Sigmund Bloom writes for Footballguys.com and hosts a podcast there with Cecil Lammey. You can follow him on Twitter. The best feeling for any sports fan (short of watching their team hoist a championship trophy) is being ahead of the curve and seeing the future before the masses do, and fantasy football allows fans to record their predictions for posterity.
As we watch training camps open, our minds wander to all the inherent uncertainty that makes fantasy football such a puzzling, frustrating and sometimes rewarding endeavor.
Fantasy football championships are not won by hedging bets or by trying to play both sides of a situation. They are won by bold moves grounded in strong takes. If you lack clarity about your stance on some very important questions going into your draft, you��ll miss an opportunity to profit from your foresight. Training camp will shed some light on these shadowy queries, but it is still crucial to have at least a lean in one direction and establish context so that injuries, preseason games and other news either reinforce or begin to sway your stances in the other direction. Here are some of Wholesale Cheap NFL jerseys the questions keeping us up at night as we put together our rankings:
1. How will Jay Cutler work out in the Mike Martz offense in Chicago, and which WR(s) will flourish?
We know that the Martz offense can produce prodigious passing numbers, but we��ve also seen some quarterbacks and teams fall flat on their faces in the risky but explosive pass-heavy Martz scheme. Jay Cutler has the tools to be successful in any offense, and both Martz and Cutler have said all of the right things in the off-season, but Cutler is notoriously undisciplined.
Only three QBs threw more passes than Cutler last year, yet he was still fantasy kryptonite because of his inconsistency. Cutler could be invigorated by a fresh start and a WR corps that may be a good fit for the Martz scheme, or he could crash and burn spectacularly once again. If you believe in him, Cutler has to be a top draft target as a fifth-to-seventh-round pick with the potential to produce like a second- or third-rounder.
2. Which second-year RB(s) makes the leap this year? NHL Jerseys Speaking of those WRs, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu and Earl Bennett are going especially cheaply for receivers in the most WR-friendly system in the league. Sticking your neck out for at least one of them after the seventh round is a smart move.
Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall and Jamaal Charles: You��ll probably find that at least one of those backs was on most very successful fantasy teams in 2009. What do they have in common? They were breakout second-year backs who went at a discount in fantasy drafts because of disappointing rookie years. Who fits that description this year? Knowshon Moreno is the best candidate to be this year��s Rice, getting more trust, work and a real opportunity to be a do-everything back in his sophomore campaign, but his third-round ADP (average draft position) almost assumes that leap. Shonn Greene will get the reins of the league��s best running game with the Jets, so he could also be this year��s Rice, but his likely second-round price is even steeper. Still, with Rice going in the top four of almost every draft this year, you can see the potential upside, even at that high draft position.
Beanie Wells and LeSean McCoy will have to share more than Moreno will, but their skills could be sharpened enough in their second seasons to force their coaches to give them the lion��s share of touches in Arizona and Philadelphia. The back who looks most like Mendenhall or Charles this year is Donald Brown.NHL Jerseys While Joseph Addai is a much better back at this point in his career than Willie Parker and Larry Johnson were last year, the parallel still holds because Brown��s ADP is being knocked down by an assumption that he won��t overtake Addai this year. The Colts�� offense is potent enough to allow Brown to justify a seventh- or eighth-round price even if he remains behind Addai in the RB rotation, but if Brown does overtake Addai, he could be one of the biggest steals of fantasy drafts in 2010. The 2009 phenom Miles Austin and the old standby Jason Witten are both among the best at their positions, so defenses will have an impossible task in containing this passing offense. The Cowboys also have the most talented running back threesome, mixing power (Marion Barber), speed (Felix Jones) and reliable efficiency (Tashard Choice).
3. How good can Dallas��s offense be?
The biggest perceived character risk in the first round of this year��s N.F.L. draft was also the first to sign, because he didn��t want to miss a practice. If Dez Bryant is as good as advertised, the Cowboys can boast an arsenal of offensive weapons that no team can match.
Dallas has the potential to run away from the pack when it comes to offensive production, and if you believe it will happen, then Austin in the second, Tony Romo in the third,
Witten or Jones in the fifth, Barber in the sixth, Bryant in the eighth, and Choice in the 12th or later all become targets on your draft board. Getting a piece of this juggernaut in the making might be a key to fantasy success in 2010.
4. Can Matt Leinart and Kevin Kolb keep the Arizona and Philadelphia offenses viable?
No off-season loss was bigger than the exit of Kurt Warner, and no off-season trade was bigger than Donovan McNabb-to-Washington. Matt Leinart and Kevin Kolb are the picks to fill those voids, but the approach of each organization in whether to anoint and trust their new starters couldn��t be further apart. Arizona brought in Derek Anderson to push Leinart, while the Eagles have essentially handed the keys of the franchise to Kolb. The fantasy value of two of the aforementioned second-year backs (Wells and McCoy) in addition to Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Breaston and Tim Hightower hinge to some extent on the ability of their quarterbacks to keep these offenses humming. The Cardinals will attempt to go from a pass-heavy attack to a more balanced offense, but the Eagles will remain just as pass-happy as they were with McNabb at the helm. The ceiling is high for many of the principals in these units, but these offenses can turn into houses of cards if the quarterbacks aren��t ready for prime time. Whether to target or avoid these players depends on your view of the new quarterbacks.
5. Who should we back in the RBBCs on the Raiders, Giants, Seahawks, Bears and Texans?
The RBBC (running back by committee) continues to become more entrenched around the league as the number of backs with the skills and durability to handle most of the load by themselves gets smaller every year. Knowing the final split in these backfields is as elusive as Darren Sproles, but putting a chip on your favorites in one or two of these groups is one of the best ways to get the most value out of running back picks between the 7th and 10th rounds. Michael Bush and Brandon Jacobs provide thunder, while Darren McFadden and Ahmad Bradshaw are the lightning in the more traditional RBBCs with the Raiders and the Giants. The Seattle running game might resemble the steady drizzle you��ll find in the area compared with the storms in Oakland and New York, with a combination of Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and Julius Jones, but if one back emerges as the bell cow, he��ll greatly outproduce his ADP. The Houston backfield has been a moving target for almost the entire lifespan of the franchise, and this year is no different. The rookie second-round pick Ben Tate, the late-season and off-season star Arian Foster, and the 2008 rookie star Steve Slaton will vie for lead-back duties in H-Town. Put your money where your mouth is,and add at least one of these backs in the mid-rounds of your draft, but make sure it��s the right one.
Matt Forte was a rookie sensation in 2008, but after a disappointing 2009, the Bears paid a 31-year old RB $7 million guaranteed to come to Chicago. That would be Chester Taylor. Both he and Forte have the complete games to fit well in the Mike Martz scheme.