Sports with Shook: Fantasy football analysis



Aaron Rodgers. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Grant Engle, Nick Shook

Nick Shook’s analysis:

The kickoff of the NFL regular season is just over a week away, which can mean only one thing.

It’s fantasy football season!!

That’s right, you football-loving, stat-staring, tortilla-chip-munching, beer-drinking, using-your-outside-voice-inside-while-watching-the-game fan — it’s time for you to snag every fantasy magazine on the rack at your local bookstore, reorder your player rankings over and over and prepare to dominate your league (or so you hope and pray).

Fantasy “experts” (using the term extremely loosely) love to tell you who you should draft, who will have a break out season and who will crash and burn by week six (cough, Mark Sanchez, cough). I am, by no means, a fantasy expert — I’m a journalism student who has played fantasy football since I was 9 years old (XFL fantasy league, shared a team with my father – Touchdown Tommy Maddox led us to the promised land). But I’m going to be that guy and tell you what I think about this upcoming fantasy football season.

“I put the team on my back” players

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

Megatron is on the cover of Madden, but I honestly believe he is the one player who is too freakish of an athlete to allow the curse to break him down. He’s the one wide receiver that can go up and get the ball better than anyone in the NFL. He single-handedly sent the Dallas Cowboys, and their fans, crying all the way home in the Lions’ fourth quarter comeback win last season. Oh, and he puts up huge numbers.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

Discount double-check. Need I say more? But seriously, Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL right now. He’s got a solid receiving corps of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley, too. The only issue I see with Green Bay’s offense is a lack of depth, especially at running back. But how often do the Packers run the ball anyway?

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Tom Brady will be a Hall-of-Famer when he retires. He’s married to one of the most beautiful models in the history of the human race. He was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL Draft, and cried out of frustration during an interview about it years later. And he has more Super Bowl rings than you and I ever will. I have had the luxury of taking Tom Brady in multiple drafts over the years, and it has always panned out (except for that season when he tore his ACL in week one). Sure fire pick right here.

“He’s still really good, but won’t be as fantastic as he was in 2011” players

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

Gronk loves to party, and really loves to score touchdowns. He loves them so much that he scored 17 of them last season. The chances of that happening again, combined with the fact that he’ll be competing with the likes of Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Visanthe Shiancoe for catches, are low. He’s still a monster and has an awesome spike for a touchdown celebration, but 17 touchdowns? Not likely.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

Tight ends are moving on up to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky in the NFL, but I don’t see Graham duplicating what he did last season. Maybe close, but if you’re drafting based on value, his drops significantly if you don’t expect him to reach his 2011 stats (99 catches, 1,310 yards, 11 TD).

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

All-Day Adrian Peterson tore his ACL last season. He’s tentatively expected to play in week one, but he hasn’t even seen contact in practice yet. I’m all for the ACL comeback story, but that’s a big risk to take early. If he slides to round three, though, go scoop him up faster than a buy-one-get-one-free deal at Lids.

“Rising up the draft board faster than gas prices” player:

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

I secured Wilson in the 13th round of the Sports With Shook fantasy football league (yes, it does exist). This incidence won’t happen in the future. If you go purely off rankings, you’ll never find him (currently ranked as the 27th QB on…such blasphemy). But my draft took place on the day he was named the starter in Seattle. Talk about a low-risk/nuclear-bomb-sized-reward.

“Yes, just got a steal…what do you mean he got hurt last night?!” players

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jones-Drew alone accounted for nearly 50 percent of the Jaguars’ offensive production in 2011, which is completely unfathomable, considering he is a running back who is too short to ride the Millennium Force, but fast and agile enough to torch the Cleveland Browns defense for a 75-yard screen. Either way, the man is one solid back, but there’s just one problem: he doesn’t want to play for the Jaguars anymore. Shahid Khan, owner of the Jaguars, set him off with some comments about Jones-Drew’s holdout over a contract extension, and now MJD wants out. This could be resolved in the near future, but for now, let that guy with the seventh pick who forgot the draft was tonight and is stuck on auto-pick scoop up Jones-Drew.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] and on Twitter at @NickShookDKS.

Grant Engle’s analysis:

WARNING: The Daily Kent Stater sports desk is not liable if you take our advice and your fantasy team sucks. These dueling fantasy analyses have been written by two sports-obsessed college students who love to write, talk and yell about sports.

The no-brainers

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

I disagree with my colleague Nick Shook on one point he made about Rodgers. He isn’t “arguably” the best quarterback in the NFL. He is — without question — the best QB in the NFL. I usually subscribe to the notion that you take the best RB in the game with the first pick in the draft, but Rodger’s absurd numbers and the pass-friendly rules of the NFL make him the most valuable player in fantasy football this year.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens

He catches passes, he gets carries and he got paid this offseason. A happy, healthy Rice is bad news for opponents, and good news for fantasy owners with him on their squad. The Ravens’ defense is on its last leg, but they are still good enough to get the offense the ball in good field position, and quarterback Joe Flacco has shown that he is not afraid to get Rice the ball through the air in any situation.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

I couldn’t agree more with Shook about Calvin Johnson, Stafford’s No. 1 target. But not everybody is going to have a top-five pick in his or her fantasy draft. So if you’re in the nine to 12 range — look for the man who’ll be feeding Johnson the ball at every opportunity. Stafford threw for more than 5,00 yards and 41 touchdowns last year. So, if the best RBs and Rodgers and Brady are gone, Stafford becomes the nicest consolation prize in fantasy football.

Stay away from these guys

Peyton Hillis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

I don’t like this guy because he behaved like a child during his last year with the Browns, but there is no room for grudges in fantasy football. Jamaal Charles is returning to reclaim his No. 1 RB status, and Hillis is a glorified fullback who has had one decent season. There will be plenty more reliable options in the middle rounds than a guy who’s more concerned with looking like Hulk Hogan than not fumbling the ball.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

I don’t trust guys who hold out. Remember when Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans held out for a long time? His season last year was abysmal. You can’t come into the NFL season as a back with virtually no touches in the preseason. I know MJD has been a touchdown machine and a top-five pick in years past, but I can’t justify taking him before the end of the second round.


Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ve been saying Freeman is going to be good for the last two years — I’m going to be right eventually … I hope. Freeman comes into the season 20 lbs. lighter and with a new target in Vincent Jackson. He’s big, he can run and he’s smart. These are natural gifts that fantasy owners can’t overlook. You can probably steal Freeman in the 11th or 12th round in most standard 12-team leagues on

Contact Grant Engle at [email protected] and on Twitter at @Grant_Engle.