Fantasy Football: Michael Vick and Five Guys You Should Draft Early

Alex Joseph@alex_brosephAnalyst IAugust 12, 2011

Fantasy Football: Michael Vick and Five Guys You Should Draft Early

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    When it comes to fantasy sports, I'm a sucker for believing most things Matthew Berry writes.

    This stems from reading his "NBA Draft Day Manifesto" back in 2009. After reading that article, I drafted three fantasy basketball teams, my first fantasy basketball teams, and they all won their leagues. 

    So when I saw that Matthew Berry had written a new manifesto for the 2011 fantasy football season, needless to say, I read every single bit of it. It all makes sense, but he definitely had a strong infatuation for Michael Vick.

    I was confused. Michael Vick? Since when did fantasy experts tell us to do everything we can to get a high-risk player? 

    That's normally opposite. Why not take the safer bet in Aaron Rodgers if you're going to take a QB in the first round? 

    Well, lets just say after reading the entire article and soaking in all the information, I'm now a major Michael Vick believer. 

    So, thank you Matthew Berry, once again, you're going to win me a lot of leagues. But who are some other guys that you should draft high? 

    Let's take a look. 

Michael Vick: QB (Philadelphia Eagles)

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    I know, I know. You're tired of hearing about Vick, but there is more you need to read about him.

    I had already drafted about 10 teams before I read the manifesto, and I didn't have Vick in a single league. Like everyone else, I was scared of the risk factor in taking Michael Vick, but Berry highlights some key statistics that put everything in perspective.

    In the 12 games Vick played in last season, he averaged 25 points per game. Aaron Rodgers, the consensus No. 1 option at quarterback, averaged 19. 5 points per game in 15 games played. That means that Vick scored a total of 300 points in 12 games, whereas Rodgers scored a total of 292 points in 15 games.

    If you stretch that out for an entire season while extrapolating his rushing yards and touchdowns, which Berry did, Michael Vick would have scored somewhere in the range of 449 points. Arian Foster scored the most points last season with 313. Vick would have had 449! 

    If Vick remains as healthy as we hope, and he plays as well as he did last season, there's no way you shouldn't win your league if you have him. He is fully deserving of a No. 1 pick, and right now his ESPN rank is at No. 10. 

    After watching him in the preseason game last night, I'm even more confident. Vick threw in the pocket and every pass was right on the money. 

    If Vick turns into a legitimate pocket passer, then his fantasy possibilities are endless. He'll stay healthy, he'll make more completions and he'll be able to use his feet as an asset more. 

    Here's his best highlight from last night's preseason bout against the Ravens. Vick scrambles out of the pocket, throws a pass right on the money to fourth-string wide receiver Riley Cooper, all while balancing on one leg, much like in the picture for this slide. 

Miles Austin: WR (Dallas Cowboys)

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    Miles Austin is Tony Romo's best asset at wide receiver. The case could be made for Dez Bryant, but the numbers don't lie. 

    In 2009, Austin jumped on the scene and exploded for 81 receptions for 1320 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2010, Austin's stats slipped just a tad: 69 receptions for 1041 yards and seven touchdowns. 

    This could have been due to Romo's season-ending injury, allowing him to play in just five games, or it could have been due to Bryant's appearance in the lineup. I'm going with Romo's injury.

    While Romo was still in the lineup, Austin had 33 receptions for 486 yards and two touchdowns. In five games, this averages out to 6.6 receptions per game for 97.2 yards per game and 0.4 touchdowns per game. The touchdowns could have been better, but here's what Austin's averages look like without Romo: 3.3 receptions per game for 50.5 yards per game and 0.5 touchdowns per game. 

    It's easy to see that Austin is better with Romo throwing the ball, and with a healthy Romo for a full season, Austin will be able to get back on track.

    Austin is currently ranked No. 31 on ESPN, which means he's only the tenth best option at Wide Receiver. He'll be top five material by the end of the season. 

    I'm just going to say that you'll want to pick Austin up early rather than sit and try to wait on him.

Felix Jones: RB (Dallas Cowboys)

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    Another Cowboy? Really?

    Yes, really. Jones is set to have a breakout season, and here's why:

    He's finally the consensus No. 1 RB on the Cowboys' depth chart. Without Marion the Barbarian in town, his two primary backups that have the chance to take carries away from him (Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray) are more injury-prone than he is, and the Cowboys really need to utilize their rushing attack this season in order to open up their passing game. 

    Since his arrival, Jones has always been the most exciting RB in Dallas. His breakaway speed and maneuverability make him a big-play threat every time he touches the ball. Jones will finally have a chance to make those big-play threats on every drive as the No. 1 back. 

    Last season Jones had to split carries with both Barber and Choice, but he still got a healthy 185 carries out of the deal for 800 yards. This averages out to 4.3 yards per carry, not a bad statistic. The only problem with this is that he only had one rushing touchdown to show for it. 

    Barber had four touchdowns, Choice had three touchdowns (on only 66 carries), and even Jon Kitna and Miles Austin had one apiece on the ground. 

    Barber and Choice have been the third-down and goal-line backs for Dallas for years, and Jones is now ready to prove that he can take over all responsibilities. 

    He's also a good receiver out of the backfield, which is a plus on a pass-heavy Dallas offense. Last season Jones had 48 receptions for 450 yards, not too bad when you're splitting time. 

    Jones is currently ranked No. 51 on ESPN's rankings, making him the TWENTY-THIRD best RB on the list. 

    Pick him up before the fifth round, because if anybody is smart, they're going to be doing the same. 

Jermichael Finley: TE (Green Bay Packers)

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    Sure, Antonio Gates is by far the best option at TE for fantasy football, but he's a third-round pick.

    Finley is currently ranked No. 61 on ESPN's fantasy rankings, making him a sixth- to seventh-round pick at best. 

    Pick him up before it gets too late. He's going to be the second-best tight end in fantasy football this season, and if he can stay healthy, he may even rival Gates. 

    Everybody is aware that the Packers and Aaron Rodgers like throwing the ball. Rodgers is one of the most accurate passers in the game, and he has good receivers to throw it to. Greg Jennings may be his favorite target, but Finley has a chance to be his second. 

    Before being injured last season, Finley was averaging 14.3 yards per catch. In his best season (2009), Finley grabbed 55 balls for 676 yards and five touchdowns. 

    With Donald Driver getting old (isn't he like 60 by now?) and Jennings garnering most of the defenses' attention, Finley is primed to have a huge year. There's a good chance that Finley will have around 70 catches and 900 yards. He could also get close to double-digit TDs this year. 

    When drafting tight ends, you're more or less almost in line to get the same production out of every player. That is, of course, unless you draft Antonio Gates. But this year is different, this is the year that Finley steps up into Gates' world.

    Draft him in the fourth or fifth round and thank me at the end of the season. 

Chad Ochocinco: WR (New England Patriots)

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    Chad Ochocinco, formerly known as Chad Johnson, is always a risk on draft day.

    He is one of the most physically gifted and talented receivers in the NFL every season, but his value is dependent on his behavior and ability to care. 

    Ochocinco has averaged more than 1000 receiving yards per season in seven out of his ten seasons played in the NFL. Last season he only had 831 receiving yards, but that is likely due to Terrell Owens' presence, along with Cedric Benson's top-notch rushing attack. 

    Had Ochocinco stayed in Cincinnati, he may have lost all hope of ever obtaining a championship ring or producing like a top-10 WR should. 

    Being traded to New England was the best thing that could have happened to him.

    Everyone saw what Tom Brady did for an aging Randy Moss. His first year spent in New England, Moss had almost 1500 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. He went on to have two more great seasons in New England before he was traded due to his attitude issues. 

    Moss and Ochocinco are a lot alike, and their arrivals in New England almost mirror each other:

    Moss was in his tenth season, Ochocinco is in his eleventh; They are two of the most talented wide receivers the NFL has ever seen; Both are "bad characters" when viewed by fans of the game.

    The difference between the two, though, is that Moss dealt with attitude problems that affected the locker room, whereas Ochocinco deals with fines from the league for showboating and speaking his mind. 

    Ochocinco is a fantastic locker room guy, and he's going to make the best of his time in New England. He knows it's a blessing that he's playing there, and he may just turn around his career like Moss did. Now, I doubt Ochocinco is going to grab 23 touchdown passes, but is 15 out of the question? 

    I don't think so. Grab him early, because even though he's still ranked No. 91 in ESPN's fantasy rankings, people know he's going to do good things.