Some people simply call it summer, but for us who play fantasy football, and others of us who write about it and offer advice through the season, we call it work time. Yes the off-season is always busy, scouting and reading, watching hours of videos, television shows, and looking through stats to find that one move you may have missed last season. The goal is to get better, smarter and enter the draft with more knowledge than the next guy, and it is hard work.
Every season a new problem comes forward and presents itself to you the owner. We get through them, and we get our answers. Do you take the best RB’s available or a great WR? Do you take a QB in the first round? Which RB is the better choice in a committee? Yep, plenty of questions, and this year is no different. The question abound this season appears to be “what do I do about guys I like on the same team?” It is not even easy to know who is the best option on any given team. Well I am here to shed some light on the situation, and hopefully can get you some better answers.
RB Fred Jackson vs. RB C.J. Spiller
A good case can be made for both, just as easily as a bad case. Jackson is 31 years old, which by RB standards is very old very fast. He was off to an excellent start last season before missing the final 6 weeks with an injury. He was averaging 4.6 yards per carry which was a career high, also had 39 catches and 6 touchdowns. At the same time, Spiller took over after the injury and was just as good if not better. A 5.2 yards per carry, also 39 catches and 6 TD’s. Spiller is younger, faster, and is coming into his own. The drawback to both is that Buffalo can be brutal on offense at times, and just seem to carry a dark cloud that will drive even the best teams owners insane. The logic would have us think that the 2 players will be given equal chance this season, and ones injury will help the other be a better fantasy pick. This one is a very close race given that the Bills have a good amount of time and money invested in both. This situation may be best left alone, if you can resist either one of these guys.
My choice: Spiller
New England Patriots:
WR Wes Welker vs. WR Brandon Lloyd
Try and forget for a second that passing on Rob Gronkowski will be tough enough, and let’s open the debate of the deep threat vs. the reliable possession receiver.
Wes Welker is the guy of 100+ catches every year, big yardage and reliable. The big knock on Welker is that he does not get enough red zone touches or TD’s to satisfy owners. Brandon Lloyd has always been somewhat underrated. He makes dynamic catches, can get open deep, and as he has shown in the past can put up big yards. It is up to Tom Brady, who is an excellent QB, but also a guy who changes his favorite target as much as his coach Bill Belichick changes his top RB. Welker is rumored to be sour about a contract, and Lloyd may be excited to finally enter the season on a team with a real chance to be a winner. The thing as always with the Patriots is the end zone, and as I mentioned earlier, they still have Rob Gronkowski. In the long run it may be best to stay with what works until it proves it can’t anymore. I like Lloyd, but only later in the draft.
My choice: Welker
RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis vs. Bernard Scott
The Bengals may have shot themselves in the foot by thinking that ending the Cedric Benson era would make the backfield situation easier to figure out. Green-Ellis comes from an established organization and does have a few decent seasons behind him. However the success of Green-Ellis could also be the worry here. When your QB is Tom Brady and you have a line full of Pro Bowlers and excellent receivers, it is easier to find space to run. While Andy Dalton had a good rookie season, and WR A.J. Green looks like he can have a great career, they are not the guys that will have the defense sending 8 players into coverage on every down. Bernard Scott has been a nice extra guy, and never had a chance to be the go-to guy. Scott has shown very good pass catching skill and has good open field speed. Many expect the Bengals to pass more, which would give a nod towards Scott, but at the same time, you don’t drop free agent dollars on a guy you choose not to use. Should be a 60/40 split to start with Ellis getting the heavier load.
My choice: Green-Ellis
WR Justin Blackmon vs. WR Laurent Robinson
First off, do not take this as a sales pitch to jump on a Jaguar receiver. Jacksonville has never been the breeding zone for big production by a WR, but as they move forward they finally have a few worth debating about, even if it’s the same as choosing death by drowning or being set on fire. Blackmon is the new kid, the rookie that the Jags feel they lucked out on in this years draft. He has size and speed, but is a guy who will need work at this level before he breaks out. He also has some off-field question marks to deal with. Robinson found himself last season after being thrust into action in Dallas due to injury. He showed a knack for the end zone and made some nice catches as well. It was always believed that he had potential, and last year was a quality audition. It will take time to trust a Jag for sure, but for late round purposes keep an eye on this battle.
My choice: Robinson
WR Eric Decker vs. WR Demaryius Thomas
The signing of free agent QB Peyton Manning (perhaps you’ve heard of him) makes this suddenly a really big deal. Last season with all of the QB questions in Denver, Decker started the season as the clear cut leader. He has good hands, is big and strong, and can find the end zone. His knock is that he does not have breakaway speed, so some think he is more of a possesions guy. Thomas is more glam and glitter. He shows terrific speed and is also tall, so he makes a nice target. In the playoffs last season Thomas showed that he has the juice to be a number 1. Both of these guys are nice to have, and if any QB can bring out the best in them, it’s Manning. If I had to compare to targets of his past, I would call Decker the Dallas Clark type and Thomas the Reggie Wayne type. So in essence who would you rather choose? Dallas Clark or Reggie Wayne?
My choice: Thomas
Kansas City Chiefs
RB Jamaal Charles vs. RB Peyton Hillis
This is a true buyer beware on both sides of this situation. First off we have Charles, who many believed going into last year was the best draft pick available. He has all the tools, speed,strength,moves and hands. He is shifty and creative, but also coming off of a huge injury. In his eyes it is no big deal, and Charles will tell anyone who listens that he will be better than ever this season. We all know about Hillis, a guy who went from a miracle worker in Denver, to a leader in Cleveland to a guy who had many saying “I knew it, he is soft after all”. Last season was a nightmare for owners that drafted either of these guys. Both were seen as high picks, and game changers. Charles had the injury, Hillis became a riddle, and now they are together. What I expect is the Chiefs will roll with the hot hand. Whichever back seems to be best at the moment will carry the load. Hillis is thought to be more of a goal line vulture, but Charles can do more in the open field. Both have great hands too, adding to a messy situation. For me, one of these guys will give way to the other, simply by not showing up enough.
My choice: Charles
WR Dez Bryant vs. WR Miles Austin
This is a very sweet battle to have on the same team. Both guys have shown big play skill, game changing speed, and a top gear when close to the end zone. Austin has been plagued by the injury bug the last few years, and that can be scary to owners. Bryant is getting better each season, but is known to have a poor attitude, also a big no-no. In Jerry Jones’ world, Bryant is considered “his guy”, a player that he chose to have at the draft, and we know full well that Jones hates to be proven wrong. These guys are great competition for one another, and both have big game capability. It comes down to what you may like more, the smile of Austin, or the grunt of Bryant. First off, be sure you can trust the guy responsible for getting them the ball.
My choice: Austin (by a hair)
The backfield vs. Mike Shanahan
Just another year and another mess at RB for a Mike Shanahan team. Yeah he likes to run the ball, yeah he likes to find a miracle RB in his system, and he will drive owners nuts. He has plenty of decent choices, Roy Helu who is a great pass catcher and loaded with speed, Evan Royster who is sleek and has good moves and also nice speed, Tim Hightower who is bigger and strong, also good hands and can block better than the rest and Ryan Torain, an all around good back. Shanahan has us all sold that he loves Hightower, telling anyone who will listen that he has more of a complete package than the rest. The smart money is for Helu, who had 3 very big weeks to close out 2011. Royster is more of a change of pace guy for now. As for Torain? Who knows if he even makes the team? No Redskin, including RG3, should be a thought until the thought of “what time am I getting home” come to mind. Wait on your Redskins, no matter who they are.
My choice: I happen to really love Roy Helu
RB Matt Forte vs. RB Michael Bush
The Bears do this a lot. Just when you think they have a position figured out, they throw a wrench in the works. Forte has been the main guy over the last few seasons, but a vulture has always been waiting to steal his juice. This off-season a big contract dispute had many thinking the Bears would pony up and pay him, and let him carry the load. This season, not only did the Bears repeat the patter, but this season they brought in big competition. Bush proved in Oakland that when he gets a chance to play he can be a force. Yes Forte is a do-all guy, but so is Darren McFadden, yet Bush found numbers behind him. This could be an evil plot to phase out Forte, and in doing so adding a good back in his place. Adding Brandon Marshall will make the pass game busier, so the run game may slow down a bit as it is. This is a very sticky situation, one that only the true fantasy guru will take on, or master. Enter with extreme caution, but either way take one of these guys. The only issue is who and when, which is plenty.
My choice: Forte
WR Roddy White vs. WR Julio Jones
Am I crazy? White has been one of the very best fantasy WR’s over the last few years, and even with a slow start by his standards last year still had big numbers. Jones is a big target with big speed that they moved up to bring in. Both of these guys are excellent WR’s, and Matt Ryan is pretty sure he can trust White. The call could come however to use Jones more, which complicates things. White will get 100+ catches, Jones may be in line for double-digit TD’s. White will be taken within the first 3 rounds, Jones around 5th or 6th, so the chance to get both could be there, wouldn’t be the craziest idea.
My choice: White
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB LaGarrette Blount vs. RB Doug Martin
My choice: Martin
As the weeks go by you will see more close battles growing. Use patience and watch your choices closely. Showing up at draft day with a book and a pen really isn’t cutting it anymore. Be prepared, and be ready to work!
If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected]
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