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Coach’s Kid and Point Shaver

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Each week, I will write (new) a post called “Coach’s Kid and Point Shaver” that will highlight two players:

(1) The Coach’s Kid — This is a guy who is usually buried on the bench because he has no reason to be in your starting lineup. But this week, you decide to play him. And when he appears in your lineup, everyone will look around and ask, “What is he doing in the lineup? He must be the coach’s kid… What other explanation is there?”

(2) The Point Shaver — This is a player who should perform very well. He has the talent and the skills. And everyone expects him to showcase his talent. But for some unknown reason, he fails to meet expectations. Keep an eye out for shady characters lurking in the shadows. And try to figure out what you are going to tell your wife when she asks where all your money went.

So, here are my picks for Week 1.

Week 1 Coach’s Kid: A couple years ago, RB Mike Bell was in DEN. One RB in a line of many who had temporary success, only to quickly disappear into obscurity. But he resurfaced in NO. And with RB Pierre Thomas nursing a knee injury, Bell looks to get a bunch of touches. And, even better yet, he will get all these touches against DET. Who, by the way, is still terrible. Put Bell in your lineup, like a proud daddy would put his lanky, uncoordinated kid on the field.

Week 1 Point Shaver: I expect RB Chris Johnson to have a very big year in TEN. Unfortunately, he starts out his soon-to-be-big-year against PIT. Who, by the way, is still very good on defense. Johnson will get a bunch of touches, but could struggle to put up too many yards. And I expect the TEN-PIT matchup to be somewhat low-scoring. I have a hard time advising you to bench Johnson, but you should lower your expectations.

Week 1 Rankings

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Week 1 rankings are posted. They are a little early. But I am leaving for vacation and wanted to make sure I got them posted.

Check them out.

QB Rankings

RB Rankings

WR Rankings

TE Rankings

RB Handcuffs

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

As I have said before, you should not automatically grab the “handcuff” for the RBs you draft simply because they are their real life backup.

However, there are some “handcuffs” you should defnitely grab if you draft certain RBs. And here is a list of guys that, if you draft them, you should also draft their “handcuff”:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson has been a workhorse since he came into the league as a rookie. But he is not without injury concerns. And he may have one of the better backups in the league in RB Chester Taylor. If AP misses any time, Taylor should put up very good numbers in his stead.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): MJD has had a very healthy career thus far. But he has also been limited in the amount of touches he’s had. This year JAX (finally) expects to use him as a fulltime ballcarrier. Although that increases his fantasy value, it also increases his chance to get injured. There has been no official word from JAX on his backup, but I expect RB Chauncey Washington would get the nod (initially) to take over the load. But also keep an eye on rookie RB Rashad Jennings, who could get some touches, too.

RB Michael Turner (ATL): Whether you believe “The Curse of 370” or not, you cannot argue with the fact that there is a body of statistical evidence out there that says it is very likely Turner will get injurd this year. So, even if you do not believe it, you should play the odds and pickup his backup. Unfortunately, his top backup, RB Jerious Norwood, suffered a knee injury recently. But he should be fine by the time Turner goes down. But you should also keep an eye on RB Jason Snelling and rookie RB Thomas Brown, who could get some work if Turner succumbs to “the curse”.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore is a highly-ranked RB this year, due to his skill level, the offense he is working in, and his history of being productive. However, he also has a history of being injury-prone. And rookie RB Glenn Cofffee is playing ver well. So add him if you have Gore, and look like a genius when Gore misses time and you casually insert Coffee into the lineup and pile up the points.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): If you gamble on Westbrook early, you need to make sure you get RB LeSean McCoy later in the draft. McCoy should put up very Westbrook-like numbers if/when Westbrook goes down.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): It is not entirely clear what role Barber will have in the DAL offense this year. But he should get enough touches to make him a very solid RB2. Either way, in the event that his brutish running-style causes him to miss any games, look for RB Tashard Choice to pick up his touches. RB Felix Jones should continue to get his own touches no matter what, although they would likely increase in the event that Barber goes down.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas came into the year with high expectatoins, but an MCL injury has put his status for week 1 in doubt. If you have Thomas on your team, you should also add RB Mike Bell, who would benefit immensely if Thomas misses any time.

RB Clinton Porits (WAS): Those who had Portis on their team last year remember how much fun it was at the beginning of the season when he was killing it. And they also remember how miserable it was at the end of the year when he was getting killed. And now there are reports that he has a bruised rib. I love Portis and think he is about as tough as they come for NFL RBs. But as a result of his toughness, he often has nagging injuries. I think RB Ladell Betts will be involved more this year, and he should be on your roster if you own Portis.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): We already know Lynch is going to miss the first 3 games of the year, which means RB Fred Jackson is going to get a majority of the touches during that time. Add him to your roster if you have Lynch, not only for those first three games, but also for later, just in case Lynch gets injured or cannot keep his nose clean.

RB Thomas Jones (NYJ): Thomas is getting older and has not looked good so far this year. But he did have a career-year in 2008, so it is hard to discount him completely. Either way, if he were to get hurt or become entirely ineffective, RB Shonn Greene would probably take over his role as the main ballcarrier. Although I think RB Leon Washington is the only NYJ RB worth owning, Greene will probbaly do alright in the event Jones goes down. But, like the situation in DAL, Washington would probably see his touches go up, as well.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): Moreno has a ton of potential, unfortunately we have no idea whether he will ever meet said potential, because we have yet to see him play in the NFL for any legitimate amount of time due to a knee injury he suffered early on in his first preseason game (after a long holdout). I suspect he will be fine once he recovers, but if you took a flyer on him in your draft, you should also add RB Peyton Hillis, who seems (to me, anyway) as the best option DEN has if/when Moreno is out. RB Correll Buckhalter and RB LaMont Jordan are also in the mix, I suppose, but Hillis should be the most effective RB in the group.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): Addai has been fairly ineffective recently, and he has struggled to stay healthy. Enter rookie RB Donald Brown, who has looked sharp so far. It is hard to say what will happen with this RBBC, but it is safe to say that if Addai gets injured or cannot get the job done, Brown will step in and could do very well.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis has looked slow this preseason and is at that magical age (30) when RBs go down hill. So if you take him, you should also grab RB James Davis, who could supplant him as the starter by midseason.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has seen his YPC go down each year since becoming the starter. That is not a good sign of things to come. So if you take Fast Willie, make sure you also grab RB Rashard Mendenhall, who should see his role increase as the year goes along, especially if FWP cannot stay healthy.

Stock Up

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s tough to predict much based on the preseason. Most top players only get a few series per game, and even then it is hard to tell much. But there are some players who look very sharp, and as a result, they see their fantasy draft stock rise. Here is a list of players who are looking very good and are moving up draft boards.

QB Aaron Rodgers (GB): Rodgers has looked very sharp in the preseason and I am confident that he will end the season as one of the top fantasy players. If he continues to look this sharp, it is going to be hard to keep him out of the top 3 QBs in the rankings.

QB Tony Romo (DAL): Just in case you forgot, Romo is a very good QB. WR Terrell Owens certainly made him better, but Romo will still do very well even without TO. He has looked good so far and should play very well this year, despite the fact that DAL wants to focus on the running game more.

QB Matt Hasselbeck (SEA): After a miserable 2008 season marred by injuries all across the board, Hasselbeck has looked very sharp this year. Besides being healthy, Hasselbeck is now throwing to newly-acquired WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, a healthy (for now) WR Deion Branch, and impressive rookie WR Deon Butler. Plus, second-year TE John Carlson looks to build on a solid rookie campaign. I do not expect Hasselbeck to be among the top-scoring fantasy QBs, but he does present a very nice value in the later rounds as a backup who could post solid numbers in favorable matchups.

RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR): Count me among the skeptics. And by that, I mean I am not one who expects DeAngelo to continue his unreal performance to end 2008. However, I am reconsidering that position, because DeAngelo has looked very good this preseason, and RB Jonathan Stewart cannot seem to stay healthy, which is an issue he has dealt with since his college days in Oregon. If Stewart’s injury issues continue, DeAngelo’s stock goes way up. But even if he returns, I think we can expect DeAngelo to do quite well in 2009.

RB Darren McFadden (OAK): Obviously, McFadden is not going to average 8.5 YPC all year. But that is what he is doing in the preseason. Which shows that he has big-play ability. I am still worried about him as a full-time RB, but OAK runs the ball enough and will use him out of the backfield as a receiver to allow him to post pretty solid fantasy numbers.

RB Ray Rice (BAL): Rice has been steadily rising up draft boards for awhile. Which kind of worries me. I liked him a lot more before when he was undervalued. I think the hype surrounding him now could push him high enough where he is borderline overvalued. Either way, his stock is going up, because he seems to be ready to handle the load in BAL. RB Willis McGahee will still get some carries, and LeRon McClain is always a threat to steal TDs. But Rice is the best all-around RB on the roster. And it was nice to see him get a 3-yard TD against NYJ. It was also nice to see him as the only RB to get carries with the 1st team offense.

RB Cedric Benson (CIN): I am aware of his past, but he seems to have found a new home in CIN. And, if nothing else, he is set to get a lot of touches in what should be a much-improved offense. He should be a solid RB3 and you can get him very late in most drafts.

RB Leon Washington (NYJ): This guy is extremely fast/quick and catches the ball very well out of the backfield. I think RB Thomas Jones is on the way out, but I am not convinced that RB Shonn Greene is the answer. Instead, I think NYJ will try to get Washington the ball more often and let him work in space.

RB Ryan Grant (GB): Grant teased us with a great finish in 2007, only to limp through 2008 with an injured hamstring after holding out all through camp. But Grant looks much quicker and faster this preseason, which makes me think he is ready to regain his late-2007 form. Plus, the GB offense looks very sharp and primed to score a ton of points. And you have to love a guy who is not part of a RBBC, even if he is not all that dynamic.

WR Troy Williamson (JAX): Thus far in his career, Williamson has been known mostly for not being able to catch the ball. But this preseason, he is actually becoming known for making catches. In fact, he leads all WRs in the preseason with 221 yards (on only 7 catches). He is still considered a very deep sleeper, but he could be worth a roster spot if he can keep, you know, catching the ball.

WR Laurent Robinson (STL): Speaking of reviving your career, Robinson has been playing well in STL. WR Donnie Avery is recovering from a foot injury, allowing Robinson some more reps. And Robinson has been taking advantage of the increased playing time. As with Williamson, Robinson is still a sleeper and is only worthy of a bench spot in deeper leagues. But keep an eye on him and see how STL uses him.

WR David Clowney (NYJ): Clowney might as well be called “Mr. August”. After leading the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason in 2008, Clowney has played very well again this year, scoring 2 TDs already. But it is worth noting that, after playing well in the 2008 preseason, he only had 1 catch for 26 yards in the regular season. His stock is certainly up due to his play, but do not get too excited. Especially with a rookie QB under center.

WR Chris Henry (CIN): Henry has finally (or so they say) cleaned up his act and is ready to play football. The guy is freakishly athletic and is a favorite target of QB Carson Palmer, which could work out very well for him if he can keep his head on straight. I think the CIN offense is very underrated, so Henry could end up posting some very solid numbers.

QB Rankings: Updated

August 20, 2009 1 comment

I have updated my QB Rankings. Here is my top 10:

1. Drew Brees (NO)
2. Tom Brady (NE)
3. Peyton Manning (IND)
4. Aaron Rodgers (GB)
5. Tony Romo (DAL)
6. Donovan McNabb (PHI)
7. Matt Ryan (ATL)
8. Kurt Warner (ARI)
9. Matt Schaub (HOU)
10. Philip Rivers (SD)

And here is the rest of the list

RB Rankings: Updated

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

I updated my RB Rankings. No major surprises. LT is moving up on my board. And Turner is sliding down. If RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR) cannot stay healthy, RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR) will move way up. No denying his talent. Just worried about the RBBC situation.

Here is my top 10:

1. Adrian Peterson (MIN)
2. Matt Forte (CHI)
3. Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX)
4. Michael Turner (ATL)
5. Steven Jackson (STL)
6. LaDainian Tomlinson (SD)
7. Chris Johnson (TEN)
8. Steve Slaton (HOU)
9. Frank Gore (SF)
10.
DeAngelo Williams (CAR)

And here are the rest of the updated rankings…

Also, check out the Player Rankings page (above) for other positions.

Should I draft Michael Turner?

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

There is quite a debate over RB Michael Turner. Some think he should be the number one pick, while I have talked to others who think he should drop to the second round.

What do I think? Well, I think you should pick in somewhere in the middle of those two. And, at some point in the convoluted mess below, I explain why.

Turner blew up in 2008 with 1699 yards rushing and 17 TDs. And he returns in 2009 with an improved QB in second-year QB Matt Ryan, no major injury concerns, and relatively little wear on those tree-like legs (only 598 total carries in the NFL).

So, he should be one of the top RBs heading into 2009, right? Well, yes and no.

I think Turner will end up being a top 10 RB, but whether he will be a top 5 RB is questionable. I have Turner ranked as the 4th RB (behind RB Adrian Peterson, RB Matt Forte, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew). But to be entirely honest, I would rank RB Steven Jackson above him but for S-Jax’s injury issues. And I like RB Chris Johnson more, but I cannot rank him up there due to RB LenDale White‘s tendency to vulture his TDs. And I could go on. But my point is, Turner does present some risks. So, although I have him ranked 4th among RBs, there are definitely some issues to be aware of if you are considering taking him with your first round pick.

Many other fantasy experts cite the so-called “Curse of 370” — which basically says that any RB who has more than 370 carries in a given year is all but guaranteed to have a drop-off in (fantasy) production in the following season. In fact, only the aforementioned fantasy God LT has avoided the Curse of 370. In 2002, LT had 372 carries. But LT went on to score more fantasy points in 2003. But other than LT in 2002-2003, every other RB in the history of the NFL has done worse in the year following his 370-plus carries. (I have yet to see any analysis, however, on how many total carries the RB has in his career prior to the dropoff. LT was young when he had his 370-carry season, so it is not all that surprising that he kept going. Others were much older.)

So, we should expect a decline in production then, right? Well, yes and no. I am not usually one to argue with that kinda body of evidence. However, it is worth noting that Turner only had 228 carries before his arrival in ATL. And can we really believe that Turner is destined to fail while AP — who had 363 carries — is safe because he was 7 carries short of 370 in the regular season?

Hard to say. But a curse is a Curse, right? Well, yes and no.

I do expect Turner to see a decline in production. But it has very little to do with the Curse. I believe his production will decline for three very simple reasons: (1) His schedule is tougher, (2) ATL will limit his carries, and (3) QB Matt Ryan will be better.

(1) Fewer Carries: ATL will likely reduce Turner’s workload in 2009 in order to prolong his career. I am predicting they will give him the ball around 325 times. So, even if he averages 4.5 YPC again, he will gain less than 1500 rushing yards.

(2) Tougher Schedule: Based on traditional scoring (i.e. 10 yds = 1 pt, TD = 6 pts.), Turner scored  265 points in 2008. However, a closer examination of how he scored those points reveals that he piled up most of those points against some very weak defenses. In fact, Turner scored 198 of those points in 8 games. Which means he only scored 67 points in the other 8 games.

In the 8 games when Turner scored only 67 points (average = 8.4), he faced defenses with an average rush defense ranked 11.8. In the 8 games when Turner scored the other 198 points (average = 24.5), he faced teams with an average rush defense ranked 26.8. (Remember, there are only 32 teams… So those teams were pretty bad.) You do not have to look at these figures long before you realize that Turner piled up most of his fantasy points against very poor defenses.

Not only does this concern me because his 2009 schedule is tougher, but it also concerns me because Turner was very inconsistent, especially early in the season. In 4 of his first 8 games, he scored 5 or fewer points. In his second 8 games, however, Turner scored at least 10 points in each game, including 13 points against the #1 ranked MIN rush defense in week 16 (the championship game for many leagues). So at least he was putting up solid scores towards the end of the year. But the fact that he had so many stinker games is cause for concern. (For the sake of comparison, AP scored 5 or fewer points only 1 time in 2008.)

Overall, in 2008 Turner faced teams with an average rush defense rank of 19.3. And he only faced 4 teams — MIN (1st), PHI (4th), CHI (5th), and SD (11th) — that were ranked in the top half of the league in rush defense (although, as you can see, 3 were ranked in the top 5). In the 4 games against defenses ranked in the top half, Turner averaged 8.3 points. In the 3 games against teams in the top 5, Turner averaged 7.7 points.

However, Turner’s schedule in 2009 is much different. First, let me say that I realize defenses can change dramatically from year to year. But since we have no other way to measure them, I will look at last year’s stats and rankings. So, below is a chart (of sorts) that compares Turner’s 2008 schedule with his 2009 schedule:

Average Rank
2008 = 19.3
2009 = 13.6

Ranked in Top Half
2008 = 4
2009 = 9

Ranked in Top 10
2008 = 3
2009 = 6

Ranked in Top 5
2008 = 3
2009 = 2

Ranked in Bottom 10
2008 = 6
2009 = 0

Ranked in Bottom 5
2008 = 4
2009 = 0

The ones that stick out to me the most are the number of teams ranked in the Bottom 10 and Bottom 5 each year. In 2008, Turner faced 6 teams in the Bottom 10, 3 of which were in the Bottom 5. However, Turner does not face a single team that is ranked in the Bottom 10 in 2009. And Turner scored over half of his total points (137 / 265 = 52%) in these 6 games in 2008.

(3) QB Matt Ryan will be better. This goes right along with (1) above — If Ryan is better, ATL can give Turner fewer carries and rely on the passing game more. Ryan is quickly on his way to being a very good NFL QB. So I think ATL will open up the playbook for him a little more this year.

So, what does this all mean? Who knows. No one can predict the future. But I will say this: I think the Curse of 370 is overblown in this case. However, you can expect to see Turner get fewer carries, have a lower YPC average, and score fewer TDs in 2009.

Which means, curse or no curse, he will be less a less productive fantasy player. (Just in case you missed that.)

Please comment and let me know what you think…