Last year, OTC did its best to get you up to date on what to expect in the NFL from week to week, but we were unable to keep up in a very popular aspect of the game. That’s right, fantasy football. It might just be a silly game, but there is no denying its popularity. These days its almost more uncommon to hear a football fan doesn’t have a team than to hear that he/she has multiple teams that are guaranteed (their words, not ours) to win the championship this year.
That is where we come in. Matt Kroeger, a senior at Xavier University, is a man versed in the ways of the faux-football and has kindly agreed to write a semi-weekly column telling you who you should keep an eye on, for both reasons good and bad, to transform your team from creampuff to tough. Enjoy.
By Matt Kroeger
A couple Sundays ago, our fantasy football league (of which I am commish) completed our draft for the upcoming year. We have a group of about eight regulars with four other guys we find on a year-to-year basis to fill out the rest of the league. I’ve played before, and I’m here to grace you with my divine fantasy football advice. But this is boring to you. Reading about fantasy sports is dull. Who cares what some geek has to say about a fake Internet game based on real players? It’s like reading the obituaries, only if they were riddled with speculation. “Two months!? Are you insane!? I say Mirv dies in three weeks!”
I totally agree; it is boring. I hate reading “fantasy expert” opinions. Every time I hear Matthew Berry’s voice, I want to claw my testicles off. It’s that bad. So you’re thinking: why should I keep reading? Frankly, I encourage you not to. I encourage you to make your own fantasy decisions. If you’re like me, though, you don’t play fantasy football to scour obscure statistical measures for players or read supposed pundits’ blogs. I’m not an expert, but I love to play the game. And more importantly, I love to watch football. I watch the games and use that knowledge as my “research.” And I think that’s how it should be, lest fantasy overtake how you watch and care about real football.
Let’s get something straight: fantasy sports are fun, but they should never creep into your real life fandom. You know exactly what I’m referring to. Fantasy is secondary. Period. So this column won’t be a bunch of statements like: “This guy hoards receptions, so if you’re in a PPR league, play him immediately. He averages 4.8 targets in the red zone per game so he’s worth the risk.” Gun please.
This column will (hopefully) be an entertaining romp through the NFL to find the guys who are going to kill it or bomb it each week. I’ve named the two categories Ferrells and Fallons, because the whole Stud/Dud thing is tired. Allow me to elaborate:
The Ferrells essentially channel Will Ferrell’s ability to take over any Saturday Night Live skit and make it instantly hilarious regardless of circumstance. He would kill it even when the other cast members or writing were weak. However, sometimes his comedic enthusiasm would rub off on the rest of the cast and make them that much funnier. I think that’s a nice way to describe a “stud” anyway: whenever a player has a great fantasy week, his supporting cast also does. Hence, we have the Ferrells.
The Fallons, on the other hand, are the guys who enter a skit and burst out laughing, obliterating any laughs the skit was destined to create. He couldn’t handle the pressure to keep a straight face. Jimmy Fallon was notorious for this as he ruined roughly 99% of the skits he participated in with SNL. Everyone expected greatness from him, but he failed to deliver. Hence, we have the Fallons.
So without further ado, here are the Ferrells and Fallons for Week 1:
QB: Kyle Orton (DEN). As you’ll soon see, I don’t like to choose the obvious candidates. I could put Peyton Manning here every week, but that would get old. So you will see a lot of Kyle Orton-esque choices. Getting back on track, Orton’s done everything he possibly can to earn the starting spot in Denver, and he’s going to show us why. I firmly believe that he will make enough plays to impress. Orton may look like a homeless man with football pads out there on the field, but I predict he smokes the Jags this week. He’s the ultra-underdog. He will get it done in a near-empty Jags stadium.
RB: Darren McFadden (OAK). Slightly a bizarre pick, but I think he will surprise us this week. He has the Titans, who, by my prediction, are going to suck. Prediction 2: Jeff Fisher violently rips his mustache off his face after Vince throws his 403rd interception. Just a hunch. We all know the Titans pass defense was atrocious last year, but I want to see how their front line does in Week 1. I have a gut feeling McFadden is going to bust out of the gate in a big way.
WR: Steve Smith (NYG). I love the Giants this year, and I shouldn’t. Maybe it’s the Manning love, or maybe it’s the hypnotic redness of Tom Coughlin’s face. I don’t know. Regardless, I have SS.2 raking in a bunch of yards this week in a Giants win. The Panthers offense won’t stay on the field very long with an inexperienced QB, Peppers isn’t there anymore to harass Eli, and Smith is a legitimately good receiver. Mark it down.
QB: Tom Brady (NE). That’s right: I could easily lose my entire credibility as a fantasy guy after the first week. I could play it safe with someone like Mark Sanchez or Matt Hasselback, but no, I’m taking Brady. And it’s not because I’m a Colts fanatic; I love the Bengals defense, and I see them harassing Brady all day. Look for Welker to cash in, but the TD’s will be sparse.
RB: Ray Rice (BAL). Again, am I crazy? Potentially. But this one makes a little bit more sense. The Jets have a spectacular defense that was revamped over the offseason. The Ravens also have more passing threats in Boldin and Stallworth, which could signal less touches for the Bowl of Rice. Uh oh, I just made Rex Ryan hungry.
WR: DeSean Jackson (PHI). This could slightly be due to my bias against him, but I think the Packers corners are going to shut him down. He only had 62 catches last year, which tells you he isn’t really a possession receiver. That’s not a slight against him, but in a tough matchup with Green Bay, I worry he won’t make a very big impact if all he can do is run deep. He may be spectacular this year, but I don’t think he will be this week.