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August 21, 2008

12 team Yahoo! fantasy league

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AP Photo/Kyle Ericson

Had a late night last night, but drafted what I thought to be a solid football team in a 12 team league.

Received pick #6 so I knew I'd have a lesser RB to take, or Tom Brady or Randy Moss. Brady actually went #3 to one of his big fans, so that jumbled things a bit. Brian Westbrook and Joe Addai followed so I had to grab Steven Jackson. Despite his holdout and potential issues in St Louis (O Line, Marc Bulger staying healthy) it would have been unwise to let this type of RB go by, as I consider there to be a decent drop-off after those first 5 running backs. Randy Moss was enticing because he's one my favorites and I knew he'd be gone by the time I picked next at pick 18, but if I did that I knew I'd have to grab a few running backs immediately afterwards.

Two picks after Jackson, Peyton Manning was chosen. So I assumed that the guy I've been targetting in drafts, Tony Romo, would be snatched up soon (or at least before my 2nd round pick). However Romo was left so I gladly picked him up. The year prior I had Donovan McNabb and made a note of it to come away with Brady, Romo or Brees in this draft, at the right point in the draft for their value of course. I think with pick #19 for Tony Romo that I did that. Fantasy Football QB Draft Ranking List

Another basic strategy I have been employing is grabbing Thomas Jones in the 3rd or 4th round of leagues, with the hope that Alan Faneca and the other offensive additions will allow Jones some more room to run (and like Willie Parker, it was a fluke he did not score more than he did in 2007). Jones was still out there at pick 29 but so were a few elite receivers, notably Marques Colston and TJ Houshmandzadeh. It was a toss-up really and I had no scientific method for choosing one over the other, so I just grabbed Houshmandzadeh who continually gets a large amount of targets (not that Colston doesn't though). On the way back Thomas Jones was still around so I grabbed him.

Round 5 I took Roddy White but really struggled with it. Not many other quality receivers were around, but Brandon Marshall was and I probably should have taken him despite the suspension. Still, I am happy with White as my #2 receiver in a 12 team league. 1200 and 5 touchdowns last year, you would think he'll grab more than 5 touchdowns with the looks he is going to get, but the 1200 yards may not be reached. It is hard to know what will happen with the Atlanta Falcons offense, since they brought in Michael Turner in the offseason but were passing a ton to end 2007 with Chris Redman and the aforementioned White.

Round 6 was approaching and I took Jason Witten with pick # 67. Kellen Winslow, Antonio Gates and Jeremy Shockey (!) were all taken ahead of Witten. Now I don't think Witten will duplicate his 2007 numbers, but with his amount of looks last year and the efficiency of the Cowboys offense, I expect him to come close. Pairing him with Romo will make it extra nice when I see a Romo to Witten TD.

After this is was time to fill out my third receiver and my bench slots, then ending the draft with a kicker and defense. Joey Galloway was my 7th round pick. Another personal favorite of mine, he is certainly inconsistent but I love those deep TD's. Starting the season off against a foe he burns regularly is nice as well (New Orleans). Rashard Mendenhall followed Galloway in Round 8. I'm not a big fan, but there is the potential he gets carries in Pittsburgh. Not a bad handcuff to have and he's generally drafted earlier than that. Nate Burleson at pick 102 and round 9 was nice, especially since the first month there will be no Deion Branch and Bobby Engram. Maybe he'll return a few special teams TD's too, that'd be nice.

Round 10 pick 115 it was time to take Ricky Williams. Not sure why he was around at this time with all the uncertainty surrounding Ronnie Brown. I followed round 11 with Ted Ginn Jr, another Dolphin. It sounds like he's been having a decent summer and he was worth a flier as a #3 receiving candidate along with Galloway and Burleson.

Decided to take a kicker in Round 12 even though there were 3 more picks left. I wanted to get Neil Rackers since our Yahoo fantasy league is big on long field goals, and Rackers like to attempt them. Plus I like that he plays in Arizona come December, fantasy playoff time, as opposed to playing in cold weather or with extreme wind. Still, it's a kicker. Round 13 I grabbed Chris Johnson of Tennessee. He seems like an interesting option as well with incumbent Lendale White being injury prone and a little questionable in general. I closed out the draft in round 14 with Isaac Bruce and Oakland Raiders defense. I doubt I'll play Bruce but with Martz there I bet he gets a lot of looks. Oakland was the choice because of a decent 1st week matchup at home against Denver. I'll probably just play defense week-to-week, I'm more comfortable with that than having to put in the same defense every week even if they have a tough offense they are going against.

QB Tony Romo
WR TJ Houshmandzadeh
WR Roddy White
WR Joey Galloway
RB Steven Jackson
RB Thomas Jones
TE Jason Witten
K Neil Rackers
Def Oakland Raiders

Bench Rashard Mendenhall RB
Bench Nate Burleson WR
Bench Ricky Williams RB
Bench Ted Ginn Jr WR
Bench Chris Johnson RB
Bench Isaac Bruce WR

August 18, 2008

Bare Bears: Orton over Grossman

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This 2008 Chicago Bears team may be one of the worst producing fantasy teams in a long while. Heading into the season, they do not have a must-start playing at any skill position. Even their previously vaunted defense has taken a step back, and is looked at more-so for the potential special teams touchdowns from Devin Hester.

Chicago announced today that they would be going with Kyle Orton over Rex Grossman, with two pre-season games in the books. Neither Orton or Grossman have performed particularly well, with Orton going 12 for 19 for 99 yards 0 touchdowns 0 turnovers. Grossman meanwhile has thrown a touchdown and interception, going 13 of 22 for 108 yards. Either way do not expect either to be fantasy relevant, and likewise the targets they are throwing to is scarce.

Devin Hester has some breakthrough potential, but only had about 20 catches 270 yards 2 TDs last year in time as a WR. Marty Booker is back for another stint in Chicago, where he was once a decent possession receiver. After leaving the Bears, his value plummeted. Brandon Lloyd is the other starter and his best claim to fame is being the 49ers top WR in the mid 2000's. Someone might consider either of these two as a third or fourth receiver in a deep 14+ team league, but they all have plenty to prove.

Greg Olsen and or Desmond Clark could be valuable, if they did not have eachother to fight with over catches. Olsen is the young former first rounder who has more potential down the road, while Clark has proven himself over the years to be a fluky scorer. He will go weeks without doing anything but he can then grab a few TDs in one game. Hardly a consistent threat and you will probably see this from both of them this year.

Matt Forte could be a solid running back and may be the only Bear with real fantasy value. He is quick, athletic, can catch out of the backfield, and provide an element that Cedric Benson failed to. However he has plenty going against him, like the porous passing attack described above, and the terrible offensive line. The line will be better than the 2007 version as they drafted Vanderbilt's Chris Williams at pick 14 to shore up the tackle spot. Still, plenty of work to be done there. Thus, Forte is a good late RB pickup in the draft, because there is value in a running back that is at least guaranteed to get the rock a majority of the time even if he is not particularly successful.

Watch Bengals RB position

watsonpackers.jpgPhoto by Scott Boehm/Getty Images

Heading into last season, Rudi Johnson was a pillar of consistency. You never thought he would be an elite player, but he was still a top draft pick and one of the top running backs taken with his 12 touchdowns and 1300 yards

It would be easy to discount the previous season because of injuries, but his yards per carry dropped to 3.8 in 2006 as well. In 2007 it reached 2.9. When Rudi Johnson was able to get into the lineup, especially early on, he was ineffective. Before his season ended in Week 15 (7 carries 16 yards) Rudi had three straight games with a touchdown. But those were his only three of the year (after scoring 24 touchdowns in 2 years).

Worse yet, Rudi seems to be losing his job to the emerging Chris Perry. Perry has not been fully healthy since joining the league as a 1st round draft pick, but is a quicker running back who is adept at catching passes out of the backfield, something Rudi has never done well.

Kenny Watson is also in the mix to earn playing time after a 2007 in which he performed significantly better than Johnson. Like Perry, Watson can make a difference catching passes with 52 catches for 374 yards in 2007. Watson's work on the ground led the team with 763 yards (4.3 Y/A) and 7 touchdowns.

Because of the ambiguity of the RB status in Cincinnati, all RB's are dropping in the draft. If any of them are moving up the charts it's Perry, who has been getting rave reviews and performed reasonably well in Preseason play.

Stay tuned because at some point a starter will be declared, or they will declare there is a time share which would of course reduce the value of each. If this is the case, look for Johnson to take the goal line carries and the other two being involved in the open field game and catching passes.

August 17, 2008

WR Draft Tier Rankings List

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2008 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Tier 1
1. Randy Moss (98 catches 1493 yards 23 touchdowns)

Tier 2
2. Terrell Owens (81 catches 1355 yards 15 touchdowns)
3. Reggie Wayne (104 catches 1510 yards 10 touchdowns)
4. Braylon Edwards (80 catches 1289 yards 16 touchdowns)

Tier 3
5. Andre Johnson (60 catches 851 yards 8 touchdowns (9 games))
6. Marques Colston (98 catches 1202 yards 11 touchdowns)
7. TJ Houshmandzadeh (112 catches 1143 yards 12 touchdowns)
8. Larry Fitzgerald (100 catches 1409 yards 10 touchdowns)
9. Torry Holt (93 catches 1189 yards 7 touchdowns)
10. Chad Johnson (93 catches 1440 yards 8 touchdowns)
11. Plaxico Burress (70 catches 1025 yards 12 touchdowns)
12. Steve Smith (87 catches 1002 yards 7 touchdowns)

Tier 4
13. Wes Welker (112 catches 1175 yards 8 touchdowns)
14. Santonio Holmes (52 catches 942 yards 8 touchdowns (13 games)
15. Anquan Boldin (71 catches 853 yards 9 touchdowns (12 games)
16. Roy Williams (63 catches 836 yards 5 touchdowns (12 games)
17. Brandon Marshall (102 catches 1325 yards 7 touchdowns)
18. Calvin Johnson (48 catches 756 yards 4 touchdowns)
19. Marvin Harrison (20 catches 247 yards 1 touchdown)

Tier 5
20. Hines Ward (71 catches 732 yards 7 touchdowns (13 games))
21. Roddy White (83 catches 1202 yards 6 touchdowns)
22. Jerricho Cotchery (82 catches 1130 yards 2 touchdowns)
23. Laveranues Coles (55 catches 646 yards 6 touchdowns (12 games))
24. Greg Jennings (53 catches 920 yards 12 touchdowns)
25. Donald Driver (82 catches 1048 yards 2 touchdowns)
26. Nate Burleson (50 catches 694 yards 9 touchdowns 2 return touchdowns)
27. Dwayne Bowe (70 catches 995 yards 5 touchdowns)

Tier 6
28. Lee Evans (55 catches 849 yards 5 touchdowns)
29. Joey Galloway (57 catches 1014 yards 6 touchdowns)
30. Bernard Berrian (71 catches 951 yards 5 touchdowns)
31. Kevin Curtis (77 catches 1110 yards 6 touchdowns)
32. Santana Moss (61 catches 808 yards 3 touchdowns)
33. Patrick Crayton (50 catches 697 yards 7 touchdowns)
34. Chris Chambers (66 catches 970 yards 4 touchdowns)
35. Isaac Bruce (55 catches 733 yards 4 touchdowns)
36. Anthony Gonzalez (37 catches 576 yards 3 touchdowns)

Notice how both the fantasy QB draft tier list and WR draft tier list have a Patriot in Tier 1, followed by a Cowboy and a Colt in Tier 2. It's really an easy choice with Randy Moss at number 1, it is just a matter of where do you take him overall in a draft? I tend to like him at about 8-10, after the top 5 running backs (LT, AP, S Jackson, Westbrook, Addai), Brady, and maybe Marion Barber. Other than that, I'll take the top wide receiver when I know 15 TD's is the low point (assuming he stays healthy). Really though, do not be surprised if Moss nears 20 again. The juggernaut Patriots did not take anyone by surprise; they simply have the talent offensively to put up massive numbers. He was the elite WR in the league with a new QB throwing to him every year in Minnesota - with a hall of famer in Brady, Moss has reached the Jerry Rice level of WR excellence.

Terrell Owens missed a game last year but has returned from his leg injury in Philadelphia to play 31 / 32 games in Dallas. He is averaging nearly a touchdown per game, and the high octane Cowboy offense should continue. Like the Patriots, we may see a slight decline, but Owens is still more reliable per game than anyone below him.

Reggie Wayne had the year of his life last year, as he and Dallas Clark the Colt WR core through the season. Maybe the biggest dip into Reggie Wayne's value will be the return of Marvin Harrison, who evidently looks healthy but who knows what to expect from him? Anthony Gonzalez also came on the last 4 weeks of the season, but it remains to be seen his role in the offense with a healthy Harrison. Wayne may get less looks, but he is still in a powerful offense and you can expect 1300-1500 yards with double digit TDs.

Braylon Edwards burst onto the scene in his third year, establishing himself as an elite WR for the Browns. His 16 TDs caught were behind only Moss, as Edwards is a monster in the red zone and likes the deep ball as well. You're likely to see the TDs drop a bit but Edwards will probably outperform his 2007 total of 1289 yards. The addition of Donte Stallworth should provide more room for Edwards to work, if not a few less balls his way.

Per game, one could argue Andre Johnson was the #2 receiver in all of fantasy. Johnson however held owners captive with his injury situation, appearing in only 9 of 16 games but performing so well in those games that said owners had to keep him. The Matt Schaub to Johnson connection has proved to be unstoppable, but Schaub himself has health issues behind that suspect offensive line. You may opt for a more safe pick like Houshmandzadeh or someone else you think will play all 16 games, but if he's on the field you are going to get about 100 yards and a TD from Andre Johnson.

Larry Fitzgerald has proven himself to be the top Arizona at this point, but Anquan Boldin still hauls in a decent amount of traffic in Arizona. Fitzgerald has some injury issues himself and has missed a few games the last few seasons, but still has been relatively consistent in the lineup. When you have a questionable quarterback situation like in Arizona, you generally downgrade the wide receivers, but Fitzgerald and Boldin have no problem getting passes from either Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner. Of the last 4 or 5 weeks last year, Kurt Warner threw more TDs than anyone including that Tom Brady guy. Not the best #1 fantasy receiver but you could do much worse.

Marques Colston came out of no where in 2006 to be the top tight end, and now is one of the WR's knocking on the door of the elites. He is almost a sure thing because of the nature of the New Orleans pass-first attack, led by Drew Brees. It's a unique attack that employs lots of outlet passes to Reggie Bush in the flat, leaving the WR's with a bit more room to work. Now they have a legitimate tight end in Jeremy Shockey. Look for a similar year from Colston because of all the looks.

TJ Houshmandzadeh is in a contract year like his friend Chad Johnson, and the Cincinnati passing attack is likely to rebound a mysteriously poor 2007. The Bengals still put up nice numbers last year, but as usual for them turnovers did them in. Houshmandzadeh is the possession receiver for Cincinnati, but even he normally averages more than 10.2 yards per catch. Still, he's guaranteed to get looks and is the touchdown machine in Cincinnati. TJ has 21 TD catches the last two years while Chad has 15 TDs. Also, Chad is the more explosive but inconsistent receiver; he can get you 200 yards and a few TDs but he'll betray you on a few weeks. TJ doesn't have the monster games but will be there for you every week.

Speaking of down years, Torry Holt and the Rams passing attack is looking to gain some revenge after a brutal 2007. Like the Bengal WR's, Holt did his part. Amazingly, Holt had 93 catches for 1188 yards and 10 TDs in 2006...and in 2007 he had 93 catches for 1189 yards and 7 TDs! 1 yard difference, and played 16 games in both years. Look for Holt to have a bigger year in 2008, if the Rams can field an offensive line that can keep Marc Bulger upright. If Bulger goes down, all bets are off, though Holt will still be the main WR. His days of being an elite WR are over, but he is still a #1 receiver on a 10-12 team fantasy league.

Steve Smith is someone who's value is very much tied to his quarterback. When Jake Delhomme is in, Steve Smith is an elite receiver. When David Carr or a similar QB is in, you don't know what is going to happen. Sometimes Smith will still get looks, other times he is ignored all game. His value throughout last year fluctuated because of this; he started off brilliant, then became irrelevant. But at the end he awarded his patient fantasy owners with a 137 yard game and a TD in week 16. Delhomme has a rapport with Smith though and that should continue assuming the two of them stay healthy. Keep in mind though with Smith that he is serving a suspension for the first few games in Carolina, so if you draft him as your #1 receiver remember you'll need quality reinforcements for the first few weeks.

Plaxico Burress has a career high 12 touchdowns in 2007, but still showed his inconsistency too often to be considered a number 1. He is still a very good #2 who can have explosive, 2 TD games any week. Last year though he had games of 2 catches 14 yards, 4 catches 24 yards, 4 catches 47 yards, 3 catches 36 yards, 3 catches 36 yards and 1 catch 6 yards. It is hard to rely on a guy who puts up almost nothing for you, but the guy also scored a TD the first 6 games so his overall numbers look nice.

Hard to tell what will happen with Wes Welker after the record setting season, but he is a hard working possession receiver so you would think not much production would fall off assuming health permits. Donte Stallworth is gone in NE so he may actually get more looks (he had 112 catches in 2007) but at the same time the Patriots will probably be running more often as well. Welker profiles as a very good #2 receiver, a poor man's Houshmandzadeh.

Anquan Boldin is another weapon in that Arizona passing attack, and he put up terrific numbers for missing four games. His monstrous 13 catch 162 yards 2 TD effort in Week 16 aided many owners who had him in the Fantasy Playoffs. Health has become a bit of a question for Anquan but he has a contract to earn so he will be motivated, and the Cardinals will likely be pass-first once again.

Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes led the convoy for Ben Roethlisberger, but they are at different points in their career and provide a different type of target. Ward is the possession receiver, who is starting to get banged up a little bit and miss a few games but also is a red zone target. Passing deep though, Big Ben looks for Santonio. Both missed 3 games but had 15 TDs between them.

Brandon Marshall like Steve Smith was suspended for a few games heading into 2008. Marshall had a breakout sophomore year, catching over 100 balls and 7 touchdowns. Jay Cutler to Marshall looks to be a Denver combo that could last for years, if Marshall's erratic behavior does not disrupt the flow. In weeks 14-17 (fantasy playoffs), Marshall averaged almost 10 catches for 100 yards and 3 TDs in 4 games. He should probably be ranked higher but likely will fall in most drafts farther than he should.

In Detroit we have Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson to watch in 2008. As a sophomore WR, Calvin is primed to break out. Jon Kitna and the offensive line are inconsistent, but Calvin's athleticism and size make it hard to cover him. Having a healthy Roy Williams on the other side should provide dividends for both. Williams is coming off an injury-ruined year, but he lacked some of the explosiveness when he was playing. His 13.3 yards per catch was a career low, as were the 5 touchdowns. Considering his talent he should be putting up closer to his 2006 totals (82 catches 1310 yards 7 TDs), so if he stays healthy look for that as a barometer.

Joey Galloway is a personal favorite ever since the 1990's with the Seahawks, running end arounds for 60 yard touchdowns. He still has the big play ability and is like a lesser version of Plaxico Burress. He'll have those non existent games like he did in Week 16 and 17 (2 catches 36 yards combined) but then he has the breakout games with 2 long TDs. Galloway always carves up divisional foe New Orleans. Almost always he ends up on my team, dropping and dropping in drafts until I take him as a #3 or #4 receiver. You'll have to guess when to play him but if you play your matchups right he'll reward you.

The Jets and Packers receivers are bunched together, because it's hard to know what exactly will happen with the Quarterback switch. Looking at Greg Jennings numbers, you have to think those touchdowns are going to come down quite a bit. If Aaron Rodgers can somehow maintain those deep passing touchdowns, Jennings may keep his numbers up. Still, 12 touchdowns on 53 catches is a TD / catch rate that is unrealistic to keep up. Meanwhile, you will likely see Donald Driver go back ahead of Jennings as the top Packer WR, and even out the TD differential a bit more. Jennings will make the big play more often, but as essentially a rookie Quarterback, Rodgers will lean on the veteran Driver.

Meanwhile Jerricho Cotchery becomes the new Greg Jennings, and he is likely to see his yards per catch continue to go up and the same with the touchdowns. Laveranues Coles at the same time is Driver-like, but a quality veteran possession receiver. Do not discount the offensive line work in New York, this will aid the passing game's numbers and Thomas Jones'. Not quite sure exactly where to rank these receivers but they seem to be solid #3's and average #2's.

Anthony Gonzalez is mentioned at the end because of his last 4 games, where he scored 3 TDs and had almost 100 yards per game. With Harrison back he becomes the #4 option behind Dallas Clark as well, and his numbers would become obsolete. He has to be watched though because of Harrison's questionable injury last year. At the same time, most are reporting Harrison to be well. If this is true he may provide some nice value to owners after killing them last year.

T Jax hurt? Sleeper RB Ray Rice

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Tarvaris Jackson started the night punching the Vikings into the endzone on the first draft, but did not last long. Jackson tweaked his knee on a hit after a 9 yard run, and he left the game a few plays later.

Up until that point Tarvaris had a nice night, with a 23 yard touchdown to Martin Nance and 7 / 11 for 82 yards and 22 rushing yards. However a few of the deep passes were very inaccurate, something Jackson is working on with deep threat Bernard Berrian in the mix. While certainly not a top QB or even close, Jackson can be considered for spot start duty depending on the matchup, in deeper leagues or leagues that require two QB's. He is about on Vince Young's level as a fantasy player, which is not much currently but both have some break out potential with their two-way abilities.

Martin Nance by the way had a few nice catches, 3 for 74 yards to be in fact, and at 6-3 215 pounds he is a big target downfield. Bobby Wade, Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian are ahead of him on the depth chart but should one suffer an injury, Nance's name may emerge.

With Willie McGahee injured, rookie Ray Rice seized his opportunity with a nice game against a tough defense. 8 Carries 77 yards, 3 catches 17 yards, a 42 yard run and a touchdown. Rice could be one of the more valuable handcuffs in fantasy, as McGahee seems prone to injury this year and the Ravens will rely on running the ball once again with their questionable quarterback situation. If McGahee goes down, Rice would benefit vastly.

Another year, another inept passing game from Baltimore it looks like. Kyle Boller is up to his usual tricks, and Troy Smith has shown some athleticism and playmaking ability but lacks polish. Rookie Joe Flacco is behind the two according to the coaching staff. It is likely you will want none of them this year in fantasy unless you are in a very deep league.

There is some potential among those catching the ball though. Todd Heap was at the top of the TE list for a while but has since lost some glow. At this point he is a fine TE sleeper because when the Ravens do throw, it's to the talented Heap. Only problem for Heap (well, despite the passing attack in general) has been his health lately. Derrick Mason is the definitely of a possession receiver, with just over 10 yards per catch (104 catches, 1087 yards, 5 touchdowns). Still, Mason provides value because he is generally forgotten about along with the rest of the Ravens offense sans McGahee. As a #3 receiver late in the draft, Mason is a fine choice.

August 12, 2008

QB Draft Tier List

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2008 Fantasy Football QB Rankings

Tier 1
1. Tom Brady (4802 Yards 50 passing TDs 2 rushing TDs)

Tier 2
2. Tony Romo (4211 Yards 36 passing TDs 2 rushing TDs)
3. Peyton Manning (4040 Yards 31 passing TDs 3 rushing TDs)
4. Drew Brees (4423 Yards 28 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)

Tier 3
5. Carson Palmer (4131 Yards 26 passing TDs)
6. Ben Roethlisberger (3154 Yards 32 passing TDs 2 rushing TDs)

Tier 4
7. Donovan McNabb (3324 Yards 19 passing TDs)
8. Derek Anderson (3787 Yards 29 passing TDs 3 rushing TDs)
9. Matt Hasselbeck (3966 Yards 28 passing TDs)
10. Brett Favre (4155 Yards 28 passing TDs)

Tier 5
11. Jay Cutler (3497 Yards 20 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)
12. David Garrard (2509 Yards 18 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)
13. Marc Bulger (2392 Yards 11 passing TDs)
14. Aaron Rodgers (218 Yards 1 passing TD)
15. Jason Campbell (2700 Yards 11 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)
16. Eli Manning (3336 Yards 23 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)
17. Jake Delhomme (625 Yards 8 passing TDs)
18. Matt Schaub (2241 Yards 9 passing TDs)
19. Jon Kitna (4068 Yards 18 passing TDs)
20. Kurt Warner (3417 Yards 27 passing TDs 1 rushing TD)

Rarely will you ever draft a high end player like Tom Brady and actually gain value. 4800 yards and 50 TD's out of a QB is arguably worth one of the top picks in any fantasy draft. It is hard to believe he'll have such success again, but at the same time the Brady to Randy Moss combination looks unstoppable so long as the offensive line can hold up the fort. Brady will for sure be the #1 QB taken in most leagues, and most likely will be taken after the top running backs go off the board (Tomlinson, Peterson, Westbrook, Addai, S Jackson, maybe Gore / Barber).

How often do you hear Peyton Manning's name being mentioned with injuries? He hasn't missed a game so we cannot assume he will this season, but that Marvin Harrison and Manning have been hobbled with injuries is a telltale sign for this AFC power. Nearly half of the season Peyton Manning put up 1 or 0 TD's (7 out of 16 games), as the offense lacked a huge playmaker in Harrison. One good note for the Colts was the emergence of Anthony Gonzalez near the end of the season; he became a top WR and a good complement to All-pro Reggie Wayne.

A few other QB's are working their way into annual elite status with the likes of Brady and Manning, namely Drew Brees (4400 yards 28 tds) and Tony Romo (4200 yards 36 passing TDs). Out of sheer volume Drew Brees has tremendous value, especially late in the year when you could count on 325+ passing yards each performance. Some of those attempts may disappear since Deuce is not injured for the year, but we may see a more efficient and less INT prone performance from Brees in return. With TO, Barber and Jason Witten in Dallas, it's hard to see much of a decline from Romo.

Ben Roethlisberger had a fine year but considering the lack of passing yards (just 3100 yards) and throwing volume, Roethlisberger is likely to regress and see his touchdowns go into the 20's instead of 33. If nothing else he is a risk because he is so touchdown-dependent and will not get you the yards if he doesn't find the end zone. Another big reason for a likely decline in TD's for Roethlisberger is that Willie Parker had just 2 after 16 total in 2006. We can expect the running game in Pittsburgh to contribute more points than that in 2008.

Carson Palmer's star has fallen along with the Bengals. Palmer was a clear #2 over Brady before last year but had just 26 TD's and 20 INT's (with 6 TD's in one track meet against the Browns). He also faltered over the last 4 or 5 games last year, costing his owners in the fantasy playoffs. Still, I like Palmer to rebound this year with two elite receivers in TJ Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson. Do remember they lost a mercurial threat in Chris Henry in the off-season, though.

The QB dropoff begins after these 6 quarterbacks, though you can argue Donovan McNabb, Derek Anderson or Matt Hasselbeck belong near Palmer and Roethlisberger. All have some risk involved keeping them in the lower half of the starters in any given fantasy league. McNabb every year is injury prone, Derek Anderson was consistent yet mediocre, while Matt Hasselbeck's receiving core is getting more and more thin by the day. Still I find myself buying into McNabb every year because of his enticing per-game stats and his monster 2006 start.

At this point you are best off playing QB's based on matchups but in deeper leagues you will need to examine potential breakout candidates at the position. David Garrard was quietly efficient for the Jaguars, and should continue a similar trend. Jason Campbell is someone to watch in Washington with Jim Zorn as head coach, a coach that loved to pass in Seattle. Plus, he has looked sharp in camp. Marc Bulger used to be at the elite level but got massacred last year as his offensive line disappeared. When given time, he can still lead a passing attack in that dome with Torry Holt at his side. Jake Delhomme was off to a 2 TD per game start in 2007 until injuries ran his season into the ground. Muhsin Muhammad is back and even though Steve Smith is getting in fist-fights, he still has quite the rapport with Delhomme. One particular situation I always watch for spot starts is in Arizona. Matt Leinart has been throwing well but we all know Kurt Warner can go in there and pass for 3 TD's and 350 yards at any time, and Leinart has a short leash. Warner had 27 touchdowns last year in limited play. Jay Cutler is another guy to watch out in Denver, with the rising Brandon Marshall.

Then there is Aaron Rodgers and that Brett Favre guy who is with the Jets now. Rodgers performed well against Dallas in limited time but it's hard to say what to expect from him. If nothing else he inherits a team that had a solid passing attack last year, in one of Brett Favre's best seasons. As for Brett, you can probably expect good things in New York. The offensive line has been upgraded with Faneca, and he has some WR tools similar to those in Green Bay with Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. He's probably in the 8-10 range of QB's for me, but you can assume there will be someone in your draft who takes him too early based on name. If he drops however by all means grab him at the proper value.

August 11, 2008

Seattle's Engram out 6-8 weeks

engramcamp.jpgAP Photo/Jim Bryant

The receiving core for the Seahawks continues to get thin. A torn ACL will ruin Deion Branch's season, and now Bobby Engram will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks of Seahawks activity with a broken shoulder. Normally the big question is who will step up next to Nate Burleson and be a #2 target, but the more glaring issue is what this does to Matt Hasselbeck's stock.

Granted Engram will only be out a month of the regular season, but who knows how productive he will be afterwards? He had a fantastic 2007 but has had an injury-riddled career to this point. Burleson is not a true #1 receiver but considering the circumstances he should be getting a lot of looks.

Matt Hasselbeck is being taken around when Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb and Derek Anderson are being picked off the draft board. Expect Hasselbeck's stock to drop a bit, as it probably should have anyway with Branch's injury and DJ Hackett's departure. Still, the Seahawks are no longer the rushing juggernaut they were in the early-mid 2000's with Shaun Alexander. Last year's pass-happy version is still what we should expect, so Hasselbeck should retain value because of his volume throwing if nothing else. But with the lack of quality targets, he is sure to suffer in completion % and less deep plays.

August 10, 2008

Fantasy Football Ranking List

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Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

For your viewing pleasure, we will be ranking the top NFL players at each position. If you are planning on winning your league, the draft is obviously the key of any league. Fantasy Football can seem like a crapshoot especially touchdown-heavy leagues, but ultimately it's about drafting the players who break out and getting sufficient value with each draft pick.