Monday, April 25, 2011

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume IV, Issue XVI

Welcome to our 129th edition of the FDH Fantasy Newsletter, as we continue to bring you weekly fantasy sports updates in addition to our usual content on Our archive of past editions is available right here on The Blog and specific links to past editions are available at

This week, we serialize our just-released PRO FOOTBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2011 – the only guide you need for this week’s NFL Draft. We bring you our draft overview, 2011 rookie class fantasy analysis and first look ahead to the 2012 draft.

2011 NFL Draft Overview

A year after the NFL Draft brought a deep bumper crop of talent into the league, the cruel cyclical nature of star availability comes into focus with the 2011 event (April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York). With only the defensive line providing a truly overwhelming pool of new pros, this draft will be sufficiently bereft of excitement that it seems fitting that it is being held under the storm clouds of the present lockout. However, teams will be fortunate enough in the sense that the draft will be slightly more impactful than exciting.

Alabama DT Marcel Dareus and UNC DE Robert Quinn head up the incredible D-line class. The depth of the crop is such that players with questions that are minor compared to their talent are sliding down the board. Da’Quan Bowers is having to deal with some doubts about the state of his knee and the fact that Nick Fairley only really dominated for one year means that it might take a little longer than originally anticipated for some team to croon to this Biz Markie impersonator “You got what I need.” Also on defense, LSU CB Patrick Peterson and Texas A&M OLB Von Miller are among the best to come out at their respective positions in the last decade, with Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara joining them in Top 10 worthiness.

Offensively, the only can’t-miss skill position players are both SEC wide receivers, AJ Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama. It’s not certain that another WR will make the first-round cut, just as it is no longer thought for sure that either 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram of Alabama or any other running back will make the Thursday-night trek to the podium symbolizing the top 32. The top QBs, 2011 Heisman winner Cameron Newton of Auburn and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, both have very high upsides and accompanying question marks. At all positions on both sides of the ball except the defensive line, early-round bang for the buck is very necessary.

2011 NFL Draft Fantasy Overview

As noted above, impact players at the skill positions are few and far between in this year’s NFL Draft. As such, you may be able to count on one hand the players who will be able to make a serious fantasy impact in their maiden seasons this fall (although fantasy players in keeper leagues will want to check out our feature below on a huge QB/RB/WR rookie crop in 2012).

The two “can’t miss” fantasy selections in this year’s draft are both at the wide receiver position, AJ Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama in that order. However, WR is a rare position for the true #1 fantasy production in a rookie season, so our enthusiasm for them is more of a long-term proposition. TE Kyle Rudolph of Notre Dame is the only one worth mentioning.

None of the QBs most likely to contribute (probably Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Washington’s Jake Locker or Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett in that order) will give much this fall.

RBs who can optimistically be at the #3 level this fall? Mikel Leshoure of Illinois may have the best chance to contribute on most downs due to his speed for his size. Alabama’s Mark Ingram, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams and scatback Taiwan Jones of Eastern Washington could also be of moderate use to your fantasy team this year.

First Look Ahead to 2012 NFL Draft

Above, we noted the cyclical nature of the talent pool when it comes to the NFL Draft. Given that this year’s collection of skill position players is fairly abysmal, it should therefore come as no surprise that the 2012 crop could indeed be historic, one of the best ever in terms of the combined QB-RB-WR studs.

If the NFL lockout played a part in scaring some players back into school for another year, teams with high picks will be the ones to reap the rewards one year hence, because there will be many super-skilled franchise players available. At QB, Andrew Luck has to hope that his decision to return to school looks better at that time than Jake Locker’s does now — and it is not off to a promising start with former coach Jim Harbaugh playing the role of Lucy yanking the football away to his Charlie Brown. Nevertheless, Luck leads an amazing class that also (potentially) includes USC’s Matt Barkley and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. The impact RBs are led by Alabama’s Trent Richardson (with a higher ceiling than former teammate and 2010 Heisman winner Mark Ingram), Oregon’s LaMichael James, Clemson’s Andre Ellington, Arkansas’ Knile Davis and Washington’s Chris Polk. And at WR, South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery leads a group that may one day be regarded with the legendary Class of ‘96 (i.e. Marvin Harrison/Terrell Owens/Keyshawn Johnson/Terry Glenn/Muhsin Muhammad/Joe Horn/Amani Toomer). Those just behind Jeffery include Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles and Arkansas’ Greg Childs.

Also on offense, TEs Dwayne Allen and Michael Egnew figure to be picked way ahead of anyone at their position in ‘11 and OTs Matt Kalil and Jonathan Martin will be picked very high based on their skills as defenders for Barkley and Luck, respectively.

Defensively, it’s much harder to project who will be rated very highly in 2012, since some of the most physically gifted players still have more to prove on the gridiron this fall. The ones with the best chances to parlay their skills into the top half of the round include DTs Jered Crick of Nebraska and Jerel Worthy of Michigan State, DEs Quinton Coples of UNC, Courtney Upshaw of Alabama and Andre Branch of Clemson, CBs Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama, Janoris Jenkins of Florida and Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, S Janzen Jackson of Tennessee, ILB Vontaze Burflict of Arizona State and OLB Zach Brown of North Carolina.


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