A year ago, I started a football q&A section of our site. We received a few questions, but when fantasy football season was over, I stopped posting my answers to the questions I received from Football Babble readers.
That doesn’t mean I stopped answering questions that were emailed to me; I just didn’t post them for the public. Now that we have a redesign and a blog, though, there’s no reason for me not to post football questions and answers from our catalogue of football questions and our many months of fantasy football answers.
Most of our questions seem to have fantasy football in mind, so I’m calling this section of the site “Fantasy Football Questions and Answers”.
Here’s a question from last February.
Football Questions and Answers – Q&A #1
Dear Babble -
What is the Indianapolis Combine? Which players go to the Indianapolis Combine?
The NFL Combine at Indianapolis takes place every February, and a couple of hundred of the best college football prospects are invited to the combine to meet with representatives of all 32 NFL teams to perform tests of strength, quickness, agility and speed, while also taking an IQ test and answering peronsality questions. The combine is a several days event for prospective NFL players to meet and impress NFL front office personnel and coaching staffs.
The players invited to the combine tend to be the highest-rated prospects at their positions – generally college seniors and a few college juniors who have declared for the NFL Draft. Players do not have to attend the NFL Combine and, if they attend, they don’t have to take part in any tests they don’t want to. For the most part, lesser rated players are happy to run and perform the drills they are asked to perform.
The more highly ranked players are often advised by their agents to skip certain drills, either because they consider the facilities at the Indianapolis Combine sub-par (the track is considered slow) or because they are out-of-shape six weeks after the college bowl season has ended. Many of these players agree to personal workouts which scouts for all (or most of) the teams attend.
The NFL Combine is incredibly important to the draft status of certain players every year. NFL scouts are famous for falling in love with “measurables” – the players 40 times and other drill stats. Players who run slower than expected may slide down NFL Draft boards, while those who run faster than expected begin to rise.
For example, Ladainian Tomlinson was expected to be an early 2nd round selection in the NFL Draft the year he came out. Having a stellar career at lightly-regarded mid-major, TCU, Tomlinson was assumed to be a good college runner who would be too slow to take it to the next level. So when he ran a 4.4 at the NFL Combine, Ladainian Tomlinson went from an early 2nd rounder to the 5th overall selection in the draft. The college workouts don’t always predict success, though.
Kyle Boller knelt at the 50-yard line during his workout for scouts and threw a football through the goal posts. Impressed scouts raved about Boller’s arm strength, and he rose from a 2nd round prospect to become a mid-1st rounder. Unfortunately, Kyle Boller was a workout warrior, and his arm strength didn’t translate to NFL success, because he lacked accuracy or the ability to play the faster NFL game.
Thanks for your question, Doug. Feel free to email “football questions and answers” at Football Babble. You can find my email on the homepage of this site.
Fantasy Football Questions and Answers – Q&A #2
Which NFL team’s players were best helped by this year’s NFL Draft?
Dear Culpecker -
That’s an interesting name. That’s also a really difficult fantasy football question to answer. Let me try.
I would say that nothing affects a fantasy football player’s value more than a rookie quarterback. Even QBs who go on to great NFL careers often struggle in their rookie season. For instance, about halfway through his rookie season, Eli Manning replaced Kurt Warner as the New York Giants quarterback. The Giants were somewhere around 5-3 at the time and on the cusp of playoff contention, but Tom Coughlin decided Eli Manning would somehow jumpstart the offense. The Giants Offense (and Eli) struggled mightily for the next six weeks and New York missed the playoffs by a mile, despite a huge fantasy football season from Tiki Barber.
With that in mind, I would look at the fantasy value of the players on the teams that drafted quarterbacks in the 1st round this year: the Detroit Lions, the New York Jets and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Detroit Lions Fantasy Football
Matt Stafford was the 1st pick in the NFL Draft, so I expect the Lions, coming off an 0-16 season, are going to feel the need to start their young quarterback at some point in the NFL season. Given that they were winless last year, the new Lions coaching staff have about the lowest expectations ever: 1 win is a vast improvement. So Matthew Stafford should start with the Lions fairly early on. This could affect the production of Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith, the only two fantasy football players of value on the Detroit Lions.
Of course, Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith suffered through four starting quarterbacks and awful play last year and came through with solid fantasy football stats, so you should consider that when deciding whether to draft them late this summer.
New York Jets Fantasy Football
The Jets traded up to draft Mark Sanchez 5th overall, so they’ll be looking to start him at some point in 2009. The Jets fantasy players of note are Thomas Jones, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller. I would expect to see the first two have a drop in production, while Dustin Keller’s numbers might slightly increase. Here’s why.
Thomas Jones had 13 rushing touchdowns last year, up from 2 touchdowns a couple of years ago. I would say his rushing production was an aberration last year anyway and was likely to go down this year. With a rookie quarterback and the struggles moving the ball consistently this should entail, I would expect Thomas Jones to have trouble getting in scoring position a lot this year. Drop Thomas Jones far down your board, especially considering that the Jets also drafted Shonn Greene high in the third.
Jerricho Cotchery is finally the #1 wide receiver, with Laveranues Coles leaving for Cincinnati. Normally, you would expect Cotchery’s production to go up in that situation. But since Jerricho Cotchery has no other threat across from him, he’ll be fighting through double-teams all year. With a rookie quarterback potentially throwing to him, I would stay away from Jerricho Cotchery at all costs.
Finally, Dustin Keller is likely to be Mark Sanchez’s safety valve at tight end. Young guys and uncertain quarterbacks often dump off to a running back or tight end underneath to avoid the rush, so I would expect Dustin Keller’s receptions to go up – though his touchdown total might go down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fantasy Football
The Bucs drafted Josh Freeman late in the 1st round. This one might have less of an effect, since Josh Freeman is more of a project than Stafford or Sanchez. I wouldn’t expect Josh Freeman to get too many starts this season – and probably only late in the NFL season. I could be wrong.
If Josh Freeman does get into the game earlier rather than later, I would expect to see the numbers of Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow Jr. go down significantly from last year. Tampa Bay got rid of Jeff Garcia, Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn and Joey Galloway this offseason, so they lost a lot of team leaders. I wonder if the Bucs won’t have a significant dropoff in wins in 2009. If that’s the case, Josh Freeman might come into the game.
Watch out when drafting Derrick Ward and Ernest Graham, as well. Derrick Ward is in an entirely different situation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than he was with the New York Giants last year. Don’t draft him in fantasy football drafts, because I expect him to go based on his Giants numbers – not on his Bucs prospects. Derrick Ward’s Bucs prospects include at least the outside chance he’ll be struggling with a rookie quarterback at the helm.
Good luck drafting in your fantasy football draft, Daunte Culpecker.