Greetings, Fools! Believe it or not, we held the mock draft for Sporting News' annual fantasy football draft guide on Monday night. How crazy is that? The 2013 NFL season must not be far off!
Of course, it's way too early to take any mock draft seriously; and my preparation was limited to printing off a set of third-party rankings and using those as a guide. So I'm not exactly at the top of my game and you can bet that my opinions will evolve over the coming months.
For now, here's what I came out with in a 12-team standard re-draft league (starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF). I had the 5th overall pick.
Round 1: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Yup, I took him over Rodgers. Did you realize Brees has been the top-ranked QB in fantasy football for two consecutive years? As a Rodgers owner last year, the memory of his late-season slump (4 TD passes total between Weeks 11 and 14) is still fresh on my mind. FYI, AP, Foster, Doug Martin and Rice went in the first four picks.
Round 2: Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars. I was disappointed that MJD was the best RB left on the board by the time my pick came up again. As expected, the elite QBs were gone by now, so I feel vindicated in taking a passer with my first pick. But I am not crazy about hitching my wagon to a diminutive rusher coming off a serious foot injury and playing for a team that rarely scores. My other choices were Matt Forte and Steven Jackson. Maybe shoulda gone with Forte.
Round 3: Roddy White, WR, Falcons. Amazingly, both Brandon Marshall and AJ nearly fell to me here. Roddy may not be the strongest WR1 any longer, but he'll do in a pinch.
Round 4: Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Great value in the 4th round, especially given the dearth of RBs still standing.
Round 5: Darren Sproles, RB, Saints. As it turns out, only Reggie Bush and David Wilson were taken in between my 4th and 5th picks. I was hoping Bush would slide, as I think he's in a great situation in Detroit. Sproles was about the last of the solid fantasy backs left on the table. (Vick Ballard was the next one taken, in the 6th round, if that tells you anything.)
Round 6: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys. Gronk and Graham gone in the 3rd. Hernandez left with the first pick in the 6th. I took Witten as the next-most reliable TE in the land, though I considered holding out for the ageless Gonzo.
Round 7: Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers. If J-Stew finally seizes the workhorse role and leaves DeAngelo in the dust, this will be a genius pick. Yeah, that's probably not gonna happen.
Round 8: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. I haven't gone through all the analysis yet, but don't be surprised if Hilton is one of my sleeper picks this year. He had a great rookie season and should continue to soar in his second year with Luck.
Round 9: Kenny Britt, WR, Titans. Somebody had to do it.
Round 10: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills. F-Jax showed he still has wheels and the ability to be a great fantasy contributor last season. If/when Spiller goes down this year, Freddy will be a strong proxy.
Round 11: Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins. Could find his groove as second-fiddle to Mike Wallace.
Round 12: Josh Freeman, QB, Bucs. My draft hinges on Brees staying healthy and stellar. I'd better not need Freeman more than once.
Round 13: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans. Really excited about this pick. By the time August rolls around, there's no way the first-round rookie will still be available this late. Houston has been looking for a complementary receiver to pair with AJ for years. Hopkins has a chance to be special.
Round 15: Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos. Not sure I believe he won't be a key cog in Denver's backfield. Not sure I believe he will be, either.
Round 16: Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots. This group knows better than to draft a kicker earlier than this round. I was the first to jump and the rest followed quickly.
Round 17: Michael Turner, RB, F/A. What the heck? He could land in a very favorable spot by the time August rolls around.
So there you have it. Admittedly, this isn't a roster I'd bank on. But no worries; it's only a mock. There's plenty of time to get it right...
Greetings, Fools. During the long offseason without fantasy football, there's not much news to report until we get to NFL Draft time. So, in an effort to keep track of the ever-shifting landscape of NFL rosters, we'll keep a running tally of all the free agent moves, trades and cuts that could have an impact on the 2013 fantasy football season.
We won't cover players that re-sign with their current clubs, though. Just the moves that involve players being released from, or swapping, teams.
As of March 2, here are the moves that matter:
Alex Smith, Chiefs -- Though not yet official, 49ers fans won't have him to kick around anymore.
Michael Turner -- No longer much of a burner, released by the Falcons in a salary cap move.
Titus Young -- Troubled but talented speedster signed by Rams after being released by the Lions. Alas, his stay in St. Louis was short-lived.
Hindsight may be 20/20. But hindsight armed with statistics can be brutal.
Until then, I’ll keep torturing myself – and you – by exploring what could have been had we made all the right decisions during our preseason draft. Yes, dear reader, it’s time for my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious 2012 Perfect Draft: The Final Solution.
So, Fools, this is my last regular column of the season. But don't fret. The fantasy season will be back before we know it. Be sure to follow me on Twitter so you'll know when I've posted news you can use here on the Fantasy Fools blog. We’ll be back to chase the perfect draft again in just a few months.
Thanks for tuning in!
Before we close the books on another exhilarating/frustrating/awesome/humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, let’s take a quick stroll back through 2012 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.
- Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
- Production during the fantasy playoffs – for our purposes, NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight. Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn. (Hear that, Victor?)
- For the most part, Week 17 is dead to us. (Sorry, Eli.)
Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Larry Fitzgerald. The once-elite wideout’s talents were squandered by a rogue’s gallery of passers, including Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer. Runner-up:Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs.
Darren McFadden, Raiders – Underwhelmed again with just 57 rushing yards.
Good morning, Fools. I hope you're not contesting a championship today, but there's no reason you have to stop playing altogether, either.
In two of my leagues, we play a Week 17 "Free for All Bowl," in which every team -- including those that missed out on the playoffs -- sets one final lineup. The top overall scorer wins 5% of the pot. It's a good way to keep the fantasy fun going for another weekend, and it gives us another reason to tune in the Red Zone Channel one last time.
So, for those of us with something on the line in today's games, here's the latest skinny from around the league:
Why shouldn't you play a Week 17 title match? Here's your latest reason: Ray Rice is NOT expected to play today, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. With little on the line, there's no reason for the Ravens to risk their star to injury prior to the postseason. While this isn't official, Schefter usually knows what he's talking about.
It could be a big day for rookie RB Bernard Pierce...
No word yet on Flacco, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin (shoulder); but it sure makes you think a similar stance would be taken on them.
We learned earlier this week that Trent Richardson, MJD, Mike Wallace, Pierre Thomas, Mario Manningham and Mike Nugent were done for the season. Since all but Richardson have been placed on IR, they won't appear on the inactive lists. Jets TE Dustin Keller also won't play today.
Don't count on Jonathan Stewart or Vernon Davis (concussion) to be available either.
However, it appears that Rob Gronkowski will suit up, and at least get a few snaps. It's not clear that he will make more than a cameo appearance, however; so if you have a decent TE alternative, you might be better off taking it. That said, nobody would be surprised to see Gronk spike one in the end zone today.
I was wrong earlier in the week when I indicated that Matt Leinart would be the starting QB in Oakland. That will be Terrelle Pryor instead. The change doesn't make me feel any differently about the Raiders' wideouts, including Denarius Moore. Keep him on your bench.
That's it for now. Inactives come next via Twitter (www.twitter.com/ladd_biro). Have a great Sunday, and good luck to all Fools playing for something!
Here are a few snippets from yesterday's 4th & Long column on Sporting News, along with a few updates from today's news.
If he plays at all, Trent Richardson is only expected to see spot duty thanks to a bum ankle. Montario Hardesty will get the lion's share of the load in the meaningless matchup with the Steelers. [Update: Richardson has now been declared out.]
Keep an eye on Matt Forte's playing status, as he is likely to be a game-time decision. With no Michael Bush to fall back upon, the Bears certainly need their starter in a must-win game. But his latest ankle injury may prove too painful to overcome so quickly. [Update: Forte has been upgraded to probable.]
After suffering a setback in practice, Jonathan Stewart (ankle) is not expected to be ready for the Panthers' finale. That leaves the workload in DeAngelo Williams' unsteady hands again. I reminded you last week that he couldn't be trusted. Did you listen?
A hip injury has kept Mike Wallace off the practice field all week, and it could force him out of Sunday's contest. That means that we've likely seen the last of the up-and-down speedster in a Steelers uniform.
Those who've been holding onto Rob Gronkowski (arm, hip) in hopes that he would be available for the last game or two of the regular season are about to be very disappointed. He's been a limited participant in practice for the past week, but there's little indication he will be activated prior to the playoffs.
More Saturday updates:
Both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy will miss Week 17 for the Browns, leaving the QB role in the hands of the great Thaddeus Lewis. With Trent Richardson also missing in action, could there be a better defensive play than the Steelers on Sunday?
Pierre Thomas is out for Sunday's matchup, but Chris Ivory will be back in the Saints' RB rotation along with Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram.
Why MJD waited until now to undergo foot surgery on his ankle is beyond me. But he did.
The 49ers put Mario Manningham on IR. He's done.
Mike Nugent has also gone to IR. Josh Brown will close out the season as the Bengals' kicker.
Wondering whether or not to start Marshawn Lynch and Dez Bryant, or to bench Brian Hoyer and Austin Pettis? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your realstarting lineup conundrums, read on.
Did you go over the fantasy cliff yesterday?
Good morning, Fools. Congratulations if you're still reading this! It's championship Sunday (in most leagues), and many of you are off to a splendid start after last night's Falcons-Lions tilt.
As for myself, I'm in two fantasy Super Bowls. In the first, I came into the weekend feeling pretty invincible. That is, until my opponent unleashed Ryan, Julio and Megatron on me. Holy PPR, Batman! I'm down 85 points on Sunday morning! Fortunately, I have Brady, AJ Green and Amendola set to go, and the bad guy doesn't have a lot of firepower left; so I'm not running up the white flag just yet.
In my Sporting News Experts League, I'm playing against a very strong No. 1 seed. But he got off to a terrible start with Gonzo and Matt Bryant. My Jason Hanson took care of them. Perhaps the fantasy gods will look favorably upon me there.
Anyway, enough about me. You care about you, right? Here's what you need to know to help set your championship lineup:
RG3 is fully expected to play. Start him if you've got him.
Ahmad Bradshaw joined the Giants on their short trip to Baltimore. They play in the later game, so you'll need to have a backup plan if you're planning to start Bradshaw. I don't like David Wilson if Bradshaw suits up; and after last week, I'd avoid him if possible even if the rookie is the starter.
Shady McCoy is expected to be "monitored" in his return from a concussion. Since this isn't a knee or ankle injury, the monitoring they'll do is to make certain he's not taking any more shots to the head or feeling woozy. If I was still alive in my league where I took Shady first, I'd be starting him. Bryce Brown can be electric, but he's terribly fumble-prone. Andy Reid wants to win his last home game. Who would you give the ball to at the goal line? I'm convinced that as long as Shady is mentally alert, he'll get the ball.
Jordy Nelson has already been ruled out. That's good news for Randall Cobb and James Jones owners. Wish I thought it would boost Greg Jennings' chances; but after two weeks of mediocre returns, I'm not counting on it.
Sidney Rice will be a game-time call on Monday night. Taking on a tough 49ers secondary, you'd be better off with a safer option anyway.
Rob Gronkowski didn't make the trip to Jacksonville (though it sounds like Tebow will be soon; but I digress).
Remember, Dan Carpenter was just placed on IR. Nate Kaeding will kick for the Dolphins today.
That's it for now. Good luck today to all Fools! I'll be tweeting the inactives and other late-breaking news today.
And also, Merry Christmas to all!
Here are some snippets from Friday's 4th & Long column for Sporting News.
All signs point to Robert Griffin III (knee) suiting up this weekend; and with the Eagles on tap, he will be a must-start. In Week 11, he torched them for 200 passing and 84 rushing yards, plus four TDs and no turnovers.
A concussion will most likely keep Alex Green out of the Packers' backfield on Sunday, but surely you weren't counting on him anyway, right? Green's absence would leave the modest rushing workload to Ryan Grant and DuJuan Harris. Thanks, but I'll pass.
An illness is keeping Steven Jackson out of practice this week, but there's little worry it will force him from Sunday's game. The Bucs' run defense was a shell of its stingy self last weekend against the Saints, so the Rams' workhorse makes a solid, though not terrific, starting option. [Update: S-Jax was back at practice Friday.]
It's too soon to say whether Ahmad Bradshaw will be back Sunday, but it's certainly hard to trust David Wilson given his mediocre output last weekend. I like Bradshaw's chances against the Ravens. Wilson, not so much. [Update: Bradshaw practiced Friday and is looking more and more likely to play, though nothing will be certain until the inactive list comes out.]
Don't expect Jordy Nelson (hamstring) to be available this weekend. Now, if only Greg Jennings could be trusted. [Update: Jordy is now listed as out for Week 16.]
Though Rob Gronkowski is back at practice on a limited basis, the tea leaves seem to suggest that the Patriots will hold him out until Week 17, at the earliest. Of course, if he plays, you start him. But I wouldn't bet on it. [Update: Both the Boston Globe and the NFL Network are reporting that Gronk will not play Sunday, though nothing official has been announced yet. Love me some Hernandez!]
The Dolphins just placed Dan Carpenter on injured reserve due to a groin injury. The well-traveled Nate Kaeding has been signed to replace him.
Other Saturday updates:
Jonathan Stewart (ankle) will be a game-time call on Sunday. His return would sour me even further on DeAngelo.
No surprise here: MJD has been ruled out for Week 16.
Torrey Smith (concussion) is now expected to play Sunday; but he's been pretty mediocre lately. I'm sitting him.
Brandon Pettigrew is officially doubtful for tonight's game. He ain't playing.
Wondering whether or not to start Adrian Peterson and Andre Johnson, or to bench Christian Ponder and Kevin Ogletree? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots at Jaguars. The veteran virtually disappeared for most of November, but his two best performances of the season have come this month; against some pretty stingy defenses, at that. Lloyd is a good bet to maintain his momentum when he faces off with one of the NFL’s most hospitable secondaries.
This was a great week to start…
I always hesitate to chalk up any weekend’s fantasy outcomes to luck – especially when I emerge on the winning side – but Week 15 seemed disproportionately off-kilter.
Good morning, Fools. Got a late start as church ran a little long, so I did my tweeting before blogging.
Here's a quick run-down on what you need to know for this all-important weekend of playoff football:
RG3 is inactive, so Kirk Cousins takes the helm for the Redskins. While he looked good in limited action last week, I would be very wary of counting on Pierre Garcon with Cousins under center and Browns shutdown CB Joe Haden shadowing the wideout.
In fact, I swapped out Garcon with Dez Bryant, now that he is definitely playing. With Steelers CB Ike Taylor out, I like his chances today against a reeling pass defense. Dez isn't postponing finger surgery to be a decoy. I'm trusting him in my playoff lineup.
Darren McFadden is fully expected to play later this afternoon, and I'm counting on him to excel against the lowly Chiefs.
Ahmad Bradshaw is out, leaving the backfield in the hands of last week's shining star, David Wilson. I like his chances against the Falcons' vulnerable run defense.
Also, Hakeem Nicks is active and should be in your starting lineup, unless your other options are truly elite.
Ditto the above re: Roddy White.
Danny Amendola will play for the Rams, and he has a nice matchup with the Vikings. But he's no sure thing (he caught one 38-yard pass in Week 12 last time he tried to come back), so I would only risk him in your lineup if you're playing in a PPR league.
Jordy is inactive again. Hopefully this is the week Greg Jennings returns to form.
Sidney Rice should play in Toronto against the Bills, but I'd be very wary.
You know Dwayne Bowe has been placed on IR, so that settles that issue.
That's it for today. Good luck to all Fools!
Here are a few snippets from yesterday's 4th & Long column for Sporting News' Fantasy Source, followed by other updates from around the league:
Jay Cutler (neck, knee) appears set to play in the crucial divisional matchup with Green Bay. That's great news for Brandon Marshall owners, and Cutler's presence will open the running lanes up a bit more for Matt Forte. Few fantasy squads are relying on Cutler's direct contributions, but there's no denying his value to the players around him.
The loss of Fred Jackson (knee) for the duration of the season should boost C.J. Spiller's value a bit, but in truth, Spiller has been the main man for a couple of weeks now, and the results haven't been quite as salty as we expected. Nevertheless, he remains a must-start against the Seahawks when the teams clash in Toronto this weekend.
I've managed to make the second round of the playoffs in one league despite selecting Darren McFadden with my second draft pick. Run-DMC's fragility has once again spoiled his season, but he wasn't even that effective when he was operating at 100 percent. Still, like Charlie Brown lining up to kick a football held by Lucy, I'm inserting McFadden into my starting lineup in hopes that he'll redeem himself against the soft Chiefs run defense. Coach Dennis Allen has said that the tailback's ankle is okay, and he'll be "a full go" Sunday. Please, Lucy; don't yank that ball away!
Those who jumped on David Wilson earlier this week after his masterful 327-all-purpose-yards breakout game should be tracking Ahmad Bradshaw's status very closely. Current speculation is that Bradshaw (knee) may not even make the trip to Atlanta, which would open the door to a healthy workload for the electrifying rookie. However, if the veteran toughs it out (as he's been known to do throughout his career), Wilson's starting value will be significantly diminished.[UPDATE: Bradshaw has subsequently been ruled out. Start Wilson with confidence.]
Some things used to make sense to me. For instance, as a young Ladd I answered affirmatively to the iconic question "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?" Today, I have no clue what that means. I'm similarly befuddled that Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) is still owned in more than 90 percent of fantasy leagues. You can't even see a little silhouetto of the man, so what exactly are you waiting for? MJD is already disgruntled over his contract status, so why would he risk further injury by returning to a 2-11 team?
I'm not sure why Cecil Shorts would rush back from his concussion, either, especially after seeing how repeated blows to the head landed teammate Laurent Robinson on IR just a few weeks ago. Even if he plays, Shorts is a risky start against a Dolphins pass defense that has held up well against the likes of Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernick in recent weeks. Shorts won't be 100 percent, while Chad Henne has cooled off significantly since his Week 11 outburst.
All signs point to Dez Bryant risking permanent digit disfigurement and playing Sunday against the Steelers. There's something inherently risky about starting a wide receiver with a broken finger, but with CB Ike Taylor (ankle) out, Bryant's prospects for continued success are heightened.
I sure thought Greg Jennings (groin) would contribute more than he did last week. Then again, I've been expecting more from Aaron Rodgers lately, too. Jordy Nelson (hamstring) is all but certain to miss another week [UPDATE: Nelson has been ruled out for Week 15], so Jennings will get another chance to reward his patient owners against a reeling Bears defense. Whether or not you start him all comes down to your available alternatives. Jennings is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect.
If Dwayne Bowe (ribs) doesn't play again this season, will anybody notice?
Don't be surprised if Sidney Rice misses the contest in Canada, eh? Though he has shed his walking boot, his foot has kept him out of practice all week and he'll likely be a game-time decision. [UPDATE: Rice now appears to be on track to play. But he comes with some risk.]
Danny Amendola (heel, foot) will also be an 11th-hour call. Only PPR-leaguers should consider him if he suits up for the Vikings game. Otherwise, the risk-reward ratio skews negative. [UPDATE: Amendola now listed as probable for Sunday's contest.]
A balky knee has Roddy White in question for Sunday's matchup with the Giants. You know you have to play him if he is active, but there's an outside chance the injury won't subside in time. [UPDATE: Roddy missed Friday's practice, increasing his chances of missing the first game of his career.]
If Jared Cook (shoulder) or Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) is your tight end, you need to make alternative arrangements. With Bowe out and no other viable weapon in the Chiefs' receiving corps, Tony Moeaki is a free agent sleeper to consider.
Other Saturday updates:
Jonathan Stewart (ankle), Chris Ivory (hamstring), Davone Bess (back) and Rob Gronkowski (arm) will not play in Week 15.
Ronnie Brown (hamstring) is doubtful, giving a slight boost to Ryan Mathews' mediocre value this week.
Hakeem Nicks (knee) is now listed as probable.
DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…blindly plugs David Wilson into your starting lineup expecting a second monster performance. No doubt, he’d be an excellent play if Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) is sidelined; but we likely won’t know the veteran’s status until closer to game time. As an explosive backup, Wilson offers some upside against the Falcons; but given the possibility of limited touches, you’d be wise to stick with a proven performer with more than one stellar game on his resume.
This was a great week to start…
But those counting on heroics from Chris Johnson, C.J. Spiller, Larry Fitzgerald, Torrey Smith and just about any top-flight tight end were sorely disappointed. Even the great A.J. Green let down his team, and his owners, with just 44 receiving yards and an inconceivable drop of a sure-fire touchdown pass.
About the author
Ladd Biro was named 2010 "Football Writer of the Year" by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Ladd's nationally syndicated columns have appeared in more than 20 publications -- including the Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times and Sporting News magazine -- since 2003. During the NFL season, he can be heard nationwide on Sporting News Radio as host of the weekly "Fantasy Files" program, dispensing his unique blend of wit and wisdom. Since 2009, all his written fantasy content can be found on the Fantasy Fools blog.