The NFL lockout. Mark it down. It will be the number one excuse for ill-prepared fantasy football owners this season. It will rank right ahead of "bad luck" and directly behind "injury bug" as the main reason losers continue to lose.
Truth be told, very little changed for astute FF players due to the lockout. The draft went off without a hitch. Teams added free agents to bolster weak spots. Training camps took place and depth charts emerged.
Well, one thing happened that only affected savvy owners. For the first time since its inception, Fantasy Football Index did not print.
The cat is out of the bag. For years people inquired about my dominance in the league. At first concealment was key. Take the FFI magazine and tuck it inside a lesser FF mag. Anything to hide the secret.
It was a ritual. The wife knew to start checking the magazine shelves every year at the same time.
Imagine the disappointment when the senior writer for Fantasy Football Index, Ian Allan, announced through fantasyindex.com that the top resource for three championship trophies would not print due to the lockout.
"It just wasn't set up for an on-paper magazine this year," said Allan. "Normally, teams have their minicamps in May and get their rosters in place, with everyone heading out on vacations in June. So it's perfect for printing a magazine -- you go to press in early June, and the information is still fresh when camps open in mid July. That wasn't the case this year."
The past few years, various Internet web sites have gotten super sophisticated. Depending on the skill level and dedication of a league's owners, a monkey could win. The sites will rank, think and draft for you. Zzzzz.
Over the past several years, competitive owners have moved away from the traditional snake draft method and to the more challenging auction style draft.
"I like the auction," said Allan. "With a snake draft, too much is determined by where you are picking. If you're picking 10th, you won't get Adrian Peterson. I prefer the auction, where we can all agree that Peterson is a good player, but only one owner decides that he's worth X amount of dollars. The other 11 owners, presumably, think that owner is wrong. Auctions are fair -- everyone has anequal shot at every player."
Snake draft orders are determined by one of two methods. The first method is the random draw of numbers. This is fantastic if you are playing little league tee ball and don't want to leave the athletically challenged kid out.
The second method is reverse order from last year's final standings. In other words, rewarding putrid owners for tanking the season. Very un-American.
One of the underrated facets of fantasy football is homerism. Deep down inside, you want a player or two from your favorite squad. Rooting for your "real" team becomes twice as exciting.
What about T-Town NFL'ers? Where do they rank in the hierarchy of their position? Should you take a flier on one of the hometown boys?
"Felix Jones makes a lot of big plays, and the Cowboys have a solid ground game," said Allan. "They got away from the run in the first half of last season, when they ranked next-to-last at 76 yards per game.
"In the second half of the season, they were up at 5th, averaging 148 yards per game. Jason Garrett, it seems, called a lot more running plays as a head coach than he did as an offensive coordinator. I envision Jones sharing time with one or two other backs. I don't think he'll play at the goal line. I expect Tashard Choice or Lonyae Miller will get those carries. With Choice hurt, Miller has been a surprise at camp."
Jones was known in high school and college for his speed. He could gain the edge at will. He decided to add bulk to his frame. He can no longer outrun defenders whether it is the additional size or simply competing against higher caliber players in the pros.
This is his second year with the new body. Perhaps he can find a happy medium with size and speed. The Booker T. Washington standout could be a proverbial sleeper on the high octane Cowboys offense.
Another Hornet already has a Super Bowl ring entering his fifth season with the New Orleans Saints. Robert Meachem added to the "Mabee Babies" legacy, but has battle injuries in the pros.
"Meachem is good on deep routes, but I think that's all they'll use him for," said Allan. "He'll be an outside receiver, and he'll make some big plays. He's like another Alvin Harper. I don't see him being used in the red zone or catching 70-plus passes."
This is no indication of Meachem's talent and potential. It is more of an indictment on the Saints multi-attack style offense.
Finally, let's breakdown a lightning rod of controversy. This guy is either the greatest player in the NFL or a complete bum, depending on who you ask. This is not just a local fling either. All NFL pundits take one of those stands.
"I think (Tony) Romo gets too much grief," said Allan. "He's a good quarterback -- a top-10 fantasy quarterback for sure. He completed almost 70 percent of his passes last year. In the last 20 years, only two quarterbacks have completed a higher percentage of passes in a season -- Steve Young and Drew Brees in their Super Bowl seasons."
You want to win a fantasy championship? Go ahead and pick Tony Romo.
You want to win an NFL title? Better luck "next" year with Romo at the helm.
Fantasy Football Index will return to print form next season. For now, if you like the rag or like winning, check the web site for an online version. You can also sign up for weekly cheat sheets and updates.
Share this article: