Mike Donnelly will be covering Fantasy Football all season for us here at Turn On The Jets. Make sure to give Mike a follow on Twitter and reach out to him if you are interested in potentially joining the TOJ fantasy league this year.
Fantasy football season is here (YESSSS!!!!), and you probably didn’t win your league last year. And it’s probably because you’re the kind of person who goes and finds someone like Evan Silva’s rankings before your draft and thinks they’re gold. If that’s the case, there’s a really good chance you lost in spectacular fashion, came in dead last, embarrassed yourself, had your girlfriend leave you because of it, and all your friends stopped calling because they were so appalled by your 1st round pick of Jahvid Best. Ok, maybe things didn’t get quite that bad, but let’s try to avoid that embarrassment you surely felt this year and actually, ya know, build a good team.
Mr. Silva kicked off his fantasy season this year on Rotoworld.com by participating in a mock draft where he took Ryan Mathews with the #2 overall pick (ahead of Ray Rice, Lesean McCoy, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson) and claimed this is the year he stays healthy and dominates. The next day, Mathews broke his clavicle and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. So if that’s the kind of crap you’re looking for, then more power to you. But if you want to do some damage this year, this is where you want to be, reading this right here all season, and it all starts with a strong draft.
Speaking of drafts, if you are still in the process of putting your league together, I think you need to read The 8 Easy Steps For the Perfect Fantasy League before doing so. And while we’re talking about starting leagues, we are starting the TOJ Fantasy Football League and are looking to invite a few readers to join up and play against us. If you’re interested, comment here or hit us up on Twitter. Alrighty, let’s get on with the show. I’m going to be buying and selling players here based on their average rankings. I’ll be buying I guys I really like who are being drafted too low, and selling guys I think are overrated and that I want no part of. I’m not going to be telling you to draft Calvin Johnson, because if you need me to tell you that, well, then you need far more help than I’m able to provide.
When it comes to QB’s this year there are the Top 5 (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton in that order) and then a steep drop towards tier 2. If you can’t get one of the elite guys, it’s not the end of the world because there is still some solid value in the middle rounds.
BUY: Philip Rivers – After a bit of a down year (for him) last year, a lot of people are down on Rivers, especially after losing Vincent Jackson. That loss is overrated, because Vincent Jackson sucks (more on this later). Rivers is typically ranked in the #9-10 QB range, and I think that’s low for him. Norv Turner is a big joke as a head coach, but the man knows offense, and Rivers is going to perform in the #5 or 6 QB range this year.
BUY: Big Ben – I expect Mike Wallace to show up by the start of the season and that will give Roethlisberger one of the best and deepest WR corps in the NFL. More importantly than that is the fact that they Steelers have no running backs, which will lead to a ton of pass attempts for the 2-time sexual assaulter. Sure, Ben is a terrible human being in real life, but he can help you on the fantasy gridiron this season as a low-level starter.
BUY: Jake Locker – This is one of my favorite sleeper QB’s this season, especially in keeper leagues. He won’t be one of the top 10 or 12 QB’s this season, but as a backup he can definitely be useful in case of injury. If Kenny Britt ever gets his head on straight, it will help Locker even more and it could have him knocking on the door of being starter-worthy.
SELL: Cam Newton as a TOP 4 QB – Cam is still going to be great this year, but the Panthers are going to try and limit his rushing attempts this year, which could slide him down the QB rankings a few spots.
SELL: Michael Vick – I hate Michael Vick, so that could affect my ranking of him, but the fact is this guy absolutely CAN NOT stay healthy. Let someone else deal with the stress of checking the injury report every day to see if he’ll be able to play on Sunday.
SELL: Sam Bradford – DO. NOT. DRAFT. SAM. BRADFORD! Unless of course you enjoy watching your QB throw 6 yard slants and dump offs to the RB as his offensive coordinator looks on happily from the sideline.
The running back position in some serious trouble this year due to a major rash of injuries, holdouts, and suspensions across the league. Jones-Drew, Lynch, Mathews, Richardson, Peterson, Beanie Wells, and Darren McFadden have all been effected by one of these things. Oh wait, McFadden hasn’t gotten hurt yet, but don’t worry, he will soon. Many people think that because of the lack of top RB’s, you should pass on them at the top of the draft and load up on the mid-range players. I think the opposite, and that it’s imperative you land one of the top guys you can count on. Who are those guys? Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Lesean McCoy are the cream of the crop, with Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, and DeMarco Murray a step below.
BUY: Shonn Greene - A lot of people want to just write him off under the “LOL, the Jets” rule, but I think that is way off. The Jets are going to run the ball a lot this year, and Tony Sparano isn’t going to just forget to run during the second half of games like Brian Schottenheimer did. Greene averaged 4.2 yards per carry last year and played really well in the second half of the season. 1,250 yards and 8 TD’s are very realistic numbers and I think he will outperform his draft position.
BUY: Mike Goodson – By week 5 or 6 he’ll be getting the majority of carries in Oakland when McFadden gets injured. Great player to stash on your bench as your #4 or 5 running back.
Buy: Toby Gerhart, SELL: Adrian Peterson - These two go hand-in-hand, and it’s pretty simple. Adrian Peterson tore up his knee late last year, and it takes at least a full year for these guys to get back to full strength after such a big time injury. They can say Peterson is a fast healer all they want, but the fact is he just started practicing, he’s been told not to make cuts, and the defense isn’t even allowed to hit him. That doesn’t sound promising. What does sound promising is Toby Gerhart’s 2012 fantasy chances. For a guy being drafted as a #4 RB, I think he will offer much, much more.
BUY: Jacquizz Rodgers – In PPR leagues, the Falcons 3rd-down back can play a Darren Sproles-like role, especially with their new up-temp offense. He’s worth a flier in later rounds and could end up being a solid flex option in all leagues.
SELL: Maurice Jones-Drew - If his holdout lasts into the season, this is even more obvious, but even if he comes back tomorrow MJD is not going to be the elite back he has been the past few years. Holdout + Crappy Team does not = Good things. Simple formula. He’s typically ranked as the #7 or 8 RB overall as of now, but I wouldn’t take him as a top 15 back.
SELL: Michael Turner - Words can’t even express how much I hate Michael Turner this year. If you’re in a PPR league, the guy is basically useless, but even in standard leagues, you can expect his production to take a major hit this year. Sure he’ll have a few big games against garbage defenses, but as a whole, you can’t count on him at all. I wouldn’t want him as even a #2 RB on my team.
SELL: Steven Jackson - Again: Brian Schottenheimer.
SELL: Marshawn Lynch - Suspension + Got Paid + Bad Team = ????? Actually, I know what it means: That he won’t be on my fantasy team this year. I’d rather take guys like Ahmad Bradshaw or Doug Martin over him.
SELL: Benjarvus Green-Ellis – Things won’t be so easy this year without defenses petrified of Tom Brady passing the ball all game and daring BJGE to run. I’ll pass on him.
Wide receiver is extremely deep this year, but there’s only one truly elite player, and that’s Calvin Johnson. Behind him though, there are about a dozen excellent options, including the usual suspects like Fitzgerald, Welker, Andre Johnson, and Greg Jennings.
BUY: Julio Jones, SELL: Roddy White - As much as I hate Michael Turner, I love his teammate Julio Jones even more. The Falcons are going to an up-tempo passing offense, and it’s time for Roddy White to step aside, because there’s a new dreadlocked Sheriff in town. Don’t get me wrong, Roddy will still get his catches, but rather than finishing the year as a top 7 WR which is where’s ranked now, I think he’s going to be more in the 12-13 range. Jones, on the other hand, I have as high as #2 overall at WR, which may seem high now, but it won’t come December after he puts up a monster campaign.
BUY: Hakeem Nicks, SELL: Victor Cruz – It’s not that I think Cruz is going to be bad this year, because I don’t. But I do think that Nicks is going to be the fantasy monster this year and Cruz is going to settle into a solid #2 WR role for your team and slightly underperform on his expectations.
BUY: Brandon Marshall, SMALL BUY: Alshon Jeffery – To keep the teammate theme going, I think Marshall is going to get back to his old Denver fantasy superstar days now that he’s reunited with Jay Cutler in Chicago. 100 catches and 1100 yards are certainly possible. I also really like his rookie teammate Alshon Jeffery, who is definitely worth a late-round flier in your league after looking great in Bears camp so far.
BUY: Antonio Brown – After a great second half to the season last year, Antonio Brown is going to carry that forward into 2012 as the Steelers #1 passing option until Mike Wallace returns and gets back to form. For a guy ranked now in the #25 overall WR range, Brown is seriously undervalued right now.
BUY: Demaryius Thomas – Thomas had his moments last year, and that was with Tim Tebow throwing him the ball. Now he’s got Peyton Manning, and that’s what you might call “trading up”. Manning has raved about Thomas’s athletic ability and it’s not unrealistic to expect 1,200 yards from Peyton’s top target. I expect him to easily perform as a top 10 receiver this year.
BUY: Titus Young – Because Calvin Johnson can’t catch all of Matt Stafford’s 5,000 yards by himself, right? He’s being drafted as about the 33rd WR now, but I expect him to easily outperform that spot.
SELL: Vincent Jackson - So he got his big contract, moved from a passing team to a running team, and downgraded from Phil Rivers to Josh Freeman at QB. Yeahhhh… don’t draft Vincent Jackson this year.
SELL: Anquan Boldin - No longer a quality fantasy receiver. I’d rather roll the dice on someone like Titus Young than take the “name guy” in Anquan Boldin.
SELL: Steve Smith (Car) & Jordy Nelson - Both guys will have fine seasons I’m sure, I just don’t think either one will approach the success they had last year, which makes them overvalued heading into this year’s draft. It’s not bad to have them on your team, just don’t reach for them.
Here’s some good advice when it comes to tight ends: Try to get Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham! I heard those guys are pretty good. If you can’t though, there’s plenty of depth this year at the position.
SELL: Tony Gonzalez – One guy who isn’t a part of that solid depth is Tony Gonzalez. Yes, the Falcons are going to more of a passing attack, but it’s all about the wide receivers and guys like Jacquizz Rodgers now. Look for the Hall-of-Famer to take a back seat in the offense this year and not perform as a top 12 TE.
BUY: Fred Davis – Fred had a really solid season last year until injuries took their toll on him. With a rookie QB, look for the big athletic TE to get plenty of targets. I have him as the #8 TE.
BUY: Dustin Keller – As with Shonn Greene, he’s being discredited under the “LOL, the Jets” rule, but that’s a mistake. For all intents and purposes, he’s the team’s #2 wide receiver and will likely lead the team in targets this year. Plus he’s playing for a contract, and that can never be a bad thing. Look for him to be a top 10 TE and not finish in the #18 overall range which is where I’m seeing him at now.
BUY: Jermaine Gresham – With AJ Green getting a ton of attention against opposing secondaries, look for Gresham to really rack up some nice stats over the middle of the field. Of course, he did suffer a knee injury in last night’s preseason game, so keep an eye on that.
BUY: Kyle Rudolph – An excellent sleeper TE for the Vikings. He’s big and athletic, and Christian Ponder is going to need to throw the ball to somebody. Take a flier on him with one of your last picks and let’s watch him blossom into a very usable option at TE.
So there you have it: My first Fantasy Football Stock Watch of the season. I’d be happy to discuss these rankings and other players here in the comments or on Twitter. And if you’d like to get into our TOJ Fantasy League, then let us know and we’ll pick a few readers to play against us. And good luck to everyone this year… unless you’re playing against me of course.