Finally that time of the year is upon us. It’s time to put together squad that will bring home the big bucks in your fantasy football league. Well, lucky for you, I tend to know a thing or two about fantasy sports, so I’ll give you guys a little glimpse at what it takes to be the man. I’m going to go through and rank my top 5 at each position, as well as give you guys a couple a late round sleepers that will be game changers for your team.
First rule with QB’s is not to waste a top pick with one. Yes, they tend to lead the league in scoring, especially over the last couple years, but the position is very deep and you can easily get a very good QB in a later round. First focus on getting RB’s and WR’s. That being said, here is my top 5 list.
5. Tom Brady – I know I’m going to catch a lot of heat about ranking him so low, but their offense is going to be one big question mark with all the missing pieces they have in their passing game. Yes, Brady is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Yes, they added Danny Amendola, who will play a big role in their passing game. But last year we saw the Pats rely more on their running game then in years past, and with all the guys who won’t be on the field to catch balls from Brady to start this year, I don’t see him being any better than 5th.
4. Matt Ryan – Fresh off his best season, I figure Matty Ice will only be better this year. Especially with Julio Jones being a year better than last year, which is a scary thought, and Gonzo staying one more year, a new run game with Steven Jackson that will only open the pass game up more, and Roddy White being the solid rock he has been over the last 5 years.
3. Peyton Manning – One of the best QB’s of all time just added another weapon to his pass game in Wes Welker. With him, Eric Decker, and Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos figure to have the best 1,2,3 punch at WR in the NFL. There’s always that injury concern with his neck history, but this is the NFL, everyone is at risk of injury.
1/2. Drew Brees/Aaron Rodgers – Honestly you could back and forth with these two all you want. Bottom line is either way its a win win. In real football, I would give the slight edge to Rodgers because he takes care of the football better than Brees does, but in fantasy that doesn’t always matter. Brees throws the ball more than anyone basically ever. They both figure to throw for somewhere around the 5,000 YDs/40 TDs mark, a pretty exclusive club, so feel confident taking either if you want to use one of your early picks on a QB.
Dark Horse: Colin Kaepernick – Kaepernick took the NFL by storm last year when he took over for the injured Alex Smith. He made defenses look foolish week after week, and only got better come playoff time. However, that was when nobody knew who he was. There wasn’t much film on him for teams to study. Now EVERYONE knows who he is, and he will not be taken lightly. It will be interesting to see how he performs when teams are preparing specifically for him. He has a hell of an arm and is very mobile. He could sneak his way into the top 5 or maybe even the top 3 by seasons end, but he could also be in that 7-10 range. If he’s around in a later round and you have yet to grab a QB, definitely snatch him up.
Sleeper for back-up QB: Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill has an absolute cannon of an arm and he just added one of the fastest WR’s in the game in Mike Wallace. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them hook up for multiple big play TDs throughout the year. Couple that with the emergence of Brian Hartline last year, and Tannehill could be a very valuable back up to have on your bench for bye weeks, injuries, or favorable match ups.
5. Ray Rice – I have always loved Rice since his days at Rutgers. I have had him on at least one of my fantasy teams for 4 years in a row. So why is he so high on my list? Well, frankly, Brandon Pierce scares me. He played extremely well at the end of the season last year, especially in the playoffs, and looks like he’s only gotten better from what I’ve seen this preseason. So I think he’s going to be getting some of those touches that Rice would normally be getting, taking away from his potential.
4. Doug Martin – Coming off of a very impressive rookie campaign, Martin looks to improve on what he was able to accomplish last year. I was going to have him at 3, but a guy has jumped to almost the top of my list because of how much I love his game. So that knocked Martin down a spot in my rankings. However, if he’s still around in the second half of the 1st round, or if he somehow falls to the beginning of the 2nd, absolutely grab him.
3. Arain Foster – Not going to lie. I’ve never been a fan of Foster. He’s been nothing but consistent since his breakout season a couple years back, but for some reason I just never really was a fan of him. Same thing with Martin though, if he’s around after the first 5 or 6 picks, your not going to go wrong taking him.
2. CJ Spiller – This is the guy who jumped up the list after I heard what the Bills coaching staff had to say about him. Spiller had a terrific year last year, despite slight injury problems and not getting as many touches as you would like to see out of a #1 RB. That will be different this year. Spiller is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL today, and the staff said that they are going to keep feeding him and feeding him. If he gets the 30 touches a game that he should, then he is going to put up some pretty gaudy numbers.
1. Adrian Peterson – No explanation necessary.
Sleepers: 1A: Steven Jackson – Always have liked Steven Jackson. Just a hard nosed, no nonsense guy who is an absolute monster of a human being. Yea, he’s getting older, especially for a RB, but when you’re built like he is, that has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Falcons have a very prolific offense and figure to score a lot of points. No team in football had more rushing attempts within the 10 yrd line than the Falcons last year. When you have a power back like Jackson, that should translate into a lot of touchdowns. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets somewhere in the 11-14 TD range. He should be available in a later round, so keep him in mind.
1B: Reggie Bush – If Bush is around in the a later round, take him. He has that same type of explosiveness that Spiller has, and with the type of attention Calvin Johnson garners down field, I can see Bush catching these little dump-off passes and breaking off a 20+ yard gain. Look for him to put up the type of numbers people first thought he would be able to put up when he first got to the league. Well worth a later round pick.
5. Brandon Marshall – Marshall had a very solid season last year. He is the type of receiver who can absolutely explode for a 20 pt game, but he can also but up a couple stinkers along the way. It will be interesting to see how he does with a new head coach, but he is definitely a safe bet,
4. Dez Bryant – I love Dez Bryant, despite his diva tendencies. He absolutely went off in the second half of the season. He has all the confidence in the world. That comes into play at the WR position. I fucking hate Tony Romo, and if he had basically anyone else throwing him the ball, he might make it to #3 on my list, but as it is right now I have him at #4.
3. AJ Green – Love AJ. His chemistry with Dalton has been astonishing since they started playing together. He is always a deep ball threat and should be good for at least 1,200 yds and somewhere in the 8-11 TD range.
2. Julio Jones – A mini megatron, Jones had his coming out party last year. This dude is the real deal. He should only be better this year, and, barring any serious injuries, I don’t see how he won’t go for at least 10 TDs, especially with the way the Falcons offense operates.
1. Calvin Johnson – Again, no explanation necessary.
Sleepers: 1A: Danny Amendola – Amendola had a pretty damn good year last year, but he still isn’t a household name. That will change this year. From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like he is going to be Brady’s favorite target all year. That usually tends to result in some pretty good numbers. He is basically a carbon copy of Wes Welker, so if you play in a PPR league, grab this guy while you can. I would put money on the fact that he eclipses 100 receptions as long as he can stay healthy.
1B: Pierre Garcon – Garcon faced injury problems early in the season last year, but when he was on the field he performed well. He is definitely going to be around in the later rounds, so if you see him there, don’t hesitate to snatch him up. Half of his games are against defenses that gave up 22+ points to opposing WRs last year, so he should be able to put up some good numbers with a guy like RGIII throwing him the ball.
5. Jason Witten – Pretty much as solid and consistent of a TE as you can ask for. Rarely misses games. Since 2007, he has been good for 80-100 receptions, about 1,000 yards, and an average of 5 TDs. I’ll take that any day on my team.
4. Tony Gonzalez – Despite being 37, Gonzo remains one of the best TE’s in the league. He just had one of his best season last year. He’s part of that high-scoring Falcons offense. Nothing to not like about grabbing this proven veteran.
3. Rob Gronkowski – He would be #2 on my list but I given his history with injuries, I’m a little wary of taking him. That being said, in the 43 games he’s played, he has found the endzone 39 times. Pretty fucking remarkable numbers right there.
2. Vernon Davis – Davis has always had the talent to dominate the NFL. Ungodly combination of strength and speed, great set of hands. But he never really clicked with Alex Smith, and had the same problem when Kaepernick first took over the reigns. However, come the end of the season and playoff time, something clicked and he started going off the way he should all the time. He has developed a great relationship with Kaepernick during the offseason, and I look for him to have a huge year.
1. Jimmy Graham – When you’re Drew Brees’ TE and you have the type of athletic ability Graham has, you’re going to put up a lot of points. Plain and simple. Hence why he led the league in points for TE’s last year. Have full confidence drafting him.
Sleeper: Fred Davis – Davis had a year muddle with injuries last year, so he didn’t put up impressive numbers at all. But he is a solid tight end, and RGIII will be using his legs as more of a decoy this year than last year I’m sure, and I can see him rolling towards the sideline and hitting Davis in the endzone multiple times this year. He won’t be on many peoples radar so if he’s there in a late round, scoop him up.
5. Broncos – The Broncos had a shit ton of sacks last year, scored the ball decently enough, and forced a fair amount of turnovers. But with Dumerville gone and Von Miller suspended for the first 6 games, I have a feeling they will suffer a bit of a drop off. That being said, they still play half of their games at home where they hold a big advantage over opposing offenses.
4. Texans – The Texans have a very good defense in terms of yrds allowed, pts allowed, and sacks (you can thank JJ “Swatt” for that), and they added Ed Reed. You can’t go wrong with these guys.
3. Bears – The Bears finished with the best defense last year by more than 40 pts, thanks largely in part to the fact that they were able to score 10 times on defense, and caused a ton of turnovers. I don’t expect them to finish first again, obviously because I have them at #3, but they will still be a defense to be reckoned with, as they always are.
2. Seahawks – When you only allow 15.3 points per game, and go undefeated at home, your probably going to finish with one of the best defenses in the league. Seeing as that’s exactly what they did, I don’t see why any of that would change this year. They are an incredibly well coached defense that will put up similar numbers to what they did last year.
1. 49ers – Only team that allowed less points then the 49ers last year were the Seahawks. However, the 49ers will be playing some pretty weak offenses this year, and I think they are only going to be better than they were last year.
Sleeper: Ravens – I can’t believe I’m even saying the Ravens will be a sleeper defense. That literally makes zero sense in my mind because of what they have been able to do to teams since Ray Lewis joined the team 17 years ago. However, this offseason saw the loss of Lewis, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, and Paul Kruger. Those guys were 5 pretty big pieces of their defense last year. Due to that, everyone is saying that they won’t be nearly as good of a defensive team as they have been in the past. However, they were able to sign guys like Elvis Dumervil (11 sacks last year), Michael Huff and Marcus Spears. Also, with a healthy Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, they should be able to keep their title of one of the more feared defenses in the league. Not to mention, Daryl Smith, the man who faces the daunting task of “replacing” Ray Lewis, has done nothing but impress his teammates and the coaching staff since he got there, and, although he is far from a household name, he was the all-time leading tacklers in Jaguars franchise history, not that the Jaguars are renowned for having a good defense, but this guy is no slouch, and I can see him shinning in a new scheme with that purple shirt on.
Anyways, that’s all your getting out of me on this subject. I literally just wrote over 2,500 words, which might as well have been a paper. Best of luck to all of you in your drafts and your season, unless your in my league, because then I just feel bad for you and hope nothing but the worst for you.