Friday, June 29, 2012

Kicker Power Rankings: Top 10

The kicker is probably the least valued position on the fantasy football team, but they shouldn't be ignored. Yes, you should still wait until either the 14th or 15th round to draft your kicker, but making the right decision does carry some weight. The difference in value between the 1st and 10th kicker (excluding last season because Akers broke the record for most field goals in a season in NFL history) is typically going to be 16-32 points, meaning that you can gain 1-2 points per contest on the competition by making the right decision.


There are two schools of thought when drafting kickers. The first is to draft a kicker whose team scores a lot of touchdowns. This is my preferred method because you have guaranteed points coming in. These kickers will get a disproportionally high number of points from PATs, so they will be more consistent throughout the season. These kickers are also, typically, more easy to target in your fantasy drafts because most explosive offenses are not a surprise once the season starts. The second kind of kicker would be one who kicks loads of field goals thanks to a successful defense and weak offense that doesn't turn the ball over often. The 2011 49ers perfected this method, allowing Akers to have, statistically, the best season of any kicker in history. These kickers naturally have more risk attached to them because it is more difficult to predict a team's turnover differential before the season begins, and their offense might not be able to move into field goal range with enough frequency during any given game. The St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars are great examples of this issue. Both teams have good, strong-legged kickers but their offense turned the ball over and was completely unable to move the ball down the field.

Some kickers, such as Dan Bailey, fall between these two categories, and it is up to each individual owner to decide which type of kicker they prefer. The kickers' descriptions will tell you which way I classify each of the following kickers.


1. David Akers - I did not think I would end up with Akers as my top kicker because I usually prefer PAT kickers, but it is difficult to argue with his production from last season. The odds of him repeating his successes from last season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he averaged just over 2 FGs per game and 2 PATs per game. The 49ers defense might have a more difficult time this season (they have to play high-powered offenses because they won their division), but Akers should still be one of the main scorers on this team. My worry would be an Alex Smith relapse to every season before 2011, when he had trouble with turnovers. It is unlikely that any good fantasy owner will be able to draft Akers, since many computer automated draft systems start drafting kickers and defenses in the 9th and 10th rounds.


2. Sebastian Janikowski - Janikowski has been one of the most consistent 50+ yard kicker of the last decade. He has had at least 7 attempts from 50+ yards for the last 6 seasons, and there is no reason to believe that he will be slowing down any time soon. Consider this; Janikowski's longest made field goal was a 63-yarder last season. The Raiders offense is finally coming along, so Janikowski should see more PATs than he is used to, but I would still place him in the field-goal-kicking category. If this offense really picks up, Janikowski could easily lead all fantasy kickers at the end of the season.


3. Steven Gostkowski - Gostkowski (Patriots) is definitely a PAT first guy. He gets the edge because he takes and makes more field goals than some of the other PAT kickers, and Belicheck is a very strategic guy. While the Packers and Saints are more prone to go for it on 4th down, Belicheck is willing to take field goals, and this gives Gostkowski an edge. He should have just under 2 FGs per game and over 3 PATs per game. He is the best blend of sure PATs and potentially big FG totals.


4. Garrett Hartley - I saw someone's mock draft where they took Kasey in the 11th round and I just had to facepalm. Hartley was due to be the new Saints kicker before he sustained an injury in the offseason and missed all of the 2011 season. There is no reason to believe that Kasey will get his starting role back, especially since Hartley is younger and has a bigger leg. I think the Saints will be kicking more field goals this season, but I have to express concern about his season away from football. I don't know of many other times when a kicker has missed an entire season (maybe a reader could point me in the right direction), but there is always concern for a player coming back from injury. If he wins the starting job, expect him to be consistent with 50+ yard upside.


5. Mason Crosby - The Packers don't like to kick field goals, but they score a lot of touchdowns, so it all evens out. Crosby had his best FG% last season, which is a good sign for fantasy owners. This youngster (27 is pretty young amongst kickers) has a good track record of attempting and making 50+ yard kicks, and he has never had less than 2 (but has never had more than 3) 50+ yarders in a season. This makes predicting his position relatively easy, as he should make 1.5 FGs per game with 3-4 PATs. Consider it a bonus during the 2-4 games when he makes a 50+ yarder.


6. Dan Bailey - As was mentioned abover, Dan Bailey is a hybrid kicker. The Cowboys don't have one of the most explosive offenses, so Bailey will probably average just under 3 PATs per game, but they do kick plenty of field goals, so he should approach 2 FGs per game. Last year was his rookie season, so you are taking a chance by drafting him, but I think it is a worth-while chance, especially since the Cowboys offense is looking dangerous (but don't the Cowboys always look good before they actually start playing football?).


7. Matt Bryant - The Falcons are consistent and so is their kicker. Bryant does not kick a lot of long field goals, but he typically gets nearly 3 PATs per game  and kicks 1-2 field goals. He should be ideally consistent if you are looking for a kicker who is unlikely to let you down on any particular Sunday. Just don't expect any 15-point games. I just don't see them coming from this Falcons offense.


8. Jason Hanson - Hanson is ancient, even for a kicker, but he is still getting the job done. He is a primarily PAT kicker, but benefits from the fact that his stadium is indoors. Kickers in indoor stadiums have a clear advantage, which gives this 42-year-old dinosaur a chance at another top-10 fantasy season.


9. Nate Kaeding - I assume Kaeding will be the starter again, but any Chargers kicker can fill this space. This guy (whoever he might be) should be consistent, despite the bad season from the 2011 Chargers. They have the potential to be an explosive offense, but it might take them a few weeks to gel. Kaeding was one of the highest rated kickers before his injury last season, so don't worry too much about drafting him.


10. Panthers Kicker - It will either be Olindo Mare or "that-other-guy." Either way, this offense is consistent and didn't turn the ball over very often last season. Odds are that you won't have to draft either of these guys, but you could if you needed someone.


Potential Sleepers:

Matt Prater saved the day for the Broncos on a regular basis last season. If this offense does what it is expected to do, feel free to draft Prater.

I like Alex Henery, but I want to see a little more from him before I promote him as a starter. Consider him off waivers if the Eagles succeed this season.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

13 Tight Ends to Draft in Fantasy Football and 4 to Avoid

 13 Tight Ends To Draft For Success (and 4 to avoid)


Depending on your expectations, finding a suitable tight end can be the easiest or most difficult part of fantasy football. On the one hand, tight ends tend to be like weak wide receivers and finding one who produced on a consistent basis can make you pull your hair out. Last season, only two TEs scored over 9 points per game, while only four managed to score more than 8 points per game; you would drop any wide receiver who wasn't scoring you at least 8 points per game. On the other hand, there are a plethora of TEs in the 6-8 ppg area, meaning that you could build a team that nearly ignores the tight end position. This season there are two tight ends who are so far ahead of the rest that they don't even warrant discussion, while there are another 11 tight ends with huge question marks surrounding them. Hopefully this post will help you make an informed decision. Compare these rankings to mine from a month ago (a lot has changed).


1. Jimmy Graham
I would absolutely not consider drafting Rob Gronkowski ahead of Graham because Graham actually comes into 2012 in a better situation than he had in 2011. The Saints lost one of their extra pieces (Robert Meachem) in Free Agency, and while that shouldn't hurt the Saints' production, it does ensure Graham a similar, if not improved, number of looks this season. Graham and Gronk are truly 1A and 1B in terms of fantasy value, but Gronkowski has a bigger chance of producing at a lower level than Graham.


2. Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski had an amazing season in 2011, but his path to repeating is much more cluttered than Graham's. Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Brandon Lloyd will all be fighting for limited looks, which should reduce Gronkowski's value just enough to fall below Graham. The argument here would be, "well he did it last season, why shouldn't he do it this season," and the reason is that there are more targets in the Patriots offense this season compared to last season. Hernandez missed games last year, and Brandon Lloyd should be twice as good as Ochocinco was. The upside on Gronkowski is simply lower than the upside on Graham.


3. Aaron Hernandez
Hernandez had nearly 1,000 receiving yards last season, and he should approach that value again this year. Hernandez was used occasionally as a running back for the Patriots, and this could set him up as a slightly better prospect than the players below him on this list. The Patriots lost BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the Bengals, and if Hernandez gets 100 rushing yards, that is a huge bonus for fantasy owners. He does have a bit of an injury history, which is something to consider when deciding where to draft him.


4. Antonio Gates
Gates has been a serious fantasy contributor over the last decade, but has been riddled by injuries over the past two seasons. Gates just turned 32, and the Chargers don't have a replacement for him, but you have to be a bit worried about his injury status this season. Rivers did favor him as a target at the goal line last season, and Gates could be in line for a more mediocre season than he is used to. The saving grace here is that the Chargers are lining up 3 receivers who have very little experience being the primary receiver in any offense. As we see the Chargers depth chart solidify at the end of training camp we can get a better feel of where Antonio Gates belongs on this list. At this point, I would strongly suggest you draft Gates with extreme caution. He comes in 4th because the players behind him are less certain, but I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up towards the bottom of the top-10 TE list at the end of the season.


5. Vernon Davis
Davis is a bit of a risky pick. The 49ers brought in so many new receivers that he might find it difficult to get the number of looks he is accustomed to. He has an advantage over the other receivers, though, because he has been able to consistently produce while Alex Smith (and ever other 49ers quarterback) have struggled around him. Davis also tends to find the end zone a reasonable amount. Last season was a step back from 2009 and 2010 for Vernon Davis, but I think that Harbaugh will find a way to get him more involved this season. He is a risk, but his consistency and youth is truly valuable.


6. Jermichael Finley
I prefer players with huge upside at this point in the draft, and Finley certainly provides that. Despite the crowded Packers depth chart, Finley certainly has the ability to have a break-out season. Finley is a risky pick, given his injury history and his inability to separate himself as an outstanding target for Aaron Rodgers, but at this point in the list of tight ends, he has the highest potential and easily has the best upside. I can't imagine Finley being any worse than an average tight end (even last season he had 8 receiving touchdowns), so he should be a good option as the 6th overall tight end.


7. Jason Witten
If you are looking to take the risk out of your tight end position, pick Witten over Davis or Finley. Witten has playing 16 games per season for the past 8 seasons and has accumulated over 900 receiving yards for the last 5 seasons. The problem is that Witten is only averaging just over 5 touchdowns per season during that same stretch. I don't want to bet too heavily on a player who has only had one season with over 7 receiving touchdowns. He should be a consistent player, but I wouldn't count on him to win you any leagues, although he can play an important role on your fantasy team.


8. Dustin Keller
Keller has a lot of potential, and should be one of the few Jets players who isn't impacted by the addition of Tim Tebow. Keller will still be an option at the goal line with Tebow throwing (he could actually see an increase in touchdowns since teams will be keying on the run), and will stay a consistent target in the middle of the field. Of course, Keller has been marred by inconsistency in the past few seasons, and that makes him a risky fantasy player. There aren't really any better options at this position, and all of these tight ends should be low-round picks anyways.


9. Tony Gonzalez
Tony Gonzalez is ancient, in terms of football players, but I can't ignore the fact that he is still a consistent contributor for the Falcons. There really isn't much to say. He will score you points throughout the season, but don't think that he is going to have a great season. Draft him for consistency, but I would pick up a second TE just in case his body breaks down this season.


10. Brandon Pettigrew
Pettigrew actually has a ton of potential. He had the third most receptions by a tight end last season, but his yard-per-reception was absolutely atrocious. It is not difficult to imagine that he gets 1-2 more yards for every catch he makes, which would lead to 100-200 more yards than last season and easily putting him into the top-5 TE listings. If Pettigrew can break and extra tackle and score a few more touchdowns, he could be an amazing contributor on your fantasy team. The obvious downside here is that Pettigrew hasn't done any of these things yet. This guy has more reward than risk, because you can't go wrong with 83 receptions, especially in ppr leagues.


11. Fred Davis
You can say anything you want about his potential, but he only had one decent season and will have a new, rookie quarterback this year. Fred Davis could create a great rapport with RG3 culminating in an amazing season. He could just as easily have 600 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. The downside on Davis is especially steep, but he is worth a look at a TE2 or a starter in deeper leagues. History dictates that either Luck or RG3 will be a bust as a starting quarterback. If RG3 throws for fewer than 3,000 yards, how is Davis going to score you fantasy points?


12. Jared Cook
Cook has been very inconsistent over the last few seasons, but I really like him this year. The Titans had two new quarterbacks in 2011, and Cook finished the year as a great fantasy tight end. There is always the chance that Cook could be a complete bust, but he has the necessary upside to be a late round tight end. Target him as a TE2 to back up some of the older TE options.


13. Jermaine Gresham
Gresham caught 6 touchdown passes last season, making him a viable option at tight end this season. Unfortunately, he never really put up the kind of numbers I wanted to see from him last season. As training camp progresses we will see how well Andy Dalton trusts him, and he could end up being a top-10 fantasy tight end if the two of them connect. At this point, given the relative lack of firepower from the Bengals offense, I would be cautious about drafting him as a starting TE.


A Few Players I Won't Draft

Coby Fleener - There is virtually no way that a rookie tight end makes a fantasy impact with a rookie quarterback. We don't even know if the Colts will be a team that relies heavily on their tight ends this season. They certainly didn't last year. This is no longer Peyton Manning's offense.
Brent Celek - I like Celek as a football player. He is productive for the Eagles, but he doesn't catch touchdowns from Mike Vick. I have real concerns about the chemistry between those two, and the fact that he is kept in to block more often when Vick is running. I don't plan on drafting him this season.
Jacob Tamme - Yes, I remember those 8 games when the second-string tight end for the Colts played with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Denver is not Indianapolis, and we have no proof that Tamme will be the dominant tight end in their system. I know Manning loves tight ends, but if Tamme is so good then why did he only catch passes when Dallas Clark was injured? If he was good and Manning liked him, they would have found ways to get him on the field in 2-TE sets and the like. Let me see an official depth chart and I might change my mind.
Owen Daniels - Injury prone and doesn't score enough touchdowns. What are the two reasons why you shouldn't draft Owen Daniels in 2012? (The most he had in a single season was 5 touchdowns)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

9 Receivers to Avoid Like the Plague

There is a notable difference between being a good football player and a good fantasy football player. Some of these receivers are good football players, but their success on the field does not mean success in fantasy land; on the other hand, some of these players are neither. This post is a big risky because any receiver can have a miraculously good season at any time (see Steve Smith from last season), and some of these players might end up being top-20 fantasy receivers this season. The goal of this list is to warn owners against their instinct of drafting big-name fantasy receivers late in the draft, when they could be drafting rising stars instead. The trend is that big-name players are overvalued, while no-name players are undervalued. If you see a player like Randy Moss or Santonio Holmes available in the 10th round, there is probably a very good reason for that.


Any 49ers Receiver (ranked 100th, 117th, and 152nd overall) - Respectively, those rankings go to Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, and Randy Moss on a list of all fantasy players. Alex Smith had a good season last year, but definitely NOT for fantasy owners. He accumulated a paltry 3,144 passing yards and 17 passing touchdowns. Spreading those numbers out over 3 receivers and an elite tight end (Vernon Davis), even if you ignore every other player on the team, still means that no one on this team will have fantasy relevance. Vernon Davis is almost certainly worth 750 yards and 5 touchdowns by himself, meaning that the odds of having any of these receivers getting more than 900 yards is nearly unimaginable. Do yourself a favor and don't draft any of these receivers, especially not before the 12th round. Even then, there are much much better options with far less competition.


Laurent Robinson (ranked 130th overall) - Robinson couldn't get 1,000 receiving yards when he was playing with Tony Romo, there is no way he does it with Blaine Gabbert throwing him the ball. Furthermore, he had 4 total touchdowns in the four years before his 11 touchdowns last season. If the Cowboys thought his performance was anything more than an aberration, they would have kept him on their team. I would honeslty be surprised if he did better than 500 yards and 3 touchdowns. There were exactly 0 Jags receivers with over 500 yards last season and no one had more than 3 receiving touchdowns. Expect absolutely nothing from Laurent Robinson this season.


Kevin Walter (ranked 186th overall) - Kevin Walter had his last decent season in 2008, when he had 899 yards and 8 touchdowns (the highest of either statistical category in his career). The 30 year-old could do absolutely nothing last season, and hasn't been fantasy relevant for the past 3 seasons. A computer might end up drafting him, or maybe it will be a Texans fan who doesn't read my blog, but make sure that you aren't the fool drafting this old receiver who wasn't very good at his best.


Steven Breaston (ranked 189th) - Breaston is one of the players who could work his way off this list, but he just doesn't score touchdowns. In the last three seasons, each with over 700 receiving yards, Breaston has only had 6 receiving touchdowns. There is no way he can make a fantasy impact without at least 6 total touchdowns and 900 yards, and I cannot imagine him reaching those numbers. I know he is a big-name guy who has gotten a lot of good press, but he just doesn't improve your fantasy roster. You can do much, much better than Breaston except for in the deepest of leagues.


Nate Washington (ranked 107th overall) - It is almost guaranteed that someone in your league will draft Washington because of his stats last season. Before last season, Washington had never had more than 700 receiving yards in a season, and had never had more than 6 touchdown receptions. Unless Kenny Britt is injured again, don't consider Washington a viable WR for your team. Washington had five consecutive seasons between 400 and 700 receiving yards before becoming borderline-relevant last season. Don't believe anyone who tells you he will have another great season. There is absolutely no reason to believe them, at least not from a statistical perspective.


Anquan Boldin (ranked 91st overall) - I have talked extensively about how consistent Joe Flacco is. I like Boldin as a person and a player, and I believe that he fits the Ravens' scheme perfectly, but he just isn't a good fantasy player. The positives about Boldin are extensive, considering that he is on a streak of 7 consecutive 800+ yard seasons, but he is averaging only 5 touchdowns per season in Baltimore. Boldin is going to be 32 in October, and there is very little upside left for him. The Ravens have been bolstering their receiving corps, and I don't think 850 yards and 5 touchdowns is a good enough projection for a 9th round pick, especially considering that he doesn't seem able to do much better.


Santonio Holmes (ranked 90th overall) - Now this is a complete mystery. At least Boldin has a history of success, but Holmes has only had one good season in his career (1,248 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2009). His two season with the Jets have been an absolute joke, and there is now way he gets more looks with Steven Hill and Tim Tebow on the roster. There is absolutely no reason to draft Holmes. The fact that he is 90th overall is ridiculous. He gets a lot of publicity because he catches the ball to win the game, but that might be the only ball he catches all game. The Jets are not a passing team and Holmes is a possession receiver. He needs more than 50 balls per season to be fantasy relevant.






Tuesday, June 26, 2012

12 Receivers to Draft Late

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, family issues have kept me away from the blog and my research. Assessing receivers has also been driving me crazy. Did you know that only ~17 receivers break 1,000 yards each season? Did you know that the 50th ranked receiver (in yards) typically ends up with just over 600 receiving yards? That makes predicting receivers a monumental task. The best advice I can give is to load up in the late rounds, because there is an extremely low correlation between draft position and success for receivers, compared to other positions (especially when you remove injuries). Furthermore, the difference between receivers between 30 and 50 is pretty small in terms of fantasy, so your goal should be to draft 5-6 receivers that could be great. Naturally there are a number of receivers that you can count on, I won't list them here, but they are most of the same guys who finished towards the top last season. This post will not discuss any receiver ranked lower than 80th on the NFL's top 200 list (other lists may vary slightly), but anyone after 80th would definitely be considered a "late-round" pick. This list is designed to giver you a better grasp of which receivers are likely to be available for you at the end of the draft, given the high degree of uncertainty amongst receivers. (Just so you are aware, none of these players are ranked higher than 73rd on ESPN's "top 200" list, either).


Antonio Brown (ranked 87th) - Antonio Brown is actually on the list of players I believe will have over 1,000 receiving yards this season. He had 1,108 receiving yards last season but only caught 2 touchdowns. He has an added opportunity with Mike Wallace holding out, so the fact that he is set up to be a 9th round pick is unbelievable. Feel free to grab him in the 8th round and feel confident that he will be a top-20 receiver this season.


Greg Little (ranked 90th) - Greg Little had a surprising rookie season with the Browns, where he led the team in receptions (61) and yards (709). This receiving corps didn't get any better, so Greg Little has the ability to have a good season if he can increase his touchdown total. Hopefully he will find more open space with Trent Richardson running the ball, but I still don't think he will have 1,000 receiving yards. Definitely worth a look at the top of the 10th round, especially since most people have no idea who Little is, and could allow him to drop into the 11th (depending on how many computers are drafting).


Darrius Heyward-Bey (ranked 95th) - DHB was on fire at the end of last season, and he really seemed to connect with Carson Palmer. Even if he doesn't do much better than last season (975 yards and 4 touchdowns) he still has value as a 10th round pick. I believe that DHB will help your fantasy team, although he might start climbing up draft boards once training camps and preseason games start. This guy has the speed, and he had three of his 4 touchdowns in the last 5 games of the season. Feel confident that there are very few players ranked this low with this much potential.


Denarius Moore (ranked 110th) - A lot of experts predict Moore to overtake DHB as the top receiver in Oakland this season. While I don't see that happening, Moore still has serious speed and had more touchdown receptions (5) than DHB last season, despite missing 3 games. He has the ability to have 1,000 receiving yards, but 800-900 is more likely. He is going to be a lot like Torrey Smith in that he could have 1 catch for 5 yards one day and then 4 catches for 130 yards the next. If he proves to be consistent you will feel great about drafting him in the 10th or 11th rounds.


Doug Baldwin (ranked 114th) - While I don't like him as much at Moore, he did prove to be a valuable asset for the Seahawks (788 yards and 4 touchdowns) in his rookie season with T-Jax throwing the ball to him. If you are like me and expect Matt Flynn to be better than Jackson, Baldwin certainly retains the potential to have 1,000 receiving yards. Considering that Sydney Rice has been so injury prone lately, he might be the top receiver on the depth chart for most of the season. Furthermore, look at how well Flynn did finding Jordy Nelson in Week 17. There is always a chance of Baldwin breaking out this season, and he is well worth the 12th round pick for that chance.


Pierre Garcon (ranked 122nd) - I am not a huge fan of Pierre Garcon, but I doubt that I could pass up a probable primary target for any quarterback in this league (except the Jaguars). Garcon caught 70 balls for 947 yards and 6 touchdowns with Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter throwing the ball to him. I think most people would agree that RG3 is at the very least comparable to those guy (at the very very least), and that Garcon would be an absolute steal with those numbers in the 13th round. Odds are that he moves towards the 100th spot as training camp goes on.


Mike Williams (ranked 132nd) - Mike Williams disappointed a lot of fantasy owners last season, but this might be his season. Vincent Jackson should be able to pull coverages away from him, allowing for a yard-per-catch number closer to the 14.8 that he enjoyed in his rookie season. I bet you didn't know that Mike Williams caught the exact same number of passes (65) in 2010 and 2011. The big difference was his drop from 11 touchdowns in 2010 to only 3 touchdowns in 2011. At the very end of the draft it is hard to pass up a player who has big-play potential in an improving offensive system. I wouldn't draft him with confidence, but I would definitely consider him a worth-while risk in the 13th or 14th rounds.


Danny Amendola (ranked 138th) - This might be the highest-ranked Rams receiver on the whole list. Amendola was a deep sleeper last season before he had two huge, unlucky injuries. You should feel confident with his return because NEITHER injury happened in his legs. The final injury that kept him out of the last half of the season was a triceps injury. Amendola is a deep sleeper again, and many people compare him to Wes Welker. If he can get 900 yards and 6 touchdowns he will be worth an extremely late round pick.


Brandon LaFell (ranked 141st) - The Panthers have said that they really love LaFell, saying that he should be 2nd on the depth chart for them this season. That is a huge vote of confidence for this third-year receiver who had 613 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. If you believe in Cam Newton, you should feel good about LaFell's chances to have a break out season. I don't like him as much as some of these other receivers, but this is a list of possible choices. You should pick people from this list who you feel most confident with.


Titus Young (142nd) - That's right; Titus Young is currently rated as a 15th round pick by the analysts at NFL.com. Now I am going to say that there is absolutely no way he stays here, but sometimes players get overlooked. Keep an eye on this position, because you will be thanking me if you end up drafting Titus Young in the 13th-15th round. This is one of the highest rated 2nd-year WRs, and I like him much better than Baldwin (Doug or Jon).


Sidney Rice (ranked 158th) - This guy is a huge risk, given his recent injury history, but can you believe that he is only 2 seasons removed from his 1,312 yard - 8 touchdown performance with Brett Favre in Minnesota? Oh how the times change. Again, if you think Matt Flynn will be a decent quarterback, drafting Sidney Rice is a great idea. He did have two 100-yard games last season, in the 9 games he played. Take a chance on him if you need a receiver late in the draft.


Randall Cobb (ranked 184th) - Consider this guy an extremely deep sleeper, but the 2nd-year Packer could be the one to replace Donald Driver on the depth chart. I wouldn't draft him unless I was in a really deep league, but you have to consider him an option if Nelson or Jennings get hurt this season. Just be aware of him.


A few other receivers deserve a mention; Austin Collie (191st) could have a nice year for the Colts, Eddie Royal (unranked) could become one of Rivers' favorite targets.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wide Receiver Power Rankings: 1-12

A note before I am lambasted (but by all means, lambast away); as I typically do, I researched the frequency with which a certain event occurs, in this case it was receivers with 1,000 receiving yards. That number came to 15-19 per season, and so I allowed myself a few more for injuries. Next I made a list of every player who I thought could reach 1,000 receiving yards this season without major injuries; that list was 59 players long. I had to pick only the very best players to go over 1,000 yards, and there are about 39 players who I think have a chance to have 1,000 receiving yards but must project as fewer than that number. Here are the top-12 receivers of 2012.

Wide Receiver Power Ratings: Ranks 1 through 12
Compare to my opinion one month ago.
Feel free to post your own list below.
.
1. Calvin Johnson: (1,536 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns, 15 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 1 turnover) 14.44 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

It's hard to contend with Megatron, and there is no reason to believe he won't have another great season. He has had a few injury problems in the past, but there's really no one who can be put ahead of him. He is one of the few great receivers who doesn't have other receivers threatening to take touches away from him. Even with all of this, you shouldn't draft Megatron until the end of the first round, if then.


2. Andre Johnson: (1,497 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, 5 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 12.01 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
I was totally against Andre Johnson until I did my research creating this list. Did you know; Andre Johnson was one of only 4 Texans players to catch a pass in the playoffs last season? The Texans played two games, and only four players caught balls. Arian Foster (RB), Owen Daniels (TE), Kevin Walter (WR), and Andre Johnson combined for 28 receptions and 347 receiving yards, and Andre Johnson had 13 of those receptions and 201 yards. There are no other receivers on this team, and the running game should really open him up this season. 
3. Larry Fitzgerald: (1,274 receiving yards, 10 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 0 turnovers) 11.71 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the best in the game, but the quarterback situation in Arizona just isn't improving for him. It looks like the Cardinals are getting a little more receiver help, so hopefully he will be able to find the end zone more often if he isn't constantly double covered. As much as I like Fitzgerald, he has never had as many yards are Andre Johnson was before last season's injuries. You can't go wrong with Fitzgerald.


4. Greg Jennings: (1,213 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 11.71 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I don't think Greg Jennings is going to lose any touches this season, so I just projected his stats from last season over the three games that he missed and threw in an extra touchdown because there is no way Jordy nelson is scoring 15 again. Jennings has been one of the best scoring receivers in the league over the last few seasons, and his rapport with Aaron Rodgers is phenomenal. He shouldn't disappoint you this season.


5. Roddy White: (1,270 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 11.19 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Roddy White has been the picture of consistency over the last few seasons. Julio Jones is breathing down his neck, but White should still have one great season left before he starts losing touches. The next two plaers have higher projected numbers, but I don't feel as confident drafting them as I feel about Roddy White. Matt Ryan really trusts him, and he has been extremely resilient throughout his career. 


6. Dez Bryant: (1,176 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 11.35 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

 Dez Bryant has improved each year in the league, and he should have a break out season in 2012. He really needs to prove he can be a primary receiver, but this is his third season and if he is going to have a great season, this is the season. Bryant has shown an amazing ability to find the end zone, and I don't see any reason why he should slow down with Laurent Robinson out of the picture.


7. Julio Jones: (1,180 receiving yards, 10 receiving touchdowns, 30 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 11.19 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Julio Jones looked amazing last season, and that was while he was slowed by a hamstring injury. The fact that Roddy White is going to demand significant coverage really helps Jones' value (hence why he is ahead of A.J. Green), and I would be surprised if Jones wasn't the best of the 2nd year receivers this season. The most amazing thing about Jones was that he score touchdowns. Rookie receivers can have difficulty scoring, but Jones had 8 touchdowns in 13 games last season. Good enough to be considered a serious receiving threat this season.


8. Marques Colston: (1,251 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 11.07 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I love Marques Colston because of how underdrafted he typically is. This is a solid WR1 for a Saints team that must believe in him, since they did just resign him to a new contract. The Saints lost Robert Meachem, meaning that Colston, assuming he can stay healthy this season, should see more looks than normal. If Drew Brees is having trouble once his contract situation finally blows over, he is going to throw to the guy he has been with the longest. It certainly helps Colston's value that a linebacker and a safety are going to be covering Graham (or a corner and a safety) at all times. I wouldn't be surprised if Colston had a career year in the yards-per-catch category.


9. Brandon Marshall: (1,216 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns, 10 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 1 turnover) 10.91 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Brandon Marshall is finally reunited with Jay Cutler, but we'll have to see how the Bears utilize the connection. The great news for Marshall is that he has almost no competition for looks. The bad news, of course, is that he will probably be heavily covered. This should reduce his yards per catch, but it won't matter much if he goes back to catching 100+ balls, like he did in Denver. Jay Cutler has never been a huge yardage passer, so Marshall will have difficulty going much over 1,200 receiving yards.


10. Vincent Jackson: (1,313 receiving yards, 7 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 10.83 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I know that a lot of people don't like Vincent Jackson here, but Josh Freeman throws the ball a lot more than people think. Additionally, Kellen Winslow is out of Tampa, and so are his team-leading 79 receptions. If Freeman can get back to his 2010 form, Jackson should be able to make a huge impact in fantasy this season.

11. Dwayne Bowe: (1,160 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, 0 turnovers) 10.63 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

 Dwayne Bowe managed to have a pretty good season, despite the loss of Matt Cassel and the parade of mediocre quarterbacks that followed his injury. I think Bowe should keep a similar number of yards and increase his touchdowns now that every other pass won't be intercepted (just joshin', Tyler Palko). But seriously, Bowe should have a really nice season. He has really matured over the past few seasons.


12. Kenny Britt: (1,012 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns, 0 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 1 turnover) 10.33 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

This is a bit of a risky call, but Britt has had lots of time to recover, and I think he has looked pretty dominant when he's been on the field. I think he loses some value if Locker is starting, but this is one will definitely become more clear once we get through training camp. If Locker starts, Britt will probably drop out of the top-12, and we need to see how he runs his routes this season after his injury.


About Wes Welker: Welker's career ypc is 11.1, meaning that when he catches 100 balls this season, he will get 1,110 yards. Additionally, the 9 touchdowns he had last season are a career record. His average is somewhere between 6 and 7, meaning that he is not a really high value receiver. Sure, he is consistent as anyone, but you need touchdowns to make the top 12, and Welker just doesn't score them. I've done the research, and why would Welker get MORE touchdowns with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Branch, and Lloyd crowding the backfield? That's what I thought. Feel free to give me a few reasons why Welker should be here. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Running Back Power Rankings: 16-30

Statistics say that one of these running backs will surprise everyone and crack the top 10. Last season it was Marshawn Lynch (and we could have seen that one coming after the way he demolished the Saints in the playoffs), so who will it be this season? Give us your prediction below.

Running Back Power Ratings: Ranks 16 through 30(Ranks 1-15)
Compare to my opinion one month ago.
Feel free to post your own list below.

16. Jamaal Charles: (1,078 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 344 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 11.26 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Jamaal Charles has an absolutely insane career yard per carry (ypc) average of 6.1. That is phenomenal, but it actually hurts him coming off an ACL injury. Charles is a shifty runner, and it will probably take him until his bye week to really find his groove, if he finds it at all this season. At 25 years old, Charles still has plenty of good football left in his body, but this probably won't be the season he breaks out for 1,600 yards. The Chiefs will want to ease him into a full workload, but he should be at his peak once the fantasy playoffs get started, so that is definitely a plus. 


17. Shonn Greene: (1,217 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 200 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 11.23 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Shonn Greene was something of a disappointment last season, but Rex Ryan has said that Greene will be the featured back this year. Tim Tebow's appearance will take away most, if not all, of his goal line touches, but it should help his ypc, which has been mediocre throughout his career. He needs to get into the passing game more if he wants to crack the top-10, and I just don't see that happening this season.Greene is a mid-level RB2, yet again, and his potential comes more from his workload than his stellar ability.


18. Jahvid Best: (986 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 380 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 11.04 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Best has the potential to do much better than this, but the crowded backfield in Detroit could hold him back. If there are any injuries in the Detroit backfield (and there always seem to be plenty), Best's value could go up significantly or go down significantly. The Lions are effective at using the running game and passing game together, given how well Kevin Smith did last season, but the injury concerns with Best are glaring, and it would be nice to see him get through training camp without getting banged up. If he tops the Lions depth chart at the start of the season, he should be a steal.


19. Ahmad Bradshaw: (899 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 270 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 10.68 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Bradshaw would be great if I had any reason to believe that he was going to be a featured back this season. You don't draft a running back in the first round to sit him all season, so I expect Wilson to get at least 100 carries this season. I increased Bradshaw's carries accordingly and came up with this disappointing yardage number. He still holds his value, though, because Jacobs has been removed as the goal line back, making Bradshaw primed for that duty. I also have concerns about his durability, as he missed 4 games last season. If Ward or Wilson get hurt before the regular season, you can bump Bradshaw up to 1,000 rushing yards. 


20. Donald Brown: (1,013 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 180 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 10.08 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

The Colts added Mewelde Moore the afternoon after I published my last post, which took all of the air out of my bold prediction about Brown. If he loses those 60 carries to Moore, he is looking more like a solid flex starter than a featured back. I still think he gets over 200 carries (I'm thinking in the 220-230 range), but that really takes a bit out of his yardage. If he can prove that he is the best back on this team, and I truly think he is, then he could end up getting more carries. I will be drafting him in every one of my fantasy leagues this year (I can guarantee this because I know no one else will touch him), and I should be ahppily playing him in the flex spot all year.


21. Darren Sproles: (570 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 620 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 10.06 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

I think the Saints will put more of an emphasis on Mark Ingram running the ball this year, but Sproles still has more value because he catches the ball like crazy. I think his yardage and touchdown numbers will drop a little this season, but he is still a valuable flex starter and could get more carries if Ingram gets hurt again. It is a bit risky to draft a running back who isn't going to get 100 carries, but his 86 receptions last season (he had 87 carries) mean he is still getting the ball plenty.He should be consistent but not spectacular. The little guy is 29 years old.


22. Fred Jackson: (907 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 370 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 9.86 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Jackson is a low end flex player, and you can count me as one of the skeptics who thinks this 31 year old running back will have a hard time keeping C.J. Spiller off the field. Spiller is younger and was a top-10 pick a few years ago. The Bills need to see what Spiller can do this season so that they know whether they should resign him in the future. Jackson is on his last leg, and his body might not be able to handle the workload this season. I also have a hard time believing that he will sustain a 5.0+ ypc this season. If Spiller tops the depth chart there is no reason to draft Mr. Jackson.


23. Frank Gore: (1,034 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 150 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 9.65 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Poor, poor Frank Gore. This team just keeps bringing in players to strip away little pieces of your game, and you have dropped to just the 23rd best RB in fantasy. Brandon Jacobs is the biggest threat here, as he has a tendency to take over at the goal line. Jacobs does have an absolutely terrible attitude (for the most part), and I can't believe he took the offer from San Francisco knowing that they already had an entrenched starting running back. Anyways, none of this bodes well for Gore, who has been having injury issues over the last few seasons. His age is catching up with him, and drafting him is certainly a risk. 


 24. BenJarvus Green-Ellis: (972 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 80 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 9.20 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

 The Law Firm (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) needs to win the starting job in Cincinnati. He could have very Cedric Benson-like numbers this season, which would make him an absolute steal in the middle rounds, but it is difficult to predict him having a great season, since we don't know how the Bengals will utilize him this season. The one thing we do know about Green-Ellis is that he can find the end zone (he scored 24 touchdowns with only 1,675 rushing yards over the last two seasons). If he wins the majority of the carries, he should see plenty of touchdowns even if he doesn't rush for 1,000 yards.


25. DeAngelo Williams: (791 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 150 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 1 turnover) 9.13 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Every Panthers runner (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Cam Newton) had at least 5.4 yards per carry last season. That is absolutely unbelievable. Unfortunately, DeAngelo Williams only managed to get 155 carries in their crowded backfield. That situation has not been changed, so Williams only has moderate value as a flex starter. I can't imagine him reaching 200 carries or having a 5.4 ypc this season, which is unfortunate. Williams and Stewart are probably two of the top 10 runners in the NFL. If one of them gets seriously injured, the other immediately moves into the first 3 rounds.


26. Beanie Wells: (958 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 50 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 9.05 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Wells had a pretty good season last year, but there will be more runners in the Cardinals backfield this season, which should siphon away a few of his carries. Keep him as a flex back, but don't expect a breakout season. He had his opportunity last season, but Ryan Williams should take some carries away from him and reduce his ability to make a huge impact. Draft him as nothing more than a flex back. 


27. Isaac Redman: (955 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 85 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 8.87 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

There is some potential for Redman to have a big season. I worry about him not being able to handle a feature back-level of work and I'm not sure he has the ability to have a huge impact on fantasy. As training camp comes to a close, we will know how well Mendenhall does with his recovery and whether Todd Haley is willing to rely heavily on Redman. If I had to draft a team today, though, Redman would be a low-level flex back; certainly not a starter.


28. James Starks: (1,005 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 250 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 8.72 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

James Starks seems like a great pick now that Ryan Grant is gone, but the truth of the matter is that the Packers don't score enough rushing touchdowns to give Starks real value. Even as the primary back for the Packers, John Kuhn will probably get most of the goal line touches, while Starts will struggle to get 250 carries in this system. The Packers do have a tendency to play conservative once they get the lead (unlike the Saints), but we'll have to wait until we see something more definite about who will get the most carries. Even if it is Starks, he is not better than a flex starter.

29. Mark Ingram: (839 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 60 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 8.12 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

The Saints wanted to use Ingram as something of a featured back last season, but an injury sidelined him for the last group of games. I simply projected his carries over the rest of the season and upped his ypc slightly to make this prediction. There are just too many decent backs on the Saints' roster to have one back make a huge difference. If Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory get hurt, expect Ingram to have a bigger role and more fantasy value.


30. Willis McGahee: (902 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 50 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 7.95 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues. 

Running backs with Peyton Manning rarely succeed, John Fox likes to have a committee system, and this team has plenty of good running backs; old man McGahee just can't get enough looks to make a huge impact this season. He was wonderful last season in the Tebow system, but he had an unbelievable ypc last season. Don't expect another great season here.


Use these projections as you wish and feel free to leave a comment below...just try to have some kind of statistical reasoning behind your comment. If you say, COME ON HOW IS CHARLES THIS LOW, provide something to convince people why he should be higher. Otherwise your comment is useless.

Revised Running Back Rankings

A day and a post ago, I made a similar list, but soon realized that my predictions were completely contrary to historical considerations. I have revised the list, and hope that it is a better representation of this season than the previous version, found here

Running Back Power Ratings: Ranks 1 through 15
Compare to my opinion one month ago.
Feel free to post your own list below.

Over the last 4 seasons there have been about 15 running backs per season who broke the 1,000 yard mark (the true number ranged from 14 to 17 depending on the season). That being said, I can think of at least 5 running backs who absolutely would have gotten to 1,000 yards; Forte (997 yards), Peterson (970), Jackson (934), McFadden (614 yards in 7 games), and Charles (he averaged 6.9 yards per carry before getting injured). Thus, my predictions will have approximately 20 runners breaking the 1,000 yard mark, keeping in mind that 25% of those will probably fail to reach that mark due to injury.


1. Arian Foster: (1,514 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 600 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 18.21 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I have honestly tried my hardest to find a reason to downgrade Arian Foster from the #1 spot, but I can't think of any. Coming off a hamstring injury, he had the lowest YPC of his career at 4.4, but his career average is 4.7 so I could hardly downgrade him for that. I tried to convince myself that Ben Tate will take carries away from Foster, but Tate had 175 carries last season with Foster still carrying the ball 278 times. Arian Foster is the better blocker than Tate, so he should keep his 3rd down duty. He could easily have more than 1400 yards and more than 2 receiving touchdowns, so draft him first overall. He will outscore most of the starting quarterbacks you will face this season. 


2. LeSean McCoy: (1.363 rushing yards, 14 rushing touchdowns, 340 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 16.52 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

"Shady" McCoy gave Foster a run for his money, but he just doesn't have the receiving tendencies that are necessary to be such a high pick. It definitely didn't help that coach Andy Reid said that McCoy was overworked last season. In my prediction, I upped McCoy's carries to 290 because McCoy missed the last game of last season. He could easily surpass Foster if he gets some extra carries, and there isn't really anyone to take carries away from him, if we remove Vick from the equation. McCoy and Foster are neck-and-neck in my book, but Foster's production has been consistently phenomenal for the past two seasons. Don't believe the shit about McCoy's touchdowns, either. Plenty of great backs have scored over 15 TDs in consecutive seasons. If McCoy is as great as he seems, he can definitely do it.


3. Ray Rice: (1,357 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 680 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 16.23 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
If it weren't for his contract situation, I probably would have put Ray Rice ahead of Arian Foster. Rice does everything for the Ravens, and this is one of the few times that I am siding with the player in a contract dispute. The franchise tag is disrespectful to the only player on the Ravens' offense that truly makes a difference. If he holds out into training camp, and I think he will, you can expect his numbers to drop a little from these predictions. His holdout shouldn't have as much of an impact on his game as Chris Johnson's did last season because Ray Rice is more mature and disciplined than CJ2k seems to be. If he holds out into the season, the Ravens wouldn't make the playoffs.


4. Ryan Mathews: (1,248 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 500 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 14.80 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Mathews (there is only one 't') should have a monster season with Tolbert out of the way. Norv Turner is on record saying that he expects Mathews to be the workhorse this season, and that is music to every fantasy owner's ears. Mathews will be given the opportunity to get 300 carries if his body can handle the workload, and his injury rating (87.5%) is not especially bad amongst running backs. It would not surprise me if Mathews lead the league in points from a running back this season, but he really needs to prove himself. Mathews had a 4.9 ypc average last season, but I dropped him down to 4.6 for my prediction. He could rush for 1,600 yards if he can attain that 4.9 ypc again this season. He and Aaron Rodgers are of even value for me.


5. Chris Johnson: (1,305 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 390 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 14.09 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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The difference in value between Johnson and Mathews is much smaller than these numbers indicate. Chris Johnson has not missed a game in his career, and Johnson's numbers are better than Mathews' when I fact in my injury rating. I prefer Mathews because of his huge potential, but I could justify taking Johnson ahead of Mathews for injury reasons. I think Johnson can bounce back, and there are reasons to believe that he will out-perform that 350-receiving-yards value. Johnson gains value if Locker starts. Draft Mathews, Johnson, or Rodgers based on your personal risk vs reward philosophy.


 6. Maurice Jones-Drew: (1,376 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 3 turnovers) 13.79 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Pocket Hercules is a fighter, but the Jaguars refuse to budge on their refusal to renegotiate his contract. There have been reports from numerous sources that MJD showed reduced ability towards the end of the 2011 season,and that is no surprise with his 343 carries last season. After being on the injury report all last season, basically, I really think Father Time is catching up to MJD, which is why he goes just below Johnson on this list. The Jaguars, who have absolutely nothing else going for them, are willing to risk MJD sitting out for the season (or at least training camp). That should tell you something.


7. DeMarco Murray: (1,302 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 366 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 0 turnovers) 13.43 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

DeMarco Murray makes the biggest jump on this list because I broke down the carries between he and Felix Jones over the last half of the season (when Jones was healthy again) and then projected those numbers over the whole season. I did the same thing with his receiving yards, and he ended up 7th. Be extremely cautious when drafting Murray, but he was a rookie last season. The Cowboys should be more prepared to use him in such a way that doesn't hurt his body too early in the season, but make sure you have a nice backup RB in case he goes down. If he plays 13 games this season he should make the top-15 RBs in fantasy, very easily.


8. Matt Forte: (1,141 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 500 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 12.76 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.


Forte, like so many other top running backs, is currently struggling with the Bears' front office. The Bears have mistreated Forte for the last two seasons, and he must be furious about the lack of commitment at this point. Forte has great value, even with the addition of Michael Bush, because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Forte has never had enough carries to make a huge impact in rushing yards or touchdowns, and that is unlikely to change with Michael Bush in town. Drop Forte a few spots if he holds out until training camp, but I believe he will be an RB1 in most leagues. 


9. Trent Richardson: (1,102 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 320 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 12.26 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I took a look back through the history of rookie running backs and found that most of them sucked, but some of them were pretty good. Richardson's numbers are in between the two possibilities. For starters, Eric Dickerson ran the ball 390 times as a rookie and racked up 1,800 yards. Richardson probably won't have so many carries, and the Browns had an atrocious running game last season. I am putting more faith in Richardson than I would like to, but he is going to be a featured back who should see plenty of carries this season. I wish him the best.


10. Darren McFadden: (1,229 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 300 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 12.18 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.


 McFadden will be winning you games until he goes on IR. His 79% injury rating means that he would typically be good for only 12-13 games each season, and his history suggests the same thing. Last season was a bit of a unique situation, especially since he seemed to be close to returning for multiple weeks, before ultimately missing the last 9 games of the seasons. This latest injury was a foot injury, which makes it an issue for any football player, but I would be willing to give McFadden a chance, especially in the third round. Michael Bush is gone, so McFadden should have free reign for as long as his body can handle it. I actually believe that McFadden can perform for most, if not all, of the season. Steven Jackson showed similar tendencies at the beginning of his career, but he has played all but two games in the last 3 seasons. Players can change.


11.  Steven Jackson: (1,204 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 12.09points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Steven Jackson's career is going to go one of two directions this season. Either the passing game is finally going to step up and help alleviate some of the pressure he has been facing for the last 8 seasons, or he is going to get pounded into oblivion again. Either way, I believe these numbers will stand. He has never been able to get into the end zone often, but that is most directly related to the fact the his team can't get the ball close enough to the goal line for him to run the ball in. After three relatively injury-free seasons, I am ready to endorse Steven Jackson.


12. Marshawn Lynch: (1,160 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 200 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, 2 turnovers) 11.63 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Marshawn Lynch will have trouble getting back to the same state of mind that he was in for the end of 2011. I still think he is going to be a great fantasy back, but I don't think he will be quite as dominant as he was last season. He should be a featured running back (unlike many other backs in the league), but his ypc and receiving yards will be lower. I think you can go either way in this place, using Best, Lynch, and Jackson interchangeably to fit the team you are building. Lynch should be used consistently, but might not have the same spark that Best has. They are so close, in my eyes, that you can go with your gut...although Best will have a much lower draft position.


13. Michael Turner: (1,204 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 100 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 3 turnovers) 11.53 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.


Turner the Burner is not so much of a burner anymore, but the man knows how to find the end zone. If he gets banged up early in the season, you can bring those numbers down towards 1,000 rushing yards. He never had too much injury trouble last season and was extremely consistent, so I would feel confident drafting him. He is a big guy who has goal line duty for a team with an emerging offense. As an owner, I hope he gets more involved in the passing game this season. There is very little to suggest long-term injury issues, which gives me confidence in drafting him.


14. Adrian Peterson: (989 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns, 150 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 1 turnover) 11.49 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I believe that the Vikings will hold off from overworking Peterson outside the Red Zone until the 6th game of the season, so he will probably see lower yardage totals, but similar touchdown production. A.D. is still young, but there are concerns about whether he will even make it back for the start of the season. Peterson could move up or down this list as we learn more about how his injury is progressing, but the fact that he is racing his teammates is a good sign. The Vikings might be pushed to bring him back more quickly if their second best offensive weapon decides to hold out. Keep and eye on Peterson once training camp arrives.


15. Reggie Bush: (1,109 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns, 300 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 3 turnovers) 11.43 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Reggie Bush really took off at the end of last season, and it sounds like the team plans on using him more as a receiver IN ADDITION TO hi role as a running back. The NFL website, as they are accustomed to do, reported only the part of the story that would get people to click on their link and left out the part of the interview where Bush said he would still be getting lots of carries. Regardless, Bush is looking like he could be a top-10 scoring running back, even if he doesn't produce as many rushing yards or touchdowns as some other backs. He should be a good RB2 this season.


Post your own Rankings below!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking a Hit: Percy Harvin Demands a Trade

I almost said "Percy Harvin Requests a Trade," but that isn't how this sounds. Of course, there is no way to know how far apart these sides are because no one seems to know exactly what Harvin is upset about. The two leading theories are that he is upset about his contract, based only on the fact that most other time players are upset about their contract, and his injury history, starting with migraines and culminating in shoulder surgery during the offseason. Leslie Frazier spoke about the issue during a press conference, but when he was asked whether this was a contract issue the first word out of his mouth was "no." He then backtracked saying that they were going to keep having discussions, but it definitely doesn't seem like an exclusively contract-driven situation. There must be something else to this story.

I, personally, applaud Harvin for coming to team workouts to talk about his problem. Sure, things have gotten out of hand recently with the media reports and trade request, but it sounds like he wanted to work things out peacefully until yesterday. He probably expected the Vikings to be more flexible with his issues, so he came to the team planning on getting everything resolved and going about his business. Obviously that never happened, but I believe that Harvin's intentions were innocent.

So what about fantasy football? Harvin was never going to be a WR1, but most people had him pegged as a solid WR2. Assuming he stays in Minnesota, and there really isn't any chance of him being traded with his current contract, he might be ready to hold out of training camp. That would drop him to a WR3, in my opinion, especially if A.D. is really as far advanced in his rehab as the Vikings say he is. Harvin has been a mediocre pass-catcher, but was a great running back when Peterson was injured. Hopefully the Vikings will make a deal with him, but the longer they wait, the worse his season will be.

I saw a few comments about people saying he should go other places. The Browns were mentioned, but that would be detrimental to Trent Richardson's numbers. The whole reason people think Richardson will have a great season is that there is no one else to take carries away from him. If you introduce Harvin to the equation, you introduce someone that can take carries away from him. That being said, the Vikings will never trade him because then their receiving corps will be worse than the Browns', and that's saying something.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Running Back Power Rankings: 1-15


A note to my readers: My predictions have far too many 1,200 yard rushers. Before I post the rest of my list, I am going to revise my methods for predicting statistics and rewrite this list. The first 6 won't change. The revised list is here.

Running Back Power Ratings: Ranks 1 through 15
Compare to my opinion one month ago.
Feel free to post your own list below.
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Over the last 4 seasons there have been about 15 running backs per season who broke the 1,000 yard mark (the true number ranged from 14 to 17 depending on the season). That being said, I can think of at least 5 running backs who absolutely would have gotten to 1,000 yards; Forte (997 yards), Peterson (970), Jackson (934), McFadden (614 yards in 7 games), and Charles (he averaged 6.9 yards per carry before getting injured). Thus, my predictions will have approximately 20 runners breaking the 1,000 yard mark, keeping in mind that 25% of those will probably fail to reach that mark due to injury.


1. Arian Foster: (1410 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, 600 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 17.94 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

I have honestly tried my hardest to find a reason to downgrade Arian Foster from the #1 spot, but I can't think of any. Coming off a hamstring injury, he had the lowest YPC of his career at 4.4, but his career average is 4.7 so I could hardly downgrade him for that. I tried to convince myself that Ben Tate will take carries away from Foster, but Tate had 175 carries last season with Foster still carrying the ball 278 times. Arian Foster is the better blocker than Tate, so he should keep his 3rd down duty. He could easily have more than 1400 yards and more than 2 receiving touchdowns, so draft him first overall. He will outscore most of the starting quarterbacks you will face this season. 


2. LeSean McCoy: (1,320 rushing yards, 14 rushing touchdowns, 320 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 16.13 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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"Shady" McCoy gave Foster a run for his money, but he just doesn't have the receiving tendencies that are necessary to be such a high pick. It definitely didn't help that coach Andy Reid said that McCoy was overworked last season. In my prediction, I kept Shady's carries constant at 275, instead of bumping him up to 300 like I wanted to. He could easily surpass Foster if he gets those extra carries, and there isn't really anyone to take carries away from him, if we remove Vick from the equation. McCoy and Foster are neck-and-neck in my book, but Foster's production has been consistently phenomenal for the past two seasons. Don't believe the shit about McCoy's touchdowns, either. Plenty of great backs have scored over 15 TDs in consecutive seasons. If McCoy is as great as he seems, he can definitely do it.


3. Ray Rice: (1,350 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 680 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 2 turnovers) 16.56 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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If it weren't for his contract situation, I probably would have put Ray Rice ahead of Arian Foster. Rice does everything for the Ravens, and this is one of the few times that I am siding with the player in a contract dispute. The franchise tag is disrespectful to the only player on the Ravens' offense that truly makes a difference. If he holds out into training camp, and I think he will, you can expect his numbers to drop a little from these predictions. His holdout shouldn't have as much of an impact on his game as Chris Johnson's did last season because Ray Rice is more mature and disciplined than CJ2k seems to be. If he holds out into the season, the Ravens wouldn't make the playoffs.


4. Ryan Mathews: (1,380 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 500 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 4 turnovers) 15.00 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Mathews (there is only one 't') should have a monster season with Tolbert out of the way. Norv Turner is on record saying that he expects Mathews to be the workhorse this season, and that is music to every fantasy owner's ears. Mathews will be given the opportunity to get 300 carries if his body can handle the workload, and his injury rating (87.5%) is not especially bad amongst running backs. It would not surprise me if Mathews lead the league in points from a running back this season, but he really needs to prove himself. Mathews had a 4.9 ypc average last season, but I dropped him down to 4.6 for my prediction. He could rush for 1,600 yards if he can attain that 4.9 ypc again this season. He and Aaron Rodgers are of even value for me.


5. Chris Johnson: (1,342 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 2 turnovers) 14.08 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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The difference in value between Johnson and Mathews is much smaller than these numbers indicate. Chris Johnson has not missed a game in his career, and Johnson's numbers are better than Mathews' when I fact in my injury rating. I prefer Mathews because of his huge potential, but I could justify taking Johnson ahead of Mathews for injury reasons. I think Johnson can bounce back, and there are reasons to believe that he will out-perform that 350-receiving-yards value. Johnson gains value if Locker starts. Draft Mathews, Johnson, or Rodgers based on your personal risk vs reward philosophy.


 6. Maurice Jones-Drew: (1,364 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 14.21 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Pocket Hercules is a fighter, but the Jaguars refuse to budge on their refusal to renegotiate his contract. There have been reports from numerous sources that MJD showed reduced ability towards the end of the 2011 season,and that is no surprise with his 343 carries last season. After being on the injury report all last season, basically, I really think Father Time is catching up to MJD, which is why he goes just below Johnson on this list. The Jaguars, who have absolutely nothing else going for them, are willing to risk MJD sitting out for the season (or at least training camp). That should tell you something.


7. Matt Forte: (1,150 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 500 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 13.06 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Forte, like so many other top running backs, is currently struggling with the Bears' front office. The Bears have mistreated Forte for the last two seasons, and he must be furious about the lack of commitment at this point. Forte has great value, even with the addition of Michael Bush, because of his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Forte has never had enough carries to make a huge impact in rushing yards or touchdowns, and that is unlikely to change with Michael Bush in town. Drop Forte a few spots if he holds out until training camp, but I believe he will be an RB1 in most leagues. 


8. Darren McFadden: (1,300 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 400 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 3 turnovers) 14.00 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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 McFadden will be winning you games until he goes on IR. His 79% injury rating means that he would typically be good for only 12-13 games each season, and his history suggests the same thing. Last season was a bit of a unique situation, especially since he seemed to be close to returning for multiple weeks, before ultimately missing the last 9 games of the seasons. This latest injury was a foot injury, which makes it an issue for any football player, but I would be willing to give McFadden a chance, especially in the third round. Michael Bush is gone, so McFadden should have free reign for as long as his body can handle it. I actually believe that McFadden can perform for most, if not all, of the season. Steven Jackson showed similar tendencies at the beginning of his career, but he has played all but two games in the last 3 seasons. Players can change.


9. Donald Brown: (1,260 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 175 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 0 turnovers) 12.72 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Joseph Addai is gone in Indianapolis. Delone Carter and Karim Deji each boasted sub-4.0 ypc averages last season, while Donald Brown had 4.8 yards per carry. He lead the Colts with 645 yards on 134 attempts. Say what you will about this prediction, but there is very little evidence to suggest that this situation won't unfold. My prediction suggests that Brown will get 280 carries at a 4.5 ypc, and this team should be in a running "mood" to help ease Andrew Luck into his first NFL season. Believe it or don't believe it, but you read it here first. There is no one else out there giving this guy a chance, but he only needs 17.5 carries per game to reach that 280 carries this season. Keep an eye on Donald Brown and be sure you are the guy who grabs him in the 11th or 12th round.


10. Michael Turner: (1,218 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 100 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 12.49 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Turner the Burner is not so much of a burner anymore, but the man knows how to find the end zone. If he gets banged up early in the season, you can bring those numbers down towards 1,000 rushing yards. He never had too much injury trouble last season and was extremely consistent, so I would feel confident drafting him. He is a big guy who has goal line duty for a team with an emerging offense. As an owner, I hope he gets more involved in the passing game this season. There is very little to suggest long-term injury issues, which gives me confidence in drafting him.


11.  Steven Jackson: (1,200 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 350 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 1.5 turnovers) 12.13points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Steven Jackson's career is going to go one of two directions this season. Either the passing game is finally going to step up and help alleviate some of the pressure he has been facing for the last 8 seasons, or he is going to get pounded into oblivion again. Either way, I believe these numbers will stand. He has never been able to get into the end zone often, but that is most directly related to the fact the his team can't get the ball close enough to the goal line for him to run the ball in. After three relatively injury-free seasons, I am ready to endorse Steven Jackson.


12. Jahvid Best(1,102 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 450 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 1 turnover) 12.20 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.

Jahvid Best has some serious injury history, so many people are going to be afraid of drafting him. I know the Lions have some strong depth at running back, but  Mikel Leshoure is going to be suspended for the first two games of the season so Best will have an opportunity to get himself entrenched into the Lions backfield. Best really shines catching the ball, and we can expect the Lions to throw the ball a lot this season. They love to use the screen pass to reduce pressure and force the linebackers and safeties to cheat up. It is easy to take all of the traditional advice that you read, but sometimes you need to take a step back and think about things realistically. LeShoure is coming off of an entire season away from the game and is starting the year with a suspension. Look at all of the data and make your own decisions, even if they don't match up with my opinions. Best could easily have 300 fewer rushing yards if he isn't the primary back.


 13. Marshawn Lynch: (1,200 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 170 receiving yards, 0.5 receiving touchdowns, and 2 turnovers) 11.88 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Marshawn Lynch will have trouble getting back to the same state of mind that he was in for the end of 2011. I still think he is going to be a great fantasy back, but I don't think he will be quite as dominant as he was last season. He should be a featured running back (unlike Best), but his ypc and receiving yards will be lower. I think you can go either way in this place, using Best, Lynch, and Jackson interchangeably to fit the team you are building. Lynch should be used consistently, but might not have the same spark that Best has. They are so close, in my eyes, that you can go with your gut...although Best will have a much lower draft position.


14. Trent Richardson: (1,178 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns, 200 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns, and 3 turnovers) 11.61 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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Most people insist that Richardson will be a top-10 running back this season, but that doesn't really make sense. Most rookie runners post sub-4.0 ypc averages during their first year in the league because they aren't used to the strength and quickness of NFL level linebackers. The above prediction is based on 300 attempts at 3.9 ypc. I know Trent Richardson is a very good prospect, but I have a hard time believing any is as good as Adrian Peterson. I'm not saying you shouldn't draft  Richardson, but make sure that you recognize the risk. The Browns are a terrible team, and teams are going to be able to focus completely on Richardson. Remember that 4 of these players will probably be injured and not finish the season, so Richardson COULD en up in the top-10...but it would surprise me. Call me a pessimist, but I am betting on horses I've see run before.


15. DeMarco Murray: (1,215 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 240 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, and 1 turnover) 11.59 points per game in standard NFL scoring leagues.
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I liked DeMarco Murray last season, but his injury concerns are serious. I wouldn't suggest drafting him without picking up a strong flex running back. He has huge potential, especially if the Cowboys can get their passing game going, but I don't think his body could carry this team. The worse the passing game is, the worse Murray will be this season. Be cautious when drafting him, and make sure they aren't going to create a Murray-Jones committee once the season starts. There will be more on Murray in the future, to be sure.


Final Thoughts:
There are a lot of great players who didn't make this list. Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson are two guys who I think will play extremely well next season, but am I ready to put all of my fantasy faith into those two runners? Suppose you were given two choices; Richardson and Murray or Peterson and Charles.Personally, I take Richardson and Murray because they aren't coming off ACL injuries. With training camps still multiple weeks away, this is a preliminary list. Injuries and updates will happen as the off-season progresses, and this list will be revised repeatedly. The running back list is probably the most likely to undergo serious renovation, since there are so many question marks at the position until after training camp. I will always admit when I am wrong, and if you can convince me I will give you credit. Post your own top 15 rankings below!