Hook (@HookTSB) has been dishing out a ton of Fantasy Football advice so far this pre-season, but I felt as if it was my time to give a different prospective.
Fantasy football is changing and the game is moving towards an air assault. If you look at multiple websites, there are a lot of wide receivers in the top 25. The league has gone to a platoon style running game by interchanging running backs. Spreading the field with five wide receivers and throwing is one of the latest trends. Today I am going to break down a few strategies and also list some of my sleepers in this upcoming football season. After reading this article you should have a great game plan and dominate your fantasy football leagues!
*DISCLAIMER* These opinions are based on a standard fantasy league ( 1 QB, 2RB, 2WR, Flex, TE, K, D/ST) and a ten man roster.
My best advice going into this years draft would be to trade down to a later pick and try to get something out of it. In my big league this year, I traded my third pick spot with the last pick. We swapped out round 1-4 and round 8. So I moved up in round eight as well by swapping my third pick for the tenth.
Top 10 QB Rankings
1. Cam Newton
2. Tom Brady
3. Matthew Stafford
4. Aaron Rodgers
5. Drew Brees
6. Peyton Manning
7. Michael Vick
8. Matt Ryan
9. Eli Manning
10. Tony Romo
THE CAM NEWTON APPROACH (I believe this will be the best way to draft your championship team)
In most drafts, Cam Newton can slip to you in the second round. Yes, I have heard of the sophomore slump but Cam is the new breed of athlete. I would call him the Lebron James of football. If he played tailback, he would have the potential to finish as the top RB in the NFL. In all standard formats running QB’s are essential. Cam will put up ten points each week just by running the ball. My best advice going into this years draft is to get your self a good running back and hope to get Cam Newton in round two. He is top five fantasy talent that is under-rated at 18th. In this situation don’t panic if someone takes Cam Newton before your second pick. That’s when you fall back on HIGH RISK Michael Vick or solid and consistent Peyton Manning.
The Standard Quarterback Approach
This year it is key to try to land one of those elite QB’s (only five). The first thing I like to look at when ranking my QB’s is what returning starters a quarterback has. I played Quarterback at all three levels and I understand how important rhythm is within the offense. Being on the same page with everyone is very important.
I have Tom Brady as the #1 pocket passing QB on the board (#2 overall), this is a no brainer. The Brady Bunch is all back and ready to put up 35 points a game. Their whole offense is returning in the passing game. They added Josh Mcdaniels an offensive coordinator, who set Brady and Moss up for that record-breaking season. Mcdaniels brought with him, favorite wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd has been a top WR every year he’s been with Mcdaniels. Just imagine what this offense is going to do with the addition of another great WR and Coordinator. Brady’s production is only going to increase, expect him to be in mid-season form from the get go. Another bonus for Brady is the release of Ben Jarvis Green Ellis, the goal line vulture. Expect more tight end targets and passing Red Zone plays this year. Mcdaniels loves to sling the ball and they have two big elite tight ends.
How is Matthew Stafford not rated higher? I have him as my #3 overall QB. Stafford finished with the fifth best NFL quarterback season of all time last year, amd Calvin Johnson is ranked #7 overall this year. Those two things are huge indicators for a big season. Calvin was voted the #2 player in the NFL, by NFL players. The Lions have all returning players and through the draft, they added possibly the best college wide receiver, Ryan Broyles Broyles is statistically the number WR of all time in college football. Inevitably Stafford’s production is only going to increase.
At #4 I have Aaron Rodgers. This guy was voted #1 by NFL players for a reason. He has a spread offense that throws 80% of the time. With Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings coming back healthy, expect nothing but upside from Rodgers. His average draft position falls at #2 in front of Ray Rice by the public. Rodgers is a fantasy monster and can almost win weeks all by himself. This is a guy I would try to get, but it looks you would need a top 4 pick to snag him in most leagues.
In at #5 is Drew Brees. Bress is coming off a season in which he broke Dan Marino’s all time single season yardage record. Brees only lost one wide receiver this year and has the rest returning. He has amazing weapons in RB Darren Sproles, WR Marques Colston and TE Jimmy Graham. All three weapons are dangerous fantasy players. Brees will rack up points on screen plays to Sproles. Colston is 6’5″ and Graham is 6’7″. These guys are defensive nightmares and puts Brees at the top of the board. My only reason having Brees at the bottom of the elite quarterbacks is because of all the off-season stuff the Saints have gone through. I feel it can poison the camp and get them off to a slower start. This is a great pick who can fall to you at the 10th pick this year. A must draft if you want to make a run for playoffs.
The Sleeper QB approach
There are two quarterbacks that will fall to you in the 4th and 5th rounds, even possibly the 6th round. Peyton Manning and Michael Vick have been at the top of every fantasy board since I can remember. Peyton Manning is the most intelligent quarterback the NFL has ever seen. In preseason, Peyton is already exploiting defenses. He spreads the field on 3rd down and finds the key match-up. He makes it very easy for his receivers to make a play. Peyton Manning has never had a 6’5″ receiver like Demaryius Thomas. Also, sure handed target Eric Decker will help march the offense down the feild. Peyton will hit the red zone fade routes to Thomas for a decent amount of touchdowns this year. He also will give Decker a lot of targets. This is the biggest sleeper in fantasy this year. Peyton Manning has potential to finish in the top ten.
Next is phenom Michael Vick. This guy is high risk with “championship” reward. If you were in leagues two years ago you know what im talking about. The teams that added Vick made playoffs that year. This guy has potential to finish as the #1 overall fantasy player. He is a HUGE injury risk, but has what it takes to dominate the league. If you go with the Michael Vick approach, plan to get your self a solid and consistent quarterback in case of injury. I highly recommend getting Matt Ryan, Phillip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub. All very solid quarterbacks, so that if Michael Vick goes down your team will not skip a beat.
That is my approach to getting your self a solid quarterback this year and dominating your league. I feel it is very important to land an elite quarterback. My best advice would be to try to land Cam Newton in the second round. If you have an early pick get your self Tom Brady. Late picks, look to land Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees or even Cam Newton with a late first round pick
This “Lone Ranger” will get a ton of touches this year…and you points
This year has a lot of high scoring wide receivers, which is why I am focusing on getting three solid running backs in the draft. My focus goes to guys I like to call “LONE RANGERS”. Since the NFL has basically turned into a platoon back system, I am looking to get myself three lone rangers this year. I am talking about guys that do not share many carries. In no particular order here are the guys on my radar.
This year, I am trying land three of these backs along with an elite quarterback. A great strategy this year is to jump the board to get good running backs. Let the wide receivers fall to you. The league is very deep at wide receiver and you will be able to get a solid receiving core. Guys like Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Andre Johnson and Mike Wallace average draft positions are falling too much. If you catch your self on the clock and these four wide receivers are on the top of the board, do your self a favor and grab that value pick.
This is a real funny year for rankings. The stats from last year really mess with peoples decisions this year. I have a few good friends who are veterans in the NFL, that all told me the exact same thing. The lock out last year really hurt veteran players because of their routine they are used to being in. I take that information and try to go back to the 2011 rankings a bit to see what guys fell down the board compared to last year.
The SLEEEEEEEEEEEPERS Section zzzZZZzzzZZZ
This year there are some great value picks along with sleepers. I consider anyone a sleeper who I believe should be ranked 20 spots higher or more on the board. I am going to rank my sleepers for where you can draft the player, versus where he will finish in rank respectively.
#1 Peyton Manning – He has been a fantasy sensation since he has been in the league. Manning is the most intelligent player the league has ever seen. He knows what the defense is in and what they are going to do. He knows how to find the mis-match and easy targets. Peyton is ranked #49 and will finish as a top 5 quarterback as well as in the top ten this year in fantasy points.
#2 Cam Newton – Cam Newton is the most elite running Quarterback the league has ever seen. Newton is going to finish #1 in Fantasy points this year. I feel that he can always combine for three touchdowns a game. He will run for 50-150 yards a game, and throw for another 200-400 yards a game. He is just a new breed off athlete and one of the biggest nightmares in the NFL, for defensive coordinators.
#3 Darren McFadden – On ESPN.com this guy is ranked #28 overall. Is it April fools or something? The Raiders just got rid of goal line vulture Michael Bush. So McFadden’s touchdowns will increase. He is now what I call a lone ranger and going to get the ball 25-30 times a game. When healthy he has shown to be one of the most dominant runners in the game. I have McFadden ranked #6 overall and the #3 running back this year. Do your self a favor and grab McFadden late in the first round or immediately with your second round pick.
#4 Fred Jackson – Yes he got injured last year, but did you see him in preseason? He was running well and looked healthy. He gets all the off tackle plays. He will be the goal line option and still get around 25 carries a game. Look or Fred Jackson to pick up right where he left off last year. To me this is the best 3rd round selection in the draft. If he falls to the 4th round you must draft Fred Jackson.
#5 Brandon Marshall – This is the 3rd most talented wide receiver in football. I rank Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald above him talent wise and that’s it. He is a big body who has sure hands and can make the circus catch to. I rank him as the #2 overall WR because he is now back with his old buddy Jay Cutler who can sling the ball and will do so. Marshall is going to finish in the top ten and be one of the top three receivers this year. He gets the yards, touchdowns and targets. I know people worry about his off the field problems. I believe he is finally happy and in a system that wants to get him the ball. He was quoted earlier this season saying “I’m going to lead this team to the SUPER BOWL.” That is a statement said by true leaders who have finally matured. Do your self a huge favor land a couple of running backs, an elite quarterback and then Brandon Marshall if he slips to round 4. I’m considering taking him with my 3rd pick.
#6a Frank Gore and #6b Michael Turner – these guys have been very consistent over the years and don’t have much competition for their jobs. Before you jump to conclusions and say the 49ers back field is stacked, think about the offense. Frank Gore is going to still get the 1st and 2nd down carries. He is the starter and the featured back in San Francisco. Not to mention a very talented running back. Michael Turner has no one competing for a starting job. He is a lone ranger and will get everything between the tackles. This guy is a must grab right at his draft ranking or if he falls in your lap.
#7 Brandon Lloyd – I stated earlier why Lloyd is a monster. He is with Tom Brady and back with his favorite coordinator Josh Mcdaniels. New England will be slinging the ball everywhere and look to see Lloyd a big part of the equation. Not to mention he takes the top off of the defense.
#8a Percy Harvin and #8b Reggie Bush – Both of these guys are the most talented athletes in their offenses. I believe that 30% of the offensive plays will be designed for both of these guys. Reggie bush is more of a sleeper because he is farther down the board. I am looking to jump the board to get Reggie Bush as my Flex player. Percy Harvin is very talented and will make amazing plays all year. Look for him to get long touch downs and a lot of yards.
#9 Eric Decker – Peyton Manning loves good route runners and sure handed receivers. Decker showed last year with Tim Tebow he is a great wide receiver. Look for Decker to finish in the top ten for wide receivers this year. Touchdowns, yards and catches. Peyton Manning is just that good!
#10 Jermichael Finley and #10b Kevin Smith – I think that besides Jimmy Graham, Finley is going to be the top tight end this year. He is in one of the heaviest passing attacks and is a freak off nature. The guy is huge, has great hands and a mismatch to almost any defender on the field. I also put Kevin Smith in my #10 because he has potential to be a fantasy monster. He has shown flashes off greatness. He is a risk because off his injury history. I believe with maturity comes staying healthy. Guys learn how to take hits and avoid injury as they grow in the league. If Kevin Smith stays healthy he can be that sleeper who can post 20 point weeks for your team. I also see him destroying the Rams week 1. So look to get him and trade him quick get a lot of value out off Smith.
ZZZzzzZZZzzzZZZZzzzzZZZ that I would look for late in the draft.
Rashad Jennings – Who knows what MJD is doing and a lot of holdouts go down to injury. This guy has talent and can get you great fantasy value late in the draft.
Rashard Mendenhall – Another guy with amazing talent. The Steelers backs are not that talented, and when Mendenhall gets healthy can have huge upside. I would throw him on ur roster with your last pick and wait until September is over to watch him start balling out.
Beanie Wells – Are you kidding me!!! Beanie is going after the 60th pick. This guy is a really hard runner very talented and gets the touchdowns. He was injured last year and still had a solid season. This is one of the biggest sleeper backs in the draft. Look for him to a similar season to Fred Jackson or Willis McGahee from last year.
Anquan Boldin – This guy is a huge sleeper and a must grab late in the draft. He is the Ravens #1 target and the guy they design the plays for. He got plenty of targets in preseason and will get his touchdowns. Look for a big year from Boldin.
David Wilson – I usually like to avoid rookie players. This guy runs so hard and is a good fresh back. With Bradshaw getting injured a lot, this guy has a lot of upside. I personally would try to get Ahmad Bradshaw and hand-cuff him with Wilson. This is a situation where you might see David Wilson work his way into splitting carries for the New York Giants.
Finally Guys that have a lot of hype that I would avoid
With all the weapons in New England, maybe it’s not so wise to waste a 2nd round pick on Gronk?
Rob Gronkowski – Yes he is legit and an amazing tight end. To draft a tight end with your first two picks is very scary. Brady spreads the ball around and they just added another great passing option in Brandon Lloyd. If your going to go tight end early get Jimmy Graham.
DeMarco Murray – This guy is very talented, but I feel his ranking is too high. He did not show much last year besides his 240 yard game vs the RAMS. I think it’s just to early to take a guy who has not proven him self yet.
Trent Richardson – I avoid all rookie running backs especially this early in a draft. He is already experiencing injury problems and is very high risk, without high reward. It’s the Cleveland Browns I would just avoid with all cost.
Jordy Nelson – You might think I’m crazy saying the #2 wide receiver last year is a guy to avoid. I just feel he is ranked to high. Green Bay has a quarterback who gets the ball to everyone. Greg Jennings is the guy Green Bay Designs their plays for and is the first option in that offense. Also, Greg Jennings is finally healthy along with Jermichael Finley. I feel he is a great consistent receiver but his production will drop this year.
Roy Helu – A lot of hype on this guy. Just like with the New England Patriots, it’s a bad idea to draft a Shanahan running back.
A few fantasy tips going into this years season
– third year receivers are good to look for
– preseason guys who stand out are good late round draft picks
– look for quarterbacks who have a lot of returning players
– get an elite quarterback early
– look for running backs who have had multiple consistent years
– avoid the rookies
– make sure you draft a good back up tight end and quarterback (Common mistake made by GM’s)
– try to get lone backs who get the majority of the carries
This is going to be a fun fantasy year, as the league has changed. Rules have moved to help out offenses and put more points on the board. Fantasy football is now transitioning into passing game and the running back is not as important as the past. Good luck with your drafts and try to follow a few of my preset game plans.