September 01, 2011
For the past six 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, an activity only Michael Irvin could appreciate.
It's true, when it comes to fantasy football, the Noise is a complete hoochie mama. Over the years I've housed inappropriate feelings for many, many players. Brandon Jacobs(notes), Rashard Mendenhall(notes), Aaron Rodgers(notes), Pierre Thomas(notes) and Arian Foster(notes) are just a few once unheralded names that were lustfully pursued.
Owners who've experienced similar passions can empathize. Outward man-love can lead to lopsided trades, outstretched arms and empty pockets. Don't even ask how much I paid for Felix Jones(notes) in a recent auction (Think the approximate street value of one testicle).
Kevin Kolb(notes), Ari (Noise QB Rank: 10)
To the Philly faithful, Kolb is one degree shy of completely worthless. His proclivity for turnovers and flat deep-ball failed to attract many admirers in a city known for spreading brotherly love. However, in Glendale, the Eagles castoff is the greatest thing to happen since air conditioning, and Kurt Warner(notes). The cavalcade of suck — Derek Anderson(notes), John Skelton(notes) and Max Hall(notes) — Cardinals fans endured at QB last year was painful. Kolb is the cure for their ills. Though still a work in progress, he's shown glimpses of his potential this preseason connecting with Larry Fitzgerald(notes) on numerous occasions, including a beautiful 80-yard bomb versus San Diego in Week 3 (Watch it here). Insider Mike Jureki recently told the Noise 'Zona's coaching staff is working hard on getting more air under Kolb's deep-ball. If he can drop long passes into Fitz's hands with more consistency, he will finish inside the QB top-10. Keep in mind, he's an accurate dink-and-dunk passer with plus mobility. With proper protection, he can do serious damage. Blessed with a very friendly fantasy schedule and expected to benefit statistically from the Cards' sketchy defense, which is now minus starting corner Greg Toler(notes), Kolb is highly consumable, with or without butter.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 241.6 passing yards per game, 27 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 133 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Peyton Hillis(notes), Cle (Noise RB Rank: 8)
Motivated to prove he's no one-year wonder, Hillis stayed in shape this offseason pulling ATVs, pickups and even fire trucks near his home in Arkansas. After falling off dramatically at the end of 2010, his investors are hopeful the added sweat will pay dividends. For the most part, the fantasy community has shunned Hillis. Despite his fourth-place finish in points per game among RBs, he's slipped well into the third round of many drafts. Owners, heeding signs Montario Hardesty(notes) and Brandon Jackson(notes) were expected to eat into his workload, purposely avoided him. They will be kicking themselves come year's end. With Jackson out for at least 3-6 weeks, the versatile back is slated again to be the every-down, every-situation workhorse in Cleveland's revamped West Coast attack. Hardesty may spell him roughly 8-10 times per game, but, make no mistake, Hillis will be the primary goal-line back and weapon of choice on third downs, supporting his RB1 value. Considering the Browns' terrific offensive line and improved passing game, it's possible he could match or even exceed last year's breakout totals. And the Madden coverboy isn't worried about silly curses. His potential suitors shouldn't be either.
Fearless Forecast (15 games): 262 carries, 1,153 rushing yards, 62 receptions, 467 receiving yards, 12 total touchdowns
Tim Hightower(notes), Was (Noise RB Rank: 18)
There are several truths many owners adhere to on draft night: 1) Don't draft a backup K, DEF or TE, 2) Try to stay sober through at least Round 10, 3) Never, ever trust any running back currently under Mike Shanahan's demonic spell. There is evidence to support the last axiom, but there's also plenty to debunk it. Reuben Droughns(notes), Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson were all virtual unknowns before Shany turned each into fantasy studs. Hightower will be the next. No rusher has gained more this preseason than the former Cardinal. He's shown superb vision, versatility and quickness, averaging an insane 6.8 yards per carry. In general, Hightower's skill set is rather bland, but he's an ideal fit in Washington's zone-blocking scheme. As the rusher said he's "in the right place at the right time." Because Shany "likes everything about him," he's practically a lock for first-team duties Week 1. Rookie Roy Helu(notes) is expected to step in roughly 8-12 times per game, but Hightower, provided he holds onto the football, is the 'Skins back to own. Suggesting he could finish inside the RB top-20 may seem like a 'shroom-induced hallucination, especially with John Beck(notes) or Rex Grossman(notes) behind center, but Lucifer's track-record of turning trash into treasure speaks for itself. Hightower will be one of the biggest surprise sensations of the fantasy season.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 264 carries, 1,188 rushing yards, 42 receptions, 288 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns
Delone Carter(notes), Ind (Noise RB Rank: 38)
Owners who mined Carter in the late rounds may have struck it rich. The Colts' future Clydesdale is the team's most complete back. Though he's faced many second and third-string defenses over the past three weeks, he's averaged a team-best 4.7 yards per carry, impressing head coach Jim Caldwell with his "forward lean." At 5-foot-9, 225-pounds, the rookie is a rolling rock of muscle. His stocky build and powerful low-to-the-ground running style is reminiscent of Maurice Jones-Drew(notes). Joseph Addai(notes) is the unquestioned lead back, but because the vet would break a leg wrestling a cloud — he's missed 12 games since 2008 — Carter has strong odds of becoming the lead horse at some point this year. Until then, expect him to net roughly 10-12 carries per game functioning as the short-yardage and goal-line specialist. Assuming Peyton Manning(notes) isn't sidelined for an extensive period of time, the 'Cuse product is prime shocker special material. Giddy up.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 172 carries, 756 rushing yards, 14 receptions, 92 receiving yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
Danny Amendola(notes), StL (Noise WR Rank: 34)
Amendola, a cut casualty during brief, uneventful stints with Dallas and Philadelphia, planted firm roots in St. Louis last season. The plucky slot receiver established an instant rapport with Sam Bradford(notes) reeling in 85 receptions for 680 yards and three touchdowns. His subsequent 8.0 yards per catch was a record low for a receiver with at least 60 catches, but his 24 red-zone targets was second only to Larry Fitzgerald in the NFL. Josh McDaniels turned Wes Welker(notes) into a PPR megastar as offensive coordinator in New England. Amendola, who coincidentally enough is a product of Welker-U (Texas Tech), could replicate that success. In a pass-happy offense, the wideout could flirt with 100 receptions this year. He may again be lackluster in the yardage department, but because of Bradford's confidence in him inside the 20, his TD total could swell, finishing in the 6-8 range. In standard formats he's nothing more than a decent WR3, but in PPR play the "mile-a-minute" Ram is pure gold.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 98 receptions, 922 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
Plaxico Burress(notes), NYJ (Noise WR Rank: 32)
Presumably, the object of prisoner affection while locked up in the Oneida Correctional Facility the past two years, Plaxico emerged from the big house humbled. Throughout training camp and preseason play, he's worked hard and played unselfishly, characteristics that were questioned during previous stints with the Steelers and Giants. Yes, he's on the wrong side of 30 and the two year layoff may take a toll, but he's flashed vintage skills in exhibition play. Because of his skyward 6-foot-5 frame, leaping ability and precise routes, he's the ultimate red-zone threat. If the historically conservative Rex Ryan opens up the playbook for Mark Sanchez(notes), Plax will finish inside the WR top-30. Though still a work in progress, the vet should shake off the rust quickly.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 61 receptions, 847 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
Jared Cook(notes), Ten (Noise TE Rank: 8)
Since Brandon Funston and yours truly are the only two 'experts' in the industry to rank Cook inside the top-8, we may have to mud wrestle for the rights to the tight end's affection. Our adoration for the Titan is understandable. A third-round pick in the '09 draft, Cook has yet to tap into his mammoth potential. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target has always possessed Pro Bowl caliber size, speed and athleticism, but he's lacked in-game inconsistency. After an excellent training camp and preseason, he's a strong breakout candidate. Tennessee offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has spoken openly about his desire to feed Cook. With defenses keyed on stopping Kenny Britt(notes) and Chris Johnson, the matchup nightmare could net several one-on-one opportunities. Expect the poor man's JerMichael Finley(notes) to take advantage. Put in an order.
Fearless Forecast (16 games): 63 receptions, 712 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns
MOST VALUABLE CRUSH
Felix Jones, Dal (Noise RB Rank: 10)
No commodity has moved the Noise's man-meter more this draft season than Felix. What can I say? Any back with a first-round pedigree, explosive speed, break-tackle ability, plus versatility and, most importantly, well-formed beard is completely irresistible. This is the year Felix finally delivers. After he focused on muscle-building exercises prior to the 2010 season, Jones participated in a rigorous gymnastics program this past offseason in an attempt to build endurance and flexibility. So far, the Dominique Dawes of fantasy backs has nailed the landing. Throughout preseason play, he's attacked the hole powerfully and aggressively, racking 6.6 yards per carry. According to Jason Garrett, he's also shown great improvement as a pass protector and route runner, which should keep him on the field on third downs. Given Dallas' dynamic offense and advancements up front, Jones could very well be a first-round pick in drafts this time next year. Due to his long injury history, he's a bit risky, but the pay-off potential cannot be overstated.
Fearless Forecast (14 games): 259 carries, 1,194 rushing yards, 56 receptions, 509 receiving yards, 8 total touchdowns
Ok, fantatics. Who's on your All Man-Crush team? Who's your MVC? Please reveal below.
Image courtesy of US Presswire
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