Saturday, July 18, 2015

Frowning on Cody Latimer in Fantasy Football this Season

Fantasy football analyst John Paulsen, on his July 7th 4for4 Podcast, made an informative observation about the Broncos offense that could be helpful in selecting a productive late round WR.

For fantasy WRs, I like to try and predict productive offenses, and then grab a third receiver or perhaps someone who is competing for a starting job in the preseason from one of those teams. The idea being that high scoring offenses will create opportunities for lots of players, and QBs who spread the ball around, can make that second or third WR a solid fantasy starter.

Recently, the Broncos have been one of those high octane offenses. I have been attracted to anyone that is on the field regularly with Peyton Manning.

But is that a viable strategy for this season?

Paulsen observes that the Broncos slowed the offense down significantly after Manning's injury late last year. That new coach Gary Kubiak favors a more balanced run-pass offense, as opposed to Manning's no-huddle pass and fireworks show.

Also, Kubiak prefers to run two TE formations that better support the running game. If so, this would mean only two WRs regularly in the game for Denver: Thomas and Sanders.

Who then would be the third WR left on the bench?

Cody Latimer.

In early 10-team mock drafts (2 WR, 2 RB, & 1 WR/RB flex), I liked grabbing Latimer (#105 ADP on as a last player reserve player, but Paulsen's observations have me reconsidering that idea.

Do I really want Latimer if he is going to watching much of the action from the sideline with a Gatorade?

If Paulsen's observations hold true, I would be better off taking a flyer pick on Eagles rookie Nelson Agholor (#103 ADP), Davante Adams (#193 ADP, Packers), or Mohammed Sanu (#185 ADP, Bengals).

Monday, July 13, 2015

Valuing Stewart and Green

I have been practicing fantasy drafts using for a few weeks now (I know, I am such a goob), and here are a couple of observations thus far:


Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (#37 overall, ADP = 39.29)

As a disclaimer, I must confess to have had Stewart on more than one fantasy team over the years. He was once great, and certainly has performed at a high level in the NFL. Unfortunately, he has missed 18 games in the last three seasons and historically his coaches have preferred using a running back-by committee-approach. With a 3rd or 4th pick in a 10 team draft, I want someone with much less risk attached than Stewart. I am actually more excited to see who the #2 RB on the Panthers depth chart will be. Rookie Cameron Artis-Payne may be much more appealing as a late round flyer or waiver wire claim if Stewart is unable to perform. I will be watching both of these RBs in training camp.


Chargers TE LaDarius Green (#210 overall, ADP = 149.95)

It can be difficult for fantasy football fans to hear a name that burned them before. Green was a hot item for some of the experts in 2013--a few even ranked him higher than future hall of fame TE Antonio Gates. But 2014 came and went , and Green's 19 catches and zero touchdowns left supporters wondering what went wrong. Well 2015 is a fresh start. Green is still big, fast, and has good hands. Two events have also added to Green's appeal: starter Gates is suspended for the first four games and this is a contract year for Green. In addition, the Chargers offense looks unsettled as a rookie RB should get the starting nod, and a committee of receivers (none with a wow factor) will be vying for targets. Green's presence as a large receiver and his knowledge of the offense and QB Rivers, may make him a promising target--at least initially. Certainly, Green is worth consideration for fantasy owners unable to secure Gronk, Graham or Olsen and are looking for a TE gem late.

More on the way...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Keep Three Quarterbacks

I hope most teams have learned their lesson about rolling the dice and keeping only two quarterbacks on a roster.

An article by Mike Wilkening on ProFootballTalk discussed the Packers coaches struggling with that decision: keep two or three signal callers?

And they should know the seriousness of that call.

Last year, the Packers season suffered a serious blow when Aaron Rodgers was hurt and missed several games.

The backup situation was made worse in that none of the three training camp QBs were on the opening day roster.

Management was then scrambling in trying to solidify that position--and as expected, it did not turn out so well for Green Bay.

If it were me, I would find an approach to keep three QBs. Be creative and identify someone else who can do two things and strengthen the roster that way.

I think the NFL could help as well, and offer some sort of extra QB roster slot that does not count against the standard number. It could be a developmental QB or whatever, but at least it would improve the play on the field for fans--ones that will be shaking their heads if a QB goes down.

Just have three at your disposal.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Take Jimmy Graham with Your First Pick?

For the past few seasons, I have been all in on Saints TE Jimmy Graham.

He has been a touchdown machine and worthy of a high fantasy draft pick.

And he should flourish in getting off the ball better with the new stricter enforcement about defensive contact--the rule that tries to keep defensive backs from touching receivers outside of the designated zones.

But still this year, I am worried.

The going rate for him is late first round or #8 overall at

Which means by selecting Graham, I'd likely be passing up elite running backs like Ball, Foster, and Murray. And depending on the draft order, I'd also risk missing out on the top WRs and perhaps QBs as well.

It just seems like that there is a model now to neutralize him, and defensive coordinators have had all of the off-season to study it.

The Patriots put Talib on him all game and Jimmy totaled zero catches.

Graham did have a touchdown against Seattle in the regular season game last year, but he was limited to 3 catches for 40 or so yards and was not a key contributor.

The playoff game against the Seahawks featured a Seattle defense that completely prevented Graham from helping his team.

It is tough for me to block the memory of those performances.

Now, Graham should be the #1 TE considered in fantasy drafts and everyone expects him to grab balls and cross the goal line regularly, but I struggle with the price: that late first round pick.

I will be comfortable letting someone else select him at #8, and then waiting until the mid-rounds or later for a TE.

I'll have to wait and see if my concern over Graham was accurate or misguided.

Such is the life of a fantasy owner.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

When to Draft a Tight End

When should you draft a tight end in your fantasy football standard scoring league?

Lately, I have been reading and listening to lots of the experts talk draft strategy.

With TEs, everyone likes Jimmy Graham, but some favor Rob Gronkowski and expect him to regain his previous superstar form, while still other experts recommend Broncos end Julius Thomas as the one to target--that another year working with Peyton Manning, combined with his value at the overall ranking of #42 , are too appealing to pass on.

Whichever TE that you think will be best this season, one draft strategy prevails among the experts.

It is a two-pronged approach where you either:

  1. Draft Graham, Gronk, or Thomas early and be happy that the other owners in your league will be taking more risks on what is left, or

  2. Wait… then wait…. then wait some more… Finally grab a couple of the tight ends from the pile that is left like: Washington's Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings, or Chicago TE Martellus Bennett.

Though more risky, the latter option still has potential.

I loved watching Reed play last year. Good hands and gets open. The scare with him is injuries.

An argument can also be made for Rudolph's success in that the new Offensive Coordinator is Norv Turner--a coach whose style often features the TE.  Turner's work last season in Cleveland was very good for their end Jordan Cameron, and already considered a trustworthy receiver, Rudolph could be a regular target this year in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Bennett performed well last year, and the Bears offense may be one of the best in the league this season.

So, if you waited to draft a TE, no worries;  just select one like the three mentioned above, and then add depth with someone like the old reliable Heath Miller of the Steelers or popular sleeper pick Colts' Dwayne Allen.

I have been mock drafting experimenting with both parts of the approach--either prioritize a TE very early or waiting until late--and have been happy with my finished roster.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dream Another Dream

I was sad to learn that Giants' running back David Wilson is leaving his career in the NFL.

Doctors advised him to stop playing football last week after feeling discomfort in his neck.

We all want to be able to call our own shots.

Walk away from a career, a job, a competitive field, or whatever we love on our own terms.

Walk away when we are ready.

David did not get that opportunity.

He will always have to battle the "what ifs" in terms of how much success the talented former #1 draft pick would have had playing professional ball.

The "what ifs" that each of us deal with in considering roads not taken during our lives.

One consolation that may not feel like one now, but should be viewed with much more clarity as time plods along is this: David is walking away.

He got to play football at the highest level, and has his health.  He said: "...Now I have a chance to dream another dream and live that, too."

Great attitude David, and thanks for providing a positive example of how to deal with life's obstacles.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Better Tackling Means Fewer Fumbles?

I watched the tackling instructional video released recently by Head Coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks staff.

In general, they advocate shoulder tackling using leverage and then wrapping up--avoiding head contact as much as possible

This is patterned after rugby techniques.

I commend Coach Carroll for this approach, and have wondered for years why the NFL got away from traditional tackling.

Too often, players tuck their arms and lead with their heads. This style results in so many missed tackles due to players launching themselves like a missile and going for the big hit.

Obviously, it has also caused enormous player safety issues--long and short term.

But will this change in philosophy catch on at the professional level?

I hate the "head and missile" technique, but when that helmet does hit the football being held by a ball carrier, it will cause fumbles.

Fumbles that can be game-changers and lead to victories.

The Seahawks were a great defense in 2013, but they were only tied for 10th in fumbles recovered with 11.

Will there be fewer fumbles as safer tackling is employed league-wide?

I believe so, but a better question is: Will coaches and players sacrifice their short-term success (winning games, individual accolades, financial rewards, etc.) for the long-term benefits that shoulder tackling offers?

We shall see.

You can go to the Seattle Seahawks' site here to watch the video.