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Hotdogs, Hamburgers, and Fantasy Football

I love BBQ season. Nothing is better then watching your weight and exercising for 2 weeks, just to ruin it with two hours of uncontrolled binge eating of a variety of foods slathered in BBQ sauce. Add a bunch of beers to the mix, and thats what summer is all about!

As a seasoned and experienced BBQ expert, ( I have to be talented at something, right?) I see a very common mistake among my fellow eaters. Most unseasoned eaters go right for the hot dogs as they are usually the first item that comes off the grill. What a huge mistake!

Don't get me wrong, I love hot dogs. But it so much better to hold out for hamburgers, ribs, chicken, and veal. While these items of deliciousness require more patience and time, they will leave you much more satisfied then trying to channel your inner Kobayashi and downing 35 hotdogs before the real good stuff comes out.

This year, in your fantasy football drafts, there are players that are hot dogs, and then you have your hamburgers/ribs. Hot dogs are the players that fantasy owners are reaching for early and often. While they might be good players, they are being taken waaaay to early in drafts. There is simply no way that their numbers at season's end will justify their early draft position.

Hamburgers/ribs on the other hand are what we might refer to as "sleepers." These players, while they might not be first round values, are the type of players that can win you a league because their numbers will be vastly higher then their expected output.

So grab a beer and a hamburger (not a hot dog) and enjoy!

Hot Dogs

Andre Johnson-

Forget about the fact that Johnson had an injury plagued 2011 season where he finished with only 33 catches for 492 yards and 2 TDs. That isn't why I think Andre is being over drafted this year. This offense is changing drastically and Johnson's days as a top 3 WR are over. In many leagues, Andre is going in the beginning to middle of the second round, and in some leagues he's even going towards the end of the first.

The Texans formula for success during the 2011 season was run run run and then run a little more. While Quarterback Matt Shaub got hurt, and that injury contributed to this strategy, the Texans became one of the most dominating running games in all of football. They were second in the entire NFL with a whopping 546 carries for 2,448 yards. With both Arian Foster and Ben Tate carrying the load, it was not out of the ordinary to see 35+ carries per game.

While this focus on the run game opens up opportunities with the play action passing game, it also means less targets for Johnson. In 2011, after week 5, the Texans only had a player break 100 yards receiving 3 times, and none of those 3 were from a WR. (Arian Foster twice and Owen Daniels once).

I have no doubt that Johnson's final numbers will rank somewhere in the 8-10 position among Wide Receivers. But those numbers don't justify a 1st or second round pick.

Steven Jackson-

Everybody knows that Steven Jackson is an injury prone, aging running back that is a lock to start losing carries over the next few seasons. But somebody explain to me why he is still going in the third round of drafts!

Jackson hasn't finished with more then 7 Touchdowns in a season since 2006!! While he is a lock to rush for around 1,000 yards, those numbers just don't justify a third round pick. I know that Jackson proponents point to the lack of depth at the the RB position, but owners are much better off waiting a round or two and taking players like Demarco Murray, Roy Helu, Darren Sproles, and even Willis Mcgahee.

Julio Jones-

Jones had a solid rookie season by all accounts. He finished with 54 catches for 959 yards and 8 TDs. There have been plenty of reports out of Atlanta, that they are ready to unleash Matt Ryan and open up the offense. All of this lands Jones on many pre-season sleeper lists. In most drafts Jones is being taken towards the end of the third round into the beginning of the fourth.

Are you kidding me? A top 10 WR? This is just not going to happen. The Falcons still have a solid running game and despite the possibility of opening up their offense will still maintain some form of balance. In addition, JONES ISNT EVEN THE BEST WR ON HIS TEAM. Roddy White has been Matt Ryan's number one option and finished the 2011 season with 100 catches for almost 1300 yards.

While Jones could have a great season and finish in the top 20 for WR's , this wouldn't not come close to justifying the 4th round tag that he's receiving in most leagues.

Just say no to Julio in the 4th round! Wait for the Burgers!

Hamburgers/Ribs AKA "The good stuff"

Hakeem Nicks-

Put this down right now: Nicks will be a top 3 WR this year. The Giants lost Brandon Jacobs in the offseason, and are coming off a career year from QB Eli Manning. This team is right on the verge of following Green Bay in becoming one of the biggest passing offenses in the NFL.

Nicks is the WR who will most benefit from this change in philosophy. Even though teammate Victor Cruz is coming off a huge year, Nicks still remains the clear cut number one option for big blue. Nicks is a multifaceted player who is capable of taking it the distance every time he touches the ball. He has the speed and size to be a formidable down field threat. In addition, he excels in running after the catch, and the Giants utilize him in a number of WR screens and short passing plays.

In most drafts Nicks is being taken in the late third round as the 8th-10th best WR. Draft him with confidence a round earlier in the second round, and enjoy the video game numbers.

Phillip Rivers-

In most drafts Rivers is being taken in the 5th-6th rounds as the 10th QB off the board. Are you kidding me??

There is no doubt that Rivers has certain red flags in his game. He is a notorious slow starter who regularly takes 4-5 games to really start putting up big numbers. He threw a career high 20 interceptions last year, and many of them were complete head scratcher Carson Palmer-like INTs. He is losing one of his top targets in Vincent Jackson

That being said, Rivers has thrown for over 4,000 yards in 4 straight seasons. His lowest touchdown total during that time was the 27 that he threw last season. Before last season his highest INT total was the 15 that he threw in 2007. This guy is a lock for big big numbers.

If I get Phillip Rivers in the 6th round, then my league mates may as well just hand me over the trophy before the season even starts. I would take Rivers in a heart beat over other guys like Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, and even Michael Vick.

Reggie Wayne-

Listen, I know that a lot of Wayne's past value has been tied to a Peyton Manning led offense. I also know that he is 33 years old and playing for a now rebuilding Colts team. I also know he is coming off a season where he had his worst numbers since 2003.

But average draft position of 9th or 10th round?? Wow!

I am not trying to say that Reggie Wayne will be a top 10 WR, but I can almost guarantee you that he will be better then the 35th WR taken off the board. Last year, with the likes of Curtis Painter throwing him the ball, Wayne was still able to manage 75 catches for 960 yards. There is no doubt that QB Andrew Luck will have his growing pains as a first year player in the NFL. But, this is still a top QB prospect who was taken with the first pick in the draft for a reason. Luck will be "lucky" to be throwing to a WR who knows how to play the game.

There is no reason that Wayne can't surpass 80 catches for 1200 yards and around 8-9 scores. Take him with confidence in the 6th-7th rounds.