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FANTASY SICKNESS: 2011 NFL LEAD DOGS

Once again I offer this rather important disclaimer: I am not- I repeat- NOT- a fantasy expert. Sincerely. I’ve played plenty, and somewhere along the line I became that dude at your office who everyone stops by to chat with for 5 minutes on Thursday morning before the waiver period ends or the lineup locks hit.  (Don’t worry- I’m not the one who insisted on barging into your office incessantly to discuss your WR3 issue.  In this case, the mountain ain’t movin’.)  And the fact of the matter is that the SICKNESS as we know and love it would not exist without fantasy football.  Good friends from the home league started batting around trash talk/trade negotiation/strategy sessions via email, and a lightbulb appeared. And then, there was the Sickness.  And it was good.  Or something.  Anyway, back to fantasy football. I offer the second annual version of Lead Dogs as an example of the kind of fantasy information you’re going to get here.  I’m not giving advice.  I offer perspective.  Do with it what you will, but recognize in so doing that we all make choices in life.  If you draft Brandon Lloyd because I like him and he goes bust, you need to wear it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  These are the guys I want first for fantasy football purposes from each team in the NFL, with last year’s call in parentheses.

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ARIZONA CARDINALS: Larry Fitzgerald. This should be obvious, and if he gets even remotely competent QB play from Kevin Kolb, he’s back to top 5. (Fitzgerald)
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ATLANTA FALCONS: Roddy White.  Yes, again.  What, last season wasn’t convincing?  Julio Jones is going to take all his catches? Please. (White)

I expect plenty of this in 2011 with Vontae Leach grading road.

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BALTIMORE RAVENS: No more Willis McGahee to vulture TD’s, and now he has Vontae Leach to clear the way?  Ray Rice in a walk.  (Rice)
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BUFFALO BILLS: More plausible choices all of a sudden, aren’t there? But I’m a believer in Stevie Johnson. CJ Spiller’s coming, but not yet. (Spiller)
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CAROLINA PANTHERS: I had to re-write this one. Didn’t expect DeAngelo Williams to come back.  It’s him, by the way.  (Williams)
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CHICAGO BEARS: Matt Forte. I was hesitant on him last year, but he impressed me regularly. It’s hunchy, but I see a big year. (Jay Cutler)
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CINCINNATI BENGALS:  Yuuuck.  I’ll say AJ Green and suggest that you use this one for dynasty purposes only. Hey. I’m the author. (Chad OchoCinco/Cedric Benson)
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CLEVELAND BROWNS: Thank God for Peyton Hillis. He’s saving me from both extended thought and preposterous reaching here. (None of the above)
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DALLAS COWBOYS: Tony Romo.  I like all his weapons, and I think he’ll use them well under coach Garrett. Elite fantasy QB in 2011. (Dez Bryant)
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DENVER BRONCOS: Tim Teb- just kidding. Give me Brandon Lloyd.  (Knowshon Moreno)
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DETROIT LIONS: Calvin Johnson.  That preposterous, other-worldly season  you’ve been expecting? This is it. (Jahvid Best)
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GREEN BAY PACKERS: Ladies and Gentlemen, the host of the Aaron Rodgers Variety Hour, Mr. Aaron Rodgers!  He’s in the zone. Still. (Rodgers)
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HOUSTON TEXANS: Andre Johnson. You can keep Foster.  He does that again, I’ll live with it. (Johnson)
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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Too easy: #18. And I didn’t even glance at Austin Collie.  (Manning)
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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Pocket Hercules until he drops. (MJD)
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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: It’s not obvious to me why it’ll be any bigger than last year, but Jamaal Charles. (Dwayne Bowe)
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MIAMI DOLPHINS: Brandon Marshall. With Davone Bess closing in a PPR.  (Marshall)
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MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Adrian Peterson. Still my #1 overall player until further notice. (Peterson)
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Still my overall Lead Dog.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: If you’re reading this, I assume you know the answer already: Tom Brady. (Brady/Randy Moss)
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NEW YORK GIANTS: Hakeem Nicks. Huge fan.  Put him up in the top tier.  (Steve Smith) (Wait, what?) (Steve Smith. Ugh.)
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NEW YORK JETS: Santonio Homes. A full season, no Braylon, and he and Plax have worked together before.  (Shonn Greene)
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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Drew Brees until something serious changes. No, not Mark Ingram. Stop it. (Brees)

Top 3 QB & Top 10 RB potential all in one dude. Yes, please.

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OAKLAND RAIDERS: Darren McFadden. Another good one is Jacoby Ford.  I’m fully convinced. Of course, I was fully convinced about my 2010 Raider, too. (Michael Bush)  UPDATE: Ford broke his hand yesterday. We’ll see.
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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Michael Vick. He’s a video game and his character has already acquired all the special additions. (DeSean Jackson)
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PITTSBURGH STEELERS: Rashard Mendenhall, by a nose over Mike Wallace.  (Mendenhall)
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ST. LOUIS RAMS: Steven Jackson for at least one more year.  Sam Bradford could get involved, though.  (Jackson)
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SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are both unassailable candidates to lead their position in points, but Gates has the foot issue. (Rivers)
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: Frank Gore.  He was going bonkers before the injury.  Heard this one before?  (Gore)
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SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:  Would’ve said Big Mike Williams, but now it’s Sidney Rice in a walk.  (TJ Houshmandzadeh) (!!!)
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TAMPA BAY BUCS:  Threw a dart here last year. This year it landed on Mike Williams. Or is that LeGarrette Blount? It’s on the line. (Sammie Stroughter. See?)
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TENNESSEE TITANS: Chris Johnson.  You were expecting Jared Cook, perhaps? (Johnson)
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WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I have absolutely no idea. Should know better after some preseason games. For now, I’ll say Santana Moss. (Donovan McNabb. Oops.)

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