Its Vick's turn to shine. Stay healthy, my friend.
Acronym/Acumen (Periodic Updates)
IDP (Individual Defensive Player); INT (Interception); JQP (John Q Public Opinion); PPR (Points-Per-Reception); SOS (Strength of Schedule); YAC (Yards After Catch); YPA (Yards Per Attempt)
When you have various league formats from which to select, make sure to join a league that has a waiver wire free agent rule (instead of first come, first serve). Otherwise, if you are intent on winning, you will be glued to your computer or iPhone every Sunday for several hours trying to beat other owners to the next Olgetree. On the other hand, maybe you are bent, and this gives you an edge.
Fantasy drafting takes into account a number of variables—strength of schedule, overall team forecast and emotional algorithms going into a season, among others. The Eagles spent a bazillion dollars on free agents in 2011 and had the highest of expectations following the labor stoppage. However, it seemed that ex-Eagles QB Vince Young's "Dream Team" label was all but the kiss of death.
With a good run to end the 2011 season, Philly is primed to improve on arguably Andy Reid's worst season as the Eagles' head coach. The unfortunate death of Reid's son at training camp can only give rise to a "win one for the Gipper" edge. The Eagles are accustomed to overcoming a rugged schedule (sixth toughest SOS this year). And after 50,000 simulations, predictionmachine.com has anointed the Eagles 2012-13 Super Bowl champions with an 18 percent projected win rate.
The biggest concern for the Eagles this year will be keeping QB Michael Vick healthy and on the field. He has already been fitted for a light-weight flak jacket. Vick, Peyton Manning and Kenny Britt (WR Tennessee) are the highest risk/reward players in fantasy football. WRs Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson clearly have some dependence on Vick's health as well. Fantasy stud RB McCoy should get his yards and scores regardless.
If you are targeting QB Vick this year, you are likely looking at a high-end RB1 in the first round. With Vick's injury history and propensity to take a hit, you will need to double back fairly quickly and select the best backup QB available. That might be Matt Shaub (in a comeback year) or Jay Cutler (reunited with difference maker WR Brandon Marshall). Vick and Peyton Manning are in the same risk pool, and either's success could lead many fantasy owners to pay dirt—this by coupling Vick or Manning in the fourth-fifth rounds with a first-round feature RB1.
Jeremy Maclin remains somewhat under the radar and could ride the Eagles wave into the top 15. WR DeSean Jackson is a bit of a mixed bag. Jackson should be primed to have a good rebound season, but Andy Reid has a long memory for players who deliberately under-perform. My lean is toward the maturing Maclin to get the plurality of targets on offense while Jackson gets most of his glory on special teams. TE Brett Celek should get his share of red-zone targets and just about break even with his ADP.
RB McCoy has already arrived, and what you see is what you get. He has all but reached his ceiling and should rightly go in the top five-to-seven picks of most fantasy formats. If sacks count in your IDP league, DEs Jason Babin and Trent Cole are top-10 selections, while newly acquired counterpart Phillip Hunt (sleeper alert!) waits his turn to rush the passer.
Dallas lost three games last year after leading by 12 or more late in games and set an NFL record in doing so. Wednesday night, the Cowboys showed they can close, but they still had double-digit penalties. Coach Garrett's IQ has yet to rub off on his talented-yet-undisciplined team.
When Tony Romo has a good game, he is the next Brett Favre. When he has a bad game, he is from a directional school in rural Illinois and doesn't have the pedigree to run the Dallas offense or date the likes of Jessica Simpson. A good game against the defending champs on national TV has helped revive his fantasy cause, maybe in more ways than one ...
More hindsight—WR Kevin Olgletree makes some sense—he took over for Laurent Robinson who had a big 2011 year in the system. Romo favors his third WR vs. weaker 1-on-1 coverage. So Olgetree is getting plenty of love on the waiver wire.
Those who drafted DeMarco Murray more so on faith than past performance are relieved that he put up some good early numbers (over 6 yards per carry) against a fairly stiff Giants defense.
Miles Austin looked healthy and got on the board with a late leaping grab that gave his owners hope for more. Dez Bryant has been a talented disappointment to date and the jury remains out on his graduation to elite diva status. Jason Witten remains a wait-and-see and probably tried to play too early with a spleen injury.
The new Dallas interior OL held up remarkably well, and the revamped defensive backfield was a drapery on Giants receivers for most of the game. Most importantly, Jerry Jones has a smile bigger than the state of Texas. Positive signs that all systems are go in big D, and one should draft accordingly.
Tony Romo is one of a few upside QBs that makes for a good pairing with a high-end RB1 taken in the first round. In a 10-team snake, Romo will still last until the forth or fifth round. Expect Romo's stock to rise just a bit heading into weekend drafts.
Elite feature backs are at an all-time premium, so an upside QB can still get you there if you are in mid-late position and Rogers, Brees and Brady are already off the board. A Cowboy fan going Murray first round and Romo at pick four or five can probably have his cake and eat it too.
Demarco Murray's opening-game performance coupled with RB Lynch's back spasms will assuredly influence owners' early-round strategies. In earlier preseason drafts, an owner could grab an elite QB Round 1 and come back with Murray or Lynch in Round 2. Now Murray's game one validation has all but made him an elite Round 1 RB1 while Lynch is dropping to the third round. The benefit of Murray's performance changes the window significantly at the intersection of Rounds 1 and 2. Murray, from my view, now sits right behind McCoy in the RB rankings. Draft accordingly.
The Ogletree uprising throws a bit of wrench in the hopeful selections of WRs Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. It appears Austin has a much better chance to outperform his mid-50s ADP. He can still be had at a modest price due to the depth of the WR pool this year. Hamstring issues have caused Miles' value to tumble prior to the opening tilt with New York. The fourth-quarter leaping catch and dash to the end zone will likely move him up the board a round and diminish some, but not all of his value. Austin is a top-10 talent when healthy. LB Sean Lee looks like a havoc-reeking tackle machine and should hit the Top 10 in IDP leagues.
New York Giants Synopsis
The Giants' odds to win the Super Bowl were 15-1 going into the season. That should tell you something. The odds makers expect there to be some regression team-wise, and that translates to saggy fantasy numbers across the board. Dallas already looks stronger, and Philly should have the hammer down in a big comeback year. The NFC East is going to be rugged.
As much as JQP was impressed with the Cowboys, the Giants were out of sync and unable to connect for much in the way of fantasy points. Give credit to Dallas on this one. Not to over-react, it is only one game, and Eli tends to find his stride later.
There may have been some affirmation for those who suspected regression from the likes of Victor Cruz, who appeared to be trying too hard early on vs. Dallas. With WR Manningham gone, this changes the dynamic for both Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Until a third WR steps up, they will get the attention from defensive units.
Eli Manning was his typical early-season struggling self at home. RB Bradshaw had a good opening night while RB David Wilson's fumble created additional separation between he and Bradshaw. This sends Bradshaw up the draft boards as a feature back—he was supposed to be in a 60-40 touch split tandem with upstart Wilson.
It is interesting to get the oh-by-the-way fumblitis information on Wilson only once he fumbled on national TV. It seems that fantasy analysts would have noted the nine fumbles at Virginia Tech and made a red flag point of it going into the season. Those drafting this weekend get the benefit of the new equation. I am still not a huge Bradshaw fan, but objectively, the touches are coming his way.
Victor Cruz stands to regress the most off a career year marked by some remarkable and long TD catches. Many have pointed out preseason that this is unsustainable. Wednesday's game seemed to validate that. Hakeem Nicks is starting to be aptly named—he has been nicked up on and off for the better part of one-and-a-half seasons. He is reportedly playing through pain and should be avoided if possible in a deep WR market.
WR Rueben Randle could be somewhat of a commodity off the waiver wire a few weeks into the season.
Martellus Bennett has been waiting for his chance, and he arrived against his former team with a late TD. Bennett should easily outperform his ADP and be a primary red-zone target for QB Manning absent goal-line specialist and ex-RB Jacobs.
QB Manning is stationed at a No. 6 fantasy ranking among his peers—just below the QB upper echelon. He might find himself falling below Romo off the opening-night defeat, and brother Peyton along with QBs Vick and Shaub could easily jump ahead of Eli as well. I would not pay market for him, as there are too many other choices with more upside. Eli's fantasy fruit is about as ripe as it's going to get.
Coach Mike Shanahan is more interested in messing with the minds of fantasy enthusiasts and the media than he is winning football games. His contrary eccentricity has elevated a little more each year, and he is finally off the map. Credit Football Guys' Joe Bryant with coining the term "Shanahanigans." I'm most elated for the ongoing struggles of wannabe George Steinbrenner owner Daniel Snyder. That Snyder is stuck with Shanahan after so many coaching changes makes it all the better.
RG3 gives Redskins fans some hope for the future. He is lacking a true No. 1 WR coming into the season. The depth charts seem to be jumbled at both the WR and RB positions. It's a fluid situation week-to-week.
There are typically not enough roster spots in fantasy leagues to handcuff all the players on an NFL team. I would steer clear of all Redskin players with the exception of RG3 as a late-round backup pick in a 12-team league.