Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Top Fantasy Prospects: Wide Receivers

With rookie running backs being the easiest position to draft a rookie in for your fantasy draft wide receivers, aside from quarterbacks, may be the most difficult. There have been some rookie wide receivers that had great years right out of the gate (remember Anquan Boldin’s first season in the NFL) while others, such as Oakland’s Darius Heyward Bey struggled in their first NFL season and anyone who took them in their fantasy draft are probably still upset at the decision.

If you are thinking about taking a rookie wide receiver in your fantasy draft this summer you may want to consider several of the factors presented in this article before making any decision on who you would want to draft.

Some of the things that you would want to look at before drafting a rookie wide receiver include the most obvious and that’s what team he is going to. A team that passes the ball a lot would be idea situation for any wide receiver so if a wide receiver that you are interested is playing for a team like the Indianapolis Colts or the New Orleans Saints then you may want to consider drafting a wide receiver in your fantasy draft.

If the receiver goes to a team that struggles throwing the ball (But wants to throw it more because they are drafting a top of the line wide receiver) then you may want to think about drafting the player for a while before actually doing so.

For example, the Washington Redskins are showing some interest in both Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones. Think about their quarterback situation. No one knows if Donavan McNabb is going to be there next year and if they don’t bring in another quarterback that leaves Rex Grossman to throw the ball to any new wide receiver that they bring in.

That is not a good scenario for any rookie wide receiver.

With that, you need to check the quarterback situation for the team that your target rookie is going to. This naturally is a strong consideration when making a decision. You can have a team that has a quarterback that likes to throw the ball but doesn’t complete many of those passes. You can also have a quarterback that’s a great passer but doesn’t stay healthy enough to make a difference during the season.

Knowing the situation that your target receiver is going into will only help to make sure that you don’t make a mistake by wasting a valuable fantasy draft pick.

One final thing to look at is what role the receiver will play in the new offense. Most receivers taken in the first to third rounds are intended to be starters or at least solid contributors during their first season with their team. If your guy is poised to be a starter then it would be much easier to draft him as opposed to someone who isn’t going to be a clear cut starter.

The 2011 NFL Draft is not that deep in wide receiver talent so you may want to keep your concerns of drafting a rookie wide receiver to one of the six following players who are rated as the top six wide receivers in the upcoming draft:

1. A.J. Green-Georgia
2. Julio Jones-Alabama
3. Jonathan Baldwin-Pittsburgh
4. Torrey Smith-Maryland
5. Leonard Hankerson-Miami (Fl)
6. Randall Cobb-Kentucky

Green and Jones are assured of going in the first round while it’s possible that Baldwin and Smith could get drafted in the bottom half of the first round. Green and Jones could be solid fantasy draft picks while you may want to wait on some of the other guys and see how they start before picking them up off of waivers as the season goes on.

So keep an eye on these younger wide receivers to see how they do and then take into consideration some of the factors laid out here so that can you see if you want to draft a rookie wide receiver or wait for them to do something before picking them up on waivers.

Remember that you have to do your research on these rookies if you want to have success on your fantasy team.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Top Fantasy Prospects: Running Backs

You may not be looking at what’s going on prior to the 2011 NFL Draft that much right now but aside from all of the problems with the players and the owners there is some real work going on. NFL teams are evaluating those players that could be drafted and are trying to get an idea of which players appeal to them and what they might be interested in.

Running backs have generally been difficult to scout when it comes to the NFL Draft because you really don’t know what will happen with them until they land with the team that drafts them. If they go to a team that uses a two back system, their value and ability can be watered down and could make them less desirable to fantasy owners that are looking for a running back to be a big time producer on their fantasy team.

Rookie running backs can start out faster than other rookie players such as quarterbacks and running backs because they don’t have as much to learn and they can be plugged in right away. Rookie running backs could be attractive on teams that run the ball a lot and so it’s easier to take a rookie runner than a rookie at another position.

This draft isn’t that deep in terms of talent at the running back position but there might be some guys at the top that could have successful seasons in their first NFL year.

Listed below are the top six guys at the running back position in the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Mark Ingram-Alabama
2. Mikel Leshoure-Illinois
3. Ryan Williams-Virginia Tech
4. DeMarco Murray-Oklahoma
5. Jordan Todman-Connecticut
6. Kendall Hunter-Oklahoma State

Ingram appears to be a lock to go in the first round and if that’s the case then he will be a starter right away barring any kind of injury. Depending on what kind of system he ends up in it’s possible that he could have a pretty good year in 2011 and would be worth a look in your fantasy draft.

Some of the other guys, especially Leshoure could end up some time during their rookie seasons and could be pretty productive.

There are a few things to look for when you look at drafting a rookie running back in your fantasy league. The first thing to look for is what team they are on. Are they on a team that likes to run the ball a lot? Is he on a passing team that likes to throw the ball to its running backs often? Those factors have to be considered.

You also need to look at whether or not the rookie running back is going to split carriers with another running back. This will have a huge impact on any decision that you make about drafting him because he won’t have as many carries (or points) as running backs in a one back system. If that rookie lands in two back system similar to what the Carolina Panthers had with both Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams then they may have some luck in their first season and would be a possibility in any fantasy draft.

Finally, you need to look at the injury history of the player. If they have been injured often in college it’s probably best to stay away from them in their first year just in case. You don’t want to spend a pick on a guy that’s going to get injured right out of the gate.

So rookie running backs in fantasy football do remain somewhat of an unknown but they are definitely worth a look but remember to look for those things discussed above so that you don’t make a mistake when drafting rookie running backs, if you choose to do so, in your fantasy draft.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Top Fantasy Prospects: Quarterbacks

Despite all of the problems with the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, there is still going to be a draft this year and if there is no agreement signed by the time the draft takes place then it could be a very interesting draft.

All of this has a direct affect on what happens on your fantasy team in 2011. The draft will give you additional options to stock your team with and there could end up being a breakout star or two in these groups.

The first position that we will look at is the quarterback position. While many may think that first year quarterbacks aren’t ideal to draft after watching what Sam Bradford did last year, it might be a good idea to either draft a quarterback late in your fantasy draft or keep an eye on one in case you need to pick up a second starter later on in the season.

Listed here are the top six quarterbacks in the 2011 NFL Draft (not in any particular order):

1. Blaine Gabbert
2. Cameron Newton
3. Ryan Mallett
4. Jake Locker
5. Ricky Stanzi
6. Colin Kapernick

It’s a safe bet that all of these players will be drafted and the higher they go the better chance they will have to play.

The most NFL ready quarterbacks coming into the draft are Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker. Both have the skill to make an instant impact on the NFL team that they end up with especially if there is an opportunity for them to start or come into the lineup later on in the year to play.

Of course drafting or adding one of these quarterbacks without knowing their situation going into the NFL (especially without knowing what team they are going to) is always a risk but it never hurts to keep an eye on some of these guys as they may end up being a good second option on your fantasy team next season.

Watch those quarterbacks that are taken in the first round because they will have the best chance to start. They will most likely land with a team that is either trying to find and groom a new quarterback (such as the Seattle Seahawks or the Washington Redskins) or they could come to a team that needs a quarterback right away (like the Minnesota Vikings).

Watch training camps to see which rookie quarterbacks have the best chance to start and then make your picks carefully in your fantasy draft (if you decide to take a rookie quarterback). Remember that rookies struggle (with some exceptions) during their first year so drafting them may not always be a good option.

Still, keep an eye on these quarterbacks next year because if there is an injury or if they are handed the reigns and could possibly land as a good second option on your fantasy team.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fantasy Football Outlook: How the 2011 NFL Draft Affects Next Year

If you are as avid a football fan as I am then you have probably been paying very close attention to what’s happening during these final few weeks leading up to the 2011 NFL Draft. The NFL’s Scouting Combine just wrapped up and we now have a little bit better idea of which players might go where and at what position.

If you tuned into the combine, you may have also seen the future of your fantasy football team. You may have seen some of the skill position players out there trying to make a name for themselves in front of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers and it’s a good bet that most of the guys that you saw will somehow affect the way that you draft your fantasy team from next year forward.

You can bet that some of those players at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end positions will be of some value this coming season but just where does a person select a rookie (in their fantasy draft). There are many of us who sit and wonder if we should even take a rookie in our fantasy drafts.

There have been some rookies in recent history that have impressed right out of the gate. Some more recent productive fantasy players include the St. Louis Rams Sam Bradford, Dallas’ Dez Bryant and just a few years ago Baltimore (then Arizona) wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

Selecting a rookie early in your draft is almost always a huge gamble unless that rookie is guaranteed to start on a team that has a great offense and can help that rookie start out with success right away. Running backs and wide receivers that walk into good situations can excel and could be worthy of a high draft pick. Quarterbacks, even if they are stars coming out of college and are heading into good situations in the NFL (as starters) shouldn’t be considered until later on in your fantasy drafts.

So if you are already planning for your fantasy draft next season (despite the fact that the NFL and the Players Association still haven’t come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement) you might want to consider keeping an eye on some of the talent that will be coming out in the draft this year and think about it more as your fantasy draft gets closer.

In the coming days and weeks we will take a deeper look at some of the prospects that will be coming into the NFL through the NFL Draft and which players you should be interested in and which ones you should stay away from.

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