Drafting the Ultimate SEC Fantasy Football Team
If you're anything like me, your fantasy NFL team is already in shambles two weeks into the pro football season.
So how do we cope with the fact that a fantasy football trophy seems more like fantasy than reality? By figuring out the ultimate SEC fantasy football team, of course.
Using the standard Yahoo! team structure and scoring system, who would you choose for your ultimate SEC fantasy football team?
My selections are in this slideshow.
QB: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Yes, choosing Johnny Manziel is a risk, but since Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson's status is up in the air, I'll take my chances with the Texas A&M dual-threat signal-caller.
Manziel leads the SEC in total offense with 325.5 yards per game and has seven total touchdowns in two games as an Aggie.
Those are close to "video-game numbers," which is what you want from fantasy football players.
Not only would Manziel be a fantastic fantasy football player, but his upside is huge.
First-year head coach Kevin Sumlin is still getting his feet wet in the SEC, and once he gets accustomed to how opposing defenses game-plan against his offense and can adjust, Manziel's stats will only increase.
Manziel may not be the best quarterback in the SEC or the safest pick as a fantasy quarterback, but I'll take the risk for my squad.
RB: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
I'll go with the safe pick here with my No. 1 running back and choose South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore.
All of those lingering questions regarding his surgically repaired knee were answered in the opener, when he rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns against Vanderbilt.
For the season, Lattimore has 235 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and 33 receiving yards.
With his quarterback Connor Shaw nursing a fracture in his shoulder blade, Lattimore's value to his team only has increased, even though backup Dylan Thompson has been good in Shaw's absence.
As the Gamecocks move back into SEC play this week vs. Missouri, expect Lattimore's workload to increase, which will mean more fantasy points for him in our fictional ultimate SEC fantasy league.
RB: Mike Gillislee, Florida
I'll pass on LSU's Kenny Hilliard for fear of him splitting too many carries in favor of Florida running back Mike Gillislee, who we know will not.
Everyone was focused on the Florida quarterback battle heading into the season, but its biggest question was finding an every-down running back.
The Gators found one in the form of Gillislee.
What's not to love about this guy?
He's leading the SEC with 115.3 rushing yards per game, he's scored four touchdowns, and now that defenses know they have to respect quarterback Jeff Driskel's ability as a passer, Gillislee's production may actually increase.
I love Kenny Hilliard for his ability to find the end zone, like LaDarius Perkins for his home-run capabilities, and I know you can't go wrong with any of the Alabama running backs. But give me Gillislee because Florida will continue to run the ball and play defense.
WR: Justin Hunter, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson burst onto the scene with his performance in the first half vs. N.C. State when the junior college transfer scored two touchdowns, but the most important news coming out of the Tennessee wide receiving corps that night was the fact that Justin Hunter returned with success.
Because of that, I'll take him as my top wide receiver.
After tearing his ACL in the third game of the 2011 season, Hunter has returned with a vengeance, catching 22 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns already in 2012.
With Patterson stealing some attention and running backs Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane producing at running back, the door is wide open for Hunter to have a monster season.
In the interest of my fictitious SEC fantasy team, let's hope he does.
WR: Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
I know what you're thinking: "An Ole Miss wide receiver?"
Yes, that's right, an Ole Miss wide receiver.
Donte Moncrief leads all SEC wide receivers, averaging 106.7 receiving yards per game, and he has scored three touchdowns.
Yes, the competition is going to get more difficult after games against Central Arkansas and UTEP, but he did have 144 receiving yards and a score vs. Texas.
SEC defenses are tougher, no doubt. But first-year head coach Hugh Freeze's offense has worked so far, and Moncrief has proven to be its most valuable piece.
You'll be offering me trades for him by mid-October.
WR: Tavarres King, Georgia
Georgia wide receiver Tavarres King doesn't have the stats that some of his fellow receivers in the SEC have so far in 2012, but that's okay. I'll still draft him based on upside.
He has 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the season, but as Malcolm Mitchell slowly makes a transition back to playing wide receiver from cornerback, the attention won't be on King as much as it has been early in the season.
That means he's going to have more and more opportunities for big games as the season progresses.
Aaron Murray is a veteran quarterback, and now that the Bulldogs have their running back issues sorted out, it should allow for Murray to find open receivers off of the play action.
King is a veteran, he knows this offense, knows the conference and is poised to have a big season, even if he hasn't been stellar early on.
TE Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier may not be the weapon that he was hyped to be after spring practice, but he still knows how to find tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who is second on the Tigers with 99 receiving yards.
He hasn't scored a touchdown yet in 2012, but if there's one thing we know about Lutzenkirchen, it's that he will find his way there eventually.
The senior has 14 touchdowns during his first three seasons on the Plains, and touchdowns are gold when it comes to fantasy football.
You could make an argument for Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg here, but with quarterback Tyler Wilson's status uncertain, I'll pass. Lutzenkirchen hasn't had the best start to the season, but his upside is huge.
RB/WR: Kenny Hilliard, LSU
I passed on LSU running back Kenny Hilliard as a RB, but I'll take him any day of the week and twice on Sunday in the flex position.
He's part of that stable of LSU running backs, but if the start of the year is any indication, he's going to find the end zone.
The sophomore has 303 yards and six touchdowns in three games.
I don't care if he's averaging 101 rushing yards per game or two rushing yards per game. If he finds the end zone twice a game, that's an easy 12 points for our ultimate SEC fantasy team.
I'll take it.
K: Cody Parkey, Auburn
With apologies to Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis—a finalist for the Lou Groza award last season—I'll take Auburn place kicker Cody Parkey for my ultimate SEC fantasy team.
The reason is simple—more is going to be asked of Parkey this season due to Auburn's general offensive ineptitude.
Parkey has connected on all six of his attempts this season, including the game-winner in overtime last week vs. Louisiana-Monroe. He has a long of 46 this season.
His consistency coupled with the fact that Auburn will probably continue to attempt a lot of field goals in 2012 gives him the edge over Sturgis and the rest of the SEC.
While LSU's defense is solid, I'll take Alabama's and not think twice about it.
Remember all of those questions about the holes that the Crimson Tide had to fill before the season? Yeah, they were answered about two minutes into the season.
Alabama has posted two shutouts in its first three games and is giving up just 210 yards per game so far this season. The Tide leads Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in turnover margin at 3.67 per game.
That's just crazy.
You can't go wrong with either LSU or Alabama, but for fantasy purposes, I'll go with the team that's most likely to post shutouts.