It seems to be the consensus that football is now a year-round sport. The season no longer ends at the last whistle of the Super Bowl. We (ESPN, sports radio, struggling news papers and football blogs and websites…) now have turned free agency, trades, the draft, and mini-camps all into grand events. Where we study and break down every move and everything is a developing story. Ever feeding the beast that is the NFL.
So my thought is, “why can’t fantasy football be included in all this fun?” Taking away or giving a QB weapons, trading a diva WR to a team he is more happy playing for, sureing-up an O or D line can make or break fantasy players and their production for you. And is it really too early to start your scouting for this season? For NFL teams scouting is a 24/7-365 kind of thing, so then it becomes how serious are you about your team?
If your answer is “very”, then keep reading. If your answer is “I just pick who ever Yahoo says is the best available when it’s my turn to pick!” then just start working on your funny team name, because that’s what really matters, right?
Now let’s talk Quarterbacks, starting with free agency and how it may affect production for our cornerstone position. You’ll learn over time that I think the quarterback, NOT the running back, is the most important position on your fantasy team.
Who benefited from FA moves:
Josh Freeman: For someone who all the “experts” said was going to be a fantasy god, he was anything but in 2011. They have the offense, even before adding Vincent Jackson, for him to put up some serious numbers. So there should be no excuse in 2012, other than he just can’t cut it. Vincent Jackson, being a fantasy god himself, very well could be the saving grace Freeman needs.
Christian Ponder: His biggest issue is his team’s health. I think he has the ability, he just needs the people around him to… be around him. The addition of Jerome Simpson (Your friendly neighborhood professional-football –playing, front-flip flipping, marijuana dealing kingpin) and a solid TE in John Carlson are nothing but upgrades for the young QB. Like a lot of QBs on this list, he has the weapons; he just needs to take advantage.
Tom Brady: (Written before Wes Welker has signed any sort of contract leading up to the 2012 season.) Giving Tom Brady veteran wide receivers is like giving James Bond a loaded PPK, or Guy Fieri some chicken wings and hair bleach. They know how to use it, and use it well. With the addition of Brandon Lloyd and Donte Stallworth, retaining Deon Branch, and an Ochocinco who is so tame he may rise from the ashes like a un-diva’ed phoenix named Chad Johnson, Brady is poised to have another stellar year. Or he’ll be driving the bus straight to the retirement home to drop off half of his offense, and maybe The Hoodie as well…
Alex Smith: The 9ers are in a position to win, and they want to win now. The said sorry to Alex for trying to holler at Payton Manning by paying him more than he was looking for and then brought him Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, both good players. The loss of Josh Morgan may sting, but Manningham should make up for it and then some. Mario as a number 1 could be deadly.
Matt Flynn: Matt is finally going to get his chance to average 4.5 TDs and 1 INTs a game as a starter for the first time in his career. The Seahawks are defense first, but they certainly have a formidable offense (on paper). I don’t expect 75 touchdowns this season, but he will be a solid starter along the lines of Alex Smith production.
Michael Vick: Only DeSean Jackson can answer this. Wills the $9mil from his franchise-tag make him happy? $9mil would make anyone happy. Will $9mil make him willing to throw his 5’10 175lbs frame around to make his big plays? I think he, and everyone else knows, he’s one meeting with an IMLB across the middle away from having a life changing experience. Make him happy, and Vick will jump 10-12 (fantasy) points a game just from the big play ability of D-Jack. Not to mention the room he needs to run when he feels like making his owners very happy.
Jay Cutler: Here was a pleasant surprise last year until his untimely injury that threw a wrench in a much improved fantasy year for Jay. With the amount of run-stopped respect you have to pay to Matt Forte, and the addiction of his old friend Brandon Marshall, you have the makings of a solid year from Cutler. BUT, always be aware of his habit of mentally shutting down when the going gets tough. I don’t question his heart or ability, but he seems to lack the comeback leadership and decision making to throw his team back into a game. He certain does have the ability to throw his team out of it though.
Blaine Gabert: Laurent Robinson is a huge win here, and I think can do big things. He and Blackmon will battle for that number 1 spot, and could very well be a 1 and 1A. My only concern here is whether or not Gabert is an NFL starter… I don’t think he is.
Payton Manning: His big FA move was… moving. He’s on a team who wants him, in a city who’s embracing him, and an organization who wants to win NOW. It’s Big Brother Payton, he has the Midas touch with fantasy football (when healthy). My biggest issue is whether or not he sleeps on his neck wrong and ends up on the IR week 4.
Who was hurt by FA moves:
Drew Brees: If anything his biggest issue going into this year is the loss of his head coach and BFF, Sean Payton. Bounty-gate turned the Saints into sinners, and has hung a dark cloud over the Super Dome. Not to mention his own contract disputes (Pay the man, already.) and we haven’t even touched the addictions or subtractions from FA. No real loss or gain on the offensive side of the ball here. The loss of Robert Meachem would be somewhat significant on many teams, but I feel like Brees could be throwing to 3rd graders and still pass for 4,000 yards. The system is designed to turn anyone with hands into a star, so this year it’s really going to be whether or not he can get over these mental hurdles set in place during the off season.
Ben Roethlisberger: Sign Mike Wallace or be ready for a rough year.
Cam Newton: The loss of Legedu Naanee is a minor one for such a unique Quarterback as Newton, and there were some considerations from the draft that we will get into when we cover the draft and its effect later. The big issue I see here is the addition of Mike “Goal Line” Tolbert. The thick, 5’9 running back does have hands and shows he can catch well out of the back field, but I have a feeling he’s going to be that “inside the 5” back Cam was last year. With 3 quality backs, the Panthers aren’t going to be shy about jamming the ball down people’s throats but chances are they will want their franchise QB to be less in harm’s way in and out of the pile near the end zone. With all of that being said, Cam is going to get his, so this should all be taken with a grain of salt.
Phillip Rivers: V-Jack > E-Roy, R-Meach, M-Spur. D-u-n, done.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: The loss of Choice in the back field, as well as Parrish out-wide, this is a make or break season of this QB and his featured wide-outs David Nelson and Stevie Johnson. It’s hard to say he was HURT by FA losses, but he certainly wasn’t given help. This is really more of a “can he get it done” than anything else. He still has the weapons, he just needs to pull the trigger and keep the ball out of the other team’s hands. Otherwise, watch out for Alex Tanney… I’m calling it now.
Joe Flaco: Ray Rice carries this team (and him), and right now he doesn’t know if he’s going to training camp. He needs to jump on that Ray-Rice-needs-to-get-paid bandwagon so he can keep getting his ‘8 pass attempts a game’ in.
Mark Sanchez: Man crush alert. Here’s the thing… Tim Tebow is going to do one of two things; Spark a fire in Mark (we’re on a first name basis) and we’re going to see him live up to those New York expectations or he will be nailed to a cross. The later has 2:1 odds right now.
If a QB isn’t listed, either their team didn’t make a move to improve their offensive weapons, or didn’t lose anyone to FA that would make a change over last year’s performance. Draft picks aren’t mentioned here, for the most part, and will have their own post later in the week.
Did I miss someone? Disagree? Let me know and comment below!