The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Prep

 

Week 4 Weekend Player Updates

 

Kyle Stafford – @Kstafford32

You are either one of two people at the moment. You are sitting high and mighty at 3-0/2-1 or you are in a state of panic and disbelief at 0-3/1-2. I have been in both situations in the past. It can be easy for the team at the top to get complacent about their place in the standings and not work their team hard enough. You can also reach a level of discouragement being the guy at the bottom and want to just stop working your team.  The Fantasy Season is about 25% of the way thru. Don’t give up and don’t get complacent. There is a hard lesson I am learning in my Fantasy Baseball League at the moment, It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish……..

Digging for Gold:

Ending Week 3, injuries continue to be the trend. There are still players in the Free Agent Pool that can help, but in some cases you can’t fix a stab wound with a band aid…example Jamaal Charles owners.

Quarterback:

Matt Hasselbeck, TEN– Hasselbeck has put up very consistent fantasy numbers this season. He is averaging 300 yards a game and has two games of 20 or more fantasy points scored. You could see a drop in production with the news of Kenny Britt tearing his ACL and landing on the IR. Hasselbeck faces Cleveland, Indy, and Cincy over the next 5 games.

The Jets are turning into a passing team with Sanchez under center

Mark Sanchez, NYJ–  Sanchez is quietly having a solid start to the fantasy year. He has passed for over 330 yards twice, has thrown for 2 touchdowns in every game, and has a QB rating of 90.0 for the year. The only big negative for Sanchez is Interceptions. If he can cut down on the turnovers I can see him as a valuable start if the matchup is favorable.

Running Back:

Steve Slaton, MIA– It is still a mystery what happened to this former fantasy 1st round talent. Now that he was claimed by the Dolphins, he is worth a look. Slaton seems to have overcome his injury problems, but was the low man in a crowded Houston backfield. With Reggie Bush as an hourly injury concern, Slaton could pick up some valuable carries and targets behind rookie Daniel Thomas. Remember he once rushed for 1,282 yards, 9 Touchdowns with only 268 attempts. He also caught 50 balls that year.

Roy Helu could overtake the starting spot in Washington

Roy Helu, WAS- In a Mike Shanahan backfield, you never know who will emerge. Helu seems to be splitting carries with Tim Hightower, but it is a matter of how many touches he gets. He is a nice handcuff for Hightower owners, and could emerge as the #1 option.

 Wide Receivers:

David Nelson, BUF-  It’s time to drink the Kool Aid in Buffalo. Nelson has been a consistent target. If Buffalo could find him in the endzone more then he would be a top fantasy sleeper pick. He has had back to back 80+ yard performances, scoring 24 fantasy points in week 2.

With Kenny Britt on Injured Reserve, Nate Washington will be the #1 Wideout

Nate Washington, TEN– With Kenny Brit out for the year, Washington takes over the #1 Wideout spot. Titans have proven that they are not afraid to throw the ball, so Washington should receive an above average amount of targets. He has favorable matchups 3 of the next 5 games, and blasted Denver for 8 receptions, 92 yards, and a touchdown.

Antonio Brown, PIT- Last week I had Brown on my list for players that were on the decline. In Week 3 I noticed a trend. If you look at Brown’s targets, they have increased every week. He has 22 totals targets this year, more than Hines Ward at 18. He has also clearly out-performed Emmanuel Sanders the past 2 weeks. I am not a fan of Pittsburgh Wideouts, but Brown is worth keeping an eye on.

Tight Ends:

Todd Heap, ARI–  He has passed Jeff King as Kevin Kolb’s favorite Tightend. The Cardinals offense looked horrible Sunday, but Heap was able to grab 6 balls for 61 yards. He is not going to put up huge numbers. If you are looking for some low consistency to get you by, Heap is worth the look.

Brandon Pettigrew, DET– Finally broke out for 11 receptions and 112 receiving yards. As Stafford continues to grow this year, I see this connection becoming stronger.

 

The Ups & Downs:

Three weeks of football has displayed to us some valuable trends that show us a lot about how players are developing.

Players on the Rise:

Matt Schaub QB, HOU: After a disappointing week 1, Schaub has improved the last two weeks. He posted 373 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Saints on Sunday. As long as Andre Johnson is running routes for the Texans, Schaub will always have the chance to score big.

 

Manning carved up the Eagles for 4 touchdowns Sunday

Eli Manning QB, NYG: Against a stacked Eagle Secondary, Manning threw for 250+ yards and 4 TD’s. He was mediocre the previous 2 weeks, but he is starting to move on without Steve Smith.

 

Ryan Mathews RB, SD: Mike Tolbert is not stealing Mathews spotlight as of late. The second year back is finding his was into the endzone and racking up plenty of yards in the process. Mathews has all the tools to do his best LT impersonation in San Diego, but has Norv Turner finally put his trust in him?

 

Wes Welker WR, NE: Count them up… 20 targets in one game! Wow… some #1 Wideouts have that many for the season so far. The Welker-Brady connection continues to thrive in New England and the sure handed Welker is putting up “off the chart” numbers. 16 catches/216 yards/2 touchdowns on Sunday. He is by far the top Receiver option in Fake Football at the moment.

 

Players on the Down:

 

Santonio Holmes WR, NYJ: He has been decent at best. Bothered by a sore quad in week 2, and too many forced balls his way have given Holmes a slow start to the season. He has the talent to bounce back, but currently Plaxico Burress is showing him up.

 

Santonio Holmes has not lived up to his potential this year

Steven Jackson RB, STL: The Rams have overloaded Jackson with carries since he was drafted and it is catching up to him. When he is 100%, he is easily one of the Elite Backs in the game, but with a lingering quad injury and a poor team around him, there is not much hope for this star.

 

DeAngelo Williams RB, CAR: Carolina was thought to be a run centered team in preseason. The emergence of Cam Newton has changed that. With less carries and Jonathan Stewart being the favored back, Williams should be stored away on your bench until fate turns in his favor.

 

Reggie Bush RB, MIA: With no Drew Bress throwing him the ball and no Sean Payton drawing up plays for him, Bush has looked below average at best in Miami. Rookie Daniel Thomas has taken over the #1 spot, and newly acquired Steve Slaton could also steal the show from Bush. High Powered Passing attacks is what appeals to his skill set and Miami just doesn’t have it.

Sam Bradford QB, STL: The trend of Spread Offense Quarterbacks coming out of the college is normally not good. Bradford seems to be following that trend this season. Granted, his team around him has not improved, but his costly mistakes are what have made him a Non-Fantasy Option.

 

Buy or Sell:

You should always be looking to buy low off another team’s rosters and sell high on your roster. Just don’t get trade happy. The goal is to upgrade your current position.

 

Buy Low:

Josh Freeman QB, TB-                        Freeman has a favorable schedule, and has shown improvement

Jimmy Graham TE, NO-          Is becoming the option Shockey never could fill

Phillip Rivers QB, SD-              Stock is down a little, a chance to buy low. He will produce

Reshard Mendenhall RB, PIT- Has had a slow start, but will come around

 

 

 

Sell High:

Darren Sproles RB, NO-          Top 7 RB, value will never be higher

Is Mike Vick worth the injury risk for your team?

Steve Smith WR, CAR-              Rookie QB, and tough schedule ahead

Antonio Gates TE, SD-             2nd season of foot problems, cannot stay on the field

Robert Meachem WR, NO-    Colston is on his way back, sell him before his targets disappear    

Mike Vick QB, PHI-                 When he is good, he is elite… BUT can’t stay healthy. See if you can get good value in return

 

 THE GOLDEN RULE:

Fantasy Sports is all about Perseverance. When you are down you have to work 10x harder than the rest of the league to get to the top…..and when you are at the top you have to work 20x harder or someone might catch you by surprise.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

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The Know-It-All’s Fantasy Football Prep: The Perfect Draft Formula… and DON’T MESS WITH IT!

 

Kyle Stafford – @KStafford32 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IDENTIFY THE FIELD:

The Great Unknown, aka the 1st Round of a Fantasy Football Draft. Here is where the foundation of a team can be built, or a foundation of jokes about the guy who takes Brett Favre with #1 overall pick are built. The average team owner is in the dark when it comes to making that first round selection. A lot of guessing and man crushes for players become exposed in the top half of a draft. You can take advantage of this glorious opportunity.

While the rest of your league is blindly selecting their team, you can already have your team set before the first sticker is tagged on the board. Your first move is to look at your league rules and scoring. Determine if your scoring is based on Points Per Reception (PPR), Touchdowns + Yardage, or my personal favorite PPR + TD + Yardage. Once you identify your scoring, you can now decide how you will draft.

Remember when you are drafting, you are drafting for production. The goal is to put together the most complete team that will put you in the best chance to win throughout the season.

WRITE IT DOWN:

This is not Rocket Science. This is about numbers. If you can identify numbers than you can put together a successful draft formula. Here are 3 areas pay attention to:

Position Scarcity: What position is the least depth found? If you look at the previous years stats this is a no-brainer, it’s Running Back. There is a huge gap after the Top 15 players. There is a larger gap after the Top 20. Quarterback is the sexy pick in the 1st round, but look at the Top 20 overall in 2010:

PLAYER, TEAM POS  

PRK

PTS

Tom Brady, NE QB  

1

361

Aaron Rodgers, GB QB  

2

348

Peyton Manning, Ind QB  

3

345

Michael Vick, Phi QB  

4

342

Philip Rivers, SD QB  

5

330

Drew Brees, NO QB  

6

329

Arian Foster, Hou RB  

1

313

Josh Freeman, TB QB  

7

296

Matt Ryan, Atl QB  

8

294

Matt Schaub, Hou QB  

9

285

Eli Manning, NYG QB  

10

283

Matt Cassel, KC QB  

11

271

Joe Flacco, Bal QB  

11

271

Carson Palmer, Cin QB  

13

264

David Garrard, Jac QB  

14

254

Jay Cutler, Chi QB  

15

242

Kyle Orton, Den QB  

16

240

Ben Roethlisberger, Pit QB  

17

235

Adrian Peterson, Min RB  

2

232

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buf QB  

18

231

Notice only two Running Backs are in the Top 20. Quarterback is so deep Ryan Fitzpatrick made the Top 20. You should be looking nothing but Running back in Rounds 1 & 2. If you are in a straight PPR league you should consider a Top Wide Receiver in later part of the 1st Round, but the pass catching Running Backs are gold. When evaluating PPR don’t look at receptions, look at how many targets a player is getting.

Quarterbacks can be found late, Ryan Fitzpatrick was a top fantasy scorer last season.

Consistency: You want players that are going to contribute positively all season long. A player that can’t keep himself on the field is dead to you. This should be your mindset when selecting any starters. The more consistent players also tend to be on the more successful teams. Know the players you are drafting, for more information take a look at my previous article on “Player Evaluation”.

Actual Value:  If you can draft the same type of player in the 2nd round that you can get in the 6th round why waste the pick? My example for this is Quarterback. Sure everything would love to have Aaron Rodgers, but what if I told you that you are better off with Josh Freeman? Now you think I am crazy. The stats do not lie. Rodgers averaged 21.8 pts in 2010 while Freeman put up 18.5 pts a game. That’s only 3.3 points per game between the two. Let someone else feed their mancrush and waste a pick on Rodgers so you can draft your pass catching running back in the 1st round or stud wideout in the late second, early 3rd round. You will come out of the draft with the more complete team, while the rest of the league still has holes to fill and questions unanswered.

What Does It Look Like?

1st Round: Target the pass catching, high production Running Backs

2nd Round: Do the same, but if your friends also read this article go after a Top Wideout

3rd-5th Rounds: Standard Rosters have 2 RB, 2 WR, and 1 Flex. I would draft best available player between RB & WR until you fill those starting spots.

6th Round: Here is where you take your Quarterback. There is a good chance you will see names like Freeman, Cassel, Flacco, and Cutler. Take your choice.

7th Round: Here is where you pick your TE. Todd Heap, Pettigrew, Keller, Hernandez are all nice options here

8th Round & Beyond: I would stack heavy on RBs on your bench, and then look for quality WRs. I would not take a backup QB cause you normally can find one off FA the first 3 weeks of the season. Do not draft backup TE, Defense, or Kicker.

I always make a list of probable players to look for in each round. It helps me judge if I am reaching or getting a steal at that particular pick.

THE GOLDEN RULE

Thou Shall Not Take a Kicker till the Final 2 Rounds! Kickers are as irrelevant in fantasy football as they are in real life.

Be on the lookout for more Draft Prep Articles as we get closer to the season.

Questions? Comments? Follow Me on Twitter @KStafford32

2011 NFL Offseason Grades – AFC North

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

NFL DRAFT

2011  DRAFT PICKS: Cameron Heyward, DE (1-31); Marcus Gilbert, OT (2-63); Curtis Brown, CB (3-95); Cortez Allen, CB (4-128); Christopher Carter, OLB (5-162); Keith Williams, G (6-196); Baron Batch, RB (7-232)

 

 

Cameron Heyward is big strong defensive end that fits the Steel Curtain's great tradition

The Pittsburgh Steelers did the most important thing you can do in a draft, they covered the majority of their needs.  Sure there weren’t  a lot of big names here but I do like the Cameron Heyward pick a lot for Pittsburgh.   He is a versatile player that can play either the end or tackle position in a four man front.  He is a relentless pass rusher with a quick first step and the ability to stay low and get the advantage on an offensive line.  Gilbert fills a hole on their O-line and should be able to step in and contribute immediately.   I really like the Carter pick-up late.  He is not the most explosive player but he is strong and is a great tackler and could develop into a good OLB against the run.  The biggest flaw that I can find in the Steelers’ draft is they really needed to find a way to bolster their receiving corps and did not do so in this draft.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Ike Taylor, CB (Steelers); Willie Colon, OT (Steelers); Jonathan Scott, OT (Steelers);  Mewelde Moore, RB (Steelers); William Gay, CB (Steelers); Jerricho Cotchery, WR (Jets)

KEY LOSSES: Antwaan Randle El, WR; Flozell Adams, OT; Max Starks, OT

Re-signing Ike Taylor was a priority for the Steelers.

For the Steelers, free agency was largely about making sure they continue to have a great offensive line.  Their line has been a big part of their three Super Bowl appearances in the last 7 years and with the Steelers, they seem to believe that Scott and Colon are preferrable to Adams and Starks.   The Steelers did the most important thing that a team can in free agency which is re-sign your key guys.  Additionally, the Steelers were in desperate need of a wide receiver if they plan to repeat as AFC Champions and were able to pick up Jerricho Cotchery this week who should fit into their offensive scheme perfectly.

BALTIMORE RAVENS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Jimmy Smith, CB (1-27); Torrey Smith, WR (2-58); Jah Reid, OT (3-85); Tandon Doss, WR (4-123), Chykie Brown, CB (5-164); Pernell McPhee, DE (6-165); Tyrod Taylor, WR (6-180); Anthony Allen, RB (7-225)

 

Like Percy Harvin & Randy Moss, Jimmy Smith looks to make other teams regret letting him slide

I feel like Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens find good value late in a draft better than anyone else.  In the first round they got the shutdown corner they needed in Jimmy Smith.  I feel that Jimmy Smith should not have fallen past the 15th pick but character issues (much like Percy Harvin a few years ago) caused him to slide and Baltimore gets a great value here.  Torrey Smith is a wideout who has blazing speed and will be popular with the fans being a Maryland Terrapin and all.  I am really curious to see the path that Tyrod Taylor’s career take as I am always intrigued by college quarterbacks who are drafted as wide receivers (Brad Smith, Joe Webb, Antwaan Randle El, Julian Edelman, etc.).  Overall I really like this draft because the Ravens got the most bang for their buck and did feel some immediate needs.  However they ignored their gaping need in the safety position which I see as this draft’s biggest failure.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Lee Evans, WR (Bills); Bernard Pollard, S/OLB (Texans); Vonta Leach, FB (Texans); Marshall Yanda, G (Ravens); Chris Carr, CB (Ravens)

KEY LOSSES: Derrick Mason, WR; Willis McGahee, RB; Le’Ron McClain, FB; Todd Heap, TE; Kelly Gregg, DT; Fabian Washington, DB; Josh Wilson, DB; Dawan Landry, S

In Lee Evans, the Ravens get a guy who can stretch the field for Joe Flacco

Before yesterday, I would’ve graded Baltimore’s free agency period and trades in the C+ range because while I do like their additions – I feel like the team lost a lot.  However, I have them sitting higher because the 4th round pick for Lee Evans may be a better value trade than McNabb for a 6th round pick to Minnesota.  Now I am not promising 23 touchdowns for Evans, I am just saying ask Bill Bellichick what happens when you give up a 4th round draft pick to get a talented receiver out of an unfavorable situation.  I think that Evans is an upgrade over Derrick Mason and will pair nicely with Boldin and Smith.  The upgrade of the receiving corps over the last two seasons should make this a career year for Joe Flacco.   Leach is a bruiser of a fullback and an upgrade over McClain and re-signing Carr was necessary.  I still feel they lost a lot though with the departure of Dawan Landry, Todd Heap, and Josh Wilson.

CINCINNATI BENGALS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: A.J. Green, WR (1-4); Andy Dalton, QB (2-35); Dontay Moch, OLB (3-66); Clint Boling, G (4-101); Robert Sands, S (5-134); Ryan Whalen, WR (6-167); Korey Lindsey, CB (7-207); Jay Finley, RB (7-246)

 

A.J. Green has the tools to be an elite receiver in the NFL

I really liked Cincinnati’s approach to this draft.  They had a lot of needs going in and as opposed to panicking – they simply adopted a B.P.A. (Best Player Available) approach and in doing so were able to fill many of their holes.  They used the 4th overall pick to take the best wide receiver prospect I believe we have seen since Calvin Johnson.  A.J. Green will be a star in this league.  The Bengals foresaw the departure of Ochocinco and Palmer and used their first two picks to address that.  Considering that 4 quarterbacks were drafted in the first 12 picks, I consider the Bengals finding someone as good as Andy Dalton in the 2nd round an absolute steal.   If I had to declare a draft winner right now, it would be a toss up between Detroit, Cincinnati, and the next team I’m going to discuss.  I love the Robert Sands pick in the 5th round – he is an intelligent player who plays aggressively.  He has a great awareness about him and his long arms and great hands have me believing he could develop into quite the ballhawk.  He reminds me of a larger Darren Sharper.   I also think that Jay Finley was a great 7th round pick, he’s a running back who could be a solid number 2 in this league.

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Nate Clements, CB (49ers); Manny Lawson, LB (49ers); Thomas Howard, LB (Raiders); Cedric Benson, RB (Bengals); Brian Leonard, RB (Bengals)

KEY LOSSES: Johnathan Joseph, CB; Chad Ochocinco, WR; Carson Palmer, QB; Antwan Odom, DE; Evan Mathis, G


Re-signing Benson was necessary if the Bengals were going to have any success this year

The biggest departure of free agency for the Bengals was not Chad Ochocinco or Carson Palmer .  In my mind, it was Johnathan Joseph who many overlooked in free agency in light of the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes.  Nate Clements was a good effort to replace Joseph but he is nowhere near as good.  The Bengals anticipated Palmer’s retirement and the Ochocinco trade and in my opinion, upgraded at the wide receiver position when they drafted Green.  Cedric Benson was necessary to bring back and I really like the Gradkowski pick-up.  Gradkowski is a quarterback who has never gotten his due, similar to Jeff Garcia, but he does find ways to win games for bad teams and provides good competition for Dalton.   I like the Thomas Howard signing as well but to me the retirement of Carson Palmer and departure of Johnathan Joseph severely set the Bengals back for this season.


CLEVELAND BROWNS

NFL DRAFT

2011 DRAFT PICKS: Phil Taylor, DT (1-21); Jabaal Sheard, DE (2-37); Greg Little, WR (2-59); Jordan Cameron, TE (4-102); Owen Marecic, FB (4-124); Buster Skrine, CB (5-137);  Jason Pinkston, OT (5-150); Eric Hagg, S (7-248)

 

Phil Taylor was the best run-stopper available in this year's draft

You know what I have always admired about Mike Holmgren?  He is a realist who knows what he wants.  In my mind, when Cleveland landed the 6th overall pick there were only 3 players worth them taking with that high of a pick – Georgia WR A.J. Green (went 4th overall to Cincy), LSU CB Patrick Peterson (went 5th overall to Cleveland), and Missouri DE Aldon Smith (went with the 7th overall pick to San Fran).  When Cleveland’s turn came up, Holmgren decided Aldon wasn’t the way to go with that pick and so instead of taking a player too high or one he had no interest in – he got Atlanta to pay him a king’s ransom so they could draft Julio Jones.  Later on they were able to get the big run-stopping D Tackle they needed in Phil Taylor and with the Falcons’ 2nd round pick they got a big target who can stretch the field for McCoy in Greg Little.  Overall I like this draft, not just because of who they grabbed this year but because of how it prepares them for future drafts to truly rebuild this team.   Holmgren is very realistic about where the Browns are as a franchise and as someone who has 3 conference championships and one more Super Bowl ring than the entire Browns franchise, knows the personnel he needs to get them there.

 

 

 

 

FREE AGENCY

KEY ADDITIONS: Pat Shurmur, Head Coach (Rams’ Offensive Coordinator); Jon Greco, G (Rams);  Usama Young, S (Saints)

KEY LOSSES: Eric Wright, CB; Abram Elam, S

Pat Shurmur did a great job with Sam Bradford and now has Andy Dalton to develop.

When it came to the free agency period, the Browns did a couple of things right – they hired a great offensive mind as their new head coach in Pat Shurmur; they traded for Jon Greco, a strong offensive lineman who should solidify the right side of the line; and they signed Usama Young from the Saints who I believe upgrades their safety situation over the departed Abram Elam.   When I look at Cleveland’s free agency period though, for me it will always be about what they did not do.  They had the most cap room of any NFL team and did not even make a run at defensive end Ray Edwards, or wide receivers like James Jones, Malcolm Floyd, Michael Jenkins, or Mike Sims-Walker.  There was no upgrade to their pass rush, no addition of difference-makers, and the Browns had more capacity to do that than anyone.  In a short free agency period, the fact they could offer more money with less time to decide worked in their favor.  As a result, I believe they were the biggest losers in free agency.

 

 

 

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks? Let me hear ’em!