For the past eight years, the Noise has lived a double-life. By day, I've maintained a conventional existence playing the role of husband, father, terrier lover and, on Tuesdays, foul-mouthed softball second baseman. However, by night, I've walked a much different line, transforming into a connoisseur of the mantastic.
It's true, when it comes to fantasy football, I'm an ignorant slut. Over the years I've housed questionable feelings for many, many sleepers. Brandon Jacobs, Rashard Mendenhall, Aaron Rodgers, Pierre Thomas, Arian Foster and wet paper towel Ryan Mathews are just a few once unheralded names that were lustfully pursued.
Owners who've experienced similar passions can empathize. My outward man-love has led to lopsided trades, dislocated shoulders and empty pockets. And don't even ask how much I paid for Lamar Miller in a recent auction (Think the approximate street value of one testicle).
In honor of fantasy infatuations everywhere, here is your must avoid list the Noise's 2013 All-Mancrush team — ridiculous adjectives and hyperbole included.
Owners burned by the oft-injured passer would understandably question my sanity for going back to this well, but the circumstances in Philly have changed dramatically. Vick is about to undergo a major renaissance. Chip Kelly's fast-paced, option-based offense is tailored perfectly for the QB's skills. No surprise, as a result, Vick has already credited Kelly for saving his career. Thoughts of No. 7 running for Cam Newton-like numbers are probably far-fetched. Remember Kelly has always maintained he wants only an opportunistic running QB. However, operating behind a much improved offensive line and expected to be involved in numerous shootouts – Philly's defensive will be overly generous – he could easily accumulate 4,000 combined yards (3,500 passing, 500 rush) and 27-31 total TDs. That happens, and it will be 2010 all over again. As stated and restated this summer, there is no QB2 with more top-five appeal. Get down with the Vickness.
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Fearless Forecast: 3,256 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 574 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns
Deep Feelings: Terrelle Pryor, Oak, Carson Palmer, Ari
Last week, the clouds above Sun Life Stadium opened up allowing the fantasy football spirit of Dan Marino to descend upon onlookers Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland. Instead of bestowing wisdom, the ghostly Marino promptly issued a backhand, slapping much-needed sense into the pair. The RB controversy, possibly manufactured by Philbin/Ireland to light a fire under Miller, appears to be over. Though no official announcement has been made, all signs point to the sophomore back shouldering the load. Superior to slowpoke Daniel Thomas in every facet of the game, he's in line to handle roughly 18-20 touches per contest. Blessed with fantastic vision, hands and elusiveness, he has the characteristics of a mid-level RB2 who could penetrate the RB1 class come year's end. After losing Jake Long to the Rams, the offensive line is a work in progress, but Mike Wallace's arrival should help stretch the field, creating favorable running lanes for Miller. His 4.9 yards per carry in limited action last year was merely a preview. It's Miller Time on South Beach.
Fearless Forecast: 246 attempts, 1,107 rushing yards, 40 receptions, 301 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns
Digest film of Bernard's college days at North Carolina and it's impossible not to come down with an infectious case of 'Cat Scratch Fever.' His shifty open-field moves, explosiveness and versatility jump off the screen. The man averaged an insane 8.0 yards per touch in two years with the Tar Heels. Now the 1B back in a supposed 50-50 timeshare with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, he will play a highly visible role on passing downs and possibly as red-zone rusher. Recall the LawFirm managed a yack-worthy 2.2 yards per carry and six scores on 43 attempts inside the 20 last year. With that in mind, Bernard, three-for-three on goal-line opportunities in preseason play, could exceed expectations if deployed near the pylons. Additionally, though he may only log 8-12 carries per game initially, he will be a fixture on designed screens and check-downs likely grabbing at least 40 receptions. It's not a matter of if but when the superior rookie overtakes Green-Ellis and becomes the object of RB2 dependability. Next to Eddie Lacy, there is no first-year rusher with more upside.
Fearless Forecast: 164 carries, 758 rushing yards, 42 receptions, 312 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns
Deep Feelings: Ryan Mathews, SD, Joique Bell, Det, Christine Michael, Sea, Le'Veon Bell, Pit
Admittedly, I have a fondness for dudes named "Pierre." Maybe it's my affinity for thin mustaches, creme brulee or Jean Reno action flicks ("The Professional" anyone?), but there's something about the PT Bruiser and Garcon that makes my heart go pitter-pat. Skeptics will point to his injury-plagued past and lack of 1,000-yard seasons as reasons to stay far away. However, he was quite spectacular down the homestretch last season as RGIII's primary weapon of choice. Gutting through a cumbersome foot ailment, he was the 14th-best wideout during that stretch netting 5.7 receptions and 81.0 yards per game with three TDs. Considering Griffin will likely be anchored to the pocket more, he should flirt with 10 targets per game, enhancing his scoring potential. With little competition for looks outside Fred Davis, Garcon should deliver borderline top-10 numbers this season. Santana Moss' recent Andre Johnson comparison isn't outlandish.
Fearless Forecast: 84 receptions, 1,207 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns
Even in this age of the NFL where collegiate elements are commonplace in every playbook throughout the league, it's a rarity for a rookie wide receiver to make a sizable impact. Since the inception of the modern fantasy era (post-2000), only Anquan Boldin, Michael Clayton, A.J. Green and Marques Colston reached the 1,000-yard mark in their inaugural campaigns. Thompkins may not achieve that milestone, but he should be every bit a reliable WR3 in 12-team leagues this season. As discussed before, the Cincinnati product is an exceptional route runner who counters his lack of physicality by breaking ankles off the line. He's also flashed his mitts often this summer, catching almost everything in sight. In his last preseason game (at Det), he hauled in a team-best eight receptions for 116 yards on 12 targets. Danny Amendola was sidelined, but his standout performance showed the trust Tom Brady has in him. Brandon Lloyd went 74-911-4 in the 'X' spot for the Pats last season. Thompkins could easily duplicate that output. Fire a musket.
Fearless Forecast: 71 receptions, 937 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Deep Feelings: Golden Tate, Sea, Justin Blackmon, Jax, Michael Floyd, Ari, Chris Givens, StL
Cameron's sleeper label expired Preseason Week 2 when he hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions against the Eagles. Hyped incessantly by many in the 'expert' community for weeks leading up to his breakout performance, he may finally cash in on his immense promise. If his dunk city highlight reel doesn't invigorate the juices, you're obviously zombified. At 6-foot-5, 254-pounds, the ex-BYU hoopster is about to carve out a path similar as position trailblazers Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. Brandon Weeden is enamored with Cameron's pass-catching abilities and Norv Turner's vertical-attacking offense meshes perfectly with his skill set. Due to Josh Gordon's two-game suspension to start the season, Cleveland will want to establish the super-sized weapon Day 1. He's this season's Kyle Rudolph, a low-yardage, high-TD target. Don't freak about his strained groin or association with Weeden. He'll be a top-10 TE this season.
Fearless Forecast: 54 receptions, 638 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Deep Feelings: Fred Davis, Was, Julius Thomas, Den
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- Michael Vick
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- Brandon Jacobs