Friends don’t let friends draft Ben Tate

It happens in almost every draft. It’s the magazine curse. Some league member — let’s call him Pete — is convinced that Ben Tate is going to be the next superstar after they read a profile of him that was written in June. Pete is excited. Pete gets busy with other things until draft day. And then…the unspeakable happens.

It’s kind of like watching a slow-speed accident — like watching two cars back into each other in a parking lot. Nobody wants to see that, but it’s also impossible to stop.

Approaching the draft board, Pete pulls a player sticker and slaps it up on the wall. As he turn around, he’s a little confused that he didn’t hear the gasps and sighs of a thousand voices as he took a “steal” in the mid-rounds. He was sure everyone was waiting for Ben Tate to fall to their next pick, but instead of sighs and complaints, all he gets are a few shocked faces, laughter, and a hand to the forehead.

“Ben Tate is out for the year.” Someone had to say it. Then you just feel bad for Pete. Really bad. It’s hard to watch that happen.

Sometimes in life you can save a buddy from this kind of shame and humiliation. You can take him away from the dance floor when he’s starting to think every girl in the room is attractive. You can warn him not to take that class with the crazy dictator of a professor. You can tell him when he has spinach stuck in his teeth.

That is, you have the option if you so desire, not that you HAVE to take that road. You still have the ability to jump in there and take them out of that situation. But when it’s a missed draft pick? He’s screwed. He just burned a mid-round pick on a guy that won’t play a single down in 2010. With the exception of this being a keeper or dynasty league, he just wasted a pick.

Depending on your league, you may get a chance to make amends. They may let you pick again over that “Ben Tate” you just burned, but in all fairness, you really shouldn’t get another chance. You struck out. Just sit down.

So don’t be that guy. I witnessed it firsthand in my draft this past weekend, and it’s not cool for anyone involved.

Here’s a list of other IR players you don’t want on your team this season unless you’re tucking them away in a dynasty league.

  • Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans — Fractured right fibula AND torn right ankle ligaments, which sounds as serious as it is.
  • Sinorice Moss, WR, New York Giants — Groin injury
  • Jim Sorgi, QB, Indianapolis Colts — Apparently, patting Peyton/Eli Manning as they come off the field can get you a shoulder injury
  • Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams — Knee injury, and a general lack of the ability to stay on the field
  • Malcolm Kelly, WR, Washington Redskins — Hamstring injury from McNabb’s “Hell Week” will put him on IR, which, on the plus side for him, keeps him on the roster *technically* since he was on the bubble at the beginning of the preseason
  • Leigh Bodden, CB, New England Patriots — If you play IDP or if you were considering drafting the Patriots D/ST, which isn’t quite as good without its best corner

And some cautionary warnings…

  • Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings — Out for at least half the season with a hip injury. Draft accordingly.
  • Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers — Missing at least three games as of now and at least six if he doesn’t show up to sign and play by this Saturday
  • Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers — For generally being a creeper and getting himself suspended for four to six games to start 2010
  • Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos — Some reports have him suiting up; others have him nowhere close. Either way, he’s not going anywhere quick with a hamstring injury.
  • New York Jets D/ST — Without Darrelle Revis and without Calvin Pace to start the sesason, this defense may not be the No. 1 unit everyone thinks it’s cracked up to be. I am not on this bandwagon without those two.
  • Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings — You probably like him less already with an ankle injury and without Sidney Rice, but hearing that the Vikings are going to “manage the pain” on a bone spur they recently discovered as well makes Favre even less safe as a QB1 this season.

Consider yourself warned. Don’t be that guy.

And so 2008 begins…

Fantasy football season is upon us!

*The people rejoice*   *Crowds cheer and applause*   *Small baby thrown in air*

Someone catch that baby! *Baby caught inside beer* YES!

The defending Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants, face off against the Washington Redskins tonight. What will the lesser Manning of the mighty Mannings do?

More than likely, he’ll look a little rough around the edges since the Super Bowl win — especially if Jason Taylor gets in there for the Redskins. Eli Manning didn’t have a good showing last time he played the Redskins — and by not good, I mean worst completion percentage of the season bad. Starting off a new season and playing at home (where the Giants were iffy last year), you might find a better option to start rather than Manning.

Guys I like tonight

Brandon Jacobs: Unless Washington’s D steps up here, they’ve been looking like Swiss cheese in the preseason. Look for Jacobs to barrel through the Redskins line for more than just tough yardage and scores. Ahmad Bradshaw with significant time could do damage as well, but Jacobs is the show tonight.

Clinton Portis: The weakened Giants defense should see a lot of Portis flying around them. He’s definitely worth the start considering how high you drafted him.

Plaxico Burress: Manning is probably going to air it out a few times this game. Plax won’t be hurt by any INTs Manning throws, so unlike Manning, he’s a good start tonight.

Guys at risk tonight

Santana Moss: Last season, Moss was a weekly call as a starter depending on the matchup. He could blow up in Zorn’s new offense, or he could stay a borderline WR2 or WR3. He’s worth a shot in this opener, but if you have better options, I wouldn’t blame you if you sat him once to see what you got.

Giants defense: They lost a bunch of starters. Did you not know that? Like 22 of 53 sacks worth of them. I sit back on these guys if I have another defense, but they are your one and only, they are an okay start here.

Amani Toomer: He’s old. Did you really draft him? Start only in a deep league.

Guys I strongly dislike who smell bad tonight

Rest of Washington receivers: Wait-and-see approach on this one. I like Moss if you want to take a risk, but the others are probably not worth starting.

Jason Campbell: The Giants lost their two biggest sack masters, but they still have this guy named Justin Tuck and that other guy named Mathias Kiwanuka. More than likely, Campbell is your backup, but if you have him in a starting QB rotation, ROTATE!

Eli Manning: He’s doesn’t like playing the Redskins, and he has been inconsistent at home. Don’t put your hopes on Eli to blow it up this week unless he’s your best QB option.

Washington defense: It’s possible you drafted the Redskins D because of Jason Taylor, but this unit is not one of the best. I wouldn’t start them tonight, and I’d get rid of them if you can. They’re in the tough NFC East. Go get yourself a sleeper D like Arizona or Buffalo.

We’ll have the rest of our highlights later this week. Start/sit questions for tonight or this weekend are welcome in the comments.

Fantasy Winners of 2008 NFL Draft

I guess if I am going to berate the fantasy losers of the NFL draft, I might as well commend the winners. These guys saw their fantasy value get a boost with the 2008 rookie class.

Jay Cutler. Denver Broncos.
New blocker in Ryan Clady and a new receiver in Eddie Royal. If you count that Cutler will also be in better health after learning he has type 1 diabetes and getting informed on how to manage it during the season, Cutler should improve in 2008 with Clady protecting him. Royal could be a factor later in the season, but the receivers are already strong as long as Brandon Marshall recovers well from his TV punching.

Jason Campbell. Washington Redskins.
Even though his two starting receivers may now be in danger of losing their fantasy value, it’s only because Campbell got a whole new tribe of offensive weapons. With Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Fred Davis coming in, Jim Zorn, a former QB coach, taking the helm, the powerhouse of Chris Cooley and the addition of Brandon Albert for protection, Campbell will be able to spread the ball more effectively and could be a fantasy sleeper at QB for 2008.

Marion Barber. Dallas Cowboys.
Barber’s a winner because he got a great running mate in Felix Jones. As he is currently working out a long-term deal, Rashard Mendenhall might have been seen as a sign the Cowboys could do without Barber. With Felix Jones and Tashard Choice added to the mix, Barber can feel secure in his role as the starting RB while also getting some relief. The good for fantasy owners is that these rookies will still make an impact and make a threatening backfield in Dallas. Choice will eventually push and spell Barber while Jones is a perfect compliment who will compete for time. Barber can’t rest easy just yet, but these are the picks that he would want to run with if he had the choice.

Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh Steelers.
There’s no way to know how the Steelers will choose to put the ball in the end zone this season. Big Ben got his big, tall end zone target in Limas Sweed and now has a powerful runner in Rashard Mendenhall. Needless to say, the offense will be firing on all cylinders this year, and Big Ben won’t hesitate to throw TDs with Sweed and Heath Miller making some big targets.

Lee Evans. Buffalo Bills.
In James Hardy, Evans might finally find the perfect partner to create a dangerous dual threat in Buffalo. While Lee Evans is a deep threat, Hardy can develop into a big, possession receiver that will pull coverage from Evans. If Trent Edwards learns to get Evans the ball this season, Evans could return to form as an elite fantasy WR.

Rex Grossman. Chicago Bears.
He gets better protection with Chris Williams, a receiver in Earl Bennett and new talent at RB with Matt Forte. The offense is restocked enough that Grossman might have a legitimate shot to redeem himself in 2008.

Ronnie Brown (and Ricky Williams). Miami Dolphins.
Jake Long will move some people around in front of Brown this year, and he didn’t need the help last year to put up big numbers. With Bill Parcells revamping the offense and surrounding Brown with improved talent, Brown should bounce back from his injury better than expected. Ricky Williams could also be big depending upon how much size he can get back before the season starts and whether or not he keeps “grounded” — if you catch my drift.

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.

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

Free agents, controversial players on the move pre-Combine [NFL Rumors]

What better way to start day 1 of the NFL Combine coverage than with a collection of trade and free agency rumors from around the NFL. There are several key free agents making moves out there that you should keep your eye on for fantasy football in 2008.

After making his rounds around the Patriots and Saints, Zach Thomas signed with the Cowboys. His $3 million salary isn’t as much as his stats, but it’s not about the money. Thomas wanted to return to his hometown team and hopes to be able to be tackling for the Cowboys rather than hitting linemen. Thomas could be a high impact player for the Cowboys defense, a unit that did well for fantasy owners in 2007 already.

Rex Grossman signed for another year with Chicago as “the starter.” He got replaced last year after a poor start, so there’s nothing stopping Lovie Smith from replacing mid-season in 2008. The quarterback situation for the Bears probably won’t be worked out until after the draft and training camp, but there are rumors that Brian Griese may have played his last ball in Chicago.

While the talk has been that Alge Crumpler would be happy in Carolina next season after Atlanta released him, the Tennessee Titans have an interest in him for 2008. With Bo Scaife hurt and possibly not starting immediately in 2007, and Ben Troupe probably on his way out, Vince Young could use another tight end target. The Titans utilized the tight end effectively in 2007 with Scaife being third on the team in receptions and receiving yards, so Crumpler might find a productive situation there like he had with Michael Vick in Atlanta.

Tampa Bay is considering a trade with the Denver Broncos for the unhappy Javon Walker. Although he had a bum knee this season, Walker still have a playmaker ability within him that the Bucs could use. It wouldn’t be a very long-term solution for Tampa Bay though since their receivers are all getting up there in age. They might not be willing to make a good enough deal for Walker and could take a young rookie in the draft instead.

After saying he wanted to stay in Atlanta, DeAngelo Hall didn’t receive the warm welcome he wanted from the new coaching staff, and he went off to reporters that he wants out. According to the latest rumors, both the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins are interested. The Giants are probably more likely to deal for him and could seriously use him with all the poor secondary play they had early in 2007. The Dolphins have expressed interest in Hall and Troy Williamson of the Minnesota Vikings. They likely would only take Hall if they had a good deal for him considering Parcells probably doesn’t want Hall’s off the field drama.

Fullback Lorenzo Neal is on the block with the Chargers. He is 37, but he might still have a good year or two left in him. He spent the last several years blocking for LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego, so it will be interesting to see whether L.T.’s running game is affected if Neal goes.

Now for players who are staying put…

If you think Rudi Johnson‘s 2007 running game for the Cincinnati Bengals had declined, you might find him a changed man in 2008. Rudi plans to put on weight this offseason and return to his power running game. If he achieves his goal, he could surprise in 2008 and might be a steal come fantasy draft day.

Speaking of player with a lull in 2007, Lee Evans may get some help with the Buffalo Bill. Evans, as the only passing threat of the Bills, was horribly double-teamed and shut down this season. To help him out, the Bills are rumored to be taking a big wide receiver like Malcolm Kelly from Oklahoma or possibly DeSean Jackson from Cal. Depending on Trent Edwards’ development, the Buffalo Bills could have a very improved passing game in 2008.

The Arizona Cardinals, on the other hand, are looking for some speed in the running back department. While they love Edgerrin James for his production in 2007, they want a change up back that can hit those homerun drives–like a Ahmad Bradshaw or Adrian Peterson–and they will seek one in the draft ths year.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock NFL Draft 2008 – Part 3 of 4 (First Take)

Now, we present Part 3 in our first take of the NFL draft for 2008. See Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them earlier this week.

17. Minnesota Vikings — Derrick Harvey, DE, Florida

The Vikes are another team that need help at DE, despite drafting them in the first round in 2004 and 2005. Harvey is another great pass rusher that can get around the tackle quickly. Look for him to have an impact this coming season.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Harvey will only serve to further strengthen the Minnesota defense so that not even Ryan Grant and the Favre screen pass can make them look bad. If CB Talib is here, I would have expected him to go, but without him to take, Minnesota will take a defensive player and put their hope in the arm of Tavaris Jackson and the legs of Adrian Peterson–maybe some Chester Taylor in there too.

Don’t be afraid of taking the Minnesota defense in your 2008 fantasy draft.

18. Houston Texans — Jonathan Stewart, RB, Oregon

It’s about time for the Texans to have a new, fresh young running back. The Texans have had about 37 running backs in just the last couple of years. Right now, they have Ahman Green and Ron Dayne. One is old, and the other is fat. I see Stewart as the second best running back in the draft and would be a good fit here for the Texans.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Alas, the missing piece for the Texans has finally arrived. I had begun to contemplate whether they might consider trading spots with Miami to get McFadden, but taking Stewart is not too much of a raw deal. Matt Schaub has become a great starting QB for the Texans with Andre Johnson and the emerging Jacoby Jones as targets. With a running presence, expect Houston to be a contender. Hopefully, the Texans will give him room to run and not stick him in a committee with Ron Dayne or Ahman Green. Once he gets his NFL legs, Stewart is worthy of fantasy draft consideration and could be a sleeper in 2008.

19. Philadelphia Eagles — Kenny Phillips, S, Miami

The Eagles would love it if Phillips landed here. The Eagles safeties aren’t getting any younger, and Phillips has the generic Miami safety attitude. He will hit, and he will hit hard. This could end up being one of the best picks in the draft.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Phillips, the Eagles could develop a legitimate presence on defense in 2008. The improved defense could make the entire team look better. Westbrook could have some more time on the clock and maybe even more opportunities with more take aways. They won’t be a top defense, but they could be worthy of being paired with another defense for a nice tandem for your fantasy team in 2008. Watch their defensive intensity this preseason to be sure.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma

Talk about being old at one position, the two leading wideouts for the Bucs last year were Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard. They need to get another receiver to compliment the young Michael Clayton, and what better way to do it than by taking Malcolm Kelly. He is a tall guy that will catch the ball when needed.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Jeff Garcia has given the Bucs a lot of opportunities in the air this season. Bringing Kelly into the mix will only make him better and give Galloway and Hilliard more time to rest and recover from injuries. He won’t be incorporated into this offense immediately, but expect him and Clayton to have a bigger presence this season as Galloway and Ike Hilliard inch towards retirement. A larger number of choices in the passing game could better open up the running game of Cadillac Williams and/or Earnest Graham for 2008 as well.

21. Washington Redskins — Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

This is a value pick for the Redskins. They don’t need an immediate upgrade at DT, and Balmer is the kind of guy that could benefit from a slow introduction to the field. He has a few more things to learn before becoming an impact, but once he does, the NFC East better look out.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: As Cameron says, this isn’t going to immediately affect the team in 2008. I agree. The Redskins had a nice presence on defense during the 2008 season. As long as the new coach keeps developing them, the Redskins could make the playoffs again in 2008. This defense should be worth owning if you don’t take a top defense in your fantasy draft, but expect to need other defenses to fill in depending upon the match up. The Redskins won’t shut anyone down completely without significant improvement.

22. Dallas Cowboys — Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona

If I’m the Cowboys, I’m taking a corner here. Cornerback is their biggest need, and Cason is full of talent. It may take a year to adjust to the NFL, as it does for most corners, but Cason has the tools to be a good one. He is also a great return man, which could help the Cowboys.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: My Cowboys were hurting this season when Terrance Newman was out with injury. Adding a CB to the mix should improve their game and give them depth so they don’t have to play so close with the Giants next season. Look for Cason’s impact to be felt later in the season, but he could provide a spark to special teams sooner than that. The Cowboys were a great choice for defense this year, and they will be even better next year for your fantasy team.

23. Pittsburgh Steelers — Michael Oher, OL, Mississippi

The Steelers need a linemen, and the junior Oher is the next best available. He is a tough and athletic player who can play guard or tackle. This isn’t a sexy pick (linemen rarely are), but it is the smartest one. The Steelers are a smart organization, so they take Oher.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Cameron is right. Oher is not sexy. He is really big. No mystery. Very bad wing man at the bar but a great offensive lineman.

Big Ben might not like this pick since he is asking for a big receiver, but that is a problem more likely to be solved with a later pick or free agency rather than in this draft. Oher will keep Big Ben Roethlisberger from having to run around so much and prevent him from hurting that windshield-smashing head of his by getting sacked. He isn’t the most mobile QB. After his breakout season as a big throw QB in 2007, look for Roethlisberger to look better in 2008 with Oher.

24. Tennessee Titans — Limas Sweed, WR, Texas

The Titans are bringing in a new offensive coordinator to help Vince Young become more comfortable with the offense. What better way to help him get comfortable than by getting his favorite target from college. Sweed can be the impact WR that the Titans sorely need. Vince can only get better if the talent around him gets better, and this would definitely be an upgrade.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Titans are in desperate need of receivers this offseason. VY looked pretty rough around the edges, but it was less any Madden curse and more the butter fingers and bad routes of his receivers. Bringing in Sweed is certainly a start since Sweed never looked as good as he did when Vince was opening up coverage with his legs.

The Titans might even try to make some stealthy free agent moves for another WR in the offseason to really improve Vince’s situation. Sweed will gel faster than most young WRs since VY and him already have chemistry. Expect improvement in the Tennessee offense for 2008, and maybe VY will live up to all the scoring predictions that analysts put on him before the start of this past season.