I’m a geek.
More specifically, I’m a geek when it comes to sports. More specifically than that, I’m a geek when it comes to fantasy sports and more specifically than that, I’m a geek for fantasy football! My wife, family, and friends will likely tell you that I am a geek for many reasons that have nothing to do with fantasy football. They are obviously just envious of my expansive knowledge of the subject and therefore their opinions should not be considered in this matter due to their blinding jealousy.
My love of fantasy football is well documented. When asked to describe my obsession with the game, my wife said, “why are you holding your hand up to my face as if you’re holding a microphone? You’re not. This is ridiculous, I’m going to bed.” Or at least I think that’s what she said, I wasn’t really listening because I was thinking about whether to draft a running back or a wide receiver in the first round this year.
When last year’s football season got under way, this blog was not yet in existence. By the end of the year however, the blog served as the home for the first annual “FFies” (a rather pathetic attempt at a cool nickname for the Fantasy Football Awards I created). I plan to bring back the FFies when the 2011 regular season wraps up in December, but that’s a long way off and I need to talk fantasy football now!
So today, I’m going out on a limb with some predictions for winners of this year’s awards. What better way to prove my expertise on the subject of fantasy football than by correctly predicting the outcomes before the season starts? Of course, I might look a bit foolish if these predictions don’t pan out and I’ll likely lose all credibility as a fantasy football guru going forward. But hey, I’ve already written like 300 words here so there’s no turning back now. Here we go!
FF MVP: Jamaal Charles- Only one thing stands in the way of an MVP season for Charles and that’s his coach. For two years now, the best player on the Kansas City Chiefs has been held back like that 5th grader with the 5 o’clock shadow. His potential is obvious and everyone sees it…except the guy who decides his game-day fate. Last year, Charles amassed over 1,400 yards on just 230 carries, a staggering 6.4 yards per carry. He also caught 45 passes for an additional 468 yards.
Charles was as dynamic as any player in the game in 2010. In fact, in 15 of his 16 games played, he had at least one run of 10 yards or more (and in the one game he didn’t, he made up for it with 5 catches for 80 yards). Charles had an MVP caliber season last year, all while seeing less carries than his teammate, Thomas Jones. This year, coach Todd Haley says he plans to give Charles more carries and relegate Jones to a “3rd down back”. If this statement is even remotely true, we are in for a potentially record-setting 2011 from Jamaal Charles.
FF LVP: Calvin Johnson- Ok, I’m going out on a limb here. Johnson is a beast, a physical presence that most defensive backs simply can’t handle. He’s fast, tall, and jumps like a freakin’ kangaroo. He’s coming off a season where he caught 77 passes for over 1,100 yards and 12 TDs. So why on earth would I be labeling him as a LVP candidate? Well, let’s start with the fact that he’s coming off a great season. Over the 4 years that Johnson has been in the league, he has had 2 sub-par seasons and 2 above-average seasons. These seasons came in alternating fashion beginning with a sub-par 2007 (granted this was his rookie season), followed by a great 2008, a disappointing 2009, and a very good 2010. Perhaps this argument seems a bit weak, but it certainly seems like he’s in line for a poor 2011.
The other issue I see with Johnson, is that his success is tied to so much that goes on around him. His QB, Matthew Stafford, has had a hard time staying upright in the two years he’s been in the league, playing only 13 total games. The only other true offensive threat on the team is RB Jahvid Best, who remains a constant injury concern despite playing all 16 games last year. That, teamed with the fact that in those 16 games, Best averaged a pedestrian 3.2 yards per carry, is why I’m not feeling all warm and fuzzy about the Lions. So despite Johnson’s obvious skills and potential, a great season may not be entirely up to him, and as the 2nd WR being taken in most FF drafts, I feel a “bust” coming on.
Biggest Draft Day Steal: Peyton Manning- Interesting choice, don’t you think? If you believe the fantasy football conspiracy theorists, the S.S. Manning is sinking faster than the Titanic. People are running away from Peyton like cockroaches when the lights come on. His average draft position has dropped dramatically throughout the preseason, and with the latest news that he will not start week 1, his stock is plummeting. Whenever Manning suits up and reclaims his role as the Colts’ starting QB (and I believe it will be sooner rather than later), he will once again be a top 5 signal caller in fantasy. So if you’re willing to take a chance (and another starting QB later in the draft), you can grab a 2nd round talent in your drafts 5th or 6th round today.
Most Frustrating Player to Own: DeSean Jackson- As a consensus Top-10 WR, most owners who draft him will be expecting #1 WR potential. At least 1,100 yards receiving and double-digit touchdowns are usually the benchmark for a player like that. I am not suggesting that Jackson won’t hit those marks; I’m only saying that you will be biting your nails all season watching him do it.
Jackson is a big play receiver. He can change the momentum of a game with any single play he is involved in. While this is an exciting player to root for if you are an Eagles fan, it is not ideal for fantasy football owners. We prefer consistency from week to week out of our “studs” so we can insert them into our starting lineups without hesitation. Jackson will frustrate the hell out of his owners this year because he’ll have weeks where he will explode for 150yds and 2 TD’s and others where he’ll catch 2 passes for 34yds. I’m staying away from DeSean this year and I’d recommend you do the same.
Unsung Hero: Cedric Benson- You may have missed out on grabbing him at his absolute lowest since he only served 5 days in jail for his off-field issues, but Benson will be a season savior for many this year. As more and more NFL teams shift away from the “feature back” strategy and towards a “RB by committee” strategy, the Cincinnati Bengals remain committed to their workhorse. He’s not the sexy pick (in fact, i don’t think he’s very attractive at all, but that’s just me), but he’ll carry the ball 20+ times a game and grind out 85-110 yards week in and week out. In most drafts, the feature backs are being selected in the first 3 or 4 rounds. Maybe it’s the fact that he plays for the Bengals and maybe it’s the fact that he was just released from prison; whatever the reason, Benson is being drafted anywhere from the 6th to 8th round this year, and that qualifies him as a steal as well!
That brings us to my prediction for the top point getters at each position by season’s end. And they are…
- QB- Aaron Rodgers
- RB- Jamaal Charles
- WR- Roddy White
- TE- Jason Witten
- DEF- Steelers
- K- Neil Rackers
- Schaub-shank Redemption
- Vick in a Box
- Burress-ted Development
- Make it Wayne on ’em
- Taste the Dwayne Bowe
- White Cassell
- Orton hears a Who
- Michael Turner and Hooch
- Blounts and Fortes
- I’m a man! I’m Forte!