The thing that makes fantasy football so great is how it allows you to be your own personal general manager. The victories you earn are all yours, the taunts you hurl sting the worst when you do something on accident.
This year may be a little different. A possible strike-shortened season would mean some of the fantasy studs this year may come into the season out of shape. However, some of those guys who were banged up last year may be well rested and have breakout seasons.
Nothing has become more of a pastime than wasting time at work or procrastinating doing a school paper than fantasy football. In order to make all that time worth it, here is one player at each position to avoid this year and someone to pick instead.
Tony Gonzalez was a mortal lock to get you top fantasy numbers. A 15-year veteran, Gonzalez basically redefined what a tight end could be. No longer a last option on the offense, a tight end could be the leading receiver on your team and that would not be a reason to have an offense mocked.
Gonzalez is productive and if he does come back to the NFL (he has mentioned retiring), he should have a solid season. Hopefully, for Gonzalez, this does not happen so he can have at least one more shot at a playoff win and a Super Bowl run.
For fantasy players, Gonzalez is an aging vet no longer capable of putting up huge numbers. With Julio Jones added to the mix, the Falcons now have two big receivers to get the ball to before thinking about Gonzalez.
Who to pick instead: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England
This one could change but right now the passing game in Minnesota is ice cold. Unless the Vikings make a move, Christian Ponder, who at one point was a third-round draft prospect, or Joe Webb is going to start for the Vikings. The rumors of Donovan McNabb or Vince Young coming to Minnesota would certainly change Rice's value.
As it stands, Rice is coming off a hip injury . Last season upon return from the injury, he had one great game against Buffalo where he scored two touchdowns and caught 105 yards. That game accounted for almost one-third of his entire seasons production in six games.
Part of the reason he struggled was the injury. Part of it was Brett Favre's struggles and after that the ineffectiveness of Minnesota's other quarterbacks.
Brett isn't coming back and unless McNabb or Young shows up, Rice's numbers should drop and he won't be worth the high draft pick.
Who to draft instead: Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
No, this has nothing to do with the Madden Curse. Peyton Hillis is a big physical back and no doubt will get you some yards and touchdowns in the first part of the season, but the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Take a look at Hillis' second half stats. He had three 100-yard games. His coming-out party against the New England Patriots and then against Buffalo and Carolina. Not exactly awe inspiring. He also didn't score a touchdown in his last five games and only scored in six of his last seven games (three touchdowns against Carolina, who were basically a sieve against the run).
Part of that was injuries but Hillis is a fairly straight forward runner, so if Colt McCoy doesn't improve next season there may be a lot more eight-in-the-box situations and less room for Hillis to run.
Who to pick instead: LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Detroit Lions certainly have some talent on the offensive line. Jeff Backus and Dominic Riaola are guys who can play at a high level but for some reason can't keep Stafford off his keester.
Playing 13 games in two seasons is not what the Lions had in mind when they drafted Stafford No. 1 overall. He did show glimpse of what he could be last year in his three games. He threw for six touchdowns and one interception, earning a quarterback rating of 91.3.
With the added fire power of Mikel LeShore and Titus Young, the Lions looks to be creating a team of the future and if Stafford can stay healthy, maybe looking at a potential playoff run. However, the injury bug seems to plague Stafford and it seems unlikely that he is worthy of anything other than a backup quarterback pick, if at all.
Who to pick instead: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Outside of DeMarcus Ware, not a single defender on the Dallas Cowboys strikes fear into anyone. Outside of that, the Cowboy's defense look pretty pedestrian.
The Cowboy's have better overall defensive statistics when compared to their own offense but part of that is because the Cowboys held the ball for about two minutes more per game. Letting teams walk into the end zone doesn't help either, giving up 436 points, second most in the NFL. The defense gave up 5.8 yards per play, which is not exactly great when you want to be considered a Super Bowl contender.
What may help, though, is the addition of Rob Ryan to the Cowboys staff. Eager to join his brother as a head coach in the NFL, turning the defense in Big D around would instantly put him at the top of any opening next season.
Who to pick instead: Miami Dolphins (don't believe me look at their team stats)
Wide Receiver: Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos
Lloyd is coming off a career year, but with John Fox as the head coach, the plan is to run the ball, not let it loose through the air.
Tight End: Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders
Miller, on paper, looks like a solid backup plan at tight end, but his stats dipped this year drastically and with the emergence (finally) of Darren McFadden, the tight end may not be targeted quite as much.
Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
With all the talk of Palmer retiring, why waste the pick? If he does come back or gets released after the start of the season, pick him up when he gets into a game.
Running Back: DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers
Williams played in every game in 2007 and 2008 and only started every game in 2008. Williams truly had one great season and has been hurt or sharing the workload ever since.
Defense: Philadelphia Eagles
If the Eagles make some minor additions, this could be different, but the Eagles gave up 377 points, tied with the Redskins.