The hands of time
The Tao Of Dwayne Bowe
With the NFL lockout still in effect, it makes zero sense to speculate on wide receivers, as a whole, since a sizable number of these ball-hungry, attention-starved studs will be part of the Great Free-Agent Frenzy of 2011. So, let's take a different tack on this vital position, starting with last year's Red Menace: Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe. It should surprise no one that Bowe (72 catches/1,162 yards in 2010) is a regular threat for 80 catches and 1,100 receiving yards, given his immense physical tools, Matt Cassel's emerging QB prowess and the aggressive nature of head coach Todd Haley. But where did the league-leading 15 touchdowns come from? More importantly, is there reason to believe he'll sniff that number in consecutive seasons?
After a monstrous 2010 campaign, is Bowe headed for a fall?
Going back to the prolific days of Hall of Famer Don Hutson, a player has amassed 15 or more receiving TDs 27 times -- covering 18 different wideouts (such as Randy Moss, Cris Carter, Sterling Sharpe, Mark Clayton, Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards, Andre Rison, Carl Pickens). And in the 27 follow-up years to 15-plus TDs, only Jerry Rice has surpassed the previous year's level of scoring greatness (22 TDs in 1987) ... and only one wideout (Marvin Harrison) annihilated the previous season's benchmark (143 catches/1,722 yards/11 TDs in 2002). Translation: Bowe may have a Toucan Sam-like nose for the end zone ... but the odds are stacked against him repeating 15 TDs -- let alone pulling down 12 or 13.
My modest Bowe prediction for 2011: 79 catches, 1,091 yards, 9 TDs.
In Case You're Wondering ...
Here's a listing of Bowe's preseason expectations in the media -- and where he ranks among his fellow wideouts:
The Sporting News: 65 catches/1,040 yards/11 TDs (12th)
ESPN.com: 82 catches/1,099 yards/9 TDs (13th)
Rotowire.com: 74 catches/1,090 yards/11 TDs (7th)
CBSSports.com: 74 catches/1,158 yards/8 TDs (10th)
FF Today: 75 catches/1,059 yards/10 TDs (9th)
Survivor Act Of Self-Preservation
Ever heard of a survivor pool? It's a simple game where contestants are asked to select one lead-pipe cinch for wins in Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. -- with the caveat of only using a particular club once per season (in victory, at least). For example, I have San Diego defeating Minnesota at home in Week 1. By virtue of that, I cannot designate the Chargers to win in Weeks 2-17. The same holds true for Dallas (over Washington) in Week 3; after that game, I can no longer pick the Cowboys to prevail the rest of the way. Any incorrect picks automatically knock a contestant out of the pool; and if anyone should be left standing by Week 17 -- an impossible task for me last year -- they're entitled to all or some of the winnings (which can be quite lucrative in some leagues).
My 17 weekly survivor locks are:
Week 1</strong> -- San Diego over Minnesota
Week 2 -- N.Y. Giants over St. Louis
Week 3 -- Dallas over Washington
Week 4 -- Chicago over Carolina
Week 5 -- Pittsburgh over Tennessee
Week 6 -- Oakland over Cleveland
Week 7 -- Miami over Denver
Week 8 -- Baltimore over Arizona
Week 9 -- Kansas City over Miami
Week 10 -- Philadelphia over Arizona
Week 11 -- Green Bay over Tampa Bay
Week 12 -- Seattle over Washington
Week 13 -- New Orleans over Detroit
Week 14 -- N.Y. Jets over Kansas City
Week 15 -- St. Louis over Cincinnati
Week 16 -- Indianapolis over Houston
Week 17 -- New England over Buffalo
Survivor Rules To Live By
1. Above all, target a home team to win that week.
2. When in doubt, exploit bottom-feeder clubs on the road (Redskins, Bills, Bengals, Panthers, etc.).
3. Don't be afraid to pick the champion Packers to lose on the road -- when playing in domes.
4. It's best to avoid primetime games between teams of similar stature.
5. Don't use the Packers, Ravens, Saints or Jets in Week 17 -- after they've clinched playoff spots.
6. Avoid picking against the Lions early in the season (with Matthew Stafford wreaking havoc).
7. Avoid picking against the schizophrenic Raiders at any point of the season.
8. Only pick home upsets from games involving intra-divisonal opponents.
9. Don't be afraid to pick against the Giants in the latter half of the season (big run of daunting opponents).
10. Don't get sucked into revenge games involving Vince Young, Kevin Kolb, Terrell Owens, Carson Palmer or maybe Matt Hasselbeck -- either in victory or defeat.
There's a perception in fantasyland, whether real or not, that receivers make the biggest strides in their third season. To wit, my rankings for the Year 3 wideouts:
1. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
2. Percy Harvin, Vikings (mark him down for 8 or more TDs)
3. Mike Wallace, Steelers
4. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
5. Kenny Britt, Titans (his offseason troubles proffered this blah ranking)
6. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
7. Austin Collie, Colts
8. Mohammed Massaquoi, Browns (someone has to break out in Cleveland)
9. Johnny Knox, Bears
10. Mike Thomas, Jaguars
11. Louis Murphy, Raiders
12. Brandon Tate, Patriots (tremendous upside in the Pats' offense)
13. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
14. Brandon Gibson, Rams
15. Jarett Dillard, Jaguars (a great last-round flier pick)
16. Brian Robiskie, Browns
17. Sammie Stroughter, Bucs
18. Brian Hartline, Dolphins
19. Deon Butler, Seahawks
20. Patrick Turner, Jets
R U Ready For Mock Draft Friday?
We're going to try something bold next Friday -- three extensive mock drafts for 1) standard-scoring leagues, 2) Points Per Reception leagues and 3) Auction-draft leagues. The optimist would applaud this cutting-edge approach to Fantasy Philanthropist, namely those who've been clamoring for more PPR and auction insight. The pessimist, however, would characterize this movement as the laziest way to offer fresh material before one's high school reunion in Michigan (we're trying to hire Alphaville for the gig). Either way, it's all good.
*The Ravens have an NFL-high five primetime games ... but zero national-TV games on Sunday afternoons.
Looking for Tom Brady? Don't check the 1:00pm time slot.
*The Bills and Titans have a league-high 15 games at 1 p.m. EST ... whereas the Tom Brady-led Patriots will play at 1 p.m. only four times -- with just one early tilt from Weeks 1-13.
*From Weeks 7-16, the Saints will play indoors for eight of nine games -- with the lone outdoor game coming on Dec. 11 at Tennessee.
*The Bears could realistically encounter blizzard and/or below-freezing conditions in Weeks 13-16 (vs. KC, @ DEN, vs. SEA, @ GB).
*Speaking of the Saints, during the fantasy-playoff period of Weeks 14-16, QB Drew Brees will encounter three opponents that each allowed 1.4 passing TDs per game last year (factoid courtesy of The Sporting News).
The Power Of ADP
The National Football Post is planning to release its 2011 Fantasy Draft Kit on Monday, a date that may coincide with the announcement of a new CBA deal between the owners and players (in principle, at least). In the meantime, it makes perfect sense to check out Mock Draft Central and develop a formulaic sense of this year's top prospects. In fact, MDC represents the perfect one-stop shopping for mock drafts and the Average Draft Position tool (ADP) -- perhaps the best learning aid for NOT reaching on certain players come August. Regarding ADP, here's a list of running backs likely earmarked for Rounds 1-6 (12-team leagues):
Arian Foster, Texans -- Round 1, Pick 1
Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- Round 1, Pick 2
Chris Johnson, Titans -- Round 1, Pick 3
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- Round 1, Pick 4
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- Round 1, Pick 6
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- Round 1, Pick 8
Michael Turner, Falcons -- Round 1, Pick 9
LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- Round 1, Pick 12
Darren McFadden, Raiders -- Round 2, Pick 1
Ray Rice, Ravens -- Round 2, Pick 2
Peyton Hillis, Browns -- Round 2, Pick 5
Frank Gore, 49ers -- Round 2, Pick 6
LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers -- Round 2, Pick 9
Matt Forte, Bears -- Round 2, Pick 10
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants -- Round 2, Pick 12
Steven Jackson, Rams -- Round 3, Pick 3
Ryan Mathews, Chargers -- Round 3, Pick 6
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- Round 3, Pick 8
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers -- Round 3, Pick 9
Felix Jones, Cowboys -- Round 4, Pick 8
Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots -- Round 4, Pick 9
DeAngelo Williams, Free Agent -- Round 4, Pick 10
Fred Jackson, Bills -- Round 5, Pick 1
Ryan Torain, Redskins -- Round 5, Pick 4
Ryan Grant, Packers -- Round 5, Pick 5
Cedric Benson, Free Agent -- Round 5, Pick 12
Shonn Greene, Jets -- Round 6, Pick 1
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks -- Round 6, Pick 4
Jahvid Best, Lions -- Round 6, Pick 6
Mark Ingram, Saints -- Round 6, Pick 8
Choose Your Quarterback
ICONWould you rather have Rodgers or Peyton Manning?
Let's be honest: You really can't lose when choosing between Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning in fantasy drafts this summer. They're both reasonable locks for 4,100 yards and 30-plus passing TDs, and both Lombardi Trophy hounds have proven to be extremely durable and consistent over a 16-game NFL season. That said, very few mock drafters are splurging for Peyton in Round 1 (offseason neck surgery) ... and even fewer are letting Rodgers slip past the latter half of Round 2. Should we be splitting hairs? Here's a week-to-week breakdown of Peyton vs. A-Rodg:
Week 1 -- Rodgers (vs. New Orleans) over Manning (@ Houston)
Week 2 -- Manning (vs. Cleveland) over Rodgers (@ Carolina)
Week 3 -- Manning (vs. Pittsburgh) over Rodgers (@ Chicago)
Week 4 -- Rodgers (vs. Denver) over Manning (@ Tampa Bay)
Week 5 -- Rodgers (@ Atlanta) over Manning (vs. Kansas City)
Week 6 -- Rodgers (vs. St. Louis) over Manning (@ Cincinnati)
Week 7 -- Manning (@ New Orleans) over Rodgers (@ Minnesota)
Week 8 -- Manning (@ Tennessee) over Rodgers (BYE)
Week 9 -- Rodgers (@ San Diego) over Manning (vs. Atlanta)
Week 10 -- Manning (vs. Denver) over Rodgers (vs. Jacksonville)
Week 11 -- Rodgers (vs. Tampa Bay) over Manning (BYE)
Week 12 -- Rodgers (@ Detroit) over Manning (vs. Carolina)
Week 13 -- Rodgers (@ N.Y. Giants) over Manning (@ New England)
Week 14 -- Rodgers (vs. Oakland) over Manning (@ Baltimore)
Week 15 -- Manning (vs. Tennessee) over Rodgers (@ Kansas City)
Week 16 -- Manning (vs. Houston) over Rodgers (vs. Chicago)
Week 17 -- Manning (@ Jacksonville) over Rodgers (vs. Detroit)
The Keeper's Flame
Golf.com guru and noted beer connoisseur Jeff Ritter hosts one of the quirkiest keeper leagues in all of fantasyland, where owners are allowed to retain two players from last year's roster (pre-draft trading is strongly encouraged), then draft two more talents (without the order changing in Round 2) ... before partaking in a $100 auction to fill out their respective rosters. It's equal parts hilarious and chaos; and yet, I wouldn't change a thing.
For my keeper options, I will stick with Jamaal Charles (duh); but I'm somewhat torn over WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Sidney Rice or RBs Shonn Greene, Knowshon Moreno and Cedric Benson. Right now, I'm leaning toward Charles, Greene and then drafting a top-20 back with the No. 2 overall pick in "Round 1" ... and a top-6 quarterback with the No. 2 pick of "Round 2." That would leave me the luxury of NOT having to reach for a starting tailback or elite QB with the auction monies. How many other teams could say that? It's a no-lose proposition.
Twitter Nation, I'd love your feedback here: Should I keep Greene, Fitzgerald, Moreno, Rice or Benson? Hit me @ ATL_JayClemons. Thanks!
CCeezer on Twitter asks: Do you think free agent Randy Moss will be worth drafting? He was my Round 1 pick last year in a league where I went 1-11.
Answer: CC, I would definitely take a flier on Moss from Rounds 13-16, depending on who he signs with after the new CBA gets ratified. But this is also a new revelation from Thursday, on the heels of his agent saying the 34-year-old Moss is in "freakish shape" and that he's determined to resurrect the once-dominant Randy of the last two decades; and yes, before you say anything, I am aware that Randy's camp echoed similar sentiments last summer, as Moss was preparing for a contract year with New England. Truth be told, I'm hoping that someone else beats me to the punch with Moss on draft day ... because I just can't shake the imagery of his zero-catch, zero-target efforts with Tennessee at the tail end of last year. Ouch!
Tiers Of A Clown: Tight Ends
Kickers and defensive teams may be dime-a-dozen assets in fantasyland, but drafting the right tight end at the right time can often be the difference between winning and losing, earning a playoff spot or even capturing a fantasy title in Week 16. To wit, the hallowed five tiers of tight ends:
Tier 1 (1,000 total yards and/or 8 TDs)
Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley
Tier 2 (800 total yards and/or 6 TDs)
Kellen Winslow Jr., Tony Gonzalez, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Pettigrew, Owen Daniels, Marcedes Lewis, Chris Cooley
Tier 3 (675 total yards and/or 5 TDs)
Benjamin Watson, Dustin Keller, Heath Miller, Jimmy Graham, Jermaine Gresham, Visanthe Shiancoe, Tony Moeaki, Greg Olsen, Kevin Boss, John Carlson, Brent Celek, Zach Miller (Raiders?)
Tier 4 (500 total yards and/or 4 TDs)
Kyle Rudolph, Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Shawn Nelson, Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks, Fred Davis, Anthony Fasano, Joel Dreessen, Tony Scheffler, Jacob Tamme, Jeremy Shockey
Tier 5 (325 total yards and/or 3 TDs)
Dennis Pitta, Robert Housler, Luke Stocker, Evan Moore, Andrew Quarless, Bo Scaife, Justin Peelle, Leonard Pope, Gijon Robinson, Randy McMichael, Delanie Walker, Daniel Fells, Zach Miller (Jaguars)
It's All About The Slot: #1
Through the years, I have become a huge fan of the No. 1 slot in 12-team drafts, but it has nothing to do with owning the top pick. In fact, if I joined a league where certain picks could be swapped before -- or during -- a draft, I'd trade the No. 1 overall choice 9 out of 10 times, without blinking. Bottom line: Everyone's guaranteed to land a stud in Round 1 ... but there are only two spots where owners can avoid the childish games of 'Draft Chicken' -- the 1 and 12 slots. Back-to-back picks, in my opinion, are godsends for the restless owner; and as a bonus, you now have ample time for beer (or pee) breaks, without feeling rushed. Here's an excellent strategy for nailing your 12-teamer at the 1-slot:
Round 1, Pick 1: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings ... 2nd option: RB Chris Johnson, Titans
Round 2, Pick 24 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB/QB available
1st option: WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals ... 2nd option: RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Round 3, Pick 25 overall: Motive -- Best RB or WR available
1st option: RB Steven Jackson, Rams ... 2nd option: RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Greene is headed for more touches this season.
Round 4, Pick 48 overall: Motive -- Best RB available (unless Rivers or Brady lurks)
1st option: RB Shonn Greene, Jets ... 2nd option: RB Cedric Benson, Bengals
Round 5, Pick 49 overall: Motive -- Best elite RB or WR
1st option: RB Jahvid Best, Lions ... 2nd option: RB Cedric Benson, Bengals
Round 6, Pick 72 overall: Motive -- Best tight end or top-tier running back
1st option: TE Jermichael Finley, Packers ... 2nd option: RB Pierre Thomas, Saints
Round 7, Pick 73 overall: Motive -- Best QB available
1st option: QB Matt Schaub, Texans ... 2nd option: QB Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Round 8, Pick 96 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB available
1st option: WR Mario Manningham, Giants ... 2nd option: WR A.J. Green, Bengals
Round 9, Pick 97 overall: Motive -- Best WR or QB available
1st option: WR A.J. Green, Bengals ... 2nd option: QB Matthew Stafford, Lions
Round 10, Pick 120 overall: Motive -- Best player available
1st option: QB Sam Bradford, Rams ... 2nd option: WR Braylon Edwards, Free Agent
Round 11, Pick 121: Motive -- Best starting RB available
1st option: RB Reggie Bush, Saints (?) ... 2nd option: RB C.J. Spiller, Bills
Round 12, Pick 144: Motive -- Best tight end available
1st option: TE Aaron Hernandez, Patriots ... 2nd option: TE Dustin Keller, Jets
Round 13, Pick 145: Motive -- Best defense available
1st option: D/ST New England Patriots ... 2nd option: D/ST New Orleans Saints
Round 14, Pick 168: Motive -- Best kicker available
1st option: PK David Buehler, Cowboys ... 2nd option: PK Rob Bironas, Titans
Round 15, Pick 169: Motive -- Best upside threat at receiver
1st option: WR Julio Jones, Falcons ... 2nd option: WR Golden Tate, Seahawks
Round 16, Pick 192: Motive -- Best WR/RB available
1st option: WR Donnie Avery, Rams ... 2nd option: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
I Cannot Leave Without Touting ...
... Bruce Feldman's Meat Market, the redoubtable gold standard of college-football recruiting books. It's a timeless classic ... and holds great meaning to everyone who suddenly feels like shouting #FreeBruce!
An award-winning fantasy writer with Sports Illustrated (2008-2010) before joining the National Football Post, Jay Clemons' Fantasy Philanthropist Blog can be found here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Clemons can be reached, day or night, via Twitter.