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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Need One New Fantasy Football Owner for League

Want to join a fantasy football league?

Try mine!

I have one opening for the upcoming season.

We have a great bunch of established owners including Chuck from Incessant Ramblings, Pat Hatt of It's Rhyme Time , and Lisa of the Mommy's Nest.

This is the league's fourth season, we play for free as in fun/bragging rights, and use

Never played before?

That is ok too--we welcome players at any experience level.

If you are interested or have questions, just send an email to or holler at me on Twitter at: slamdunktrove .

Note: More about the league: it is 10 teams, redraft, standard scoring, and standard lineups. The one exception is instead of the traditional 2 running backs and 3 receivers in the starting lineup, we use 2 running backs, 2 receivers and one flex player (who can either be another running back or receiver). 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fantasy Projections for Two Cincinnati Bengals

This week, FantasyPros carried an article by Evan Silva of Rotoworld on players to avoid early and/or all together in fantasy football 2014.

Two observations:


Silva said that QB Dalton finished 3rd in fantasy QB scoring last year. That is a mistake in that Dalton did not finish 3rd, but I was still surprised to find that Dalton finished 5th overall. A new offensive coordinator, lots of pressure to perform, and stats that seemed to be inflated at the end of the year by the atypical pass-pass-pass offense would all seem to support Silva's claim that Dalton will not be as effective in 2014.


Staying with the Bengals, Silva sees Bernard as overvalued in the second round of most drafts. He supports his arguments with Bernard's limited 14 touch average last year, and that the team drafted competition in the second round with RB Jeremy Hill. Silva sees Hill as more of a touchdown threat and Bernard not worthy of the high pick that should give you RB1 numbers.

Silva's arguments are valid, but I counter:
  • As a rookie, Bernard's coaches were trying to limit his touches per game so that he could remain healthy; they will likely be more apt to let him play this year

  • As Bernard became more comfortable with the playbook and decision-making, he became more involved in the offense--a trend supported by his second-half of the season targets per game

  • New Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson will implement a run first attack; which should translate into more carries for RBs. Also, I can't think of a roster without competition at RB. General Managers are smart enough to know that having multiple RBs that can be trusted by coaches is a necessity in today's NFL

  • Silva focuses on the 14 touch average for Bernard per game, but his average over the final 8 games was actually 16 touches and 17 targets. This allowed for more production late

  • He also speculates that RB Hill will steal goal-line touches as the heavier back. I need more evidence of this before buying it. As a rookie, Hill will have lots to learn and prove.  And if this is true, it will be something we should see from reports in training camp and in the preseason games. And just because Bernard is short (5'8'') does not necessarily mean he is a small back. At 208 lbs., Bernard is the same weight as LeSean McCoy and is 10 lbs. heavier than Jamaal Charles--two backs with similar skills sets who are not removed from the game when their team is on the goal line 

There is no debate that Giovani Bernard is a talented athlete who can produce, but I think the new run-focused offense, Bernard's experience as a second-year player, and Bernard's versatility in the run and pass game will translate into an excellent 2014 fantasy season.

Evidently, I am not alone.

Posted to Silva's home site Rotoworld, Paul Dehner, Jr. projects Bernard to have at least 230 carries and 70 catches.

The arguments in Evan Silva's article are well supported and you can read it by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Opportunities: Seahawks Offense and Darren Sproles

I listened to Sigmund Bloom and Matt Waldman's recent podcast (7/17/2014), and here are two relevant points discussed:

Seahawks O
By the numbers, the Seahawks offense in 2013 was more balanced than most want to admit. QB Russell Wilson showed maturity despite not having his full compliment of WR weapons last year. Waldman expects Wilson to improve and sees fantasy value, not only in the second-year signal caller, but in WRs Harvin and Rice as well.

The Eagles RB Darren Sproles represents an excellent value pick at his current draft position (ADP #85 at They remind us that Coach Chip Kelly aggressively pursued Sproles in the off-season, and though it seems like he faces lots of competition for touches in Philly, the veteran has always made the most of his opportunities when he has the ball. Waldman argues that Kelly certainly has a plan for Sproles, and that bargain price, Sproles should be on your fantasy radar.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On FantasyPros Draft Wizard

Note: I am in no way compensated for the opinions expressed below.

I gave FantasyPros Draft Wizard a try tonight and was impressed.

To prepare for upcoming fantasy seasons, I'll use's mock draft tool and go against human and computer opponents--changing my selection spot to develop strategies for drafting from the beginning, middle, and end.

But I wanted to see what FantasyPros offered.

The Draft Wizard's start-up menu is easy to use, and the free basic service allows the individual to set the number of teams, the lineup requirements, scoring system, and where you pick.

Since their mock drafts have you compete against automated opponents, the drafting is fast.

I completed a full 15 round and 10 team draft in less than 10 minutes--certainly an advantage as compared to waiting (and waiting and waiting...) for other humans to choose.

My favorite option though is the evaluation tool. Once finished, the program will analyze your starters, bench, and overall team and then compare your projected points versus the other computer controlled teams.

In rating my mock draft (10 teams and picking from #3), Draft Wizard loved my starters, but believed I drafted poorly in terms of my substitutes.

Evidently, the system thought I took too many flyers once my starting lineup was secured.

One person's trash, another's treasure, right?

Upgrading to the "pro feature" allows access to more analytical tools and advice, and once the draft is completed, the system will allow you to back-up at any point in the draft, change your pick, and then finished a revised draft.

Overall, I'd recommend the Draft Wizard as a complimentary tool in developing your draft strategy. The program is fast, easy to use, and helpful in identifying what works best in the different scenarios.

I don't think Draft Wizard should replace or whatever site you prefer for mock drafting with humans.

Yes, other people can be annoying, but the unpredictable nature of fantasy football makes practice drafts alongside Bubba in Atlanta, Sarah in NYC, or Robbie in some sparsely populated desert town necessary to best prepare you for the real life confusion--better known as your league's draft day.

You can try FantasyPros Draft Wizard by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chris Johnson or Bishop Sankey?

If I am looking for a RB in the fifth round of a 10 team draft (standard scoring with a flex player), should I select Chris Johnson or Bishop Sankey?

Initially with my mock draft practicing, I was going with Sankey of the Titans (#47 overall on

He was the first RB selected in this year's NFL draft; certainly a great resume and impressive skills.

With Tennessee, Sankey should be able to immediately win the starting job, and get lots of touches this year as free agent RB Dexter McCluster is more of a specialist and RB Shonn Greene is recovering from a knee injury and a less than impressive season in 2013.

But what about former Titan and now Jets starter Chris Johnson (#49 overall on

Expert Tom Kessinich was recently a guest on Sigmund Bloom's fantasy football podcast and argued Johnson over Sankey.

His reasoning was:
  • Johnson has proven that he can excel at the highest level while Sankey has not

  • Sankey had a heavy workload in his last two years of college, and that Kessinich was not that impressed with what he displayed on the field

  • Johnson produced with some terrible Titans' offenses and is very motivated to show his talents

  • Johnson's new coach is committed to the running game and their is more talent on offense in New York

In contrast to those arguments, I think it is reasonable to question Johnson as a potential declining star--those great RBs seem to fall so quickly and his last few years with the Titans certainly leave question marks.

I am not sold on Johnson yet, but Kessinich's points are valid.

I always like to watch the reports out of training camp to help me finalize my drafting decisions, and I'll keep a close eye on these two so that I can make an educated decision on which will be the better performer this year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fantasy Outlook for C.J. Spiller

If you are looking for a great value pick in the 4th round or so (10 team draft), consider RB C.J. Spiller of the Bills. has him ranked at #39 and has him at #40--meaning that you can still select three solids before grabbing Spiller.

For those like me who drafted Spiller in the Top 10 last year only to watch him suffer through an injury plagued season, he is still the same explosive runner that he was in 2012, but with an off-season to heal his ankle.

An ESPN writer makes the valid point that Bills' RB Fred Jackson had a big workload in 2013, and the team acquired Bryce Brown as well, but I see just about every other team in the current NFL stockpiling RB options.

And Jackson got a lot of work especially in games where Spiller was injured. Spiller repeatedly would find openings, but lacked explosion and too many times would come up limping--meaning that Jackson's number was being called much more than planned.

Another reason to like Spiller?

Buffalo loves to run the ball, and he is in the final year of his contract.

The Bills finished 5th in the league last season in rushing attempts--only 13 attempts behind the second ranked team in Miami. This is quite an accomplishment considering the subpar quarterback play last season which prevented the passing game from helping them run the ball much at all.

I expect the Bills' offense to be better, they will continue to emphasize a ground attack featuring RBs, and Spiller is in a contract year. He will have extra incentive to show off his excellent speed, quickness, and remind people that he can catch the ball as well.

I believe Spiller could post big numbers again in 2014.

I recommend grabbing him in the 4th round if available.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Joe Delaney Tribute

Last year, the Kansas City Chiefs released a tribute video to the late great Joe Delaney.

Great talent. Special person.

Joe's story is nothing short of inspirational.

You can watch the video by clicking here and going to the Chiefs Kingdom homepage.

The intro is a bit much (if you are a non-KC fan), the video is a little too long, and the sponsor breaks are annoying, but they tell his story well.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

RB Value with the Falcons

Kimra Schleicher insights in this year's Lindy's Sports Fantasy Football 2014 are useful.

Reading her bio, she has quite the record of fantasy football success.

One sleeper that she offers is Falcons' back Devonta Freeman--arguing that with an aging Steven Jackson, he sure to see playing time soon.

Good point and I like Freeman too:

1) the Falcons have a high-powered offense that was down on its luck last season;

2) they traditionally have been effective in running the ball; and

3) not only can he run the football and catch, but he is regarded as a good blocker--no matter how much talent a rookie has, poor and/or confused blockers spend lots of time on the sidelines.

A negative could be that Freeman was in a timeshare throughout college, but that may be good in saving his body from hits.

I prefer to watch the reports after camps start in August before I try to predict which RBs and WRs are worthy of late round fliers, but Freeman is someone to watch.

I also would not forget about Jackson either. Lindy's mag has him as the #25 runner, and lists his ADP as 100.

As long as he is healthy at the beginning of the season, a late round pick invested in Jackson, may offer points in the first half of the season as he pounds defenses.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My NFL Mock Draft 2014

Every year, I project the top 10 picks in the NFL draft.

For each pick that I miss, I owe my son and daughter a quarter each.

And yes, I do end up paying them every year--some drafts more than others.

In any event, here goes for 2014...

1) TEXANS: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Best athlete in the draft. The only question is whether the Texans select him or trade down and collect picks from a team that is smitten with Clowney. I think they wait on a QB because Clowney is too good to pass.

2) TRADE (RAMS TO FALCONS): LB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
The Rams have been waiting to trade this pick since they acquired it. St. Louis' management is smart, and is bringing in all the top players as a smoke screen to make us think they may draft at #2. I say don't buy it. They want an OT and are waiting for the best offer to then drop back. I see either the Bills, Browns, or Falcons moving up here. The Falcons have shown they are not afraid to take risks and their defense sure could use an all-pro level talent like Mack.

3) JAGUARS: WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley has been impressive. Last season, he rallied a lackluster Jags roster and had them for the most part competitive. Free agents considering teams have spoken highly of the Jags coaching staff--as it is tough enough to lure quality players when your team's recent success is miniscule.  In any event, the Jags need a QB, but with WR Blackmon suspended and his career in doubt, I don't think they will pass up on a talent like Watkins. I would not be surprised though, if they entertain trade offers and collect a ransom to move back--someone else will grab Watkins if he is still on the board here.  

4) BROWNS: QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida
The experts have the Browns selecting any number of players at this #4. The team has a good defense and is assembling talent on offense. WR Josh Gordon's performance last year was one of the best in NFL history considering the below average QBs who were throwing to him. As such, look for the Browns to emerge from the "we are not taking a QB" smoke screen and grab a long-term signal-caller in Bortles. I see him as a big tough guy--something that will fit this blue-collar and cold weather city well. I love Bortles' confidence, and I think a team like Cleveland is looking for that as well.

5) RAIDERS:  T Greg Robinson, Auburn
Looking for a more conservative pick now that Mr. Davis is no longer making the moves, I see the Raiders going for a boring "sure thing." If Robinson is there, they take him. Experts believe he is the best long-term star at OT in this draft.

6) RAMS (From FALCONS): T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
Richer with picks after the trade, the Rams will go with the best OT on the board. If Robinson is there, they take him, but I think they will favor Lewan's nastiness over Matthews.

7) BUCCANEERS: T Jake Matthews Texas A&M
My favorite team--for better or for worse. Early projections had LB Mack still available for the Bucs here, but that is a distant memory. New head coach, Lovie Smith, is a defensive guy. They want defense help, but I think they will wait when either Lewan or Matthew is available. I see them grabbing the A&M OT. Lots of stories late on the owners pushing for Manziel, but I'd be surprised if the conservative Smith agrees to that dice roll.

8) TRADE (VIKINGS TO TITANS): QB Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
I think the Vikings are afraid of the risk in selecting Manziel. If Bortles is still here, they take him; otherwise they look for a trading partner. I see the Titans willing to move up and make an immediate splash with a new coach. Locker is the immediate starter, but Manziel will be taking over the spot soon enough. Titans fans will be energized for sure if this happens.

9) BILLS: TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
I was between WR Evans and TE Ebron, but I think the Bills want a player who can make an immediate impact and that is Ebron. Tall and athletic, the TE will force defensive coordinators to game plan against him, which will allow the Bills to run more easily; something they want to do with their two-headed running back monster anyway.

10) LIONS: CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St.
Needing secondary help and unwilling to sacrifice picks to move up for an elite talent, I see the Lions taking the best DB on their board. I like OSU's CB Gilbert, but I think they will go with an outstanding local cover guy in Dennard.

Bonus Pick: 31) BRONCOS: G Xavier Su'A-Filo, UCLA
My son's fav team is the Broncos, so I pick for them as well. They either go LB or OL here. I see Denver's strategy as maximize the chance that Peyton succeeds now, so look for them to take the best OL available and Su'A-Filo could be that.

Note: All player links are too Walter Football's scouting report. Every year, their group does an outstanding job of breaking down the players and teams.