From a fantasy perspective, I've never seen a season this wide open. Thanks Jim Irsay Jr.! When the Mad Tweeter decided not to bring Peyton Manning back into the fold after major neck surgery, it sent the NFL into organized chaos. Once Manning hit the open market, NFL GMs had two things to decide.
- Are we going to make a go at signing him?
- If we can't sign him, we better make sure we have a hell of a plan b.
The Redskins mortgaged their future on RGIII, the Browns have a very good option in their own right with a 28-year old rookie QB, the Seahawks are sitting pretty with Matt Flynn and even the Vikings have a formidable guy in Christian Ponder.
The only team, in my humbled opinion, going into the season with major questions at the pivot position are the Miami Dolphins. But they've had that problem since the 90s. Some things never change - even with the tennis Williamses as part owners.
So, here's your guide to NFL fantasy football 2012.
First, a couple tangents:
It's gotten to the point where if I didn't have a fantasy franchise, I wouldn't even watch football. I'd probably get a part-time job delivering Boston Pizza or something on Sundays.
But, as it stands right now, happiness is NFL Sunday Ticket and a laptop on my, um, lap.
Note: Although this post is usefull to anyone in a league, it's geared more toward two-player keeper leagues. I've been in one with the same group of guys now going on a decade.
Defence, defence, defence.
Which is an odd paradox because I would never actually draft a defence. Ever. But here's what it is: a good defence will yield you between 15-20 points per week. That margin, readers, is the difference between winning and losing. Living and dieing. The flip side of that scenario is picking up a defence with a brutal match-up and getting maybe four points in a given week - if you're lucky. You won't win anything with that kind of production - even if you're team is stacked everywhere else.
But, you gotta do your homework. The easiest way to do it is through stats. Most sites usually list teams from first to worst. Flip the list and find the teams with the least amount of offense gained (you know, yards, touchdowns, etc.) over the previous weeks. Narrow in on the worst five. Find out who they're playing over the next few weeks and pick up those defences. I routinely have up to three defensive squads on my bench. Seriously, in fantasy (*tangent, I ALWAYS feel stupid using the word "fantasy") it's the little things that count.
Don't worry about running the ball.
Running backs are overvalued. Unless LT from 2004-2009 is available, please, for the love of God, don't think for even two seconds about going for broke on an RB. Yeah, you need them (most leagues require you start two), but you'll do just fine with a tandem of Marshawn Lynch and Willis McGahee. As long you focus on every other position, you can afford to have average RBs and still do well.
You need a good QB.
The only real truth to fantasy is that you need a good-to-great QB to win it all. There's almost no way around that. Again, in a two-player keeper league, chances are all the big guns are already off the board. But if you're in a free-for-all league, draft an elite QB with your first pick. Don't even think about it.
And you need at least one stud receiver.
The beauty of this is that most teams have at least one. So as long as you don't grab Peyton Hillis in the second round, you'll have time to pick up a Victor Cruz or a Julio Jones type. Those types of receivers win championships.
My tight end strategy over the years has changed a little. That's mostly because there are roughly 9-10 very solid fantasy TEs in the league now. Before, as in about five years ago, they only TEs worth having were Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark. But, to win a title, you need a good TE. There's no way around it. Again, it's a position were you can maximize. Case in point: Ron Gronkowski. "Gronks", from a point-to-point perspective, was the second leading receiver last season behind Calvin Johnson. Having someone with that type of offense output After the top-10 TEs, there's a massive drop off in talent at that position.
Don't be afraid to reach.
If you like someone, pick them. It's that simple. Except Peyton Hillis. Just don't do it.
The first round means ALMOST nothing.
From a statistical standpoint, I had my greatest season ever last year. My first round pick was Dallas Clark. Massive bust. I think he netted seven points for me all season. You think I'm kidding. I'm not.
The fantasy season is won and lost in rounds 4-7. Remember that. And don't waste picks in those rounds. You can afford to miss in the first round -but nowhere else.
The last thing I'll do for you is provide a list of sleeper picks. And, as I said, don't be afraid to reach for any of these guys.