Welcome BACK fantasy footballers! Its the most wonderful time of the year again! DRAFT SEASON IS UPON US! Time to chain yourself to your most comfortable chair, queue up The League on Netflix and read countless “Stud or Dud” articles on this year’s talent pool. Instead of the usual brand of sleeper picks and break out stars, let’s observe some alternatives that you can pick later in your drafts and still snag your favorite go to players before your rival scoops them up because you over drafted. First priority, check your league scoring settings before making a draft strategy. Also, before anyone laughs out loud or curses my name, keep in mind I’m not saying these players are better than their counterpart, but taking an alternative player will allow you to draft stronger in certain positions while others in your league might pull the trigger too early.
Quarterbacks can make or break your fantasy season. However they are the MOST over drafted position. So many quarter backs could be had in rounds 3-4 of your draft while bolstering other positions. For instance, choose an above average QB and get stuck picking from the second crop of WRs/RB or you can secure 2 stud WRs and/or a RB and finding a serviceable QB in later rounds. So, drumroll, and let’s kick off the 2015 season!
Ryan Tannehill over Russel Wilson - Before you have your first WTF moment here, consider the fact that we’re talking fantasy football and not actual football here. While Wilson has had more victories on the field, wins don’t translate to fantasy sports. Again this choice is based on league scoring so choose at your own risk. Why Tannehill: he lead Wilson in Yards, Yards Per Game, Completions, Attempts, Touchdowns, and Fumbles. Why Wilson: Rush yards, Rushing TDs, Sacks, INTs. The question you have to ask in this scenario, do you think Tannehills TDs and yards will put up more points than Wilson’s rushing productivity? The INT ratio shouldn’t be enough to decide as they’re awfully close(Wilson 1 int every 64 attempts to Tannehill’s 1 every 50.) Tannehill threw for 4,000 yards while running for his life, but gets Brandon Albert back this season(7-3 with him in the lineup.) He struggled in the redzone, but has the benefit of pro bowler Jordan Cameron(6’5 245 pounds) over Charles Clay(6’3 235 pounds) to be a bigger redzone target.
Derek Carr over Eli Manning - While Eli and Odell Beckham Jr lit up the highlight real last year, keep in mind you’ll never know which Eli you’ll be getting(buyer beware.) You’ll start him week after week to watch him flop, then bench him to watch him light up your bench. Why Carr: On a bad Raiders team Carr quietly threw for 3,200 yards a respectable 21 TD to 12 INT ratio all without a #1 receiver(insert Amari Cooper). Oakland also beefed up their offensive line to give him more time to make better decisions. Why Manning: Eli statistically threw for more yards and TDs, he took more sacks and threw for more INTs. However, Manning’s receivers faded into the background once Beckham Jr shined(what happen to Larry Donnell.) Teams will have a whole offseason to figure out Beckham Jr but wont have much of Cooper.
Teddy Bridgwater over Collin Kaepernick - Collin Kaeprnick is another Qb that I’d stay away from. A season or two ago I’d buy in, but things in San Fran seem to be imploding. Bridgewater on the other hand showed signs of potential all while starting only 12 games last season. Why Bridgewater: While he trails Kaepernick statistcally, 4 less games for the stats to be that close is a giant red flag. Kap through for ONLY 400 more yards and 5 TDs and 2 less INTs in again 4 less starts. Bridgewater still has the playmaker in Patterson and now has a compliment in Mike Wallace, who style fits better in Minnesota’s offense than it did in Miami. He also gets the benefit of a run game, no matter the productivity of Adrian Peterson you always have to game plan for him. Why Kaepernick: He’s a play maker. He’ll extend drives, move the ball with his legs and make things happen on the ground. Kaepernick was the second best rusher on the team and lost Frank Gore their leading rusher. While Kaepernick is a playmaker I lean far far away from anything 49er this season.
Running back is going to be the toughest position to draft this season. So many teams opted to let players walk or traded them away and bought low in the free agent period that the position seems a little less valuable. So many fantasy games are won and lost by a few points that it seems that the running back might be the toughest decision you can make all draft. Guys like McCoy and Murray have found new homes so their success rate might be up in the air. Murray will probably split carries with Sproles for rest or an extra receiving option. McCoy will be splitting carries with what appears to be half the city of Buffalo. I’m sure he’ll get the bulk of the workload, but Fred Jackson will take some of the work and if they’re still on the roster Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown will play their roles as well. Oh and don’t forget they drafted a RB(Karlos Williams) in the 5th round. The good news is, new HC Rex Ryan promises to run til the wheels come off. Yes Running Back is a tough choice this season indeed.
Matt Forte over Adrian Peterson - While Peterson is the obvious fan/analysis favorite over the course of their careers, stay away from that mess unless you’re comfortable with the rest of your draft from that point out. Let the other managers over draft him then have to wait 15 or so more picks to get back to them in your snake draft. His productivity will easily pay off but can you really afford to jeopardize the rest of your draft while other positions are bleed dry? Why Forte: While he’s one of the top RBs in the league, he easily will fall back in the draft while managers poach the likes of Murray, McCoy and Lacy allowing you to fall back and pick him up either later in the round or early in the next round as your next pick swings back around. Here’s hoping you end up in that draft sweet spot of pick 5-8 in your 10-12 team leagues. Forte and TE Martellus Bennett will probably have to pick up some of the slack for losing Brandon Marshall. Sure they still have Alshon Jeffery and just drafted Kevin White, but how quickly can White make an impact while Cutler does his best Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Why Peterson: The choice here is easy when he’s playing and healthy he’s easily a top 5 running back. The question is can he pull a Ricky Williams and bounce right back after taking a year off. Yes, obviously, duh as the kids would say. When he’s on the field and making plays there aren’t many players you’re going to choose over him. If he falls in later picks sure jump all over the chance, but try to avoid salivating while picking him up picks 1-4. Remember a lot has changed in a year. With Bridgewater under center and finally two able bodied WRs they might not have to rely on the run so much. This could easily be the year he has his best season ever after a year off and help on offense, or this could be the year that the passing game shows how easily expendable the RB position is and he gets the Murray/McCoy treatment.
Cj Anderson Over Jamaal Charles - I’m sure this one will have you scratching your head, but realistically how much more productive was Charles than Anderson. Charles started 15 games to Anderson’s 7 to only gain just under 200 yards more and ONE more TD. Why Anderson: This year he could be a fantasy stud. With Denver losing so many pieces of that offense and Manning showing age late last season, he might be expected to do more. He fell just shy(151 yards) of that 1,000 yard mark while having at least 27 less tries than any of the RBs who hit the mark. At his 4.7 yards per carry last season it would only take him 31 more carries(roughly 2 per game) to get there. As a starting RB who is dropping weight to improve his speed, I doubt that should be a problem. Why Charles: History, man! Jamaal Charles may be on the downside of his career, but he’s been one of the few bright spots in the KC offense. I mean hey his 9 times in the endzone is better than all his WRs combined. Heck he had 5 receiving TDs that were still 5 more than his receivers! Make no mistake about it Charles will still be the highlight of that offense. However, Charles put the ball on the ground a total of 4 times last year to Anderson’s ZERO.
Jeremy Hill over Eddie Lacy - This may be another LOL moment for you, but take a look at stats. Lacy had 24 more attempts and only ran for 15 more yards and tied for TDs. Green Bay has a more consistent offense and should have been able to spread the ball more and open the run game up a bit more. To only get 15 more yards is Lacy worth missing out on another position? Why Hill: Sure he may be splitting carries with Giovani Bernard but he ran away with the running back position. 1112 yards, 9 tds lead the team while Bernard only had 600+. The Bengals have Aj Green and Mohamed Sanu to spread the field and open the run game, but inconsistent play by Andy Dalton keeps the rushing attack on its toes. Expect more out of Hill this season. Why Eddie Lacy: It’s Green Bay, and it’s COLD. Later in the season Lacy becomes a work horse carrying the ball in the rougher of weather. Green Bay doesn’t have the luxury of a cushy domed stadium like some of the other teams. They play real, rugged, manly, cold football. That being the case, the passing game becomes a little bit tougher to run. Between the snow and cold it’s bring your “A game” or cost your team the game. Later in the season Lacy is the obvious choice for the amount of carries he’ll get, but in terms of the entire season Hill might be the better option.
WR - With way too many options in the Wide Receiver position, there could be a whole article written about comparing each WR. Teams have 3 or 4 or 5 options while others struggle to field a true #1 receiver with that being said i’ll break down a few options who might be options in later rounds in deeper leagues
Devante Adams - while he didn’t much in the regular season(just shy of 450 yards) he started to build chemistry with Rogers late in the season. Week 13 against the Pats, 6 catches 121 yards, 8 catches 124 yards in the post season. While he might be a gamble early on, teams may or not pay enough attention to him with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to worry about.
Mike Wallace - Does anyone really think he’ll do much better in Minnesota? No, they sure don’t! That’s why stealing him in later rounds will pay off. He goes back to the same style of football he played in Pittsburg. Stretching the field running his strength patterns and he’ll do so opposite a guy who can do the same. His downside in Miami was he never fit that style offense. Having to run short routes, adjusting to throws, running comebacks is not his game. Deep patterns, stretching the field and running under passes mid stride is Mike Wallace football. Between he and Patterson, they’ll stretch the field to compliment Peterson forcing teams to crowd the box. He still caught 10 TD passes last season tying a career high.
John Brown - Another WR who faded as the season went on. Getting Carson Palmer back will easily provide stability to that team. Unimpressive rookie season but plenty of upside. The Cardinals struggled to get the ball in the endzone but their defense carried them to the playoffs. He’ll go over looked in many leagues and easily could be a steal if you can afford to push him into late rounds.
Jarvis Landry - After last season of him becoming Tannehill’s favorite new toy it’s hard for me to put him on this list. Easily one of the top rookies last season. The only reason remotely close for putting him on the list is the fact Miami’s talent pool is leaps and bounds deeper than last season. With the addition of Stills, Jennings, Parker, and Cameron who will he throw to first and that’s just including who’s expected to be on the field. What about last years pick Matt Hazel or 2012 pick Rashard Mathews? Or LaRon Byrd? Or Dion Sims who showed flash filling in for Clay while he was hurt? What happens if any of those guys have an amazing offseason and make the team? Who do they spread the ball to. One can only assume they’ll have to make the team as a return specialist in order to earn a roster spot, which will take away from Landry’s return duties. On paper this team is way too deep and can’t all catch the ball.
Jeremy Maclin - The fact that NO WR for KC last season should be enough of a red flag for you. Of course Maclin is an upgrade over most of their receiving core, he’s still catching passes from Alex Smith. While Smith keeps the Chiefs winning, he’s more of a game manager than a quarterback. He might not lose a lot of games, but he won’t do a lot to win them for the team either. Having a target like Maclin will easily change the fortunes of your team. Unfortunately, I don’t see him being the piece that adds the boost in productivity the team needs to be successful. I see a lot more of the same out of the Chiefs this season. I doubt he’ll have the same success he did with the Eagles.
Sammy Watkins - Another person who is hard to put on the list after the last season. However as I said earlier. Rex Ryan plans to run A LOT. Couple that with the fact that Buffalo didn’t do much to improve their QB this offseason, they may have actually gotten worse, and he may not have that kind of success. Matt Cassel has just enough juice to have a good season to sign a decent contract that he fades. Ej Manuel has been Mr. Inconsistency at best, and while Rex Ryan might know Matt Sims from his days in New York, if you can’t beat out a washed up Mike Vick or struggling Geno Smith, you’re probably not taking the reigns in Buffalo any time soon.
Tight Ends are my favorite position! They’re a total gamble and rely solely on their wide receivers being awful. Unless you’re the New England Patriots, they’re hardly a focal point in most offenses. That’s not to say they don’t serve a purpose and statistically they’ll provide points that can sway a loss to a win. Tight Ends will always be a hit or miss position
Jordan Cameron Over Charles Clay - Cameron being Clay’s replacement in Miami has tremendous upside. While Clay was hurt most of last season, his game against the Vikes still showed that he was one of Tannehill’s favorite targets, leading the team with 114 yards. Why Cameron: I know what you’re thinking. With everything I pointed out about the Miami Dolphins receivers earlier, why take Cameron? Easy! While He may have been battling injuries throughout last season, people often forget he’s one season away from being a Pro Bowler. Take into account Miami struggled mightily in the red zone last year and he’s an instant upgrade. Even if he doesn’t see as many catches or yards throughout the game, he will be a big part of their red zone attack. Touchdowns equal more points than yards in almost every league so snag him in late rounds or deep leagues. Why Clay: Charles Clay, when healthy, is a game changer. He might not put the kind of productivity as the leagues top tier TEs(even though he got paid like one) but he will make plays that keep the chains moving, or get a big gain down the stretch, or even find ways to get across the goal line. He’s playing for a very weak Buffalo receiving game and an offense that plans to be run heavy. Short quick passes will be the name of Buffalo’s game which will cause players like Clay to flourish. The deciding factor between the two is simple. While Clay may occasionally get them in the endzone, he often blends in inside the 20. The Dolphins struggled passing inside the red zone and so will the Bills.
Charles Clay over Larry Donnell - While Donnell looked early in the season to be a big play maker he went largely unnoticed once OBJ became a one man show. The fact he didn’t make a full season out of it scares me off. True Clay might not get you across the goal line as often, but statistically he’ll make more of an impact than his NYG counterpart. With NY betting so heavily on Beckham Jr expect Donnell’s productivity to keep decreasing.
Flex position is just as bad as the WR position. Which combo do you put in? The extra RB? the extra WR or in some leagues the extra TE?(who are you kidding no one uses an extra TE!) Instead of breaking down combo after combo, here’s a few quick tips on your FLEX position. ONE, don’t keep it the same week after week. It’s called a FLEX for a reason. It’s supposed to allow you more flexibility with your roster. TWO, play your match-ups. Not only should you be thinking about what player will tip the scales in your favor against your opponent, keep up with your Flex’s counter part. Sure they’re playing a team that might be struggling on defense so it seems like a smart choice, but New England might win games against the Jets but are Edelman or LaFell going to have big games against Revis and Cromartie? Probably not. The most often factor forgotten in the Flex position is game conditions. Chances are speedy receivers aren’t going deep down the field in the hot Miami sun in September as often, or catching as many passes in the blistering cold of Buffalo or Pittsburg or Green Bay. As dumb as it may sound, your flex position could often times decide the game for you. Something as small as paying attention to climate and how a team may game plan can make or break your week!
Oh Defense! You’re one of the most important parts of football, and one of the least respected in Fantasy Football. Everyone wants to throw their eggs into one basket betting on teams like Seattle or Detroit to be their first choice on draft day. So many good defenses get over looked by terrible play by the offense. I won a few leagues last year on the strength of Buffalo’s defense. Too often we go with the obvious choices because we don’t pay enough attention to the other side of the ball to see who’s defense got stronger in the offseason.
Any team from the AFC East. Did anyone witness the same offseason I did? Most of the offseason moves in the AFC East were on the defensive side of the ball. No wonder Buffalo has a million running backs, to try and throw as many looks at opposing defenses as they can. Miami sold their first born to Ndamukong Suh for his services, the Jets signed every defensive back available and let’s not forget the Super Bowl champs in this discussion. Clearly that division is going to be won on the strength of defense.
Detroit Lions - The Miami Dolphins are like the Detroit Lions 2.0. They’ve got Louis Delmas, Ndamukong Suh and CJ Mosely from them over the past few seasons. Losing Suh alone is enough to hurt a team, but CJ Mosely was a great fill in as well. Sure they signed Hiloti Ngata but I don’t think that will be enough. Detroit struggles to win games and they just lost a huge part of their defense.
Arizona Cardinals - Some times teams just catch you on a hunch. Arizona could be a very well have the same success as they did last season. I think losing Cromartie will take a toll on this defense. Sure one guy doesn’t make a whole team, they were in the or bottom 10 for yards allowed and tackles, 31st in fumbles caused, top 10 for INTs but losing Cromartie might hurt that.
The best advice I can give for drafting a kicker is … DON’T. Unless you can get the top kicker in the league, waisting a draft pick isn’t worth it. More games will be decided by your FLEX position than your kicker. Why miss out on getting that one sleeper pick by choosing a kicker too early. Even if your kicker is your last pick, depending on how deep your league is, there still may be great picks on the board that you’ll gamble on waiver priority to get. Even though kickers can very well be deciding factors in your match up that week, kicker is the least dependable of all the fantasy positions. If you’re in a 16 team league, drafting a kicker might not hurt you as bad, but a 10-12 team league usually has decent guys on the board still. Kicker is just another position that you can sub in and out based off of match ups and potential to score by the team they face that week. Sure PATs get you points but if your team scores a ton getting FG points is less likely. Will the team thats struggling to score even get you in FG range that week? I’d rather gamble on a kicker in FA then miss out on a sleeper that can change my whole season. I’ve won plenty of games without even having a kicker in place.
So fantasy players, who makes your list of booms or busts? Stay tuned throughout the season to see how right or wrong I am, weekly coverage on the waiver wire, and overall general discussion on who to start and who to sit. Until week one, HAPPY DRAFTING!
*Disclaimer* - Before the urge to send angry emails and curse me to the heavens, keep in mind that the NFL is an “Any given Sunday” league. At any given point/season a player can break out or slump. The views expressed here are are my opinions and are not an exact science. Good LUCK and Happy Football Season!