Another year, another slap in the face

Peter Cooke, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






It’s that time a year again as everyone starts gearing up for fantasy football. What was once a niche sport for the diehards in the 1990’s has since become a right of passage for teenage sports fans. With the apparent golden age upon us, fantasy sports popularity doesn’t seem to be nearing a stop, according to private studies fantasy football costs corporate America over $10 Million a year.

That’s why I’m here. With mock drafts and trade secrets aplenty that will lead your team to the top. While visits to the top of the podium are infrequent, I can boast a winning percentage that will guarantee you safe passage to the playoffs.

I’ve been in every kind of single league imaginable and I’m continuing to expand my horizons with horrific mistakes that include joining a 20-team league as part of the CWRU Swimming and Diving League. Regardless of the type of league, what will motivate you are the stakes that hold the league together. For some, pride is enough; others, money. I play for the love of the game and the thrill of the win and the knowledge that you didn’t win.

I’m regaled with a league I joined last year where the weekly ante was a How I Met Your Mother-esque slap bet. While the league was short lived (who knew concussions were so easy to get, not me…or me either), lasting only four weeks, the thrill of a tight Monday night matchup on the tube was unmatchable. While I reached the semi’s of the playoffs, I arguably had one of the luckiest and closest streaks in the league.

Your first step to supremacy is not just studying the players, but the coaches as well. My only loss during that league came during week four when the Packers were at Minnesota, down two possessions while hemorrhaging time. On fourth and one at the Vikings 1-yard line, I’ve got Ryan Grant itching to get into the end zone and save face, literally. Packers come out with five receivers, at which point, I began screaming at the television, luckily Mike McCarthy calls a timeout. I catch my breath, only to see the same five wide receivers come out onto the field after the long commercial break.

Incomplete pass. SLAP.

The key to fantasy is not to let other people’s decisions force you into compromising. You can draft on auto and still make the playoffs; winning “The Shiva Bowl” takes a whole other riskier strategy.

Quarterbacks:

The most stable of the big three positions. In any ten to twelve team league getting an above average quarterback while buying low is a great way to stock up on more rocky positions. ESPN.com ranks Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, and super sleeper Jason Campbell in the bottom half of the starting 30. Don’t be afraid to pick up a your #1 QB late as long as you can get an decent #2 you can handcuff and possibly trade with.

Sleeper:

Jason Campbell: ESPN may rank the “Sanchize” lower, but Al Davis loves the vertical game and with a weak division, Campbell has the arm strength to deliver. I may be a Redskins homer, but they had a terrible O-line and wouldn’t let him throw the ball down the field. Look to him for big weeks against weak secondaries.

Stay away from:

Phillip Rivers: The Chargers are on the decline, while Rivers may have had an NFL best 8.8 yards per attempt, they average the worse rushing attack in the league. He doesn’t have the quality or quantity of tools to validate a high pick. His numbers are inflated by throwing against bad defenses and out of division foes will be able to lock him down early and often.

Running Backs:

The talent drops of quickly in the world of running backs and owners may want to start looking for a wide receiver they can steal while other player over pay for tailbacks in a committee style offense. You can’t go wrong with the top five backs but if you’re holding that number two spot and are willing to take a gamble, grab Ryan Grant late in the first round. He may have killed the left side of my face but when McCarthy isn’t coaching like any Redskin’s coach of the past 18 and counting years Grant will rack up yards and more importantly, frequent flier miles to the end zone.

Sleeper:

Ronnie Brown: Substantial downside, enormous upside. I’ve bought him high and he’s killed me, I’ve bought him dirt-cheap and he’s killed everyone else. He may be coming back from a rather serious injury but in a running-based offense take a serious look in the third and early fourth round if you’re still looking for that number one running back or a risky complement. Watch out for auto draft or you could find the AI snatching him away earlier then you expect.

Stay away from:

Rashard Mendenhall: Playing in arguably the toughest defensive division in football, Mendenhall’s upside at #11 on ESPN’s list is way to high to be considered seriously over Shonn Greene and Jamaal Charles. Besides being fumble prone, Mendenhall has to deal with defenses keying in on him early on in the season while Roethlisberger rides the bench. Look for him as a great trade steal in week two or three if your backfield is struggling.

 

Wide Receivers:

Wide receivers that make and break a team are won and lost on the waiver wire. Along with injuries, playing it safe is always a substantial strategy but don’t confuse a lack of talent with a sporadic quarterback. Grabbing three wide receivers by round six isn’t a terrible idea, especially if you can do it by round five while everyone’s looking for that quarterback that will be around in the eight round.

Sleeper:

Santana Moss: It may be early in the season for the Redskins, the Moss is looking for a revival season with Donovan McNabb under center. Ranked number #28 by ESPN, ignoring my previous advice and grabbing Moss in the fifth or sixth round as a #2 is a stealthy move that will pay off with big paydays every few weeks.

Stay away from:

Steve Smith (CAR): Delhomme leaving may have caused his stock to rise from an epic plunge, but rookie Jimmy Clausen isn’t going to spark another 100-plus reception season and 1500 yards. Put him down as a sub-par #2, good for 800 yards and five touchdowns, anything else will be a bonus.

 

Tight Ends:

Sleepers: Owen Daniels and Chris Cooley: Both missed over half the 2009 season and saw their stock drop. Grabbing them a round or two early will net you a good tight end who is a QB favorite.

Defenses:

Sleepers: The Cincinnati Bengals: With a pair of shut down corners and a fierce group of players in the box look for plenty of turnovers. A few lucky breaks and the Bengals could reward a few touchdowns and the top fantasy defense.

Kickers:

I’ve usually lost my concentration by this point. Unless you’ve got a raging clue about a kicker, don’t bother picking one until the final round.