Sundays will never be the same. That is, of course, until next football season.
During football season, Sundays are my favorite day of the week. You see, writing about fantasy football doesn’t exactly pay the bills around the house (or even the gas in my car). I, too, have a day job that I hate. I’m livin’ the American dream just like you. And, like you, weekends are my time to unwind, enjoy the family, and booze more than I should. It’s the time, too, that I begin to worry about my fantasy football lineup because, after all, who wants to lose to their best friend?
Aside from my love for the Seahawks and fake football, Sundays aren’t just filled with pigskin. I don’t love Sundays just because of the NFL Redzone channel, breakfasts consisting of a strict three Bloody Mary minimum, and friends lounging around the man cave to watch our beloved Seahawks. It’s not just that. I love Sundays because of my 9:00 PM viewing of “The Walking Dead”, too.
The AMC hit has been a staple of my Sunday nights ever since I marathoned Season One while perusing On Demand this past fall. I was hooked for so many reasons: the killings…the zombies…Shane (kind of a badass)…and um…zombies…
And with the show conveniently coming back this Sunday (sans any football), I thought to myself, “Who are the big name players that could, legitimately, be ‘The Walking Dead’ in 2013?”
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens
ADP Prediction: Top-5 Overall
Coming off an incredible 2011 season, Rice was a consensus top three back heading into the 2012. He ended the Super Bowl campaign as the sixth-best back in fantasy land, totaling 1,621 yards and 10 touchdowns. Rice has been the model of consistency the past three seasons, turning in top-10 running back performances in each of the past three years. And he just turned 26, so why should you be worried?
As I was listening to the DLF Podcast last Wednesday night, Denny Carter brought up a very valid point concerning Rice and his possible demise in 2013. He mentioned Rice and his total usage during these playoffs. Averaging 23 touches per game this postseason, he ended the season with an additional 92 touches. Here’s what he did with those touches:
Another concern I have with Rice is the fact Bernard Pierce has looked every bit like the back the Ravens have so glowingly talked about. In the Ravens’ final two games, Pierce rushed 36 times for 212 yards (5.9 YPC). He didn’t stop there, following up those performances with a 13 rush, 103-yard game against the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. There’s no doubt in my mind that Pierce will end up being the Ben Tate of handcuffs in 2013, and he’ll definitely eat into Rice’s touches and productivity more than Tate did for Arian Foster owners.
Those extra touches are bound to affect Rice heading into 2013, especially considering he’ll have close to two months less to get his body healed up.
I can’t seem to write an article these days without delving into PFF’s Signature Stats, and what popped out at me for Rice was the difference in his long runs from 2011 to 2012. In 2011, Rice had 13 runs of 15-plus yards that netted him 485 yards. In 2012, that number dropped down to 11 runs for only 285 yards. I bring this up only because I remember watching their first playoff game and seeing Rice take a screen pass for what I thought was going to be a somewhat easy 49-yard touchdown. It ended up being a 47-yard pass and catch with Rice getting tackled at the 2-yard line. From an eye test, Rice looks significantly slower than he has in previous years. The burst is still there, but he seems more “gassed” on plays like the one noted.
Rice ended up having over 400 touches for the second consecutive year. For those that hate math, that’s more than 800 in just two seasons. Let someone else draft him inside the top-5 because this Super Bowl run will be the beginning of the demise of one, Ray Rice.
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
ADP Prediction: Early to Mid Second Round
I told myself I was going to try and stay away from the quarterback position in my articles here at lateroundqb.com because I think JJ compiles enough data in his book to steer you in the right direction. For some reason though, Brady’s name keeps coming up as an ideal Walking Dead candidate.
If you hate Brady, it’s only because you envy him. He’s never done anything to tarnish his name or hurt his team. You only hate him because of the rings, the dynasty, the model wife, the money, and the butt chin.
OK, I kind of hate him right now, too.
Brady has been a top-4 fantasy quarterback for three straight years. He finished third this season (Only Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers were better), throwing for 4,800 yards, 34 touchdowns, and just 8 interceptions.
But the fact is, he turns 36 before the 2013 season. And because it’s a passing league, there’s value to be had elsewhere.
For instance, Rotoworld.com writes:
“Brady’s 2012 completion rate was his lowest since 2006, and his YPA was his worst since 2008. In December, Brady completed only 58.5 percent with a 7.0 YPA and five interceptions.”
Not only was his completion percentage down, but according to Pro Football Focus, Brady was the 17th ranked QB in terms of deep passing completion percentage (20+ yards) at just 40.5%. To put that in perspective, Jake Locker, Philip Rivers, and Sam Bradford are all ranked higher.
Another damning stat is Brady’s steady decline in numbers when he’s pressured by opposing defenses. Since 2010, when Brady was the highest ranked QB when under pressure- he has gotten increasingly worse with less pressure in every year since.
Both Rice and Brady are still going to be good fantasy football options next year. What I’m trying to convey is that they may not produce the numbers we’ve all come to expect from them. I’m not saying Rice is going to be a bust or you should draft Pierce before him. And I’m certainly not saying that Brady has suddenly been overtaken by Colin Kaepernick or Russell Wilson.
I’m saying there is better value out there when the decision to draft Rice or Brady presents itself.
And while the title of the piece suggests these two as dead men walking, it’s merely a way for me to incorporate my newest favorite TV show, “The Walking Dead,” into one of my articles.