Fake Football, Real Questions (July 3rd Edition)
July 2, 2013 | Staffy Stafferton
You signed up for a fantasy football draft. This was supposed to be all about drinking beer and enjoying a night with the boys. The problem is you’ve been on the clock so long that your beer’s gone warm, and your buddies can’t stand the sight of you. You’ve been faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of deciding who to pick from a group of players ranked in the same tier, and you’re paralyzed with mental anguish. We get it…and we’re here to help. This week, we’ve given our writers two groups of players who fall right next to each other in positional rank and ADP. Here are the picks they would make and the logic behind them:
Wide Receiver: Cordarrelle Patterson, Darrius Heyward Bey, Jacoby Jones, Ryan Broyles
All of these guys have my endorsement if you’re fishing for a WR in the later rounds of your draft. I’ve always been enamored with DHB’s skill set, and still think he can be a late bloomer – trading Carson Palmer for Andrew Luck certainly can’t hurt. Jacoby Jones had some memorable moments in the playoffs, and with the Ravens looking pretty thin at WR, it wouldn’t shock me if he finally developed some consistency. Broyles probably has more going for him than anyone on this list – blue chip talent, pass happy offense, human/cyborg hybrid lining up on the opposite side of the field to draw coverage away. It’s a shame someone switched his knee ligaments with two pieces of thin sliced prosciutto. If I had to pick just one from this list, I’m taking a home run swing with Cordarrelle Patterson. He’s officially caught me in his tractor beam with the impression he made on coaches and teammates in OTA’s. Check out the highlight reel and tell me why he can’t reprise Percy Harvin’s role for the Vikes.
I’m hearing a lot of hype around Broyles (and I get it, too). I also think DHB could spread his wings and fly in Indy’s vertical offense. But neither excites me, and I just don’t believe in Jacoby Jones as anything more than a role player and return guy. Patterson, though, is one of my favorite rookies I’ve ever scouted. He has Julio Jones talent, and the lack of depth at WR in Minnesota should force him into the starting lineup early. In my opinion, he was easily the best WR talent in this year’s draft, and he could be just what the doctor ordered for Christian Ponder. I know he’s raw and may not make an immediate impact, but he could end up being the steal of the draft (current ADP of round 13 in standard 12-team leagues).
The easy choice here is Ryan Broyles. Broyles is already ahead of schedule in his ACL recovery and fully participated in mini camp. I believe this is finally the year that pesky Nate Burleson gives up his starting spot. Broyles Thanksgiving Day game last year against Houston (6 REC 126 YDS) is still fresh in my mind. In PPR leagues, Broyles is by far the best option. Patterson is intriguing, but Christian Ponder will limit his overall numbers. No one threw the ball more than the Lions did last year and I expect their pass happy ways to continue. The Ravens would be smart to keep Jones as a primary kick returner, and TY Hilton will take away production from Heyward-Bey.
Jacoby Jones stands out to me most in this group. The roles of Patterson and Heyward-Bey are ill-defined this early in the preseason, and I have night terrors involving Calvin Johnson miraculously appearing out of nowhere to grab every pass aimed at Broyles. Meanwhile, as I noted in my most recent draft video, I don’t think the Ravens would have let Anquan Boldin walk away if they didn’t plan to get Jones more involved as the second wide receiver.
I’m also picking Broyles from this group. He’s working his way back from his second ACL reconstruction in as many years, so this pick obviously comes with a lot of risk. But at a Yahoo ADP of about 125 (50th WR), there aren’t going to be any sure things left on the board. Give me the guy that showed flashes of being special at the NFL level in 2012. From Week 7 through Week 12 of the 2012 season, Broyles caught 21 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. It’s an incredibly small sample size to be sure, but those numbers extrapolate to 819 yards and five TD over 16 games. Broyles is reportedly further along in his recovery this season than he was a year ago. If he can stay on the field in Detroit’s high-volume passing game, he’ll be a steal at his current draft position.
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III
It’s still RG3. All signs point to him being very far along in the rehab process, and if he’s even remotely close to as good as he was as a rookie, he’s every bit worth the risk. I know the other guys are money makers too, but RG3 has the most upside and is the most complete player of the four. If not for his knee injury, this wouldn’t be a debate. So with him going through a torn ACL before and being so far along already, why even continue talking about it? I’m snatching him up at his seventh round ADP and never looking back.
Man this one is tough! My strategy would to be to let other owners pick through these guys and take the last one standing. Their value is that close! If I wanted to reach here for a QB, I’m taking RG3. He was the top scoring QB when he was healthy and he is already running and cutting off his newly repaired knee ligaments. I think RG3 learned a lot from his rookie season, such as how to not take hits and when to get rid of the ball. Pierre Garcon is healthy this year, and Alfred Morris is back and better to take some pressure off him. 4,000 passing yards, 800 rushing yards, and 34 total TD’s is attainable. After RG3 I would go Stafford, Kaepernick, and Wilson.
Kaepernick is my choice, just barely ahead of Matthew Stafford. Kaep’s loss of Michael Crabtree is troubling, but he still has a fine arsenal of weapons at his disposal and the best coach in the league sculpting schemes around him. All in all, though, I advocate not forcing this decision and trying to take one of the last QBs available from whatever tier of signal-callers you are targeting. The quarterback position is especially deep this season and there’s no reason to reach on a guy like Kaepernick if one of these other three QBs will be available for you in the next round.
There have been 109 instances of an NFL quarterback throwing for at least 4,000 yards in a season. On average, such QBs threw a touchdown every 154.4 yards. In 2012, Matthew Stafford’s 248.4 yards-per-touchdown ratio was the worst of any member of 4,000-yard club, as he threw for almost 5,000 yards but only 20 TDs. At the historical average, Stafford would have thrown 32 TDs, which is also in line with his average production over the last two seasons (30.5 TDs). With the best receiver in the game at his disposal, a new weapon in the passing game in Reggie Bush, and the likelihood that Detroit will continue to throw the ball a lot this season, fantasy owners shouldn’t be too quick to pass over Stafford in favor of the trendy young guns.
How am I the only staffer picking the guy that tied Cam Newton for most fantasy points per game (23.5) from week 9 on last season? Russell Wilson is a dream boat folks. If you’re looking for a reason for him to take a step backwards in year two, have fun grasping at straws. That John Clayton story about his passing attempts being capped at 28 per game? Wilson needed only 24.5 per game over his final 10 games in 2012 to post averages of 222.4 yards and 1.9 TD’s passing TD’s. He’s tied to a run first offense? Over that same 10 game stretch, Wilson ran 73 times for 487 yards and five touchdowns. I want him tied to a run first offense. I’m pretty confident in saying that this is the tier I’ll be selecting my starting QB from in most of my drafts, and I’d be happy to land Kaepernick or RGIII as well, but Wilson is the only one I’m willing to move on a round early to guarantee I secure his services. Full credit to @Chad_Scott13 for those Wilson stats, and for convincing me Russellmania II will be worth the price of admission.
Check out previous editions of Fake Football, Real Questions: