Thursday, August 28, 2014

Top 20 Fantasy Players (and why you should wait on Quarterbacks)

     We're back, folks. That's right. It's football season all over again. And, more importantly (especially if your fanaticism leaves you with a team not in line for the big dance this year (GO LIONS!), It's Fantasy Football season! The chance for every fan, no matter where you're from, to become equals on the make-believe grid iron. What's at stake? Well, bragging rights, of course. What better feeling is there as a fan than saying you predicted and navigated the season better than anyone in your league? How great does it feel to hoist that (proverbial) trophy while your best mates gaze upon you with admiration and disgust, knowing that this was the the moment that they had been dreaming about every night for four straight months??!?
     OK. Not all of our leagues are quite that dramatic. But winning feels good, even in a "garbage league". 
     I am here to give my insight on the fantasy season and how it plays out. I might not be considered an expert, per-say. But, I have an extensive knowledge of the sport and players and a passion that can only be matched by those making $100,000+  a year for advise I am going to give you for FREE! Take it or leave it. But, if you take it, please share this blog with your friends and co-players. I will give weekly start/sit advise pending on match-up, and answer any questions you may have via email (twitter @ryanknowledge).
     So, You ready? lets get to IT!!!!

     I prefer to play in ten team standard leagues, though my top ten would vary very little for deeper or PPR leagues. My philosophy, like many others is, take running-backs first and often due to the shallow depth at the position, and likelihood of injury. Why take handcuffs late when you can have two other backs that are guaranteed starting rolls in their respective offense? 
     Also, Quarterbacks are plentiful in any standard league. If you are playing a two quarterback system or playing in a league where QB's are rewarded bonus points for yardage or 6 points (as opposed to the standard 4) per TD pass, then by all means, take Peyton Manning first over-all in your draft. But I wont be, 
     Think about this, there was (roughly) 105.7 point production variance between the top ten QB's of the 2013 season ( besides Manning's incredibly fantastic fantasy year), and 3 of those quarterbacks (Andy Dalton[3] Phillip Rivers[6] and Ben Rothlisberger[8] (based on FFtoday default scoring, ESPN has them slightly shifted, but all within top ten), that aren't even being drafted as starters in ten team leagues this year! That is roughly 7 points per game that you could easily make up for with stud RB's and WR's in the first four rounds, and start aiming for QB's after you have a solid roster started. 
     Tight-ends are different. But, I am still waiting on them. After Graham, Thomas and (maybe) Gronk, the similarities are so slight that there is no reason to jump for a Vernon Davis or Greg Olsen. Jordan Cameron can definitely give you value, if you can take him outside the first 6 rounds. But, in my draft experience thus far, Cameron is going much sooner than that. There is no reason you should think that you can get less value from a Dennis Pita or Jordan Reed this year and get just as much "bang for your buck".
     Ok, almost to the rankings segment, but, there is one more thing I want to say about drafting this year. And that is, go with your gut. If you are drafting late in a 12 team league and it's between Marshawn Lynch or Peyton Manning, I would not fault you for taking the QB in this scenario. You have to go where the value is. And while I, personally, value the running-back more so than any other position, I have seen many-a-leagues won with a first round stud QB selection. And that is what I am trying to convey with my rankings. While I am most certainly aiming for certain players this year, given a draft position can easily change my feelings about not only a player, but a player position. 

OK! Here they are...


Jamaal Charles- I don't care if you are in a PPR (points per reception) league or not, Charles is my #1 overall in any draft. 19 total TD's last year. And while the argument against Charles is a scattered and unproven offensive line, Chiefs Running-backs have averaged roughly 4.5 YPC this preseason. So, obviously the situation isn't THAT abysmal.

LeSean McCoy- DeSean is gone, and LeSean should gain. While I don't think QB Nick Foles has another 27 TD-2 INT season (his numbers will level out a bit...I think 30/10 is reasonable), I am sure that the Eagles offense is going to feature McCoy and his Ridiculous skill set. Look for him to put up similar numbers as his 2013 campaign.


Matt Forte- As a Detroit fan, it kills me to say that I, really like the Bears offense this year. Jay Cutler is poised to have a great year with two of the most dangerous vertical weapons in the game. And, Forte looks to benefit from the abundance of options in this explosive offense. He should easily eclipse 1,200 yards and 9 TD's this year. BUT, beware in keeper leagues. I think he has one, maybe two solid years left in him. 


Adrian Peterson- Another NFC North running-back that you just have to love as a fantasy player. This man is super-human at times! The only reason I have him at forth instead of first (like the general ADP for the second straight year) is simply because I don't believe in this offense. I know they brought in Norv Turner who is an offensive minded coach that should be able to stretch the field. But his weapons are limited. Matt Cassel as the starting QB actually HURTS ADP's chance of a repeat at the top of the fantasy field. With the nearly ancient Gregg Jennings playing across from the rising star that is Cordarrlle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph (who just got injured while I was typing this sentence) I see no reason why teams can't double cover Patterson, and stack the box against Petterson and Cassel. But...I could be wrong. It would be hard passing him up at the four spot in your draft given his remarkable talent. 


Eddy Lacy- Just one look at that mugshot like pose tells you that E-D- LACY AIN'T NOTHIN' TO @#$! WITH. This man won the starting role as a rookie outright, albeit in a pass heavy system. James Jones sought greener pastures in Oakland and I don't see Eddy not bettering his performance from last year because of it. Yes, Rodgers is back and will be a superstar once again. But, He is a nice guy, who has no reason NOT to share his glory with this All-Star in the making. 


Calvin Johnson- I said it earlier, I like running-backs FIRST! But after the first five running-backs, I can't see a player on the draft board that will make your team great BESIDES ol' Megatron. Look, You want players in the first rounds that will make a difference. If Calvin is there, I can't find a reason not too take him in the first, and select high upside RB's in the next few rounds. Hey, You wont lose BECAUSE of Megatron!


Demaryius Thomas- There is really no need for an explanation here. Huge guy, sure hands, great speed, Peyton Manning. That is really all you need to know. With Josh Gordon out of the picture, I see no reason why Thomas doesn't finish #1 at his position this year, if not in all of of fantasy. Towards the end of the first round, If I can't take an RB I like, I am taking an elite receiver. 


A.J. Green- Really, the first three WR's are interchangeable, really. There just are not that many RB's I like in the first round. Especially with A.J. sitting pretty on the draft board. You should know he has talent. He hasn't NOT made the Pro Bowl yet in his career. He is the man in Cincinnati and will be in the top of his profession for years to come.


Doug Martin- Most people are really down and Martin this year. And with the disappointing 2013 campaign he had, I can see why. But he had a decent start last year hitting double digit fantasy points in his first three games. And Tampa's offense wasn't that good last year. Then, of course, he was injured in week 7 and his season is over. I don't think he will repeat his rookie year, but I think he is worthy of a first round pick. 


Montee Ball- Tenth is probably the highest you have seen Ball ranked so far this preseason. So, Am I crazy? Maybe. But not because of this pick. If you are looking for RB1 potential currently going outside the second, Ball is your guy. I drafted Knowshon Moreno in the fifth round or later in nearly everyone of my leagues last year. And the leagues i dind't win, I at least made the playoffs. Ball IS better than Moreno! And really, it's the system he finds himself in. Manning LOVES the hurry up no huddle fast pace style of football. Meaning whoever is on the field is going to stay on the field. I see great things from this kid this year. 

11-Mashawn Lynch- AKA, BEAST MODE. A lot of people have him going in the first round and I can see why. Seattle is a running team and Lynch is the top dog there. I am just worried about his overuse and that little summer hold out he had.. We have seen how that's worked out for others in the past..
12-Jimmy Graham- Really, I think you can wait on the TE position and still do just fine. But Graham is definitely an elite talent and can give you the same value as a top tier WR. Plus, if you do get another good tight-end late in the draft, remember, they can be used in most flex spots, too. 
13-Peyton Manning- Okay. I kept you in suspense long enough. Manning is the #1 QB this year. I don't think he hits that 50 touchdown mark again, but he'll be close. I know I am the lowest on him and if you really have your heart set, you'll have to take him in the first round. 
14-DeMarco Murray- If you chose to not choose a RB in the first round, I think you really need one now. Murray, if he can stay healthy, can give you RB1 like numbers in the second round. He is just someone I would probably handcuff with probably Lance Dunbar later in the draft. 
15-Arian Foster- Foster is another guy I am probably too low on. But if you haven't noticed a trend, you will soon. This is where I am putting great RB potential that I feel come with a lot of risk, and probably another handcuff (I think it's Jonathan Grimes, at this point). If he falls to you in the middle to end of the second round, I think he could make you happy. 
16-Giovani Bernard- I really liked this kid as a rookie last year, and still do. Great vision and speed. If it wasn't for a man that goes by BGE, Bernard easily could have doubled his touchdowns to 10, and added a couple hundred all-purpose yards. I think he'll get more work especially around the goal line this year. But watch out for Jeremy Hill!
17-Zac Stacy- Stacy did just fine without Sam Bradford last year, and I think he'll do just fine again this year without him. He is the feature back in a team lacking serious weapons. He'll get the work needed to be a top 10 running-back this year and he is going late in the second round in most drafts. 
18-Dez Bryant- Being on a team with the absolute worst defense can only help it's best wide receiver. They will be playing catch-up a lot and Dez should put up big numbers because of it. 
19-Aaron Rodgers- What? Not Drew Brees? Shouldn't I have ranked Rodgers a lot higher? Maybe. But I won't even take him here. There is little doubt of his greatness. I just think you can find good QB value later in the draft and need to stack up on other positions first.
20-Drew Brees- I am sure you have me figured out by now. I really don't think I will take Brees with my second pick, either. But if I didn't have the top three fantasy point producers( all QB's) somewhere in my top twenty, I would never be taken seriously.

Honorable Mentions- Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Le'Veon Bell, Alfred Morris

     Well, that's it. I know it's a little late but my top 20 players are done! Next week I'll talk about any new developments, injury or arrests, probably. Also do a list of 10 start/sit players going into the opening weekend of football!