Fantasy Football 2012 Preview : Quarterbacks

As the days wind down here in July, a cool Autumn breeze is just around the corner.  And while some might be looking forward to having a Brees of their own, it’s quite a price to pay for some.  Pardon the pun, but it’s almost football season, and because of that fantasy pundits and amateurs alike are preparing for draft day.  A day where hope springs eternal, kickers are taken in the 8th round because EVERYONE knows the Patriots are going to be the highest scoring team in the league, and alcohol is both revered and reviled.

This is the first of each positional preview I’ll post outlying tiers, sleepers, busts, and value based drafting (VBD)  for each position.  The first up is that of the quarterback, and if you had an elite one last season, you got more than just that back.  Chances are you not only won your league, but also the money and bragging rights that ensue.

Tier One:  Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady

All three of these quarterbacks are the best of the best.  All three offenses were in the top three in yards per drive, points per drive, TD’s per drive, and drive success rate.  Brees and Brady both threw for over 5,000 yards (eclipsing Dan Marino’s yardage record as well) and Rodgers was 5th in yards.  Each contributed 40+ touchdowns to their respective offenses and all limited their interceptions.  If you want great talent at the quarterback position, these are your guys.  However, it’s going to cost you a 1st round pick as each player has an ADP within the first ten picks.

While there isn’t a particular player that is a sleeper, the quarterback with the biggest question marks is Drew Brees.  The removal of Sean Peyton and defensive assistant coaches might make this team a bit of a conundrum come draft day.  I would still take Brees ahead of the 2nd tier quarterbacks, but Brady and Rodgers should be ranked slightly higher due to the consistency of their offensive units.

Tier Two:  Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Cam Newton, Michael Vick

One threw for over 5,000 yards, one came within 67 yards, and another had a rookie season in which he ran for the 2nd most rushing touchdowns in the LEAGUE.  The potential for each of these players is as high as anyone in the league, but certain questions arise that will lower their cost and possibly cause them to miss a start or two.  Stafford, Vick, and Romo have had health concerns, Cam Newton only eclipsed 210 yards passing once in the final six games.

Potential Bust Based on ADP:  Cam Newton:  He took most of his fantasy owners to the playoffs at worst last season and could have been had as a FA pickup after the draft.  He ran for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns. Three touchdowns came inside the 1 yard line against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Panthers recently picked up Mike Tolbert.  I’d say he’s there to protect the franchise investment and run those in.  Additionally, he is a quarterback and late in the season, defenses adjusted their schemes and took the passing game out of the equation.  The lack of a second receiver on the Panthers makes this corps very shaky outside of Steve Smith.  With an ADP of 20.3, you will be taking him in the mid-late 2nd round.
Sleeper Alert:  Phillip Rivers:  Rivers is being drafted on average in the middle of the 6th round.  Rivers threw for over 4,600 yards (the 2nd most in his career), 27 touchdowns (4th most in his career) and even ran for a touchdown (only the 3rd time he’s ever done that).  Granted the interceptions were a problem, as he had 20, but in most fantasy leagues an interception only docks you a single point or two at most.  Rivers was still a top 10 quarterback in most fantasy formats last season and he’s being drafted AFTER Peyton Manning.  Oh…and about that Vincent Jackson guy being gone?  Two seasons ago when Jackson had his extended holdout, Rivers had a career year.  Consider Buying!
Tier Three: Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman

Each one of these quarterbacks are very good game managers, but there are SEVERAL questions with each one.  Can these guys be top 10 quarterbacks?  Most definitely.  Will they?  Time will tell.

Potenial Bust…and Sleeper based on ADP:  Peyton Manning:  Everyone has talked about Denver’s acquisition of quite possibly the most enigmatic fantasy player ever.  Manning is being drafted ahead of his Super Bowl MVP brother.  While the biggest question mark is Manning’s health, the other question is the talent level of the Denver receiving corps.  Demaryious Thomas and Eric Decker are both the main guys here and Jacob Tamme was added to be the starting tight end.   Thomas caught fire at the end of the season and had three 100+ yard games to finish the season/playoffs.  Eric Decker in the first four games of the season had 270 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Once Tebow came into the fold his numbers went down big time.  Tamme we all remember from two seasons ago as a fantasy star with Manning.  Unfortunately, we have to take into account the health of Manning.  Preliminary reports have him between 80-90% and many believe he may never fully get to 100% healthy again.  The biggest question is…is an 85% Peyton Manning better than a fully healthy Eli, Romo, Ryan, or Cutler?  I’d be willing to say yes, but I don’t think I could pull the trigger.

Sleeper Based on ADP: Ryan Fitzpatrick.  When the Bills won, Fitzpatrick played very well.   In Buffalo’s six wins, Fitzpatrick threw for 1,492 yards with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.  While it won’t be in the same league as Brees or Stafford, 250 yards 2tds, and 1 pick a game would not lose you a game.  Unfortunately, when the Bills lost, Fitpatrick played horribly.  In his 3rd season at the helm, he makes for a great backup quarterback to the top two tiers or could pair up nicely with any of the other third tier quarterbacks.
Tier Four:  Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, RGII, Matt Flynn, Matt Schaub, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck
Chances are the only reason you’re drafting one of these guys is as a dynasty pick (RGIII, Andrew Luck, or Matt Flynn), a bye week filler (Alex Smith vs. STL for Aaron Rodgers is a good one and Dalton vs. DEN for Brady based on their matchups and how they’ve performed against those teams), or you’re just crazy.  You are at a huge disadvantage starting a quarterback in this tier compared to any of the aforementioned starters.
Sleeper of the bunch:  Robert Griffin III:  If there’s anyone that can replicate the amazing season of Cam Newton, RGIII could be the guy to do so.  The Redskins got next to nothing out of the quarterback position last year and traded the farm in order to acquire the franchise player.  Kyle Shanahan has raved about Griffin’s eagerness to learn the system and now that the contract has been finalized, he won’t have any time missed from training camp.  Both Griffin and Luck will be on watch lists during the pre-season and throughout camp, and could easily be moved up a tier before draft day.

Keep an eye on:  Tim Tebow: My guess is Tebow is the starting quarterback after the bye week.  The Jets have some tough matchups in the first half of the season with Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston, and New England on the slate.  4-4 at the bye week won’t quiet the crowd, and it won’t reduce the temperature on the hotseat for Rex Ryan.

Deep Fantasy Sleepers in Fantasy Baseball 2012

The “Season” has started.  Well…as a technicality the season has started, but how many of us really decided to stay up to watch…the Mariners and the A’s?  I cherish my sleep, and I somehow someway do not feel particularly motivated to stay awake to watch these two teams.  I think most are in agreement that this match-up is no Djokovic v. Nadal…instead an Ungur v. Jaziri (go ahead and look it up, they’re real names)

Opening Day begins on the 4th, which means that for those that did not draft before the A’s and Mariners series in Japan, we are all drafting this weekend.  For most of us, we’re in 10-12 people leagues.   Depth is not terribly critical in drafts, and many have shallow free agency pools.  For those of us however that are in deeper leagues or larger leagues ( 14+ team leagues) we have less of a selection and more questions regarding any available player.  These are the players available in more than 95% of leagues that can make a difference this season and will have good potential to be waiver wire darlings.

Ryan Ludwick:  Ludwick has had good years playing in front of an MVP first baseman.  He hit .299 and had 37 home runs in 2008.  This year he’s sandwiched in the lineup between Joey Votto and home run machine Jay Bruce.  He is going to get a lot of pitches to work with and has the potential to have a rebound year.  Unfortunately, durability has been a concern with Ludwick.  He’s only played over 140 games once.  The Reds were seventh in runs scored, seventh in Home Runs ( 105 HR at home, ranked 4th in MLB) and were in the top half in batting average as a team.  A potential .260/25/70/70 player is available in 99.4% of ESPN leagues

Casey Kotchman: Matt LaPorta isn’t going to be taking the first base job and the Indians are going to have to score runs somehow.  If Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are healthy, that gives Kotchman the opportunity to drive in some runs batting on an otherwise anemic offense.  Kotchman might never hit more than 20 home runs, which at 1B you generally want, but he also won’t strike out often and last season he hit .306 for San Diego.  His career BA is .268.  Again, he’s not going to lite the world on fire, but he will have opportunity.  A healthy Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore would help…unfortunately we all know the odds of that coming from Sizemore.

John Mayberry Jr. :   Owned in just 11.6% of ESPN leagues, Mayberry presents a classic example of buy low.  Juan Pierre has made the team, but Mayberry can also play first base due to the injury to Ryan Howard.  Mayberry finally played a bigger role for the fightin’s in 2011 and it showed that he is in need of more playing time.  He hit .273 in 267 at bats.  He has 25 HR potential if he can play a full season, and given the variety of injuries suffered in Philly, he could easily have the opportunity to contribute.  Couple this with OF/1B eligibility and it provides a great bench player that can be substituted into multiple slots.

Luke Hochevar : The Opening Day Starter for the Kansas City Royals was probably discarded by most before the All Star game last season.  However, if you had him afterwards. you surely noticed the 3.52 ERA in 12 starts.  His K/BB ratio post all star break was 2.83 and a WHIP of 1.13.  Opponents were batting a parsley .222 against Hochevar post All-Star Game as well. Pitching against teams like the White Sox and Indians also helps, but a big problem has been run support.  Regardless of the run support, a three category pitcher who can potentially pick up a couple wins is great for pitching depth.

Welcome to my Blog

To those that have made it this far, I commend you on giving me an opportunity to share my thoughts, opinions, and (on occasion) eccentric beliefs about anything and everything of importance in my life.  The blog concept has long motivated me to write, however the lack of vision or direction often hindered my ability to do so.  However, as is the case with many blogs, I do have several areas in which I focus much of my attention and devote enthusiasm as well as passion, and it is THOSE areas which I intend on writing about.

I devote much of my time to following my favorite sports teams, through thick and thin, and while my girlfriend might not fully appreciate the amount of resources I devote to not only watching sports and participating in fantasy sports, it acts as my catharsis for the stressful events of my life. Primarily I will dedicate much of my blog towards my favorite sports teams, but will also focus my attention towards the other blissful events in my life.  The difference that I hope to achieve in writing about sports is to maintain my particular writing style.

In addition to sports, I am an avid food and drink enthusiast.  Dining out has always maintained a high level of personal appeal despite the cost.  Regardless of this particular hurdle, I find myself consistently dining out at different restaurants and trying new and unique cuisines coupled with personal favorites at familiar establishments.  Having worked in the food industry, I understand that the meal that a customer orders only satisfies a small portion of his or her hunger.  Customer service, cleanliness, and overall decor accentuate the true purpose of dining out.  When I frequent a Mexican restaurant, the last thing I want to hear playing on the Muzak radio station is Too Fast For Love by Mötley Crüe, despite the personal appeal of that particular album.

My hope is give anyone and everyone that reads my blog, no matter how few or many people, a fresh and unique perspective into one man’s passions.  While some of my opinions regarding a particular sports team, dish, or movie might be shared by others, it is my utmost desire to make them unique.

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