After a hiatus of around 25 years, I finally re-caught the fantasy football bug three years ago. My best finish has been runner-up in 2013. I am a purist in the fact that I will only play in one league at a time, and I know many of my friends are of the same mindset. Then there are the true fanatics in my circles who participate in up to 10 leagues each season. For my money, multiple leagues take most of the fun out of it. It is hard enough rooting for my guys as the Red Zone Channel chugs along each Sunday of the NFL season. If I owned several teams, I feel I would inevitably be rooting for—and against—at least one player each week (I would also get nothing done in my “real” life). I respect the people who own more than one team for their gonzoness. I cannot, however, be one of you.
With that off my chest, I will open the Fantasy Football Vault (otherwise known as my sometimes-sideways logical brain) and spew my opinions on a few of the things which have rattled through the gray matter imprisoned in my cranium over the summer. Please bear in mind that these slants are mine, but there is always room for yours in the “comments” section. In fact, I encourage them. I will even reveal the roster of my 2015 team, The Surgin’ Generals, at the end of this column. Here’s hoping The Vault will yield at least one golden nugget you will find useful as you march toward your league title this season.
Yes, but for how long?
We didn’t even make it to the pre-season games before Arian Foster went down with another one of those pesky soft-tissue injuries. Now we learn, from Coach Bill O’Brien, that Foster is ahead of schedule and “I think he’ll be back sooner, rather than later.” Anyone who has ever owned Foster, and I am among them, knows what an inconvenience it has been each Sunday to bite your nails and hang on every injury report and speculation coming out of the NFL Network, Twitter, Facebook and anyplace else on the world wide web up until kickoff time to see if he will be active for the Texans’ game. First, let me say that one of my biggest Pet Peeves is when so-called “fantasy experts” will downgrade a player because they think he will get injured, or his body will break down from overuse, e.g. DeMarco Murray. Foster, on the other hand, is a proven injury risk. It doesn’t matter if he comes back “sooner rather than later,” he will be out again with another injury sooner rather than later again.
Does it make sense to own anyone on the New England Patriots besides Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski? Coach Bill Belichick has already thrown the fantasy world a curve in cutting Jonas Gray, and the season hasn’t even begun. If you ever start a Patriot running back and he has a great game, sell him as soon as you can. Belichick will make sure someone else gets the ball next Sunday. This is not a criticism of Belichick—it is more a tribute to his genius, and probably a reason why he has all of those rings. “We’re on to Cincinnati…”
The best Belichick impression
Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly is doing his best be the Belichick of the NFC. The Eagles are going to score points in bunches this year, but who will get the bulk of the fantasy scores outside of Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray? There was a conversation on Twitter about the “high-scoring” Eagles, and I put in my two-cents-worth, wondering if there were too many stars on the team to really be able to be confident in anyone breaking the bank in fantasy football scoring. One guy chimed in with something like, “Don’t worry, Philadelphia will score enough for everyone to get their points.” The thing to remember is that nothing is certain, and before you add any of the “other” Eagles, let them play a few games and see who is trending. Ryan Matthews certainly could be a fantasy gold mine if Kelly really wants to limit the amount of touches for Murray, who carried the ball almost 300 times last season for the Cowboys. Jordan Matthews looks to be the lead receiver, but rookie Nelson Agholor could take some targets from him, along with all of the running backs. It is no secret that Kelly loves to involve his offensive backfield in the passing game. At tight end, Zach Ertz has been predicted to have a breakout year by some experts. To make things more confusing, Ertz is battling a sports hernia and is doubtful for the opener in Atlanta. Finally, with all of the touchdowns expected from the Eagles, kicker Cody Parkey should be a sure thing, right? This is Chip Kelly, and the 2-point conversion is 12 yards closer to the goal line than the 1-point kick.
It’s all an illusion
Every year I have to remind myself not to overreact to everything—or anything—I see in the pre-season. It is perhaps more important to remember that 90 per cent of the general public is overreacting to those meaningless games. Ameer Abdullah, a rookie running back for the Detroit Lions, made one impressive 45-yard run in his first pre-season game. In that one feat, Abdullah went from a great 10th or 11th round sleeper pick to an 8th or 9th round reach. His current ADP in ESPN draft leagues is 88.1, and he was taken at No. 52 in my league. That is no surprise, as Abdullah played his college ball in Nebraska and many of us hail from the Cornhusker State. Another example is Latavius Murray, RB for the Oakland Raiders. Murray burst onto the scene last year in a Thursday game against the Chiefs(112 yards; 2 TD) after playing behind Darren McFadden most of the year. He has done nothing in the pre-season. I suspect, however, that with the passing game expected to excel behind QB Derek Carr and rookie WR Amari Cooper, more running room should be created for the hard-running Murray. I have a feeling that the Raiders offense was very vanilla under new Coach Jack Del Rio, and things could get very exciting for the Black & Silver this year. I am high on the Raiders in 2015.
With that, it is time to unveil the Surgin’ Generals roster for 2015:
Many of you will probably notice that I am deep in wide receivers and a bit top-heavy in running backs. My conundrum will come in Week 7 when both CJ Anderson and Eddie Lacy have their bye weeks. My bench includes several “flyer” RBs who may or may not have a prominent place on their teams by the 7th week. There might be much activity on the waiver wire and trading block for me that week.
I am most proud of my acquisition of Tom Brady in the 5th round (this was before he got his suspension lifted), and discovering Davante Adams available with the 86th pick in the ninth round (Jordy Nelson suffered his injury just a few hours before our draft).
Have a great season, and good luck!