Fantasy Football: NFL Edition
Today we’ll talk QB, RB, and WR. Tomorrow I’ll get down to TE, K, and DEF.
***Just as a preface, we’ll be talking with the assumption that this is a 12 team league that’s not point per reception (PPR), though I’ll make some mention of PPR players as well.
It pains me to say it, but I’m pretty sure that I’m the conductor on the Tony Romo train this year. Romo was just given a big contract, control of the offense, and a focused Dez Bryant. After throwing for 4,903 yards and 28 TD’s last season, Romo has every opportunity to get towards those numbers again. More importantly, he’s ranked by a lot of people as the 12th best quarterback for fantasy, but could very well end up in the 5-6 range. In my generally standard scoring leagues he’s finished in the top seven in the last five years excluding 2010 when he had a serious shoulder injury.
So when you’re drafting, let everyone spend their early picks on QBs while you pick up higher tier skill positions. Romo’s undervaluing could make your year.
Another guy that I like at quarterback is Carson Palmer. Palmer is a reserve level QB, but he could have a resurgent year under Bruce Arians. Arians is the primary reason that the Colts put up such large chunks of yardage last season. T.Y. Hilton for example, averaged over 17 yards per catch under Arians and now he’ll have Larry Fitzgerald on the outside. Arians should take Palmer, who threw for over 4,000 yards and 22 TD’s with THE FUCKING RAIDERS and make him a great low-cost, high reward player.
Consider him a top notch back-up with an outside chance to be one of the top ten fantasy quarterbacks.
For that same Arians Effect, I’d stay away from Andrew Luck as a starter. He’ll be running more of a balanced West Coast offense this year, which means fewer deep balls and less passing in general. Sure, he’s a good quarterback, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good fantasy quarterback. His yardage total of 4,300+ yards and 23 TD’s is destined to drop sharply with Arians now in Arizona. Take him as a back-up but let him be someone else’s mistake as a starter.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Maurice Jones-Drew and I’m not going to stop now. Jones-Drew has been an all around stud at his position since he came into the league and after suffering a Lisfranc injury last year people seem to forget that. MoJo is only 27 years old and is one million percent the best player on the Jaguars. He’s going to get the ball. A lot. I’ve seen him ranked as low as the 17th best back in the league for fantasy this year, but I can’t shake the feeling that he’ll end in the top six—especially in PPR.
If he falls to you at the end of the second or anywhere in the third he could be a real steal (as far as third round picks go). Worst case scenario is that he gains a total of around 1,100-1,200 yards and aptly fills his draft slot.
Chris Johnson is also primed for a big year. The Titans have rebuilt their offense around CJ2K, which means he has no more excuses for his boom or bust efforts. This year, all of the pressure is on him and he should be ready to roll. He’ll have solid blocking from a healthy Kenny Britt on the outside to go with the new offensive line starring Andy Levitre at guard and Delanie Walker at tight end. All of this leads to Johnson being anywhere from the top seven to even one of the top four backs in the league if he stays healthy.
He’ll also be valued low, as I’ve seen him ranked as the 15th best fantasy option at RB. Don’t reach for him in the first, but he could be a gem at the end of the second as well.
One guy I would stay away from is Eddie Lacy. The Packers have never been a strong running team under Mike McCarthy and I doubt the trend will change while Aaron Rodgers is starting. Lacy, while ranked high in fantasy circles, could very much be a part of a committee situation in Green Bay with fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin as well as James Starks or Alex Green. You add in the fact that Lacy only had 35 receptions during his three years of college ball and I have my doubts. Take him as a flex option or solid third option, but don’t count on him as a reliable starter.
There’s a lot of guys I like at wide receiver and with the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league, there’s always going to be a number of guys that go under the radar.
One of those guys is Mike Williams. Williams is behind Vincent Jackson on the depth chart, but not by much. He put up 996 yards and nine touchdowns last season in Tampa Bay—a mark which hopefully improves as this offense grows up. If you can get Williams as your third wide receiver, you’ve found yourself a steal.
I hinted at this earlier, but for the love of god (or Cosmic Owl) draft Larry Fitzgerald. Arians will make Fitz the top priority on this team, causing a monumental shift from the abysmal 784 yards, four TD performance of last season. He’s going to be a top five guy this year. Guaranteed.
Another good option for your team in Lance Moore. While he’s not the most overwhelming receiver in the game, he’s on one of the most—if not the most—prolific passing offense in football. Brees has thrown for over 5,000 yards the past two seasons, which means there’s a lot of love to go around. Even though Moore is the third option behind Graham and Colston he’s going to rack up a ton of points for your team. Last year he had 65 catches for 1,041 yards and six TDs. With Sean Payton coming back to the team, there’s no reason why he can’t produce similar number again this year. Consider him a decent value two but top-notch 3rd receiver.
Jacoby Jones doesn’t have eye-popping numbers as a receiver, but he could be a great addition to our team as your 5th option. Baltimore traded Anquan Boldin and lost Dennis Pitta for the season. As a result, Jones is the #2 on a team without many passing options. Add in the fact that he’s a deadly return man and you have some quality depth on the bench at a great value.
In terms of a player to avoid, I’d say be patient with Mike Wallace. He was the prize of free agency this offseason, but I don’t have the confidence in Miami’s staff that they’ll be able to maximize his deep threat ability. Last year he played in 15 games for the Steelers gaining 836 yards and 8 TD’s on 64 catches. I expect his fantasy point production to remain about the same (yardage increasing, but TDs decreasing.) That puts him in the ball park of Lance Moore as a top 3rd option, but I wouldn’t put him any higher than that.
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