Last year was great, fantasy football wise. I finished my season at 13-1, with my league’s title and ultimately, bragging rights. This vain rite of passage seems to be the most coveted possession one can attain in competitive, fantasy sports. My fantasy football league had eight individuals, all hoping to sit atop of the power structure; what separated my league from the next, was that every owner shared my last name.
The braggadocios banter in my family-fantasy league, became almost as significant as the actual competition itself. You know things have gotten dysfunctional in your family, when your own grandmother has to make a rule banning all fantasy football talk during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. With that said, let’s see what players will make an impact in this fantasy football season.
5) Cam! Cam! CAM!!!
My Uncle Chris was the defending champion and owner of the team that ironically lost to me in the title game, the Buffalo Bills (sorry Jim Kelly). His secret weapon last year was rookie QB, Cam Newton. Newton saved my Uncle’s team from a season of fantasy purgatory.
He had drafted Chris Johnson & Jamaal Charles early, figuring he could pick up a QB in later rounds. Charles ended up becoming one of fantasy football’s most tragic moments last season, as he found himself on the IR, after a season ending ACL tear in week two. Johnson, who held out most of the offseason, appeared to be a step slower. My Uncle almost lost all hope, until he found his team’s savior waiting on the waiver wire, ready to shock our family’s fantasy world.
Newton ended up with just as many points as my first round selection Tom Brady, and only came up a few points short of overcoming my team in the championship game. Allegedly, the largest leap of improvement in a professional’s career usually happens between the first and second year. If that’s the case, don’t let Newton pass you by in the draft.
4) The Real McCoy
LeSean “Shady” McCoy was responsible for ruining my pursuit of perfection. My cousin James picked Shady up, after he slipped to the second round of our draft. Shady consistently had high scoring games; he led the NFL in rushes over 20+ yards, and maintained his production, even in the midst of Michael Vick’s injury issues.
3) The Handful of Sand
Arian Foster suffered soft tissue injuries that sidelined him at the beginning of last season. Fantasy owners like my Uncle Greg panicked, and tried to unload Foster in exchange for another superstar back. He became desperate, and traded Foster to me for my backup QB, Phillip Rivers. He bragged endlessly to my Uncle Chris about how he sold me a “handful of sand.” That confidence turned into humility, when Foster ripped off 20+ fantasy points, his first week back. Everyone in the league cursed his name, while simultaneously putting a target on my back.
2) Yo Soy Fiesta
Tom Brady is married to a supermodel, has hair that makes Samson jealous and oh yeah, access to arguably the best offensive weapons outside of the Pentagon. In case you thought Brady having Wes Welker & Rob “Fiesta” Gronkowski wasn’t fair, Santa Kraft went and picked up a guy named Brandon Lloyd, who could catch polio with a hazmat suit on.
1) Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood
Here’s a stat for you: Aaron Rodgers scored more points than EVERYBODY in fantasy football last year. He is the most conservative number one pick, period.
The Early Bird Sleeper Special
There was once a time in fantasy football that having a successful TE got you a win. Last year TEs like Gronkowski and former, college basketball enforcer, Jimmy Graham, outscored most players at key, skill positions. I lucked out and picked up Gronk instead of his teammate Aaron Hernandez, who was available. This year’s TE that will push your team to a successful season is Antonio Gates. Gates is fully recovered from plantar fasciitis, and will be Phillip Rivers’ number one option, with Vincent Jackson gone.
There are a few adages in fantasy sports; the one saying that I live by is, “You can’t win a fantasy title in the first round, but you can definitely lose one.”
You have to understand the difference between long-term excellence and short-lived success. If you find that perfect storm, you will find love in a hopeless place (sorry Rihanna).