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East Coast Offense: The Year the Early Rounds Mattered Least

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

The Year the Early Rounds Mattered Least

Let's take a look at the top-10 at each position both by pre-rank (according to Yahoo!) and by their finishing rank (through Week 16). (Note I'm using Y! Friends and Family league settings which subtracts for fumbles and interceptions and uses .75 PPR (Don't ask). Also note that ranks are by position, not overall).

Pre Rank Quarterback Actual Rank
1. Drew Brees 6
2. Aaron Rodgers 2
3. Peyton Manning 4
4. Tony Romo 29
5. Matt Schaub 8
6. Tom Brady 3
7. Philip Rivers 5
8. Brett Favre 28
9. Kevin Kolb 36
10. Jay Cutler 15

Actual Rank Quarterback Pre Rank
1. Michael Vick 37
2. Aaron Rodgers 2
3. Tom Brady 6
4. Peyton Manning 3
5. Philip Rivers 7
6. Drew Brees 1
7. Josh Freeman 32
8. Matt Schaub 5
9. Matt Ryan 14
10. Eli Manning 11

Quarterback went pretty true to form, except for one glaring exception the No. 1 QB was ranked 37th in the preseason. Josh Freeman sneaking in, and Brett Favre and Tony Romo (due to injury) dropping out is not much of a shake-up as far as fantasy seasons go. But having the No. 1 overall guy (and when you consider he did his damage while missing a few games, it's not even close) come from nowhere screws up the preseason list a good deal. Only Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers lived up to their draft slots among preseason top-10 QBs.

Pre Rank Running Back Actual Rank
1. Chris Johnson 6
2. Adrian Peterson 5
3. Maurice Jones-Drew 9
4. Ray Rice 10
5. Michael Turner 8
6. Ryan Mathews 41
7. Shonn Greene 35
8. Rashard Mendenhall 11
9. Steven Jackson 14
10. Pierre Thomas 53

Actual Rank Running Back Pre Rank
1. Arian Foster 20
2. Peyton Hillis 66
3. Jamaal Charles 14
4. Darren McFadden 41
5. Adrian Peterson 2
6. Chris Johnson 1
7. LeSean McCoy 15
8. Michael Turner 5
9. Maurice Jones-Drew 3
10. Ray Rice 4

I would bet there will never be a list like this in the next 20 years. No. 1 was 20th before the year (okay, that happens once in a long while), but No. 2 was 66th? And No. 3 and 4 were 14th and 41st? That's just sick. Because Michael Vick, and the top-four RBs were the five most valuable players in fantasy, that means no one in the first round was a game changer. In fact, no top-10 RB lived up to his draft slot, and the best you could hope for were players like Adrian Peterson or Michael Turner who didn't lose the league for you.

Nonetheless, there weren't an inordinate amount of busts, either. Ryan Mathews, Pierre Thomas and Shonn Greene are just three of 10, and that's about par for the course with first-round running backs.

Pre Rank Wide Receiver Actual Rank
1. Andre Johnson 8
2. Randy Moss 67
3. Reggie Wayne 11
4. Calvin Johnson 3
5. Brandon Marshall 32
6. Roddy White 4
7. Miles Austin 12
8. Larry Fitzgerald 18
9. DeSean Jackson 10
10. Greg Jennings 5

Actual Rank Wide Receiver Pre Rank
1. Dwayne Bowe 16
2. Brandon Lloyd 90
3. Calvin Johnson 4
4. Roddy White 6
5. Greg Jennings 10
6. Mike Wallace 29
7. Hakeem Nicks 17
8. Andre Johnson 1
9. Steve Johnson 91
10. DeSean Jackson 9

That none of the top-5 overall players were in the top-13 at their respective positions is crazy enough. But when you combine that with the No. 1 receiver being outside the top 15, and then the No. 2 receiver being No. 90! you can see how far off the map this year's results were at least when it comes to the top-20 overall performers. Another notable outlier is Steve Johnson at No. 91, clocking in at No. 9. It's one thing for a No. 35 or 40 player finishing in the top-10, but we have two at 90 or higher.

On the flip side, Brandon Marshall and especially Randy Moss were historic busts. Neither player was seriously hurt, and for top-5 receivers not to clear the top 30 is exceedingly rare. In fact, since 1998, it has not happened. Not even due to injuries. Moreover, among the top-10 receivers, only Greg Jennings and Calvin Johnson earned their draft slots.

The bottom line while there are sleepers and waiver pickups that make big contributions every year, 2010 was extreme. (You can click here to sort players by fantasy points for each year and compare their ADPs). Chances are your first-two-round picks will have a much bigger impact in 2011. And every year after that.

What to Take Away from Week 16

While many think the Lord is on Tim Tebow's side, the truth is He just hates the Texans.

As far as I can tell, Joe Webb throws a better ball than Tebow. He's also faster, and according to Peter Schoenke, Webb is the best Tuesday night quarterback in NFL history.

How did Carson Palmer have his best game of the year against a good pass defense, throwing mainly to his fourth and fifth receivers?

The Jets defense shows the same relevant parts add up differently in different years. Significant regression from last season's outlier performance should have been expected, no matter who they retained/brought in.

Jay Cutler has had a fantastic year 7.9 YPA and 23 TDs despite missing a couple games and playing behind the worst offensive line in the NFL for eight weeks. His 14 picks are a lot, but given his lack of protection, understandable.

What to Look for in Week 17

Colts lock up a playoff spot with a home win over the hapless Titans

The Rams travel to Seattle for the NFC West title game.

The Packers have only to beat the incentiveless Bears (thanks to the Vikings beating Philly) to get in and keep the Giants out.

The Steelers need to win at Cleveland to lock up the division and the No. 2 seed.

Beating the Book

Bengals +9.5 at Ravens

The Bengals are coming off a decisive win over the Chargers, and now they're getting nearly 10 points against a team they've beaten outright the last three games they've played. Baltimore is theoretically playing for a first-round bye, but for that to happen the Steelers would have to lose in Cleveland. Otherwise, the Ravens' No. 5 seed is set. Back the Bengals who keep it close.

Ravens 24 - 20

We lost with the Raiders last week to go 9-7 in this forum and 115-120-5 on the season. We were 10-7 in this forum last season, 131-122 overall. We were 12-5 in this forum in 2008. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties).

The full article comes out on Wednesday night.

Suriving Week 17

Last week, we switched to the Steelers (from the Eagles) in the full column because more people were on Philly. Still Philly was our easy No. 2, and moreover, San Diego, who also lost, was our No. 3. The Cowboys (our No. 6), Jaguars (No. 7) and Dolphins (No. 9) went down, too, and I imagine a lot of pools were won and lost last week as a result. For those of you still left, let's take a look at this week's matchups:

(Normally, I'd put the chart with the most picked teams here, but in Week 17, it doesn't mean a whole lot, and you need to pay closer attention to who's taken which teams in your own pool. There will be a chart, however, in the full column.

In any event, here are my top few choices: (1) Falcons vs. Panthers; (2) Packers vs. Bears; (3) Ravens vs. Bengals; (4) Colts vs. Titans; (5) Saints vs. Buccaneers; (6) Steelers at Browns; (7) Giants at Redskins; (8) 49ers vs. Cardinals; (9) Chiefs vs. Raiders.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind when the full article comes out Thursday night.

You can follow Chris Liss on Twitter at @Chris_Liss.