Answering questions before fantasy football season

Michael Moses

Expert analysis. Expert projections. Expert this, expert that. When it comes to fantasy football, everyone is an expert. Your uncle knows who’s going to take away a goal-line carry from LeSean McCoy. Your best friend knows you should draft Michael Vick over Adrian Peterson. Your girlfriend knows the green team will beat the purple team.

And you know what? We “fantasy footballers” think everyone is an expert, too. We actually ask others for their “expert” opinions, like we truly, honestly care what they have to say. In reality, we just want to hear ourselves talk about our make-believe-coaching predicaments. You can give all the input you want. You can make really good points, too. But at the end of the day, you’re your own expert.

As for me, I’m not saying I’m an ESPN fantasy football expert (they actually pay people for this?), but you should really look into these four Q-and-A’s before your first draft.

That is, of course, if the NFL actually has a season. What would all the “experts” do then?

Will Houston Texans running back Arian Foster repeat his breakout 2010 season?

The plain and simple answer is yes. Anytime you have Matt Schaub as your quarterback and the league’s most talented wide receiver, Andre Johnson, the opposing defense is going to be on its toes at all times. Foster is a big, physical back with breakaway speed. To go along with his 1,614 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns, he also caught 66 passes for more than 600 yards and two touchdowns. Think of Foster as a bigger Marshall Faulk. Faulk’s team was nicknamed the greatest show on turf. These days, Houston’s balanced offense is pretty damn close to that.

Did Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson set his bar too high?

Yes, sir — and that is unfair to the little jitterbug himself. In 2009, Johnson almost literally exploded onto the scene by averaging 5.6 yards per carry (YPC) while rushing for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 2010, though, Johnson’s spaceship landed and he “only” went for 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns. His YPC average dropped to 4.3, leaving many people saying Johnson had a “bust” season. Now, read over his 2010 stat line without saying, “Chris Johnson.” Say any one of the top running backs in the NFL. Sounds like a pretty good campaign, huh? Now substitute whatever running back you said back with “Chris Johnson.” Sadly, CJ may never compile that stat line again, but considering what went on with the Titans on and off the field in 2010 (Vince Young and Jeff Fisher, nonexistent-anything-else game), it’s pretty safe to say he’ll keep putting up top-tier running back numbers.

Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley: The best is yet to come?

Before his torn meniscus, Finley was an absolute beast. At 6 foot 5 inches and nearly 250 pounds, he runs like a wide receiver and has Aaron Rodgers throwing to him. Though he only played four games last year, they were four very impressive games. He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in two games, including a 9-catch performance at Chicago, and found the end zone once. Green Bay’s tight end position is valuable both on the field and in fantasy — Finley had 26 targets in his 3.5 games in 2010. Coming off a Super Bowl win, the Packers should be even more lethal through the air, which is downright scary. They threw the ball 56 percent of the time, tops in the NFL. When you’re looking for a valuable tight end, look no further than who their quarterback is. Again, look no further.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver AJ Green or Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Julio Jones: Lineup worthy?

Both of these rookies were top-10 selections in this year’s NFL Draft, but that surely doesn’t mean you’re taking them with your first pick. Both talents are walking into starting jobs (depending on the playbook studying, of course). They’re both big (Green: 6’4”, 211 pounds; Jones: 6’3”, 220 pounds), and fast (Green: 4.48-second 40-yard dash; Jones: 4.39). But if you ask me, Jones is the much safer fantasy pick. He’s joining one of the best one-two punches in the NFL in quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Roddy White. White will continually be drawing double teams, leaving Jones one-on-one with his cornerback – not to mention the Falcons’ running game, featuring Michael Turner. Defenses will be focusing on those two first, then Jones.

As for Green, the Georgia product is stepping into a mess. Quarterback Carson Palmer has publicly said he does not want to come back to Cincinnati, while both Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco could become free agents as soon as the lockout ends. The one lone plus for Green is that the Bengals should be playing from behind a lot this upcoming season, which means lots of passes thrown to a talented receiver. If Green is the only receiver left, then whoever is playing quarterback will most likely be looking his way.

Michael Moses is a senior communication studies major.

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].