Fantasy Winners of 2008 NFL Draft

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going for Broke: Sure things and daring moves to win Week 15 in fantasy football

Well, it’s probably round 2 of the playoffs for most of you. Some of you may already be drowning your sorrows in a bottle of fine liquor–or a jar of Papa’s moonshine.

For the sober ones, it’s beyond time to start plotting next week. What studs does your opponent have? Who will have a big week to save you? If you have studs in a big match up, you are set–and we all hate you. If you are lacking in a few key areas, you may need to take some risks to put down the Tom Brady or Randy Moss owner in your future.

First, some pretty obvious things. Several studs are lined up to have big games and should stay on your starting roster.

STUDS THIS WEEK

  • Joseph Addai   against OAK
    He’s my pick of the week to have a big game against the worst run defense in the NFL. Just look at what Ryan Grant did to them last week.
  • Willis McGahee against MIA
    Even though he struggled last week, he couldn’t ask for a more powerful bounce back match up. Miami allowed 2 100-yard rushers in a single game last week against Buffalo, so what if McGahee just makes it 200+?
  • Kurt Warner against NO
    Kurt Warner likes to pretend he’s a pitcher and throw the ball for the entire game. It just so happens that he gets the Saints defense this week. They like to act like a horrible baseball outfield and just watch the balls sail over their head.
  • Drew Brees against ARI
    With the above message in mind, Brees is going to have to keep up if Warner really turns it on this week. While he’s not as much of a lock as Warner, he will definitely be putting it up big this week.
  • Earnest Graham against ATL
    The Hawks are broken and feeling a little bit rejected this week with Petrino leaving them. I don’t think they will even be able to sleep without a light on with all those feelings of abandonment, and the league took away all their dogs. Graham is a solid runner, and he will put the hurt on them this week.
  • Carson Palmer against SF
    It’s San Francisco, people.
  • Jamal Lewis against BUF
    While Buffalo was getting those 200+ yards rushing, Miami’s Samkon Gado was getting 2 TDs against the Buffalo defense. Expect Jamal Lewis to be able to do some damage after the bruising performance he showed this week.

What? Did I not mention any Patriots? No LT?   Don’t worry. If you have a stud rated at the top and performing hot all season, you should feel safe starting them, and I don’t think you need my advice.

For those of you that need a little daring this week, he is your chance-y plays of the week. They could be big enough to get you over a hump, or they could be snubbed and snub your championship hopes. Say a little prayer for each of them, and only play them if you have a huge deficit to overcome with your week 15 opponent or no other options.

DARING PLAYS THIS WEEK

  •  Lee Evans against CLE
    Buffalo wants to win and lock in a playoff appearance. Now that Trent Edwards has met Lee Evans, they might hook up again with the Browns being one of the worst receiving defenses (30/32). He will either get his due TDs or he will get nothing, and the Bills will lose.
  • Bernard Berrian against MIN
    You can’t run on Minnesota–unless you are Ryan Grant. Berrian will be a key performer if the Bears win this week. The only risk is whether Kyle Orton can come off the bench at QB to make him a star. Better hope his star shines bright, but Berrian could put up a TD and plenty of yardage if he has a good day.
  • Trent Edwards against CLE
    Much like Lee Evans, he is hit or miss. He will either be on and winning the game with his arm, or he will let us all down.
  • Darius Walker against DEN
    Denver’s defense is unpredictable, but as the lead in the RBBC that is now going to operate for the Texans, Walker has the best chance of making them look bad again if he can get the running game going in this one. He could save you or just put up enough numbers to be average and let you lose.
  • Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton against MIA
    With so many passes going out last week over Miami defender’s heads, you would expect one of these guys to have a big game with at least one TD. My money would be on Mark Clayton, but it all depends on whether the Ravens find TOO much success running the football and just stick with Willis McGahee.
  • Jabar Gaffney against NYJ
    Gaffney is consistently getting looks in the zone. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, the Patriots wide receivers could all get big days, and Gaffney could receive a hefty load of that–more so than the likes of Stallworth.
  • Jerheme Urban against NO
    Urban could benefit from a lot of Warner passing this week especially if Boldin sits this one out. Keep your eye on the injury report, but keep in mind that Bryant Johnson could also take some catches. It’s a gamble who takes any TDs from Larry Fitzgerald in this one.
  • Sidney Rice against CHI
    Rice has the ability to take it to the house with every catch. If Tavaris continues to develop, he could get at least one TD in this one against the Bears. He’s probably the most risky play at receiver, but he could pay off in a pinch. It’s possible.

If you still have questions or you just find yourself feeling lonely and vulnerable after absorbing all that, feel free to comment and have the fantasy football genie answer all your questions. Just give me a heads up. It takes awhile to rub this lamp.

Week 15 Wire: Sneaky pickups to save your playoff run

petrino yell

Don’t run out the door like Petrino when your team takes an injury late here in the playoffs–or just stinks. There’s a few sneaky plays this week that could still save you and win your championship.

RB Help

Darius Walker, RB HOU
Word is that Ron Dayne will be out week 15. If that happens, there will probably we a running back committee setup, but Darius Walker is likely to be the head of any committee. He got close to 100 yards in his relief role after Dayne went down this week, and the match up for week 15 is the ever-tricky Denver run defense.

Samkon Gado, RB MIA
With Jesse Chatman hurting, Samkon Gado will take the hand offs from Cleo Lemon. Unfortunately, even if Chatman doesn’t start, he is up against Baltimore, who could shut down the running game of Miami even if it is the only offensive weapon they have.

Aaron Stecker, RB NO
If no one grabbed him when Reggie Bush went down, you should have by now. Stecker will be starting the rest of the season since Bush broke down. Get him while he’s hot coming off a 100 yard performance on Monday night.

WR Help

Jabar Gaffney, WR NE
I don’t know if anyone has noticed that Gaffney is really the third receiver in the Patriot offense, not Stallworth. While Stallworth hasn’t been dancing to the goalposts much at all this season, Gaffney has been scoring TDs in the Patriots games. Look for him to continue to be a risky WR but a great play if you need a potential upset sub in a 3 WR roster.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR IND
I think he finally woke up and realized he was in Marvin Harrison’s shoes. He should be a nice sub until Harrison comes back–wait, who am I kidding? He will play out the rest of the regular season. Don’t expect 2 TDs, but he can put up yardage and possibly a TD every week with Manning throwing the way he is. As a cautionary note, the match up for this week is not that great since Oakland should let Addai take an express train to the TD every time he gets the ball.

Reggie Williams, WR JAX
The butterfingers of Williams have gotten a better grip with Garrard at the helm. Look for him to have a big day whenever Garrard does, but don’t start him over a stud since he is risky except for 3 WR sets.

QB Help

Trent Edwards, QB BUF
Edwards is the choice pick coming off his 4 TD performance against Miami. He now faces Cleveland’s pass defense, so grab him if your stud has a HORRIBLE match up or if you just like taking chances for big plays this week.

Sage Rosenfels, QB HOU
Sage is a wise one. Even in tough match ups, he tends to perform well. He does get to throw to Andre Johnson. While Edwards is the better grab. If you miss him, Rosenfels could help you out at QB this week.

Week 13: Waiver wire replacements for your injuries, sir

Oh, you weren’t starting to settle into a nice little butt groove going into the last week before playoffs were you? I’m sorry. If you didn’t notice, several starters just fell apart this week leaving you in the position to grab up the next starter before you playoff opponents or in great need of grabbing your back ups if you didn’t handcuff.

This week we’ll combine the injury report and waiver wire.

Philip Rivers, QB SD
Keep your eye on Rivers. Even though he has been inconsistent, he could emerge as a promising starter for your playoff run if another owner has already given up on him.

Kolby Smith, RB KC
If no one picked him up last week, does 150+ yards and 2 TDs convince you? Of course, that was against Oakland, but Smith should get his yards as the focus of the Kansas City offense as long as Larry Johnson stays out.

Roddy White, WR ATL
Harrington is going to look to White when they make a play. He’s consistent if you have a hit or miss WR that might give you trouble in the playoffs.

Trent Edwards, QB BUF
If you are hurting–and I mean hurting–at QB, you are probably stuck with one of the Trents. Trent Edwards was not much more than a game manager during his previous stint as a starter in Buffalo. He needs to meet a guy name Lee Evans before he will make his mark fantasy-wise, but for the moment, he will start over J.P. Losman to end this season. If you just need a starter, he is breathing and starting for the moment for the Bills.

Trent Dilfer, QB SF
He’s the other Trent. With Alex Smith in recovery, Dilfer put up decent numbers–250+ yards and 2 TDs. It’s hard to say which Trent would be a better addition to your roster, but Dilfer does have the better match up this week with Cleveland.

Anthony Thomas, RB BUF
Marshawn Lynch looks to be out again this week, so as long as Thomas’ own injury from Sunday is minor, he should get the start. Considering the Buffalo Trent, Trent Edwards, is back as a starter for the first game in his new stint, look for them to give Thomas plenty of carries against Washington.

Adrian Peterson, RB CHI
Peterson is now the full-time starter with Cedric Benson ending his dismal season with injury on Sunday. Don’t expect big numbers because the Bears don’t have an easy street schedule to end the season, but Peterson can be a decent number 2 RB.

Andre Hall and/or Cecil Sapp, RB DEN
The value here is all about injuries. Travis Henry is out with his knee, and Selvin Young was hurt last week and sat out Sunday. Andre Hall tweaked his own ankle in the game Sunday but played through the injury. Depending upon who returns, Hall and Young could split carries or if everyone is hurt, Cecil Sapp could start for the Broncos. Shanny is unpredictable, and this call could all come down to a game time decision.

Patrick Cobbs, RB MIA
With Ricky Williams ending his NFL season with less than 20 yards and a fumble and Chatman going out again Monday night with a neck injury, the Dolphins might have to look at Cobbs for the remainder of the season or until Chatman gets back in shape. He’s a dangerous start, but he could be a factor against the Jets.

Reuben Droughns, RB NYG
He wasn’t completely dismal against the Vikings tough run D and unless Derrick Ward returns to start this week, look for Droughns to get the start again against the low-ranked Chicago run defense.

Tony Scheffler, TE DEN
Back from injury, Scheffler has become a factor with Jay Cutler in the second half of the season. Consider picking him up if you need a good back up TE for the playoffs or have an underperforming TE–even one like Greg Olsen or Owen Daniels.

LJ Smith, TE PHI
Some owners gave up on him as he struggled to get healthy at the beginning of the year, but LJ is now back to his usual in Philadelphia. I think Scheffler has the bigger upside, but Smith can be consistent as long as the Eagles QB situation doesn’t get too chaotic.

Sidney Rice, WR MIN
He’s hit or miss, but if you want a big play WR to help you out for this final week of glory or in your playoff run, Rice has big play ability.

Quarterback Evolution and Woes: Losman back, Pennington benched

Quarterbacks have a big load to carry. I know–that’s what she said, but it’s true. With the big paycheck comes the blame if the team gets off to a bad start or can’t execute in big games. Fans like to point fingers, and most of the time, they are pointing at the quarterback. This season, however, there has been a lot of starter swapping and finger pointing and a more than usual amount of bloodshed.

Very few in the NFL’s quarterbacks don’t, at one point or another, catch the wrath of the fans. Most notable in recent times, Rex Grossman and Eli Manning were two quarterbacks just old enough not to be though of as draft mistakes and just young enough not to be written off for every bad game–but they were. Grossman–maybe deservedly in his case–was eventually benched this year while Eli Manning is showing everyone that he can be great but maybe not his brother like some people expected. Lightning can’t strike twice–even in the same bloodline.

Last year, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys (go big D) found his groove coming in for Bledsoe and led the team on a run that got them into the playoffs. (Note that I will not, at this point, address what may or may not have happened in said playoff game in regards to Romo. He doesn’t deserve that.) Matt Schaub has jumped out this year as a great starting quarterback that Atlanta wishes they had kept after losing Michael Vick. After a mediocre start by Frye, Derek Anderson emerged as a star quarterback–especially by fantasy standards–to take them into a winning record. Maybe no one would have known these QBs were worth anything had Houston and Cleveland not given him a chance, but now every team seems to be looking quicker to their next warm body in the quarterback slot this season. Not every situation can be solved with a quarterback swap.

Two notable situations are in Buffalo and New York. In Buffalo, Losman’s bad start was seen as the end of his hot streak. He was benched after injury in favor of the rookie Trent Edwards. While Edwards has an arm, he takes some warm up to get going, and if you are already having a bad start to the season, without much support, rookies usually lack that explosive presence to carry you out of it. Very few can jump off the bench without throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. In their Week 8 game against the Jets, Edwards’ injury allowed Losman to go into the game and show his stuff by throwing a bomb to Evans for the winning touchdown. Granted, the ball may have been underthrown, and Lee Evans had to work for it, but Losman got it there and got Evans into the zone.

The same could happen with Kellen Clemens in New York. I think there is something to be said for the chemistry that a starting quarterback has with his team. They shoulder the blame and shoulder the responsibility, and they earn respect for that. Has the team completely lost faith in Pennington enough to give Clemens all the help he needs as a rookie moving forward? Pennington did take them to the playoffs last year, and I doubt the entire team can write him off and move on like he is not part of what made that possible. As a fantasy football owner, I don’t trust Clemens yet. I know that Pennington has played horribly in his last few starts, but I am not sure that Clemens will be much better. He will really have to earn his spot this week against a tough Redskins defense.