2011 NFL Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet
1. Aaron Rodgers (GB) Everything you want in a fantasy QB; with all his weapons healthy he will continue to put up huge numbers.
2. Michael Vick (Phi) Can he duplicate last season’s magic? Can he stay healthy for a full season? The answer to both is probably not but, when he plays it’s like having a QB and RB rolled into one. If you draft Vick make sure you grab a good backup for when Vick gets hurt.
3. Tom Brady (NE) Patriots ran the ball a lot last year with the emergence of the sizzle and slam combo of Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis; nonetheless, expect another big year from Brady as he has a wide range of weapons.
4. Drew Brees (NO) Always a top fantasy QB pencil him in for 30 TDs once again.
5. Phillip Rivers (SD) Look for Rivers to have a solid season with Vincent Jackson available the entire season. He has increased his yardage the last 5 years and averaged 31 TD’s the last 3.
6. Tony Romo (Dal) Romo seems to be the best value of the QBs. Coming off an injury last season, people forget that he was a top three QB before he got hurt. He has plenty of weapons and is a great pick if you miss out on the top QBs or just decide to wait.
7. Matt Schaub (Hou) Has shed the injury prone tag with two straight seasons of 16 games and over 4,000 yards and over 24 touchdowns.
8. Peyton Manning (Ind) This neck injury is scaring fantasy owners. Peyton is falling into the fifth and sixth rounds of drafts. Now that the Colts signed Kerry Collins, he may fall further. There is a good chance Peyton will be rusty when he returns, much like he was when he had a knee injury a few years ago, but once he got going he won his fourth MVP. If he is only going to miss a game or two and you can handle that, Manning is a great value.
9. Matt Ryan (Atl) Ryan is poised for a big season. The addition of Julio Jones added to Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Henry Douglas (back from injury) tells us the Falcons are planning to open up the offense this season. Ryan didn’t throw for many 300 yd games last season but I expect that to change this year.
10. Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) Quarterback as a whole is pretty strong. I would be comfortable with any of the 10 QBs listed above, and plan on waiting to draft a QB. There is a much bigger drop off at running back and wide receiver then at QB this year. However, if I end up with a QB at the bottom of this list, I will be drafting a backup, shortly thereafter, like Josh Freeman, Matt Stafford, Eli Manning or Sam Bradford.
1. Arian Foster (Hou) Typically the No. 1 RB from the previous season doesn’t finish No. 1 the next season. Foster has had one big season, but what a season it was. Expect some decline but he should continue to be the workhorse getting the bulk of the carries, catching passes and taking goal line carries. His preseason hamstring injury could hamper him all year. Handcuff: Ben Tate.
2. Ray Rice (Balt) Rice will no longer be losing goal line carries to Willis McGahee, and has a new blocking fullback in Vonta Leach. Rice has put up over 1700 total yards the past two seasons and I expect him to get back over 2000 yards this season. Handcuff: Ricky Williams.
3. Jamaal Charles (KC) Charles is getting a lot of hype this preseason. I’m a little concerned that he won’t be able to duplicate last season because of his size, Thomas Jones taking goal line carries from Charles and the addition of offensive fullback Le’Ron McClain. Charles is still a top five back but I think we have seen his ceiling last season. Handcuff: Thomas Jones.
4. Adrian Peterson (Min) Peterson has been the most consistent RB in fantasy the past few years. It seems like people are down on him because he is not the “sexy” pick. AP doesn’t catch as many passes as the above running backs and there is some concern about the Vikings passing game leading to more defenders in the box. Handcuff: Toby Gerhart.
5. Chris Johnson (Ten) Just signed a new contract and is ready to roll. Matt Hasselback signing will help Johnson a lot. The best runner in the NFL should again put up big numbers. Handcuff: Javon Ringer, Jamie Harper.
6. LeSean McCoy (Phi) Does a lot more damage in the receiving game; he is a great pick for a PPR league but, not as high on him in a standard league. Handcuff: Ronnie Brown.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew (Jax) Is his knee healthy? He says yes, others are skeptical. When healthy MJD is a top RB who gets the bulk of the carries for Jax, catches passes and gets goal line carries. When taking an RB in the first round I don’t want to take a risky player who may already be hurt. Handcuff: Rashad Jennings.
8. Rashard Mendenhall (Pit) Mendy is considered a boring pick, but I’ll take 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns if that is boring. Don’t expect him to catch many passes. Handcuff: Issac Redman.
9. Michael Turner (Atl) Turner is a solid standard league pick. He has scored almost one TD per game played since joining the Falcons. He won’t catch any passes. There is some concern his workload may decrease if Atlanta is serious about opening up the passing game. Handcuff: Jason Snelling.
10. Frank Gore (SF) One of the last guys on the board you can grab that doesn’t share carries. Gore is upset over his contract and is returning from a hip injury. His body has taken a lot of hits over the years so don’t expect much upside. Handcuff: Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter.
11. Steven Jackson (Stl) Similar to Gore above, minus the contract issue and hip injury, S-Jax has taken a lot of hits. His role Josh McDaniels’ offense could lead to less carries and more receptions. Handcuff: Cadillac Williams.
Picks one through six are likely to be running backs, so if you miss any of these top guys I would suggest taking about five to six running backs after you grab some wide receivers and your QB. With so many teams using the committee approach there are a lot more playable options at RB. Some guys I like outside the top 10 are DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw and Felix Jones. I think Willis McGahee will vulture a lot of touchdowns in Denver and could be a nice Flex play or bye week replacement.
1. Andre Johnson (Hou) Andre has gone over 1,000 yards 4 of the last 5 years. Look for this to continue and Johnson should go over 10 TD’s for the first time in his career.
2. Roddy White(Atl) White is coming off a break out season with a career high 115 receptions. Look for this number to go down a tad with a big target Julio Jones added on the other side. His 10 TD’s from a year ago should be reachable.
3. Larry Fitzgerald (AZ) Fitz has to improve with new QB Kevin Kolb this year, right? Has averaged over 90 recs, 1100 yards and 10 touchdowns the last three years.
4. Calvin Johnson (Det) The return of Matthew Stafford could help Megatron Johnson become the top fantasy wide receiver this season.
5. Hakeem Nicks (NYG) A break out first season should see more defensive schemed his way and his numbers will drop slightly.
6. Miles Austin (Dal) Much like Calvin Johnson, Austin gets his QB Tony Romo back and his numbers have been a lot better when playing with Romo.
7. Vincent Jackson (SD) Missed most of last year while holding out and serving a suspension but, V-Jax was a top 5 WR in 2009 and he should maintain his WR1 status amongst fantasy owners.
8. Mike Wallace (Pit) A break out season last season has turned Mike into Big Bens main target. A double digit TD year is well within reach.
9. Greg Jennings (GB) Lots of mouths to feed in GB, Jennings was their guy last year, but the return of J. Finley and the emergence of J. Nelson and J. Jones has me passing on Jennings.
10. Reggie Wayne (Ind) Wayne is not happy about the prospect of playing with Kerry Collins and neither will fantasy owners. His numbers could dip a little with Collins or if Manning starts off slow in his return from his neck injury. I’m trying to ensure I get a top wide receiver. I like Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson and Austin and then taking some high upside guys in later rounds.
Every year wide receivers pop up on the waiver wire much like Austin a few years ago and Mike Williams (TB) last year. In PPR leagues, I’m targeting Wes Welker and Danny Amendola to be my WR2 and three as both could catch close to 100 balls.
1. Antonio Gates (SD) Despite injury concerns, he is a beast when he plays. Make sure to carry a backup as Gates is often a game time decision with his foot problems.
2. Dallas Clark (Ind) Returns from injury to a passing offense. Clark is a focal point of the offense, his success will hinge on Manning’s health.
3. Jason Witten (Dal) With Romo Back at full strength Witten will be targeted many times. Cowboys will be throwing alot this year so Witten should have strong numbers.
4. Vernon Davis (SF) The only good thing about Alex Smith is he likes throwing to Davis, who is easily the 49ers’ best receiver.
5. Jermichael Finley (GB) Was a candidate for a breakout last season, and was having a great year before a season ending injury. Lots of potential but Packers have a lot of options in the passing game so I’m not as high on Finley.
Unless you grab one of the top TEs it seems like you can wait until later rounds here, as most TEs put up stats in the range of 50 reception, 500 yards, six TDs. Some guys to target later in your draft are Greg Olsen (Car), Jared Cook (Ten) and Aaron Hernandez (NE).
Drafting a Kicker is like picking a name out of a hat. Never take a kicker before the last two rounds of a draft. You will likely switch your kicker three or four times during the season. I favor kickers that play in high scoring offenses and/or play their home games in domes. That leaves Matt Bryant (Atl) as a strong pick. I also like Neil Rackers (Hou) and Josh Brown (Stl) this season.
Much like your kicker you will likely add/drop defenses a number of times. I don’t like to reach for a defense. Last season people were taking the Jets D in the eighth round. That is way too early and they didn’t live up to the hype finishing as the eighth fantasy D.
This year the Eagles D has been anointed the top defense. We’re not sure why. They have three high level cornerbacks and not much else. I would rather have a Defense like the Packers, Steelers, Ravens or Bears, who have been consistently strong over the past few seasons.
The price on the Jets D will be better this year as well. I’m going to target the Patriots who look like they really improved their pass rush this year, or the Giants who have been getting high volume sacks since 2008, but tend to give up a lot of big plays down the field.
Good Luck with your draft, and remember to send me 10% of any winnings you may obtain after reading this.