By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s 2009 Fantasy Football Guide (Part 2)
PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — What started out as a wacky rotisserie league concept for football by former Oakland Raiders part owner Bill Winkenbach and his friends Scott Stirling and Bill Tunnell in the 1962 has grown into its own subculture and is the passion of football fans and casual fans everywhere.
Fantasy football is now part of the fabric that ties everyone together and gets people watching the NFL, (well at least the stat ticker at the bottom of the screen) which is by far the number one sports league in the world.
Fantasy football leagues are all about one upping your buddies, having fun watching games (every game counts now or at least the stats), trash talking, and allows fans to experience the highs and lows of “legalized gambling”.
The number of people involved in leagues are staggering with an estimated 35 million people participating in fantasy football leagues.Of that group the majority are males in the marketing bonanza demographic of between the ages of 25 and 54, but we are also seeing more women competing with the men for stats superiority.
And when you talk about the dollars involved in fantasy football (over $250 million dollars spent on gaming services around fantasy sports), leaving sponsors and advertisers start drooling.
Yesterday, we focused on some the do’s of fantasy football. Today, here are some of the many things you want to avoid in order to have a successful and less stressful season.
Don’t panic at the draft - If the player that you wanted to select was taken right before you pick, don’t sulk, just follow your wish list. It happens to everyone, but you have to pull the trigger when the player you want is on the board.
Don’t sit at the table reading a Fantasy Football magazine or other cheat sheets - If it was up to me, I would recommend that you leave the Fantasy Football magazine at home. But make sure that you know your material as nothing is worse than sitting at the draft waiting for some slow poke to incessantly read a FF publication trying to find a player.
Don’t drink too much at the draft – This is a good rule of thumb for any activity, but especially when you are building your team for the upcoming season. You don’t want your judgment clouded by too many brews. I was at a draft once where a guy drank too much booze and wanted to quit the next day when he saw his roster.
Don’t get catch in a position run situation at the draft- I have seen it too many times where one FF participant makes a selection of a particular player at a position that didn’t warrant the selection, another guy follows right behind them — think TE Tony Gonzalez being taken in the 3rd Round and someone reaching to grab Eagles TE Brent Celek – late round value). I can’t emphasize it more, “Trust your list”.
Don’t forget about defensive units and kickers - Though I usually select these two areas last in FF drafts, they truly matter. Often with the “pinball” machine numbers created by quarterbacks, running backs, and top-level receiver, people forget that you can “steal” points with kickers and a good defense. You never know when you will need a point here or there to get you over the top. On defense look for a team that gets turnovers, defensive touchdowns, and sacks (Ravens in 2008). I have to admit that I am not a “kicker guy”, but an accurate kicker who can put it in from long range (40 yards or more), can help carry a team during a slow week. Also factor in dome vs. non-dome in your kicker selection.
Don’t become too focused on teammates - When I first started playing FF back in the day, a veteran said that the key was to get a receiver and quarterback on the same team. That works fine if you have the best quarterback and receiver for that particular season (Think Brady and Moss, 2007), but I like to have a diversified roster of guys in different divisions and team, so I can guard against when a particular NFL team has a bad couple of weeks. I have also seen where a FF player reaches to grab a second tier wide receiver just because they have that WR’s quarterback.
Don’t cry over last year - Every year I hear people in my league complain that so and so always wins and that they have no chance. Well if you don’t want to compete then do us all a favor and quit. As I stated earlier every year is new and everyone in a Fantasy Football league has an equal chance based on the luck of the draw (good drafting and roster health are pluses).
Don’t be a quitter - I have seen it year after year, where someone has a bad draft or gets behind after a couple of weeks and packs it in. I know most leagues try to guard against this by having playoffs, rules, and other incentives, but quitting should not be an option. Always submit your lineup and try to do your best till the end of the season. You never know through waiver pickups and trade you could get back into the playoff scenario.
Now that you have the basics of fantasy football down, I have included a list of my top 10 fantasy football picks for 2009 below.
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson – The NFL’s leading rusher last season with numbers 363 rushes for 1,760 yards, 4.8 ypr and 10 TDs. This guy is a real beast and if Vikings head coach Brad Childress is smart, he will give the ball to Peterson again and again. Forget about new quarterback Brett Favre carrying the Vikes as Peterson is their best shot at the postseason. There is talk that the third year back could become the NFL’s sixth running back to gain over 2,000 yards in a season.
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones Drew – Fresh off receiving a new contract ( four-years, $31 Million contract includes $17.5 million guaranteed) and veteran Fred Taylor leaving for the Patriots this offseason, MJD is primed for a huge season. The versatile Jones-Drew has scored 40 TDs in his first three seasons â€” second in the NFL only to LaDainian Tomlinson’s 61 during that span â€” and he led all NFL backs with 62 catches in 2008.
Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams – This former thought to be “bust” emerged as one of the NFL’s most dominating backs in 2008 — rushed for 1,515 yards with a 5.5 ypr average and 18 touchdowns. Williams became the Panthers lead back in their two-headed backfield, starting ahead of 2008 rookie Jonathan Stewart. In 2009, look for Williams to have another huge year since Stewart is banged up heading into the season with an Achilles injury.
Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning - No Fantasy Football list would be complete without the NFL’s top quarterback over the last decade. Manning won his third MVP award in 2008 and extended his NFL record in ’08 with his ninth 4,000-yard season (passing numbers of 371-555, 66.8%, 4002 yards, 27 TDs, and 12 INTs. With his knee totally healthy and a receiving corps featuring Wayne, Gonzalez, Clark and emerging rookie Austin Collie, Manning doesn’t look to slowdown in 2009.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald – The most dominating receiver in the NFL has to have a spot in the Top 10, despite several FF analysts saying to wait on selecting a receiver. Fitzgerald was sensational in ’08 putting up regular season numbers of 96 receptions for 1431 yards and 12 TDs. He also led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl while establishing playoff records of 30 receptions for 546 yards and 7 TDs including 2 TDs in their Super bowl loss. Fitz is a terror around the endzone and every Cardinals’ opponent needs to know where he is at all times despite two other 1,000-yard receivers on his team (Breaston and Boldin).
Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte - One of the NFL’s most versatile running backs, who should only improve with the addition of Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler. As a rookie in 2008, Forte carried the Bears’ offense with numbers 316 rushes for 1238 yards and 8 TDs plus a team-high 63 receptions for 477 yards and 4 TDs. Bears offense should definitely improve on their 2008 numbers as Cutler will be working to form a rapport with Forte, dynamic TE Greg Olsen, former college teammate Earl Bennett and speedster WR Devin Hester.
St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson – A dominating dual-threat running back who really is his team’s only option at times. Jackson had his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season despite missing five games because of injuries finishing with numbers 253 rushes for 1,042 yards, 4.1 ypr, and 7 TDs; 40 receptions for 379 yards, 9.5 ypc, and 1TD. Look for Rams new staff led by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to get the ball to Jackson often.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees – The NFL’s passer leader in terms of yardage in 2008 has a “bombs away” mentality. Brees working with a multitude of backs, receivers, and tight ends became the NFL’s second quarterback to throw for over 5,000 passing yards in a season, finishing with 5,069 (Dan Marino’s is mark of 5,084 is the record). Look for the 2008 NFL Offensive Player of the Year to continue putting up big fantasy numbers in head coach Sean Payton’s offense as he has a lot of weapons in RB Pierre Thomas, RB/Slot WR Reggie Bush, WR Marques Colston and others to work with.
Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson - The NFL’s greatest secret may reside in Houston, TX and his name is “Andre Johnson”. Coming off an injury plagued season in ’07 people didn’t expect much from the former Hurricanes’ star in ’08. But to a lot of fantasy football player’s surprise, Johnson led the NFL in catches and yardage as he put up Pro Bowl numbers (115 receptions, 1575 yards, 13.7 ypc, and 8TDs with a long of 65 yards. If potential breakout quarterback Matt Schaub can stay healthy the sky’s the limit for this big fast receiver.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady - I know Tom “Terrific” only played in one series of one game in 2008 as a knee injury (ACL) ravaged his season. However there is no way that I am leaving arguably the best quarterback in the game off my list. Brady is coming back to an offense that put up 410 points and 43 TDs with former deep benchwarmer Matt Cassel at the helm, so the former Super Bowl MVP should pick right back up leading Bill Belichick’s attack. And let’s not forget that Brady threw an NFL record 50 TDs in 2007 while throwing to still on the team targets WR Randy Moss and WR Wes Welker.
Best of the Rest
QBs — San Diego Chargers QB Phillip Rivers, Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo, Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner, Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
RBs – San Diego Chargers RB’s LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles; Indianapolis Colts RB’s Joseph Addai and Donald Brown; Houston Texans RB Steve Slaton, Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson, Falcons RB Michael Turner, San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice, Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush, and Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook
WRs– Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White, New England Patriots WR Randy Moss, Buffalo Bills WR Terrell Owens, Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, Green Bay Packers WR Gregg Jennings, Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin, Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne, Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe, Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall and Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco
TEs — San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates, Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten, Chicago Bears TE Greg Olsen, Indianapolis Colts TE Dallas Clark , NY Jets TE Dustin Keller, Washington Redskins TE Chris Cooley, SF 49ers TE Vernon Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Kellen Winslow, and Vikings TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Kickers - New England Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski, Philadelphia Eagles K David Akers, Tennessee Titans K Rob Bironas, Atlanta Falcons K Jason Elam, San Diego Chargers K Nate Kaeding, Green Bay Packers K Mason Crosby, and Arizona Cardinals Neil Rackers
Defenses – Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, NY Giants, San Diego Chargers, Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles.
NEXT: My top ten players to avoid.