Get off that beach! Get out of the water! There is a shark on the loose, I repeat there is a shark on the loose! Return to your computers and your magazines right away. Put your thinking caps back on, the summer is here, but the work never ends. Yes, it is mid-July, Fantasy Football drafts are coming soon, are you ready?
We saw some outstanding performances last year. We had some rookies and first time starters have a huge impact on their teams. We also had our usual run of injuries and duds that had us screaming at our TVs all season long. Look back and ask yourself “where did I go wrong?” and of course “what can I do different this year to make my team better?” Well that will be another article for another time when I give you my annual Fantasy Football “Dos and Don’ts” but for today it is the answers to some of the burning questions.
People ask me questions daily about who I like and what I like in this upcoming season. I write down those questions and contemplate answers to help. I also ask myself some questions, and try to answer them. Even at the annual Shark’s family 4th of July BBQ, the questions were flying from my brothers whom I play with in 2 of my leagues. We all want to know, we all want to hear, so as always sit back and relax and read up on some of my ideas for 2013. Sure if it makes the girlfriend or boyfriend happy, read on your cell phones or laptops on the beach, your vacation will be over soon.
Q: Who is the number 1 overall pick in 2013?
A: Many of us fell back in love with Adrian Peterson in 2012, and why not? He had an amazing recover from a knee injury and came just a few yards shy of the single-season rushing record. Some of us (like me) were lucky enough to snag him in the third round, and he was huge in helping many teams to success. Calvin Johnson shattered some records himself and had a huge year, but still is a WR and how often do they go first overall?
As much as I like these guys, the pick is still Texans RB Arian Foster. The thing that makes Foster standout is that he is big in the Texans passing game, and despite sharing time with Ben Tate, he still managed to give you huge numbers. Over 1,400 yards rushing, 40 catches and 17 total TDs is very hard to sneeze at. He stays consistent, while others fall prey to changes in a system, a QB, or the way a defense will attack. If you get that first pick, you stay with Foster.
Q: So now that we know who number 1 is, who else cracks the top 10?
A: Pretty much a matter of opinion here and it does depend on the type of league you are in. However there are the obvious choices. Guys like Ray Rice, Aaron Rodgers, Peterson, Johnson and Drew Brees will all most likely go early. Keep in mind there is never a need to panic about getting a stud in round one, so go with the best available guy no matter where he plays.
Q: Who are some guys who may be new to the first round this year?
A: A sure fire guy that I think will have a monster year is Browns RB Trent Richardson. The big back showed good hands as well as a tough running style last year. The Browns are a team who is starting to compile some likable players for their fans and this guy is the new franchise face. 12 total TDs last year and over 1,000 yards from scrimmage is good news for fans of Richardson.
Buffalo Bills RB C.J. Spiller is another name that many owners are big on this season. Me personally, I have been a Spiller fan and owner since he came to the league. Granted the Bills have never been a scary offense, but when Spiller gets time on the field he shows explosive playmaking ability. He shares the backfield with vet Fred Jackson, but it looks like he will get a bulk of the load, so grabbing him in the top 10 is far from risky.
Q: Who is out of the first round from years past?
A: Every year there is one or two players who go off reputation to stay in the first round. However injuries, bad team play and just overall bad luck lead to these guys being a disaster. My big no-no for 2013 is easily Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden. Don’t get me wrong, he has amazing skills, but he has a terrible time staying healthy. His back ups are rarely enough to lead you to victory as well. I know someone in your league will leap to get him by round 3, but if you have a chance at all, wait until at least round 5 or 6 to grab a guy known for injury who you use as a spot start at best.
Q: What new faces in new places can I count on to have big seasons?
A: Many times you will hear people say “there is a reason a team gives up on a player”. Well that may be so, but some guys just need a change of pace. One of those guys that you can feel good about is Greg Jennings. After some success in Green Bay, Jennings got hit by the injury bug last year. Now he makes his way to Minnesota, a team that has not had a big, strong WR threat since Randy Moss. Jennings is still young enough and strong enough to have a big season, and with Adrian Peterson keeping defenses on the lookout for the run, Jennings can find room to work with.
Another guy with a new home that can have a big year is Carson Palmer. I know he can be hard to trust, but last year he had big numbers with a poor Raiders team. This year he takes his arm to Arizona where he will have the luxury of working with a guy like Larry Fitzgerald, and a more talented offensive team. If Palmer stays healthy he has a chance at being a top 10 fantasy QB this year.
Q: What new faces do I fear?
A: There is something I just don’t like about Mike Wallace being a number 1 WR. He is a 60-70 catch guy, and no he has to prove he can stay healthy. Guys like this who are mostly speed over size can be tricky. The Dolphins are average at QB and have some questions at RB, so Wallace is a guy you may want to at least wait on.
Leaping on Reggie Bush early can also be tricky. Yes he has a new home in Detroit, who many think have the weapons to create space, but remember this backfield also has bruising back Mikel LeShoure and last years late bloomer Joique Bell. Rumor is the Lions will use Bush the same was the Saints use too, and we all know what a crap shoot that was.
Q: What new coach can help a team’s fantasy value?
A: Anybody who lives in Philadelphia will tell you that Andy Reid’s act got old, but it is hard to deny that some of his players were big fantasy performers. Jamaal Charles is the guy who can be huge with Reid in KC. If there is one thing Reid likes, it is his RB catching passes and creating space. Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and heck even guys like Bryce Brown had big success under Reid, so keep an eye on guys like Dwayne Bowe and Charles in KC.
Q: What rookies, if any, can I rely on this season?
A: A few rookies stand out but what kind of impact they have is up in the air. Many people are very high on Eddie Lacy in Green Bay. The Packers have had a very hard time solving the riddle at RB the last few years and feel the young fresh face of Lacy can steer them in the right direction.
Despite his lack of size it’s hard not to like Rams WR Tevon Austin. He returns punts, catches passes and has game breaking speed. The Rams are in need of a leader in this WR corps, and coach Jeff Fisher is ready to let QB Sam Bradford try and carry this team on his shoulders. It’s more of a late round reach, but no reason not to try Austin.
My true rookie sleeper has got to be Bengals RB Giovani Bernard. While it may be Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis’ job to lose, Bernard can add a level of speed that Green-Ellis just does not possess. Bernard can be better in the passing game as well, and may be taking snaps away this season in Cincy.
Q: Give me some more second year players who are safe bets this year?
A: It would seem to me that you can’t go wrong with guys like Andrew Luck, Alfred Morris, and Doug Martin. All 3 had big seasons and are now crucial parts of their teams success. Morris is a guy you should not be afraid to grab no matter what happens at QB for the Redskins. Luck can easily be a top 10 QB this season, and Martin is the first and last word at RB for the Bucs.
Q: I need some sleepers for 2013, can you name some?
A: I have to think that Lamar Miller in Miami can be a special player. Most likely taking the lead at RB, Miller has good speed and good slashing style that can take over where Reggie Bush left off. He is still sort of unknown, and what he can bring remains to be seen, but I have to think it is his job to lose.
In St. Louis, the speedy Daryl Richardson should be plenty busy at RB. The Rams are going away from the power running style of Steven Jackson, and are looking for a new guy to take the lead. Richardson showed last season that he can play, the only question is can he be a leader.
In Chicago the world revolved around Brandon Marshall last year, but it’s hard for one guy to carry such a big load. Last year’s rookie pick Alshon Jeffrey can be a guy to pick up some space and make some plays this year. Yes, he has to stay healthy but he looks like he has some skills to make a splash in the pro game. He is a late sleeper here but a guy that is more fruitful in the last round than a back up kicker. Pay the money to add a one week kicker later in the season.
Q. Do I try and draft the new style “Dual-Threat” QB or do I stick with a more conventional style passer?
A. While it can be very exciting to get points for rush yards as well as pass yards, it stays my preference to stick with a QB who knows more about throwing than running. From a fantasy point you can say that Colin Kaepernick, RG3, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson are all good picks, but how many of you would take them over Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? The running QB is a higher risk for injury and for turnovers as well. Yes, Kaepernick got the 49ers to the Super Bowl, but it was the pocket guy in Flacco that ended up on top.
Q. Who are your top 5 picks at each position?
A. Without a lot of rhyme or reason here is my top 5 picks per position:
QB: Drew Brees
RB: Arian Foster
WR: Calvin Johnson
TE: Jimmy Graham
Rob Gronkowski (injured)
San Francisco 49ers
Q: Who are the most urgent handcuff situations?
A: A few players to be aware of to grab the back-ups as well:
LeSean McCoy/Bryce Brown
Matt Forte/Michael Bush
Arian Foster/Ben Tate
Lamar Miller/Daniel Thomas
BenJarvis Green-Ellis/Giovani Bernard
So here is your pre-season Q and A outlook for the 2013 Fantasy Football draft. Next time we will look at the draft day “Do’s and Don’ts”. Until then, happy reading!
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