Grantland (a website owned by ESPN) recently has a competition to see who could be their next Fantasy Football writer. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for ESPN) I did NOT get to compete in the finals. There were over 4,000 entrants, but you will only get to read mine. It had to be 750 words, include your top 5, and one sleeper. Eat your heart out.
(I’m the one on the left who looks like a kicker)
(Entry begins HERE)
Full disclosure, last year was the first year I played fantasy football. I know. I KNOW. It took way too long for me to get into the fantasy game. But it paid off, because the first pick I ever made was Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers would out-perform the other team all by himself and I got into the finals all while starting a bunch of nobodies. I also got Gronkowski off waivers just before he started lighting the record books on fire, so not ALL nobodies, but Rodgers carried me. So with that in mind, my top five picks for fantasy football this year are…
1) Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
It’s almost insane to try to compare our modern NFL dominated by QB’s to the NFL that used to be dominated by running backs not so long ago, mostly because the change has been so dramatic. From the years franchise running backs to a league where virtually every team runs a two (or three) back system. Rodgers, and the Green Bay offense, in many ways epitomize that transformation. Complimentary players like Jordy Nelson and Kuuuuuuuuuuhn have replaced perennial 1000 yard rushers like Ahman Green as the guys complimenting a star QB (slight exaggeration considering Greg Jennings’ star power, but you get the point). All because Rodgers can spread the offensive touches around to take the pressure of any individual player. Speaking of utilizing a sometimes understaffed group of skill position players….
2) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
I’m considering striking the last few sentences of my Aaron Rodgers analysis for fear of being accused of plagiarizing an analysis of Tom Brady. Brady is the poster boy for turning a fleet of decent pass catchers into a full blown Super Bowl-winning stable of weapons (Well-kept secret: Rodgers has that poster in his bedroom). I hope he breaks all the meaningful QB records if only because of how much more suave he is than Brett Favre. The contrast here could hardly be more startling. One has a super model for a baby mama and looks like Tom Brady, the other sends pictures of his junk to people on his cell phone. Your call.
3) Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
While the NFL is deciding to be an all passing, all the time league, the Baltimore Ravens are going to continue their pound it out running game until they stop acquiring dominant running backs. For all of times Flacco insisted he is a top NFL quarterback (maybe only once, but still), Ray Rice was doing nothing more than serving as the top rusher AND receiver the Ravens have had the past few years. This guy’s pulling double shifts while Flacco punches out at 4 and asks for a raise.
4) LeShawn McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
LeShawn McCoy fell all the way to 8th in my draft just so I could pick him up. I personally think he’s twice as good as 8th. Or maybe three times as good. You get it, he’s really good. It will be tough to match his 1800 yards from scrimmage last year, not to mention his 20 TD’s, but with Michael Vick in a constant state of semi-injured to completely-injured McCoy is likely to get a decent chance to match last year’s totals.
5) Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans
Arian Foster is another dual threat back that has thrived in the pass-first NFL. The Texans were quietly putting together a frighteningly good team last year but injuries to Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson put a halt to that. With a healthy Schaub and Johnson on the field you might worry that Foster would get fewer touches because Houston would no longer have to rely on the run. But I think a fully balanced attack will help keep the defense honest and open up the field a little bit more for the running game and screen passes. Plus, this dude’s full name is ‘Aquarian’. Yes, I did get that from Wikipedia.
Sleeper) Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Because of all my insider knowledge of Vikings football, I have to go with a deep, DEEP sleeper in Kyle Rudolph. Sure, he’s coming off what was an ok rookie campaign. But the coaches are raving about this kid. And, most important, young/mediocre QBs always lean on TE and RB production. With Adrian Pederson recovering from off season knee surgery, Rudolph could turn into Christian Ponder’s top target, especially in the red zone.