The inaugural Ninja Mailbag on the same week as the most anticipated American presidential inauguration ever? Coincidence? Absolutely not.
Reader Jay-Mo has a couple questions, even though I think he should answer at least one of the questions himself — dude’s got a sick grasp of the football world.
So, without much more babbling, on to the reader questions:
Jay-Mo asks: Who should be the first NFL rookie drafted in the 2009 Fantasy Football season?
Jay-Mo is a ravenous consumer of the NCAA Football, so he’d be much better at answering this request. Hopefully, he’ll write up a guest post and do a better job, but I’m going to do my best at answering this question.
While a couple receivers in this draft will make an impact (Crabtree’s going to be awesome), running backs are always the most NFL-ready right out of college. Also, where a player goes can change the situation completely, because without opportunity rookies are lost. So, I’m picking in a vacuum here
If I had to choose the top rookie that will be picked in 2009 fantasy drafts right now, and I do, I’d go with Chris Wells, Ohio State. The dude only played in nine games but went over 1,000 yards and scored eight TDs. But, I think Iowa’s Shonn Greene will be the best running back to come out of the 2009 class. — EP
Jay-Mo asks: What free agent will have the biggest [impact] in the upcoming Fantasy football season?
If you were talking about just the NFL season, I’d say Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, he’s as shutdown as they come and will make any team instantly better.
I’ll stick to skill position players, and this one’s tough because there are some intriguing players that could leave their teams this year.
Giants RBs Brandon Jacobs (unrestricted free agent) and Derrick Ward (restricted free agent) could both leave. Arizona QB Kurt Warner and Patriots backup QB Matt Cassel also could skip town. San Diego lightning bug RB Darren Sproles is a free agent… There are so many… T.J. Houshmandzadeh can leave Cincy, too.
Again, I’m stuck picking only one, so I’ll say Warner. He’s been so good at getting the ball to the right one of those gifted receivers all season that they’re now playing in the Super Bowl. If he leaves, Matt Leinart’s not going to replicate that effort. And if he exits into the right system, he could instantly turn a playoff contender into a title contender. It feels like he’s been in the NFL forever, but he still knows how to use the weapons he’s given. — EP
Jay-Mo asks: How much should I weigh a player’s opposing schedule in whether I pick him or not? Does strength of schedule really matter?
I’ve never put a lot of thought into the strength of schedule as far as fantasy players are concerned for a couple reasons.
Overall NFL defenses fluctuate season to season. Did anyone think the Cardinals D was going to be this good in 2008? That the Patriots D was going to be this bad? That, despite the injuries/retirements the Giants D would be so good again?
You’re only going to play against a team like the Steelers or the Ravens at most twice each year (of course division foes are going to face the Steelers and Ravens a couple times each), but over the course of a 13-game regular season, and then three more weeks of playoffs, the best players will overcome a couple bad matchups with big games.
Also, the Raiders are consistently lauded as this awful defensive team. Because of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, opposing top receivers — Andre Johnson, 2 catches for 19 yards, and Steve Smith, 1 catch for 9 yards as examples — struggled against the Silver and Black while the rest of opposing squads amassed huge numbers. But I would not blacklist Brandon Marshall just because he plays the Raiders twice. He’s still going to be a stud for many other games.
If you really want to play the schedule game, and some people do, you’re better off waiting until a couple weeks into the season. By then, you can determine which defensive teams are living up to expectations and which ones are surprisingly bad.
Next, look at weeks 14, 15 and 16. Typically, these are playoff weeks. Target good, but maybe underperforming players on teams that have favorable matchups in those games, then make some trade offers. Chances are the opposing owner may not even have realized his talented-but-struggling No. 2 RB was facing Detroit during the second round of the playoffs and Oakland on championship weekend. Steal him away Ninja. — EP
Well Jay-Mo, what do you think? What does everyone else think. Let us know in the comments.