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1st and 10: Thoughts from the Fantasy Football Champs

Posted Jan 11, 2013

In this week's installment of 1st and 10 we offer some strategy for Playoff fantasy football leagues and look ahead to next year's Fantasy Football season.

Playoff fantasy football leagues continue through the Super Bowl and as I noted last week, the key is to try to draft players that will have the most impact and also play in the most games. If you gambled with Adrian Peterson or AJ Green, you are likely at a disadvantage in the unforgiving instant elimination of playoff fantasy football. However, if you drafted an Anquan Boldin or Ray Rice, you are in good shape in your standings this week. Most playoff league drafts are one and done, but if you are in a weekly re-draft playoff league, I would continue to focus on taking the players you believe both win this week and are most likely to win again in the Championship game.

As football fans we are getting into the most exciting part of the NFL season but as fantasy football players we are already counting down the days until the next draft. I will take a very early look ahead to the 2013 draft and in the spring dig deep into the fantasy football impact of free agent moves, the rookies entering the NFL, the impact of injuries such as the one to RG3, and training camp.

In looking ahead to next year, I try to make sure I pay close attention to our FFChamps Ten Commandments of Fantasy Football of which I have referenced throughout this column all season. The commandment you should focus on is our Commandment No. 4: Thou Shall Draft Players from the NEXT Great Offenses. Great offenses drive winning fantasy football teams. As much as you may like Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s offense and QB situation were so stagnant this season that even before his injury, MJD struggled as defenses isolated him as the only threat for the Jaguars. If you were smart enough to target the Broncos or Falcons, you likely had positive results.

It is safe to bank on the Broncos repeating their offensive prowess, as well as old standbys such as the Patriots, Packers, Falcons and Cowboys likely having strong fantasy football offenses. There is a ton of research that our expert team at FFChamps.com will do between now and late August when most leagues do their draft but looking through the crystal ball, I believe the Colts offense will continue to improve under Andrew Luck and emerging wide receiver TY Hilton will be a major benefactor as both he and Luck enter their second year. While many of us got burned by Cam Newton earlier this season, the Panthers offense exploded in the final six weeks of the season, so their draft and free agent moves bear watching. If they add some young receiving threats to the aging Steve Smith, I will probably be high on Carolina again. I also will be keeping an eye on the Redskins. If RG3 is slated to start the season, I believe he will avoid the sophomore slump Cam Newton experienced. Cam did not have Alfred Morris in his backfield, a huge step up for the ‘Skins. If Brandon Weeden develops, the Browns are an intriguing offense with stud-in-the-making Trent Richardson and deep threat WR Josh Gordon. I asked ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter who he liked as his next great offense and his answer was strongly the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos. More thoughts from Adam follow.

The brother to Commandment No. 4 is Commandment No. 3: Thou Shall Avoid Players from Bad Teams. The key is to both pay close attention to FFChamps and also make sure you make the right call. Many people avoided Adrian Peterson this season both because of his recovery from knee surgery and because the Vikings were predicted by many to be terrible. The Vikings were good and AD was great. Next season, I would be careful of players from Jacksonville, the Jets, the Cardinals and the Rams.

While writing about FFChamps 10 Commandments, it is a good opportunity to shamelessly promote FFChamps for a moment. If you become a www.FFChamps.com member for next season before the Super Bowl, FFChamps will give you a Patriots.com $30 discount. I am biased but the one on one expert advice prior to your draft, and all season, day-in-day-out strategy are top-notch. With FFChamps by your side, you will greatly improve your chances to win your league. Sign up at www.FFChamps.com for the $30-off Patriots deal.

If you are picking first next year, at this juncture I would be thinking it is between Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin. So much can change over the course of the off-season so it is critical that you do your research with FFChamps in August. If I were picking today, I would be going with Arian Foster, while Adam Schefter would be picking Adrian Peterson. If you follow Commandment No. 5: Thou Shall Wait on Thy Quarterback, you will not make the mistake of chasing a QB at the first pick, and go RB or WR at the No. 1 spot. Second year running backs are always a gamble, and Martin and Richardson are both worth consideration. You must avoid taking an aging RB who had a great 2012 but is crossing the line to being tired and worn down, much like Ladainian Tomlinson did in his final year with the Chargers. LT was everyone’s consensus No. 1 pick and he had a terrible season, while Peterson was the clear-cut first pick that season. Runners such as Frank Gore and Michael Turner concern me for 2013.

I see the top WR being Julio Jones. He will be entering his third season, statistically a breakout year for stud wide outs. He can win a week in fantasy football with just one play and Atlanta should still be a strong offense. I also am very high on Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and AJ Green. Adam Schefter writes to me that he would go with Calvin Johnson. He could prove to be the best WR choice as always but I’m concerned about Matthew Stafford, who has yet to really make an impact. Also, rookie running backs Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell looked great which will help the offense but also take some touches away from Megatron. I would keep an eye on where Larry Fitzgerald is playing -- and who his QB becomes -- Brandon Marshall, and as written earlier in this column, TY Hilton.

For tight end, Adam and I both are still on the Rob Gronkowski bus and I also would love to have Jimmy Graham and Jermaine Gresham, who has star potential. At FFChamps we define a sleeper draft pick as a player you draft in the 5th round or later and get a top 5 performance from that season. It is way too early to make too much of this as sleepers are best analyzed after training camp and some pre-season games, but at this point some of the players I am keeping my eye on are Andrew Luck, DuJuan Harris, David Wilson, LaMichael James, TY Hilton, Josh Gordon, Justin Blackmon, Andrew Hawkins and James Jones. Adam Schefter is high on Isaiah Pead, the second year running back from the St. Louis Rams.

Remember to become a www.FFChamps.com member for next season get the Patriots.com $30 discount and visit www.ffchamps.com for around the clock rankings, strategy, and one on one advice, all the way through your Fantasy Football Championship. FFChamps.com: Extraordinary Results for Fantasy Football Dominance.