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Fantasy Focus: My Hits & Mrs.

The start of the NFL season is only a couple of weeks away and right about now most NFL fantasy football leagues are getting ready for their drafts.  Over the next two weeks alone, more teams will be drafted than the number of leagues thus far combined.  With over a million mock drafts performed nationwide, daily, fantasy football has evolved from a basement card table operation to a multi-faceted online industry.  Every network has it’s own fantasy “expert”, every sports site has one as well.  So why should this one be any different?

I have managed to complete about 60 mock drafts thus far.  I know because I just deleted them from my Email.  Why you ask?  Well in some ways it’s to get a barometer on where players may fall.  It’s also helpful to write an article knowing a little about the way the game changes with each draft.  Throw out 20 percent of those drafts because some idiot decided to use the first overall pick on Brett Favre or the like and his 2nd on someone just as screwed up and you can reduce that number of total drafts.  Take away another 10 percent for mock drafts where a bunch of people draft an “auto pick” selection and you end up about 70 % of your drafts making at least a little bit of sense.

To test my theory, I joined and drafted a “live” draft league that plays for real.  It was attended by 12 owners and everyone made a selection that mattered.  Yes, Sidney Rice was not drafted until way late in the draft.  For me,  writing these types of articles can me headaches.  One, as the lead on this site, it’s my responsibility to do my best to keep you updated on who I think are the best players but at the same time, everyone in my leagues tend to read these too…so I end up screwing myself in the process.

So, if your not in one of my leagues, then read on.  If you are, well, I’m still likely going to kick your ass…:)

You may be asking “who is this knob and why is he shelling out fantasy advice“.  Well that’s true.  But, I haven’t missed the playoffs in any league for the last 9 years (the leagues that mattered) and each season I play in roughly 8 leagues that matter.  I have won back-to-back championships 4 times, and have not at least won 2 championships in all of those years.  I was the winner in the Miami Dolphins Celebrity Home Team Challenge 2 years ago beating out Miami Dolphins great A.J. Duhe, and last year came 1 point away from sweeping the playoffs in both of my money leagues.  So, while I’m not an “expert”…I do pretty well.

Note:  I only mentioned the above so that anyone that is in one of my leagues can get irritated and then try to hard…SMACK!!!

So with all that being said, and yes you have been patient with me, here are my “HITS” and my “MRS.”

Round by Round Hits:

Forget drafting in the first two spots.  This year your better off drafting somewhere in the middle or down at the bottom.  In round 1, I really don’t see value at any spot.  If your in a draft pick trading league, try and trade out and snag an extra 2nd rounder and more.  Especially if that 2 is at the top of the round.  If I’m forced to make a pick after number 7, I’m taking Andre’ Johnson.  Johnson is a very valuable WR and you will find that this year, after round 3 there is a big drop in WR talent.  If you play in a league that starts 3 WR’s you should jump all over this gem.  He will likely get you as many points as anyone else outside of a QB.  Speaking of which, if you can avoid it, wait until round 3 and grab Johnson’s gunslinger Matt Schaub.  He has been available in a lot of drafts in round 4 and 5 as well.

Round 1 Mrs.

I have two.  Mainly because I put a lot of stock on who I take in round 1.  RB’s are always the first to go and that is no different this year.  But when you get past the top 4, C. Johnson, A. Peterson, R. Rice, and Maurice Jones-Drew, your taking a shot at someone only because they don’t split time.  For me, the first player I will try and avoid is Steven Jackson.  Anyone on the St. Louis Rams team is not a good idea to have on your roster.  An offensive line has to open holes for this back and while he is very good out of the back-field in the passing game, he is subjected to a lot of punishment.  AVOID if you can.

Larry Fitzgerald is my 2nd player and that is not a knock on him as much as it is a knock on Matt Leinhart.  Fitz is not only nursing an injury, nothing serious, but Leinhart is backed up by the INT machine, Derrick Anderson, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.  Your better off passing on Fitz and taking Moss and then picking up Steve Breaston sometime after round 10.

Round 2 HITS:

You can’t go wrong in round 2.  Period.  Take a QB?  Smart.  Take a WR?  Smart.  Take another RB?  Smart.  Anyone you take in round 2 is a smart move and to be honest, you are more likely to win your league with the players you draft in round 2 and 3 than you do in round 1.

That being said, there is still a player that I will avoid.  Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall.  To put it plainly, this guy does not impress me at all.  The Steelers have always been a pretty powerful running team but last year while rushing over 240 times, he only added 7 TD’s to his name.  With Ben Roethlisberger out for the first part of the season, defenses can key more on stopping the running game.  Because of that, I go with someone else.  Say, Ryan Grant or SD rookie Ryan Matthews.

Round 3 Hits:

Now you have to start thinking ahead.  Did you double up runners or WR’s?  If so, you need to pick a different position here.  Do you have a QB?  All of this goes into planning for round 3.  I think that round 3 boasts the one player that may have the best non-first round season this year.  WR Marques Colston.  Colston was stellar his rookie season but spent most of last year dealing with injuries.  This year that will not be the case.  The Super Bowl Champions will likely jump off the season the way they ended last years and Colston will be a big part of it.

Round 3 Mrs.

RB:  Jamal Charles of Kansas City.  Forget about Thomas Jones bogarting carries, Charles is going to run for the Chiefs.  The Chiefs struggled last year and that is likely to continue early on.  The fact is that both of these backs are going to take some serious bruising and if the Chiefs don’t fix their run blocking the season will be over for both of them before the midway point.

Round 4 Hits:

Round 4 is a bit tough to call.  There are some decent names but nothing special vs. the value.  For example, too many questions around Carolina WR Steve Smith, especially with the QB being Matt Moore.  Is Knowshown Moreno going to have a solid year in Denver with all the changes they have made (including the loss of Brandon Marshall)?  I suppose the best option here is a QB if you haven’t taken one already.  Phillip Rivers should still be on the board as should Matt Schaub.  (I would take Schaub in a heartbeat here).

4 the Mrs. (sorry couldn’t resist that one)

In no way do I take a TE here. I would rather reach for a player I projected in round 5 then take a TE earlier than the 6th round, and likely later.  Another name to watch closely is Beanie Wells in Arizona.  The 4th round is a good spot for him but that doesn’t mean you “should” draft him.  If the QB situation in AZ doesn’t change, it’s not going to matter where he gets drafted, the results will still be ugly.

Round 5 Hits:

Matt Schaub has been in the 5th round a whopping 40 percent of the drafts I have done.  This would be a great spot for him if you decided to take someone else in round 4.  Mike Sims-Walker is also a guy I like here for the value as well.  This is also a good round to take a TE if the top guys are still there.  Dallas Clark and Vernon Davis are on my top TE list this year…but I still won’t draft a TE here.

Mrs.

A few names pop up here that I will avoid like the plague. Hines Ward, are we really to believe that Charlie Batch is going to be keep this team running?  Vincent Jackson.  Out 3 games for sure and still disputing his contract.  Let someone else waste their pick.  Dwayne Bowe. You WILL find better value later.

Round 6 Hits:

Jeremy Maclin is a WR that I like a lot this season.  Defenses against the Philly offense will be keying on DeSean Jackson which means that Maclin should see some good opportunities to make plays.  In round 6 this is a very good WR that will get you points.  Remember when I said to wait instead of taking Dwayne Bowe?  This is why.  In addition to Maclin, you can draft Michael Crabtree who played very well last season despite missing most of it.  Hakeem Nicks is another WR steal in round 6 as is WR Wes Welker who has gone at the top of round 6 in about 50 percent of the drafts I have done.

6 with the Mrs. (say it fast…now tell me you didn’t at least roll your eyes)

I really like the Dallas runners but honestly, I don’t know who is going to receive the bulk of the carries.  Marion Barber or Felix Jones.  In all of my mock drafts, Jones has been the first of the two taken off the board.  Don’t sweat it.  Barber should be available in round 7 and will get just as many carries and likely more TD’s.  Because of that, I stay away another round.

Round 7 Hits:

Braylon Edwards likes to drop balls.  But he can also catch them as well and when he does they are likely for solid gains and solid points.  Round 7 is a great spot to take the NY wide-out but if you still have doubts, take Steve Breaston out of AZ or Robert Meachem out of NO.  Both stand to put up solid 2nd tier numbers this year.

Round 7 Mrs.

Bernard Berrian.  The Minnesota WR has not looked good thus far and the Vikes just traded for Greg Camarillo from the Phins.  Camarillo has great hands and runs perfect routes.  Berrian won’t see much so don’t waste your time.  Brett Favre and his “hail mary” passes won’t be landing in the basket of Sidney Rice and Berrian can’t pick up that kind of slack.

BEYOND:

There are always sleepers that someone is bound to find, usually off the waiver wire following week 1.  For me, I like 2 Dolphins players and a Viking for starters.

Anthony Fasano is looking like he good be a steal late in the draft.  If he goes undrafted, give him a very solid look to add to your roster.  With Brandon Marshall on the Dolphins squad, Brian Hartline should find his number called more often since Marshall will be doubled up.  Greg Camarillo will benefit from Brett Favre throwing him the ball but be aware, Favre often throws downfield instead of checking off and that could be a problem as well.

Another Viking is TE Visanthe Shiancone. Favre loved this guy last year and he really is one of the very few returning faces he will recognize.

A couple of other names to keep an eye on are QB Jay Cutler.  Yes he throws picks but Mike Martz is putting in a  West Coast style offense which we all know means, pass, pass, and pass some more.  Wonder if that will affect Matt Forte?  Finally, Dallas RB Tashard Choice.  If you have either one or neither one of the other Dallas runners, get this guy.  He is a perfect handcuff for either of the other two and will immediately step in if one gets hurt (last year, they both got hurt).

Final Mrs.

It’s kind of hard to say that you should avoid anyone after round 7.  You should be taking the best players available to fill in your bench.  If you have filled in your starters here (defense and K aside) your going to lose your league, start thinking of who you can trade and trade with.  Don’t be afraid of taking rookies.  While most of the time they don’t have solid initial seasons, sometime they are perfect to have on your roster to drop for someone else so you don’t have to lose an injured player.  YES, I do draft bottom players specifically so that I have members on my roster that I can drop later.  Usually 2 or 3 of them.  It’s also the reason why I very rarely, and I mean VERY RARELY draft any more than one kicker or defense.

I have my 3 money leagues (one of them the Phinphanatic.com charity league) drafting Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  I will be sure to let you know how that all pans out…;)

Think you can take me?  Play against me in the Phinphanatic league of the Dolphins Home Team Challenge.  Click here for details

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