Dream Team 2011: The Best Offensive Lineup in the NFL
Imagine if you could have the first pick in every round of this year's fantasy football draft. Who would you take? Brady or Manning?
Scratch that, imagine if you had every pick in the first two rounds. Who would be your starting receivers and who do you leave for a rival's team?
Think about everything that goes into a great football player; leadership, speed, strength, poise and durability.
As football nears its welcome home party back into our lives, (not like it ever left) let's put together the ultimate dream team by each offensive position. This lineup would break any scoring record.
Quarterback, Tom Brady
Tom Brady is the quarterback I want for my dream team. At 33 years old, Brady has already won three Super Bowls and is a two-time league MVP.
Brady has it all. He has the athletic size at 6'4, and though he has been criticized for his lack of speed, he makes up for it with his arm.
Tom Brady had an amazing year last year with no star receivers to throw to. He led the Patriots to a 14-2 record while throwing 36 TD's and only four interceptions. That is an exceptional ratio for any quarterback. If I am a coach, the best quarterback I could have is one that does not give the ball away and that wins games. Brady does both.
Some question Brady's durability but since 2001, Brady has only missed 15 games. That sounds like a lot, but all 15 games came in 2008 when he tore his ACL. Since then, he has yet to miss a snap.
I know many will argue that Peyton Manning may be the better choice here, and it is a good argument, but Brady is the quarterback I want. Brady has three Superbowl rings to Manning's one. Manning has a hurt neck going into 2011 and last year he threw 17 interceptions compared to Brady's four. Neither team has a solid running game and both rely heavily on the quarterback to win them games. Manning had a lack of star receivers but so did Brady, who lost Randy Moss mid-season and relied on an ailing Wes Welker and two rookie tight ends to make plays.
Brady wins games, is accurate and throws touchdowns, which is why he is the quarterback you want taking the snaps in 2011.
Honorable Mention: Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
Running Back, Adrian Peterson
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How many times have we seen Adrian Peterson run through defenders rather than around them? Peterson is the most aggressive, elusive and talented runner in the game of football today.
Since coming into the league in 2007, Peterson has rushed for 5782 yards, making him the fifth-fastest running back to reach 5000 yards in the history of the NFL.
Peterson plays on a Minnesota squad that relies heavily on him but his work load will be relieved by second-year running back Toby Gerhardt in 2011, allowing Peterson to stay fresh more often.
You want touchdowns? Peterson can do that too. He has scored a total of 54 touchdowns in his first four years which puts him at the same pace as LaDainian Tomlinson, who became the fastest running back ever to 100 touchdowns.
The only weak spot in Peterson's game is that he has been called a notorious fumbler. If you look at his first three seasons in the NFL, Peterson fumbled 20 times. After spending countless hours working on his technique of holding the ball, Peterson only fumbled the ball once in all of 2010 and it was a missed communication between the the quarterback and Peterson.
Adrian Peterson does not have the nickname "All Day" for nothing. He is a hard-nosed runner who will rack up yards and score you touchdowns, and he has been nothing but fun to watch in Minnesota.
Honorable Mention: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
Full Back, Vonta Leach
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I love the full back position and think it is actually extremely underrated. Fullbacks are selfless, hard-nosed, and do all the dirty work for their running backs. They never get any glory but the position is extremely valuable, as the NFL's top-10 rushing offenses last year all featured a fullback.
Vonta Leach could be the best fullback in the league today. To be a great fullback, you have to build a path for your running back to find the open lane. Leach did that all year long in 2010 while pushing defenders out of the way for NFL leading running back Arian Foster.
Leach may not be that well known but he will be soon. He was voted to his first Pro-Bowl this year and was the only fullback to appear on the NFL's Top 100 players list this past month.
Leach is also very reliable at a difficult position to stay healthy in. Since joining the Texans in 2007, Leach has never missed a game.
Many question why, if Leach is so good, is he only starting to perform this year? Well, this really is the only year he has ever had a legitimate threat to run behind him since he has been in Houston. Yes, I know there is the chance to believe Leach is a one year wonder but the same can be said about Foster and only time will tell.
Leach proved to be a great surprise at fullback for the Texans and he can do more than just block and create the open lane. In his five years in Houston, Leach has 71 catches, proving to be a versatile weapon.
The fullback position often goes overlooked, but Vonta Leach may just make you stop and stare at his ability to push defenders aside in 2011.
Honorable Mentions: Ahmad Hall, Leron McClain
Wide Reciever No. 1, Andre Johnson
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Johnson joins his fellow Houston Texan teammate, Vonta Leach, on the Dream Team squad as the team's No. 1 wide receiver.
Andre Johnson is the most skilled and consistent receiver the NFL has to offer today. Since joining the league in 2003, Andre Johnson has never had a season with less than 60 catches. He has caught over 100 passes in three of those seasons and has had five seasons with over 1000 receiving yards.
The captain of his team, Johnson has proved to be a very soft spoken leader. Besides a heated battle on the field with Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan last season, Johnson has never gotten himself into trouble.
Johnson finished 2010 averaging 93 receiving yards per game and there is no reason why he cannot produce like that in 2011. The guy is an absolute monster, you can double or even triple team him but Johnson has showed time and time again that he will make sure he is first to the ball. Andre Johnson is the No. 1 receiver on this team.
Honorable Mention: Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Wide Receiver No.2, DeSean Jackson
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DeSean Jackson is one of the most electrifying talents in the NFL today. All you have to do is watch his game-winning punt return against the New York Giants last season to see that.
Jackson's speed is like no other and he would compliment Andre Johnson extremely well. I believe Johnson's calm persona and leadership will rub off on Jackson and cause him to tune down his arrogant attitude.
In 2010, Jackson had over 1000 yards in just 14 games. His speed causes him to be the greatest deep threat in the game today and the No. 1 target for Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick.
Jackson can do it all and I picked him as my No. 2 receiver mainly because he will stretch the field and be able to return punts. Every time the ball is punted to Jackson, opposing special team defenses become immediately scared. Striking fear into the opponent's eyes will lead to winning ball games.
Jackson will have a big year in 2011 if Vick can continue his success and if Jackson keeps his mouth shut and focuses on football. He is electrifying, talented and brings life to the game.
Honorable Mention: Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Tight End, Antonio Gates
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Antonio Gates has everything you want in a prototypical tight end. Gates is big, fast, strong and has great hands.
In 10 games last season, Gates led his team in receiving with 782 yards, and has put up at least 700 receiving yards every season since 2004 when quarterback Phillip Rivers joined the team.
Since Rivers joined the team, Gates has made the Pro-Bowl every single year and has had two 1000 yard seasons. Great numbers for a tight end.
Gates was a basketball player in college, which shows his athletic ability is greatly superior to a lot of tight ends around the league. He is already one of Philip Rivers favorite targets, and with Chargers No.1 receiver Vincent Jackson probably leaving the team in 2011, look for Gates to get even more looks from Rivers.
Antonio Gates is a great leader and a great talent to have on the field. He is said to be 100 percent healthy after missing six games last season, and his history shows he does not like to miss football games. I expect Gates to be the best tight end in 2011.
Honorable Mention: Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Left Tackle, Joe Thomas
Joe Thomas is a natural. His presence on a below-average Cleveland offensive line is the only thing that puts fear into opposing defenses.
Thomas has become the biggest bright spot of the Cleveland Browns offense and is now Quarterback Colt McCoy's new best friend. Thomas does an exceptional job blocking McCoy's blind side and has the ability to seal defenders and throw blocks with ease.
Thomas was drafted by the Browns in 2007 and has been a Pro-Bowler in all four seasons he has played. In 2010, Thomas was named to the NFL All-Pro first team, and there is no reason to believe he will not be there again in 2011.
Honorable Mentions: Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
Left Guard, Carl Nicks
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If you have not heard of Carl Nicks yet, soon you will. Carl Nicks is currently the top left guard in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints. He gives quarterback Drew Brees a ton of protection.
Nicks was drafted in 2008 and has played in every game since. His durability and work ethic have often been praised and he is an absolute monster on the line.
His quickness often leads to him getting to the second level on run blocking. He does an incredible job opening lanes for the Saints' backs.
The best part about Carl Nicks is that he does not cost the team plays. Yes, he has been deemed a little lazy on pass protection, giving up eight sacks in 2010, but not one holding penalty was called on him all season.
Nicks made his first Pro-Bowl in 2010 and was on the NFL All-Pro second team. Look to see him there in 2011 as well.
Honorable Mention: Kris Dielman, San Diego Chargers
Center, Nick Mangold
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Nick Mangold has become the most elite center in the game of football today. He has proven time and time again that he is an unstoppable force on the New York Jets line and he does an excellent job protecting the quarterback.
Mangold has played in every single game for the Jets since he was drafted in the first round in 2006. Since then, he has stepped in and taken over the offensive line.
Mangold started off slow in 2010 due to a shoulder injury in a contract year. After the Jets added guard Matt Slauson to the left of Mangold, the pair took some time to accommodate to each others' playing styles. Mangold eventually got it together, got healthy and finished 2010 on the NFL All-Pro team.
Mangold has gone to three straight Pro-Bowls and is a two time All-Pro. He just signed a long term contract with the Jets, and looks to be the best center in the NFL for a very long time.
Honorable Mention: Olin Kruetz, Chicago Bears
Right Guard, Chris Snee
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Chris Snee was a well deserving pick for the NFC Pro-Bowl roster in 2010. Snee did a great job on run blocking for running back Ahmad Bradshaw, and is also a fantastic pass blocker.
Snee has been an elite right guard for sometime now. He has been to three straight Pro-Bowls and in 2008 was an All-Pro.
He is known for his quick feet and fantastic blocking abilities that cause defensive lines nightmares. He has been extremely consistent, tough and is mobile, which is exactly what you look for in an NFL guard.
Honorable Mention: Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints
Right Tackle, Tyson Clabo
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This might be surprising to a few but Tyson Clabo will be the best right tackle in the NFL for the next few years.
Prior to last season, the Atlanta Falcons were skeptical if they were even going to keep Clabo as the starting right tackle. Well, he proved to them that he not only deserves the starting spot, but he owns it.
Clabo reached his first Pro-Bowl last season. It was very well deserved, as he did a great job protecting and blocking for quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner.
Clabo is currently a free agent and many are skeptical that he stepped up his play because he was in a contract year. I disagree, I believe he finally learned how to play and dominate the NFL. He had a great year and it was not just a one year wonder.
Clabo will a be a great right tackle in 2011 whether he is with the Falcons or another NFL team, and he is one of the best right tackles in the game. Besides, how could you not want a guy named Tyson Clabo on your dream team?
Honorable Mention: Damien Woody, New York Jets