Getting ready for fantasy football

DAN BILICKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:58 AM ET

Two RBs, or not two RBs, that is the question for fantasy footballers this coming draft season. It has a very easy answer, too: Don’t go RB-RB at the top.

The days of mandatory RB-RB selections to open your fantasy football draft are long over. With so many running back-by-committees, goal-line specialists and injury concerns with over-usage, there aren't many true studs left out there.

Look around the league and try to find teams that will employ a strategy that relies heavily on one running back. Minnesota, Tennessee, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and maybe San Diego.

It's getting rarer and rarer to find that real stud and teams are adjusting accordingly with specialized tandems and trios. That just means you have to do the same. Find and start the right guy, always stay active on the waiver wire for those Jerome Harrison types and don't worry too much when there's no stud RB to be taken at your slot in the second round. Chances are the WR you'll grab will outpoint an RB anyway.

The reality is that the NFL has become a pass-happy league, with 10 QBs passing for over 4,000 yards last year. A dozen QBs had at least 26 touchdowns too. That means that it’ll be easier to grab a solid QB who won’t kill you week-to-week, but those elite wideouts are going to give you massive points for being on the receiving end of those passes.

Tight ends are getting more and more looks season after season. Grabbing guys like Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates and Jason Witten can earn you WR2 type points out of a premium spot. Don't forget that these big boys are tailor-made for red-zone receptions too.

You can typically wait on getting a good defence because most drafters won’t reach for them. Even if you miss out on an elite squad, you can usually survive week-to-week by plugging in matchup friendly solutions off the waiver wire. Remember, somebody has to play the Browns and Rams every week.

Also, don’t go for the team that you think will allow the least amount of points, go for the one that will fill up the stat line the most. INTs, fumbles and sacks are worth more than the typical the points-allowed based system.

Last in this column and in your draft kickers should be the last position mentioned. It’s borderline inexcusable to take your kicker any earlier than in the last two rounds, even if you want the top guy, Nate Kaeding.

The difference between the third highest scoring kicker (Ryan Longwell) and the tenth (Jeff Reed) is one point per game. In other positions, that drop-off is much greater. In QBs it’s 4.7 points, RBs 4.1, WRs 2.2 and TEs 2.9.

Kickers are far too volatile as well. Remember Nick Folk of Dallas and Washington’s Sean Suisham last season? These supposedly solid guys faltered and lost their jobs. Can you really trust a position where the general turnover is so high? Of course not.

Finally, when drafting, don’t ever forget what type of league you’re in. If it’s PPR (points per reception) don’t discount running backs that make catches out of the backfield, like Ray Rice and Matt Forte will this season. If it’s purely scoring, chances are passing touchdowns aren’t worth as much as rushing ones for QBs, making Aaron Rodgers an even bigger stud and Vince Young a nice sleeper.

Always know your rules and roster needs beforehand or you’ll be caught sleeping with two WRs in a three WR lead or a team with good defence and poor returning in a league that combines DST (Defence and Special Teams).

dan.bilicki@sunmedia.ca

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers, GB — Elite fantasy QB will make jump to elite real QB this season.

2. Drew Brees, NO — You can’t argue with the Super Bowl MVP and his aerial assaults.

3. Peyton Manning, IND — As sure of a thing there is for a 4,000 yard season and near 30 TDs.

4. Matt Schaub, HOU — His 4,770 yards and 29 TDs last season could be just the beginning.

5. Tony Romo, DAL — A full season with Miles Austin starting and Roy Williams finally looks motivated.

6. Tom Brady, NE — ACL injuries usually last two years to fully recover from, look for improvement over 2009.

7. Philip Rivers, SD — He won't miss Vincent Jackson as much as you think; he’ll miss LT Marcus McNeil more.

8. Jay Cutler, CHI — With Mike Martz in charge of the passing game, it’s very doubtful we’ll see 26 INTs again.

9. Brett Favre, MIN — We all knew he would come back. Had his best season, QB-rating wise, at tender age of 40 last year.

10. Joe Flacco, BAL — Anquan Boldin’s now in the flock, giving Flacco two solid targets with Derrick Mason.

11. Eli Manning, NYG — Has several underrated good receivers in the fold. Broke 4,000 yards last season.

12. Kevin Kolb, PHI — Andy Reid loves to pass, but can he handle the reins? Worry about Mike Vick in red zone situations.

13. Carson Palmer, CIN — Bengals run a lot, but will get to spread the ball to three big name talents.

14. Donovan McNabb, WAS — He’ll have trouble staying upright and his targets are significantly worse than his previous mates.

15. Matt Ryan, ATL — Had a drop off in production and an injury last season, but Falcons are passing more.

16. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — Suspension hurts value, as does Holmes departure. As solid of bye-week backup you could get.

17. Vince Young, TEN — A threat through the air and on the ground, he’s gaining leadership ability too.

18. Chad Henne, MIA — Brandon Marshall will be his best friend. Has the keys to a playoff contender.

19. Alex Smith, SF — Reborn under coach Mike Singletary and Vernon Davis is an excellent target.

20. Matt Leinart, ARZ — Finally buckled down and trained hard this off-season, instead of usual carousing.

Running backs

1. Chris Johnson, TEN — Promise of a 2,500 yard season is ridiculous, but will still dominate on the ground.

2. Adrian Peterson, MIN — Essentially 1A. With Favre’s return, defenders can’t stack the line. But, the No. 4 back, AP gets less red zone attempts.

3. Ray Rice, BAL — With a more diverse offence, he’ll be more free to run amok without defences keying on him.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX — You have to worry about defences stacking the line against him, but this little bowling ball is tough to take down.

5. Frank Gore, SF — Coach Singletary likes his teams tough and the Niners will win wars in the trenches for Gore.

6. Michael Turner, ATL — Scored 10 TDs in nine games before “Curse of 370” hit last season, now he’s 100% ready to go.

7. Rashard Mendenhall, PIT — After breakout season, will be counted on to lead offence while Big Ben sits.

8. Shonn Greene, NYJ — The Jets run the ball more than any other team and Greene – who averaged 5.0 yards per – will see a lot of carries.

9. Steven Jackson, STL — He’s almost a certainty to get injured and doesn’t score much, but racked up over 1,700 total yards last season.

10. Ryan Grant, GB — Perhaps the most underrated of second-round runners, consistent over past three seasons.

11. Ryan Matthews, SD — The rookie has been hyped to grab 300 carries. It may not happen, but he is a rare lead runner.

12. DeAngelo Williams, CAR — Don’t worry about platoon with Jonathan Stewart, both studs will get enough carries in Carolina.

13. Cedric Benson, CIN — The Bengals love to run the ball and unless Benson goes down, he’s getting the majority of the carries.

14. Beanie Wells, ARZ — With Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin gone, the Cardinals will become a more run-friendly squadron.

15. Jamaal Charles, KC — Absolutely crushed it late in the season. From week 10 on, had over 1100 yards from scrimmage.

16. Ronnie Brown, MIA

17. Jonathan Stewart, CAR

18. Matt Forte, CHI

19. Pierre Thomas, NO

20. Jahvid Best, DET

21. Felix Jones, DAL

22. LeSean McCoy, PHI

23. Ahmad Bradshaw, NYG

24. Clinton Portis, WAS

25. Knowshon Moreno, DEN

The next five...

Donald Brown, IND

Fred Jackson, BUF

Marion Barber, DAL

Jerome Harrison, CLE

Carnell Williams, TB

Wide receivers

1. Andre Johnson, HOU — Over 1,500 yards the past two seasons and averaged 94.6 yards per game the season before.

2. Randy Moss, NE — Couldn’t be happier to see Revis Island missing. With Welker inevitably slowed, Moss will have to shoulder receiving burden.

3. Calvin Johnson, DET — Just one season removed from a 1,331 yard, 12 TD campaign for a winless team.

4. Reggie Wayne, IND — Consistently great and consistently a favourite target. Between the 20s and in the red zone.

5. Roddy White, ATL — When the Falcons throw, they look his way. Three straight 1,000 yard campaigns and double-digit TDs last season.

6. DeSean Jackson, PHI — A home run hitter at wideout. He’s among of the best long ball receivers in the game.

7. Brandon Marshall, MIA — Over 100 receptions and 1100 yards the past three years. Including last season with Kyle Orton throwing.

8. Greg Jennings, GB — TDs are one the decline, but will still rake in a ton of yardage on a great offence.

9. Miles Austin, DAL — His down-to-earth style will prevent him from acting like a diva after 2009 breakout.

10. Larry Fitzgerald, ARZ — Don’t worry too much about pre-season ankle injury, worry about chemistry with Leinart.

11. Marques Colston, NO — A big target for Brees in the end zone. Will get a lot of looks in close.

12. Steve Smith, NYG — Went from third down dynamo to every down threat. No longer the “other” Steve Smith.

13. Anquan Boldin, BAL — He’ll be the No. 1 in Baltimore. WRs on new teams are risky, but don’t worry about Boldin.

14. Steve Smith, CAR — Back from his broken arm and will be ready for season’s start.

15. Sidney Rice, MIN — A favourite of Favre, he’s more reliable than the migraine-prone Percy Harvin.

16. Mike Sims-Walker, JAX

17. Dwayne Bowe, KC

18. Chad Ochocinco, CIN

19. Percy Harvin, MIN

20. Michael Crabtree, SF

21. Malcolm Floyd, SD

22. Wes Welker, NE

23. Santana Moss, WAS

24. Hakeem Nicks, NYG

25. Pierre Garcon, IND

1. Dallas Clark, IND — A tight end in name only. He had 100 catches and 1106 yards last season. Double digit TDs are always possible.

2. Antonio Gates, SD — A durable red zone threat, he didn’t miss any time with 2009 turf toe injury which is 100%.

3. Jason Witten, DAL — His TDs waned last season, but is his yardage low in past three seasons in 952.

4. Vernon Davis, SF — Finally motivated after benching last season, went on a tear late in year to show his true potential.

5. Jermichael Finley, GB — The former third-rounder exploded in his first year as starter. A key in Packers potent offence.

6. Brent Celek, PHI — An excellent safety blanket for a young QB. Picked up over 104 yards in both games started by Kolb.

7. Tony Gonzalez, ATL — He’s getting older, wiser and can still play. His 2009 total of 867 yards was a seven-year low.

8. Zach Miller, OAK — QB Jason Campbell loved his TEs in Washington and will love Miller in Oakland.

9. Greg Olson, CHI — Martz-run offences don’t use TES a lot, but Olson is an undeniable red-zone target for Cutler.

10. Kellen Winslow, TB — If he stays healthy, he’s a guarantee for over 850 yards and five TDs.

11. Owen Daniels, HOU

12. Visanthre Shiancoe, MIN

13. Chris Cooley, WAS

14. John Carlson, SEA

15. Heath Miller, PIT

16. Dustin Keller, NYJ

17. Kevin Boss, NYG

18. Jeremy Shockey, NO

19. Brandon Pettigrew, DET

20. Fred Davis, WAS

Kickers

1. Nate Kaeding, SD — Hit 91.4% of his attempts last season, including 3-for-4 from 50+.

2. Garrett Hartley, NO — He’s on a high scoring team and they play in a dome, what else could you ask for?

3. Ryan Longwell, MIN — A dome kicker, he’ll have plenty of opportunities if Favre is actually done.

4. Stephen Gostkowski, NE — He has stepped up just fine after taking over for local legend Vinatieri three seasons ago.

5. Rob Bironas, TEN — If teams can shut down Chris Johnson, he’ll get plenty of attempts.

6. Mason Crosby, GB — Steamrolling offence means a lot of points on the board.

7. Jay Feely, ARZ — Will love kicking for the Cards a lot more than with the Jets at windy, old Giants Stadium.

8. Robbie Gould, CHI — Perfect from under 40 yards the past two seasons.

9. Dan Carpenter, MIA — Solid young kicker for a team that could get bogged down a lot.

10. David Akers, PHI — Missed two extra points last season, but that’s no cause to worry.

11. Adam Vinatieri, IND

12. Sebastian Janikowski, OAK

13. Matt Prater, DEN

14. Neil Rackers, HOU

15. Jeff Reed, PIT

Defences

1. Minnesota — With the Williams Wall and Jared Allen on the line, there’s no running against this team.

2. San Francisco — Mike Singletary has a great unit and the best MLB in the league in Patrick Willis.

3. New York Jets — Darrelle Revis holdout hurts a lot, but he can’t sit the entire season, right?

4. Baltimore — Injuries in the secondary are worrisome, but that’s always a problem and it never bogs them down.

5. Green Bay — After a season in the 3-4, will only be better at running it now.

6. Pittsburgh — Troy Polomalu is healthy – for now – and the defence has to hold up while Ben’s out.

7. Dallas — Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer were perhaps the best OLB tandem in the league last season.

8. New Orleans — It’s insane to think they’ll have as many pick-sixes as last year, but still a solid unit.

9. Philadelphia —The ever-blitzing Eagles will get to the QB and will have fun rushing McNabb twice a season.

10. Chicago — Addition of Julius Peppers and a healthy Brian Urlacher should resurrect the Monsters of the Midway.

11. Cincinnati — Took a big step up last season and won’t stop there.

12. San Diego — Shawne Merriman’s back, but he’s nothing without the juice. Will miss NT Jamal Williams too.

13. Miami — Got a lot younger and that enthusiasm will pay off in spades.

14. New York Giants — The deepest D-Line in football will certainly improve over last year’s poor showing.

15. Oakland — Don’t be surprised when the Raiders start winning some games with this defence.


Videos

Photos