Quick Take: Buy Low on Britt

Kenny Britt is like the Lindsay Lohan of the NFL: He’s always in trouble with the law, and you’re never quite sure when he is going to show up to work. When he does, though, he usually puts in a stellar performance (OK, so maybe he is not so much like Lohan after all).

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After receiving a mere one-game suspension from the NFL for his recent DUI arrest, Britt is primed for an uptick in fantasy stock. With a Yahoo! average draft position of 67.7, I have actually seen him going far lower in most drafts – closer to round 9 or 10. With the emergence of Jake Locker as Tennessee’s starter and Britt’s field-stretching ability, a 1,100 yard, 10-plus touchdown season is reasonably in the offing. The only real hang-up is how healthy Britt will be after tearing both his ACL and MCL in the middle of 2011.

At a tenth round price, though, does that really matter? Take a gamble with a late pick on Britt and wait out the one-game lockdown. If he emerges as the guy in Tennessee – and playing opposite Nate Washington and rookie Kendall Wright, he will – he easily becomes a quality WR2 option in standard leagues.

Why I’m Not Sold on Stafford

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I have two fantasy drafts coming up this week, and here is a not-so-secret message to anyone else participating in those leagues: You can have Matthew Stafford. I don’t want him.

The funny part is, I didn’t even realize this until today.

The fourth-year signal caller for the Detroit Lions, Stafford is blessed with a cannon arm, stunning lack of chin and, most importantly, Calvin Johnson. The Georgia product posted Tecmo Super Bowl numbers last year — 41 touchdowns and 5,038 passing yards against 16 interceptions — on his way to 383.9 points in standard fantasy scoring leagues. As a result, he has been pegged as a mid-to-late second round pick in most drafts, often times the fourth quarterback off the board after the holy trinity of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

I understand the appeal, but suffice to say, Stafford is too rich for my blood this year. After taking him early in a mock draft and seeing how the rest of my team shook out, I started to think a little more about his potential upside and, conversely, the downside.The end result? Last year was the upside, and this year is the down.

Without further ado, here’s why you won’t find Stafford on any of my rosters this season:

Supporting Cast (or lack thereof) Stafford is lucky enough to have Calvin Johnson, arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, as his primary target every Sunday. Even when it seems like Megatron is wearing a Snuggie made of the opposing team’s jerseys, he somehow worms his way open, hauling in whatever hail mary Stafford throws up for him. The tandem was a tremendous fantasy pairing in 2011, to be sure. But can you even name one other valuable offensive asset in Detroit? (I’ll give you a minute to think of one.) If you answered Kevin Smith, try again. Jahvid Best? PUP list. Mikel Leshoure? I think he is somewhere noshing on Doritos.

What am I getting at here?

Stafford will not be supported by the running game at all this year, and his production will ultimately suffer.

“But Green Bay doesn’t have a running game, and Aaron Rodgers is just fine,” you say. True. But Aaron Rodgers also has a harem of receivers to gun the ball to whenever he pleases. With Stafford and Megatron being the only threat, defenses will catch on.

And if you said Brandon Pettigrew is a threat, shame on you.

Division Foes Detroit is a member of the NFC North, which is surprisingly underrated as far as defense goes. With Stafford playing nearly half his games against Chicago, Minnesota, and a Green Bay defense with a chip on its shoulder, my money is on a step back in production. Jared Allen will have his lasso out faster than you can say “mullet,” Brian Urlacher will be refreshed after kicking Jenny McCarthy to the curb, and I’m pretty sure Clay Matthews’ hair tastes as good as it looks. Not my ideal Sunday, but whatever floats your boat.

Durability This is mildly related to my last point. With the strength of the defenders in Detroit’s division, Stafford is bound to take some hits. In fact, Stafford was sacked an almost Roethlisbergian 36 times last season. Yes, his balky shoulder held up well, but last year was the first time in his career he made it through all 16 games unscathed. That kind of track record is not enough for me to risk a second round pick on.

Ceiling vs. Floor This is probably the most crucial factor in my decision to pass on Stafford this season. While he had otherworldly fantasy output last year, did anyone come out of the gates expecting him to put up those kinds of numbers? Stafford hit his ceiling last season, and he did it by throwing the ball a whopping 663 times. No offense can be that one-dimensional for two seasons in a row without experiencing a drop off in points. Defenses know exactly what to prepare for when facing Detroit, and no one will be caught off guard by Stafford like they were last season. Also, I am pretty sure that if he throws that many passes again he is going to have to recruit Steve Young for lessons, because his right arm will have fallen off. It is just not realistic for the same production as last season.

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In the end, Stafford is a fun player to watch in an exciting offense. To me, though, he isn’t worth a second round pick. If I am going to take a young quarterback at that price point, I am going with Cam Newton, who has mobility, a better offensive line, a three-headed running game, and far more generous defenses in his division. Better yet, I am loading up on a top receiver with my second round pick, taking Robert Griffin III in the sixth or seventh, and laughing all the way to the playoffs.

But, as with any fantasy football pick, there is always that carrot of reward hanging out there with the inherent risk. Personally, I don’t like carrot cake, but someone in your league certainly will, and they’ll be experiencing the Stafford sugar crash before the bye week.

Welcome to Fantasyland

Ah, naptime. As all parents know, it’s that magical time of the day where productivity is your oyster, depending on your definition of productivity. Folding laundry, doing dishes, catching up on DVR’d episodes of Franklin & Bash – these are all fantastic uses of time when the little ones are taking their much-needed sabbaticals from the day.

While the first two items on the previous list should probably be my priority, this stay-at-home dad opts for a different path. Come July, my naptime becomes crunch time, as I endlessly participate in mock drafts, make and revise lists, and scour the Internet for any sliver of information that will put me over the top for the coming season.

That’s right. I’m talking about fantasy football.

According to a 2011 article in Adweek, more than 27 million people play fantasy football. Roughly, that’s equivalent to every man, woman, and child in Saudi Arabia sitting around on Sunday tracking stats for their rosters (How’s that for a visual?). If you are reading this right now, you surely have some shred of interest in it, or at least know someone who does. Entering my eighth season of managing a fake pigskin team, I have seen it grow in popularity among my family and friends, to the point where even my wife is in two leagues. (And yes, we play against each other, with leads to some palpable tension in the house when those match-ups are afoot.)

Needless to say, fantasy takes on a life of its own during football season, and I need an outlet for some of the knowledge and opinions I have gathered over the years.

So why does that make what I have to say about it matter?

Well, it doesn’t. But it certainly gives me something to do while my daughter is counting sheep mid-afternoon. And I figure, if even 0.00001% if the fantasy football-playing population reads my words, then that is 270 people. I’ll take that.

So sit back and enjoy. If you are so inclined, subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter. I’ll be posting on here regularly with weekly picks, waiver wire advice, and other general observations about fake sports. I’ll keep it light, and you might learn something. Or, you might take my advice, lose, and hate me for it.

Either way, it’ll be fun.

Go football!