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Monday, August 27, 2012

Fantasy Football Facts For 2012 (Negative Edition)

I told you so.

It is such a gratifying phrase. It's always nice to be able to say "I told you so" to others and it is always makes you want to punch a person in face whenever it is said to you. This phrase is especially nice to say in the fantasy football (or any fantasy sport) community. Fantasy sports is all about predicting the future and as such there are many calls that we "analysts" get right and many calls we get wrong.

For example, I was huge on Rob Gronkowski last year. When many people (mainly the Fantasy Focus duo) were banging the Aaron Hernandez drum I was solidly riding the Gronkowski bandwagon. However, during that same year, a friend of mine came to me for advice. He had a plethora of running backs and he wanted to trade one of them for a wide receiver. Very, very early on in the season he was offered Carolina's Steve Smith for one of his running backs. I told him he should hold out for better. He did so and was able to snag a better wide out: Tampa Bay's Mike Williams.

Hey, you win some, you lose some.

Well here are a list of facts I firmly believe in so I can say "I told you so" at the end of the year


Many people have Chris Johnson as their 4th best running back (behind some combination of Ray Rice, Arian Foster, and LeSean McCoy). As one friend said to me, "Would it surprise you if Chris Johnson ran for 1600 yards this season?" to which I replied, "no". He retorted, "Well then, how can you justify you ranking Chris Johnson so low?" I have CJ0K (as Christopher Harris joked) as my 20th ranked running back. The reason for this is because I think he will barely crack the top 20 of running backs this year. Many people are giving Johnson a mulligan for his 2011 season. I am not.

Last year, Chris Johnson was the 16th ranked running back. And he played all 16 games. I could buy that his hold out hurt him for some of his season and since he is fully in camp this year, he'll return to his greatness.  I don't buy it. During the latter half of the Titans schedule they faced many bad rushing defensive teams and most of them gave Johnson trouble (teams included two matches against Indy, Tampa Bay, and Carolina). I could buy and even understand that his lack of conditioning hurt him in the beginning of the year but after 8+ games there is just no excuse.

Running backs generally have a short shelf life in the NFL and I just think Johnson is close to his end (as a huge Chris Johnson fan and as a man that touted him as the #1 overall pick last year it brings me no pleasure to say that). His game is mainly predicated on burst and when that goes, so does any semblance of fantasy (and real life) production. Add to that Tennessee still has a terrible offensive line and I think the days of CJ2K are over.


Many people have the Saints winning the Superbowl. I don't even have them making the playoffs. In fact, I have them third in their division. Sean Payton missed one game last year because a player accidentally broke his leg during a game the week beforehand. That meant that this dominant Saints team would have had to find a way to win against the win-less (at the time), gunning-to-win-the-Andrew-Luck-sweepstakes St. Louis Rams. And on that day David defeated Goliath.

Sure that is just one game but that game speaks volumes to me. I know Drew Brees and the Saints have looked really good during this preseason but when was the last time how a team performed in the preseason equals how they performed during the regular season? Hell, the 0-16 Detroit Lions went 4-0 during that preseason.

Obviously, for fantasy purposes, Drew Brees and the Saints will not produce as well as they did last year during Brees' record breaking run, but I think without Payton as the signal caller this team is in big trouble. I wanted to not rank Brees within my top three quarterbacks (my initial rankings had Vick at #3 with Rodgers at #1 and Brady at #2) but with Vick's injury history, question marks surrounding both Manning brothers, a potential sophomore slump for Cam Newton, a Megatron-less Matthew Stafford (see: below), and Philip Rivers' atrocious 2011 campaign, I had to rank Brees as my #3 ranked quarterback. But I really did not want to.

I ended up with Tom Brady as my QB in both my leagues but I didn't get him or Aaron Rodgers I would have waited to get Phillip Rivers.


I ranked Calvin Johnson as my #1 wide out but that's only because I couldn't think of any other wide out to put there. I would have put my man-crush Mike Wallace #1 if he didn't hold out or Roddy White if Julio Jones wasn't there. But even though I ranked him #1 I did not and would not touch him in any of my leagues. I am normally not THIS superstitious but after 12 straight years I would rather stay away and have the Madden Cover Player be good on another team than take on said player and have me suffer from the curse. 

But take the curse out of it and you still have a wide receiver who has had an up and down career with some injury risk. In 2009 he only started 14 games, only got 5 receiving touchdowns and did not crack 1,000 receiving yards. You also have the injury prone Matthew Stafford who really only has one season (last season) under his belt.

Nevertheless, I truly believe believe in the Madden Curse which means I truly believe Megatron will be bad or injury-riddled next season which in turn will lead to an ineffective (rather not *as* effective) Matthew Stafford (if he manages to stay healthy for another 16 games). Stafford's game last year was mainly predicated on throwing it up to Johnson and letting Megatron be the beast he is, fight off defenders, and come down with the ball. But no (or a bad) Calvin Johnson means the Detroit signal caller's statistics will suffer as well. 


I understand (all too well as a Forte owner last year and as a Bears fan) that scoring touchdowns and short yardage situations are not part of Matt Forte's game. The guy just gets a crazy amount of yards from scrimmage year after year after year. That is why I loved the Marion Barber signing last year. The only game Barber had was converting those 4th and 1 and those red zone touchdowns. But with Barber gone and the Bears needing a hole to fill and new GM Phil Emory being awesome, the Bears signed former Raiders RB and Run DMC back up Michael Bush this offseason. Here's the thing, there are many great parts of Bush's game more than just getting short yardage. He can catch. He can run. And he's just overall really good at football. 

Michael Bush was the 11th ranked running back last year while only starting six games. The guy has legitimate starting running back talent and eventually I believe he will just take carries away from Forte. I don't mean get carries along with Forte but actually take away carries from Forte. As a Bears fan I am completely fine with that but as a fantasy owner (at least for Forte) I am not. In fact, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice has said that he wants two 1,000 yard rushers in 2012. A feat rarely and not easily accomplished. Granted, it is possible for Forte to be a top 7 running back with both Forte and Bush getting over 1,000 rushing yards but I just don't see that happening. Especially not with the addition of Brandon Marshall and an improved Bears passing game.

- Darren McFadden (OAK)
- Ryan Matthews (SD)
- Frank Gore (SF)

(NOTE: By "bad" I just mean I really do not want to own them on my team)
- Michael Turner (ATL)
- Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG)
- Beanie Wells (ARI)
- Cedric Benson (GB)
- Shonn Greene (NYJ)
- Willis McGahee (DEN)
- Isaac Redman / Rashard Mendenhall (PIT)
- Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX)
NOTE: The guy's an amazing talent but he has still held out this late into the off season and with Chris Johnson's hold out last year I just don't feel good owning MJD

SIDENOTE: Yeah, I really am not pleased with the running back crop this year. Like, I REALLY don't like or trust most of the NFL's starters

- Andre Johnson (HOU)
- Victor Cruz (NYG)
- Steve Smith (CAR)
- Vincent Jackson (TB)
- Dez Bryant/Miles Austin (DAL)


- David Wilson (NYG)

I think Wilson could be solid and effective but I don't think he is anything special and while I don't like Bradshaw I still think Bradshaw is going to get significant carries and two "eh" running backs don't do it for me

- Jacquizz Rodgers (ATL)

Analogous to Wilson, while I do not like Michael Turner I think he will play in every game, he just won't be effective. Rodgers has become a trendy sleeper because there is a lot of hate surrounding Michael Turner but I think Turner will get carries but just will not do much with them which does not bode well for Rodgers. It's hard to get fantasy points when you're not on the field.

- Ronnie Brown (SD)

I believe Brown will start a significant amounts of games because of Ryan Matthews' injury history but I just don't think he will do much with those starts

- Brandon Jacobs (SF)

see: Brown, Ronnie. I believe Kendall Hunter is the Gore back up you want


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