If you’ve been visiting this site for awhile, you may remember that I famously (in my own mind) announced my retirement from fantasy football last year. I nearly had to break that promise when an offer that I couldn’t pass up came along. My favorite sports website, Grantland, had a contest to become their new fantasy football writer. I love writing, and I love fantasy football. I had to give it a shot
Basically, each contestant had to submit your 5 best players plus one sleeper and explain your reason for each pick. Ten finalists would be chosen from the submissions, and they would compete all year in fantasy football and writing to see who would get to be the site’s new writer. Unfortunately, there were a ton of submissions, and I didn’t make the cut (as I look it over with fresh eyes, I can understand why). As a result, I was able to go through with my retirement, and I have to say I’m glad I did.
Since the football season is nearly over, and the fantasy football season is definitely over, I thought I would share my submission for the competition. This is exactly as I submitted it, so there’s no hindsight involved with these picks. You’ll see that I missed pretty badly on a few (my sleeper was cut about 3 days after I wrote it), but I nailed a couple others (my WR pick was brilliant). Enjoy.
QB: Aaron Rodgers
You might remember that Aaron Rodgers had a pretty decent season last year. There were a lot of reasons for this, but two were the excellent receiving corps and the complete lack of running game. You might remember that the Packers’ run scheme involved James Starks and Ryan Grant falling over for 3 yards until Starks got hurt and Grant actually did pretty well. The team decided to address this issue by…getting rid of Grant.
With regards to the receivers, if you could line up Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Donald Driver’s mummified corpse, would you even bother with a running back? You’d just throw the ball 45 times a game and run QB draws every time you get inside the 10 yard line. It’s entirely possible that Rodgers duplicates his performance from last year…by week 12.
RB: Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson has a ton of things going for him this season. He’s incredibly fast with great vision. As the Jake Locker area begins in Tennessee, there’s also a good chance that the Titans will lean on the running game as they bring their sophomore quarterback up to speed. There is one thing, however, that gives him an advantage over every other elite back in the league. He’s incredibly fresh because, as anyone who drafted him last year can tell you, he took all of 2011 off from football. Now, he’s going to take the field in a run-first offense with new treads on the tires. What’s not to like?
WR: MetLife Stadium Turf
Over the past few years, one stat has been more useful in determining which receiver to draft than any other: targets. You can draft the most talented wide-out in the league, but if his QB lacks the ability or desire to get him the ball, he’ll be the guy that you have to start every week because of his name but consistently turns in sub-par performances (see: Fitzgerald, Larry). Therefore, you have to consider targets before picking a receiver.
Lucky for us, we have an obvious candidate for the most targets this season. As you may have heard, Tim Tebow now plays for the Jets. That means that Mark Sanchez and Tebow will each play 8 games at MetLife Stadium. Is there any doubt that the turf of said stadium is going to be targeted at least 20 times a game? It may be even higher when you consider that Fitzpatrick, Tannehill, Kolb/Skelton, Romo, and Freeman are just a few of the names that will visit the same field. If you’re in a PPR league, you will have basically won your season on draft day. Of course, if someone else gets this pick first, you should be able to get decent production from the MetLife Stadium stands and the MetLife Stadium Gatorade jugs.
TE: Aaron Hernandez
When you talk about the top fantasy tight ends, Gronkowski gets most of the attention, but his teammate, Hernandez, has a couple things going for him. First, he’s possibly the 2nd best TE in the league. Second, it will only take one odd ricochet from his signature spike to knock Gronk out for the season with a massive concussion. Plus, if you’re in a league that awards negative points for excessive douschiness, Gronkowski is actually a huge liability. In fact, in those leagues, Hernandez is probably the only player on the Patriots’ roster that will end the season with positive points.
DEF: Baltimore Ravens
The last time that Ray Lewis was linked to an off-season stabbing, the Baltimore Ravens proceeded to put together the greatest defensive season in the history of the NFL. Well, if the rumors that I’m hearing (and perhaps starting) are any indication, history is primed to repeat itself.
Sleeper: Clyde Gates
The Dolphins had a pretty public quarterback competition this preseason. What’s amazing is that they somehow found a winner without the benefit of any wide receivers on the team. When the season starts, Bess, Naanee, and Hartline will probably be ahead of Gates on the depth chart, and if your plan is to win your league one 8-yard-out at a time, they are your guys. On the other hand, you could draft the only wide-out on the team with any semblance of speed and then pray to whatever deity you deem appropriate that Tannehill can throw the ball more than 25 yards.