Fantasy Losers of the 2008 NFL Draft

My apartment management decided that I was so excited about the NFL draft this weekend that they needed to shut off the hot water this morning to calm me down. That’s okay though. I’m not bitter. I’ll just take those lemons and…

…and who am I kidding? I’m going to throw them at the door of the office in protest tomorrow.

In retrospect, there’s nothing like a cold shower to make you think about who really got the shaft in this year’s draft. For these players, the 2008 draft cooled off their fantasy value:

Willie Parker. Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers didn’t desperately need a running back, but when Rashard Mendenhall fell to them, they had to take him. Parker immediately enters into the twilight of his career. Returning from injury and with a much less Steeler-smash style of play, Parker will probably shift towards a supporting role to Mendenhall’s “I break ‘em, I bought ‘em” running. Something tells me Parker will not get a lot of chances for TDs now — he only sealed the deal twice last season — and begins his decline out of fantasy popularity.

Tatum Bell. Detroit Lions.
“You are what we thought you were,” Tatum. Just when it seemed like Tatum Bell was going to get his shot, Detroit grabbed Kevin Smith. Now Bell will end up being the compliment back in another RBBC alongside the yardage monster in Detroit. Considering the number of yards Smith ran up last season, he warrants being a big part of this offense next year and looks to be the better fantasy play.

Vince Young. Tennessee Titans.
The Titans have a great need at wide receiver. While Chris Johnson might be able to split out occasionally and be a playmaker, the Titans weren’t concerned with bringing in any new weapons. While it’s possible they were hoping that Limas Sweed, Young’s big target at Texas, would fall to them in the second round before the Steelers snagged him one pick too soon, no drastic moves were made to get that receiver help. Young will have to work with what the Titans grabbed in the fourth round in Lavelle Hawkins. He’s got talent but will likely be another project just like the mix of young WRs and older veterans that VY has now. It’s not looking very good again for Young in 2008.

Cedric Benson. Chicago Bears.
Coming off injury and a very weak showing in 2007, Benson’s likely to share carries with Matt Forte in 2008 and could even lose his starting role. The weak fantasy projections for Benson in 2008 just got weaker.

DeAngelo Williams. Carolina Panthers.
This year was supposed to be Williams’ time to shine with DeShaun Foster finally booted. When Carolina drafted Jonathan Stewart in the first, that all got thrown into doubt. Stewart is a big, power runner with a bruising style. Williams may start the season, but he is likely to lose carries to Stewart — especially in short yardage situations. That means less TDs for Williams and a knock to his fantasy value for 2008. Both RBs could have some fantasy impact this season, but Williams big chance is no more.

Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. Washington Redskins.
Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly are now breathing down the necks of the two current WRs in Washington. Moss had a bad 2008, and Randle El wouldn’t be too upset to move to a slot role. The WR pool is not going to be friendly to a Moss bounce back in 2008 if one of these rookies breaks out. Pre-season will show how these rookies take to the game, but Moss might be one to avoid.

Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay Packers.
Oh yeah, Aaron, you just have to fill the shoes of this guy named Brett Favre. He didn’t break any big records or get much media attention with his retirement. Hey, he never even made the cover of Madden. Go ahead and take over his job in front of thousands of Favre-missing fans, Rodgers. If that shadow’s not big enough for you to overcome, we’ll put this guy Brian Brohm — possibly the most NFL-ready QB in this draft — behind you. That cool? Great. Oh, and this Matt Flynn kid from LSU is just hanging out here for a bit. He’ll keep your seat warm while your trying to win some games. Just don’t let those first-year jitters get to you. I don’t think Rodgers fantasy value is over and done, but it’s definitely on thin ice heading into his first season under center. The pressure is on, and pressure might not be what this young QB needs to get you fantasy points.

Amani Toomer. New York Giants.
With Mario Manningham under his wings and last year’s rookie WR Steve Smith already biting at his heels, Toomer’s days at the two spot in New York are numbered. Chances are he sees this one coming though, and I think he’s probably okay spending less time on the field. He’ll still start in 2008, but he won’t have much fantasy value once these guys get going and take his catches.

Dominic Rhodes. Oakland Raiders (until Monday).
It was hard not to see this one coming, but with Darren McFadden going to Oakland, someone had to get out of that backfield. The Raiders cut Rhodes Monday after he did a whole lot of nothing last year. They still have LaMont Jordan who seemed more likely to get bumped after the draft, but he might still be in danger of losing his job considering the Raiders now have McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas. Rhodes gets to go stand in line with Shaun Alexander and wait to be picked up by a team lacking in the veteran RB department.

Josh McCown and John Beck. Miami Dolphins.
Not that he thought he was a long-term solution in Miami — no one else did — but McCown became even more short-term with Bill Parcells snagging Chad Henne. Parcells obviously can’t trust his current developing QB John Beck. The starting job is likely to go to Henne before too long. McCown is just going to be a stand in until one of the younger guys is ready to go, and that’s never a good feeling. McCown and the loser will be left to battle for the backup role. Let the QB struggle begin.

Tarvaris Jackson. Minnesota Vikings.
You got some Booty behind you, Tarvaris. John David Booty has the potential to really threaten Jackson for the starting job if Jackson doesn’t show significant improvement this season. There’s no security in his fantasy value.

Chris Simms. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With no spleen and no playing time last year, Simms is now on the cut list with Josh Johnson drafted into the pack of QBs already in Tampa Bay. Johnson is no sure thing — especially if you ask Jon Gruden — but he has some good stats even if it was just at San Diego. He’ll make the team, and at least one of Tampa Bay’s current QB collection will have to find a new place.

And the “Brady Quinn” Award goes to Matt Ryan

It is fitting that it would go to another quarterback, don’t you think?

Matt Ryan is probably getting the cold sweats as he read this article. Yes, I know he reads my articles because someone has to summarize for Darren McFadden in the Green Room on draft day.

As I pointed out in the rankings of my latest round up of mock drafts, the media and scouts aren’t putting Matt Ryan at the top of a lot of lists. Being the top QB is not enough.

Ryan has been touted as the only franchise-worthy QB to come out the 2008 draft class, but despite that title, teams are worried about drafting him.

QBs just aren’t carrying the good name they used to back in the day, and everyone is worried that they will run off to Mexico with some hot blonde or supermodel, host kegger parties in their hot tubs or head butt windshields in their downtime. You can’t even trust them when they are sitting at home with a few friends. That’s no way to win fans or win games.

In his days at Boston College, Ryan did it all with just a little, but the 2008 QB class is weak. Jake Long could eat ever single one of the QBs in this year’s draft. Luckily, his job is to protect them.

He won’t go to Miami because Bill Parcells thinks John Beck will be better as Jake Long’s little spoon. He’s not going to pass on Long to take Matt Ryan if he’s not a significant improvement — which he might be.

The St. Louis Rams only want QBs that have at least one concussion or a severe upper body injury under their belt, so Ryan doesn’t have a chance there unless he rams himself into the wall of the Green Room after he doesn’t go first overall to Miami.

The Vick-less Atlanta Falcons would just love a Prince Charming QB like Ryan to come in a sweep them off the floor of the dog fighting pit with his squeaky clean image, but they are scared of this QB class. They’d apparently rather put hopes in Chris Redman rather than take Ryan. They know they’ll be back near the top of the draft in another year when a much better class of QBs will be hitting the pros. Why spend a top pick when you can spend another year wallowing in your own self-pity?

The Oakland Raiders would take Ryan if he could run a sub-4.5 40 — no luck there.

Kansas City could save him, but Matt Ryan would probably remove himself from that one by running his head into the wall of the Green Room. There’s no hope for any QB in Kansas City until they figure out what those big guys that stand in front of the QB are supposed to do when they are on the field. Brodie Croyle would welcome a breather, but I think KC will pass.

Now the Jets, they could use a QB with some promise. Unfortunately, by the sixth pick, McFadden will probably have gotten through the instructions on how to walk up to the stage, and the little Mangini is looking for more of a miracle than a dependable QB.

New England. Yeah, only if he can hold a camera.

Baltimore is Matt Ryan’s last city of salvation. Being the last player in the Green Room until the eight spot isn’t so shabby, but hey, Baltimore might get ballsy. Figuring he would be off the books much sooner, the Ravens could just move on to address other issues — although having no starting QB is a pretty large issue — and dare to take one of their lesser QB prospects in the second round like a Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco. Very daring but possible.

If Ryan makes it past Baltimore — which is doubtful — he will probably curl up into the fetal position in the back of the Green Room, and Jake Long won’t be there anymore to hold him. Even Vernon Gholston will be out of there by then. Who knows who will take him at that point.

He could make it all the way to Detroit. Who wants to be Jon Kitna’s new friend? You get to train under him on how to set unrealistic team goals, offend coaches and get creamed.

No matter what happens, it looks Ryan will be the man who gets to count ceiling tiles and twiddle thumbs in the Green Room longer than any of the other big boys that accompany him.

Hold out your arms because the “Brady Quinn” Award for bravery in the line of shame is coming your way. I will airmail it to you tonight. The trophy is a used and abused jock strap that you must wear under your suit in the Green Room.

Please do try not to look squirmy when you itch. People will only feel worse for you.

Good luck, Matty boy, and bring a Nintendo DS. You can fend off the hot tears of shame with Nintendogs.

2008 NFL Mock Draft with Fantasy Impact [Final Take]

With just 24 hours to go until the draft happens, I present my final mock draft. This draft presumes that we get some great fantasy football value out of the first round, but it’s likely that many owners will play it safe or take big risks on some talent in the first. Here’s how I see tomorrow going down:

The Fantasy Football Fools 2008 NFL Mock Draft with Fantasy Impact


No Team Player Pos Fantasy Impact
1 Miami Dolphins Jake Long OL Parcells got his man. No real fantasy impact, but Long might allow John Beck to get a throw off and give Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams more room to run.
2 St. Louis Rams Glenn Dorsey DT Doesn’t help Marc Bulger or Steven Jackson, but Dorsey will make a scary addition to the defensive line for St. Louis next year. Maybe the offensive line won’t have to do much.
3 Atlanta Falcons Chris Long DE The original projected first pick — besides Dorsey — will get stuck in the position of becoming a face of the new Vick-less Falcons franchise. The defense gets a bump, but there is no chance you want to take them in a fantasy draft in 2008. Chris Redman will be QB — at least through round 1 — and he’s not completely horrible.
4 Oakland Raiders Vernon Gholston DT Do I think Al Davis is this smart? No. Does Oakland need a Darren McFadden? No. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are enough. Take the tackle, Davis. Just do it. His value will be seen in fantasy defense and IDP when Oakland actually stops the run.
5 Kansas City Chiefs Ryan Clady OT The Chief’s line needs to significantly improve if they keep Brodie Croyle healthy and give Larry Johnson a decent chance at yardage. His impact helps both these guys’ fantasy value next year.
6 New York Jets Darren McFadden RB Mangini will be shocked that he dropped to them, but he won’t question taking the most talked about player in this year’s draft. McFadden kills Leon Washington’s value, but he can do things with the newly-improved O-line that will give him huge potential for fantasy. He will probably end up somewhere between Adrian Peterson’s 2007 season and Reggie Bush’s rookie year.
7 New England Patriots (from San Francisco) Leodis McKelvin CB I know you thought they would take Matt Ryan, but if McKelvin was guarding Plax in that fateful game, Tom Brady might have another ring. The Patriot defense still isn’t a safe bet in 2008 since they will inevitably run up the score and play loose on opponents.
8 Baltimore Ravens Matt Ryan QB I’m just solving everyone’s problems. With Steve McNair out, they gotta go Ryan here. Kyle Boller immediately hates him, but Matt Ryan and Troy Smith are the only two who have any shot of being the next franchise QB in Baltimore. He might have value late in the season but isn’t draft-worthy except as a value pick late in the draft.
9 Cincinnati Bengals Sedrick Ellis DT A monster of a DT to finally make the Bengals stop something on defense. No fantasy value change because you still don’t want the Bengals, but Ellis could be IDP worthy.
10 New Orleans Saints Keith Rivers LB Saints re-work their defense to compete and not play from behind. May be bad for fantasy, but maybe their linebackers will be getting some sacks next season.
11 Buffalo Bills Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB No WR here worth taking to take heat of Lee Evans — can’t solve everyone’s fantasy problems in one draft. Rodgers-Cromartie adds some talent to the Buffalo defense with just one kidney, but they still have to play the Patriots.
12 Denver Broncos Chris Williams OT With Clady gone, they take Williams, and they love this guy. Williams will better protect Jay Cutler and give Selvin Young and Travis Henry some big play ability.
13 Carolina Panthers Jonathan Stewart RB His big back form will go nicely with DeAngelo Williams in Carolina, but Williams is the guy to watch there. Stewart should have little impact until late in the season so he’s probably waiver wire material.
14 Chicago Bears Brandon Albert OT Albert + lighting a fire under Cedric Benson = Chicago might have a run game in 2008.
15 Detroit Lions Rashard Mendenhall RB The Lions can’t pass on a RB with Tatum Bell currently starting. Mendenhall mixes it up with Bell and might be worth a early waiver if he shows to be a big part of the offense — the scoring part. Might try to snag him as a value pick late.
16 Arizona Cardinals Aqib Talib CB This big CB will help the Cardinals start to lock down opposing passing games and replaces Rolle as Rolle moves to safety. Defense is better but not one of the top to snag in fantasy. Could be game-to-game depending on the match up.
17 Kansas City Chiefs (from Minnesota) Derrick Harvey DE The Chiefs got the offensive line covered earlier so here they look to fill the hole that Jared Allen left. Harvey fills it, but the Chiefs D is likely to be game-to-game.
18 Houston Texans Mike Jenkins CB Last elite corner goes to the Texans to fortify a pretty decent defense. I’ll classify them as “one to watch” for 2008 if the offseason goes well.
19 Philadelphia Eagles Jeff Otah OT Andy Reid hates taking WRs in the first round, and he won’t. Otah helps Westbrook and McNabb out.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Devin Thomas WR First WR off the board could be a star by mid-season. As the rest of the Tampa Bay WRs get older, he will stay the same age.
21 Washington Redskins Philip Merling DE Merling brings backbone to a decent defense to stop the run. Possible low-end defense for 2008.
22 Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland) Felix Jones RB The other Arkansas boy goes to Dallas to compliment Marion Barber. His fantasy value is slight, but his presence is felt nonetheless. He’ll mix it up but not take much from Barber. Could be a waiver late if he finds a role.
23 Pittsburgh Steelers Gosder Cherilus OL Cherilus improves a line that already worked well together last year. Maybe less rushing yards for Big Ben? He’ll have plenty of time to throw and the run game will stay good.
24 Tennessee Titans Limas Sweed WR Vince Young gets his guy, and the Titans may just discover offense in 2008. If Sweed goes here, he is definitely worth catching as a late round value and could emerge as the No. 1 in Tennessee if VY and Sweed reconnect.
25 Seattle Seahawks Kenny Phillips S Seahawks get a safety that can finally hang and improve the secondary. Seahawks D is always worth a play when home in the loudest stadium in the NFL and sometimes even when away.
26 Jacksonville Jaguars Kentwan Balmer DT Balmer locks up the run defense of Jacksonville even more than last year. Already great defense gets better — very draftable for fantasy.
27 San Diego Chargers Dan Connor LB A San Diego defense gets scarier, and once again, a very draft-worthy defense finds its guy. San Diego will have a top defense in 2008.
28 Dallas Cowboys Brandon Flowers CB Pacman Jones is no lock to be reinstated and depth at CB would be nice. The Cowboys defense gets a significant upgrade if both Flowers and Pacman join the fold with Terrance Newmann already there. This defense is already draftable without Pacman. More fantasy value if Cowboys get crazy and take DeSean Jackson or James Hardy here.
29 San Francisco 49ers (from Indianapolis) DeSean Jackson WR Mike Martz will want another playmaker to toy with in this 2008 debut in San Francisco, but there’s lots of toys there already for a Frank Gore centered offense. Jackson is likely not to show up this year but could emerge late if Bryant Johnson or Isaac Bruce doesn’t work out.
30 Green Bay Packers Jerod Mayo LB Mayo improves the already good linebacking core of Green Bay in coverage. No way Green Bay wants the Giants to get this guy. Fantasy-wise Green Bay should be one of the tops next year as they will likely draft depth at cornerback in later rounds.
31 New England Patriots (from San Francisco) Casper SOL Cheaters never win — at least, not their fourth Super Bowl.
32 New York Giants Malcolm Kelly WR Loudmouth still makes the first round and battles with Steve Smith to take over the No. 2 spot. Watch for a mid-season emergence…depending on what kind of turf he has on game day. Kelly could be worth a waiver pick late in 2008.

For more mock drafts, visit these databases:

hailRedskins! Mock Draft Database
The Football Expert Database
Walter Football Mock Draft Database
Fantasy Football Toolbox Mock Draft Directory

Sorry Shaun: A Fantasy Football Funeral for Shaun Alexander

Even though Shaun Alexander is almost guaranteed to be picked up by another team now that the Seattle Seahawks finally cut him, his fantasy career is all but dead. Oh, how the mighty fall.

It was just 2005 when Alexander was MVP and on top of the world. Ever since, he has bounced around the top of fantasy football drafts even as his numbers fell. A foot injury, a cast and one huge contract later, Alexander is now in the dumps, and sadly, he is partly to blame for his release.

Take a look at the drop off in Alexander’s stats after 2005:

Year Missed Games Total Yards Yards/Carry TDs
2005 1 1880 5.1 27
2006 7 896 3.6 7
2007 4 716 3.5 4

Stats via The Fifth Down and The Seattle Times

Alexander’s contract after his 2005 season was unrealistic. Some say he is soft and selfish, and they would probably argue that Alexander wanted that kind of contract after his 2005 season if for no other reason then to know he signed the biggest running back contract ever.

Even if he demanded it, it was bad management for Seattle to give him that much money knowing that he was on his way out. His age was going to play into the picture eventually — fantasy football analysts knew it — but both the Seahawks and Alexander let the contract lead to this disaster. After two injury-plagued, disappointing seasons, the Seahawks had no choice but to release Alexander to save the team money and give Mike Holmgren a team he could make his last run with as head coach.

It looks like Pete Prisco was right.

The fall of Alexander has been a swift one, not unusual for an NFL runner. It is pretty amazing, though, when you consider in two seasons he’s gone from star to expendable.

Now some team is going to put a jersey on Alexander. There are arguments that he could be a Detroit Lion or Carolina Panther and other arguments that he could help the Chicago Bears.

He’s not entirely out of the picture. There’s probably one more season in the tank, but I wouldn’t take a chance on Alexander unless you can take him as a late round value pick — very probably considering many fantasy owners burned by him the last two seasons will be avoiding him like the plague. Depending on where he ends up, Alexander’s fantasy value will never be as high as it was the past several seasons as he declined.

Let this fantasy funeral stand as a reminder to every fantasy football manager that you should never take a running back early in the draft who has age issues. The magic number tends to be 30. When running backs hit it, they are never the same. Keep that in mind or ye be burned. L.T. will probably be the next to push it to the limit.

Sorry, Shaun, and thanks for the memories — and by memories, I mean the 2005 season.


Creative Commons License photo credit: mr.l

“That article up there speaks the truth.”

2008 NFL Mock Drafts Revisited

I compiled a list of mock drafts when only the cool kids were doing it before the Combine, but now it’s blowing up like Pokemon. I guess we should pump out another big long list of info for you. Would that make you happy?

Those other mocks were long before all the info leaks, late pro days and insider info we have gathered since the Combine. I guess they’re sort of like that third-grade teacher that you had a crush on decades ago. Why was she so hot back then? Now she’s just old news.

Here’s what football sites around the Web are projecting for next weekend’s festivities now.

Team Needs

Sports Data Hub’s breaking down each team’s needs throughout the draft starting with Miami and working their way down. [SDH Links no longer available.] The team needs are also being exposed over at The Football Expert and Scott Wright’s Draft Countdown.

Massive Link Dump of Mock Drafts

Mike Mayock is always a pro at these draft things. It’s like he’s an expert that specializes in just this time of year.

What’s that you say? He lives in a cave for the other 9 months of the year? I don’t believe that, but it would explain why he has such a big grin in all his mugshots.

For the insider perspective, Matt Mosley has updated his Hash Mock on ESPN’s Hashmarks blog. He claims his is going to be almost perfect. Do you believe him?

FFToolbox’s writers have a majority in Chris Long going first overall.

Football Jabber had to go and make everything sound so permanent with his “Final” Football Jabber Mock Draft. He does provide three rounds and two rounds of very satisfying commentary–or “jabber” I guess might be more appropriate.

NFL GridIron Gab serves up their latest with Matt Ryan going to the Jets. Wait, the Jets? That’s crazy talk. They already have Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington–oh wait, maybe they should take Matt Ryan.

Walter Football’s latest mock draft pushes one of the Longs out of the top two. Currently, Walter holds down the first spot in The Football Expert’s ranking system and his very in-depth profiles of each player/team will show you why. (Shameless plug: check out Fantasy Football Fools among the rankings as well.)

Each of The Football Expert’s experts–did the world just explode when I said that?–is featured in the database, but Michael Abromowitz leads them all off with a frequently updated four-round draft. [Link to ¬†Abromowitz's draft no longer available.]

In a perfect world, the draft might go down the way CBS’s Sports Xchange sees it, but not all team owners are as logical as they should be come draft day.

*cough* Al Davis *cough* Sorry, I have a cold.

The Sports Outlaw Forums’ Miller_time puts his mock draft to the boards. [Link no longer available]

The local boys — at least my local boys — have weighed in too with Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News) and Lance Zierlein (Houston Chronicle) posting their mock drafts. Is it blasphemy if Gosselin didn’t push a better receiver pick than James Hardy to the Cowboys at 28? [Unfortunately, link to Gosselin's mock draft is no longer available.]

Consensus offers enough drafts to keep you reading them until the first pick on Saturday. No, really.

Draft Ace ranks the top 50 draft prospects by how much impact they can have in the NFL. Don’t look, Matt Ryan!

I know you still looked, Matt. Now your confidence is shot.

Well, War Room Report won’t give you much more confidence, Matty boy. Baltimore gets you in this one at eighth overall.

Pro Football Weekly doesn’t need your silly teams or reality. They just rank players based upon their grades from scouting reports. (Note: Matt Ryan, you can look at this one. It will make you feel better.)

Draft Stock lists them all out minus the frills. Although they do have little helmet cuts to signify each NFL team. That’s classy. [Link no longer available]

Scott Wright goes three rounds with the top draft picks.

The Huddle has upgraded their mock draft to Version 2.0 after dropping Kenny Phillips, Calais Campbell, Jonathan “Peg Leg” Stewart, Aqib Talib and Early Doucet out. Improvement or not?

It feels so good to get it all out. Stay regular people. The draft is only days away now.

Sidetracked: Mocking the Final Four and Calling It RIGHT!

In light of this Final Four being the most interesting ever, I thought this YouTube video would be worthy of sharing. It’s not often that you can devise a system for guessing the winners while also mocking every team that made it this far.

The amazing part is that he didn’t pick either of the favorite picks to win it all (UCLA or UNC) and got it right. Let’s see if Memphis goes all the way.

All No. 1 seeds…how boring. Thanks a lot selection committee. No Cinderella at the ball this year.

Off-season Update: Testaverde starts for 49ers; Shaun Alexander released; Belichick retires

UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! Feel free to enjoy the links all the same.

Shaun Alexander

Creative Commons License photo credit: mr.l

Hitting the wires today, the San Francisco 49ers finally took sides in the starting QB debate in signing Vinny Testaverde. According to Mike Martz, he is the favorite to start in the offense that he will put in place for 2008.

Testaverde believes he has one more good season in him before he completely retires, and if he returned to play, he demanded to be guaranteed the starting role.

A devastated Alex Smith spoke to the media this afternoon from the 49ers locker room. His comments here.

In a not-so-surprise move, the Seattle Seahawks also leaked that they would be releasing Shaun Alexander for the June 1 cut.

Alexander did not appear at the press conference and probably isn’t too happy with the decision. Only time will tell if there is any demand for the running back as he rides off into the sunset of his career.

UPDATE: Shaun Alexander has commented through his agent on the situation. He expressed his very obvious anger at his former team and coach as he awaits any and all calls from other teams.

Finally, in light of all the controversy surrounding the Patriots illegal taping, the shame of the Super Bowl loss and the new rule change to allow defensive players to have headsets, Bill Belichick decided to call it quits.

Some sports talking heads are saying that he is not fit to run a team in the NFL now that he can’t have a heads up of what the defensive coordinator will call. The statement the Patriots issued today simply stated that Belichick felt that “his era in the NFL had come to an end.”

Certainly, this news makes Testaverde a valid fantasy draft choice to start 2008 and could mean the end of Shaun Alexander’s relevance in fantasy football. What a drop from being a top draft pick for the last several years.

No idea yet on how Belichick’s retirement will affect the Patriots, but I would assume their offense will remain mostly unchanged.

What do you think this means for these teams and fantasy football in 2008?

UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! Hope you enjoyed the linkage.¬†

Pre-2008 NFL Draft Fantasy Football Mock Draft QB Shakedown

Rain or shine, feast or famine, storm or impending doom, fantasy football diehards love to mock draft. I’m definitely guilty of already plotting for one, but I dare not complete one before the NFL draft and a few more free agent moves have passed.

Rather than do one for myself, I gathered together several that have taken place since the end of the 2007 season and analyzed a few interesting moves that are occurring in the projected 2008 drafts.

Quarterbacks are taking a big jump in this draft since Tom Brady inflated his value like he inflated his ego in 2008. Is he the first quarterback to take? And when should you take him? The alternative could be the old, reliable other Manning, or is it?

Let’s jump right in to seeing how QBs are changing the mix…

The Break Down

The New York Times’ fantasy football blog The Fifth Down ran a fantasy mock draft by Mark St. Amant (he’s book-learned) hot on the heels of the Super Bowl. The mock draft was broken down into Part 1 and Part 2.

Of note, Amant’s top five was LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady. The QB jumped just to the fifth spot. Peyton Manning popped up at 9, but Tony Romo merely got a mention in the “Best of the Rest” behind the likes of Randy Moss (at 12), Larry Johnson (at 10) and Clinton Portis (at 8).

An interesting side note on Amant’s draft article stood out in Part 2 when he chose to avoid Edgerrin James, Greg Jennings, Fred Taylor, Reggie Bush, Roy Williams and Dwayne Bowe. Are you considering them for your draft?

Each player comes with a reason to fear having them on your roster, but they will still be high on a lot of draft boards come preseason.

Jennings isn’t doomed without Brett Favre and enters his third season uninjured–and you know what they say about third-year wide receivers. Roy Williams could recover in Detroit with a new coordinator, and Fred Taylor seems to never say quit. It might be a bit soon to dismiss them as avoidable.

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Fantasy Football Xtreme posted up an early mock draft in January. Xtreme stuck with L.T. at numero uno. Check out Randy Moss and Michael Turner breaking into the first round projections.

This draft was posted when no one knew where Turner would end up, and his value is not likely worth a first round pick now that he has settled in Atlanta.

Moss is an atypical pick in the first round. I might avoid him considering that he could get shut down more often now after seeing the New York Giants Super Bowl formula for beating the Patriots, but building around Moss could be a unique tactic for 2008.

Tom Brady was selected sixth, but Peyton Manning and Tony Romo went in the second round. Those three were the only QBs taken. Two more made the four-round cut with Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger going off the board at the end of the third round and beginning of the fourth.

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FantasyFootball.com jumped into the ring in February with a mock draft excluding rookies. [Link no longer available.] Jeff Williamson picked Adrian Peterson first–debatable at this point in the offseason after his inconsistent finish. The consensus top RBs followed in the mix, but Ryan Grant noticeably jumped into the eighth overall spot–not sure about that one, but more on that later.

Quarterbacks didn’t show up until the second round when Brady went nineteenth overall. That’s much later than I feel a QB will go this year after the QBs really carried a lot of teams last season.

It might be that the FantasyFootball.com guys just don’t feel building around a QB is a worthwhile strategy, but it seems strange that not a single one went for Brady until the middle of the second round if you look at the stats from the end of 2007.

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The Hazean posted his mock in mid-February with L.T. again leading and Tom Brady ranking sixth overall. Manning was eighth, and Tony Romo jumped in at 12.

The Hazean’s placement of the QBs is a little more appropriate for 2008–not too high but not leaving them to the traditional second round grabs either. My only argument against his placement might be the order in which the QBs were taken since Romo might be a better value than Manning for 2008.

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NFL.com’s late March mock draft dove right off the deep end taking Tom Brady with the first overall pick, but at least Tony Romo and Peyton Manning made the cut for the first round as well.

Frank Gore and Ryan Grant were slightly higher with NFL.com than I have seen them. Gore is supposed to be the center of the offense for the 49ers next season, but no one has seen Mike Martz’s playbook yet.

As for Grant, the situation could get worse in Green Bay. The passing of the torch to Aaron Rodgers means Green Bay has a questionable passing game for at least the early part of 2008, and opponents could stack the box against Grant. The other concern is that one of Green Bay’s other running backs like Brandon Jackson or DeShawn Wynn will have an opportunity next season to share the load.

Despite retirement, Favre strangely went 36th overall in NFL.com fantasy mock. Does NFL.com read their news section?

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CBS Sportsline is running a full 16 round draft that hasn’t finished up yet, but they are currently drafting the 12th round. Rookies are allowed, so McFadden went at 22 in the second round without even having a destination–that’s where these early mock drafts really get messy.

CBS put L.T. first overall and dropped Adrian Peterson to third behind Brian Westbrook–another ranking choice that is debated in this offseason. The numbers support it though.

Tom Brady came in tenth. Peyton Manning was actually taken before him at seventh overall, which I haven’t seen in most of these mocks. Old habits die hard, or maybe someone still has more faith in Manning’s ability to make a TD pass.

Keeping an eye on Ryan Grant, he was higher once again in the second round at fifteenth overall, but the real injustice was Tony Romo staying undrafted into the third round and going at the 33 spot.

The team that selected Romo got to take two RB studs first with Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis. With Portis projected to be more productive than he has been in 2008, those three could be a pretty lucky trio to acquire in the first three rounds.

The Quarterback Jump


Creative Commons License photo credit: dougww

I pointed out fluke draft ranks for certain unknowns like Ryan Grant, Randy Moss and Frank Gore as I saw them, but a major trend throughout all these drafts was the changing value of the fantasy QB.

I understand–and expect–the QBs coming in higher this season, but many of these early drafts seem to either take them with huge hype or ignore QBs following the traditional fantasy football drafting strategy.

When it comes to drafting fantasy players, you have to look at the cold, hard stats.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady trumps all competitors because he put up the most TDs in 2007–50 if you don’t count the two he ran in himself. In standard-scoring leagues, Tom Brady was the highest point generator all season. He stands significantly above L.T. (18 TDs, 1 PTD) and would seemingly be the favorite for overall first pick in the draft.

Even though he loses Donte Stallworth, he didn’t really utilize him in the offense. Jabar Gaffney is a sufficient replacement or possibly even better. Despite better coverage on Randy Moss, the New England running game is unpredictably utilized, and the Patriots will likely lean on the receiving again in 2008 as they did in 2007.

Brady’s value should be higher than normal in 2008. There’s a valid argument that he shouldn’t go first overall because he is a QB and demand is not high enough to take a QB in the first round, but he certainly should be on the mind of drafters after the top tier of fantasy RBs are gone.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning didn’t beat out all comers at the QB position last year as he usually does. Manning had 31 TDs passing and rushed in three. In most standard-scoring leagues, he ranked sixth overall at the end of the season–almost on par with Drew Brees, who will fetch a much lower price than Manning.

Manning will have all his weapons back to full health, but Marvin Harrison is becoming a shell of his former self. With Harrison in bad shape, Reggie Wayne can carry the load, but Manning just wasn’t as productive without Marvin Harrison in the lineup last season. I don’t think he can outclass Brady or Tony Romo in 2008. If anything, he can match either of the two.

Tony Romo

Tony Romo was forgotten on a lot of these mock drafts. He ranked third overall in total fantasy points in most standard-scoring leagues–right behind L.T. and Tom Brady. He put up 36 TDs through the air and 2 TDs rushing, and even though he was only slightly better than Peyton Manning in total points, Romo has his same offense returning for 2008 plus any rookies the Cowboys pick up the draft to improve upon the receiving corps.

Romo wasn’t valued as high as he should have been last season, and a lot of teams were able to steal him in later rounds. After 2007, I think he has surpassed Peyton Manning as the second QB to be taken in the draft.

The Rest of the QB Pack

In addition to just these three who seem to be going near the top of the QB pile in most mocks, a pack of QBs rounded out the top fantasy point totals in 2007. The top twelve point totals on offense includes eight QBs.

Applying the final rankings directly to a mock draft wouldn’t make sense–especially for fantasy diehards–but good QBs should go higher this year.

Brady, Romo and Manning will be expensive and likely go out in the first and second rounds while the rest of the high-scoring QBs–Brees, Roethlisberger, Hasselbeck, Anderson, Palmer–will go in the third round or later at a very nice bargain price because of consistency problems or neglect from fantasy owners.

Semi-New Strategy: Building around a QB

Last season showed us that a QB can be a team-changing value in fantasy football. I could see the first QB going off the boards as soon as fifth overall with the inconsistencies we have seen in our top RB studs in recent years. Brady and Romo definitely won’t be on the boards in most amateur drafts by mid-second round.

This year’s draft will introduce a somewhat new QB-building strategy.

Teams can 1) Take a highly-valued QB like Brady, Romo and Manning in the first round and build a team around him, 2) Take a RB first and look to pick up a top-tier or second-tier QB before the third round ends or 3) Try to snag as many studs at RB and WR as possible in early rounds and only taking a QB when they absolutely must–as in, before everyone starts drafting backup QBs.

Building around a QB used to just apply to Peyton Manning, but it can’t anymore now that QBs have dominated fantasy point totals. Smart drafters may be able to pull a miracle and pick up a bargain like Matt Schaub or David Garrard in late rounds if they play their cards right and know their league mates’ tendencies well enough to take chances, but consistent stud QB play is a major advantage toward winning your league in 2008.

So what does that mean for us?

I hope to see more movement of the QBs in the rankings as the fantasy drafts progress this offseason. More and more will likely carry Brady somewhere around the middle of the first round with other top QBs following close behind. The real question looking towards 2008 is how comfortable you feel about building around a top QB or staying the traditional route of taking a RB first.

So how much are you willing to invest in fantasy QBs for 2008?

Off-season Update: Quick hits at wide receiver, tight end and cornerback [NFL News]

Most of the moves made in the last several weeks have no immediate fantasy impact. Backups are still moving from team to team, but a few starters finally landed at wide receiver in the last couple of weeks.

FANTASY WATCH-WORTHY MOVES

The 49ers dropped Darrell Jackson after his disappointing 2007 and added Bryant Johnson. I would have liked to see Johnson end up in Buffalo where he might have been a compliment to Lee Evans, but he is daring and will take his chances in the new Mike Martz system.

He will get his chance to be a number 1 wide receiver. I don’t expect Isaac Bruce to make a Randy Moss-like revival out there, and Arnaz Battle can’t put up much of a fight.

Ben Utecht escaped the shadow of Dallas Clark to Cincinnati this week when the Colts decided not to match the Bengals offer. Utecht showed some ability with the Colts, and he will become a key target for Carson Palmer in 2008 especially if Ocho Cinco (Chad Johnson) keeps his act up and leaves.

D.J. Hackett finally found someone to answer his agent’s phone calls this offseason and signed with the Carolina Panthers. All the dynasty owners of Dwayne Jarrett just died inside.

Jarrett probably won’t hit the field for awhile now that Carolina has signed Muhsin Muhammad and Hackett unless this move scares him straight. Hackett and Muhammad should be able to open up the field for Steve Smith to make a comeback in production for 2008.

Kickers become fantasy-relevant for once outside of a close fantasy showdown now that Jason Elam has left the high altitude of Colorado to boot for the Falcons in 2008. It’s a tought loss for Denver since Elam won more games than any other single Bronco in 2007. While they search for a replacement, Elam will have to adjust to kicking in Southern humidity. I think he’ll be okay.

The DeAngelo Hall deal finally got done, so now he’s an overpaid Raider, too. The Raiders now have an even better secondary with Nnamdi Asomugha and Hall. Rumor was that they want to nickname the cornerback pair “Haul Ass-o” but Nnamdi won’t go for it.

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH BACKUPS

Quinn Gray signed on to be the second/third quarterback for the Houston Texans. This signing puts the wise Sage Rosenfels in danger of being traded if an offer comes the Texans’ way, or they just want to be VERY secure at the QB position if Matt Schaub goes down again in 2008.

Bubba Franks signed on to the Jets but will likely just provide veteran leadership behind Chris Baker and endless Bubba jokes for the locker room.

NEWS THAT MIGHT INTRIGUE YOU

Brandon Marshall got so upset after last week’s episode of Lost that he put his fist through a TV. He might be out for up to four months.

Just let that be a lesson to you to always pick up your McDonald’s slop after a late night Big Mac binge. I’m not too concerned. He’ll probably be back in shape for training camp and be in line for a breakout season as long as there is no lasting nerve damage.

The Patriots have been taking a look at Josh Johnson, the little known quarterback loved by many scouts and experts as a potential sleeper quarterback of the future. The theory is that the Patriots might try to convert him to a wide receiver if they draft him in a later.

What? They aren’t going to get rid of that Tom Brady guy? Maybe Josh can work the camera until he becomes Brady’s favorite target. He has the potential to be a QB in the NFL if someone puts the time into working him into it.

Off-season Update: Running backs take focus this week, QBs and WRs stink it up [NFL News]

Everyone took pity on quarterbacks this week. Atlanta saw fit to bring back Joey Harrington after releasing him–even though we all know they will probably pick a QB up in the draft *cough* Matt Ryan *cough*. The Rams chose Trent Green to be the back up to Marc Bulger, but is it good practice to pick a concussion-prone quarterback as the best back up for an oft-injured Bulger? Me thinks the Rams will need a solid third quarterback on the roster if they plan to make it through the season.

Sadly, the New York Giants, not to be seen as uncharitable, decided they had enough money leftover from the Super Bowl blow parties to bring back the white-gloved wonder David Carr. I really thought we were going to get rid of him this year. Apparently, my gut feeling doubted the power of the gloves.

But enough about that. The real meat of this week’s free agent moves was in the running backs.

While the hot buzz item is Shaun Alexander‘s likely boot from Seattle after the signing of Julius Jones, Detroit made the big cut in axing Kevin Jones. Due to Jones’ brittle nature, Tatum Bell will finally get more carries in Detroit. Maybe Tatum can finally escape his “journeyman” label in a Detroit offense re-making the run game–Hashmarks sees his potential–but Detroit still has a long way to go. In short, Bell may be fantasy relevant this season, but he won’t be at the top of any lists.

With draft implications, Jesse Chatman of the one-win Miami of 2007 moved over to the New York Jets to act as a back up and potential change of pace back for Thomas Jones. Behind the offensive line that the Jets built this offseason, both RBs could see fantasy relevance, but it could be Darren McFadden replacing Jesse Chatman as the second man in that rotation after the draft.

Note: I don’t believe that the Jets will pass on McFadden if he falls to them. Jones is no astonishing talent, and McFadden could work miracles behind the O-line the Jets have put together.

The Houston Texans–who everyone thinks will also not be passing on any RBs in this year’s draft–seem to be set on taking free agent running backs from now on. Even though they are “really high” on this Chris Taylor kid who didn’t see a down due to injury in 2007, the Houston Texans went out and signed Chris Brown, formerly of the Titans. Depth charts are definitely uncertain in Houston now as they could still take one more RB left in the draft and then, hopefully, release a lot of their broken has-beens like Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. In addition, we now know that Chris Brown never likes to be the only Chris in his position on any team [see: Chris Henry of Titans].

Warrick Dunn found new life in Tampa Bay with their oodles of extra money this offseason. Even with rumors of Cadillac Williams not being able to return though, I can’t see Dunn being more than a back up or lightly used back behind Earnest Graham to start 2008.

The Bucs also saw fit to invest in Antonio Bryant, the troubled receiver that hasn’t found a place to call home since being shipped out of Dallas. He is likely to not be much of an impact.

Non-impact seemed to be a theme in any area besides running backs this week. Drew Carter signed with the Raiders after posting a fantasy footnote in Carolina last year. I expect him to be third behind Javon Walker and Ronald Curry, but he could surprise me if he ever lives up to his “burner” status. I just haven’t seen it.

One receiver that could be of use is Justin McCareins, back in Tennessee after his stint with the Jets last season. The Titans know how to use him, and he has to catch better than the core group of slippery-fingered banana-handlers they have now. I might actually look to snag Vince Young as my QB2 this year in a later round if they can rebuild the receiving game this offseason. A rookie WR in the draft could give it some edge.

With free agency winding down, look for a newly updated mock draft and more fantasy offseason list making than you could ever desire from a fantasy site coming in the next several days.