Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Offseason moves of note in the NFL

Greetings, Fools!  Long time no talk to.

And yet, just as baseball and college hoops fans are about to get all riled up, the NFL is back at the top of the news with another wild and wonderful free agency season.

As always, we're going to keep track of all the offseason trades, retirements, releases and free agent signings affecting offensive playmakers of note here.  Because if I don't keep a running tally, it makes my job in July really hard when I write my first real column of the season: Old faces in new places.

As of April 18, here are the moves that matter…

Mike Vick, Jets -- They say he won't start over Geno, but we'll see how many INTs it takes to shake that commitment.
Josh McCown, Bucs -- Will compete for starting job in Tampa Bay after stellar showing in Chicago last season.
Matt Schaub, Raiders -- Traded by the Texans for a 6th rounder.  Will he get his mojo back in Oakland?
Blaine Gabbert, 49ers -- The #10 overall pick in 2011 was acquired from the Jags for a late-round draft pick.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles -- Essentially swaps roles with Vick.
Jason Campbell, Bengals -- Will back up Dalton in Cincinnati.
Brandon Weeden, Cowboys -- Cut loose by the Browns.  Picked up as insurance by Dallas.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans -- Set free by the Titans, will try to get a start or two in Houston before some rookie takes over.
Shaun Hill, Rams -- Underrated reliever exits Detroit.
Josh Freeman, Giants -- Eli's new clip-holder.

Darren Sproles, Eagles -- Multi-purpose back traded by the Saints to free up cap space.  Shady's value just got clipped.
Chris Johnson, Jets -- CJ1K set free from the Titans to look for a hefty payday from another suitor.  Found it in NYC.
Knowshon Moreno, Dolphins -- Former Bronco gives Miami the versatile back they've been missing for years.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders -- Will fight for playing time with Run DMC after leaving Jacksonville.
Rashad Jennings, Giants -- Former Raider moves to the Big Apple.
Ben Tate, Browns -- Arian's backup found a new home.  Interesting…
Andre Brown, Texans -- Houston found a new handcuff for Arian with the former Giant.
LeGarrette Blount, Steelers -- Ex-Patriot will compete for carries with Le'Veon Bell.
Rashard Mendenhall -- Retired after two consecutive injury-plagued seasons.
Dexter McCluster, Titans -- Left the Chiefs for a big-money offer from Tennessee.
Donald Brown, Chargers -- I guess this means the Colts are comfortable leaving their backfield in Trent Richardson's hands, although they also re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw.
Toby Gerhart, Jags -- AP's "handcuff" moves south, and could have a shot at a starting job.
Michael Bush -- Forte's backup released by the Bears.
Jonathan Dwyer, Cardinals -- Underachieving former Steeler follows Mendenhall's footsteps to Arizona.  Hopes for better results.
Justin Forsett, Ravens -- Zzzzzzz….

Eric Decker, Jets -- Leaves Denver for 5-year deal in New York.  And POOF goes his fantasy value.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins -- Scooped up on April Fool's Day by Dan Snyder after the Eagles cut ties.
Steve Smith, Ravens -- Aging playmaker picked up by Baltimore after being released by Panthers.
Hakeem Nicks, Colts -- Former Giant gives Andrew Luck a reliable weapon.
James Jones, Raiders -- Leaves A-Rod for, um…, T-Pry?  It was good knowing you, JJ.
Golden Tate, Lions -- Former Seahawk signed to five-year deal in Detroit.
Miles Austin -- Cowboys announced he will be released in a salary cap move.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos -- Ex-Steeler will try to fill Eric Decker's shoes.
Andre Roberts, Redskins -- Will have a chance to start in Washington after being mostly a third wheel in Arizona.
Lance Moore, Steelers -- Set free by the Saints.  Picked up by Pittsburgh.
Andrew Hawkins, Browns -- Former Bengal should line up opposite Josh Gordon.
Brandon LaFell, Patriots -- Ex-Panther trades in Cam for Brady.  Will he emerge as anything better than an occasional bye-week filler now?
Jerricho Cotchery, Panthers -- Former Jet and Steeler ain't no star, but he's about all they've got in Carolina.
Tiquan Underwood, Panthers -- Well, Carolina has the former Buc now.  Does that make you feel better, Panthers fans?
Jason Avant, Panthers -- Former Eagle appears to complete a mediocre Carolina receiving corps.
Mike Williams, Bills -- Traded from Tampa Bay to Buffalo.  Brrrrrrrr!
Sidney Rice -- Cut by the Super Bowl champs.
Santonio Holmes -- Released by the Jets thanks to a bloated salary.
Kenny Britt, Rams -- Underachieving Titan gets his chance to flame out in St. Louis.
Domenik Hixon, Bears -- Moves to Chicago.  Yawn.
Mario Manningham, Giants -- Returns to the team where he made his name.
Earl Bennett -- Released by the Bears.
Devin Hester, Falcons -- Long-time Bear returner/WR moves south.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Steelers -- Will now underwhelm in Pittsburgh.
Jacoby Ford, Jets -- Ex-Raider swaps coasts but fails to upgrade fantasy stock.
Ted Ginn, Cardinals -- Former first-round pick will return kicks and catch 15-20 passes in Arizona now.
Brandon Lloyd, 49ers -- Remember back in 2011, when you would've cared?
Nate Burleson, Browns -- Will now toil in Josh Gordon's shadow.
Lavelle Hawkins, Bucs -- Former Charger and Titan will soon be a former Buc.

Brandon Myers, Bucs -- Former Giant signs two-year deal; should start in Tampa Bay.
Owen Daniels, Ravens -- Salary-cap casualty in Houston moves to Baltimore.
Kellen Davis, Giants -- Move along.  Nothing to see here.
Ed Dickson, Panthers -- Former Raven will backup Greg Olsen.

Rob Bironas -- Long-time, reliable boot cut by the Titans.

Please let me know if I missed anyone important.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

No threepeat for the Chief Fool

Alas, it wasn't to be this year.  My hat's off to CBS Sports' Dave Richard, who swiped the Fantasy Football Writer of the Year trophy out of my cold, dead hands.

Congrats, Dave.  But be warned...I'll be back, keyboard in hand, to knock you off your pedestal in 2014!  Better enjoy it while you can.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Writer of the year again?

Not sure how this keeps happening, but I'm a finalist again for Fantasy Football Writer of the Year by the authority on these things, the Fantasy Sports Writers Association

We'll find out next week if I can rock the threepeat -- if that's what you call winning three out of four years. 

Thanks for another great year, Fools; and cross your fingers for the Chief...

Monday, January 6, 2014

8th Annual Biro’s Heroes and Zeros Awards

We’re almost done.  But not quite.

Before we close the books on another exhilarating / frustrating / victorious / humiliating (circle one) fantasy season, we must take a quick stroll back through 2013 to examine the players we rooted for and against and – with as much objectivity as we can muster – give credit where credit is due.

As always, our annual accolades (and condemnations) have but a few important criteria:

  1. Consistency on a weekly basis is next to godliness.
  2. Production during the fantasy playoffs – for our purposes, NFL Weeks 14 through 16 – is given extra weight.  Players who let their owners down at the worst possible time earn our eternal scorn.  (Hear that, A-Rod?)
  3. Week 17 is dead to us.  (Sorry, LeGarrette.)

Without further ado, I am pleased to present the 8th Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros Awards:

Most Valuable Player: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos.  Manning stood so far above his so-called peers, they needed a telescope to see him.  The next-closest QB (Drew Brees) had 16 fewer passing TDs, for crying out loud.  Runner-up: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.

“Peerless Price Memorial” Bust of the Year: Trent Richardson, RB, Colts. There are plenty of candidates here, including Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller and Doug Martin.  But Richardson gets the nod because he was given a new lease on life (the trade out of Cleveland) and yet he still was unstartable virtually the entire season.  His top rushing day?  64 yards.  Runner-up: C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills.   

Rookie of the Year:  Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers.  The hard-nosed back proved that the Packers really can run.  Runner-up: Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers. 

Comeback Player of the Year: DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles.  He suited up for only 11 games last season, managing just 700 yards and 2 TDs during that time.  Thanks to Philly’s up-tempo offense, D-Jax nearly doubled his yardage and reached the end zone nine times.  Runner-up: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers.

Mr. Reliable: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers.  Delivered at least five receptions and 50 yards in every game.  Usually much more.  Runner-up: Jimmy Graham, TE, Saints.

Surprise of the Year: Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos. If I was better at math, I’d tell you the percentage increase in Thomas’s production from his first two years in the league (1 reception, 5 yards, 0 TDs) and this season (65 for 788 yards and 12 TDs).  I think it’s, like, 282 percent or something.  Runner-up: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos.

Best Waiver Wire Acquisition: Nick Foles, QB, Eagles. No quarterback gave you a better chance to compete with Peyton’s owner down the stretch than Foles.  Runner-up: Julius Thomas.

Mr. Big Play: Josh Gordon, WR, Browns.  Among his nine TDs were scoring jaunts of 37, 39, 43, 47, 74, 80 and 95 yards. Runner-up: A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.

Most Devastating Injury Loss: Julio Jones, WR, Falcons.  He was the top receiver in the land when he went down in Week 5.  Compounding the problem, he took Matt Ryan and the Falcons down with him. Runner-up: Arian Foster, RB, Texans.

Steal of the Draft:  Knowshon Moreno.  Montee Ball was supposed to win the starting role.  Ronnie Hillman was supposed to be the change-of-pace back.  Moreno took both of their jobs, and could have been had in the last round of most drafts.  Runner-up: Fred Jackson, RB, Bills.

Most Overrated: Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers.  His owners seemed almost relieved when he was lost for the season in Week 7, thankful they no longer had to make the painful choice to bench him.  Mike James, then Bobby Rainey, both looked better running behind the same offensive line.  Runner-up: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers.

“Thomas Jones Memorial” Most Underrated: Fred Jackson.  Despite a quiet consistency that led to his Top 10 finish, skeptical owners routinely questioned whether or not Jackson was start-worthy.  Runner-up: Frank Gore, RB, 49ers.

Made Chicken Salad from Chicken Scratch: Josh Gordon.  On a team virtually bereft of talent to support him, and after being suspended for the first two games of the season, Gordon finished among the top three fantasy wideouts. Runner-up: Rashad Jennings, RB, Raiders.

Biggest Postseason Disappointment: Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. Gained just 13 yards before injuring his groin and foot in Week 14.  Missed the next week, then returned to post 47 combined yards before being pulled early in a blowout.  Runner-up: Matt Stafford, QB, Lions.

Most Spectacular Bench Performance: Nick Foles.  He was dreadful in Week 7 against the Cowboys before he was knocked out with a concussion.  After sitting out the following week, there was no guarantee he would play in Week 9.  But he proceeded to ravage the Raiders for 406 passing yards and seven, count ‘em, seven TDs, landing a perfect 158.3 QB rating for good measure.  Runner-up: Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns (6 receptions for 66 yards and 3 TDs in Week 3).

Most Marginalized by Pathetic QB Play: Greg Jennings, WR, Vikings. The once-elite wideout’s talents were squandered by a rogue’s gallery of passers, including Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman.  Runner-up: All Jets WRs.

“Frisman Jackson Memorial” Irrational Exuberance Award:  Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers.  Collected five TDs in his first two games.  Then, aside from a couple of cameo appearances, pretty much disappeared.  Runner-up: Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals.

Worst Sophomore Jinx: Trent Richardson.  Awful.  Just awful.  Runner-up: Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins.

Team Bust of the Year (a.k.a. They Are Who We Thought They Were): New York Jets.  There isn’t a player on this team that you regret not drafting.  Runner-up: Oakland Raiders.

“Plaxico Burress Memorial” Bonehead of the Year: Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots.  He makes Burress look like a choirboy. Runner-up: Kenny Britt, WR, Titans.

Most Likely to Succeed in 2014: Gio Bernard, RB, Bengals.  Who would be surprised if BenJarvus Green-Ellis plays elsewhere next season?  Bernard is poised for greatness in Cincinnati’s high-octane offense.  Runner-up: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings.

As always, I’m open to your feedback on these awards.  Feel free to comment below, and be sure to begin your message with “You’re an idiot because…”

Be sure to follow the Fantasy Fools blog for all the offseason news you can use, and we’ll be back in August to chase another championship.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Perfect Draft: The Final Solution

Hindsight may be 20/20.  But hindsight, coupled with a homer-like obsession with the Broncos, can prove to be very lucrative.

While many of us predicted greatness from Peyton Manning this season, other fantasy studs weren’t quite so obvious a few months ago.  How many of us really knew Josh Gordon was poised for a breakout year, especially with those quarterbacks?

But that’s what makes our elusive quest for the perfect draft, the Holy Grail of fantasy football, so enticing.  One of these days, I’m going to achieve it.  Probably right after I’m voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, end world hunger and break up with Mila Kunis.

Until then, I’ll keep torturing myself – and you – by exploring what could have been had we made all the right decisions during our preseason draft.  Yes, dear reader, it’s time for my oft-imitated, always-controversial, yet magically delicious Perfect Draft: The Final Solution.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions.  First, we’re in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense.  Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a snake format.  Third, we are basing our selections on results through Week 16 only.  Fourth, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way.  And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2013 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1: Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs.  He’s been the class of this year’s fantasy rushers all season.  If we missed out on Charles, LeSean McCoy made for a nice consolation prize.

Round 2: Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos.  According to their average draft positions (ADP), Manning will still be waiting in the next round.  So we’ll snag the top wideout with this pick. A.J. Green or Dez Bryant would be fine selections as well.

Round 3: Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos.  Care to argue?

Round 4: Wes Welker, WR, Broncos.  Until he was concussed in Week 14, Welker was The Man.  Though he’ll leave us hanging at the worst possible time, we’ve got the depth to handle it.

Round 5: Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers.  Lacy was one of the most reliable fantasy backs in the land.  The Fantasy Rookie of the Year certainly belongs in the Perfect Draft.

Round 6: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers.  Jordy Nelson got the nod at midseason, but Brown was Mr. Reliable, catching at least five passes in every game.  He was money in PPR leagues, especially.

Round 7: DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles.  We may never start him, but his big-play ability is welcome on our team nevertheless.

Round 8: Seahawks defense/special teams.  Before this draft is over, we’ll own the two best units in Fantasyland.

Round 9: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers.  Bell was my preseason pick for Fantasy ROY.  While that didn’t materialize, he’s still a great value here and will look much better on our bench than in our opponent’s lineup.

Round 10: Josh Gordon, WR, Browns.  He finished the season among the Top 3 fantasy wideouts despite serving a two-game suspension and playing with the likes of Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden.  Impressive, indeed.

Round 11:  Fred Jackson, RB, Bills.  I expected great things from C.J. Spiller this season.  Not so much.  Instead, it was Jackson that soared.

Round 12:  Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns.  Thanks to his blazing start to the season, Cameron finished among the elite tight ends.  And he wasn’t even drafted in many leagues.

Round 13: Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots.  Since the rest of our picks will stun our competitors, we can afford to take the top kicker this early.  Matt Prater was nearly as valuable.

Round 14: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos.  Our fixation on the Broncos wouldn’t be complete without their overlooked workhorse.  Moreno is another star that went undrafted by most.  Alshon Jeffery was another exceptional value in this round.

Round 15:  Nick Foles, QB, Eagles.  No one, aside from Manning, was more reliable under center when he started.  We’ll have a hard time keeping Foles on our bench down the stretch.

Round 16: Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos. Prior to this season, he had a five-yard reception on his two-year NFL resume.  Thanks to Mr. Manning, Thomas is now an elite tight end.

Round 17: Chiefs defense/special teams.  Talk about a last-round flier.  The Chiefs proved to be the best in the business.
There you have it.  Looks just like your team, right?

Next Week: The Annual Biro’s Heroes & Zeros closes out the season.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Week 17 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Drew Brees, Saints – Torched the Bucs for 381 passing yards and 4 TDs, plus a rushing TD, without a blemish.
Peyton Manning, Broncos – Re-wrote the record books with 266 passing yards and 4 more TDs with no turnovers.  Then sat down.
Andy Dalton, Bengals – Passed for 366 yards and 4 TDs without a turnover.

Matt Forte, Bears – Rumbled for 110 yards and 2 TDs and added 4 catches for 17 yards and a 3rd TD.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – Raced for 189 yards and 2 TDs.
Knile Davis, Chiefs – Took advantage of his starting opportunity by running for 81 yards and 2 TDs.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Pulled down 6 receptions for 113 yards and 2 scores.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings – Caught 2 passes for 31 yards and a TD, and ran twice for 54 yards and a second TD.
Jerrel Jernigan, Giants – Also scored rushing and receiving while racking up 147 total yards.
Golden Tate, Seahawks – Hauled in 8 passes for 129 yards and a TD.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Only 2 catches for 55 yards and a pair of TDs.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Soared in PPR leagues with 10 receptions for 161 yards.

Jason Witten, Cowboys – In PPR leagues, his dozen catches for 135 yards were gold.

This was a great week to play against…

Tom Brady, Patriots – Only 122 yards and a TD, plus an INT.

Andre Brown, Giants – Put up a true stinker with 11 yards and a fumble.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Only 14 rushing yards on the day.
Chris Ivory, Jets – Just 19 yards on the ground.
Rashad Jennings, Raiders – Ran for 9 yards and took 2 passes 8 yards.
Darren McFadden, Raiders – Only 6 rushing and 15 receiving yards.
Darren Sproles, Saints – Ran backwards 1 yard and caught 2 passes for 30 yards.
Bobby Rainey, Bucs – Combined for 36 yards.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals – Just 42 combined yards.
Zac Stacy, Rams – Just 38 total yards.

Reuben Randle, Giants – Blanked.
Danny Amendola, Patriots – Caught a 9-yarder.
Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers – Only 26 yards on 2 receptions.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Caught 3 passes for 27 yards.
Vincent Jackson, Bucs – Only 35 yards on 4 balls.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins – Just 2 for 38 before leaving injured.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers – He got 29 yards out of 3 catches.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Marginalized with just 28 yards on 3 receptions.

Heath Miller, Steelers – Just 17 yards on 2 catches.

Sunday morning updates -- Week 17

Good morning, Fools.  Hard to believe the regular season will be over in about 36 hours.  Hopefully you're celebrating a league title and playing a "Free for All Bowl," or similar, today.  But I know some of you stubbornly refuse to listen and keep playing your Super Bowl in Week 17.  When will you learn?

So, for those with something big or small on the line today, here's the lay o' the land across the NFL:

The Chiefs have nothing to play for, as they're locked into the 5 spot in the AFC.  Look for cameo appearances from Jamaal Charles, Alex Smith and most of the other starters in this game.  Best to bench them all, unless you have little choice.  Dwayne Bowe (concussion) won't play.

AP has been ruled out of the Vikings' meaningless finale.  With Toby Gerhart also sidelined, look for the return of the great Matt Asiata.  Though the Lions have a stout run D, they've got nothing to play for, either.  So who's to say Asiata won't flourish again?

Speaking of the Lions, Megatron has also been ruled out.

Shane Vereen (groin) is expected to sit as well, according to ESPN, leaving the Patriots' backfield in the hands of…who, exactly?  Will it be back to Ridley?  LeGarrette Blount?  Hard to say, but my best guess is they'll split the load and Blount will get the early goal-line carries.  Ridley might get some late ones, too.  But really, I have no clue.  And neither does anyone else.  Just the way Bellichick likes it.

You know Aaron Rodgers will start, and now we know that Randall Cobb has been activated as well.  Cobb is questionable, and will be on a snap count if he plays; so don't expect a lot out of him.  Go ahead and put Jordy in your starting lineup, and James Jones is definitely a contender as well.  Jarrett Boykin is a wild card.  I would only play him if you're desperate.

EJ Manuel, Stevie Johnson, Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, Jacquizz Rodgers, Wes Welker and Garrett Graham have been ruled out today.  Matt Schaub will be under center for the Texans, with Case Keenum sidelined.

Houston RB Dennis Johnson's moment in the sun has passed.  Jonathan Grimes will get the start today.

Both Cincinnati TEs -- Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham -- are inactive.

In something of a surprise, Jordan Cameron (concussion) will play.  That said, I'm not sure we can expect a lot out of him against the Steelers.  He had just 3 receptions for 32 yards when they last met in Week 12.

You were going to start Antonio Brown anyway, but it's nice to know Joe Haden won't be covering him.  The All-Pro CB is inactive.  That's good news for Big Ben's owners, too.

OK, that's it for now.  Inactives coming up via Twitter next.

Good luck, Fools!