When I was a kid, my father used to take me on a Father-Son Campout every fall. What this really meant was he got to sit around a fire with his buddies while me and my friends darted off into the woods to have a pretend army “battle.”
It was always a Friday night, and the battles were always legendary. It was seriously the most fun thing a 10-year old boy could possibly imagine: running around in the woods, minimal parental supervision, and lots and lots of toy guns. Those battles felt so real, so energetic it was intense and an amazing joy ride.
On Saturday morning, everyone would eat breakfast and then basically pack up and head home. The other guys who lived in my neighborhood and also attended this campout always ended up congregating at the massive rock fort in my backyard to try to keep playing with our guns and keeping that fun streak alive that we experienced the night before.
There was one big problem though: just because something was great once does not always mean it turns out just fantastic the second time (I believe marriage also follows this same “toy gun” principle).
No matter what we did or how real we tried to make these battles, it just never lived up to the perfect elements that made the previous night so fun.
With that principle in mind, a few NFL players experienced a high uptick last year because they were in ideal conditions for success.
Michael Vick ran for 9 touchdowns in 12 games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. In 2011 he only ran for 1 touchdown in 13 games. LeSean McCoy saw the uptick as he ran for 17 touchdowns in Vick’s absence. I would not consider LeSean McCoy a top 5 player for that reason. Can you really be sure Vick will miss so many games that McCoy will again benefit?
Maurice Jones-Drew is another candidate to regress this season. He finally won his first rushing crown. Great. He ONLY received 343 carries. If Jacksonville wants to either trade him or save some of his legs (both of which they appear inclined to do) they will not run him as often and as heavily, especially when things get stacked up near the goal line. Do no spend a top-5 pick on MJD.
McCoy and MJD seem to be consensus top-5 selections, but now that we have bumped both of them down (and please do not let McCoy fall out of the top-10 and MJD out the top-15), it is time to create a new top-5
1. Aaron Rodgers: just do yourself the favor and grab the best player in the NFL first overall. The league is clearly given to passing now more than ever. More Runningbacks will still be there when the draft snakes back around. Rodgers is still improving; his arrow is clearly pointing up especially considering all the weapons at WR and TE that Green Bay employs.
2. Tom Brady: similar logic here, nothing fancy—grab the second best quarterback with the second pick! I will spare all the clichés previously stated about the passing league and so forth, let’s get to the meat. Brady’s best deep threat last year was Chad Ochocinco, and his spot was upgraded to Brandon Llyod. Big Jump!
3. Ray Rice: he finally broke through and doubled up his TD numbers to go with his big-time yardage. And now that he looks even better in the redzone, grab the Fantasy RB MVP from last year and lock down that roster spot.
4. Arian Foster: the guy was limited in the first three games of the season and still pulled out 1200 yards and 10 TDs on the ground, He is also a very reliable pass-catcher, which bodes well with gunslinger Matt Schaub.
5. Calvin Johnson: the rest of the RBs look a little dicey and why gamble on a player when Megatron is still available? It is similar logic as with the QBs: just grab the player available, if all else fails draft the talent with the gambles. If Matthew Stafford gets the ball up; Megatron will have a big year.
Grabbing a sleeper is all about taking risks, and if the other players in your league have forgotten about Michael Vick, make them pay. I know he has a high pedigree, but the big plays are still there. His injuries will hold others back, but not you!