The first day of August is here, and that means fantasy football season is right around the corner. As with every year, it all begins with the most important day of everyone’s season: fantasy football draft day … unless you actually plan on winning your league. In that case, fantasy football season begins now, and the time between today and draft day will be spent pouring through news articles, player updates and endless bits of expert analysis. That’s how the preseason works; prepare like a champion.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find an expert you believe in, you can drink their Kool Aid all season long, and not have to worry about what anyone else says. That doesn’t mean you won’t read and listen to everyone else, because, face it, even if it’s bad advice, you want to know what it is. Thankfully you can sit back, grab a glass and listen to your 2013 fantasy football Kool Aid man. I’ll be busting through your wall in just a moment. OH YEAH!
By now, I’m sure you’ve read what other people have to say, so I’ll just let you know where these experts are wrong in hopes of leading you to a better draft, helping you avoid the pitfalls everyone else is leading you toward, and giving you the best chance of winning your league. Without any evidence to the contrary, I’ll assume you’ve been brainwashed by all
those other writers and do my best to correct that, with some brainwashing of my own. Later on I’ll post my player rankings, broken down by position, for those of you blessed enough to not be confused by the musings of other experts. Or for anyone who needs a cheatsheet going into their own draft. Or for all you critical cynics out there who want to save it for later and remind me of how wrong I was, unless of course I end up being right and you “just so happen” to lose my rankings. I know it happens, but I’ll pretend you’re better than that. I have faith in you. So now, without any further ado, here’s your Kool Aid:
In case you haven’t heard, they’re you’re bread and butter, your money m
akers, your keys to success. Draft them first. Draft them frequently. When in doubt, draft a running back. If you’ve read advice from an expert who doesn’t say that, you don’t need to be reading them. At least for this year. But here’s where we start to differ, particularly, in the order of running backs. There are five guys you need to target, whether through the draft or trades: Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster and C.J. Spiller. In that order. Yes, in that order.
Peterson is the best running back in the NFL, possibly the best ever, but with the vacuum of talent around him on the Minnesota Vikings, it will be even easier for teams to load up against him. He’s been a workhorse and has logged an outrageous number of touches. It’s going to catch up with him eventually. For him, eventually is 2013. That brings us to our next running back …
Foster has already started to decline, and his numbers reflect that. His touches are going down, his averages are going down faster, and with Ben Tate coming back healthy it looks like the Houston Texans will be facing more of a two back system rather than rolling with their No. 1 guy.
Those two guys each falling is why Martin becomes the No. 1 guy to target this year. If he’s available, draft him, whether you have the first overall pick or the fifth. If he falls beyond the fifth pick, I’m disappointed you didn’t invite me to your league, because clearly I would be the champion. He doesn’t like his nickname (the Muscle Hamster), but Martin has to like his outlook for this season.
Charles has a new coach, a new offensive system, a better quarterback, a much-improved offensive line blocking for him, and he didn’t tear his ACL the previous season. You remember how dominant Brian Westbrook was in his prime, and how he was always a top running back pick? Charles has the same coach, bringing with him the same system. And he’s faster. You loved him four years ago, you should love him this year too, and you may even love me after you draft him. You’re welcome.
Spiller plays for the Buffalo Bills. In case you haven’t heard, they have a rookie quarterback, and that means there will be short, simple passes, including a number of checkdowns to the running back. With as dominant as he was last season, Fred Jackson will be seeing fewer touches as the new coaching staff tries to establish their top running back as a force to be reckoned with, all to help protect their deficiency at quarterback. The Bills may not be a great squad, but that’s what makes Spiller all the more desirable. He’s their only chance to win.
Other running backs I love this year include LeSean McCoy, Stevan Ridley, Matt Forte, Reggie Bush, Darren McFadden, Giovani Bernard and DeAngelo Williams. Additionally, because of the hype associated with them, I’d try to avoid targeting the following players, unless they fall below their expected draft position: Steven Jackson, Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory and Darren McFadden. That’s right. McFadden is on both lists. History suggests he’s an injury waiting to happen, but because of that I’m sure his coaches have him on a short leash. It’s now or never for him, and if he underperforms or gets hurt, there’s a good chance his NFL career is over. I wouldn’t reach for him, but if he falls to you I’d grab him in an instant. There’s not much better motivation than trying to hold onto your multimillion dollar job.