And the “Brady Quinn” Award goes to Matt Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008 NFL Mock Draft with Fantasy Impact [Final Take]

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

The Fantasy Football Fools 2008 NFL Mock Draft with Fantasy Impact


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

For more mock drafts, visit these databases:

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

2008 NFL Mock Drafts Revisited

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

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

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

Team Needs

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

Massive Link Dump of Mock Drafts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Wright goes three rounds with the top draft picks.

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off-season Update: Final free agents begin to move including Walker, Jones [NFL News]

Now that the fire sale on veterans and the betting wars for top free agents has pretty much all died down, the final group of unsigned players has begun to settle into place. I believe we have entered the downhill slide towards the NFL draft.

First, a few sidebars…

If you are having a hard time keeping track of it all, NFL.com’s Fabiano has a chart of offseason player moves and how the moves affect fantasy football values, [via FFLibrarian] and Smitty of Fantasy Football Xtreme talks about the ones who matter this offseason. Also on the Interwebs, NFL Gribiron Gab breaks down who is still out there.

Maybe you aren’t interested in free agents? If you are just now catching up to all the NFL draft happenings, catch the full results of the NFL Combine on FFToolbox.

Now on to the latest in offseason player movement.

The biggest news is that Brett Favre finally decided to get off the saddle in Green Bay. If you missed the hours upon hours of Favre montages and coverage, I am glad you finally escaped from that dark cave, my friend. FFLibrarian said goodbye in her own way–with Favre’s fantasy stats. The good news is that Aaron Rodgers should be a decent replacement. I would place him near the top of a list of potential QB2 if the receivers in Green Bay continue to impress.

Fantasy-relevant wide receiver Jabar Gaffney re-signed with New England. He will be an interesting player to watch in the 2008 fantasy drafts because he will now take the #2 role with Donte Stallworth gone and Wes Welker staying in the slot. When Randy Moss is getting shut down, who will be scoring those TDs? Gaffney might be someone you could snag on the cheap in the draft to put up big numbers for you. He certainly has the trust of Tom Brady, so take him late in the draft if he ends up being undervalued.

If you were set on taking Brandon Stokley in your fantasy draft expecting him to be a solid #2 in Denver with Javon Walker out, think twice about that. Keary Colbert should get the chance to play for a #2 spot now that he is signed in Denver. I think Stokley will remain a big part of the offense, but if Colbert can beat him out for the #2 spot, he might just be another waiver wire wonder for 2008. Brandon Marshall is still the receiver to watch for Denver in 2008.

The Oakland Raiders somehow dug deeper in their pocketbooks and found it in their hearts to extend a huge contract to Javon Walker. He could be great, or he could degenerate into what Randy Moss was in Oakland–worthless. I tend to lean on the hater side of like The Fantasy Football Geek Blog. Needless to say, his fantasy stock is uncertain.

With about as much fanfare as David Carr got when he was cut from Carolina, Joey Harrington was let go by Atlanta. Apparently, he is not the savior of the franchise. In his last words, he said he had to go see Michael Vick about a dog Vick was dog-sitting for him.

Seattle seems less confident in Shaun Alexander than we are after going out and signing T.J. Duckett and Julius Jones. Rumor is that Alexander could be on the street by June. I think they keep him on the roster and give him one last shot to be all the Shaun that he can be. His leash is certainly shorter for 2008.

Brandon Lloyd, an up-and-comer that never quite “came” after moving to the Washington Redskins signed with the Chicago Bears. Apparently, someone in the Chicago front office realized they just let both starting receivers go in an offense with no quarterback. It’s taken them a year or so to realize that a football team has an offense in addition to a defense. Let’s see if Lloyd makes them better or just causes problems.

The Bears also got Marty Booker signed to a two-year deal. Maybe there’s hope they can get a decent passing game together this offseason.

Not to be seen as cheap, the Browns paid their newly acquired defensive tackle Shaun Rogers his weight in $100 bills. The contract is large for someone they haven’t even put on the field yet, but Rogers should make the Browns defense better since they were absolutely horrible last year.

Combine appearances moving stock for elite players [Combine News]

Darren McFadden cooled worries about his on-the-field game by posting an impressive 40-yard dash.

His official time was recorded as 4.33. (His first run was timed “unofficially” at 4.27). With that show, McFadden proved he was one of the fastest players in Indianapolis. He showed his burst speed, but doubts could still be raised about his ability to run between the tackles. Then, there is always the issue of all his multiple children on the way and off-the-field baggage still to be considered. He still keeps the hype as the first back anyone will take in this year’s draft, but some who don’t desperately need his help might think twice.

The title of fastest running back at the Combine goes to Chris Johnson of East Carolina. Johnson ran a 4.24. Even if a cornerback comes close to those numbers tomorrow, that is one of the top times ever seen at the Combine. His role in an NFL franchise is probably as a returner like Devin Hester or a change up back like Jerious Norwood. He is competing among running backs in the same spot as Jamaal Charles of Texas in my opinion, and his faster time maskes him look more appealing for special teams. His stock definitely rose with that 40-yard time.

QB Joe Flacco was considered by some to be the best quarterback prospect at the Combine. He might end up being a steal in the second round with his powerful arm, but he hasn’t broken into consideration for the first round yet. Flacco didn’t run as fast as he promised in the 40-yard dash, but the hype around him has been rising ever since scouts got a good look at him in the Senior Bowl. He has a pretty nice highlight reel.

As far as strength goes, Vernon Gholston looked like a superhuman beast in the Combine workouts. His stats surpassed Chris Long, his fellow defensive linemen who currently holds the top spot among DL and the possibility of going first overall to Miami. Gholston ran a 4.64–that’s quite the momentum–and tied Jake Long with 37 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

Some predict Gholston’s stock rising from his stats and times today, but Chris Long still showed better technique and quickness in the skill drills. I expect Long to keep the top spot come draft day.

One player flying under the radar is Josh Johnson. Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom, the hosts of The Audible podcast at Footballguys.com, really love this guy. Other sports writers are still skeptical that anyone will give him a chance to play quarterback. He posted the fastest 40-yard time for any QB at 4.55 and the highest vertical at 33.5. Even though he only played at San Diego, he reminds scouts of Vince Young. That guy hasn’t turned out so bad–overlooking some possible taint on this year due a defeat of the Madden curse.

For the complete results of all the Combine athletes thus far, check out FFToolbox’s Combine Results tables.

2008 NFL Mock Drafts Consolidated

If you missed any of our mock draft, here’s a consolidated post with links to the entire first take of the mock draft and links to all our fantasy football compatriots out there on the Web.

Fantasy Football Fools Mock Draft (Jan. 27, 2008)
Part 1 (Picks 1-8)
Part 2 (Picks 9-16)
Part 3 (Picks 17-24)
Part 4 (Picks 25-32)

Inside the Iggles (Jan. 22, 2008)
Mock Draft

The Football Expert Mock Drafts (Updated Continuously)
Michael Abromowitz’s Mock Draft
Gregory Cox’s Mock Draft
Paul Eide’s Mock Draft
Jared Donnelly’s Mock Draft
[Links removed as these are no longer online]

The Sports Outlaw Fantasy Football Forums (Updated Continuously)
Mock Draft  [Link removed as this mock is no longer online]

NFL GridIron Gab (March 27, 2008)
Mock Draft

Fantasy Football Toolbox (Updated Continuously)
Mock Drafts

..and if you are already thinking about the 2008 fantasy season…

Fantasy Football Xtreme (Jan. 10, 2008)
Fantasy Mock Draft

If you would like us to add a link to your own mock draft, please submit your link to us by email or in the comments. All we ask is that you provide us with a reciprocal link on your own draft site.

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

This post finishes up our first run at the mock NFL draft for 2008. Look for updates after the combines. If you missed any of Parts 1-3, check them out: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

25. Seattle Seahawks — Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Illinois

Shaun Alexander hasn’t done much since his amazing season a few years ago. He seems to be stuck in that 20 carries and 60 yards per game mentality. The Seahawks could definitely use some new blood at RB, and Mendenhall is their man. He looks to be from the same mold as Alexander with some speed to burn and new tread on the tires.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Seattle could be risky and go for a WR or TE here. One thing’s for sure, RB was the greatest problem for Seattle last year and made them a one-dimensional team. They need better production from their RB crew, and a committee with Alexander, Maurice Morris and Mendenhall would definitely be able to get the job done for Holmgren’s last year. We all know Alexander isn’t going to be getting it done much longer.

26. New York Giants — Dan Connor, LB, Penn State

The Giants need a linebacker and can either go with Connor or former USC star Keith Rivers. I would take Connor because he seems to have that Penn State Linebacker U mentality. He is tough, athletic and will make tackle after tackle. This guy will be a great value pick for the Giants.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: The Giants defense wasn’t on a lot of short lists this draft season, but they certainly ended the season on some. The secondary has stepped up in the playoffs after looking bad early in the season. You can thank Aaron Ross and Webster for that. With the secondary holding together, they could use Connor to reinforce their run and pass defense more at the line. The Giants might just stay near the top of a few draft cheatsheets for fantasy drafts in 2008.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars — Early Doucet, WR, LSU

Jacksonville had a great season this year–especially from QB David Garrard. The best thing the Jaguars could get would be a nice possession guy that can be a downfield threat as well. Early Doucet would be a great addition opposite of Reggie Williams, another young WR.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Garrard really needed more targets out there on the field to make Jacksonville the true double threat it should have been this year. Jacksonville has known their wide receivers were a problem for a few years. I apologize if any of you took Matt Jones this year. He looks like he misses the bench every time he gets out there.

Early Doucet should be able to get in there and shake things up. With some good route running, he should replace Matt Jones as the third receiver if he doesn’t land a starting role by the end of preseason. He will be a good possession receiver like Northcutt but will also be able to pull the big plays so that all the hopes and dreams of Jacksonville are not put on the sometimes slippery hands of Reggie Williams. Not sure if I would consider drafting him, but he is definitely one to watch for a waiver wire acquisition in your 2008 fantasy season.

28. San Diego Chargers – Keith Rivers, LB, USC

This pick would be taking the best available player for the Chargers right here. Their defense is already top notch with Merriman and some more young players. Throw in Rivers opposite of Merriman, and that is one scary linebacking duo for years to come.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Scary indeed. If Rivers emerges early in 2008 for the Chargers, I would fear NOT having them as my defense and form a prayer group for just the weeks I had to play against them. The Chargers already led the league in takeaways in 2007. Be very afraid of what they can do with Rivers in 2008.

29. Dallas Cowboys — Quentin Groves, DE/LB, Auburn

The Cowboys could go either WR or RB right here. I don’t feel any WRs are worth taking here, and this draft has so many backs that one could easily be found in a later round. What Groves gives Dallas is a great 3-4 defense player that could be a good fit for one of the linebacker positions. He is extremely quick and would be a huge asset to the Dallas D.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: I lean towards the Cowboys taking a RB here with Julius Jones on his way out. Talk is that Jerry Jones might want Miami’s pick to get McFadden, so I don’t think they leave the first round without a RB.

That said, Groves would be a good call. Dallas’ defense slacked off on stopping the run late in 2007, and depth would certainly help since injuries weakened the unit throughout the season. Groves’ quickness would be welcomed and could possible catapult the Dallas defense from being steadily better to being drastically better. If Dallas takes two defensive picks in the first round, be sure to take a look at them on your fantasy short list in 2008.

30. San Francisco 49ers — James Hardy, WR, Indiana

The 49ers were thought to be a team on the rise, and then last season came and washed that away. What they need is another big man that young QB Alex Smith can use in the passing game. James Hardy is a 6’7″ monster that can go up and get the ball. He carries some off-the-field baggage, but the 49ers can’t be too picky. If they can get his head straight, he will be a great wideout.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Arnaz Battle, Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson just aren’t doing it anymore for the 49ers. Not with Martz coming in there. Even if he does base the offense around Frank Gore–like he should–he is going to need some talent in the WR spot to keep the defense from loading the box.

Whether Alex Smith returns as QB or not, Hardy would be a great target. His big size would help in the red zone, and maybe, with some new blood, the entire team will finally come together to be a competitor. With Martz at the reigns of this offense, any player on it is worth at least sleeper consideration for your roster in 2008 as Gore should return to form and bring a strong run game.

31. Green Bay Packers — Marcus Griffin, S, Texas

The Packers can do one of two things here. They can go after Fred Davis, TE, USC, who would be a great addition to their team or pick Marcus Griffin and help shore up their defense. Davis would be a great weapon for Favre to throw to, but I believe the Packers need to address their D first. Their pass defense was nothing to write home about this year–especially their safety play. Marcus Griffin can come in and play as well as his brother Michael Griffin did for the Titans this year. He will be an immediate upgrade to the defense.

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: With Bubba Franks returning late in the season and the emergence of Donald Lee, Green Bay probably will look to lock up their defense here. While they had good INT numbers this year, they should have been better with one of the best cornerback tandems in the league.

A quality safety to add to this young defense could increase the number of takeaways they get in 2008 and elevate them to the top tier of fantasy defenses.

32. New England Patriots — No Pick

Cheaters never win, right???

Jacob’s Fantasy Take: Ouch, too soon.

That’s it. The end. Look for an aggregate post of mock drafts from other notorious fantasy football sources later this week, and expect an update of our mock draft after the combines.