Tuesday, July 31, 2012

White Wedding

Billy Idol's 'White Wedding' appropriately describes the unification of my boss, Lynn, and her new husband TJ. The pair joined in matrimony this past Saturday, which of course made for extra work for the rest of us.

Things went about as well as could be expected. The wedding and following reception and dance went really well also.

Interspersed in all the wedding hoopla was the Legion section tournament. Bottineau was eliminated on the third day after a couple of tough matches following some upsets in early rounds.

I got a few pretty good pictures though, but first I am going to begin a four-week series on fantasy football.

Over the next four weeks I'll be sharing a little of my thoughts on fantasy football rankings for the 2012 season. As a many time champion in leagues both with friends, strangers and anyone else who dares to challenge me, I feel like it's time that I share a little of the method behind the success over the years. Keep in mind that I began playing fantasy football in 1995 as a seven-year-old. And first played with the 'big boys' for a money purse in 2000 as a 12-year-old.

Anyway, the next four weeks I will look at the four most important positions that could help shape anyone's fantasy draft and season. This week I will look quarterbacks.


My overwhelming theme of this season is to stay steady and not get wrapped up with all your eggs in risk/reward players' baskets. There are many safe and solid picks that will help a team with minimal injury or suspension risk (obviously things happen), but many players have dropped in my ranks due to injury risk.

Quarterbacks are really important this year, and really they have been the past couple of years. I think it is no surprise that passing has increased mightily over the past few seasons. Just take last year's attack of the Marino single season passing yard record, which was smashed by not one, but two guys with a third not far behind. Therefore, having a top-tier quarterback is key to fantasy success. Playing fantasy football without one of the best quarterbacks this season, would be like going up against pocket aces with two under cards pre-flop. It's doable, but the aces are much more preferable.

That brings me to rankings, and again players have slipped due to my gut feeling that the injury bug might bite this year. The NFL season takes a toll on the body, and now with a full offseason and no extra rest, it might enforce its will over the more injury-prone players.

1. Aaron Rodgers: Really a no-brainer here, has been a rock the past few years and still has many weapons at his disposal. Also, he has a very player-friendly coach, who lets him help pick the plays in a pass-happy offense. Plus he's also good for a rushing touchdown or two here and again.

2. Drew Brees: Not only is Brees a big yardage gainer and extensive thrower with many weapons, he will again have the emerged red zone threat of Jimmy Graham. Graham helped him throw a career-high 46 touchdowns last season. Expect more of the same this years, 5,000 yards and 40+ touchdowns are a lock.

3. Tom Brady: Another signal caller that put up monster numbers. Though he has to fall off soon (he turns 35 on Friday), but not this year. With the Gronk and Welker still in tow, and a new deep threat in Brandon Lloyd, there is no reason to believe that Brady can't put up monster numbers once again in 2012.

4. Cam Newton: I've always been a big fan of quarterbacks that can run, from Cunningham to Culpepper to Vick, they have always produced in fantasy. However, Newton takes it to a whole different level. Seriously? More than 4,000 yards passing and 14 touchdowns rushing. Unprecedented. A knock on mobile quarterbacks is durability, but Newton appears to have a great physical ability to take a hit like a running back. While it might force him into a shorter career, it shouldn't affect his ability to put up big fantasy numbers this season.

5. Eli Manning: Most people might have Peyton or Matt Stafford in this position, but for me, Eli's in a better situation. With fantastic weapons in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and speedy backs, Eli should be able to repeat nearly identical, if not better, numbers from 2011. He's a much safer bet than a guy, who missed most of his first two seasons (Stafford) and one who didn't play a snap in 2011 (Peyton).

6. Philip Rivers: Despite one of his worst season as a quarterback, Rivers didn't have a bad season fantasy-wise. He still threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns, numbers that are parallel with most any other season for Rivers. The departure of Vincent Jackson might hurt Rivers stock a little, but I think the return of a healthy Antonio Gates will help more than Jackson leaving will hurt.

7. Matt Stafford: Even though I consider Stafford an injury risk, and I will likely avoid him in my draft scenarios, it is pretty hard to not put a guy who threw for more than 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in the top 10. Plus, assuming he stays healthy, he gets to throw to Megatron and an underrated Brandon Pettigrew.

8. Matt Schaub: A high-end sleeper, expect Schaub to return to 2009 form with a 4,000 yard and 30 touchdown performance this season. Teams should key on the solid Texans run game, which will open the Schaub to Andre Johnson touchdown train. Also a solid offensive line should help Schaub stay healthy.

9. Peyton Manning: I couldn't let Manning fall out of the top ten. Despite the injury and any lingerings or rust that remain, Peyton is still Peyton. Before 2011 he was a consensus top five quarterback for many years. He has a lot of weapons in Denver, so he can't do too bad can he?

10. Tony Romo: A pretty safe bet that Romo goes for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. Enough said.

Tune in next week for a look at running backs.

Here are some pictures:
Bottineau's Andrew Hill smacks a single in a Thursday morning game against Rolette.

Hill can't handle an over throw by catcher Taylor Milbrath Thursday.

Brody Moum makes contact.

Second baseman Devin Bercier fires to first base against Velva on Friday.

Justin McCloud slides safely into third following a triple last Friday against Velva.

McCloud prepares to field a grounder from his short stop position.

Bercier flames a pitch toward the plate.

Hunter Braaten dives back safely into first base.

McCloud turns a double play.

Cody Brooks takes a cut at a pitch last Friday.

Ging Martin prepares to throw after fielding a bunt.

Brooks delivers a pitch.

Brooks stares toward home before firing a pitch.

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