When you consider players for your fantasy team, you usually look at their stats, trends, news, analysis, everything in order to better estimate how those players will perform in the future. There is one thing about their player that most people don't consider – how strong their opponents will be. Well, they do, but not until long after the draft when their star player is going into his fourth straight game against a top ranked defense. A team that plays in the AFC South or NFC West is going to have a leg up on fantasy production over teams in the AFC East or NFC East.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not shy away from conflict. After twenty years of playing fantasy football, my personality can be abrasive to some. I have made many friends in this fantasy football industry and I have burned a bridge or two along the way. One of the message boards, that I frequent, is up in arms with my assertion that keeper leagues do not become dynasty leagues by using an arbitrary number of keepers.
The Oakland Raiders were the only team without a first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Their offense started to show some promise last season with veteran quarterback Jason Campbell after finally cutting ties with the worthless Jamarcus Russell. Campbell finally showed the ability to throw the ball down field after years of dink and dunk in Washington. The Raiders could use a developmental quarterback however as Campbell will only take them so far. The running game really started to pick things up when Darren McFadden finally showed his explosiveness with legs staying relatively healthy. Michael Bush proved to be a nice complement as the power back in Hue Jackson's offense. Bush could be a free agent this coming season so that maybe a spot the Raiders look in the draft.
The Green Bay Packers managed to have quite an amazing season last year without two major impact players for most or all of the season. Ryan Grant was lost in Week 1 and Jermichael Finley was lost before mid-season. The Grant injury proved to be the most significant as the running game was non-existent until the last few weeks when the rookie James Starks got some playing time. Brandon Jackson was hoping finally get his chance to shine but that never happened as at one point in the season John Kuhn the fullback was the most reliable rusher. The Packers could use some more talent in the backfield to avoid relying on a fullback to be the main ball carrier.
The Pittsburgh Steelers finally found a consistent running game that they had been looking for over the last few years as Rashard Mendenhall had his breakthrough season that the Steelers had been hoping for. Pittsburgh does have some concerns over off the field comments that Mendenhall made but as long as he produces like he did last season he remains a Top 10 running back into the fprseeable future. Ben Roethlisberger returned from his suspension last season to be productive and as long as he can remain settled down in the public eye that quarterback position remain lock downed as well.
The New York Jets will continue to utilize its punishing offensive line as that remains their best asset. Mark Sanchez remains a work in progress and he will be the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. The Jets may need another developmental player behind him in case he does not show the growth they are hoping for but that would be a late round pick at best.
The Chicago Bears had a dramatically improved offense under new offensive coordinator Mike Martz despite a terrible offensive line. The line did show some improvement last season as the year went on but still remains something that must be addressed.
The Baltimore Ravens were not able to completely put it together last season. Ray Rice had a solid season but was not able to really explode like most predicted. Willis McGahee could be gone next season so hopefully that is good news for Rice and losing some goal-line touches. A young back-up running back would not be a bad idea to bring in as there is no real true back-up behind Rice if he is injured. The receiving core brought in a bunch of proven veterans but none of them were able to stretch the field which allowed defenses to crowd the line of scrimmage and play tight coverage on the receivers. Anquan Boldin is explosive in the passing game but is better suited for underneath routes.
The Kansas City Chiefs saw the continued emergence of Jamaal Charles into a fantasy star and Dwayne Bowe finally living up to his potential. Charles shared carries with Thomas Jones last season but was definitely the more explosive ball carrier as Jones faded down the stretch. Dexter McCluster should continue to see an increased role next season in the offense in both the passing and a little bit of the running game. Matt Cassell did a serviceable job last season but was still inconsistent at times. Cassell has not completely proven himself so a developmental quarterback and a veteran could be brought in this season in case he does not work out. The running game should be in good hands with Charles while the passing game could use another play maker to along with Bowe on the outside. Tight End Tony Moeaki did a nice job in his rookie season and should produce was again if healthy. Overall the pieces are there for continued success and I will breakdown the Kansas City Chiefs 2011 NFL Draft in this fantasy recap.
The Seattle Seahawks somehow managed a playoff berth and a division title with a very poor offense. The quarterback situation is a disaster. Matt Hasselback is a shell of his former self and Charlie Whitehurst has no business being counted on. Seattle better not rely on Whitehurst or it will be another poor showing. The running game got a boost in Marshawn Lynch which was a big upgrade over Justin Forsett and Leon Washington. Forsett and Washington are nice role players but Lynch should be the answer as the main ball carrier. The receiving core got a big surprise when Mike Williams finally lived up to some of his potential with finally being in shape. The Seahawks also have some talented young guys in Deon Butler and Golden Tate who will hopefully become more involved this season. While the running backs and receivers have talent, there is still more work to be done on the offensive line which started to be addressed last season but still hasplenty of work to do since it was one of the worst in the league. I will breakdown the Seattle Seahawks 2011 NFL Draft in this fantasy recap.