State’s Hottest NFL Fantasy Picks

Tony Gonzalez will eventually retire as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL. He spoke to athletes last March at the Cerritos College NFTC. Photo Student Sports.

Tony Gonzalez will eventually retire as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL. He spoke to athletes last March at the Cerritos College NFTC. Photo Student Sports.

What if one were to choose an NFL fantasy team consisting entirely of those from California high schools? We thought we’d give it a try because such a team probably could be very good.

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It’s that time of the year when NFL fantasy football fans are scouring every source of info they can find to give them an edge when they draft their teams in the next two to three weeks.

At Cal-Hi Sports, we naturally thought why not give those fans some pointers if anyone was interested in choosing a fantasy lineup of the best former California high school players?

We’ve ranked the top five at each position of traditional fantasy football leagues. We thought about going through the rosters of every team to find out which defense includes the most Californians, but that might have taken too much time.

QUARTERBACKS

1. Aaron Rodgers (Pleasant Valley, Chico)
Considered to be the No. 1 signal caller in all of fantasy football, he has passed for 84 touchdowns and 8,938 yards over the past two seasons for the Green Bay Packers while finding a home on my own personal fantasy football team.

2. Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo)
Always among the mix to be one of the top QBs in all of fantasy football, Brady should remain near the top even with the question marks surrounding the New England Patriots’ wide receivers and tight ends. He has thrown for over 10,000 yards and 73 touchdowns the last two seasons.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gives some pointers at the Elite 11 camp in Oregon. Photo courtesy Student Sports.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers gives some pointers at the Elite 11 camp in Oregon. Photo courtesy Student Sports.


3. Colin Kaepernick (Pitman, Turlock)
Now the clear starter for the 49ers, his ability to run the football and score makes him valuable since rushing touchdowns can be very important in fantasy. It helps make up for Kaepernick’s passing numbers, which aren’t as high as someone like Brady or Rodgers.

4. Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM)
When healthy, you can pencil in at least 21 touchdown passes per year for Palmer. What could really help him for fantasy is that he’ll now be throwing to one of the top groups of wideouts in the league, led by Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals also could find themselves trailing in some games and abandoning the running game.

5. Alex Smith (Helix, La Mesa)
We may not agree with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson that Alex is the best quarterback in the NFL but he did pass for over 3,100 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011 and has something to prove this season.

Others:
Matt Barkley (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Philadelphia Eagles; Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo) New York Jets.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Arian Foster (Mission Bay, San Diego)
For years, you’ve had to have a top couple of picks in a fantasy draft to be able to get this running back for your team. Foster is in the discussion to be the top overall pick once again after rushing for 1,424 yards and 15 touchdowns last season for the Houston Texans.

2. Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Tech, Oakland)
His fantasy draft stock has never been hotter going into a season as he rushed for 1,590 yards and 11 touchdowns last season for the Seattle Seahawks. He should be picked in the top five overall of most fantasy football drafts.

3. Doug Martin (St. Mary’s, Stockton)
Playing his high school football right down the street from our Stockton office led him to find a way on my own fantasy team as a fourth round pick last season for Tampa Ba. He then rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and like Foster and Lynch is projected to be among the top five picks in most drafts this season.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew (De La Salle, Concord)
A huge fantasy player himself going into last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, he had his season cut short due to a hip injury. Because of that, he has dropped to being a late second or early third round pick. Still, if Maurice returns to the form that saw him lead the NFL with 1,606 yards rushing back in 2011, then that could help you win your league.

5. Shane Vereen (Valencia)
With the Patriots’ receiver and tight end situations not solid and due to the loss of Danny Woodhead, Vereen could be a definite sleeper pick in fantasy this season. The former Cal star should see more carries and especially find himself catching a lot more balls out of the backfield from Tom Brady. If you play in a league that gives you extra points for receptions, I’d especially pay attention to Vereen.

Others: Reggie Bush (Helix, La Mesa) Detroit Lions; Ryan Mathews (West, Bakersfield) San Diego Chargers; Ronnie Hillman (La Habra) Denver Broncos.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. DeSean Jackson (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach)
With Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn gone to season-ending injuries for the Eagles and with new coach Chip Kelly calling the shots, Jackson could see the ball more this season than any other. Quarterback Michael Vick also recently said he could envision Jackson having the ball head his way “30 percent of the time.”

2. Steve Smith (University, Los Angeles)
You can’t predict touchdowns, but you can almost predict that Smith will catch over 70 passes for over 1,000 yards. The 12-year NFL veteran with the Carolina Panthers has done just that seven times in the last 10 years, with one of those that he didn’t do it cut short after an injury.

3. James Jones (Gunderson, San Jose)
He set career highs last season with the Packers by catching 64 passes for 784 yards and a NFL-best 14 touchdowns. The former San Jose State star also could have Aaron Rodgers looking his way even more after Greg Jennings left for Minnesota.

4. Steve Johnson (Rodriguez, Fairfield)
His numbers the last three seasons are nearly identical with 82, 76 and 79-catch seasons for 1,073, 1,004 and 1,046 yards for the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo also will have a new quarterback this season as Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel are battling for the starting spot.

5. Malcom Floyd (River City, West Sacramento)
His season ended early last season with an ankle injury, but with Danario Alexander recently having his season end with an injury Floyd should be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Chargers and could improve on his career-high 56 receptions from last year.

Others: Julian Edelman (Woodside) New England Patriots; Robert Woods (Serra, Gardena) Buffalo Bills.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Tony Gonzalez (Huntington Beach)
Entering his 17th season in the NFL, and his fourth with the Atlanta Falcons, he remains one of the top catching tight ends in the league. The future Hall of Famer caught at least 70 passes in the last 10 seasons and is coming off a 93-reception season that also saw him gain 930 yards and score eight touchdowns.

2. Ed Dickson (Bellflower)
Just days ago, he suffered a hamstring tear but he should be fine and his role should be increased this season with the Baltimore Ravens. The Super Bowl champs have lost last year’s leading tight end, Dennis Pitta, for the season with a knee injury. Pitta also is from California, hailing from Moorpark.

3. Marcedes Lewis (Long Beach Poly)
The new Jacksonville Jaguars’ coaching staff has indicated it is going to do more to free him up from blocking so he can run more routes. Last season, Lewis caught 52 passes for 540 yards and four scores last season.

4. Jordan Cameron (Newbury Park)
With the Cleveland Browns’ new offense and an expected increased role, Cameron seems poised for a breakout season. He caught 20 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown in 2012.

5. Zach Ertz (Monte Vista, Danville)
Reports have been good so far for this Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie who starred at Stanford last season. Ertz could earn the starting spot and if that happens he’ll see lots of balls thrown his way in Philly’s new up-tempo offense.

Others: Kellen Winslow (Scripps Ranch, San Diego) New York Jets.

KICKERS

1. Kai Forbath (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks)
A former Cal-Hi Sports all-state first teamer and state record holder, Forbath set an NFL record with 17 consecutive field goals to begin a career after he took over in Week 6 last season for the Washington Redskins.

2. Nick Folk (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks)
He made 21 field goals for the New York Jets last season and is line to be their kicker once again this year. Notre Dame is the only high school in the nation with two former kickers in the NFL. Big shock since there hasn’t been a school in California close to the Knights for football kicking prowess over the past 30 years.

Mark Tennis and Sean Tennis contributed to this post.

Paul Muyskens is our Stockton office assistant. He can be reached at Paul_Muyskens@yahoo.com. Make sure to follow us on Twitter: @CalHiSports


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One Comment

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