Many of you will inevitably run into the problem of picking between two comparable players – Reggie Wayne vs. Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Thomas vs. Beanie Wells or Steve Smith vs. Steve Smith (by the way, I take Steve Smith over Steve Smith this season) – here are some decision
makers I use to help sway my opinion.
All Offensive Positions
The first way I evaluate players is
A,E,I,O,U and sometimes Y.
A – Age, pure and simple.
E – Employment status. This works two ways to help you – players in contract years (rumor has it that contract year players try harder), and players that a team just signed for a big deal. Teams usually don’t shell out big time dollars for bench candy.
I – Injuries, whether present, or more importantly, the injury history.
O – Offense, as in team offense. Every year the Detroit Lions trot out another wunderkind runningback with all of the talent in the world, but just not enough to carry your team to a championship. The Barry Sanders exception applies here, but I believe Sanders may be the only person who could take Chuck Norris down. He would find a way.
U – Upside and underused. Yeah, there’s two “U’s” here (no, not “Youts”), but they are both important. Upside is, well, upside. Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells has upside, Brian Westbrook doesn’t. Underused is a little tougher. Felix Jones makes a good candidate here as it appears he will see more carries this season.
And Sometimes Y – YAC, or yards after catch. I love YAC, you love YAC, coaches love YAC, kids today love YAC, your grandparents back in the day loved YAC (and it only cost a nickel!), lions in the wild love yak, but if they watched football they would definitely love YAC, Bill the Cat and Eric the Midget love ACK, but it’s close enough!
Here are a few less obvious position specific guidelines that I like to follow.
– Take the kicker with a better offense. They score more points and are more likely to have a lead which can turn into garbage time field goals. There is nothing sweeter than squeaking out a win with garbage time points!
– I love kickers with a late bye week. Kickers usually don’t get hurt and this allows you to only carry one until Week 9 or 10, and by that time you are ready to jettison the underperformers on your bench. Yes, I’m looking at you Vince Young!
– Runningbacks who have taken the time in the offseason to work on their blocking. With the number of workhorse backs reaching extinction-like levels, it’s more important than ever to find that well-rounded runningback.
– Speed and hands. I’ve learned my lesson and will no longer listen to anyone saying that a back like Maurice Jones-Drew can’t take the abuse at his size.
– No. 2 wideouts on a prolific offense can be as good or better as a No. 1 on a bad team.
-Don’t fill your bench with the same type of wide receivers. Keep a good mix of young upsiders and veterans. Don’t worry about rookies; let someone else clog up their bench.
-If the player is playing under a new coach, look at the system. See how the coach has used tight ends in the past.
– Pay attention when drafting a rookie tight end. You don’t want to get stuck with a blocker.
-Watch the age and wear and tear on a quarterback that is a scrambler.
-Pick the quarterback on a monster offense that has the worst defense. Always having to come back and score again is a gift from the gods.
Now go invest in some good trophy polish.