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?

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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

The Know-It-All Fantasy Football News & Notes

Fantasy Football News & Notes

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

Rounds 2 – 4

Player on the Rise:

Hakeem Nicks, NYG–  Averaged 2.14 fantasy points per catch the previous 3 seasons. Should see Redzone targets increase.

Player on the Decline:

Adrian Peterson, MIN–  I am still seeing his ADP in the mid to late 2nd round. To me that is insane. Recent news has shown he may not even be fully ready till week 3. He is safe in the 6th round or later.

The Conservative Pick:

Roddy White, ATL  He is going to get you 1,300 yards and double digit TDs.

High Risk, High Reward:

Reggie Bush, MIA  Finished 2011 with 6 of 7 quality starts. Seems to be comfortable in Miami and is the main option. Injuries are always the big risk. The bigger gamble is that he doesn’t have a consistent track record of production.

The Steal:

Miles Austin, DAL–  A healthy Austin should be back to receiving 170+ targets and being a huge playmaker for Romo this year.

The Rookie:

Doug Martin, TB  Has the skills to be a PPR league beast. I am thinking Matt Forte 2.0

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32

The Know-It-All Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rundown

Fantasy Football NON-PPR Rankings

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

NON-PPR Formats

1st Round Buys & Sells

Buy:

Aaron Rodgers, GB–  Best Player in this format. Has all the weapons and the offensive line.

LeSean McCoy, PHI– Yes I had him as a bust in PPR formats, but in TD leagues he produces. Expect 1300 yards & 15 Total TDs

Drew Bress, NO– 40+ TDS & 5,000 yards are almost a sure thing for him. Plays a schedule that is top 3 for Quarterbacks this season.

Ray Rice, Bal– 22% Redzone success rate in 2011. Consistent and the go to guy in Baltimore

Brandon Marshall, CHI– If you end up with a late 1st rounder, I would consider Marshall. He is reunited with Cutler where in Denver he averaged 1,300 yards and hit double digit TDs. Some people will bring up his off the field problems, but statistically I look at this as a safe pick.

Sell:

Chris Johnson, TEN–  He doesn’t score TDs anymore. Played 16 games last year and ended up with 4 TDs. Only scored once in the first 8 games.

Cam Newton, CAR– Defenses figured him out in the 2nd half last year. He is a dual threat, but not a big enough threat in the air. He is the most overrated player in Fantasy Football this year. He could have 10 rushing TDs, but if he only passes for 15-17 you are not getting much overall. If you don’t land a Brady, Rodgers, or Bress- wait and get a Romo, Rivers or Ryan in the 6th Round or later.

Matt Stafford, DET– No we are not related. You see 41 TDs last year and you dream big. Let me bring you back to reality. The Lions will be forced to run the ball more this year and they have a nice 3 back set to accomplish that. He threw for a career high 663 times. If you break down his YPA and his TD/ATP ratio, they are horrible. He is no Aaron Rodgers, who threw 162 less passes and had 4 more touchdowns. A top QB, but not elite.

DeMarco Murray, DAL– Through 13 games he only scored twice. Overall he scored on only 5% of his Redzone touches. He is Felix Jones 2.0.

Maurice Jones-Drew, JAC– Hate to pick on him two days in a row, but he just has too many negatives going against him in NON-PPR Formats. His below average offensive line and under performing QB cannot get this successful scoring RB into the redzone. The holdout ordeal doesn’t help either.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @Kstafford32