Fantasy Football Preview: QB and RB

Hello, this is the first post of a new Bleeding Green Nation section dedicated to fantasy football. Starting week 1, I will publish rankings and some sleepers for the week. I also will hold a Q and A session for anyone interested Saturday or Sunday. Now, after explaining all that let me tell you more about me. I love fantasy football. Now, there is no way that it would ever affect my Eagles fanhood but after the Eagles game I watch NFL Redzone (the greatest channel ever invented) and root for my fantasy teams. Fantasy football makes watching the non-eagles games more interesting and for anyone that hasn't played before I highly recommend it. When I make my rankings for the Fantasy Football season, I like to separate the players into tiers. This makes drafting easier as I can see how many players of each tier is left. For example, if I'm picking 8th in a 10 team league and there is one elite tier RB and 3 elite tier WRs it makes drafting easier and more effective. It's a self-explanatory strategy and it has been successful for me.

Before I go into my rankings I want to talk about some draft strategies. There are so many different types of fantasy leagues its impossible to cover them all. My strategies will be geared toward 10 or 12 team non-PPR leagues. If you have a question about a very unique league, feel free to email me at birdsfan95@yahoo.com and I will respond to you ASAP. After the jump, I will give you my rankings and some draft strategies for this year in fantasy football. 

This year is a very interesting one to me because I feel there are no true elite no-risk players. AP is playing a team that might not have a passing game, which would lead to him facing 8 man fronts. Arian Foster is coming off a career year but lost his FB Vonta Leach and his coach has shown to be quick on the trigger when it comes to changing RBs. Chris Johnson is currently holding out and has shown no signs of backing down. For this reason, I think the strongest strategy is to grab a elite WR or QB in the first two rounds and then stock up on mid-tier RBs. This will minimize risk and hopefully one of your RBs will be the next Arian Foster or Peyton Hillis. Another strategy I subscribe to is maximizing the amount of WRs and RBs on your team. When you draft an elite QB, he is going to start for you every week except his bye-week. Why waste a roster spot of drafting a back up when I can get a solid guy on waivers the week of his bye. I do the same thing with TEs even if you don't get an elite guy there is no need to have 2 TEs. I am fine starting Brandon Pettigrew or Jimmy Graham each week. Finally, a mistake all fantasy rookies make is taking a Defense or Kicker before the last 2 rounds.  Last year the top defensives were Steelers, Packers, Patriots, Jets and Bears. Their preseason rankings were 8th, 3rd, 13th, 1st and 17th.  Picking defenses is very tough and don't be the guy who takes the Steelers or Jets in round 8. Kickers is even more random seriously the top guy last year was projected the 21st ranked player in the preseason. Take your kicker last and laugh at the guy who takes Nate Kading in round 11 or so. Also, this should go without saying NEVER draft a backup kicker or defense there are always solid fill-ins on waivers don't waste a roster spot. Now, instead of a having a backup QB, backup TE, backup D you have 3 more spots for RBs or WRs. When I'm done draft my team has 1 QB 1 TE 1 D 1 K and the rest of the spots are RBs or WRs. I do this because if 1 of my backup RB or WR turns out to have a great year I now have a stud on my bench and when a starter goes down or isn't performing I'm not scrambling to replace him I already have his replacement.  

Enough about strategy though lets get to the rankings. First up the QB position and when you talk about fantasy QBs the first name that is brought up is Michael Vick. Vick was incredible last year he averaged 27 points a game. 27 Points! To put this in perspective Arian Foster, the top-scoring leader, averaged 19.6 (ESPN Scoring). People like to say Vick cant repeat his rushing success last year. Why not, Vick had all of his success without having a playbook made for him now that Andy has had a full offseason to game-plan around Vick I think his numbers will be even better. Vick also has an improved offensive line and his weapons gained another year of experience. I think Vick if Vick can stay healthy he is a top 5 fantasy player for sure. So, while I do have some concerns about Vick, but his unbelievable upside makes him my top QB. Here are the rest of my QBs rankings broke up in tiers for you.

QB Rankings

Tier 1

Vick

Rodgers

Tier 2

Brees

Rivers

Brady

Tier 3

P. Manning

Schaub

Freeman

Rothlisberger

Tier 4

Ryan

Romo

Stafford

Bradford

E. Manning

Flacco

Tier 5

Kolb

Cassel

Cutler

Sanchez

Fitzpatrick

For me, this year there are 5 Elite QBs (Tier 1 and 2). I separated the elite group into 2 tiers because I feel that Vick and Rodgers are the only QBs worthy of a first round pick. Many people have Peyton Manning included in that group however his neck injury and his aging weapons make me concerned and don't feel he is in that top group. Another QB I'm down on is Tony Romo. This has nothing to do with my cowboy hate (okay maybe a little) it's more about my concern for him to stay healthy and my belief that they will be a running team (part of the reason I am high of Felix Jones). As for 2 QBs I am high on, the first is Matt Ryan. The falcons added Julio Jones to an already dynamic passing attack. Ryan has 2 big time weapons along with Turner out of the backfield and Gonzo as a safety valve I expect a big year out of him. Another QB I love is Josh Freeman. Last year in only his second year, he had nearly 3500 yards, 25 TDs and only 6 INTs. Freeman also added 364 yards with 0 scores. These numbers were good enough for him to be the 7th highest scoring QB. I expect him to improve on these numbers both rushing and passing wise. Don't be surprised if Freeman ends the year a top 5 QB.

Running Back is often the most highly publicized position in Fantasy Football and for years, the common draft strategy has been to draft RB-RB in the first 2 rounds. I already talked about how I wouldn't do that this year but RBs are still very important. Here are my rankings broken into tiers of course:

RB Rankings

Tier 1

J. Charles

A. Peterson

A. Foster

Tier 2

R. Rice

C. Johnson

L. McCoy

R. Mendenhall

M. Jones-Drew

M. Turner

F. Gore

S. Jackson

M. Forte

Tier 3

D. McFadden

A. Bradshaw

S. Greene

F. Jones (DAL)

L. Blount

J. Best

R. Matthews

K. Moreno

P. Hillis

D. Williams

B. Green-Ellis

D. Thomas (MIA)

Tier 4

R. Grant

M. Lynch

J. Stewart (CAR)

M. Tolbert

R. Williams (ARI)

M. Bush (OAK)

F. Jackson

B. Wells (ARI)

C. Benson

J. Addai

R. Torain

P. Thomas

M. Ingram

Tier 5

T. Jones (KC)

T. Choice

R. Williams (BAL)

B. Jacobs

J. Starks

CJ Spiller

W. McGahee

M. Hardesty

R. Jennings (JAX)

J. Ringer (TEN)

B. Tate

Lets start out with the Big 3: Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster. AP seems to be the consensus number 1 guy and while I can't argue with that if I'm picking number 1 I'm drafting Jamaal Charles. Last season, Charles finished with 9 pts less than AP. However, Charles had 53 less carries and 7 less TDs yes 7 less TDs. Thomas Jones is a year older and I expect him to be much less involved allowing Charles to get double-digit TDs and have a career year. Other guys I think could have big years are Ray Rice, Matt Forte, Shonne Greene, Felix Jones and Daniel Thomas. Before the addition of Ricky Williams, Ray Rice was my top overall player. After Willis McGahee left and they added the premier FB in the game, Vonta Leach, I thought he was in line for a huge year. The addition of Ricky Williams drops him from my top tier but that doesn't mean he won't have a great year. Ricky Williams isn't what he used to be and while he will take some goal line TDs, I don't think he will take as many TDs as McGahee did. I am also very high on Matt Forte. I was reading an article yesterday and came across a very interesting fact: In the past three years only 6 RBs have had 5 or more games each year with over 100 yards rushing. They were Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, MJD, Frank Gore and guess who Matt Forte. The first 5 are all going in the first round or early in the second. Matt Forte isn't going until the late 3rd at the highest but most likely middle of the fourth. That is insane value and I think he is a steal that late. If you could get Rodgers or Vick then say Calvin Johnson and then pair those 2 beasts with Matt Forte and either a WR like Fitz or a RB like Steven Jackson your team is going to be tough to beat. Shonne Greene burned many people last year and maybe that is why he isn't going until the 6th round. He is on a team that is going to run the ball and is in line to be their workhorse. LT, while he is still around, is getting older and I expect him to only be their passing back and maybe get some goal line looks. I get sick to my stomach saying this but I think Felix Jones is going to have a great year. He is the lead back on a potentially explosive offense and will get looks many looks in the passing game. He is a home-run hitter and whenever he touches the ball, he is a threat to score. I think he is a solid 2nd back and if you went QB-WR-WR he wouldn't be an awful first RB. I can't say any more good things about him because I don't think my stomach can take it. The last player I love is Daniel Thomas. He isn't the most talented played or even the best rookie but his situation is going to make him a very consistent solid player. He is the only RB on a team with a solid line. He will get 15-20 touches the game plus goal line looks. Thomas is a great flex or a low-end #2 RB that you can get in round 7 or 8. That's what I call value.

Some of the running backs that I'm down on are MJD, Peyton Hillis, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and LT. Owners of MJD last year had to deal with his nagging knee injury and had to deal with his playing status in constant doubt. During the offseason, he underwent knee-surgery and the belief is he wont play until the opener. MJD has been at the top of the league in touches, which has been a main reason for his success, however, with emergence of Rashad Jennings the touches will go down, and so will his success. To make matters worse for MJD, the Jags will probably start a rookie QB around the middle of the season allowing D's to key on MJD even more. I would like to point out that I'm don't hate MJD nor wouldn't I draft him however, what I hate is where he is being drafted. If MJD would fall until late round 1 or early round 2 I would draft him because at that point he is all upside. So, while I'm not totally avoiding MJD, a player I am avoiding is Peyton Hillis. Two words: Madden Curse. That was a joke but a bigger joke was his production the last 5 weeks of the season (I know that was really corny). He had 7 points, 9 points, 7 points, 3 points and 1 point during that time span. He clearly wore down toward the end of the year last year and that was only with about 10 weeks as a starting running back. There is no way I trust him to play a full year and yet he is being drafted as a guy with #2 RB production.  DeAngelo Williams received a huge contract this offseason however that doesn't make him any more of an attractive fantasy option. DWill hasn't played since week 8 and only scored 1 TD the whole season and yet people are drafting him in round 3. Really! There are so many better options. Could he have a good year? Sure, but I see his upside still being lower than his draft position. DWill's partner in crime, Jonathan Stewart, is also on my players to avoid list. If DWill had gone somewhere else I would have been one of his biggest fans however with DeAngelo still in Carolina I don't see him having much production this year. Unless DWill goes down in preseason, you will not see Stewart on any of my teams. The last player I'm avoiding is a player who helped me a lot last year and someone I loved: LaDainian Tomlinson. He had a phenomenal first half last year however after their bye in week 7 he scored only 1 TD and only had double digit points twice (10 pts each time). He is another year older and I don't see him doing any more than playing on the passing downs and maybe taking a couple goal line TDs. That's it for the RBs. Next Week I will break down the WRs, TEs, Defenses and Kickers.  

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