Champions are Made in the Off-Season
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Champions are Made in the Off-Season

You have probably heard this phrase before, but did you ever think it would apply to Fantasy Football? Hey lets face it, you either came up short last year and vowed 2012 will be your year, or you are the reigning champion and now have a bull's-eye on your back. In either case, if you plan to show up strong at next year's draft you better know one thing....Champions are made in the offseason.

One of the best habits you can form would be to catalog what you learned from this season while it is still fresh in your mind. Although much will change before next year's draft, this part of your early preparation will prove quite valuable when the real crunch time approaches. In case you already started to forget (perhaps on purpose to mask the pain), Zeus and Thayse are here to help you remember. In this first chapter to becoming an offseason champion, we want to focus on who you can trust and who you can't -- based on mostly last year and in some cases the last few years of production and consistency.

Here is a list of questions most recently asked and our answers to help you prepare for next year's draft:

1. I have one of the first 4 picks of the draft, who can I trust the most to lead my team?

Your first round guys are your studs. They give you the big game to push you over the top in several weeks, and are money in the bank for consistent points. You must hit on these guys. My first 4 picks are as follows:

  1. Arian Foster @ArianFoster -- The guy is a beast. He is the focal point of the Texans offense and should be the first pick in all fantasy drafts.
  2. LeSean McCoy @CutonDime25 -- Was a touchdown machine in 2011. Catches balls out of the backfield. Led the league in rushing for the majority of the season. McCoy is a fantasy all star.
  3. Aaron Rodgers @AaronRodgers12 -- You can argue that QBs should not be taken this high in fantasy, but with the numbers AROD puts up, no one should argue. He rarely turns the ball over, and gets you points on his feet as well.
  4. Ray Rice @RayRice27 -- He is all around strong and will be a safe bet for fantasy owners. Talk about consistency, this guy has had 1,200-1,400 yards and 60-80 catches per year for the last 3 years. Expect the same going forward.

2. There are some big name players that will get grabbed early and not live up to the hype. Who should I shy away from even when all the analysts are screaming PICK HIM EARLY!

  1. Cam Newton -- 4,000 passing yards, 20+ touchdowns, 700 yards on the ground with 14 more tds, and a rookie of the year trophy. Sounds like a top pick in 2012's fantasy draft, wouldn't you say? How about no. Not to say he will disappoint in 2012, but the possibility of a sophomore decline is there -- given a full year of tape for better defensive schemes and his two best offensive weapons ( Steve Smith and Deangelo Williams) are hitting over the hill football ages. Comparable QBs in stats will go in the 4th-5th round. Do not drop a 1st or even 2nd round pick on the Michael Vick of 2012.
  2. Darren McFadden @dmcfadden20 -- I know McFadden is a dynamic athlete,but those who have had to watch him sit on your bench--unable to cut and giving up hundreds of fantasy points-- know better. Our disclaimer: Don't pick him too early, as in 1st round. If you choose to draft this guy, make sure you go deep at RB.
  3. Marshawn Lynch @MoneyLynch -- He's got upside. 1,200 yards, scored a td in 11 straight games, including the only rushing TD against San Fran. Just realize that when you invest a high pick you want consistency and dependability. Lynch hasn't been that guy. He had a career year, but not knowing what Seattle's cards hold tread carefully and wait for him to become a value pick or let him go.

Stay tuned for future articles related to how you can become a champion this offseason!

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    7 Comments

    So is Steve Smith still a keeper?

    Posted by:
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    Bigcheese1 02/09/12 01:06 PM

    You know, I wouldn't say he is. Granted statistically Smith had one of his best season's in 2011, but unless you have no other option I would urge against it. Smith is a guy that you can get in the 3rd round. You want to keep guys who are 1st or 2nd round talent. That, factoring in that Smith will be 33 shortly (not terrible but you could start to see a drop off) are reasons not to keep Smith. He IS Cam's go to guy, but if you have a better option hit him up. Smith may still have a strong 2012, grab him later.

    Posted by:
    Nick Browne 02/10/12 09:56 AM

    Very well wriiten article. I'm happy to see you've ranked my keeper in the top four! (Ray Rice) To me the top 5 picks are pretty much slam dunk picks based on anyones draft board. A. Peterson's injury definately hurt alot of peoples upcoming drafts as he would have surely been a top 5 pick. Any thoughts to writing an article from picks 6-10? In my opinion those are the picks where you have to make it count and put some thought into. They could make or break someones season. Also where would you rank Cam Newton after your Top 3 QB's (Rodgers, Brady, Brees) Any chance of him unseating one of those 3 QB's a better option for fantasy owners? Keep up the great work, and look forward to read more articles on the Fantasy Football adventures of "Zeus" and "Thayse"

    Posted by:
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    League Bad Boy 02/10/12 10:40 AM

    LBB- Thanks for responding. We will be doing this on a weekly basis, and will definitely address your two topics. Digging deeper into drafts is my specialty so I cannot wait. And ranking the QB's will also be a priority. Stay tuned!

    Posted by:
    Nick Browne 02/10/12 11:00 AM

    Can't wait! I have the 6th pick in a keeper league. Looking to build on my success from last year. Its refreshing to read advice outside of the obvious.

    Posted by:
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    League Bad Boy 02/10/12 11:15 AM

    Never an off season in dynasty leagues. That said, we all know about AP's injury but good luck trading for him. Any thoughts on some of the rookie RBs that ended up on the sidelines due to injury last year. GB and Det have alot of questions at RB. Do you think Alex Green (3rd round pick) and Mikel Leshoure (2nd round pick) could end up the lead back? Also loved Ryan Williams/Ariz before his preseason injury. Any other guys that could be buy low value.

    Posted by:
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    charlescdc 02/10/12 12:42 PM

    Charlescdc- Love the attitude, and this is what sprung the topic. The youth RB situation is a great topic and is a great subject to discuss in full in another article. My quick answer would be that in my opinion I like Leshoure's fantasy worth better than any of the others at this given time. But it all depends on what happens with Best. If Best can't play in the future, Leshoure could become extremely valuable. Alex Green may have a little worth given that the Packers will most likely depart from Grant, but I wouldn't bet the farm on him just quite yet. If he can be stashed at a modest cost then yes. Ryan Williams is interesting. Beanie played well last season, but RW could become that 1-2 punch guy that has become so popular in today's NFL.

    Posted by:
    Nick Browne 02/10/12 02:14 PM

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