Fantasy Football Preview: A Guide to Win Your League

Presentation1

Who to Target, Who to Avoid

Round 1:

Yes, you’re going to want to go RB here, big surprise.  The only non-RB I’m targeting is Calvin Johnson.  Outside of Megatron, I’m taking a top-12 back to help sure up that position.

Who to Target:

CJ Spiller:  Spiller’s going to have a monster year.  Barring injury I’m willing to put my fantasy credibility on the line and say he’s a legitimate candidate to rack up 2000 total yards. He’s my No. 2 pick after Adrian Peterson.

Doug Martin: Dougie has my attention.  I think he’s worth the third pick considering he’s got an elite offensive line clearing holes for him and Greg Schiano said the Bucs will be leaning on him.  If he and his line stay healthy, look for his numbers to improve even after a stellar year last season.

Ray Rice: I’ve seen Rice fall out of the top 5.  At six it’s a no-brainer. Many are afraid of him due to the slight emergence of his backup, Bernard Pierce.  Pierce is an added bonus in my eyes.  John Harbaugh has said Rice will be lined up in the slot when Pierce is in the backfield which sounds like PPR gold to me.  Pierce can also keep Rice fresh throughout the year which could bring a welcomed consistency to Rice’s fantasy performance. Draft Pierce as an insurance policy.

Calvin Johnson: If I don’t get AP, Spiller, Martin or Rice and I’m sitting at six with Megatron on the board, I’m taking him.  He’s a monster in PPR leagues and I think his TD numbers will be up a whole lot from last year.  Calvin owners from last year won their league 25 percent of the time, the highest winning percentage by any player outside of AP. Expect to get Stevan Ridley and Darren Sproles as your first and second backs and I’d recommend going after a Shane Vereen or Daryl Richardson as well.  Either way you’ll want to pay attention to the RB position later in your draft.

Al Morris/Matt Forte: These two are going at the end of round one and in some drafts, the beginning of round two.  If you have the last pick this year there’s a good chance you end up with both of these guys.  You gotta love that.  When it comes back around you can focus on snagging a couple high-end WRs.  You could take one WR and an elite TE or QB such as Jason Witten or Drew Brees/Aaron Rodgers, a really solid draft strategy.

Who to Avoid:

Jamal Charles: I had a terrible experience with Charles, taking him with the No. 2 overall pick the year he tore his ACL. I may be biased on this guy, but I’m not convinced he’s who I want to count on as my No. 1 RB.  I look for reliability with the first RB I take enabling me to take risks on high upside guys later.  If you must take Charles, look to follow him with a pick like Ridley.  I like Ridley’s ability to remain consistent.

Arian Foster: I love Arian Foster, I took him first overall last year and won my league thanks in large part to him.  There are so many questions surrounding Foster this year I’m almost sure I’m avoiding him completely.  The only chance I’m taking Foster is if he falls to me at six or later and Megatron isn’t available.  I don’t think that will happen in most drafts.  If you take him, Ben Tate is a must-draft later on.

Marshawn Lynch: Why did the Seahawks take a RB in the second round in this year’s NFL draft?  On top of that Christine Michael has really impressed in camp and in preseason games.  He could steal a few carries.  Plus Lynch doesn’t really catch the ball.  I’d take him if it was between him and Morris at the end of the first, but that seems unlikely.

Jimmy Graham/Dez Bryant: Expect huge years for these guys.  I want them both on my team.  But  I’m not spending a first-round pick on either.

 

5 Sleeper WRs to Keep Your Eye On:

Justin Blackmon:  Blackmon isn’t that under the radar; however he’s still going extremely late in drafts for some reason.  Even with the four-game suspension he’s worth it because by the time he falls in drafts teams already have their starting WRs as well as a backup or even two.  You can’t go wrong with Blackmon. I’m sure he’ll produce even with the QB situation in Jacksonville.  The old Phil Simms quote applies here, “even when he isn’t open, he’s open.” I could get this guy the ball.

Kembrell Thompkins:  Another guy who the secret is out on.  Thompkins is going to start alongside Danny Amendola and we don’t see Amendola playing a full 16-game season so Thompkins may be the No. 1 in some weeks.  This kid is going a round or two after Blackmon, so when you take him it’s most likely you’ll already have 4 WRs.  You have to take him if that’s the case. He could be a 75-plus reception guy as he’s run both the deep routes and the Wes Welker-style routes for the Pats.

Markus Wheaton:  Wheaton can absolutely fly.  Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown are the starters for the Steelers but expect Wheaton to be on the field a whole lot for Pittsburgh.  The Steelers could cause some problems for defenses with both Brown and Wheaton out there. That’s a serious amount of speed.

Kenny Stills: He’s the third WR for New Orleans and he’s a talent for sure. Drew Brees has already shown a lot of trust in the rookie in just a few preseason games.  He’ll go undrafted without a doubt, so pick him up if you don’t like how your WR corps looks immediately after your draft.  After 70 yards and a TD in Week 1 it will be a race to waiver wire for him anyway.

Brandon LaFell:  LaFell showed he can contribute as a No. 2 receiver for Carolina.  Cam Newton has found him in the red zone a few times as he’s much bigger than Steve Smith.  If you need a fill in, you could get a TD out of him.

5 Sleeper RBs to Keep Your Eye On:

LaMichael James: The 49ers began to get him involved last year and this year he should see even more action.  James possesses big play ability and is the young guy knocking on the old veteran’s door.  I remember a similar situation last year in San Fran involving a former No. 1 overall pick and some guy name Colin Kaepernick.  Hmm.

Christine Michael:  This kid fits right into the “beast mode” mentality in Seattle.  Michael is a physical runner who punishes defenders with every attempted tackle.  The Seahawks drafted him in the second round with no apparent need at RB, so we ask… Why?

Knowshon Moreno:  Still can picture him leaping over defenders in that Georgia uniform.  He’s a talented player who came on strong after Willis McGahee went down last season.  He is probably the most seasoned RB the Broncos have when you factor in pass protection, ball protection and receiving ability.  He’s worth the late pick it costs to get him.

Kenjon Barner: Jonathan Stewart’s been placed on the PUP list and even after he gets back I feel the tiny Oregon product, Barner, can show he deserves his touches. If he outplays DeAngelo Williams in the first six weeks, look out.

Isaac Redman: Went undrafted in my 12-team PPR high stakes league.  I scooped him off the waiver wire because LeVeon Bell’s out for awhile and sure enough Pittsburgh named him the interim starter. Nothing special here but he’ll carry the ball more than anyone on his team. There are only 32 of those guys out there ya know.

 

The Trick to Adding Depth and My Famous Jason Witten Pick
Year after year my favorite player to draft is Jason Witten. For the past two or three years explosive guys like Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis garner all the attention and it’s made it even easier for me to go under the radar and snag Witten in the fifth round. At that point I have my starting RBs and WRs, and while people are “adding depth” at those positions, I’m stealing a 20-30 point player (referring to points per game) giving me an edge every week at the TE position.
The only matchup I’m losing is Witten vs. Graham (or Witten vs. a healthy Rob Gronkowski) and even then I’m competing with them, scoring enough at the position to allow my other players win me the week. Graham goes in the mid-to-late second round and scores a little more than Witten. Witten goes three rounds later and really gives you an edge since you took a stud RB or WR in the same round that Graham was picked.
With the next two picks you add either another RB and WR, or one of the two and an elite QB who’s fallen right to you. I find myself in this position every draft, a possible top-three guy like Tom Brady or Tony Romo falling right in my lap in the seventh round holding a big sign saying, “Draft Me!” So through seven rounds all starting positions (outside of DEF/ST and kicker) are filled and everyone of those guys flat out score points. Plus, you have the luxury of not having to worry about a finding a QB who can get you 20 points weekly or a TE who’ll get you 10. Why? Because you stole both Witten and Brady/Romo, who can be counted on to score a substantial amount of points throughout the year.
Now you can focus on depth.  You already know you’re getting points from your workhorses. Now is the time to take risks and target sleepers or undervalued guys. Snatch up guys like Kenny Britt or Lance Moore, DeAngelo Williams or Daryl Richardson adding more starters for their respective teams and late at that. Then take your risks like Kenbrell Thompkins or Justin Blackmon.  Then add a solid defense and kicker one round earlier than most in an attempt to get a leg up on those positions knowing you can get Kenny Stills or Isaac Redman (who have been going undrafted) with your last pick. A good defense and kicker to target just a tad early would be New England and Sebastian Janikowski. Try it out in mocks and see if you like your team.  I always do.

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Christian Stinchfield
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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