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Friday, February 25, 2011

Boser's Tweetbeat

My exciting new column for LestersLegends.com.




















Sifting through the hashtags to bring you the hottest trending Twitter topics in the Fantasy Football industry.

ADRIAN PETERSON VS. ARIAN FOSTER
That didn't take long. The debate for the rightful No. 1 pick in next season's redraft leagues has already materialized. After compiling 18 touchdowns and 2,218 combo yards last year, Arian Foster did more than enough to earn the top billing for me. However, Adrian Peterson backers certainly have a solid case -- he's finished as a top-5 fantasy back in each of his first four seasons. His most productive year was 2009, with 18 scores and 1,825 combo yards. It's no coincidence that it was the only season he's lined up behind a quarterback better than Shane Falco. When Brett Favre struggled to move the chains in 2010, Peterson saw less scoring opportunities and got a preview of what's to come in 2011. In addition to the probable lack of a passing threat, Peterson's patty-cake offensive line does him no favors. Moreover, the Vikings' offense will be in transition under new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, with a (potentially) shortened offseason program to acclimate. Peterson cleaned up the fumbling issues last season, and he's dispelled early-career injury concerns. He's the best running back in the NFL, and I consider him a safe, worthy top-3 selection.

Arian Foster's only done it for one year, but while some see this as a negative, I see it as fresh legs. Sure, things likely would have been different had Ben Tate stayed healthy last season. Instead, Foster emerged as a bona fide superstar, and Tate will enter 2011 as a redshirt rookie coming off a severe ankle injury. Gary Kubiak will return (by the skin of his teeth) with his zone-blocking scheme that fits Foster perfectly. He'll have plenty of incentive to lean on the 2010 NFL rushing king -- the pitchforks are sharpened and the torches are ablaze in Houston. Unlike fellow breakout back Peyton Hillis, Foster finished very strong, and had no problem shouldering a heavy workload. With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson forcing defenses away from the line, Foster will again have plenty of room to operate, and it's a safe bet that the No. 3 Houston offense will spend a lot more time in the red zone than the No. 23 Vikings. The versatile Foster is built for fantasy use, and at the end of the day, I think his situation trumps Peterson's talent.


THE FINLEY EFFECT
After a relatively slow start last season, Greg Jennings rebounded for a career year (76/1,265/12). It's no surprise that his surge coincided with the ultra-talented Jermichael Finley's season ending knee injury. While everybody seems to agree that Finley's return will cost Jennings some looks in 2011, experts are split on the degree to which it will effect his production. In early mocks, I've seen Jennings drafted anywhere from third to eighth among receivers. Those bullish on Jennings will cite that the geriatric Donald Driver is clearly on the decline. They'll argue that Aaron Rodgers' magnificence can accommodate a top-level tight end, support an elite wide receiver, and part the Red Sea. I'm finding myself on the other side of the argument. Donald Driver's decline was more than offset by the progression of James Jones and Jordy Nelson. The two had inconsistent moments, but the numbers don't lie -- they combined for 151 targets, 95 catches, 1,261 yards and seven scores. Jones' status in Green Bay is on uneven ground, but Nelson appears ready to take the next step even if Jones departs.

That brings us back to Finley. He's an athletic specimen who's literally open on every play, and with Jennings working downfield routes, Finley's typically open quicker. The two have played exactly 16 full games together in the last two years, giving us a nice round figure to work with. Jennings' production in the pieced-together season has been disappointing -- 59/1,035/6. Coincidence or not, those numbers would've ranked 20th in standard scoring among receivers last season, one spot ahead of Braylon Edwards. I won't go so far as to say he can't be a No. 1 fantasy receiver, but unless Finley is sidelined again, I'll have a hard time trusting Jennings in that spot.


LION KING
Believe it or not, china doll Matt Stafford is at the center of heated draft discussions. There's an aggressive assembly that views Stafford as a low-end QB1 with top-10 upside. Then there's me and my red marker. I get it, Stafford has the blue chip pedigree, and he's shown some promising flashes in his first two seasons. He has an upper echelon receiver in Calvin Johnson, and a decent set of secondary pass catchers that includes Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Jahvid Best. You could even recklessly extrapolate his 2.5-game 2010 sample size into a mouth-watering 45-touchdown, 3,424-yard fantasy feast. Stafford certainly appears to have all the skills to excel in the NFL, except one -- the ability to stay on the field. Yes, that's a skill. Brett Favre wasn't just the luckiest guy in the league for the last two decades. And it's not like Bob Sanders habitually walks under ladders. Where there's smoke there's typically fire, and Stafford's sending off more signals than Bear Grylls.

As a result of knee damage and three injuries to his throwing shoulder, Stafford's missed 19 of 32 career games (59%). His offensive line has improved in protection, but quarterbacks inevitably get hit, especially in a division with Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, and Jared Allen. I don't necessarily disagree with the premise that Stafford has top-10 potential, but he shouldn't be drafted that way. Until he can correct his horrific rate of DNP's, I see him as a mid-to-low level fantasy QB2.


MOCKING 2011
I've recently had the pleasure of partaking in a series of 2011 mock drafts with a group of around 25 fellow industry writers, analysts, and amateur comedians. We're using a slow draft format with several drafts going on simultaneously, and this first series is strictly PPR. It's been a blast, and with about a dozen mocks in the books, we're beginning to accumulate some early ADP knowledge. There have been a few interesting nuggets that have jumped out to me. The momentum of Aaron Rodgers' outstanding postseason run has propelled him past Michael Vick for top quarterback honors. There appears to be no consensus top wide receiver. And if you're high on Josh Freeman, Jamaal Charles, and Hakeem Nicks heading into next season, join the club -- they're stocks are soaring.

The "Draftmaster" series is organized by Jim Day of FantasyFootballWhiz.com, and with the help of Pro Football Focus' Mike Clay, here's a first glimpse at our early results. If you're a strong drafter with interest in participating in the Draftmaster series, feel free to reach out to Jim Day (@Fantasytaz) on Twitter for more information.

That wraps up my first installment of "Boser's Tweetbeat." Be sure to check back here in two weeks for the latest insider buzz circulating throughout the Twitterverse.

Ryan Boser has contributed writing and analysis for FantasyVictory.com, KFAN AM 1130's Fantasy Football Weekly program, and numerous other fantasy football outlets. Ryan's own website, Out of My League, covers both fantasy football and the Minnesota sports landscape.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2010 Fantasy Academy Awards

Also viewable at fantasyfootballwhiz.com and thefootballgirl.com.


Every year the Hollywood award season prompts a slew of cheesy Oscar spoofs. I assure you, this one will be no different. So in the spirit of honoring our fake heroes, I invite you to sit back and let your imaginations run wild. Picture Jay Cutler rocking the red carpet in a shimmering Chanel gown. Perhaps a tardy Brett Favre shows up after the pre-party festivities sporting snug Wranglers, black Crocs, and a freshly soiled Nike cap. The bootylicious Ines Sainz is doing her Ryan Seacrest thang in a scandalous wedding dress. Again. And of course, the jovial Rex Ryan will be your colorful effing host. So, now that I've set the theatrical tone, and gotten my obligatory cheap shots out of the way, cue the music! Without further ado, I present to you the 2010 Fantasy Academy Awards!



BEST PERFORMANCE IN A SUPPORTING ROLE









These nominees were complimentary contributors who stood out in secondary roles for their respective offenses. In the shadows of Tom Brady's celebrated spotlight, BenJarvus Green-Ellis' 13 touchdowns were the most for a Patriots' back since Corey Dillon in 2006, and he became the first New England runner to crack 1,000 yards since Dillon in 2004... Both Matt Cassel and David Garrard stepped beyond the boundaries of typical game managers, often stealing the show for two of the run-heaviest teams in the league... Andy Reid's scripts are notoriously light on running plays, so the resourceful LeSean McCoy gets a nod... Finally, McCoy's teammate Jeremy Maclin packed less flash but more catches and touchdowns than the vivacious DeSean Jackson.

WINNER: LeSean McCoy. While McCoy finished 19th in carries, his league-best 78 receptions among backs acted as an extension of the running game in Philadelphia. McCoy's versatility was undoubtedly the glue that held the Eagles' explosive offense together. The 22 year-old sophomore's rushing average improved by over a yard (to 5.2 YPC) from his rookie campaign, and when defenses swarmed to Michael Vick, the shifty McCoy showed an uncanny knack for finding open space. Last year we scoffed at the Brian Westbrook comparisons. This year, Shady scoffed back.



BEST ORIGINAL SCORE


These nominees delivered unexpected fantasy points with the most creative touchdowns of the season. In Week 14, the surprisingly fleet-footed Jay Feely humiliated the Broncos when he took a fake field goal attempt around right end for six... In Week 10, the diminutive Mike Thomas reeled in a batted 50-yard Hail Mary from David Garrard, running up his fantasy tab as time expired... And we'll never forget DeSean Jackson's fumbling, grandstanding, comeback-capping punt return touchdown against the Giants in Week 15, the first walk-off punt return in NFL history. (A "Cut Matt Dodge!" chant breaks out somewhere in the balcony).

WINNER: Jay Feely. The last kicker to score a touchdown was Dallas' Tim Seder, way back in 2001. Not only did Feely become just the fourth kicker in 40 years to reach pay dirt, but he tacked on five field goals (36, 48, 55, 23, 49), and four PAT. In my league, that was good for 29 fantasy points, a broken T.V. remote, and a two-week suspension from the message board.


BEST SHORT PERFORMANCE
These nominees achieved fantasy excellence despite playing in fewer than 10 games. Austin Collie struggled with concussions, yet found a way to score eight touchdowns in bits and pieces of nine games... Through six games, Collie's teammate Dallas Clark was on pace for 99 receptions, 925 yards, and eight touchdowns before a wrist injury landed him on Injured Reserve... A broken clavicle spoiled a strong start for Tony Romo -- in five full games he threw 10 touchdowns and averaged 313 yards per game... Lastly, rookie Tim Tebow got the starting nod in Denver for Weeks 15-17, and was the No. 1 fantasy quarterback over that crucial span.

WINNER: Tim Tebow. The Mile-High Messiah benefits from a season ending surge that's still fresh in our minds. The timely nature of his fantasy heroics gives Tebow the slight edge over the cloudy Collie. While his passing numbers were mediocre in his three starts, a Vick-like 199 yards and three scores on the ground propelled brave souls to fantasy glory.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS


These nominees achieved brilliance in the area of special effects. Peyton Hillis bulldozed his way through helpless defenses, delivering more pain than a Chuck Norris roundhouse... Jitterbug DeSean Jackson's lightning speed and end zone antics were mesmerizing... Michael Vick returned to the big screen packing explosives and a rocket launcher... The genetically freaky Calvin Johnson provided jaw-dropping visuals without the use of CGI... And finally, the artistry of Brandon Lloyd's acrobatic body control, gravity-defying hops, and sticky hands was enough to make Spider Man blush.


WINNER: Michael Vick. It was a strong field, but Vick wins in a landslide. He was truly a human highlight film, routinely delivering mind-bending moments both on the ground and through the air. Vick is to football what "The Matrix" was to film -- a stylistic groundbreaker that triggers widespread emulation.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Each member of this cast of clowns was successful in becoming a character of himself. Teammates Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco co-flopped in "The T.Ocho Show" on Versus. In his spare time, Chad obnoxiously promoted his "Mad Chad" iPhone app on Twitter, changed his surname again, but couldn't manage to squeeze fantasy relevance into his tight schedule... Disgruntled food critic Randy Moss posted five touchdowns and three area codes, and is rumored to be in conversation with HGTV's "House Hunters."

WINNER: Terrell Owens. Getcha popcorn ready! While his entertainment level failed to match the other two Looney Tunes this season, Owens delivered a much more powerful performance. Think "Wall-E." His nine touchdowns equaled the combined total of his competition, and he bordered on WR1 fantasy status all season.



BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE








These real-life story lines were even more extraordinary than the nominees' on-field performances.
Michael Vick's journey from doghouse to penthouse was a box office blockbuster... Mike Williams ate himself out of the league in 2008 (he reportedly topped 270 pounds when he was cut by Tennessee -- yeah, I didn't know he played there either). After a two-year hiatus, his heartwarming reunion with Pete Carroll led to a 65-catch career resurgence... After Peyton Hillis attempted to dip his pen in the company ink, Josh McDaniels made him "the other guy" in the Brady Quinn trade. The blocking back went on to crush defenses and white running back stereotypes to the tune of 1,654 combo yards and 13 scores... Arian Foster inspired us with his tear-jerking tale of an undrafted practice squadder's ascension to Fantasy King... Finally, Brandon Lloyd went straight to DVD on fantasy draft nights, proving that we're not as smart as we think.

WINNER: Brandon Lloyd. It's hard to recall a more unlikely breakout performance. In his first seven years, the journeyman's season-bests were 48 catches, 733 yards, and six touchdowns. In his eighth season, he won the NFL receiving crown by posting a stunning 77/1,448/11 mark. For the math geeks in the crowd, that's a 1,138% increase from his 117 yards in 2009.


BEST DIRECTOR








These nominees brought out the best in their respective casts.
Not only did Andy Reid turn Michael Vick into a passer, but his offense finished third in scoring and first in style points...
Bill Belichick gave us a reliable 1-2 punch of Tom Brady and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and found a way to get use out of a washed up Deion Branch, a pint-sized Danny Woodhead, and a pair of rookie tight ends... Raheem Morris is a low budget sleeper who delivered unexpectedly solid fantasy production from a 22-year old quarterback, a 3rd-round wide receiver, and an undrafted rookie running back... Gary Kubiak had the courage to set aside his meddling ways and turn Arian Foster into a monster... Lastly, despite missing several of his top pass catchers for large chunks of the season, Norv Turner's Chargers finished second in scoring and first in yardage.

WINNER: Andy Reid. Andy's not used to holding trophies, but he earned this one by giving us a top-5 quarterback, a top-10 running back, and two top-20 wide receivers.



BEST PERFORMANCE IN A LEAD ROLE









Simply put, these guys were the most outstanding performers of 2010. It took an injury to Ben Tate for Arian Foster to solidify a supporting role in Houston, but he immediately stole the lead in Week 1 and never looked back... Peyton Manning threw for 4,700 yards, and Tom Brady went a ridiculous 36:4... Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers picked up extra points with their legs, finishing 1-2, respectively, in fantasy points per game.

WINNER: Arian Foster. The quarterback field was impressive, but collectively, they watered down the positional value. Foster stood out among his peers, providing an unmatched weekly point differential. With 18 touchdowns and 2,218 combo yards, he pulled clear of the pack in both categories, and will enter 2011 as the strongest candidate for the No. 1 overall pick.



And with that, we conclude the 2010 Fantasy Academy Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees, and thank you to everyone who helped make this a magical season. Here's hoping Santa doesn't cancel Christmas and we're back here again next year. Now, if you'll excuse me,
I need to go limber up for
Charlie Sheen's after party. Cheers!