Monday, December 1, 2014

Nelson Cruz Is Proof PEDs Will Always Be A Part Of MLB

On August 5th 2013, Nelson Cruz was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for his connection to the Biogensis Scandal. To put it more bluntly, he was caught taking performance enhancing drugs.

Now we can go back and forth about the actual benefits of performance enhancing drugs and never end up anywhere close to an agreement. But that's not what matters here. What matters is PEDs are a violation of the rules. Not only that, but using PEDs is a violation that on the surface seems to carry a fairly stiff penalty. Herein lies the issue. The penalty is stiff but doesn't do much to dissuade players from using. Nelson Cruz is a perfect example of this.

After being reinstated it wasn't exactly easy for Cruz to find work. He did eventually sign an $8 million deal with the Orioles for 2014 and helped them win the AL East. This contract was lower than what he could have made had he accepted the Rangers' $14 million qualifying offer. Sounds like the punishment worked right? Received a suspension and had to take a pay cut. Definitely an incentive to not use PEDs.

However, reports have come out today that Cruz is in agreement with the Mariners on a 4-year deal worth $57 million. The vast majority of baseball writers, reporters, tweeters, "experts," and so on are saying they're clearly over-paying for him. It's entirely possible that's the case, but it's also the climate of baseball right now.

My issue is the fact that he clearly benefited from taking PEDs. His punishment really didn't matter. Think of it this way. If you were caught taking illegal drugs at your work, you'd likely be fired. Not only that, but you'd have a tough time getting a job in that field again. I realize baseball is different, but something has to be done. If you're an average player who is on the verge of breaking out, what's stopping you from taking PEDs? A 50-game suspension clearly isn't doing the trick. If MLB wants to actually rid itself of PEDs, the penalties need to be stiffened.

I'd like to see the punishment for PED use to be go from 3 strikes to 2. First time caught gets a 100-game suspension and the second offense would be a lifetime ban. Now you're effecting a massive part of one season, or a good portion of two. That would make guys think twice about breaking the rules. Only being able to play in 62 games rather than 112 is going to seriously impact a performance and therefore future contracts. Or not being eligible for the end of one season and the beginning of another.

Yes, it's a great PR move to suspend these guys for 50 games. But it ultimately has no effect on them. If MLB truly wants to address the issue of PEDs, the penalties needed to be increased to the point where they will impact the player's future contracts.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports


Friday, October 3, 2014

NFL Week 5 Betting Trends

It's been a strange NFL season so far. There are only two undefeated teams through 4 weeks, the Cardinals and Bengals. The Patriots looks downright awful, the Cowboys look competent, the Packers went from looking terrible to looking pretty good in the matter of about a week, and the Saints are a huge question mark. All of this combines to make it rather difficult to have a great deal of confidence when it comes to putting money down on some games. But fear not, RJ Bell of Pregame.com has sent out his week 5 betting trends, and there are some good ones in there. 

  • Bengals: the away team has covered only 4 of last 22 Cincinnati games
  • Bills: the home team in Buffalo games 17-4 ATS
  • Broncos: Peyton Manning off a bye has won 8 straight ATS
  • Chiefs on road: lost only 1 of last 11 ATS
  • Cowboys off a win, then favored the next game: 2-13 ATS
  • Cowboys as home favorite: covered only 6 of last 25
  • Eagles at home: covered only 7 of last 30
  • Falcons off a loss by 6 or more points: 20-4 ATS
  • Lions off a win: covered the next game only 5 of 19
  • Patriots: home underdog for only second time since 2005
  • Patriots: off a loss as a favorite, then an underdog the next week: 17-2 ATS
  • Patriots: off a loss as a favorite, then playing a winning team the next week: 14-1 ATS
  • Saints (with Payton coaching): have not lost a game at home against the spread since the 2010 
  • season! (18-0-1 ATS)
  • Saints (with Payton coaching) when favored by more than a touchdown: 14-2 ATS
  • Saints off a road loss: 21-4 ATS the next game
  • Steelers as a road favorite of 6 or more points: lost 10 straight ATS
  • Titans have not covered a game at home in over one calendar year (0-7 ATS since 9/29/13)
There's a lot of good information in there, but some of it has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Patriots for example, would you put any money on them this week? Sure, teams bounce back after bad losses all the time. But those teams typically have an impressive offense who just ran into a better defense. Impressive is not a word you'll hear anyone use when describing the Pats offense. I do like the Saints this weekend. They're -10 at home against the Bucs and they need a big win after last week's dismantling in Dallas. I also really like the Steelers this weekend despite the trend. They're -6.5 on the road, but they're in Jacksonville. I'm fairly certain you could take the top 50 college players and they'd be able to give the Jaguars a decent game right now, the Jags are that bad. 

Once again, thanks to RJ Bell of Pregame.com for taking the time to put this information together. 

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Free NFL Survivor League- $200 To The Winner

For the past few years I've either run or been a member of an NFL Survivor league. It's a fun way to stay involved outside of just fantasy football and it's really easy. You pick one winner each week and if you win you move on. If you lose twice, you're out. But the catch is you can't pick a team more than once. So for instance if you pick the Patriots to beat the Dolphins in Week 1 you cannot pick the Patriots again at any time. Interested?

Here's the deal, I'm not actually running a Survivor league this year but I'm part of one that is open to the public. Best of all, this league is free to join. The winner will receive $200 and if you have a perfect season that will be doubled to $400. Survivor leagues are fun, profitable, but can be insanely stressful. Trying to gauge when you should pick teams like the Broncos or Packers isn't as easy as it sounds.

Like I said, this year's NFL Survivor league is open to the public. All you have to do is sign up on ViceHood then go to this forum and enter your pick. All the official rules can be found there as well. No double entries are allowed and your pick must be in before the Thursday game kicks off each week, except for week 1.

Please feel free to invite anyone who you think would be interested in this and if you have any questions just hit me up on Twitter.

Friday, August 22, 2014

2014 Fantasy Fooball TE Rankings

Most leagues will be drafting in the next few days. If you haven't already started doing your homework you're behind. Unless you're in a league with a bunch of rookies, you need to do some research. Learn your league rules, do some position ranking, and actually think about what you're going to do if you draft first or last. Continuing my series on ranking players by position, here are my 2014 fantasy football TE rankings. And no, you cannot be successful in fantasy football and overlook the TE position. 

1. Jimmy Graham- This should be obvious. No one compares to Jimmy Graham. Put it this way, in my league last year Graham went for 260.5 points. The second-highest scoring TE was Vernon Davis with 189 points. In fact, there were only six position players in my league who scored more than Graham last season- Jamal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson, and Demaryius Thomas. All of those players, save for Gordon, should be drafted before Graham. However no one is going to blame you if you draft Graham low in the first round. If he's somehow available in the second round, take him.

2. Rob Gronkowski- This actually worries me a little bit. We still don't know if Gronk is going to be medically cleared for Week 1, though my feeling is he will. More than that, we don't know what all that missed time is going to do to Gronk's game. When he's at his best he's pretty much unstoppable and his fantasy value is ridiculous. Gronk is definitely one of the best TE in the game when he's on the field. His injury history does worry me, but the good outweighs the bad. I wouldn't take him before the third round, but don't be surprised if someone does. 

3. Julius Thomas- Oh Peyton, my Peyton. Without Peyton and that ridiculous offense in Denver I doubt Julius Thomas would be on this list. But he is, and for good reason. He missed 2 games last season and still found the endzone 12 times. He's a top-option for Peyton in the redzone, and in a pass-happy offense he's going to see a ton of targets. I like Thomas in the mid-to-late third round. 

4. Greg Olsen- I honestly feel bad for Cam Newton. The Panthers just won't give the guy a solid receiving corp to work with. However this likely will benefit Greg Olsen this season. The receivers in Carolina are new to the team, Olsen is not. Granted he doesn't light up the scoreboard like the guys I've listed above him, but I won't be surprised at all if he improves on his 2013 numbers of 816 yards and 6 TDs. That being said, I wouldn't draft him before the 7th round. You need to fill in your big spots before taking a non-star TE. 

5. Vernon Davis- Why did the TE who scored the second-most points in fantasy last year slip this far? Michael Crabtree. Crabtree missed 11 games last season which freed up a ton of opportunities for Davis. With Crabtree healthy, it's almost guaranteed Davis is going to see fewer balls thrown his way. That being said, don't be surprised if he comes close to double digits in TDs again. He and Olsen are pretty interchangeable in terms of where they're drafted, in fact I'd expect Davis to be drafted before Olsen just because of his production last year. But I wouldn't draft him before the 7th round. 

6. Jason Witten- Oh great, here comes this idiot with another homer Cowboys player. Look, I watched every Cowboys game last year and saw how his production dropped. Nothing frustrated me more than seeing Witten get overlooked, other than the Cowboys complete ineptitude on defense and reluctance to run the ball. I see Witten having a big bounceback year. Their new offensive coordinator should be looking to stretch the field, which is going to open up Witten over the middle. I'd be happy if Witten fell to me in mid-to-late 7th round and gladly scoop him up. 

7. Jordan Cameron- He had a fantastic 2013 season, but I don't expect him to come close replicating those numbers. A new head coach and an ongoing quarterback controversy/competition in Cleveland is going to make things tough for Cameron. However, he's still a good mid-draft option. I'd take him around the 10th round and feel very good about it. 

8. Dennis Pitta- I've got him lower than a lot of the experts do, but that doesn't mean I don't have as much confidence in his abilities. As ESPN puts it, "New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is famous for featuring athletic tight ends out of the slot, and Pitta's connection with Joe Flacco is strong." However Flacco also now has Steve Smith opposite Torrey Smith and the Ravens added Owen Daniels. Pitta could end up being a top-five TE this season, I just don't think it's worth the risk of taking him super high. He got hurt last year, playing only the last four games of the season and scoring only once. He's another TE I'd be very comfortable taking in the middle or late rounds of the draft as my starter. 

9. Kyle Rudolph- This one is definitely a gamble. However, it's an educated gamble. Rudolph was nothing short of awful last season, except for week 6 against Carolina when he caught 9 passes for 97 yards and a TD. Over the nine games he played, Rudolph scored a total of 52.7 points. That's not good enough to warrant being a starter. However Norv Turner is now in Minnesota, and if any offensive coordinator loves TE it's Turner. Look what he did for Antonio Gates and last year with Jordan Cameron. Rudolph has the athletic skills to be a great TE, he just needs to use them. 

10. Jordan Reed, Martellus Bennett, and Delanie Walker- All of these guys are capable of being near the top 10 of the league in terms of fantasy points. However, they're not really in a system that benefits their scoring opportunities. All three of these guys had weeks where they went off last season and all three had weeks where they scored 1.5 fantasy points or fewer. They're definitely feast or famine. If you end up with a TE like this you're going to need to make up the points elsewhere. 

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football WR Rankings

Part III in this series will cover my top 10 wide receivers for the 2014 fantasy football season. There are a lot of things to consider when drafting your wideouts. First, where are they on the depth chart? You need to have at least one top weapon. You will not make the playoffs with a team of second options. Sure, you'll get some wins and some big games, but the consistency won't be there. Another thing to keep in mind is your league rules. If you're in a PPR league it should change where you're taking your WRs and who your backups are going to be.

1. Calvin Johnson- Who else. Megatron had a down year last year and was still the 2nd highest-scoring, or third depending on your league, wide receiver. He's damn-near impossible to defend and his combination of size and speed makes him an absolute monster. Contributing to his "down year," which still saw him go for nearly 1,500 yards and 12 TDs, were injuries to his knee and finger. Both of those were addressed with offseason surgery. He is the best wide receiver in the NFL and should probably be taken in the first round of the draft. I wouldn't take him before the fifth pick, but anytime after that is perfectly fine.

2. Demaryius Thomas- Have you met Peyton Manning? Thomas put up the same amount of points in fantasy as Calvin Johnson last year, at least in my league, and there is no reason to think he won't have another monster year. He's a beast when it comes to yardage after the catch, 1,225 yards last year which was best in the league, and he caught 14 TDs. What makes him so dangerous is Peyton looks for him in short-yardage situations too. He scored 9 of his 14 TDs on short throws. Is he a first-rounder? He certainly could be, but I'd expect him to go early in the second.

3. AJ Green- While he doesn't have a great QB throwing to him, he gets a ton of opportunities. In fact, Green saw more targets, 178, than any other wide receiver last year. He's quick, tall, and has great hands. This makes him a great vertical threat and a prime redzone target. As I mentioned, he does have Andy Dalton pitching to him which doesn't exactly inspire confidence. But Green makes up for Dalton's shortcomings and he's a very safe pick. I wouldn't take him in the first round, but I'd be thrilled if I could get my hands on him later on.

4. Brandon Marshall- Marshall has more targets since becoming a Bear than anyone in the NFL. He found the endzone 12 times last year and nearly hit the 1,300-yard mark. Yes, you will see Alshon Jeffery get looks that will take away chances for Marshall. But considering he still saw more than 140 balls thrown his way last year I wouldn't really worry about it. Plus, if you can handcuff Marshall and Jeffery you've got a great combo. I'd look for Marshall in the late second round. If he's still available in the third I'd definitely jump at the chance to take him.

5. Dez Bryant- I know, another Cowboy on the list. Hear me out though. When he's not yelling at his teammates on the sideline, Dez puts in work. He had 13 scores last year and over 1,200 yards. The biggest drop for Dez last year was the number of deep balls he saw. However I expect that to change this season. Scott Linehan is the new offensive coordinator in Dallas and I think they're going to stretch the field with Dez a lot more in 2014. Granted he's still got Romo under center, which can be stressful, but Romo does have the arm to get the ball downfield. Plus, Romo loves throwing to Dez in the endzone. Late in the second is where Dez should be drafted, but I expect him to go higher in most leagues. Not a first-rounder or an early second-rounder, but definitely a safe pick early in the draft.

6. Julio Jones- Jones missed 11 games last year with a broken foot. When he got hurt he was on pace to top 1,800 yards and score 6 times. You and I both know he would have found the endzone more than half a dozen times if he played those 11 games. The re-tooled offensive line in Atlanta should give Matt Ryan some more time to find his top option. Roddy White is still going to get some attention, but Jones is clearly the number one receiver. Plus Tony Gonzalez retired, so Ryan's redzone safety net will likely be Jones as well. I'm very comfortable taking him in the latter half of the second round.

7. Jordy Nelson- No one missed Aaron Rodgers more. "Nelson ranked fourth among WRs in fantasy points on vertical throws (118) and tied for 31st on short ones (47)," according to ESPN. When Rodgers got hurt, Nelson's value plummeted. He's a deep threat who is going to find the endzone. Despite Rodgers abscence, Nelson was still able to put up 8 TDs on just over 1,300 yards. I fully expect him to hit double digits in scores and get at least that many yards this season. You can feel confident taking Nelson very late in the second round if you have a star running back, otherwise look for him in the third to compliment your first two picks.

8. Victor Cruz- If you owned Cruz last year you probably think I'm nuts. But just look what he went through in 2013. He got hurt, the Giants had no one to take attention away from him, and Eli was an interception machine. Much like the Cowboys the Giants have a revamped offense. They clearly still have their issues, but they should be much better than last season. Look at what Cruz did in the first 4 games of the season last year and use that as your indicator of how good he really is. Over those four games he averaged a touchdown and 106 yards. That includes a stinker in Carolina where he only 3 balls for 25 yards. Cruz is a solid third round pick.

9. Antonio Brown- Remember what I said about drafting guys who were the number one option? That's Brown. Emmanuel Sanders is now in Denver clearing the way for Brown to have a big year. He caught 110 passes last season for nearly 1,500 yards and scored 8 times. While I'm not sure his yardage numbers will increase, I'd be shocked if he doesn't find the endzone at least 10 times. Roethlisberger looked to Brown on both short and deep balls, expect that to happen again.

10. Alshon Jeffery, Pierre Garcon, Randall Cobb- With the exception of Garcon these guys are all strong number two wideouts. They're all very viable receivers, they just have guys in front of them. That makes them fantastic handcuffs and great value picks. Garcon is different because he is a number one. But that was before the Redskins had DeSean Jackson and who knows what RG3 is going to do.

Looking at what Josh Gordon did last year you probably want to know why he isn't on this list. Simply put, he's likely not going to play this year. He was already facing a season-long suspension for testing positive for marijuana, then he got a DWI. Gordon is a great receiver, albeit on a crappy team. If he's able to play, he's probably a mid to late second-rounder. However drafting him before knowing his status is beyond risky. It's not worth it to me to use anything other than a very late pick on him.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports


Saturday, August 16, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

The 2nd part of my fantasy rankings is going to rank my top 10 running backs for the 2014 NFL season. Some people didn't agree with my QB rankings, which is totally fine. I don't expect everyone to go along with what I say. It's important to remember with running backs that you need two guys who are going to get a lot of carries. You need to consider the offense, the other weapons on the team, and who gets the goal-line carries.

1. Adrian Peterson- C'mon, who else would it be? The Vikings aren't a great team, they don't have many offensive weapons, and Adrian Peterson is an absolute beast. He's scored at least 10 touchdowns in each of his 7 seasons and finished with less than 1,400 yards only once. He's an absolute workhorse. Injuries are worrisome, but that goes with every single player on your roster. If you have the first overall pick in your draft you can take AP with confidence.

2. LeSean McCoy- I may be a Cowboys fan and hate the Eagles with a passion, but I'm not an idiot. The only running back with more fantasy points than McCoy over the past three years is AP. He won the rushing title last year by more than 260 yards and that was in his first year in Chip Kelly's new system. There is no reason to expect him to fall off this year. While you may take some crap if you draft McCoy first overall, it's certainly not a terrible idea. The Eagles do have more options than the Vikings, so you probably won't see McCoy getting as many opportunities as Peterson, but they're both going to be fantasy monsters.

3. Jamal Charles- His 19 touchdowns last year was tops for running backs last year and he did it on just 259 carries. For comparison McCoy had 314 carries and Peterson had 279 (in 15 games). However Charles did see more work in the passing game, he had 70 receptions. Charles will once again be a big part of the KC offense, and with Alex Smith at QB I don't expect a ton of deep balls. The West Coast offense is a bit concerning, but Charles is good enough to make taking him high in the draft totally reasonable. I wouldn't take him first overall, but at second or third you're getting a ton of value.

4. Marshawn Lynch- Beast mode. Lynch leads all running backs over the last three years with 35 touchdowns and carries since 2011. He's the definition of a workhorse on a team absolutely committed to the run. While the trend for running backs like Lynch is to break down, at 28 it's not likely to happen to him this year (hopefully I didn't just jinx him). You should have no concerns drafting him if he's available to you in the first round.

5. Matt Forte- I'm cautiously optimistic with Forte. He had the best year of his career last year, but he also played more snaps than any other RB in the league. However, "each of the past three rushers who've led the position in snaps has failed to register a top-nine fantasy campaign the following season," according to ESPN. That is concerning, but it's also something that Forte is certainly capable of putting to rest. He's incredibly fast, powerful, and has great hands. If you're going to take Forte with such a high pick you need to make sure you've got at least two other stars at other positions.

6. Montee Ball- With Knowshon Moreno now in Miami, there is no one standing in Ball's way other than himself. His blocking was what kept him off the field last year, which allowed Moreno to become the featured back. Ball will now reap the benefits of playing beside Peyton. He's likely to get a ton of looks in the passing game, at the goal line, and become a key piece in the Denver offense. He's a risky pick in the first round, but not so much in the second round if you've taken another star RB or QB. However, if you think you can grab him late in the first and still find exceptional talent in the second, don't hesitate.

7. Eddie Lacy- I'm honestly worried about ranking him this high. I know he was the offensive ROY in 2013, and I know the experts have him as high as 4th. But I also know how players fall off in their sophomore season. Lacy was great last year, there's no denying that. But does one season make him a legit fantasy star? I wouldn't take him in the first round, but I'd be fine taking him in the second. Another worry is how well he played without Aaron Rodgers. He had to carry the Packers last year when Rodgers was hurt, but will he be as needed this year if Rodgers is healthy?

8. Demarco Murray- I know, I know. He's a Dallas Cowboy. But he also averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year, 3rd best in the NFL, and got more than 21 touches per game down the stretch in 2013. The biggest concern is injuries though. Murray has had plenty of them, but when he's healthy he's exactly what you want in a running back. Not a guy I'd take in the first round, but definitely a second rounder.

9. Arian Foster- Another guy who has injury issues. Foster missed nine games last year, and isn't on a great offensive team. That may actually help him though. Outside of Andre Johnson there isn't another big name in the Houston offense other than Foster. When healthy he's one of the best in the league. Also, with the upgrades to the Houston defense, they may not be playing from behind (at least not as far as behind) as often this season so he could see a good amount of work. Also, with Ben Tate no longer in the picture, the talent drop-off between Foster and his backup is much larger.

10. Zac Stacy, Giovanni Bernard, Alfred Morris- All three of these guys are going to be solid running backs. None of them however are going to be fantasy superstars. They're all guys you can plug in week after week with confidence, but don't expect them to light up the scoreboard. They're all very safe second round picks, but aren't on great teams and/or aren't the featured offensive weapon on their team. Other names to put here are Reggie Bush, Le'Veon Bell, and Doug Martin.

As I said before, you need two starting running backs in your lineup every week. You're not going to have AP and McCoy, unless you're in a league that is nothing but embarrassing, so you need to plan on having a star and a starter you'll find later in your draft. Running backs are the lifeblood of a successful fantasy team, don't wait until the later rounds to take your starters, that's a death sentence. The drop-off between good fantasy RBs and decent ones is massive. Take a running back in the first or second round, then find your second starter a few rounds later.

Follow me on Twitter- @TwittinSports

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

By now we all know the NFL is quarterback league. Yes, the Seahawks won the Super Bowl last year in dominant form thanks to their defense and running game. However, they are the exception not the rule. The majority of the teams that made the playoffs have high-profile quarterbacks. When it comes to fantasy football, your quarterback can literally make or break your season. Yes, your running backs are insanely important but we'll get to those later. Here are my 2014 fantasy football qb rankings.

1. Peyton Manning- This guy made my season last year. Did I expect 55 TDs? Absolutely not. Nor do I expect him to come close to those numbers this year. Yes, he lost Decker but he's still got Welker, Thomas, and now he's got Emmanuel Sanders. Add into that equation TE Julius Thomas and a backfield featuring Montee Ball and Peyton has more than enough weapons. He's going to be the first quarterback drafted in your league, and he should be. If he's available in the first round it's going to be hard not to grab him. Granted, if you have one of the first four picks you're going to have to do some serious consideration. If your league is standard scoring, 4 points for passing TDs but 6 for rushing or receiving, I'd probably go with a running back. But if you're in a league where all TDs are worth 6, it's really not possible to take Peyton too early.

2. Drew Brees- This guy is a certified fantasy football stud. Had Peyton not had the absolutely ridiculous season he did, the season Brees had would stand out so much more. 39 TDs, over 5,000 yards passing, and he completed 68.6 percent of his passes, just a touch more than Peyton's 68.3 percent. Brees is in a pass-first offense and there is no reason to think he's not going to have yet another big season. In a 10-team league I'd consider him with 8th, 9th, or 10th pick, provided of course you think you'll still be able to snag a star running back in the second round.

3. Aaron Rodgers- Don't look at his totals for last year. His injury absolutely destroyed his fantasy stats, but don't let that dissuade you. Rodgers is very much a top-tier quarterback, and given what he can do with his legs he should garner serious consideration in your draft plans. Rodgers has more rushing TDs than any other quarterback since 2008 outside of Cam Newton. He's got a big arm, a great receiving corp, and with attention expected to be shown toward Eddie Lacy, Rodgers could see even more time in the pocket. As with Brees I'd be comfortable drafting him late in the first round if I was sure I could still get enough talent in the second.

4. Tom Brady- Here's where Matthew Berry and I start to differ. He has Stafford ranked as his 4th best qb, which is understandable given the season he had last year. I just don't think the Detroit offense is going to be throwing as much as they did in 2013. The Patriots on the other hand will probably be throwing even more. Their rookie receivers are no longer rookies and they should be getting Gronk back. We saw what Brady is capable of with less-than-stellar receivers last year down the stretch; he was 4th best in the NFL in terms of fantasy points per game for quarterbacks from week 9 through week 17. I'll admit taking him late in the first round is risky, but you've got to bet big to win big.

5. Matthew Stafford- Ok, more on Stafford. Megatron had a pretty lousy season by his standards, have to think that won't happen again. Golden Tate gives them a vertical threat, and Stafford has thrown an absurd amount of passes over the past three seasons. In fact, Stafford has thrown more passes, 2,024, over the past three years than any other quarterback has in NFL history for a three-year period. Like I said above, I don't think he'll be throwing quite as much as he has been, but there should definitely be an upgrade in the quality of his receivers. Stafford will probably be taken earlier than he should be, but he's a safe pick once you're into the third round. I wouldn't take him earlier than that simply because you need strong running backs in order to compete. Then again, it all depends on your league rules. If it's qb-heavy, he's a safe pick in the mid-to-late second.

6. Colin Kaepernick- I don't understand why so many people have him ranked so low. He had an awful start to the 2013 season, but remember he hadn't even played a full season as the starter yet. I'm chalking that up to a "sophomore" slump. Kaepernick is definitely a dual-threat qb as well. He ranked 4th among quarterbacks last year in rushing with 524 yards (with 4 TDs) and still threw 21 touchdown passes. I actually think Harbaugh is going to loosen the reins on him this year and we're going to see Kaepernick run even more. If he's available after the third round, which he should be but probably won't, he's definitely worth grabbing.

7. Cam Newton- If the Panthers could actually get some top-level talent around Newton he'd make a serious run at the MVP. We've already seen what he can do mediocre support and he's going to have to do it again this season. Like Kaepernick, Newton is another dual threat guy. Newton scored more fantasy points with his legs than any other qb in the league last year and that was with a balky ankle. Offseason surgery should have that all fixed up, so I expect him to eclipse the century mark in rushing points (he had 88 last season). Newton is another guy who will more than likely be taken earlier than he should be, but he's no scrub. He got a taste of the postseason last year and he's going to be eager to get back there. Losing Steve Smith is going to hurt, but not as much as you may think. Smith only had 4 TDs last year and didn't top 750 yards. Newton should be just fine.

8. Andrew Luck- I've probably got him too low on this list to be perfectly honest. He scored the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks last year which is impressive by itself. Then remember he was without Reggie Wayne for nine games. The Colts get Wayne back and added Hakeem Nicks. Plus they've got T.Y. Hilton who announced his presence with authority last year. Luck has a great receiving corp, isn't a afraid to throw the deep ball, cut his interceptions in half compared to his rookie year, and scored 4 times with his legs. Luck is poised to have a great year, my only concern is the running game in Indy. Richardson bombed once he got there which will only lead to increased pressure. If the running game falters again, Luck is going to be asked to do pretty much everything, and opposing defenses are going to know it. Still, he's going to be a top-ten fantasy qb this year, maybe even a top-five.

9. Matt Ryan- Last year was terrible for Matt Ryan. The offensive line for the Falcons was basically non-existent and he lost Julio Jones for much of the season. Despite all this Ryan was still able to rank 14th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. Assuming Jones can stay healthy this year, and the improvements Atlanta made to their o-line are as good as advertised, we should see Ryan have a big bounce back year. He's durable, he's got a big arm, and he's smart. The Falcons allowed 44 sacks last year, tied for most in the NFL, yet Ryan still threw 26 TDs and amassed over 4,500 passing yards with 17 interceptions. I won't be surprised at all if those numbers increase and while his picks drop.

10. Tony Romo, Nick Foles, Jay Cutler- Really, these are all the same guy. These are all guys who are viable starting quarterbacks in fantasy, but aren't really going to light up the scoreboard. Yes, I realize Foles had a great year last year. I don't see that happening again. All three of these quarterbacks have their pros and cons. In fact, you can probably add Phillip Rivers and Russell Wilson to this list here as well. There are definitely better options available, but you could do so much worse as well. Don't get stuck with Eli Manning or Carson Palmer.

Not having a solid quarterback on your fantasy roster is one of the dumbest moves you can make. There's a reason so many playoff teams have an above average qb, both in the actual NFL and in fantasy football. Keep in mind you're going to need a backup for at least your bye week, but you need a top-level starter. Someone you can plug in week after week and not be worried about the matchup.

Up next in the series, the top 10 fantasy football running backs for 2014

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