A Fool and His Money in Week 2

Well, my distrust in rookie QBs certainly worked out for me. I’m going back for more.

No picks for the Falcons or Ravens this week either. I’ve also noted which bet is my favorite of the week, and coincidentally for Week 2, it’s the first one on the slate.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Chadam Takes: Packers (-3) over LIONS

This is my “Rent Money Special.” You guessed it — a spread so good I’m betting my rent money on it.

The Lions got mauled by a Falcons offense — even A.C. Green could score on Detroit. If this game was in Lambeau, I would take out a loan to wager on it.

Nick Takes: Packers (-3) over LIONS

Something is wrong with this line. It’s a crazy trap by Vegas. For some reason, they believe in the Lions and are trying to entice people to pick the Packers.

This gut feeling is the only thing keeping me from betting my entire month’s salary on this game.

Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals

Chadam Takes: Titans (+1) over BENGALS

Who the hell knows? The Bengals look like they’re a 53-person pickup team, and Kerry Collins’ corpse is starting for the Titans. My choice lies with the best defense, Tennessee.

Nick Takes: Titans (+1) over BENGALS

I think the Titans have a better defense then the Ravens. That’s bad news for the Bungholes who cost me a parlay last week. Young is out, but the Titans have had success with Kerry Collins filling in before.

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

Chadam Takes: CHIEFS (-4) over Raiders

The Chiefs always play above their heads at Arrowhead, and they just got a huge upgrade at QB. (Anyone who owned Huard in 2006 knows what I’m talking about.)

Nick Takes: CHIEFS (-4) over Raiders

I can’t believe Chadam picked the Raiders last week. Haha. I hope he does it again.

I thought the Chiefs looked good in hanging with the Brady-less Pats. Larry Johnson looked healthy, and Jamaal Charles looked great as a change-of-pace back. This Chiefs squad is another team that doesn’t drop off much with its backup filling in at QB.

New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins

Chadam Takes: Saints (-1) over REDSKINS

That Colston injury came out of nowhere, didn’t it? What a carnage-filled first week.

Anyways, I gotta go with the Saints considering how wacked out the Skins offense looked.

Nick Takes: Saints (-1) over REDSKINS

The Redskins betrayed me last week when I put my faith in Jason Campbell. If they want my trust back, they are going to have to earn it.

Will Drew Brees please throw the ball to my fantasy players Shockey or Colston?! Not that I need it since I was the highest score in the league last week. Suck on that, Jacob! (Ed. Note: I, Jacob, was the second highest scorer. I fear no one — especially now that your Colston is out for awhile.)

New York Giants at St. Louis Rams

Chadam Takes: RAMS (+9) over Giants

This week is the last time I am backing the Rams unless they cover here. If I was either an S-Jax or Holt owner, I would start to get very worried now. Sell for draft day value if you still can.

Nick Takes: Giants (-9) over RAMS

The Rams — another glorious pick by Chadam last week. The Rams are so bad they would have a losing record in the WNBA. If any team is going to change locations soon, it’s them.

I would also like to place a wager that Scott Linehan will be the first coach fired this season.

Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings

Chadam Takes: Colts (-2) over VIKINGS

Does anybody else agree with me when I say that Addai has gained the injury prone label?

He exited last year’s opener early and was a game-time decision half of the time last year. This season isn’t shaping up any differently. (Ed. Note: Nope, I won’t go there yet.)

Whatever. It’s the Vikings — not like the Colts were going to run the ball much anyway.

Nick Takes: Colts (-2) over VIKINGS

No way the Colts get beat two games in a row. Manning will have shaken off the rust by this week, and he will be ready to go.

I’m a little Jewish in thinking “Purple Jesus” is great but not the ultimate savior. The Vikings won’t make it to the playoffs with their schedule.

Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers

Chadam Takes: Bears (+3) over PANTHERS

This game would have been my “Rent Money Special” if it weren’t for that ridiculous Packers line.

Until Mike Brown (Bears’ safety) and Tommie Harris (Bears’ nose tackle) have their annual injuries, this defense will be ferocious. Da Bears.

Nick Takes: Bears (+3) over PANTHERS

Don’t act like you’re not impressed. The Bears just put a whooping on everybody’s Midwest favorite, the Colts. Believe me, I’m impressed.

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

Chadam Takes: Bills (+5.5) over JAGUARS

I put a lot of weight into offensive lines, and the Jaguars only have two of their projected five starters left standing. Besides, the Bills looked downright nasty against the Seahawks.

Watch out for Marcus Stroud’s “revenge game.” He might steamroll the weak Jacksonville interior and actually eat David Garrard.

Nick Takes: Bills (+5.5) over JAGUARS

I still believe in the Jags, but the Bills have done enough to make me believe they can keep it close. The offensive line woes for the Jags will be a real test.

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Chadam Takes: 49ers (+7) over SEAHAWKS

Ugh, gimme the points. My pick for the Seahawks to win under 8.5 games is looking better by the second. If you have some spare time and live in the Seattle area, I here they’re looking for receivers.

Nick Takes: 49ers (+7) over SEAHAWKS

I wish I could have seen the Seattle-Buffalo game last week so I could have a better read on the Seahawks. The Seahawks are going to have a lot of trouble scoring, and that’s why I like the points in this game. I don’t trust any team that loses by 24 points…to the Bills.

Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals

Chadam Takes: CARDINALS (-6.5) over Dolphins

I like that Arizona offense, especially since they are utilizing Hightower correctly. People are too high on the Dolphins even though they haven’t done anything — and yes, I threw a crappy pun in there.

Nick Takes: CARDINALS (-6.5) over Dolphins

It’s a shame when a team plays better than they really are and still loses, but it wasn’t a fluke that the Dolphins only won one game last year. I like the Cardinals to bring the heat in the desert this Sunday.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

Chadam Takes: JETS (-1.5) over Patriots

Matt Cassel needs to prove himself before I wager on him. End of story. Also, my condolences go out to Wes Welker owners.

Nick Takes: Patriots (+1.5) over JETS

I love this bet. Chadam loves the Jets this year so, hopefully, he chose them to cover the spread. Bill Belichick would sell his firstborn son to beat Eric Mangini and the Jets. The fact that the Patriots aren’t favored to win this game will only inspire them to show no mercy and run up the score.

On a side note, does Matt Cassel not have the sweetest life in the world? He parlayed his high school career into a scholarship at USC. He spent all his time getting some major USC ass while doing nothing for the football team, but he still gets drafted by Patriots and gets a Super Bowl ring.

So he hasn’t started a football game in nine years, but Cassel has a Super Bowl ring and coed track record that would impress Wilt Chamberlain. Life is unfair.

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chadam Takes: BUCS (-7.5) over Falcons

I’m really nervous about giving up that many points to the upstart Dirty Birds, but I’ll give one of my favorite sleepers another week before I change my mind on them.

Nick Takes: BUCS (-7.5) over Falcons

The Bucs are not the Lions. The Bucs will know how to treat a rookie QB. They will force Matt Ryan to beat them and will win the game easily. This game is going to be one of those “Welcome to the NFL” moments for Matt Ryan.

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

Chadam Takes: TEXANS (-4.5) over Ravens

I’m gonna double down against Joe Flacco. If Mario Williams can get to Ben Roethlisberger, he might have six sacks on Sunday. If you need to roll the dice on a waiver wire D/ST, Houston might be an option this week.

Nick Takes: TEXANS (-4.5) over Ravens

The Texans need redemption badly. Super Mario is going to squash Joe Flacco like he is a goomba walking in the wrong direction. Karma is coming back on the rookie QBs this week, and it won’t be pretty.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos

Chadam Takes: BRONCOS (+1.5) over Chargers

The Broncos looked phenomenal on the road against a great passing defense without Brandon Marshall; the Chargers lost a close game at home to a team that was missing their only receiving threat. Not only do I think Denver will win this game, I think they can blow it open. L.T. will tear up that soft Denver front line though.

Nick Takes: BRONCOS (+1.5) over Chargers

I don’t know why, but I have a good feeling about the Broncos all of a sudden. The Chargers didn’t do anything impressive until the fourth quarter, and while I expect them to play with inspiration this week, the Broncos truly believe they can beat anybody at home. That confidence will help them greatly in their quest to take back the AFC West division.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Chadam Takes: Steelers (-6.5) over BROWNS

The Browns defense is on par with the Texans’ D, and look at what the Steelers did to them.

For those who have joined me in the Santonio Holmes Fan Club, here’s to hoping he’s not the third wheel again behind Parker and Ward. Maybe we’ll pool some cash and bribe Big Ben to loft one up the middle for Hines this week…

Nick Takes: Steelers (-6.5) at BROWNS

I loved Dallas in this same position last week. The only difference this week: I think the Steelers are better than the Cowboys. I’m betting a lot on this game even though I fear Braylon Edwards will have a solid bounce-back game. The brown is about to hit the fan in Cleveland.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Chadam Takes: COWBOYS (-7) over Eagles

This game was a tough pick because, in my opinion, these teams are the top two in the NFC. At the end of the day, Dallas is a better team, and they’re playing at home, so they get the nod.

Nick Takes: Eagles (+7) at COWBOYS

Both of these teams looked very good last week. Barber’s status is in question with his bruised ribs. These NFL players are straight up beasts. I can’t imagine how bad the bruising must be to keep a starting NFL RB out of a game. I’m pretty sure I would be eating out of a tube if I took the hits these guys take. I expect a close game, so I’m taking the points.

Current Standings after Week 1:

Chadam: 8-8-0
Nick: 8-8-0

Fantasy Football Fools’ 2008 Average Joe Mock Draft

I know it’s a little late to be posting a mock draft. Believe me. I know you all drafted already — well, hopefully, you drafted already.

I wish I could have gotten this one edited sooner, but the rush of preseason football and real drafts took hold of me and delayed the posting. Next time, I’ll have to conduct the mock draft on a better system, NOT through tons and tons of ‘Reply All’ emails.

Regardless, I did put together a mock draft that, if nothing else, makes for a nice discussion piece here at the beginning of the season to compare to your real draft. The draft took place several weeks ago, and it really influenced my drafting over the weekend because many of the mock drafters were my league mates (with a couple of newbies sprinkled in there).

The explanations are the drafter’s own with a few editorial notes (Ed. Note!) from me.

– – – – –

You can read all the expert mock drafts you want before drafting, but how do you know how your buddies are going to draft? What about the administrative assistant at your office who won’t do any research besides printing out a ranking 10 minutes before the draft?

To aid in your quest for glory even outside of the hardcore, diehard fantasy league, I put together a 12-man team to draft like a normal, un-addicted fantasy team owners. We made it four rounds in before we had to stop and prepare for our real drafts and real lives.

They’re not much to look at, but here’s how it went down.

For this mock league, all touchdowns are worth six points (passing, receiving or rushing). Players get one point for every 25 yards passing and one point for every 10 yards rushing. No points per reception.

In this mock league, we’ll say you must start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 team defense (DEF) with a total roster of 16 players. (Therefore, you have seven bench spots)

Fantasy Football Fools’

“Average Joe” Mock Draft

1.01 Houston Rockets Will Be 2009 Champions: LaDainian Tomlinson RB SD

It’s LaDainian’s world; we’re just living in it. (Ed. Note: This statement was too golden for me to ever consider taking it out. Golden. It shall live in infamy.)

In non-PPR leagues, the only other consideration for the No. 1 spot is Adrian Peterson. You take AP for the upside. If he goes for 2000 yards and 30 touchdowns, no one will be surprised. For me, questions surrounding his supporting cast and his ability to stay healthy bump him down a notch.

It comes down to how much you prefer taking risks, and while you can’t play it safe the entire draft, the first round is not where I’m taking chances.

With LT, you know what you’re getting: week-to-week excellence, durability (that MCL sprain seven months ago is nothing but a memory) and the ability to sleep easy at night knowing you have the player with the best chance to return top-10 overall production out of your first pick in the draft — if not more.

LT is my first pick because he has an excellent offensive line, a solid QB, receivers keeping opposing defenses honest, the guarantee of 25 touches per game that comes with being the focal point of the offense and a defense that will keep his team in the game (and running the ball).

1.02 Kansas City’s Finest: Adrian Peterson RB MIN

Remove brain. Insert hype. Draft pick = A.P.

(Ed. Note: Okay, okay. Just kidding. He didn’t really say that. After this pick, we lost this mock drafter to some boring, unnecessary travel plans or something, and I took over drafting this team as well as my own team, Favre’s Untruths)

1.03 A Chinese Okie: Brian Westbrook RB PHI

I would rather of had the No. 6 pick so I could have taken Brady, but Westbrook is too tempting to pass up. He can run, he can catch and he can score.

I predict he will go uninjured, play all 16 games, score 30 all-purpose TDs and tally up 2500 yards.

1.04 Captain Stabbins: Joseph Addai RB IND

Many may say this is a little early to pick up Addai, especially after the slump at the end of the 2007 season. This one is an easy pick for me.

Addai is a young running back with a low risk of injury, had 15 TDs in 2007, is part of a high-powered offense and has no hidden talent waiting on the bench to steal the show. Addai should pan out to be a stud in 2008.

1.05 Morgan Freeman: Steven Jackson RB STL

Fantasy Football Today told me to pick him. Plus, he went to Oregon State. (Ed. Note: I have no idea why he likes Oregon State. None.)

1.06 WAGhunters: Randy Moss WR NEP

I feel like there are a lot more quality RBs in this draft than there are quality WRs. The Patriots’ easy schedule raises Moss above Owens in my mind. I also have a lot more faith in Brady than in Tony Romo. After watching the champion of our league for the past two years dominate with good WRs and out-of-nowhere RBs, I’m convinced this strategy is the way to go.

1.07 King of Kings: Tom Brady QB NEP

With this pick, I not only get Tom Brady, the greatest player to ever grace the earth, but also a mastermind coach, the second greatest receiver in the league, enough motivation to last through the 2012 season AND this year’s eventual Super Bowl Champions. Excellent!

1.08 True Frattiness: Peyton Manning QB IND

My fav player (Ed. Note: Adrian Peterson is his favorite player. Silly Sooner.) is gone, and I really don’t like any of remaining running backs (Gore, Portis and the rest). I don’t want Gore because Mike Martz is their offensive coordinator, and for Portis, Washington O-line sucks.

I like Marion Barber, but I think he is going to share with Felix Jones. I also think I can get good receivers in later rounds, so I figure QB is the perfect way to go. Manning is the best QB available.

1.09 Waller Actuators: Reggie Wayne WR IND

Although convention dictates a RB as the first choice in a fantasy draft, the RBs left above Reggie Wayne disappointed me with either weak performance or injury trouble last year.

1.10 The Freshman 100: Marion Barber RB DAL

“Marion the Barbarian” was called the hardest running back in the NFL to bring down by the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. It will be interesting to see him as the primary back since he has split time since college.

The presence of Felix Jones behind him will keep him uncomfortable enough to keep him undomesticated. His better is better than your better. Enough said.

1.11 Favre’s Untruths: Clinton Portis RB WAS

Normally, I would agree with most of you that strong WRs and QBs are the way to win — in our typical 14-man, six-point passing TD league especially. At the same time, it’s hard to find a productive RB that takes the full load outside of the first two or three rounds. If you guys are going to pass them up, I’ll have to take them.

Portis is a fine “Port,” not nearly as aged as some of the other backs that top the rankings. Last year, he put up 11 TDs, and this year, new coach Jim Zorn won’t let him take himself out of games for a breather anymore and should make him a pillar of the new Washington offense.

Even though Clinton Portis screwed me once, I’ll take him. I figure he owes me, and besides, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…damn, you’re good.

1.12 QWERTY 3.0: Terrell Owens WR DAL

(Ed. Note: QWERTY is the winner of one of my leagues for the last two years straight. He’ll tell you…I’m sure.)

With the last pick of the first round, I’ll take the greatest player who has ever played the game, the man who puts the “I” in team, the touchdown king himself for two of the last three years, the magnificent T.O. With stats like his, how can you not pick him?

2.01 QWERTY 3.0: Steve Smith WR CAR

Stats are meaningless. With my second pick, I’ll take Steve Smith down there in Carolina. He might not have had a good year in 2007, but he was saving his skills for this year.

Prediction: 20+ touchdowns. Carolina is pissed about their performance last year; they will be the NFC Champions. (The 49ers will be the second best team in the NFC.)

I can taste that 3rd Championship already…

2.02 Favre’s Untruths: Marshawn Lynch RB BUF

Again, I’m tempted to take a WR here, but the RB talent is still of the stud variety. I’ll stock up while I can. It’s a tough call with Frank Gore and LJ still on the board, but I like Buffalo’s rushing schedule better.

As long as the defense has improved — and by improved, I mean finally gotten healthy — Buffalo should be able to control games by putting it in Lynch’s hands 300+ times this year. Besides, I just have to draft anyone who calls his game “Beast Mode.”

2.03 The Freshman 100: Drew Brees QB NO

The Saints are obviously not confident with his ability to hand the ball off as he had 652 pass attempts last year. This stat gives Brees, a very experienced and smart player, the opportunity to determine his own destiny.

After deep analysis of many different empirical models developed by NASA, I expect another strong hurricane (Ed. Note: Don’t think he predicted Gustav…or did he?) which leaves the Saints, Hornets and Weezy to rep New Orleans.

2.04 Waller Actuators: Frank Gore RB SF

I was kind of worried I wouldn’t get a decent running back after taking a wideout in the first round, but luckily for me, everyone else was thinking the same thing I was and left me with an opportunity to still pick up one of those “worrisome” RBs I had to pass on in Round 1. Let’s hope the 49ers DO have a good season, centered around my pick.

2.05 True Frattiness: Willis McGahee RB BAL

Willis McGahee rushed a lot last year, and it has been said that his carries will only increase this year. I need to get a good running back before they are all taken. McGahee is the guy.

2.06 King of Kings: Braylon Edwards WR CLE

Can the success Derek Anderson had last season carry over? I’m betting on it, especially since he has “The Golden Boy” [Insert Myoplex commercial here] nipping at his heels from the bench.

Whether Braylon is a true “soldier” like his teammate Kellen Winslow is debatable, but he is their go-to receiver. He should have a solid season.

I can hear the dog pound barking now!

2.07 WAGhunters: Tony Romo QB DAL

Personally, I hate everything about the Dallas Cowboys, but Tony Romo has big potential in Big D. Some sites even rank him above Peyton Manning. Hopefully, his poor play in the last three games of 2007 (1 TD and 5 INTs) will not carry over into this season.

He is a tier-one quarterback that I’m not going to have to worry about getting a backup for until his bye week comes up. I like that because it allows more bench spots for sleeper WRs and RBs. He also has one of the hottest WAGs in football right now.

2.08 Morgan Freeman: Carson Palmer QB CIN

Chad Johnson is in camp and making amends with CP, so no worries there. With T.J. ballin’ it up, Cincy has the best WR duo in the league. Palmer will average three TDs per game. Word.

2.09 Captain Stabbins: Marques Colston WR NO

This one was a tough pick because there are still some quality backs out there, and Larry Fitzgerald is out there, too. But Jeremy Shockey is a great addition to the Saints and will force the safeties to the middle to open up some big play potential for the seventh-round pick turned boss hog Marques Colston.

2.10 A Chinese Okie: Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI

Easy pick — top-tier wide receiver at the end of the second round. He has a good supporting cast with a fantasy football starter at RB, a fantasy football starter to complement him at WR and a fantasy football back up for QB. (Ed. Note: At the time, the QB was looking like Leinart.) I’m predicting 1200 yards and 10 TDs.

2.11 Kansas City’s Finest: Larry Johnson RB KC

Look at the team name. I have to draft either LJ or Dwayne Bowe to make it legit. Other than that, LJ is a late first type of talent, and I can’t believe he is here at the end of the second round.

While he had a rough start last year and went down hurt, Johnson still has it in him to be a top RB. I’m not scared about any carries that Jamaal Charles might take from him — even if he does spell his name with three As. Booby can spin, but LJ is going to be pounding the rock.

2.12 Houston Rockets Will Be 2009 Champions: Willie Parker RB PIT

How one year makes a difference…

Fast Willie was a top-five pick last year, and a flukey broken leg and low touchdown total (only 2 TDs last year) aren’t enough to convince me he’s fallen this far. The Steelers drafting Fat Rashard Mendenhall, who probably listens to Coldplay, doesn’t scare me away either. You know the yards will be there, and I think the touchdowns will soon follow. I predict 1400 yards and 8TDs for Fast Willie.

3.01 Houston Rockets Will Be 2009 Champions: Andre Johnson WR HOU

While I was seriously contemplating taking another RB here because everybody is passing them up, I couldn’t resist taking a Texan and a probable top-five receiver. (Ed. Note: Homer pick.) He was on par with Moss last year for per-game averages, and while health might be a concern, I think his upside outweighs the risk. I’m expecting a big season from Andre 3000, possibly 1300 yards and 13TDs. (Ed. Note: He likes 13s obviously.)

3.02 Kansas City’s Finest: Maurice Jones-Drew RB JAX

While I believe that I got some extreme RB value in the first two rounds, both have question marks going into 2008.

Adrian Peterson hasn’t carried the full load for a full season yet and could go down with an injury again. Larry Johnson could suffer from the same horrible offensive line woes as last year. Most of the elite WRs have been taken off the board and left behind a fairly strong group of low-end elite RBs.

To fortify my RB core and make sure I have trade bait if I get in a tough spot for WRs later in the draft, I will take a sure thing with Jones-Drew. He may not be the starter, but he certainly scores consistent fantasy points. If this season is the nail in the coffin for Fred Taylor, MJD obviously inflates a huge ceiling. I doubt that’ll happen, but he’ll still be good for consistent scores and a big showing every week or two.

3.03 A Chinese Okie: T.J. Houshmandzadeh WR CIN

Taking Housh gives me a solid pair of top receivers.

3.04 Captain Stabbins: Jamal Lewis RB CLE

1) He was the third leading rusher in the AFC last year. 2) If Derek Anderson can be the QB he was last year, the Browns could have one of the best offenses of the AFC as long as pretty boy Quinn sticks with the Myoplex commercials. 3) Not only is Jamal just huge and ugly, but as he breaks tackles, he shanks defenders in the kidney. If they do tackle him, he eats their children as payback. Who wouldn’t want this guy on their team? 4) He is pretty much the last RB left that won’t be sharing a lot of carries if he stays healthy.

3.05 Morgan Freeman: Chad Johnson WR CIN

He’s a risky gamble, but I’ll take it. He’s got class and character, and that’s what I look for in a player.

3.06 WAGhunters: Ronnie Brown RB MIA

I understand that this is a risky pick since Brown is coming back from injury, but Brown racks up the fantasy points when healthy. Since the Dolphins have no good QBs — they had Quincy Carter come in for a workout — and Bill Parcels, they will be a run-oriented offense. I know Ricky is in Miami as well, but there is no doubt who the feature back is.

3.07 King of Kings: Michael Turner RB ATL

Michael Turner is fresh and ready to prove that he is worth the big contract that Atlanta paid him this offseason. Atlanta will be using a run-based offense to take pressure off No. 3 draft pick Matt Ryan. Atlanta will also be going up against some low-ranked rushing defenses, which should only pump up Turner’s stats even more.

3.08 True Frattiness: Plaxico Burress WR NYG

Just look at Giants’ roster…who is Eli going to throw to? Amani Toomer is getting old, and Shockey is gone. Tyree, who made an amazing catch, is a special teams player. I predict 1200 yards and 14 TDs. Plaxico is the best receiver available.

3.09 Waller Actuators: Earnest Graham RB TB

With RBs pretty picked over and the QBs that warrant pre-RB and/or WR picks gone, Graham seems like a solid pick to get at the end of the third round. There are no stud WRs left really, and he’s a solid RB2 option.

3.10 The Freshman 100: Brandon Jacobs RB NYG

Good in the red zone. Beastly athlete. What’s not to love? Also, Jacobs is up for a new contract. Dolla dolla bills, ya’ll!

3.11 Favre’s Untruths: Roy Williams WR DET

It seems like I missed the elite WR pack in the last couple of rounds, but I’ll see if I can make up for it. Williams is looking for a paycheck, so even though he hasn’t played all 16 games in three out of the last four seasons, I’ll take a chance that he does it this year to impresses Detroit and/or his next team.

Mike Martz is out of town, but Williams has always been consistent in scoring TDs. Maybe a slightly improved running game will help take some pressure off Kitna and give the former Longhorn more opportunities as well. At least we know that Detroit will probably be playing from behind a lot. They will be forced to pass.

3.12 QWERTY 3.0: Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT

I can’t stand the guy; however, he will be a top-five QB this year. The Steelers, despite their reputation as running team, pass a lot and especially in the red zone. Willie Parker has probably forgotten what the end zone looks like. Big Ben just needs to stay away from motorcycles.

4.01 QWERTY 3.0: Antonio Gates TE SD

The MAN. A QWERTY veteran. This guy is like having a top-tier receiver on your team. The quality of TEs drops off pretty quickly after the top three or four, and if I may, Gates is the only consistently good TE around year after year.

By picking him, you can significantly boost your team’s scoring potential while simultaneously hurting your opponents by leaving them with greatly inferior TE choices. It’s a win-win situation.

4.02 Favre’s Untruths: Wes Welker WR NEP

I am in need of a WR, and lucky for me, Wes Welker has fallen into my lap. While he doesn’t always rack up touchdowns, Welker is good for consistent yardage. He’ll have his big games from time to time.

Then, there’s always the theory that the Giant’s Super Bowl defensive strategy will be used against the Patriots all season, shutting down Moss and leaving Wes Welker to run wild underneath. I like that idea.

4.03 The Freshman 100: Hines Ward WR PIT

I don’t care what they say about Santonio Holmes; Hines Ward is undeniable. Ward is off the injury report with Ben avoiding motorcycles and defenses concentrating on Holmes. That’s just what Hines Ward needed. Wooo half-Asian people! (Ed. Note: We got a half-Asian drafter here.)

4.04 Waller Actuators: Derek Anderson QB CLE

This was a tough choice. I needed a QB and a TE, and QBs draw more water on any given day. Taking Favre was tempting though, just to be THAT guy.

4.05 True Frattiness: Jason Witten TE DAL

4.06 King of Kings: Darren McFadden RB OAK

I don’t care if this is a huge stretch. Darren McFadden, a.k.a. Adrian Peterson 2.0, is going to run hog-wild for the Oakland Raiders this year. The offense will be based around McFadden and Fargas as it tries to set up for the former holdout JaMarcus Russell. Darren will also throw a few touchdowns this season just because he can.

If Adrian Peterson is Purple Jesus, I’m officially campaigning for McFadden to be Black Jesus. I think it has a nice ring to it. Don’t forget: you heard it hear first.

4.07 WAGhunters: Kellen Winslow, Jr. TE CLE

Why? Cause he’s a soldier. Just ask him. Last year, he had over 1100 yards and 5 TDs. Those are very solid WR numbers at the TE spot. There are only a small handful of TEs who put up this kind of numbers.

I wouldn’t take Jason Witten here (even if he were available) because A) He is not a soldier and B) I already have Tony Romo in this draft, and I don’t want put all my hopes with the Dallas Cowboys.

4.08 Morgan Freeman: Ryan Grant RB GB

4.09 Captain Stabbins: Santonio Holmes WR PIT

If Big Ben can avoid getting sacked over and over again this year, Santonio will be putting up some points. Hines Ward has past the peak of his career and will most likely not start all the games this season.

4.10 A Chinese Okie: LenDale White RB Ten

He’s quiet but he gets a ton of carries. Good value for the end of Round 4.

4.11 Kansas City’s Finest: Torry Holt WR STL

Holt is getting older, but he’s still a top man in St. Louis. As long as they improve just a bit, he should be in line for another good season. Taking him here gives me a pretty sick 3 RB core and 1 top WR at the end of our fourth round.

4.12 Houston Rockets Will Be 2009 Champions: Edgerrin James RB ARI

While I like Willie Parker, I really want to grab another RB in case he doesn’t pan out. I was contemplating taking Edge with my 3.01 pick but figured at least one of the RBs I liked would slip. I’m stoked that one fell this far.

Edge will be a solid RB2 this year with Fitz, Boldin, tight end sleeper Leonard Pope and Leinart/Warner deflecting attention from the running game out in the desert. I personally think Arizona will be a high scoring team that should battle for a playoff spot in the wide-open NFC West.

Fantasy Football Players You Hate, Twitter

Last weekend, I asked all my Twitter followers what players ranked in the top 50 they didn’t want to touch in their fantasy football drafts.

I’m sure each one of you is hoarding some dark feelings towards one of the top 10 players in fantasy, but even knowing the hatred you hold in your hearts for some of the NFL’s best, I received a few curveballs in the responses. (Does that count as a mixed metaphor?)

So who does Twitter hate this season? Turns out they’re all running backs.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Current ADP: RB3, 3rd Overall

Brian Westbrook is not a hard man to dislike in fantasy football, and I am not even talking about that time he stopped short of an easy touchdown against the Cowboys last season. No matter what he does, Westbrook’s never good enough to please fantasy football fans when the draft comes around.

Last season, only eight players scored more fantasy points than Westbrook in standard, non-PPR scoring, and of those eight, only one of them was a running back. I am sure you have no idea who that running back was, so we’ll move on.

The No. 1 reason that many people stay away from Westbrook is that he is “injury prone.” Westbrook went down late in the season in 2004 and 2005, and no fantasy player wants to forget it even though Westbrook has only missed one game each of the past two seasons.

Missing the one game last year, Westbrook still scored 12 total touchdowns (7 TDs running, 5 TDs receiving) with more than 2000 yards rushing and receiving. Those numbers are pretty epic. He averaged more than 18 fantasy points per week in standard scoring and never scored less than 14–of course, overlooking the game he missed.

You can hate the guy or avoid him if you want, but I like him this season because he’s proven he can stay healthy for at least 15 games, and with few weapons, the Eagles are going to use him a lot. He has the same workload concerns as LaDainian Tomlinson since he has had so many carries in recent years, but I don’t see anyone backing off of L.T. because of that, do you?

I say you give Westbrook a chance this season. He’s a top five RB, no question, and I’d feel safe taking him before the Purple Jesus that is Adrian Peterson.

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs RB
Current ADP: RB10, 13th Overall

L.J. is less of a puzzle than Westbrook. He is feared this season because he looked terrible last season.

He missed most of training camp with his holdout in 2007 and, once he was paid, started slow against a tough early schedule. Owners held out until he got to the chewy center of his rushing opponents only to see Johnson injure his foot and get knocked out for the season.

Not much has changed with L.J. He has a fully-functioning foot–or so I am told–but his offensive line is still going to be inexperienced.

Don’t count on Brodie Croyle to step in and take pressure off the running game. The offense will look about as inadequate as it did last season.

Best case, Johnson overcomes all and records a top five fantasy season, but with so many question marks, I understand why you all doubt him. I don’t see it happening.

Stay away from him in the first round, but if you see him floating by in the middle or end of the second round, he could be worth a shot.

Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins RB
Current ADP: RB18, 34th Overall

Brown’s also a pretty easy one to figure out since he is also coming off injury.

While Ronnie Brown was just starting to look like the new L.T., his knee injury in Week 7 stole him away from fantasy owners.

While he was out, Cam Cameron left town and in came Bill Parcells. The new coaches like Brown as their starter, but they have enough confidence in Ricky Williams to let him carry the load while Brown eases back into things. A plus for both RBs is the addition of Jake Long on the offensive line.

You can’t expect a lot of Brown until later in the season. If only someone would tell that to every other owner in your league, you could draft him at his real value. As the prodigal son of 2007 fantasy football, too many hype-drinkers are jumping on him early. Brown currently carries a late third round price tag on average, and that is reasonable if you can get it.

I like him more in the fourth round, but frankly, I have to agree that I would rather avoid him. A better option if you want a piece of the Miami running schedule (easy as pie according to strength of schedule) is Ricky Williams in the later rounds. He’ll face some easy opponents in the first weeks of the season.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay Packers RB
Current ADP: RB12, 19th Overall

So you think he is a one-year wonder? You probably pin half his performance on the respect defenses gave to Favre’s big arm, or maybe you just like Brandon Jackson to emerge this year.

Well, whatever you think, don’t be so worried. Now that he has signed his contract extension, Grant should be the starter for Green Bay, a team that is more oriented toward solid defense this season and starting a first-year quarterback. That formula equals a commitment to the running game and plenty of opportunities for Grant.

If you put faith in strength of schedule, Grant ends the season on a hot streak (see: fantasy playoffs). He may not put up the numbers he did at the end of last season, but the Seattle playoff game proved that he can struggle through adversity and come out on top.

He’s a top ten talent you can get outside of the first round. Why would you pass that up?

Selvin Young, Denver Broncos RB
Current ADP: RB29, 65th Overall

Selvin Young doesn’t have a bad name for himself. Unfortunately, his team does. When it comes to RBs, Denver is a crapshoot.

Shanahan gets a kick out of torturing fantasy fans. He’s admitted that under oath. The man just makes no allegiances when it comes to the running game.

Still, Selvin Young is the man to start the year. Rookie Ryan Torain is now out 6-8 weeks with an elbow injury, so he is no longer a challenge. It looks like a committee might form from Young, Andre Hall and Michael Pittman, but Young should see the bulk of the open field work.

Being drafted at 65th overall, Young’s not too expensive, but I’ve seen him going earlier than the sixth round in many mocks. If you can get him fifth round or later after all the sure thing RBs are off the board, he could potentially be a starter for your fantasy team.

Denver’s rushing opponents don’t give me anything to get excited about and doubt surrounds the Broncos offense, but they should improve this year with Cutler maturing under center and managing the diabetes that weakened him at the end of last season.

Young’s in a committee, possibly an injury risk and in Denver. I leave it up to you whether you want to avoid him, but make sure you get him at a good price.

Now that we’ve talked these guys over, I open it up to you non-Twitterers…what players are you willing to avoid this year? Explain why in the comments for bonus points.

INCOMING TWITTER PSA…

If you’re not on Twitter, get with the program and start following my updates (@jacobsloan)!

Twitter is one of the easiest ways for us to harass each other about our fantasy teams during NFL games no matter where your opponent may be hiding…curled in a corner…crying under a pillow…or just screaming “WHY WESTBROOK? WHY!?!?!” into the sky.

If you don’t know what it is, check out this video for a simple explanation. Try it out even if you don’t “get” it. You’ll come along eventually and be talking fantasy football with me in no time.

Go sign up now and follow me (@jacobsloan) to talk fantasy football and possibly be included in a future article just like this one.

Thanks to @timdnew, @bbille, @timothompson and @dreamented for their input on this post.

Thank you for this moment of your time. PSA out.

Drafting Your Fantasy Running Backs: The Details to Consider in 2008

If breaking down the details for this year’s fantasy running backs doesn’t make you want to take LaDainian Tomlinson first overall in your re-draft league, I don’t know what will. Seriously, people.

When you’re talking fantasy running backs, what separates the vets from the noobs is consideration of a few minor factors beyond how high-powered a running back’s offense was last year and where the running back ranks on cheat sheets this season. Looking at the slight details like what defenses they face, contract lengths and ages can help you make the call between two closely-ranked RBs in your draft.

Let’s jump into how these factors will affect some top fantasy running backs this season with some good ol’ plus or minus analysis — and we go with negative first around these parts.

The Age Old Rule

First, let’s talk age. When you’re an old running back, you’re like a hot potato. No one wants to get stuck holding you when you crack.

Fantasy Football Toolbox told all with a list of all the running backs age 29 or older. There won’t be any pluses in this category, so we will have Big/Mini shades of Minus — a very scientific method, fingers crossed.

For fantasy’s sake, here’s who is getting to be old bones:

BIG Minus –

  • Warrick Dunn – Tampa Bay: I know you thought he was a spring chicken.
  • Ahman Green – Houston Texans: His knees show his age like the rings in a tree trunk.
  • LaMont Jordan – Oakland Raiders: Age and injury have punched Jordan’s ticket out of Oakland.
  • Thomas Jones – New York Jets: Things could go either way for Jones in 2008 with a new O-line.
  • Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: It’s hard to make a comeback with just a couple of years left in the tank.
  • Deuce McAllister – New Orleans Saints: Coming off injury AND old. Not pretty. “Little Deuce” Aaron Stecker (32) isn’t getting younger for the Saints either.
  • The New England Trio: Heath Evans, Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris – New England Patriots: Most of New England’s backfield is over 30. The Patriots can get production out of the old guys, but these guys have got to be breaking down this year. Maybe they will remember that they have Laurence Maroney.

Mini Minus –

  • Jamal Lewis – Cleveland Browns: I think he was reborn when he became a Brown because he certainly did his owners right last year.
  • Fred Taylor – Jacksonville Jaguars: Everyone keeps calling for Maurice Jones-Drew, but Taylor seems to find gas in the tank.
  • Edgerrin James – Arizona Cardinals: Old with flashes of youth still left.
  • Brian Westbrook – Philadelphia Eagles: Only 28 but backup is Correll Buckhalter (29). No wonder the Eagles wanted Lorenzo Booker, a spry 24, from Miami.

Strength of Schedules: Running into Brick Walls

NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano ranked the rushing schedules of fantasy running backs last week while we were just sitting around chatting about the free agents of 2009, which is the next section.

Fantasy Football Xtreme’s Smitty also put together a strength of schedule analysis earlier this offseason, showing L.T. is the set to be at the top in 2008.

Pouring out a little link love for my homies, Fantasy Football Librarian noted that Fabiano’s breakdown makes Laurence Maroney look pretty favorable, and Football Jabber singled out the top and bottom five teams. Frank Gore has his work cut out for him, and no one in Houston’s backfield has it easy this year.

Here’s who’ll be hurting on and who’ll be hurting from run defenses this year:

Minus –

  • Frank Gore – San Francisco 49ers: Even if he isn’t the focus of the offense, he will still be the focus of the defense. It’s not looking good. I might go Tom Brady over Gore in the first round, but I’m not totally quitting on him yet.
  • Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants: Long road back to the top against some of the best defenses out there at stopping the run. Giants will have to keep it dynamic in the run game to say ahead.
  • Edgerrin James – Arizona Cardinals: Notch Edge down another point for this one.
  • Ahman Green (and friends) – Houston Texans: No one will have an easy time running for Houston. With a pack of inconsistent backs, I’d avoid them all in your drafts this year.
  • Jamal Lewis – Cleveland Browns: Age AND a schedule full of stacked run defenses. That hurts.
  • Julius Jones – Seattle Seahawks: Jones can’t improve his stock much in Seattle against the best in the biz of stopping him.
  • Marion Barber and Felix Jones – Dallas Cowboys: A huge offense makes this a minor point. Does this stat mean they will throw more? PLUS to Romo if that’s the case.

Plus +

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers: You couldn’t really ask for much more than L.T. having the best schedule of any RB. For the most part, Tomlinson will be running against the bottom-of-the-barrel run defenses.
  • Laurence Maroney – New England Patriots: Will the Patriots use him with the easiest rushing defense schedule? I think they might just let Brady throw all day again, but he could run easy when they let him.
  • Thomas Jones – New York Jets: If his new O-line can block for him, Jones has it free and clear this season.
  • Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: Two bounce backs is possible. My money’s on Brown more than Ricky.
  • Travis Henry – Denver Broncos: Easy street should win him some points with Shanny.
  • Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush – New Orleans Saints: The Saints offense is in line for a big year. Bush is the probably the better back to snag.
  • Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills: The second-best rookie of 2008 gets forgotten at times, but he should have a nice 2008 season with an easy rushing schedule and an improved offense. I’m high on this kid and owned him last year.
  • Larry Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs: Rebounds abound? Maybe. Johnson has an easy schedule to redeem himself for last year.
  • Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons: All that postseason hype won’t weigh down Turner much in Atlanta when he faces mostly low-end or middle-of-the-pack run defenses. In an offense based off the run this year, Turner could be more productive than people think.

Freebirds in Free Agency of 2009

Who’s looking to bust a move? Running backs who have a payday coming are always more likely to impress, but those who just got paid can be slowed by their wallets.

Plus +

  • Steven Jackson – St. Louis Rams: The big man might get money before the season, but if not, stay out of his way.
  • Brandon Jacobs – New York Giants: He’s got his work cut out for him, but boy, he wants to work.
  • Ricky Williams – Miami Dolphins: The “Freebird” title of this section was purely unintentional — I promise. Ricky probably has to make enough money over the next two years to rebuild his straw hut in a foreign country and smoke away the pain…That might not be very much though.

Minus –

  • Marion Barber – Dallas Cowboys: Likely to have just signed a major deal by the time the season starts even though he is a free agent now. Hopefully, money won’t weigh him down like it did Shaun Alexander.

In Closing

When it’s all said and done, these three factors paint a picture for who looks better than they might have beforehand and worse now than ever before. Some older backs may make nice RB2s, but don’t fall for drafting them as RB1s again this season.

Ricky Williams is still risky, but he has a lot going in his favor. Ronnie Brown is the more dependable guy to have for Miami, but Ricky cold be a good value pick. On the other hand, Marion Barber might have two strikes against him going into the season. Jamal Lewis looks like a player to avoid in the worst way possible.

Take all these factors into your noggin this offseason and remember to factor them in when you are choosing between two running backs in your draft. Upside is hard to find with running backs since the RBBCs are forming everywhere in the league, but make sure you get the most out of your running back picks. Don’t get stuck making the wrong call. Some rookies with young legs might be worth betting on over solid veterans.

Let me echo this again: L.T. looks good overlooking the age effect. In my mind, these factors put him clearly up there in the No. 1 overall spot. Take him first in your re-draft leagues, and call me in the morning.

Agree, disagree or explode in the comments below.

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.

——

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.

—–

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.

—–

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.

—–

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?

—–

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?

And now, a funeral for Larry Johnson’s season

LJ profile

R.I.P. LJ’s 2007 Fantasy Season

He came in with such high hopes this season–heralded as one of the top RBs in fantasy and setting a franchise record with his latest contract with the Chiefs.

And then, he went and performed like a back up for the first four games of the season. I’ll hold that against him considering he was killing one of my fantasy teams by stinkin’ up the joint. Luckily, he came back to form in week 4 and exploded weeks 6 through week 9, when the Packers forced him to leave the game with an official undisclosed injury.

A now an moment of silence for LJ…

That’s all that has been coming out the Kansas City camp since his injury, but now, we finally get confirmation that he has a Lisfranc fracture similar to what Kevin Jones suffered from last season. Since they are being so quiet, and LJ vows to return, they may feel that his injury is not going to be that major, but considering that he sits this week against Oakland, the only good match up he has left is week 14 in Denver. After that game, he faces Tennessee for week 15–not helping you much in the playoffs–and then Detroit for most championships in week 16.

It seems unlikely that he will make it back by then–or even make it back in time to not share carries with Kolby Smith on his return, so for fantasy purposes, his season is probably done. Move on, nothing to see here. Just a undisclosed injury trying to keep your fantasy hopes alive. Give up the roster spot and pick up someone with a brighter future ahead unless you are in some kind of crazy keeper league. LJ might play again this year, but probably not best to hold out for it to be your team unless you are stacked at RB.

Week 12 Injury Report: Give thanks for back ups

football turkey

Someone just told me that you can buy a turkey at the store these days. Who knew? I just spent the last week in a ditch waiting for a gobbler to get caught in my cage full of blown up surgical gloves–finally got one.

Bet you thought I wasn’t going to get you your fantasy update before turkey day…but you were wrong.

It seems no running back will make it to the playoffs unscathed this year. Almost every single one in the league has sat at least one game or had an injury scare. This week, you may be able to snag a back up before your league handcuffs their players, and these backups could save your season.

Give thanks if you don’t own a player on this huge list.

Vince Young, QB Tennessee Titans
Reggie Bush, RB New Orleans Saints

Don’t worry about these two top NFL draft picks. Young will play through his injury even if it still nags him, and Bush is set to play according to the latest news out of New Orleans.

Santana Moss, WR Washington Redskins
Antwaan Randle El, WR Washington Redskins

The Redskins receivers are taking a beating this year, but Moss and Randle El are reportedly still going to start this week. Moss is coming off a big game as the go to receiver, so even though the lightning rod single-game explosion of James Thrash will be missing for another six years or so week 12 the Redskins could have another hot receiving day against Tampa Bay.

Priest Holmes, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Larry Johnson, RB Kansas City Chiefs

LJ is being secretive about his injury, but it seems like he is planning on making it back in time to help you out in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, while he sits again this week, Priest Holmes will also be abandoning them by retiring today. Rookie Kolby Smith will be taking over for this offense and might be worth starting this week against Oakland–the most holy defensive line in the NFL lately.

Javon Walker, WR Denver Broncos

Walker might be back this week since he is practicing. I say *might* because the star WR has been out eight games now. If he is available in your league, for God’s sake man, pick him up. Walker was a beast near the end of the season last year and could return to make Jay Cutler look very good here at the end of the fantasy season.

The still hurt:

Shaun Alexander, RB Seattle Seahawks

The money man will sit again this week and let Maurice Morris make people think paying high-dollar for a RB is always a bad decision. According to Bill Parcels, the position has a four year life span and is not worth signing anyone at high expense. Maybe Alexander just has a second year’s worth of the Madden curse.

Adrian Peterson, RB Minnesota Vikings

You can pray to the purple Jesus of fantasy football, but you won’t see him back this week.

As a side note, Chester Taylor‘s lead blocker Tony Richardson sprained his MCL. Taylor might be missing Richardson’s large, comforting presence blocking Giants tacklers in front of him this week. He has not been named as out for the game this week yet, but Richardson’s status might be worth watching.

Ahman Green, RB Houston Texans

Ahman has one banged up knee that won’t go away, but the Texans want to keep him around. Surely, there are probably better backs available in most leagues, but if not, you can keep holding out for Green–pick up Ron Dayne in the meantime if no one else has him as they play the Browns this week.

Laveranues Coles, WR New York Jets

Coles will probably sit this week against the Cowboys secondary on Thanksgiving because of his sprained ankle. Coles has had a rough season but might still be worth holding onto if you don’t have a mammoth core of receivers. Justin McCareins will likely start in his place with Jerricho Cotchery moving to the number one receiver spot for Kellen Clemens big arm.

Santonio Holmes, WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Holmes is likely to miss the game this week and sit on the sidelines with Troy Palamalu–bad news for Holmes owners but good news for Miami receivers. Wait, does Miami have receivers? or an offense? Scratch that.

Nate Washington will start in Holmes place.

Patrick Crayton, WR Dallas Cowboys

Crayton didn’t want to miss out on the injury party, so he injured his ankle in practice. If he does not play on Thanksgiving, Sam Hurd will get the nod. Hurd is a fast, breaking WR like Terrell Owens, but against the Jets, expect most of the throws to go T.O. and Jason Witten‘s way. Hurd is probably not a good play this week.

Marshawn Lynch, RB Buffalo Bills

The second best rookie RB might still sit this week but wouldn’t be a very good fantasy pick this week anyway against the Jaguars. Anthony Thomas should be starting again–and probably pretty poorly this week.

Ryan Grant, RB Green Bay Packers

Grant hurt his ankle and might not recover in time to play on Thanksgiving. If you have another option, you might not play him or sit your laptop atop the turkey to update your roster before game time. The family won’t mind, just don’t block the turkey legs. Who knows which GB RB will see more time if he is out–Morency or Jackson?

Aaron Moorehead, WR Indianapolis Colts
Marvin Harrison, WR Indianapolis Colts

The Colts are dropping like flies again. Moorehead is out for the season with a back injury, so Anthony Gonzalez should return as the starter with Reggie Wayne. Harrison is still mysteriously not returning–maybe saving him for retirement playoffs?

Brandon Jacobs, RB New York Giants

Jacobs is out as the big bruiser for this week. Reuben Droughns and/or Derrick Ward will make up for his huge absence. Watch the injury reports to see if Ward will make it back in time for the game. Keep in mind that they play the Vikings run defense this week.

Donovan McNabb, QB Philadelphia Eagles

McNabb is banged up this week, but he is not a good play against the Patriots anyway. A.J. Feeley would probably fill in if every other team in your league has a bench full of QBs.

Lesson of the week: make sure you back up your studs.

Week 11 Injury Report: A Bad Week for Running Backs

Not only has this year been a year for the quarterback, but this entire season has been week looks to be a horrible week to be a running back. Most of the starters around the league are banged up in some way.

Just take a look at the hit list sitting this week:

  • Larry Johnson – Kansas City Chiefs
    foot injury that could be worse
  • Marshawn Lynch – Buffalo Bills
    knee injury keeping him out this week at the very least
  • Shaun Alexander – Seattle Seahawks
    lucky to have an injury to blame on his weak performances lately

Unfortunately for our fantasy teams, these three represent some of the few running backs not splitting carries this year in the NFL, a trend that is hurting many a team. The NFL is trying to kill fantasy football, I swear.

If you are unfortunate enough to have any of these three players, look at Maurice Morris from Seattle subbing in for Shaun or Priest Holmes–if you have no better options. Holmes may show better skills his second game as a starter after being much less of the guy he used to be last week.

I am lucky enough to have both Marshawn and LJ on my bench this week in a league of 14, so I will be playing whichever Chris backs up LenDale White this week for the Titans and a well-adjusted starting Jesse Chatman. Wish me the best–or don’t you selfish idiot.

Along with these engines of the running game, notable stars sitting this week are Todd Heap for Baltimore, Alex Smith for San Francisco, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez of the Colts, although Peyton Manning will have Dallas Clark back this week.

Andre Johnson will be making his return for the Texans this week, and Santana Moss could be worth a roster spot if he becomes a part of the renewed Redskins passing game this week against Dallas.

Week 10 Injury Update: Another Week of Big Names Going Down Hurt

This week’s games left another slew of stars leaving on stretchers, crutches or in the arms of strangers.

Jay Cutler, QB Denver Broncos

Cutler went down after his legs were twisted while being sacked by the big men of Detroit. Early reports indicate that it is only a severe bruise and not any fracture, but Cutler is still unsure to start this week. Patrick Ramsey would start in his place if he was unable to go against the Kansas City Chiefs. Watch this week if you have him to check his status.

Larry Johnson, RB Kansas City Chiefs

I have good ol’ LJ on my own fantasy team, so it hurt to watch him come off the field with what looks to be a high ankle sprain or twisted ankle. LJ left the locker room on crutches and will undergo further testing this week. He couldn’t put weight on the ankle immediately after the game, and the Chiefs seem very concerned about losing their feature back. Priest Holmes would make his comeback to the Chiefs complete starting in LJ’s place if this injury keeps LJ out in Week 10 against Denver’s horrible run defense. Holmes would not be the only back though. Kolby Smith would also share carries and is worth picking up in deeper leagues if you are desperately in need of a running back.

Chad Johnson, WR Cincinnati Bengals

Another Johnson down and out–no worries here. Ocho Cinco was cleared of having any neck injuries and traveled home with his team on the plane. No word on whether it will keep him out next week, but chances are he will be alright to play. The Bengals don’t seem to be treating it too seriously. If he does stay out, the Bengals are lucky to have their legally-troubled third receiver, Chris Henry, back from suspension this week to fill in for the injured Ocho.

Shaun Alexander, RB Seattle Seahawks

Not that it would matter much, but Shaun missed a few carries while nursing some sort of ankle/knee injury against Cleveland. He returned to the game but may miss time after X-ray results come back this week. Look for Maurice Morris to return for Seattle and possibly start if Shaun can’t go this week.