National Football League

Defensive tackle Malcom Brown is the highlight of Texas’ NFL draft prospects. He might hear his name called in the first round Thursday night, and four other Longhorns could be taken.
Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

After seven rounds and 256 selections in the 2014 NFL draft, Texas had no names on the selection board.

But by the time Mr. Irrelevant — the name given to the last player drafted — was picked in the 2015 NFL draft, Texas had made its presence felt.

Five Longhorns, the most since 2010, were selected in this year’s draft, which was hosted in Chicago over the weekend. The Longhorns first got on the board Friday, when the New England Patriots drafted defensive end Malcom Brown No. 32 overall, and the team’s involvement ended when the Dallas Cowboys selecting tight end Geoff Swaim with the 29th pick of the seventh round.

“It was just a relief — the past four or five hours have been pretty intense,” said Swaim, who will be joining former Texas teammates Donald Hawkins and Chris Whaley, in a statement. “It’ll be cool to play with the guys that I’ve known and have a relationship with.”

Defensive backs Mykkele Thompson and Quandre Diggs were taken in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, of the NFL draft. The New York Giants selected Thompson with the eighth pick in the fifth round, while the Detroit Lions picked Diggs with the 24th pick of the sixth round.

“It’s great,” Diggs said of being drafted on the same day as Thompson, who is one of his closest friends. “Mykkele’s my brother; that’s my best friend. He’s one of the people who definitely pushed me.”

Another person who pushed Diggs was head coach Charlie Strong, whom Diggs developed a close relationship with in Strong’s inaugural season at Texas.

“He can cover and may not have top-end speed, but he makes up for it with his intelligence,” Strong said. “He plays within himself, studies receivers, studies splits [and] studies everything the offense does.”

The Philadelphia Eagles selected linebacker Jordan Hicks with the 20th pick in the third round.

“I’ve been talking to [Philadelphia] for a while, actually,” Hicks said in a statement. “I went on a pre-draft visit there and had a great time, felt really comfortable and enjoyed meeting with all the coaches and getting a feel for the place.”

Four other Longhorns found teams in the NFL after the draft ended. Once the draft is over, players have the chance to sign with teams as rookie free agents.

Wide receiver John Harris will be joining Hicks after signing a free agent deal with the Eagles, while long snapper Nate Boyer signed as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks. The St. Louis Rams picked up running back Malcolm Brown, and defensive end Cedric Reed signed with the Buffalo Bills. 

“It was great,” Boyer said. “[Seahawks] coach [Pete] Carroll called me, actually. He called and said, ‘I want to invite you out to training camp,’ and he actually said, ‘I hope you accept my invitation.’ Obviously, ‘yes’ was the answer to that.”

Before playing at Texas, Boyer was a member of the Green Berets. He joined the team in 2012 with no prior football experience.

“The thing about Nate is he’s such a hard worker,” Strong said. “Any time someone represents your country, when you talk about courage, you talk about honor, that’s what it’s all about. I love him so much.”

By the end of the weekend, the Longhorns had nine players headed to the NFL — a distinct turnaround from last year.

Malcom Brown, a former Texas defensive tackle, speaks at a press conference Thursday night after the New England Patriots selected him as the 32nd overall pick of the NFL Draft.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

It took every ounce of patience Malcom Brown had — but by the end of the night, the former Texas defensive tackle had finally been drafted.

“It was just a great feeling,” said Brown, who was eating barbecue when he got the call. “Your heart starts pounding real fast; you just got to take a deep breath.” 

With the last pick of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots drafted the former Longhorn, making him the No. 32 pick overall. Brown, who had been predicted to be a top pick in the draft’s first round, said he started to feel a sense of disappointment as pick after pick went by without his name being called.

“[My emotions were] a little bit here and there,” Brown said. “I really thought I was going to be a real high draft pick.”

The Patriots lost a significant number of defensive players during the offseason, including defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, leaving a hole in the team’s defensive line. Brown said he would not let his late selection cast a shadow on his
new opportunity.

“I’m just going, and I’m going to work, and I’m just going to compete for the job as if it’s mine,” Brown said.

Brown is the first Longhorn drafted since the Arizona Cardinals drafted defensive end Alex Okafor in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. No player from Texas was drafted last year.

Brown played three seasons at Texas and was a two-year starter on the defensive line. He emerged as one of the best defensive tackles in the nation during his junior campaign at Texas.

“This is a good player,” ESPN analyst Jon Gruden said. “He can shed, get off blocks and make tackles … and he has some pass rush.”

As a backup in his freshman year, Brown didn’t have much of an impact on the defensive end. But he improved in the following years, starting all 13 games in his final season, and was recognized as a consensus first team All-American.

“Production over the last three years improved every year in the program,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “I thought he was the 12th best player in this draft.”

Draft experts predicted Brown would be drafted by the Detroit Lions, who had the 23rd overall pick, but, instead, he will be headed to the defending Super Bowl champions and to a team that has been to seven Super Bowls since 2001.

“He’ll be a success because of his work ethic,” head coach Charlie Strong said in a statement. “He works hard and comes to work each and every day. It doesn’t matter who he’s going against; he’s always looking to get better.”

Brown said he doesn’t feel any added pressure, despite heading to the Patriots.

“I’m just going to go in there and contribute whatever I have to give,” Brown said.

Former tight end David Thomas still holds records with Texas football, but now his success comes from his broadcasting job with Longhorn Network.

The 2006 Rose Bowl game typically conjures up images of Vince Young tearing apart the USC defense and sneaking across the goal line with 20 seconds left on 4th-and-5. But few fans remember the team-leading 10 receptions that tight end David Thomas hauled in to help Texas earn its first national title since 1970. 

“We couldn’t have won it without that,” former head coach Mack Brown said.

But Thomas’ earned more than just a national championship during his time at Texas. In his four years, Thomas also won the 2005 Rose Bowl by a slim margin and set the Longhorns’ record for receptions, yards and touchdowns by a tight end — records he still holds.  

His play caught the eye of the New England Patriots, who selected Thomas in the third round of the 2006 NFL draft. He went on to have a fruitful seven-year career, in which he brought a Lombardi Trophy to New Orleans.

But Thomas’ love for Texas football stayed strong until he retired after the 2012 season. When Longhorn Network came calling, Thomas, a Texas native, leapt at the opportunity despite not having a communications degree or prior experience.

“I hadn’t really given a whole lot of thought to getting into broadcasting,” Thomas said. “The first time I did it, I started to see that I could still be around the game and be able to give my opinions and cover a team that I love to cover”

The attributes that earned Thomas praise from NFL and NCAA coaches and teammates have also garnered him strong reviews from his peers in the media.

“[Thomas is] a really bright guy who earned his degree before going to the NFL,” said Brown, who is now a broadcaster himself for ESPN. “He knows the game and had so much awareness of what was happening on the field. He has great insight for both broadcasting and coaching.”

Although Thomas’ playing career is over, the record-setting tight end still prepares for studio work as if he were going to take the field Saturday.

“It’s a very similar mindset,” Thomas said. “I kind of get lost in the world of watching the scheme and watching the players and the matchups and figure out where the other team is vulnerable and what can be exploited.” 

Thomas reputation and experience led to a side job coaching with the Air It Out passing camp in December 2014. Alan Wartes, the camp director when Thomas’ attended as a high schooler, leapt at the opportunity to bring his former student and longtime friend on as a coach when Thomas retired from NFL.

“First and foremost, he’s just great for kids,” Wartes said. “David’s a great guy, and he’s a good ambassador for the University of Texas.”

As important as Air It Out may be to a camp alumnus such as Thomas, there are a few other players that take up most of his time now. He has four kids, ranging from one to seven years old, and has taken on the responsibility of coaching all of their teams to stay as involved as possible in their lives. 

Thomas is just two years removed from a championship-winning career, but he has already found what he wants to do for the rest of his life.

“I’m thrilled with where I am,” Thomas said. “The game has done a lot for me and has opened a lot of doors for me and continues to open doors for me through these avenues. I’m very blessed to be able to do what I do and work with the people that I work with.”

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Tuesday marked head coach Charlie Strong’s first NFL Pro Day with Texas, where he saw 14 Longhorns perform for scouts and coaches from 25 different teams in the league.

The five players who participated in last month’s NFL Combine — defensive tackle Malcom Brown, running back Malcolm Brown, linebacker Jordan Hicks, defensive end Cedric Reed and cornerback Quandre Diggs — mostly focused on position drills as they tried to establish a spot in the NFL Draft. 

Diggs participated in the vertical jump and the broad jump, reaching 36 inches and 9 feet 11 inches, respectively. Malcolm Brown ran in the 40-yard dash, aiming to beat his time of 4.62 from the Combine. He clocked in around 4.5 seconds.

“I definitely believe I am one of the best cornerbacks in this class,” Diggs said. “A lot of people have made a big to do about my size. It is one thing if you’re 6 foot 1 inch but are soft. I know the kind of player I am, and I let my play speak for itself.”

Reed, after only taking part in the bench press at the combine, did not participate in the Pro Day. He is still recovering from meniscus surgery he had during the offseason.

Tuesday was crucial for wide receivers Jaxon Shipley and John Harris and safety Mykkele Thompson, who weren’t invited to the Combine. 

Shipley ran between a 4.43 and a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash and jumped a 39-inch vertical. During wide receiver drills, his routes were clean, and he showed scouts the strong hands Texas fans were familiar with.

“Coming out here today, I really want to surprise some people with my speed,” Shipley said. “I also wanted people understand that, even with injuries in college, I can still play at a high level.”

Shipley said he felt good about his performance and was glad to talk with a couple of scouts following his workouts.

Thompson also looked strong in all of his drills, especially the broad jump, which was around 10 feet 9 inches. His broad jump would have been better than many guys at the combine, including Alabama safety Landon Collins and LSU cornerback Jalen Collins.

Harris, one of the Longhorns few offensive weapons last season, gave a good performance.  He completed 19 reps on the bench press and ran a 40-yard time of about 4.5. On the his last attempt for the 40, Harris pulled his hamstring, but it didn’t bother him the rest of the day.

“At this time last year, I was not really paying attention to Pro Day,” Harris said. “I remember coming to watch for a little while but quickly leaving. Now, a year later, a lot has changed.”

The Longhorn prospects still have a long process ahead of them, with individual team workouts and meetings before the NFL Draft on April 30 through May 2.

Why don’t I care about the Pro Bowl?

This may be the million-dollar question. The Pro Bowl is the NFL equivalent of the All-Star Game, but it fails compared to the MLB and the NBA ones.

Now, what is the reason for this? It can’t be because baseball and basketball are better than football; now that’s just ludicrous.

Maybe it’s the lack of value in the game. The MLB All Star Game actually matters. The winning division gets home field advantage in the World Series.

This could be a great thing for the NFL to adopt, but then they would have to have the Pro Bowl during the season.

The recent reformatting of the Pro Bowl has only made it worse. Firstly, they moved it to be before the Super Bowl, which excluded some of the best players each year. I mean, that’s obvious, they made it to the Super Bowl after all.

Secondly, it is no longer NFC versus AFC. This has really led to the demise of the Pro Bowl, not that it was ever great, but it was better than this. This year, for example, it was Team Irvin versus Team Carter. Each coach “drafted” players that were selected to the Pro Bowl by voting.

Now let’s be frank, this is just unnecessary. They are trying to model a pickup game of football. Why are you ruining something that could honestly be so great?

Think about it. A game where Aaron Rodgers is throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. Does that sound awesome or does that sound awesome?

On paper, it should be. In reality, it is similar to watching paint dry.

So, why can’t we have the Pro Bowl midseason like the NBA and MLB do?

Maybe the reason the NFL is opposed to this is because of the physicality of the sport.

However, the NFL plays the fewest games per season compared to these sports. Yes, I understand football is literally running into someone and getting hit. But playing 82 basketball games a season probably isn’t too easy either.

Regardless of the levels of physicality, you play any sport at a professional level that often, your body will feel it.

I’m not asking for the NFL to play 50 games. I’m asking for one more game halfway through the season, I’m asking for 17 games. Give these guys an All Star break.

There won’t be any defense until the fourth quarter. It will just be exciting and electrifying plays for the fans. That’s all they really want.

Does anyone watch the NBA All-Star Game for a good matchup? No. We watch it to see a dream team that will never exist elsewhere. We watch it to see Chris Paul lob the ball to James Harden. We watch it to see LeBron throw the ball to the perimeter for Carmelo to shoot a three.

Why can’t we have this in football?

I want to live in a world where I can see Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy in the backfield together for one game a year.

Am I really asking for that much? No, no I am not.

So please, give me an NFL All-Star Game that everyone will watch.

Millions tune in to watch the NBA All Star Weekend. Millions tune in to watch the MLB All Star Game. Let’s add the NFL to that list.

There won’t be a dunk contest, but there could be a 40-yard dash contest, a one-handed catch contest, and a throwing contest.

Basically, it could be a casual combine. I mean, why not?

Do it for the fans. Bring the Pro Bowl back to life. Honestly, the NFL could use all the good press it can get right now.

Few people are good enough and devoted enough to become consensus All-Americans while pursuing a petroleum engineering degree.

Doug Dawson, a former Texas offensive lineman, managed to succeed in both.

Dawson, an academic and consensus All-American who played from 1980–1983, became a starter by sophomore year. But managing his full-time studies and full-time football career wasn’t easy.

“It means you have no life,” Dawson said. “The old college experience, you know, ‘Hey we’ll meet you out on one of the lakes,’ or ‘We’ll meet you out at Barton Creek’ — that was not my college experience. My college experience was studying and playing football.”

But the sacrifices Dawson made on the 40 Acres paid off. His accomplishments across the board at Texas caught the eye of teammates and general managers alike.

“Doug excelled at the fundamentals,” said Vance Bedford, current Texas defensive coordinator and a collegiate teammate of Dawson’s for two years. “He did the little things extremely well. The work ethic; you couldn’t say enough good things about Doug.”

The St. Louis Cardinals, currently known as the Rams, took Dawson in the second round of the 1984 NFL Draft. Dawson played in eight seasons in the NFL. But what set Dawson apart from other NFL players is the way he prepared for his career after football.

Always wanting to stay a step ahead of the curve, Dawson began thinking about life after football as soon as he joined the NFL. After his rookie season, he passed the test to become a licensed stockbroker. Not long after that, he signed on with Northwestern Mutual and found himself balancing two careers at once.

“I had a couple of injuries about halfway through my career that kept me out of a couple of seasons during that 11-year span,” Dawson said. “That is when I decided to become a financial adviser.”

In the final season of his career, Dawson started as offensive lineman for a playoff-bound Cleveland Browns, which Bill Belichick coached. But he soon found out he was making more money working in his new job in his spare time.

When the 1994 season ended with a second-round playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dawson, then-33, decided to retire from football and become a full-time financial adviser.

“I kind of hit the ground running,” Dawson said. “When they start offering you less to play pro football than you make in your regular business … you start thinking it’s time to grow up and get a big-boy job.”

Although the careers are on opposite spectrums, Dawson finds many similarities between his former and current career — they have the same basic principles. 

“As an offensive lineman, my job was to serve my quarterback and to block, and it’s a role where you’re not in the limelight,” Dawson said. “The more you learn to serve other peoples’ needs, the more successful you’ll become. In business and in work, you have got to serve other people’s needs to be successful.”

During his time on the 40 Acres, kicker Anthony Fera proved to be one of the best kickers Texas has seen with a school record-tying 15 straight field goals. Though he did not receive an NFL spot last year, Fera is hoping to get another shot.
Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

After transferring to Texas from Penn State and suffering a groin injury that delayed his Longhorn debut, Anthony Fera took to the field his senior year to become one of the most consistent kickers Texas has ever seen. During his tenure, he hit 15 straight field goals — tied for the longest streak in school history.

Fera, who kicked and punted for the Longhorns in 2012 and 2013 after transferring from Penn State following the Sandusky scandal, was a consensus All–American in 2013 and a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is given to the nation’s best kicker.

“We saw the real Anthony Fera in his last year at Texas,” former head coach Mack Brown said. “He was focused and excited, and you could see that in his kicking. To go from such a difficult situation to becoming a Groza Award finalist really speaks to his determination.”

Kicking may be the most high-pressure job in football, but for Fera, the task became second nature.

“For me, kicking … it’s easy to me,” Fera said. “Once you learn it and you master it, then it’s not a problem.”

Now a year removed from college, Fera needs the confidence and determination that allowed him to thrive amid a collegiate career sullied by scandal and injury. The kicker, whom ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. referred to as the best in the 2014 draft class, is still trying to join the tiny fraternity of NFL kickers and punters.

“It’s a waiting thing,” Fera said. “It hasn’t really worked out for me yet.”

Though he was not drafted, the former Longhorn standout did get a taste of the NFL dream at the Miami Dolphins’ rookie minicamp. But by the time the regular season rolled around, Fera found himself without an NFL roster spot.

“Right after the draft, I went down to the rookie minicamp down in Miami and had a little setback with a school injury, just a strained muscle, and a couple weeks later I went to Jacksonville, but they were looking more for a punter,” Fera said. “That didn’t really work out as planned.”

Despite the yearlong setback, Fera is still dead set on landing in the NFL. He now spends his time hopping around the country, punting and kicking at veteran combines and working out in Austin.

“[I’m] working out … probably five, six times a week, still kicking … probably two times a week just trying to stay fresh.” Fera said.

Still, no player can maintain peak physical performance for long — as anyone who has labeled the NFL as “Not For Long” can attest. For a player such as Fera — an undrafted specialist hanging in limbo after a full season on the market — it is especially important to have a backup plan in place.

When Fera is not trying to maintain NFL levels of fitness, he is busy learning the ins and outs of the oil industry from his father at MidStar Energy, a directional drilling company in Houston. He hopes to eventually have enough industry knowledge to land a career in sales.

“I’m just trying to learn the whole process at the moment,” Fera said. “Every now and then, I’ll go out to an oil rig and check out a few things.”

Fera said his fledgling career will not pry him away from his dream of landing on an NFL roster.

“My main focus is making the NFL,” Fera said. “I’ll probably give it a try the next year or two.”

Texas junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown announced Thursday that he has opted to forgo his senior year and enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Brown, a consensus first-team All-American, is expected to be a late first-round selection.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Texas junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown announced Thursday that he has opted to forgo his senior year and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

“Coach [Chris] Rumph talked to me right after the [Texas Bowl], and I talked to my wife about it,” Brown said. “Then I saw Coach [Charlie] Strong yesterday, and we had a good talk about it. I decided to enter the 2015 Draft, and that’s what everyone thinks is best.

Brown, a consensus first-team All-American and finalist for the Nagurski and Outland trophies in 2014, which honor the nation’s top defensive player and interior lineman, respectively, is expected to be a late first-round selection.

“It wasn’t an easy decision because a lot went into it,” Brown said. “My wife has school; I have school and moving the kids around. I got everyone’s input on it, but, at the end of the day, it’s my decision, and that’s what I came to.”

In claiming first-team honors from the Football Writers Association of American, the Associated Press and Sporting News , Brown joined Rodrique Wright (2005), Casey Hampton (2000), Tony Degrate (1984), Kenneth Sims (1980-1981), and Brand Shearer (1977) as the only defensive tackles to be consensus selections.

“I’m going to miss everyone here — that’s the hardest part about leaving,” said Brown, who is also the team leader in tackles for loss (15), forced fumbles (2) and sacks (6.5).

In this day and age, the NFL is regarded as the most popular sports league in America as 35 percent of sports fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent) and college football (11 percent).

Most fans consider Pete Rozelle, the late former commissioner, to be responsible for the NFL’s immense popularity; however, over the last decade, the NFL’s success can be attributed to elite quarterback play.

When mentioning the NFL’s elite quarterbacks Denver Bronco’s Peyton Manning (age 38), Green Bay Packer’s Aaron Rodgers (age 30), New England’s Tom Brady (age 37), New Orleans’ Drew Brees (age 35), and Pittsburgh Steeler’s Ben Roethlisberger (age 32) are always at the top of every NFL analyst’s list.

Their résumés are impressive and illustrate why they are considered elite and so entertaining to watch.

Collectively, these five quarterbacks have eight Super Bowl victories, 13 Super Bowl appearances and 32 division title in the past twelve years. There have only been two years since 2002 when none of these quarterbacks were playing in the Super Bowl (Super Bowls XXXVII and XLVII).  Not to mention, all five quarterbacks this season are in the top ten for most passing yards and touchdowns.

So what will happen to the NFL when they all retire?

Football fans everywhere should feel blessed to have had the privilege to watch these great quarterbacks in action on Sundays over the past decade. When they retire, the league will not be the same. Their successors have shown potential but they aren’t as consistent as the current elite quarterbacks.

Most NFL analysts believe that the quarterback position will continue to evolve from a pocket passer style of play to a dual threat style of play, meaning a quarterback who is a threat to throw the ball downfield and rush for big plays.

This dual threat style of quarterback play has been problematic for many defenses around the league as quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, and Robert Griffin III have all thrived in this new era of NFL football.

However, the NFL is a league of adjustments. As defenses have been able to figure out how to contain these dual threat quarterbacks, their style of play has been less impactful. This season, these dual threat quarterbacks are a combined 20-23-1 and none of their respective teams are a lock to make the playoffs, as all of the quarterbacks have struggled.

Of all the younger quarterbacks in the NFL, Indianapolis Colt’s quarterback Andrew Luck has shown the most potential in becoming one of the elite as he currently leads the league in passing yards and is second in touchdown passes. However, Luck is considered to be more of a pocket passer than a dual threat quarterback.

This dual threat style of play at first seemed like the future of the NFL but has proven to be less effective and not as enjoyable to watch for NFL plans.

The NFL will most likely still be the most popular sport in America but the switch from pocket passing quarterbacks to dual threat quarterbacks will diminish its overall popularity.

A great friend (and fantasy addict) approach me with the following question for today’s article-- why do we play fantasy football? We both follow all the important NFL writers, text back and forth hundreds of times a week, and watch upwards of 10-12 games every weekend. But for what? Why are we obsessed with this game? Why did say businesses lose approximately $13.4 billion annually because of employees devoting work time to setting their lineups? Today I want to try to make an attempt at explaining our obsession. By no means is this the be-all and end-all of an explanation for why we love it. But here’s my opinion:

·      Trash Talk

o   Nothing is better than getting a league email from a guy you just played, complaining about how unfair fantasy football is and how he obviously should’ve won, rather than losing by 2 points. The second you see this; the trash talk rebuttal begins stewing in your brain. You will do everything in your power to never let him live this down. You want him to go to sleep at night agonizing over those 2 points. The majority of fantasy leagues are played with people you know. Be it friends, relatives, or co-workers, trash talk takes the league to another level. It adds fuel to the fire; emotion to the game.

·      Rivalries

o   Piggybacking on trash talk is the rivalry aspect of this wonderful game. If you have been in any league for more than one year, chances are you have that one guy (or girl) you absolutely want to crush. You could lose every other game all year long, as long as you demoralize that hated enemy. Your effort level for the week leading up to the massive matchup is unmatched. For example, in my favorite league, I play with some guys that are about 10 years older than me who all went to a college I didn’t go to. (Another story for another time). Anyways, after I sent out a lengthy trash talk email last year, he responded with an email of his own and from there the rivalry began.

·      Interest in Every Game

o   Fantasy adds entertainment to your entertainment. There are plenty of fine folks who watch many NFL games without the added pleasure of fantasy football, but they must not know what they’re missing. It seems like most weeks, every single game has fantasy implications. You love Andre Johnson this week but you also have the Bengals D so you’re put in a conundrum. You have so many ties in every game, it makes each and every play seem of massive importance. Before you know it, you’ve watched 8 games that don’t include any teams you root for. And you better believe the NFL knows (and absolutely loves) this. The NFL is one of the most powerful organizations in America and it has fantasy football to thank.

·      Get to be a GM

o   Most of us will never work in an NFL front office. Even fewer will ever reach the peak of NFL player management, becoming a General Manager. The 32 GM spots aren’t exactly easy to attain. But with fantasy football, suddenly the unattainable is at your fingertips. You get to be the GM of your own team. Your power limited only by fellow GMs who refuse to trade with you. This idea of completely controlling every aspect of a team is the overarching theme of fantasy football. Each and every one of us gets to run our organizations in any manner we please. Want to own 3 kickers? Go for it. Want to own only Oakland Raiders players? Go for it (but be sure to start praying). Fantasy gives us the unique ability to put together a team and watch it perform on a weekly basis. As GM, we get to prep months for the draft, pick your dream squad, and trade them all away the next week.

With the fantasy season is quickly coming to a close, enjoy it while it lasts and remember it’s ultimately about having fun (and winning along the way). But I ask you: Why do you love fantasy football? Email me at and tell me why you love it. And if you have any lineup dilemmas or need waiver wire wisdom, send it my way.

Onto the rankings!

Week 12 Rankings


1.     Andrew Luck

2.     Aaron Rodgers

3.     Drew Brees

4.     Peyton Manning

5.     Jay Cutler

6.     Tom Brady

7.     Colin Kaepernick

8.     Tony Romo

9.     Philip Rivers

10. Ryan Tannehill

11. Russell Wilson

12. Josh McCown

13. Matthew Stafford

14. Matt Ryan

15. Ryan Mallett

16. Kyle Orton

17. Mark Sanchez

18. Zach Mettenberger

19. Joe Flacco

20. Andy Dalton


1.     DeMarco Murray

2.     Jamaal Charles

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Arian Foster (if active; if not, Alfred Blue would settle in around number 8 on my RB list)

5.     LeSean McCoy

6.     Eddie Lacy

7.     Marshawn Lynch

8.     Justin Forsett

9.     Denard Robinson

10. Isaiah Crowell

11. Jeremy Hill (if Gio is inactive; if not, both Hill and Bernard would be in the low teens for me)

12. Mark Ingram

13. Andre Ellington

14. Rashad Jennings

15. Frank Gore

16. Steven Jackson

17. C.J. Anderson

18. Trent Richardson

19. Chris Ivory

20. Tre Mason


1.     Jordy Nelson

2.     A.J. Green

3.     Demaryius Thomas

4.     Calvin Johnson

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Brandon Marshall

7.     Josh Gordon

8.     T.Y. Hilton

9.     Randall Cobb

10. Mike Evans

11. Jeremy Maclin

12. Alshon Jeffery

13. Roddy White

14. Sammy Watkins

15. Julio Jones

16. Torrey Smith

17. Jordan Matthews

18. DeSean Jackson

19. Andre Johnson

20. DeAndre Hopkins


1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Jimmy Graham

3.     Antonio Gates

4.     Larry Donnell

5.     Jason Witten

6.     Coby Fleener

7.     Martellus Bennett

8.     Austin Seferian-Jenkins

9.     Travis Kelce

10. Mychal Rivera

11. Owen Daniels

12. Charles Clay

13. Marcedes Lewis

14. Kyle Rudolph

15. Vernon Davis


1.     Bills

2.     Chiefs

3.     49ers

4.     Packers

5.     Eagles

6.     Seahawks

7.     Cardinals

8.     Broncos

9.     Colts

10. Texans

11. Chargers

12. Bears

13. Cowboys

14. Patriots

15. Jets


1.     DeMarco Murray

2.     Jamaal Charles

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Arian Foster

6.     A.J. Green

7.     Demaryius Thomas

8.     Calvin Johnson

9.     Dez Bryant

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. LeSean McCoy

12. Brandon Marshall

13. Eddie Lacy

14. Marshawn Lynch

15. Josh Gordon

16. Justin Forsett

17. Jimmy Graham

18. T.Y. Hilton

19. Randall Cobb

20. Mike Evans

21. Jeremy Maclin

22. Denard Robinson

23. Isaiah Crowell

24. Jeremy Hill

25. Alshon Jeffery

26. Mark Ingram

27. Andre Ellington

28. Roddy White

29. Rashad Jennings

30. Sammy Watkins

31. Frank Gore

32. Steven Jackson

33. Julio Jones

34. C.J. Anderson

35. Antonio Gates

36. Torrey Smith

37. Jordan Matthews

38. DeSean Jackson

39. Larry Donnell

40. Jason Witten