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Fantasy Football QB Rankings for 2011: Top 15 plus the “Stay Aways”

August 27, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Well running backs, it was a good run (no pun intended).  For over ten years, you have been fantasy football gold.  The old cliche was that when draft night came, it was best to draft running backs early and often.

However, with the arrival of platoons in the backfield, a greater emphasis on passing, and unbelievable rule adjustments that make it practically impossible to defend the pass, running backs just aren’t as valuable as they once were.

In fact, one could easily make the case that there are several players of other positions who are more valuable than even the top running backs.  This has never been more the case than it is this year at the Quarterback position.

But which quarterbacks should you be targeting in your drafts or when the free weekly FanDuel beat-the-expert contest starts?  And which ones should you stay away from?

Just like I did earlier this week in ranking the running backs, here are my top 15 fantasy QBs for 2011, as well as my suggestions for who you should stay away from.

fantasy football qb rankings 2011 - quarterbacks

Fantasy Football QB Rankings: The “Stay Aways”

Mark Sanchez

The pretty boy is probably the most over-rated player in all of sports besides Ryan Howard.  Don’t believe me?  Check out his third down numbers and his Red Zone numbers. I mean really, the guy is an insult to other QBs who have been labeled “game managers.”  He might prove me wrong this year…but I doubt it.

Joe Flacco

Joe’s the classic guy that’s “better in real life than he is in fantasy”…only he’s not even that good in real life.

Matt Cassel

The former Brady understudy has loads of potential but will be saddled by his coach’s conservative philosophy, and when you can hand it off to Jamaal Charles, that’s not a bad philosophy.

fantasy-football-qb-rankings-2011-kyle-ortonKyle Orton

There’s just way too much going on in Denver for anyone to succeed, let alone a guy named Kyle Orton.

Cam Newton

Repeat after me: “Just…say…no.”

Kevin Kolb

He might be a good guy to pick up and stash on the bench.  Besides rookies, Kolb might be affected by the lockout more than any other player.  Six weeks in though, Kolb could very well be an enticing option, especially considering the fact that he gets to throw the ball to the best WR in the game.

Just don’t expect greatness from him early on, as he will be adjusting to a new team, a new climate (don’t discount this), and a new playbook.

Fantasy Football QB Rankings: The Top 15

15. Matthew Stafford

To be honest, if you think Stafford is in your top fifteen, he might as well be in your top ten.  He might have the strongest arm in the NFL, he plays indoors, and oh yeah, he gets to throw to a guy named Calvin Johnson every game. Year three is often a coming out party of sorts for young quarterbacks, and if anyone is capable of making the leap, it’s Stafford.

Obviously though, there’s the whole injury thing.  That’s the only reason he slides to #15 on my board.  Unless you have a really good feeling about him, I would probably lay off of him until he slides past #12; but after that, he would represent great value…especially if he finally stays healthy.

14. Josh Freeman

I think that Freeman is going to have a good year and that he may end up being the next Ben Roethlisberger.  If that does happen, Tampa Bay fans should be thrilled.  However, fantasy owners should remain wary.

Freeman didn’t have a single 300-yard game last year, and even though he has some talented receivers, the Bucs will probably rely a lot on the running game yet again in 2011.

fantasy-football-qb-rankings-2011-sam-bradford-rams13. Sam Bradford

In 2012, Bradford could possibly be in the top five.  To me, though, he’s still a year away from becoming a fantasy superstar.  Pounce on him if he slides past #10, but don’t take him before too many of these other guys.

12. Matt Ryan

Probably the greatest “better in real life than fantasy” player I have ever seen.  I don’t know if that’s a compliment, or an insult, but either way, be careful with Ryan when it comes to drafting your team.

On the one hand, if Julio Jones is a star the Falcons could possibly have the best 1-2 punch at WR in the entire NFL.  On the other hand, Michael Turner gets tons of looks in the red zone, and Tony Gonzalez is no longer the TD-threat he once was.

At the end of the day, how you feel about Ryan probably has a lot to do with how you feel about Julio Jones.  If you love the Alabama wide-out, you should probably take Ryan in the top seven.  If not, he’s probably a stay away until later rounds.

11. Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger won’t kill you by any means, but he probably won’t single-handedly win any weeks for you either.  If Rashard Mendenhall gets hurt, Big Ben might shoulder a little more of the load.  If not, the Steelers will remain what they have always been – a team that kills you with defense, a running game, and staggeringly boring consistency.

10. Eli Manning

I think Manning will have a great year this year.  Hakeem Nicks is one of the best WRs in the league, and even though Steve Smith is off to Philadelphia, Mario Manningham emerged last year as a consistent #2 threat.  Add to that the fact that their running game is not what it once was, and that they will probably play at least four high scoring games against Philadelphia and Dallas, among others, and the elements are there for another strong statistical season for Peyton’s brother.

Eli will not be an exciting pick, but he’s good to throw for at least 4,000 yards and around 30 TDs.  If he drops his rather flukey INT total from last year, you will be looking at a top 8 QB, easily.

9. Matt Schaub

Two words:  Andre Johnson.

fantasy-football-qb-rankings-2011-jay-cutler8. Jay Cutler

Don’t laugh.  He’s in year two of the Mike Martz era, and he actually has a few more options to throw the ball to this year.  If the Bears can keep him off the turf (52 sacks last year), Cutler should throw for 4,000 yards and 25 TDs like he did as a rookie.

7. Tony Romo

I don’t really know what to say about Romo.  I think he’s an incredibly overrated QB in real life, but for one reason or another he always puts up great numbers in fantasy land.  To me, he’s the classic guy that you pick, take your ribbing from the other guys for drafting him, and then rub it in as much as possible when he’s the reason for you beating them in week eight.

6. Michael Vick

Let’s just say I’m not drinking the Vick Kool-aid.  Many of you probably completely disagree with me, so I will just present three stone-cold facts with no emotion that you can’t argue with:

  • He is a lock to miss games at some point this year.  This is a given.
  • He has looked terrible in preseason so far.  Admittedly, it’s a small sample-size, but admit it: it has you worried at least a little bit.  The QB position is a tricky one – you can never stop working at it.  Vick has unlimited potential, and last season he really put in the work that was necessary to succeed.  But he has a track record of being over-confident in the past.  If he has taken an extended amount of time off this off-season, he could definitely have a regression in 2011.
  • He played awful down the stretch last year.  Over his final four games (including the playoffs) last season, he only finished with 7 TDs and 5 INTs.  He also failed to break 300 yards once.  It’s possible that he was playing injured.  It’s possible that the other teams started to figure out.  It’s possible that’s he’s just not as good as we thought.  If any of those statements are true, you should stay away from Vick as the #1 guy.

All of that said, if he plays to his potential, he could single-handedly win your league.  If you have a great feeling about him, you might pick him first overall.  If you don’t, I would suggest that you stay away.

5. Peyton Manning

His neck absolutely does present a scary issue, and he could very well get off to a slow start.  But don’t worry.  Just be patient.  If he plays 16 games and doesn’t finish the year with 4,000 yards and 28 TDs, you can email this article to me every day for the rest of my life.

4. Aaron Rodgers

I’m high on A-Rodg this year, but not as high as everyone else.  I think the Packers will be playing a LOT more games from ahead this year, and Ryan Grant is back to anchor the running game.  Remember: even with the high scoring games and lack of a running game last year, Rodgers didn’t throw for 4,000 yards or 30 TDs.

I definitely think that 2011 will be the year when we all officially cast him into the “best QB in the game” role, but I don’t think his fantasy numbers will be as good as the next three guys.

3. Drew Brees

Put it this way: he passed for over 4,600 yards and 33 TDs last year…and people were disappointed.  You could easily make the case that he should be #1.

2. Tom Brady

Remember 2007 when the Pats were coming off a disappointing season and Belichek and Brady appeared to be mad at the world as they ran up the score in every games and broke all sorts of passing records?  Well, I have a feeling that it’s about to happen again. I mean, good grief, they have been running up scores in the PRE-SEASON.

Brady also has great weapons again.  His tight ends are among the best in the game, Wes Welker is back, and the newly acquired Chad Ochocinco will help out more than you think, especially in the end zone.

Add it all up, and I think Brady could have a frighteningly good season, as if last year’s 36-4 TD to INT ratio wasn’t good enough.

1. Philip Rivers

Quite frankly, he’s the best fantasy QB there is.

Last year, he threw for 4,700 yards and 30 TDs…WITHOUT his #1 threat on the outside.  He also throws the best deep ball in the game, and if your league has any sort of “big play bonus” Rivers is a lock to lead that category this season.

Rivers may not be the best pure QB in the game, and he may be a huge jerk that’s no fun to have on your team, but if he’s your fantasy QB in 2011, you will learn to love him, and may end up having to send him a letter of appreciation when he wins you your league.

Jon Washburn @The_Dr_Twitch

Podcast: Fantasy Football 2011 Sleepers, Busts, Draft Strategy Talk, and Reader Questions

August 26, 2011 by · Comments Off 

In the latest MSF podcast, our first on the subject of fantasy football, I help prepare you for your fantasy football drafts by highlighting a number of players who are being under- and over-valued heading into the 2011 season.

I also also talk general draft strategy, outline how MSF’s fantasy football coverage will go this season, and answer reader questions.

Click play on the player below to listen right now: (See below for subscription options.)


Music credit: “What You Know” by Two Door Cinema Club

In the podcast I mention FanDuel’s free weekly “beat the experts” competition, which we will be participating in. I’ll have the link for our specific MSF league soon, but in the meantime go get yourself signed up. It will be fun, and there are great prizes on the line.

fantasy football podcast strategy advice sleepers busts

Among the specific names and topics discussed in this episode of the podcast:

  • Why Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick are not good values in Round 1.
  • Why you need to wary of taking Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew in the top 5.
  • Why Knowshon Moreno and Felix Jones are guys to target well before their current values and draft positions.
  • Why especially this year it’s okay to wait until the 5th or 6th round to draft your QB, where guys like Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan will likely be available.
  • Why Austin Collie is a guy to take a flier on in the mid to late rounds of your draft.
  • And much, much more.

How to subscribe to and follow the MSF Podcast so you never miss an episode:

Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Don’t Be Lured By Sleepers In 2011

August 25, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Everyone loves to draft a guy that he thinks is a sleeper.  Why?  Because it’s our way of proving to everyone else that, “Yes, I know more than you.” Beyond that, it’s simply quite fun to draft a guy that surprises everybody else.

Like I said before, it’s not that fun to draft Ichiro.  You know exactly what you’re getting.  (Or at least you used to know, before this season.) On the flip side, thinking about Jason Heyward’s upside gives us all visions of glory.

But when it comes to drafting running backs for your fantasy football team this year, save the “sleepers” for other positions.

Assuming you are in a 10 to 12 team league, or a fun weekly challenge game like FanDuel, and you have to start at least two running backs, it won’t be good enough to simply know which guys are in the top five.

Here are my top 25 running backs for 2011, along with some guys I think you should stay away from. The latter group is who we’ll start with.

fantasy football running back rankings and sleepers

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: The “Stay-Aways”

  • Mark Ingram – The Lockout will hinder rookies greatly this year.  The rookie running back slump continues, even though the kid has unreal talent.
  • Joseph Addai – As a Colts fan, I think I speak for everyone else in Hoosier Country when I say, “You just can’t trust this guy.”
  • All Other Colts’ Running Backs – If you need me to explain this one, you have probably never played fantasy football.
  • Jonathan Stewart – Just a hunch, but I think the Panthers will try to justify spending a billion dollars on DeAngelo Williams…if only for this season.
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Also a hunch, but I have a feeling that the Patriots are going to be high-flying, just like they were in their 18-1 season.  Expect a lot of passing, yards, and scoring…through the air.
  • CJ Spiller – At this point, he’s destined to become a homeless man’s Devin Hester.  And in a league that no longer has kickoff returns, that isn’t a good thing.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – Eight steps beyond washed-up at this point.
  • Daniel Thomas – See Ingram, Mark.
  • Fred Jackson – I just don’t see the Bills leading a lot of games this year.  Their running game and Mr. Jackson will suffer.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #21-25

shonn-greene-fantasy-football-rb-rankingsThe boring guys who will win you games

  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Ryan Mathews
  • Mike Tolbert
  • Ahmad Bradshaw
  • Shonn Greene

Ironically, these guys are all pretty similar.  Most of them like to pound it inside and eat up short yardage situations.  Expect all of them to be able to punch it into the end zone for you as well.

Of these five, Greene has the most upside since the Jets will likely be good, but Sanchez will still struggle, causing them to rely heavily on their defense and running game.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #16-20

Your “all or nothing” guys…that will win you weeks, and break your heart.

  • Jahvid Best
  • Felix Jones
  • Knowshon Moreno
  • Ryan Grant
  • LeGarrette Blount

These guys are all on the same level to me. 

Best intrigues me the most because I feel that he has the most raw talent of the bunch…but as we are all well-aware, his injury history will scare many away.

I really think this could be Knowshon Moreno’s breakout year, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he ended up as a top seven running back…though the QB situation will make his job that much more difficult.

Beware of Ryan Grant.  The Packers’ RB was injured for most of last season, and he will come back hungry, ready to show everyone that he is, in fact, very important to his team’s success.  Also, it’s probably a safe bet that Green Bay will be winning a lot of games this year, and Grant will be benefactor #1.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #11-15

fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-peyton-hillisIt’s just not fun taking them, but you can’t let them slide past you.

  • DeAngelo Williams
  • Frank Gore
  • Matt Forte
  • Steven Jackson
  • Peyton Hillis

None of these guys will earn you high praise on draft night, but they will all give you an easy 1000 yards, 8 TDs, and receptions out of the backfield.  Again, the lockout will affect a lot of young guys, players on new teams, and players with new coaches.

While Williams, Gore, and Hillis are all playing for new coaches, they will definitely be one of the foundational elements that their coaches are hoping to build upon.  Gore, Forte, and Jackson are about as “Ichiro-esque” as you can get.  Barring injury, expect solid numbers from them across the board.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #10

I have to place him this high, but I’m scared to death of him myself.

  • Michael Turner

It’s possible he’s past his prime.  It’s possible that all of the carries the past few years have killed his legs.  It’s possible that Atlanta will become more of a passing team this year.  It’s also possible he has one more year left in him.

This is all I know.  Someone will draft Michael Turner in your league this year, and it will either make, or break his team.  I am scared to death of him, but I also know he could have one more good year left in him, and I understand he could very well come back to bite me.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #8-9

“Old Reliables” that may not be so reliable.

  • Maurice Jones-Drew
  • Rashard Mendenhall.

If healthy, both Jones-Drew and Mendenhall will easily be top-ten RBs.  Both of their teams love to grind it out, and both guys can do the job.  However, Mendenhall has had fumble issues in the past, and just how long can a guy as small as Mo-Joe stay healthy?

If it were me, and I drafted either of these guys early, I would take his backup late in the draft – especially if I had Mo-Jo, because I think Rashard Jennings could really surprise some people this year, if given the opportunity.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #6-7

The new kids on the McBlock.

  • Darren McFadden
  • LeSean McCoy

These two guys have more “home-run” ability than anyone besides Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and maybe Adrian Peterson.

McCoy will be playing in a high-powered offense that has surprisingly less weapons than you thought.  Seriously, they have Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and…yeah you thought they had more, didn’t you?  Well, McCoy will surprise a lot of people this year that didn’t take notice before.  He is one of the smoothest runners in the game, and can also catch the ball out of the backfield.

McFadden, on the other hand, finally seemed to figure it out last year.  If he is finally putting the work in to match his unbelievable talent, the Raiders could have a top five fantasy player on their team, easily.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #4-5

Don’t be disappointed with these guys.

  • Ray Rice
  • Arian Foster

We have all been there.  We get the fourth pick in the draft, and we love three guys.  Obviously, those three guys go 1-2-3, and we are stuck fuming to ourselves for the next four picks.  On draft day, don’t be “disappointed” with Rice or Foster.

Sure, maybe the next three guys will have marginally better years, but the fact is that in most seasons the difference between guys 1-3 and 4-6 isn’t really that big.  Be happy with either of these guys, and then focus on building out the rest of your team.  Nobody has ever won a fantasy league with just one guy, but plenty have lost it by not concentrating for half of their draft.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #2-3

The enigmas

  • Chris Johnson
  • Jamaal Charles

I think these are the only two guys in the league that could rush for 2000 yards.  They could also both get injured or, in CJ’s case, randomly miss a lot of time because of contract issues.  Either way, if things go well, Charles and Johnson will make a LOT of fantasy owners happy with their home run ability coupled with their coach’s love for the running game.

Fantasy Football RB Rankings: #1

Old Faithful

  • Adrian Peterson

In my opinion, he’s still the best in the biz.

adrian-peterson-fantasy

Jon Washburn @The_Dr_Twitch

Fantasy Football Strategy Advice: Three Quick Draft Rules to Remember

August 24, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Yesterday Jon posted his three fantasy football strategy tips everyone should abide by. As he noted, we will be working together on a weekly, free challenge brought to you by FanDuel where you can compete against us and others for prizes.

Here are my three quick fantasy football strategy tips for your draft to go along with Jon’s as we try to do everything we can to help you win your league.

1. Stick to your guns

If there is a guy you like, go get him. Simple as that.

sam-bradford-ramsI’m not saying take Plaxico Burress in the 4th round (which happened in one of my leagues the other night), but don’t be afraid to take a guy like Sam Bradford a round or two early. I myself took Bradford  in the 7th round. Was it a reach? Probably, but he’s my guy this year. I will live or die by this pick, and I’m fine with that.

Don’t pay too much attention to “expert rankings” as they are all based on projections. I draft on my gut and who I  think will have a good year. Don’t feel you have to draft Chris Johnson if he’s the best left available. Take Shady McCoy or Mike Vick if you like them better.

Taking the obvious choice is boring, and no one wants a boring team. Having Eli Manning and Joseph Addai is boring. Having Mike Vick and Jamaal Charles isn’t. The biggest part of fantasy is liking your team.

2. Don’t shortchange yourself

Last year I played in a league with 2 RB slots, 3 WRs, and 2 flex positions. That means I needed at least 7 RB or WR available on a weekly basis. As everyone knows, running backs are the most important players in fantasy football.

If you find yourself in a league with massive amounts of players starting each week, stock up on running backs. Force your opponents to start five receivers, or at the very least have them come crawling to you in Week 8 when half their team has a bye and they need a running back.

Instead of taking the Raiders D/ST as a backup on your bench, or wasting a late round pick on Greg Olsen, take a flyer on a guy like Thomas Jones or Montario Hardesty. Don’t be the guy trading away your best player for a backup running back. Be the guy who has the power. You’ll benefit from it later.

3. Know your leagues rules

Look to see if you are in a points-per-catch league, because if you are, everything changes. Guys like Wes Welker and Jason Witten get drafted higher than you would expect.

It also makes the running back position even more critical. Shady McCoy had almost 80 catches last year. Combine that with 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he could be this year’s top dog in a PPC format.

Contact the Author twitter.com/drewlange d.lange9@gmail.com

Fantasy Football Strategy Advice: Three Rules to Abide By

August 23, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Later in the week, “Fantasy Football Week” here at Midwest Sports Fans, I will help you analyze every position individually; but first, let’s take a look at fantasy football strategy from a macro view.

Whether you are doing a head-to-head league with a snake-style draft, an auction-based keeper league, or one of the free weekly FanDuel challenges that Drew and I will doing this season, here is some strategy advice that will serve you well this season in the form of three rules to make sure you abide by during the 2011 season.

1. Follow expert advice – but only on players of whom you have no opinion.

People like fantasy sports for a variety of different reasons, but I honestly think the biggest one is the control factor.  As fans, we spend an almost appalling amount of time following something – sports – of which we have almost no control over.

Fantasy sports are different.

Maybe you are a Bengals fan, and you know your team is going to be dreadful this year.  That’s ok.  You can still draft your boy AJ Green, but on YOUR team, you have Peyton Manning throwing the passes.

We love to have control over a team, and every time one of our players does well, it gives us a little dose of pride to share with our friends.

Sometimes, however, our desire to win causes us to give up some of our control, and we start listening to the experts a little too much.  I’m sure all of us, at one time or another, has sat a guy we felt good about in order to follow the “expert’s advice”…and it ended up costing us.  (I won’t bother boring you with one of my fantasy heartbreak stories – which we all have and like to share even though nobody REALLY cares about them – but let’s just say I once needed Todd Heap to score ONE MEASLY point on a Monday Night game…and the experts said he was a lock for double digits…and he didn’t come through.)

Expert advice can be very valuable and helpful.  I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to not have a real job and get to follow fantasy sports for a living like these guys?  Of course it would.  But don’t let them talk you out of something that you think is true.

adrian-peterson-fantasyThis year, the experts are saying that Arian Foster will score more points than Adrian Peterson.  I personally think that’s ridiculous.  Peterson will carry a large workload, and I actually think that Donovan McNabb will HELP him this year, considering Brett Favre’s corpse was manning the QB position last year.

If I have the first pick in the draft, I don’t care what the experts say; I’m taking Peterson (or even Chris Johnson or Jamaal Charles for that matter) and laughing my way through the rest of the draft.  Why?  Because I have a strong opinion about it already.  If Foster really is the best player this year, the I can blame myself and admit to everyone I was wrong.  But I don’t think I’m wrong.

However, let’s say it’s late in the draft and I need a TE.  Gates, Clark, Davis, Witten, and Miller are off the board.  How much do I REALLY know about the current Tight End crop?  Should I try to get one of the Patriots’ young guys, even though they will cannibalize eachother all year?  Is Tony Gonzalez still a viable option?  Is Chris Cooley healthy?  Is Todd Heap alive?  Again, we don’t have the luxury of following this full time, so this situation is where the “experts” can really help us.

fantasy football strategy advice

2. This year, the guy with the most boring team may very well win it all.

Let’s just call this the “Ichiro Syndrome.”

Every single year, fantasy baseball owners try to find the “next great outfielder.”  Ichiro, invariably, ends up falling through the cracks.  In one of my drafts this year, Jason Heyward went in front of him.  Why?  Because it’s exciting to draft Jason Heyward.  When you draft him, your buddies will give you a slap on the back, and tell you, “Nice pick.  Dude is gonna be a baller.” And they are right.  He WILL be a great player some day.

On the flip side, for the past five years you have known what you are getting when you draft Ichiro.  You can basically pencil him in to lead the league batting average and hits while contributing nicely in steals and a few other categories.  He won’t strikeout, and he won’t make errors.  But, quite frankly, it’s not that fun to draft him on draft day.

(Granted, Ichiro has finally started to show signs of age and wear & tear this year, but the “Ichiro Syndrome” has worked out for over half a decade, so bear with me; you know what I’m getting at.)

Be warned.  The lockout is going to affect things dramatically this year.

First of all, we can probably expect the rookies to have a below average year (for normal standards).  It’s already tough enough for most rookies to learn the playbook, win playing time, AND stay healthy.  This year, they lost four valuable months of knowledge, practice, and team exercise.

Unless you really think that Julio Jones is going to thrive as the 3rd or 4th option on the Falcons (not ruling this out…remember, only follow the experts in areas you have no clue about), it is probably safer to draft Wes Welker.  Will people rave about Welker when you draft him?  Of course not.  But he’s still Tom Brady’s favorite target, and if he’s healthy you know he’s a lock to catch 100 balls and get you good numbers in yards and TDs.

kevin-kolb-arizonaAnother group of players that the lockout will definitely affect is the newcomers.  Will Sidney Rice, Kevin Kolb, and Braylon Edwards be good fantasy options in the future?  It’s definitely possible.  But they, like the rookies, have been handicapped severely by the lockout.

Even though Kolb will be throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, how long will it take him to learn the offense?  And is he even good?  Again, it might be fun on draft day to take Kolb and tell your friends, “I got a steal!  This guy is going to bust out this year!”  But the guy that drafted Eli Manning behind you will be quite happy.  And he will probably end up beating you as well.

3. Nobody will remember if you finish second.

Let’s just be honest: when it comes to fantasy, there is the guy that finished in first place…and everybody else. I have played in I don’t know how many fantasy leagues over the years, but I can only distinctly remember three fantasy football teams I had. Obviously, they were my three teams that won it all. I know I have finished second before, and I know I have finished near the bottom before as well, but I couldn’t differentiate any of those seasons if you were holding a gun to my head.

While it’s true that the guy with the most boring team could win it all this year, don’t be afraid to take a couple of risks. It’s possible that Michael Vick could destroy your team this season. But he could also singlehandedly win it all as well.

In the end, our teams’ respective plights really comes down to one or two picks. If we hit a home run with them, we could very well be hoisting up the trophy at the end of the season.

At the end of the season, only one guy can win.  Trust me, it’s not fun AT ALL to finish second because you didn’t take enough risks.  When it comes to Fantasy Sports, it really is time to do what they say: “Go big, or go home.”

Jon Washburn @The_Dr_Twitch

Scorned dog illustrates the #1 rule for fantasy football players

August 19, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Fantasy Football Rule #1: Don’t let personal feelings, team allegiances, and other personal biases influence your draft strategy or lineup selection.

Clearly, the scorned dog on the left understands this.

Image source: Imgur via Reddit

Of course, three of these four dogs are not illustrating fantasy football rule #2: don’t reach for QBs early in Round 1. Unless their league settings count passing TDs for 8 points, I’d be more offended by Rodgers and Brady going with picks 1 and 3 than a dog looking past the Vick hate so obviously expected of him.

Fantasy football dilemma: should this outrageous (but hilarious) trade be allowed to stand?

August 10, 2011 by · Comments Off 

While browsing Reddit, I came across the following screenshot with the title “Damn, someone got screwed big time.

Now, upon first glance you might think that Adrian Peterson for Steven Jackson is a pretty fair deal. You might even think the guy getting Peterson is the big winner because AD typically scores more touchdowns.

But look closer. See the “SEA” next to Peterson’s name? That’s right folks: someone finagled Steven Jackson for the other Adrian Peterson. This one. The one who carried the ball zero times last year.

Obviously this is about as lopsided as fantasy trades get. So my question to all you fantasy football commissioners and players out there is this:

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Personally, I say hell yes this trade should stand.

I commented on the Reddit post where I originally found this. Here is what I said:

If someone is dumb enough to accept a trade like this, let it stand. If you have the balls and gamesmanship skills to sluff off the crappy Adrian Peterson for a stud RB, you deserve it. You risk your reputation doing it, and may never be asked back into the league, but them’s the breaks. This is the kind of thing that makes fantasy football fun and is the kind of story friends rib eachother about decades later. LET IT STAND!

Besides, if it was a case of mistaken identity on the part of both parties, and they want to reverse it, they can always swap the players back. But frankly, I like as little commissioner intervention as possible in fantasy leagues. We’re big boys and girls. It’s fantasy sports. The consequences and stakes are looooow. Why protect the idiots at the expense of the savvy, cunning, Machiavellian players who are able to find advantages in the most unexpected of ways? That’s why we play fantasy sports.

Anyway, looking forward to hearing what the masses think. Personally, I tip my cap to the guy getting Steven Jackson. Well done sir. Orson Welles and I applaud you.

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Fantasy Football Week 17 Sunday Live Chat

January 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Every Sunday morning starting at 10:00 CT (11:00 ET) we are here to answer your last minute start/sit questions. I’ll be here again this week for anyone foolish enough to play in a league that takes Week 17 seriously. (What are you thinking!!??)

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Email the author of this post: jerod@midwestsportsfans.com

Fantasy Football Week 17 Sunday Live Chat

January 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

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Every Sunday morning starting at 10:00 CT (11:00 ET) we are here to answer your last minute start/sit questions. I’ll be here again this week for anyone foolish enough to play in a league that takes Week 17 seriously. (What are you thinking!!??)

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2010 Fantasy Football Hardware and a Final Recap of BFL2010

December 29, 2010 by · Comments Off 

When the final seconds ticked off the clock in Philadelphia last night, the majority of fantasy football leagues ended. (And if your league didn’t end, and you take Week 17 seriously, remind me never to join your league…because that’s ludicrious.) Across the nation champions were crowned, runners-up were left to wallow in their disappointment, and those who didn’t even make the playoffs were left to wonder what might have been.

As you know, I have had the great pleasure and privilege of participating in the 2010 edition of P&G-sponsored Blogger Fantasy Football League*. Even though my team fell well short of expectations (thanks Brandon Marshall and Sidney Rice!), it was a wonderful experience that I hope to be fortunate enough to one day have again. To the fine and friendly folks at P&G and the NFL who made this great experience possible, thank you. This was the most enjoyable fantasy football experience I’ve ever had.

Note: make sure that you take advantage of the last week of the Text It To the House contest. It’s easy to enter, fun to track, and the prize is tickets to the Super Bowl. What are you waiting for?

The league began with a memorable trip to New York to conduct our draft in the NFL boardroom, and it culminated last night with a victory for @dinabanina and Fresh 2 Death, the team managed by National Football Post. Finishing second was our good buddy Phil from Team Gunaxin, who was hoping Michael Vick had one more 40+ point game in him heading into Tuesday night. Alas, Vick could only muster 20.82 points, which was not nearly enough to compensate for uncharacteristically off weeks from MegaTron, Marques Colston, and Deion Branch.

The other area that decided the 91.44-72.42 outcome was on defense. Team Gunaxin put faith in the awful Dallas Cowboys defense, which inexplicably has two Pro Bowl starters despite already setting a team record for points allowed in a season through 15 games, while Fresh 2 Death trusted the young but improving New England Patriots. The Cowboys were actually a somewhat defensible pick because they were facing Arizona and John Skelton, but they mustered just two fantasy points. The Patriots, on the other hand, racked up 23 points by holding Buffalo to three points and forcing 7 turnovers. That 21-point swing on defense was the difference.

My congratulations to Fresh 2 Death and Team Gunaxin for great seasons. Both were deserving of their spots in the playoffs and owe no one any apologies for making it to the title round. Team Gunaxin had the highest point total overall while Fresh 2 Death finished third in overall points and had the best record. On the other hand, DVOA vs GERD (managed by the great Aaron Schatz from the peerless Football Outsiders) and its second-best point total was robbed by going just 7-7 and not making the playoffs while DayQuil Fighter Of The NyQuil (managed by @Punte of With Leather) made the playoffs with the league’s second-lowest overall point total. That’s messed up…but that’s fantasy.

In every league I’ve ever been in, there always seems to be one team that gets the breaks – such as DayQuil having the lowest points against in the league – and one team that gets screwed with injuries, bad matchups, and/or bad timing. Such is the frustrating reality of this silly game we all spend so much time on, care so much about, and have so little control over.

With the 2010 fantasy football season now effectively over, save for a few stragglers who can ask their Week 17 start em, sit em questions here, let’s hand out some hardware and recognize the best of the best from the 2010 fantasy football season.

2010 Fantasy Football MVP: Michael Vick, QB, Eagles

Obviously Michael Vick’s uneven “real” performance last night against Minnesota probably gave the real NFL MVP award to Tom Brady, but Vick is the clear MVP in fantasy football. Phil and Team Gunaxin deserve a lot of credit for pouncing on Vick early and riding him all the way to the championship round.

fantasy-football-2010-season-recapNow, before you say that Vick choked in the championship, remember that he still scored around 20 points (depending on scoring system) for his owners last night, and this came on the heels of his explosion in Week 15. So he came through during the biggest weeks of the season. Additionally, a player’s worth in fantasy football is all about value. If Vick had been a first round pick this year, he would not be so clearly more valuable than other QBs like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. However, because Vick was a waiver wire pickup in almost every league, his value when judged against his cost of acquisition might be the highest in fantasy football history.

The runner-up to Vick in the fantasy football MVP race is Arian Foster, another player who was a waiver wire pickup or mid- to later-round draft pick in many leagues. During the preseason, as the season drew closer and leagues drafted, Foster’s draft position increased due to injuries in the Texans’ backfield. Still, it was a highly speculative pick as Foster had never been a full-time back before. He responded by scoring the second-most fantasy points after Vick, and actually was more valuable in comparison to others at his position than Vick was. Aaron Schatz deserves huge props for nabbing Foster in the 6th round of the BFL2010 draft when his value was still so unproven. That’s the kind of foresight you get when you read Football Outsiders.

Here are the two things that separate Vick from Foster in my eyes:

  1. Week 15 is the semifinal round of the playoffs in most leagues. Foster produced a dud against Tennessee with just 61 total yards and no touchdowns. Vick, on the other hand, accounted for 372 total yards and four touchdowns in the Eagles’ thrilling comeback over New York. I bet most Vick owners who were in the playoffs won their Week 15 matchups because of VIck.
  2. Vick also came through in primetime throughout the season. I don’t know about you, but when all else is equal I try to play guys who are in the Sunday night or Monday night games. That way, no matter how Sunday afternoon shakes out I still have a chance. For me, it adds a little more enjoyment to the fantasy football experience. Vick had some of his best performances in primetime this year, including his mind-blowing performance against Washington that brought many owners back from seemingly insurmountable leads. Those kinds of memorable moments make you the MVP.

2010 All Fantasy Team

  • QB – Michael Vick, Eagles (Team Gunaxin)
  • RB – Arian Foster, Texans (DVOA vs GERD)
  • RB – Adrian Peterson, Vikings (Midwest Sports Fans)
  • WR – Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (Fuzzy Gullets)
  • WR – Roddy White, Falcons (Press Coverage)
  • Flex – Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (Fresh 2 Death)
  • TE – Jason Witten, Cowboys (Team Gunaxin)
  • K – David Akers, Eagles (Fuzzy Gullets)
  • Defense – Pittsburgh Steelers (Press Coverage)

Vick and Foster are obvious choices.

fantasy-football-recap-mvp-2010-adrian-petersonI struggled putting Peterson at one of the RB spots because of the late season injury that made him worthless in weeks 14 and 15, but his rebound last night, plus his consistent excellence during the first 13 weeks of the season were too much to ignore, especially when the alternatives were inconsistent guys like Darren McFadden and LeSean McCoy.

At WR, Dwayne Bowe was an easy choice. Despite his late season struggles, he had a great Week 16 for owners who rode him during the regular season. Plus, his overall numbers are outstanding. Roddy White beats out guys like Brandon Lloyd and Calvin Johnson because of his consistency and because he was better that the other guys in Weeks 15 and 16.

At flex, Jamaal Charles was the choice because he produced well for most of the year and then exploded in Weeks 15 and 16, finally getting into the end zone with regularity. Fresh 2 Death won the championship because of Charles.

Witten is the easy choice at TE as the most consistently good option in a position that was defined by inconsistency and injury this year.

David Akers wins out over Sebastian Janikowski at kicker for the same reason: week to week consistency.

On defense, the Steelers are the choice because they registered double-digit days in four of the final six weeks of the season and ended up #1 in overall fantasy points by defenses.

You’ll notice one key theme through all my picks: consistency. There is nothing more valuable in fantasy football than consistency. Lineup decisions are hard, and players who you know you can count on week in and week out are hard to find. The guys on the All Fantasy Team above combined consistency with excellence more than any others.

If you disagree with my choices, please post yours below. I imagine we will be able to have some lively debates on this topic.

2010 Fantasy Football LVP: Randy Moss, Patriots/Vikings/Titans

Here is the most amazing single fact about BFL2010: Fresh 2 Death, the team that ultimately won the championship, picked Randy Moss in the first round (pick 10). Let that sink in. How often can you blow your first round pick in such a spectacular way and still compete for and win a championship?

I’m not sure I really need to expound on why Moss is the least valuable player in fantasy football this year. He wasn’t injured, yet he caught just 27 passes for 375 yard and five TDs. From Week 14-16 he did not catch one pass. Most owners had to spend a 1st or a 2nd round pick to get him, and received little in return. And most, I bet, were not able to overcome it like Fresh 2 Death was.

The runner-up has to be Ryan Mathews, who went in the 2nd round in most leagues. I preached all preseason that Mathews was being terribly overvalued because he was still an unproven rookie, and my fears about him proved true. Other names that could be included here: Shonn Greene; DeAngelo Williams; Beanie Wells.

2010 All Underrated Team

These guys where consistently good performers on a weekly basis who, even up until Week 16, I was getting asked start/sit questions about. Make sure that as you look forward to 2010 you keep these players in mind. All proved their worth with consistently good seasons this year.

  • QB – Josh Freeman, Bucs
  • RB – Matt Forte, Bears
  • RB – BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots
  • WR – Mike Wallace, Steelers
  • WR – Stevie Johnson, Bills
  • Flex – Darren McFadden, Raiders
  • TE – Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
  • K – Dan Carpenter, Dolphins
  • Defense – Detroit Lions

fantasy-football-2010-recap-underrated-josh-freemanMatt Cassel is another name that I easily could have included at QB. Raise your hand if you had Cassel and Freeman as top 10 QBs this year. No hands raised…I didn’t think so.

Forte rebounded from his sophomore slump to be a great value in 2010. Green-Ellis came out of nowhere to be one of the most consistent touchdown producers in the league. I chose McFadden as the flex because what he lacks in consistency and health, he more than makes up for in sheer explosiveness. McFadden single-handedly won at least two matchups for his owners this year, finally becoming the player we thought he’d be coming out of college. He’s always a risk, but the reward is finally starting to make it worthwhile.

Did you know that both Wallace and Johnson were top 10 receivers this year? Wallace definitely made the jump from risky play to weekly start and should be drafted as a #1 WR next year. Stevie J made plenty of headlines for his untimely overtime drop, but that should not mask the fact that he had over 1,000 yards and scored 10 TDs.

Marcedes Lewis finally made the leap from mercurial talent to consistent producer, notching 9 touchdowns this season and providing stability at an unstable position.

Dan Carpenter can be hit or miss, but his good weeks are really good. I don’t see the Dolphins’ offense becoming appreciably better in 2011, which means plenty more long field goal attempts for Carpenter.

The Lions Defense is one of the up-and-coming units to keep an eye on. With Ndamukong Suh creating all kinds of havoc in the trenches, and the overall talented improving elsewhere, this defense could take a step into fantasy elite status next year.

The Hindsight is 20/20 Best & Worst Draft Pick for Each BFL2010 Owner

With the benefit of 16 weeks worth of hindsight, let’s go all the way back to that incredible morning in the NFL boardroom and highlight the best and worst pick for each BFL2010 owner.

I won’t be including players who were injured in the worst picks, because that’s just unfair. Rather, I’ll try to think back to what we knew on draft day and then assess how picks matched the generally expected values, with my own subjective biases obviously factored in.

Additionally, I encourage you to check out the websites of the other BFL2010 owners, all whom you should be reading and following on Twitter if you are not already.

Press Coverage

DayQuil Fighter of the NyQuil

  • Owner – Josh Zerkle of With Leather
  • Draft Position: 5/20
  • Best Pick: Santonio Holmes, round 10
  • Worst Pick: CJ Spiller, round 4

Sweaty Ditkas

  • Owner – Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan
  • Draft Position: 12/13
  • Best Pick: Jason Witten, round 6
  • Worst Pick: Jahvid Best, round 3

Team Gunaxin

  • Owner – Phil Van der Vossen of Gunaxin
  • Draft Position: 9/16
  • Best Pick: Darren McFadden, round 10
  • Worst Pick: Donald Brown, round 8

Febreze Freshness

  • Owner – Kyle Bunch of The Daily Bunch
  • Draft Position: 6/19
  • Best Pick: Green Bay Packers D, round 13
  • Worst Pick: Justin Forsett, round 5

Fresh 2 Death

99-Rated Swagger

  • Owner – Dan Shanoff 0f DanShanoff.com
  • Draft Position: 1/24
  • Best Pick: Tom Brady, round 2
  • Worst Pick: Michael Crabtree, round 5

DVOA vs GERD

  • Owner – Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders
  • Draft Position: 11/14
  • Best Pick: Arian Foster, round 6 and Mike Williams, round 11
  • Worst Pick: Donovan McNabb, round 7

For a Better Looking Tomorrow

Midwest Sports Fans

Fuzzy Gullets

  • Owner – Will Brinson of CBS Sports
  • Draft Position: 2/23
  • Best Pick: Dwayne Bowe, round 5 and Matt Cassel, round 11
  • Worst Pick: Beanie Wells, round 2 and Jerome Harrison, round 7

What Would Revis Do

  • Owner – Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog
  • Draft Position: 7/18
  • Best Pick: Marques Colston, round 4…except that he later dropped him
  • Worst Pick: Shonn Greene, round 2 and the Jets D, round 7

If you have any 2010 hardware that you’d like to hand out, the comment section is yours. I’ll be especially interested to hear if anyone can argue with Vick as the fantasy football MVP. To me it’s clear, but I’m sure there will be some dissenting opinions out there somewhere.

Finally, I just want to reiterate my appreciation to P&G for making the 2010 Blogger Fantasy Football League possible, and for giving me the chance to send so many of our loyal readers the useful gift packs filled with P&G goodies. I wish I’d fielded a better team so I could have had a better shot at the Super Bowl tickets, but it just wasn’t meant to be. What was meant to be was a terrific experience with a bunch of my fellow bloggers that I will always remember. Thank you P&G, and again congrats to Team Fresh 2 Death, a most worthy champion.

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fantasy football week 9 start em sit em projections, roster advice

* – The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 digital sports influencers competing on the NFL.com fantasy platform for the chance to win P&G product, a donation to a local charity, and a trip to Super Bowl XLV, all furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in any way.

Email the author of this post: jerod@midwestsportsfans.com

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