Drew Brees

Consistency, TNF Preview and Week 6 Rankings

Emmitt Smith, Hall of Fame running back of the Dallas Cowboys, once said, “Consistency is one of the hallmarks of my career. You knew what you were going to get out of E-Smith every game, every year, no matter if I was 22, 21, or 35 years old.” 

One of the best RBs in the history of the game knew that consistency was key. You always want someone on your side that you can depend on. No questions about their performance, just that reliability. In fantasy football, we’re looking for the same thing: Consistency. 

Boom/bust guys are infuriating as they get 20 yards one week and 200 yards the next. We want reliable players anchoring our teams, guys that get 100 yards every week, put it in the bank.

Over at ESPN Tristan Cockcroft does a weekly article in which he breaks down his “Consistency Ratings” for each fantasy football player (Go check it out here: http://es.pn/1twBDWe). These ratings take incredible research and time to put together and I think it’s one of the more useful tools on the web when it comes to fantasy studying. The gist of the column is Cockcroft breaking down which guys tend to be consistent: straying little in their weekly output. A lower consistency rating is better because it means you can easily predict a player’s output week to week. The players with lower numbers have very little deviation from their weekly averages. For example, although Drew Brees hasn’t had the elite year many expected from him, he comes in at number one in the consistency rating. Here are his 5 fantasy point totals from week to week: 15, 15, 19, 19, 16. The Saints QB has been extremely predictable this year and that’s the goal of these ratings: to figure out which guys you can trust will stick to the mean or average. On the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Matthew Stafford. His weekly totals so far? 29, 13, 3, 25, and 11. Who knows if this week in Minnesota he’ll put up a stud week like in week 1 or if he’ll have a dud like in week 3.

Furthermore, Cockcroft also sets up the percentage of weeks in which each player would have been a “start” (top 10 QB or top 25 RB/WR), a “stud” (top 2 QB or top 5 RB/WR), or a “stiff” (worse than 21st QB or worse than 51st RB/WR). As an example, look at the running back position. Only 4 guys have been a “start” in each game this year: Murray, Lynch, Bell, and Bernard. Every other running back has had at least one week outside of the top-25 positional outputs. But all in all, take these for what they’re worth. Sure T.Y. Hilton has one of the best consistency ratings, but his consistent average is around 7 points (4, 6, 8, 10, 9). I fully believe this tool can help you win a championship. But even if you don’t frequent it, at least know that this can really help when you can’t decide which running back to start this week or which QB you can write in 20 points for. On to the Thursday Night Football Preview which spotlights a few guys to keep your fantasy eye on.

 

TNF Preview

·      Andrew Luck

o   Luck has gotten off to a scorching start this season putting up more than 25 points per game while leading the league in passing yards and touchdowns. In a homecoming game, Luck will look to continue his hot stretch against a Texans D who has yet to hold a passer under 225 yards. Look for the Stanford product to shine once again in the spotlight. Prediction: 289 yards, 2 touchdowns

·      Ahmad Bradshaw

o   When Colts GM Ryan Grigson traded a first round pick to Cleveland for Trent Richardson last year, he thought he had found his bell cow running back. Instead Richardson has plodded along to an abysmal 3.1 yards per carry. Now the Colts find themselves playing the aged veteran, Bradshaw, more and more as he continues to find success. Going into this TNF matchup against a depleted and weak Texans run defense, Bradshaw will look to exploit the weakness on his way to a solid game. Side note: As an avid Texans fan, I have seen receiving backs destroy this defense so look for Bradshaw to excel in the passing game. Prediction: 10 carries, 61 yards and 5 receptions for 30 yards

·      T.Y. Hilton

o   In his 4 career meetings with the Texans, Hilton has destroyed the Texans secondary with 22 catches for 288 yards and 5 touchdowns. The speedy wideout will look to continue that success tonight, albeit with an improved secondary that looks improved from years past. The safeties will surely be tested with Hilton’s over the top speed and I’m afraid Hilton is going to get behind the D for at least one long gainer. Prediction: 4 catches for 89 yards and a TD

·      Arian Foster

o   Just as Hilton has found success against the in-division rival, Foster has feasted on the opponent’s defense over the years. In his 5 healthy games, Foster has averaged 6.6 yards per carry and found pay dirt 6 times. Coming off a stellar performance against the Cowboys, I think the running back will further improve upon those career stats vs. the Indy defense. Prediction: 23 carries for 140 yards and 2 touchdowns

·      Andre Johnson

o   The ageless wonder has yet to eclipse 100 yards on the season but I think if there’s any game he might do that in, it just might be tonight. He loves being the afterthought, the quiet lurker who’s ready to pounce. Dre is known to destroy Colts CB Vontae Davis and he’s going to continue that trend tonight. Prediction: 7 catches for 101 yards

·      GAME PREDICTION:

o   Homerism aside, I truly think the Texans may have the slightest of edges going into tonight’s game. They’re playing in front of the raucous NRG stadium crows and I think QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s veteran wisdom finally shows itself. Bet the house on it (please don’t bet your house): Texans 20 – Colts 17.

Week 6 Rankings

·      QB

1.     Peyton Manning

2.     Philip Rivers

3.     Aaron Rodgers

4.     Matt Ryan

5.     Andrew Luck

6.     Russell Wilson

7.     Jay Cutler

8.     Carson Palmer

9.     Eli Manning

10. Matthew Stafford

11. Ben Roethlisberger

12. Jake Locker

13. Andy Dalton

14. Colin Kaepernick

15. Nick Foles

16. Kirk Cousins

17. Tony Romo

18. Tom Brady

19. Joe Flacco

20. Brian Hoyer

 

·      RB

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Le’veon Bell

4.     Marshawn Lynch

5.     Eddie Lacy

6.     Giovani Bernard

7.     Demarco Murray

8.     LeSean McCoy

9.     Andre Ellington

10. Branden Oliver

11. Alfred Morris

12. Frank Gore

13. Andre Williams

14. Ben Tate

15. Lamar Miller

16. Doug Martin

17. Ahmad Brashaw

18. Zac Stacy

19. Justin Forsett

20. Joique Bell

21. Stevan Ridley

22. Steven Jackson

23. Chris Ivory

24. C.J. Spiller

25. Fred Jackson

 

·      WR

1.     Demaryius Thomas

2.     Jordy Nelson

3.     Julio Jones

4.     Antonio Brown

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Brandon Marshall

7.     Emmanuel Sanders

8.     Jeremy Maclin

9. Vincent Jackson

10. Percy Harvin

11. Alshon Jeffery

12. Randall Cobb

13. Golden Tate

14. Steve Smith

15. Andre Johnson

16. Michael Floyd

17. DeSean Jackson

18. Victor Cruz

19. Pierre Garcon

20. T.Y. Hilton

21. Mike Wallace

22. Mohamed Sanu

23. Rueben Randle

24. DeAndre Hopkins

25. Brian Quick

 

·      TE

1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Delanie Walker

5.     Martellus Bennett

6.     Larry Donnell

7.     Antonio Gates

8.     Dwayne Allen

9. Eric Ebron

10. Owen Daniels

11. Jordan Cameron

12. Zach Ertz

13. Jason Witten

14. Heath Miller

15. Niles Paul

 

·      D/ST

1.     Chargers

2.     49ers

3.     Titans

4.     Seahawks

5.     Bengals

6.     Packers

7.     Broncos

8.     Lions

9.     Giants

10. Texans

11. Ravens

12. Patriots

13. Vikings

14. Cardinals

15. Eagles

 

·      Flex

 

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Le’Veon Bell

4.     Marshawn Lynch

5.     Eddie Lacy

6.     Giovani Bernard

7.     Demaryius Thomas

8.     Jordy Nelson

9.     Julio Jones

10. Demarco Murray

11. LeSean McCoy

12. Andre Ellington

13. Branden Oliver

14. Alfred Morris

15. Antonio Brown

16. Dez Bryant

17. Brandon Marshall

18. Frank Gore

19. Emmanuel Sanders

20. Jeremy Maclin

21. Vincent Jackson

22. Andre Williams

23. Ben Tate

24. Lamar Miller

25. Percy Harvin

26. Doug Martin

27. Ahmad Bradshaw

28. Alshon Jeffery

29. Randall Cobb

30. Golden Tate

31. Zac Stacy

32. Justin Forsett

33. Joique Bell

34. Steve Smith

35. Andre Johnson

36. Michael Floyd

37. DeSean Jackson

38. Stevan Ridley

39. Steven Jackson

40. Chris Ivory

41. Victor Cruz

42. Pierre Garcon

43. T.Y. Hilton

44. C.J. Spiller

45. Mike Wallace

46. Mohamed Sanu

47. Rueben Randle

48. Fred Jackson

49. DeAndre Hopkins

50. Brian Quick

 

Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

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This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Rising:

Marvin Jones:

I don’t care who it is — if a player scores four touchdowns in a single game, he deserves to be on my rising list. We always knew that AJ Green’s sidekick could be a productive position, and Jones is just that man. With the number of double teams Green gathers, there will be plenty of room for Jones to be a major threat in the Bengals’ offense.

Kenny Stills:

Drew Brees will always have his Robert Meachem — a guy who can stretch the field and catch long balls every now and then. This year, it is Stills — and no Meachem, who rejoined the Saints this season. Stills put up a 129-yard, two-touchdown performance this week, which puts him as a top five receiver in Week 8. Stills is guaranteed to be frustrating, because he will go games without a single catch, but in my opinion, it’s worth taking the lottery ticket.

Andre Ellington:

A 154-yard, one touchdown -performance from Ellington is the nail in the coffin for Rashard Mendenhall’s tenure in Arizona. Ellington has looked like the better running back all year, and this past week’s performance is a positive sign of things to come.

Falling:

Pierre Garcon: 

This week was Garcon’s chance to re-establish himself as a legitimate threat in the Redskins’ offense against a Broncos’ secondary that has been trampled over the past few weeks. What does he do with that opportunity? He receives for a mere 46 yards. He has only topped 75 yards once this season, and has not had a touchdown since Week 4. Garcon is falling, and falling fast.

Jacquizz Rodgers:

Rodgers is nothing but a pretty name. He has enough talent to get by in the NFL, but never enough to make an impact. The Falcons struggle to run the ball, and even if they could, it looks like Steven Jackson is ready to take control of this backfield after recovering for injury. Rodgers’ ceiling just plummeted to the floor.

Marques Colston:

I wrote about Colston’s performance wavering recently, but even I was skeptical when I wrote it. I was still half-expecting Colston to have a 100-yard, two-touchdown game as soon as I typed my critique of him. This week, after putting up only 18 yards, all hope is lost. The Saints have moved on from Colston, and so should everyone’s fantasy team.

Former Texas running back Ricky Williams and pitcher Cat Osterman were among the people inducted in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Monday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WACO, Texas — Shaquille O'Neal was a star in an overlooked Texas sport. Drew Brees was an overlooked player in the star of Texas high school athletics: football.

They were supposed to share a stage Monday night for induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame before O'Neal canceled hours after the NBA All-Star game in Houston, citing a family matter.

O'Neal was a four-time NBA champion who won the Class 3A title at San Antonio Cole in 1989. Brees, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for New Orleans, won a state title at Austin Westlake in 1996.

The agent for the star known simply as Shaq told Texas sports hall officials late Sunday that O'Neal had to fly to California for personal reasons. It wasn't clear whether O'Neal's change of plans was connected to the death Monday of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. O'Neal won three straight titles with the Lakers starting in 2000 and played eight of his 19 seasons in Los Angeles.

The Texas sports hall requires living honorees to attend the ceremony, but Director Steve Fallon said O'Neal's induction would stand. Representatives from his high school were still planning to attend, Fallon said.

"I have been looking forward to this ceremony for months," O'Neal said in a statement released by the hall. "I have a great love for the state of Texas and the city of San Antonio and would have loved to attend in person, if at all possible."

The other inductees Monday were Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams and softball star Cat Osterman of the Texas Longhorns, the late baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, Walt Garrison of the Dallas Cowboys and former Lubbock Monterey baseball coach Bobby Moegle.

O'Neal's fame came after he left Texas, where basketball has always been overshadowed by football. He played at LSU before Orlando made him the top pick in the 1992 draft. He went to the finals with the Magic in 1995, losing to Houston, before joining the Lakers in 1996. He lost in the finals to Detroit with the Lakers in 2004 and won his fourth title in 2006 with Dwyane Wade and Miami when the Heat beat Dallas.

The 40-year-old O'Neal went to LSU before becoming the top pick in the 1992 draft by Orlando. He went to the finals in 1995 with the Magic, who got swept by Houston. He lost to Detroit in the 2004 finals with the Lakers and won his fourth title in 2006 with Dwyane Wade and Miami when the Heat beat Dallas.

Brees went to Purdue after he said he was the "backup plan" for Texas A&M, where he really wanted to go, and Texas. Both those schools signed their first choices at quarterback, so Brees instead remains the Purdue and Big Ten career leader in every major passing category and took the Boilermakers to their first Rose Bowl in 34 years as a senior during the 2000 season. He started his NFL career in San Diego, but left two years after the Chargers drafted Philip Rivers.

The Saints won the Super Bowl in Brees' fourth season with them, and he's now eighth in NFL career passing yards at 45,919 and holds the single-season record of 5,476 set in 2011.

"It all worked out the way it's supposed to," Brees said. "I wouldn't trade it for the world. I've been lucky enough to be able to do some pretty cool things and play football a long time. One of my greatest moments will always be 1996, winning the 5A state championship in the state of Texas."

Williams, a San Diego native, joined Earl Campbell as the only Texas Longhorns to win the Heisman when he won college football's top prize in 1998. He set the NCAA's single-season rushing mark and won back-to-back rushing titles. He finished an 11-season NFL career with 10,009 yards.

"I've been the kind of person that whatever I do I make sure I enjoy it," Williams said. "I squeezed every drop of joy out of my time at Texas."

Osterman, a Houston native, led the Longhorns to three appearances in the Women's College World Series and won 136 games in her college softball career.

Mathews, a native of Texarkana, Texas, was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after a 17-year career with the Braves in Boston, Atlanta and Milwaukee and brief stints with Houston and Detroit. He hit 512 home runs and played in three World Series, with Milwaukee in 1957-58 and Detroit in 1968. He died at age 69 in 2001.

Walt Garrison, who went to high school in the Dallas area at Lewisville and was a fullback for the Cowboys, retired as the third-leading rusher and fourth-leading receiver for Dallas in 1974. He won a Super Bowl with the 1971 team and was a professional rodeo cowboy and TV pitchman for a smokeless tobacco company.

The 79-year-old Moegle is the winningest high school baseball coach in Texas history and currently ranks fifth nationally with 1,115 victories. He was 1,115-266-1 in 40 seasons at Lubbock Monterey, from 1960 to 1999.

Joe Flacco has last laugh after vindicating Super Bowl victory

When Joe Flacco said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL in a radio interview last April, most people thought he was crazy.

I know I did.

It was like saying Crocs had the most swag in the market when they came out.

Eli Manning went through the same type of scrutiny when he claimed that he was one of the quarterback "elites" in 2011, and he had to win the Super Bowl just to prove that claim. Surely, Flacco knew better than to make an assertion that exceeded a two-time Super Bowl champion.

But throughout the season I watched, as did others who doubted, as Flacco outperformed his opponents, defeating supposed superiors throughout the postseason and amid the purple and white confetti it was he who held the Lombardi Trophy, smiling as if to say, “I told you so.”

After throwing for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions throughout the playoffs and earning Super Bowl MVP honors, Flacco proved his claim with the best postseason performance by any quarterback since Joe Montana in 1989.

Here's that list of quarterbacks who I thought were better than Flacco, and how Flacco proved me wrong. In short, the five-year quarterback out of the University of Delaware went mad scientist on everybody, and it was he who had the last laugh.

Quarterbacks better than Flacco (as of last April)

1. Aaron Rodgers
Why:
For one, I don’t see Flacco saving anyone money on their auto insurance. Secondly, he needs to earn MVP status before he passes Rodgers. With 45 touchdowns and six interceptions on the year, Rodgers put up video game-like numbers, leading the Packers to a 15-1 season. One of the few flaws to his season came in the Divisional Playoffs, being outplayed by Eli Manning, another quarterback seeking elite status.
Why Not:
As reigning Super Bowl MVP, Flacco earned the status I said was necessary. In contrast to Rodgers, his video game-like numbers came in the postseason with 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in four games; the best playoffs performance by a quarterback since Joe Montana in 1989. There are three quarterbacks in NFL history who everyone wants to be compared to: Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, and John Elway. Flacco’s got one. But unlike Rodgers, he won’t be saving anyone money with the contract he will be receiving.

2. Drew Brees
Why:
After breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing record that had stood for 27 years, I thought Brees was on his way to being named league MVP. Like Rodgers, Brees has proved essential to the team’s success, bringing it from the bottom of the NFC South to Super Bowl champions only two years ago. With 5,476 yards and 46 touchdowns on the season, Brees has stated a better case for being named “the best” along with his leadership role with his teammates.
Why Not:
Brees had almost the same success in the 2012 season as he had in the year prior, and his team missed the playoffs. Although they were without Sean Payton for the year, I still believe that disproves my theory of Brees’ vitality to the team’s success, or at least diminishes it. However, Brees just may be the closest argument to Flacco’s claim. Brees threw the ball almost 140 more times than Flacco, and without the consistent running game and defense that Baltimore possesses, New Orleans was in more of a position to pass the ball more frequently. There are many arguments that can be made for Brees’ case against Flacco, but Flacco can always play the “I’m the Super Bowl MVP” trump card. We are talking about the present, anyway.

3. Tom Brady
Why:
Although Flacco outperformed Brady in the AFC Championship (2011), one cannot argue against the consistency that Brady has had. Throughout the season (2011), Tom Brady’s performance in the AFC Championship was the only game in which he threw for more interceptions than touchdowns. Although Brady is in a more pass-oriented system that has given him 70 more attempts than Flacco, he has completed around 10 percent more of his passes and threw the same number of interceptions.
Why Not:
Flacco has not only once again outplayed Tom Brady in the postseason, but improved his completion percentage, pulling within three points of Brady. Flacco also showed maturity throughout the postseason, completing deep passes that he normally would have thrown inaccurately, such as the 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones that sent the Ravens into overtime with the Denver Broncos.

4. Peyton Manning
Why:
Even with three neck surgeries in a span of 19 months hanging a veil of uncertainty over his future, Peyton Manning is higher up the ladder than Flacco. Manning is almost his own offense. He is crazy smart and picks defenses apart. Earlier I discussed how essential Brees was to the Saints. The Colts went 2-14 without Manning. Now that Denver has claimed him, it will be interesting to see how the No. 1 rushing offense will adapt with Manning. He might be at the tail end of his career, but his name is about to go right alongside Unitas, Montana, and Elway when it comes to greatness, and I think even at his lowest point he will outperform Flacco.
Why Not:
This argument will sound much like the case against Brady. Manning gets the credit for being able to bounce back after a season-ending injury like he had. I don’t know what exactly they did over in Europe (perhaps moose antler spray), but Peyton was certainly back up to speed. In fact, he threw for more yards, more touchdowns and fewer interceptions than he did when he took the Colts to the Super Bowl in 2009. So why is Flacco better? For some reason I keep likening these comparisons to a schoolyard fight. You’ve got the big kid versus the average kid, and all day before recess everybody makes their predictions based on what they can see. Well in this case, Manning’s the big kid and Flacco’s the average kid. Manning has the better statistics and he’s beaten up all the other kids that have come through the fourth grade as he’s been held back (metaphorically speaking). But head-to-head, in the midst of the fight, Flacco outperforms. He makes the big plays, he throws for more yardage, more touchdowns and a higher completion percentage in their Divisional Playoff matchup. In that sense, I consider him the better quarterback. But I guess it depends on what you value. By the most current sense of the word, Flacco is better than Peyton Manning.

5. Eli Manning
Why:
I decided to put Eli up here because I feel this leads up well to the point I’m trying to make: You have to earn your spot to be listed up here. Eli went out on a limb and said he was "elite," then played elite, beating most of the quarterbacks on this list along the way. So Flacco… Your turn.
Why Not:
Flacco certainly followed up with his turn, beginning his case ironically against the Giants in Week 16 when he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-14 win that gave the initial nudge that was the falling out of New York’s season. From then on he would not throw another interception, outperforming Eli and the rest of those on this list in backing up his claim.

Flacco and the Ravens organization will now enter the offseason, writing up what many expect to be a very sizable contract. But who knows if Flacco will accept the
offer? He might think he’s worth more. He is mad after all.

With ten games decided by seven points or less, including two that went into overtime, this week’s slate of NFL action had plenty of nail-biters. Consequently, it only makes sense that fantasy football games across the board also came down to the wire. When the stakes are high and every point matters, some players embrace the pressure while others crumble:

Fantasy Studs:

1) Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Looking 2010-esque, when he ran for over 2,000 yards, Johnson absolutely torched the Bills Sunday while carrying his team to a 35-34 victory. CJ2K gashed Buffalo’s defense, accumulating 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns in what was easily his best game of the season. After a slow first month, Johnson appears to be heating up with still over half of the 2012 season remaining. If that’s indeed the case, watch out.

2) Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jackson absolutely embarrassed the secondary of the New Orleans Saints, hauling in seven passes for 216 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs 28-35 loss. The eighth-year veteran has been on a tear as of late, hauling in four touchdowns in his last three games. However, this was by far his best performance since joining the Bucs as a free agent this offseason.

3) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Although Vincent Jackson played incredibly for the Bucs, Drew Brees still managed to outshine him. The native Austinite threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns, completing passes to seven different receivers while leading New Orleans to its second consecutive victory after starting the season 0-4.


 

Fantasy Duds:
1) Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant continues to frustrate fantasy owners with his inconsistent play, turning in an awful performance Sunday against the Panthers after having his best of the season last week. The Oklahoma State product caught only two passes for 14 yards and was targeted a whopping three times by quarterback Tony Romo. Until he shows the ability to produce week in and week out, Bryant cannot be considered a top-tier fantasy wide out.

2) Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Many, including myself, believed this week’s Ravens-Texans was a possible preview of the AFC Championship game. Instead, it was a complete blowout as the Texans won big, 43-13. Flacco struggled all game long, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes for 147 yards and two interceptions. Although a third-quarter touchdown pass saved him from total fantasy irrelevance, Flacco’s performance Sunday was a absolute flop.

3) Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
After a scintillating start to the season, when he caught four touchdowns in his first three games, Davis was practically a no-show last week against the Giants. However, things got even worse for him in Thursday’s 13-6 victory over Seattle. Not only did the Seahawks hold him without a catch, he wasn’t even targeted by quarterback Alex Smith. Visibly frustrated after the game, Davis said opposing defenses “are just taking stuff away, some of my explosive routes and stuff.” On behalf of fantasy owners and 49ers fans alike, let’s hope this lack of production doesn’t continue.

Former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III launched his NFL career with a win against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

There were big surprises in Week 1, both good and bad. For most fantasy players, that means Week 1 in the Fantasy Football world was pretty rough. How will these surprises affect week 2?

Here’s who to start:

1.) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

RG3’s NFL debut came at the Superdome against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, making his performance even more impressive. He completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards while running for 42 yards more. Griffin III showed his poise, tallying two touchdowns in the game, one for 88 yards.

2.) C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills

Spiller had 14 attempts running for 169 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 12.5 yards a carry while catching a few passes out of the backfield. That isn’t too bad since he ran against a decent New York Jets defense. With Fred Jackson out, Spiller should match his sterling performance when he faces the Kansas City Chiefs, who gave up 40 points in their first game.

3.) Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots

Ridley had the best game of his career in the Patriots’ opener, running 21 times for 125 yards. This season, after gaining the starting job with the loss of Green-Ellis, Ridley’s explosive speed and willingness to absorb contact will rack up a lot of points for any fantasy team.

Here’s who to sit:

1.) Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

Sanchez faced a weak Buffalo defense in the Jets’ opener, throwing for three touchdowns, but he still has Tim Tebow right behind him. After Tebow came in as a slot receiver on the second play of the game, Sanchez seemed bothered and is facing a Steelers defense in Week 2 that is coming off a Week 1 loss to the Broncos. His first performance was a bit misleading, and may set some fantasy players up for failure in future weeks.

2.) Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions

While Smith had a good opener, he shouldn’t have the same luck this week. Smith had a total of 62 yards with 4.8 yards a carry. That was against a St. Louis run defense that was ranked 31st in the league at the end of last season. This week Smith and the Lions face a 49ers defense that is very strong against the running game.

3.) Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns

Weeden got stuck under the American flag being brought onto the field during warm-ups. If he knew what was to come, he probably would have stayed there. He threw for only 118 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions. With a tough schedule coming up for the Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants, things won’t get any easier for Weeden.

Printed on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 as: Griffin III a smart start for fantasy

Daily Texan Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

When comparing Luck to Griffin Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook Luck’s athleticism. But the Stanford product ran the fourth-best 40-yard-dash among quarterbacks, turned in the fifth-best vertical leap and had the furthest broad jump. He’s much, much more athletic than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Luck’s arm and touch could eventually put him in that upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, though: he ranked seventh in the NCAA with a 71.3 completion percentage, sixth with 8.7 yards per attempt and tied for fifth with a touchdown percentage of 9.2 — meaning for every 100 passes he attempted, roughly 10 of them were for touchdowns. But will he have anybody besides Reggie Wayne to throw to in Indy?

2. Washington Redskins (from the Rams) — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Bear with me here, but I like the Heisman Winner from Baylor better than I do Luck. In those aforementioned passing metrics, RG3 ranks better than Luck — third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, a tie with Luck in touchdown percentage and also a interception percentage that ranked among the best in the country (1.5, good for 12th). Luck, on the other hand, threw an interception 2.5 percent of the time he put the ball in the air — 46th in the country.

It really is arguable that Griffin III is a better passing prospect than Luck. It’s unarguable that he’s a better athlete (best 40 time of any QB, best vertical leap), one who put up whopping rushing numbers in college with 2,943 total yards and 10 games of triple-digit yardage in essentially three seasons.

One last stat: his passer-efficiency rating in 2011 was the second best ever.

3. Minnesota Vikings — Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State

USC tackle Matt Kalil has been penciled in at this spot since the combine, but it won’t be too surprising if the Vikings elect to go with this year’s best cornerback. In a division where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (not to mention, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall) twice a year, you need to be able to stop the pass.

Offensive tackles aren't full-proof options, either. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Trent Williams are recent examples of top-10 tackles whose teams (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Washington, respectively) rank among the worst in the league (32nd, 28th, 26th, also respectively). Take Claiborne and give yourself a secondary to build on.

4. Cleveland Browns — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chris Ogbonnaya…I don’t care who your quarterback is, or who you’ve got on the offensive line; you’re not winning many games with that core of skill players. That’s why the Browns have to get the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland traded down last year (and drafted a defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, at 21) in order to stockpile picks. Those picks need to be used to help give a quarterback — for now it’s Colt McCoy — a prayer at winning games in the AFC North. Richardson steps in and starts from day one.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With Claiborne and Richardson off the board, the Bucs have to reach a bit here to get a cornerback, but it’s a major position of need. Ronde Barber has very little left in the tank and the troubled Aqib Talib is being shopped.

6. St. Louis Rams — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

From 2010 to 2011, Blackmon scored 38 touchdowns and hauled in 232 passes. His 3,304 receiving yards might be a byproduct of a system, but that’s insane no matter how you slice it (as is his ypc average of 14.6). He’s neither the fastest nor the tallest receiver in this draft, yet he is far and away the most productive and should immediately become Sam Bradford’s top target.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California

Since 2008, the Jags have chosen in the top 10 every year. And with little results to show for it: Derrick Harvey busted, Monroe has provided little semblance of a building block, Blaine Gabbert could be a disaster. The pick of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu is actually the best so far — and even that is saying something. So this pick needs to be right, and when you’re facing that kind of pressure, you take the best player available, regardless of need. Kalil, a potential franchise left tackle, is just that.

8. Miami Dolphins — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Here’s what I don’t like about Tannehill: He has only 20 games at quarterback under his belt and he was perhaps the main culprit in A&M’s choke job of 2011.

Here’s what I do like: He’s a confident, stand-up type of guy with an above-average arm.

Here’s what I hate: His 61.6 completion percentage last season, his seven yards per attempt, his 2.8 interception percentage.

And here’s what I love: He was sacked only nine times last year, so I know the former wide receiver can avoid the pressures of the Jets, Patriots and the newly-revamped pass rush of the Bills in the AFC East, and he can throw on the run. When a play breaks down, or when a receiver just can’t get open — with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, this could happen quite often — Tannehill can make things happen with his feet.

Look, Tannehill is the ultimate project quarterback. But the Dolphins can afford to be patient. Matt Moore is a serviceable option and it’s not like the team is about to challenge New England or New York for the division. He’s worth the risk here at 8.

9. Carolina Panthers — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

With Cam Newton and Steve Smith doing their thing on offense, it’s time for Carolina to shore up things on the other side of the ball. The NFL’s seventh-worst rushing defense would be buoyed by the addition of Cox, who had five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. Buffalo Bills — Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Despite the offseason signing of Mario Williams, there’s still work to be done to improve Buffalo’s D, which ranked 28th in total defense and 30th in run defense. Kuechly, who led the NCAA in tackles last season, gives the Bills one of the best front sevens in the league. Offensive help — mainly, receiver — can come in the later rounds.

11. Kansas City Chiefs — Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Another pass-rush option to pair opposite Tamba Hali. Got to be able to get to the quarterback in a division where you face Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers twice a season.

12. Seattle Seahawks — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Probably a reach here. Then again, they said the same thing about Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15 a few seasons ago. The Seahawks put up pedestrian sack numbers in 2011 (33, for a sack percentage of 5.7). Coples never put up huge numbers at UNC, but it’s his potential — a 4.7 40 time at 6-foot-6 and 284 lbs. — that has Seattle pulling the trigger.

13. Arizona Cardinals — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The smart pick might be an offensive lineman like David DeCastro or Riley Reiff, but Larry Fitzgerald has been begging for somebody to take double-team pressure off of him for the longest time.

14. Dallas Cowboys — Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Cowboys have taken three defensive backs in the first round the last decade — safety Roy Williams in 2002 and cornerbacks Terence Newman in 2003 and Mike Jenkins in 2008. Barron becomes No. 4 here and it’s easy to believe he could be better than any of the three.

15. Philadelphia Eagles — Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Philly chose a guard with its first-round pick a year ago, but it’s been a long time since it used such a high pick on an offensive tackle — 1998 ,to be exact. With left tackle Jason Peters possibly out for the season, now seems as good a time as any to break the streak.

16. New York Jets — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

For a team that’s made the AFC Championship game two of the last three years, the Jets sure do have a lot of holes. The “ground and pound” offense hasn’t gone anywhere behind Shonn Greene (22nd in team rushing last season), the passing game is in a state of disillusion (21st) and the Jets finished in the red in takeaways. But dangling Poe in front of Rex Ryan — who loves taking on defensive projects — is just too tantalizing.

17. Cincinnati Bengals — David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

With a boatload of draft picks after dealing Carson Palmer to the Raiders midseason, there’s plenty of time later on for the Bengals to make a sexier choice, possibly at corner or receiver. Take the draft’s best guard prospect off the boards.

18. San Diego Chargers — Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

What is it that has caused the Chargers to fall short so often? Among other things, the team failed to establish the run it its six-game losing streak in the middle of last year, posting a paltry 98 yards per game. You’ve got a capable runner in Ryan Mathews, now give him somebody to run behind.

19. Chicago Bears — Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

Unless the plan is to turn Jay Cutler into David Carr, it’s high time to improve the offensive line. Stick Glenn at right tackle and hope last year’s top pick, Gabe Carimi, is healthy enough to play a full season at left. Then bid adieu to J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis, the weak links of a unit that allowed 49 sacks in 2011.

20. Tennessee Titans — Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

In a division that will one day be run by Andrew Luck, it’s imperative to have somebody who can get after the passer. Upshaw (8.5 sacks last season) can put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 defensive set or play upright in a 3-4.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Here’s that cornerback pick I was telling you about. If it weren’t for a few character issues, Kirkpatrick might have been drafted higher. Really good value here for the big, physical Kirkpatrick.

22. Cleveland Browns — Reuben Randle, WR, LSU

Randle is just the kind of deep threat the Browns need to stretch the field, and clear out the box for fellow rookie Trent Richardson. His 17.3 yards per reception ranked among the top 20 in the nation a year ago.

23. Detroit Lions — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Character issues, schmaracter issues. When you can get this kind of talent this late in the first round, and fill a need while doing it, you take a risk. (Jenkins was dismissed by the Florida Gators after a myriad of drug problems and he’s fathered four children with three different women.) If Jenkins can stay out of trouble — granted, a big if — he can help the Lions.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

It has been a game of musical chairs at the right guard position for Steelers, where Darnell Stapleton, Ramon Foster and Trai Essex have been used as temporary replacements until a franchise-type player comes along. In the rugged AFC North, with Ben Roethlisberger feeling the heat, here’s the opportunity to grab a long-term starter.

25. Denver Broncos — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Those who didn’t flip the channel in between Tim Tebow’s series on offense most likely noticed Denver’s glaring weakness. In eight losses, the Broncos gave up an average of 150 rushing yards a game. Peyton Manning won’t be nearly as effective if he’s sitting on the sidelines watching the opposition run at will.

26. Houston Texans — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

It’s a choice here between Wright or Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. Because Houston needs somebody to step in opposite Andre Johnson immediately, the best bet is it’s the uber-productive Wright (one touchdown in every seven catches last season) over a raw talent like Hill.

27. New England Patriots — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Last year’s sack leader (16) winds up on a team that has twice seen, firsthand, what an effective pass rush can really do (the New York Giants of 2007, 2011). There's a hole to fill, too, with Mark Anderson signing with the Bills.

28. Green Bay Packers — Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

Like Clay Matthews, McClellin is a bit of a late-bloomer who’s just now starting to pick up steam. Funny timing. Green Bay is in desperate need of a pass-rushing ‘backer to draw some attention away from Mr. Matthews.

29. Baltimore Ravens — Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

A receiver is tempting, but Adams can either replace the aging Bryant McKinnie or the departed Ben Grubbs.

30. San Francisco 49ers — Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Call it a reward for quarterback Alex Smith who, ahem, faithfully came back to San Fran after flirting with the Dolphins in the offseason. Michael Crabtree looks like a flop, anyways.

31. New England Patriots — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

This pick might fall into the hands of a team trying to trade up for Brandon Weeden. Among the contenders, Cleveland has the most to offer in terms of draft picks (Nos. 37 and 67). If not, Patriots should go defense again.

32. New York Giants — Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

One minor cost of the Giants winning the Super Bowl in Feb. was that two of their tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, suffered knee injuries that could cause them to miss the entire 2012 season. Fleener averaged about 20 yards a catch in his final year at Stanford and also hauled in 10 touchdowns.

South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore (5) isn’t far behind LSU’s Morris Claiborne as the draft’s top defensive back prospect.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

When comparing Luck to Griffin Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook Luck’s athleticism. But the Stanford product ran the fourth-best 40 yard dash among quarterbacks, turned in the fourth-best vertical leap and had the furthest broad jump. He’s much, much more athletic than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Luck’s arm and touch could eventually put him in that upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, though: He ranked seventh in the NCAA with a 71.3 completion percentage, sixth with 8.7 yards per attempt and tied for fifth with a touchdown percentage of 9.2 — meaning for every 100 passes he attempted, roughly 10 of them were for touchdowns. But will he have anybody besides Reggie Wayne to throw to in Indy?

2. Washington Redskins (from the Rams), Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Bear with me here, but I like the Heisman Winner from Baylor better than I do Luck. In those aforementioned passing metrics, RG3 ranks better than Luck — third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, a tie with Luck in touchdown percentage and also a interception percentage that ranked among the best in the country (1.4, good for 12th). Luck, on the other hand, threw an interception 2.1 percent of the time he put the ball in the air — 46th in the country.

It really is arguable that Griffin III is a better passing prospect than Luck. It’s unarguable that he’s a better athlete (best 40 time of any QB, best vertical leap), one who put up whopping rushing numbers in college with 2,943 total yards and 10 games of triple-digit yardage in essentially three seasons.

One last stat: His passer-efficiency rating in 2011 was the second best ever.

3. Minnesota Vikings, Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State

USC tackle Matt Kalil has been penciled in at this spot since the Combine, but it won’t be too surprising if the Vikings elect to go with this year’s best cornerback. In a division where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (not to mention, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall) twice a year, you need to be able to stop the pass.

Offensive tackles aren’t full-proof options, either. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Trent Williams are recent examples of top-10 tackles whose teams (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Washington, respectively) rank among the worst in the league (32nd, 27th, 26th, also respectively). Take Claiborne and give yourself a secondary to build on.

4. Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chris Ogbonnaya ... I don’t care who your quarterback is, or who you’ve got on the offensive line; you’re not winning many games with that core of skill players. That’s why the Browns have to get the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland traded down last year (and drafted a defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, at 21) in order to stockpile picks. Those picks need to be used to help give a quarterback — for now it’s Colt McCoy — a prayer at winning games in the AFC North. Richardson steps in and starts from day one.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With Claiborne and Richardson off the board, the Bucs have to reach a bit here to get a cornerback, but it’s a major position of need. Ronde Barber has very little left in the tank and the troubled Aqib Talib is being shopped.

Michael Vick has just signed a 6 year, 100 -million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, making him the third highest player in the NFL. This is just two years after he was released from jail.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Quick — name the three best quarterbacks in the NFL. Most people come up with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady right off the bat. The third quarterback chosen might be Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Philip Rivers.

All of these players are deserving of consideration for the spot, but none of those signal callers are the third-highest paid at the position. That distinction belongs to the Eagles’ Michael Vick, who signed a six-year, $100 million contract on Tuesday.

This is the same player who, just over two years ago, was serving jail time. He was out of work and bankrupt. Now he’s the first player ever in league history to sign two deals worth $100 million.

“The thing for me was believing in the people who were there for me in my time of need,” Vick said at his press conference.

“You never know what’s going to happen.”

Vick’s story is a great one, and completely exemplifies the beauty of the American justice system and the way it gives people the opportunity to redeem themselves.

But has Vick really earned that sum of money in just two years back in the NFL? The short answer to that question is no, not yet.

In his first year back, he rarely saw the field, just coming in briefly to run the wildcat package behind Donovan McNabb.

In his second year — a season that began on the bench behind Kevin Kolb — he put up some gaudy numbers, throwing 21 touchdowns and running for nine more in 11 starts. He finished second in the Most Valuable Player voting to Brady.

The key number there is 11 — as in only 11 starts out of 32 chances since he has been back. That’s not enough of a sample size to support a $100 million contract.

Vick is also injury prone, and has only been healthy for a full 16-game schedule just once in his eight-year career.

But perhaps most importantly, Vick has not proven himself as a winner in the big games yet with a 2-3 all time playoff record. Manning, Brady, Brees and Rodgers have each won at least one championship.

So while Vick’s story is a great one, a redemption story for the ages, the Eagles may have jumped the gun a little on the contract, paying an injury-prone 31-year-old like an all-time great.