Monday, August 23, 2010

Building a fantasy football team: Quarterbacks

The office chatter about fantasy football has already started.  Which fantasy league are you in?  When is your draft?  Ochocinco may not get a lot of points with T.O. in town.  In some cases you will hear more about fantasy football than real NFL games.  What’s all the hype about? 

Fantasy football allows a lot of football fans to have their ultimate fantasy job – own, manage and coach a professional football team.   Just like a NFL general manager, you get to draft the players that you want and trade them throughout the season.  You also get to put on your coaches hat and select your starters each week. 

Most fantasy football leagues are set up so you draft a quarterback, running back, tight end, wide receiver, kicker and one team’s defense.  Some leagues use individual defense players (IDPs) instead of team defenses.  Scoring is based on how your players perform in their actual games.  You will get points when one of your players completes a positive action such as scoring a touchdown or sacking.  You will lose points when a player does something negative like throws an interception.  (See the complete list of scoring opportunities.)  In the Heels & Helmets fantasy football league on, the team rosters will include: 1 Quarterback; 2 Running Backs; 3 Wide Receivers; 1 Tight End; 1 Kicker; 1 Defensive Team; and 6 Bench players.  We are using the NFL managed scoring setting.   

When drafting players for your fantasy football team, do not base it on how well you think a team will perform.  Review individual statistics and consider how much playing time a player is anticipated to have this season.  Watching preseason games will give you an idea of who the top players are and how they are performing.  It also gives you a glimpse at the depth each team has because you will see second and third string players play.  To put this into practice, let’s look at some options at the quarterback position.

Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) and Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts) are at the top of the league.  They have strong passing options in Marques Colston and Reggie Wayne respectively, that they are comfortable with.  They also are leading offenses that they know well.  I will give an edge to Brees because Peyton had neck surgery during the offseason, but either one of these guys are good picks for your team.

Brett Favre (Minnesota Vikings) is back.  Seriously.  He played in the preseason game yesterday, so forget the rumors.  It was a rough start for the super veteran, but he knows the game.  While he has appeared a little indecisive the last few years, no one questions how tough if he is.  He will take the majority of the snaps for the Vikings and this gives him plenty of opportunities to pass to his star young receiver, Percy Harvin or hand off to Adrian Peterson, running back and 3-time pro bowler.

Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) is healthy, but due to his suspension he will not play in the first six regular season games.  You do not want a guy who will miss out on almost half of the regular season as your starting quarterback.  Big Ben is a good option to have on your team later in the season.  Consider drafting him and putting him on the bench.  Just be mindful that he no longer has Santonio Holmes as a receiving threat. 

This brings me to the young New York Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez.  In his rookie year, he led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.  He is young and still learning, but he has a solid offense with experienced players like Holmes, Braylon Edwards and LaDainian Tomlinson.  Therefore, he doesn’t have to be great to be a superstar and get points for your team.

Here are a few other quarterback situations to watch in the preseason as you prepare for your fantasy draft: Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) is not on a good team, but Calvin Johnson is one of the leagues top receivers; Tom Brady (New England Patriots) is past his knee and fingers problems; Eli Manning (New York Giants) suffered a head injury in the Giants preseason game against the Jets last week; Donovan McNabb (Washington Redskins) is still adjusting to a new offensive line and receivers; and Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals) now has the dynamic receiving duo, Ochocinco and T.O.

Tonight in preseason action, the Arizona Cardinals will play the Tennessee Titans at LP Stadium at 8 p.m.  Catch some of the game on ESPN and see how quarterbacks Matt Leinart (Arizona) and Vince Young (Tennessee) perform.  Will they show you something to make you want to draft them? 

Heels & Helmets

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