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Hogs Lose Knile Davis

August 12th, 2011

By Ron Jumper

Throughout his football career, dating back to high school, Knile Davis has had some bad luck when it comes to injuries, particularly his ankle. The injury bug has bitten Davis again, as he looks most likely to miss the 2011 season. Davis had been getting a lot of love from the media and many considered him the top running back in the SEC. Without question, head coach Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks lost a talented young man.

Now that the dust has settled, how will this impact the Razorbacks 2011 campaign?

Running back was a position that Hog fans worried very little about because, not only did they have Knile Davis but Dennis Johnson and Ronnie Wingo have proven to be playmakers themselves. The concern was more along the offensive line, with left tackle being the most glaring weakness. Dennis Johnson has been a dynamic playmaker at different points in his career and Ronnie Wingo, a monster recruit coming out of Missouri, had a great spring that led to the coaches feeling he had finally reached his potential. Is Davis a stud? Obviously, but these two backs will be able to fill the void in terms of talent. More importantly, if the inexperienced line doesn’t create running lanes it really doesn’t matter who the running back is.

One thing to remember, back when Petrino was at Louisville he took them to the Orange Bowl despite losing highly touted running back Michael Bush to injury in the first game of the season. With the kind of talent and depth that Petrino has playing in his system, counting him out is simply a mistake.

Fantasy Spin:
Ronnie Wingo is the most likely to see the biggest increase in his workload, while also being likely to get the goalline carries that fantasy owners covet. At this point, Wingo is flying under the fantasy radar but he is a great value in what am I guessing will be the middle rounds of 120 drafts. Dennis Johnson will get touches but he doesn’t have the same upside as Wingo. If you don’t get the running back you want early in your draft, Wingo is a perfect low risk, high reward option.

Handicapping Spin:
The public sees this as a bigger detriment than it actually is, which could lead to better value for Hog backers. If the public perceives Arkansas as less talented, the spreads might be a little softer as opposed to being a public darling. The combination of breaking in a new QB and now losing Davis will scare away the average public bettor until the Hogs show they are still an elite team. Watch the lines closely, you might be able to get better value early in the season.

College Fantasy Football 2011: Getting Started

July 14th, 2011

By Ron Jumper

It is that point in the summer where there is nothing interesting to read in the sports section of the newspaper and there is nothing but baseball highlights on Sportscenter. For football fans, it is that calm before the storm only in this case we welcome that storm with open arms. For the avid fantasy football fan, it is right about that time to start researching who we are going to be targeting on draft day. Long gone are the days of preparing for the draft the week of, to compete in college fantasy football one must have done their homework well in advance. Class is now in session.

**This is not a rankings or preview article, this is a helpful guide to get you started in the right direction.

Lesson 1: He’s Back!

Case Keenum is perhaps the greatest fantasy football player in history, yes I did just say that. While I’m sure that those who drafted him last year will disagree, it was great news for the college fantasy game when he was granted another year of eligibility. In 2009, Keenum racked up 5,790 total yards and 48 total touchdowns in an explosive Houston offense. This was coming off a monster 2008 season that saw him tally 5,234 total yards and 51 touchdowns. If he does as expected and has another phenomenal season, I don’t see any way he isn’t the greatest college fantasy player of all time.

Lesson 2: Name Recognition Doesn’t Score Fantasy Points

When I look at other fantasy rankings, I see a lot of BCS running backs ranked highly. Don’t count on all of them finishing ranked that highly at the end of the season. I’m targeting some studs out of the Sun Belt in North Texas running back Lance Dunbar and Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey. Here are some potential busts:

Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
It isn’t that Lattimore doesn’t have talent, he does. However, the Gamecocks quarterback situation is unsettled and the offensive line has some question marks. Oh yeah, and they play in the SEC…

Trent Richardson, Alabama
Again, talent is not the issue. Richardson has not been able to stay healthy for a full season and I just don’t know if he can get you the type of numbers you need from a first round fantasy pick. Also, this just in, the SEC has awesome defenses.

Knile Davis, Arkansas
Davis is another talented running back but Arkansas has some youth on the offensive line and they will be rotating carries between not only Davis but Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson. I doubt he matches last season’s production. Did I mention the SEC has awesome defenses?

Lesson 3: Project New Starters With Caution

In some cases, the system is the reason for the production and in others the talent of the player was what led to success. Make an educated evaluation of each player, here is my take:

Thumbs Up
QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
QB Mike Glennon, NC State

Thumbs Down
QB Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
QB Casey Pachall, TCU

Lesson 4: Understand Value Based Drafting

Even if you like a player enough to take him in the 3rd round, you shouldn’t unless someone else is likely to draft him that high also. Just because you think you are on to a “sleeper” doesn’t mean you should draft them several rounds too high, always draft proven talent in the early rounds then take your sleepers late.

Also, understand the depth at each position and what value each player has. For example, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is far and away the best wide receiver so taking him in the first round is worth it because your receivers will be better than your opponents. Even though the quarterbacks that went in the first round are scoring more points, it is still worth it because there are plenty of quarterbacks later in the draft that will score similar amounts of points where as no receiver in this draft class came close to Blackmon’s production last year.

Lesson 5: Keep An Eye On Those Sleepers

As you get later in the draft, there is no reason to draft guys that are just average. You should swing for the fences and be willing to take risks. Either way, the majority of your later round picks will be guys you let go to waivers as better players emerge. What do you actually have to lose by taking a flyer on a guy with huge upside? Here are some guys I’m targeting:

Sleepers (Ranked Outside Top 50):
QB Zach Collaros, Cincinnati
QB Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
QB Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois
QB Ryan Tannenhill, Texas A&M
QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego State
RB Jason Ford, Illinois
RB Davin Meggett, Maryland
RB Jonathon Franklin, UCLA
RB Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech
WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State
WR Damario Belcher, Indiana
WR Josh Gordon, Baylor
WR Mark Harrison, Rutgers
TE Ladarius Green, UL Lafeyette

Deep Sleepers (Outside Top 200):
QB Ryan Radcliff, Central Michigan
QB Matt Schilz, Bowling Green
QB Barrett Trotter, Auburn
RB Bryce Brown, Kansas State
RB Alfred Morris, Florida Atlantic
RB Ralph Bolden, Purdue
RB Perry Jones, Virginia
RB Ryan Bass, Idaho
RB Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas
WR Travis Benjamin, Miami
WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois
WR Markus Wheaton, Oregon State

This will hopefully get the wheels turning as you prepare for the draft, it is still a long ways away but there is so much information to cover in 120 leagues. I’ll continue on with my college fantasy football preview issue, as well as handicapping and traditional preview coverage.

Keeping the 2011 NFL Draft in Perspective

May 1st, 2011

By Ron Jumper

Whenever the draft rolls around, I always am fascinated with the thought process of not only the NFL teams but also the draft analysts and media in general. The lack of genuine understanding from the average guy that works in the media, particularly at the local level, of how the draft process works and everything that goes into it is laughable. As for the NFL scouts and general managers, it blows my mind how the draft is almost a sport of its own, much like recruiting is at the college level, as opposed to being an extension of your overall strategy for how you plan to build your specific franchise into a winner.

Getting all caught up in “best player available” and what have you, which for the record can work if executed correctly, often earns a nice “grade” the day after but doesn’t always translate to success on the field when the season rolls around. With this draft in particular, giving any team’s draft a grade really is incomplete anyways because there hasn’t been free agency due to the lockout. If you choose to address needs by adding veterans then draft best player available that combo can work, it once again is just about the execution more than the strategy. However, not every team has that luxury. Think about a small market team that isn’t able to compete financially, for them the playing field isn’t level.

The best example I can give is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They DO NOT sign free agents, it is not an option due to their financial situation. For them, the draft is how they address their roster from a needs standpoint. They have no choice but to address needs as opposed to best player available, which is what they did in this draft. Coming in, GM Mark Dominik made it very obvious they HAD to get a pass rusher in this draft. The front office and scouting department was basically just trying to pinpoint what defensive ends would be available when they picked at 20. There was some talk of moving up to improve their odds of landing an elite DE but, ultimately, I’m sure they didn’t pull the trigger because they didn’t want to give up any picks because those are at a premium to them more so than any franchise in the league. The Bucs ended up taking defensive ends in the first two rounds, clearly addressing their biggest need.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Lions landed a stud in DT Nick Fairley. At different points in the draft process, Fairley was looked at as a top 3 talent. However, how does he help them? They already have a very good defensive line, with some guy named Ndamukong Suh. I just can’t imagine Fairley makes them much better, where as they could really use a LT to protect Mathew Stafford or open up running lanes. Long story short, the Lions spent some money in free agency last year while the Bucs focused on specific needs and team chemistry on a tight budget. The Lions were much more competitive than in years past but the Bucs won 10 games and are a team on the rise. The point is that having a concise strategy and executing it usually works better than blindly going after talent and throwing money at B-list free agents.


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