Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fantasy Football Insider: What if there isn’t Free Agency

Those who like to play fantasy football and are into it heavily enjoy taking time out to watch what happens in free agency. Players move from team to team and can either move into a good situation or into a bad one. What happens when your favorite fantasy player moves from one team to another? There are a lot of things to consider.

You have to consider the situation that the player is going into. If it’s a wide receiver, does the player’s new team pass the ball a lot? Do they have a good quarterback? Imagine taking Reggie Wayne out of Indianapolis and putting him somewhere like Oakland. His fantasy value could easily go down because of the quarterback situation in Oakland.

But right now, we are dealing with the fact that there is no free agency thanks to the lack of an agreement between the NFL’s owners and its players. Will there be free agency this year or is it not going to happen? Let’s see what not having free agency would do to your fantasy team in 2011 and what effect it might have on the quality of play both in the NFL and in fantasy football.

Free agency is such an important part of a team’s rebuilding that it has become a pretty important event for teams. Just look at what the Bear’s did last season. They managed to get one of the top pass rushers in Julius Peppers and it made a big difference for them on defense. They were able to get some pressure on the passer and their defense stepped up and helped lead them to the NFC Championship.

Sometimes one player can make all the difference or even just a few guys in a few of the right places can make things better. Free agency works very well for some teams and can help them get to the next level and that’s either out the basement or into the playoffs while for others it can be detrimental.

Fantasy owners keep track of which players are going where and how it is felt that the player will affect the team’s performance and how it’s going to affect the player’s performance. Guys who were previously very productive could win up in unproductive situations and their value could plummet causing them to fall far in fantasy drafts.

If there is no free agency then there will be extremely limited player movement meaning that your favorite fantasy prospects (and those that would have been free agents this season) are going to stay right where they were last year (depending on how the new contract comes out). This could be good or bad depending on who your player is and what team they are on.

No free agency may make it much easier for fantasy football players to do their research much better and in a much shorter time because there are fewer moves to track. But, if there are those out there that were crossing their fingers in hopes that their favorite fantasy player may end up going to a better team and a better situation, you may have to wait a while.

So fantasy football fans should be wary of what happens if there is no free agency this off season. You may want to move away from some of your favorite fantasy prospects (those guys that are stuck on the same team as they were last year and failed to produce adequate numbers) and look for other guys that you feel may have productive seasons. It may be a little more difficult but in the end it will pay off.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Top Fantasy Prospects: The Tight Ends

Ask anyone who is familiar this year’s 2011 NFL Draft and they will tell you that the tight end group coming out isn’t as strong as it’s been in recent seasons. There is clearly little depth all the way through the group so it’s going to be slim pickings for NFL teams in the draft this year.

Right now, it doesn’t look like this draft is going to have many, if any, tight ends that you may want to pay attention to when your fantasy football draft comes up in a few months. The tight end position may not be one of the most productive fantasy positions in fantasy football but a good tight can help you win games and can sometimes help lead you to a big victory.

Rookie tight ends are overlooked considerably in a fantasy draft because they end up being the biggest “unknowns” when it comes to a fantasy draft. It’s hard to know what the team that drafts them is going to do with them when they come into the NFL. Are they going to use them as a pass catcher or a blocker? Will they start right away? Will they even make the team?

All of this makes it difficult for any fantasy owner to validate a pick for a rookie tight end. And in this year’s draft, with no clear cut and “solid” talent at the tight end position at the top fantasy owners might decide to forgo drafting one and wait to see what they do.

As mentioned, there are some factors that go into trying to figure out if there is a rookie tight end worth taking. The whole blocker versus pass catcher debate is one thing that you would have to consider when looking at a rookie tight end as you would the situation that they are going into. A team that utilizes its tight ends a lot in the passing game, such as the New England Patriots is the ideal spot for a rookie to land whereas looking at a tight end that may end up with the Chicago Bears could be a waste of valuable research time.

You must also look at the team that the player is going to and what their quarterback situation is and how often they pass the ball. As we discussed with the wide receivers, it’s important to now just what the tight end is walking into in terms of who the starting quarterback is, how well that quarterback has played and just how often he throws the ball to his tight ends. Obviously if it’s a tight friendly offense then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at situation and consider a late round flier on the prospect.

As mentioned, this draft isn’t going to feature a lot of depth and talent at the tight end position. The following is a list of the top six tight ends in the 2011 NFL Draft with the first one thought to go somewhere in the middle to late second round:

1. Kyle Rudolph-Notre Dame
2. Luke Stocker-Tennessee
3. Lance Kendricks-Wisconsin
4. Jordan Cameron-USC
5. D.J. Williams-Arkansas

Rudolph will easily be the first tight end selected and could be someone that you would want to keep an eye on in your fantasy draft depending on where he lands. But remember, he spent all of last season injured so he might be a risky prospect in your fantasy draft.

What is the best advice for drafting a rookie tight end this fantasy football season? Wait. With no clear cut standout appears to be coming out at the position in this draft so keep an eye on these guys as the season goes on and see if there is someone that you might want to pick up on waivers. It’s a great idea to let these guys play a couple games before putting one of them on your roster.

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