As any football fan knows, every year is the best year for football. When all the rubble of life lays idle at our feet and we can focus on what really matters—Fantasy Football. This year, once again, is like no other. And though you’re likely to get as much helpful Fantasy Football advice here as you would with a 20-minute Rune Reading from Madame Ruby, this, at least, will save you $60. That being said, I have offered up, what I feel in my Fantasy Football heart of hearts (and, mostly, according to popular blog opinions and mass internet conjecture) is a good start to your 2011 Fantasy Football picks.
#1 RB—Adrian Peterson
You shouldn’t have to ask why. Peterson’s reliability and sheer knack for putting up huge Fantasy numbers, makes this pick a no-brainer. With an iffy QB situation in Minnesota at best, look for first-year Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave to transfer playing time out of Donovan McNabb’s aging arm and into Peterson’s able legs. We’ll know how McNabb’s tenure in Minnesota will be after a couple regular season starts. If it sours, look for Peterson to pick up a lot more carries.
#2 RB—Arian Foster
2010′s Fantasy MVP is back and, as lame an expression as it is, he isn’t slowing down anytime soon. No, siree, Bob, Foster is a clear front-runner to pick up some Fantasy MVP points. Also, if this year isn’t the Texans year (think—an ailing, injured Manning; a Fisher-less, struggling Tennessee; and a middling, spotty Jaguar team), then it’s never going to be. Foster should gain some major Fantasy numbers this year and may even be the go-to #1 Fantasy pick of 2011 for many players. Not bad for going undrafted out of Tennessee in 2009.
#3 RB—Jamaal Charles
Last year saw Jamaal Charles get his first Pro Bowl nod, but it definitely won’t be his last. At 23, Charles has age on his side and looks to be only getting better each passing, err running, day. The Chiefs O-Line doesn’t provide the best situation for him, but look for Charles to put up some groundbreaking numbers this year, pun intended. He may not get all the goal line carries in KC, but Charles will still get you decent yardage and makes a safe choice for any Fantasy owner.
#4 RB—Chris Johnson
This is one of those “All things being equal” kind of picks. If he had a contract in hand, and more importantly in his head, then who knows where C.J. would show up on Fantasy boards—#1? Yet, such is not the case and, as of this posting, Johnson remains a hold-out on and off the field. How much this off-field time affects Johnson’s numbers from a physical and mental standpoint is yet to be seen. Will Johnson be the highest-paid player in the NFL this year? Maybe. Will that be a good thing for his Fantasy numbers? Maybe not. UPDATE: Chris Johnson has just met with the Titans and . . . oh, uh, nevermind, nothing’s changed. As you were.
#5 QB—Michael Vick
For all the hype that surrounds Michael Vick and the rest of the Eagles this year, what else needs to be said? Yes, Vick’s a pure talent. Redefined the position. Comeback player. All of this and more. If Michael Vick puts up awe-inspiring numbers this season, this pick was a success. But, if you go against the flashy pick you get in Vick, you might be better off. Sure Vick is capable of being a scene-stealer and could bring Philly a Super Bowl victory, but he could also be a big Fantasy bust this year and you could be better off with an old reliable pick like Brady or Manning. I know, great advice—thanks for nothing!
#6 QB—Aaron Rodgers
We all know the odds against a Super Bowl quarterback repeating and blah to the blah blah blah. Now, let’s get serious for a minute. Rodgers was a Fantasy Freak last year, not to mention Super Bowl MVP and this year, not much has changed in Wisconsin. And that’s a good thing. Last year, Rodgers had 28 TDs and 356 rushing yards. This year, he came into camp 10 lbs. leaner and hungry for seconds—he just might get his wish.
#7 RB—Maurice Jones-Drew
MJD is two inches shorter than me, yet has 20 more pounds of pure muscle on him. That alone, is enough to get my pick. Anyone familiar with Jaguar football is well aware that this is his team. At a time, when Jacksonville is experiencing growing pains at the QB position, they’ll have to rely on their one true constant, and for the Jaguars, that is MJD. Last year, Jones-Drew finished the season with 1,324 yards, but he also had 10 fewer rushing TDs than the year before. Look for Rashad Jennings to help carry the running load and maybe MJD can bust out some serious yardage and TDs.
#8 QB—Drew Brees
This 5-time Pro Bowl selected QB is not done yet. And, it was just a year-and-a-half ago that he was a Super Bowl MVP. Brees is extremely durable and has thrown for at least 3,159 yards and 24 touchdowns in each of the past seven seasons. Brees should hit such numbers again in 2011 with the solid offensive weapons the Saints have surrounding. A possible second Super Bowl MVP award may just be around the corner.
#9 TE—Antonio Gates
Ok, so what if in the past four out of five years, Antonio Gates has had some kind of foot and/or toe issue. And, so what, if he arrived at training camp this year with the same said issue. This year is different. No more injuries this year. You have to believe. And, if Gates can make it through 2011 injury-free he should be able to put up career-high numbers. And, even if he can’t refrain from hurting down there, he’s still a huge playmaker and yardage gainer and tore it up last year playing through injuries. Not bad for a tetrapod suffering from a torn plantar fascia on the medial tuberosity of the calcaneus, i.e. an “ouchie.”
Sleeper Pick: #10 QB—Matthew Stafford
Yes, yes, yes, Stafford’s on a lot of Fantasy Sleeper Drafts this year, and with good reason. If Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions have a shot at winning their first Division title since 1993. I’m sorry, did you just say “1993″? Yes, it’s been a looooong time coming for Detroit, but with the help of Calvin Johnson, the Lions could contend for a playoff spot this year. That is, if and only if, Stafford proves to remain healthy and play well.