In addition to being the White Wizard, Gandalf’s got a mean stiff-arm.
Well, it’s Fantasy Football season, which is every sports fan’s greatest excuse to engage in the type of geekery that they try to hide to everyone not in their league. Not “I just spent a weekend at GenCon” geeky, although I just did that, but “I’ve got to check stats and measure projections based on the upcoming bye weeks” geeky. I love drafting, trading, and managing teams, but take that with a grain of salt; I’m also the guy who starts an Association on 2k and sims most of the games up to the Playoffs. I just like the managing part. It’s sick, actually. But most of us get a kick out of the fantasy experience. There’s no reason we can’t inject a little UK Fandom into the equation.
I think next weekend, most guys will have more fantasy drafts than trips to the bathroom. It’s a beautiful thing. As loyal Kentucky fans, our interest in getting the best available players competes with our longing to see UK alumni compete alongside one another to earn us meaningless points. Obsession can be a dangerous thing, though. Just ask the girl in my league last year who drafted Tony Romo first overall. For that reason, take a look at ESPN’s Fantasy recap for notable former-UK-current-NFL stars to see when you can expect to pick them up and dominate your friends, enemies, and in-laws all while supporting a few
former lifelong Wildcats.
Randall Cobb 2012 Outlook: Projected Season: 60. Cobb scored two TDs in Week 1 of his rookie season, earning national TV praise for his excellent quickness and return ability. Alas, in a sea of exceptional Packers weapons, Cobb was lost thereafter, never catching more than four passes in a game or finding the end zone for the rest of ’11. He’s developing into a fine interior option, but as long as Donald Driver is still in Green Bay, it’s tough to see regular offensive snaps in Cobb’s immediate future. Still, injuries happen, and the Pack know that Cobb should be a significant long-term piece; if someone gets hurt or unexpectedly cut, Cobb could make the most of the opportunity.
Jacob Tamme 2012 Outlook: Projected Season: 107. Tamme probably doesn’t have transcendent talent, but he does have Peyton Manning. Tamme signed in Denver three days after Manning did, which tells you that the Sheriff believes the magic he made with Tamme in the second half of ’10, when both were with the Colts, was legit. In that 11-game span, Tamme was a fantasy starter, showing fine hands and route-running and producing in Dallas Clark-lite fashion. The only real hesitation we have in recommending him this year is that the Broncos also signed Joel Dreessen, who’s been a thorn in the side of Owen Daniels owners the past couple seasons. Tamme should outproduce Dreessen, but there will be some siphoning of production.
Stevie Johnson 2012 Outlook: Projected Season: 134. Johnson consolidated his ’10 breakout by producing nearly identical numbers in ’11, an impressive feat considering how up-and-down Ryan Fitzpatrick has been over the past two seasons. Johnson recorded only a single 100-yard game and never exceeded 15 fantasy points in a single week, but he also had eight or more fantasy points in 11 games. What makes this more impressive is that Johnson played with a groin injury that required surgery this spring. Unfortunately, Johnson is becoming known for dumb on-field behavior (including an end zone celebration that got him benched in Week 17) that could become a distraction. The Bills didn’t improve their receiving corps this offseason, and Fitzpatrick still has below-average arm strength, which means Johnson’s best-case scenario is capped. But he should produce enough on a weekly basis to be a low-risk No. 2 fantasy receiver.
So after your Aaron Rodgers’s, Ray Rices, and Calvin Johnsons, don’t forget that these three Cats not only satisfy the Kentucky requirement you might have, but are also in good position to help you win some games, and hopefully even a league. Tamme looks to be particularly nasty if Manning can be what he used to be. Randall Cobb is only going to get better, and Aaron Rodgers is known for throwing a touchdown or two. Stevie Johnson, as you know, gets loose. Draft smart, draft hard, draft Wildcats.