Folks… We made it. We have NFL Sunday from this weekend until January 25th. I can hardly wait for the kickoff octo-box and the soothing sounds of Scott Hanson’s voice to touch my ear drums. In preparation for this glorious moment, I give to you the second part of our week 1 NFL data evaluation. If you are just starting your week 1 prep, I recommend going back to the first article to review the Thursday night and early slate games.

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It’s Sunday, and the clock is about to strike 1:00 pm.  Anticipation is building, and you finally cave, as you remove Stevan Ridley from your FLEX and replace him with Joique Bell.  After all, Ridley has been in the doghouse with Coach Belichick and Bell has a great matchup vs. the Eagles.  We’ve all be there before — at the last minute you completely reverse course from the original starting lineup you had all week long.  Sometimes it pans out, but sometimes you’re left kicking yourself — like when Bell cedes carries to a red-hot Reggie Bush and Ridley sneaks in for a couple of one-yard touchdown dives.

This column is here to help you make those decisions easier.  Each Saturday throughout the NFL season, I will be providing you with a list of some players you should start, as well as some that should take a seat at the end of your bench.  I won’t be telling you to start LeSean McCoy, ‘cuz if you’d ever consider sitting him, well, you’ve got way more things to worry about than fantasy football (like getting your head checked).  Instead, I’ll focus more on the fringe players or the sneaky second- or third-tier guys who aren’t automatic starts or sits each week.

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Hay-low boys and girls, it’s that time of the year again when mini-camps and OTAs are over and the NFL Preseason is underway.  With most teams having already played their first game, and some having played two, there’s no better time than now to begin reviewing some of the injuries that are plaguing the league’s players. If you follow the fantasy baseball side of Razzball, which I’m sure most of you do (if you don’t, you’re dead to me), you all know I, SethDaSportsMan, bring you the weekly “Ambulance Chasers” column, featuring all the nicks, bangs, and bruises from across the diamond.  Luckily for you pigskin lovers — and you perverts with S&M fetishes — I’ll be doing the same throughout the entire fantasy football season.

Why me, you may ask?  Am I turned on by the idea of blood and breaking bones?  Not really.  In fact, I’m getting sick and tired of seeing all these guys across the sports landscape getting hurt.  What I offer is experience in the health and fitness field — I’m a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist, as well as a certified fitness instructor.  I’m no doctor (it’s never gonna happen, mom!), but all my schooling gave me a vast knowledge of sports injuries and the human anatomy.  I also played sports at a highly competitive level until my early-20s and have personally gone or will have undergone five major surgeries by the time 2015 rolls around.  So, yeah, you could say I’m “close” to the subject. This piece will be the first of many to grace the glorious pages of Razzball Football.  Once the season starts, look for Ambulance Chasers each and every Wednesday morning, and you can see my handsomeness in the flesh when I review my Weekly Injury Report on Razzball Radio with the Italian Stallion himself, host Nick Capozzi.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for…

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If you’re looking for a good way to avoid depression in the months between the NFL Draft and Fantasy Draft Season, I recommend getting your league(s) together to discuss rule changes for the upcoming season. Will we eliminate kickers? (YES!) Will we award extra points for RBs who break 100 yards (NO!) Will we use individual defensive players? (HMMM…). That last question is complicated, and cannot be answered in one word. In fact, I’m about to spend 1200 words discussing just that question: Should your league be using IDPs?

Adding defensive players to your league is not for the faint of heart. Roster sizes will increase by only a few slots, yet the amount of players available will more than double, and you will now have to grasp the significance of stats like Assisted Tackles and Passes Defended. These changes may seem overwhelming, but in reality, defense in fantasy football is a lot like offense. Between now and Week 1, I will be outlining IDP Strategy, ranking players by position, and discussing scheme changes, but today is all about selling the concept of IDP itself. Here are a few reasons why your league should include defensive players:

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I’ve seen several articles talk about winners and losers based on last weekend’s Draft. The winners typically include Matthew Stafford, EJ Manuel, and the NFL for getting higher ratings than the NBA playoffs for an event that is months removed from the next game-day. I’m going the other way on this one. The winner of the Draft in my mind was clearly Elton John. I’m not sure what type of rights deal he negotiated with Aloe Blacc, but I’m sure Sir Elton benefited from this weekend’s festivities as much as Emperor Goodell did.

From an IDP perspective, despite the first overall pick being on the defensive side of the ball, and a record number of DBs going on Thursday night, the people most impacted by the draft are the existing veterans in the league. More so even than on offense, defensive rookies’ fantasy value is heavily tied to the team that picks them. Other than a few elite players, and sometimes even including them, situation matters more than talent. Before apparently lighting up a fat one, Josh Gordon lit up the league the last two years while playing on a terrible team without a legitimate professional QB. On the flip side, Dont’a Hightower (taken 25th overall the same year Gordon was picked in the Supplemental Draft), has toiled away in a crowded New England LB corps.  Hightower will get his chance this year, but his owners have had to show tremendous patience, with very little to show for it thus far.

So as I run through the big names taken in this year’s draft, keep in mind that they will likely take multiple years to make an IDP impact, and their most immediate effect will likely be on the veterans that they are either complementing or trying to replace.

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Greetings!!!  Welcome to Razzball’s first ever, REAL NFL Mock Draft. The more you know and understand about rosters and the NFL in general, will only help you achieve your grandiose dreams of fantasy greatness. Who better than I, Tehol Beddict, Razzball’s own in-house football expert, to break down what all 32 NFL teams should be doing with their first round selections? Don’t answer that.

I expect there to be numerous trades in the first round, and all throughout the draft, but I’m not even going to attempt at predicting all of the trade scenarios. That’s like trying to decipher how Nicolas Cage went from an A-list leading actor to the holding up “Will Work for Food” signs on Hollywood Boulevard.  I don’t recall ever being this pumped up about an NFL Draft, as this is one of the more intriguing draft classes in some time.  I’m giddy like a school girl on Christmas Eve!

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