Life + Fantasy = Football

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Sometimes, fantasy is better than reality. Other times, fantasy is just weird. And then, there are those times in life where fantasy actually helps to augment the real world experience. We like to call these times “Fantasy Football.”

Football is the perfect sport for the fantasy gimmick. Games happen once a week, so you can be one of “those guys” who simply sets your lineup once a week, or the guy who reads 38,000 expert articles and magazines and combs the waiver wire every week for hours trying to find that perfect pickup. The best part, of course, is that both of those guys (and the one somewhere in the middle) have an equal chance to win their league, because, quite frankly, there’s not really any way to out think everyone else for a title.  Simply put, fantasy football works for everyone because so much luck is involved in being successful.

So based on all this, why would I do a “Who to Pick for Your Fantasy Team” article? Because I have the blog, and I like to pretend I know things. Don’t like it? I believe the kids these days would tell you to “kick rocks barefoot.” Let’s break this down into two categories. First…

Five Guys I absolutely, undoubtedly loathe and won’t touch in a draft ever.

Before we delve into the list, let me say these two things. First, this will not be a “safe” article. I’m not putting Matt Moore on this list. That’s an obvious stay away. I’m calling out guys who most fantasy owners will definitely consider in high rounds.

Second, I am excluding my own personal “No Sports Bigamy” rule (don’t play a guy in fantasy going against your favorite team under any circumstance). For me personally, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson are no-goes, because I’d have to sit them for both Colts’ games AND their bye week. These rankings are from a football atheist’s point of view (no favorite team). So, here we go. ESPN’s overall ranking in parenthesis.

Arian Foster (2) RB, Houston Texans

You’re damn right I went there. Look, aside from the Rule of Sports Bigamy, I have three other reasons I hate this guy. First, he’s really not that consistent of a fantasy scorer, which I hate coming from a running back spot. He’s a feast-or-famine guy. Check out his point totals for the first five weeks (standard league scoring): 41, 12, 10, 30, 2. Numbers for weeks 15-17 (typical playoff weeks in Fantasy leagues): 12, 5, 19. If you were lucky enough to get to the championship in week 18, you were rewarded with another score-gouging 31 points.

That’s what you want from the first pick in the draft? Not if you’re trying to win a championship. I’d much rather take 15-20 points each and every week from a first round draft pick, even if I never get a 40 point outburst like Foster is potentially capable of.

Second, Foster revealed this offseason that he won the rushing title last year with a torn meniscus in his knee. Now, while his toughness is commendable, it does make me question his durability, as well as how he will react now that the knee has been repaired. Could it mean he runs more precise and is even more explosive? Absolutely. But just as questions after knee surgery dropped Mark Ingram all the way to 28th this spring, I also would stay away from a guy who had surgery on the powerful legs he relies on to get you all of those points.

The third reason I have aptly named the “Matt Forte Corollary.” Go back with me, if you will, to Fantasy Draft time 2009. With the third pick in our draft, I took second year back Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears, who had just come off a monster rookie campaign (1,700 total yards, 12 combined TDs). I figured, “this guy is going to make ‘the leap!'” Not quite. Defensive coordinators had an entire offseason to figure him out. The result? 1,300 total yards, 4 TDs. Not exactly what I would like to see from the number 3 pick overall. Look, I’m not saying Foster is going to be a bust, but… well, yeah, I actually am. Run and hide.

Mike Vick (10) QB, Eagles

Look, he’s a great story. I love the redemption opportunity sports brings to guys like Mike Vick. But I want a quarterback on my team that I can just relax and expect 270+ yards and 3 TDs each week. Mike Vick does NOT fit this category. He, like Foster, gets feast-0r-famine-y, and I avoid those guys like the plague.

Additionally (and more importantly) this guy gets hurt. He has played in 16 games exactly 1 season in his career. I don’t need my starting fantasy quarterback injuring his shoulder scampering for an extra yard in week 13, right before Fantasy Playoffs begin.

Frank Gore (13) RB, 49ers

Any time you are getting the ball handed off to by this guy, as appears the case this year, you know you’re going to be seeing anywhere between 8 and 13 men in the box, immediately limiting your productivity.  Additionally, he only played in 11 games last year, missing the others with a right hip fracture. Which, in my mind, is a giant red flag that was doused in gasoline and is on fire.

Hakeem Nicks (17) WR, Giants

I cannot fathom why Nicks is ranked above Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald Reggie Wayne, or Vincent Jackson. I get it; he had a monster year last year (79 rec., 1052 yards, 11 TDs), but are we really expecting that to continue? As the clear number one guy? With two games a year against the Eagles’ new secondary? In the swirling winds of the Meadowlands? Really?

Kenny Britt (19) WR, Titans

This guy was a stud last year catching passes from a corpse last year, but Matt Hasselbeck is a wide receiver killer. Best statistical season for a Seattle wideout when he was the starting quarterback that I could find: Bobby Engram in 2007, (1,100 yards, 6 TDs) and Darrell Jackson in 2006 (956 yds, 10 TDs). And those were 4 and 5 years ago, respectively. No Seahawk last year caught more than 4 touchdowns. I just want more from a second round pick than a touchdown every four weeks.

Now, let’s move on to

Five Guys Whom I Have a Totally Healthy Man-Crush On:

Adrian Peterson (1) RB, Vikings

Look, there’s nothing to say here. He’s the most talented guy. If you have a chance to take him, you do. No questions asked. Don’t out think the room, especially for that dork at #2.

LeSean McCoy (8) RB, Eagles

There’s always that one guy who you just like for reasons beyond stats, and McCoy’s that guy for me. He was on my team last year and felt like the most consistent contributor on my awful team. Why? Because he has all the tools; he catches passes out of the backfield, he can run it 20+ times a game (unless you ask Andy Reid), and he doesn’t get goal line touches poached from. Does the signing of Ronnie Brown scare me a little? Of course. But he’s always hurt, so I’m still taking this guy late round 1/early round 2 of the snake.

Philip Rivers (29) QB, Chargers

I hate him, hate his style, hate his team, but the man always ends up with 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is the mark of consistency that I look for in a quarterback. And you’re telling me I can draft my top running back AND receiver before getting him in round 3 (projected)? Yes. Yes please.

Miles Austin (31) WR, Cowboys

Again, I hate that I like this guy, because the Cowboys are almost the most evil team in the world (that title belongs to the Patriots), but I really think he’s in for a ridiculous year. I’m a huge fan of ‘guy who had a big year, followed by unrealistic expectations, followed by an okay year that was deemed a total failure,’ or as the lay person may call it, ‘Miles Austins.’ Look at his numbers: 81 rec, 1,320 yards, 11 TD’s (2009); 69 rec, 1,041 yards, 7 TD’s. You mean to tell me that John Kitna starting in ten (ten!) games last year doesn’t make up for that drop? I have unrealistic expectations again.

Felix Jones (48) RB Cowboys

What. Just. Happened. That’s two Cowboys in the Man-Crush zone. Well, let me defend myself…. Fantasy Football is like dream shopping for cars. It means very little what kind of gas mileage or how dependable a car is when you’re dream shopping… two things matter: ‘Does it look cool?’ and ‘Can it go fast?’ That’s all. Well, in Fantasy Football, the only thing that matters is point production, not the team that the guy plays for (unless he plays against your team, then he has to sit. I’m writing 2,800 words on this next week). The point is, I think Felix Jones is this year’s Ray Rice. As in, he’s the guy we thought was pretty good, but turns into one of the top 4 fantasy running backs by the end of the year.

So, potentially, with the #1 pick in the draft, I could draft four of these guys. And probably finish dead last. That’s the fun of Fantasy Football. You think you have all the answers until the season actually starts.

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