Last week I submitted a post for the Grantland.com Fantasy Island contest. This was a difficult submission as they restricted me to 750 words. This forced me to cut a lot of what I wanted to say thus I have decided to post my original, un-edited post here. Tell me what you think on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/FritosBanditosReport…
Pull up your stat sheets and login to your laptops; it’s time for some Football! That’s right the 2012 NFL season is just around the corner and the day you have been waiting for all year is just about here, your fantasy football draft. Now before you walk in to that draft, you better get prepared because you can’t just expect the first round to be a top running back roll-call. The game has changed. Quarterbacks are dominating the fantasy gridiron. Where running backs used to be your money makers, last year the top 10 quarterbacks averaged 10 points more per game than their running back counterparts. Even a traditionalist like me has to admit that quarterbacks simply score more points these days. However, never before have there been so few elite running backs that can put up constant points. Also take into consideration that most 10 and 12 man leagues start 2 RBs to just 1 QB and your number one pick starts to come into focus….THE Arian Foster.
Foster is a fantasy stud, plain and simple. Even in 2011 when he only played 13 games, he was able to rack up over 1200 yards and find the end zone 10 times. Oh, and did I forget to mention his 600+ Receiving yards and 2 Rec TD’s? This guy has an uncanny nose for the end zone, and this year Foster will face 8 opponents that gave up 15+ fantasy points on average to running backs, last year. Five of those opponents come in the last 5 weeks of the season. That is the final turn, the time you need to win coming into the straight-away; your fantasy playoffs. Playoffs !?! If you want a run at that championship you are taking Foster #1 overall.
The second overall pick definitely has the potential to out score Foster this year, it’s the heart of the Ravens, Ray Rice. Ray Rice is a true workhorse. Not only has Rice ground-out over 1200 rushing yards in each of the last 3 seasons, but he also averaged 72 receptions a year. That’s more than the likes ofJenningsand Nicks. He is a double threat which translates to fantasy gold. Additionally, over the past 3 years the Ravens have won 87% of the games in which Rice carried the ball over 15 times and only won 35% of the games where he had less than 15 carries. The Ravens know that they need to feed Rice the ball and they will continue that trend this year. Rice in your line up is big points on the board, guaranteed!
Coming in close behind Rice is ‘Shady’ himself, LeSean McCoy. While I do not believe McCoy will repeat his 1600+ total yard/ 20 touchdown performance of 2011, I do believe that he rounds out the top 3 backs. McCoy is in an interesting situation. He is on a team that has not lived up to its own expectations, and is led by Vick who struggles to stay on the field. As a result he is a focal point of the offense each and every game. Some may say that this hinders McCoy as the defenses he faces scheme for him. I disagree. Vick’s ability to move out of the pocket and make plays with his feet and Jackson’s ability to get open deep down the field force defenses to respect the pass leaving running lanes and soft zones underneath for McCoy. When the Eagles need points they turn to Shady McCoy, and fantasy owners should too.
Now this is where it gets really interesting. With the #4 pick, you have quite a conundrum in front of you. On the one hand you are poised to grab one of the very few elite backs. On the other hand the top 3 QB’s are still on the board, and you know they will put up more total points over the course of the year than any RB. That is why my fourth overall pick is Aaron Rodgers. After the top 3 backs you are taking a chance with guys that have injury problems, inconsistent play, holdouts, etc., so at this point I grab the best QB in the league and hope to get a solid second tier back in round 2. Aaron Rodgers is a man with a chip on his shoulder. While he had great numbers at 4600+ yards and 45 TD’s, he also had an embarrassing playoff loss to the Super Bowl champion, NY Giants. Make no mistake, Rodgers is one of the most competitive players in the league and he will not rest until he wins another Super Bowl. Look for Rodgers to come out gunning week one and not slow down till the off-season.
With the #5 pick, it would be easy to go after Brees or Brady especially considering their amazing 5000+ yard performances last year. However this is a strategic pick. You are facing 10-14 picks before your second round opportunity and I see only 3 RBs with potential to be top scorers as opposed to 7 QBs with that same potential remaining on the board. So here I grab the one and only CJ2K, Chris Johnson, and hope that a couple of WR and TE picks push one of those 7 QBs back around to me, in the 2nd round. Now before you call the looney bin to come pick me up, hear me out. Yes he had a terrible 2011 season but he was coming off a holdout, a truncated offseason, and no real passing attack to take some pressure off of him. This year the Titans have depth at WR with Britt coming back and the rookie Kendall Wright looking good in training camp. I am looking for CJ2K to return to form this year and put up over 1300 yards and 12 TDs, thus making him a valid 5th overall pick.
Bonus Time!!! Now that you got your top 5, let’s talk sleeper, zzzzzzzzzzz. Wake Up! Or you might miss out on the man with the best nickname in the NFL ‘The Law Firm’, Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis quietly recorded over 10 TD each of the past two years, and the one year the Patriots gave him the rock over 200 times (229) he recorded over 1000 yards. Because he is coming from NE to a team that it perceived as a pass heavy team, due to the exposure of AJ Green and Andy Dalton, very few people are looking seriously at The Law Firm. In fact his average draft position is in the 8th round. I am here to tell you that you would be a fool to let him drop to the 8th round. Green-Ellis’s new team gave the rock to Cedric Benson over 300 times in ‘09 & ‘10, and just shy of that in 2011 (273). They are a very balanced team that likes to run it in the red zone. I would not be surprised if Green-Ellis finishes the year over 1200 yards and 12 TDs. If you sleep on him, you will regret it by mid season.