The Fantasy Coach
After a full off-season of mock drafts, ranking sheets, scouting reports and the occasional “friendly” banter with fellow league members, the Fantasy Football season finally commenced last week. Sunday was one of the most anticipated days of the year with more than 23 million Americans – approximately 7 percent of the national population – playing Fantasy Football this season, according to the latest statistics from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA).
Every week, Fantasy managers address multiple decisions to their rosters. My goal is to take my 12 years of Fantasy sports experience and present an abstract view on Fantasy news to you, the local fans. Check back every week for my column, “The Fantasy Coach,” as I review the major highlights of the previous Fantasy week and detail what to look for in the weeks ahead.
TEs go wild, Bush breaks out, and Peyton’s still Peyton
Entering the 2013 Fantasy Draft, there were two top TEs that warranted early-round picks: Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, with the latter beginning his season on the sideline. Beyond that duo, the following tiers were muddled with low-upside veterans and unproven youngsters… or so we thought! Week 1 produced 21 touchdowns from TEs, highlighted by breakout candidates Julius Thomas, Jordan Cameron and Jared Cook. Even the “end-zone allergic” Jason Witten and Owen Daniels were able to snag 2 touchdowns a piece. As the NFL continues to shift towards spread offenses featuring hybrid TEs dominating the defensive seam, make sure to round out your roster with one of the young and upcoming stars.
Reggie, Reggie, Reggie… Oh how sweet that performance was, with 191 total yards and 1 touchdown; he even reached the end zone two more times only to be challenged and reversed, the ultimate stat-tracker taunt. In the high-octane and pass-happy Detroit Lions offense, Reggie should continue to thrive. Health, of course, is Bush’s major weakness, so make sure to pick up his backup Joique Bell (5 catches for 92 total yards and 2 touchdowns).
Then there is Peyton Manning – arguably, the best Fantasy QB of all-time. With 4,000 yards passing and 25-plus TDs in 12 of his 14 seasons, he is a Fantasy manager’s dream. He was a nightmare for Fantasy opponents on Sept. 5 with a career-high 7 touchdowns. Michael Vick’s 2010 romp of Washington with 413 total yards and 6 TDs still stands as the no. 1 all-time scoring week.
Each week, I will provide a player at each position that could surprise (“Flames”) or put tears in your eyes (“Lames”).
Week 2 Flames
QB: Terrelle Pryor Oak vs. JAX
A former Heisman Candidate who broke out with 112 rushing yards faces the Jacksonville Jaguars, who resemble his alma-mater Ohio St. more than an NFL Team.
RB: David Wilson NYG vs. DEN
The hottest RB sleeper in this year’s draft had a horrendous opening night game on National TV. The Giants have put too much stock into Wilson to keep him benched. I predict Wilson being a difference maker in the “Manning Bowl.”
WR: Julian Edelman NE vs. NYJ
Let’s call him Wes Welker the III. Edelman slides into the slot as Tom Brady’s go-to receiver with Danny Amendola doubtful for Thursday night’s game. Also, the Jets no longer have Darrelle Revis.
TE: Kellen Winslow NYJ vs. NE
The self-proclaimed “Soldier” seems to have found a rebirth of sorts with New York. Rookie QBs tend to exclusively rely on their TEs, and the Jets should be playing from behind in this one.
DEF: Indianapolis Colts vs. MIA
There is something to be said about defenses playing at home. The Miami Dolphins have few skill players and their vanilla offense looked woeful against the Cleveland Browns.
Week 2 Lames
QB: Matt Ryan ATL vs. STL
Call me crazy or call me maybe, but I project the Falcons to feed RB Steven Jackson with a heavy workload against his former team. With WR Roddy White injured, Atlanta may test-drive their new running attack and keep the aerial assault tentatively grounded.
RB: Marshawn Lynch SEA vs. SF
Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch will see plenty of touches in this old-school hard-hitting matchup. The problem here is that San Francisco has arguably the best all-around defense in the league. You have to start Lynch but don’t be surprised if he puts up a dud.
WR: Anquan Boldin SF @ SEA
Who saw 13 catches for 208 yards and 1 touchdown from Anquan coming? I hope you enjoyed it, as the Seahawks are sure to blanket Colin Kaepernick’s safety valve. Seattle boasts the most talented secondary in the league and will make it their duty to keep Boldin at bay.
TE: Dallas Clark BAL vs. CLE
Dallas Clark had a rejuvenation game on national TV against his former QB, Peyton Manning. Although his stat line of 7 catches for 87 yards will turn heads, he dropped two big passes (including an easy TD) and lacked explosion. At age 34, he is nothing more than a mid TE2.
DEF: Pittsburgh @ CIN
Pittsburgh was awful on Sunday and were embarrassed by the Titans. With Cincinnati loaded with talent and coming off a tough loss at Chicago last week, the Steelers will struggle in this one.