High impact NFL rookies of 2012

At the NFL’s midway point, there have been many surprises (both good and bad) in both conferences, none more so than the better-than-expected performances of the league’s 2012 rookie crop, especially at QB. A record five first-year signal callers were under center for Opening Day, an almost unheard-of number in this era of “polished” field generals.

The No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck with the Colts, hasn’t disappointed. As the Colts surround him with more and more weapons, there’s no reason to believe Indianapolis won’t be back in the mix for AFC elite status sooner, rather than later. In D.C., Robert Griffin III is the talk of the town, even in an election year. The mercurial Heisman Trophy winner has displayed unusual poise far sooner than anyone expected. As in Luck’s case, the ‘Skins need to stockpile as many talented skill players around him as possible.

Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has probably been the biggest surprise of the QB crop, reviving a stagnant offense that hasn’t shown this much consistency since Chad Pennington was under center. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is another QB to keep an eye on. The undersized Wisconsin via N.C. State product has had his issues with tall pass rushers, but his elusiveness and coolness under pressure have Seahawk fans giddy. The remaining rookie QB starter, Brandon Weeden in Cleveland, is surrounded by far less talent than his colleagues, but he’s steadily improving.

The 2012 RB group wasn’t highly-touted, but some pleasant surprises have emerged nonetheless. Cleveland’s Trent Richardson got off to a slow start due to a knee injury, but has quickly demonstrated why scouts were so high on him coming out of Alabama. Tampa’s Doug Martin’s versatility and energy has pushed former starter LaGarrette Blount to the bench, and he should become a star very soon. The biggest surprise at RB, by far, is Alfred Morris of the Redskins. The sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic has already racked up three 100+ yard games and is second behind fellow rookie Doug Martin (794 yards) with 793 yards.

Rookie WRs in 2012 include Kendall Wright of the Titans (RGIII’s favorite receiver at Baylor), who has latched onto 42 passes and 3 TDs. Andrew Luck has wasted little time in targeting his college teammate TE Coby Fleener, with the former Stanford batterymates combining for 21 receptions. With little else in the way of deep threats, Brandon Weeden has gone to Josh Gordon (another Baylor product) in Cleveland, and the 21-year old Gordon has been the best downfield rookie with 4 TDs and increased attention from opposing safeties.

Matt Kalil, the first O-Lineman selected, hasn’t disappointed in Minnesota. Whether it’s pass protection or blocking for Adrian Peterson, Kalil already appears to be cut from the same cloth as other legendary Viking linemen such as Ron Yary and Steve Hutchinson. The only other OT drafted in Round 1, Riley Reiff of Iowa, has already become a leader on Detroit’s frequently maligned (and aging) O-Line. As the Lions develop a running game, Reiff will become even more of a factor. Read more…

Fantasy Sports: Strategy versus Luck

Doug MartinDoug Martin… (Silence and crickets.) Well that’s pretty much all I can say on this Tuesday after a monumental fantasy performance. Every daily fantasy player (and season long player) wishes they had Doug Martin on their fantasy team.  Dougy Fresh had a whopping 51 fantasy points, this rivals my Michael Vick performance of 57 a couple years back. The daily fantasy dream is to get a guy that produces numbers like Martin every week. I did have a similar performance with my pick of James Harden, during a NBA match up last week. It is like Christmas morning every time I wake up to a high scoring performance. It is great when they happen, but searching these high scorers out can be the downfall of the daily fantasy player’s bankroll.

I am a big proponent of consistency. I like to take the guys that I am sure will score every week. Sometimes this is my downfall, because I never take risk. Sometime this is my path to success because everyone else has take guys that are a “shot in the dark.” Ultimately it boils down to scoring and in all leagues you want 20+ point guys for football and 30+ point guys for basketball. If you can’t consistently score these amounts then you are destined for a losing effort.

I had an extremely successful college football week, due to the consistency method and the fact that Tyler Bray had what seemed like a million yards passing. In the daily fantasy game it is the guys that manage their bankroll and play consistent choices that profit in the long run. Will there ever be professional daily fantasy players? Who knows, but what I do know is that the way to make money is to be consistent and apply the 30% bankroll method every night. Read more…

Doug Martin, the Muscle Hamster?

Doug MartinBuccaneers running back Doug Martin is having a great rookie season. Now he wishes he could get a great nickname.

Instead, Martin is saddled with “Muscle Hamster,” the ridiculous nickname that some of his offensive linemen at Boise State gave him. Martin said on NFL AM that the nickname was given to him affectionately by teammates who were impressed by how much he could lift, considering his small stature. But he said he wishes they had come up with something better.

“It has to be the worst nickname ever,” Martin said. “I can’t shake it. It started in college, started back in Boise, with our linemen. I have a lot of bigger friends, and they’d call me the Muscle Hamster because of how much I could lift in the weight room.”

The 5-foot-9, 215-pound Martin bench pressed 225 pounds 28 times at this year’s Scouting Combine, tied for the best mark among all the running backs. So Muscle Hamster may be fitting. Read more…

Doug Martin breaks out, fantasy players rejoice

Doug MartinFor a rookie, there’s nothing like a nationally televised game to create an opportunity for attention.  A rookie who seizes that chance suddenly earns the name recognition of a proven veteran.

Buccaneers running back Doug Martin did just that on Thursday night.

Martin rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he added 79 through the air in a 36-17 win over the Vikings in Minnesota.  The first-round pick’s 64-yard sprint with a screen pass on the first drive of the third quarter extended a 10-point lead to 27-10, and the Vikings never got within 13 after that — despite the foolish decision of Bucs left tackle Donald Penn to enrage defensive end Jared Allen by ripping off his helmet and putting a gash on the bridge of his nose.

The momentum was temporary, with a third-down sack on the next play from Allen generating a din that disappeared quickly once the Vikings got the ball back.  The team simply doesn’t have much on offense beyond Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, and life for the 5-3 team is about to get a lot more difficult.  Read more…

2012 NFL player props: Top 10 value picks

calvin johnson

These picks are far from locks but if you are looking for value then you’re in the right spot.

10. 2012 NFL MVP – Odds to Win | Arian Foster 15/1

I think the Texans will be a team to watch this year; they have a great defense and Andre Johnson is healthy, for now. Arian Foster is arguably the most dynamic running back in football and if he ends up putting up the numbers like he did in 2010 (2,220 total yards and 12 total TDS) the Texans may very well make the playoffs, and Foster the MVP.

9. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Brandon Marshall 16/1

He’s not the number one value pick for this category, but he has great potential and even better odds. In his last season playing with Jay Cutler (2008) Marshall recorded 104 catches and 1,265 yards, good for 3rd and 7th respectively. I expect Marshall to have a huge year and it could earn you some nice green.

8. Offensive Rookie of the Year – Odds to Win | Doug Martin 14/1

While Andrew Luck (9/4) and Robert Griffin III (9/2) are the obvious favorites for the oddsmakers, Martin may very well be the one who has the most positive impact. Rookie running backs are often the ones to make the transition from college to pro look the most seamless, and as of now it appears Martin will get the starting job.

7. Who will lead the league in Receiving Yards? | Roddy White 18/1

With Julio Jones around Roddy White’s chances of winning this title are decreasing every year. White finished 2nd in 2010 and 8th last season, so while oddsmakers have this about right, the potential is certainly there. Without being able to double-team Roddy opposing defenses are going to give Matt Ryan’s number one plenty of opportunities this season.

6. Who will lead the league in Passing Yards? | Aaron Rodgers 11/2

Believe it or not Rodgers is listed behind Brees (9/2) and Brady (19/4) as far as potential for throwing the most passing yards. The Packers’ quarterback and fantasy football stud has never led the league in passing and this leads me to believe this is going to be his year. Read more here…

TTR’s Game Changers – NFC South


Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Join us as TTR Game Changers takes a tour through all 32 teams, identifying one player from every squad that I believe has a great chance of being a game changer in 2012.  To see the full series click here.

Atlanta Falcons – I believe that this year the Atlanta Falcons take the crown of the NFC South away from the Saints, even if it is only for this season. Atlanta will be putting the reigns of the offense in Matt Ryan’s hands more than ever this season and it could produce some real fireworks. Matt Ryan was a Top 10 quarterback in most major statistical categories in 2011, and he will have more weapons to work with in 2012. While some of those weapons are past their prime, two young players on their offense have not even reached their prime yet. I expect Jacquizz Rodgers to make a significant impact this season, as people will realize that he is a capable inside runner as well as a scat back. But it will be the continued development of Julio Jones that will make this team a scary offense. Jones’ main goal will be to take care of his body so he can play in all 16 games, if he does expect him to have Pro Bowl numbers this season, in only his second year as a pro. Roddy White may garner more targets and receptions, but it will be Jones that is the more dynamic player in the ATL.  Read More…

10 Fantasy Football rookies to consider drafting

The question of whether to steal precious picks away from more established players on draft day arises every year. They might have been college standouts but how will they perform on a professional level? Will they receive enough playing time? Will they live up to their expectations and in some cases, their hype? I don’t suggest that you base your team around them, but certainly there are several, that you may consider grabbing in the mid to later rounds.

1. Trent Richardson– RB-Browns- We begin with the obligatory and prohibitive favorite to be the first rookie off the boards in your draft. The Browns made Richardson their third overall pick for a reason. They needed a boost in their lackluster offense and this beast of a back has scouts saying that he is the best back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson! Trent will be the Browns’ every-down back and we think he should be the 10th to 15th RB selected in drafts. Barring injury, he will be a top-tier back by season’s end.

2. Doug Martin-RB-Buccaneers- Some scouts have compared the Boise State three-down back to Ray Rice, which is quite a compliment in and of itself! The Bucs O Line has improved given the signing of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and because of LeGarrette Blount’s ineffectiveness last season, Martin is the overwhelming favorite to become the Bucs starter this year. Remember the Bucs traded up to land Martin in the first round so we can’t see them yielding the starting slot to Blount. We think he’ll be the 15-20th back selected in most drafts.

3. Robert Griffin III-QB-Redskins- Although I rarely, if ever draft a rookie QB, I did so last year when I corralled Cam Newton on a hunch for my QB2 slot. And that’s what you may want to consider doing with RGIII. He has a great arm and like Newton, will keep the ball often and therefore should put up some decent fantasy numbers for a rookie. With good protection we can see him scamper in for several TDs if passing options are limited in the Red Zone.  Clearly one to consider. Read more here…