Thursday, August 25, 2011

12-Team, PPR Fantasy Football Team

QBs: Josh Freeman (TB), Donovan McNabb (MIN)
RBs: Chris Johnson (TEN), Matt Forte (CHI), Mike Tolbert (SD), Tim Hightower (WASH), Rashad Jennings (JAX), Javon Ringer (TEN)
WRs: Calvin Johnson (DET), Mike Williams (TB), Mario Manningham (NYG), Lee Evans (BAL), Steve Breaston (KC)
TEs: Jason Witten (DAL), Brent Celek (PHI)
K: Neil Rackers (HOU)
D: Baltimore

Scoring: Pass TD – 4, 50 yds passing – 1, INT – -2, Rush/Rec TD – 6, 25 yds rush/rec – 1, rec – .5, fum – -2.

QBs: My string of first overall picks finally came to an end this year. This time I had the third pick in the draft and selected Chris Johnson. By the time it was my pick again at 22, Tony Romo and Matt Schaub were the only ‘top-tier’ quarterbacks left and I wasn’t going to overdraft like I may have in the past. Thankfully I was able to put my Dallas fandom aside and decided it was too early to take either one of those guys. With that in mind, I chose to wait on a QB since about nine of the 11 teams had already selected theirs. I’m not sure exactly which round I took Freeman, but I know I had already selected my top three RBs and WRs as well as Witten. Considering I got Freeman in the 8th round (or later), and some people are projecting him to have a breakout season, I can live with my starting QB. He only had one monster game last year, but had a nice split of 25 TDs to only six INTs. He finished eighth in scoring amongst QBs in our league in 2010 and I’ll gladly take it if he can do that again this year.
I took McNabb a few rounds later for some insurance. Although I like Freeman, he isn’t the prototypical stud that you are going to start every single week without hesitation. I feel McNabb is a viable backup (hopefully) and is capable of spot-starting for me if the matchup calls for it. Fantasy Football has become very QB-driven over the last few years. Looks like I will be going against that trend this year.

RBs: As you can probably guess, I am very in-tune to the on-going contract situation with Johnson. At the time of the draft, I felt there was no way the Titans would enter Week 1 without their best player. Their fan base would have to revolt, right? While I still feel that way, the talks aren’t progressing at a friendly rate and you never know what is going to happen. I may have taken a risk, but I feel it is justified. Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster were gone and I wasn’t sold on putting Jamaal Charles or Ray Rice ahead of him. Perhaps I could have chosen Charles since it is a PPR league, but Johnson is just as dangerous on screens and short passes – if not more. I probably would have even taken Johnson second overall if I had the chance. I don’t trust RBs with knee issues (Foster), especially in the first three picks. And I couldn’t tell you the last time a RB was the No. 1 scorer two years in a row. Either way, it looks like I get to play the waiting-game with Johnson. I’ll be sure to leave him some comments on his Twitter feed about how I would be willing to raise his $12M contract to a $12,000,020 contract.
            I was then between Forte and Vincent Jackson in the third round. With the Johnson twins already on my team, I had to decide which position I wanted to solidify. As you can see I went with the RB. I really debated taking Jackson. He is a flat-out stud and will probably receive 45 percent of the targets from Philip Rivers. Although Jackson is a beast, WRs are a dime-a-dozen. You can always find a WR along the way to plug in. He may not be of Jackson’s caliber, but WRs can be quite hit-or-miss on a week-to-week basis. With this being a PPR league, and Forte being a tier 1-2 RB, I felt that he was the right choice. Plus he will touch the ball 15-20 times a game whereas Jackson may see the ball eight times at the most. Forte may loose some touches to Barber at the goal-line, but I don’t see that becoming a long-term problem regardless of what everyone else is saying. As a Cowboys fan I have seen Barber lose a step over the last two years and know he isn’t the same back he was in 2007. Forte also has big-play ability and can take a screen the distance at any given moment. Not many people can say that about both of their RBs. Other than a Charles-Ryan Grant combo, and perhaps Foster and Ahmad Bradshaw, I feel that I have the best RB tandem in our league.
            I took Tolbert in the sixth round or so because I feel like he will eventually be the starter in San Diego. I had Ryan Mathews last year and saw how that turned out. Tolbert is the goal-line back and tackling him is like tackling a bowling ball with legs. He, along with Tim Hightower – who is the starter and is having a great preseason for the Redskins, is great backups in my eyes. Either one of these guys is capable of starting if an injury or bye week crop up. Ringer is solely a handcuff for Johnson. Too bad it looks like rookie Jamie Harper may be pushing him for the backup duties. It doesn’t really matter because neither of them is going to see the field on my fantasy team.

WRs: Calvin Johnson was staring me in the face at pick 22 and I couldn’t see myself passing him up. He is a top-tier WR – third behind Andre Johnson and Roddy White on most boards – and made the most sense at the time. The QB and RB pool wasn’t worthy of the second round pick and he probably fell further than he should have. I am pretty sure Andre, White and Fitz were gone at the time so in my eyes he was the best player available.
            I was elated to get Mike Williams at the end of the fourth round. I had him on one of my fantasy teams last year and all he seemed to do was catch touchdowns. He is Freeman’s go-to-guy and has shown the ability to make some acrobatic catches. He is a top-of-the-line WR2 and gives me a QB-WR combo. Sure its Tampa’s combo, but it could work. Now, instead of getting 7.5 points for a 25-yard touchdown, I will be getting 12.
            If Williams doesn’t pan out to be as great as I think he will be, then Manningham will be a nice second option. Eli Manning has shown trust Manningham and is not hesitant to throw his way. Heck, he nearly had 1,000 yards and nine TDs last year as the team’s No. 3 WR. This year he will be the No. 2 and should benefit from teams rolling covering Hakeem Nick’s way. A lot of analysts are predicting a big year from him. I am just hoping it doesn’t become a problem trying to decide who to play every week. Nothing frustrates a fantasy owner more than beating his brains out trying to figure out which player to play – and then watching the guy he benched blow up for 130 yards and two TDs.
            Evans and Breaston are fill-ins. I think Evans will have some value throughout the year as Baltimore’s No. 2. He should be the deep threat and could have some big weeks – although they will probably be on my bench. Breaston is a stretch. He is Kansas City’s No. 2, but the Chiefs are a run-first offense. And when they do throw, it is usually in Dwayne Bowe’s direction.

TEs: I was fortunate enough to snag Witten early in the fifth round. I already had my starting RBs and WRs and Witten was the last of the top-tier TEs available. The pick was basically made for me. I actually had my eye on him when I took Williams, but I passed and prayed that he would last four more picks. Thankfully he did. It’s funny because he may be the best fantasy TE at the end of the day. Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark are studs, but have become somewhat injury prone. Vernon Davis has no QB. Jermichael Finely may be the next safest TE, but even he is coming off on knee surgery. Witten, on the other hand, has only missed one game in his career and that was in 2003.  As long as he stays healthy this year, he will start every week for me.

K: Some boards have Rackers at the top of the list. I don’t really care since you are usually splitting hairs when it comes to picking a kicker. All an owner wants is a kicker who is a part of a powerful offense and has a leg to hit some 50-yarders. Rackers possesses both. Considering he wasn’t even one of the first five kickers off the board – I’ll take him.

D: I am content with Baltimore as my defense. Pittsburgh, Green Bay, New York and Philly were all off the board by the time I decided it was time to pick a defense. Much like Witten, the pick was made for me. I look at the Ravens’ schedule and see six teams that can possibly score more than 20 points on them. The Steelers (twice), the Jets, the Texans, the Colts and the Chargers. Even then the Pittsburgh games can be low-scoring. The Jets too. Plus the Jets and the Colts are at home. We get 20 points for a shutout in our league. Those 20 points can go a long way in deciding whether you win or lose. Add in the fact that Ed Reed likes to return picks, fumbles and missed field goals for touchdowns and you have a potentially high-scoring defense.

Looking over my team as a whole, I am very pleased. I feel as if I have a solid 1-2 punch at both RB and WR and possess a top-tier TE, K and D. QB will be the only question, but again I am hoping Freeman can live up to the hype. If all else fails, perhaps I can package one of my backup RB and WR for a QB. Hopefully I won’t have to worry about that.
            We started our league back in 2005. I haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and have yet to win a playoff game. It is time I ended my playoff drought and this is the team to do it. CRACKBABY FOOTBALL ALL THE WAY!!!

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