You can feel it. The draft is near, your boards are ready, hell...some of us have already knocked off two to three drafts already. In any case, final cuts are fast approaching, and rosters are starting to shape up. Your big money drafts are on the horizon, let's get cracking'!
Mr. Wilson ! Mr. Wilson: I'll admit, the man crush is reaching insane proportions, but watching folks grab Cam Newton late last year (ask my buddy Forbes how that worked out for him) and ride the two way street of passing and rushing TDs to a Championship, there's good reason to be hopeful about the talented young QB out of Wisconsin. It was clear after two preseason games, in which Wilson faced backup defenders in the second half, he was more poised and far and away more dynamic than Flynn. If the two were ice cream, Flynn was French Vanilla, Wilson was Cookie Dough Supreme.
Wilson got his shot Friday night, starting against the formidable pass rush and secondary of the KC Chiefs. The results? 13/19 185 yds and 2 TDs. He also ran twice for 58 yards. I'll be honest, I added him as a QB3 in one league, in the hopes that I can use him ultimately as a high end backup, or trade bait . Either way, his arrow is pointing up, and he won't be on the waiver wire very long.
UPDATE: Pete Carroll named Wilson his week one starter (vs. ARZ) on Sunday. So there's that.
Speaking of the SeaChickens: Gotta love that Seattle defense. I waited until late to grab my defense this year (as I tend to do every year, or none at all), and Seattle looks to be a good call. They sacked Matt Cassel three times, took a pick to the house (Earl Thomas), and the special teams returned a punt for a touchdown (Golden Tate). The arrow was always pointing up for this talented young group, and a late bye week (11) means you won't have to worry about a filler until well after you've begun to lock up your playoff spot.
Amending the "Simple Plan": That's right, I never said my plan was etched in stone. It was a guideline, a Crane Technique if you will, if executed properly...no can defense, Daniel San. Why now? Well, we're beginning to see the RB position questions answered. Some good, some bad. MJD looks to have his feet firmly planted in the muck that is a potentially lengthy holdout. Shad Khan is old school, and expects his contract players to show up with a toothy grin. If MJD expects any concessions on the Jaguars part, think again. Rashad Jennings looks great, and more importantly, so does Blaine Gabbert and Justin Blackmon. The identity of this team could quickly shift away from MJD, and hence any shred of leverage he still had left. In the meantime, Jennings looks to grab the a hefty workload in his wake. A former 13th round ADP, I grabbed Jennings in round six (6.8). What a difference a few weeks make.
What does that all mean? Questions loom about Chris Johnson being consistent all season, guys like DeMarco Murray are being pushed into the top 6-8 picks, and the RB position is more volatile than ever. Which is why I advocate RB/BPA in the first two rounds. Your challenge is to find a legit RB1 with that first pick, but don't reach for a time share back. You can get great value in the middle rounds from backs like Jennings, Hillis and Ridley, who will have solid roles and could easily out perform RBs like Gore and Turner, who have traditionally gone much higher off the board. I've had luck recently with taking a high ceiling (with some admitted risk) RB like McFadden with my first pick (from the 5-7 spots), and then taking a WR like Julio Jones in round 2. I've also taken a QB with that pick, but as my original states, I prefer to wait on a QB and TE, and that hasn't changed much.
I'm a strong advocate of grabbing as many team WR1s as you can to maximize your PPR scoring. If that WR1 happens to be a TE? So be it, although there are fewer of them around, Graham, Gronk & Gates are the three "Gs" that come to mind. Bear in mind, I'm still stocking up on WRs and RBs in those middle rounds, and I'm not afraid to take a swing for the fences with a rookie QB as my QB2, think Luck, RG3 and even a little later, Russell Wilson, who looks to be locking up a starting gig in Seattle (as outlined earlier). Get your defense and kicker late, and always look to talent and situation over a name.
One last tidbit for those of you who are forced to take a DEF/K in your respective leagues, look to take DEFs and kickers with as late a bye week as possible. Why? Why not? Set it, forget it. I've long advocated for playing matchups, but this year, I'm avoiding the headache. The following teams are viable fantasy options, and you likely won't have to touch them until after you've already cemented your playoff spot....
DEF: (Week 10) Green Bay, Arizona. (Week 11) Seattle, NYG.
K: (Week 10) Phil Dawson, Neil Rackers. (Week 11) David Akers, Lawrence Tynes
Patriot Games: One of our favorite Patriot beat writers, and great follows on Twitter, @GregABedard, cited that Hernandez was quickly becoming Brady's number one target, and fantasy pundits are quick to endorse that notion. Hold on playa, here's the skinny...
Wes Welker is dinged up, and hasn't played much: Nothing to get worried about, it's just Belichick protecting one of his most reliable weapons. However, it does skew the dynamic of this offense. Hernandez becomes the slot/hybrid and benefits as the check down outlet, ala Welker. Once Welker is back? The targets will drop some. (1) Brandon Lloyd isn't clicking just yet. Granted, there's no cause for concern yet (ala Ocho No-Show), but it also impacts Hernandez. Once Brady/Lloyd gains steam, again, targets drop some for Hernandez. (2) The OL is still getting healthy: A healthy Mankins, Vollmer, and potentially the return of Brian Waters? It's a night and day proposition. A hurried Brady is an inaccurate Brady, and more likely to hit the check down to Hernandez, or RB screen in those cases. All of that taken under consideration, I still like Hernandez to be a big part of the offense, just not as consistent as some might lead you to believe.
Pey-Pey's Kids: Peyton Manning helped a lot of us who were worried that he wasn't quite there yet, when he picked apart the best defense in the league in the Forty-Niners. Manning finished with a surgical like 10 for 12, 122 yards passing, and 2TDs. Both strikes went to Eric Decker, which may have some Demaryius Thomas owners worried...well fear not. While Manning's strength comes back slowly, so too will the big throws. We all know two WRs can thrive in a Manning offense, so just be patient.
Downtown Antonio Brown: Brown looked damn near uncoverable vs. Buffalo, to the tune of 7/108/2TDs. Make no mistake about it, with or without Mike Wallace, he's the GUY. They paid him to be the man, and until Wallace returns (or not) you have to beat the man that is Antonio "Ric Flair" Brown.
Don't Jet the Small Stuff: I once had a Twitter follower refer to the Jets offense as an "abortion." I corrected him and thought he meant "abomination"...I'm beginning to think he was right the first time. When you can only manage 4 field goals vs. the Carolina defense, this is a situation for fantasy owners to avoid. The only exception would be the defense, which now has a pass rush again with the addition of Quinton Coples.
Player Values on the Uptick: Rashad Jennings, Justin Blackmon, Russell Wilson, Jake Locker, Kendall Wright, Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith, Stevan Ridley, David Wilson
Player Values on the Down Slope: Laurent Robinson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Shane Vereen, Matt Flynn, Anquan Boldin, Andy Dalton.
Rounding out today's NFL News and Notes with some lighthearted fare. My good buddy and 2MugsFF supporter, @TommyDubbs46, took full advantage of his association with yours truly, and picked my brain over the last few days in a slow moving draft he was participating in with some friends. Granted, this was a group of fantasy noobs, and it became pretty clear as the draft progressed. After several phone calls and texts, Tommy asked if I wanted to co-manage and split the buy-in. Why not? I'm down with easy money like Rodney Dangerfield. Here's how we crushed this baby- (10 team league, 15 RDs total, standard PPR league)...
QB: Matt Stafford, Russell Wilson RB: McFadden, T. Richardson, D. Martin, R. Jennings, Stevan Ridley WR: A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson, Darius Heyward-Bey. TE: Kyle Rudolph DEF: Seahawks K: Rob Bironas.
You can find me on Twitter @RumfordJohnny for your last minute draft questions, and I'll also be appearing on the BrownsDraft.com podcast this week to talk draft strategy, so look for that as well by midweek. Cheers.