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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski is a fantasy stud. Here we see his audition for the movie Magic Mike. I think this may need to be the new trophy of shame for lowest scoring team replacing the Tweeder pic.

As we proceed with the Fantasy Football Preview for 2012 we now will look at tight ends. Tight Ends are typically an afterthought in many fantasy football leagues. In most leagues teams do not have a specific slot for starting a tight end. Instead the tight end is considered a wide receiver. In leagues like that only the highest performing tight ends have any value. In the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League we do have a slot for a starting tight end. We also allow tight ends to be started in the wide receiver category. Needless to say tight ends have quite a bit more value in a league like ours than in a typical league. Still last year anyone that was lucky enough to have Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez was happy in any league format. As with the previous previews and predictions it is important to take a look at how the players scored the year before. Now in the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League tight ends score 1 point for every 25 yards receiving and 6 points for any touchdown scored. They can also get 1 point for every 25 yards rushing and every 50 yards passing, 2 points for a conversion, and 3 points for a passing touchdown. Those things rarely happen so they were not included in this analysis. Below is how the tight ends in the NFL scored last year in our scoring system:

Rob Gronkowski had an unbelievable season last year. And I mean unbelievable.

Like I am looking at the stats right now and I still don’t believe that they are not the result of a season on Madden or Super Tecmo Bowl (The greatest sports game ever! I will get into this in another post). The really silly thing is the year Aaron Hernandez had being on the same team as Gronkowski. Combined the Patriot tight ends had over 2200 yards and 24 touchdowns for 173 fantasy points. Flat out unbelievable. Imagine if that was one player. What is almost equally unbelievable was the season that Jimmy Graham had. Two tight ends over 1300 yards and double digit touchdowns. These elite tight ends might need serious early round, like 1st round, consideration. Last years biggest disappointment was Jermichael Finley. Many thought that he would be the dominate tight end of the 2011 season, but he was plagued by drops all season. It was evident that as the season progressed Aaron Rodgers possessed less and less confidence in Finley. Old man river Tony Gonzalez had a great season which I personally thought surprising. Antonio Gates almost made it through a season, he played in 13 games, which was equally surprising. Let’s look at some projections for the 2012 season. Here are some of my own devising:

Now I know what you are all thinking…..How does Aaron Hernandez project out ahead of Rob Gronkowski. The thought is that if last years numbers were more evenly split and if teams focus on Gronkowski then Hernandez will benefit though in the end they will have similar numbers. Call me crazy. Anywho here we see that there are 5 tiers of tight ends. Tier 1 is made up of last year’s elites. All three, Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Graham could easily repeat the success as last year. Well with the exception of Gronkowski who should not be able to totally repeat the previous year, who could. These three tight ends should garner early round consideration, maybe even 1st round. I would say that the high end for these player should be the 2nd round. The tier 2 player should get consideration in the 4th to 6th rounds. The tier 3 players should be available in the later middle rounds like rounds 9 through 11. After the top three tiers there is really no reason to draft a tight end the players in the 4th and 5th tiers should be available in free agency and can be picked up as needed or as they become fantasy relevant.

The cream of the crop are the same as last year. The two Patriot tight ends could have interchangeable stats next year. Either one could have a special year or they could simply split last year’s stats and each have a fine year. Jimmy Graham is exciting mostly because unlike Gronkowski he doesn’t have a Hernandez to steal his looks. Of course the downside to that is that defenses will be able to key on him in a way that they cannot afford to key on Hernandez and Gronkowski. Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis are in the 2nd tier and should have solid season with the potential of something special developing.

Watch out: Antonio Gates is always a crap shoot as to whether he will make it through a season uninjured. If he does he could have a special year. Expect him to play in a maximum of 14 games. Tony Gonzalez is really getting up there in age. With Julio Jones, Roddy White and the running game all competing for yards he may be the one left out. Brent Celek plays on a team with Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy both of whom will be doing the majority of the scoring in the redzone which will take away from Celek’s value.

Keep an eye on: The most intriguing and potentially exciting tight ends are Brandon Pettigrew and Jermaine Gresham. Both of these young tight ends could have an exceptional year in 2012. Pettigrew is on a pass first team and could get more redzone looks this year. Gresham is the safety blanket for a 2nd year quarterback and should also get more redzone looks.

Rookies: I don’t see any rookie tight ends at this point that are worth considering taking more than a late round flyer on. Stay with established starters.

Handcuffs: Are you kidding? Well if you are lucky enough to pull it off go ahead and handcuff Hernandez and Gronkowski.

TOP 10

#1 Rob Gronkowski The Gronkster should have another monster year this year but I cannot see him even coming close to 17 touchdowns but he very well should top 1000 yards and possibly double digit touchdowns. 

#2 Jimmy Graham Graham had a season that was nearly identical to Gronkowski’s last year, aside from the touchdowns. I think he has the best chance of repeating his success from the previous season. The downside is that he could be looking at a lot of defense keying on him.

#3 Aaron Hernandez Hernandez is poised to have Gronkowski’s 2011. If teams forget about him he is going to make them pay.

#4 Jermichael Finley Couldn’t hold on to the ball last year. If he can earn Rodgers’ trust again he will have a great year. If he can’t he will have a season similar to last year.

#5 Antonio Gates The man. Well at least he was before injuries got the best of him. Still Phillip Rivers loves to throw the ball and if Gates can stay of the injured list he should get a large amount of looks.

#6 Vernon Davis If the Niners were smart they would throw the ball to Davis alot. Last year they were not as smart as they have been in the past. I hope the figure it out this year. In the picture Davis is doing his best Gladiator impersonation “Are you not entertained?!”

#7 Brandon Pettigrew If Matt Stafford stays healthy Pettigrew will have a great year. Matt Stafford rarely stays healthy. Last year was the exception. 

#8 Jason Witten Consistent performer that relies on Romo staying healthy. Witten year in and year out is a top fantasy tight end.

#9 Tony Gonzalez Old Man River. He is old. Somehow last year he was a top performer at the tight end position. Matty Ice likes to throw the ball and maybe he’ll remember to throw some Tony’s way.

#10 Jermaine Gresham Gresham is intriguing for a couple of reasons. Mostly because he had a good year in 2011 and Andy Dalton and the rest of the offense should be better. Still there is always the concern of the sophomore slump for Dalton which would affect Gresham’s value.

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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Runnning Backs

A wise man once said “No matter what draft a running back in the 1st round” He also said “There is nothing more delicious than 23 herbs and spices”
~The Colonel

As we continue our preparation for the upcoming 2012 Fantasy Football season we will preview the Running Back position. Typically the good old running back in fantasy gold. Everyone goes out of their way to snap up backs in the first few rounds. Conventional wisdom states that to have a successful team you MUST draft the best running back available in the first two rounds and then fill out the rest of the positions later. In the past that may have been the case, but as the NFL has become a pass first league it has become less and less the case. I remember when passing for 3000 yards in a season was

Grossman: Wait a minute… I threw for just over 3000 yards last year. Does that make me a failure?
McNabb: As someone who knows, yes that makes you a failure

considered good. Now it would be seen as a complete failure of the offense. Still there is some truth to the notion that snapping up a good back in the first round is a good idea. I would just say that sometimes it is better to have the best quarterback rf receiver than the 5th best running back. With that said lets take a look at the running back position.

As with the quarterbacks it is always a good idea to look at the stats for the year before. Below are how the running backs fared in Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League scoring system which is 1 point for every 25 yards rushing, 1 point for every 25 yards receiving and 6 points for every touchdown. Of course players can also score by throwing touchdowns and scoring conversions but that happens so rarely it really doesn’t change much.

As it is blatantly obvious, LeSean McCoy was the standout from last year with Ray Rice coming in a close second. McCoy’s 17 rushing touchdowns is what put him over the top. This number of touchdowns I really do not see him repeating mostly because of the touchdown vulture Mick Vick poised to steal rushing TD inside the red zone.

I have a need…a need to run for touchdowns. Screw you LeSean and all your fantasy owners.

Ray Rice had a similar problem with bigger backs stealing his goal-line carries in the past. Still both scored at a level far above the competition. Arian Foster should have been the class of the field but injuries kept him from reaching the top. This year he will be spelled by an established Ben Tate so he will not get the amount of carries he has in the past. The same can be said for Michael Turner  he will be getting many more carries taken away from him. Let’s take a look at projections for the 2012 season. Here are some of my own devising:

There are 5 tiers of running backs as denoted by the colors. Tier 1 backs should be taken in the 1st round. If one of them survives to the 2nd round you have gotten yourself a steal. The tier 2 backs should be taken in the 2nd-4th rounds.  By the end of the 4th round typically any starting running back that is worth anything has been taken. The 3rd tier of backs can be taken later in the mid rounds. They are what is left of the starters, promising backups, and number two backs in running back by committee. The backs in tier 4 are to be taken only if you need depth on the bench or as a flyer/hedge against a more established back getting hurt. The backs in tier 5 should not be drafted at all. You will be able to get these backs off the waiver wire if and when they become relevant. I would advise you select better players at different positions.

The very best as predicted for next year will be Arian Foster. McCoy should come back down to Earth a bit but he will still be a premium back as will Ray Rice.  Peterson, Wells and Charles are all coming off of injuries and Michael Turner will no longer be a 300 carry back. The situation in Washington is a mess but look for Helu to come out as the starter. Detroit’s backfield is equally a mess. At this time all of the backs there may get a decent amount of carries making none of them fantasy relevant. Shonn Greene no longer has anyone sharing the backfield with him but Tebow may steal some of his yards and touchdowns.

As far as the rookies are concerned only Trent Richardson and Doug Martin are set to start right now. This of course may change. I like Richardson but he is in a situation where he is a starting rookie tailback sharing a backfield with a rookie quarterback. He should get plenty of carries but will the Browns be playing from behind to often. Martin has to worry about Blount stealing carries and touchdowns.

Do I look like a guy that would drink and drive?

Handcuffing situations: If you take Arian Foster you MUST, I repeat must take Ben Tate. If for some reason you have James Starks on your roster as a starter I suggest also taking Alex Green. Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith should be locked together. As well as Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Other handcuffs to considers are Frank Gore and Brandon Jacobs, Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings, Matt Forte and Michael Bush, Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, and the always popular DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart.

McDonalds Drive Thru: Welcome to McDonlds may I take your order?
Jahvid: I see four fingers coach.
McDonalds Drive Thru: What was that sir?
Jahvid: Put me in coach! I’m ready!
McDonalds Drive Thur: Does that complete your order?

Words of caution: Marshawn Lynch is looking at a suspension from the league due to a little drinking and driving, Jahvid Best is on the PUP list still from concussions from the previous year.  Maurice Jones-Drew is thinking about holding out. Beanie Wells is not 100%. No one knows who is going to start in New England. No one knows who is going to start in Washington. Green Bay’s running game looks awful.

Top 10

#1 LeSean McCoy He is the best back available and should be the first selected. Both runs and catches touchdowns. The only downside is that Mike Vick is looming to steal some of his scores.

#2 Arian FosterWould have been number one but he now has injury concerns and the real possibility of losing carries to Ben Tate. Still is is hard to deny someone that dresses that well. He could be considers 1a to McCoy’s 1.

#3 Ray Rice with other backs stealing his goal-line carries he slips a bit. Still he catches the ball well and is a dynamic threat.

#4 Chris Johnson He got PAID! and how did he reward the Titans? With a subpar year. He is set for a major rebound. He still won’t be worth what the Titans are paying him but he should make his fantasy owners happy.

#5 Darren McFadden No more Michael Bush. McFadden is on his own. This could mean his best season ever OR he will wear out and get injured much earlier than usual. IF he goes 16 games he will be an absolute stud. Prepare for him to go 13 games that way if he goes more you can be pleasantly surprised. Addition of a legitimate quarterback should help him stay health…right?

#6 Ahmad BradshawAhmad Bradshaw you just won the Superbowl what are you going to do now…. Well he should get a large amount of carries. Jacobs is gone. If he gets half of Jacobs’ 7 touchdowns added to his total we are looking at an elite back. His backup at the moment is young and inexperienced so he will not take too many carries for Bradshaw. Could be his best year ever.

#7 Maurice Jones Drew One of the premier fantasy stud running backs for years he now has the dreaded two words HOLD OUT hanging over his head. Typically any back the holds out even for a small amount of time does not have a fantasy year that they are capable of. Use caution here as he also has injury concerns. Still if he is anywhere close to last year you will love having him on your team.

#8 Adrian Peterson Turn to the left, turn to the right, one more straight ahead. If being injured wasn’t bad enough good ol’ All Day went and got himself arrested in the off-season. With the Commish loving to come down hard on players what will happen to Adrian? Probably nothing. The injury his more a concern. If he is healthy by the start of the season he should continue to be a great fantasy back.

#9 Jamaal Charles  Hi, I’m Jamaal Charles. You may remember me from my role in the 2010 fantasy football season. Well….I’m BACK! Whether or not he is ready to go is another question. The Chiefs went and picked up Peyton Hillis for insurance…you may want some insurance too.

#10 Ryan Mathews Hi, I’m Ryan Mathews. I play football for the San Diego Chargers. Anyone out there heard of me? No more Mike Tolbert should mean a better fantasy year for Mathews. Give him half of Tolbert’s eight TDs and he would have been a top 5 back last year.

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2012 Fantasy Football Prep 101: Quarterbacks

Fantasy Alert….

It is that time of the year again and for many of us we will soon begin our annual Fall tradition of scouring the net or forking over cash to buy a book to prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. Well I say nuts to that. I have shelled out the cash and read the articles and I say who better than I to prepare myself and other for the world of fantasy football.  Now as a veteran of the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football league which is now entering its 15th year I think that I have accumulated some wisdom. Hell I used to hand score all the games and then make paper copies and deliver them to the individual teams. That was life before the inter-web.  But I digress, you are here either by complete accident or you want some fantasy football knowledge. We will first look at the quarterback position,

When preparing for the upcoming season I always like to go over the past year’s stats. Now the Pabst and Blatz Fantasy Football League has the following scoring system: Rushing TD 6 points, Passing TD 3 points, Rush Yards 1 point for every 25 yds. Pass Yards 1 point for every 50 yds. Some leagues subtract points for interceptions or reward more point for passing yards and touchdowns, but let’s be honest here the quarterback position already is overly weighted in our league and I would hate to see it given more importance.

Let’s take a quick look at last year performances.

After looking at these stats it is apparent that last years cream of the crop were Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Cam Newton and Mathew Stafford. Not a lot of surprises here except maybe for Cam Newton. He was a steal in our league last taken in one of the last rounds. Stafford was also a bit of a surprise mostly because of the sheer number of snaps he took. (He gets hurt alot)

The most disappointing player from last year was Mike Vick as he was taken early and was outperformed by many of the quarterbacks available much later on in the draft. Of course anyone that has watched Mick Vick’s career knew the previous year, 2010,  had been a fluke and that there was no way he would repeat it.

Now it is always a good idea to take a look at preseason rankings and projections. Here are some of my own devising…

From the projections there are four tiers of players. Tier one players, in red, are the cream of the crop. Tier four players, in gray, should not be on you team under any circumstance unless you are playing in a 32 team fantasy football league.(Unlikely) We see Aaron Rodgers as the top projected QB. Drew Brees is second but I would be cautious with all the tomfoolery going on in the Big Easy.  Cam Newton is due for some regression, but still unless he completely falls apart in his sophomore slump he will be a top QB. A word of caution about Eli Manning. Last year was  a career year and he is due for a regression also. Any player in tier one I would use a 1st or 2nd round pick on. The players in the 2nd tier are late mid-round players. You should load up on position players first unless there is a run on QB and you are in serious trouble of having Christian Ponder as your starting QB.

Sad Sad Ponder

This brings us to the rookie QB. Typically I stay away from rookie QBs like the plague and anything involving Sarah Jessica Parker. Cam Newton is the reason to consider a rookie. Is he the new normal or was he a fluke? Andy Dalton also had a serviceable

Don’t get me started

year. My two cents is to get an established guy and then take a chance later that way you are not overpaying for a dud and if the guy pans out you look like a genius for stealing him late. For every Cam Newton there is a Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder out there. If I were to take a change it would have to be on RG3. His skill set and the situation he is going into make the possibility for success within the realm of reason.

Obvious handcuffs… I would say that if you take Mark Sanchez you have to take Tim Tebow. Other than that I don’t see any other obvious handcuff situations.

This guy will be stealing fantasy points from Jet running backs and quarterbacks all season, as well as, stealing my heart.

Now the moment you have all been waiting for….Normy’s top ten fantasy QBs for the 2012 season.

#1 Aaron Rodgers: Mustache nuf said! Ok so he has his entire offense coming back, drafted a bunch of defense, Donald Driver now has slick dance moves and MUSTACHE!

#2 Tom Brady: There’s no crying in football. Well for Tom we will make an exception. He is also returning to a great situation coming off one of his best seasons ever.  Should be a no-brainer.

#3 Matt Stafford: As the picture shows buyer beware. He has a tendency to get hurt and for long stretches of time. Still last year he was healthy and had a monster year. Which will it be this year?

#4 Drew Brees : Confusion, contract dispute, scandal, bounties and no head coach. Someone could get a steal if he fall too far for any of these reasons.

#5 Cam Newton Last year was amazing . There is little chance that he can repeat but even with taking a step back he will be solid.

#6 Phillip Rivers He is Philip Rivers. What else is there to say.

#7 Tony Romo See above statement replacing Philip Rivers with Tony Romo

#8 Peyton Manning All time great QB on a run first team and with a head that is being held on with bungee cords. Good luck my friend though you won’t have that horse shoe on your helmet anymore for that. Oh and stay thirsty.

#9 Matt Schaub Great when he is healthy. In the picture you can see just how healthy he was last year. Still should be back with all the weapons. 

#10 Eli Manning Won the Superbowl, had a career year. Due for a let down. Still he is better than the rest of the stiffs in the league and makes a decent looking chick. Well maybe in New York.

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