know, a knee is one of the crucial parts of any good running game. Get right down to it and 8 months doesn't seem like enough time to be tagging back in. But here we are with the preseason around the corner and AP gets on talk radio and tells fantasy owners they'd be crazy to not draft him in the 1st round.
1) Why you gotta do that bro? You were a nice 2nd/3rd round pic who wasn't going to play until October. Now you're off the PUP list and you're like forbidden fruit. Purple forbidden fruit.

2) It was really only a matter of time before fantasy draft positions would get to these guys' egos and we'd start to see some chatter aimed at throwing off the curve. 

3) Right now he's rated behind Darren Sproles and Trent Richardson. Richardson is a rookie who you may or may not remember will be playing for the Browns. If this report is legit than AP's got to move up a minimum of 6 RB slots and well into the first round. The good news is that since he's been activated we should actually get to see the goods before we buy them - unlike Arian Foster's hammy and Manning's neck last year.

The Player Haters' Companion - 2012

Your Annual Guide to Hating NFL Players

It's August. The most magical month of the year. The month that you get your noggin' to thinking about fantasy football because any mistakes you make in your approaching drafts are mistakes that could ruin your Fall. You've looked at the angles. You've giggled at your opponents keepers. You've fallen asleep trying to read Matthew Berry's 100 fantasy football facts - the abridged version.

So who should you draft? Aaron Rodgers? Arian Foster? Calvin Johnson? Sure, who can't tell you that?

But you are a discriminating fantasy football owner with taste, style and a long memory for the disservices done to you by players and coaches. It's high time you took a more reductive approach. What you really need to know to fill out a roster is who NOT to draft.

Does that sound negative? Affirmative. But we're not without hearts here, our list of players to hate includes no rookies, nope, not even the cocky hold-outs, not even Andrew Luck (unless we change our minds about Luck - he seems pretty hate-able from where we're sitting). Likewise second year players are off the hook, anyone can have a rough rookie season and turn it around (you're welcome Mark Ingram). We've even got some boundaries about 3rd years - 'cause if they've been bad for two straight years the odds of them being even remotely draftable are slim. And for guys like Josh Freeman, we'd love to take pot shots but it's not entirely his fault that we all thought he was going to be awesome last year when in fact we were super wrong. Super. Wrong.

Which raises the biggest point of all: There are hundreds of players we could add to this list, Chad-can't-read-a-playbook-ocho-Johnson, Brandon-how-may -I-disappoint-you-this-season-Jacobs to name a couple, but who is really spending any time thinking about those guys? Best case scenario you'll pick them up in the 12th round after 5 shots of Jager have talked you into thinking it's a brilliant idea. Not coincidentally it will be the same voice that will tell you you are totally OK to drive. In both respects that voice is lying to you. We don't know why it hates you, we just know that it definitely hates you.

The point here is to highlight guys that you are going to be staring at in the first six or seven rounds, asking yourself: "Why wouldn't I take Marshawn Lynch here?" And we're here to answer that question before you even have to ask it.

We'll add a player to the list every day until we run out of hatred or someone tells us to stop messing around and get to work...whichever comes first. They will be posted in no particular order.



Today's Player You Hate: Reggie Bush


Reggie Bush!? How can you say that? Reggie exploded in the final weeks last season, averaging more than 20 points per game in his last 4, with more than 100 yards rushing in each of those outings. It's true, he did blow up the final meaningless games the Dolphins played last year, destroying any chance they had of drafting Andrew Luck. 

And while he was busy burying the Dolphins with his success, some lucky owner, after picking him up off the dung pile, probably rode Bush deep into the playoffs. And that guy loves Reggie, and that guy is going to take Reggie WAY to high in the draft in hopes of rekindling the romance they shared last December. But those who drafted Reggie last year remember that he struggled so much in the first seven weeks of the season that by mid-October most owners were fed up and dumped him moments before he exploded to become a highlight reel for his performance rather than is social exploits. 

Don't be fooled again, Bush will continue to put up dicey numbers followed by the occasional burst of brilliance, better off letting him frustrate a softer owner than you. Never mind the fact that Bush is one tweaked hammy away from 2nd year Daniel Thomas getting to strut his stuff, after which split carries will be a best case scenario for Bush.