Thursday, July 5, 2012

National Friday League: Theme Teams Continue

Theme Team: The Sophomore Studs
This team is comprised entirely of second year players.

QB: Cam Newton   (also consider Andy Dalton)  

 RB: DeMarco MurrayMark Ingram   (also consider Roy HeluStevan Ridley )

 WR: A.J. Green, Julio Jones  (also consider Torrey SmithDenarius MooreTitus Young

 TE: Kyle Rudolph  (also consider Lance Kendricks)  

Analysis: I don’t think you could build this team in a snake draft: your first four picks would need to be Newton, Green, Jones, and Murray in some order, and I’m not sure you could get them all (or that you'd want to pass on other available players to do so). But you could definitely make this team in an auction league.

This is actually a good team at QB and WR. If your league gives more points for rushing TDs than passing TDs, Newton can be really valuable, and both A.J. Green and Julio Jones showed great production for rookies in ’11. They should be good picks: both have potential to become elite in their second years. Even if you need to start three WRs, you can find some good potential second year players (I only named a few). You can, obviously, do better at TE, but that’s not a major worry.

The big weakness of this team is at running back. Make no mistake about it: there will be sophomore running backs that break out in 2012. But based on their ’11 production and their situations, I don’t know who those running backs are going to be. After DeMarco Murray, no ’11 rookie running back really exploded with signs of potential. I am going with Ingram over Helu or Ridley: I don’t like any of their situations, but figure Ingram is the more talented (you could probably draft all three!). It is quite likely that some other sophomore RB, one that didn’t or barely played in ’11, will be a breakout player. Good luck guessing who.

You may find a lot of other potential second year players as well: this draft list (with ’11 production included) from should be helpful.

So, can you win a fantasy league with this team?  It really depends on hitting on the right running backs, the WRs stepping up from words like "explosive," "exciting," or "potential" to "elite #1," and Cam Newton doing something approximately like what he did in 2011.

Previous Theme Teams: The Return from Injury Team

You can tell fantasy junkies by the finicky and specific critiques they offer of fantasy magazines.
I bought Sports Illustrated's fantasy magazine this year, and it is overall excellent (clean organization, profiles with three year stats including targets, detailed explanations/analysis, relevant coaching/player/rookie/roster change info, terrific team pages with red zone stats and opposing coach's comments on the team, auction values out of 100 so you can easily translate it to your own league's salary cap--something most fantasy mags screw up). That magazine and I are going to be spending a lot of time together. But it has one really serious flaw.

There is no position by position cheat sheet. A cheat sheet organized overall, with all players thrown into the mix, is not very helpful in any draft (unless you've really familiarized yourself with it, you don't always know where to look, and while any fantasy manager is going to have slightly different rankings from any fantasy magazine, different managers have wildly different ideas about the value of certain positions over others, so mixing QBs, RBs, WRs, and TEs into one big list is almost entirely worthless). But it is entirely worthless during an auction draft, when players aren't nominated for bidding in anything resembling a ranking of quality. With no positional cheat sheet, SI has just ensured that I need to create or print another list just to manage during a live draft (or page through the mag checking each positional ranking section, but a cheat sheet is supposed to simplify things by eliminating that need).


  1. I would also consider Ryan Williams as a 2nd year RB to draft (he was a big deal when drafted by Arizona but missed his rookie season with a knee injury). I think he could take over for Beanie Wells.

    Some might argue for Jacquizz Rodgers also, but I think Turner will keep the majority of carries for the Falcons unless he's injured.

    Mikel Leshoure? Hard to get a read on the situation in Detroit, but he and Smith and Best all have potential depending on health.

    I was thumbing through the SI magazine just yesterday and couldn't bring myself to spend the 8 bucks, but this post is making me reconsider. I will be printing my own cheatsheets based on my projections anyway, so that's not a big deal. I do like getting multiple opinions to tweak my own biases going into draft day though, so sometimes I'll pick up a mag or two like this.

    What theme team will be next?

  2. I think next week might be "The team team."

  3. Almost grabbed myself an all-saints team a few years back (the year Breeze started slow). In my mocking this year, the Patriots keep finding ways to get multiple members on my roster. Bears, maybe? Eagles, maybe? Sounds like fun!

    1. Brees, that is. Thanks, phone.