It’s that time of year — when snakes, auctions, ADPs, keepers, and sleepers start to rule our football hearts and minds. This season, last year’s Fantasy Island contest winner, Matt Borcas, will be providing some fantasy insight, starting with the tools you need for a league-winning draft.
Week 3 of the preseason is commonly known as “dress rehearsal week” because coaches have traditionally treated it as a dry run of sorts for the looming regular season. It should come as no surprise that Bill Belichick, who takes great pleasure in bucking convention, is the lone coach not to see it this way.
I don’t care that the game was played indoors. The whole point of a “dress rehearsal” is to simulate every aspect of the thing you’re ostensibly preparing for (read: a football season that will be played outdoors 93.75 percent of the time). Belichick without his hoodie is like Justin Timberlake without his suit and tie — woefully ill-equipped to perform at the highest level. Wearing a freaking WINDBREAKER was an affront to the integrity of exhibition football, pure and simple, and the gods had no choice but to punish Belichick with a 40-9 thrashing at the hands of the lowly Lions.
Counterpoint: Is a dress rehearsal really necessary when you’re slated to face Jeff Tuel in Week 1? Um … [trying to conceive of a scenario in which Jeff Tuel warrants any preparation whatsoever] … probably not.
- Fun fact: Tom Brady was sacked twice for (negative) 19 yards, more than tripling the six yards Stevan Ridley gained on his nine (!) carries. Needless to say, it was a dreadful offensive showing for the Patriots — Shane Vereen also finished with six measly rushing yards, basically everyone fumbled, and Danny Amendola, out with an undisclosed injury, didn’t do anything to disprove the theory that he swapped bodies with a porcelain doll at some point between 2010 and 2011. Still, you’d have to be a lunatic to drop any Patriots in your personal rankings because of one poor preseason game. In 2011, New England was similarly obliterated by Detroit in the preseason, and those Patriots turned out to be very fantasy-friendly. The one Patriot who didn’t completely embarrass himself, Kenbrell Thompkins, was moving up draft boards before his eight-reception, 116-yard night, which catapulted his ESPN.com ADP to 128.7, up a staggering 18 slots from last week. By next week he’ll be a first-round pick.
- Not since the halcyon days of Ryan Grant have Packers fans enjoyed a semi-competent running game. I can’t tell you how many times I was suckered into starting Cedric Benson or James Starks at flex solely because they were listed atop the Packers’ depth chart; of course, this strategy’s success rate mirrored John Belushi’s GPA in Animal House and caused me to wonder if I had committed a horrible crime in a past life. Anyway, it remains to be seen if Eddie Lacy will carry on in the shitty tradition of Benson and Starks (and latter-day Grant), but he should all but have the starting job after DuJuan Harris was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained in last Friday’s Fail Mary rematch. (For the record, I think Lacy will be good this year, despite rushing for negative five yards on Friday.) Meanwhile, the fact that Johnathan Franklin is still registering an ADP is both shocking and unacceptable, what with his fumbling woes, preseason average of 2.55 yards per carry, and tendency to play small and slow. If you’re in a deep league and super desperate for running backs, at least have the dignity to take Alex Green before resorting to Franklin. WARNING: Packers running backs are unsafe for children, and generally harmful to all humans, dead or alive.
- Granted, preseason accomplishments against the Raiders should be taken with the smallest grain of salt in the history of sodium, but Matt Forte scampered for 109 all-purpose yards (including this) and deserves recognition. With Marc Trestman’s offense and the Bears’ upgraded line play, I maintain that Forte will finish the season as a top-five back, especially in PPR leagues. What’s more, he’s being preposterously undervalued by ESPN.com drafters and thus offers the most bang for your buck of any elite running back.
- Terrelle Pryor is a better fantasy quarterback than Matt Flynn, but neither one should come anywhere near your roster, lest it burst into flames and bring about a fiery apocalypse.
- In his review of the Redskins-Bills game, John Keim trenchantly broke down the differences between Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. In a nutshell, Morris “creates more yards for himself” via consummate patience, whereas Helu is too often content to gulp up instantly available yards rather than wait for his blockers to clear an even wider path for him. Accordingly, Mike Shanahan is unlikely to allot more than 10 or so touches per game to Helu, so fear not, Morris owners! Even someone as notoriously fickle as Shanahan knows a great running back when he sees one.
- For the three of you in IDP dynasty leagues, draft Alec Ogletree and hold onto him forever. Ogletree had a number of shining moments in Saturday’s 27-26 loss to the Broncos, most notably a Peanut Tillman–esque strip of Ronnie Hillman that he proceeded to run 13 yards into the end zone. For those keeping score, that makes two consecutive weeks in which Hillman has had a fumble returned for a touchdown. Montee Ball’s ascent to the top of the Broncos’ depth chart was already inevitable, and Hillman’s ball-security issues will only expedite it.
- I am decidedly not on board the Julius Thomas bandwagon. First of all, as I detailed last week, I expect Peyton Manning to target his tight ends less this season now that he’s got Wes Welker complementing Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Moreover, with Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen hanging around, Denver has a three-way logjam at tight end that will prove to be endlessly frustrating for Thomas owners. Finally, when you factor in Thomas’s lengthy injury history, it becomes obvious that you should look elsewhere for a tight end. Jordan Cameron, Zach Sudfeld, Martellus Bennett, and Tyler Eifert (who I don’t even like that much) make wayyyyy better late-round fliers than Thomas.
- I don’t care what Bill Barnwell says, EVERYONE should be anticipating a 2,000-yard season from Chris Johnson. Tennessee’s offensive line is creating holes that CJ2K could drive his pimped-out ride through.
Matt Borcas writes about fantasy football for Grantland.