2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 3

As we go into Week 3 there are an unbelievable number of 1-1 teams which means there are only a few 2-0 and a few 0-2 teams.  Who would’ve thought that with 9 turnovers the Eagles would’ve gotten 2 wins, including one over the Ravens?  Who would’ve thought that Arizona would be among the 2-0 teams and not the 0-2s?  And did anyone believe that New Orleans would be 0-2 at this point?  There’s been a lot of upheaval but the good news is that NFL.com and ESPN.com have finally recognized what we tried to tell them last week – the San Francisco 49ers are the best team in the NFL.

1. San Francisco 49ers (2-0)
Last Week: 1 (NA)

The 49ers have beat the top 2 teams in the NFC North from a year ago to kick off the season and as they head into their 3rd straight NFC North game, the Niners should have no problem advancing to 3-0 against the Vikings.  Randy Moss’s first regular season game as an opponent in the Metrodome will make things interesting.

2. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)
Last Week: 2 (NA)

Tony Gonzalez continues to be reliable for Atlanta and the Matt Ryan-Roddy White connection is as prolific as ever.  This Falcons defense looks impressive and the offense is balanced.  This is a very scary team.

3. Houston Texans (2-0)
Last Week: 3 (+1)

The Texans are in a weak division and the question isn’t if they’ll win the division but how early will they rap it up.   This week Denver brings their first test of the season.

4. Green Bay (1-1)
Last Week: 6 (+2)

Green Bay silenced the critics with a crushing defeat of Chicago.  Questions of whether or not the Packers have a defense have been quieted… for now.

5. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Last Week: 3 (-2)

Baltimore had a crushing loss against Philadelphia this weekend.  The explosiveness this offense had against Cincinnati just was not present for all 4 quarters on Sunday.  This is a team that will win a lot of ballgames though.

6. New York Giants (1-1)
Last Week: 9 (+3)

The loss against Dallas had many worried.  Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks exploded as Manning threw for over 500 yards against the Buccaneers.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
Last Week: 17 (+10)

Philadelphia has turned over the ball 9 times in their first two games and somehow find themselves alone atop the NFC East.  This team has gotten lucky and will need to find ways to protect the ball if they hope to stay there.

8. New England Patriots (1-1)
Last Week: 5 (-3)

New England dropped their first home opener at Gillette Stadium well.. ever.  They were not prepared to go up against this dynamic Arizona defense.  The chance was there to win it for the Pats and they blew it.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
Last Week: 11 (+2)

It’s hard to believe the Pittsburgh Steelers lack a running game but so far the passing game has been getting it done for the Steelers.

10. San Diego Chargers (2-0)
Last Week: 14 (+4)

The Chargers were without their best two offensive weapons in Gates and Mathews last week and they still were able to put on a clinic against Tennessee.

11. Denver Broncos (1-1)
Last Week: 10 (-1)

The Broncos turned over the ball 4 times in the first quarter in a hostile Georgia Dome.  However, Peyton showed that he still has the command as he nearly brought his team back from a 13 point deficit.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Last Week: 8 (-4)

The Cowboys were embarrassed against Seattle.  The stout Dallas D we saw in New York was nowhere to be found as Russell Wilson scored at will.

13. Chicago Bears (1-1)
Last Week: 7 (-6)

The Bears offense looked nonexistent against what was supposed to be a horrible Packers’ defense.  Jay Cutler had one of the worst single game performances for a QB in recent memory.

14. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
Last Week: 22 (+8)

Nobody thought the Cardinals could go into Gillette and win.  If Kevin Kolb can get the win over his former team this week the Cardinals will find themselves with as many wins as most thought they’d have all season.

15. Detroit Lions (1-1)
Last Week: 12 (-3)

Tough loss against the 49ers last week.  This once prolific offense is still struggling to find a rhythm.

16. New York Jets (1-1)
Last Week: 13 (-3)

As good as Mark Sanchez was against Buffalo, he was that bad in Week 2.  It’s hard to figure these Jets out this early in the year.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Last Week: 21 (+4)

The Bengals’ offense has shown they can score, but the question is can this defense stop the other team from scoring?

18. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Last Week: 24 (+6)

Russell Wilson continued to look impressive as the Seahawks got a huge win over Dallas.

19. Washington Redskins (1-1)
Last Week: 15 (-4)

RG3 continues to look better than advertised and the weapons are there on offense to score.  However 2 huge injuries on defense could be the difference this year.

20. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
Last Week: 23 (+3)

C.J. Spiller averaged 10 yards per carry for a second straight week as he made Bills fans forget about Fred Jackson.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-1)
Last Week: 25 (+4)

The Panthers got a big win at home against New Orleans but are still struggling to find a rushing attack.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Last Week: 19 (-3)

The Buccaneers had a great opportunity to go 2-0 until the defense laid down and allowed Hakeem Nicks to explode for nearly 200 yards through the air.

23. St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Last Week: 28 (+5)

The Rams were impressive in their win over the Redskins.  Sam Bradford looked great and the offense was steady but it was Jeff Fisher’s defense that continues to turn some heads.

24. New Orleans Saints (0-2)
Last Week: 16 (-8)

The Saints expected to be 2-0 with their early schedule.  As everyone has pointed out already, it is incredibly rare for an 0-2 team to make the playoffs.

25. Miami Dolphins (1-1)
Last Week: 32 (+7)

Who knew that Miami could have this kind of scoring explosion? Reggie Bush is clearly the heart of this offense.  What’s more impressive though is this Miami defense.

26. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Last Week: 31 (+5)

Andrew Luck got off to a fast start against the Vikings and when it was necessary he hit his receivers to put his team in a position to win.  The future is bright for Andrew Luck and the Colts.

27. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
Last Week: 26 (-1)

Kyle Rudolph has the tools to be an elite tight end and Christian Ponder has shown poise in the 4th quarter.  Unfortunately for Minnesota, it was them who came back just a little too early this week.

28. Oakland Raiders (0-2)
Last Week: 20 (-8)

This is a rough start for what many thought would be a good Raiders team.  Looking down the road to the Steelers, Falcons, & Broncos and 0-5 start is not out of the question for Oakland.

29. Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)
Last Week: 18 (-11)

This was supposed to be a big year for Kansas City – this team looks like the only thing its going to win is the Matt Barkley sweepstakes.

30. Tennessee Titans (0-2)
Last Week: 27 (-3)

When is Chris Johnson going to show up in Tennessee???

31. Cleveland Browns (0-2)
Last Week: 32 (+1)

I’ll give this to the Browns – they are competitive.  Weeden looked like a completely different QB than the one we saw against Philadelphia.  Trent Richardson will soon be a top tier running back in this league.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
Last Week: 29 (-3)

Jacksonville didn’t have a prayer against Houston.   This Sunday’s game against Indy will be Jacksonville’s last chance to get a W for awhile.

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Power Rankings: WEEK 2

Now before you go looking back for Week 1 NFL Power Rankings, there aren’t any.  Truth be told I wanted to start doing NFL Power Rankings this season but my pre-season projections give a good enough idea of where I believe teams will end up that I did not see a need to give pre-season power rankings – I thought it would be awfully redundant.  A week ago I would’ve never imagined some teams as high or low as I have them and of course being early in the season we’re going to see a lot of fluctuation the first 3-4 weeks.  Without further ado, my week 2 power rankings:

1. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)

Is it fair to say that Jim Harbaugh has turned Alex Smith into a QB?  The glaring position of weakness from last year’s NFC Championship, wide receiver, has been overhauled.  The ferocious defense is still in place.  San Francisco is the team to beat in the NFL right now.

2. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Tony Gonzalez had the kind of homecoming in Kansas City that most only dream of – what a way to kick of his final NFL Season.  The days of ground and pound are in the rearview for A-Town as this has become Matt Ryan’s team.  With so many weapons on offense, it was easy to forget at times that Roddy White is still on this roster.

3. Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

We all know about what Ray Rice can do in the rushing game.  We’re more than aware of Ray Lewis & Company on the other side of the ball.  But now, Joe Flacco has arrived on the scene in style and has caused a Dennis Pitta waiver wire frenzy among fantasy owners.  The Ravens scored at will against one of the league’s top defenses from a year ago.  This is a very dangerous team.

4. Houston Texans (1-0)

The question is no longer whether or not the Texans can make the playoffs but how far they can go.  As long as Matt Schaub is under center I believe this is the most complete team in the NFL and everything I saw on Sunday confirmed that.

5. New England Patriots (1-0)

This team is fresh off it’s 5th Super Bowl appearance this century so we know that the offense was already great.  They focused on defense in the draft this year and their early picks are already paying dividends.  If this team can continue to perform this well on both sides of the ball – watch out.

6. Green Bay Packers (0-1)

I don’t believe this is a 15-1 team anymore but I still believe the talent is there for them to win 12-13 games.  The biggest question is, can this offense perform at a high enough level again to make up for the flaws of an anemic defense?  We’ll get our first answer to this question against Chicago.

7. Chicago Bears (1-0)

Many are quick to forget that had Jay Cutler stayed healthy last year, this would’ve probably been a playoff team.  This team is strong on defense as always and has added Michael Bush, Alshon Jeffrey, and Cutler’s all-time favorite target, Brandon Marshall on offense.  The game against the Packers will give us a better idea of just how good the Bears really are.

8. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)

How ’bout dem Cowboys?  It’s one game but what a huge win for Tony Romo and the boys. The offense can be explosive and the young cornerback additions of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr may be one of the best duos in the league.  DeMarco Murray picked up right where he left off and Tony Romo looked like a franchise quarterback.

9. New York Giants (0-1)

Yes the Giants dropped the ball and became the first Super Bowl Champion to drop the home opener under the present format but it’s just one game.  If the Giants have not taught us anything else in the last four years they’ve at least taught us this – it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  The Giants just better hope Victor Cruz finds his hands again and quickly.

10. Denver Broncos (1-0)

Out of what promises to be a down-to-the-wire AFC West race, Denver was clearly the cream of the crop this past weekend.  Peyton Manning looked at home wearing orange for the first time in 15 years.  He’s about to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker household names.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

Big Ben lost his second straight game in Denver but this is still a very talented roster and a team to be reckoned with in the AFC.

12. Detroit Lions (1-0)

It wasn’t the prettiest thing, but the Lions got the W and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.  Against a much improved Rams defense, Stafford once again led his team to a comeback victory in dramatic fashion.  He has this team ready to make another playoff push.

13. New York Jets (1-0)

Not only did the “nonexistent offense” score more points than any team in the NFL, they did it against a defense that many (myself included) projected to be among the top 5 defenses in the league this season.  Sanchez didn’t just manage the game, he won it.  And Stephen Hill was explosive in the tradition of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas.  Who says the Georgia Tech triple option doesn’t prepare players for the NFL?

14. San Diego Chargers (1-0)

It was rough and it was ugly but the Chargers got themselves a key division win and found ways to move the ball against a tough Oakland defense.  The Chargers are looking for answers in the backfield while Ryan Mathews recovers from injury.  There are still plenty of other weapons on this offense to allow San Diego to contend for a playoff spot this year.

15. Washington Redskins (1-0)

I never expected to rank the Washington Redskins this high after week 1 but Robert Griffin III turned in the most impressive debut for a rookie quarterback that I can remember.  This roster has gotten better and like always, Mike Shanahan took a no-name running back and has made him work in that system.  The biggest question is – can this be sustained?

16. New Orleans Saints (0-1)

I do believe that New Orleans will find their rhythm and likely finish with a better record than the Redskins but after that shellacking there is no way I could rank them higher.  After that performance, there have to be some major questions about that defense.

17. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

Prior to the season, all of the questions were about Michael Vick being able to stay healthy prior to the season.  Now all of the questions are going to be about whether he can go a series without turning the ball over.

18. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)

For the first half on Sunday, Kansas City looked like the team I expected them to be this season.  Cassel was playing smart football and Charles was moving the chains.  The second half was another story.  This team can be competitive as long as they put together 4 quarters of football.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

Tampa Bay spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their offense.  In turn, the Bucs did not get much production.  It was enough to beat the Panthers but this offense has got to find a rhythm.

20. Oakland Raiders (0-1)

For this team, it’s all about staying healthy.  If McFadden and Palmer can finish out this season, this team will be fighting for a playoff spot.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

If an entire roster were ever to have a sophomore slump, it would be this team.  The Bengals did much to improve this offseason but were pretty terrible on both sides of the ball on Monday.  I will say the ability to convert on 4th down twice in the same drive was impressive.

22. Arizona Cardinals (1-0)

The defense picked up right where they left off at the end of last season and the offensive weapons are there.  With a quarterback this could be a very good team.

23. Buffalo Bills (0-1)

I am shocked to find the Bills this low to start the season but their highly touted defense was helpless against the Jets on Sunday.  And many of the teams high hopes have been dashed with the loss of Fred Jackson for the first quarter of the year.  C.J. Spiller has shown he can pick up his share of the load but this team needs to get back on track fast.

24. Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

I thought Russell Wilson had the 2nd best debut of any rookie quarterback.  He almost got his team a win on the road against a very tough Cardinals defense.   His height is an issue though as he had trouble seeing the field.  The bigger issue though is the apparent lack of an offensive line.

25. Carolina Panthers (0-1)

Ryan Kalil promised fans a Super Bowl title this offseason.  In order for that to happen this team must rediscover their ground game.

26. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

It was the strength of rookie Blair Walsh’s leg that delivered the Vikes a much-needed win at home but its Adrian Peterson’s seemingly healthy leg that has got everyone talking.

27. Tennessee Titans (0-1)

Jake Locker is tough and his shoulder injury shouldn’t sideline him for too long.  This team’s fortunes though are directly tied to which version of Chris Johnson decides to show up this season.

28. St. Louis Rams (0-1)

While they have a long ways to go, Jeff Fisher has already transformed the defense of this young team.  The biggest concern for this team is offensive line depth followed by finding someone for Sam Bradford to throw the ball to.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

The Jaguars are not going to win many games this year but Blaine Gabbert showed vast improvement from a year ago.  That 4th quarter go-ahead drive took poise  and that was impressive.  The improvements at the wideout position may have something to do with it.

30. Cleveland Browns (0-1)

When you have a rookie quarterback in his late twenties, the plan is not to develop him – it’s to start him.  Weeden posted a 5.1 passer rating which has to make Jamarcus Russell feel good about himself.  He stared down receivers and showed an inability to read defenses.  There is plenty of young talent on this roster but they are not going to contend in the always-difficult AFC North anytime soon.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

There remains a lot of work to be done in Indy but Pagano has the right pieces in place.  Luck and Fleener are going to be the cornerstones of this offense for years to come and Reggie Wayne is the veteran presence this young team needs.  The offensive line and rushing attack have to find a way to take some pressure off Luck.  They face a tough test this week against Jared Allen and Chad Greenway.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-1)

Is anyone surprised that the Dolphins have once again started the year 0-1?  Of all 5 rookie quarterbacks that started this weekend, there is no doubt that Ryan Tannehill has the least amount of talent surrounding him.  Miami is a long ways from being significant.

 

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let Me Hear ‘Em!
Where should your favorite team be ranked?

2012 NFL Postseason Award Predictions

Yesterday evening prior to kickoff I laid out where I believed each team would finish for the 2012-13 NFL Season.   Dallas impressed last night and only verified where I believe they are as a team and that they will move ahead of the Giants in the NFC East.  Today we look at individual players and see what the postseason award picture will look like.  While I knew all of these picks on Tuesday, this is my first chance to write them down.  Last night’s game solidified my belief in one of my picks.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – 

Doug Martin, RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More often than not, the offensive rookie of the year has been a running back.  While we’ve had a few young quarterbacks receive the award in recent years, I foresee a return to the running back trend.   The Boise State product has great vision and is a threat running the ball as well as catching out of the backfield.  He has already secured a starting position on a talented roster that considers itself a playoff team this year.  While I don’t see Tampa making their playoff return quite yet, I’m expecting great things from Martin.

Others that will be considered: Andrew Luck, QB – Indianapolis Colts, Robert Griffin III, QB – Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson, RB – Cleveland Browns, Kendall Wright, WR – Tennessee Titans, Alshon Jeffrey, WR – Chicago Bears, Coby Fleener, TE – Indianapolis Colts, & Matt Kalil, OT – Minnesota Vikings

Defensive Rookie of the Year –

Luke Kuechly, LB – Carolina Panthers

Going into this year’s draft, I thought that – outside of Vikings OT Matt Kalil – Kuechly was the rookie most prepared for the NFL.  The young star from Boston College has great vision and leadership qualities and he has been thrust into a talented defense that fits his talents perfectly.  I am a big believer that linebacker is the easiest defensive position for a rookie to have success in and I believe that given his talent, situation, and position that Kuechly will be the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this season.
Others that will be considered: Morris Claiborne, CB – Dallas Cowboys; Harrison Smith, S – Minnesota Vikings; Stephon Gilmore, CB – Buffalo Bills;  Janorris Jenkins, CB – St. Louis Rams; Mychal Kendricks, LB – Philadelphia Eagles; Dont’a Hightower, LB – Houston Texans; & Fletcher Cox, DT – Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Player of the Year –

Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans

There is a very good reason that most fantasy football experts listed Foster at the top of their draft boards this season.   It is because, in my opinion, the Houston Texans are the most talented and most complete team in the NFL.  On a team that I expect to have the NFL’s best regular season record in 2012, Foster is the best player.   He is a threat on the ground and in the receiving game.  If he can stay healthy, I fully expect Foster to eclipse the 2,000 all-purpose yards mark.

Others that will be considered: Calvin Johnson, WR – Detroit Lions; Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens; Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; & Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons

Defensive Player of the Year –

DeMarcus Ware, LB – Dallas Cowboys

Last year I mentioned on multiple occasions that I believed 2011 would finally be the year that Jared Allen broke through and won his 1st NFL Defensive Player of the Year award after being such a force for so many years in the League (and let’s face it – not giving the award to Allen was a travesty).  Well this year I believe that Ware will finally get his due.  I see Ware getting a minimum of 15.5 sacks this year (and last night’s 2 sack performance making him the 2nd fastest player ever to record 100 sacks) doesn’t hurt matters.  I believe that Dallas wins the East this year and Ware is going to be a big part of that.
Others that will be considered: Jared Allen, DE – Minnesota Vikings;  Aldon Smith, OLB – San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, LB – Denver Broncos; J.J. Watt, DL – Houston Texans; Patrick Willis, LB – San Francisco 49ers; Patrick Peterson, CB – Arizona Cardinals; & Mario Williams, OLB – Buffalo Bills

 NFL MVP –

Aaron Rodgers, QB – Green Bay Packers

Only two quarterbacks have ever won back-to-back MVP awards, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, but there is no reason to believe that Rodgers can’t duplicate this feat.   The Packers were far and away the best offense in the NFL last season but at the same time, if something were to happen to Rodgers, the Packers would fall off pretty drastically.  I really believe the Packers without Rodgers would be close to the 2011 Colts without Manning.  The Packers figure to be in the thick of things this year and it’s Aaron Rodgers who is going to get them there.

Others that will be considered: Tom Brady, QB – New England Patriots; Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans; Arian Foster, RB – Houston Texans; Matt Ryan, QB – Atlanta Falcons; Tony Romo, QB – Dallas Cowboys; & Ray Rice, RB – Baltimore Ravens

Comeback Player of the Year –

Peyton Manning, QB – Denver Broncos

I’m more than aware that this is an extremely popular pick for this award and while I gave it a lot of thought I came to the conclusion (that like Brett Favre when he went to the Vikings) you can never count Peyton Manning out.   I find it so hard to pick against Peyton Manning that I chose the Broncos to get into the postseason over the Steelers, Bengals, Jets, Chargers, Titans, & Raiders.  There are concerns now but Peyton Manning is going to make Demaryius Thomas & Eric Decker into household names.  After everything he has gone through if he can get the Broncos to the playoffs there is no doubt this award will belong to him.

Others that will be considered: Randy Moss, WR – San Francisco 49ers; Eric Berry, S – Kansas City Chiefs; Jamaal Charles, RB – Kansas City Chiefs; Adrian Peterson, RB – Minnesota Vikings; & Matt Schaub, QB – Houston Texans

Coach of the Year –

Romeo Crennel – Kansas City Chiefs

Now if the carousel of New Orleans Saints coaches can get that team to the playoffs they may be considered but let’s look at the facts: the NFL loves to give this award to rookie head coaches who have success.  Secondly, a team either has to be extremely dominant or go from worst to first (a la a San Francisco 49ers transformation) for a coach to get this award.  While this is Crennel’s 2nd go-around as a head coach, I believe that he will win.  His team finished in last place in the AFC West last year (though they only finished a game behind champion Denver) and the roster is much improved.  On top of that this team is getting Matt Cassel, Tony Moeak, Jamaal Charles, and Eric Berry all back from injury.  I believe that the Chiefs can make some noise in the AFC this year and when they do, Romeo will receive his first Coach of the Year award.

Others that will be considered: Gary Kubiak – Houston Texans; Chan Gailey – Buffalo Bills; Pete Carroll – Seattle Seahawks; Jason Garrett – Dallas Cowboys; Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers; & Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons

Executive of the Year –

John Elway, Executive VP of Football Operations – Denver Broncos

Let’s look at everything this guy has done in the last two years.  He took a team that had the #2 overall pick in last year’s draft and got them to the playoffs by playing a running back at QB.   That player started a media blitz that could fill the hole in ESPN programming left behind by Brett Favre’s 17th retirement.  In the process that running back turned QB became the most popular athlete in the Mile High City since well… John Elway.  And then Elway was actually cheered for shipping that QB off to New York (ask the Nuggets how hard it is to ship a beloved Denver athlete to New York) because he brought in the man who in my estimation will one day be, statistically, the best QB of all-time.   He had another great draft and surrounded Manning with young and veteran talent alike.  If the Broncos get back to the playoffs, there is no doubt that Elway should be the Executive of the Year.

Others that will be considered: Ryan Grigson, GM – Indianapolis Colts; John Schneider, GM – Seattle Seahawks; & Les Snead, GM – St. Louis Rams

2012 NFL Season Predictions

The 2012 season picture is not as clear as 2011 was but I think I can make some sense out of it.  Last season I correctly foresaw the Patriots losing the Super Bowl after beating the Ravens.  I correctly predicted the NFL MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and the Executive of the Year.  I correctly predicted 8 out of 12 playoff teams including the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans.   As I look into the crystal ball I see some divisions with a clear cut winner and many situations like the AFC West last year where the division will be highly contested top to bottom.  I see a team with a 12 year playoff drought finally getting back in and I see a future Hall of Famer winning his first playoff game of his career.  I will include below my regular season rankings, playoff projections, and the worst five teams in the NFL this season.   Overall, I think we’re going to see a lot of interesting things this season and so without much further ado, let me tell you what to expect.

AFC North –

Baltimore Ravens (2)
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

AFC East –

New England Patriots (3)
Buffalo Bills (5)
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins

AFC South –

Houston Texans (1)
Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars

AFC West –

Kansas City Chiefs (4)
Denver Broncos (6)
San Diego Chargers
Oakland Raiders

AFC Playoffs –

Wild Card Round
New England (3) vs. Denver (6)
Kansas City (4) vs. Buffalo (5)

Divisional Round
Houston (1) vs. Kansas City (4)
Baltimore (2) vs. New England (3)

AFC Championship
Houston (1) vs. Baltimore (2)

NFC North –

Green Bay Packers (1)
Chicago Bears (5)
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

NFC East –

Dallas Cowboys (4)
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC South –

Atlanta Falcons (2)
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers

NFC West –

San Francisco 49ers (3)
Seattle Seahawks (6)
St. Louis Rams
Arizona Cardinals

NFC Playoffs –

Wild Card Round
San Francisco (3) vs. Seattle (6)
Dallas (4) vs. Chicago (5)

Divisional Round
Green Bay (1) vs. Chicago (5)
Atlanta (2) vs. San Francisco (3)

NFC Championship
Green Bay (1) vs. Atlanta (2)

TOP 5 PICKS of 2013 NFL DRAFT

1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Arizona Cardinals
3. Miami Dolphins
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Indianapolis Colts

SUPER BOWL

Green Bay (1) vs. Houston (1)

CHAMPIONS

Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl MVP

Keep an eye out tomorrow for my postseason award predictions!

 

The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Late Round Gems

Fantasy Football Prep

*Late Round Gems*

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Do the last 5 Rounds have any value?

            The final rounds of a draft can make or break a team. Many owners get in a rush and pick the first name at the top of their lists. Then after the draft you see these same owners scouring through the Free Agent pool trying to fill holes they didn’t address in the draft when they had an opportunity. I am a strong believer in building a well rounded team from my starters to my bench. Therefore, if my starters ever fail me, I have a chance to pull someone off my bench to produce.

Here is a list of players to keep in mind during the finals rounds:

RB Kendall Hunter, SF: An explosive back that can catch the ball out of the backfield. He is one Frank Gore injury away from being a top 10 back.

WR Greg Little, CLE: He is the #1 reciever for the Browns, and is not even getting drafted in a lot of leagues. Played all 16 games last year and had over 120 targets. If the Browns can get a decent QB to throw to him I could see 70+ catches and 900+ yards which is a steal in the late rounds.

WR Kevin Ogletree, DAL: With all of the injuries and problems that surround the top 2 Wideouts in Dallas, Ogletree has a chance to shine. Even if Bryant and Austin are healthy, I could see Ogletree grabbing 60-70 balls.

WR Nate Burleson, DET: Played all 16 games. He was targeted 110 times. He caught 73 balls. He is also goes undraft in over 50% of fantasy leagues. Go figure…

RB Felix Jones, DAL: Had a 5.0 YPC in the 2nd half last year. A nice change of pace back and backup if he can stay healthy

TE: Dallas Clark, TB- Yes he has a lot of injury issues. Before he was hurt, he was on pace for 60+ receptions, 5 TDs in 2011. That was with Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins throwing to him.

QB Carson Palmer, OAK- He showed lots of improvement as the season progressed last year. In the 2nd half- completion rate of 63.2, 17 TDs, and 5 of 8 quality starts. Also had three of his four 300 yard passing games in the 2nd half.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Touchdown Leagues

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

*TD League Format*

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

How do I build the complete team?

The Answer: Develop a Pre-Draft Scheme

            To draft a perfect team in touchdown leagues requires more than just breaking down the stats and trends. You need to evaluate players and breakdown position scarcity. Every year as football evolves, so does fantasy football. You now have 4 Quarterbacks capable of tossing 40+ TDs and hitting around or beyond the 5,000 yard mark. More teams are moving towards Running Back by committee. As the passing game expands, so do the roles of Tight Ends and Wideouts. I remember when I first started playing Fantasy in the late 90’s, Tightend Tony Gonzalez was shocking the fantasy world by making his position fantasy relevant. Now days, his stats then would be lost in a crowded group.

Draft Breakdown:

Round 1- If you don’t land one of the three elite Quarterbacks, then go Runningback.

Rounds 2 & 3- Running Back is very thin, I would continue to draft Running Backs until the main starters are gone. For added depth, fill your flex with a back

Rounds 4 & 5- Since you could care less about receptions, you want to target your Redzone and/or Big Play Wideouts. I have seen such threats as Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, and Mike Wallace fall to these spots.

Round 6- If you didn’t get an elite QB in the 1st round, take your QB here. If a Tony Romo or Philip Rivers does not fall here, Jay Cutler or Matt Schaub would be good value.

Rounds 7 & Beyond- I would continue adding depth with running backs and wide receivers. You can find nice backups like Toby Gerhart. I also like adding rookies on my bench as well. You should be able to get good value on a tightend in the 12 to 13 round range. Brett Celek or Jared Cook should be waiting there for you. About 10 total fantasy points separate these players from a player like Vernon Davis whose ADP is in the 4th-5th round.

If your league allows a deep bench, you might consider a backup Quarterback. If not, I would not waste a bench spot for a player you might use only one week out of the year. There is plenty of value in the Free Agent pool for a spot start.

Do not draft a kicker or defense until the final 2 rounds. I tend to change my defenses throughout the season on purely a matchup basis.

Remember the goal is to have a solid, well rounded team that consistently finds the endzone. Here is a mock draft I recently did with this format:

12 Team League, #6 Pick, TD Standard Format, H2H

QB: Philip Rivers (6th round)

RB: Darren McFadden (1st round)

RB: Jamaal Charles (2nd round)

WR: Vincent Jackson (4th round)

WR: Jeremy Maclin (5th round)

FLEX: Michael Turner (3rd round)

TE: Brett Celek (12th round)

D: Cincinnati (14th round)

K: Matt Bryant (13th round)

BE: Cedric Benson (7th round)

BE: Michael Crabtree (8th round)

BE: Malcom Floyd (9th round)

BE: Ryan Williams (10th round)

BE: David Wilson (11th round)

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Draft Strategy: Dual Tight Ends

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

*PPR League Format*

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

What are your options if your team ends up drafting at the back end of the 1st round?

The Answer:  The Dual TE Threat

            When you first propose this strategy, most people automatically think Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. To have a shot at that, you would have to use up your 1st and 2nd round picks. You would also, have to not strike out with the Running Backs and Wideouts you take in rounds 3-7.  When I look at it, I see it as a major risk. Many bottom picks will try this strategy on draft day, so you might have competition for these elite guys to deal with. There has to be a better way.

This only works in standard PPR leagues that allow a TE to qualify at the single Flex Position. It is very simple, yet genius. Here is the breakdown:

Rounds 1-4:

Target your pass catching duel threat Running Backs, and your heavily targeted Wideouts. If Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady do not fall to you in the First Round, it is my belief that you should not draft a QB until Round 6 or later. You can get a better value-per-pick on a Quarterback in that range than you can in the 2nd-5th rounds.

Round 5:

There is 80% chance Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, and Aaron Hernandez are still on the board. I like them in that order based on the amount of targets they receive. Based on fantasy points, these 3 compare to Jordy Nelson, Victor Cruz, and Mike Wallace who are all 3rd round to 4th round tier guys based on the latest ADP ratings.

Round 6-7:

I like a QB in Round 6. There is a chance Tony Romo or Philip Rivers might fall here. Even if they don’t, you still can pick up Peyton Manning, Matt Schuab, or Jay Cutler. Round 7 is where I take a Tight End for my Flex. If you are lucky, Vernon Davis might fall here. If not, you can still pick up Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, or Jermaine Gresham. Based on fantasy points, those 3 compare to DeWayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Eric Decker who are 5th round tier players based on ADP ratings. Similar Running Backs that compare to these Tight Ends are Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, and Michael Turner, which are 3rd round tier players. The obvious point, you get better value drafting a Tight End at your Flex.

This strategy is not perfect. You need several situations to play out for the right players to fall. A run on Tight Ends in early rounds could throw you off. Like any league, it is all about adapting quickly to the current flow of your draft. I always go into a draft with multiple strategies, and based on how my draft starts out I go with what draft scheme works best for the current situation.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32