2016 Fantasy Football rankings: Running backs

Next up on our rankings is the running back. Depending on your league, these might be the most valuable of the positions. I run a “balanced” scoring league: All TDs are 6 points. 1 point is awarded per 10 yards rushing and receiving. It’s very similar to standard as far as RBs go.

1. Le’Veon Bell- In my world, the #1 RB needs to be the best runner and receiver combo. Bell is by far, the best combo runner. Yeah, there is that 3 game suspension. You add DeAngelo Williams to cover that. These backs only need 80-90 combined yards to have a nicely productive day. That should come easy for a runner like Bell.

2. Todd Gurley- Despite having a rookie QB, Gurley should be poised for a monster season. In his rookie season, he put up 1294 total yards and 10 TDs. That is a lot of production for a first year player. Gurley only had 21 receptions but averaged 9.0 yards per catch. That needs to be expanded on, and should be.

3. Adrian Peterson- Still one of the best, maybe the best pure runner in the league. AP doesn’t get a lot of passes thrown his way, but he doesn’t need it. Hand him the ball 25 times a game and he will get you 100+ yards. Production. Reliability. Save for the year he went down, Peterson is the safest pick in the draft.

4. Ezekiel Elliott- I don’t ever remember ranking a rookie so high. Running backs are a little easier to call than WR or QBs. Then there is that monster Dallas line to run behind. My biggest concern with Elliott is that he might be tired when it comes time for the playoffs. He’s only used to playing about 12 games.

5. David Johnson- Arizona finally got a stud running back. Johnson is probably one of the most explosive runners with the ball in his hands. A home run threat any time he touches the ball. He only had 5 starts last year but averaged 4.6 per rush, and over 12 yards per catch. 12 total TDs and over 1000 combined yards.

6. Lamar Miller- I’m not sure anyone had an odder season last year in the NFL. Miller had a great preseason and was clearly “the guy”. It took his 6th game to get to 20 “touches”. I drafted him and waived him at one point. Was lucky enough to get him back. Now he is on the Texans and should never look back. They have a top 5 wide receiver and a young QB. Look for Miller to have a career year.

7. Doug Martin- Martin has all the traits of a solid fantasy player. Speed, agility, toughness. That being said, there have been times where his production dropped off. Could be the team was not that good. Last year he rebounded, no doubt was at least partially motivated by his contract which was up. Jameis Winston has been a capable passer in his rookie season, and that should keep defenses from crowding the line.

8. Matt Forte- Matt Forte unfortunately went to the Jets in free agency. If it was up to me he would have retired with the Bears. Look for him to put up a solid year in New York. He has a veteran QB, and 2 solid wide receivers. He will continue to rack up lots of combined yards, and probably set a career record in TDs scored.

9. Mark Ingram- He battled hard last year to stay in the lineup. His running style makes that difficult. Ingram is a power runner, and as such tends to take a lot of punishment. He is the featured back though, and is leaned heavily upon by the Saints. Despite having 50 receptions for 405 yards in 2015, he has yet to score a receiving TD. Probably not an RB1, but a nice RB2 to have on your team.

10. Jeremy Langford- As a rookie, Langford compiled 816 yards from scrimmage, and 7 total TDs. This was in a very limited role as Matt Forte’s backup. He did take a screen pass for an 83 yard TD. He’s got all the tools to be an RB1 in the league. He just needs to prove it. The biggest question is how tough will Chicago’s offensive line be? Kyle Long has a rotator cuff injury, and they are already on their #2 center.

11. CJ Anderson- He should probably be ranked a little higher, but as “the man” last year, he took a step back from what he did in 2014. Anderson is on the edge of being an RB1, but needs to build on the production he has had in the past. Having a rookie QB might not help his immediate situation.

12. Devonta Freeman- Devonta burst on the scene last year as Atlanta’s featured back. At times he put up video game like numbers. Reality caught up to him later in the season. Still, 14 total TDs and 1600+ total yards is too good to ignore. He’s young, and Matt Ryan needs all the help he can get. If you get him late in the first round, or early in the second, he could be a steal.

13. Jeremy Hill- He took the starting job away from his running mate Giovani Bernard, but didn’t have the stellar season we all thought he was headded for. His production actually went down slightly, although he ended up with 12 total TDs. Which runner will you get? It’s kind of a dice roll. If you grab Hill, grab Bernard a round or two later.

14. LeSean McCoy- His production has steadily been going down since he put up 2100 total yards in 2013. If he stays healthy, and on the field, he is the perfect compliment to Tyrod Taylor. Durability has always been a concern though. That being said, “Shady” is as talented as a RB you will find in the league.

15. Melvin Gordon- Had an average, or maybe slightly less, rookie year. Was definitely not all his fault. Upgrades were made to San Diego’s offensive line, and Gorden looked good in preseason. Is it a mirage, or is it a sign of things to come? Gordon is young and hungry, and could end up being a top 10 fantasy contributor. Or not.

16. Jay Ajayi- Jay will get the first crack and being “the guy” in Miami. In Adam Gase’s offense, that is a good guy to be. He will have to hold off veteran RB Arian Foster, who is a tackle away from retirement. I have not been particularly impressed what I have seen so far.

17. Jamaal Charles- He came back strong after his first knee injury, will he do the same after his latest knee injury? Remains to be seen. Charles is one of the best all purpose runners in the modern NFL. He will get the ball a ton in Andy Reid’s offense–if healthy.

18. Latavius Murray- Though he had 1298 combined yards, Latavius just wasn’t the projected runner he was billed to be in 2015. He only hit the endzone 6 times. Still, he is young, so there is still potential. Potential gets you killed in fantasy football. Well, not literally.

19. Eddie Lacy- Basically ate his way out of a starting job in 2015. When on track, Lacy is a powerful runner. Like most power runners though, durability becomes a huge issue. Toss in his lack of conditioning, and that is a one-way ticket to bustville. Late in the 2nd round or early in the 3rd is probably your safest place to pick Lacy up.

20. DeMarco Murray- It is not Murray’s fault he had a monster 2014 in his “walk” year and signed a huge deal with another team. A team that totally got the wrong player for their system. Murray is a power runner and needs to be in that type of scheme. Tennessee is the perfect place for him to rebound.

21. Thomas Rawls- Rawls showed he is more than capable of being an NFL running back. Until he broke his ankle. He had a 200 yard and a 169 yard performance in 2015. Thomas racked up 900+ yards, and 5 TDs in only 7 starts. Ankles are tricky though. A break is usually better than a ligament tear. If he can come back at least 75-80%, he will be a steal. RB2 with the chance to be an RB1.

22. Jonathan Stewart- Stewart is kind of a finesse runner in a power runner’s body. That being said, he battles to stay on the field. When healthy, and right, he is a top 10 fantasy player. Problem is he is rarely healthy for long. Has not scored double digit TDs since his 2nd year in 2009.

23. TJ Yeldon- Quietly racked up 1000 yards from scrimmage in his rookie campaign. I’m not totally sold on his abilities as a full time runner. Chris Ivory will steal more than his share of carries from the young runner.

24. Matt Jones- The Redskins have moved on from Alfred Morris and are set to hand the reins over to Jones. Not convinced Jones has the consistency to be an RB1 in the league. Has been battling injuries in the preseason.

25. Carlos Hyde- I thought Carlos was going to be the next “Frank Gore”. I was wrong. He has great hands and is an agile receiver. He has the speed and quickness to be an effective runner. Is it San Francisco’s line? Whatever it is, it has not materialized in NFL production. RB3 might be the safest bet for Hyde.

26. Ameer Abdullah- Was flashy at times in 2015. Looked like he was poised to be the featured back for the Lions. The Lions have had all kinds of problems running the football though. Not just Abdullah. That being said, Ameer has the raw talent, and explosiveness that might warrant a late round pick on.

27. Duke Johnson- Duke is another NFL enigma. He might be a better receiver than running back. In limited duty Johnson piled up 913 yards from scrimmage but only hit the endzone twice. Cleveland’s offensive line might not be the stoutest. RG3, could help open up things in the running game if he returns to his rookie form.

That’s it for NFL runners. Stay tuned for the pass catchers.

 

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2016 Fantasy Football rankings: Quarterbacks

It’s crunch time as we prepare to get ready for the kickoff to the 2016 NFL season on September 8th. A lot of leagues have already drafted, but hopefully yours waits until after week 3 of preseason. This way you get to see who comes out healthy. These rankings are based on a “custom” scoring league. 6 points for passing TDs, 1 point for every 25 yards passing. -1 for every turnover.

1. Aaron Rodgers- Although Jordy Nelson is coming off a knee injury, Rodgers has some viable targets including a much needed upgrade at tight end (Jared Cook). As always, Rodgers will only be as effective as his offensive line lets him be.

2. Russell Wilson- This may be Wilson’s “break out” year. He’s already well established as a QB, and has won a Super Bowl. I think he turns it up a notch though in 2016. Seattle has upgraded their line. WR Doug Baldwin had a great half of 2015, and should expand on that. Tyler Lockett is in year two. Hopefully Jimmy Graham comes back healthy. Seattle might be a little more reliant on the passing game without Marshawn Lynch to run the ball.

3. Kirk Cousins- Kirk proved he was “the man” last year in Washington. He’s got plenty of targets to throw to. The line seems decent. I think he improves on what he did in 2015.

4. Tom Brady- Despite missing the first 4 games in 2016, he should be right in the mix with the top QBs this year. He will be a little better rested, and has another big target to throw to in Martellus Bennett. He seems to have chemistry with a young Chris Hogan too. Don’t discount the fact that he will be focused and pissed off at the suspension.

5. Ben Roethlisberger- Ben is healthy and has the best WR in the league: Antonio Brown. He also has one of the best pass catching running backs in Le’Veon Bell. Even though they signed Ladarius Green from San Diego, Jesse James has looked good in preseason.

6. Cam Newton- Cam gets back his tall WR Kelvin Benjamin. It might take a few games to get going, but that should translate into a lot of points. He put up some crazy numbers last year without him, no reason to think he will regress.

7. Andrew Luck- I would rank Luck a lot higher, but his offensive line hasn’t looked any better this preseason than it did last year. Luck took a lot of shots already. He’s got two solid targets in TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief though.

8. Blake Bortles- Bortles had a pretty solid 2015 campaign as Alan Robinson and Hurns broke out. Tight end Julius Thomas will start the year off healthy, which could mean even loftier totals for Bortles and their passing game.

9. Drew Brees- It hurts me to see Drew rank so low, but this happens as QBs age. Although, it’s more a reflection of his offensive line and lack of a “go to” receiver. Brandin Cooks has show flashes, but lacks the consistency. Willie Snead seems like he might be on the verge of breaking out. The Saints added Coby Fleener to upgrade the tight end position. If their offensive line can keep Drew upright, he could be back in the top 5.

10. Philip Rivers- Rivers had one of his best years statistically in 2015. This was without Keenan Allen for a while. In 2016, they added Travis Benjamin from Cleveland, and bolstered their offensive line up a little. Rivers probably should be a starter in 10 team leagues, but might be overlooked.

11. Carson Palmer- As long as Palmer stays on the field, he should be a viable fantasy QB. While Larry Fitzgerald’s production has diminished a little, Michael Floyd seems more than ready to raise his. There is also speedy Brown.

12. Jameis Winston- Year two for the young QB. Same offense. Same two top receivers. Should equate well for more fantasy points.

13. Marcus Mariota- Like Winston, Mariota is also in year two, and will have the same offense. However, Mariota’s Titans have upgraded their running game with Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry. In addition, WR Tajae Sharpe has looked good so far. I think Marcus will be improved, but I think Tennessee might be more run dominant in 2016.

14. Eli Manning- While Eli gets back the reining “Salsa King” in Victor Cruz, his offensive line has looked offensive so far. Offensive lines can take time to come together. I have him in “backup” only mode.

15. Robert Griffin III- RG3 has shown flashes of his rookie self so far in Cleveland. He also has Josh Gordon back (for now) and looks like he has already established some chemistry. If that line can keep him on his feet RG3 could be among the top point getters at QB. If not, it will be another long year in Cleveland. I wouldn’t draft him as my QB1, but a solid QB2, with potential to be the QB1.

16. Jay Cutler- Like many 2nd tier QBs, Jay is dependent on his offensive line to give him time to operate. It’s been up and down in 3 preseason games. Alshon Jeffery looks like he has his health back. He is complimented by a young Kevin White. RB Jeremy Langford is a capable receiver out of the backfield. If tight end Zach Miller stays healthy, he should put up some numbers. QB2 with possible QB1 potential depending on matchups.

17. Brock Osweiler- He has one of the most dynamic receivers in Andre Hopkins. The Texans added Lamar Miller to run the ball. Miller is also a decent receiver out of the backfield. Rookie Will Fuller should also help spread the field and be another option in the passing game. Brock is still young, but could turn out to be a top 10 or better Fantasy QB.

18. Derek Carr- In 2015, I had higher expectations for Carr, perhaps he realizes his potential in 2016. Michael Crabtree and 2nd year receiver Amari Cooper are talented receivers.

19. Andy Dalton- Dalton finally looked like he was headed towards the top tier Fantasy QBs last year but then suffered a thumb injury. He lost 2 of his top targets to free agency, and his tight end injured himself in the Pro Bowl. He still has AJ Green, but I think the Bengals passing attack will struggle more often than not.

20. Matthew Stafford- Stafford is another QB I had high hopes for in 2015. I was wrong. I have the same hopes though for 2016, mainly because of the addition of Marvin Jones coming over from the Bengals. He has already shown a nice chemistry with Jones in limited play. Golden Tate should have a slight uptick as well. Cautiously optimistic on this prospect.

21. Tyrod Taylor- Tyrod is a solid QB. My real concern is Sammy Watkins and his ability to stay on the field. Still, Taylor should improve in his second year as an NFL passer.

 

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Like many, Kaepernick doesn’t ‘get it’

Colin Kaepernick did what he thought was a good deed. A noble action that will somehow resonate with the “every-man” and spark a movement. If it were only as easy as sitting out for the National Anthem, he would have accomplished what hundreds–if not thousands have tried. To end racism and unite this country once and for all.

I applaud Colin for having strong beliefs and convictions. I’m not going to get into politics or his choice to tie himself to Black Lives Matter. What I will ask though is what is Colin doing in his daily life to make a difference? Is he donating his time? Is he donating any money to this cause? Does he even vote in local and national elections? If he doesn’t I have to hit him with the hypocrite flag, because he is then part of the bigger problem.

It all needs to start with education. I wish I had the resources, contacts, and profile that Colin has. I would bring together athletes, entertainers, and other high profile people to really work on the problems at hand. Hell, I might even do this on my own and see how far I can take it. Talk is cheap though. Until people take action, the problem will continue. Just over the weekend Dwyane Wade’s cousin was gunned down on the south side of Chicago as she walked her daughter in a stroller. I don’t see many people talking about that though. Which is the root of the problem. Too many people in urban areas are dying.

Meanwhile, the high-profile athlete chooses to “stand up to oppression” by…sitting down during our nation’s anthem. Hopefully you see the disconnect here. We need to take action folks. Plain and simple. I’m not talking about protesting or boycotting, I mean real effective action. Start with your local politicians and community groups. If anything good comes out of this, hopefully that people are a little more compelled to take action and get active in their community.

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Humdrum

Humdrum

8-26-16

Whirling. Swirling. In the midst of my mind.

So many things.

Some dark, and some light.

It can never be that simple.

Yet it is.

Black and white.

Colorless. Bliss.

Just off your fingertips.

A kiss?

It’s the place that I go.

A place where I run to.

It can be anything I want.

It’s warm. It’s cold.

It’s shelter.

It’s relief from the pain.

I get caught in the rain.

Sometimes deliberate.

It’s freedom.

I wish I could take you there.

I wish I had a portal.

I’d show you things to believe in.

 

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The rock and the rubble

The rock and the rubble

8-26-16

If you need me, you know where to lean

I’m the rock that’s always been

Sure I’ve been chipped away and weathered

Time has been kind though, kind

Through the rain, cold, and snow

Blazing heat, thunderstorms

I am constant, you know I am

I’m a friend

Lean on me, you know you can

I am strong, you’re stronger than

You think you are, let me show you

Whenever you need someone

I’ll be waiting, standing tall

Though I’ve said time takes it’s toll

I’m still the rock, though rubble falls

Proof of life as duty calls

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I’ll be somewhere

I’ll be somewhere

8-26-16

Trapped in a state somewhere between love and hate. Voices in my head, no voices whispered not undead. So called family, loved ones you are supposed to trust. Talking shit behind your back, they must. I don’t know why. Do you know why? Things are quiet, so exciting now. I want to get up. I want to get up. I can’t because the voices are silent. Hush hush. These words don’t make sense. Should I rhyme or leave them happenstance? So many things to think about. It’s Friday, should I stay in or go out? All of the madness swirling inside. Feelings and memories are so alive. How could I stay mad? I’m kind of good that way. The good old beaten dog you see. On the way to wherever you go. To get your coffee or your alcohol. Maybe both. Insane ramblings? Oh, don’t you worry, I have a strong grip. Maybe not on reality. I do my own thing. You should do yours. I’ll be here, or maybe there. I’ll be somewhere.

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This week in Karazhan: The Menagerie

Another week, another wing in the latest Player vs Environment adventure from Hearthstone. This week: The Menagerie.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-25-16 16.21.04

The Curator kicks off this wing as the first boss. His hero power: Your hero has Taunt. It’s passive. I wasn’t quite sure if it meant my hero has Taunt as well. In the end, it didn’t really matter.

Curator

It took a few tries, but I ground the Curator to a halt.

Shutting down the Curator

The Zoobot is a 3/3 neutral minion with a Battlecry: Give a random friendly Beast, Dragon, and Murloc +1/+1. It is also a Mech. Interesting combination.

Zoobot

Menagerie Warden Reward: This 5/5 druid card has a Battlecry: Chose a friendly Beast, summon a copy of it.

Menagerie Warden

Nightbane is boss 2. His hero power is a head-scratcher. Passive: start with 10 mana. I didn’t tailor my deck from this but got a perty-nice draw (sic).

Nightbane

Even though he Pyroblasted Ragnaros, I swarmed him with my minions. The contest was over before it started. I like the premise, but I think in a PvE setting it’s just too easy.

nightbane snuffed

Nightbane Templar Reward: A 2/3 paladin minion with a Battlecry: If you are holding a dragon, summon 2 1/1 Whelps.

Nightbane Templar (2)

Runic Egg Reward: 0/2 neutral minion with a Deathrattle: Draw a card. There may be a grand plan for this card. I’m not seeing it.

Runic Egg 2b

Terestian Illhoof is the 3rd and final boss of the Menagerie wing. His hero power: Only Sickly Imps can damage Illhoof. It’s passive, and the Sickly Imps are much like the Dreadstead warlock minion, except they damage the hero.

Terestian Illhoof

Had I switched things up with my deck, this fight would have been a lot easier. Having lots of AoE cards, or minions who can do AoE is useful.

Illhoof cured

Purify Reward: Everyone’s favorite 2 cost priest spell! I see a lot of hate for this card, I’m not sure why. There are plenty of friendly minions that could benefit from a good old silence. Plus you draw a card. It’s also a spell.

Purify Reward 3a

Avian Watcher Reward: This 3/6 nuetral minion has a Battlecry: If you control a secret, gain +1/+1 and taunt. Very tempted to put this bad boy in my mage and hunter decks, but it would best fit in my paladin deck. A 4/7 taunt is a monster. Yep.

Avian Watcher reward 3b

Menagerie Magician Unlocked: A 4/4 neutral minion with a Battlecry: Give a random Beast, Dragon, and Murloc +2/+2. This is going to make for some funky synergy–and I love it!

Menagerie Magician reward 3c

The Curator Reward: I got so excited with this 4/6 Legendary that I forgot to screen capture the reward picture! It’s got Taunt and a Battlecry: Draw a Beast, Dragon, and Murloc from your deck. Get ready to see this card. A lot. It’s also a Mech. Yeah.

Hearthstone Screenshot 08-25-16 20.05.01

Hunter, Warrior, and Mage Class Challenges Unlocked!

Hunter Warrior Mage CC Unlocked

For the hunter class challenge, you face off vs the Curator again, this time with a custom hunter deck. Personally, I think they made it pretty easy on us, but hey. There is always Heroic mode.

hunter Class challenge

Maybe it was the cards I drew, I breezed right through, I shut down the Curator, It had to happen sooner or later. Ha.

Hunter Challenge defeated

Cat Trick Reward: This 2-cost hunter spell is a Secret: After your opponent casts a spell, summon a 4/2 panther with Stealth. Good but not great. Better if you are playing a spell/secret heavy hunter deck.

Cat Trick Reward

Warrior Class Challenge: You get Illhoof again, this time with a stacked warrior deck. It shows you how easy this fight can be with the right cards.

Warrior Class Challenge

A few Taunts and some AoE later…

warrior cc def

Fool’s Bane Reward: This is a 3/4 warrior weapon with a condition: Unlimited attacks each turn. Can’t attack heroes. Not sold on this card. Seems like it is very situational.

Fools Bane Reward

For the Mage class challenge, you get Nightbane again with a custom mage deck. Starting out with Medivh in your hand AND a Pyroblast is pretty much the win right there.

Mage CC

They really stacked that deck. There was also Y’Shaarj Pyroblast summoned with Atiesh equipped. I cannot wait to get my hands on Medivh. So much fun to be had…

Mage CC def

Babbling Book Reward: Not flashy but a 1/1 minion that adds a spell to your deck. Good opener for anyone playing Yogg deck. Yes please!

Babbling Book Reward

That wraps up this week’s action. Stay tuned for the 4th, and final wing coming next week!

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