Dallas Cowboys trade for WR Roy Williams, Detroit Lions wave white flag

The rumblings were true that the Cowboys wanted to start collecting Roy Williams-es on their roster. One is never enough. After today’s count, they have two, their injured safety of horse-collar tackle fame and the underperforming wideout that found himself lost in the Detroit offense this season.

This trade is finally a positive story out of Dallas — a change from the deflating news of Tony Romo’s broken finger and Adam Jones’ indefinite suspension, which will sideline both playmakers for at least four weeks. The Cowboys have lost a lot of key players lately with Romo, safety Roy (the horse-collar Roy) Williams, cornerbacks Adam “Pacman” Jones and Terence Newman, rookie RB Felix Jones and punter Mat McBriar all expected to miss several upcoming games.

Dallas made the move to acquire Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions for Dallas’ first-round, third-round and sixth-round pick. That’s costly, but the trade could pay off big for the Cowboys.

Cowboy Roy’s Fantasy Impact

Roy Williams owners, you just got upgraded.

Not only will Williams now have a second chance to show off his talent and be reborn in Dallas. This move means that Brad Johnson might have a shot of succeeding in Tony Romo’s absence despite his lack of mobility.

Williams, once he learns the playbook, can prevent teams from swarming Terrell Owens’ side of the field and make it easy for the Johnson to hit the open man. Williams has the potential to be the Anquan Boldin to Terrell Owens’ Larry Fitzgerald. Those two WRs aren’t doing too bad this season.

In the long term, Williams could be groomed to be the next T.O. of the Dallas offense with Tony Romo tossing him the deep ball — dynasty owners, take note.

This trade may change the momentum for the Cowboys’ 2008 season and strengthen their offense down the line, but we’ll have to see how it all comes together in Week 7. For now, let’s hope that the two Roys don’t get the lockers confused.

The Cowboys play the Rams, Buccaneers and Giants before having their bye in Week 10. Williams’ true value for fantasy owners might not be seen until Week 11 as it will take him some time to get comfortable in the offense.

Now, About Those Lions

For Detroit, the Roy Williams trade reduces the Lions’ potential on offense significantly, but they are in rebuilding mode. They reportedly placed Jon Kitna on IR today and have no reason to pretend “win now” is an option.

It was a smart move on their part to unload a guy that wanted out like Williams while he had value to bring in more fresh blood next season.

Calvin Johnson will see more targets without Williams, but he also may face more double coverage. Still, the Lions are likely to play from behind all year. Johnson’s value remains about the same.

Fantasy impact, add/drop or trade questions about Cowboy Roy? Drop a line in the comment for foolish answers from the Fools.

A Fool and His Money in Week 6

“Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in.”

There are some crazily enticing lines this week that are making me open up my wallet again. Thanks, Vegas! Besides, I need to find another way to spend my time after I developed this nasty drinking habit after Sunday’s Texans game…

Dear Sage Rosenfels:

You didn’t look too good on Sunday. In case you’re reading, I left a hidden message for you in the article.

Signed,
The entire city of Houston.

I’ll post the answer to Sage’s hidden message in next week’s picks article, and I think you’ll enjoy it. If you think you know what the answer is, please post your guess in the comments. (The Sage picture linked to in our letter is via Gallo on ESPN. Check his selected pics from this week for more good ones.)

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints

Chadam Takes: SAINTS (-7.5) over Raiders
Gotta go with the Saints here, even after their Monday night implosion. I’ll chalk Week 5 up as an off week, but if I were Brees, I would be praying for Colston’s return.

Nick Takes: SAINTS (-7.5) over Raiders
I think it’s absolutely hilarious that Reggie Bush had a great game, but the Saints still lose. After the game, he has to act like he’s not excited. He played great, but the team lost. Haha. The Raiders suck; they will lose this game by at least 10 points.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Chadam Takes: Ravens (+5) over COLTS
Out of the last three games the Colts have played, they have received two wins because the opposing team choked the game away and almost got a third if it wasn’t for Josh Scobee’s clutch kick. I’m really excited to see the Colts finish 7-9 this year, which will be followed with every media outlet passing the torch of “Best Manning QB” to Eli. Wait, you mean it’s already happening?

Nick Takes: COLTS (-5) over Ravens
The Ravens have looked good this season, but I just can’t get myself to trust Joe Flacco. The Colts desperately need a good game at home to build some confidence.

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets

Chadam Takes: JETS (-6) over Bengals
Favre, your team’s line is too good to pass up. Thank God the Bengals haven’t had their bye week yet because I really like betting against them.

Nick Takes: Bengals (+6) over JETS
The Bengals are going to pounce on somebody soon, and I’m gambling this week is when it happens.

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chadam Takes: BUCCANEERS (-1.5) over Panthers
Under normal circumstances, I would laugh at a team that only managed one touchdown against Denver, but I have no idea what to think of Carolina yet. They’re 4-1, but two of those wins are home games against Atlanta and Kansas City, not exactly world-beaters. Also, the Panthers barely beat San Diego in Week 1. I’ll go with my Bucs on this one.

Nick Takes: Panthers (+1.5) over BUCCANEERS
The Bucs need quarterback security badly. The whole team just seems restless and out of sync in my opinion. Getting shutdown by the Broncos defense after the Chiefs destroyed the Broncos in Week 4 is embarrassing.

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Chadam Takes: Lions (+13.5) over VIKINGS
Come on, even if you don’t like Detroit, you have to love it when Rod Marinelli gets interviewed: “I’m a living example of what fight is all about,” or “Ever, ever…I love this game too much.” It’s like he’s trying to generate stereotypical football coach quotes, but he learned them from Mike Tyson. And yes, that’s the only reason why I’m taking the Lions.

Nick Takes: Lions (+13.5) over VIKINGS
I fully expect the Vikings to win this game, but I expect the Lions to get enough garbage points on the Vikings secondary to justify taking the points. That is, assuming the Lions’ players are still trying. The trade deadline hasn’t passed yet, so hopefully, they can manage trying for one week more before they officially give up.

Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

Chadam Takes: FALCONS (+3) over Bears
Kyle Orton probably got more ass than normal after playing like Brady last week against Detroit. That said, I’m warming up to the Falcons at home, and the Bears’ wins over the Colts and Lions aren’t impressive given the current play of those two teams.

Nick Takes: Bears (-3) over FALCONS
Both of these teams have been playing surprisingly well. I like the Bears defense a little more in this game though.

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans

Chadam Takes: TEXANS (-3) over Dolphins
You wonder why fans of tortured teams always wait for the other shoe to drop until the game is over. It’s games like the Colts-Texans match last week. I’m starting to understand what Red Sox fans went through a little more. In case you’re wondering, I’ll be watching the upcoming game with a handle of tequila in case something goes wrong. Speaking of Miami, apparently the only play you need to use to go to the Super Bowl is the direct snap to Ronnie Brown. You’d think that after seeing Miami shock two decent teams by using that play repetitively, the Texans coaching staff would pick up on it and practice defending it…right? My liver hopes so.

Nick Takes: Dolphins (+3) over TEXANS
Last week, I witnessed one of the greatest meltdowns for a professional sports team. The Texans found unthinkable ways to lose that game to the Colts. How can that same team possibly be favored in any game, much less against a team that just beat the Patriots and Chargers in consecutive games?

St. Louis Rams at Washington Redskins

Chadam Takes: REDSKINS (-13.5) over Rams
Okay, there’s no way I’m betting against the Redskins and the Zorn Supremacy again. They’ve cost me three wins already this year. Are they really a top-three team? That division is awesome. The NFC East might only have five losses all year outside of the division between all four teams. (They only have one through five weeks: Philly to Chicago in Week 4.)

Nick Takes: REDSKINS (-13.5) over Rams
Hail to the Redskins! I’ve been riding shotgun on the Redskins’ bandwagon since before the season started, and I don’t plan on getting off anytime soon — that’s what she said.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos

Chadam Takes: BRONCOS (-3.5) over Jaguars
Unless Jacksonville traded Garrard for Cutler yesterday and I missed it, Denver should be getting a touchdown at home against the Jags.

Nick Takes: Jaguars (+3.5) over BRONCOS
I’m still pissed at the Broncos, and I am choosing the Jags purely out of spite. Maybe the Jags can find their running game in Denver.

Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers

Chadam Takes: Eagles (-5.5) over 49ERS
Really? The Eagles are last place in their division? Donovan McNabb hasn’t had a great game since the first week, but I think he’ll get back on track here.

Nick Takes: Eagles (-5.5) over 49ERS
The Eagles are getting dangerously close to panic time. They need this win if they want to keep pace with the other NFC East teams for the two NFC wild-card spots. I’m guessing they find a way to win.

Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals

Chadam Takes: Cowboys (-5.5) over CARDINALS
So what happened there, Dallas? I put some blind faith in you by picking you to win without even looking at the spread, and you almost end the Bengals’ quest to go winless? I think Owens and Romo wanted to let Cincinnati win so they could go to the inevitable boat party that Cedric Benson would throw after the game. This line is pretty low; the Cowboys are too talented to put less than 30 on the board.

Nick Takes: Cowboys (-5.5) over CARDINALS
The Cowboys are better than the Cardinals. There’s my analysis on the game. But do the Cowboys have anybody that made the NFL All-‘N Sync team? Turns out they are better than the Cardinals in that respect, too.

Nick PRESENTS The 2008 All-‘N Sync Team:

After thinking about it, Matt Leinart isn’t Justin Timberlake. J.T. was the leader of the group who famously dated Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz. Hmm…who does that sound like in the NFL? Tony Romo! Romo leads the Cowboys, dated singer Carrie Underwood and currently shacks up with Jessica Simpson. Here are the other members of the All-‘N Sync team:

  • Tony Romo A.K.A. Justin Timberlake: For the reasons mentioned above.
  • Matt Leinart A.K.A. J.C. Chasez: He doesn’t lead the group, but he still gets plenty of groupie action.
  • Brady Quinn A.K.A. Lance Bass: Eventually, he will come out of the closet and be on “Dancing with the Stars.”
  • Jared Lorenzen A.K.A. Joey Fatone: He is the fat one of the group and wasn’t even very good as a backup.
  • Jon Kitna A.K.A. Chris Kirkpatrick: Do you realize Jon Kitna is in the fairly exclusive 30,000+ yards passing club? Yeah, most of you didn’t realize Kirkpatrick was in ‘N Sync, and now that you know, you still think he sucks.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Chadam Takes: Packers (+2.5) over SEAHAWKS
Every once in a while, I see a line and think “Did Vegas mean -2.5? Or possibly -12.5?” What a joke. This bet almost seems too good to be true.

Nick Takes: Packers (+2.5) over SEAHAWKS
This spread is a joke, right? The Seahawks shouldn’t be favored against anybody other than the Rams. I’m dropping some serious coin on this game.

New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers

Chadam Takes: Patriots (+6) over CHARGERS
Lines like this one make me wonder how good Vegas thinks the Patriots are. To be fair, I have no idea either. I’m interested to see if either team will run direct snaps and hope the other team didn’t learn from its previous game against Miami.

Nick Takes: Patriots (+6) over CHARGERS
The Chargers have been very disappointing. The Patriots have been disappointing, too, but the Patriots have won most of their games while being disappointing. That’s the difference.

New York Giants at Cleveland Browns

Eli Manning "Unstoppable" Ad Courtesy of Citizen Watches (via Sports Illustrated)

Eli Manning "Unstoppable" Ad Courtesy of Citizen Watches (via Sports Illustrated)

Chadam Takes: Giants (-7.5) at BROWNS
Forget Peyton. Elisha is now Archie’s favorite daughter. Poor Cooper. He must have one hell of an inferiority complex. I’ll admit, as long as Elisha is facing the Browns and Seahawks, he’s looking damn good. I would even go so far as to say he’s unstoppable, har har.

Nick Takes: Giants (-7.5) over BROWNS
It’s tough not to pick the Giants right now. They have shown they are very good at picking on the losers of the league. The Browns happen to be one of the losers of the league. You do the math.

Last Week:

Nick: 9-3-1
Chadam: 5-7-1

Current Standings after Week 5:

Chadam: 36-33-2
Nick: 39-30-2
Simmons
: 37-34-3

On the Wire: Waiver Wire Grabs from Week 5

In 2006, I drafted Clinton Portis as my lead running back. I don’t even remember who my second running back was, but, in the late rounds, I picked myself up a rookie with too many names, Maurice Jones-Drew.

When Jones-Drew blew up with his big rookie season (1300+ yards and 15 TDs), I thought I was going to dominate with the Portis/Jones-Drew tandem until Portis broke his hand in Week 10 and killed my playoff chances. I had no viable replacement for Portis’ consistent point production because I had filled my bench with a few filler wide receivers and running backs that had poor schedules to end the season.

Fantasy owners who are sitting pretty right now have to start building for the playoffs. You want to balance your roster, strengthen your studs if you can by trading up and acquire a bench of players that, if nothing else, will have dominant performances in Weeks 14-16, when it matters most.

The waiver wire is critical from here on out because it can shift the power among the top teams and bring in the depth and talent that you need to win your league. Don’t think that you can become complacent now just because your team is sitting on top or sulking on the bottom.

Last year, in one of my veteran leagues, the playoff contenders were pretty evenly matched heading into the last part of the regular season until a team that was winning with the duo of Terrell Owens and Randy Moss picked up Kurt Warner and Ryan Grant off waivers.

Well, you can guess how that worked out for him. What a lucky jackass smart guy.

Here are a few potential fantasy free agents that could help you do that same in 2008.

Worth Claiming

Bobby Engram, WR Seattle Seahawks
If no one picked him up last week or if your league remains unimpressed by his eight catches for 61 yards against the Giants, make sure you put him on your roster this week. His schedule gets MUCH better, and if Branch is injured, that means even more balls coming his way — and that’s what she said. I prefer Engram to Branch, even when neither of them have foot pain. After Green Bay and the Bucs, Engram will open it up against the 49ers, Eagles, Dolphins, Cardinals…it keeps going from there. He’s just the kind of guy you want on your playoff team as well with matchups against the Rams and Jets in Week 15 and Week 16.

Devin Hester, WR Chicago Bears
Remember experimenting with him as a wide receiver? It’s happening now…and working. Without Brandon Lloyd, Hester is the homerun threat, and Orton is making him dangerous for opposing defenses. Enjoy him while the Bears go through the soft, chewy center of their schedule.

Greg Camarillo, WR Miami Dolphins
Some people just jump out on you when they finally get a touchdown. Pennington won’t open it up down the field that much, but he’s got to start throwing to someone other than his tight ends as he matures in the Dolphin’s offense.  Camarillo has 17 catches through four games, his bye has already passed and he’s got a sick playoff schedule with the 49ers and Kansas City in Weeks 15 and 16. If you currently have Ted Ginn, Jr. on your roster, first of all, slap yourself. Second, pick up Camarillo instead.

Greg Olsen, TE Chicago Bears
Tight ends are a big hit on the waiver wire this week. Olsen is the first one on the list. Other than Marty Booker and his “spider-sense” hands, Olsen is one of the best pass catchers the Bears have on their roster. He’s getting some big plays down the field and has been more productive in Brandon Lloyd’s absence. Matchups like this week against Atlanta shouldn’t hurt his chances to get a second TD either. Orton is targeting him rather than Desmond Clark these days, and as Orton goes, so goes Greg Olsen.

Dustin Keller, TE New York Jets
Brett Favre and Keller connected almost immediately this season, and Favre is throwing out touchdowns like candy in a parade. You want this guy on your roster. Say it with me now: I want this guy on my roster. If you don’t have a top tight end on your roster or Dustin Keller after reading that paragraph…well, then there is no hope for you, buddy. You’ll never improve your tight end situation, quit smoking or hypnotize yourself into losing weight. I give up.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE Minnesota Vikings
I was hoping I wouldn’t have to mention this guy. His name is just so freaking hard to type. It’s like his parents named him by looking at a QWERTY keyboard and choosing letters that were really far apart. No, really, Shiancoes, I’m on to you. As long as Frerotte is starting, the Vikings will need a red zone target. Otherwise, every defense just stacks the box to keep Adrian Peterson out of the end zone when they are close. Shank-o is a red zone man. He’s got two TDs this season including the TD pass from Chester Taylor this past weekend. Since we’re so big on playoff schedules this week on the wire, how about Lions, Cardinals and Falcons?

Kyle Orton, QB Chicago Bears
If I mentioned two of his best options, I guess that means I have to mention him again…doesn’t it? Orton tied for the top spot at QB in Week 5. In Week 6, he faces Atlanta. It makes me sick to think of him as a fantasy-worthy QB as well, but I’m starting him this week. When is Orton going to get his first endorsement for Gilette or Norelco?

Warrick Dunn, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He looked better than Earnest Graham in Week 5 against the Broncos. Graham should have had a field day on that defense. I’m worried if I am a Graham owner.

Justin Fargas, RB Oakland Raiders
Back at full health, he’s the starting running back for one of the best rushing offenses in football. McFadden might demand more touches at this point, but Fargas will still get some cred since he had the job first. It’s a rule of the workplace. Haven’t you ever had a steady corporate job with a ladder to nowhere?

Cedric Benson, RB Cincinnati Bengals
As I mentioned previously in my thoughts from Week 5, Chris Perry’s hold on the starting job in Cincy isn’t going to get much weaker than it is right now. Benson will obviously play a larger role in Week 6, but he could take over the reigns completely. I mean, what’s he got to beat? Averaging less three yards per carry and leading the league in fumbles? Even for Benson, that’s doable.

Ones to Watch

Mike Walker, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Also revealed in my thoughts from Week 5, Walker is one of a handful of sleepers I had on a list to start the season. He hadn’t quite woken up yet and flirted with close to 50 yards in the Houston game, but he came alive against the Steelers with six passes for 107 yards. He’s worthy of putting on a roster at this point in the season. If he turns into a go-to possession and red zone receiver, Walker could become a staple of your starting lineup. He may have gotten a little torn up on Sunday night, so watch the reports before you make a grab. If healthy, I see nothing but upside, but he’s so small time as a Jacksonville WR that you might be able to wait on him.

Kevin Curtis, WR Philadelphia Eagles
I really want to see Kevin Curtis take the field this season, and he could be close to it. McNabb is stalling out a bit as of late, but he was firing away the first two weeks. I’m sure he’d get a boost throwing to Curtis alongside DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown. Keep an eye on him.

Nate Washington, WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington fills a role similar to Devery Henderson on the Saints or Chansi Stuckey on the Jets. He’s the third WR who goes for a lot of big plays. He’s not always hit with lots of passes, but when he gets one, he can take it to the house. Washington has looked more solid than Santonio Holmes over the last several weeks, and he’s not a bad start when the Steelers are going to be passing frequently. Washington had 95 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville this past weekend.

Vince Young, QB Tennessee Titans
It pains me to only be able to list VY as a “one to watch,” but the Titans are on a bye. I know Young isn’t supposed to take back the reigns on the starting job, and more than likely, it won’t happen in Week 7, BUT (I like big buts…) I believe that his return to the starting lineup is inevitable. He’s too talented with too much invested in him for the Titans to pass it off to Kerry Collins. If VY returns and hits his stride in the NFL, he finishes up against the Jets, Lions, Browns and Texans before facing the Steelers in Week 16. In a free agent pool of substitute QBs, VY has the greatest upside. Don’t let that get away from you.

Correll Buckhalter, RB Philadelphia Eagles
He’s a sufficient Westbrook substitute, but just like Splenda, he’s nothing like the real thing. It’s just got that twang that makes you know it’s not the real stuff, you know? I believe Westbrook will go in Week 6 against the 49ers, but if they hold him back until after their Week 7 bye, Buckhalter is the guy you want to fill in for your roster.

Ryan Torain, RB Denver Broncos
Mike Shanahan couldn’t stop raving about Torain before the season started, and then Torain got hurt and missed out on the season up until now. I’m going to start mentioning him as a watch for now, but he’s probably going to jump into the grab-worthy category once he is cleared to practice. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Shanahan never gave him a single carry after talking so much about him just to make fantasy owners waste a spot on their roster? < — Not a joke.

Maurice Morris, RB Seattle Seahawks
When he comes back from injury, he could challenge Julius Jones for carries or the starting role. That’s not the most valuable starting fantasy RB job in the NFL, but you might seriously be contemplating putting Cedric Benson on your team. Call me a Julius Jones hater, but I just like Morris better. Watch him.

Ahman Green, RB Houston Texans
Old bones is back in football pads. It’s sort of anticlimactic now that he isn’t even catching a whiff of the starting role, but Green is bound to be somewhat productive…until his next injury. He’s worth watching only if you need a bye week fill or if you just really like the Texans. Crickets? No one?

Flukes or Droppables

Hank Baskett, WR Philadelphia Eagles
Reggie Brown has stolen back his starting spot, so Baskett is back on the bench. At least he sort of, maybe, in gossip blog terms dated one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends. Say goodbye to Kendra, Hank. Your fifteen minutes seconds are up.

Ray Rice, RB Baltimore Ravens
I still hate LeRon McClain, but he totally sniped Rice’s job from him. Maybe he ate Ray Rice. Has anyone checked? Oh, God.

Andre Hall, RB Denver Broncos
Hall is about to be swallowed up by the Torain train and/or the black hole that is the running back depth chart in Denver. His injury just provides one more reason to let him go.

Chris Perry, RB Cincinnati Bengals
Don’t just ditch him on the side of the road. He’s still a starting running back for a *potentially* high-powered offense, but it’s very possible that he could lose his job just like his lost all the marbles over the last five games. I’d seek greener, better gripping pastures.

A Fool and His Money in Week 5

Chadam and Nick had a rough weekend. Nick was swamped last week trying to put together a fantasy lineup that could stop my crushing force of a team in our shared fantasy football league. Unfortunately for Nick, it looks like his efforts were in vain.

Chadam, on the other hand, spent the entire weekend crying uncontrollably because Chris Simms was cut from the Tennessee Titans roster. I’m not exactly sure if that was the reason, but he has a special place in his heart for the spleenless. If he has a better reason than that for why he was unable to get his picks into a cohesive article before Sunday, he’ll have to let you know in the comments.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Chadam Takes: Bears (-3.5) over LIONS
I think Forte runs for 500 yards, and that’s a conservative guess.

Nick Takes: Bears (-3.5) over LIONS
Does anybody know if Jon Kitna is back? Better question: Does anyone care? Will the Lions play better without Matt Millen there? It doesn’t matter. The Bears defense looks like it’s back to being healthy and dominating.

Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers

Chadam Takes: Falcons over PACKERS

Nick Takes: Falcons over PACKERS

Jacob’s Ed. Note: Both Nick and Chadam were unable to register a pick since the spread on this game was not set until late on Saturday. Apparently, Vegas wanted to find out whether Aaron Rodgers would be playing or not. We’ll have to count this pick as a “no contest” for the sake this battle of betting.

San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins

Chadam Takes: Chargers (-6.5) over DOLPHINS
I’m not sure what to think of these two teams. Both have been all over the place these last few weeks. L.T. hasn’t really looked like himself lately, but if there was ever a game for him to blow up, it’s this week’s game against the Dolphins.

Nick Takes: Chargers (-6.5) over DOLPHINS
The only reason I’m hesitant on this pick is because the Dolphins are at home and have had an extra week to prepare for this game, but the Chargers showed last week against the Raiders that they are capable of coming back against a team they shouldn’t be losing to in the first place.

Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

Chadam Takes: GIANTS (-7) over Seahawks
Vegas really doesn’t make these Seahawks games hard to bet against. This game is one of my favorite lines of the week. Too bad Favre stomped on my heart and wallet. Otherwise, I’d probably bet on this game.

Nick Takes: GIANTS (-7) over Seahawks
The Seahawks are going to get better as Deion Branch and Bobby Engram get back in the mix but not this week. It will take some time for them to get back into a rhythm, and the Giants are at home after a bye.

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

Chadam Takes: EAGLES (-5.5) over Redskins
If the Redskins win here, I’m a believer.

Nick Takes: Redskins (+5.5) over EAGLES
Did Vegas not watch these two teams last week? Redskins knocked off everybody’s favorite team, and the Eagles looked dreadful losing to the Bears. Taking the points on this one is a no-brainer. I would also like to remind everyone that I bet on the Redskins to win straight up last week. Cha-ching!

Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers

Chadam Takes: PANTHERS (-9.5) over Chiefs
Yeah, there’s no chance the Chiefs surprise the Panthers after the Broncos got stomped last week.

Nick Takes: PANTHERS (-9.5) over Chiefs
I would like the Chiefs in this one if only they weren’t going against one of the best rush defenses in the NFL. The Chiefs could keep the score within double digits, but only if L.J. gets going. I’m saying that doesn’t happen.

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens

Chadam Takes: Titans (+2.5) over RAVENS
I’m officially driving this Titans bandwagon. They always seem to get really low spreads. This defense is for real, and I’ll be taking them until they don’t cover for a few weeks in a row.

Nick Takes: Titans (+2.5) over RAVENS
This pick is my equivalent of Chadam’s “rent money special.” I don’t care if this game is a trap bet by Vegas or not. Kerry Collins better be smart enough not to give the Ravens defense any points because the Ravens offense is definitely not going to see the end zone in this game.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

Chadam Takes: TEXANS (+3) over Colts
The Texans are going to rip off four straight wins on this homestand they have coming up. My man crush Steve Slaton looks primed for a big game against this punchless, Sanders-less defense.

Nick Takes: Colts (-3) at TEXANS
The Texans looked good in their loss last week, but the Colts just had their bye and come in with this game as a must-win to avoid starting 1-3. I like the Colts to rise up and take this one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos

Chadam Takes: Buccaneers (+3) over BRONCOS
Nick got screwed by the Broncos last week on a teaser, and if there were enough asterisks in the world, I’d post his email rant on Cutler. Let’s just say I don’t think Mary Tyler Moore will be asking Nick to be a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Nick Takes: Buccaneers (+3) at BRONCOS
I had a pretty big bet on a 10-point teaser last week, and all the Broncos had to do what beat the Chiefs straight up just like the 12 teams before them did. They let me down. The Broncos are in my doghouse until further notice. Anybody who loses to the Chiefs does not deserve to be favored in their next game.

Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys

Chadam Takes: COWBOYS (-17) over Bengals
Jacob’s Ed. Note: Chadam made this pick without even knowing the spread. Bold.

Nick Takes: COWBOYS (-17) over Bengals
I have several questions about this game. Is Carson Palmer going to play? Does that even matter? Are the Cowboys going to give the ball to Barber more or get the ball to T.O. even more? Is it possible to turn down 17 points in an NFL game? I did a little research, and there have been 17 games through the first four weeks that had blowouts of 17 or more points. I like it when the same number randomly repeats itself in some obscure context. Let the blowout begin!

Buffalo Bills at Arizona Cardinals

Chadam Takes: CARDINALS (-1) over Bills
I’m throwing last week’s game against the Jets out the window since the Cardinals defense apparently took their bye week. All bets are off if the Cardinals crap the bed again this week.

Nick Takes: CARDINALS (-1) over Bills
I still haven’t gotten to watch the Bills play on television. Regardless, I’m picking the Cardinals to rebound from their embarrassing loss to the Jets and win this one for Kurt Warner. If they don’t, I’m guessing we will start seeing some drives led by boy band wannabe Matt Leinart. If there was an NFL version of ‘N Sync, who do you think would be in the group? Leinart would probably be Justin, and Brady Quinn would be Lance Bass for obvious reasons. After those two, I’m not sure who else would take part just as I’m unsure who the other members of ‘N Sync are. I’ll think about this NFL boy band and announce my NFL ‘N Sync team next week.

New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers

Chadam Takes: 49ERS (+3) over Patriots
Whatever. It’s sad the Pats lost Brady because they really aren’t interesting without him.

Nick Takes: Patriots (-3) over 49ERS
I can’t accept that the Patriots are nothing more than a mediocre team without Tom Brady. Everybody has always wondered if the Patriots’ dynasty was more a result of the coaching of Belichick or the play of Brady. We will find out in the coming weeks. I’m curious to see how the coaching strategy changes after the bye week.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars

Chadam Takes: JAGUARS (-4) over Steelers
I’m giving this Jags team one more week before I dump them. They stole a win from my Texans, and that victory could inspire them to not suck so much.

Nick Takes: Steelers (+4) over JAGUARS
The Steelers are turning ugly wins into an art form. I think this one will be a close game, so I’m taking the points. There should also be some extra motivation for the Steelers to win after losing to the Jags in the playoffs last year.

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Chadam Takes: SAINTS (-3) over Vikings
Brees is going to throw for 300 yards, rain or shine. I’ll go with the home team for this MNF.

Nick Takes: SAINTS (-3) over Vikings
Deuce McAllister is back! I would love to see Reggie Bush in a locker room fight with another NFL player, especially a guy like Deuce. Reggie is jacked up out of his mind, but I get the impression that he is probably soft (for an NFL player) and from the suburbs of California. Deuce…well, first of all, his name is Deuce. That name immediately gives him street cred in my opinion. I’m guessing he has been in a street fight or two and probably while working as a bouncer for some house of ill repute. Deuce would never date a bimbo like Kim Kardashian. He would pimp a girl like Kim Kardashian. I’m picking the Saints because Deuce is back, and the Saints have had some wide receivers step up in the past few weeks to make up for the injured Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey.

Last Week:

Nick: 7-6
Chadam: 8-5

Current Standings after Week 4:

Chadam: 31-26-1
Nick: 30-27-1
Simmons: 31-26-1

A Fool and His Money in Week 3

Last week, Nick and I were on fire. We had identical picks for 12 of the 15 games, and in those games, the two of us went 8-3 with one push.

Sadly, I lost the three picks on which we disagreed. After a sterling 11-3-1 record in Week 2, Nick is now up by three games.

Before we get started, let me explain a bit of what goes on behind the curtain.

While we don’t discuss our picks before we send them in to Jacob each week, Nick and I do watch football together on Sundays with all of our friends and participate in a mutual fantasy football league (with Jacob). It should come as no surprise that our picks and our logic are often similar, but no worries here. I’m going to beat Nick like he owes me money this week.

Here are some stats from the season thus far:

Home Team Winning Outright: 16-15
Favorites: 19-12
Home Team Against the Spread (ATS): 14-16-1
Favorites ATS: 15-14-1


Nothing out of the ordinary. The favorites are winning roughly two-thirds of the games, and the spread splits are very even. We’ll see if the trends continue in Week 3.

Kansas City Chiefs at Atlanta Falcons

Chadam Takes: FALCONS (-5.5) over Chiefs

I wonder if Nick is doubling down on the Chiefs after last week. My condolences go out to L.J. owners — the situation in Kansas City has “Moss in Oakland” written all over it.

Nick Takes: FALCONS (-5.5) over Chiefs

I placed my faith in the Chiefs last week, and they tomahawked any hope I had of winning my bet early on. The Falcons are competing, and I expect Michael “The Burner” Turner to have another good game closer to his Week 1 performance than his Week 2 one.

Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills

Chadam Takes: BILLS (-9.5) over Raiders

The Raiders should be getting more points here, especially considering this game is at Buffalo. How long will it be until teams start throwing 11 men in the box against McFadden?

Nick Takes: BILLS (-9.5) over Raiders

The Bills look like they are for real. They’ve beaten two playoff teams from last year convincingly. I don’t expect them to have much trouble with the Raiders while at home. A preemptive congrats to Marshawn Lynch owners in Week 3.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears

Chadam Takes: BEARS (-3) over Buccaneers

Even with Hester doubtful for this game, I have to go with Chicago. This one won’t be a barn burner. The over/under is 35.5 points, and I’m thinking less than 30 points will be scored in this game.

Nick Takes: BEARS (-3) over Buccaneers

This game will set the tone for the first half of the season for each of these teams. Both these teams have decent running games, great defenses and QBs they wish they didn’t have to start. The Bears are at home, and that makes the difference in my mind.

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Chadam Takes: Texans (+5) over TITANS

Albert Haynesworth is a monster. That being sad, I think people are sleeping on the Texan’s offense after they faced a great Pittsburgh D and took the fantasy back burner with the unexpected bye week.

Nick Takes: Texans (+5) over TITANS

The Titans have looked really good so far this season, but as a Hurricane Ike evacuee who still hasn’t been able to return home, I have to make the homer pick with the Texans. Houston will need some points from their defense and special teams to make this upset happen.

Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings

Chadam Takes: Panthers (+3.5) over VIKINGS

The Panthers have looked surprisingly good in the first two weeks. With Adrian Peterson limited and potentially out, this pick is a no-brainer. Here’s the real question: how good is Carolina?

Nick Takes: Panthers (+3.5) over VIKINGS

Talk about no respect. The 2-0 Panthers are underdogs against the 0-2 Vikings. I was liking the Vikings in this one until I saw that, and then I heard they are panicking and starting their backup QB, Gus Frerotte. I remember when I was younger, my dad told me only an idiot would bet on Gus Frerotte. Well, Dad, I’m trying…

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Chadam Takes: PATRIOTS (-13) over Dolphins

I really don’t like giving two TDs, but it’s Chad Pennington for crying out loud. Besides, I am warming up to the underdog role the Patriots are taking. Here’s to hoping the home team dominates.

Nick Takes: PATRIOTS (-13) over Dolphins

The Patriots needed some time to get over their long lost lover, Brady, but now it’s time for everything to click with their newest pretty boy, Matt Cassel. Consider this the honeymoon. I’m expecting the Patriots to put up about 50 points in this slaughter game.

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants

Chadam Takes: GIANTS (-13) over Bengals

Wow, now that is a spread! I’m only laying the points because I really don’t believe in Palmer anymore. Is he even a top-12 quarterback in real life? Look at his stats for last year minus the insane Week 2 Cleveland game, and his line was 3730 yards, 20 TDs and 18 INTs. That’s Philip Rivers in 2007 (3152-21-15) or Rex Grossman in 2006 (3193-23-20). Food for thought.

Nick Takes: GIANTS (-13) over Bengals

I wonder how bad it feels to be a Bengals fan. They must be the saddest, disappointed and perplexed fans in the nation. Is that really Carson Palmer or is his sister filling in for him?

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins

Chadam Takes: Cardinals (+3) over REDSKINS

This is my favorite pick of the week, and I’m debating hitting up a sperm bank this week to get some extra cash. I’m feeling another vintage Kurt Warner game — 392 yards for three TDs and a pick. Those of you who got him late in drafts are looking pretty smart right now — two thumbs pointed at this guy! (Ed. Note: Eighth round of a 16-round, 14-team draft with less than 10 QBs off the board isn’t exactly late, champ.)

Nick Takes: REDSKINS (-3) over Cardinals

I was looking for a reason to believe in Jason Campbell, and the Redskins delivered in a comeback win against the Saints. I question how the Cards will fair versus a playoff-caliber opponent.

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers

Chadam Takes: 49ERS (-4) over Lions

What a strange game. I never really know what to do when two crappy teams play against each other. I think that San Francisco has a better chance of stopping Kitna & Co. than Detroit has of stopping Gore.

Nick Takes: Lions (+4) over 49ERS

The Lions might be the most talented perennial loser there is in the NFL. They have some sick receivers in “Megatron” (Calvin Johnson) and Roy Williams. Remember when Roy Williams admitted to stiffing pizza delivery guys? That was awesome. I’m picking the Lions just for that.

St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Chadam Takes: SEAHAWKS (-9) over Rams

And I will never back the stupid Rams again. (Ed. Note: Chadam picked the Rams last week.) The only other way you could convince me to take Seattle and give nine points is if they were playing Notre Dame. If I set the over/under for sacks on Marc Bulger at seven, would you take the over? I would.

Nick Takes: Rams (+9) over Seahawks

Does anybody actually want to watch this game? I expect the Seahawks to win, but they don’t deserve to be favored by nine points over anyone. I’m sure Chadam won’t take the Rams three weeks in a row, so I’ll take them for the sake of being different than him. Chadam and I only differed on three picks last week, and I was right in all three cases.

New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos

Chadam Takes: BRONCOS (-5.5) over Saints

Wow, what an offense out there in Denver. Congratulations on making the fantasy playoffs, Cutler owners. I’ll be teasing the hell out of this game.

Nick Takes: BRONCOS (-5.5) over Saints

Is it considered jumping on the bandwagon if I’ve picked them to win their first two weeks? I don’t care, but I’m picking them until they prove me wrong. And will someone please tell Drew Brees to throw Shockey the ball! I reached for Shockey in my fantasy league, and he is not proving me correct so far. (Still, my fantasy team is 2-0.)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles

Chadam Takes: EAGLES (-3) over Steelers

This one is the game of the week, and I could go either way with this pick. Considering the minor questions surrounding Roethlisberger’s health, I’m siding with the home team in this one.

Nick Takes: EAGLES (-3) over Steelers

This game is probably the toughest to pick this week. I like both teams, but the stupid Steelers defied normal logic last week and didn’t kick a field goal late in the game that would have covered the spread. That bad karma is coming back to them this week with a loss to an in-state rival, the Eagles.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

Chadam Takes: Jaguars (+5.5) over COLTS

With three of the Colt’s O linemen injured and their defense (sans Sanders) looking suddenly mediocre, this game doesn’t look as obvious as it might seem given Jacksonville’s struggles the first two weeks.

Nick Takes: COLTS (-5.5) over Jaguars

Looking over my picks, I like the home teams a lot this week. That’s precisely why I like the Colts to cover in this game. They also get Dallas Clark back, which I think will be a big boost. The Jags will have a hint of desperation in their play calling this week that will backfire on them.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Chadam Takes: RAVENS (-2.5) over Browns

While I think the Browns will bounce back soon, I’ll go against them for one more week. Would people be worried about Braylon Edwards if he hadn’t dropped that 53-yard TD pass in Week 1? I’m buying him. No worries.

Nick Takes: Browns (+2.5) over RAVENS

I don’t like the Browns, but I think they can beat the rookie-led Ravens in this one. The Browns desperately need for Braylon Edwards to break out of his slump in this game.

Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers

Chadam Takes: Cowboys (-3) over PACKERS

Too bad Rodgers can’t face the Lions every week, huh? This game is another favorite spread of mine. Dallas is for real.

Nick Takes: Cowboys (-3) over PACKERS

This one is going to be a good game to watch. I like the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers a lot, but so far, they have only beat winless teams. The Cowboys have looked unstoppable with Marion the Barbarian and Owens. I think the Cowboys get this one, but I’m guessing we’ll see a rematch of these two teams in January.

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

Updated: Corrected home team and spread on Jets at Chargers. I won’t point fingers.

Chadam Takes: Jets (+8.5) over CHARGERS

I’m still on the Jets bandwagon, so I gotta take the points in this one. While Sproles is good, he’s not even close to a healthy L.T. The Chargers might win this one but definitely not by nine points.

Nick Takes: Jets (+8.5) over CHARGERS

I’ve been flip-flopping on this pick all week. I like the Chargers to win, but I don’t know what to expect from Brett Favre. His gunslinger attitude will either keep it close or blow it wide open. I’m going to say he does enough in the fourth quarter to keep it close.

Last Week:

Nick: 11-3-1
Chadam: 8-6-1

Current Standings after Week 2:

Chadam: 16-14-1
Nick: 19-11-1

Dude… Brandon Marshall

You know, I never really doubted Brandon Marshall. Going into Week 2 against San Diego, I expected him to make his presence known but not blow it up like he did. Some analysts are already proclaiming him the wide receiver to beat this year for the top fantasy spot. I am not too far off from saying the same.

Brandon Marshall ended the night with 18 receptions for 166 yards and a score which broke the Broncos’ record for receptions in a single game and got dangerously close to Terrell Owens’ NFL record of 20 receptions. “Baby T.O.” is on his way up the charts.

That dominant performance against a tough San Diego defense takes home a “Dude…” award this week. For kicks and since the game tape doesn’t focus in just on Marshall’s supreme play, here is another video of Marshall.

Who can resist a highlight reel set to Foo Fighters?

http://youtu.be/1dwOoIoJYUA

As you noticed in Week 1, throughout the season, we’ll be handing out “Dude…” awards to the players that left us speechless in fantasy football this weekend. Not all the biggest performers will take one home — we expect you to have three touchdowns, Tony Romo — but the guys that surprise or impress beyond their potential will be handsomely rewarded.

After all, while an NFL career can be short, articles last a lifetime.

If you don’t understand our use of “dude,” well, I guess the land of commercials might help us explain the meaning here.

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.

Q&A QB: How to Draft First Overall in Nine-Team Division

Q&A QB is a new head-smacking, hard-hitting, name-taking question and answer series where Jacob assists readers and his Twitter followers in perfecting their draft strategy and winning their league. This post is the first run at it. Let Jacob know what you think in the comments, and if you’d like to be featured in a future Q&A QB post, send Jacob an email or tweet him, whatever that means.

This week in Q&A QB, we’ll take a look at several questions and a walkthrough for how to draft with the first overall pick in a nine-team division.

QUESTION: I have the first pick in the draft, and there are nine teams in a point-only division. What would your team look like?

Basically, you luck out with LaDainian Tomlinson then load up on wide receivers that score a lot and a top quarterback. Once you have found your top players in each category, snag a productive second running back and another receiver.

I suggest using this draft strategy: L.T., WR, WR, RB or QB, RB or QB, WR. Flesh out your roster from there.

After taking L.T. in the first, hopefully you will still be able to pick two out of Marshawn Lynch, Reggie Wayne, Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards for your second and third round back-to-back picks. Lynch is hard to pass up if he is there, but he is more a yardage guy than a touchdown machine. Of course, one can always hope for change.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: I’m obviously going L.T. first, and since it’s a nine-team league, my next pick will be the 18th overall pick.

With the second and third round back-to-back picks, I was thinking Braylon Edwards then, if available, one of the top-10 QBs. Hoping Romo will slip and fall that far, but I’m doubting it. So most likely it will be Drew Brees or Matt Hasselbeck. That way, I at least have a top tier in each position and fill in from there.

On my next picks, I’m thinking players like Santonio Holmes will slip to me and maybe someone like LenDale White. What are your suggestions?

I’d target Braylon Edwards if you can get him in the second round. If not, take one of the top-10 WRs if there is still one on the board.

In your third round, I think you could go WR or QB. If Romo is still on the board, definitely take him. Brees is probably worth taking as well.

If a top WR like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still on the board, I might pass on Brees and take another WR hoping that an elite QB will fall to you.

I definitely would not use your third round pick on Hasselbeck. I’m avoiding him this season, and I don’t think he’s worth a high pick this year. His WRs are all banged up and the new RBBC could reduce Hasselbeck’s throwing attempts.

In the fourth round, I would look at the QB situation and decide what you want to do. There may still be one or two elite QBs here. This pick is close to where Ben Roethlisberger is being taken, but I think it’s a little high for him.

If you are worried you are going to miss out on all the top QBs, take one here with one of your picks in the fourth and fifth rounds. Otherwise, you could wait longer.

Here’s the strategy with waiting:

You could push your luck and hope that Derek Anderson falls to you in the sixth round. I think he’s got about as good a chance as Big Ben of being a strong QB this year. With just nine teams, you’ll only be about 54 picks in by the sixth round and just across the 60 pick mark when your pick comes up.

In standard scoring, that’s where Anderson, Hasselbeck (if you like him) and Jay Cutler are all going. You could take two of those guys back-to-back in the sixth and seventh rounds to have a strong QB tandem that could trade off every week.

Note: This advice was given before Anderson’s concussion against the Giants, but I still think he can be counted on this season.

It’s really up to you how you want to play the QB, but don’t reach for anyone. Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers and Jake Delhomme also make good backup QBs that you can probably get in the eighth round with just nine teams. Just depends on how many teams are in need of a QB by the time the sixth round rolls around.

Back to the fourth round, if you decide to pass on a QB there or have taken one already in the third round, you should look at Michael Turner, Edgerrin James, Thomas Jones or LenDale White here. All of them are 1) strong workhorse RBs that will get the majority of carries for their team and 2) not going to lose TD touches.

Turner and Edge are both going to get plenty of carries as their young QBs develop. Jones will have the running lanes open because of Favre. White gets so many chances to run the ball that gravity forces him to produce. If any of them are available, spend a pick on them and then another WR like Plaxico Burress, Torry Holt, Roy Williams or maybe Brandon Marshall if you don’t mind his two- or three-game suspension.

I like all of those guys better than Santonio Holmes. I have some concern that Big Ben is not going to throw the TDs as much this year, and when he does throw them, I think Holmes loses catches to Heath Miller and Hines Ward.

From there on out, look for value picks that get a lot of touches and targets in their offense.

Stick with guys that have huge upsides and little risk, and you should improve a lot this year. With a nine-man league, there will probably be plenty of waiver wire grabs to save your team by the middle of the season as well.

NFL Free Agents of 2009: Play Me Before They Pay Me

Whether or not you put any stock in the third-year receiver theory, players on the last year of their contract always put up big numbers before a team shows them the Benjamins.

Players who have just been paid should be suspect the next year — like a Shaun Alexander — but the year they earn their keep is the year to have them. If a player is set to put on a show this season, you should make sure to target them in your fantasy draft.

While an extension could come between now and the coin flip of 2008 for these players, here are a few of the top players that will be looking to upgrade to a Bentley this season:

The Running Backs (RB)

Steven Jackson. St. Louis Rams.
The grinder of the offense is coming off injury and a horrible Rams showing in 2007. With his contract up, Jackson will be willing to put his team on his back and run with it. While I still consider SJax damaged goods, he might be worth a second look after mini-camps and training camps show back to true form. I don’t see any way St. Louis lets him leave, but for the moment, Jackson’s looking like a relatively safe bet.

Brandon Jacobs. New York Giants.
The Giants have a full stable of RBs, but Jacobs was the man for most of the season that led them to the Super Bowl. With that victory under his belt, Jacobs might be one of the few Giants who will fight the Super Bowl slump and earn his weight in gold — that’s no little pile of gold either. It’s tough to say he is a must grab since the ball is passed to so many hands in the Giants’ offense, but keep his contract year in mind if it comes down to picking between runners who share the ball. Jacobs should at least fight through any injuries this season to impress and keep the necessary, hefty amounts of food on the table.

Marion Barber. Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys current focus is on getting a long-term deal signed by this man. Barber should share time with rookie Felix Jones this year. He probably won’t Wow with huge games, but he is consistent and guaranteed to be a first rounder in your fantasy draft. His extension will likely come before the season starts, but if not, do not miss the chance to stamp your ticket for this train.

Ricky Williams. Miami Dolphins.
Ricky’s gotta eat. Coming off his one-game-wonder — if wonder is breaking yourself in a handful of downs — performance in the muck of Pittsburgh last year, Williams will have to improve on the field if he wants Bill Parcells to keep him employed. He’s likely to share carries with Ronnie Brown, but if Ricky can finally pull his head out of the clouds, he could be a factor running behind Jake Long and stick around for his NFL paycheck a little longer.

Note that this list doesn’t include the currently homeless and unemployed — Shaun Alexander and Kevin Jones. Both will likely find homes where they will be earning their keep day-to-day. Jones could come back from his injury to a decent situation, but I don’t expect much of Shaun.

The Wide Receivers (WR) and Tight Ends (TE)

The real value in this season’s contract players is at the WR spot.

Terrell Owens. Dallas Cowboys.
That’s right. The typically demanding T.O. has been uncharacteristically quiet this offseason looking at the final year of his deal with the Cowboys. In a recent interview, he even expressed his desire to retire as a Cowboy. Have Jerry Jones and the boys finally tamed the T.O. of old? Regardless, T.O. is already considered one of the top WRs going into 2008, so the added motivation of earning a new deal should keep him demanding the ball week after week. If you go WR early, go T.O. Randy Moss just got paid, and the Giants exposed the Patriots’ weakness. No, it’s not stealing their video camera batteries.

Lee Evans. Buffalo Bills.
He stung me last season, but Evans’ contract year couldn’t come at a better time. The under-hyped WR of Buffalo finally has a compliment in short-yardage target James Hardy. If Trent Edwards gets more comfortable in training camp, Evans can shame face a few corners in 2008. I can’t trust him right away since I am still in a sensitive emotional state after the empty points column he awarded me in 2007, but Evans is back on my radar. I just can’t quit you, Lee.

Roy Williams. Detroit Lions.
The inconsistent Roy Williams is rumored to be on the trading block this season, but if he makes it through training camps, look for him to try to show his skills. I am not sure what he can do in the Detroit offense no matter how many times Kitna guarantees 10 wins, but with Calvin Johnson to draw similar coverage and a new offensive coordinator, Roy could be back — at least for 2008.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Cincinnati Bengals.
Housh has got a mess up in Cincinnati this offseason while Chad Johnson demands a trade, but T.J. will still show up when it is time to play. Last year was a big season for him, so 2008 should be his time to shine. If he gets the Bengals’ No. 1 WR role, he is a must grab. Just make sure you say his name right so that you don’t embarrass us.

Amani Toomer. New York Giants.
Sad to say that I don’t think Toomer will be looking to have a huge year. His career is winding down, and a year more in New York might just be spent as a veteran mentor to Mario Manningham and the other Steve Smith. I think Toomer might be looking for a one-year extension, but don’t count on him fighting to go out on top.

Desmond Clark. Chicago Bears.
It’s hard for anyone to shine in the Bears offense unless your name is Devin Hester, but Clark will be pushing to stay employed despite the up-and-coming Greg Olsen. If he can maintain his playing time, Clark will use it to the best of his ability. It’s iffy which TE will be a better value for 2008 though. First, they need a QB. Clark will likely be looking to show other suitors what he can do.

Notable WR of circumstance:

Anquan Boldin. Arizona Cardinals.
Even though his contract is not up, Boldin looks to be playing for mo’ money this season since Larry Fitzgerald will be making almost 7x his paycheck in 2008. Neither Arizona WR is a raw deal, but Boldin’s got something to prove.

The Quarterbacks (QB)

Rex Grossman/Kyle Orton. Chicago Bears.
One of these two underwhelming QBs has to perform this year. There just has to be some law of probability that says that, right? The two have one-year deals to show it or pack their locker. These two may end up as a case study for the NFL that proves even you are playing for the big money and big contract, it doesn’t mean you can exceed expectations or take your game to a new, less mediocre level.

Jeff Garcia. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garcia was the leader of a Tampa Bay team that made it to the playoffs last year minus starting RB Cadillac Williams, but Garcia’s value isn’t the best being as old as he is and with so many QBs behind him. While Chris Simms is likely gone (and maybe Jake Plummer if they still consider him on the team), Garcia might not land a big money deal with the Bucs. He is already pushing for Tampa Bay to show him the money, but his performance this season might just be to show another QB-hungry team that he can still play a few more years. Hey, it worked when he was an Eagle.

Kurt Warner. Arizona Cardinals.
Could he fight for the spotlight to stay in the NFL? There’s no telling what Warner could show us this year since he became part of a QB-by-committee system at Arizona last year. I expect that Matt Leinart will get the starts, but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard the last from Warner.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know by posting a comment down south.