Country Breakfast’s Fantasy Football Big Board

It’s never too early to begin preparing to dominate your upcoming fantasy football season. Mini-camps are just starting up and sooner than later fantasy football preparation will be in full swing. So why not get ahead of the game, start crunching numbers and evaluating players for the 2012 season. I have put together the beginning stages on my “Big Board”, remember it is early so a lot could change from now to opening kickoff. These rankings are for a league with a PPR format, also, 6 points for a passing touchdown.

Arian Foster Ranks #1

1)      RB, Arian Foster, HOU– For the second season in a row Arian Foster ranks number one on my big board. Foster fought through a hamstring injury early on in 2011 where he missed 3 games however, he still put together a great season statistically. Foster ranked number three in points for running backs behind Rice and McCoy. I like Foster this season because he gets some weapons back in his offense, let’s not forget the Texans were without Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson for a majority of last season. I went back and forth here with Foster and Rice for the number one spot and I went with Foster because I think he has more potential to put up big game numbers. In the postseason Foster rushed for 285 yards in two games against two tough defenses (Baltimore/Cincinnati). Foster will go into the 2012 season healthy and with a healthy offense.

2)      RB, Ray Rice, BAL– Rice is coming off of a stellar 2011 campaign where he ranked number one in points for running backs by 43 points. The Baltimore Raven back also has the most points in the last three years for his position. He is consistent and that’s why I love him, along with the fact that he catches the football. Rice caught 76 balls out of the backfield and tallied a league leading 2068 total yards. In the past three seasons Rice has caught an average of 72 balls, the next closest running back to that total is Darren Sproles with a 63 reception average. To top it all off the Rutgers alum scores touchdowns, he is coming off of a career high total with 15 scores.

 

3)      WR, Calvin Johnson, DET– “Megatron” emerged onto the scene in 2009 with his first 1,000 yard season, he became elite in 2011 when he put up dominant numbers. Calvin finished the season with 96 receptions, 1681 yards, and 16 touchdowns, leading the league in yards and touchdowns. A huge reason why Johnson had great success is because his quarterback Matthew Stafford stayed healthy all season long giving the Lions a killer QB/WR connection. The only reason I have Johnson behind Rice and Foster is because I see more depth at the WR position, meaning I could still snag a WR later in the draft whereas the running backs wear thin. Calvin is un-guardable and defeats any one-on-one coverage there is no slowing this beast down.

 

4)      QB, Aaron Rodgers, GB– 45 touchdown passes, 4,643 passing yards, need I say more? Rodgers is the closest thing to what I like to call in fantasy football as a sure thing. A-Rod will keep your team afloat regardless of who you put around him, if you can add some nice talent there is no reason to why you won’t win you fantasy football league. You do have to have a great quarterback in order to win it, he’s your guy.

 

 

5)      RB, LeSean McCoy, PHI– I have LeSean McCoy ranked here at number five but I’m not sure how long that’s going to last, I’m a little concerned. There have already been reports lurking throughout the media that McCoy’s touches will drop significantly in order to keep him fresh. Last season “Shady” McCoy carried the ball 273 times, 64 more than his previous career high. If you take away his touchdowns in his last five games of the season he really struggled, he averaged 58 yards on the ground. You can’t deny McCoy put together a great 2011 season he scored 20 touchdowns and he catches the football at a consistent number every season. I’m just concerned, how concerned? Time will tell.

6)      TE, Rob Gronkowski, NE– GRONK! Rob Gronkowski put up easily the best numbers for a tight end of all time. 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns. If Gronk were listed as a WR he would have ranked number two overall behind only Calvin Johnson. Gronkowski is even more valuable because he plays the tight end position, a position that takes a huge drop after him and Jimmy Graham. My only concern here is that other weapons in the offense take targets away but he is too talented to not kill it again this season. More weapons just means it will be harder to double team him.

 

7)      TE, Jimmy Graham, NO– Wait this guy committed to the University of Miami to play basketball? New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham is a stud and he proved that last season. Graham had an impressive sophomore season where he caught 99 balls, 1,310 receiving yards and finished with 11 touchdowns. Although the Saints will be without Payton and that is a little bit of a concern I still think Graham will put up numbers much like these next season.

 

8)      QB, Tom Brady, NE– Tom Brady might be a “pretty boy” but he gets the job done. If Brady didn’t already have enough weapons with Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez, the Patriots add another solid talent with Brandon Lloyd. Brady is clearly a stud in this league and has proven before that he can be atop the fantasy world after throwing 50 touchdowns in 2007 when he had great weapons. This offense is going to be comparable to that this season I believe. Last season Brady threw 39 touchdown passes and I believe this season he will throw just as many if not more.

9)     WR, Roddy White, ATL– Rowdy Roddy White is my number two ranked WR and deservedly so. The guy just does it every single season. He averages the most fantasy points in the last three seasons for wide receivers. Coming into last season there was concern that Julio Jones would steal targets from White however; he led the league with 181 targets once again. Roddy ranked number four in points in 2011 in a season in which he fought through injuries all year long. White finished with 1,296 yards, 100 receptions and 8 touchdowns.

 

10)   WR, Andre Johnson, HOU– If he could just stay healthy… When Andre Johnson is healthy there is no question he is one of the best receivers in the league it is just about keeping him that way. In 2009 the last season in which he played all 16 games he ranked number one among wide receivers. His health issues and the fact he doesn’t tend to score a ton of touchdowns puts him #3 on my WR board, where he will be in a constant battle with Wes Welker and Larry Fitzgerald.

 

Conner “Country Breakfast” Patch @connerpatch68

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Tough Move: How the Patriots Replace a Legend

It’s hard enough to replace a New England Patriots legend. It’s even harder when you’re stepping into one of the most important jobs on the team. That is the situation facing the Patriots’ new starting left tackle, Nate Solder. The 2011 first-round pick is entering his second season and first as the full-time protector of quarterback Tom Brady’s blind side. Solder will have the tough task of replacing Patriots legend, Matt Light.

Matt Light was known as one of the best lineman to ever play for the New England Patriots. Light was drafted in the 2nd round in 2001 out of Purdue University. Light was able to make an impact immediately with the Patriots. He started 12 games and played in 14, making sure he protected the extremely important backside of QB, Tom Brady. Light started 153 total games out of a possible 155, showing just how important he was to the organization. Of the 5 Superbowls that the Patriots have played in, Light is one of the only Patriots to start in all 5. Light retired this year after 11 seasons. He started in his fifth Super Bowl last season, capping a great career. Tom Brady called Light, one of the greatest teammates he has ever had. Head Coach Bill Belichick went on to say, “Matt has been the definition of a dependable, durable, consistent player who has held one of the toughest positions in the game for a long time and made it a strong point on our team. It’s been a pleasure to coach Matt for these 11 years.” The future Patriots HOF member, Light was known for his consistency and his ability to defend Brady’s backside from some of the best defensive ends in football. The biggest question is, how will the Patriots replace such a great player? Their answer is Nate Solder.

Solder, drafted by the Pats in the 1st round in 2011, did a little relief work for injured tackle Sebastian Vollmer this past season. Solder did a good job in relief last year. Solder showed good movement and footwork in pass protection, and New England’s elite offense didn’t miss a beat. This year, Solder will be on the left side, which is more challenging. Solder will have the job of protecting the most important man in Foxboro’s blindside. Solder will be facing the best pass-rushers the NFL has to offer. Brady will be 35 in August and needs to take as few hits as possible. Solder was taken in the first round to eventually replace Light. That time came a little sooner than expected, but Solder has to be ready. And I believe he will. Although he was on the right side last year, he still was able to do a great job and keep the top-notch Patriots offense moving. Solder has a tougher task this year but it does not mean he will do a poor job. The Patriots need him and he will step up.

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Top 10 Hottest Wives/Girlfriends in Sports: 10-4

Trust me when I say this, this isn’t an easy list to put together. There are so many good looking wives when it comes to professional athletes. I have done a lot of research looking through a variety of sports and here are my top ten hottest wives/girlfriends in sports, in order from 10-1. Enjoy.

10) Clay Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine: Clay Buchholz has been struggling all season long with the Boston Red Sox and I might have your answer to why. It might be because he isn’t focused on baseball. Buchholz’s wife Lindsay Clubine is a model on reality TV show Deal or No Deal and is also featured in People’s Magazine’s top 100 most beautiful people in the world. Clay and Lindsay married in 2009 and they have one child. That is what Buchholz is focused on.

9) Sasha Vujacic’s fiancée Maria Sharapova: It’s only a matter of time until Maria Sharapova dumps Sasha Vujacic. Vujacic was a former NBA player where he was not very successful, however did win two NBA championships while riding the pine for the Los Angeles Lakers. More importantly his girlfriend Maria Sharapova is having success playing tennis. The Russian tennis player is currently ranked the #1 singles player in the world. Maria and Sasha are planning a wedding in Turkey sometime in November.

8) Eric Decker’s fiancée Jessie James: Jessie James is a country singer, and song writer and is best known for her single “Wanted”. Denver Bronco wide receiver Eric Decker is having himself quite the offseason, first Peyton Manning signs with the Denver Broncos and now Decker is engaged to Jessie James. The couple announced their engagement on April 1st. Jessie has sung the national anthem at Eric’s games multiple times.

7) Wes Welker’s fiancée Anna Burns: Wes Welker is now engaged with Miss Hooters International 2005. Patriots fans will shake their head to this one… Welker asked the question just ten days before the Patriots loss to the New York Giants in the Superbowl for the second time. Maybe there was too much on Welker’s mind when he dropped the ball that would have won the Patriots their 4th Superbowl.

6) Jay Cutler’s fiancée Kristin Cavallari: The 25 year old actress Kristin Cavallari is best known for her reality TV roles on MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills. Kristin has been seen on lately on Dancing with the Stars as a contestant and also in America’s Next Top Model as a guest judge. Cavallari began dating Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in 2010. The couple became engaged in 2011, where they also separated and then announced via twitter that they were back together. Jay and Kristin announced that they will be having their first child in 2012. Jay Cutler has nothing to worry about when he is throwing it to the other team, because at the end of the day he gets to come home to this.

5) Tony Romo’s wife Candice Crawford: Tony “Romeo” might be best known for his relationship with singer/actress Jessica Simpson, but I promise you he doesn’t miss her. Romo has moved on and is married to Candice Crawford. Candice is a former American beauty queen. She also won Miss Missouri, and finished in the top ten in the USA beauty pageant. The two are expecting their first child in 2012.

4) Sacha Kljestan’s fiancée Jamie Lee Darley: I don’t know much about Sacha Kljestan, I know he is a professional soccer player and I know he has a hot girlfriend. Jamie Lee Darley is a 25 year old Victoria’s secret model. Jamie attended the University of California, Santa Barbra where she played volleyball. The couple just recently became engaged.

Tune in Thursday to see who the Top 3 Hottest Wives/Girlfriends are in sports.

Conner Patch @connerpatch68

My All-Time Patriots Lineup

I did my All-Time Red Sox Lineup yesterday, and I feel as though I should do one for all three Boston sports teams. I’m sorry hockey fans, I just don’t know that much about the Bruins. But today, I will be making my Patriots lineup and here it is:

QB: Drew Bledsoe

Bledsoe is possibly my all-time favorite Patriots player. He could throw the ball about 2 miles but he never really got a chance to, due to his lack of mobility. The Patriots picked him with the 1st pick in 1993 and he didn’t disappoint. He was a part of the Patriots organization for 9 years, going to the Pro Bowl 3 times. He led the Patriots to the 1996 Superbowl, where they eventually lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. But in his career with the Patriots he threw for over 29,500 yards and 166 touchdowns.

RB: Curtis Martin

My friends and I always joked about how Curtis Martin “aged like a fine wine” because he seemed to be able to play forever, and for a RB to do so is something special. Curtis Martin is possibly the best running back the Patriots have ever had and it was hard not to like the guy (Until he went to the Jets). He was taken by the Pats in the 3rd round of the 1995 draft and he made an impact right away. He was voted the NFL Offensive ROY in his first season and was named to the Pro Bowl in ’96 and ’98, while with the Patriots. He rushed for over 3800 yards and scored 32 TD’s during his 3 years with the Pats. He was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

WR: Troy Brown

Troy Brown was Mr. Everything for the Patriots. Possibly the most famous Patriot in the last decade or so, Brown did it all for the Patriots while he played. He was drafted in the 8th round in 1993, and showed that he was much more valuable than that. He is the Patriots all-time leading receiver. He played for the Patriots from 1993-2007, and didn’t just play offense. Later in his career, Brown helped out an injury stricken defensive backfield and played safety and cornerback. He won 3 Superbowls with the Pats and will always be remembered.

WR: Terry Glenn

Not the best team guy but Glenn could certainly catch the ball. Known for his big plays and wild attitude, Terry Glenn brought some character to the Patriots. He was drafted by the Pats 7th overall in 1996. He played with them from 1996-2001. He is the 7th all-time leading receiver in the organization. He was a Pro Bowl player in 1997 and had 22 career TD’s with the Patriots. He is now currently in jail but that is besides the point.

TE: Ben Coates

I remember owning a Coates jersey when I was a little kid because he was one of the more known players in the ’90’s. Drafted by the Patriots in the 5th round in 1991, Coates made an immediate impact for the Patriots. Possibly the most well known TE until Gronk, Coates is 4th in receiving all-time for the Pats. He was a Pro Bowler ’94-’98, and was a 1st team Pro Bowl player in ’94-’95.

OL: Matt Light

The most well known Pats lineman, other than John Hannah, he just recently retired from the organization. And may have had the best beard in the NFL. He was drafted by the Pats in 2001 in the 2nd round. He has been a starting lineman since day one, and has been protecting Brady’s backside his whole career. He was a 3-time Pro Bowl player and a 1st Team All-Pro in 2007. He has been a part of all the Superbowl teams, and will be missed.

DL: Ted Washington

One of the biggest human beings to ever play football, at 6′-5” 365, Washington was a behemoth in the middle of the line. He only played ten games for the Pats but he could not be forgotten on this list, how could I miss someone that big?

LB: Andy Katzenmoyer

Drafted in the 1st round by the Patriots, Katzenmoyer played two years in the organization. Possibly one of the best names to ever play football, Katzenmoyer was a solid outside linebacker with the Pats. He had 77 career tackles with the Pats.

LB: Tedy Bruschi

One of the most well known players in Patriots history, Bruschi was the epitome of Patriots football. He may have been undersized and a little to slow, but he was always able to get the job done. He was a fan favorite while he was with the Patriots, which was his entire career (1996-2008). He was a one time Pro Bowl player in 2004 and was a part of all 3 Superbowl teams, serving as captain.

LB: Mike Vrabel

A man who could play both ways for the Pats, he was utilized for everything. As an outside linebacker, he helped anchor the Pats defense to 3 Superbowls. But what he was also known for was playing tight end. Catching a career 8 TD passes with the Patriots. He played 8 years with the Pats (2001-2008) and was a Pro Bowl selection and 1st team All-Pro player in 2007.

DB: Ty Law

The greatest DB to ever play for the Patriots, Law was a true shutdown corner and was known for his ability to cover the league’s best receiver. He was Peyton Manning’s nightmare and always came up big in big games for the Patriots. He was drafted in the 1st round, 23rd overall by the Patriots in 1995. A 4-time Pro Bowler and 2 time 1st team All-Pro with the Pats, he helped them to 2 Superbowls, anchoring the defensive backfield.

DB: Willie Clay

Known as “Big Play” willie Clay, he was known for his, well, big plays. A ball hawk with an eye for the QB, he was always coming up with tipped passes and batted balls. Known as a shutdown corner for the Pats he had 13 career interceptions and 207 career tackles. He played with the Pats for 3 years, 1996-1998.

DB: Lawyer Milloy

He was drafted by the Patriots in the 2nd round in 1996. Milloy was with the Pats from 1996-2002. He was a 4-time Pro Bowler & 1-time First-Team All-Pro all with the Patriots. He was a ball hawk who wasn’t afraid to throw his body into the action. He had 19 career interceptions and 537 tackles with the Patriots.

DB: Rodney Harrison

One of the hardest hitting safeties to ever play football, Harrison was a warrior. He played with the Patriots from 2003-2008, winning 2 Superbowls. He was known as the dirtiest player in the NFL for the way he played, and he fit perfectly in Belichick’s system. He had 8 career interceptions and 317 career tackles with the Pats.

ST: Larry Izzo

Guy was a lunatic. Nearly made every tackle on special teams and that’s what made him great. He played with the Patriots from 2001-2008 He was a guy who worked his butt off to achieve what he achieved. For him to sign multi-year deals as a special teams guy was something special. He was in the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2004. What also made him great was that he took steroids, who would have known.

And here it is. The All-Time Patriots lineup. Some goofy players but it is a solid lineup.

R.I.P. Junior Seau

Rest in Peace

A sad story coming from the West Coast today. Former San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots Linebacker has passed away due to an apparent suicide. It is not definite that it is a suicide, but he was found dead at his home. Seau has passed at the age of 43. He was known for his great play at the middle linebacker position throughout his entire career. Gob Bless him and my prayers go out to his family.

Draft Day: Patriots 1st Round Picks

I thought I’d never see the day that Belichick and the Patriots organization would trade up to get a player. Year after year, the Patriots have been known to keep trading down to the point where you knew they weren’t going to use the next pick. But I really liked what I saw last night, the Pats trading up to fill positions they need. You can always use help defensively and I think that the Pats tried to fill a hole that has been there achilles heel for years now, the defensive line. Chandler Jones, a defensive end from Syracuse, brings a pass rusher to a defense that hasn’t had one since the Richard Seymour trade. Jones, is considered a good run defender, has good initial quickness and does a nice job of anticipating the snap count… a physical defender who competes through the whistle on every snap… size, strength and scheme versatility…Took on more of a leadership role in 2011, taking extra time to help coach up teammates from every defensive position on the team’s scheme and expectations, says CBSSports.com writer Rob Rang. Jones is a player that will be able to fit the Patriots system and could possibly fill a void right away.

The Patriots second pick in the first round, Dont’a Hightower, is a high motor linebacker who can play all over the field. Hightower, like Spikes, was the mental and emotional leader of a National Championship defense. Both played under Bill Belichick disciples and both are known for dishing out the big hits and being powerful inside the tackle box. You can never go wrong with selecting a player that you know will bring his all every time out. Nick Saban, Head Coach of Alabama, said, “Inside linebacker, nickel backer, defensive end and odd rusher, he does all those things very well, he is very smart and he has leadership qualities.”  Hightower will be able to play any of the 3 linebacker spots in the Patriots defense, more than likely filling in for the somewhat aging Rob Ninkovich.

Overall, I am a happy camper and can’t wait to see what Bill does with these two players. I am ready to see these two dominate and hopefully they will be able to step in right away and play. Now, on to day 2 of the draft, where Bill has truly been able to work his magic.