Patch Pick 'Em Season Preview
The weekly column where Fair Lawn residents Stuart Pace, Steve Brown, Rich Seibel and Zak Koeske dish out NFL picks and fantasy football advice.
After a successful inaugural run in 2011, the local pigskin prognosticators are back with another year of Patch Pick 'Em.
If you're unfamiliar with the concept, the weekly Patch Pick 'Em pits Fair Lawn residents and wannabe NFL experts Stuart Pace, Steve Brown, Rich Seibel and Zak Koeske up against one another in an NFL matchup picking battle.
Each week, these "experts" offer up their picks for three games and dish out a little fantasy football advice to boot.
If you'd like their opinion on fantasy roster moves, have a fantasy football question you'd like answered or would like to compete against them as a Guest Picker, email Patch NFL Pick 'Em at email@example.com
In advance of their first week of picks, the Pick 'Em guys offer up three sleepers (players you want on your fantasy team) and three busts (players you don't want on your fantasy team) for the upcoming NFL season.
Stuart Pace's Picks:
Kendall Wright, WR (TEN) -- This Baylor WR will translate well in the NFL. Not huge, but can get over the top of defenses giving Jake Locker a deep threat.
Isaac Redman, RB (PIT) -- Not sure if Redman is an unknown, but should be the No. 1 RB on the Steelers and will be making Rashard Mendenhall an afterthought for fantasy players.
Denarius Moore, WR (OAK) -- Moore had 33 catches for 618 yards and 5 TDs last year, and Carson Palmer now has a full year in the offense. He will find him “Moore” and as long as Darren McFadden stays on the field, the Raiders should have some success passing.
Peyton Manning, QB (DEN) -- Manning can’t throw to his right from what I am hearing and his passes have been off target and wobbly. Avoid him.
Kevin Kolb, QB (ARI) -- Sheesh, a couple of good games in Philly and everyone is salivating. One thing the Eagles do well is groom backups to look extraordinary in two or three starts and then score big when a team needs a QB.
Pierre Garcon, WR (WAS) -- Peyton Manning is no longer throwing to him. It's RGIII. But this division is TOUGH. I don’t expect his numbers to be what they were when he was in the AFC. Oh, and he plays outdoors more than indoors. Gets cold in Washington in December.
Steve Brown's picks:
Jay Cutler, QB (CHI) -- Reunited with Brandon Marshall and with exciting depth at the WR spot including Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and rookie Alshon Jeffery there is a ton of upside for erratic Jay. Offensive Coordinator Mike Tice’s giant pumpkin cranium, might be the only thing that holds him back this year. Marshall and Hester should spread the field, Jeffery is great at using his size in red zone battles and Jay’s stats will benefit every time Matt Forte, the hardest working running back in the NFL, breaks a screen pass for a 25-yard TD. When the top QBs are off the board, you should take a long, hard look at Jay Cutler.
Stevan Ridley, RB (NE) -- Getting listed at the top of the Pats' depth chart is a feat in itself. Do you realize their third string TE is Visanthe Shiancoe andfourth string is Jake Ballard -- guys capable of starting for many teams. So the Patriots will be high powered as long as Tom Brady stays healthy and that means lots of red zone chances and lots of fourth quarter runs as they protect leads. Stevan is the biggest and the fastest of the Patriots backs, so he is the most likely to benefit every time the Patriots are near the goal line and the defense is spread thin trying to stop Gronk, Hernandez, Shiancoe and Ballard when the Pats go to my newly invented 4 tight end, 1 back offensive set.
Mike Williams, WR (TB) -- Which Josh Freeman shows up will have a lot to do with which Mike Williams you get. If the 2010 version shows up you’ll be sitting pretty. If last year’s duo is still hanging around, you will have wasted a late round pick. Williams caught 65 passes in both years, but in 2011 he gained three yards less per catch and eight fewer touchdowns. Now Vincent Jackson comes to town potentially giving Williams easier matchups and less double coverages to overcome. Williams has the talent to put up big numbers, the rest will be up to Greg Schiano, Josh Freeman and the football gods.
Tony Romo, QB (DAL) -- When it comes to Romo and the Cowboys, I’ll admit I’m a hater drinking haterade while soaking in a hate-tub. It seems highly likely that this is the year Jerry Jones and his posse of front running fans runs old Tony out of town on a rail. The legendary Cowboys spent much of last year taking pot shots at old shaky hands Romo and that will only get worse if the Cowboys don’t come out of the gate early. Don’t expect Tony to stay on that bucking brahma bull of a QB job for very long.
Chris Johnson, RB (TEN) -- The trend is your friend is an old stock market adage. So map out these trends before you pick up Chris Johnson.
Rushing yards last three years: 2006, 1364, and 1,047.
Rushing average last three years: 5.6, 4.3, 4.0
Total TDs last three years: 16, 12, 4
Add to that mix a rookie starting QB, a below-average offensive line, unimpressive WRs and a crushing first four weeks against the Pats, Chargers, Lions and Texans, and let me know what makes you think this downward trend is likely to end? So pass on Chris Johnson and call the trend and Stevie B your friends.
Rob Gronkowski, TE (NE) -- In my mind bust doesn’t mean total and complete bust, but rather guy who fails to live up to lofty expectations. Rob Gronkowski had one of the greatest seasons a TE has ever had and if you expect him to equal it you will end up disappointed. As discussed earlier, the Patriots have depth at TE and WR that makes other teams drool. While I count on this helping Stevan Ridley, I expect it to hurt Gronk.
Couple that with what appears to be a growing need to do crazy Gronk things involving a rather hedonistic lifestyle and injury concerns and I would advise letting someone else grab the Gronk too early and then snatch Jimmy Graham before anyone else does. If you fail to get Graham there is always Aaron Hernandez, who could have a season as good as Gronkowski.
So I don’t expect Gronkowski to be a non-factor -- that would be nuts -- but I would put the over/under on touchdowns at 10, not 15 and certainly not 20, and I would not be crying in my beer if Graham, Vernon Davis, Hernandez or consistent 7-TD guys like Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten or Antonio Gates were my Week 1 starter.
Rich Seibel's picks:
Steve Breaston, WR (KC) -- Breaston started only one game last year, yet he caught 61 passes and 64 percent of his receptions were for a first down. That was with a backup quarterback tossing the pigskin. This year, Pro Bowl.
David Nelson, WR (BUF) -- Nelson started 13 of 16 games and caught 61 passes as well. At 6'5", 214 pounds, he should develop into a force to be reckoned with. While the defenses are watching Stevie Johnson, Nelson should run wild in single coverage.
Doug Baldwin, WR (SEA) -- Baldwin led the team in receptions last year with 51 and averaged 15-plus yards per catch. This guy can get open early and often.
The entire Jets team -- Sorry Jets fans, you had your chance. Not specific enough? The offense. More? Mark Sanchez. I'm not blaming him, I think he is a good QB with championship playoff experience. I just think the Jets are lacking and teams will pile on these bullies. Sanchez is being set up to fail and rode out on a rail. Someday he will end up in a different uniform at Jets stadium and ruin their season.
Adrian Peterson, RB (MIN) -- Having experienced ACL surgery, I can tell you that no matter what the doctor says you will never be the same. Peterson is not quite up to my level as an athlete, however, it will take him until next year to get back if he does. This surgery is brutal and may be too much for an aging running back to overcome a la Jamal Anderson.
Tom Brady, QB (NE) -- What I saw in the last game of the season was sickening. I am tired of the Tom Brady this, Bill Belichick that nonsense. These guys are weak and soft like marshmallows. The Super Bowl was over in the first five minutes. A safety, a safety. These guys will run up their numbers during the season and maybe even get back to the Super Bowl and lose again. Just never, ever mention these two in the same breath as Joe Montana and Bill Walsh again. And remember if the refs don't blow the call in the Championship game against the Raiders they never get to the first Super Bowl. See you Dec. 16 tough guys.
Zak Koeske's picks:
Robert Griffin III, QB (WAS) -- I've never been a believer in drafting rookies in fantasy football -- especially rookie quarterbacks -- but Cam Newton changed all of that for me last year. I'm skeptical that RG3 can breathe new life into the 33-year-old legs of Santana Moss the way Newton did for Steve Smith last year, but I can't resist the possibility. Even if Moss, or No. 2 wideout Pierre Garcon aren't transformed into fearsome fantasy receivers, I'm confident that Griffin has the running ability to match Newton's record 14 rushing scores last year. Will he? Who knows, but when you match RG3 up with Newton, he comes out ahead in all facets of the game. My bets on the 2011 Heisman winner to outplay the 2010 awardee this year.
Kyle Rudolph, TE (MIN) - Word out of Vikings camp is that Rudolph's rapport with QB Christian Ponder is excellent and the big man has a chance to make a real impact on the field in 2012. The second-year Golden Domer should serve as more than a giant red zone target this year and projects as a reliable safety valve for the inexperienced Ponder. I wouldn't be surprised if Rudolph ends up leading the Vikings in targets.
Cedric Benson, RB (GB) --Playing for a team where he won't be expected to carry the offense, Benson has a chance of turning some heads this year. A plodding, but reliable back for the Bengals the past couple years, scouts are raving that Benson looks downright explosive in the early going running behind a strong Packers offensive line.
Frank Gore, RB (SF) -- I'm guessing this is the last year anyone considers Gore a viable fantasy option. He's done nothing in the preseason and, even though he usually suits up on Sundays, the longtime Niners back always seems limited by a nagging injury. While Gore recorded more rushing yards last season than any time since his enormous 2006 campaign, he's getting old. Facing more competition this year than ever before with a crowded backfield of Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James, Gore is sure to lose carries and disappoint this year.
Cam Newton, QB (CAR) -- Newton may have blown my mind last year and changed the way I view rookie QBs, but I'm expecting a significant regression in 2012. I'd still rank him a top 10 QB, but he won't repeat his historic rookie performance. Killa Cam's passing numbers tanked in last year's second half and I'm guessing that'll carry over. Think a Josh Freeman-esque sophomore slump.
Brandon Lloyd, WR (NE) -- Yes, Brandon Lloyd is just two years removed from leading the NFL in receiving and, yes, he'll be reuniting with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but I just don't see it. Tom Brady has too many other receiving options and his chemistry with Lloyd hasn't looked terribly strong this preseason. He'll be a solid flex play this season, but don't expect Lloyd to light it up in New England.