After feeling certain this was my big break. Grantland’s decided to go all ex-girlfriend on me and not return my emails. I get it. I get it. You met someone smarter, taller, better, whatever. No hard feelings but I’m actually crushed right now.
Anyway since Grantland won’t be using it, I’ll throw my submission up here, 750 words of fantasy football talk. Top five players and one (and only one) sleeper.
1) Aaron Rodgers
“Safety first, then teamwork” ~ Saul Silver, Pineapple Express
A number one pick won’t win you your league, but it can definitely lose you your league (see; Jamaal Charles circa 2011, Shaun Alexander circa 2006, Frank Gifford circa 1960). Put it this way, if your number one pick get’s injured your season is probably over, it‘s that simple. A lot of people will tout Arian Foster, Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew as their number one, but a running back’s health is as unpredictable as Chris Brown’s temper. Combine that with the NFL’s maniacal infatuation with protecting the quarterback (especially, star quarterbacks) and Rodgers is easily my guy. Everyone who knows football (Ron Jaworski, NFL.com, Scouts Inc) agrees he’s the best QB on the planet, factor in the insane talent around him (Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finely), the high octane offense he plays in, his running ability, and the fact that he’s just now entering his prime (28 years old). It’s no contest.
2) Arian Foster
“Seeing is believing.” ~ Someone who I suspect saw something and then in turn believed it.
Forget the numbers, have you SEEN this guy cut. Barry Sanders retired when I was 10, he’s the only running back I’ve seen that could cut with the same ferocity (and allegedly O.J., but that’s another story). Foster’s one of the best pass catching backs in the league (50+ receptions each of the past two seasons) and he plays in the best rushing scheme in the NFL. Is it safe to say Gary Kubiack was the brains behind that vaunted Broncos’ rushing attack of the late nineties and early aughts? Steve Slaton had 1,200 yards in his scheme for Christ-sake and the amalgam of nearly unownable RBs in Washington isn’t doing much for Mike Shanahan’s legacy. Oh, and if you do want to look at the numbers, Foster averaged nearly 140 total yards per game over the last two years.
3) LeSean McCoy
“It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.” ~ Michael Corleone, The Godfather
When drafting don’t let personal feelings get in the way of your draft. I’m a Giants fan, the Eagles are division rivals, but if McCoy falls to me, I’m taking him. He’s Brian Westbrook 2.0; an explosive back with awesome vision that can make guys miss and possesses great hands (78 receptions two years ago). Even if he can’t duplicate the twenty touchdowns he had last season, he’ll still get a ton of work in the red zone.
4) Tom Brady
“Don’t trust a big butt and a smile” ~ Bell Biv Deveo, Poison
Tom Brady isn’t a sexy pick (cough-Calvin Johnson–cough), but sexy picks don’t usually pan out (just ask Kris Humphries) and no one’s ever regretted taking Tom Brady (sans 2008). He’s as safe as they come, and there’s no shame in that. Brady’s reuniting with offensive coordinator Josh McDainels, the last time these two hooked up Brady had the best statistical season of his career (50 TDS!!!). He’s got his safety valve Wes Welker, he’s got his Jack of all traits Aaron Hernandez, he’s got the seemingly always shirtless Rob Gronkowski, and now he’s even got a legitimate deep threat in Brandon Lloyd (a Josh McDainels favorite).
5) Ray Rice
“Say hello to my little friend.” ~ Tony Montana, Scarface
Ray Rice should have the words “Work Horse” tattooed across his forehead. He’s accumulated over 1,200 yards each of the past three years, has reeled in over 75 receptions two of the last three years, and hasn’t missed a game since his rookie year. Is there anything else you need to know?
Sleeper: Fred Davis
“The most valuable commodity I know is information.” ~Gordon Gekko, Wall Street
There’s a bit of an information overload in fantasy sports today. With fantasy experts’ reporting on everything a guy like Titus Young does at OTAs, minicamps and practices, sleepers’ values tend to be as inflated as Facebook’s IPO. Maybe he’s not a deep sleeper, but I like Fred Davis (Redskins TE). In ESPN drafts he’s going as the ninth TE off the board. I guarantee you he’ll finish as a top four TE (and I’m pretty confident he’ll finish top three). Last season Davis was on pace for over 1,000 yards (only Gronk and Jimmy Graham eclipsed that number) before he was suspended for marijuana use. Just think what he can do now that he won’t be making those late night Cheesy Gordita Crunch runs.