Starting today Jimbo Slice will be delivering a weekly piece, aptly named WEEK IN REVIEW... here is the first installment.
2012 Fantasy Football Draft Kit:
OFFSEASON IN REVIEW
Football season is nigh, friends.
Training camp is a go. All 32 teams will hit the practice field to build for the season ahead. Every position will be a battleground as players vie for roster spots and depth chart rankings. The guys making plays on the practice field are going to be the ones on the field come August. As far as the players are concerned, especially those on the fringe, the season has begun.
The 2012 Big Picture
Since last season’s NFL lockout, the league has changed. The passing game is king; an unprecedented three players threw for 5,000+ yards last season. Only Drew Brees and Dan Marino had previously surpassed that mark in the 92-year history of the league. With 10 players throwing for more than 4,000 yards, the old success benchmark of a 3,000 season is broken. 2011 set a new fantasy standard for quarterbacking.
What was the catalyst? It’s possible that the shortened offseason gave defenses less time to prepare. The lockout cut into training camp and organized team activities, so defensive coaches were fighting an uphill battle trying to get their playbooks in order to prepare for the season. More likely is the advent of a new breed of wide receiver.
The tight end position was revolutionized in 2011. Between Gronk, Graham, Witten, Hernandez, Davis, Gates and Finley, the NFL is stocked with incredible athletes at the tight end position that rip defenses to shreds. Small, nimble cornerbacks are at a size disadvantage. Stockier linebackers can’t match elite tight ends’ raw speed and leaping ability, and safeties are usually the last line of defense against these hybrid monsters. The Patriots are the face of this revolution; the team’s top two tight ends combined for 2,237 yards. The tight end is becoming an automatic mismatch, and it’s going to take a brand new type of defensive player to adequately defend against the elite TE’s of this new era of aerial football.
The other big news from this offseason is that young, famous, athletic men with a lot of money to blow are going to make bad decisions. That’s hardly news, I realize, but the rate at which these bad decisions are happening is certainly newsworthy. The last week alone has been an avalanche of headlines spotlighting NFL players arrested for DUI’s, assaults, weapons charges and general stupidity. The count of NFL arrests stands at 29 as of yesterday, and unless NFL players clean up their act quickly, the avalanche isn’t over yet.
The Detroit Lions have been struck hardest by the epidemic; the team has had seven players arrested, highlighted by the multiple arrests of safety Aaron Berry (DUI, assault, brandishing a weapon) and the arrest of standout defensive tackle Nick Fairley (DUI).
Fairley was picked up in late June in Alabama for a DUI. Before he was pulled over, Nick had led the police on a brief chase, giving himself a bonus charge for attempting to elude police. Fairley also had an open container of alcohol on his person when he was stopped.
Also consider the recent example of the Chief’s nickel back Donald Washington, who was pulled over going 85+ in a 60mph zone with crushed pills in a baggie next to him and weed smoke spilling out the windows. He was also drunk.
Reading through stories like this on what seems to be a daily basis, it begs the question, “What did they think would happen?”
The answer? Nothing. The invincibility complex is so rampant among NFL athletes that they truly believe that they can act recklessly without repercussion.
Young, rich men, accustomed to the hero-worship one receives for being a professional athlete, have a bulletproof attitude that needs to be dismantled, and Roger Goodell is almost certainly going to bring down the hammer on some of these miscreant morons.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, fresh off a 1,200+ yard, 12-touchdown season and the signing of a $31 million dollar contract, was picked up for a DUI (his second career arrest) and will likely be suspended for multiple games for a repeat transgression.
The same goes for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt, who met personally with Goodell after he was arrested twice earlier in his career. At that meeting, Britt was granted a free pass by the commissioner on the promise that Britt shape up his act. Now that the pact his broken, it’s almost certain that the commissioner won’t be as lenient on the Titans’ top projected receiving target, who lost nearly all of 2011 to injury.
Justin Blackmon, a rookie WR for the Jacksonville Jaguars, may also be made example of for his reckless DUI arrest within weeks of signing his first professional contract.
Unfortunately, your fantasy squad isn’t as invincible as NFL players imagine themselves to be. Your team can be as subject to consequence from DUI incidents as the players themselves. When impact players on your squad miss vital games due to personal indiscretion, you pay the price (unless you have an arrest clause in your fantasy pool, in which case you will be rewarded).
Paying heed to the maturity of fantasy prospects and the NFL’s new generation of passing and receiving talent will be vital to fantasy success. The TE has become a core fantasy position and the prolific elite of the NFL’s quarterbacks have upended the ‘RB-first’ drafting mindset of years past. 2011 was only a harbinger of the new era of the league; he who owns the air is king. May that person be you.
by JIMBO SLICE