Well it is that time of year again. Fantasy football is here! Every year thousands upon thousands of hopeful contestant line up to take their crack at becoming the next great fantasy football player. The skill range of these contestants vary from first time player to seasoned veteran. Many fantasy football owners will spend countless hours doing their “pre draft rituals” in preparation for their upcoming draft. Some will draft a certain way(ex. always go RB,RB in the first two rds.), or draft players based on what their upcoming schedule may look like. Also I have seen players draft guys very high expecting the same production that they had the year before, when they final had their “brake out season”. Their are definitely rules that players should follow in fantasy football, but experienced players know when it is time to go against the trends. This is really the reason why you usually see experienced players bringing home the crown of Fantasy Football Champion! Just the sound of it makes me want to do a little more research before finishing this article, but I digress.
First a small disclaimer about myself, I have been playing fantasy football for about 8 years and have won my high stakes league 6 out of the last 8 years! Over that time period I have had the pleasure to play with both the inexperienced, and the experienced. I have played both for Fun and high stakes, and the one constant that seems to not change is that fantasy football owners are becoming more and more knowledgeable every year. This is mainly contributed to the internet and the ability for even new players to quickly get the same info that the seasoned vet will usually have. Think back to your first fantasy football live draft (if you have never done a live draft you are missing out). Remember the guy who drafted the wide receiver in the second round, but you knew that the wide receiver was on injured reserve for the year?? The fact is that fewer and fewer bone head decisions are being made every year, and the players who consistently win are the players willing to take chances. Generally speaking you can almost call out who will be drafted in the top 3 rounds. You should expect these players to produce.If your unsure about a players possible production in the first three rounds LEAVE HIM ALONE!! Let the next player take that chance.Your looking for solid contributors in rounds 1-3. Rounds 4-8 is generally where you start to see who has done their home work and who has not. It seems like every year I will find at least one top 5 player at his position in these rounds. Last year I grabbed both Jamaal Charles, and Hakeem Nicks in rounds 6,and 7 respectively.The tail end of the draft is where gold can be found!! I always find it ironic when a player will grab a injury prone player such as a running back in rounds 1 or 2, yet not grab their backup towards the end of the draft.You always need to be thinking about protecting your investment in rounds 1 – 3. Late round pickups should always be players with either massive upside, or who play in a scheme suited to their strengths.I have seen so many times players use round 11, 10 or even 9 picks and grab guys who ceilings have already been met or who are not in a great position to excel. A good rule of thumb for newer players, is if a athlete has been in the league for five years or more and is not selected by round 7 don’t draft him unless his situation has changed. The reason you ask? If a veteran athlete were worthy of being selected he would more than likely be selected in the first 6 rounds. Veteran athletes have already established what they are capable of on the field and a huge spike in production is highly unlikely unless their playing situation has changed. The only positions that this rule does not apply to is TE, and K. Usually TE and K are drafted later than other fantasy football positions.
I have spent the better part of the last two months trying(although this is a year around study) to compile the best and most accurate information for you the readers here at Sport City Chefs.I do have a few more rules I want to put out there before I go to my rankings. #1 I am a firm believer that playing match ups work! For those of you who do not know what this means it is simple playing the guy who has the best statistically match up. This rule should not apply to guys selected in the first three rounds, as these players should always start regardless of their match up. #2 Do not get sucked into following a developing trend at a position. To often I see a few players at a position chosen (like TE) and suddenly the mad dash to grab players at that position is on.#3 Do not over draft a player regardless of how bad the rest of the talent at that position is.#4 you can never have enough running backs! This is a rule you learn early on in fantasy football circles. Running backs usually produce the highest amount of points outside of the QB position and you can start three RB is your league, if they use the flex option.#5 Have a great time and have fun!! Remember that fantasy football is a game, and although none of us like losing, it only comes once a year and you should enjoy the experience.Now on to the rankings!!
1) Aaron Rodgers – Coming off a incredible season in which he captured a super title, and won the MVP Rodgers is young and just getting better. He has a talented core of wide receivers and one of the better tight ends in the game. His Head Coach Mike McCarthy is a former offensive coordinator, so don’t expect this offense to slow down anytime soon.
2) Peyton Manning - The Sheriff as he is appropriately named, is primed for a great year. Many will undervalue Manning coming of minor surgery, and one of his worst statistical seasons as a pro. Manning will have the good fortune of playing one of the easiest schedules of any QB in the league in 2011. The front office in Indianapolis made it a point to address the offensive line in this years draft. Something that really limited Manning’s effectiveness last year. With a healthy Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and oh yeah Dallas Clark, Manning is ready to reassert himself as one of the best fantasy QB in the game.
3) Drew Brees - Many people will look at Drew and wonder what to expect from him. Is Brees the QB of last year who had the second highest total of interceptions with 22, and who has had 19 fumbles over the last two seasons? The highest fumble total of his career over any two year period. Or is Drew Brees the Passer from 2008 who threw for over 5000 yards and nearly broke Dan Marino’s record? I say the latter. Over the last three years Drew Brees in the only QB in the NFL to throw for 30 touchdowns and at least 4300 yards. Not Tom Brady, nor Peyton Manning, or even Phillip Rivers. Drew Brees has been the most consistent QB in fantasy football period.
4) Phillip Rivers – Rivers has been a top 5 fantasy QB for each of the last three seasons. Last year Rivers was missing his number one wide receiver for eleven games. His number one target in TE Antonio Gates for 6 games, and first round RB Ryan Mathews 4 games. That’s not even mention the fact that Marcus McNeil River blindside protector at left tackle also missed five games. Despite all of these hurdles Rivers went on to post career best in both completion percentage and yards. With many of the key pieces back and healthy for the San Diego Chargers offense, I see no reason why Rivers will not be a top five QB this year in fantasy football.
5) Michael Vick - Vick has been some what of an enigma since his return to the NFL. Many fantasy football players will ask me where should Michael Vick be drafted? Is he a top five QB? My simple answer is yes. Despite missing 4 games last season he still finished the season in the top five among fantasy QB’s in 2010. In addition, Vick in 12 games ranked 35th in total rushing yards and tied for fifth in rushing touchdowns. That coupled with 21 passing touchdowns, and over 3000 yard passing is why Vick should go no Lower than round three in a ten team league.There is definitely upside, and potential with Vick which could easily vault him to number one in 2011, but on the flip side Vick always seems to be just one hit away from missing significant time. If your a gambler, this bet could pay big dividends or leave you wondering why you made the selection in the first place.
Best Value : Ben Roethlisberger - Big Ben has always been a solid QB in the NFL, but many fantasy football players have avoided drafting him based on the fact that the Steelers have been known as a run first team. In 2010 despite missing the first four games of the season Roethlisberger still managed to finish at a top 10 fantasy football QB. The 2011 outlook for Ben Roethlisberger is very bright. Why you ask? Well for starters Ben has the easiest schedule of any passer in 2011, and all of the skill position players are expected to return on offense for the Steelers. Right now Big Ben is being drafted on average in round five of a standard 10 team league draft, and is ranked as the #10 QB this year. Grabbing Ben in round 4 or 5 will definately net you a solid QB who will not disappoint.
I will continue to roll out this series I hope you enjoy the read, and Thank You for your time!!