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Fantasy Draft Prep: Can Calvin Johnson overcome Madden Curse?

Fantasy Football is back.  Yup, you heard me.  It’s back.  Fantasy owners can’t afford to take breaks anymore than the players who play the game, and with a great NFL draft, mini camps starting up, and off season moves being made it is time to start prepping.

The hours of research, analysis, and cheat sheet making that are put in during the summer creates the foundation of your entire draft strategy.  Your entire draft strategy and player rankings greatly determine the 16 man squad you put together, and those 16 men you choose worthy enough to be on your team, impact whether or not you are the one boasting the title of league champ at the end of the year.  Don’t be the guy who scrambles for a kicker in the third round as the clock runs out because you aren’t prepared, do your homework now.  Throughout the summer, I’ll assist you with your preparation discussing player rankings, draft strategy, and other fantasy news.  All you have to do is read.
Anyone who is remotely in tune with the NFL and EA Sports popular video game Madden knows exactly what is meant when the term “Madden
Curse” is used.  Is it real?  Can it be broken?  Are players scared to be on the cover?  All I know is after the recent history of the so called Madden Curse, I am scared, and I won’t be going anywhere near Calvin Johnson this fantasy season.

Calvin Johnson became the most recent player to be gratified with the honor of being placed on the cover of Madden 2013.  The cover generally celebrates a player who had an outstanding season the year prior, and has recently been determined by a fan voting process.  Calvin Johnson certainly earned his place on the cover, leading the league with 1,681 yards receiving, combined with 16 touchdowns, both of which were career highs.  With the lack of a running game for the Detroit Lions, the tendency to always play themselves into a shootout, and receiving passes from the cannon arm of Matthew Stafford, there certainly is no reason Johnson can’t replicate these numbers again.  Except of course for one big, big reason, the Madden Curse.

Let’s take a quick look at the history for the past ten years of offensive players on the Madden Cover:

  • 2003 – Marshall Faulk (RB Rams)
    • 2001 – 14 games played, 1,382 rushing and 765 receiving yards, 21 total touchdowns
    • 2002 – 14 games played, 953 rushing and 537 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns
  • 2004 – Mike Vick (QB Falcons)
    • 2002 – 15 games played, 2,936 passing and 777 rushing yards, 24 total touchdowns, 8 interceptions
    • 2003 – 5 games played, 585 passing and 255 rushing yards, 5 total touchdowns, 3 interceptions
  • 2006 – Donovan McNabb (QB Eagles)
    • 2004 – 15 games played, 3,875 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 8 interceptions
    • 2005 – 9 games played, 2,507 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
  • 2007 – Shaun Alexander (RB Seahawks)
    • 2005 – 16 games played, 1880 rushing yards, 27 rushing touchdowns
    • 2006 – 10 games played, 896 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
  • 2008 – Vince Young (QB Titans)
    • 2006 – 15 games played, 2,199 passing and 552 rushing yards, 19 total touchdowns, 13 interceptions
    • 2007 – 15 games played, 2,546 passing and 395 rushing yards, 12 total touchdowns, 17 interceptions
  • 2009 – Brett Favre (QB Packers/Jets)
    • 2007 – 16 games played, 4,155 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
    • 2008 – 16 games played, 3,472 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
  • 2010 –Larry Fitzgerald (WR Cardinals)
    • 2008 – 16 games played, 1,431 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns
    • 2009 – 16 games played, 1,092 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns
  • 2011 – Drew Brees (QB Saints)
    • 2009 – 15 games played, 4,388 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
    • 2010 – 16 games played, 4,620 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 22 interceptions
  • 2012 – Peyton Hillis (RB Cleveland)
    • 2010 – 16 games played, 1,177 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns
    • 2011 – 10 games played, 587 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns

After looking at the history it is clear that six out of nine of the offensive players in the past ten years took significant hits in production during the year they were selected for the Madden Cover.  Out of the remaining three, only Drew Brees could be argued for producing a near equivalent statistical season.
With Calvin Johnson already being deemed by many the consensus number one overall receiver this year for fantasy, the price owners will have to pay to get him will be high.  With a lack of running back depth never seen before in fantasy, and the league quickly turning into a passing league, there will be few to no fantasy leagues this summer that see Johnson  fall out of the first round.  In the first round I want consistency, durability, and low risk.  With the undeniable trends the Madden Curse has been producing, it’s hard to expect any of those three adjectives from Calvin Johnson this year.