Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last, Child

I chose to go with a variation of the Aerosmith song Last Child this week. By putting in the comma it is signifying that this is the last week of lack of photos on this blog, and probably the last week that I'm going to get much rest.

I did four previews last week and covered the races. This week I have a football game tonight and one on Saturday. Also there is a volleyball tournament on Saturday. The fall season is upon us, which I'm quite happy for, because that means that fantasy football is about to start.

Week 4: the expendables

This final week, as everyone is preparing for drafts, I leave you with a few rankings and a little advice. We end the fantasy advice series with tight ends, kickers and team defenses.

Tight ends are a curious bunch. Though they play important and vital roles on the field, they aren't much of a factor when it comes to fantasy, that is, until last year. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmie Graham made tight ends relevant again. However, the rest of the sorry pack really weren't all that impressive, most of them couldn't out score a fourth or fifth running back, but I'll give my top five anyway.

1. Rob Gronkowski
Gronk is a freak athlete, and he has one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing at him. I'd have to imagine that, due to his freakish size, strength and ability, he has to be one of the hardest receivers tight end or otherwise to cover, and that gives him an advantage. He is a clear lock for the top tight end spot, but there is one problem--Madden curse. So choose wisely, if you believe in that sort of thing.

2. Jimmie Graham
Graham nearly held his own with Gronk last season, and also had a stud arm firing balls his way. He too has great ability and size, and has proven a favorite target of Brees. Chances are his numbers will be as good, if not better than last year. Draft him in the second or third round if possible.

3. Jermichael Finley
When healthy Finley is nearly on the level of Gronkowski and Graham, but that's the problem, he tends to get nicked up. He has a strong upside, which is something I normally don't put stock in, however, with tight ends that is really all that can be hoped for. He might be worth a shot in the end, he does have Rodgers throwing to him after all.

4. Antonio Gates
There is about a 50/50 shot that Gates returns to form in 2012. Though I wouldn't risk a super-high pick on Gates, a seventh or eighth round stab for him could be warranted. He's battled injury the past couple of years, but Gates is still at a fighting age (32), when a similarly skilled tight end (Tony Gonzalez) was 32, (and he is still playing by the way) he scored 165 fantasy points and also had 96 receptions. So, it isn't over for Gates just yet.

5. Brandon Pettigrew
The biggest positive for Pettigrew is that he gets targeted a lot (15th most of all receivers, higher than Gronk), but the problem is he doesn't always catch it (seven drops, rank 10). However, if he figures it out and Stafford keeps chucking him the ball in the red zone, lets just say, don't be surprised to see double digit touchdowns at minimum for Pettigrew this year.

As for kickers, there isn't any real intricate way to put this, they don't matter. Some might do better than others one year, and worse the next. Over the years I've tried to rank and predict kickers, with little to no success. I don't think there is really anyway that their season can be predicted. Sputtering offenses or a tough schedule could maybe help, but to be honest, I think it's mostly a crap shoot. Draft a kicker in the second-to-last round or pick one up right before week one. If he gets hurt or under performs pick up another.

Defenses are even more worthless than kickers, apart from some oddball leagues that buff defensive statistics. The typical fantasy football league defenses can be taken or left. One thing is for sure, do not take a defense until the last pick. There is absolutely no reason to take the Steelers defense before the Cardinals defense, they won't finish too far between them. My personal favorite way to do defenses is to stream them. Streaming is when one looks at the free agent defenses, picks the one that is going up against the worst offense, or the worst quarterback and starts them. Repeat the process the every week. It might cost a little extra in transaction fees (if the league has them), but it could be the extra couple-point advantage that can get a win.

I hope that any of these columns have helped prepare those who will be drafting this fall. They hopefully provide some of the basics for those to draft. Obviously many more players will be taken, and many more decisions will be testing the rankings, but it's better than nothing, right? Good luck in 2012.

With that out of the way, here are a couple race pictures:
The 181 car of Dustin Sackenrueter gets a little wide coming out of turn four last Sunday.

Chris Romfo takes the checkered flag, one of three for him on the night.

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