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!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Week 17 Starters & Benchwarmers

Hopefully you’re playing for fun and not for a title this weekend.  Or, better yet, you’re pre-spending your winnings in Disney World like I am today.  But if you insist, here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in the 2013 regular season finale.

Watch ‘em roll

Andrew Luck, QB, Colts vs. Jaguars.  Indy needs to win for a shot at a first-round bye.  Fortunately, Luck and his receivers will be facing a Jags secondary that has coughed up 28 passing scores (vs. just 11 interceptions) to date. 

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Chiefs.  Though Mathews is hobbling on a balky ankle this week in practice, he should play Sunday and have a field day against a Chiefs defense that will be featuring backups most of the way.  Start him if you’ve got him.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans vs. Texans.  By all accounts, Houston has given up the ghost.  And though Tennessee is out of contention, CJ1K still has something to prove.  He’s likely to be a free agent after this season, and he still needs 50 yards to reach 1,000 for his sixth straight year.  Johnson should get plenty more than that.

Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles at Cowboys.  It should go without saying that you start your stars against Dallas, but Cooper is one of those fringe players that hasn’t attained star status just yet.  They’ll be calling his name often in this one, as Nick Foles has his way with the overly accommodating Cowboys secondary.

Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins vs. Jets.  After getting frozen out in Buffalo, the Dolphins return to the friendly climes of South Florida with a shot at a postseason berth.  Hartline posted nine receptions for 127 yards and a score in the Week 13 meeting with the Jets, and he’s a good bet to repeat his heroics against the struggling visitors.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs DeMarco Murray, DeAngelo Williams, Alfred Morris, Eddie Lacy, Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Bobby Rainey; WRs DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks, Roddy White, Kendall Wright, Pierre Garcon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Julian Edelman, Alshon Jeffery, Keenan Allen, Torrey Smith, Jordy Nelson.

Roll ‘em back

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals vs. 49ers.  The schedule-makers were brutal to the aging quarterback, forcing him to run a gauntlet of the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers over the last three weeks.  Palmer’s body has been battered and beaten, but he’ll give it his all in this important contest with major playoff implications.  That said, don’t expect San Fran’s secondary to be gentle with the senior under center.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings at Lions.  We saw what happened last Sunday when the Vikings pulled Peterson (groin, foot) after getting down by multiple scores.  With nothing to play for this week, why would they risk their biggest star again? Even if he plays, the Lions are solid against the rush and would give AP a run for his money.

Steven Jackson, RB, Falcons vs. Panthers.  Jackson has scored three TDs in the past two weeks, but the good times will screech to a halt against a stout Panthers run defense that has surrendered just four rushing scores all season.  Carolina has a lot at stake in this game, so they won’t be very hospitable to their visitors.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions at Vikings.  Don’t count on much, if anything, from Megatron in Detroit’s meaningless finale.  Something is clearly amiss with his knee (reports say a partially torn PCL), so the Lions would be foolish to risk the future of their franchise wideout in Minnesota.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs at Chargers.  Kansas City is the only playoff-bound team that has nothing at stake this weekend.  Andy Reid is expected to give his starters only a limited number of snaps, so Bowe (concussion) and his QB must head to your bench.  And as hard as it will be to sit Jamaal Charles, you will likely be stuck with whatever he can produce in a series or two. 

More thumbs down: QBs Russell Wilson, Alex Smith, Matt Ryan, Mike Glennon; RBs Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore, Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Lamar Miller; WRs Harry Douglas, Lance Moore, Rod Streater, Steve Smith, Stevie Johnson, Jarrett Boykin.


Joique Bell, RB, Lions at Vikings.  Detroit has been eliminated from the postseason, so expect the backups to get a heavy workload.  Bell has been limited in practice by a knee injury sustained after his 30-carry outing last Sunday.  But assuming he fights through it, he should get plenty of action – as a rusher and receiver – against the average-at-best Vikings defense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Andre Brown this week.  First off, he has passed his concussion tests.  Second, though he has been stifled in consecutive weeks by two strong run defenses, he’ll be facing the rushing doormats from Washington.  And finally, he’ll be making his case for a starting role in 2014.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Week 16 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Peyton Manning, Broncos – Continued his mastery with 400 passing yards and 4 TDs with nary a blemish.
Andy Dalton, Bengals – Passed for 366 yards and 4 TDs without a turnover.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Carried my team to a championship with 133 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 6 catches for 29 yards for good measure.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Rumbled for 84 yards and 2 TDs and caught 2 passes for 6 yards before re-injuring his ankle.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Rushed for 96 yards and a TD and took 3 passes for 15 yards and a second TD.
Donald Brown, Colts – Ran for 79 yards and a TD and caught 2 passes for 31 yards and another TD.
Joique Bell, Lions – Combined for 91 rushing yards and a TD plus 10 passes for 63 yards.

Eric Decker, Broncos – Reeled in 10 passes and 131 yards and 2 TDs.
A.J. Green, Bengals – Caught 7 passes for 97 yards and 2 TDs.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Pulled down 8 receptions for 123 yards and a score.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins – Took 11 passes 144 yards, including a TD.
Roddy White, Falcons – Caught a dozen passes for 141 yards and a TD.

Patriots – Collected 4 sacks, 4 turnovers, 2 TDs on fumble and INT returns and held the Ravens to 7 points.
Bills – Registered 7 sacks and 2 turnovers and pitched a shutout.
Bengals – Accumulated 4 sacks, 4 turnovers and an INT return TD.

This was a great week to play against…

Matt Stafford, Lions – Passed for 222 yards with 2 INTs and no TDs.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins – Froze in upstate New York with just 82 passing yards.  And that’s it.
Alex Smith, Chiefs – Passed for only 153 yards, with no TDs, 2 INTs, a fumble and 47 rushing yards.
Mike Glennon, Bucs – Just 158 yards passing without a score, plus a fumble.
Carson Palmer, Cardinals – Played hurt, but probably shouldn’t have, passing for just 178 yards and a TD, with 4 INTs.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Threw for 201 yards and a TD, but lost 2 turnovers.

Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas, Dolphins – 8 and 9 total yards, respectively.  Are you kidding me?
Pierre Thomas, Saints – Ran for 8 yards and only got 7 yards on 5 receptions.
Darren Sproles, Saints – Just 2 rushing and 18 receiving yards on 3 catches.
Dennis Johnson, Texans – Managed just 29 rushing yards in his opportunity to start.
Montee Ball, Broncos – Rushed for just 32 yards.
Andre Brown, Giants – Ran for 40 yards and caught 2 passes for 14 yards, and lost a fumble.
Reggie Bush, Lions – Marginalized after losing a fumble, rushing for just 34 yards and taking 2 passes 10 yards.
Matt Forte, Bears – Just 29 rushing and 25 receiving yards on 4 receptions.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Only 45 yards rushing (and a 2-yard catch).

Rod Streater, Raiders – Caught a 2-yard pass.
Miles Austin, Cowboys – Caught an 8-yarder.
Andre Caldwell, Broncos – Couldn’t do it again, catching just 2 passes for 12 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Limited by the Seahawks to 3 receptions for 18 yards.
Kendall Wright, Titans – Caught 4 balls for 22 yards.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Only 29 yards on 4 receptions, and ran for 12 yards.
Greg Jennings, Vikings – His 4 receptions only amounted to 27 yards.
Steve Smith, Panthers – Just one 44-yard catch before leaving injured.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Only 46 yards on 3 receptions.


Vernon Davis, 49ers – Blanked on MNF.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – Only 13 yards on 2 balls.