Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Vick Effect

Happy during practice doesn't mean happy during games. Hopefully McNabb's
help in getting Vick hired doesn't come with a price.

Sorry for the delay. I'm obviously way behind in terms of reporting fantasy impact here, but better late than never.

So, how about that Michael Vick? Let's keep in mind he's been in prison for two years and "dogged" by criminal allegations for the months. (And, yes, I did need to throw that pun in there.) So he's no in the same shape he used to be. Even he was willing to admit his less than perfect physicality saying he's at 70 percent. However, even if he reaches 100 percent before he is allowed to play, what real impact will he have on the Eagles offense and more importantly (at least in this case) on fantasy numbers?

Good News:

- If Donovan McNabb goes out with an injury, you could be looking at a potential points bonanza, though I wouldn't grab Vick until you've seen his performance in a game or two. Of course, he would have some adjusting to do, along with everyone else in the offense. The Eagles are obviously not going to get the whole scrambling quarterback thing down instantly, as evidenced by Thursday's preseason game. The offense seemed awfully stilted when Vick was on the field, regardless of his position. Even during that time, Vick will be your number two QB unless he starts posting tremendous numbers.

- Let's assume Vick means what he says about doing anything he possibly can for the Eagles to help them win. And then he gets to peak physicality midway through the season. Well, he could rack up points through wild plays and all sorts of potential positions. Though McNabb seems to be clear about everyone needing practice when it comes to Vick being on the field. Regardless, if McNabb is healthy, he will be starting as QB, which is why Vick has to be examined as the flex player he claims he could be. If he works at it, he could become a key component in the emerging Wildcat spawn Andy Reid is looking to develop. Fantasy relevance? I'm afraid you'll have to scroll down for that part.

- Defenses will have to prepare for a whole variety of plays with Vick even remotely in play for Philly.

Bad News:

- McNabb will be the starter.

- McNabb seemed to be clear that there is a lot of work to be done on the Wildcat. His vote counts. A lot.

- In terms of fantasy points, you can't play Vick with McNabb starting because he takes up your QB slot. Even if he does a little rushing here, a pass play there and lines up at wide out way over there, his points just won't suffice for a good strong quarterback heading your fantasy offense.

- Defenses will want to stop him dead in his tracks. He gets a few tricky plays this year before people begin to wise up to the "Vick option plays."

- It could take this entire season to get up to par as a player. We shall see.

I don't have any particular prediction for Vick, because no one knows what he will be doing this year. Feel free to express your thoughts, because we're all pretty lost.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Big Names, but What Impact?

There are two major stories surrounding the NFL in the past week. If you are unaware as to what players have been welcomed back in to the football fold, you may want to do some research.

Everyone welcome back Michael Vick and Brett Favre. I know, it almost seems laughable to open our arms to either player at this point, but everyone deserves a little forgiveness (even if it is more than once we have had to put up with the same media frenzy; that's to you Brett). Of course, they will certainly have some kind of impact on their teams. You don't hire a high profile Pro Bowler without being intent on putting them on the field. And you definitely don't hire a multi-purpose QB like Vick without retooling your scheme to fit him in, especially if your first stringer is so eager to have him onboard.

So what impact will these players have on Fantasy Football? Let's start with the slightly less enigmatic Favre. He is certainly a Hall of Fame QB and capable of surprises. His previous year with the Jets showed that he can still sling it deep down the field and that it doesn't matter who catches it, as long as someone does (as evidenced by his perfect 1:1 TD to interception ratio). Of course, there were a number of games in which he was a points machine. You just had to pick the games in which he would falter.

Favre is now throwing behind the Vikings offensive line, which allowed 43 sacks last season. How will the aging Favre take the battering? Not well is the simple answer. If he continues to be shaken up in this fashion, his numbers will suffer, especially the downfield numbers to receiver Bernard Berrian, who posted an impressive 20.1 yards per catch average last year. He'll have to launch sooner, though hopefully wideout rookie Percy Harvin will benefit if he sees consistent play time.

Regular season prediction for Favre: 3,067 yards, 17 TDs, 22 interceptions

Next, we have to discuss Michael Vick. This one is much more difficult to predict...which is why I'm opting to wait for Friday to have seen how the Eagles potentially use him on Thursday's game. Look for it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Training Camp and Getting Ready

So let's be real, unless it's your favorite team that you've followed all your life we're talking about, you probably don't pay attention to training camp. That's perfectly fine; we're all guilty of not doing our homework. However, what does this mean for your fantasy football team? (Please note, I lean towards Yahoo Fantasy Football.) After all, drafts are going to be starting soon enough and keeper leagues are always on the lookout.

Well, let's start with the basics. Going into your draft (whether it be live or autodraft) you need to know some things about football. One, you need to have a solid idea of who the stars are out there that are guaranteed to see some solid play time and will be getting the ball. Two, you need to know some history about those players at least going back a couple of seasons in order to give them an honest assessment. I'm always wary about that running back who had a fantastic season after having three previous ones in the bottom half of the statistics block. I tend to be more interested in the players who are on a hot streak, though the practicality of this is moot in keeper leagues, so those of you playing for keeps, ignore me for a moment.
Finally, you want to sniff around for those players who could be the unexpected fantasy shrines. Those players that only managed to play a few games at the end of the year or that quarterback who took over for two games thanks to a shoulder injury with the starter. These players could be the next big names. It certainly worked out for Aaron Rodgers.

Take, for instance, Peyton Hillis. In his limited pre-injury time as a rookie with the Denver Broncos, he managed 343 yards on 68 attempts (averaging 5.0 yards per carry) with 5 touchdowns to show for it. Who knows what he could have accomplished if he hadn't been cut short by his late season injury.

Peyton Hillis, charging through the Jets defense.

He even served as a star receiver in game 9 versus the Miami Dolphins. Now he is competing in a strong field of RBs during training camp. If he comes out on top, he may just be a gem for those of us who don't nab Adrian Peterson or Brian Westbrook (or the litany of other top 25 RBs).

I just want to emphasize that sometimes it's worthwhile to gamble a little. Sure, rookies are practically impossible to judge, especially since the transition from college to the NFL is rather drastic since the gaps in defensive capabilities are obscene and vast. You don't have to take chances during your draft unless you've got multiple leagues and you just want to go for it. Lord knows I avoid it at all costs, if possible, but sometimes I just can't pass up trying to sneak in an early season sleeper hit. If it fails, chances are that there will be a solid replacement floating around undrafted.

So go, draft, take risks (or don't) and enjoy an exciting 2009 fantasy football season!