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A Packers fan received an autographed jersey from Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn this week. The video is super charming (did I really just say super?) and you can take a look at it right here. (But please, save your copycat videos, people. I cared once and I won't do it again. I don't want this to become another kid cries after his favorite team loses. Seriously, what did that kid expect when he became a fan of the Raiders?)
But this is a pretty cool gesture about Rodgers and Munn becau ... wait a minute, Munn is with Rodgers now? Wow. I've really fallen behind on my quarterback/WAG depth charts. This power duo now comes in just behind Tom Brady/Gisele, Jay Cutler/Kristin Cavallari, Ryan and Lauren Tannehill but above Tony Romo/Candace Crawford. And I don't know how long this relationship is going to last, but sending a jersey together really rates pretty highly on the Doug Christie scale of whippedness. But if you've ever seen some of the texts Munn sent to Chris Pine, I can't say I blame Rodgers in the slightest.
Speaking of elite quarterbacks; they have become the must-have accessory for fantasy enthusiasts everywhere. They've become more popular than those girls who cosplay in the Wonder Woman costume at Comic Con. And for good reason. (No, not because Wonder Woman is awesome, I'm talking about the quarterbacks here.)
Peyton Manning was on more than 23 percent of fantasy championship rosters last year, behind only Jamaal Charles (who you probably got in the middle of the first-round). And when you look at some of the other prominent names of guys on championship rosters you'll see Zac Stacy, Knowshon Moreno (I had him and Charles on my expert's league team) and Le'Veon Bell in the top ten.
So for all of the noise you hear about waiting on a quarterback, it seems easier to wait for a running back and jump all-in on an elite quarterback like Rodgers, Manning over even Drew Brees. I'm not saying I would take one of those elite guys in the first-round, at least not early. But to me it's a lot more justifiable to do so than to take a risk on a questionable running back. Because really, when you get past the first five or so "elite" running backs, there are some significant risks. And if you're in a league where you get six points for touchdown passes (my league of record with my pals from Corona, Calif. is one such league), then you really need to consider going elite QB before moving on to running backs.
I mean, I liked C.J. Spiller and Trent Richardson a lot last year. I can only imagine I would hold the Corona Football League title if I went with Manning instead of Richardson at the end of the first round. (I ended up with Bell and Moreno, but still lost.)
But there is a lot of time to really dissect this. So let's jump into my likes and dislikes as training camp starts. Let's proceed in what our homepage editor Patrick Crawley called the best use of a soap box in world history. Or something like that.
And without further ado ...
Don't let history dissuade you from taking Manning, either. The NFL is in a new era of unprecedented offense and records seemingly unbreakable a decade ago are now being shattered by pretty much everybody.
Tom Brady has thrown a interception or less in 17 consecutive games. He's thrown more than two picks in a game only once in his last 105 games. The big thing with Brady is he played last year with a bunch of curtain-jerker, anonymous receivers. And yet he was still productive.
Although it seemed to hurt his Madden rating as he checked-in with a 93 for the coming season. (Peyton is a 98, which is nice when you have Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas and the rest of the Broncos receiving corps.)
Stafford had 235 passing yards or less in his last four games. A little worrisome, except he had gone over 235 passing yards in 25 of his previous 26 games. He'll be fine.
Andrew Luck always seems to fly under the radar in most fantasy circles, and it never ceases to amaze me. Not only a great passer, but also nine career rushing touchdowns.
I've been on the fence about Nick Foles. I mean, he was so good last year there is no way he can go another season with throwing just two picks right? That was my stance earlier in the offseason, but that just seems incredibly short-sided. Foles has a full year under his belt with Chip Kelly's system and is it conceivable he'll be even better this year? Seriously.
If the NFL was like the WWE, it would find a way to thwart Chip Kelly and the Eagles offense similarly to the way the E squashes anybody who has momentum after WrestleMania. Namely Cesaro who was super-over after WM30 and then unjustly given to Paul Heyman to put him in a weird tweener role which really didn't suit him.
ImageAnd don't get me started on Bray Wyatt. Dude shouldn't have lost to John Cena in New Orleans. And he surely shouldn't have put over Jericho clean recently. Unless this ends up with Wyatt being able to make a converter out of the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla, then I officially have no (expletive) clue with what they are doing.
Matt Forte had more than 100 scrimmage yards in 12 of his last 15 games. The reason? The Bears started to get more and more into Marc Trestman's offense. So wait, Kelly is Cesaro and Trestman is Wyatt. Is that right?
LeSean McCoy had at least 100 scrimmage yards in his last seven games. Seven of his nine rushing touchdowns came in games where he had at least 20 attempts.
Darren Sproles led NFL running backs with 6.6 yards-per-touch last year. Don't think that's going to change in Kelly's offense. It's only going to get better. Much better.
Andre Ellington was second with 6.5 yards-per-touch. He ranked 24th in yards-per-game. But more than 20 percent of his rush attempts went for at least 10 yards, best in the NFL.
Ryan Mathews had at least 100 rushing yards in six of his last 11 games. He had reached the century mark just five times in the previous 43 games. But he's been a top fantasy performer more times than not, even if he doesn't play on third down.
Woodhead also led the league with 19 red-zone receptions last year. He's a PPR champ.
Le'Veon Bell's 212 touches over the last nine weeks of 2013 tied him with Forte for the most in the league.
Two guys I've had to change my tune on over the last couple of weeks: Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball. Here's the thing, you need to adapt or perish. Don't worry about taking in new information and getting a new perspective.
Ball has also started to sound like the man in Denver and it seems he will be afforded every opportunity to win the job. Something I wasn't so sure about weeks ago. But make sure you have his handcuff be it Ronnie Hillman or C.J. Anderson (who I loved at Cal). But it really does look like they are going to give Ball every chance to succeed. And hell, if you want to take a chance, go for it.
Gio Bernard looks good to go in Cincinnati. Especially if they run the ball a lot under Hue Jackson, as expected. But make sure you have Jeremy Hill on your roster. I'm convinced he could be a flex guy, even with Gio getting the first crack.
But if you're weary about Hill because of this questionable tattoo, totally understand.
Devonta Freeman is another must-have handcuff on your roster. He's going to carry some people to fantasy titles this year. Not to sound like one of those hacky newspaper reporters who say (expletive) like, if Freeman doesn't get 200 touches I'll eat my hat; but if he doesn't, I'll purchase some of those John Cena shoes from K-Mart and wear them on NFL Network.
Hey remember when Michael Turner first went to Atlanta? Wait, you don't? How old are you kid? Sheesh. But Toby Gerhart is going to be that guy. Again, not to be that guy, but if Gerhart isn't a top-10 fantasy RB (barring injury) I'll say the Limp Bizkit is superior to Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I am going to draft Terrance West way too high in my fantasy leagues. You are warned.
I understand the hesitance because West was on the non-injured PUP list or something like that. It all sounds very scientific. But don't let that dissuade you. This should show you why you need to be patient through the training camp. Let this thing play out. But I truly believe West is going to be the man.
And it really goes against my creed of not relying on the familiar names, but there's something brewing with this Jets team.
Zac Stacy, too. I don't believe for a moment he's in danger of losing his gig. I mean, you know who his quarterback is, right?
All right, all right. Receiver time. We all know you take Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and all of the obvious guys. I'm not against you enthusiasts taking a WR in the first round. Or if you want to go Jimmy Graham, too. He's a marvel.
ImageSpeaking of Marvel, I don't read their books or anything but I've really started going all-in on their movies. (When you have nieces and nephews into that stuff, hard to avoid.) Captain America: The Winter Soldier was amazing. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was really good, too. Sorry to spoil the Gwen Stacy stuff but even I knew that. However, my pick for the summer is Guardians of the Galaxy which looks amazing.
And it goes without saying I will boo Batista every time he shows up on the screen. I did it when he showed up on the trailer.
Julian Edelman led the NFL with 53 receptions and was third with 92.7 yards per game over the last six weeks of the season.
Cordarrelle Patterson had the most fantasy points among receivers over the last four weeks of the fantasy season.
Pierre Garcon had at least 10 targets in each of the last 10 games. His 182 targets and 113 receptions led the NFL.
DeSean Jackson led the Eagles with 125 targets. A lot of those targets will go to Darren Sproles, who isn't the downfield threat, but he's going to get his chances. Jordan Matthews is worth a look, too.
I would rather have Jordy Nelson over Julio. Nelson is a favorite of our film maven, Chris Wessling. Yes, he's the guy who did the rankings over at Roto World for a while. He now works for us and can be heard on the Around the League podcast.
DeAndre Hopkins is ready for a major breakout. He was good at the beginning of last season and then fell off. But remember, that was directly related to the QB. And yes, I know Ryan Fitzpatrick is his QB. But I like him more than most.
On this day in history: Walter Payton was born 60 years ago on July 25, 1964. Clay Rank's favorite player of all-time. Sadly, he died on Sweetness' birthday 14 years ago.
On this day in history, part II: The Beastie Boys released "Paul's Boutique" on July 25, 1989. Panned at the time, but easily the best front-to-back hip-hop album of all-time. Go back and listen to it today.
I'm cool if you want to take Jimmy Graham in the first-round. I probably wouldn't do it in a 10-team league. But I'm taking him if he's available in the second-round.
BTW, if you start following me this season, realize around Midnight ET, my timeline is devoted to the #hashtag wars from the show @Midnight. And sometimes I can work a little blue.
If I could Dr. Frankenstein the perfect quarterback, it would be Peyton during the regular season and Eli Manning during the postseason. Archie's probably thought a lot about this.
Eli Manning had a touchdown pass or less in 13 of 16 games in 2013, and more TDs than interceptions in a game just three times. His touchdown passes declined for the third consecutive year.
Cam Newton worries me, though. I have confidence in a guy like Brady to overcome an obstacle like not having any (expletive) receivers. I'm not so convinced Cam can do it. And I like Cam a lot. I felt bad for him not winning the Madden cover vote. He's a legit gamer.
I like Russell, but I would not have given him the same rating as Brady in Madden. He does a lot of nice things. There isn't anybody who has a better feel for when to extend the pocket and when to tuck it and just book it for the first-down marker.
Wilson has also had to do it with a lot of receivers who have remained anonymous until Super Bowl XLVIII. And he still finished eighth in fantasy points last year at his position.
Wilson will also have (hopefully) a full season with Harvin this year. All right, I might have to reconsider his fantasy rating, but not his Madden one.
One more Wilson note, he has passed for more than 300 yards just twice in 32 career starts. I don't think Brees has thrown for less than 300 yards in a game, like ever. All right, maybe a slight exaggeration.
Robert Griffin III had six rushing touchdowns in his first six NFL games. He had only one in his next 22 games, including none last year. I'm a little more worried.
ImageAs Triple H has always said, there's always a Plan B. Let's just hope RG3 can be as good as Seth Rollins, though he did suffer what might or might not have been a legit knee injury recently. I mean, the lack of a match against Dean Ambrose leads me to believe perhaps Rollins was hurt for reals. Which I hope not, because I've been a fan back to his Tyler Black days.
ImageAnd then there's plan C, Brock Lesnar. Oh man, wrestling marks are the best. There is no way Lesnar is going to beat John Cena at Summer Slam. It just can't happen. When the company gets all panicky, they put the belt on Cena so he can continue to sell shoes at K-Mart. And if you're an adult who wears a pair of these, shame on you. But forget the fantasy booking; Cena is winning this thing again. It's inevitable.
I know I'm just jumping around now but the Panthers were the only playoff team without a 1,000-yard runner or receiver. I love my guy DeAngelo Williams. I mean, I sat in the fifth-row at WrestleMania XXX because of him and Gary Barnidge, but dang Carolina.
I wish the Panthers would just establish DeAngelo Williams as the top running back or at least allow him to run the ball near the end zone. I mean, is Ron Rivera Bud Kilmer to DeAngelo's Wendell Brown?
For the record, I do like McCoy in the coming season. I don't like that he dogged me and didn't pick me to be on his Call of Duty team during a Microsoft event during the offseason. Even though he was totally justified because I'm terrible at Call of Duty, it was a little bit hurtful.
Mathews always get harangued for being an injury-prone running back. And yet, people are all too happy to run out and draft Arian Foster in the first-round. I love his Twitter feed. He's hilarious if not insightful. But again, you're taking a huge risk with this dude.
Marshawn Lynch had more than 400 touches during the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl. Look what that kind of abuse ended up doing to Ray Rice last season. Lynch is no longer a first-round running back for me anymore.
And now it looks like Lynch could be a training camp holdout. Hey remember that one time when a running back held out of camp and he went on to have an amazing season? Oh yeah, that never (expletive) happens. Remember this when you draft Seahawks. This is why nobody repeats any more. Mother of pearl.
He's all about that inaction, boss! Yeah, sorry about that.
I would look towards a wide receiver at the end of the first-round if all of the big guns (the big four as it were) were still available. There is all sorts of risk with guys like Lynch to be sure.
ImageRice had more than 75 rushing yards only once last year. He topped 75 rushing yards 25 times in 48 games from 2010-12. Just if you're looking for justification to not draft Rice this year. I mean, not to get on my pulpit (in my pulpit?), but I do have some sort of moral clause on my team. If you're busted for weed, you've still got a spot. But what Rice did, no.
The question of the summer on Twitter (follow me, please? I'm not too good to beg) was why is Andy Dalton rated so low after he finished fifth in fantasy points last year.
Remember when I said Steven Jackson would be a fantasy MVP last year and he made me look like a donkey? Damn, I was adamant. However, in my defense, SJax was money in Week 15 which probably saved a bunch of us. I know it saved me in the expert's league.
But yeah, we're pretty much done with Steven Jackson here. He has the name recognition you like and people feel comfortable with him. But why do this to yourself? It's like going to see a Johnny Depp movie because you know his name and you liked him in the past. But then you mention "The Lone Ranger" and you're like, oh yeah, he's not so good any more.
But yeah, that "21 Jump Street" movie was awesome, though. I know he had just a minor part, but he was good.
Man, people are way too hyper on Ben Tate. Even if you don't think West is worth anything, or you're scared because you never saw him play in college, don't be. Why waste a third-round pick on a guy who is going to be in the most hotly-contested running back battle of the summer? It's an act of lunacy.
Plus there have been a number of former NFL executives and NFL scouts who straight-up laughed when I asked about Tate. This isn't me, the NFL Noob, just throwing around bull feces. There are legitimate concerns by dudes who did actual drafting and stuff.
To me, West, Hill, Freeman and some of the other names you see on the left have as much of a chance as Tate to being a top running back. I just don't want you guys to draft Tate and be all bummed when he's not good.
Trent Richardson averaged less than three-yards per carry in 12 games with the Colts last year. If you've entertained the thought of going after him in your draft, you might as well use a pick on Batman because he's just as likely to be a great running back. And yes, Richardson is on my "never draft list" after last season. Its' way too soon for that.
ImageIf the St. Louis FC relocates to Los Angeles next year, it really needs to do something about Sam Bradford. I mean really, he's got future career backup written all over him.
The tough part for Los Angeles, I mean St. Louis, is it will be just decent enough to fall in the middle of the draft next season. Which will keep them out of the running for some of the top quarterbacks who will go at the top of the draft. Though it might have to pull an RG3-like deal next year.
The Birds are going to take that division. Wait, there are two birds in that division. Hmm, maybe I'll take the easy way out and just say Birds and you can read into what you will.
Just kidding, I'm talking about the Cardinals. They will win. And the Cards should be the defense you target this year. The Cards D will be this year's Chiefs. Just don't drop them in Week 3 like I did last year.
Julio Jones broke a screw in his foot. It's been repaired and he's slowly come along in practice. But I'm not going to reach for him in drafts. Way too many comparable choices.
Reggie Wayne is one of those names that people value and a guy that your friend who doesn't follow football all that much will draft.
I'm going to pass on Wes Welker this season. He's had some injury concerns and Peyton is going to spread the ball around way too much this season. DT and JT seem poised to be some of the top at their respective positions. Somebody in your draft is going to over-value Welker because of his name. Don't be that guy.
Mike Wallace sort of falls into that category as well as a name you can't trust. Plus there seems to be something wrong with the Dolphins so I'm out. I feel like the Bills and Jets will be better this season.
Josh Gordon is another asked-about name on the social media this summer. And it continues to hang over fantasy enthusiasts like the Sword of Damocles. (Read a book, people!)
If your draft is this early in the summer; what the hell is wrong with you? Just kidding. Things happen. I don't mind a late-round flyer on the dude. He might not be suspended that long. I mean if Rice was suspended just two games, will Gordon even be suspended?
And yeah, I have Gordon in a keeper league. I will have to spend a roster spot on him for the whole year. Which will be a pain.
Andre Johnson has no touchdowns in 16 of his last 18 games. His 181 targets were second in the NFL. But dude's not getting into the end zone. Hell, he's barely interested in playing in Houston.
I know Mike Ditka has apologized profusely for not getting Walter a touchdown in Super Bowl XX, but pops went to the grave angry about it, still.
Maybe it makes me nostalgic for studio albums, but today's iTunes and YouTube generation will never witness the genius of an album like Paul's Boutique.
Rob Gronkowski currently has an ADP of the third-round so far this offseason. And while excited about his return, it's a little too early for me.
And for the record, those John Cena shoes ARE REAL!. And they are made for ADULTS! And I can't stop using CAPS for dramatic effect.
For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 120,000 followers, and Fabiano has 150,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. And if you follow him on Sundays, he'll quote "The Wolf" from "Pulp Fiction" and then it's game on! Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to."