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Like/Dislike: The Amoeba Strategy

What we are talking about:

  • Philip Rivers

Moving towards QB1

  • Victor Cruz

Dance to another roster

  • John Cena

Prepare yourself; he's winning


One of the biggest questions I get is "Hey, I'm playing fantasy football for the first time, what kind of strategy should I use?" And I tell these people the same thing I tell people the first time they come with me to Miguel's Jr. in Corona and that's this, "keep it simple." Sure you could go for the garbage burrito, but that might be for the more advanced palette. Same thing in fantasy, just print out the Top 200 and pick the best players available.

If you're a little more advanced or are looking to take your game to the next level, you could also adapt the Amoeba Strategy. Because sometimes you have to be free-flowing in your draft and you have to be able to adapt. I mean, it comes in all walks of life. For instance, you might be locked into watching "The Purge" on the movie channel one night. And then boom! There's "Varsity Blues" (read the oral history) and you're not even to the scene Ali Later would just assume go away? Oh man, your plan has changed!

True story, that actually happened one night!

These are the kind of rewards that come to you if you're willing to be fluid.

And because you're using the Amoeba Strategy, you're able to adjust. The same should be applied to your fantasy drafts, too. For many years, we were locked into taking two running backs in the first two rounds and then you'd go from there. But that's no longer a thing. You might as well send over your draft picks via pager if you think that's the way to go.

Here's the way I'm going into my drafts. If I land in the top four, here is my "big board."

I have my reasons listed for Forte down below, but let's just say the second year of Marc Trestman's offense is going to be rather special. And that Chiefs offensive line has me running scared.

And here is where you need to be able to move. If you're sitting in the 8-9-10 hole, you need to be nimble. There are so many options for you because the players that are going to come off the board at No. 5-6-7 are going to have the hugest impact. That's just the way it's going to be. Let's take a look at the candidates via ADP.

Marshawn Lynch. You want it to be him, because it will save you the headache.
Eddie Lacy. You can't argue about this too hard.
Calvin Johnson. I'm not sure this is the route I would go, but sure. Not a terrible spot.
Peyton Manning. I'm the biggest pro-Manning guy around. I'm one of the few who believes he can repeat his success because #Science. But in the first-round of a standard scoring league? I'm having a tough time with that one.
Jimmy Graham. Here we go. I hate to let my opponents know this but because I'm a giver but I'm here to tell you I would take Graham No. 5. I wouldn't even think twice about it.
Arian Foster. If you're sitting at those last three spots in the first round and somebody drafts Foster in front of you, buy that dude beers for the rest of your life.

But with the Amoeba Strategy, you must be able to adjust on the fly. Be prepared to go Calvin in the first round and then maybe Demaryius Thomas in the second. I did a league where I went Calvin in the first, Graham and DT were already off the board and I didn't like any of RBs remaining, so I went with Manning in the second. And then I did a mock draft where I was able to grab Forte in the first and DeMarco Murray fell to me in the second, once again going back to the old school.

You need to be ready to go wherever the draft takes you. Don't get locked into thinking you need to go RB-RB, or RB-WR, or even WR-WR. And if you feel like you need to go QB in the second round, make sure you know which RBs and WRs you will need to target later.

I talked to Chris Wessling earlier the week and he pointed out, if you can't build a solid roster around a QB you drafted in the second round, fantasy football might not be for you.

So I hope this helps. You know what also will help? Having your draft order predetermined so you can plan ahead. I currently have a sheet with my Top 10 already laid out (or it would be 12 or 14 if my league was that big). So I already know which players I would take in which spot. Actually, I can share that with you right now.

Forte, McCoy, AD, Chuck as you already know. And then my list goes Graham, Lacy, Mega, (WR I don't want to disclose), (WR I don't want to disclose), DeMarco Murray.

I honestly don't want to be stuck with Murray as my first pick if I'm saddled in the 10-hole. But I would be willing to switch it up on the fly if I have to. Why? Amoeba Strategy. You can hit me up with specifics on Twitter via my handle @adamrank.

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.

A big hand to stats mavens Bill "Sudsy" Sudell and Careen Falcone for dropping the knowledge.

And without further ado ...

Philip Rivers has only one game with more interceptions than touchdown passes in his last 26 games (came against the Raiders in Week 5, 2013). He's thrown 48 touchdowns and 17 picks during that span.

Nick Foles had 24 TD passes in 10 starts last season. More than Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick, who both rank in my top 10 headed into this week of the preseason. That's more than Troy Aikman or Phil Simms ever threw in a single season.

Cam Newton has 28 rushing TDs since he entered the league in 2011. No other quarterback has more than nine during that period (Luck and Kaepernick again).

Drew Brees had 23 total TDs (22 passing) and one pick in his last six home games. He had 10 total TDs and nine turnovers in his last six road games.

Russell Wilson has passed for more than 300 yards just twice in 32 career starts. Wilson passed for 210 yards or less nine times last season. Brees has thrown for 210 yards or less only once in his last 48 starts.

But if you watched the way Wilson commanded the offense against the Chargers in Week 2, you couldn't help but be impressed. He's suddenly jumped up my QB rankings.

Ben Tate is in control of the Browns running back position right now. We still love Terrance West to eventually be the hoss of the backfield, but Tate should be drafted first in most fantasy drafts. Tate is coming off the board in the eighth round, followed by West in the 14th.

Good news for Jordan Cameron, who played well with the current Cleveland Browns quarterback. So that could be viewed as good news.

Matt Forte is the only running back to finish in the top 16 in 2012 and then see his rush yards increase the following year.

Forte had at least 100 scrimmage yards in 12 of his last 15 games. He told me when I visited him in Chicago this summer the team finally grasped most of the playbook at the end of the year.

Jamaal Charles led NFL running backs in targets (104), receiving yards (693) and receiving touchdowns (7). You figured that. Danny Woodhead finished second in those categories. He also led the NFL with 19 red zone receptions in 2013.

Zac Stacy was a member of 23 percent of championship teams in 2013; the fourth-highest total of any player and second only to Charles at running back.

Darren Sproles led NFL running backs with 6.6 yards per touch last year. Andre Ellington was second with 6.5 yards per touch.

Eddie Lacy led the NFL with seven rushing touchdowns after Week 10. The big reason was the return of Aaron Rodgers. So figure that for a full season.

Lacy is at the backend of the big four of running backs. If you've found yourself in the fifth spot, do you go with Jimmy Graham or would you go with Lacy?

DeMarco Murray's 123.7 scrimmage yards per game over the last seven weeks of the fantasy season (Week 10-16) was third among running backs behind LeSean McCoy and Charles.

Shane Vereen led NFL running backs with 40 receptions and 369 receiving yards over the last seven weeks of the NFL season.

Demaryius Thomas has started to trend higher than Jimmy Graham in most of the ADP information I have received. Which is interesting. Thomas is going to have the most trust of Peytonn Manning.

Julian Edelman led the NFL with 53 receptions and was third with more than 90 receiving yards over the last six weeks of the season. Some would say that was a product of injuries to other players. But those look like Welker numbers. And he did fine despite having to compete with the other high fliers.

Riley Cooper had 10 catches for 106 yards and a touchdown when Mike Vick was the Eagles QB. Cooper had 37 receptions for 729 yards and 10 touchdowns with Foles as the starter.

Julio Jones led the NFL with 31 receptions and ranked second with 580 receiving yards before his injury in Week 5 last season.

Roddy White was one of the most-productive receivers in the league during the month of December. That strong finish should trend him up your boards.

Cordarrelle Patterson had the most fantasy points among receivers over the last four weeks of the fantasy season. What is interesting to note, the Vikings now play outdoors and this could be trouble in the fantasy playoffs! Except the Vikings play at the Lions and Dolphins in Week 15-16.

If you've already thought about the playoffs, realize Brandon Marshall likes to finish strong. He's scored a touchdown in nine of his last 13 December games.

Danny Amendola is the kind of guy I would take a risk on in the 15th round. Dude's talented, no doubt. He went off the board in the sixth last year. And if he's hurt again, I wouldn't hesitate to cut his (expletive).

If you are faced with a chance to take some curtain-jerker running back or a guy like Antonio Brown in the second, I'm going with Brown. He's one of the most underappreciated big-time receivers in the NFL. I'd be happy to have him.

ImageSpeaking of happy. I don't think I've ever been happier to watch a WWE event since the Monday after WrestleMania XIV. We had Stone Cold Steve Austin win the WWE title over Shawn Michaels. And while that was expected, what wasn't was the return of the 1-2-3 Kid to join the New Degeneration X. The night was punctuated with the New Age Outlaws joining DX and the tide of the Monday Night Wars really started to change the tide. But all of that said; I couldn't have been happier with the outcome of SummerSlam. Brock Lesnar's win was cathartic on so many levels. I literally (not figuratively) leapt out of my seat in unbridled joy and it goes back more than a decade to remember when I was that happy.

ImageOf course, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins nearly stole SummerSlam with the greatest lumberjack match in the history of the world. It had everything. Of course, the main event of RAW the following night was incredible. Honestly, it reminded me of when RAW had to compete against both Monday Nitro and Monday Night Football to be at its best. Sadly, neither Nitro and MNF are a thing of the past.

ICYMI: Here's a late-night study guide to some value sleepers. Check it out here in Rank's 11.

If you really can't condescend to hit the link, you want to watch Justin Hunter, Zack Ertz, Hakeem Nicks, Bernard Pierce, Robert Woods, Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, Jonathan Grimes, Kenny Britt, Jarrett Boykin, Travis Kelce, Broncos running backs, Mohammed Sanu, Jaron Brown, Texans D/ST, DeAndre Hopkins, Andre Holmes, Andre Williams and Ryan Shazier.

If you want to watch two rookie receivers and add them into the mix, Kelvin Benjamin and Jordan Matthews. Though Matthews had just two receptions agianst the Steelers.

The more you know: New rules against defensive contact will help receivers make a quicker transition to the NFL than ever before. This is truly an offensive league.

Farewell to Chris Law who leaves NFL Media to work with Rich Eisen and his new show for DirecTV. Great opportunity for him and I will miss him around here. If you watch NFL Fantasy Live, Chris was responsible for all of the cool graphics you see on this page and on the TV show. So I can't thank him enough.

ImageAlthough with all of that said, I still couldn't show up to his going away party until the Angels completed the four-game sweep over the hated Boston Red Sox. What an amazing week for the Angels who lost ace Garrett Richards, but found a way to battle back. The win over the Sox on Wednesday was particularly impressive because the team had to blow through the bully because GR went down early. But an impressive showing all around and now a crucial series against the Oakland A's.

ImageThe Red Sox have been the bane of my baseball enjoyment for years. But they were pretty cool to tweet support of Richards after he went down on Wednesday. That was a classy move. And they deserve some credit here.

Eli Manning had a touchdown pass or less in 13 of 16 passes last season. He had more TDs than interceptions in a game three times. His pass touchdowns declined for the third straight season in 2013.

And when you look at him during the preseason, you just can't trust Eli at all in your fantasy leagues. And really, it's going to take a giant leap of faith to go in on any of their wide receivers, too. That includes Victor Cruz who has gone way too high in drafts.

I honestly don't understand how anybody is able to draft Rueben Randle or any of the other Giants receivers. Really watch this week's game to see why.

Robert Griffin III had six rushing TDs in his first six games. He's had only one since that time. But he still is able to live off his perceptions.

RG3 also has a tough time with running the football. I appreciate that he took to social media to address his critics, but he kind of works in rhetoric. He tweeted out the kind of inspirational quotes you'd see on a poster or T-shirt.

I've had to move RG3 down my draft boards. There are just too many risks with him, and when you consider the depth at the position, it's not worth it.

Not sure I would have gone with Brian Hoyer if I was the Browns' brass. I don't care what you say, either, but the obscene gesture is what cost Johnny Manziel the job. If he could have kept his composure for one more week, dude would have had the gig. I have no doubt.

It's 2014 people, let's not get all worked up over an "obscene" gesture. There are much greater things to get worked up over. Read the news.

Ray Rice had at least 75 rushing yards only once last season. He went over 75 rushing yards 25 times in 48 previous games.

Rice's 3.6 yards per touch ranked 52nd in the NFL and were two whole yards fewer than his 5.6 yards per touch in 2011. There are reports he's looked faster this year. But hard to be quicker when you're suspended.

There are also concerns Rice might not be the perfect fit for Gary Kubiak's one-cut and go system. That it might be a detriment to him. Plus there's the point I just don't want to draft Rice on my team. I won't blame you if you do, but I'm just likely to avoid.

If I had to guess, I'd say Trent Richardson was on zero-percent of NFL Fantasy championship teams during the 2013 season. He was what we call a roster-killer. Or something.

Trent Richardson rushed for at least 70 rusing yards seven times in his first 12 games. His single game best is 64 yards in the 19 since.

And now when you watch him in the preseason games, you are looking for a little glimpse to show you things are all right. I'm still looking for that.

I'm trying to think of the round I'm at where I will finally take a chance on Richardson. His ADP is currently at 6.10. That still seems too rich for me.

There are guys like Lamar Miller and Pierre Thomas who would still be on the board after Richardson at that ADP. Either one of them would be a much better option there.

And it's not like I'm crazy about either one of those guys. But the scars of having Richardson ruin my team last year still haunt me.

The ADP for Victor Cruz has looked like your typical slalom course during the winter Olympics. I mean, it's been a pretty dramatic fall for him since August 4. Most likely people don't trust his QB Eli Manning.

ImageA lot of people will say, 'Boy, I love getting Cruz at such a great value.' But do you? I mean, having Cruz on your team means that he's always going to remain on your team because of the name value. I mean, people hung on to Cruz last year because he is a popular, charming guy with a cool dance but the production didn't match. Cruz had no touchdowns in his last 10 games, and only one in his final 13. If anybody else had such limited production, you would have dosed him from your lineup without thinking about it. But the name-brand guy kept him on your roster. This is why it's much better to take a chance on some other high-flier who can add points to your board, and not necessarily draft a guy because he feels like he's a good value. That's how they get you at those discount department stores. I guarantee you that polo shirt was never originally priced at $129 marked down to $59. It just doesn't happen that way.

I'd still take Cruz over Andre Johnson, who won't get my attention because of his quarterback situation in Houston.

Johnson has no touchdowns in 16 of his last 18 games. He's been targeted a ton, so I guess if you play in league where you get points for targets, you win. And don't pretend there aren't leagues like that out there. You people and your hipster PPR leagues and all of that (expletive).

But seriously, I'm not going to get all crazy about the Texans or the Giants offense this year. Which sucks because I like DeAndre Hopkins, but I'm really worried about it.

Of course, the "it's only preseason" camp will be the big winners if the Giants blow doors open during the first couple of weeks of the season. The Giants do have the Cardinals and Texans in the first three weeks of the season. I was worried they were going to have the Cowboys in two of the first three weeks and we were going to be forced to scramble for a lot of their position players. But crisis averted.

ImageYou all know my guy Brandon Stroud. No, he's not supposed to be here in the dislike ledger. We like him. But Brandon put out about 44 scenarios where a Lesner championship title reign could go. And yet, we're going to get a John Cena title shot. I really hope this either ends with Cena saying, "Nah, I'm good. I don't want to fight this guy again." Or even if Lesnar wins, he brutalizes Cena so much, Rollins cashes-in his money in the bank. But that would be weak, too. Because it would be no better than the "Finger Poke of Doom" which really killed WCW. So I'd hate to see that.

Dwayne Bowe has fewer than 80 receiving yards in 24 consecutive games. He had more than 80 yards in 15 of his 32 games prior to that. But if you look at the Chiefs' receiving corps, it's nothing but dreck. And so you might get Bowe at a "great value." And that's the kind of (expletive) that will keep him on your roster for 14 weeks.

Fun Fact: Since Week 5, 2012, Bowe has five TD receptions which ties him for 90th most in the NFL in that span. Don't talk to me about value.

DeSean Jackson led the Eagles with 125 targets last year. Pierre Garcon led the NFL in targets. But we really don't know what we're going to get in Jay Gruden's new offensive system. Garcon was suited to Kyle Shanahan's system, but you have to wonder if he's being overvalued in drafts.

Since Josh Gordon is suspended for the entire year, the Browns should see what it would take to get Garcon from the Redskins. The NFL doesn't have enough trades.

Marques Colston has scored 12 touchdowns in his last 14 home games. He has only one in his last 12 roadies. I would like to have Colston and just platoon him for the home games. Though that seems like it would lead to a lot of hair pulling. Thankfully, that's not a huge problem for me.

Jeremy Maclin is one of nine players in NFL history with at least 55 receptions and 750 yards in each of his first four seasons. Fitzgerald, Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss are among the few who have done that. But then you saw him fall on the ground and grab his knee.

The good news for Maclin is he returned to the game. A preseason game! The return was significant. But it gave me an uneasy feeling. (Not as bad as Garrett Richards, though.) I'm really worried about Maclin right now. His ADP is 7.05 right now and trending way down. I can't envision a scenario where I would take him in the seventh. But if he creeps down to the eighth and ninth, I see some real value right there.

ImageWhat I don't see value in? Voting Zach off this week. Are you kidding me? I get how Zach could end up being annoying after a full summer in one house. But the kid played with a lot of heart. The person they need to get rid of is Christine. She is one of my least favorite "Big Brother" players of at least the last decade. My memory gets fuzzy after a while, but I have a lot of dislike in my heart for her.

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.

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