July 17, 2013

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Early 2013 NFL NFC Fantasy Sleepers

By: Matt Bowen

With NFL training camps set to begin in a matter of days, now is the time to start penciling in your fantasy sleepers for the 2013 season.

With the glass always being half-full, we’re now just weeks away from all things football. With that being said, it’s not soon enough, it never is.  Who’s not ready for charcoal filling the parking lot air, 24-hour coverage and competitive banter amongst friends through fantasy football contention.

Knowing that losing is not an option, keep these players in mind during your upcoming fantasy draft.

Here’s one fantasy sleeper from each NFC team.

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys have a telltale year ahead of them. They play in a strong AFC East division and need their stars to have career years. With that being said quarterback Tony Romo, running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Dez Bryant will need help. Look no further than wide receiver Dwayne Harris as a trusted sidekick in the receiving game.

Harris has improved his game this offseason and the Cowboys need a player like himself to step forth and become reliable.

Dez Bryant and the Cowboys hope Dwayne Harris can contribute this season.

New York Giants: Running back Andre Brown is a necessary handcuff if you choose to take New York Giants primary ball carrier David Wilson in your draft. Brown is goal-line gold—he scored eight touchdowns in just 10 games last season.

If you play in a deep league don’t be afraid to take Brown in the late rounds.

Philadelphia Eagles: A new era has begun in Philadelphia—it seems quite foreign but it’s a fresh breath of air for the franchise.

With new head coach Chip Kelly bringing an uptempo offense to town, expect rookie tight end Zach Ertz to see the field early and often. His receiving skills are his positive, which gives him fantasy value. He may be listed as tight end No. 3 for the Eagles, but he’ll soar before season’s end.

Washington Redskins: Due to second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris there’s a lot to like about the Washington Redskins future.

The team itself has made itself must-see TV. While wide receiver Pierre Garcon is the best the team has to offer, thanks to injuries he’ll be a fantasy steal. Garcon has reoccurring issues with a nagging foot injury that will steer would-be fantasy owners clear until the mid-to-late rounds.

Anything past round eight and Garcon is a must.

NFC North:

Chicago Bears: Quarterback Jay Cutler faces a must-win situation this season—he has so much talent but he perform brilliantly. With that being said, newly acquired tight end Martellus Bennett will do nothing good things for Cutler and the offense.

Bennett is the Bears‘ primary tight end and will be utilized to the fullest. Due to the uncertainty of Cutler and the offense Bennett will be forgotten about in most fantasy leagues. You’ve been warned–he’ll be out there for the taking.

Detroit Lions: The Detroit Lions are in desperate need of a safety valve for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, wide receiver Calvin Johnson can’t be targeted on every play.

Good thing for the Lions, receiver Ryan Broyles is poised to be a consistent contributor. He’s an immense talent that has been tormented by injuries since his days at the University of Oklahoma.

If he can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, Broyles could bring you a championship. He’ll definitely be available late.

Green Bay Packers: James Jones is now the No. 1 wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, but he won’t be treated like it in fantasy drafts. Instead, fantasy junkies will go after the likes of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb first.

While those are great options for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jones is his main man. The 29-year-old led the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns last season, yet somehow he will be bypassed. Don’t be that person, anything past round four and Jones should be on your side.

Minnesota Vikings: Don’t be fooled by the Minnesota Vikings appearance in the playoffs last season—they are better than advertised.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to have running back Adrian Peterson in the mix, but the Vikes are true contenders.

Quarterback Christian Ponder has a ton of pressure against him heading into the season in terms of consistent production, but rookie wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will help Ponder’s confidence.

Another fact is that new Viking receiver Greg Jennings is a great mentor for Patterson. The Vikings have been yearning for a guy like Patterson for some time now. The kid has a freakish skill-set. He’ll look really nice on your roster too.

NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons: The Super Bowl is the only thing the Atlanta Falcons have on their mind this season and for good reason. The addition of a hungry Steven Jackson at running back was one of the most underrated of the offseason. Having said that, backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers is the most important component of the Falcons offense heading into 2013.

A dual threat out of the backfield, Rodgers is a late-round must.

Carolina Panthers: Believe it or not, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be ripe for the picking in fantasy drafts this season. Since he isn’t considered an upper-echelon quarterback due to slight slip in production in his sophomore season, he’ll be a second tier guy.

Newton is one of the most game’s most dynamic players and this year is a critical time for the game breaker. When he’s available in the fifth round and you don’t have a quarterback yet, feel free to take him.

He may not be a sleeper, but he’ll be a steal.

New Orleans Saints: For Saints fans, anything has to be better than what 2012 brought them. Now that the nightmare is over the franchise can focus on returning to elite NFL status. If they are to do so, running back Mark Ingram will play a crucial role in the running game this year.

Ingram is the team’s big back, but the spry Darren Sproles is the focal point of many fantasy owners. With Ingram entering his third year in the league, he has to live up to his hype.  With something to prove, Ingram is a value pick in any round past eight.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tamps Bay QB Josh Freeman needs a safety valve this year—that man will be tight end Luke Stocker. The role is Stocker’s to lose this preseason and Freeman needs the third-year tight end to make him look good.

With little in terms of production his first two NFL seasons, Stocker will be available throughout fantasy drafts. He may be a guy that has to score a couple of touchdowns in Week 1 against the New York Jets to get his point across.

NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals: It’s a new day in the desert and wide receiver Michael Floyd is a can’t-miss this year.

The Arizona Cardinals offense should look much improved this year with new head coach Bruce Arians at the wheel. Yes, Carson Palmer is now their quarterback, but he’s an improvement over last year.

Floyd is entering his second NFL season and will flourish in Arians new scheme. Oh yeah, it doesn’t hurt to have Larry Fitzgerald to distract opposing defenses on the other side of the field.

Seattle Seahawks: Fans of the Seattle Seahawks have to be restless this offseason in anticipation of the 2013 season. Unexpected success last year has brought the team to the forefront of the NFL elite.

If anything, the team improved this offseason and the addition of wide receiver Percy Harvin makes teammate and fellow receiver Golden Tate a sleeper.

Correct, Tate will have to impress in training camp to get balls thrown his way because of Harvin and Sidney Rice slated to start for the Seahawks, but Tate won’t be forgotten about.

He’s entering the final year of his contract and wanting to leave Seattle would not be wise. Expect Tate to leave it all on the field this season.

San Francisco 49ers: This is a tough one—A.J. Jenkins or Quinton Patton? Both youngsters are wide receivers and there’s only one starting position this season. Jenkins flopped in his rookie campaign with the 49ers while Patton is in his inaugural NFL year.

Both men are flush with raw talent; keep a close eye on who wins this training camp battle.

St. Louis Rams: Remember the “Greatest Show on Turf?” Well, Rams fans should buckle-up and enjoy the show this season, for the future is now for the franchise. Once suffering from NFL obscurity not too long ago, the Rams have improved tremendously.

As for a sleeper, take your pick—behind rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin, there’s a stable of quantifiable options. Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Stedman Bailey should all be options as a late-round steal.

The Rams will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, make sure to set some time aside on Sundays.

July 11, 2013

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Early 2013 NFL AFC Fantasy Sleepers

By: Matt Bowen

Football fever is in full force and now is the time to scout for your 2013 NFL fantasy team. Looking forward to having bragging rights around the office? Everyone knows that the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings of the fantasy world will put up gaudy numbers, but it’s the sleepers that will make you a champion.

The new NFL season brings excitement for all 32 NFL teams as they descend on their quest for greatness. Regardless of where a given team actually stands amongst the NFL power rankings, diehard fans believe this is the year for NFL superiority.

For that reason alone, here’s one sleeper from each AFC team that could turn the team’s fortunes forever.

Andre Johnson isn't the only Texans WR you want on your fantasy team.

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills: It’s hard not to make rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel this pick, but he won’t start Week 1 and may not start at all in 2013.

The Bills stocked up on wide receivers in the latest draft and rookie Robert Woods is their best fantasy sleeper this season. His steady hands will have him start the season as the No. 2 receiver behind Stevie Johnson. Woods is NFL-ready right now and the Bills will depend on him this season.

Miami Dolphins: Things are suddenly looking up in Miami. They have a ton of positive momentum heading into 2013 and rookie tight end Dion Sims will shine this season.

The Dolphins have an upstart offense led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a star receiver in Mike Wallace, and a possession receiver in Brian Hartline. Sims is said to be a block-first, catch-second type of tight end, but don’t be fooled by this analysis. Thanks to his massive size, Sims should see plenty of snaps in the red zone, which means he’ll be targeted in the play-action game.

New England Patriots: There’s an obvious choice for the New England Patriots this year—Shane Vereen is the key to the Pats offensive success this season.

He’s going to get the ball out of a variety of formations. As of now, fantasy fans may be skeptical about Vereen’s role, but by the time Week 1 kicks off, he’ll be all the fantasy rage.

The best part about Vereen; he may get RB/WR status, making him that much more valuable in the fantasy realm.

New York Jets: Want to be daring? Take quarterback Geno Smith with one of your last picks of your fantasy draft.

While quarterback Mark Sanchez will start Week 1 for the Jets, he may have the shortest leash of any NFL player this season. Smith will see playing time in 2013, just how much is to-be-determined. It may take some time for Smith to adjust to the NFL game, but anything is possible with the ball in his hands.

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens: The defending Super Bowl Champions want to repeat and tight end Ed Dickson will become a utilized asset this season. His teammate, Dennis Pitta is highly touted right now due to his exceptional athleticism, but don’t forget about Dickson. The Ravens will often be targeting both tight ends this season and Dickson will be a nice addition to your squad.

Cincinnati Bengals: This one is easy–Mohamed Sanu is a no-brainer when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals. Sanu took off in the middle of the 2012 season before a broken foot sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Given his health, Sanu is a ball magnet that will benefit from receiver A.J. Green stretching the field and slot-man Andrew Hawkins’ speed underneath. Sanu will be the team’s possession receiver in 2013.

Cleveland Browns: Davone Bess is a newcomer to the Cleveland Browns, but he’ll quickly become a fan favorite for his new team. The former Miami Dolphin is great at keeping a drive alive. His 130 catches on third down since 2008 is second behind Roddy White’s 146.

The Browns need Bess and was a great pickup in the offseason. He’ll quickly be the difference maker in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s not normal for a starting running back to be a fantasy sleeper, but Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Le’Veon Bell is just that.

The Steelers are known for their smash-mouthed style of pigskin and Bell fits the bill, but due to his rookie status, some may steer clear of him.

Don’t be afraid, Bell will carry the ball with regularity. Some Steelers fans may worry that the team is in a transitional period, but Bell will undoubtedly restore the faith.

AFC South:

Houston Texans: The Houston Texans need someone, anyone to compliment wide receiver Andre Johnson. That man will be DeAndre Hopkins this year.

The rookie receiver from Clemson has extra-large hands and is ahead of his peers when it comes to route running. It shouldn’t take long for Hopkins to make his presence known.

Indianapolis Colts: Remember Darrius Heyward-Bey, the former No. 7 overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2009? He’s now a member of the Indianapolis Colts. This is a win-win situation for both player and franchise. The Colts got him for a mere $3 million and Heyward-Bey no longer as much pressure on him.

At this time it’s as if he has been forgotten about, but don’t make that mistake. Heyward-Bey’s blazing speed will be put to use by quarterback Andrew Luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars: It’s not normal that a No. 1 receiver on a team’s depth chart is a fantasy sleeper, but it’s true in this case.

Cecil Shorts of the Jacksonville Jaguars is that man. Shorts nearly eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards in 2012 should topple that number this season. Although undersized, he’s vastly underrated at his position. There may be questions surrounding the Jaguars passing game, but don’t pass on Shorts.

Tennessee Titans: Picking up Tennessee Titans running back Shonn Greene is a safe bet. Greene will be used goal-line situations, which means that he’ll treat fantasy owners with touchdowns.

Sure, starting Greene may only pay off if and when he reach pay dirt, but with risk comes reward. He should be around in the last couple of rounds. Don’t be afraid to roll the dice. Greene scoring double-digit touchdowns in 2013 is not far-fetched.

Denver Broncos: With all the attention going to the passing game in Denver, running back Ronnie Hillman is an interesting sleeper this season. Right now, rookie Montee Ball is slated to be the go-to-guy, but Hillman isn’t a bad selection.

The Broncos have always depended on multiple backs and Ball is good, but he’s a rookie that saw a plethora of carries in his time at the University of Wisconsin. The Broncos aren’t worried about Ball’s past workload, but the NFL packs a punch.

Hillman has put on muscle in the offseason and will make the most of his touches.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Kansas City Chiefs have new life after a disastrous 2012 campaign. Rookie tight end Travis Kelce will be a big part of the turn-around for the franchise this season.

Kelce has tremendous athletic ability, but has to put the work in to succeed in the NFL. He may not be a star from Week 1, but give him some time and he’ll pay dividends.

Oakland Raiders: Wide receiver Rod Streater will soon be the man in Oakland. The second-year receiver will be the No. 2 receiver and tasted success in his rookie season.

He had 39 receptions for 584 yards in 2012 and those numbers will rise this season. As the season nears pay attention to the relationship with between Streater and new Raiders quarterback Matt Flynn. Streater is a guy fans love to root for—he’ll show everyone why this season.

San Diego Chargers: His name is Vincent Brown—don’t forget it. Brown was set to break out last season before a broken ankle in the preseason derailed his season.

Now ready to hit the ground running, Brown will break out this season. He’ll put a smile on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers‘ face throughout the season.

When he’s around in the later rounds, don’t think twice.

August 16, 2012

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

By: Junior

With NFL Fantasy Football drafts right around the corner, we will take a look at the top 5 players at each position. Depending on what type of league you are in, theses evaluations will vary, but the general ranking will be similar. Our last rankings focused on running backs. Today, we will look at wide receivers and which will be the best targets to rely on this season.

Calvin Johnson is the receiver everyone would like to have on their team, in fantasy and in the NFL.

1. Calvin Johnson

There is no doubt who the best receiver in the league is this season. Calvin Johnson is called Megatron for a reason. Johnson is an absolute freak on the field and with Matthew Stafford throwing to him his numbers should be simply amazing this year. That is, if you don’t believe in the Madden curse. This season, the Lions has a player in both our top quarterback and top receiver rankings.

2. Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson is battling some nagging injuries right now, but once healthy Johnson is still a dominant receiver. With Arian Foster drawing attention to the run game, Johnson should be freed up more often to make plays downfield. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy the whole season to get Andre the Johnson the ball, he will make you a very happy fantasy owner.

3. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald might be number 2 on this list if the Arizona Cardinals had more weapons around him. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have a QB battle going on in camp and lack the stud running back to draw away defenders. I expect Fitzgerald to see plenty of double teams this season. Luckily for you, he is still talented enough to make plays while being the defenses main target and should bring home plenty of fantasy points.

4. Roddy White

If you are looking for a consistent receiver, look no further. Roddy White has had over 1,000 yards receiving each of the past 5 seasons. With Matt Ryan throwing him the ball and weapons like Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez taking pressure off of him, White should easily make that mark again and be a great #1 receiver for your roster.

5. Greg Jennings

The Packers have been an amazing offense to watch as of late and Greg Jennings is a major part of that. Aaron Rodgers goes to Jennings often, and while Jennings only played in 13 games last season, he still was just shy of 1,000 yards receiving. Add his 9 touchdowns over that time, and for the 5th receiver of the board you are getting a lot of production. If Jennings can stay healthy for 16 games and the Packers offense is as lethal as it was last season, Jennings could make a case for being higher on this list.

August 15, 2012

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

By: Junior

With NFL Fantasy Football drafts right around the corner, we will take a look at the top 5 players at each position. Depending on what type of league you are in, theses evaluations will vary, but the general ranking will be similar. Our last rankings focused on quarterbacks. This week, we will look at the running backs and which players are worthy of a high pick.

Ray Rice tops this year's list of fantasy football running backs.

1. Ray Rice

You won’t see this ranking many other places. To me, consistency is important, and Ray Rice has been nothing but solid that past three seasons. Add the fact he averages over 70 catches over the last three years, and you can count on lots of points from Rice. The Ravens are a team that runs the ball well and will feature Rice often. There is a little worry with the trend of players under-performing after signing a new contract, but I have faith that you won’t regret picking Rice early.

2. LeSean McCoy

Another shocker. However, if you compare his stats with Arian Foster’s the last 3 years, McCoy is right with Foster in many categories. Last season, McCoy had more yards on less carries, as well as 7 more rushing touchdown’s than Foster. That is a lot of points. The Texans can run the ball, but I think the Eagles have a better passing game, allowing them to be more balanced and not let defenses stack the box. I think McCoy is a solid pick up on your fantasy roster.

3. Arian Foster

We finally arrive at the consensus #1 running back in fantasy. I don’t have anything against Foster, and if you can get him on your team when the other 2 running backs listed are gone, I don’t think you will be too disappointed. Foster will get you points, but with Andre Johnson being the only other offensive weapon for the Texans, defenses know who they need to key in on. Add Ben Tate to the equation, and I feel the two other running backs are better options for this season.

4. Matt Forte

While the off-season was a little shaky with his contract dispute/holdout, Forte is in camp and should be his reliable self. As you can tell by my rankings, I like my fantasy running backs to be receiving threats and Forte holds his own, averaging over 50 catches over the last 3 years. However, he only has one 1,000 yard season over that time, which is hard to accept. That being said, with the additions the Bears have made in the passing game, I think Chicago could have a solid offense this season, leading to more red-zone opportunities for Forte.

5. Darren McFadden

This is a tough one. Darren McFadden is a solid bet, when healthy. That, unfortunately, is a big disclaimer. McFadden has had durability issues in the NFL so this could be a risky pick. However, most of the running backs left have concerns. Maurice Jones-Drew is currently holding out. The Falcons have said they may limit Michael Turner in the beginning of the year to keep his legs fresh. Steven Jackson is getting up there in age. The list goes on and on. So I will take a flyer on McFadden and hope for the best.

August 8, 2012

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Fathead’s Fantasy Football Fest Google+ Hangout

By: Junior

Are you serious about your Fantasy Football league or want to regain some respect after a disappointing season last year? Fathead will be hosting a Google+ Hangout live from Fantasy Football Fest on August 18th from 1-3 pm ET. During the Hangout we will have Fantasy Football experts joining us to answer your questions and help you to have the best team in your league.

Where should you take a Rookie QB like RGIII? We will answer questions like that and more during our Google+ Hangout.

Even better, we will be giving away prizes to make sure you have the best set-up in your league. Whether you want Fatheads for your draft room or to decorate your man cave on Sundays, you will have the chance to win them during the Hangout. Just make sure your prize isn’t a player on your opponent’s Fantasy Football team.

A Google+ Hangout only allows 10 people to participate in a Hangout at one time, but you can always watch live on YouTube. At the same time, if someone drops out, you can be ready to jump in and have your question answered. All you need is a webcam, a Google+ account and a spot in Fathead’s Google+ circle.

We want to make sure everyone’s question has a chance to be answered, so let us know what your Fantasy Football question is and we will try to get as many answered On-Air as possible. Simply leave a comment on this blog post or post on Fathead’s Google+ event stating your question and we will get to as many as possible. Then, either join the Hangout or watch us on YouTube to hear what the experts think.

We will announce the Fantasy Football experts joining us during the Hangout as the event gets closer. You can check out the full list of experts as well as current and former NFL players that will be in attendance at Fantasy Football Fest, such as Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy.

So avoid last place this season and join us Saturday August 18th at 1:00 pm ET for fun, free prizes, and a whole lot of knowledge that will help you have a more enjoyable Fantasy Football season.