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William Shakespeare's 2013 Draft Guide

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To win your fantasy league, or not win your fantasy league, that is the question.

When most of us hear the name William Shakespeare, we immediately think of him as a prolific author of plays and sonnets, the father of all literature. Few, however, know that Shakespeare's true love was not the written word...it was fantasy football. That's right--from the 1580's through the mid-1600's, the Bard was an avid fantasy owner, and records indicate that he was integral in developing the mechanisms that led to modern PPR play. Shakespeare, in fact, became legendary in fantasy circles from 1595-1598, when his squad, "A Midsummer Night's Team," took three of four championships in a league comprised of London-based actors and playwrights.

But what does this have to do with modern fantasy football? Just as modern literature has taken root in the words of Shakespeare, the truths of fantasy football originated from the Bard's quill. Here are some excerpts from Shakespeare's 1612 Fantasy Football Draft Guide, with changes made only to update his commentary to the modern era.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Arian Foster, not to praise him.

Whoever would drafteth Arian Foster second overall is crazier than Hamlet. Foster is still not practicing and is on the PUP list while dealing with back tightness. This is after he recuperated from a strained right calf. Beyond his physical issues, when you look at Foster's numbers on the ground, he doesn't seem to be a top-5 back.

YearAttYardsAvgTDsRush NEP/Att
201032716164.916.09
201127812244.410-.01
201235114244.115-.02

Efficiency? Arian Foster be not thy name. Foster's ground game is predicated on having the rock in his hands. His yards per carry fell in each year from 2010-2012, and so did his rushing net expected points per play. (Note: Shakespeare called this metric "rushing net expecteth points per playeth.") These trends solidify the fact that Foster's value comes from a large quantity of carries, not from high quality carries. We've ranked him high here at numberFire.com based on what he has accomplished with the high volume of touches he's had over the last three years. But what if the number of touches drops?

As we approach preseason game number two for the Texans, Foster has yet to practice. Behind him is Ben Tate, who impressed as Foster's backup in 2011 with 942 yards on 175 carries. Look for Foster and Tate to share backfield responsibilities far more than they did in 2012. I will not drafteth Foster with guys like Doug Marin, Ray Rice, and CJ Spiller still on the board. A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as Ryan Mathews on your draft board.

Within a year, Ryan Mathews has gone from as heroic as Henry V to as villainous as Iago, and his ADP has been adjusted accordingly. Although he is by far the Chargers' greatest offensive weapon, Mathews is drafted, on average, in the fifth round of standard 12-team leagues. Never at full health in 2012, Mathews racked up just 707 yards and one touchdown, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry in 12 games. In 2011, however, we saw a guy with real promise--1,091 yards and 6 touchdowns and a 4.9 ypc in 14 games. At numberFire.com, we think Mathews is a late third round pick, making him a potential steal at his fifth round ADP.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some, like Chris Ivory, have greatness thrust upon them.

Chris Ivory was New Orleans' fourth-string running back last season. This year, he's supposed to carry the load for Jets. What a difference a year makes! Ivory rushed for only 217 yards in six games while playing behind the holy trinity of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas. In fact, due to injury and backup status, he has only played in 12 total games in the last two seasons.

All of that said, we at numberFire.com see Ivory as a late-third or early-fourth round pick, at least one round ahead of his fifth round ADP. Why? Because having nothing, nothing can he lose. He's going to get the ball. A lot. Opportunity can create fantasy numbers, and Ivory, if healthy, will have his chances with the Jets. To be a consistent starting fantasy running back or not to be a consistent starting fantasy running back, that is the question for Chris Ivory.

The golden age of the quarterback is before us, not behind us.

I'm still conditioned to think of the mid-1980's as the age of the quarterback. But while Montana, Elway, Marino and company ushered in an era of high-flying quarterback-led offenses, 2013 could have the deepest pool of quarterbacks in fantasy history. The infusion of RG III, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrew Luck into an already impressive list of quarterbacks makes it easy to wait on one in your draft. How poor are they that not have patience! There's no need to useth a second round pick on Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers when you can get Griffin, Luck, Tony Romo, or Russell Wilson in the seventh or eighth round of a standard 12-team draft. Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing. Be not afraid of greatness.

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In This Article

Arian Foster
RB, Houston Texans

Chris Ivory
RB, New York Jets

Ryan Mathews
RB, San Diego Chargers

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