It’s almost September and that means that it’s time to have your fantasy football draft.
Every year you say to yourself that you’re going to have a different draft strategy, after missing your league’s playoffs last year, but you just find yourself falling into your old habits. No more. This is the year that you’re going to be thinking differently.
I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel, just reinventing the way you think of fantasy sports.
When drafting your team, you need to focus on what I like to call S.T.U.D.s (Someone That U Don’t Have To Worry About)
What do I mean by that? Simply put, they are players that you EXPECT to perform, rather than HOPE they perform. They are people that you look forward to playing because there’s no telling how big of a day that they could have. Every pick, no matter if it’s the first or last in your draft, needs to be focused around these ideals. You can leave a spot or two for the expendable rotating door of free agents, but everyone else should be someone that you would want to play.
If you can lock up a position, to where you would never think of replacing them, why not do it?
I don’t believe in reaches in drafts, as long as they solidify a position.You just never know what your peers are thinking. They may laugh at you for taking that person, but they were probably just pissed that they weren’t able to get them. Don’t worry, they’ll be calling you for trades around Week 2.
The quarterback position is one of the most sought after in fantasy, but it’s not the one that you need to hit the panic button over if you don’t get an elite option.
With 30 percent of the league starting quarterbacks with merely two years or less experience to their name, the fantasy quarterback pool has become less of a concern.
Those who drafted Cam Newton last season were probably the laughing stock of their league news in the post-draft write up, but Newton was also the most added player after Week 1.
Many owners went after the obvious names in last season’s drafts, but the late rounders like Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton proved to be some of the best options as the season progressed.
Will that be the same case this year with the new batch of rookies? Possibly, but don’t hold your breath.
Unless you have one of the top six picks in your draft, you don’t need to be thinking about a quarterback until at least the second round.
You might not agree with that theory, until you’re the guy scrounging for runnings backs like Donald Brown by the fifth round.
The glory of the quarterback position being so deep is that you only need one starter, and typically don’t think of drafting a backup until late or at all. There’s 32 starters in the NFL and fantasy leagues typically run around eight to 12 members. Odds are you’ll be able to get one of these top 10 options, some cheaper than others.
You may be trigger happy on draft day, but just think about where that got you last year.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks that can make an impact on your team this season…
Aaron Rodgers-What? Brees broke all those records and he still doesn’t make it into the number one spot? Yes. When you’re analyzing any player, you have to base their value on how important they are to their offense. Let’s be honest, no one’s winning a league rushing title in Green Bay these days. They had 12 rushing touchdowns all last season, 3 of them coming from Rodgers. He has plenty of weapons to throw to, they’re a pass first team, the NFC North defenses aren’t exactly turning heads nowadays, and you can expect around least three touchdowns from Rodgers on a weekly basis. If Green Bay actually went out of their way to run the ball, he might be a spot or two down on the list, but that’s not the case. The fact that the Packers offense is essentially one dimensional and Rodgers is the focal point makes him the best to own. If you have one of the top six picks, Rodgers should be your first option at quarterback.
Tom Brady Still no Brees? New England is another team that seldomly runs the football. They even let their best running back walk this offseason in BenJarvus Green-Ellis. All he did was never fumble. There’s no secret that Brady has some of the best weapons in fantasy with Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and now Brandon Lloyd. The biggest x-factor to Brady’s success this season will be offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. We all know how he loves to throw the ball at least 30+ times a game, so that only adds to Brady’s value. If they’re in the red zone, you won’t have to worry about them trying to pound the ball in with Green-Ellis gone. Another factor to New England’s offense is the matter that they have to outscore opponents, due to their lackluster defense. You can expect Brady to put up big numbers on a weekly basis and is typically one of the best right out of the gate. When you’re looking for reliable producers, you can’t go wrong with the pass-happy Patriots’ leader.
Drew Brees There he is. He broke all of those records last season, held out to get a big contract, but will be without Sean Payton this year. To add to the problem, the Saints have a stable of running backs that have to either be used or cut. With the likes of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Darren Sproles amongst others, the Saints might be looking to run the ball more this season. It’s not even that big of a deal that Robert Meachem decided to go to San Diego in the offseason, because Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston have it pretty much taken care of. Don’t get me wrong, Brees will still throw for a ton of yards and touchdowns, but New Orleans will be looking to balance out the offense this season with the revolving door of head coaches. Keep in mind that the NFC South has a trend of teams going from worst to first based on the previous season rankings. I’m not saying that the Saints are going to fall apart, but don’t expect another record breaking year from Brees like last season. If you have one of the first six picks, there’s nothing wrong with selecting Brees to lock up your quarterback spot.
Peyton Manning He’s back in the league and back in the fantasy picture. Once regarded as the top fantasy option, Peyton has steadily downgraded due to the running back trend in fantasy and the emergence of the new wave of quarterbacks. Can he still be that guy that led your team on a weekly basis when he was with the Colts? Why not. Just because he’s playing outdoors doesn’t have anything to do with that he can bring to your team. His weapons aren’t as great as the previous three, but he does play in a somewhat weaker division. The AFC West is such a toss up on an annual basis nowadays and the Broncos have very high expectations coming into this season. The great thing about Manning this year is the fact that his value has dropped him to the second round or even further. He has the stigma attached to him with the idea that he’ll be knocked out after one good tackle, but you have to believe that he wouldn’t come back in that fragile of a state. The great thing about John Fox’s staff is the fact that they taylor the offense to the Quarterback. You can expect a lot of what we saw in Indy with Peyton, but not with the caliber of receivers he had there. You might want to hold off until the second round to take Manning, but don’t disregard him as one of the most reliable options to own this season.
Cam Newton He was one of the biggest steals in fantasy football last season, but this year the secret’s out. Newton has taken over as the best dual-threat quarterback to own in leagues, since Michael Vick’s style of play has led to numerous injuries these past three seasons. Newton doesn’t have a lot of quality weapons past Steve Smith, but he’s a weapon by himself. You can’t really expect that he’ll have the same type of season as last year because teams will be better prepared for him, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be elite again. When you focus on players that mean the most to their offenses, you can’t disregard how much of the Panthers offense revolves on Newton’s play. Defenses will attempt to make him pass more this season, but many will find out that it’ll just be a matter of trying to slow him down. You can get Newton at a discount this year, not as big as last year, but at least until the third or fourth round depending on your league’s trend.
Matthew Stafford He went from one of the biggest injury concerns to one of the elite fantasy quarterback options in 2011. You shouldn’t view Stafford’s ranking as a matter of losing stock, but rather just how deep the quarterback pool is this year. He has the best receiver in the league to throw to, but Calvin Johnson is sporting the Madden Curse. Past Johnson, you’re looking at Brandon Pettigrew being his best target. The Lions backfield just can’t stay healthy this pre-season, which only means that Stafford will be forced to do more for the offense early in the season. Jahvid Best could return after the first six weeks, which gives Stafford enough time to tear it up for owners. Just keep in mind that things could get ugly if Johnson follows suit like his Madden cover predecessors, leaving Stafford as a struggling option. After you’ve locked up a solid running back and one solid receiver, look for Stafford to still be hanging around on the draft board in the third round.
Michael Vick Remember back when Michael Vick was one of the most sought after players in fantasy? That was back when he was wearing another uniform. Since joining the Eagles, Vick has become more and more of a injury liability. You just can’t afford to invest so much into Vick nowadays with such a high risk attached to his profile. He’s already taken some pretty brutal shots in pre-season that has owners envisioning being constantly on pins and needles. You don’t want to stress over whether or not Vick will stay in games on a weekly basis, so that is why you should wait until the middle of your draft to consider him. Beyond the worries, Vick has all the weapons and talent to be a difference maker on your team. He can still contribute on the ground, but you can expect Vick to hand the ball off more to LeSean McCoy this season. Michael Vick is the biggest risk/reward selection at the quarterback position, you just have to ask yourself if you’re willing to gamble.
Phillip Rivers He loses Vincent Jackson, but gets Robert Meachem. Yeah, I’m not that excited either. Don’t get me wrong, Meachem’s a great person, but he’s not the difference maker that Jackson is. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers just couldn’t seem to get it right in 2011, in the midst of multiple injuries and poor play. Ryan Matthews is in jeopardy of missing up to at least the first three games of the season, leaving Ronnie Brown to tote the rock. We all know how great of an offensive coordinator Norv Turner is, but as a Head Coach not so much. Rivers and Turner are both on the hot seat this year, which is why they will do whatever it takes to get back to being a wild card contender. Antonio Gates is healthy this season and will once again be the most reliable target for Rivers. You can wait a very long time in drafts to get Rivers, as he isn’t pre-ranked very high. He’s going to throw for a lot of yards, but doesn’t have the touchdown-to-interception ratio that is going to make him an elite option. The AFC West is always a toss up for the level of competition on an annual basis, the Chargers are hitting the panic button on the Norv Turner era, and Rivers is going to be the most valuable player for San Diego in the first half of the season. If you plan on waiting to take a QB, Rivers will be sitting there for you in the middle to late rounds.
Jay Cutler This isn’t the Mike Martz offense, but Jay Cutler is re-united with his favorite target Brandon Marshall. If there’s one thing about this duo is that they always seem to play harder together. Cutler has had experiments for top targets ever since he was traded to Chicago and Marshall has never had as level of quarterback as Cutler since his departure from Denver either. The Bears loaded up with offensive weapons this offseason, building up for a great season from Cutler. He’s going to throw for a lot of yards and now a lot of touchdowns with Marshall in town. The only thing that could take away from Cutler’s value is the fact that they have two quality running backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush. If they’re within ten yards from the end zone, don’t expect the Bears to throw the ball. Cutler sits way down on pre-season rankings, so he can be a viable option to take in the late rounds.
Eli Manning I’ve never been a big Eli fan when it comes to fantasy, but you have to just look at the impact that he makes on a weekly basis with his gun slinger style of play. He has great receivers in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but he doesn’t have a quality tight end with so many injuries this offseason. Martellus Bennett isn’t exactly a sleeper in the making. If you saw the old Cowboys Hard Knocks special, the guy couldn’t even grasp the playbook. No matter how much attention defenses focus towards Cruz this season, that’s only great news for Hakeem Nicks. The Giants running back core is slightly injury prone, which will cause Manning to throw it more this season. Rookie running back David Wilson is one of my sleepers going into this season, but his value won’t show up until around Week 6. Manning likes to go deep on multiple occasions, which can translate to a lot of touchdowns but just as many interceptions. Just be mindful that he is as big of a risk/reward option as Vick, only without the injury prone tag to his name. Manning’s ranked a lot higher than you should take him, so wait until the later rounds to take a flier on him.