Fantasy Football 2011: 10 Superstar Picks You Should Think Twice About
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So, your NFL fantasy draft is just around the corner, and you are looking for a few last-minute pointers to ensure your dominance in the fantasy league.
Well, let me help you by presenting to you some of the superstar names out there whose seasons may not be so super. Many of the highly coveted fantasy rankings are based on sheer hype and anticipation.
I will expose 10 of these big-name players by laying out all the factors you must consider before selecting them on draft day.
1. WR Brandon Marshall
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Though Brandon Marshall is considered to be among the elite wideouts in the NFL, his fantasy numbers left him ranked just 29th among wide receivers last year, despite his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving year.
His 6'4" frame and 230-pound structure give him the perfect prototypical NFL body at the position, but without a quarterback who can get him the ball like Kyle Orton did in Denver during the 2009 season, it is highly unlikely that he will be among the top-tier receivers in fantasy land.
The Chad Henne-Brandon Marshall combo only managed to produce three touchdowns which, besides Marshall's rookie year, was his career low.
As the only real threat the Dolphins offense poses, Marshall will definitely get his highlight catches this season, but not enough to tally up the points fantasy owners will need to reign supreme in their respective leagues.
2. RB Steven Jackson
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Sam Bradford's progression last year has many experts predicting that Steven Jackson will heavily benefit from the more run-pass balanced offense.
But as the year went on, and with that Bradford improving, "Action" Jackson's numbers actually suffered a major decline. During the second half of the season he only recorded one single game of 100-plus yards rushing.
When I look at Steven Jackson, I see a back who has a ton of miles on his back. He has carried a below-average franchise for a long time now and it's starting to show. The 27-year-old was ranked only the 14th most productive running back last year, and has carried the ball well over 300 times in consecutive seasons.
As the 2011 season moves along, and with the St. Louis Rams among NFC West favorites along with the Arizona Cardinals, look for Jackson to severely slow down throughout a demanding playoff chase.
3. QB Donovan McNabb
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This should not come as much of a surprise. Donovan McNabb is coming off his statistically worst year since first entering the league. His 14 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions in just 13 starts resulted in just a 77.1 QB rating, and a ranking of 21st among quarterbacks.
McNabb has strung together a Hall of Fame-type career (minus the Super Bowl ring), but at this stage his age is simply starting to show. Indicative of this were his zero rushing touchdowns last season—only the third time this has happened in his 12-year career.
Sidney Rice's departure from Minnesota deprived McNabb of a legitimate threat among the Vikings' receiving corps, and therefore his numbers should continue to slump as he rides it out toward retirement.
4. RB Brandon Jacobs
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Brandon Jacobs just seems to be too unpredictable, and that alone should make you think twice. Jacobs is coming off a career-high 5.6 yards per carry on 147 rush attempts while also scoring nine touchdowns. In the previous year, he averaged only 3.7 yards per carry on 224 carries with just five touchdowns.
Jacobs isn't even a starter on his own team. His carries will heavily be dictated by the productivity of his backfield mate Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw's seven fumbles "helped" the New York Giants lead the NFL in total turnovers last year, a feat head coach Tom Coughlin does not want to see repeated.
It seems the more carries Jacobs gets, the more his productivity goes down. Look for Coughlin to continue to use Bradshaw to make the defense gasp for air, and then insert Jacobs to blow them over.
He should see somewhere around 150 carries if his attitude allows it, but how much he will make out of those carries remains to be seen. He should be nothing more than a backup on your team.
5. TE Tony Gonzalez
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At 35 years of age, Tony Gonzalez may have his best days behind him. Last year Gonzalez gained just 656 yards, which was the lowest in the last 12 years.
As a no doubt first ballot Hall of Famer, he will continue to be a great veteran leader in the locker room, which will be much needed for a young Atlanta Falcons team.
He will be far from an irrelevant tight end on the field as he should continue to put up moderate numbers. But none of that will unfortunately translate in to any significant contribution to your fantasy teams point tally.
6. WR Anquan Boldin
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Plain and simple, when Joe Flacco is your quarterback, it will be more than a challenge to rank better than 26th among wideouts, as Anquan Boldin did last year.
At 31 years of age, don't expect Boldin to have a huge bounce back type of year. Despite playing in all 16 games last season, Boldin only managed to catch 64 balls for 837 yards.
Flacco has actually shown improvement in his numbers from year to year, but it seems that Boldin has simply reached his ceiling and therefore you shouldn't expect much more from him than last year, if not less even.
7. TE Todd Heap
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Some believe that Todd Heap got an upgrade in quarterback play by leaving Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens for the Arizona Cardinals and newly acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb. This seems to be an unfair statement as the Cardinals have yet to find out what they really have in Kolb.
It is definitely not a knock on Heap for placement on this list. The main reason is just that this year may be one of the deepest at the tight end position.
To name a few, Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley, and Vernon Davis should all be putting up more lucrative numbers than Heap.
Todd Heap should still play a major role in the Cardinals' offensive scheme on their quest for another NFC West championship, and should definitely be picked up if he is still around in the later rounds.
8. QB Jay Cutler
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For a player who has a reputation for having the league's strongest arm, he sure seems to be rather soft internally. A lot of the Chicago Bears fan base still have not forgiven Cutler for "quitting" during the NFC championship game against the Green Bay Packers last year.
All that aside, Cutler still has absolutely no weapons to utilize in the passing game, his best option still being a guy who played corner back in college in human highlight Devin Hester.
It also doesn't help that the Bears had the worst offensive line in the league, giving up 52 sacks last year. With a line that shaky, look for Cutler to continue to be forced into bad plays and therefore his interception tally to remain on the rise.
9. QB Michael Vick
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This must be a mistake right? Not really. Surem Michael Vick put up career highs last year with 3,018 passing yards, 21 touchdown passes, a 62.6 percent completion rate, a 100.2 QB rating, and nine rushing touchdowns during an MVP-worthy season. But Michael Vick is just as lucky as he is talented.
According to KC Jones of ESPN, Michael Vick tied for first with Tom Brady in only having 19.4 percent of potential interceptions actually turn into interceptions.
On top of that, take Vick's risque playing style which is bound to get him hurt, and usually does, and a Philadelphia Eagles offensive line which gave up 29 sacks last year, and you get a quarterback who just like last year probably will not play more than 12 games, if not less.
Why risk a high draft pick opportunity on a guy who could likely be on the IR list come fantasy playoff time when you will be needing him the most?
10. Anyone from the NFC West Not Named Vernon Davis
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Over the last two NFL seasons, Vernon Davis has amassed 1,879 receiving yards on 134 catches, while scoring 20 touchdowns. Great numbers for a guy who hasn't had a quarterback since entering the league in 2006.
Will this be the year Alex Smith finally takes his chance to solidify himself as the 49ers quarter back? Won't make a difference to Vernon Davis. He just continues to go to work every Sunday as he is one of the most complete tight ends in the game today.
Mike Singletary played a huge role in finally getting the ex-Maryland Terp to commit himself to being a great blocker as much as he is a great receiver. Receiving is what matters to fantasy owners though, and if you care about winning, Davis should be a no-brainer pickup.
So what about his teammate Frank Gore? Or arguably the most gifted wideout in the NFL, Arizona Cardinal Larry Fitzgerlad?
Well, before last season Frank Gore has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons while never missing more than two games.
In 2010, Gore missed five games and only rushed for 853 yards while finishing tied for his career low with just three rushing touchdowns. His only upside seems to be that he is in a contract year, which may see his numbers vastly improve. That seems highly unlikely, though, being that Gore is in the predictable run-first offense in San Francisco.
As for Larry Fitzgerlad, by no means did he have a great year in 2010 (by his own standards, that is), which actually saw his numbers decline. Still, he had 90 receptions for 1,137 yards but with a new quarterback in town who is learning an entire system, it seems a bit far-fetched to believe that Fitzgerald will be able to achieve Kurt Warner days types of numbers.
Add that Kevin Kolb is an unproven quarterback, and the doubt as to what Fitzgerald will be able to produce really starts to pile on.
Now obviously, Larry Fitzgerald is a wild card for this list but these are all just warning signs designed to make you think twice before selecting any of these superstar NFL players in your fantasy draft.