Let me start by thanking everyone that has submitted an article. You’ve put yourselves out there to be judged and that’s not an easy thing to do. I know how it feels to have an editor send something back to you and say, “try again,” and that feeling usually involves me saying to myself at least, “why don’t you try again you stupid communist bastard!” Or something along those lines. But if this is something we enjoy we have to get back on that donkey and kick some ass. And you guys did.
Before we get into it Mark and I want to thank Kay Adams and Jim Day for all their time and effort they put into reading and commenting on every article. You should check out what they are up to by following them on Twitter (click on their names) since we don’t have anything of any real substance to give them except our utmost thanks and praise.
When looking at undervalued, i.e. sleeper type players you have to bring the goods to prove such players are actually valuable. And my favorites were usually those that made me give a second look at a player or super extra enforce my predisposed dispositions. For this group of entries I gravitated to those with more substance than fluffstance. The only problem that seemed to pervade some of the entries this round was an inability to focus. One sleeper. Or as Mr. Marley would say, One Love. That’s all you needed and if you are going to ask me to use one of my valuable picks on some guy who I might be able to find on the waiver wire you better tell me why. Ugh, that reminds me I only have a month left before I start teaching again. Anyway, let’s look at some of the Whys —
Kevin Krumpf with his take on choosing Choice, “For those fantasy owners who look only at the most basic stats, Choice will look like someone to avoid in 2011. A stat-line of 243 yards, 3 TDs and a 3.7 YPC are red flags to anyone. But a look at his three-year career, which basically makes up a full-season of work, shows stats of 222 carries for 1064 yards and 8 TDs, with a 4.8 YPC. Those numbers are solid, and were achieved in a backup role.” I can get behind that logic!
And in talking about his sleeper Mike Thomas, Sean Morris writes, “Thomas also racked up 86 red zone receiving yards good enough for 10th in the NFL. That is an abnormally high ratio of red zone receiving yards to TDs. Expect his red zone TD total to increase.” I’m also a Thomas fan, but these numbers are a nice reinforcement.
We had a few people with some Beanie Wells love and Chris Cenotti gave us some hope for the Cardinals offense, “The Arizona Cardinals are not going to re-write the record books this year, but it would be hard not to improve on their 2010 showing. The passing attack is going to be miles better than last year with Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and Todd Heap, which will open things up for the running game. They retooled their offensive line a bit, signing Packers 2010 starting left guard Daryn Colledge. And they have a very soft schedule in 2011. That’s a given playing in the NFC West, but this year they also get to play Carolina, Washington, Cleveland and Cincinnati.” This could be good for either Wells or Ryan Williams, but I like that he shows us that his sleeper’s team is moving forward instead of backward.
Then we have the ever coveted Mad Martz slot receiver getting some love from Wendell Gaymon, “Coach Martz already stated he will get more reps (in reference to Earl Bennett), and doing double duty in the slot and playing opposite Knox. “We didn’t throw it to him enough,” Martz said. “That will be remedied. He will figure in a much larger role than he did last year. He came to us late. He was injured. I wasn’t really sure where he was with all the stuff. But he established himself as a guy who needs to get a lot more balls than he did.” If you can get passed the fact that Martz said he needs to get a “lot more balls than he did” you are probably older than 12 and you can see Wendell is going old school journalist on us with the quote.
Jason Hill gets some love from Jeff Brubach, “So why should you spend a late round pick on Jason Hill? Take out your bifocals and crack open the last couple Jacksonville Jaguars box scores from last season. While the Jags were busy dropping their last three games and sliding to 8-8, Jason Hill was trying to get your attention. Mike Sims-Walker injured his ankle in week 15 at Indianapolis, creating the launching pad for Hill. Week 16 saw Hill starting at receiver and grab 4 balls for 77 yards while being targeted 9 times (tied for the team lead) by David Garrard. In week 17, with both Sims-Walker and Garrard out, Hill hauled in 3 catches for 68 yards at Houston. While this two week stretch didn’t convince anyone in Canton to begin working on Hill’s bust, it gave us a glimpse of what life without Mike Sims-Walker could look like in Jacksonville. The Jaguars front office apparently liked what they saw, as they inked Jason Hill to a 2 year deal in March, and let Sims-Walker drive his U-Haul to St. Louis.” I like me some late round fliers and Hill is just that.
And there were even more nuggets to mine, but we have to keep this train moving toward the runners ups and winner.
Runner Up 2: Mr. Leo Paciga and his sleeper C.J. Spiller. Leo’s article was one of the shorter ones, but brought the business and strong. There was no defining of “sleeper” or a stroll along sleeper lane to kick some homeless sleepers around before landing on one to write about. My favorite paragraph was, “As a whole, we fantasy football aficionados tend to move on to the shiniest new toy at blazing speed, simply discarding underachieving players from the previous season without a second thought. Seldom do we learn from our past mistakes, but we’ve certainly made some, haven’t we? Many owners discarded D. McFadden, A. Bradshaw and R. Mendenhall after disappointing rookie seasons. And even J. Charles’ promise as a rookie was somewhat ignored heading into his sophomore NFL campaign. I honestly believe those lessons should make us a little more observant, a little more diligent in scouring NFL rosters for the next hidden superstar. It takes some time for certain players to adjust to the NFL and its staggering requirements, it takes some time for players to maximize their potential….and Spiller is just one of those guys.”
That made a lot of sense to me, and I think it makes me take another look at Spiller who I had written off, at least for this season.
Runner Up 1: Mr. Josh Vitale and his sleeper Mario Manningham. Josh! Always the bridesmaid and so forth. Josh is once again a runner up with another strong article. He correctly points out the craziness that is Mario Manningham ADP’ng in the 6th/7th round. Here is the money paragraph, “Yes, that Mario Manningham, the receiver who finished last season hotter than Kurt Russell in Tombstone. The fact that I have to even consider him undervalued is befuddling, as his numbers last year ranked him among the game’s best receivers. Manningham finished 2010 with 944 receiving yards and nine touchdowns—good for 17th among fantasy WRs, according to pro-football-reference.com—despite recording catches in only 14 games and starting just eight. And Manningham looks like a good bet to significantly improve on those numbers, as he will enter this season as the Giants’ clear No. 2 receiver behind Hakeem Nicks. Nicks will draw opponent’s top cornerbacks, while last season’s starter, the fake Steve Smith, decided it would be fun to try playing football on one knee rather than two, clearing the way for an increase in opportunities for Manningham.” And that’s a fact Jack! Josh is a polished and funny writer, and as you can see, a consistent one!
Jim Day, “This was very well done. I liked the introduction and how it put it all together, then delivered at the finish as well. He had enough humor to make you chuckle but it wasn’t dominating the story.”
Josh is in the overall lead. Another fact, Zach!
Winner: Mr. Shawn Siegele and his sleeper, Tarvaris Jackson. Yes, if you can write a convincing article about Tarvaris Jackson having a good fantasy season, you are going to get some props! You get to see his take a little later in its full fruition, but I’ll give you a little sneaky preview, “Michael Vick has inspired genuflection among fantasy owners and become the undisputed king of fantasy QBs by process of acclamation. Why? Rushing points. Tim Tebow’s fantasy cult following has nothing to do with his potential as a passer. Jackson doesn’t possess nearly the upside of Vick, nor the goal line ability of Tebow, but he’s a good bet for 400 rushing yards. That’s the equivalent of nearly 7 extra passing touchdowns. If you add 3 rushing TDs, Jackson would need only 20 passing TDs to rival a 30 spot from Drew Brees or Tom Brady.” And these are just a few of the reasons Shawn gives us to take a flier on Jackson. And together they make for a convincing argument, especially when you know you don’t have to invest jack squat in him!
There were some nice touches of humor in Shawn’s work as well, but overall I was led to keep reading because I wanted to know if he was going to be able to pull off his claim that TJax could have fantasy value and we believe he did. But you can be the judge of that when I publish his full article later today.
So there is Round 2. I can tell you for reals that these entries were all strong and showed a step up for those that didn’t make the “cut” in round 1. So keep them coming! It looks like we may have a tight race. And don’t feel weird about taking your article to other sites to see if they’d be interested. I’m really pleased with the work we’ve been getting and I’d hate to see these all die on the cutting room floor.
Here’s the official topic for Round 3: What is the biggest “fantasy impact” off season change for 2011? Our judges this round are Rotoworld’s Chris Wesseling and Football Guys Sigmund Bloom. You better bring the goods! Submissions are due by 5pm EDT Friday, August 19th. 1500 hundred word limit.
• Do NOT paste your article into the body of your email. Instead, attach in a Word document (.doc or .docx), sending to BOTH myself – [email protected] — and Chet – [email protected]. Make sure submissions have us both as recipients.