Saturday, March 30, 2013
1. FC Barcelona
Hard to argue this one. You know this is a good team that when they go 2-0 down to AC Milan in the Champions League, and you have no doubt they'll turn it around with ease when they go back home to the Camp Nou which is exactly what they did. They had an odd slip up today against 18th place Celta Vigo, but with a 13 point gap between them and 2nd place Real Madrid, I think they can coast to the title. Have a mouth watering clash with PSG in the Champions League quarterfinals looming.
2. Bayern Munich
Anyone see them put up 9 today on Hamburg? A ridiculous +65 goal difference and a 20 point lead on second place Dortmund, they should just give them the trophy already. They let their guard down in the Champions League return leg against Arsenal and were fortunate to hold onto their 3-1 aggregate lead. They cant do the same when they go up against Italian power Juventus this week. So much depth, and so much power on this team, all signs point to a Munich v Barca final at Wembley in May.
3. Paris Saint Germain
Ever since PSG was bought out by Qatar Investment Authority, they've done all they can to assemble a dream team. The French capital is now home to one of Europe's best and they see themselves with an eight point advantage in the league. Boasting a lineup including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Javier Pastore, PSG will be a very tough out for Barcelona this week.
Juventus, who seem to be facing match fixing scandals every other day, find themselves forth on the list after defeating Inter at the San Siro 2-1 and going 9 points clear of 2nd place Napoli. Italian teams are known for their defending and they're going to have to stick to those principals to have any chance against offensive juggernauts Bayern Munich this week.
5. Real Madrid
While Real Madrid's domestic form has left something to be desired (13 points behind Barca and drew 1-1 at 17th place Zaragoza today), they still find themselves in the last eight of the Champions League after deservedly dispatching Manchester United a couple of weeks ago at Old Trafford. Face Galtasaray in the Champions League this week.
6. Manchester United
While some people may think this is a little low for United, I cant see them beating a single team above them on this list. While they may be dominating England right now, I think that comes down to it being a soft year and City being incredibly inconsistent. They came away with a 1-0 win at Sunderland off an own goal (what else is new) after the ball took two deflections. No longer in the Champions League after Nani lost his mind, they surely have the Premier League wrapped up and face a big replay with Chelsea in the F.A. Cup.
Gotta give Benfica some love here. The Portuguese league doesn't get as much attention as England, Spain, Germany or Italy since its usually a two horse race between them and Porto every year, but an unbeaten start through 24 games has to be noticed. At 20 wins 4 draws and 0 losses they are still only four points in front of Porto who are ALSO unbeaten (18-6-0). Put six past Rio Ave today and are still fighting it out in the Europa League.
8. Borrusia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund finds themselves in Bayern Munich's shadow in Germany, but dont let that fool you. This is a team that can play with the best of them, just ask Manchester City. Matched up against surprise package Malaga in the Champions League quarterfinals, they should easily move onto the semi's.
9. Manchester City
This team literally makes no sense to me. They could put out two teams that could finish in the top four in the Premier League. They took care of business against Newcastle today with a 4-0 win but have losses against Everton and Sunderland (??) that has all but ended their hopes to repeat as champions. Fixtures away from home have been their downfall this season as they have dropped points to teams such as QPR and Stoke City which they cant be doing if they want to challenge for a title. Maybe next year guys.
10. Atletico Madrid
Barcelona and Real Madrid may get all the attention in Spain but you cant forget about Atletico Madrid who are only 2 points behind Real Madrid for second place in La Liga. They are led by one of the best strikers in the world Radamel Falcao who has 21 goals in La Liga this season.
Honorable Mentions: Tottenham, Galtasaray, Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, FC Porto, Napoli, Ajax Amsterdam
3. Aaron Hernandez
This trio is the clear-cut first tier of the tight end class for 2013. Jimmy Graham should put up numbers in 2013 similar to what he did in a healthy 2011 season thanks to the return of the Saints offensive mastermind Sean Payton.
With Wes Welker leaving town, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez should both expect to see an uptick in targets while Tom Brady and Danny Amendola work on their timing and chemistry. Both Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have proven to be great when on the field, however both have had their issues with inuries in the past. Hernandez to me has the highest potential (especially in PPR leagues) with the departure of Welker, but his risk could outweigh the potential. My advice would be to draft a solid backup if you were to take Hernandez (perhaps #15 Brandon Myers?).
4. Jason Witten
The name that stands out most for me in this tier is Kyle Ruddolph. The guy is a beast to put it simply. He won the MVP award in last years Pro Bowl game and looked absolutely dominate with an elite QB throwing his way. The reason for him being in the second tier as opposed to where he rightfully belongs can be blamed on the current Vikings QB situation (see Christian Ponder). As you can see by my ranking, I'm expecting him to take a huge leap in his third year, regardless of the QB throwing to him.
Martellus Bennett is an interesting option with his move to Chicago. Jay Cutler isn't an upgrade on Eli Manning in any sense, but the Bears lack the weapons the Giants had in 2012. Bennett will now compete with Brandon Marshall for looks, whereas last season he was competing with both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
9. Dwayne Allen
This tier breaks down ranks 9-12, which will be starters in the majority of twelve team leagues. One name that I am higher on than other analysts is Dwayne Allen. As a rookie he had 45 receptions, 521 yards and 3 TD's in 2012. I'm expecting him to take a step forward in his second season because of the promise and skill set he displayed as a rookie. Also, moving from a Bruce Arian's vertical attack to Pep Hamilton's west coast offense will translate to more looks for the tight ends.
Dennis Pitta might rise up draft boards as the off-season progresses thanks to the departure of Anquan Boldin. Just take a look at his postseason stats if you are skeptical as to his potential (14 receptions, 163 yards and 3 TD's), and remember that was WITH Boldin still on the roster.
|Brandon Myers signed with the NY Giants|
13. Antonio Gates
The remaining tight ends are fringe starters and great options for bye week fill-ins. My choice for the tight end with the highest upside would be Brandon Myers. Last season he put up his best season as a pro with 79 receptions, 806 yards and 4 TD's. He was the lone bright spot in an otherwise atrocious Oakland offense. I think the move to the Giants both hurt and helped his stock at the same time. Myers will now have Eli Manning throwing to him instead of Carson Palmer (+), but he will have increased competition for looks thanks to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks (-). Overall I think the upgrade in offense and QB outweighs the negatives.
Now let's make it 10,000!
Articles to come 3/30/13 & 3/31/13:
- European Power Rankings
- Early Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings
- Any recommendations for other posts you would like? (leave them in the comments section)
TOP 50 WR
Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are hard to rank for me. Randall Cobb took over during the season because of a Greg Jennings injury, so it will be fun to see what a full off-season getting starters reps will due to his production. Jordy Nelson has the past production (2011 season stats: 95 receptions, 1263 yards and 15 TD's). For me though Randall Cobb has the higher ceiling because of his versatility as a runner and return man.
As for Fitzgerald, it's crazy how far he has fallen in drafts over the span of a year. I do see a rebound from him thanks to Bruce Arians arrival, which features TONS of down field passing. The only thing holding back higher expectations is that the offense will rely on a QB that is able to make the down-field throws, and the Cardinals quite simply don't have that QB on the roster. Although I think Drew Stanton will be serviceable for Fitzgerald while the Cardinals groom a rookie QB.
Michael Crabtree evolved into a different, game-changing receiver with Colin Kaepernick at QB. Kaepernick was simply able to make throws that Alex Smith couldn't even dream of making. Crabtree's stats with Kaepernick (including playoffs) if prorated over a full season would be 97 receptions, 1408 yards and 13 TD's. I want to see him do it for a full season before I can feel comfortable having him higher on the list.
Pierre Garcon could be the bargain of all WR's depending on his health and the health of his QB RGIII. In games that Garcon was healthy, he looked absolutely dominate. But those games were few and far between last season. He is someone who could rise considerably from now until the start of the season.
26. Torrey Smith
The departure of Anquan Boldin has left the door wide open for Torrey Smith to take the leap necessary into borderline WR #1 status. We've seen the big games from him in the past, however his issue has always been consistency. I believe in what will be his third season, he will take that leap with a solid season.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are in a situation similar to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, only with a wild card at QB in the form of Michael Vick and a new head coach (Chip Kelly). In the past, they have both shown the ability to put up big stats. Add in the Chip Kelly Oregon offense, and you have the possibility for both WR's too succeed.
45. Sidney Rice
In my eyes, 37-50 in my WR rankings is pretty interchangeable as I don't see any surefire starter in 3-WR leagues out of the bunch. Each of the receivers above has flashed potential at some point but has question marks. Their low rankings can mainly be blamed on several factors; whether that is their current health, the QB situation, or competition for targets. If I was forced to name two WR's from the list I could see myself starting, they would be Kenny Britt and Brandon Lloyd (depending on where Lloyd ends up). Anyone remember Britt performance against Philly in week 7 of 2010 (225 yards and 3 TD's)... can that guy please stand up?
*Darrius Heyward-Bey was signed by the Colts (4/1). With Luck throwing to him he has risen up from #50 to #44.
Friday, March 29, 2013
1. Andre Smith (T)--
Has the potential to be a top right tackle in the league as he showed last year, and he deservedly wants to be paid that way. The Bengals have been holding out to this point as well as other teams in the league. My question is, what's the issue here? Best fit: re-signing with the Bengals
2. Karlos Dansby (LB)--
At 31 Dansby still has a few years of solid production. The Dolphins were just hell bent on spending money on new linebackers, even though their true weakness can be seen in the secondary. Best fit: New York Giants
(view http://sportsfreaksanonymous.blogspot.com/2013/03/nfl-off-season-winners-losers.html for more detail about the Dolphins off season)--> Dolphins questionable off-season
3. Dwight Freeney (DE/LB)--
Dwight Freeney still has 2-3 more years of solid production left in him. He was never suited for OLB in a 3-4 scheme. He's best as a 4-3 end with his hand in the ground, getting off the edge. I still see him as a 10 sack threat for the coming season in the right situation. Best fit: Denver Broncos)
4. Brandon Moore (T)--
Moore has solidly help anchor the Jets offensive line over the past few years. In fact, the only bright spot for the Jets last season might have been their offensive line play... although that's not saying much. Best fit: re-signing with the New York Jets
5. Brent Grimes (CB)--
At 29 years old, Brent Grimes still has what it takes to be a great corner. He is coming off an Achilles injury which is scary because of the rate of re-injury to the player's legs. However, I believe on a one year "show me" contract (like the one signed by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) that he could be worth the gamble. Signed: Miami Dolphins
6. Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR)--
Heyward-Bey is a 26 year old burner who was stuck to rot away in Oakland. In 2012 he suffered from a horrendous offensive attack/scheme. If you go back to 2011 he actually had 975 receiving yards and 4 TD's in only 15 games with Carson Palmer throwing to him. He was recently brought in for visits with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, both of whom have a number 1 receiver in town and a franchise QB. Signed: Indianapolis Colts
7. Brandon Lloyd (WR)--
Brandon Lloyd has proven he can be a solid WR in the right system and with the right QB. Last year in New England wasn't the best situation for him (clearly). He is no #1 receiver by any means, but as a #2 or 3 he could be a big get for a team. Best fit: San Diego Chargers
8. Kerry Rhodes (FS)--
He had a phenomenal season last year for the cardinals recording 67 tackles, 1 sack, 4 INT's and 2 forced fumbles. The Cardinals viewed him as expendable going on his age 30 season though in what was seen as a cap dump off. Best fit: re-uniting with the New York Jets
9. Charles Woodson (DB)--
He will start the season at 37, but his veteran leadership will be crucial to a team in contention as he would like to pursue another ring to add to his resume. Best fit: San Francisco 49ers
10. John Abraham (DE)--
At this point in his career (going on his age 35 season) he is mainly a pass rush specialist. But if used right he could be good for 7-9 sacks. His scheme flexibility is a big plus. Best fit: New England Patriots
|Cristiano Ronaldo - Real Madrid|
|Lionel Messi - Barcelona|
Let's take a quick look at Messi's goal scoring ability. His 91 goals in 2011-2012 was straight up extraterrestrial; I'm convinced that he's not a human being. The absolute best thing about Lionel Messi is his ability to slot one home in tight spots. As a result of his style of play, it's difficult for defenders to anticipate when he's going to take a shot. The Argentinian dances on the ball, and next thing you know he's putting one past your keeper; he's that quick. His ability to make defenders miss is also nothing short of amazing. Check out this run he made vs. Getafe. Stunning!
SO WHO'S THE BETTER PLAYER?
Updated (4/3): Adding Darrius Heyward-Bey to their off-season haul was a big get after the loss of Donnie Avery. getting him on a 1 year deal for the price they did only solidified the Colts as belonging in the winners category.
This team could be in for a big season depending on the health of Chase Utley
and Ryan Howard., and Roy Halladay being able to rebound from a lackluster
2012 season. Add a breakout season from Domonic Brown and the Phillies will
be a team to look out for in the coming season.
2. Washington Nationals
I'm expecting a repeat performance from this club. I see long term success in
their future with Stephen Strasburg as the ace, and Bryce Harper as the
cornerstone of the offense. One scout said he wouldn't be shocked by a 50-50
season from Harper at some point in his career. I'll settle for a 30-30 season
this year fro Harper.
The outfield has the potential to be scary good with the Upton brothers and Jason
Heyward. The starting pitching is one potential weak spot on the team, but I expect
Hudson and Medlen to have solid seasons.
It's going to be a rough year in New York for baseball fans. Johan Santana might
need another shoulder surgery (guy can't catch a break lately). David Wright and
The Marlins being an absolute joke of a franchise are the only things keeping them
from the NL East cellar.
Giancarlo Stanton. Giancarlo Stanton. Giancarlo Stanton. If you're a Marlins fan
just keep repeating that name to yourself over the season because this guy is
special. Outside of him, the Marlins don't have much to look forward too. How is
Jeffrey Loria not run out of Miami by a herd of angry fans?
The Pirates will need their starting pitching to find the magic from the first half of
last season and an MVP type season from Andrew McCutchen. Starling Marte is
someone I'm expecting big things from in his first full season in the majors.
I think their starting pitching is up there with the best in the NL from top to
bottom. I like the move for Aroldis Chapman back to the closer role after
being stretched out at times over the winter.
Adam Wainwright will have a big bounce back year (NL CY Young a possibility),
but I'm not impressed with the rest of the team. I do admit Shelby Miller is someone
to follow throughout the season, but the magic of the last couple season may soon
This ranking is before any possible Ryan Braun suspension. Not saying it will
happen, but if it does... they are in major trouble.
The Cubs have a bright future with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.
The future doesn't start this season though. Save the big expectations for the 2014
season when the young talent has another season of conditioning and when I expect
more talent to be on the way.
The Dodgers offense will be fine with the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp,
Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez (after his return from injury).
The big question as to their win total will be if Beckett can rebound and if Greinke
can handle the LA spotlight and massive contract he inked.
One bad season and the world writes off Tim Lincecum. I think that's a bad move.
With Cain and Bumgarner as the 1-2 punch, the pressure is off Lincecum and I
fully believe he can have a strong season. Don't forget Buster Posey at catcher who's
a game changing talent.
It's tough to see the Padres truly competing, especially with their best player Chase
Headley missing time.
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are stars, but have you seen their pitching?
Their #1 starter is a guy named Jhoulys Chacin. If your answer to that was "who the
hell is that?" then we are on the same page.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
As for Trent Richardson, Norv Turner is now in town as the Browns new offensive coordinator. Turner is known to support a one back system, and has produced a league leading rusher on five different occasions (Emmitt Smith ’91-’93, Ricky Williams ’02, and LaDainian Tomlinson ’07). I expect Richardson to have a big sophomore season, earning him a #4 spot in the rankings.