The first inaugural fantasy football post went over so well, that you all have egged me on to more. Given that it’s only halfway through August, it seems too early to give my sleepers and busts, or talk about scheduling. But a good old-fashioned clash at the top? I’m willing to lay that one out here.
Most folks are debating the pros and cons of their favorites throughout the year, but sometimes there are just undeniable truths. Lost is the greatest drama to have ever blessed network television; Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and a host of others battle the ghosts of The Sopranos for cable supremacy. Dunkin Donuts has better coffee but Krispy Kreme has better donuts. Some bands like Bon Jovi and U2 are timeless; others, like Maroon 5 and Owl City want to see how big a hole they can carve for themselves.
But fantasy football is about RIGHT NOW. (Or five years from now if you’re playing in a keeper league. For those of you who don’t know the terms I’m using but want to get deeper in fantasy football, google them … or message me!) So here are my top players in a specific order that I’d be drafting to set the foundation for my team. Sure, they can’t be my only player, but if I spend my capital/pick early on a bust, it’s going to be a long season.
[Auction note: you can attribute respective dollar amounts to them based on the size of your draft. For instance, AP as the first pick might be worth $50 in a ten-team standard league or $70 in a 12-14 team league. And then you knock off a few bucks from there. I personally wouldn’t pay $50 for a player (you’re drafting 12-16 players, so you can do the math) but sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet.]
Every magazine, website, or column I’ve read says the consensus, no-brainer, number one pick is Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson who nearly broke records and the speed of sound coming back from a career-threatening knee injury. C’mon, I know the guy is Superman and all that, but the statistics show he’s up against nearly impossible odds to match or better last season. That means expectations are a little nuts, and when expectations are nuts, people over pay in auctions (like the one I’m doing as I write this where some guy just paid $75 for AP.) Sure, if I have the number one pick in a snake, I can’t ignore him, but there are so many things that can go wrong (like when there are eight in the box because Christian Ponder can’t throw or Greg Jennings is hurt and there’s no downfield threat).
Here’s where it gets fuzzy: who is number two?
Most experts seem to be looking at Arian Foster next. Arian Foster who has been rushing through the league like a madman since his sudden promotion from backup to the backup after a so-so career at Tennessee. But who gets Greg Jones to do his blocking, has DeAndre Hopkins to draw some attention downfield (and off of Andre Johnson)… and still has the underwhelming Matt Schaub as quarterback. The biggest detriment is still that Coach Greg Kubiak intended to work Ben Tate into the reps last year, and then Tate got hurt. With a healthy Tate, a nagging hamstring injury to Foster, and a desire to keep everyone fresh for a playoff run, Foster makes a case for second but isn’t unanimous.
“Muscle Hamster” Doug Martin comes in third, or is it Marshawn “Skittles” Lynch in Seattle? Those are the two names most commonly put third and fourth in whatever order, with Martin having chased off any usurpers from Tampa with his stellar rookie season and Lynch having driven the Seahawks into the wildcard spot. But if you take away five solid (one GREAT) game from Martin, Lynch shines much brighter. Still, he’s got Ryan Turbin on his heels, the threat of Percy Harvin (next year…?), and the wear and tear of an AP style without the build.
Three more guys seem to get grouped together, pretty interchangeably: Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller, and Jamaal Charles but they don’t look equal to me. Rice has had a great run, but now he’s laying goose eggs more frequently than great games, and Bernard Pierce’s YPC (yard per carry) looks to be eclipsing his. Spiller is up-and-coming, but will new coach Doug Marrone be able to take E.J. Manuel (sorry, Kevin Kolb) and mold him into a pro-style QB fast enough to make a difference this season? When Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are your top two wideouts, I figure Spiller will be seeing eight in the box every time.
Which leaves Jamaal Charles, my X-Factor in the top ten. He could be the bust of the first round if the K.C. o-line doesn’t show up, or filling out a midwestern triumvirate with Dwayne Bowe and Alex Smith, he could be part of a resurgent Chiefs organization. Sure, he’ll get less carries this year without Romeo Crennel to work him tirelessly, but the receptions should be there in a big way in Andy Reid’s offense. I like his chances to have combined 1500 yards and 10-12 TDs, and prove to be injury-free in the second year removed from his ACL tear.
And in the eighth spot, I’m going to veer off the tracks a little: I don’t trust Trent Richardson to get anywhere with the current Browns line-up, for Alfred Morris to not get subjected to Shananigans, or Stevan Ridley to get Belichecked to the curb. So I’m taking Calvin Johnson as the eighth most valuable player (PPR or not). Sure, he got tackled short of the goal-line last year A LOT but do you think that fluke happens that many times? Isn’t Reggie Bush a field-stretching RB, and an upgrade over Mikel LeShoure?
I imagine some will argue for Richardson in the ninth spot, but I’m putting LeSean McCoy here even with Bryce Brown in the picture. Chip Kelly’s offense is predicated on speed and running backs. Andy Reid used McCoy to make his offense go, and Michael Vick’s body can’t take much more beating. McCoy should get all kinds of carries in Kelly’s transition year.
Finally, I’m taking Aaron Rodgers. It’s a passing league, and only in PPR am I even CONSIDERING one of these other RBs to replace him. Jennings goes down, and Rodgers’ Packer offense doesn’t miss a beat, flinging it to Randall Cobb, an injured Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. If one of the two rookie RBs work out for the Packers, and teams have to even consider a running game, Rodgers could throw for 5,000 yards and 50 TDs, making it look as easy as the rookie level on Madden. We’ll see.
So, my top 15 for those of you keeping track at home: Peterson, Foster, Martin, Lynch, Charles, Spiller, Rice, Johnson, McCoy, Rodgers, Richardson, Ridley, Morris, A.J. Green, and Drew Brees. No one too risky, or terribly out of place, but if it’s PPR, you’re probably bumping the QBs down a little.
Next week, I’ll aim for some sleepers or busts, but that’s my top 15. What are yours? Give me some reasons to change my mind on the comments below or @ Spider_Raven on Twitter.