The end of fantasy football season means the start of a new year when nearly everyone makes resolutions. While most of mine are broken in short order ("I'm going to eat right and exercise more this year," or "I'm going to stay organized" are a couple of my most frequent that don't stand a chance), there are some fantasy related proclamations that will be easier to keep.
So in lieu of our normal mailbag, which returns next Monday (send your fantasy basketball, baseball and questions to
For years fantasy football was a running back-driven game. Over the last few seasons, though, a phalanx of rules changes has altered the style of play and shifted the balance of power to quarterbacks. In SI's 2011 post-lockout Fantasy Football Preview issue I wrote about how valuable elite fantasy quarterbacks have become, but even I didn't see how dominant Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton would be.
The knock on quarterbacks in the past was that they were fragile. Now, with regulations in place that outlaw virtually all crushing blows to the passer, elite quarterbacks are more durable than ever. Heck, even oft-injured Matthew Stafford managed to play all 16 games this season. And passing numbers have skyrocketed due to more stringent rules limiting contact on receivers downfield.
Meanwhile, running backs, hindered in part by injuries, and more indirectly, the proliferation of timeshares, have become largely interchangeable with very few exceptions.
Since what you're looking for early in the first found of a draft is a "sure thing," and given that there are very few slam dunk runners (Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, LeSean McCoy) on the horizon for 2012, It's time to spend the top pick on a quarterback. The jury is out on who that will be depending on offseason moves, but I resolve to make a quarterback my top pick.
No matter the fantasy sport, there's no better way to put your team's fortunes in jeopardy than by relying on players who are constantly in trouble, unhappy or disruptive. Were you an owner of DeSean Jackson this year? How did that work out? Did you ignore all of the warnings about character and draft DeMarcus Cousins in NBA fantasy recently? Not looking too pretty. Thinking about taking a chance on Milwaukee centerfielder Nyjer Morgan, who has become one of baseball's loosest cannons? It's time to weigh all of the risks. Wise owners already shy away from players who are injury-prone; it's time to add those whose behavior makes them a liability, no matter how talented. It's impossible to produce from the coach's doghouse or even worse, from the suspended list.
In his standup movie,
The misfortune encountered by those on the cover of EA's Madden Football video game is well documented as the likes of Eddie George, Shaun Alexander, Daunte Culpepper, Troy Polamalu, and even Brett Favre have fallen victim to its spell, suffering injuries or uncharacteristic failures after appearing as the face of the most popular sports video game in history. But has anyone been more adversely impacted by having their picture on a package than Cleveland's Peyton Hillis? He missed games due to strep throat, alleged locker room turmoil (when a teammate claimed he lacked desire), a pulled hamstring and a contract dispute. It all hit him this year.
No matter how ridiculous the concept may be, you don't have to tell me twice. So if it's Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Calvin Johnson or Rob Gronkowski on the cover for Madden 2013, I resolve to stay away from the curse this year and from now on.