Pat Fitzmaurice is addicted to competitive cooking shows ("Top Chef," "Chopped," Hell's Kitchen," etc.), and he also loves to eat. Since he isn't much of a cook, he's channeling his chef obsession into Fitz's Four-Course Fantasy Feast, a regular column featuring an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert. Bon appétit.
This column typically dishes up four courses per week. But with most fantasy leagues done for the season, we're going to make this a New Year's Day buffet, with an emphasis on 2011 fantasy drafts:
— The No. 1 pick in next year's fantasy drafts? Hmmm. It's probably safe to say that we'll enter 2011 without a consensus No. 1. But as of now, I'd go with Arian Foster. He's looked phenomenal this season, and I give him an edge over Adrian Peterson simply because Foster has fewer miles on his odometer. Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles are a notch below Foster and Peterson. Not a bad encore for Johnson this year after his unmatchable 2009 performance. Charles might be in the running for the top spot if not for Todd Haley's proclivity to limit Charles' carries and give goal-line carries to others.
— I was buying a bag of Cheez-Its from a vending machine when the Michael Vick bandwagon left the station earlier this season. It took me awhile to come around on Vick's legitimacy, but I eventually did. That said, there's no way I'd spend a first-round pick on him in a 2011 fantasy draft. Too streaky. Too susceptible to injury. And, yes, fair or not, I still have lingering concerns about Vick's character. If you think character has no place in a fantasy football discussion, you might want to have a word with a 2010 Randy Moss owner. For all the upside Vick offers, could you really draft him ahead of a money-in-the-bank guy like Peyton Manning?
— One more thought on Vick: I worry that he's Kordell Stewart, Part II. Here are Stewart's 1997 numbers in 16 starts: 3,020 passing yards, 21 TD passes, 476 rushing yards, 11 TD runs. Stewart's 1998 numbers in 16 starts: 2,560 passing yards, 11 TD passes, 406 rushing yards, two TD runs. If you think a Vick-Stewart comparison is apples to oranges, fair enough. But I wouldn't discount the possibility of a similarly dramatic drop-off.
— As much love as Matt Ryan gets from the TV analysts, he's a long way from becoming a top quarterback, particularly a top fantasy quarterback. Among quarterbacks with at least 210 passing attempts, Ryan currently ranks 28th in yards per passing attempt. Ryan averages 6.44 yards per attempt, putting him behind the likes of Mark Sanchez (6.49), Alex Smith (6.69) and Chad Henne (6.81). Yards per attempt isn't a flawless stat - Peyton Manning only ranks 20th in that category - but it's telling nonetheless. Ryan is more a game manager than playmaker, and I suspect that his upside is more limited than the pro-Ryan crowd believes. For 2011, I'd rather have Josh Freeman as my starting fantasy quarterback.
— Matt Forté has quietly had a nice fantasy season, albeit a streaky one. If the Bears make needed upgrades along their offensive line this offseason, Forté could be a top-10 running back next season.
— Some of the new blood at wide receiver will make for interesting debate leading up to next year's fantasy drafts. As an example, answer this question: Whom would you rank higher for next season - Reggie Wayne or the Buccaneers' Mike Williams? Is Wayne a no-brainer choice? I'm not so sure. Yeah, he plays with Peyton Manning, and a 1,200-yard season seems like a foregone conclusion. But Williams has 10 TD catches this season, compared with Wayne's five. Wayne has a sizeable edge in receptions and receiving yardage. But he's also going to turn 33 next November. Williams will be 24 next season.
— Assuming that Randy Moss is still in the league next year, it will be fascinating to see where he goes in fantasy drafts. Some will write him off completely; others will see major rebound potential. While it will be tempting to join the write-him-off camp, I'm not sure I can. He'll be 34 next season. Terrell Owens just turned 37 and was highly productive when healthy this year. And as dismal a season as Moss had, he still caught five TD passes, which is as many as Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald currently have. Moss might have another big season or two left in him. He might also sulk his way out of football. Who knows?
— Knowshon Moreno's 2010 numbers aren't terribly impressive, but he was a beast over the second half of the season, at least until he got hurt. He'll probably go lower in next year's drafts than he should.
— I plan to draft Kenny Britt in at least one league next year and possibly in several. He's a gem when healthy. And if the Titans find a real quarterback in the offseason, look out.
— This was a tough season for rookie running backs. But injuries were at least partly to blame for the disappointing rookie seasons that Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best had. They'll both obviously go later in 2011 drafts than they did in 2010, so both will have interesting profit potential.
— Can't wait to see what Stevie Johnson does for an encore next season. He came out of nowhere to put up big numbers this season. The Bills figure to be a team in flux next season, but Johnson will no doubt be a centerpiece of the offense, and despite his breakout year, I suspect he'll be drafted later than he should be in a lot of leagues.
— It will be interesting to see where DeAngelo Williams lands next season, and it will be interesting to see what the Panthers do with their running backs. I've turned into a big Mike Goodson fan. Even if Jonathan Stewart is dubbed the main man, Goodson still figures to play a significant role.
— Saints TE Jimmy Graham and Titans TE Jared Cook really came on at the end of the year. With their potential, they figure to be ranked ahead of some members of the old guard at tight end for next year. Are they top-10 tight ends for next year? Cook, no. Graham, maybe.
That's all for this year, dear readers. Thanks for a fun season. Looking forward to doing it all over again next year. Keep your fingers crossed for a quick NFL labor agreement.