Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that our next Presidential election will be held on Tuesday, November 6th. In the spirit of this upcoming event, DLF presents Dynasty Decisions 2012. In this five-part series, several of our writers will analyze pertinent fantasy questions and “campaign” for their various answers.
In part one of this series, we want to know “Who will be the fantasy MVP at the end of the season?” Read on to see which players have been “nominated!” If you’re swayed by a particular argument, vote in the corresponding poll on the home page. If you’d like to nominate your own choice, tell us who and why in the comments section.
Let’s see what our writers have to say!
Calvin Johnson, WR DET
Folks, I’d like to bring you back to the 2008 Presidential Election, when we were inundated with advertisements stressing the concept of “Hope.” When things are at a low, you want to trust in some kind of hope that they’re going to turn around. This brings me to the case of Calvin Johnson. We’ve seen what he can do when we place our hope in him, and it goes to the tune of 96 receptions, 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns in a single season.
So it should come as no surprise that this brief, statistical “recession,” Johnson is currently experiencing still commands a presence in the top ten for total receiving yards (despite a bye week), and a number two overall ranking in receiving yards per game. All this despite the fact that his “running mate” Matthew Stafford is experiencing a statistical letdown of his own! Will the touchdowns catch up? I see remaining games against the Jaguars, Vikings, Packers (twice), Colts, Cardinals and Falcons, and I say that hope remains!
When I consider a championship-caliber fantasy team, an elite wide receiver is both a game-changing necessity and potential fantasy MVP. While it’s convenient to get caught up in Victor Cruz’ late-game heroics, I want to see it continue with a healthy Hakeem Nicks back in the lineup. Likewise, I want to see Reggie Wayne continue his torrid pace at age 33, and the AJ Green/Andy Dalton combo persist as both the schedule and weather toughen. With all the question marks in arguably the most important fantasy position, my choice for fantasy MVP is easy. Trust in Calvin Johnson, and trust in hope.
Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
My choice for fantasy MVP for the remainder of the season is the same player that I selected for my MVP before the season began – Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay offense appears to just now be hitting its stride, which means Rodgers will be racking up points at a rate similar to that which he did last season. Some people were worried when Rodgers went the first three weeks of the season with only three touchdown passes and only one game of over 300 passing yards. Since that three-week “slump,” however, Rodgers has piled up 16 touchdown passes and over 1,200 yards passing. Not to mention, four of the Green Bay’s seven games thus far have been against pass defenses that rank in the top ten in the NFL. While the Packers don’t exactly have a cake walk for their schedule the rest of the way, it most certainly gets at least a little easier.
Another reason Rodgers is the clear choice for fantasy MVP is the fact he gives owners a viable chance to win week-in and week-out. Take week six for example when Rodgers went off for six touchdown passes and over 300 yards passing against one of the premier defenses in the NFL. Numbers like that win you the week assuming the rest of your lineup is rounded out by players that at least take the field occasionally and have at least a half-hearted interest in getting the ball.
One more reason that Rodgers is your fantasy MVP is his durability. Rodgers is about as far from an injury risk as a fantasy owner can get, which means he is one fantasy star that you can rely on every week, especially this year, since the Packers don’t seem near as likely to be locking up the division early which would give them a chance to rest Rodgers during your fantasy playoffs.
At the end of the day, the scoring ability, durability and schedule that Rodgers has the rest of the season make him the only logical choice for fantasy MVP of 2012.
Matt Ryan, QB ATL
Averaging 24.5 fantasy points per game, Ryan is in elite company of producers at the quarterback position through week seven. Tied with Peyton Manning, only Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and RGIII have higher per-game point averages. Outside of Rodgers, my other candidate for this slot that Corey makes a great case fo (Aaron Rodgers), Ryan is the player in this group that I would want on my roster the rest of this season.
With weapons like Roddy White (top 5 PPG among WRs), Julio Jones (top 15), Tony Gonzalez (by far the most PPG among TEs), Michael Turner (over 4 yards per carry and a few receptions tossed in), and Jacquizz Rodgers (not a workhorse, but a nice complementary piece), Ryan has proven he can move the chains with ease (thanks also to the less conservative playcalling of OC Dirk Koetter).
Ryan will also want to ride a wave of momentum into the playoffs to silence critics that contend he’s not a big-game quarterback. As a result, unlike elite quarterbacks of years past, I don’t expect Ryan to put on the brakes before week 17. With regular season matchups against Tampa Bay and New Orleans in weeks 12 and 13 (generally the end of the fantasy regular season) leading into a playoff schedule including the Panthers, Giants, and Lions, Ryan should lead many teams to championships while earning Fantasy MVP honors.
Chicago Bears D/ST
To me, there are two potential candidates for this award that stand head and shoulders above everyone else. Those candidates are running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans and the Chicago Bears Defense. The reason these two stand out is that they are both the top performer at their respective positions, outscoring the next highest player by a staggering 10-15% differential, depending on the league scoring rules. Trying to choose between the two has kept me up late at night with an internal struggle that has truly reached ‘Finkle and Einhorn, Einhorn and Finkle’ proportions. Since I started writing this paragraph, I’ve literally changed my mind six times. I know, I have problems. The reasons I’m going with Da’ Bears here are:
A.) Ditka! Enough said.
B.) Chicago is going to be in an intense battle within their division against the Vikings and Packers until the very end whereas Houston will likely have their division title wrapped up before you even start your Christmas shopping. The possibility that the Texans choose to keep Foster fresh for the NFL playoffs by giving Ben Tate the share of carries he was promised in the preseason is real enough for me to use as a factor here.
C.) I looked at the first place team in every league I’m in (six of them total) and here were the results: the Bears defense was owned three times, Foster was owned once, the Bears and Foster were owned once, and neither Foster or the Bears were owned once. I scored that three and a half to one and a half in favor of Chicago.
Tom Brady, QB NE
Some have considered Tom Brady’s season as sub-par to this point. After comparing his stats from this year to that of last year this is somewhat true; after seven games he did have an extra 19 fantasy points last year. The scary part is that even in what may be considered a “pedestrian” start to the season for Brady, he still ranks fourth in overall fantasy points and is currently only five yards shy of leading the league in total passing yards.
Since the beginning of this season, two of Brady’s favorite targets have consistently been out of the lineup. He lost one leg of his tight end duo when Aaron Hernandez went down in week two with an ankle injury. Hernandez is one of Brady’s favorite red zone targets and was missing from the lineup for a month. He is once again out in week eight and will likely return in week ten following a bye. Also “limiting” Brady’s early season statistics was Coach Bill Belichick’s decision to minimize Wes Welker’s role in the offense, who has been Brady’s favorite target for the better part of a decade. Belichick inexplicably thought he could simulate Welker’s production with Julian Edelman. In week three, following an Edelman injury, Welker regained his full workload and has since posted 579 yards the last five weeks.
The development of a run game has certainly added an element to the offense in New England. Some people are arguing the Patriots are transitioning into a running team as Brady gets older, and as a result they think Brady’s passing statistics have suffered. If you look at the numbers you will see this just isn’t true. Through seven games last season, Brady had 272 attempts compared to 285 attempts this year. Despite the perception the Patriots are leaning more heavily on the running game, Brady has actually been throwing more.
What I would agree with, however, is that the running game is more effective. There is no doubt that an able running attack led by Stevan Ridley has certainly added a new component to this offense that it has lacked in the past. Rather than stifling Tom Brady’s production, it is actually starting to open things up. No longer can a defense just play the pass, because now Ridley has emerged as a threat on the ground that defenses must honor.
We have grown to expect only the best from this seasoned signal caller, and in the second half of the 2012 campaign that is exactly what we are going to get. The Patriots have been off to a slow start with some tough losses and are currently just keeping their head above water with a 4-3 record. How does this make Tom Brady and Bill Belichick feel? Upset. You better believe that they’re ready to respond aggressively and decisively against the opponents they have coming up. If you recall, Belichick has no problem running up the score on their opponents in order to send a message, and for fantasy owners of this perennially driven quarterback, that should mean some big games. If you look at their schedule for the remainder of the year, there are plenty of juicy matchups to be desired. Following a bye in week nine, this offense will come out fully healthy and ready to take on some opponents that just aren’t equipped to handle this kind of fire power.