T-E or not T-E (sorry, that’s really pathetic)

How tantalizing did Aaron Hernandez look this offseason with Rob Gronkowski going under the knife for yet another surgery? He was number one across the board with the promise of fantasy domination almost synonymous with his name. What a different time.

Thankfully, that Assquatch is locked away for a long time now for killing another man, so hopefully we can all move away from thoughts of drafting that murderous P.O.S. scumbag. (R.I.P. Odin Lloyd)

Ahem, sorry this isn’t Rob Johnson ranting time? Okay. Moving on.

Tight Ends are a Quarterback’s best friend in their time of need. Who better to look to when presented with incoming defensive pressure than the hulking 6’6”, 250 guy cutting back to bail you out? Tight Ends are football’s “Get out of Jail Free” card.

However, Tight Ends can be a luxury for Quarterbacks on receiver heavy teams. When defenses are so focused on star receivers and running backs, they often leave linebackers to cover the TE, leading to terrific mismatches and exploitation for big yards and TDs.

Tight Ends in either of these situations generally exhibit the highest fantasy value. If the QB behind a bad O-line needs a quick escape plan, it can lead to big reception numbers, which is often connected with yards and TDs. If the QB sees mismatches because defenses don’t have the personnel to cover Wide Receivers and the Tight End, it could lead to big plays.

Full disclosure, I feel like garbage. I’m pretty sure I am developing mono, so I’m sorry if the descriptions of players aren’t up to par. I can assure you, I made the rankings before I was sick. Help me Tom Cruise!

Tight End Rankings:

1. Rob Gronkowski- Yeah, he’ll probably miss the first couple games or so, but the Brady-Gronk combination is impossible to ignore. TEs don’t win championships. Gronk wins championships (as long as he’s healthy).

2. Jimmy Graham- He looks like a giant tool, but don’t let that stop you from taking the most consistent form of TE dominance in the league.

3. Tony Gonzalez- GONZO!

4. Jason Witten- With 110 receptions and over 1,000 yards, he somehow only managed 3 TDs last season. Expect the yards to stay the same, and TDs to receiver a nice bump this year. 

5. Vernon Davis- “Vernon Davis is the man!” said nobody last year. Dear lord, this guy is a freak of nature. Why can’t he manage to put up respectable numbers consistently? You know when I was talking about mismatches up above? There is no linebacker in the league capable of covering this guy, yet excluding the first 5 games of the season; he only managed to exceed 3.7 (non-PPR) points ONCE. Ashley Simpson said it best, “You make me wanna LA-LA…” Except by LA-LA, I mean toss my laptop through my TV screen and tear down my Vernon Davis Fat Head. He’s ranked at 5 because you can’t ignore the potential, and with the lack of receivers in San Fran, I have to believe he will be incorporated more into the scoring plan. 

6. Kyle Rudolph- Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson won’t disrupt the Ponder-Rudolph love connection. PS, Ponder sounds like the 10th reindeer left out of the song. 

7. Antonio Gates- Rivers will be looking to throw short this season, after the Chargers decided they no longer wanted to lead the league in terrible passes and interceptions. Along with that, their receiving corps looks like a post-battle scene in Saving Private Ryan. Both of these factors will reintroduce Antonio Gates to fantasy TE relevance this year.

8. Greg Olsen- Cam is becoming more comfortable with his TE, which should lead to increased numbers this year. If you type in Greg Olsen on Google, he looks like a high school senior after his first day of practice. 

9. Jared Cook- Sam Bradford’s new favorite target. In PPR leagues, this guy will replace the hole left by Danny Amendola, when he wasn’t injured. They already have great chemistry and with a rather weak receiving group, expect big things from Cook this year.

10. Owen Daniels- Another NCHS alum. Fun fact, I graduated in the same class with his brother. I’m practically part of the NFL. When it comes to fantasy, Owen is a solid pick. He won’t let you down, but he doesn’t have the crazy upside that some of his counterparts do.

11. Zach Sudfeld- Sudfeld is huge. And we all know who Brady likes to throw to down low. If Gronk misses any extended period of time, this guy will likely be Top-5 in his absence. It’s not often (if ever) I suggest handcuffing a TE, but this would be the appropriate time to do so.

12. Jermichael Finley- I loathe Finley. Ask Pat Wolande, my co-host for “The Bye” last year. This dude is a mental case and excuse factory. He has the drops. He’s injured. He has a bad chemistry with Rodgers. He was an orphan. Blah. Blah. Blah. I may as well have played Derrick Rose last year for my TE spot. They produced about the same results. Supposedly, Rodgers and him have better chemistry and he’s been looking good in camp. You will never see him on one of my rosters. 

13. Fred Davis- Ol’ Achilles Fred! If he stays healthy this year, he could easily be a top-ten TE. 

14. Jordan Cameron- Just let me make this clear. Jordan Cameron is not Antonio Gates. Also, Brandon Weedon is not Philip Rivers. Yes, Norv Turner is the OC in Cleveland now, but lets not forget last year Cameron had a measly 226 yards and 1 TD. It’s possible that Cameron has a big season, but I’m not buying in just yet.

15. Brandon Meyers- He’s on the Giants, which is a couple steps up from the Raiders, I guess. Should put up similar numbers to Bennett last year, if not a little more.

16. Rob Housler- He’s big, fast and has excellent hands. Carson loves throwing to TEs, but Bruce Arians play calling doesn’t exactly favor the big guys. We’ll see who’s philosophy is in tact by the end of the season. I’m thinking top-ten or massive bust. I happen to think it’s the former.

17. Jermaine Gresham- Stock definitely takes a hit with the drafting of Tyler Eifert. I don’t see a massive TE performance in the Bengals’ offense this year. 

18. Martellus Bennett- Jay Cutler doesn’t like throwing to anyone not named Brandon Marshall. Way overhyped. 

19. Brandon Pettigrew- PETER PETTIGREWWW. That’s all I can think about when I hear his name. He’s like Chipotle before a long car ride: Always seems like a great idea at the time, but somewhere down the line, something starts to stink.

20. Coby Fleener- Now that Arians’ is gone, we might see an increase in Fleener’s production this year. The only problem is, Dwayne Allen is a stud and will steal a lot of Targets.

21. Dwayne Allen- Look out Coby Fleener.

22. Heath Miller- Once his injuries heal, expect the same type of production known to the Miller name.

23. Scott Chandler- If the “A-Team” of back-up Bills’ QBs can locate anyone downfield, it’ll probably be this guy.

24. Tyler Eifert- Something gives me the feeling this guy will be the main TE in Cincy, sooner rather than later.

25. Zach Miller- Russell Wilson doesn’t seem to find him too much, which is surprising, because he has the BIGGEST NECK EVER!

26. Julius Thomas- What’s with Denver and their groups of threes? Three RBs, Three WRs and Three TEs. Anyway, he’ll be the starting TE while the other two are injured, but there are too many other targets for Peyton to consider. 

27. Dallas Clark- Thought he retired. Apparently not. He’s now in the wonderful city of Baltimore! 

28. Anthony Fasano- With Smith at the helms, expect a season full of inconsistency. 

29. Marcedes Lewis- Are you really this desperate? 

30. Delanie Walker- Has there ever been a prominent Titan TE?

31. Brent Celek- They at least have 5 or 6 they plan on using, so Celek won’t be a huge factor.

32. Luke Stocker- Come on, really?

Tomorrow Kickers and Defenses! And then I’m done! Maybe, I will do a preview of the NFL and my predictions this year…

WRs Galore!

[Author’s Note]

As my friend Kevin elegantly stated, “F***, your blogs are long.”

I write these posts for you to compare your thought process with mine, or if you just need that extra push. You can skim through the ranks at your own leisure and selectively read what you wish.

I also write these posts for myself. At the end of the season, I want to review my rankings and thoughts to assess what I did correctly and incorrectly. So please, don’t feel obligated by our friendship to read every word.  [End]

Now to the real reason you are here.

Wide Receivers can make or break a team.

The name of the game when selecting your receiver is Value. Some people are content with drafting Julio Jones in the second round, which is an example of terrible value. On the other hand, Patriots receiver Kenbrell Thompkins is sitting at an ADP of around 120, yet will most likely finish in the top-60. That is an example of great value.

And while it is almost impossible to gauge which receivers will break out, and which receivers will fall flat on their face, recognizing value is a great start to drafting the former.

I feel like that last line could have come straight out of a fantasy self-help book, so I’m going to try and avoid sounding like a pretentious jack-wagon. Here are a couple tips to help you recognize receiver value.

  1. Quality of the team- If team is Super Bowl caliber, chances are the receivers on the team will be pretty good. If they suck, like the Jets, probably not so much.
  2. Quality of the QB- You aren’t going to have 1,000-yard receivers on the team if your QB is throwing for less 250 yards a game. Likewise, don’t expect big TD numbers if your QB throws the ball to the other team more than once or twice a game.
  3. Quality of the receivers around your receiver- If you are drafting the third string receiver on a hypothetical team that has Jerry Rice and Randy Moss in their prime, your receiver probably won’t touch the ball a lot. Conversely, if you are in a Steve Smith type situation, where you feel you receiver is being so tightly covered, you thinks he at least deserves dinner first, he probably won’t put up elite numbers.
  4. Philosophy of the team- Playing on a pass-happy teams means yards and fun for receivers! Playing on a run-happy teams means receivers will be fighting for scraps amongst themselves.
  5. Quality of your receiver- If your receiver is number two on a good team, and could be the number one guy on a bad team, chances are, he’ll probably do alright. If your receiver is the number two receiver on a crappy team and would most likely be Kyle Boller’s throwing buddy on good team, he probably won’t bring you much success.

Yay! Don’t you feel like you learned something today?

I’m thrilled I’m almost done with these daily rankings. Anyway, not feeling one hundred percent after eating some old cheesecake last night, so away we go!

Wide Receiver Rankings:

1. Calvin Johnson- Curse him for breaking Jerry Rice’s record.

2. Brandon Marshall- What Jay Cutler says: “We have plenty of talented receivers to spread the ball around to.” What Jay Cutler thinks: “LOL. I’m still going to throw to triple-covered Brandon Marshall.

3. Dez Bryant- As long as he’s not too rowdy before bedtime, Dez Bryant should have another ludicrous season catching balls for the pride of EIU.

4. AJ Green- These first four receivers can all be placed into the same category: Open or not, here comes the ball. Green is also in his third year, which typically signifies a breakout year for receivers.

5. Demaryius Thomas- The addition of Wes Welker will hurt the production of Decker more than Thomas. When Peyton needs someone big in the Red Zone, he looks Thomas.

6. Larry Fitzgerald- To the average person, Carson Palmer seems like just another washed up QB trying to make a return to mediocrity. To Larry Fitzgerald, Carson is Santa Claus dropping off ten years’ worth of winning Powerball lottery tickets. Yeah, the O-Line is garbage, but Carson thrives under pressure, and he has better arm strength, accuracy and vision than last year’s QBs combined. Additionally, Housler and Floyd should take some coverage of Fitzgerald, leading to a big season.

7. Julio Jones- I might be the only person that seems to remember Julio is not a consistent fantasy stud. Last season, for a solid eight weeks, Julio and Roddy traded off big performances, while other sat around accumulating about as many points as there are Great Lakes. Obviously, Roddy is getting older and Julio is getting better, (third year) but don’t expect Julio to be a week in, week out beast like the six before him.

8. Randall Cobb- Last season, he was ranked around 75 for WRs, this year, most consider him a top-10 lock. Health is the biggest issue here, but expect coverage on him to tighten up as well. It won’t make a huge difference, because his QB is still Aaron Rodgers.

9. Vincent Jackson- The Bucs want to feed him the ball, and with Williams locked up and Martin carrying the team on the ground, this shouldn’t be an issue. Expect more than 8 TDs this year.

10. Andre Johnson- The two things that have changed since last year: DeAndre Hopkins replaced Kevin Walter (upgrade) and Andre is another year older. The Andre-DeAndre thing might get a little confusing in the huddle. He will still get the big yards, but the Texans are a run-first team. Whenever they get into the Red Zone, it’s Foster: Australian for touchdown.

11. Reggie Wayne- Tied for the second most targets with Brandon Marshall. The Colts are planning to balance out their offense, a plan that will go straight downhill once Bradshaw gets injured and they have to rely on Vick Ballard to move the ball. The addition of Heyward-Bey will help take coverage away from Wayne.

12. Roddy White- The other part of the Falcons’ star tandem. White is still Ryan’s favorite target, but the balance is starting to shift. Expect similar point inconsistency to last year, with an overall dip in his fantasy production.

13. Marquis Colston- Just think if Drew Brees didn’t believe in sharing. Colston, as long as he’s healthy, would be a perennial 2,000-yard receiver with 20 TDs. But, Brees spreads the ball around more than herpes at a kissing convention, so expect another 1,200+ yards and 8-10 TD season.

14. Danny Amendola- Wild Card! He could be a top-5 receiver this year, if he can stay on the field. Unfortunately, his body is like Jenga: each hit it takes, he’s one tiny block closer to falling on the IR. The upside is too much to ignore here, he’s definitely worth the risk.

15. Wes Welker- The definition of gym rat. Welker, while he was on the Dolphins, had an affinity for dismantling the Patriots. Expect that again this post-season. In terms of fantasy production, his value definitely comes in PPR formats, but I would still take him over Decker in non-PPR as well. On 45 completions last year, Manning made Stokley a 544-yard receiver. Stokley is a poor man’s Wes Welker. Expect the comparable completions to double, and the yards and TDs to skyrocket.

16. Victor Cruz- Bold prediction: Cruz won’t be the best dancer in the NFL this season. He’s been dealing with heel issues this offseason, but don’t expect that to hamper his production very long.

17. Dwayne Bowe- If your fantasy football team name is Double Dwayne Bowe or Somewhere over the Dwayne Bowe, please take a moment to slap yourself in the face, and then immediately change it. People are expecting a resurgence of Bowe this year, but I don’t really see it. Alex Smith is afraid to throw downfield, which will hamper Bowe’s big play ability, leaving him with tons of receptions for a decent amount of yards and a slight improvement in TDs from last year.

18. Desean Jackson- With Maclin out for the year, Desean is the focal point of the Philadelphia pass attack. It remains to be seen how Kelly’s offense will perform in the NFL, but it’s always a good thing when the guy vying for targets with you is a racist and your QB is black. Just saying… Expect a big year from D-Jax.

19. Eric Decker- Addition of Welker will hurt his targets and yards, but still a solid pick and great namesake in “Upper Decker”.

20. Pierre Garcon– The French wonder. Is he French? One would have to assume. RGIII’s passing numbers will increase this year, and if the “Flying Baguette” can keep healthy, he could turn in a top-ten season.

21. Cecil Shorts- Where the hell did this guy come from? The fact that anyone on the Jags approached the 1,000 receiving yards mark on the season is grounds for suspected witchcraft. Once Blackmon’s suspension is lifted and teams are forced to stop triple-covering Shorts, I expect him to cross the 1,000-yard mark for the first time since Jimmy Smith in 2005.

22. Antonio Brown- Well Mike Wallace is gone; guess that motorcycle-crashing rapist will have to throw to someone else now.

23. Mike Wallace- Drafted way to highly according to his ADP. In four seasons with Roethlisberger, he never managed to eclipse 72 receptions, and somehow people are expecting Tannehill to make this guy an elite receiver? I don’t think so. Definitely not over 1,000 yards and maybe 7 TDs. Maybe.

24. Jordy Nelson- See James Jones.

25. James Jones- See Jordy Nelson. They are pretty interchangeable as long as they both stay healthy.

26. Steve Smith- Will the Panthers ever bring anybody in to help Steve Smith. Is Muhsin Muhammad still available? Poor guy. He’s 5’9”, 34, and still manages 1,000-yard seasons. Did you know his real name is Stevonne? I didn’t. Anyway, expect another 1,000+ yard season with 4-7 TDs as long as he’s healthy.

27. TY Hilton- People inside the Colts organization think this guy can be an elite receiver, yet he’s sitting behind a receiver that wasn’t even good enough for the Raiders to re-sign. THE RAIDERS. That’s like using beef Taco Bell didn’t even find fit to serve their patrons. I have Hilton on my fantasy team, and I am a firm believer the Colts will get the horseshit out of their eyes eventually, and start the man who deserves to play.

28. Steve Johnson- How do you feel about the Triad of Jeff Tuel, Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis throwing to one of your top receivers? If Manuel can play anytime soon, Johnson has the ability to be a top-15 receiver. If he can’t, expect Johnson to lead the league in balls thrown helplessly out of reach or at his feet.

29. Torrey Smith- There isn’t a starting receiver I hate more than Torrey Smith. One week, he puts up 144 yards, and then barely eclipses that total over the next FIVE WEEKS COMBINED. Smith averages about 2-3 receptions a game. His production depends on how terrible the opposing defense is playing on any particular day. One week he ROASTED the defense for SIX receptions for 127 yards and 2 TDs, and you’re all like, “Yay, Torrey Smith, you’re the best.” Then in Week 11, he musters one reception for 7 yards, and you’re all like, “F***in S*** G** D*** it you ************@#$@%#@$#.” If you draft him, prepare for both extremes.

30. Golden Tate- Golden Grahams never sounded so good. Sidney Rice will start the season playing, but it won’t be long until Tate becomes the number one receiver. Tate is fast, and primed for a breakout year.

31. Anquan Boldin- He won’t be the best receiver on the 49ers this year. He will come up with some clutch plays, but the real receiver to own will be the guy starting opposite of him. My gut feeling is it will be Quinton Patton. Expect 800 yards and 5 TDs from this receiver in decline.

32. Greg Jennings- Put da team on his back, do. Eventually, Cordarrelle Patterson will become Christian Ponder’s favorite target, (other than Rudolph) but until then, enjoy a healthy performance by Jennings.

33. Kenbrell Thompkins- The man to own in New England. Amendola’s body is like a piñata at a little kid’s party, (as well as Jenga blocks) because when it breaks, candy in the form of yards, receptions and touchdowns will explode everywhere. Kenbrell is like the mean high school brother at this party. I think he will be a top-15 receiver by the end of the year.

34. Lance Moore- I doubt he puts together another 1,000-yard season, but he’s still quite a value at his current ADP.

35. Chris Givens- Bradford’s favorite WR.

36. Miles Austin- Dez is the clear numero uno now, so as long as Austin can consistently beat the number two CB on every team, he should have no problem repeating last season’s numbers.

37. Hakeem Nicks- A paltry 692 yards and 3 TDs last season amongst injuries, make me think the best is behind this Giant.

38. Mike Williams- Signed for a fat stack of cash to take pressure off Vincent Jackson. In the meantime, he will quietly rack up another thousand-yard season.

39. Michael Floyd- With Larry Fitz taking away coverage, expect Floyd to break out this year.

40. Emmanuel Sanders- Sanders is faster than Brown, and will undoubtedly be the big play guy. I really hope the Steelers don’t pull out their bumblebee uniforms again this season.

41. Vincent Brown- The Brown that delivers packages prides themselves on consistency and dependability. With Vincent Brown, you get neither of those things. Instead, you get a receiver with top-twenty potential or a pretty box with a card that reads, “Don’t open ‘til next season.”

42. Denarius Moore- I liked him more when Flynn was projected to be the starting QB, but the Pryor decision makes this a dicey pick. Either way, Denarius shouldn’t be more than a WR3/WR4.

43. Sidney Rice– He’s playing! He’s Playing! Let’s see, Rice has only had one 1,000 yard season, and that’s when dick-pic sending Brett Favre decided to un-retire again and throw for over 4,200 yards. Other than that, he’s been consistently mediocre and highly overrated.

44. Tavon Austin- He’s too small to be Bradford’s go-to in the End Zone. Plus, Bradford likes Cook and Givens much more. Expect around 45 receptions with a healthy dose of yards as a result of his explosiveness and big play ability.

45. Kenny Britt- Welcome to the Hurt Locker. Why do I feel like every one of the Titans’ receivers is about to explode on the field? And not in the good way, where they rack up 1,200 yards and 10 TDs.

46. DeAndre Hopkins– It’s Andre Johnson’s mini-me! Same situation with Michael Floyd under the shadow of the Larry Fitzgerald, except the Texans will throw it far less than the Cardinals. Still, Hopkins had the best camp out of every receiver there, and his appendages won’t fall off if he gets hit too hard!

47. Josh Gordon- Suspended for the first four games of the season, and did not look good in camp as he was battling patellar tendonitis. He still has the potential to turn some heads upon his return.

48. Ryan Broyles- I got burned on Broyles last year when I said he would step it up in Titus Young’s absence, and he landed me a solid .2 fantasy points. However, that was last year, and now, Titus is busy being arrested/sleeping in AT&T stores, so the opportunity to shine under Calvin is finally his.

49. Alshon Jeffrey- Has improved drastically from last season, let’s see how he fairs in Trestman’s offense.

50. Malcom Floyd- Starting opposite Vincent Brown and one of the only healthy Chargers receivers left.

51. Brian Hartline- A solid 1,000-yard season last year, but I’m pretty sure almost all of those yards came in that one game against the Cardinals. He only eclipsed triple digit yards two other games last season and hauled in a HUGE ONE touchdown. Expect the yards to decline, but the TDs to improve this season with the addition of Wallace and improvement of Tannehill.

52. Aaron Dobson- Aaron Dobson is the middle school sister at the Danny Amendola-piñata-smashing party I mentioned earlier. Not quite as enticing as Kenbrell.

53. Brandon LaFell- The non-Steve Smith Panthers’ receiver.

54. Kendall Wright- Still not Wrighting this guy completely off.

55. Justin Blackmon- After his suspension is over, he could have a solid year opposite of Cecil Shorts.

56. Rueben Randle- I think Randle will be the second best receiver on the Giants this year. But that could just be a result of my fantasy hatred of Hakeem Nicks. Still, Randle has intrigued me.

57. Cordarrelle Patterson- Sooner or later, he will take over as the Vikings true number one, once it is revealed that Jennings is only as good as the QB that throws to him.

58. Andre Roberts- Behind Floyd in the Fitzgerald leftovers line.

59. Julian Edelman- Always has decent potential, never seems to capitalize. Wait to pick up this guy until the Pats trade him or another team picks him up from free agency.

60. Jeremy Kerley- Said it was his goal to catch 60 balls this season. Way to reach for the stars, kiddo. There’s a reason the first Jets receiver clocks in at number 60. Don’t do it.

61. Davone Bess- Bess was Tannehill’s bail out in Miami last year, and as a result, he had a nice little season. Bess will have a strong couple weeks in Gordon’s absence, but upon Josh’s return, Bess will slide into the slot, which is way to far down the QB progression for Weeden to ever find.

62. Josh Morgan- I feel like this guy is 100, but apparently, that’s not the case. Listed as the starter opposite of Garcon, but don’t expect a big year as the most TDs he’s ever recorded in a season is 3.

63. Greg Little– Great production while Gordon is out, and will continue to be a big play threat once he returns.

64. Jacoby Jones- The bane of my existence. Damn you Jacoby Jones, damn you. You and your stupid kick return TD and your Joe Flacco bailing-out catch you made to sink my 49ers in the Super Bowl. You disgust me. Well, with Pitta out for the season, Boldin gone, and Torrey Smith getting like two receptions a game, Flacco needs someone to throw to. Why not Jones?

65. Percy Harvin– Out for at least the first six weeks, probably more. A dicey pick with not a fairly weak upside.

66. Nate Burleson- Behind Broyles and Calvin.

67. Quinton Patton- I like him. I like him a lot. Don’t be surprised if this guy becomes Kaepernick’s number one target and a top-twenty-five guy while Crabtree is out.

68. Mohamed Sanu- Number 2 to Green.

69. Darrius Hewward-Bey- He’s number 2, so I guess that’s okay. Hilton will take over his position sometime.

70. Rod Streater- He’s really fast, which is a great for Olympic time trials, not so much fantasy football.

71. Santana Moss- The same thought comes into your mind when you decide to draft Santana Moss and when your friends successfully convince you to take another shot at the bar, even though you know you shouldn’t: Ah, f*** it. Don’t drink and drive/draft Santana Moss.

72. Deonte Thompson- Could eventually overtake Jacoby Jones for the starting spot opposite to Torrey Smith.

73. Robert Woods- He’ll be good. Eventually. With a real starting QB.

74. Justin Hunter- The Titans were VERY MAD at Justin for not getting a first down. I think they have other issues to worry about.

75. Stephen Hill- If Geno Smith creates any semblance of offense, Stephen Hill could be alright.

Other Receivers to Keep an eye on:

Kenny Stills- Number three receiver which means he’ll be good for about 500 yards and a couple TDs. Those numbers will go up if Moore or Colston succumb to injury.

Nick Toon- What a rough childhood this kid must have had. 4th string receiver on the Saints.

Ace Sanders- Potential to upstage Blackmon? Possibly, but not likely. While Blackmon’s out, he could have a decent 4-week stint if you are desperate for receiving help.

Markus Wheaton- Steelers third string, and turning some heads in camp. If Brown or Sanders are injured, expect Markus to be lined up in the open spot.

Michael Crabtree- Don’t you… Forget about me. He’s out for quite awhile, and more than likely won’t see the star receiver until week 12 or so. But, hey. That’s when the season matters.

DeVier Posey- If DeAndre Hopkins ends up busting, good old OSU merch-selling Posey will be there to pick up some receptions.

Riley Cooper- Eagles number two receiver, number one racist. In a run-first offense, don’t expect big numbers, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Jason Avant- Not a racist.

Santonio Holmes- There’s always hope for Santonio Holmes, but this year might be his last real chance.

Keenan Allen- Young and inexperienced. He has big potential, but it could be awhile until he sees the field… or until the next injury to a Chargers’ receiver.

Ted Ginn Jr.- Apparently he needed a little scenery change. He’s still buried on the official Panthers’ depth chart, but he’s been lighting it up in the preseason and outperforming his non-starting counterpoints in camp. If his pass catching improves, he has the explosiveness to make some big plays.

Tomorrow: Tight Ends.

Running (Back) to the Championship

Running backs are crucial to Fantasy success. Just ask the person who owned Adrian Peterson in your league last year.

My personal strategy is draft RBs early and often. Granted, this year I had the 10th pick out of 10 and I went a little buck wild, picking four straight backs. With my first three picks, I grabbed Alfred Morris, Stevan Ridley and Lamar Miller. I then paused to evaluate my life decisions up to the current moment, and then, I did something unprecedented in our league history.

I drafted Reggie Bush. Part of my strategy was to secure a more than capable backup in case Miller turns out to be a bust, or one of the previous three went down. I also wanted to screw with a couple people in my league who had yet to draft their second or even first RB.

For clarification, our league has 2 RB slots and a flex position. I always fill the flex with an RB, because unlike WR matchups that vary wildly pending on the week and teams they are playing, the running back will normally get a consistent load of carries.

Do I regret this strategy? Not at all. I ended up with more than capable receivers and a steal at QB with Stafford in the 8th.

There are obviously exceptions to my RB strategy if the value is there, but for the most part, it’s smart to load up on the RBs early. This running back class isn’t deep by any means, but there are plenty of options to load up on, if you’re willing to take the risk.

Sometimes, taking risks wins championships. Our league mocked and ridiculed the owner that selected Doug Marin early in the draft. We must have played the Family Guy clip of the live studio ostrich laughing over one hundred times. He had the last laugh, of course, when he torched league and took the championship. Also, the closest I’ve ever been to crying over fantasy football happened when I put up 140+ points in a non-ppr league and LOST, because damn Doug Martin and Joique Bell racked up a combined 80 points.

While the notion seems preposterous now, drafting Adrian Peterson was perceived as a risk too, albeit not as big as selecting Martin. Fresh off an ACL tear and recovery, nobody really knew what to expect of a guy making an absurdly quick comeback from such a devastating injury.

Another thing to think about when drafting Running Backs is that circumstances change quickly.

Remember when Steve Slaton was the starting RB for the Texans? Where are you drafting him this year? Oh, that’s right he hasn’t played in the league since 2011.

Alfred Morris wasn’t even drafted in many leagues last year. I took Roy Helu. What a steal.

So, pay attention to the waiver wire and don’t be afraid to take risks, even if it means ridicule by peers for a couple hours. You’ll be the one laughing in December.

Without any further adieu, the 2013 Running Back Rankings.

Running Back Rankings:

1. Adrian Peterson- Obviously.

2. Jamaal Charles- Not Arian Foster. Aside from his ACL tear, he has been consistently healthy in the Chiefs’ backfield. Adding Alex Smith will not only boost his PPR numbers, but it will open up running lanes as well. Smith can move the ball downfield with accuracy, which takes the burden of moving the entire offense from Charles’ shoulders. Expect similar yards to last year, with a healthy bump in TDs.

3. CJ Spiller- Still not Arian Foster. The Bills have said they are going to run CJ ‘til he pukes. He’s already running a lot, and he is explosive. Sure Fred Jackson is a threat, but he’s an injury time bomb waiting to happen, and you better believe they are going to turn to CJ for big plays. If Manuel can stay healthy, the passing attack will take pressure off the run game, leaving room for CJ to run wild.

4. Doug Martin- Still not Arian Foster. He’s young and there is no serious threat to vulture touchdowns. The passing game is stable/threatening enough to keep pressure off Martin. Martin is also involved in the passing game. Expect another stellar season from Quail Man.

5. Arian Foster- Okay. Finally. Here he is. I’m sure I have garnered some bad looks and thoughts at this point, but like Outkast said in “Heyya”, I’m just being honest. Arian Foster is a beast. He is also overworked, and on an offense whose AARP cards will be in the mail shortly. Foster is battling both calf and back problems, and a backup running back that is more than capable of stealing yards. All this aside, the Texans look to Foster any time they get inside the 5, and he’s Arian Foster.

6. Alfred Morris- Obviously not for PPR, but in terms of quality RB production, he deserves to be right here. To the Shanahan haters: do you remember Terrell Davis? I do. Morris is quick, explosive, can bounce outside and run it up the gut. With RGIII’s mobility limited by the coaching staff, especially in the first couple weeks, expect more carries and bigger yards.

7. LeSean McCoy- Chip Kelly is implementing a run-first offense. The most obvious beneficiary? Mr. McCoy.  He is still young and will thrive with the Eagles fast new offense, and with Vick at the helm, expect read options and dump passes galore. LeSean has top-three potential this year.

8. Trent Richardson- He’s a workhorse, and as long as he stays healthy, expect all of his stats to improve. The Browns have a top-ten O-Line, and Trent has been lighting it up in the preseason. He also shed some weight in the offseason to improve his speed and agility. He has improbable potential to be a top-five back if he and the line stay healthy, and Weedon doesn’t screw things up to badly.

9. Marshawn Lynch- Beast mode. Only reason he isn’t higher is because of the division he’s running against.

10. Ray Rice- This is a very unenthusiastic pick for me. I know, he’s Ray Rice and he does a lot, but he doesn’t excite me like he did last year. He is a PPR dream this year: Boldin and Pitta are both gone, and Torrey Smith only shows up in games every once in awhile. So he has that going for him. The things to be worried about? Like Foster, he is overworked, and approaching the mark where backs typically slow down. Also, the Ravens love Bernard Pierce. They are planning on giving him about 16 carries a game this year, which significantly cuts into Rice’s load. Lesson here: If you draft Rice, draft Pierce. (The person in my league who let Pierce fall to me will be regretting that decision)

11. Stevan Ridley- Ridley tied for the third most TDs in the NFL last year, with (gasp) Adrian Peterson. With most of Brady’s favorite receivers gone, Gronk potentially out for awhile and Woodhead in San Diego, Ridley’s carry load will increase, as will his receptions, yards and TDs. Big year ahead of this guy.

12. Matt Forte- I’ve never been a huge Forte fan, but this year that’s turning around. He’s been an animal in preseason, which doesn’t always equate to regular season success, but it’s still nice to see. Trestman’s offense should greatly benefit Forte owners in PPR leagues, and as long as Marshall is on the field, opponents will have to respect both the pass and run, leaving some big holes for Forte. Just remember, Bush is still circling Forte’s TD wagon.

13. Chris Johnson- He quietly filled this same ranking last year, with everybody questioning how many k’s he would rack up. His numbers will improve this year as the Titans actually invested in a quality O-Line. Look at that! That means Locker won’t spend every moment of the game fearing for his life, which could lead to a decent pass attack. I’ll say CJ1.4k.

14. Steven Jackson- He will benefit from supporting a real passing attack. Not really much to say. I don’t like him as much as most experts.

15. Reggie Bush- He is obviously way higher in PPR leagues. He will compete with Sproles this year for most thrown at running back. The advantage of picking Bush? He’s also their go-to on the ground. I’m expecting a monster year from him. At least 1,700 all purpose yards.

16. Maurice Jones-Drew- He is real life Jumanji. You roll the dice, but you have no idea what you are going to get. He could lead you to the fantasy promise land, or trap you like Robin Williams in the bottom of your league. He’s looked good so far, but his health will dictate his performance. Also, he still plays on the Jaguars, who some how seem to get worse and worse each year.

17. Lamar Miller- He is my sleeper of the year, if it’s possible to use that term on him. I love Lamar Miller. I drafted him third round when his ADP is around 50. He’s only 22, he has big play ability, he trained with Frank Gore in the summer, and he averaged 5 yards a carry last year. The Dolphins organization is baffling me right now. They actually think Daniel Thomas is on the same level as Miller. Not even close. Miller will be a true 3-down back in no time, and I think he has the potential to be a top-10 back this season. Get excited.

18. Eddie Lacy- I heard he was fat. Well, DuJuan Harris is out for the year with a knee injury, and Jonathon Franklin isn’t anything to write Grandma about. So as long as the Packers don’t rent out the RB position to another wide receiver for Rodgers to throw to, he will probably have a Ryan Grant-esque (in his prime) type of season.

19. DeMarco Murray- I said it last year, and I’ll say it again now. He’s going to get injured. It’s science. Until that point, he will produce strong numbers. Just be sure to have a strong backup.

20. Darren McFadden- “Are you feeling lucky, punk?” That’s what Clint Eastwood would say if he randomly appeared next to you in your draft. Here’s the deal. He was rated as a top 5 back last year. This year, he’s in the fantasy expert doghouse. Did he lose that talent? Nope. People are just terrified of his injury history. The Raiders redesigned their offense to allow him to run to his style, he’s in a contract year and he’s “fuming” about last season. Personally, I think he could be the pick of any draft, IF he stays healthy.

21. Frank Gore- As a 49ers fan, I’ve never drafted Frank Gore. That should say something. He scares me, and the Niners’ offense isn’t exactly a powerhouse with Crabtree out for quite sometime. Gore is injury-prone, and there are two backs sitting in the wings just waiting for their chance. Still, he’s going to put up 1,000 yards and 6-8 TDs. In my humble opinion, he is a 4th round pick AT BEST.

22. Darren Sproles- Sproles was a top-ten back the last time Sean Payton was in charge. He’s obviously going to rack up receiving yards as one of Brees’s favorite targets, but his ground game depends on the production of Mark Ingram.

23. David Wilson- Meh. Let’s just say I’m glad I took my four backs when I did.

24. DeAngelo Williams- Normally, I stay away from Panther’s running backs like Miley Cyrus stays away from class and personal decency. Seriously, she needs to be put away. But, with J-Stew starting the season on the PUP, DeAngelo has some upside. He’s a steal at his current ADP.

25. Shane Vereen- Mr. Utility himself. Here’s the dealio, folks. Nobody really has any idea what role Vereen is going to play in the Pats offense this year; we just know it will be pretty big. Backup to Ridley, Wide Receiver, TE, water boy, 3rd base… the possibilities are endless in Belichick’s offense. It says something that experts are drafting him above other starting backs.

26. Chris Ivory- The poor man’s Marshawn Lynch. That’s what Rex Ryan is calling him. I’m not buying it. I’ve heard discrepancies in Jets’ reports ranging from making him an every down back to limited carries in a committee backfield. Ivory will be the starting running back for a team that has no QB and a Hungry Hungry Hippo with a megaphone as a coach. Chris Christie might need to call in the coast guard early this season…

27. Daryl Richardson- He’s on the small side and rushing against defenses with likeness to the Great Wall of China, but Richardson still has potential. He’s quick and can maneuver easily around defenders. Fischer also labeled him the starting RB in St. Louis. He has some hefty shoes to fill.

28. Montee Ball- Don’t get too excited about Ball this season. Right now the battle for the number one spot is a three-horse race (get it?) It’s going to be a committee all year long unless any of them get injured; in which case, I hope they are treated better than real racehorses. Also, hey. Peyton Manning is the QB. Definitely a pass-first team.

29. Andre Brown- Not a fan of this guy either. Ball control issues will plague him all season long, and he will be splitting time with David Wilson, unless one of them decides to step up.

30. Ahmad Bradshaw- The number one guy, but Vick Ballard will get his fair share of carries. Injuries are always a concern, but Luck’s passing attack should open up some decent holes for him.

31. Ryan Mathews– Just woof. I was stoked about this guy before the Chargers acquired Woodhead. Mathews believes he can be a top-five back in the league. Every time I think of Ryan Mathews, I think of that Bud Light fantasy bottle commercial, where the guy with the Chargers shirt says, “My Bud Light fumbled at the three yard line.” It was the only negative comment in the entire commercial. Don’t be the guy with that Bud Light.

32. Rashard Mendenhall- Hopefully Bruce Arians isn’t planning on a big running game this year. Of course Mendenhall has top 20 potential, but running on glass legs behind a weak O-Line won’t do him any favors. Draft with extreme caution.

33. Giovani Bernard- If the Law Firm wasn’t standing in his way, Bernard could be a top fifteen pick. But sadly, BenJarvus isn’t looking to handoff the reigns anytime soon. Eventually, Bernard will overtake the starting position, so he is a great stash for the later weeks.

34. Jonathan Dwyer- Apparently the number 1 guy while Bell is recovering, but Tomlin isn’t exactly consistent with his RB play. Nor does he have any reason too be. I’m pretty sure Katy Perry is singing about the Steelers’ backs in her song “Hot ‘n’ Cold.”

35. Mark Ingram- According to sources, the best running back in camp, which leads me to believe he will be responsible for most of the carries this season. Sean Payton wants to establish a more dominant ground game, for what reason, I have no idea. It’s like Dairy Queen moving into the fast food industry. Just unnecessary. Still a player worth snagging in a later round.

36. Ben Tate- Classic Arian Foster handcuff, Ben Tate. One of the most frustrating players in all of Fantasy Football, but if you own Foster, you need to pick up Tate. Or, if you want to piss off the person who has Foster, you can pick him up too.

37. Ronnie Hillman- 3-horse race, where Elway is betting on Ball. Good pick up for the early weeks, but don’t count on his productivity to last.

38. Bernard Pierce- The Fantasy handcuff to own this year. The Ravens love Ray Rice, but they will be moving him around and taking away carries to give them to Pierce. If Rice goes down, he will be the every down back and has the potential to put up near elite numbers.

39. BenJarvus Green-Ellis- He’s aging and the Bengals drafted Bernard for a reason. Not the player to own come fantasy football playoffs.

40. Danny Woodhead- I actually think I like Woodhead better in San Diego than I did in New England, which is crazy to say because of the differential in QB talent. But, it makes sense for this year. Rivers is going to be throwing short more often, which means Woodhead will see a ton of targets. The Chargers also named him their 3rd down and big play back, so there’s that too.

41. Bryce Brown- He went berserk for a couple weeks last year when McCoy was out. He is still struggling to cut his runs up the gut, and he gets bottled up quickly when he starts bouncing too many runs out to the outside. He is explosive, and could have a big impact in Kelly’s offense if McCoy goes down.

42. Fred Jackson- CJ Spiller is the Bills workhorse. FJ will vulture a few TDs here and there, but will most likely tire himself out pretty quickly, leaving CJ as the true 3-down back he is capable of being.

43. Shonn Green- The Jets didn’t want him. That’s saying something. CJ is much more talented, but Green will inevitably and inexplicably take away carries and a couple TDs in Rex Ryan’s shit show of an offense.

44. Vick Ballard- Didn’t impress anyone last year while splitting time with Donald Brown, who may not even make the team this year. The only significant time to play Ballard is when Bradshaw gets hurt.

45. Isaiah Pead- Still has a chance to prove himself, but right now it’s Richardson’s job to lose.

46. Le’Veon Bell- Out at least 6 weeks with a knee injury, and when he comes back he will still most likely split time with the other Steelers’ backs.

47. Isaac Redman– His last name is pretty offensive.

48. Jonathon Franklin- With DuJuan Harris out for the season, Franklin becomes the true number 2 back. He wasn’t terribly impressive in camp, but he has big play abilities. His true value will come if Lacy misses playing time for injuries/being fat.

49. Mikel LeShoure- As a backup to Reggie Bush, he won’t see a ton of playing time, since Bush can catch passes unlike Kevin Williams.

50. Christine Michael- Better than Turbin, he is the truth and #2 in Seattle. If Skittles can’t play the rainbow, Christine will taste the benefits.

Other RBs to keep an eye on

Jonathon Stewart- Once he comes off the PUP, expect DeAngelo Williams to fall.

Kenjon Barner- If DeAngelo goes down, he will be the #1 back in Carolina. We all saw what he could do in Oregon.

Joique Bell- If Bush or LeShoure goes down, he’s your man

Lance Dunbar- When, and I mean when, not if, Murray goes down, he will be #2. That’s right. Now more suffering through the insufferable Felix Jones.

Jacquizz Rodgers- As long as the Falcons don’t re-sign Turner, he’s a great pick-up for a S-Jax injury.

LaMichael James/Kendall Hunter- When Frank Gore misses time, Hunter has the preferential treatment, but James has the superior talent.

Rashad Jennings- I would look elsewhere for a McFadden replacement, but he proved adequate when MJD went down last year.

Michael Bush- Why Matt, your dinner plate isn’t empty. Mind if I vulture the leftovers?

Cierre Wood- Who? Texans third string running back, and with Foster and Tate both battling injuries… who knows what could happen?

Knowshon Moreno- Quietly, the third in the Broncos backfield, but he is the most experienced and successful of the bunch. Keep an eye on him if the Ball experiment doesn’t work out.

Wide Receivers tomorrow

The Q-Beef

Don’t do it.

At least not yet, anyway.

This is something you need to remind yourself before drafting a QB. It’s also something almost every fantasy expert says, but every year, someone always does it. They reach and grab Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees in the first or early second round. Yes, these are great players, and they will likely finish once again a top the fantasy points standings, but fantasy championships are not won with QB’s drafted in the first two rounds.

Drafting a QB in the early part of the first two rounds is like hooking up with someone while intoxicated. Sure, it seems like a great idea after a couple jack and cokes or whatever your beverage of choice is, but come morning and hangover, you realize what a terrible thing you’ve done.

For those of you unfamiliar with this situation or slightly removed from the wild ‘n crazy college lifestyle, think of drafting a QB in the early rounds as an example of buyer’s remorse.

You did it, you crazy bastard, you. Of course you didn’t need that new convertible/100″ TV/World class espresso machine/Wardrobe/Life-size replica of Gandalf, but now you are the proud owner. You can flaunt these tantalizing objects in front of friends, strangers and small children all you want, but it doesn’t quite make you whole inside. Why? You got what you wanted, but deep down, you know you didn’t need it. You could have spent the money on something much more practical, something that you actually need.

This is exactly what happens when you take a QB too early.

That, and an angel loses its wings. There. Now don’t you feel like an awful human being?

All that being said, the QB is an important position to be filled. You just need to know when to fill it. Here are my rankings of the QB class, reasons to draft/not draft them, and when you should take them. (WARNING: If your friends don’t read this column, they will likely make the mistake of taking a QB too early, so you should send them the link.)

Rankings:

1. Drew Brees– He will easily throw for 5,000+ yards, and with Sean Peyton (Proud Naperville Central HS alum) back at the helm, expect the Saints offense to explode yet again. Plus, he gets to throw against the Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers (Revis can only cover one guy at a time, plus Brees can make a potted plant a 1,000 yard receiver) 6 times a year. Possible problems: The levies break again. Draft: late second for 12+ team leagues, third for 10 and under team leagues.

2. Aaron Rodgers– Won’t throw for as many yards as Brees, but the TD’s will be close, plus Rodgers adds a ground game that Brees doesn’t have (or need). James Jones thinks there will be three packers with 1,000-yard seasons this year. I doubt it. Definitely one, maybe two, pending on if they can keep a consistent core on the field. And hey, Jermichael Finley and Rodgers are building chemistry! Despite the health issues of the receivers, Rodgers can make a potted plant look pretty damn good as well. Possible problems: his O-line reminds me of practice putting green: full of holes. If he keeps taking sacks, one day he might get hurt. But still, it’s Godgers. Draft: right after Brees late second, third round.

3. Peyton Manning- Unfortunately, his Direct TV rap won’t get you any fantasy points (I checked), but I think he will be okay this year. He threw for almost 4,700 yards last season along with 37 touchdowns. That was before adding Wes Welker. He can still throw deep and he’s in great shape. See potted plant reference. Possible Problems: his neck snaps in half and his head falls off, in which case, only expect about 4,200 yards. Draft: 3rd, 4th.

4. Tom Brady- No Hernandez (Jail), No Floyd (FA), No Welker (Broncos), No Woodhead (Chargers), no problem! Blah blah blah, plant reference. It’s M-F’in Tim Brady! He still has Gronkowski, who when healthy will produce 80 touchdowns, along with the addition of Amendola and some apparently clutch post-draft pickups. While the running game will expand, he’s still one of the top QB’s in the league. Possible problems: Gronkowski and Amendola both get injured or the man in the sweatshirt gives up on life and puts Tim “God’s child” “Skip Bayless’s man crush” Tebow into the game. Draft: Late 3rd, 4th.

5. Cam Newton- A running back carousel of broken horses along with freakish natural abilities keep $cam ahead of the other mobile QBs. Yes Steve Smith will be quintuple covered leaving Brandon LaFell and Greg Olsen fighting for yards and targets, but somehow, Newton will still rack up close to 4,000 passing yards and a bunch on the ground. Possible problems: Defenses actually figure out how to stop him on the ground, and smart coverages. Draft: 4th

6. Matt Stafford- Fat-faced Stafford? Yes, the one and only. OMG, Rob! Is you crazy? Nope, I am not. I won’t pretend to take credit for knowing Lions receivers were tackled a league leading 23 times inside the 5-yard line. Stafford threw for almost 5 large and 20 TDs. He also threw the ball 727 times. Plus, Calvin was dealing with the Madden Curse. This year, Calvin is curse-less, Broyles is a solid #2 and the Lions added ex-Kardashian Lover, Reggae (Reggie) Bush, who will compete with Darren Sproles for most receptions and Receiving yards by an RB. Possible problems: Injury to Megatron or himself, Lions average O-line collapses, USC decides to punish Reggie Bush again by sending him back to school. Draft: 6th, 7th (He is a steal).

7. Matt Ryan- I’m not really a Matt Ryan fan, but you can’t argue with his situation. Matty Ice has arguably the best receiving core in the game, with Julio, Roddy and Tony G. Not to mention, Hot-lanta picked up Steven Jackson in the offseason, who unlike Turner, is able to catch passes out of the backfield. Expect the Falcons to be back in the playoffs, and Ryan back in the top 10. Possible Problems: Any injuries to the big three receivers, defense woes begin to take possessions away from offense. Draft: 5th , 6th.

8. Andrew Luck- The highest rated second year QB is only fitting for Luck. Last year with a line made of marshmallow men and running backs that couldn’t find the sunset in an old western movie, he threw for almost 5,000 yards. This year the Colts added Droppius Heyward-Bey (who will still created coverage problems) along Ahmad Bradshaw to solidify their running group. With the emergence of TY Hilton and Dwayne Allen, look for Luck to replicate the yards and add about 10 more passing TDs. Possible Problems: O-line somehow gets worse, sophomore slump. Draft: 7th

9. RGIII- According to rumors, the ‘Skins are looking to keep RGIII as more of a pocket passer to avoid further injury. There is no way this will happen, but it could hamper his numbers this year. Still, he has a stronger receiving corps than Kaep and Wilson right now, plus Mike Shanahan is cray-cray and they play in the super weak NFC East. Possible problems: Re-injures knee, injuries to receivers (Pierre Garcon, Fred Davis), Subway drops him as a spokesperson and gets really fat and unmotivated. Draft: 7th.

10. Colin Kaepernick- No, it is not my SF bias that has Kaep over highly touted Russell Wilson. He is a better athlete and has a stronger team, despite the uncertainty of whom he will be throwing to. He is faster than last season, he has had an entire offseason to work with the first string offense, and according to scouts he has improved his touch passes tremendously (too bad he couldn’t do that in the Super Bowl…) If his receivers step up, he could be a top 3-5 QB with his running game. Possible problems: Injury, sophomore slump, no receivers step up, Candlestick park collapses on him. Draft: 5th, 6th.

11. Tony Romo- It truly pains me to ever suggest drafting Tony Romo, let alone as a starting QB. I’m going to spend some time alone with my journal after this one. But, the guy threw for almost 5,000 yards and 28 TDs last season. He can largely thank Dez “bedtime” Bryant for those huge numbers, but Witten, his favorite target, only had 3 TDs. Don’t expect that number to stay the same this year. Plus, like every QB in the NFC East, he plays in a weak division. Possible Problems: TD to Interception ration decreases, Injury to Dez or Miles Austin, Cowboys ownership finally realizes Romo is not a championship contender. Draft: late 8th, 9th, 10th.

12. Russell Wilson- I’m not a huge fan of Russell Wilson this year, unlike a lot of other experts. His height isn’t his problem. The combination of broken ex-Vikings receivers, defenses figuring him out and Pete Carroll as a head coach, I just don’t think his numbers will be better than any of the QBs I listed before him. Sure he has potential, but aside from Golden Tate and Zach Miller (OAK), who does he have? Beast mode can’t put da whole team on his back, contrary to popular belief. Expect a good but not great year. Possible problems: Injured receivers, diminished role for Marshawn, D-Lines lifting up their arms. Draft: 7th, 8th, 9th.

13. Michael Vick- Why not? Chip Kelly is running things; maybe Vick can re-establish himself as one of the top mobile QBs in the league. Okay, that’s not super realistic, but I guess it’s possible as long as he stays away from the pound… of the NFC East defenses. Come on, guys. We all know what Vick can do when he’s healthy; the key is keeping him that way. His throwing numbers won’t be great because aside from Jackson and McCoy, there really isn’t a lot of explosiveness on the Eagles, but he can still run. Possible problems: Kelly’s offense doesn’t translate to the NFL, Injuries to himself or Wide Receivers, McCoy gets all the carries. Draft: 10th, 11th, 12th

14. Eli Manning- Drafting Eli is like settling for Applebee’s when you really wanted an authentic Porterhouse steak. Technically, it gets the job done, but you are always left somewhat disappointed and disgusted. I don’t care that he’s won two Super Bowls and he’s Peyton’s brother. He will never be elite. And if I hear him in the discussion one more time, I will drive down to Bristol, CT and slap everyone there silly. Except Erin Andrews… oh wait. Everyone. Victor Cruz is signed, but Hakeem Nicks is inconsistent, and the Giants got rid of Eli’s favorite target in Martellus Bennett. I guess Rueben Randle could have a good year? Possible problems: Wild inconsistency continues, productivity of receivers, running back fumbling issues, and lackluster defense. Draft: Late.

15. Carson Palmer- I’m surprised he didn’t retire mid-season last year with the Raiders. Could this be the second coming of Kurt Warner? I doubt it. He’s playing against the NFC West, the hands down, toughest division in football, and their offensive line is bubble wrap under the feet of 20 five-year-old children. But… He does have Larry Fitzgerald, a 6’6” 4.40 running TE by the name of Rob Housler and primed breakout candidate, Michael Floyd. Pair that with his NFL 4th best completion percentage under pressure and a running game consisting of backs with non-existent knees, Palmer could throw for a lot of yards this season. Possible problems: Lack of running game puts too much pressure on passing game, tough division, Floyd and Housler are busts, or he retires again. Draft: 10th.

16. Ben Roethlisberger- Proud Miami Alum. Pfft. What an asshat. The dude wanted 40 grand to come back and accept a dedication at his alma mater. We won’t get into his stellar personal life. As long as he and his receivers can stay healthy (and out of motorcycle crashes), he will be all right. Possible problems: Inconsistent, run-first team, no Mike Wallace or Heath Miller. Draft: Late as backup.

17. Josh Freeman- Scouts aren’t in love with him due to his inconsistency in accuracy, but the dude still has V-Jax and Mike Williams, two 1,000-yard receivers, catching passes. Plus, it does hurt to have Doug Martin running and passing catches out of the backfield. He’s a semi-mobile QB, and I think he’ll have a decent year. Possible problems: Injury to Wide outs, Doug Martin comes back down to earth, accuracy issues force Bucs to look at different options. Draft: Late

18: EJ Manuel- What, what, WHAT?!?!? EJ before Dalton, Cutler and Schaub? Yep. I like him, and to be terribly honest, the Bills aren’t that bad of a team. At least on offense. You have CJ Spiller who in my opinion is a top three back, backed up by Fred Jackson, who, when he’s healthy, can still pack a punch. Steve Johnson, if healthy, is a solid receiver and they have a couple other young guys with a lot of talent. The biggest concern with EJ is health. But, if he’s healthy, he could be this year’s Andrew Luck. Possible problems: Health of offense including himself. Draft: Late.

19. Jay CutlerHe’s apathetic, so I will be too. New offense could help or hurt him. New TE, but he doesn’t really throw to TE’s. Alshon looks better and Forte is looking studly. Possible problems: Can’t adjust to new offense, new offense doesn’t work in NFL, Marshall gets hurt. Draft: Late.

20. Andy Dalton- I’m not in love with Dalton, but I guess somebody has to throw to AJ Green. Apparently, his deep ball has improved, and with the addition of Tyler Eifert at TE, he will have another pretty good year. Possible problems: Running game collapses, injury to Green. Draft: Late.

21. Matt Schaub- Both him and Johnson are getting older, and the Texans are a run first team. Schaub will not improve on last year’s numbers, and with the imminent long-term injury to Foster looming, this team is a step away from becoming the Texans of the David Carr days. DeAndre Hopkins should bring a spark to the offense, but he won’t be able to carry it. Possible problems: Aging, injuries to Foster, Johnson, Daniels, run first team takes away Red Zone opportunities. Draft: Late, not at all.

22. Ryan Tannehill- The kid’s got potential. Losing Keller for the year was a big blow, but he still has Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline. The emergence of Lamar Miller should take pressure off the passing game, which should help him develop a little better accuracy. Also, he has a smoking hot wife. Possible problems: Sophomore slump, injury to Wallace, running game takes away from pass attack. Draft: Late as backup.

23. Philip Rivers- The man of goofy faces. So, apparently the Chargers are “curbing Rivers’ downfield aggression”, which should mean he throws less interceptions. That’s a good thing. Essentially, San Diego is now getting a less accurate Alex Smith. Possible problems: Inconsistency, injuries to receivers or Gates, running game is too weak to establish passing attack. Draft: Do yourself a favor and don’t.

24. Alex Smith- Poor Alex. So many offensive coordinators. He never really got a chance to thrive in SF, and of course when he did, Kaep attack took over. Andy Reid loves him, which is an okay endorsement, but don’t expect a ton from him. He won’t throw many INTs, but that’s because he is legitimately scared to throw downfield. He’s got some wheels if he needs to move, but he isn’t a legitimate starter in any fantasy league. Possible problems: Not many problems, he just won’t throw for big yards or TDs. Draft: Last pick in the draft backup.

25. Sam Bradford- He got paid a ton of money as a rookie. He could be good, but he plays in the toughest division in the NFL. Jared Cook is going to see a million targets, but once teams figure that out, there won’t be much left. The running game is a definite downgrade from Steven Jackson. Draft: Backup.

26. Joe Flacco- To quote Steve Carell in the office episode I watched last night, “Of all the idiots, in all the idiot villages in all the world, you stand alone.” You, of course, refers to the Ravens. Congratulations. You gave Joe Flacco the biggest contract in the history of the NFL. You realize the your team was a throw away, twice, from losing the AFC Championship and Super Bowl, respectively. Apparently, the Broncos’ and 49ers’ secondaries decided to play peek-a-boo with Jacoby Jones, and when they opened their eyes, he was tearing apart their championship dreams like Ray Lewis through legal documents. Joe Flacco is an AVERAGE QB, and he should give Jacoby Jones at least half of his winnings from the Ravens’ genius front office. Possible problems: No more Ray Lewis to apparently bring God to the field, no receivers to throw to unless Jacoby Jones will catch 400 balls, Ravens running game will be the focal point this year. Draft: If you want to win in most luckiest pass completions ever. Otherwise, no.

27. Christian Ponder- Draft: If your league has ESPN reporters-married category.

28. Matt Flynn- Draft: For old Al’s sake.

29. Brandon Weedon- Draft: If you love misery

30. Geno Smith- Too much to worry about here, with injuries and inconsistency. No receivers and weak running game. This will definitely be a development year.

31. Jake Locker- Draft: When Jurassic Park becomes a reality.

32. Blaine Gabbert- Draft: When Lou Holtz stops favoring Notre Dame.

33: Kevin Kolb- He injured himself on a floor mat, haha. But on a more serious note, his career could be done due to concussions.

34. Nick Foles- Draft: When PETA fully endorses Vick, or when Vick gets injured.

35. Chad Henne- Draft: See Blaine Gabbert.

2,343,876,345. Tim Tebow- Draft: If the nearest body of water near you is parted, and God speaks to you through a burning bush.

Holy crap that was long. There will be less text for RB’s.

Leftovers, Anyone?

I’m reheating the gravy and tossing some fresh bread slices into the jar of stale cookies.

After the recent completion of my temporary job assisting brokers in the commercial real estate industry, I am back to where I started when I first posted on this blog. Sure, things have changed. I’m a little older, I have more “professional experience” and I’ve learned a few things about the real world after college.

But, despite these changes (for better or worse), I still feel relatively the same. I’m still a human being, still living in my parents’ house, and still looking for a position doing something I love. So all in all, I’m still Rob Johnson.

And Rob Johnson loves football. That may not be extremely apparent upon first glance or even after diving into my past, so for your amusement, here is my red zone resume.

1990- My Mom and I shared the same OB with Joe Montana’s wife and his son, Nate.

1992- Jerry Rice smiled at me while I was being pushed in my stroller in the Hillsdale shopping mall in San Mateo, California.

2000-2005- Played pick-up football games against kids two years older than me at the big rock park on Royce Road.

2002- Weighed in at 104.3 pounds, narrowly missing the 103.9 cutoff for the lightweight division football league at Madison Junior High. Consequently, I spent the entire season getting knocked around as a third-string Tight End in middleweight.

2003- Weighed 124.4 pounds, just making it under the heavyweight cutoff. I competed in a fierce battle for the starting QB position for middleweight, but lost when it was revealed I could not throw a spiral over 20 yards. I then spent the season getting knocked around as the second-string Tight End (Improvement!).

2004- Told by many parents with kids on the high school football team, I had great hands, I debated trying out for the NCHS football team. I then proceeded to join the marching band instead.

2007- Freedom League Fantasy Champion

2008- 2nd Place Freedom Fantasy League

2008- Spoke with the coach of Wittenberg University about playing Wide Receiver during a college visit. When he asked me about my 40-time, lifting abilities and high-school football experience, I responded, “I didn’t play in high-school” and then promptly left the meeting.

2010- Freedom League Fantasy Champion

2011- 2nd Place Freedom Fantasy League

2011- Worked for the CBS affiliate in Cincinnati as a production assistant on the set of Bengals Nation, where I deterred fans from getting more than one piece of memorabilia signed by the player being interviewed. Side note: I met Mike Nugent. What a great guy.

2012- Co-hosted “The Bye”, a fantasy football radio show, at Miami University.

2013- Spent way too much free time preparing for Fantasy Football drafts/ discovered something I love to do.

Now that you are properly acquainted with my pigskin past, let me talk about my fantasy future.

While working (or not working) at my most recent job, I realized I needed something to take my mind off the stresses of the office. So, during lunch breaks and downtime, I would research players and news for the upcoming season to better prepare myself for the Freedom Fantasy League you see sprinkled throughout my resume.

Well, breaks turned into after-hours and practice turned into more of a hobby. This also resulted in a 500 kb Excel spreadsheet, which sorted players by stats, showed rankings from all over the web, and even had a nifty draft feature, which allows you to enter players as they are drafted while the spreadsheet sorts them by team and eliminates them from an available player bank.

Now I know for most guys who play fantasy football, your team is your pride and joy. You carefully (or drunkenly) selected your players in an effort to be crowned champion among your closest friends, and hold your title over their heads for the entire offseason. 

In essence, your team is like your baby. If you already have a baby, then for the love of God, pay attention to that one first. Your fantasy team may cry for attention, but it will not die due to lack of inattentiveness. Also, guess which baby your wife cares about more? Yeah. Don’t mess that up. Ever.

Anyway, your team baby requires nurturing, loving and attention to the waiver wire. Like most parents will say, knowing how to make your baby survive and thrive is good. Knowing how to make and keep your baby healthy is good. Knowing how to make your baby beat all the other babies is the best. That’s where I come in.

I’m like a Doctor/Babysitter/Trainer for your baby. Not your human baby. That is just a clarification I should make for legal purposes (I will not be able to diagnose your flesh baby, nor do I recommend physically training your baby at such a young age).

I also know, trust is a big issue when it comes to someone looking after your baby. You wouldn’t just give your flesh baby to a man on the internet, would you? Many of you may know me, a few of you may trust me. I’m hoping to change the trust part.

Take a look into my crib, here is my baby (Bold denotes starters):

QB- Matt Stafford

RB- Alfred Morris, Stevan Ridley, Reggie Bush, Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, Bernard Pierce

WR- Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker, Kenbrell Thompkins, Ty Hilton, Golden Tate

TE- Zach Sudfeld, Rob Housler

K- Phil Dawson

DEF- Broncos

Yahoo! draft report card gave me a C+ for my draft. I beg to differ. This baby will be swaddled in glorious threads of victory come late December. 

But, seriously. I love fantasy football. I could talk about it all day, however I don’t always have the circumstances or channels to do that, so I will use this blog as an outlet to share with you, my knowledge, insights and reactions during the 2013 NFL season.

I will conclude this re-introductory post with my schedule for the rest of the season. 

Tuesday: QB Fantasy Rankings

Wednesday: RB Fantasy Rankings

Thursday: WR Fantasy Rankings

Friday: TE Fantasy Rankings

Saturday: DEF and K Fantasy Rankings

Sometime next week: I will set up a twitter account for Fantasy Football news and answering roster questions.

Every Wednesday after the NFL season starts: A new blog post regarding the week’s events and suggestions for who to add and drop.

The gravy is hot. The cookies are fresh. Come and get it.

What If

What if?

What if Pittsburgh Panthers kicker Kevin Harper made the 33-yard game winning field goal in overtime against Notre Dame in South Bend on November 3rd?

The Fighting Irish drop to 8-1, but are still ranked in the top ten in all the polls.  Manti Te’o’s undeserved and ridiculously overrated Heisman stock is lost, because, let’s face it, you can’t be touted as one of the best linebackers in the country and have your equally impressive defense lose to an unranked 4-4 Pittsburgh team in Ireland, USA.  He comes in second and third for a variety other awards, which no doubt affects his draft position come April 2013, but he still ends up in the NFL with a good starting salary and debuts as a starter for a middle of the road team.  The Irish manage to crawl their way back up to number 3 after a pair of untimely losses by K-State and Oregon.  Green and Gold fans cry foul when the Florida Gators skip over the Irish in the rankings, leading to a 2nd consecutive SEC BCS title game.  Their cries are to no avail as the playoff System is already in place for the 2014-2015 season.  Alabama still gets their third championship in four years.

What if Oregon and Kansas State took care of business like they were supposed to on November 17th when Stanford and Baylor ruined perfection?

Bill Snyder’s decision to cancel the home-and-home series, which would have led to the Wildcats taking on the Ducks in Eugene early on this year, hurts K-State’s strength of schedule but ultimately leads to two undefeated teams destined to meet in Miami on January 7th.

(Novmeber 17th, Waco, TX) Kansas State realizes the four and five Baylor Bears have an extremely potent offense.  They also figure out three of the Bears losses have been to ranked opponents and by eight points or less.  Collin Klein leads the ‘Cats to a dominant victory, throwing for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns, while rushing for 110 yards and another score in a 49-24 rout of the Bears.

(November 17th, Eugene, OR) Stanford’s Defense is good, but Chip Kelly’s play calling coupled with the speed of the quack attack is better.  The duck whistles are loud, and the student wearing the Oregon Mascot costume has to be rushed to the hospital as one of his pecs bursts in the third quarter from the staggering amount of push-ups he has already done.  The Ducks rack up over 550 yards and 56 points as they send the Cardinal home with 56-21 defeat.

Oregon stays undefeated by beating UCLA in a surprisingly close Pac-12 championship game (49-12), and with teams leaving the Big-12 faster than Brent Musburger’s heart beat when he saw AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, there is no conference championship game, and KSU remains undefeated.

#1 Oregon is slated to take on #2 Kansas State January 7th in Miami, Florida.  This is the first BCS game since 2006 without an SEC appearance. Notre Dame faithful are yet again crying foul, as their undefeated Irish don’t get the chance to compete in the National Championship.  But hey, the BCS playoffs are only two years away.

Not much changes from reality at the Fiesta Bowl, as Oregon is too fast for the K-State Wildcats.  Oregon wins 34-17, and with the ring finally on his finger, Chip Kelly bolts for the NFL, taking on his next project, the Cleveland Browns.  The talks of an Alabama dynasty are hushed for now.

And finally, what if there was no 2012 postseason Ohio State bowl ban.  What if Terrelle Pryor was a responsible player who cared more about his team, and less about himself?  What if he was a positive role model and talked to his other teammates about not selling their memorabilia for tattoos?  What if they realized that in the near future, they would be making hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, playing in the NFL?  What if Jim Tressel had intervened with his players, and not sat idly behind his desk?  What if he took action that made them change their ways?  What if local Columbus attorney and former OSU walk-on Christopher Cicero was like every other corrupt athletic booster in the nation and decided not to alert Tressel of the activity of his juvenile players?

What if everything happened like it did, except Ohio State self-imposed a bowl ban for the 2011 season?

Tressel still “resigned”, leaving an inexperienced, yet competent Luke Fickell at the helm of one of the most prestigious and competitive programs in the country.  Without the help of jackwagon Terrelle Pryor, as he was still forced out of the university, Miller takes the reigns for the mediocre and offensively-conservative Buckeyes.  Ohio State still finishes with a .500 record, their worst since 1999 under John Cooper.  However, since they self-imposed a bowl ban among other punishments, the Buckeyes don’t meet the struggling Florida Gators in the rousing and well-respected Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl.

When the NCAA finally reaches a ruling for the tattoo scandal, the board gives Ohio State a ceremonial slap on the wrist, takes away a couple more scholarships, puts them on probation, and wags its finger and says, “don’t do that again.”  Ohio State looks sheepishly down at the floor and says “We won’t, we’ve learned our lesson,” then scampers out of the room.  The NCAA lights its pipe and sits down with the Sunday paper in their office, and the whole matter has been forgotten within minutes.

Urban Meyer still takes the job at Ohio State, except this time with less hesitation.  Despite allowing 49 points to the equivalent of a practice squad Indiana football team and escaping from nail bitters with perennial powerhouses Cal and Purdue, Ohio State emerges from the rubble without any blemishes, a perfect 12-0 season.

They improve their record to 13-0 with a win against a Nebraska team who decided winning the Big Ten Championship really wasn’t that important to them anyway.

The final BCS polls are announced.

#1 Ohio State (13-0)

#2 Notre Dame (12-0)

#3 Alabama (12-1)

Cue the mayhem.  College analysts everywhere begin to argue the best team in college football is not in the BCS championship game.  Alabama is far superior to either team taking the field January 7th in Miami and the BCS is a mockery of the entire NCAA and everything it stands for.

Playoffs: 2014-2015 season.

At this point in this post, if you are thinking there is no way the Buckeyes would be in this position, think again.  The BCS not including an undefeated Big Ten team?  You’re dreaming.  While in reality the Big Ten leaves a lot to be desired in terms of quality of the teams currently playing within its realm, it is still one of the most highly regarded conferences in the NCAA.  With Ohio State having arguably the biggest fan base in the country, pairing the Buckeyes with Notre Dame, who’s fan base you could also make an argument for, is the true BCS dream bowl.  An undefeated, unpunished OSU team not in the BCS championship is simply unrealistic.

The big night finally arrives, while both teams are equally hated by fans from outside their universities, it draws one of the biggest viewings in BCS history.  Unfortunately for Buckeye’s fans, Urban Meyer’s magical season comes to an end, as the (with a mouthful of soap I say this) superior Fighting Irish beat the Buckeyes 24-10.  And unfortunately for males everywhere, including the easily excitable Brent Musburger, there is no Miss Alabama at the game, and thus nothing to talk about on social media.

In reality, the college season comes to a close with a 42-14 beat down and many fans wondering “what if?”  But soon, this reminiscing of what could have been last season will give way to imaginations running loose, minds creating new depictions and dreams of what is to come in the 2013 season with yet another season of BCS imperfection.

However Irish fans should take comfort in knowing, as they drown their sorrows in multiple pints of Guinness and watch Rudy for the 451st time, that somewhere, in some alternate universe, their team played like champions.

Five reasons no one should ever have to play Madden ’13 with Mark Sanchez

I tossed and turned in my sleep as the dream began.

Like Aaron Carter’s “hit” song, “That’s how I beat Shaq”, I too dreamt I was competing against an athlete of professional stature.  I was head-to-head against the one and only, current former New York Jets starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez.  Except, we weren’t competing on the gridiron, we were competing in the virtual world of Madden.

I’m sure my mind developed this ridiculous scenario from all the Madden commercials, where Paul Rudd is constantly beating and berating Ray Lewis, who apparently had nothing better to do in his time recovering from his torn tricep.

As the game clock approached zero, the score evened at 24 all, I selected my final play and Mark selected his.  Our eyes met in a heated deadlock, and then we simultaneously turned our focus back to the big screen.

But much like every other story ever, this one starts from the beginning.

There was a knock on the door.  I glanced around the apartment, hoping my butler would do the honors.  Even dreaming, still no butler.  I stood up, straightened my pants and walked to the doorway.  I pulled open the door without looking through the peep hole.

Mistake #1.

“I hope you’re ready,” Sanchez said as he wagged the cover of Madden ’13 between his thumb and pointer finger.

He had altered the cover of the game by gluing a picture of himself over the true cover athlete, Calvin Johnson.  I’m nearly positive the pass he was throwing in his picture would result in an interception.

He walked right in and sat down, grabbing the controller and turning on the 360.

1) He always has to be first player

Despite the fact he turned on the console, my controller showed the green quarter circle in the top left corner of the xbox logo, dubbing me, the honorable first player.

For Sanchez, this would not do.  He immediately walked up to the system and powered it off and on again.

I felt this a bit childish for a man making millions of dollars a year playing in the NFL, but then I thought, he’s used to being in charge.  He was the quarterback for the New York Jets, until the Jets named rookie Greg McElroy the starter this Sunday against the mediocre San Diego Chargers.  Maybe he’s just trying to regain a bit of control in his life.

As the home screen loaded, he told me to hang on a second.

2) He won’t play if Tebow’s on his team

He scrolled down to the ‘edit roster’ option and selected the New York Jets.  For a second, I thought he, like any gamer who felt his favorite player ranked too low, was going to change his stats to make himself better.  But, no, he selected Tim Tebow, and released his virtual likeness into free agency.

“Now I’m ready,” Sanchez declared.

I had just witnessed firsthand how much of a toll the media’s Tebow obsession had taken on Sanchez’s psyche.

He seemed more paranoid than an anxiety-prone, schizophrenic college stoner walking through a fun house with every mirror reflecting a police officer.

It’s hard to hold this behavior against Mark.  Every time he turns on ESPN, he probably hears Tebow’s name within the first ten minutes of watching and wonders if his job has been stripped away.  In my opinion, his benching in favor of McElroy was deservedly so, as in two of his last three games, he threw at least 3 interceptions and had a QBR of less than seven.  The Jets’ offense is all but anemic under his lead, and the promotion of McElroy should have occurred weeks ago, but I would never support starting Tebow above him.

The airtime to playtime ratio for Tebow is astronomical.  The guy has thrown eight passes in 15 weeks.  Kyle Orton has thrown more passes than Tim Tebow.  Where is Orton’s byline scrolling across the bottom of the screen when he wipes his nose?

Sanchez’s shoulders settle, the tension seems to have melted away with the pushing of the a button that resulted in Tim Tebow’s name disappearing from the Jets’ roster and depth chart.

He selects the ‘play now’ option and selects the New York Jets on the home side.  I move my icon to the visitor’s side and select my San Francisco 49ers.  He cringes, assumably because he and the Jets suffered a 34-0 dismantling at the hands of the 49ers in Metlife Stadium earlier in the season.

I apologize for bringing up bad memories.

“Where is your remote,” he asks.

I point to the chair next to him.  He reaches over the arm of the chair and grabs the remote.  He looks quizzically at the device, then presses a button and tosses the remote back to its original resting place.

3) He has to play with the TV on mute

I think to myself why would he mute the game, I love hearing the commentary and game sounds.

But Sanchez doesn’t.

He doesn’t like hearing constant criticisms from announcers, teammates and fans alike.  He doesn’t like the tens of thousands of boo’s after tossing yet another interception or dare I say, running into the backside of his own lineman.  He doesn’t like the questions hurled at Rex Ryan about next week’s starting quarterback and the phrase “Tebow Time” makes him sick to his stomach.

He knows what’s being said about him every game, he just doesn’t want to hear it.

I glare over at him, his face reddens, but his eyes remain locked on the screen as the introductions begin.  I turn my gaze back to the T.V. as he opts receive the ball.

The game begins.

The struggling David Akers’ boots the ball out of the back of the endzone, resulting in a touchback.

That’s when he asks the question for the first of many times, one I would grow sick of hearing relatively soon.

4)  He always asks what Rex Ryan would call

“WWRRD?,” Sanchez asks.

(What would Rex Ryan do?)

I neglect to answer, as I would have nothing polite to say about the globular, arrogant bag of wind who currently coaches the New York Jets, or his homeless brother in Dallas.

Sanchez cocks his head and looks to the corner of the room, as if trying to remember the plays on his wristband.  He keeps muttering the same 5 letters over and over again, until the play came to him.  His face lit up as his lips curled into a semi-smirk.

A halfback dive good for about maybe two feet.  The smile fades.

I snicker to myself.  Of course, Ryan would call that, anything to take the ball out of the hands of a quarterback who played the whole game and achieved a lower QBR than his backup, who threw one incomplete pass.

Although in windbag’s defense, he has stayed true to his quarterback through most of the season.  He defended Sanchez week in and week out, saying he was the guy for the NYJ.

“WWRRD,” he asked again.

The question, in comparison to his next quirk, was nothing at all.  I would have rather listened to babies crying for an hour than sit through his next sentence starter.  Let me tell you, the only thing worse than his ability to be a good NFL quarterback, is his story telling ability.

5) He constantly talks about being a quarterback at USC

“This one time, at USC…”

Oh, God.  This is what hell feels like.  He rambled on and on about Pete Carroll, winning games in the Coliseum, and life on the campus of USC.  He told me about the time ESPN did a feature on him, and paused the game while he pulled up the piece on my laptop.  We watched it twice.

I quickly grew weary of his obsession with his false idol, the USC Trojan.

“Enough,” I say.  This is the first word I had spoken to him all dream.

He turns to me as if I had just verbally attacked his family.  From then on, there was no conversation, only the constant sounds of button mashing and the occasional sniffle.

As the game clock approached zero, the score evened at 24 all, I selected my final play and Mark selected his.  Our eyes met in a heated deadlock, and then we simultaneously turned our focus back to the big screen.

Slightly embarrassed the game was this close, this late, I knew I had to win to defend what shrapnel of honor I had left.  Sanchez was on his own 30, I knew he wasn’t going to take a knee, because that’s not what Rex Ryan would do.  I knew he would pass, because he wanted to prove himself better than me.

The ball was snapped, and I sent the blitz.

He panicked, and threw it into double coverage.  Typical Sanchez.

Carlos Rodgers came away with the ball.  His second pick of the game.

As the screen rotated to show my newfound path to victory, there was one player wearing the number six, between me and the endzone.

Virtual Rodgers ran straight over Sanchez with a hard stiff arm and into the endzone.  Rob and the 49ers: 30.  Sanchez and the Jets: 24.  I look at Sanchez.  A lone tear streams down the left side of his face.  Victory.

Before I could celebrate, my eyes pop open as my iHome blasts “Wanna be” by the Spice Girls.  Stupid thing must be on shuffle.  I gather my bearings and look around the room.  No Sanchez.  No Madden ’13.  No tears.

It had all seemed so real.  I glanced at my desk.

But if it was just a dream, where did this New York Jets’ clipboard come from?…