Fantasy Football News 2007

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#1
Collateral Benefits
The third law of free agency movement: For every NFL player transaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Or something like that.

When Thomas Jones jumps from the Bears to the Jets, it doesn't only affect our projection for Jones. It creates collateral damage for players like Leon Washington and Cedric Houston. It also boosts the outlooks for Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson.

This week I'll take a look at players like Benson on the fantasy radar who saw their stock rise without going anywhere. Next week, I'll look at those players who suffered collateral damage. www.eog.com

[SIZE=+1]Laurence Maroney, Patriots[/SIZE]
www.fantasysportspicks.com
While Corey Dillon was expected to get cut, it should still come as a huge relief for Maroney owners. So should Sammy Morris' signing. Morris is a classically versatile Patriots reserve, but not a true threat to Maroney's touches. With Kevin Faulk and Bill Belichick's playbook around, Maroney may get fewer touches and even touchdowns than the average "workhorse" back. But his yardage can be elite because of his big-play ability. He looks like a borderline first-round pick next season.

[SIZE=+1]DeDe Dorsey, Colts[/SIZE]
www.sportspickwinners.com
Congratulations if you already knew the current backup running back of the world champion Colts. Indianapolis should bolster the position in the draft, but there are some indications that the organization believes Dorsey is up for the task. I don't know much about Dorsey, but I happily picked him up for cheap in my deep dynasty league.

[SIZE=+1]LenDale White, Titans[/SIZE]

The plan all along was to let Lendale White take over the starting running back job this season. Travis Henry's surprising campaign and White's struggles adjusting to pro life didn't change the mind of Jeff Fisher or Norm Chow.

With both Henry and Chris Brown off the roster, White is the only option Fisher has. If White gets his head screwed on straight, he's bound to be an undervalued top-50 pick in fantasy leagues next season. He looked good when he was on the field in 2006 ? he just wasn't there enough.

[SIZE=+1]Derek Hagan, Dolphins[/SIZE]

Wes Welker's departure opens a role for Hagan in Cam Cameron's offense. Hagan struggled with drops as a rookie, but also showed surprising toughness. He came through with 11 catches and 119 yards in two starts with Marty Booker out during the middle of last season. Like every other player in the NFL, he has a better catch percentage than Chris Chambers.

I thought Booker may get cut this off-season, but that appears less likely now. Hagan should still have a sizeable role increase.

[SIZE=+1]Sage Rosenfels, Texans[/SIZE]

Jeff Garcia is in Tampa. Patrick Ramsey went to Denver. Jake Plummer is in the Colorado State Handball Championships. Since David Carr is reportedly the quarterback non grata in Houston, Rosenfels will probably be the favorite to start in Houston in 2007.

[SIZE=+1]Cedric Benson & Adrian Peterson, Bears [/SIZE]

Benson, Lendale White, Brandon Jacobs, and Laurence Maroney make up a crucial subsection of young running backs to evaluate before draft season. They have achieved varying levels of success as backups, but now will get the chance to be The Man. Benson can run well enough inside and out. Consistency and durability are the two big questions, but he'll rack up numbers if he's on the field.

Peterson is one of the more underrated backups in the league. He can be a quality third-down back who becomes valuable in fantasy leagues if Benson gets hurt. He'll be high on our handcuffs list and should be owned in most dynasty leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Troy Williamson, Vikings[/SIZE]

I don't understand why the Vikings didn't aggressively court Donte' Stallworth, Drew Bennett and every other receiver on the market. They went after Kevin Curtis, but not hard enough. Instead, they signed Viscanthe Shiancoe and Bobby Wade to big money. You don't want free agency to solve all of your roster problems, but it's worth overpaying when you have a Billy McMullen-sized hole on the roster. The cap space has to be used somehow.

Minnesota's inactivity will give Troy Williamson another chance to start. He's been working on ways to improve his hand-eye coordination, which one would think is important to an NFL receiver.

[SIZE=+1]Vincent Jackson, Chargers[/SIZE]

San Diego was rumored to be looking at wideouts in free agency, but didn't sign anyone. They released Keenan McCardell to clear the way for Jackson to be the number one option outside for Philip Rivers next season.

It wouldn't be a big surprise if the Chargers drafted a wideout in the first round, but any rookie will likely be part of a rotation behind Jackson. Jackson will be a fantasy WR3 at worst during draft season.

[SIZE=+1]Brodie Croyle & Jeff Webb, Chiefs
[/SIZE]
Herm Edwards is trying to start a youth movement. Bringing back Damon Huard will allow Croyle to compete for snaps sooner than later. Failing to sign any aging wideouts may allow Webb to compete for a starting job with Samie Parker.

[SIZE=+1]Vernand Morency, Packers [/SIZE]

It looks like the Packers won the Vernand Morency-for-Samkon Gado blockbuster of a year ago. Morency is set to share running back duties with a rookie to be named later. Gado looks like a longshot to make the Texans with Ahman Green and Ron Dayne on board.

[SIZE=+1]David Thomas, Patriots [/SIZE]

The Patriots didn't have to get in a bidding war for Daniel Graham because they know Thomas is starting-caliber. He has similar big-play ability to Graham, better hands, and is a solid blocker.

In a deep field at tight end, Thomas may not get drafted in fantasy leagues. But he'll improve and make enough noise to be a bye-week option.

[SIZE=+1]Steve Heiden, Browns[/SIZE]

This isn't a true collateral benefit from free agency, but instead from an injury. Profootballtalk.com reported Monday that Kellen Winslow's status for the 2007 is in doubt because of his recent microfracture surgery. Heiden caught 36 passes last season as a backup, with a microscopic 6.9 yards-per-catch average.

[SIZE=+1]Willie Parker, Steelers[/SIZE]
www.eogcontests.com
The Steelers were one of the few teams with serious cap problems this off-season. They couldn't afford to upgrade from Najeh Davenport as their backup running back even if they wanted to. While it's possible Pittsburgh could draft a pounder, FWP is in line to receive another 350 touches.

[SIZE=+1]Devery Henderson, Saints [/SIZE]

Henderson is a prototypical number three receiver, but he could get his chance to start with Joe Horn off the roster. The Saints need to add a receiver, but Henderson will be the favorite to start in Sean Payton's explosive attack.

[SIZE=+1]Vernon Davis, 49ers[/SIZE]
www.greenbaypackers.ws
Quality backup Eric Johnson is gone. So is Antonio Bryant. Despite still being raw, Vernon Davis enters 2007 as Alex Smith's top option in the passing game. At tight end, only Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez can say the same thing.

[SIZE=+1]Marc Bulger, Rams [/SIZE]
www.therx.info
Scott Linehan historically loves to throw inside the red zone. When drawing up plays for 2007, Linehan and Bulger will have the following options to throw to: Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett, Steven Jackson, Randy McMichael, and Joe Klopfenstein.

They won't all be on the field at the same time, but the Rams threaten to have the best offense in the NFC if the offensive line holds up. 30 TDs and 4,000 yards are within reach for Bulger.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#2
Re: Fantasy Football News

Re: Fantasy Football News

<TABLE width="100%" align=center><TBODY><TR><TD class=vaLabel vAlign=top align=middle width=100 rowSpan=5>
</TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD class=subHead vAlign=top colSpan=3>Broncos sign WR Stokley to one-year deal </TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD class=vaLabel colSpan=3>Brandon Stokley - WR - DEN - Mar. 20 - 2:04 p.m. ET</B> </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top colSpan=3>Broncos signed WR Brandon Stokley to a one-year contract.
New Orleans had also been in the mix for Stokley after he was released by the Colts in late February. Stokley, 30, is coming off a torn Achilles' tendon and is a bit of a wild card pickup. He'll battle David Kircus for a roster spot initially, but could have a bigger role if he can stay healthy.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#3
Re: Fantasy Football News

Re: Fantasy Football News

David Carr - QB - Texans
The Dolphins have reportedly not expressed interest in David Carr.
NFL Network called Minnesota the most likely landing spot for Carr, but we doubt the Vikes have any interest after coach Brad Childress trashed him on the radio Thursday. At this point, Carr looks likely to be released. Mar. 22 - 8:46 p.m. ET
Source: Palm Beach Post
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#4
Re: Fantasy Football News

Re: Fantasy Football News

Calvin Johnson - WR - Player
The Atlanta Journal-Consitution reports the Falcons are unlikely to use the picks they acquired for Matt Schaub to trade up for Calvin Johnson.
According to the NFL's draft board, the Falcons acquired the equivalent of a No. 13-19 pick in the first round. Atlanta could package its No. 8 pick and two second-rounders to get in good position for Johnson, but fantasy leaguers should probably be rooting for this not to happen. Mar. 22 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#5
Re: Fantasy Football News

Re: Fantasy Football News

Brady Quinn - QB - Player
Brady Quinn ran forties of 4.82 and 4.73 at his second Pro Day.
Quinn shuttled 20 yards in 4.22, .36 seconds faster than Marshawn Lynch at the Combine. He had a 36-inch vertical and broad jumped nine feet, seven inches. We have a hard time seeing Quinn fall out of the top three. Mar. 22 - 7:16 p.m. ET
Source: nfl.com
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#6
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Wired: Playoff Planning
Somewhere, Mike Mayock is smiling. The NFL Network draft analyst made his name by boldly ranking Jay Cutler ahead of Matt Leinart and Vince Young last January when most "Draftniks" thought the Vanderbilt product was a second or third round pick. Mayock was quickly vindicated when the preeminant quarterback coach in the NFL traded up to make Cutler the franchise. The kid never led the Commodores to a winning record in college, but now he's starting for an NFL team in the playoff race. If Cutler looks half as good as he did in the preseason, he's worth owning in all leagues.

I tried to write the epitaph to Jake Plummer's season a month ago in this very spot, saying it was time for a change. Plummer rebounded to play his best two games of the season before sliding back into sub-mediocrity. Now he's on the trading block. Shanahan was forced to make the move. The Broncos were not going to win multiple games in the playoffs with Plummer. They probably won't with Cutler either, but Shanny will gets to test-drive his fancy new toy before Christmas.

Like any rookie, Cutler will be inconsistent. The comparisons to Tony Romo don't fly because Romo is a fourth-year veteran with superior options around him. Denver's receiver group and running talent are below average. The biggest advantage working in Cutler's favor is a gorgeous schedule. His first two opponents, the Seahawks and Chargers, aren't particularly good against the pass. His final three opponents (Arizona, Cincinnati, and San Francisco) are sieves. Plummer probably could have put up top-15 stats against those teams and I suspect Cutler could do even better. Consider the rookie an average QB2 the next two weeks, then a possible starter during the final three weeks of the season.

Note: We'll have a fantasy playoffs schedule preview later this week.

[SIZE=+1]Running Backs [/SIZE]

Sammy Morris, Dolphins - Without a lot of injuries or job changes this week, Waiver Wired's running back list will have a lot of repeat customers. But Sammy Morris is fresh meat! Well, sort of fresh.

Suspended earlier this season for violating the league's steroid policy, Morris has fashioned an impressive career as a starter/fullback/special teamer/backup/emergency starter. He once started at running back for the Bills under ? Wade Phillips! Fantasy heads may remember Morris as Dave Wannstedt's last starting running back during Ricky Williams' first excellent adventure, beating out luminaries like Brock Forsey and Leonard Henry. Morris did a capable, rugged job on a poor team when called upon, just like he did in place of Ronnie Brown on Thanksgiving day.

Morris is a versatile player who can stay on the field during third downs and near the goal line. He doesn't have exceptional skills, but is capable enough to perform what's asked. Brown is expected to miss at least one game and possibly more, so Morris is worth picking up. Unfortunately, he faces Jacksonville and New England in successive weeks. With such difficult matchups, Morris is a nice bench player or a flex option for the needy.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

Cedric Benson, Bears- Benson's best two games as a pro are his last two. He's still limited on passing downs, but Benson is starting to run with more aggression between the tackles. Thomas Jones is on pace for over 340 carries and the Bears would be wise to ease off their starter down the stretch. With matchups against the Rams, Bucs, Lions, and Packers coming up, I can see a scenario where Benson splits carries with Jones because Chicago is winning easily. Benson could put up sneaky Maurice Jones-Drew like flex position numbers in December.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues

Cedric Houston, Jets - Less people own Cedric Houston now than they did in Week 1. He's available in 80% of fantasy leagues! I can't imagine using Houston as a fantasy starter , but he led the Jets in carries against the Texans and earned goal-line carries. Kevan Barlow and Leon Washington are likely to stay in the mix, but any short-yardage back getting 10-15 touches a week is worth owning. Houston strikes me as one of those players who may come out of "nowhere" to put up solid numbers in the fantasy playoffs.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Jason Wright, Browns - Among healthy options, it would be hard to find a more disappointing player in fantasy leaguers than Reuben Droughns. At least Edgerrin James won't get benched. Droughns was a consensus late second round pick before the season (although Rotoworld did include him in our preseason busts article), but he was quietly supplanted by Jason Wright as the team's primary carrier last week.

Droughns was healthy enough to start and play special teams, but Jerome Harrison and Wright were at tailback far more. It's possible Droughns will get more work down the stretch, but what's the point? He's averaging 3.1 yards-per-carry this season and is wearing down physically for the third straight season. Droughns is a gutsy player, but he was a backup fullback for two NFL teams for a reason. His skills are average and he's often playing hurt.

Jason Wright probably isn't any better. The second-year undrafted back out of Northwestern is averaging only three yards-per-carry. The Browns have a difficult schedule until Week 16, so it probably doesn't matter who is carrying the ball for Cleveland. Wright is worth owning in most leagues because he should get ten or more touches a week, but he won't be much of a flex option until Week 16 against Tampa.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Jerious Norwood, Falcons - I've beaten this issue to death, so I'll keep it brief. Warrick Dunn is averaging fewer than 3.2 yards-per-carry the last six weeks, while Norwood is still at 6.0 for the season. If Atlanta keeps sliding, Norwood put up a few 100-yard games after the Falcons get eliminated from playoff contention.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues, even eight-team ones with small rosters.

[SIZE=+1]Wide Receivers[/SIZE]

Marcus Robinson, Vikings - Play fantasy football long enough, and Marcus Robinson will burn you, probably twice. He's tall. He jumps. He scores. At every stop during his maddening eight-year career, Robinson has interrupted long stretches of inactivity with sudden, explosive production. There was the 131-yard, four touchdown game in 2003 after failing to top 15 yards in eleven games prior. There was his three touchdown game in Week 12 last season out of nowhere.

Now back in the starting lineup, veteran fantasy heads can smell a volcanic Robinson eruption simmering. He's back in the starting lineup and ostensibly Minnesota's top receiver. He faces Detroit (Week 14) and Green Bay (Week 16) during the fantasy playoffs. Choose the right week and Robinson will carry your entire team from the WR3 spot. Choose wrong and start planning for baseball.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Travis Taylor, Vikings - The anti-Marcus Robinson. There's almost no chance for a big game, but Taylor is usually good for 3-5 catches and 30-60 yards. If you are into that sort of thing.

Recommendation:Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Marty Booker, Dolphins - Booker has outscored Chris Chambers in fantasy leagues this season despite missing a game and having 44 less targets. The Dolphins passing game is likely to slow down the next few weeks against the Jaguars and Patriots, and it's difficult to predict which receiver of their three-headed monster will have a big game. Booker is worth owning, but not starting.

Recommendation:Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Patrick Crayton, Cowboys - The Tony Romo express shows no signs of slowing down. Dallas plays the Giants, Saints, and Falcons the next three weeks. None of them have the depth to cover an explosive third receiver like Crayton. He's worth owning as a fantasy reserve in most leagues.

Recommendation:Worth a look in 12-team leagues

Reche Caldwell, Patriots - Matchups with Detroit, Houston, and Tennessee still on the docket for New England's best wideout.

Recommendation:Should be owned in all leagues

Santonio Holmes, Steelers - Holmes is expected to replace Hines Ward in the starting lineup and should be a decent WR3 play until Ward is back. Holmes has done more with less playing time than Cedrick Wilson this season, who he will start across from.

Recommendation:Should be owned in all leagues

Vincent Jackson, Chargers - There is a small possibility that Jackson could supplant Keenan McCardell in the starting lineup. Risk-averse Marty Schottenheimer is unlikely to make that move, but McCardell is hurt and Jackson replaces him in the red zone anyhow. Jackson has led San Diego's wideouts in targets the last two weeks and has impressive physical skills.

Recommendation:Worth a look in 12-team leagues

[SIZE=+1]Quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Joey Harrington, Dolphins - One of my most frequent emailers has been dying to drop Jon Kitna and finally picked up Joey Harrington after his Thanksgiving Day outing. I like what Harrington has done in the Miami offense, but I wasn't wild about the move because of Miami's schedule. There isn't a good matchup on the docket. Jacksonville, New England, Buffalo, and the Jets are all playing improved pass defense. Harrington will be lucky to make it through that stretch without some "Same old Joey" articles surfacing.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 2 QB leagues

Josh McCown, Lions - Speaking of Kitna, questions about his job security are unlikely to quiet after the Patriots get through with him this week. Coach Rod Marinelli speaks so highly of Kitna, though, I doubt he will pull him to look at a candidate to play next year like McCown. Fantasy playoff matchups against Minnesota and Green Bay will make the Lions starter attractive, whoever it is.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 2 QB leagues or for Kitna owners

Brad Johnson, Vikings - Bear with me. One of the most important assets when searching for a waiver pickup, just like searching for a significant other, is availability. And Brad Johnson is very available. He's owned in less than 40% of fantasy leagues out there, which is amazing for a quarterback who has started every game this season.

Johnson faces the Bears this week, but may have the best fantasy playoff schedule of any quarterback: @ Detroit, New York Jets, and @ Green Bay. Lets say you don't even consider Johnson against the Jets, who have been playing improved defense. The Lions and Packers give up an average of 21 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks this season! Johnson averages 14.5. If those two numbers meet in the middle, you have a decent quarterback option. That's all you can ask for from a waiver pickup.

Recommendation: Worth owning in 12-team leagues

Gus Frerotte, Rams- Marc Bulger has taken a lot of hits and is complaining of sore ribs. Bulger owners with an extra roster spot may want to consider backing up their injury-prone starter while they can.

Recommendation: Worth a look for Bulger owners

Chad Pennington, Jets - Yet another quarterback with a tasty December schedule. Pennington has limitations, but he will be useful in a Week 13 start against Green Bay and a fantasy playoff matchup against Minnesota in Week 15.

Recommendation: Worth owning in 12-team leagues

A.J. Feeley, Eagles - Jeff Garcia has a strained forearm and probably won't survive until Week 17 as Philadelphia's starter. Philadelphia's best remaining matchups are at the Giants and Redskins in Weeks 14-15.

Recommendation: Worth a look in 2QB leagues

[SIZE=+1]Tight End[/SIZE]

Ben Utecht, Colts - With Dallas Clark injured, Utecht's surprising season should continue to improve. Utecht has 17 catches over the last five weeks, good for tenth among tight ends. You could do worse.

Recommendation:Should be owned in 12-team leagues

Bryan Fletcher, Colts - Now starring in Ben Utecht's old role? Bryan Fletcher!

Recommendation:Worth a look in deep leagues

Randal Williams, Raiders - We're getting desperate when Randal Williams cracks the list two straight weeks. Oakland's starter has improved since Aaron Brooks took over and now has 12 catches for 111 yards. Is that something you might be interested in?

Recommendation: Worth a look in deep leagues

Bo Scaife, Titans - Still available in four out of five fantasy leagues, Scaife continues his march to being the No. 13 fantasy tight end of the season. Scaife will have the occasional whitewash because Vince Young is inconsistent, but he's now Tennessee's only real threat at tight end the rest of the season. Scaife has 12 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns over the last four weeks. He's producing like a low-end TE1.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#7
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Collateral Damage
Last week, I took a look at what players have benefited in fantasy leagues by all the free agent movement without moving an inch. This time around, let's look at who suffered collateral damage this month.

[SIZE=+1]Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars[/SIZE]
Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks
Re-signing Fred Tayor was the type of move that makes perfect football sense but drives a fantasy owner crazy. Mo-Jo went from a potential top-five pick to some strange zone where we draft backup running backs ahead of starters.

I love Drew's game as much as anyone, but even Larry Johnson struggled to crack the top-25 ADP at running back when he was a backup two years ago. Readers aren't happy I ranked Mo-Jo outside the top 15 in my first running back rankings, but the conditions are such that his rookie season will be difficult to repeat.

The return of Greg Jones also is part of the collateral damage. He could steal some touchdowns. Fantasy Football 2007: Committees aplenty.

[SIZE=+1]Reche Caldwell, Chad Jackson, & Jabar Gaffney, Patriots [/SIZE]
www.fantasysportspicks.com
Caldwell must have watched the transaction wire with big eyes after the Patriots added receiver after receiver. Since Wes Welker is a natural in the slot, Caldwell still looks like the favorite to start opposite Donte' Stallworth. Nothing is guaranteed, though, and it will be tough to keep up his momentum from the second half.

It's amazing that Gaffney put up back-to-back 100-yard games in the playoffs and might not make the roster the next season. At this point, he and Kelley Washington could be battling for a roster spot. Gaffney better learn special teams.

Jackson, the team's disappointing second-round pick in 2006, will probably start the season on the PUP list after tearing his ACL in the AFC Championship.

[SIZE=+1]Leon Washington & Cedric Houston, Jets [/SIZE]
www.eogcontests.com
Washington still has a chance to grow into a Brian Westbrook-like player, but it won't happen for a few years. Thomas Jones is such a good blocker and receiver that the Jets will have to be diligent in rotating Washington in for a series every once in a while to keep him active. Jones' acquisition makes Washington a RB4 type in fantasy leagues.

Houston is a replacement-level player who got replaced.

[SIZE=+1]Wali Lundy, Samkon Gado, Chris Taylor, Texans [/SIZE]
www.sportspickwinners.com
One of these players is getting cut in training camp, if not two. Ron Dayne is the heavy favorite to be Ahman Green's backup. After a promising start to their careers, Lundy and Gado need to show improvement this off-season.

[SIZE=+1]Vince Young, Titans[/SIZE]
www.spwsports.com
Vince Young magic is so powerful that the Titans believe he can make the offense work without any receivers. Brandon Jones is promising, but it's a mess after that. David Givens may not be healthy until 2008. Roydell Williams and Courtney Roby haven't shown much as pros.

With Tennessee's top two wideouts from last season moving on (Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade), Young will struggle to post 3,000 yards passing.

[SIZE=+1]Ernest Wilford, Jaguars[/SIZE]
www.therx.ws www.therx.info
12 months ago, Wilford looked like a better short-term bet in fantasy leagues than teammates Reggie Williams and Matt Jones. It became clear over the course of last summer that the organization still favored Williams, and then Wilford proceeded to have a disappointing 2007 season.

Now the Jaguars signed Dennis Northcutt to give them more speed out of the slot, so Wilford will backup Matt Jones and Williams on the outside. He's no longer draftable.

[SIZE=+1]Kevin Jones, Lions[/SIZE]

Detroit can talk all they want about Jones being ready for the season despite his foot surgery. The acquisitions of Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett are more meaningful. It's probably a good idea for Jones' career that he takes it easy this season. But with fewer touches, especially near the goal-line, he's not going to be a true RB1 again in 2007.

[SIZE=+1]Mike Bell, Broncos[/SIZE]

Don't get up on Mike Bell just yet. Give up on him if the Broncos draft someone on the first day in April.

Bell showed plenty of toughness as a rookie and I'm not sure that Travis Henry is that superior of an option. But it's Henry's job barring disaster and Bell is now just an intriguing handcuff.

[SIZE=+1]Isaac Bruce & Torry Holt, Rams[/SIZE]

Bruce may have been the most surprising player I watched on tape after the season. He was the best receiver on the Rams down the stretch with Torry Holt struggling with a knee injury. If Bruce has lost quickness over the last few years, he's figured a way around it. He finished the year with five straight games over 55 yards and made a number of tough grabs.

It will be difficult to repeat that performance in 2007, though. Drew Bennett hits town and threatens to steal more targets than Kevin Curtis used to. Randy McMichael gives Marc Bulger another option in the red zone. Holt will be healthy again, but even he is likely to suffer statistically because of the additions in St. Louis.

[SIZE=+1]Ronald Curry, Raiders[/SIZE]

Jerry Porter's back, Randy Moss is still in town, and Calvin Johnson could be on the way. It's impossible to imagine a scenario where Johnson and Moss are on the roster, but Curry will probably be battling Porter for a starting gig either way.

Porter is a natural fit in the slot and Curry has the ability to be a WR3 in fantasy leagues this year, but they will be battling for targets on a moribound offense.

[SIZE=+1]Hank Baskett, Eagles[/SIZE]

The undrafted rookie that could nearly had a starting job on one of the best offenses in football. That's not going to happen, barring injury, for a long time now that Kevin Curtis is lining up across from Reggie Brown.

It's probably for the best. Baskett will be an intriguing slot receiver and should be a solid pro, but he isn't someone to look at for a major second-year leap.

[SIZE=+1]Roddy White, Falcons[/SIZE]

Coming off a serious sophomore slumber, White will now have to come off the bench in Atlanta. Joe Horn is an injury risk, so White may not stay there for long. White is still the fastest Falcons receiver and coach Bobby Petrino prizes speed in his vertical attack, so there is still some upside here.

[SIZE=+1]Alex Smith, 49ers[/SIZE]

Take the 29th-ranked passing attack in the league, subtract it's number one receiver (Antonio Bryant), leading tight end (Eric Johnson), and offensive coordinator/quarterback's best friend (Norv Turner). Add Ashley Lelie and a healthier Vernon Davis.

That's not a recipe for improvement from Alex Smith, who quietly wasn't playing very well in the second half of last season. I have a strong suspicion that the 49ers will make a play for Darrell Jackson, but the Seahawks may not want to trade him inside their division. Smith needs more help to make improve into a solid quarterback.

[SIZE=+1]Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars [/SIZE]

I wrote about Lewis at length in my blog, so I won't repeat myself here. He was facing a questionable second season as a fantasy asset and Jermaine Wiggins only adds to the confusion.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#8
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

<TABLE width="100%" align=center><TBODY><TR><TD class=vaLabel vAlign=top align=middle width=100 rowSpan=5>
</TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD class=subHead vAlign=top colSpan=3>Gruden: Plummer still considering playing </TD></TR><TR vAlign=top><TD class=vaLabel colSpan=3>Jake Plummer - QB - TB - </TD></TR><TR><TD vAlign=top colSpan=3>Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden wants to set up a face-to-face meeting with Jake Plummer.
Plummer still hasn't officially filed for retirement and Gruden said Monday that he's considering playing in 2007. The Bucs hope Plummer shows up to training camp to compete to start with Chris Simms and Jeff Garcia.
Source: St. Petersburg Times
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#9
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Randy Moss - WR - Raiders
Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday that he believes Randy Moss will be back with the team in 2007.
Moss has been a frequent subject of trade rumors this offseason. Kiffin's comments could be construed as posturing before the draft. Mar. 27 - 12:20 p.m. ET
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#10
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Jarrett Bounces Back

So Dwayne Jarrett had a solid Pro Day.
Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks
A 10-foot-1 inch broad jump, 36.5-inch vertical, and two forties in the 4.6s.

On grass.

The forty times don't seem stellar, but they are what was originally expected before rumors began swirling. I'll admit I put too much credence in the NFL Network's report that Jarrett was running in the 4.7s before the Combine, so much so that I left Jarrett out of the first round in my much-belittled Mock Draft a few weeks back. Come time for Volume Two, I'll make sure to have Jarrett in Round One. I especially loved the 4.20 short shuttle. It's nearly four tenths of a second faster than Marshawn Lynch's time at the Combine.

But in general, I don't think Pro Day timing means much other than for players, like Jarrett, that completely skipped the Combine. These workouts are much more valuable to NFL officials in terms of getting to meet the players and see them up close. Rams coach Scott Linehan had about zero time to track college football last season as he prepared his team for Sundays. Granted, he has a scouting department to help out, but he's not going to take a player in the first round he isn't completely sold on, one that he hasn't met with personally. He probably could care less that Amobi Okoye ran a 4.88 on March 26 after posting a 5.0 at February's Combine. Okoye's stock didn't rise because of the Pro Day time.

But we can take a look at players that skipped all or some of the Combine drills, and see if they improved or injured their draft stocks by timing at their Pro Days this past month. Oh, and a special thanks to NFL.com's Gil Brandt for compiling the results and detailed information.

[SIZE=+2]FALLING?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Notre Dame WR Rhema McKnight[/SIZE]

Some Background: McKnight tore his ACL in Week 1 of 2005 against Michigan, took a medical redshirt, and returned to lead the Irish in receiving touchdowns as a senior. He jumped at the Combine but didn't run his forties.

What He Did: Ran a 4.56 and a 4.53.

Outcome: McKnight didn't break himself with the slow sprints but they aren't fast enough for a 6-1/210-pound receiver with injury baggage hoping to go in the top three rounds. He's staring at a middle-round grade.
eog.com
[SIZE=+1]Miami (FL) DL Kareem Brown[/SIZE]

Some Background: After a strong final campaign for the 'Canes, Brown was praised at the Senior Bowl for giving all-out effort. He drew interest from several teams in search of 3-4 defensive end prospects.

What He Did: Brown didn't lift, which isn't a good sign. His forties were in the 5.4 range, miserable for a 290-pound projected defensive end. Brown displayed weak athleticism with a 27-inch vertical and an 8-foot-5 inch broad jump.

Outcome: It's hard to see Brown going higher than the middle of the third round. Because of the high-effort reputation he's earned, he'll be on the minds of teams but Brown just isn't as athletic as we thought.

[SIZE=+1]Penn State RB Tony Hunt[/SIZE]

Some Background: Hunt was my third-rated running back last week.

What He Did: Ran his forties in 4.68 at 4.71. Hunt's short shuttle time of 4.72 was linemen-esque. His broad jump of nine-foot-two left much to be desired. Fantasy Sports - Fantasy Football? - Fantasy Sports News - Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Fantasy Basketball - Fantasy Football Advice

Outcome: I feel compelled to drop Hunt in my rankings because the long speed just isn't there like I thought it was. You don't see many starting tailbacks running 4.7s in the NFL.

[SIZE=+1]Florida LB Earl Everett[/SIZE]

Some Background: Everett was a highly productive outside linebacker for the Gators but we didn't realize how unathletic he was until he showed up at the Combine, where he ran a disastrous 4.88 forty.

What He Did: Not much changed on Everett's home turf. In front of an estimated 100 NFL personnel, he ran forties of 4.82 and 4.73. Everett didn't jump at the Combine or at his Pro Day.

Outcome: I loved Everett in college but he simply lacks speed and seems to be hiding that he's a sub par athlete. He'll likely have a career as a reserve and be a late fourth- or fifth-round pick in April.

[SIZE=+1]Georgia OT Daniel Inman[/SIZE]

Some Background: Inman was a highly touted recruit who appeared to be rising until his senior season. The 2005 All-SEC pick was suspended for Weeks 1 and 2 and struggled in pass protection in 2006. Inman wasn't invited to the Combine.

What He Did: Turned in an utterly despicable workout. Inman ran both his forties in the 5.8s, got 25 inches off the ground vertically, and benched 225 13 times.

Outcome: I believe there are people reading this that could've equaled or even bested what Inman did at his Pro Day. He could be overlooked completely in April. The Player's Paradise

[SIZE=+1]LSU DE Chase Pittman[/SIZE]

Some Background: Pittman (6-5/270) had 6.5 sacks as a senior with the Tigers. He's viewed as a high-motor prospect and took reps as an outside linebacker at the Senior Bowl.

What He Did: Pittman ran his forties in 5.03 and 5.09, terrible for a defensive end. He displayed couch potato-type athleticism with jumps of 27.5 inches (vertical) and eight-foot-six (broad).

Outcome: It doesn't say much about the Niners' people that they even considered Pittman worth trying at such a speed-needy position in February. He's a second-day pick at best.

Other Notes:

New Hampshire WR David Ball showed why he didn't run at the Combine by trudging forty yards in 4.73 and 4.70 seconds. Ball was recruited to run track and field, so there's no excuse for the slow times. He will be drafted late.
Auburn OG Tim Duckworth benched 225 fewer times (19) than he did at the Combine (20). He also shed weight to run unimpressive forties of 5.38 and 5.41. Duckworth is looking like a fifth- or sixth-round pick.
South Carolina ATHLETE Syvelle Newton has not shown enough speed to play wideout in the NFL this offseason. He ran his forty in 4.77 and may be better served trying out as a defensive back going forward.
West Virginia LB Kevin "Boo" McClee ran times of 4.97 and 4.99. The 6-2/244-pounder is currently looking like a one-dimensional 3-4 inside linebacker and a late-round pick.
Oklahoma OLB Rufus Alexander, one of the most praised players at his position for much of his college career, improved on his Combine forty by posting a 4.73 and a 4.69, but still wasn't scintillating. He'll have a tough time making it into Round Two.

[SIZE=+2]RISING?[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Ohio State WR Roy Hall[/SIZE]

Some Background: The 6-3/240-pound Hall entered spring football in 2006 set to compete to start with Anthony Gonzalez outside. He fell out of the competition early, and eventually behind young Brians Hartline and Robiskie on the depth chart.

What He Did: Ran forties of 4.41 and 4.42. His short shuttle time was 4.13 and he continued to impress with his jumps, reaching 37.5 inches on the vertical and 10-foot-3 inches with his long leap.

Outcome: There will still likely be questions about his work ethic considering his depth-chart tumble in 2006, but this workout may have been just enough for someone to take a late flier. Hall could be viewed as a tight end in the Randy McMichael mold.

[SIZE=+1]Nebraska S Andrew Shanle[/SIZE]

Some Background: Scott's little brother took over a starting role for the first time in his college career as a five-year senior. He played safety, a position at which the 'Huskers have produced second-round picks the past two seasons (Josh and Daniel Bullocks). Shanle picked off four passes in 2006.

What He Did: Running of FieldTurf, a surface deemed legit for estimating long speed, Shanle clocked in at 4.4 flat twice. He ran a 4.09 short shuttle, which is near incredible for a 6-1/212-pound safety. Shanle's vertical was 38.5 inches, his broad jump 9-foot-11.

Outcome: Shanle is now firmly on the late-round radar. It's questionable whether he'll ever be more than a reserve or third safety in the league, but might be a Kevin Kaesviharn-type sleeper.

[SIZE=+1]Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn[/SIZE]

Some Background: Rotoworld QBs Column

What He Did: Weighed 233 and ran forties of 4.82 and 4.73. Quinn also shuttled 20 yards in 4.22, which is very good. His vertical was 36 inches and his long jump 9-foot-7.

Outcome: Quinn is my No. 1 quarterback to start, so I'll take another jab at JaMarcus Russell here. At his Pro Day, Russell did nothing other than run his 4.83 forty after losing five pounds and throw passes. Quinn took part in every single offseason drill, including the 24 reps of 225 he pushed at the Combine. If he doesn't go to Cleveland at 3, someone should trade up for Quinn at 4. He won't fall past Minnesota at 7. Russell could.

[SIZE=+1]Akron G Andy Alleman[/SIZE]

Some Background: Though you probably haven't heard of him, Alleman (6-4/306) is a prospect on the rise. He had a huge senior season blocking for the prolific and underrated Luke Getsy and looks like a first-day pick.

What He Did: Shuttled 20 yards in a running back-like 4.38 seconds and benched 225 30 times. Alleman has the computer numbers to succeed in any offensive scheme.

Outcome: Ben Grubbs of Auburn is the consensus No. 1 guard at this point with Arron Sears of Tennessee and Texas' Justin Blalock two of the bigger names high on media draft boards. Alleman could be drafted before all three.

[SIZE=+1]Texas A&M DE Jason Jack[/SIZE]

Some Background: A surprise early entrant who wasn't even invited to the Combine, Jack (6-4/265) seemed never to improve after earning a starting job as a freshman. His production and decision to skip his senior year both raise question marks.

What He Did: Ran 4.90 and 4.92 forties. Jack had a respectable 33-inch vertical and pushed the 225-pound bar 21 times. He had a 9-foot-8 inch broad jump. The workout was on FieldTurf.

Draft-Day Prediction: After a decent showing, Jack might slip into the seventh round. 24 teams were represented at the Aggies' Pro Day, so if Jack gave the impression he has his head on straight, he'll have a good shot to be drafted.

Other Notes:

Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe shook off the hamstring he pulled at the Senior Bowl to run forties of 4.39 and 4.43. The 5-7 Wolfe, who has been compared to Darren Sproles, should be drafted late in April.
Brown LB Zak DeOssie had a short shuttle of 4.03 after running a 4.58 forty at the Combine. These are insane times considering DeOssie is 6-4/250. They'd be great if he was 6-3/220. There should be a war in New England if DeOssie is not a Patriot this summer.
Houston RB/FB Jackie Battle ran on a fast track but clocked in at 4.42 and 4.43 in the forty, benched 225 19 times, and short shuttled in 4.11. He'll probably be a late-round pick.
Ohio State QB Justin Zwick (6-4/230), or "the forgotten man," ran forties of 4.77 and 4.78. His story is somewhat similar to that of Matt Cassel a few years ago. Zwick, a huge recruit coming to OSU, could go in the seventh round.
West Virginia WR Brandon Myles, who was a standout at the Senior Bowl after playing in a run-heavy offense at WVU, clocked forty times of 4.41 and 4.44. His broad jump was 10 feet, 11 inches. It would not be a surprise to see the underrated Myles go on the first day in April.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#11
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Team Needs: AFC East and North
With baseball's Opening Day and the NCAA Final Four in the rearview mirror, the National Football League is gearing up to dominate sports headlines during a month when absolutely nothing happens.

The buildup to the NFL Draft is filled with unknowns and conjecture about players very few analysts have actually watched play football. That doesn't make it any less fun, but I'd rather focus on what holes each team has to fill on their current roster.

The next four installments of Offseason Lowdown will focus on those team needs. Today we'll look at the AFC East and AFC North. Since this is a fantasy football site, I'll give the edge to writing up offensive positions when possible.

[SIZE=+1]Buffalo Bills[/SIZE]

1. RB - The best use of their draft picks would be to deal for Michael Turner. That wouldn't surprise me at all, but Buffalo will look hard at Marshawn Lynch, Tony Hunt, and other first day running backs otherwise. Anthony Thomas is no starter.

2. CB - Good thing Dick Jauron's system is zone-based, because Terrence McGee as a "shutdown corner" is a scary thought.

3. DT - Darwin Walker is nice, but this team needs a run stopper. Too bad Pat Williams is unavailable.

4. WR - Roscoe Parrish can be a serviceable third receiver, but Peerless Price's best days are long gone. Lee Evans is going to start getting the Steve Smith treatment before long if Buffalo doesn't add talent.

[SIZE=+1]Miami Dolphins[/SIZE]

1. DL - Cam Cameron cleaned house with this aging unit, and now needs to restock the cupboard.

2. QB- This is highly dependent on what the Dolphins do before or during the draft. If they acquire Trent Green, they could still use a young signal-caller. If they pick up David Carr, that's probably enough youth at the position along with Cleo Lemon. There's supposedly this guy named Culpepper on the squad that no one talks about as well.

3. CB - Nick Saban couldn't solve this unit. They are a long way from the Surtain-Madison combination of five years ago.

TE - We love David Martin, but not enough to expect him to stay healthy.

[SIZE=+1]New England Patriots[/SIZE]

1. LB Adalius Thomas helps, but this is still the oldest unit on the team. Tedy Bruschi would be better off with fewer snaps and there is little depth inside. The Patriots are loathe to invest high picks on linebackers in the draft under Bill Belichick.

2. DB - Asante Samuel is playing under a one-year contract and Ellis Hobbs is still a question mark. New England has decent depth, but Belichick defenses are built from the secondary forward and there aren't enough difference makers. Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson are injury-prone at safety.

3. WR - The Patriots solved their wideout crisis for the short term, but Donte' Stallworth, Kelley Washington, and Reche Caldwell may be free agents next year. Developing a mid-round pick for more playing time in 2008 makes sense.

[SIZE=+1]New York Jets[/SIZE]

1. CB - Eric Mangini used to be a secondary coach and his work with an undermanned defensive backfield in 2007 was impressive. That doesn't mean he doesn't dream of a day when he isn't forced to start Hank Poteat at cornerback.

2. LB - Jonathan Vilma and Eric Barton were productive, but may be awkward fits for New York's 3-4 defense. A run-stuffer in the middle would help make up for some of the inconsistencies on the defensive line.

3. WR - I wouldn't be surprised if the Jets go with defensive picks for the first 3-4 rounds, but we'll throw in an offensive position since this is a fantasy site. The Jets are set at quarterback and running back, but they could use wideout depth following the expected departure of Justin McCareins. A top tier tight end would make sense, but I don't see a fit in this class.

[SIZE=+1]Baltimore Ravens[/SIZE]

1. CB - Samari Rolle needs competition and the nickel back spot has long been a trouble spot.

2. QB - For once, the Ravens aren't looking for their starting quarterback. That's likely to change next offseason if Steve McNair's decline continues. With Kyle Boller in a contract year, look for Baltimore to start planning ahead.

3. T - Finding an heir apparent to Jonathan Ogden is suddenly a pressing need with the veteran considering retirement. Finding a replacement for Ray Lewis and restocking the linebacker group is next on the docket.

[SIZE=+1]Cleveland Browns[/SIZE]

1. RB - The Browns smartly only signed Jamal Lewis for one year and backup money, so they should look to find their starter in the draft. I suspect it won't be Adrian Peterson.

2. QB- Romeo Crennel's rebuilding project has a long way to go because I couldn't think of many positions that weren't a need for this team (OLB? TE?). That makes taking another young quarterback very risky, but JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn may be tough to pass up.

3. DL - The Browns are still looking for difference makers, especially on the interior.

4. WR - Joe Jurevicius would be a better fit as a slot receiver and the depth behind him is uninspiring. It's a bad sign when this team may wind up missing Dennis Northcutt.

[SIZE=+1]Cincinnati Bengals[/SIZE]

1. LB - Marvin Lewis has invested countless picks at his favorite position, only to see tragedy (David Pollack) and stupidity (Odell Thurman) befall the team. With Brian Simmons gone, the Bengals need a run-stopper more than ever.

2. CB - Deltha O'Neal may be the most inconsistent player in the NFL and is in a slump again. Tory James is gone. Jonathan Joseph will be a starter for a long time, but he needs a partner.

3. RB - This would be a luxury pick, but Rudi Johnson will begin to slow down one of these years. Chris Perry hasn't stayed healthy as a pro. I recently read Next Man Up by John Feinstein and saw how the Ravens red-flagged Perry because of injuries when he was coming out. Maybe the Bengals should increase their famously thrifty scouting staff. A mid-to-late round pick for depth would make sense at running back.

[SIZE=+1]Pittsburgh Steelers [/SIZE]

1. CB - Mike Tomlin says he has the best 3-4 talent in the league and doesn't want to mess with it. But will he start drafting players who can transition to his Cover Two scheme? At cornerback, it may not make a difference. The Steelers want physical corners that can help in run support. The Steelers may have started the Cover Two concepts back in the 70's under Chuck Noll when interference rules were more relaxed, so it may not be that difficult a move for Dick Lebeau and company.

2. LB - Pittsburgh has a nice group of players, but there isn't much youth or speed at their signature position. There are few players on the ascent here. What type of player they draft at linebacker will be telling, but we suspect the Steelers will value versatility.

3. RB - They couldn't afford to upgrade from Najeh Davenport in free agency, so the Steelers may look for a bruiser in the draft during the third or fourth round.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#12
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Draft '07: The Wideouts
If you've paid any attention to this year's draft, you've heard that the wide receiver class is stacked. Anywhere from five to eight will go in the first round. Players 1-19 on this list possess starting potential in two-to-three years, with a few marquee slot prospects mixed in. Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks

Now that we've established how to project rookie QBs, judging wide receivers may be the most difficult position remaining. There aren't any players here I don't like, so I won't go out on a limb and call Jason Hill the next Rashaun Woods. (Worth noting: Woods' brother D'Juan will likely be selected in the fourth or fifth round and have a career as a No. 4 receiver.) A true crapshoot position, two or three of the top 19 will undoubtedly be out of the league in three years. I have no idea who they'll be. I'll just give you what I know.

[SIZE=+1]1. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 1
Ht/Wt: 6-5/239
Combine: 4.35 forty
Pro Day: 11-foot-7 inch broad jump, 42.5-inch vertical

Negatives: Johnson can become flustered on the rare occasion that he's not dominating a game, leading to the occasional drop.

Positives: Without an experienced No. 2 opposite him, Johnson consistently separated from double and triple teams in college. He has huge hands and nearly 35-inch arms. Johnson is a devastating blocker, a hard worker, and durable. Despite a suspect QB in Reggie Ball, Johnson scored 16 times in 2006 and averaged 15.8 yards-per-catch.
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Verdict: This is the best and most can't-miss player in the 2007 Draft. He won't fall past the top two picks and should go first if Oakland swings a deal for Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, or David Carr.
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[SIZE=+1]2. Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 12
Ht/Wt: 5-11/178
Combine: injured
Pro Day: April 11

Negatives: Ginn isn't ready to start at receiver in the NFL. At OSU, he ran basic routes that didn't prepare him for the complex pro-style offenses he'll be forced to learn. He's recovering from a mid-foot sprain that prevented him from participating in postseason workouts.

Positives: He's the draft's fastest player and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the football. Ginn has plenty of upside as a pass catcher and will help in the slot before becoming a starter in one or two years. He can make an immediate Devin Hester-like impact on returns. Ginn has experience at cornerback and could help as a dime defender until he grasps his team's offense.

Verdict: Unlike many players, Ginn's absence from pre-draft drills shouldn't hurt him because there's enough on tape to justify a top-15 selection. His injury is comparable to the one Philip Rivers suffered at the end of 2006 and isn't expected to linger. If Ginn is available at No. 13, expect St. Louis to snap him up.
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[SIZE=+1]3. Sidney Rice, South Carolina[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 14
Ht/Wt: 6-3.5/200
Combine: 4.53 forty, 4.34 short shuttle, 9-foot-11 broad jump, 40-inch vertical
Pro Day: Performed position drills

Negatives: Rice lacks ideal long speed. He is lanky and needs to add strength. A third-year sophomore who will be 20 when drafted, Rice is considered raw.

Positives: Rice is South Carolina's all-time leader in TD receptions and a terrific red-zone weapon. He managed 70 catches and 10 scores despite playing seven games with converted WR Syvelle Newton at QB last year. Rice goes to the ball and grabs everything with his hands. He will go over the middle and take a big hit. Chris Houston (Arkansas) held Dwayne Jarrett (5-35), Robert Meachem (4-65), Dwayne Bowe (5-68), and Earl Bennett (4-31) in check last year. Rice (7-126-1) ate Houston for lunch.

Verdict: If you can do what Rice did against the draft's top press corner, there should be no questions about whether you can separate. While he doesn't have Ginn's versatility, Rice's natural playmaking ability rivals Johnson's. He's a great fit for the Packers at 16 if they don't land Randy Moss and shouldn't get past Tennessee (No. 19).

[SIZE=+1]4. Robert Meachem, Tennessee[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 17
Ht/Wt: 6-2/214
Combine: 4.39 forty, 4.31 short shuttle, 10-foot-1 inch broad jump, 38-inch vertical
Pro Day: 4.41 and 4.48 forties, 4.19 short shuttle, 10-foot-8 inch broad jump, 37.5-inch vertical

Negatives: He only started one year in college and is considered underdeveloped as a blocker. Meachem tends to "round off" his routes. He will drop passes over the middle.

Positives: His speed is ideal and he uses it after the catch. His hands are adequate. The starting point guard on his high school's two-time All-State basketball team, Meachem is a tremendous athlete. He caught 71 passes, averaged a startling 18.3 yards-per-catch, and found pay dirt 11 times in his one year starting at UT.

Verdict: As a Vol, Meachem made most of his big plays down the sideline or after the catch. No doubt an awesome specimen, it's questionable whether he'll be a dominant No. 1 receiver in the NFL because he doesn't like going over the middle. Still, he's certain to go in Round One and likely to be a productive No. 2 by his rookie or second year.

[SIZE=+1]5. Dwayne Jarrett, USC[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 19
Ht/Wt: 6-4/219
Combine: Didn't work out
Pro Day: 4.62 and 4.67 forties, 4.20 short shuttle, 10-foot-1 inch broad jump, 36.5-inch vertical

Negatives: He's slower than Mike Williams, who ran 4.58 and 4.59 forties at the Trojans' Pro Day in 2005. As alluded to previously, Jarrett struggles against press-man coverage. He had a run-in with the LAPD prior to 2006 and was involved in a college house allegedly financed by Matt Leinart's father.

Positives: Jarrett is a remarkably fluid athlete and an acrobatic pass catcher. He has the best hands in the draft. Jarrett was arguably the most dominant receiver in college football last season. A starter since his freshman year, he has ideal experience.

Verdict: His game is incredibly similar to Plaxico Burress'. Jarrett is unlikely to be the Mike Williams-like "bust" some have him pegged for, as his athleticism and hands are far superior. The Titans and old coordinator Norm Chow are an obvious fit at No. 19. He shouldn't make it past San Diego at 30.

[SIZE=+1]6. Dwayne Bowe, LSU[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 22
Ht/Wt: 6-2/221
Combine: 4.51 forty, 10-foot-5 inch broad jump, 33-inch vertical
Pro Day: 4.40 and 4.49 forties, 10-foot-5 inch broad jump, 37.5-inch vertical

Negatives: Bowe's questionable combination of long speed and explosion isn't ideal for a downfield passing attack. He needs to improve his consistency as a ball catcher. Bowe doesn't excel against man coverage.

Positives: He's considered the best run blocking receiver in the draft. Bowe is a natural red-zone specialist with instincts to "box out" and get jump balls. He was phenomenal at the Senior Bowl. Bowe's NFL upside is as a productive, potentially high-scoring No. 2 receiver.

Verdict: The perfect match for a West Coast offense or one that values receivers willing to sacrifice themselves in the run game, Bowe makes sense as high as Kansas City at No. 23. He'd be a coup for Minnesota with the 41st pick.

[SIZE=+1]7. Jason Hill, Washington State[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 32
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/204
Combine: 4.32 forty, 4.22 short shuttle, 10-foot-3 inch broad jump, 37-inch vertical
Pro Day: Performed position drills

Negatives: After posting two 1,000+ yard seasons in which he averaged 22.4 and 17.7 yards-per-catch, respectively, and totaled 25 touchdowns, Hill struggled with an ankle injury in 2006 and called it a season with two games remaining. He was believed to lack top-end speed before the NFL Combine.

Positives: Hill put to rest any negative notions about his speed in February. Another natural playmaker, Hill catches the ball over his shoulder with ease and has big hands. He is an aggressive football player whose skills translate to any scheme.

Verdict: Do we devalue Derrek Lee in fantasy baseball leagues because he got hurt last year? (Well, apparently some of us do; I got him in the late third round.) Hill's skill set is as good as anyone's in this draft after Johnson, and he drew comparisons to Jerry Rice as a sophomore and junior. It won't be a shock if he goes in Round One.

[SIZE=+1]8. Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio State[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 36
Ht/Wt: 6-0/193
Combine: 4.44 forty, 4.08 short shuttle, 10-foot-3 inch broad jump, 38-inch vertical
Pro Day: Performed position drills, benched 225 16 times

Negatives: Gonzalez doesn't "play big." He scored eight times in 2006 but won't be as proficient in an NFL red zone. Gonzalez only started one season at OSU and although he has good speed, is more an underneath-type possession receiver. He lacks experience as a returner.

Positives: Gonzalez is a willing blocker and has close to a complete game. He is sure handed and reliable in all situations, especially the clutch. Gonzalez received a late first- to second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board before declaring a year early.

Verdict: While there is a chance Gonzalez could thrive as an outside wideout in a Mike Martz-type spread offense, his game is better suited for the slot. He should be on Detroit and Houston's radar early in the second round.

[SIZE=+1]9. Aundrae Allison, East Carolina[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 49
Ht/Wt: 6-0/198
Combine: 4.39 forty, 10-foot-7 inch broad jump, 37-inch vertical
Pro Day: 4.25 short shuttle

Negatives: Allison didn't try football until his junior year in high school and is considered raw. He also isn't physically strong. Another knock is that he'll take plays off, especially on non-passing downs. Allison has had trouble in the classroom.

Positives: Allison played in a run-heavy offense at ECU and caught 62 balls as a senior. He stood out at the Senior Bowl, showing the exceptionally soft hands that made him such a reliable college producer. Allison has some experience on punt returns.

Verdict: That Allison doesn't give all-out effort on every play could hurt his chances of getting on the field as a rookie, but his situation and physical skills are very similar to those of Greg Jennings. Allison seems a bit of a boom-or-bust pick with upside to be a speedy No. 2. He's a second-round prospect.

[SIZE=+1]10. Craig Davis, LSU[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 72
Ht/Wt: 6-1/207
Combine: 4.46 forty
Pro Day: 4.41 and 4.44 forties, 10-foot-1 inch broad jump, 36.5-inch vertical

Negatives: Davis can't shake the nagging injury. It was a broken elbow as a freshman, a concussion in 2005, and after staying healthy as a senior, a groin pull forced Davis out of the Senior Bowl. He is also regarded as an inconsistent route runner.

Positives: When healthy, Davis makes plays down the field. He was considered the surest-handed Tiger on the LSU football team the past two seasons. Long overshadowed by bigger names in school, Davis has a well-rounded game and could be an instant third receiver in the Demetrius Williams mold.

Verdict: Davis has the measurables and has produced when he's had the shot. It could be a matter of opportunity at the next level. With a healthy offseason, he has a good chance to make an immediate impact and start down the line. It will be a surprise if Davis gets past the top 90 picks.

11. Steve Smith, USC - 5-11.5/197?4.44 forty? broken leg in 2004?always overshadowed at SC but highly productive?likely instant slot help

12. Paul Williams, Fresno State - 6-1/205?4.45 forty?college underachiever?big hands?has enjoyed terrific postseason workouts

13. Johnnie Lee Higgins, UTEP - 5-11/186?4.48 forty?13 TDs in '06?big-play specialist?fearless return man?inconsistent hands, routes

14. Rhema McKnight, Notre Dame - 6-2/211?4.5 speed?West Coast receiver?tore ACL in '05, 15 TDs in 2006?inconsistent hands

15. Courtney Taylor, Auburn - 6-2/204?possession receiver?will make the acrobatic grab?scrawny appendages?4.5 forty?quicker than fast

16. David Clowney, Virginia Tech - 6-0/188?4.36 forty?struggled with drops at Senior Bowl?great work ethic?Hokies' passing attack was poor

17. Mike Walker, Central Florida - 6-2/209?4.35 forty?tore ACL in '05, 90 catches in 2006?lacks good physical strength, blocking consistency

18. Brandon Myles, West Virginia - 6-1/189?4.4 speed?outstanding Senior Bowl?run-first offense at WVU, is underdeveloped?great hands

19. Jacoby Jones, Lane - 6-3/210?4.47 forty?began college 5-7/190?story of pre-draft events?scored ten all-purpose touchdowns as a senior

20. Laurent Robinson, Illinois State - 6-2/190?4.38 forty?elusive open-field runner?faced weak competition at ISU?possession-type slot receiver

Others: D'Juan Woods (Oklahoma State), Chris Davis (Florida State), Joel Filani (Texas Tech), Dallas Baker (Florida), Steve Breaston (Michigan), Syvelle Newton (South Carolina), David Ball (New Hampshire), Chansi Stuckey (Clemson), Legedu Naanee (Boise State), Marcus Price (Charleston Southern), Aaron Fairooz (Central Arkansas), Matt Trannon (Michigan State), Ryan Moore (Miami FL), Terry Moss (Ball State), Brad Ekwerekwu (Missouri), James Jones (San Jose State), Onrea Jones (Hampton), Yamon Figurs (Kansas State)
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#13
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Team Needs: AFC South and West
The perception of the AFC South is that the Colts are unbeatable, the Titans are on the rise, and the Jaguars are mired in mediocrity. The Texans are usually ignored. www.eog.com

Looking at the depth charts closely for this article on team needs, I couldn't help thinking that those perceptions may be turned around this season. Okay, so the Texans are likely to stay forgettable. But the Colts have just as many defensive holes on their as when Tony Dungy joined the team. Time after time, we see how difficult it is for Super Bowl Champions to even make the playoffs the following season. Looking at their defense, Peyton Manning will have to carry the team more than ever. www.eogcontests.com

In Tennessee, the magic of Vince Young covered up a lot of roster holes. The exodus of Drew Bennett, Travis Henry, and possibly Pacman Jones make the roster as thin as any in the AFC. It may be tough to Young to build on his 8-8 campaign, but the Jaguars are poised to make a serious championship run if they can finally get consistent play from their quarterback. There simply aren't many other positions on their roster without excellent depth. Jack Del Rio knows it, and knows he's running out of time.
www.fantasysportspicks.com
For team needs for the AFC East and North, click here.
www.sportspickwinners.com
[SIZE=+1]Houston Texans[/SIZE]

1. WR - Kevin Walter has 47 career catches and is easily the most experienced wideout on the roster behind Andre Johnson. It's not like Houston has promising developmental players either. Houston needs to take a couple receivers, and there isn't one worthy of a high first-round pick unless they trade up for Calvin Johnson. Matt Schaub could be Brett Favre reincarnate and he wouldn't produce with this group.
www.theplayersparadise.com
2. T - This position has been cursed in Houston ever since they drafted Tony Boselli. Charles Spencer's recovery from a broken leg is uncertain.

3. CB - Dunta Robinson had an off-year, but he should be a solid starter. DeMarcus ***gins is the starter across from him, and the depth falls off a cliff thereafter.

4. RB - The Texans don't need a running back, but it would be hard for them to pass on Adrian Peterson if he makes it to them at No. 10.
www.sportspickwinners.com
[SIZE=+1]Indianapolis Colts[/SIZE]

1. LB - It's a bad sign when your best starter (Gary Brackett) nearly got benched late last year. Indianapolis always seems to find a linebacker, but this group is worse than ever with Freddie Keiaho and Rob Morris slated to start.

2. DT - Perhaps the linebackers wouldn't look so bad if the Colts had a run-stopper upfront. Most of their tackles are better at rushing the passer. Looking at Indy's defensive roster, it strikes me that Peyton Manning may have to throw more than ever next season.

3. WR- Evan Silva is Rotoworld's depth chart guru. When updating the site recently, he had to choose among the following to be Indy's third receiver: Devin Aromoashodu, John Standeford, and Kevin McMahan, last year's Mr. Irrelevent pick by the Raiders. He went with Standeford, an inspired pick. The Colts should draft someone to take his place.


[SIZE=+1]Jacksonville Jaguars[/SIZE]

1. S - The Jaguars were the most difficult team in the AFC to pick a clear area of need, which speaks to the quality of their roster. They could draft one of the quality free safeties available in this draft. Gerald Sensabaugh is currently slated to start and the team could use depth at the position with Donovin Darius often hurt.

2. LB - Daryl Smith is going to be a player, but the team still needs a difference-maker on the strong side. Jorge Cordova and Pat Thomas haven't stepped up.

3. WR- They have spent a lot of picks at receiver, but haven't drafted a standout yet. I think Matt Jones can be that guy this season, but the team could still use a developmental prospect for 2008.

[SIZE=+1]Tennessee Titans[/SIZE]

1. CB - Nick Harper was signed to start, but 32-year-old cornerbacks don't stay productive for long. PacMan Jones could be suspended for most of the season. This has been a trouble spot for years.

2. WR - Tennessee has holes at almost every position, especially ones that can help Vince Young. Brandon Jones is set to be the team's top receiver and his career-high is 384 yards. David Givens' status is unknown after multiple injuries. Roydell Williams and Courtney Roby are reminders of Floyd Reese's spot draft record the last few years. Tennessee could really use a veteran, but it's too late for that.

3. DE - The Titans got very little out of the trio of ends they drafted in 2004: Travis LaBoy, Bo Schobel, and Antwan Odom. They need to re-load the position again because Kyle Vanden Bosch is an injury risk and there are no other standouts.

4.RB - The Titans have shown interest in Michael Turner, which would take care of the position. Otherwise, they need an extra body around in case LenDale White gets hungry.

[SIZE=+1]Denver Broncos[/SIZE]

1. DE- The Broncos stopped blitzing last season, and couldn't generate a pass rush on their own. Now they are changing schemes and need a pass-rusher to fit in Jim Bates' new offense. Look for them to go lighter.

2. S- John Lynch is fading and Nick Ferguson's surprising late-career run will have to end. .

3. RB - Travis Henry and Mike Bell are a meat and potatoes duo if we ever saw one. History says Mike Shanahan will add a running back, possibly early, and we suspect it will be someone who catches the ball well.

4. WR- It's not a huge need, but don't be surprised if the Broncos draft a wideout. They reportedly inquired about the second pick in the draft because of their interest in Calvin Johnson. Brandon Marshall is intriguing, but he's no sure thing. Rod Smith and Brandon Stokley may be fighting for one roster spot.

[SIZE=+1]Kansas City Chiefs[/SIZE]

1. WR - I was very surprised the Chiefs didn't go hard after Drew Bennett, Donte' Stallworth, and the other top free agent receivers. Samie Parker is a big play threat with poor hands on a team that doesn't throw deep. Jeff Webb will get more playing time in 2007, but only had three catches as a rookie. Eddie Kennison isn't getting any younger.

This group is so depressing that we can't make Rotoworld favorite Damon Huard a sleeper next season in good conscience.

2. OL - Willie Roaf isn't expected to come out of retirement and Will Shields will probably join him. The former strength of the franchise is suddenly a question mark.

3. DT - Chiefs fans must be thinking that they've been through this before.

4. CB</B> - Ty Law should be playing safety sooner than later and Patrick Surtain is also in his 30's.

[SIZE=+1]Oakland Raiders[/SIZE]

1. QB - Andrew Walter looked like a late-career Drew Bledsoe in his eight-game run as a starter, with less accuracy. Calvin Johnson was a better option when David Carr was available, but Oakland is running out of veteran candidates now. We suspect they would love Trent Green, but the Chiefs will make sure that doesn't happen.

2. OL - It's not necessary to specify tackle, guard, or center here. Oakland needs help throughout the offensive line.

3.TE- Courtney Anderson's hands are suspect. Oakland has the makings of a good receiver group if they drafted a pass-catching tight end to draw attention away from their outside receivers.

[SIZE=+1]San Diego Chargers[/SIZE]

1. WR - What do you get the team that has everything? The offense could certainly use depth behind Vincent Jackson and Eric Parker. Parker would ideally be the team's third receiver, but he's stubbornly improved every year as a starter.

2. S - Marlon McCree stabilized the free safety spot, so San Diego could use a punisher to play the strong side.

3. ILB- The Chargers are confident Matt Wilhelm and Stephen Cooper will step up as starters, but drafting depth is still a good idea.

4. RB - Michael Turner is not long for this team. Darren Sproles is still on the roster, but the Chargers need a bigger back in case LT2 gets hurt.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#14
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Mock Draft II: Calvin Still #1
Before diving into Mock Draft Part Deux, I want to address some recent trendy draft rumblings. Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks

California RB Marshawn Lynch is a cinch for the first round.

Think Pacman Jones' year-long suspension won't impact where teams have Lynch on their draft boards? Jones was involved in one off-field incident before the Titans selected him with the No. 6 pick in 2005. The organization researched it, and concluded that Pacman was not at fault. The same argument has been made for Lynch's involvement in a drive-by shooting at Cal and a sexual assault charge police failed to pursue just after the Bears' season ended. But throw in an embarrassing 4.58 short shuttle, two forties in the 4.5s, a reported bad back, and we have a mid to late second-round prospect. www.eogcontests.com

Florida DE Jarvis Moss is a first-round pick.

If we're judging players on what they did in their Bowl games, for sure. Moss has good potential as a pass rusher off the edge and sacked Troy Smith twice in the Gators' BCS Championship win. But he lacks ideal speed (4.7 forty), has far less than ideal strength (16 reps of 225), and brings a rap sheet's worth of health issues. For an enigmatic early entrant like Moss, postseason workouts are crucial. He failed to impress.
www.fantasysportspicks.com
The Cardinals will select Adrian "All Day" Peterson if he's available at No. 5 because two-back systems are the future in the NFL.

Having two backs is great, yes. But in almost every case of a team having success with a dual-back system, at least one or both are cheap. The only club paying two runners substantial money is New Orleans, and considering Reggie Bush is also used as a returner and wide receiver, and Deuce McAllister was coming off ACL surgery at the time Bush was selected, it's a completely different situation. I expect the Cardinals to draft a tailback on April 28, but not at No. 5, which would give them two backs making in the $6-7 million-per-year range. Peterson will likely be the best player on the board if he falls to Arizona, but financially the choice make no sense unless James is given the Corey Dillon treatment in 2008.
www.sportspickwinners.com
Now to the mock.

1. Oakland ? Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson

I'm still not convinced a team that's so bad offensively can afford to pass on almost inarguably the most surefire offensive phenom in years. Oakland has options at QB like Kyle Boller and Josh McCown, and Lane Kiffin knows heady pupil John David Booty is coming through the pipeline in 2008. Make no mistake: with its defense, Oakland can contend in '07 behind a stopgap quarterback. And Johnson falling to No. 4 would be ridiculous.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
2. Detroit ? Wisconsin LT Joe Thomas

If the Raiders lay an egg and take JaMarcus Russell, the odds of this pick being traded will skyrocket. But Kiffin is too smart to let that happen. Detroit was believed to be targeting Thomas long before the pre-draft rumors began and the pick still makes too much sense.

3. Cleveland ? Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn

If I'm a Browns fan and don't hear Adrian Peterson's name called with my team's pick, I'm fuming. But coach Romeo Crennel and GM Phil Savage can buy themselves another year with a QB. While this offense isn't the best fit for Quinn, Cleveland has to be eying a 2008 with LeCharles Bentley back at center and many of its gaping holes filled. And isn't Savage playing this Mobile, Alabama connection with Russell perfectly?

4. Tampa Bay ? Clemson DE Gaines Adams

I had Adams falling to 14 in my last mock. That was a mistake. Simeon Rice is entering a contract year and could easily be shipped on draft day. Greg Spires has become "just a guy." Adams is a serious beast and Tampa's roster is in no position for another QB to be added, no matter what Jon Gruden says.

5. Arizona ? Ole Miss LB Patrick Willis

With Terrence Holt signed in a move the Cards hope (but probably won't) upgrade their pass defense and likely rules out a LaRon Landry pick, Willis is the best choice here. Arizona is installing a 3-4 defense and needs an inside linebacker to play alongside Gerald Hayes (I'd expect the Cards to eventually conclude on leaving Karlos Dansby outside to take advantage of his pass-rush ability). The Cardinals also will consider Alan Branch, but already have Gabe Watson on the roster and all the reason in the world to add the draft's top all-around linebacker.

6. Washington ? Arkansas DE Jamaal Anderson

The 'Skins might have a hard time passing on Amobi Okoye, but Anderson is the quintessential bookend for Andre Carter and Phillip Daniels is way past his prime. It's possible Daniels could help as a situational interior pass rusher with both end spots upgraded.

7. Minnesota ? LSU QB JaMarcus Russell

Brad Childress made a mistake by relying in Brad Johnson last season. So confident was Childress, he traded up and reached for a highly-athletic, super-raw QB in the 2006 second round. By guaranteeing Visanthe Shiancoe (four years, 35 catches) $8 million this offseason, his mindset obviously hasn't changed. Russell showed the accuracy to be a good QB in his junior year, however, and could be a fit for Childress' system if he improves his footwork.

8. Atlanta ? Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson

Even if Peterson doesn't fall this far (and his talent says he shouldn't), neither Warrick Dunn nor Jerious Norwood is likely to be the Falcons' starter in 2007, as new coach Bobby Petrino is installing a power run game. Petrino would probably prefer to wait until the second or third for old friend Michael Bush and take Landry here, but Peterson cannot be passed over.

9. Miami ? Michigan NT Alan Branch

Keith Traylor is nearing 40 and Dan Wilkinson will be released, so Dom Capers needs a new anchor for his 3-4. Capers is high on Fred Evans, but at 6-5/285 the '06 seventh-rounder lacks close to the right body type to be an every-down nose. Branch's upside is too great for him to fall out of the top 11.

10. Houston ? LSU FS LaRon Landry

This is a gift for a Texans secondary that's been starting players out of position for the past two seasons. 5-9/181-pound Von Hutchins likely isn't the answer at free safety, where Landry can step in and start from OTA #1. C.C. Brown can slide over to the strong spot as Houston addresses the gaping hole opposite Andre Johnson with the No. 73 pick thanks to an ultra-deep receiving class.

11. San Francisco ? Nebraska DE Adam Carriker

Bryant Young and Marques Douglas are both on the wrong side of 30 and entering the contract years. The Niners' staff got an up-close look at Carriker during the Senior Bowl, where by all accounts he was the most dominant down lineman. Carriker and Ronald Fields would be San Francisco's bookends of the future with Melvin Oliver rotating in.

12. Buffalo ? Pittsburgh CB Darrelle Revis

The Bills are possibly the NFL's most needy team; good thing they have a pocket full of picks. Revis may not be the draft's top corner but he's the best fit for Perry Fewell's Tampa 2 and Buffalo can get a tailback later on or put a package together to move up for Peterson. The idea that the Bills would take Marshawn Lynch completely contradicts what they've done by signing Derrick Dockery (6-6/340) and Langston Walker (6-8/350). They're going with a power running game.

13. St. Louis ? Ohio State KR Ted Ginn Jr.

The consensus is that St. Louis will choose a 4-3 nose in Round One, but if Ginn is still around, it'd be a mistake for the Rams to pass. He'll be the best player available and could eventually replace Isaac Bruce. At least early in his career, Okoye will be an "under tackle," which isn't a need spot for St. Louis. A Kris Jenkins trade would make it an easy decision. And the Rams are set at linebacker after the Chris Draft signing.

14. Carolina ? Penn State LT Levi Brown

Panthers fans want a safety here, but because there are about ten worthy of first-day selections, the team can afford to exercise patience. Carolina is installing a zone-blocking scheme that would put Brown's agility to use perfectly. Travelle Wharton can become a guard and focus on a smaller area as he recovers from a torn ACL.

15. Pittsburgh ? Michigan LB David Harris

I'm blown away that other "draftniks" don't consider Harris a first-round prospect; Mike Mayock was calling him one last September. Harris led Michigan in tackles as a senior with 98. The next closest Wolverine had 51. He runs a 4.5 and was as active as any linebacker in college football last season. At 6-3/243, Harris is big enough to play outside initially and quick enough to be a Cover-2 MIKE when Dick LeBeau retires.

16. Green Bay ? South Carolina WR Sidney Rice

Unless Green Bay pulls off a trade for Randy Moss, Rice makes perfect sense here. He'd allow Donald Driver and Greg Jennings to rotate out of the slot and upgrade a weak red-zone offense. The Packers are trying to give the impression that they're not receiver-needy by praising Carlyle Holiday and Shaun Bodiford, but anyone who follows football knows better. If Moss is acquired, a safety makes sense.

17. Jacksonville ? Texas FS Michael Griffin

Looking to fill the void left by Deon Grant's departure, the Jags would do well to snag the best safety available. Griffin has better size and speed than Reggie Nelson, and did "it" for considerably longer. A true leader in center field, Griffin is as steady a player and draft pick as can be found at this point in the first.

18. Cincinnati ? Louisville DT Amobi Okoye

Okoye has done nothing to hurt his stock, but the 19-year-old just doesn't have a position. Sam Adams is close to retirement and the Bengals have his successor in Domata Peko. Thus, generating an interior pass rush becomes key. Okoye would be able to slim down and play his natural under tackle spot in Cincinnati.

19. Tennessee ? USC WR Dwayne Jarrett

With Pacman Jones suspended, the Titans will be torn between Jarrett and Arkansas' Chris Houston, but know starting-caliber corners can be had all over Round Two. Jarrett has history with OC Norm Chow from their days at SC and would add a Plaxico Burress-like element to a receiving corps that is strikingly lackluster on paper.

20. NY Giants ? Arkansas CB Chris Houston

The Jints' pass defense was a joke late last year. There's no better way to upgrade than by drafting the best player available and the draft's fastest, strongest, and best coverage corner. Houston would immediately move into the left cornerback slot, leaving Sam Madison and Corey Webster to battle on the right.

21. Denver ? Purdue DE Anthony Spencer

After Adams and Anderson, Spencer is the most complete end in this draft, a devastating hitter, and potential every-down player from Week 1 until the end of his career. The Broncos will be able to stop rotating their ex-Browns defensive ends once they get him.

22. Dallas ? Tennessee WR Robert Meachem

The Cowboys apparently believe Ken Hamlin will solve the coverage problems in their secondary. Owner Jerry Jones can add another downfield weapon to Tony Romo's arsenal with Meachem and a promising potential No. 1 receiver down the road with Patrick Crayton's contract set to expire in '08 and Terrell Owens' deal year-to-year.

23. Kansas City ? LSU WR Dwayne Bowe

There's not a better fit for Bowe than Kansas City. I explained in Mock Draft version 1.0.

24. New England ? Fresno State CB Marcus McCauley

Also explained in Mock One.

25. NY Jets ? Michigan CB Leon Hall

I'm not sure why Hall has been labeled a zone corner ? because he can tackle? Whatever the reasons, New York needs a coverman opposite Andre Dyson. Hank Poteat isn't cutting it and David Barrett is probably getting cut. Hall reminds me of Samari Rolle in that he can occasionally be burnt but should be a steady, mostly reliable, and smart NFL starter.

26. Philadelphia ? Miami (FL) TE Greg Olsen

I don't think Olsen is worth a first-round selection because his immediate impact will most likely be minimal, but with L.J. Smith in a contract year and few needs to fill, Philly can afford the risk. If someone can teach him to at least pretend how to block while he studies as a rookie, Olsen should be a keeper.

27. New Orleans ? Texas CB Aaron Ross

Explained in Vol. 1.

28. New England ? Penn State LB Paul Posluszny

Hopefully this won't preclude the Pats from taking Zak DeOssie later on Day One, but Posz fits the profile of a "typical Patriot" and if New England has one obvious need, it's an eventual replacement for Tedy Bruschi. Posluszny can use his redshirt rookie year to bulk up and start in 2008.

29. Baltimore ? Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh

It's currently unclear which tackle spot Ugoh will wind up at in the pros, but if he lands in Baltimore the odds are in favor of him playing on the right with Adam Terry taking over for Jonathan Ogden when he decides to hang 'em up. Baltimore is clearly looking to get more athletic along the offensive front with Chris Chester and Jason Brown entering the starting lineup. Ugoh is the best athlete among all of the above.

30. San Diego ? Florida FS Reggie Nelson

I like Brandon Meriweather better than Nelson and the Chargers may as well, but Nelson doesn't bring the character flag that NFL teams will certainly be looking to avoid on draft day. Marlon McCree moves to strong safety and Nelson holds down the deep middle.

31. Chicago ? Hampton LB Justin Durant

The Bears will consider Marshawn Lynch here, but when it comes down to it, he's much too great a risk. Durant is a special athlete, a Lance Briggs clone, and a three-time MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Whether or not Chicago coaxes Briggs into signing his one-year franchise tender (the odds are stacked against it), Durant will find a place to play.

32. Indianapolis ? Washington State WR Jason Hill

In Hill, the Colts can get Marvin Harrison's successor and possibly the draft's most underrated player. Indianapolis is desperate for a third receiver following Brandon Stokley's exodus. The Colts can address their need to complement Joseph Addai with a Darius Walker type later on Day One.

Falling Out: Louisville RB Michael Bush (surgery for broken leg), California RB Marshawn Lynch (list of character issues, suspect speed), Florida State LB Buster Davis (admittedly a reach in Mock Draft I), Miami (FL) FS Brandon Meriweather (off-field issues, but not like Lynch ? he'll still go early in Round Two)
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#15
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Team Needs: NFC East and North Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks

The Giants are wrongly perceived as one of the most talented teams in the league. The New York spotlight and high profile players like Eli Manning, Jeremy Shockey, and Michael Strahan are primary reasons. A close look at their roster, however, reveals major question marks at nearly every position except quarterback, tight end, and defensive end.

New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has to rebuild a linebacker group from scratch around Antonio Pierce. The secondary has one quality starter in safety Gibril Wilson. The offense has poor depth at wide receiver, and will have to break in a new starting left tackle and running back.

New GM Jerry Reese should enjoy a brief grace period, but Tom Coughlin is under more pressure than any coach in the league. Unless Reese hits on a number of draft picks, the 2007 season could be a slow plank walk for Coughlin. The Giants and the rest of the NFC East and North team needs are listed below. www.eogcontests.com

www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws AFC East and North
AFC South and West

[SIZE=+1]Dallas Cowboys [/SIZE]
www.sportspickwinners.com
1. T - Flozell Adams almost lost his job during last season and is on the decline. Expecting another healthy year out of RT Marc Colombo is also risky. Dallas could draft a potential starter on the right side to groom, possibly Levi Brown if he slips.

2. DB - Ken Hamlin was signed to be the "quarterback of the defense," but his struggles in that department is why Seattle didn't re-sign him. He's too similar to Roy Williams. Drafting a cover corner to play opposite Terrence Newman could allow Anthony Henry to move to free safety.
www.fantasysportspicks.com
3. WR - This isn't a huge need, but it's the biggest one at the skill positions. Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, and Patrick Crayton are one of the best trios in football, but the starters are in their mid-thirties. We think Crayton could step up capably in a starting role.

4. LB - This group will be expecting too much from Greg Ellis, who might not be the same after rupturing his Achilles. The starters are fine overall, but the unit needs depth.
www.greenbaypackers.ws
[SIZE=+1]Philadelphia Eagles [/SIZE]

1. LB - Takeo Spikes could prove to be a nice addition, but it says a lot when he might start at any of the linebacker spots. Everything else is up in the air, although Jeremiah Trotter should be in the middle for running downs.
therx.com
2. DT - Eagles fans probably don't want to hear it, but we expect yet another pick at tackle on the first day of the draft. Montae Raegor and Mike Patterson are pass rushers, not run stoppers. Brodrick Bunkley is a mystery. This defense won't hold up against the NFC East rushing attacks without help.
therx.com
3. TE - L.J. Smith is one of the few Eagles veterans who haven't been approached for a long-term deal. He's entering his contract year, and perhaps the front office believes they can do better. They can draft a replacement to groom.

4. RB - Andy Reid says he wants to continue running the ball like the team did when Donovan McNabb was hurt. We'll believe it when we see it, but the team could use an upgrade for short-yardage situations from Correll Buckhalter.

[SIZE=+1]New York Giants [/SIZE]

1. LB - Gerris Wilkinson and Kawika Mitchell are currently slated to start on the outside, but both players could be replaced.

2. T - The offensive line is a sold unit group overall, but they may have lost their best run-blocker in Luke Petitgout. David Diehl is slated to move outside, but drafting a left tackle or guard on the first day of the draft would help.

3. DB - Sam Madison had a surprisingly good season in 2006, but over-30 cornerbacks are ticking time bombs. Corey Webster and R.W. McQuarters won't be able to keep up with the Cowboys and Eagles receivers four times a year.

3. WR - Amani Toomer was undergoing a career fade even before partially tearing his ACL last year. Too many times it was easy to forget that Toomer was even on the field in 2007, with six starts under 45 yards. Sinorice Moss has potential, but has five career catches. We like Moss, but the Giants need a first day pick at receiver. Toomer probably won't be around next year.

[SIZE=+1]Washington Redskins[/SIZE]

1. DL - Andre Carter was predictably inconsistent after coming over from the 49ers. Philip Daniels is Just a Guy and the depth here is poor at tackle like most of the roster. Washington only has one first-day pick on tap, so I look for them to trade down or draft the best lineman available.

2. WR - Brandon Lloyd cost roughly $466,00 per catch last year. Although in fairness, he did perform 23 post-catch celebrations free of charge. Antwaan Randle El is a decent slot receiver, but the Redskins need someone to compete to start.

3. CB - This is only a huge need if they trade Shawn Springs, which they may have to in order to sign a high first round pick.

[SIZE=+1]NFC North [/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Chicago Bears [/SIZE]

1. DT - Guys like Richie April get parties thrown for them when they get out of jail. Tank Johnson is going to get suspended. With Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone also moving on this offseason, Chicago needs depth in the middle.

2. OL - Jerry Angelo has pulled a rare feat the last few years. He's cobbled together an excellent offensive line almost exclusively from free agents. That doesn't mean he should rest easy. Ruben Brown and Fred Miller were drafted midway through the Clinton administration. It's time to get ready for their retirement.

3. LB - Lance Briggs has one season left in Chicago at most. Lovie Smith's system can make a star out of an average player, but this group needs talent other than Brian Urlacher.

4. RB - Adrian Peterson can be an excellent backup and third-down back, but don't be surprised if the Bears draft competition for him on day two.

[SIZE=+1]Detroit Lions [/SIZE]

1. CB - Since the Cover 2 defense doesn't value speed as others, the Lions can wait a round or two to draft some cornerbacks. But make no mistake it's a huge need with an average veteran at one spot (Fernando Bryant) and an unproven player (Stanley Wilson) across from him.

2. DE - The Lions are expecting a lot from DeWayne White, who was a part-time player in Tampa. Kalimba Edwards has been unremarkable except at the end of his 2005 contract year.

3. WR - Mike Martz loves molding diamonds in the rough, and he has two in Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald. But the reality is the three most productive receivers that have played for him (Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Roy Williams) were high draft picks. Unless Detroit can trade down, which is very difficult, they should take Calvin Johnson if he's available. He's simply the best player and perhaps better trade offers will come once they are off the clock.

[SIZE=+1]Green Bay Packers [/SIZE]

1. RB - The Packers are talking up Vernand Morency as a potential starter, but he's a committee candidate at best. Even if Morency started, the Packers have the worst depth in the league behind him. The Packers are one of the few teams who should be entirely predictable. If the Packers don't draft Marshawn Lynch with the sixteenth overall pick, they will pick up a running back in round two.

2. DT - Ryan Pickett was a nice pickup in free agency, but a young-run stuffer would solidify an underrated defensive line. Mike McCarthy's team showed surprising improvement on defense last season and has a chance to make this team a balanced squad in 2007.

3.WR - I read that the Packers are hoping this is the year Robert Ferguson steps up. His best season included only 520 yards, and that was four years ago. They should be ready to give up. Greg Jennings was a good pick last season, but the Packers could bring in competition and depth. Or Randy Moss.

[SIZE=+1]Minnesota Vikings [/SIZE]

1. WR - With all his work on the elliptical machine, Aaron Gleeman would probably have a shot to make the Minnesota roster at receiver. He'd only have to beat out the likes of Martin Nance, Randy Hymes, and Cortez Hankton in Minnesota.

Bobby Wade, who couldn't keep a roster spot on the 2005 Kyle Orton Bears, is currently the number one receiver. Billy McMullen, who was dealt for an undrafted rookie last year, may also be a "starter." There isn't a receiver worthy of the seventh overall pick, although need may force the issue. Of course that's exactly how they ended up with Troy Williamson.

2. QB - There's a decent chance Brady Quinn will be available when the Vikings are on the clock. All the local reporters are convinced that the team is genuinely secure rolling with Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger, but I can't understand that. Drafting Quinn would give a faceless offense an identity and perhaps buy a year from a restless fanbase.

3. DE - They have used a lot of high draft picks at the position, but still don't have a consistent pass rusher.

4. RB - I don't think this is a huge need, but Brad Childress has talked about pairing Chester Taylor with another runner next season. Mewelde Moore was seventh in the league among running backs in receiving yards and has a career 4.8 YPC, so he's a capable third-down back.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#16
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Draft '07: (Not So) Tight Ends
You may have heard that this year's class of tight ends is weak. It's closer to awful. Joe Klopfenstein likely would've been the best or second-best prospect on this list. He definitely would've been the second fastest. Leonard Pope, a third-round pick in 2006, would also be either 1 or 2. Jason Pociask and Quinn Sypniewski would be high. Few of the following players are likely to make instant impacts for the teams they land with, and it's possible none will. I'd recommend against drafting any of these guys after Greg Olsen and Zach Miller in your dynasty league later this offseason, and wouldn't even take Olsen or Miller until very late. Sports Betting at Eye On Gambling - Discuss Online Sportsbooks; Handicapping; and Free Picks

[SIZE=+1]1. Greg Olsen, Miami (FL)[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 55
Ht/Wt: 6-6/254
Combine: 4.51 forty, 23 reps of 225, 36-inch vertical, 9-foot-6 inch broad jump, 4.48 short shuttle
Pro Day: 37.5-inch vertical, 9-foot-11 inch broad jump, 4.41 short shuttle

Negatives: Olsen scored just once as a junior before declaring early. Neither did he stretch the field (11.7 YPC). Olsen struggled with injuries in three of his four years at The U, including his freshman season, for which he was forced to redshirt due to a shoulder injury. He is considered a "finesse" blocker and does not use his strength in that area.

Positives: A converted quarterback, Olsen is an above-average athlete with exceptional straight-line speed. He also can long snap. His hands are adequate. It's possible Olsen's best days are ahead of him.

Verdict: 6-6, 254 pounds, 4.5 speed, and one touchdown? Granted Miami's QBs were inconsistent, but the best players know how to find the end zone. There's a good chance Olsen will struggle for playing time as a rookie because he'll basically be a third wideout who won't block. Olsen is a developmental athlete who might go late in Round One but probably doesn't deserve to. eog.com

[SIZE=+1]2. Zach Miller, Arizona State[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 58
Ht/Wt: 6-4/256
Combine: 4.86 forty, 34-inch vertical, 9-foot-7 inch broad jump, 4.42 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.72 and 4.76 forties, 16 reps of 225, 4.36 short shuttle

Negatives: Miller lacks speed to stretch seams in the NFL. He needs to add bulk and strength after struggling with nagging injuries for much of his college career. Miller's blocking would likely also benefit, although he is considered pretty sound in that area.

Positives: He caught 50 passes, four for scores, as a junior despite then-coach Dirk Koetter going with diminutive scrambler Rudy Carpenter over big-armed Sam Keller at QB. Miller is a willing blocker and possesses adequate athleticism. He has elite hands.

Verdict: His size, skill set, and injury history are quite similar to those of Eric Johnson, an average starter in the league when healthy. Miller could be an asset in a two-tight end system but is highly unlikely to ever be a Pro Bowler like Todd Heap, with whom some have favorably compared him. He likely does have a better shot to make an immediate impact than Olsen.
www.fantasysportspicks.com
[SIZE=+1]3. Scott Chandler, Iowa[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 126
Ht/Wt: 6-7/270
Combine: 4.87 forty, 16 reps of 225, 30-inch vertical, 9-foot-3 inch broad jump, 4.32 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.87 and 4.90 forties, 17 reps of 225, 32-inch vertical, 4.22 short shuttle

Negatives: Chandler, who will be 21 when drafted, is underdeveloped physically. A converted wideout, his body type and on-field mentality both resemble his former position. Chandler is not considered a good blocker but does possess growth potential in that area. He lacks ideal speed and will not be a seam stretcher in the NFL.

Positives: Chandler scored on six of his 46 receptions as a senior and averaged a healthy 12.8 yards-per-catch. He didn't start until his junior year but was highly productive when his role increased. Chandler has great size and long arms. He is sure handed.

Verdict: Chandler is unlikely to be a starter in the NFL but could contribute as a pass-catching backup. If he improves as a blocker, he could be the "lead" tight end in a rotation. He's a third- to fourth-round prospect.
www.sportspickwinners.com
[SIZE=+1]4. Matt Spaeth, Minnesota[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 139
Ht/Wt: 6-7/262
Combine: injured
Pro Day: 4.86 and 4.87 forties, 33.5-inch vertical, 9-foot-11 inch broad jump, 4.45 short shuttle

Negatives: Spaeth is slow. He is coming off a senior season that was cut two games short by a separated shoulder. Spaeth stretched the field in college but won't in the pros.

Positives: Spaeth started all four years at Minnesota, where he broke Ben Utecht's school record for receptions by a tight end. He has outstanding size, reliable hands, and will make the tough grab in traffic. Spaeth gives great effort as a run blocker. He has great character and work ethic.

Verdict: Spaeth should have a long NFL career because he'll be good in the locker room, has well-rounded skills, and is reliable. But he won't be much of a threat in the passing game. Spaeth is a middle-round prospect with little upside. www.therx.ws www.therx.info

[SIZE=+1]5. Ben Patrick, Delaware[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 162
Ht/Wt: 6-3/252
Combine: 4.76 forty, 35-inch vertical, 9-foot-3 inch broad jump, 4.31 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.75 forty

Negatives: Patrick lacks ideal size and speed and doesn't have much upside because of it. He is a bit of a plodder.

Positives: Patrick caught 64 passes and scored six touchdowns as a senior at D-IAA Delaware after transferring from Duke. He is a good all-around athlete and a willing blocker. Beginning with the Senior Bowl, Patrick has enjoyed an impressive postseason.

Verdict: Patrick will have a career as a utility H-back type in the Kris Wilson mold. He could also contribute some on special teams.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
[SIZE=+1]6. Michael Allan, Whitworth[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 175
Ht/Wt: 6-6/255
Combine: 4.71 forty, 19 reps of 225, 36-inch vertical, 10-foot-3 inch broad jump, 4.52 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.38 short shuttle

Negatives: Allan faces quite a transition period as he makes the jump from D-III ball to the NFL. Another wide receiver convert, Allan isn't prepared to block 270-pound defensive ends and outside linebackers.

Positives: Allan is the second-fastest tight end in his year's class, though that is saying very little. Still, he's a tremendously gifted athlete for his size. Allan caught 53 passes and averaged an impressive 20.8 yards-per-catch for Whitworth as a senior. He also scored nine times.

Verdict: Allan could go early on Day Two because he does possess a good deal of upside as a developmental pass catcher. He will still likely have trouble getting on the field as a rookie and could bounce around early in his career.

[SIZE=+1]7. Joe Newton, Oregon State[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 184
Ht/Wt: 6-7/257
Combine: 4.92 forty, 20 reps of 225, 31-inch vertical, 9-foot-1 inch broad jump, 4.57 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.76 forty, 4.38 short shuttle

Negatives: It may have been better before Newton broke his leg on the first day of Beavers fall practice in 2005, causing him to redshirt as a junior, but his speed is lineman-esque. He isn't a threat after the catch. Newton also has a history of shoulder troubles.

Positives: Newton returned from the injury to catch 36 passes last season He averaged 12.9 yards-per-reception and broke Tim Euhus' school record for TDs by a tight end. Newton is a threat in the red zone. He's considered a sound fundamental blocker, though not dominating.

Verdict: Newton is relatively strong and should be a factor in two-tight end sets eventually but due to his speed, lacks upside to be better than a second or third tight end. His career can be considered a success if it mirrors Robert Royal's.

[SIZE=+1]8. Martrez Milner, Georgia[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 188
Ht/Wt: 6-4/252
Combine: 4.82 forty, 19 reps of 225, 34-inch vertical, 9-foot-9 inch broad jump, 4.49 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.67 and 4.75 forties, 19 reps of 225, 34.5-inch vertical, 9-foot-7 inch broad jump

Negatives: After sitting behind Leonard Pope until 2006, Milner blew it when he got his chance. He was benched in October after dropping three passes in a close loss to Florida and finished the season with only 30 catches and three scores. When he was on the field in college, Milner stretched the field but lacks speed to do so in the NFL. He also is not considered an effective blocker and is a "body catcher."

Positives: Milner is an above average athlete with some potential. He comes from a school that has produced a long line of quality NFL tight ends (we're digging here).

Verdict: Milner could be a backup type down the road if he gets a good tight ends coach who's willing to be patient with him but also could easily be out of the league before his first rookie contract is up.

[SIZE=+1]9. Clark Harris, Rutgers[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 192
Ht/Wt: 6-5/261
Combine: 4.83 forty, 21 reps of 225, 32-inch vertical, 9-foot-4 inch broad jump, 4.40 short shuttle
Pro Day: 4.78 and 4.79 forties, 33.5-inch vertical, 9-foot-3 inch broad jump, 4.34 short shuttle

Negatives: Harris thinks he's better than he is. He is a poor blocker despite possessing the natural skills to be effective in that area. Harris also is somewhat of a head case, and tends to lose focus when he drops a pass.

Positives: He has some versatility and can long snap. Harris was a first-team All-Big East performer his final three seasons at Rutgers. He's been durable since early in his college career.

Verdict: From our last post under Jeremy Shockey:

Clark Harris of Rutgers told the New York Daily News that the Giants are looking at tight ends like him because "they're unsure what Shockey's deal is."
After some research, a team spokesman had to tell the Daily News that Jeremy Shockey's ankle is fine. Harris had a reputation for a big mouth as a Scarlet Knight and let the cat out of the Giants' bag on this one.

Harris just seems like a weird guy and isn't very talented. He'll be backing someone up as long as he lasts in the NFL.

[SIZE=+1]10. Jonny Harline, BYU[/SIZE]

Overall Rank: 216
Ht/Wt: 6-4/248
Combine: 4.86 forty, 15 reps of 225, 29-inch vertical
Pro Day: 4.64 and 4.91 forties, 17 reps of 225, 32.5-inch vertical, 9-foot-1 inch broad jump, 4.69 short shuttle

Negatives: Harline is undersized and not considered much of a blocker. He is slow and not a very good athlete. A JUCO transfer, Harline will turn 25 during his rookie season.

Positives: Harline has soft hands, is an instinctive pass catcher, and knows how to get open. He caught 58 passes, scored 12 times, and averaged over 16 yards-per-catch as a senior.

Verdict: Harline is an H-back prospect who was a very good college player. He won't have near as much success in the NFL, and will likely be a late-round pick or undrafted free agent.

11. Cody Boyd, Washington State - 6-8/250?frequently injured in college?good hands, speed?played some college hoops?poor blocker

12. Kevin Boss, Western Oregon - 6-7/255?four-year college starter?ended senior year with shoulder injury?4.78 forty, good quickness

13. Donte Rosario, Oregon - 6-3/240? willing special teamer?converted fullback?H-back type?good hands, strength?4.76 forty

14. Matt Herian, Nebraska ? 6-4/245?sluggish week at E-W Shrine?.only 12 catches in '06?rising prospect before breaking leg in October '04

15. Samuel Smith, Florida International - 6-2/245?big hands?four-year starter?very developmental?questionable blocker?lacks speed

Others: Derek Schouman (Boise State), Tyler Ecker (Michigan), Gijon Robinson (Missouri Western), Jake Nordin (Northern Illinois), Daniel Coats (BYU), Chad Upshaw (Buffalo), Rudy Sylvan (Ohio), Anthony Pudewell (Ohio), Brent Celek (Cincinnati)
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#17
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Team Needs: NFC West and South

I think I'll go crazy if I hear that Central Michigan OT Joe Staley's stock is rising again. He will likely be a solid starting left tackle for years, but his stock isn't rising. It may have gotten a slight bump when coaches and GMs saw him run a 4.82 forty live at his March 15 Pro Day (he was actually expected to run faster). But pro scouts have been following Staley for the last three seasons and know what he can do. Staley has a good shot at the first round, but his stock didn't just jump off the charts because some goofball with shiny hair who talks fast and never played football said it did.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws www.therx.info www.therx.ws
www.eog.com
Now to the needs?

Three NFC West teams have improved themselves with strong offseasons. St. Louis avoided a sub-par defensive free agent pool and addressed its offensive holes with proven veterans. The Cardinals added by subtracting Dennis Green and most of his staff. Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, and Todd Haley will put Arizona in better position to win.

The Niners lost offensive guru Norv Turner to San Diego, but it shouldn't have the adverse affect some anticipate. Turner left his offense behind and in the hands of up-and-comer Jim Hostler. At first glance, San Francisco may have overpaid for Nate Clements and Michael Lewis. But both signed backloaded deals that will be easy to get out of when the players pass their primes. Because of their abundance of young talent on offense and new faces on defense, the 49ers should improve on both sides of the ball.

The NFC South is in less flux, as no team had much cap room to work with. Carolina brought in David Carr, Atlanta Joe Horn, and New Orleans added a few new cogs on defense. Tampa has the fourth overall pick and figures to land an impact player. The Bucs also may be poised to deal CB Brian Kelly and/or DE Simeon Rice on draft day.

Gregg Rosenthal's outlining of the rest of the NFL's team-by-team needs is here:

NFC East and North
AFC East and North
AFC South and West

[SIZE=+1]Cardinals[/SIZE]

1. NT The only player on the Cards' current roster capable of playing nose in the 3-4 is unproven 2006 fourth-round pick Gabe Watson. Kendrick Clancy could help in a rotation but showed in 2006 he's barely an every-down answer in the 4-3. Arizona should take at long look at Michigan's Alan Branch with the No. 5 pick. Branch may have a minor red flag due to stress fractures, but players like him are near impossible to find.

2. LB The Cardinals have at least temporarily moved Karlos Dansby inside in their new-look defense. But the transition mortgages Dansby's ability to get to the passer. Darryl Blackstock looked like a keeper coming out of Virginia but has done little as a pro. If Arizona doesn't grab Branch, Ole Miss' Patrick Willis should be considered. It's pertinent that the Cardinals draft multiple players equipped for the 3-4.

3. OT The need for a "true left tackle" in Arizona has been overblown by the media. Matt Leinart is a southpaw. If the Cards take Joe Thomas at No. 5, he'd likely move to the right side, a position he never played at Wisconsin. Penn State's Levi Brown played one game at right tackle in college. Arizona needs talent here, but Grimm has long preferred middle-round project linemen.

4. RB The new staff has a fondness for Marcel Shipp but he's not a homerun threat. J.J. Arrington could be, but also could be cut in training camp. Antonio Pittman (Ohio State) and Lorenzo Booker (Florida State) are second- and third-round prospects, respectively, who could ease the burden on aging Edgerrin James.

[SIZE=+1]49ers[/SIZE]

1. WR San Francisco is lucky this is a deep year for wideouts because two third-receiver types are currently penciled in as starters. Tennessee's Robert Meachem has a similar skill set to Ashley Lelie but is the odds-on favorite to land in the Bay Area if the 49ers do elect to reach for a wideout in Round One.

2. OL Those close to the organization believe the Niners won't pass on Levi Brown if he's there at 11, and that makes sense considering how unreliable LT Jonas Jennings has been. Depth is also needed inside, where Justin Smiley is in the final season of his deal, and at right tackle, where Kwame Harris too enters a contract year.

3. DL San Francisco added high-effort big body Aubrayo Franklin to push enigmatic Isaac Sopoaga on the nose. The Niners could use another competitor there like Michigan's Branch, though they're not believed to be high on him. But with Bryant Young and Marques Douglas entering contract years, the most help is needed outside. Adam Carriker and Jamaal Anderson will be first-round considerations.

4. OLB The Niners missed out on Adalius Thomas and were forced to settle for Tully Banta-Cain, who was a rotational player at best in New England. 2006 fifth-round pick Parys Haralson is promising but unproven. This probably won't be a position the Niners address at No. 11, but prospects like Jarvis Moss (Florida), Stewart Bradley (Nebraska), and Zak DeOssie (Brown) project to be available in Rounds 2-4.

[SIZE=+1]Seahawks[/SIZE]

1. LB Seattle has a good starting trio in place, but then there's a severe drop off. The 'Hawks should use a middle-round pick on a linebacker who can initially help on special teams. Florida's Brandon Siler comes to mind.

2. TE The Seahawks expect Marcus Pollard to catch 40-50 passes this season. Pollard is 35. Also in the middle rounds, a developmental tight end like Scott Chandler (Iowa) would make sense. This position is vital in Mike Holmgren's West Coast offense.

3. DL Chartric Darby enters a contract year and Marcus Tubbs is rehabbing from microfracture surgery, but is said to be ahead of schedule. Still, Seattle should take a flier on a run-stuffing 4-3 nose if it gets the chance with a mid- to late-round selection.

4. RB Maurice Morris showed last season that he won't be the long-term solution once Shaun Alexander officially breaks down. A back with all-down skills like Rutgers' Brian Leonard (if he falls) would be a solid pick at No. 55.

[SIZE=+1]Rams[/SIZE]

1. NT If St. Louis doesn't ship its second-rounder to Carolina for Kris Jenkins, it appears the Rams will address this spot in Round One. Branch and Amobi Okoye (who could grow into a nose) will be considered if available. The Rams must avoid reaching for a useful yet one-dimensional player like Justin Harrell (Tennessee) at No. 13.

2. RB Steven Jackson is one of the NFL's most durable backs and has mastered the art of avoiding big hits, but the Rams have only special teamer Travis Minor and practice squad types Kay-Jay Harris and John David Washington behind him. Michael Bush and Tony Hunt, who have similar skills to Jackson, are third-round options.

3. WR This will probably be Isaac Bruce's final season in horns and Scott Linehan wants an eventual replacement. Drew Bennett is likely the Rams' slot receiver, now and for the future. There are numerous wideouts worthy of St. Louis' late second-round choice, including LSU's Craig Davis and Washington State's Jason Hill.

4. LB This isn't a pressing need after the Chris Draft signing, but the Rams could use depth in case Samoan superman Pisa Tinoisamoa breaks and dislocates every bone in his upper body again. The Rams love speed 'backers and Mississippi's Rory Johnson, a player with tremendous upside, could be available early on Day Two.

[SIZE=+1]Falcons[/SIZE]

1. FS The Falcons didn't make this position enough of a priority last offseason when they should have. Chris Crocker isn't a cover safety and will be asked to rotate with aging Lawyer Milloy in 2007. The current disaster area at free safety would be filled perfectly by LaRon Landry, who might be available at No. 8.

2. DL Following the departure of Patrick Kerney and Grady Jackson's potentially imminent release, the Falcons could be left with two gaping holes here. A solid class of ends might allow them to be patient until Rounds Two or Three. The interior-tackle class is far less rich.

3. RB With Atlanta gearing its running game for power, a tailback not named Jerious Norwood or Warrick Dunn will likely be the team's starter by 2008 at the latest. That means if Adrian Peterson slides to the Falcons, the team would be hard pressed to pass him over. Or Atlanta could tab Bobby Petrino's back at Louisville, Michael Bush, a little later on.

4. OL This wouldn't appear a great need on paper, as the Falcons are near or at the top of the NFL ranks in rushing every season. But Petrino is getting rid of Atlanta's smallish, zone-blocking type linemen and replacing them with bigguns. A punishing guard like Texas' Justin Blalock could be of interest in the second round.

[SIZE=+1]Panthers[/SIZE]

1. SS Carolina will draft multiple safeties to upgrade an uninspiring group that includes Nate Salley, Deke Cooper, and soon-to-retire Mike Minter. Aaron Rouse (Virginia Tech), John Wendling (Wyoming), and Sabby Piscatelli (Oregon State) are intriguing second- or third-round possibilities.

2. LT Incumbent blindsider Travelle Wharton is coming off a torn ACL and entering a contract year. He would likely benefit from kicking inside and blocking in a smaller area. If Penn State's Brown is available at No. 14, this should be a no-brainer for the Panthers. The zone-blocking scheme they're implementing requires athletic and agile linemen like Brown.

3. FRONT SEVEN Neither Dan Morgan (concussions) nor Mike Rucker (torn ACL) can be relied on for 16 games. The Panthers are high on raw but athletic youngster Stanley McClover, but he's not ready to play every down. Carolina has so many needs that a Kris Jenkins draft-day trade seems unavoidable.

4. WR The Panthers need someone to challenge Drew Carter for the third-wideout spot and possibly replace 34-year-old Keyshawn Johnson in 2008. Carolina may be in the market for a pass-catching tight end but hasn't made an honest effort to upgrade that position before, and gave Michael Gaines a high tender.

[SIZE=+1]Saints[/SIZE]

1. CB The Saints helped themselves by nabbing Jason David from Indianapolis and have a good nickel in place in Jason Craft. But Craft and holdover Fred Thomas are both over 30 and the physical-yet-slow David could struggle initially as he transitions to more press coverage. An early pick here still makes sense.

2. WR Terrance Copper and Devery Henderson are both due for unrestricted free agency in 2008 and Marques Colston can't do it all alone. The Saints should be jockeying for a speed threat with good hands (unlike Henderson). West Virginia's Brandon Myles and ECU's Aundrae Allison fit the bill.

3. RB New Orleans won't be able to keep paying Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. I'm guessing Deuce is gone in 2008. Aaron Stecker is in a contract year in 2007. A mid- to late-round flier on a bigger back like DeShawn Wynn (Florida) makes sense for the Saints.

4. QB 37-year-old Jaime Martin's deal expires in 2008 and ex-Oregon backup Jason Fife is the only other QB on the roster. A late-rounder like Jared Zabransky (Boise State), Matt Moore (Oregon State), or even Troy Smith's backup Justin Zwick would be a QB for Sean Payton to develop.

[SIZE=+1]Buccaneers[/SIZE]

1. DE The defense Tampa Bay runs requires pressure from its front four. The whole scheme is predicated on it. Simeon Rice is breaking down physically and Greg Spires' production is way down. The Bucs must use a high pick on someone who can get to the passer, and Gaines Adams could be the answer if he falls to No. 4.

2. FS Will Allen didn't get the job done in his first season starting and Tampa didn't add to this position in free agency. Allen and SS Jermaine Phillips' tackling was scrutinized throughout 2006. If the Bucs are going to improve against the run, they need someone who can lay hits and wrap up.

3. MLB Finally, 2005 second-round pick Barrett Ruud is getting his shot. The Bucs have apparently decided he's ready to start and released Shelton Quarles. But in the NFL, you don't just hand off starting jobs. Tampa should take an athletic middle linebacker somewhere over the weekend to provide Ruud a degree of competition.

4. CB Brian Kelly could easily be shipped out on draft day, and the Bucs have only Phillip Buchanon and burnable 33-year-old Juran Bolden behind him. Cover 2 teams don't normally have trouble finding potential starters after the first round, so the Bucs could use a second- or third-round pick on a Daymeion Hughes type.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#18
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Dynasty Rookie Rankings
With the NFL Draft in the books, Dynasty/Keeper leagues across the country are ready to hold their rookie drafts. Here is how Rotoworld ranks the 2007 class in dynasty leagues. Keep in mind this is a value for a player's career, not just 2007. And for the record, we'd take Calvin Johnson first overall if you get points-per-reception.

Quarterbacks

1. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland
2. Brady Quinn, Browns
3. Drew Stanton, Lions
4. John Beck, Dolphins
5. Kevin Kolb, Eagles
6. Troy Smith, Ravens
7. Trent Edwards, Bills
8. Jordan Palmer, Redskins

Running Backs

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
3. Brandon Jackson, Packers
4. Kenny Irons, Bengals
5. Chris Henry, Titans
6. Michael Bush, Raiders
7. Tony Hunt, Eagles
8. Brian Leonard, Rams
9. Antonio Pittman, Saints
10. Lorenzo Booker, Dolphins
11. Kolby Smith, Chiefs
12. Dwayne Wright, Bills
13. Jason Snelling, Falcons
14. Garrett Wolfe, Bears
15. DeShawn Wynn, Packers
16. Thomas Clayton, 49ers

Wide Receivers

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions
2. Robert Meachem, Saints
3. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
4. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
5. Ted Ginn Jr., Dolphins
6. Sidney Rice, Vikings
7. Jacoby Jones, Texans
8. Steve Smith, Giants
9. Craig Davis, Chargers
10. Jason Hill, 49ers
11. Dwayne Jarrett, Panthers
12. Roy Hall, Colts
13. Mike Walker, Jaguars
14. Paul Williams, Titans
15. Laurent Robinson, Falcons
16. James Jones, Packers
17. Aundrae Allison, Vikings
18. David Clowney, Packers

Tight Ends

1. Zach Miller, Raiders
2. Greg Olsen, Bears
3. Ben Patrick, Cardinals
4. Joe Newton, Seahawks
5. Brent Celek, Eagles
6. Clark Harris, Packers
7. Kevin Boss, Giants
8. Michael Allan, Chiefs
9. Scott Chandler, Chargers
10. Martrez Milner, Falcons
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#19
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Draft Grades: NFC East
It's true that drafts shouldn't be judged until three years down the road, so these team-by-team analyses are just for fun. Gregg Rosenthal will be back this weekend to inject some energy into Rotoworld's NFL page with his blog and columns. If you didn't know, he's been getting married and honeymooning in California for the past week.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
[SIZE=+1]Cowboys[/SIZE]

1. (26) Purdue DE Anthony Spencer
Ht/Wt: 6-3/261
40: 4.7
Comment: Spencer showed he is a big-time hitter with a five forced fumbles and an NCAA-high 26.5 tackles for loss as a senior. I liked him a little more as a base 4-3 end, but if Wade Phillips thinks he can play outside linebacker, it's likely he can. Spencer was an easy first-round value and should instantly start over aging and rehabbing Greg Ellis.

Grade: A+

2. (67) Boston College OT James Marten
Ht/Wt: 6-8/315
40: 5.08
Comment: After starting 38 straight games at B.C., Marten skyrocketed up draft boards with his postseason workouts, showing the athleticism required to be a left tackle in the league. Marten needs to add strength but has a year to do it as he studies behind Flozell Adams. An upside pick, Marten won't help immediately but figures to start in 2008.

Grade: B+
www.eog.com
4. (103) Washington QB Isaiah Stanback
Ht/Wt: 6-2/216
40: 4.58
Comment: With Ken Hamlin on a one-year deal, Dallas must be confident that Pat Watkins will evolve into a capable starter to avoid taking a cover safety at all. Stanback is a fun project but won't be available until training camp due to a Lisfranc sprain. It's possible he'll be cut and re-signed to the practice squad if the Cowboys can sneak him through waivers.

Grade: D+

4. (122) Northern Illinois OT Doug Free
Ht/Wt: 6-6/324
40: 5.22
Comment: Free was an athletic, high-motor college left tackle who projects at right tackle in the pros. Marc Colombo is only signed through 2008, so Free and Pat McQuistan will battle to be his eventual successor. While Free won't help for a while, this was a good place to snag him and the pick should fill a need down the road.

Grade: A-

6. (178) Arizona State K Nick Folk
Ht/Wt: 6-1/225
40: 4.95
Comment: Folk, a punter-placekicker for the Sun Devils, will push Martin Gramatica for his starting job but is more likely being counted on as a kickoff specialist. Gramatica did only have one touchback in eight games last season but you normally can find players like Folk after the draft. He missed four field-goal tries in the 40-49 range as a senior.

Grade: D

6. (195) Connecticut FB Deon Anderson
Ht/Wt: 5-11/243
40: 4.73
Comment: Anderson's desire was questioned when he sat out the entire 2005 season for undisclosed reasons, but he has the body and mentality to make an impact as a rookie starter. He also has soft hands and can carry the football in a pinch. This was a fine spot to take a flier on one of the draft's top fullback prospects.

Grade: B

7. (212) Cal Poly CB Courtney Brown
Ht/Wt: 6-1/205
40: 4.32
Comment: Brown has a tremendous size-speed combo and was one of the draft's quicker corners, but comes from a very small school and isn't overly experienced as a converted wideout. He does have more upside than holdover sub-package corners Jacques Reeves and Nathan Jones. Brown was worth a late pick like this and will vie for a roster spot.

Grade: B

7. (237) Illinois CB Alan Ball
Ht/Wt: 6-1/175
40: 4.52
Comment: Having started 34 games for the Illini, Ball is much more experienced than Brown but lacks his playmaking potential and isn't as impressive athletically. He is a more willing tackler, however, and projects to produce on special teams if he makes the Cowboys out of training camp. With some coaching up, Ball could evolve into an adequate nickel corner.

Grade: B-

Overall: This was a quality draft, but using a high fourth-round pick on an injured QB who will convert to wide receiver is a substantial stretch. The Cowboys also didn't draft a true wideout, which is either a vote of confidence for Miles Austin and Sam Hurd or a mistake, as Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are both over 30 and Patrick Crayton is in a contract year. The Cowboys did O.K. but could have done better.

Overall Grade: B-
www.sportspickwinners.com
[SIZE=+1]Giants[/SIZE]

1. (20) Texas CB Aaron Ross
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/192
40: 4.44
Comment: The only thing I don't love about Ross is that he'll be 25 in September (most first-year players are two or three years younger). But the Giants need instant corner help and competition for Sinorice Moss on returns to replace Chad Morton. Ross was a good enough value here and will upgrade New York's pass defense as a rookie starter.

Grade: B+

2. (51) Southern Cal WR Steve Smith
Ht/Wt: 6-0/197
40: 4.45
Comment: While he's not a vertical threat, Smith has good underneath skills as a speed-possession receiver. He is sure handed and exceptionally hard working. Smith can play outside and will immediately push Amani Toomer for the starting job opposite Plaxico Burress. It can be argued that Smith was the best player available at No. 51 overall.

Grade: A-

3. (81) Penn State DT Jay Alford
Ht/Wt: 6-3/304
40: 5.17
Comment: His forty doesn't show it, but Alford is an explosive gap shooter. A four-year college starter, he led PSU in sacks with eight as a senior. It's debatable whether Alford is a first-day talent but the Jints are unproven behind Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins and Alford can be an efficient third tackle. He could easily make William Joseph expendable.

Grade: B-

4. (116) Brown LB Zak DeOssie
Ht/Wt: 6-4.5/250
40: 4.58
Comment: A freakish and smart athlete, DeOssie was one of the most interesting players in this year's class and a fine pick here. He will challenge Ryan Kuehl to long snap as a rookie and should eventually evolve into a starter on the strong side, allowing Mathias Kiwanuka to return to defensive end once Michael Strahan is injured again or retires.

Grade: A

5. (153) Western Oregon TE Kevin Boss
Ht/Wt: 6-6.5/252
40: 4.78
Comment: Boss is no sure thing to make it in the pros but his size-athleticism combo made him worth a flier. He posted the best time in the three-cone drill at the Combine and played hoops for three years in college. It would've been nice to get a project like Boss a little later on, but he has a chance to back up Jeremy Shockey as a rookie.

Grade: C+

6. (189) Oregon State OT Adam Koets
Ht/Wt: 6-6/294
40: 5.08
Comment: Koets has good athleticism and started an impressive 37 straight games at left tackle for the Beavers. He isn't a candidate to join the Guy Whimper-David Diehl battle but will likely make it in the pros as a third or fourth guard or tackle. Koets' upside is as an overachieving right tackle, but he'd need to add quite a bit of strength.

Grade: B-

7. (224) Arizona SS Michael Johnson
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/205
40: 4.66
Comment: An aggressive in-the-box type, Johnson fell to the seventh round due to poor postseason workouts. He isn't a captivating playmaker but will at worst help on special teams early in his career. Johnson has a good chance to make the team as a rookie.

Grade: A

7. (250) Marshall RB Ahmad Bradshaw
Ht/Wt: 5-9.5/198
40: 4.55
Comment: Marshall declared for the draft early after amassing 1523 rushing yards and 21 all-purpose TDs as a true junior. Because he's so small, his forty time was disappointing. Bradshaw is a candidate for the practice squad and probably not being counted on to make the club initially.

Grade: C-

Overall: The Giants didn't draft immediate help at linebacker as many expected, but knew Kiwanuka would be moving to the strong side and addressed their laundry list of needs elsewhere. No pick was an obvious reach, Smith and Ross will see the field plenty in their first years, and Johnson and DeOssie are candidates to start down the road. This draft was strong top to bottom.

Overall Grade: B+

[SIZE=+1]Eagles[/SIZE]
www.therx.ws
2. (36) Houston QB Kevin Kolb
Ht/Wt: 6-3/218
40: 4.83
Comment: Moving down to let Dallas get Spencer is questionable, but the most debatable decision was the Eagles taking a player who isn't NFL-ready with their top pick. Kolb's intangibles are impressive and he'll eventually be a solid starter, but faces a massive transition period while learning the West Coast offense after playing in a shotgun-heavy college spread. He shouldn't need to get on the field as a rookie with Donovan McNabb in front of him, but Philly will be forced to sign a veteran if McNabb suffers a setback in his rehab.

Grade: C

2. (57) Notre Dame DE Victor Abiamiri
Ht/Wt: 6-4/267
40: 4.80
Comment: Abiamiri's motor ran hot and cold and he tended to vanish throughout his college career. He had ten sacks as senior but none in the final four games and followed that with weak pre-draft workouts. Philly also has a lot of money tied up in four players ahead of him. The pick would've at least made some sense had Juqua Thomas left in free agency.

Grade: D+

3. (87) Nebraska LB Stewart Bradley
Ht/Wt: 6-4/254
40: 4.69
Comment: Explosive, relentless, and heady, Bradley fell to the third round because of a 2005 knee injury. But he returned to lead the Blackshirts with 76 tackles and fell on four fumbles as a senior. It's not easy to get a potential starting strong-side linebacker in the third round. Bradley, who will immediately push Chris Gocong, was quite a find here.

Grade: A+

3. (90) Penn State RB Tony Hunt
Ht/Wt: 6-2/233
40: 4.68
Comment: Hunt likely lacks the speed and quick-twitch athleticism to be an NFL starter, so he arrives in a perfect situation behind Brian Westbrook. He'll make Correll Buckhalter cuttable either this year or next and will be a threat to Westbrook's goal-line carries but adds a new dimension to an offense set to rely more heavily on the run game.

Grade: A

5. (159) Clemson CB C.J. Gaddis
Ht/Wt: 5-11.5/203
40: 4.45
Comment: An early entrant and 20th round pick by the Mariners in 2003, Gaddis is raw but has a high roof because he's a phenomenal athlete. Gaddis is also versatile, as he started at both corner and safety in college and returned punts and kicks. He'll learn behind Brian Dawkins and possibly take over in 2009. This was a terrific spot to land Gaddis.

Grade: A

5. (162) Cincinnati TE Brent Celek
Ht/Wt: 6-4/261
40: 4.75
Comment: Maybe the Iggles wanted to balance out their overall team athleticism by drafting Celek after Gaddis. L.J. Smith is entering a contract year and a possible heir was needed but Celek is highly unlikely to be the answer. An H-back type with marginal computer numbers, he's a long shot to beat out Matt Schobel to back Smith up.

Grade: C-

6. (201) Albany CB Rashad Barksdale
Ht/Wt: 6-2/210
40: 4.46
Comment: A true project, Barksdale was once a much better baseball prospect than he was for the pigskin sport. He has an intriguing skill set and can also play safety, but will need to be focused on football to last longer than a season or two in the NFL. Barksdale admitted after the draft that he didn't expect to be selected, so we're on the same page.

Grade: C-

7. (236) Hawaii RB Nate Ilaoa
Ht/Wt: 5-9/245
40: 4.78
Comment: After getting Hunt in the third, Ilaoa was a wildcard pick this late. The former college wideout has great hands and was extremely productive in UH's pinball offense, but lacks close to ideal measurables. While he'll likely begin his career on a practice squad, Ilaoa does have some potential as a change-of-pace back in a West Coast offense.

Grade: B

Overall: The Eagles didn't exactly adhere to the "best player available" strategy with the Kolb, Celek, and Barksdale picks, but did draft some interesting players. With a good-looking and deep roster, the team felt it could afford a few gambles. Still, the Abiamiri pick hurts the Eagles' overall grade and Bradley, Hunt, and Gaddis aren't enough to overcome using premium picks on players who are so unlikely to contribute right away.

Overall Grade: C

[SIZE=+1]Redskins[/SIZE]
www.greenbaypackers.ws
1. (6) LSU S LaRon Landry
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/213
40: 4.35
Comment: Landry was the best defensive player in the draft and will form the NFL's most imposing safety duo with Sean Taylor. But the 'Skins placed most of the blame for their poor 2006 defense on the secondary. By passing on Amobi Okoye, they're taking a considerable gamble that Cornelius Griffin, 30, can recapture his once-dominant form.

Grade: B+

5. (143) USC LB Dallas Sartz
Ht/Wt: 6-5/235
40: 4.7
Comment: Sartz likely isn't physical enough to ever be a starter but knows how to play multiple positions and projects as a core special teamer. He was productive as a Trojan and brings a good attitude and work ethic. If Sartz fills out, he could evolve into Marcus Washington's top backup on the strong side and help out on nickel downs.

Grade: B-

6. (179) Pittsburgh LB H.B. Blades
Ht/Wt: 5-11/236
40: 4.72
Comment: The Redskins did well to put Blades in an ideal spot behind London Fletcher, a player he was often compared to as a super-productive Pitt Panther. While his initial contribution will come strictly on special teams, the instinctive Blades could grow into a viable spot starter as he learns his assignments in Gregg Williams' complex defense.

Grade: A-

6. (205) UTEP QB Jordan Palmer
Ht/Wt: 6-5.5/231
40: 4.95
Comment: It's always a positive when you remove Todd Collins from your roster, which is what Washington essentially did by drafting Palmer to fill the emergency role behind Jason Campbell and Mark Brunell. Palmer has a live arm but needs to work on limiting his mistakes. Al Saunders will be all over him in Redskins camp the next few years.

Grade: B+
www.newyorkgiants.ws
7. (216) Michigan TE Tyler Ecker
Ht/Wt: 6-6/246
40: 4.92
Comment: Ecker was a prized recruit coming to the Wolverines but never fulfilled his promise. He frequently struggled with injuries, didn't improve as an athlete, and still isn't an efficient blocker. He's unlikely to contribute in the NFL.

Grade: F

Overall: The 'Skins didn't have many draft picks and gave them up frivolously, but we won't penalize them for it; they've already penalized themselves enough. With what they had, they did do pretty well until the Ecker bomb. This won't ever be considered a "great draft" by any means, but Washington was efficient and succeeded by landing the best player on the board with the No. 6 overall pick.

Overall Grade: B-
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#20
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Damage Control
The NFL Draft may be a time of hope for fans, but it's pure misery for NFL veterans. Every rookie dream realized is a threat to someone else's job.

Somewhere in Minnesota a few weeks ago, Chester Taylor got a text message about Adrian Peterson and he threw something against the wall. Or at least his fantasy owners did. Okay, I did. Should have dealt him while I could.

Taylor and 19 others comprise Rotoworld's list of the 20 most negatively affected fantasy players following the NFL draft. Since we're in a good mood, there is also a bonus list of five veterans like Deuce McAllister and Rudi Johnson whose keeper league value took a hit.

[SIZE=+1]The Big Guns[/SIZE]

1. Chester Taylor, Vikings RB

No-frills running backs projected to earn 350 touches are worth an awful lot in fantasy leagues. Taylor is no longer one of those guys. Now he's projected to earn 175-200 if he's lucky, making him only an intriguing fantasy reserve. The wild card here is Adrian Peterson's collarbone.

Taylor may continue to start even if Peterson is healthy, albeit in a Dominic Rhodes sort of way. Any surgery on Peterson's collarbone would make Taylor highly useful for 2007. He should evolve into a traditional backup in the future, but still has considerable value for now.

Damage: Top-30 pick to middle-round RB3

2. LenDale White, Titans RB

It could have been worse. Michael Turner nearly got sent to Tennessee. Instead, Body by LenDale will face untested second-round pick Chris Henry out of Arizona for the starting job. Henry has a decent chance to win out if White doesn't improve his attitude, but we still see the talented USC product as the favorite.

Damage: Third-round grade to fifth-round grade

3 & 4. LaMont Jordan & Dominic Rhodes, Raiders RB

The Oakland backfield is now a quagmire. We liked Lamont Jordan as a buy-low candidate until the Raiders selected Michael Bush at the top of the fourth round. Bush's broken leg has been slow to heal, so he may miss the start of the season.

By the time Bush returns, the Raiders may be far enough out of contention to go with a full youth movement. Jordan still has dynasty league value, but he needs a fast start to ensure a future as a starter.

Damage: Jordan: third-round grade to fifth-round grade. Rhodes: late-round pick to flier

[SIZE=+1]Falling Receivers[/SIZE]

5. Devery Henderson, Saints WR

What a strange career. Henderson has only caught 54 passes in three NFL seasons, but he was poised to explode in Sean Payton's offense after averaging 23.3 ridiculous yards-per-catch last season. The Saints drafted a very similar player to Henderson in Tennessee speedster Robert Meachem, possibly pushing Devery to a third receiver role. He's in a contract year, but his inconsistent hands and lack of toughness make him a dicey fantasy bet.

Damage: 8th-round grade to 11th-round grade

6 & 7. Ashley Lelie & Arnaz Battle, 49ers WRs

These two entered draft weekend as San Francisco's starting wideouts. Following the acquisition of Darrell Jackson, Battle will now move to a third receiver role. His skills are suited for it. Lelie is lightly penciled in as a starter, but third-round pick Jason Hill has many of the same skills and will be in the organization longer. We liked Lelie as an overlooked flier as a "number one" receiver, but the pie is split up too much now.

Damage: Lelie: 12th round grade to borderline draftable. Battle: Deep league pick to undraftable.

7. Shaun McDonald, Lions WR

McDonald was pegged as one of our favorite sleepers until Sir Calvin was drafted in Detroit. McDonald now figures to battle Mike Furrey for scraps.

Damage: 11th-round grade to deep league prospect

8 & 9. Marty Booker & Derek Hagan, Dolphins WRs

Ronnie Brown is Miami's starting running back and Chris Chambers just a dropped a pass somewhere. It's mid-May, and those are the only two things we know for sure about the Dolphins offense.

The drafting of Ted Ginn will shorten Booker's time in Miami and limit Hagan's long-term potential. The situation looks like one to avoid.

Damage: Booker: 11th round grade to 14th round grade. Hagan: Deep league prospect to undraftable

10. Desmond Clark, Bears TE

Buying a second season of Desmond's Clark emergence wasn't a good idea. The Bears knew it, and now fantasy owners will after the team selected Greg Olsen in the first round. Olsen doesn't need to start to sap Clark's numbers.

Damage: Late-round pick to undraftable

11. Patriots pass-catchers

One could make a case that Ben Watson will benefit from Randy Moss opening up the field. We'll see. Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker, Chad Jackson, Reche Caldwell, and the rest of the Patriots wideouts are all going to see less targets with Moss around though. It's hard to imagine Stallworth or Welker being consistent enough on a weekly basis to be quality fantasy starters.

Damage: Stallworth: seventh-round grade to ninth-round grade. Welker: ninth-round grade to eleventh-round grade.

[SIZE=+1]Sliding off the board[/SIZE]

12. Charlie Frye, Browns QB

GM Phil Savage recently compared Frye's situation to that of Drew Brees after Philip Rivers was drafted. While Brees had a similarly poor TD/INT ratio to open his career, he also had all-world talent surrounding him. Frye doesn't have that luxury, so he'll probably be Brady Quinn's backup by December.

Damage: Flier pick to undraftable

13. Michael Bennett, Chiefs RB

The fantasy football world should pay close attention to the battle for Larry Johnson's backup job this summer. Bennett has a big name, but Herm Edwards can't be in love with his durability issues. Now Edwards has options in fifth-round pick Kolby Smith and undrafted free agent Marcus O' Keith, who reportedly impressed last week.

Damage: Eleventh-round grade to wait-and-see

14. Adrian Peterson, Bears RB

Chicago surprised many by drafting undersized Northwestern running back Garrett Wolfe in the third round. Wolfe has many of the same excellent third-down skills as Peterson, who we tabbed as a sleeper before the draft. Now Peterson is the underdog for the number two role. Either way, the backup to Cedric Benson is someone to target in the late rounds. New Page 2

Damage: Late-round target to wait-and-see

15. Samie Parker, Chiefs WR

Dwayne Bowe was drafted to start. The Chiefs want to get Jeff Webb and Chris Hannon playing time. That leaves Parker in a reduced role or on the waiver wire.

Damage: Deep league roster filler to undraftable

16. Eric Parker, Chargers WR

Parker has always been a better NFL player than fantasy option. Following the drafting of Craig Davis, look for Parker to transition to a slot receiver role in San Diego by 2008. Parker is the prototypical player that is worth a look on the waiver wire, but rarely worth drafting.

Damage:13th-round grade to deep league pick

17. Anthony Thomas, Bills RB

We expected Thomas to get displaced, but most projections had Buffalo drafting defense in the first round. Instead they drafted all-purpose back Marshawn Lynch. The A-Train's claim as a handcuff is even in doubt because of fourth-round pick Dwayne Wright.

Damage: Mid-to-late round grade to undraftable

18. Cleo Lemon, Dolphins

Now the backup-quarterback-of-the future in Miami and quite possibly the third quarterback of the present.

Damage: On the radar to holding a clipboard

19 & 20. Lawrence Tynes and Dave Rayner, Chiefs and Packers Ks

Both kickers are likely out of a job after their teams' drafted replacements.

Damage: Kickers to unemployed kickers

[SIZE=+1]Storms on the Horizon[/SIZE]

1. Rudi Johnson, Bengals RB

The Bengals drafted a Rudi clone in Kenny Irons, also from Auburn. That's twice in three years that Cincinnati has selected high price competition for Johnson. Unless Irons has the same injury troubles as Chris Perry, Johnson could be playing elsewhere in 2008. Irons looks like an undervalued prospect in keeper leagues, while owners may want to think about selling high with Rudi this year.

2. Jon Kitna, Lions QB

Project a full year from Kitna and it's hard not to place him among the top ten fantasy quarterbacks, 20 interceptions included. But Drew Stanton's presence on the team gives us pause. Kitna may have to improbably keep Detroit in playoff contention or risk being benched in December for the quarterback of the future.

3. Deuce McAllister, Saints RB

Deuce beat the odds by coming back better than ever following ACL surgery. The Saints have the most expensive backfield in the NFL, however, and McAllister's contract gets more expensive every season. With Antonio Pittman waiting in the wings, look for this to be Deuce's last season in New Orleans.

4. J.P. Losman, Bills QB

Losman needs to improve for another season or the organization will consider Trent Edwards for 2008.

5. Amani Toomer, Giants WR

Toomer's career was already on the decline following his ACL tear last season. We like rookie wideout Steve Smith enough to believe that Toomer may not even be starting by November of this season.

Note: Everyone looking for defensive dynasty rankings can find them on my blog, posting one position a day this week starting Tuesday afternoon.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#21
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

NFL Draft Grades Continued
These draft grades are a bit long, so I've broken them into two parts. The NFC North, save Minnesota, is here. The Vikings, Cardinals, and Seahawks can be found at this link:

Minnesota, Arizona, Seattle

[SIZE=+1]Bears[/SIZE]

1. (31) Miami FL TE Greg Olsen
Ht/Wt: 6-6/254
40: 4.51
Because he's so one-dimensional, Olsen probably wasn't the best player on the board at No. 31. But in an effort to keep him from pulling a Marcedes Lewis, the Bears are trying Olsen as a gunner so he has value other than just on passing downs. Desmond Clark's deal will expire in 2009, so Olsen has time to improve his blocking, but it will be a surprise if he's good for more than a handful of plays-per-game in 2007.

Grade: C+

2. (62) Central Michigan DE Daniel Bazuin
Ht/Wt: 6-3/266
40: 4.77
A four-year starter and ferocious pass rusher and hitter, Bazuin was a steal with the second-to-last pick in Round Two. It wouldn't appear that his chances to make an instant impact are great, but Alex Brown has demanded a trade and Chicago could even part with the overpriced Adewale Ogunleye to make room for Bazuin as a third end. It will be hard to keep this rookie off the field. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws www.sportspickwinners.com
www.fantasysportspicks.com www.eogcontests.com www.therx.ws

Grade: A

3. (93) Northern Illinois RB Garrett Wolfe
Ht/Wt: 5-7.5/186
40: 4.46
Chicago needs a reliable backup for combustible Cedric Benson. While the oft-injured Wolfe is unlikely to be that, he'll provide a swift change of pace if Benson can hold down starting duties. Wolfe is inexperienced as a returner, could struggle to pass block due to his diminutive size, and was never an outstandingly productive receiving back at NIU, but the Bears believe he'll develop in those areas. This was a luxury pick but with some upside.

Grade: C+

3. (94) Stanford LB Michael Okwo
Ht/Wt: 5-11/232
40: 4.69
The best player on a terrible Cardinal team, Okwo is an instinctive, strong tackler who amassed 95 tackles in nine starts as a senior. Okwo isn't flashy but is a football player. The Bears need insurance behind Lance Briggs, and Okwo will vie with Jamar Williams to hold down the weak side in minicamps. At worst, he'll star in kick coverage.

Grade: B+

4. (130) Boston College G Josh Beekman
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/313
40: 5.39
Beekman fits the profile of a Bears interior lineman as a thickly-built mauler who works to the whistle. A three-year starter, he was projected as a first-day pick before so-so postseason workouts. Beekman should get a year to prepare behind Ruben Brown before competing with Terrence Metcalf to start. He was an excellent value pick.

Grade: A

5. (167) Louisiana-Monroe S Kevin Payne
Ht/Wt: 6-0/220
40: 4.59
A three-time All-Sun Belt selection, Payne led the Warhawks in tackles his final two seasons after converting from tailback. He can also punt. Payne lacks the ideal speed normally sought in a Tampa 2 safety, but projects as an instant contributor on special teams. He had no problem knocking the less-versatile Nick Turnbull off the roster.

Grade: B-

5. (168) New Hampshire CB Corey Graham
Ht/Wt: 6-0/195
40: 4.38
Graham frequently struggled with injuries at New Hampshire and had his senior year cut short by a fractured fibula. The leg wasn't healing correctly and had to be re-operated on in November. When healthy, Graham's physical style and speed make him a nice fit in the Bears' secondary as a nickel corner, but he probably won't help much as a rookie.

Grade: C+

7. (221) Mississippi CB Trumaine McBride
Ht/Wt: 5-9/185
40: 4.59
An overachiever at Ole Miss, McBride managed to start three years despite not turning in consistent production. The Bears have molded similar players (see Nathan Vasher) into competent NFL starters, but on paper McBride doesn't have much of a chance to make the team out of training camp. We'll just have to see what Lovie Smith and Bob Babich can do with him.

Grade: C-

7. (241) Iowa State OT Aaron Brant
Ht/Wt: 6-7/320
40: 5.31
For his size, Brant is exceptionally athletic and sound in pass protection. He was an honorable mention All-Big 12 as a senior. Brant's upside is as a swing tackle in the NFL, but he'll likely find himself in NFL Europa or on a practice squad before being relied on to make any sort of big-league contribution.

Grade: C

Overall: The Bears have excellent depth and could afford a few gambles (Wolfe, Brant, Graham, McBride). But they were also efficient, picking up likely 2008 starters in Okwo, Olsen, and Beekman. While I'm not high on Olsen, he projects to add a new dimension to a passing offense that could struggle this season. The Bazuin pick gives Chicago valuable options. There's not much to truly complain about here.

Overall Grade: B-

[SIZE=+1]Lions[/SIZE]

1. (2) Georgia Tech WR Calvin Johnson
Ht/Wt: 6-5/239
40: 4.35
One of the few comments I've heard Sean Salisbury make and agreed with:

Every team that passes on Calvin Johnson made a mistake.

Grade: A+

2. (43) Michigan State QB Drew Stanton
Ht/Wt: 6-3/226
40: 4.73
He was as mobile as any true QB prospect in the draft and can make all the throws, but one of Stanton's stats as a senior stuck out. Despite a horrendous Spartans season, Stanton maintained an admirable 61 percent completion rate. This pick allowed Detroit to steal a fourth-round pick from Oakland for undesirables Josh McCown and Mike Williams, and may have given Mike Martz his next MVP-caliber signal caller.

Grade: A+

2. (58) Hawaii DL Ikaika Alama-Francis
Ht/Wt: 6-5/280
40: 4.78
This pick looks questionable because of how raw Francis is. He also didn't put up eye-popping college stats. But Francis is a sensational athlete who runs in the 4.7s and jumps 30 inches vertically while carrying 280 pounds. 3-4 teams even looked at him as a linebacker. He went a touch high for my tastes, but defensive line guru Rod Marinelli could turn Francis into a Pro Bowler.

Grade: B

2. (61) Boise State FS Gerald Alexander
Ht/Wt: 6-0/210
40: 4.58
Again, Alexander wasn't supposed to go this early but fits perfectly into Detroit's defense as a physical athlete who may only have adequate straight-line speed but will jump out of the roof and play all over the secondary. I still think the Lions could've waited a round or two.

Grade: C+

4. (105) NC State CB A.J. Davis
Ht/Wt: 5-10/193
40: 4.28
Vernon's little brother struggled with injuries and wasn't a big playmaker for the Wolfpack but is a much better tackler than he's given credit for and has otherworldly speed and quickness. Normally, Tampa 2 defenses value big, physical outside corners. Davis will be competing to cover the slot, help in kick coverage, and return kicks.

Grade: B-

4. (117) Texas Tech G Manuel Ramirez
Ht/Wt: 6-4/325
40: 5.14
The case can be made for Ramirez being as good a prospect as Justin Blalock, Arron Sears, and Ben Grubbs. He's a better straight-line athlete than Sears and much stronger than both Sears and Grubbs. Ramirez has ideal experience (44 starts), but is coming off an injury. He's a project coming from a pass-heavy spread offense, but his natural gifts were well worth a fourth-round selection.

Grade: A-

5. (158) Alabama A&M Johnny Baldwin
Ht/Wt: 6-1/225
40: 4.59
Baldwin is an impressive athlete who led A&M in tackles three straight seasons to close out his career and was a three-time All-SWAC pick. His size isn't a deterrent in the Cover 2, but he faces a big step up moving to the NFL from a very small school. The Lions will try Baldwin in the middle but his initial impact will likely be on special teams.

Grade: C+

7. (255) Alabama CB Ramzee Robinson
Ht/Wt: 5-9/196
40: 4.5
This year's Mr. Irrelevant doesn't have great measurables and wasn't a playmaker for the Crimson Tide but is the instinctive, dedicated type of player Marinelli is trying to find. It's doubtful he'll make the team as a rookie but Robinson could work his way into Detroit's 2008 dime defense after getting some work on the practice squad.

Grade: C+

Overall: The Lions used premium picks on elite skill players and middle-rounders on scheme-fitting defenders. It's a sound strategy, though they failed to shore up the middle linebacker situation that is currently manned by Paris Lenon, who might not make some NFL teams. Maybe Marinelli can eek out a year from Shelton Quarles or Al Wilson, or found a deep sleeper in Baldwin, but it appears there will again be a gaping hole in his defense no matter how good an interior tandem Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding can be.

Overall Grade: B+

[SIZE=+1]Packers[/SIZE]

1. (16) Tennessee DT Justin Harrell
Ht/Wt: 6-4/300
40: 5.04
Had Harrell not tore his pecs as a senior he would've gone here or higher, so I don't have a big problem with the value. But Green Bay is stacked across the defensive line and desperate in center field. Michael Griffin, who can play all over the secondary, would've made a lot more sense than picking a player coming off an injury at a non-need area.

Grade: C+

2. (63) Nebraska RB Brandon Jackson
Ht/Wt: 5-10/210
40: 4.57
Jackson wasn't supposed to go this high, especially after his mediocre pre-draft workouts. But his running style is an absolute perfect fit for Green Bay's zone-blocking scheme. He's also sound in pass protection, an excellent receiving back, and showed a lot of desire emerging from a pack of talented runners as a junior. Jackson will be a fantasy stud this year if he stays healthy.

Grade: B+

3. (78) San Jose State WR James Jones
Ht/Wt: 6-1/207
40: 4.53
Green Bay "reached" with a third straight pick for a player it was keen on. When they took Jones (and David Clowney two rounds later) it seemed the Packers were getting desperate with no Randy Moss deal in the works. Jones faced weak college competition, lacks ideal long speed, and scored a nine on his Wonderlic. But he's exceptionally strong and physical. Players like this are impossible to judge before you see them in the NFL.

Grade: Incomplete

3. (89) Virginia Tech SS Aaron Rouse
Ht/Wt: 6-4/223
40: 4.52
After an uninspiring senior season, Rouse nearly fell to Day Two. He's an intriguing athlete but was not adept in coverage as a Hokie and may need to eventually switch to linebacker, a position he played early in his college career. Rouse also isn't a highlight-reel hitter. He has a chance to overtake Marquand Manuel as a rookie but the two have similar weaknesses and Rouse probably wouldn't be an immediate upgrade.

Grade: C+

4. (119) Missouri Southern OT Allen Barbre
Ht/Wt: 6-4/300
40: 4.84
Another system-fitting prospect, the ultra-athletic Barbre also boats underrated strength, having repped 225 28 times at the Combine. Barbre was a four-year starting left tackle at D-IAA Missouri Southern but will back up guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz in the pros. Green Bay now has two promising and versatile backups in Barbre and Tony Moll.

Grade: B

5. (157) Virginia Tech WR David Clowney
Ht/Wt: 6-0/188
40: 4.36
Clowney was long the Hokies' most talented wideout but an inconsistent passing game, especially in his senior year, cut his production and progression. He didn't distinguish himself at the Senior Bowl by dropping a multitude of passes. But Clowney has an excellent work ethic and should only improve. His initial impact will be on kick returns.

Grade: B-

6. (191) Boise State LB Korey Hall
Ht/Wt: 6-1/228
40: 4.77
The Broncos' leading tackler by 31 stops as a senior, Hall was a big-time collegiate playmaker. He added an impressive six interceptions and 3.5 sacks in his final campaign. But the Packers will try Hall as a fullback behind Brandon Miree. Due to the conversion, it's very possible he won't make the club unless he's exceptional on special teams.

Grade: C+

6. (192) California LB Desmond Bishop
Ht/Wt: 6-2/239
40: 4.81
Bishop's leaves something to be desired athletically but his body, brute strength, and production (a Pac-10 leading 126 tackles as a senior) are intriguing. The Packers don't have a need for a middle linebacker behind Nick Barnett and Abdul Hodge, so it's possible Bishop will eventually emerge as competition for Brady Poppinga at the SAM.

Grade: B-

6. (193) Colorado K Mason Crosby
Ht/Wt: 6-1/212
40: 5.2
Crosby's downside is as one of the NFL's top kickoff specialists, but it will be a surprise if he doesn't beat out Dave Rayner despite a so-so senior campaign. While he missed 9-of-28 field goals in 2006, all his shanks were from beyond 50 yards. Crosby was known to kick 70+ yard three-pointers in practice and as a former free safety, is a willing tackler in coverage. His upside says he should've gone higher.

Grade: A

7. (228) Florida RB DeShawn Wynn
Ht/Wt: 5-10/232
40: 4.48
What's the difference between Wynn and Chris Henry (Titans)? Eight-tenths of a second and four years of inconsistency as opposed to one. Wynn struggled to stay healthy at UF and the coaches questioned his work ethic, but he was effective down the stretch in 2006 when Urban Meyer lit a fire beneath him. For a seventh-round flier, Wynn is perfect.

Grade: A

7. (243) Rutgers TE Clark Harris
Ht/Wt: 6-5.5/261
40: 4.85
Harris was a three-time first-team All-Big East pick and always produced in Greg Schiano's offense. But in the NFL, he won't stretch the field and his blocking is highly inconsistent. Harris also has a rep for being a player that thinks he's better than he actually is. He won't solve any of Green Bay's problems at the tight end position.

Grade: D+

Overall: Although the majority of these players will be useful in time and the draft overall is well above average, Brett Favre has reason to be upset. The Packers forewent free agency and did little to upgrade their team speed in the draft. Green Bay's roster boasts quality young talent and the club will be slightly more competitive and deep in 2007, but GM Ted Thompson's Billy Beane-esque approach probably isn't going to get Favre to the Super Bowl unless he stays unretired for a few more seasons.

Overall Grade: B-
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#22
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Mock One Down

The ridiculously early fantasy football Mock Draft is one of my favorite rites of spring. So what if training camp is more than two months away?

The Rotoworld board will change throughout the summer, but we got it set for our first magazine and for this fantasy industry mock draft that took place three weeks ago. The draft was for a league with no points-per-reception. It also included 2 starting RBs, 3 WRs, and a flex player, so depth at the key positions came at a premium.

The first seven rounds with analysis is below and the rest of the draft can be found at Mock Draft Central?: 2007 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts.


[SIZE=+1]Round One[/SIZE]

1.01 ? Athlon ? LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers RB
1.02 ? KFFL ? Larry Johnson, Chiefs RB
1.03 ? Mock Draft Central ? Steven Jackson, Rams RB
1.04 ? BFD Fantasy ? Frank Gore, 49ers RB
1.05 ? Fantasy Sports Magazine ? Shaun Alexander, Seahawks RB
1.06 ? FantasyFootball.com ? Willie Parker, Steelers RB
1.07 ? Rotowire ? Joseph Addai, Colts RB
1.08 ? Game Time Decisions ? Ronnie Brown, Dolphins RB
1.09 ? Sportsblurb ? Rudi Johnson, Bengals RB
1.10 ? Fantasy Football Cafe ? Brian Westbrook, Eagles RB
1.11 ? Yahoo ? Laurence Maroney, Patriots RB
1.12 ? Rotoworld ? Clinton Portis, Redskins RB

Trends, Bargains, Busts: With no receivers standing apart from the pack this season, look for plenty of running back-only first rounds. Peyton Manning is a consideration in most leagues depending on the scoring system. We have the first receiver ranked in the high second round.

I have inched Alexander into my first round projection, but top-five is too high for a runner clearly on his decline. Ronnie Brown is the only player here that I expect to see go a round lower come August.

My Pick: This draft took place before the latest news on Portis' knee injury. If that situation doesn't clear up by August, he will move down. I'm concerned about Ladell Betts, but the Redskins run the ball so much that Portis can be a RB1 even if Betts gets 125-150 carries.


[SIZE=+1]Round Two[/SIZE]

2.01 ? Rotoworld ? Reggie Bush, Saints RB
2.02 ? Travis Henry, Broncos RB
2.03 ? Willis McGahee, Bills RB
2.04 ? Peyton Manning, Colts QB
2.05 ? Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars RB
2.06 ? Steve Smith, Panthers WR
2.07 ?? Edgerrin James, Cardinals RB
2.08 ? Cedric Benson, Bears RB
2.09 ? Carnell Williams, Bucs RB
2.10 ? Deuce McAllister, Saints RB
2.11 ? Thomas Jones, Jets RB
2.12 ? Ahman Green, Texans RB

Trends, Bargains, Busts: The top-15 players were almost the exact same as my rankings, although in a different order of course. After that, I would have started drafting receivers ahead of players like Jones-Drew, Cadillac, Edgerrin James, Ahman Green, and Deuce McAllister.

With so many committees around, it was clear that owners were afraid of getting stuck with a weak RB2. But that's exactly what Edgerrin James and Ahman Green are, so you may as well wait a round before settling. Green faded badly at the end of last season and is running for an unproven offense. ? Jones-Drew is a top-five talent who is going to find his rookie season impossible to repeat if Fred Taylor stays healthy and the Jaguars throw more often. I expect to see Cadillac slip further in most drafts after his down year.

My Pick: This isn't a points-per-reception league or Bush would have ranked even higher. I have Bush in my top ten after he improved greatly in the second half of his rookie year. His receiving ability should prevent long slumps. Deuce McAllister, not Bush, is likely to lose some touches this year if the Saints offense slows down.

[SIZE=+1]Round Three [/SIZE]

3.01 ? Terrell Owens, Cowboys WR
3.02 ? Chad Johnson, Bengals WR
3.03 ? Brandon Jacobs, Giants RB
3.04 ? Torry Holt, Rams WR
3.05 ? Marvin Harrison, Colts WR
3.06 ? Reggie Wayne, Colts WR
3.07 ? Marshawn Lynch, Bills RB
3.08 ? Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR
3.09 ? Randy Moss, Patriots WR
3.10 ? Drew Brees, Saints QB
3.11 ? T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals WR
3.12 ? Rotoworld.com ? Anquan Boldin, Cardinals WR

Trends, Bargains, Busts, Etc: It was a surprise to see T.O. get taken as the second receiver. He is set up for a monster year with a full season of Tony Romo, but only if Owens can stay healthy and out of trouble. I'd rather bet on a reliable 16 games from Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, or a Colt to be named later.

Brandon Jacobs is my favorite third-round RB2 pick. I bet he'll slip further in many drafts. Marshawn Lynch is the top rookie in my rankings, although not a round ahead of Adrian Peterson.

I believe Drew Brees is a lot closer to Tom Brady and Marc Bulger than he is to Peyton Manning. And Carson Palmer may wind up ahead of them all.

It will be interesting to see if the elite wide receiver run starts this late in most leagues. The Randy Moss trade had just gone down and everyone was excited, but I wouldn't draft him this high in New England's offense. I have ten receivers ranked ahead of the pack, and I wound up drafting two in a row. More on that below in our nicely segmented article?

My Pick: There is a concern that the Cardinals will throw less under Ken Whisenhunt, hurting Boldin's value. In the end, he's a possession threat that should remain consistent on a weekly basis. I thought about Carson Palmer this high, but couldn't pass up an exciting receiver combination.

[SIZE=+1]Round Four [/SIZE]

4.01 ? Rotoworld.com - Roy Williams, Lions WR
4.02 ? Marion Barber, Cowboys RB
4.03 ? Lee Evans, Bills WR
4.04 ? Jamal Lewis, Browns RB
4.05 ? Antonio Gates, Chargers TE
4.06 ? Javon Walker, Broncos WR
4.07 ? Marques Colston, Saints WR
4.08 ? Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB
4.09 ? Andre Johnson, Texans WR
4.10 ? Tom Brady, Patriots QB
4.11 ? Fred Taylor, Jaguars RB
4.12 ? LaMont Jordan, Raiders RB

Trends, Bargains, Busts, Etc: Barber is one of the most difficult players to project in fantasy leagues. With the new coaching staff in place, there is no guarantee he'll get his short-yardage role back. In the end, this is way too high to draft a backup. Or Jamal Lewis. Lewis should only be considered as a RB3 who slips halfway through a draft. ? Adrian Peterson is a better bet here, even if he's boom-or-bust pick until Chester Taylor's role is defined. Look for him to get taken higher as we get closer to draft day. ? Lamont Jordan is drafted at the right spot here. He's going two rounds later than Edgerrin James and Deuce McAllister, but has a lot less tread on his tires.

This is be a good year to grab Antonio Gates for value, if you are into that sort of thing. The gap between him and the rest of the league's tight ends remains large, yet he's going later in drafts after a slow start to last season.

I love the wideout picks in this round (other than mine). They are all worth nabbing in the top four rounds because there aren't any other WR-1 candidates on the board. And there is still plenty of running back depth out there. ? Don't expect Brady to go ahead of Palmer in my leagues. At least he shouldn't.

My Pick: The Lions threw 597 times last year, which was second in the league. That was with Kevin Jones healthy for most of the year and without Calvin Johnson on the team. Mike Martz will now have an excuse to throw every down, which should leave plenty of balls for Roy Williams and Johnson. It will be Mike Furrey that suffers.

[SIZE=+1]Round Five [/SIZE]

5.01 ? Carson Palmer, Bengals QB
5.02 ? Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs TE
5.03 ? Hines Ward, Steelers WR
5.04 ? Donald Driver, Packers WR
5.05 ? Donovan McNabb, Eagles QB
5.06 ? DeAngelo Williams, Panthers RB
5.07 ? Plaxico Burress, Giants WR
5.08 ? Jerious Norwood, Falcons RB
5.09 ? Laveranues Coles, Jets WR
5.10 ? Chester Taylor, Vikings RB
5.11 ? Marc Bulger, Rams QB
5.12 ? Rotoworld.com ? Lendale White, Titans RB

Trends, Bargains, Busts, Etc: The availability of young stars-to-be DeAngelo Williams and Jerious Norwood in round five show the folly of reaching for an Ahman Green-type in round two. At this point, though, the running backs are all committee members or in uncertain situations. Expect Chester Taylor's stock to fall as draft day approaches, even if he starts over Adrian Peterson.

Burress is my favorite receiver picked in this round, while Ward is my least favorite. The Steelers pass-catcher just doesn't pile up yardage and now has more competition on his own team for touches. Tony Gonzalez also doesn't stand apart at tight end anymore, so we'd wait to draft him.

Palmer, McNabb, and Bulger represent the last of the elite quarterbacks and are gone by the end of round five. McNabb could struggle to post rushing yards after his ACL surgery, but he's still a safe bet in Andy Reid's offense.

My Pick: I was set on Bulger until he was picked one spot in front of me. I am taking a calculated gamble on White as my highest running back available, but there wasn't a quarterback or tight end worthy of this spot. If White is a mystery, Chris Henry is a greater one coming out of Arizona. That doesn't mean I won't draft Henry for insurance in round ten.

[SIZE=+1]Round Six [/SIZE]

6.01 ? Rotoworld.com - Darrell Jackson, 49ers WR
6.02 ? Reggie Brown, Eagles WR
6.03 ? Deion Branch, Seahawks WR
6.04 ? Alge Crumpler, Falcons TE
6.05 ? Chris Chambers, Dolphins WR
6.06 ? Vince Young, Titans QB
6.07 ? Terry Glenn, Cowboys WR
6.08 ? Braylon Edwards, Browns WR
6.09 ? Todd Heap, Ravens TE
6.10 ? Tatum Bell, Lions RB
6.11 ? Santana Moss, Redskins WR
6.12 ? Calvin Johnson, Lions WR

Trends, Bargains, Busts, Etc: Still plenty of solid WR2 value here. Edwards, Jackson, Johnson, and Santana Moss are ranked in our top-21 wideouts. Chris Chambers would need a huge bounceback season to be worth a pick this high and we don't see it.

It will be tough for Tatum Bell to get enough carries to be worth a pick this high as well. Kevin Jones has a shot to be ready for Week 1, and the Lions won't run very often even if Jones is out.

Calvin Johnson and Vince Young will be drafted all over the board this year, but this looks about right to us. It's late enough in the draft to start taking gambles. I expect Young will get drafted higher in most leagues.

This year's tight ends are so tightly packed after Gates that I don't think it's necessary to start the inevitable second tier run after the top 60 picks. Someone will slip.

My Pick: I projected a decline in Jackson's numbers after he moved to San Francisco, but he'll get enough to targets to be a 1,000-yard receiver.

[SIZE=+1]Round Seven [/SIZE]

7.01 ? Jeremy Shockey, Giants TE
7.02 ? Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB
7.03 ? Julius Jones, Cowboys RB
7.04 ? Joey Galloway, Bucs WR
7.05 ? Warrick Dunn, Falcons RB
7.06 ? Tony Romo, Cowboys QB
7.07 ? Vernon Davis, 49ers TE
7.08 ? Eli Manning, Giants QB
7.09 ? Muhsin Muhammad, Bears WR
7.10 ? Michael Turner, Chargers RB
7.11 ? Vincent Jackson, Chargers WR
7.12 ? Rotoworld.com ? Michael Vick, Falcons QB

Trends, Bargains, Busts, Etc: It's interesting to see Romo and Michael Vick fall deep into the second tier of quarterbacks. Both were top-five options when they played last year, although Vick's rushing yards will be unsustainable. Hasselbeck will come at a discount after an off-year, but this indicates it may not be that big a discount. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

I don't understand drafting Turner this high, especially to a team that didn't draft LaDainian Tomlinson. He's staying in San Diego, so that's a mighty expensive insurance policy. And this isn't the same thing as drafting Larry Johnson high two years back. Johnson was coming off a monster season and Priest Holmes was a serious injury risk.

Drafting Turner's teammate Vincent Jackson one pick later was a much better bet. At worst, he's going to score touchdowns and be Philip Rivers' top wideout.

Vernon Davis belongs this high, and Julius Jones probably belongs even higher. Jones is still a starter on an explosive offense, and this draft reminded me that he could be a fine value RB3 after the top 50 picks. ? Muhsin Muhammad has to get a lot better to be worth this pick, and he's more likely to get worse.

My Pick: I always rank Vick high compared to his Average Draft Position, but I still rarely end up with him. There is sufficient quarterback depth this season to grab him this late and back him up with a reliable option. Of course Vick has finished as a QB1 every season he's stayed healthy, so he's not as inconsistent as his reputation.


Note: In case you missed them, here are the rookie dynasty rankings from last week's blog. And the latest edition of the Fantasy Fix.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#23
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Making the Grade
Our third installment of 2007 NFL Draft Grades checks out the Rams and Niners from the NFC West, the complete NFC South and AFC East, and the Bengals and Ravens from the AFC's North division. The final installment will be posted Thursday.

[SIZE=+1]Rams[/SIZE]

1. (13) Nebraska DL Adam Carriker
Ht/Wt: 6-6/296
40: 4.9
Career college end will convert to nose tackle in St. Louis' 4-3

2. (52) Rutgers RB Brian Leonard
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/226
40: 4.49
Has the potential to be a capable all-down starter; great value pick

3. (84) Tennessee CB Jonathan Wade
Ht/Wt: 5-10/190
40: 4.36
Raw but super athletic; will likely begin his career as a dime back

5. (139) Clemson C Dustin Fry
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/314
40: 5.27
Mauler can also play guard; will push Brett Romberg as a rookie

5. (154) Michigan State DL Clifton Ryan
Ht/Wt: 6-3/310
40: 5.07
Rams will ask penetrating three technique to convert to nose guard

6. (190) Georgia OT Ken Shackleford
Ht/Wt: 6-5/325
40: 5.29
Upside as a "swing tackle" but likely headed to the practice squad

7. (248) Arkansas DT Keith Jackson
Ht/Wt: 6-0/305
40: 5.05
Productive sleeper should crack the interior rotation immediately

7. (249) Wisconsin-Whitewater WR Derek Stanley
Ht/Wt: 5-10/172
40: 4.34
Rams already acquired a return man in ex-Pro Bowler Dante Hall

Overall: The Rams nabbed premier talent on the draft's first day then seemingly got lazy, picking as many as four different players that won't make the team out of training camp. You usually want your second-day picks to at least challenge those already on your roster. Instead, St. Louis opted for multiple collegiates (Ryan, Stanley, Shackleford) whose futures may be in Europe or elsewhere.

Overall Grade: C

[SIZE=+1]49ers[/SIZE]

1. (11) Mississippi LB Patrick Willis
Ht/Wt: 6-1/242
40: 4.51
Elite inside 'backer should rack up 100+ tackles as a first-year pro

1. (28) Central Michigan OT Joe Staley
Ht/Wt: 6-5/302
40: 4.7
Not likely to help immediately barring unlikely Kwame Harris trade

3. (76) Washington State WR Jason Hill
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/204
40: 4.32
Should give deep threat Ashley Lelie a run for his money right away

3. (97) Florida DL Ray McDonald
Ht/Wt: 6-3/276
40: 4.9
Undersized as a 3-4 end; McDonald is a project and could be a bust

4. (104) Nebraska DE Jay Moore
Ht/Wt: 6-5/274
40: 4.92
College end converts to OLB; good pass rusher but lacks ideal speed

4. (126) Washington S Dashon Goldson
Ht/Wt: 6-1/202
40: 4.65
Fourth round is a bit high to take players without starting potential

4. (135) Florida DT Joe Cohen
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/315
40: 5.1
Another project; undersized for the nose but will be asked play there

5. (147) Texas CB Tarell Brown
Ht/Wt: 5-10.5/190
40: 4.45
First-round talent has laundry list of off-the-field issues and injuries

6. (186) Kansas State RB Thomas Clayton
Ht/Wt: 5-10/218
40: 4.65
The Niners are high on him but he's immature on and off the field

Overall: Denver drew all the flack for taking risks on players with off-field issues but in reality San Francisco gambled just as much. While their draft was deep and they did a nice job by netting arguably the best top-three selections in the league, the Niners weren't efficient in the middle rounds and drafted too many "projects." We'll have to see how they pan out, but a draft that was so promising early on wound up being watered down by dicey players.

Overall Grade: C+

[SIZE=+1]Falcons[/SIZE]

1. (8) Arkansas DE Jamaal Anderson
Ht/Wt: 6-5.5/288
40: 4.76
Supreme physical talent must add strength but should be dominant

2. (39) Texas G Justin Blalock
Ht/Wt: 6-3/320
40: 5.1
Mauling drive blocker is perfect for Atlanta's new power run game

2. (41) Arkansas CB Chris Houston
Ht/Wt: 5-10/185
40: 4.32
Shut-down cornerback expected to start opposite DeAngelo Hall

3. (75) Illinois State WR Laurent Robinson
Ht/Wt: 6-2/199
40: 4.38
Four-year starter may be top slot receiver after Brian Finneran injury

4. (109) South Florida LB Stephen Nicholas
Ht/Wt: 6-1/232
40: 4.65
Relentless pass rusher could be starting on the weak side by 2008

4. (133) Georgia TE Martrez Milner
Ht/Wt: 6-4/252
40: 4.82
Talented but highly inconsistent; likely a long-time reserve in NFL

6. (185) Washburn DT Trey Lewis
Ht/Wt: 6-3/318
40: 5.14
Penetrating tackle didn't dominate vs. weak competition until 2006

6. (194) Auburn CB David Irons
Ht/Wt: 5-10/190
40: 4.44
Aggressive nickel prospect should have a career if he stays healthy

6. (198) Ohio State C Doug Datish
Ht/Wt: 6-4/302
40: 5.13
Can play tackle and the pivot; career as a versatile backup is likely

6. (203) Maine S Daren Stone
Ht/Wt: 6-3/218
40: 4.58
Pure strong safety will cover kicks initially; should make the club

7. (244) Virginia RB Jason Snelling
Ht/Wt: 5-11/230
40: 4.74
Fullback-tailback hybrid a good receiver; possible short-yardage help

Overall: New coach Bobby Petrino's first draft is a strong one on paper. Anderson, Blalock, and Houston will be starting as rookies with Snelling, Irons, Robinson, and Nicholas all set to fill key depth roles. Petrino is trying to overhaul a roster that went stale under the previous regime and did what certainly appears to be a good job through the draft and with what limited funds Atlanta had in free agency.

Overall Grade: A-

[SIZE=+1]Panthers[/SIZE]

1. (25) Miami (FL) LB Jon Beason
Ht/Wt: 6-0/237
40: 4.64
Figure the Canes' leading tackler is going to be a good NFL player

2. (45) USC WR Dwayne Jarrett
Ht/Wt: 6-4/219
40: 4.57
Likely to start as a rookie; great hands and poses matchup problems

2. (59) USC C Ryan Kalil
Ht/Wt: 6-3/299
40: 4.96
Complete center should be starting for Carolina by 2008 at the latest

3. (83) Georgia DE Charles Johnson
Ht/Wt: 6-2/270
40: 4.84
May only be a two-down player in the NFL but filled a need this late

4. (118) Miami (OH) WR Ryne Robinson
Ht/Wt: 5-9/179
40: 4.47
Likely punt-return help in his first year and eventual slot receiver

5. (155) Oregon TE Donte Rosario
Ht/Wt: 6-3/244
40: 4.76
H-back prospect has good hands but projects only as a special teamer

5. (164) Penn State LB Tim Shaw
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/236
40: 4.51
Undersized overachiever should contribute as situational pass rusher

7. (226) Baylor DB C.J. Wilson
Ht/Wt: 6-1/195
40: 4.52
Good tackler with exciting ability; possible steal will convert to safety

Overall: It would've been nice to see Carolina address its ever-so-thin safety position early but the Panthers elected not to "reach" and stole a possible eventual replacement for Mike Minter in the seventh while picking up at least two rookie starters with their first three picks. Robinson will allow Chris Gamble to focus on (most likely) playing the nickel and Shaw should be good insurance behind Thomas Davis. He can also play middle linebacker. Other than the Rosario selection, this was an excellent draft.

Overall Grade: A

[SIZE=+1]Saints[/SIZE]

1. (27) Tennessee WR Robert Meachem
Ht/Wt: 6-2/214
40: 4.39
Star athlete, downfield threat a perfect complement to Marques Colston

3. (66) Kent State CB Usama Young
Ht/Wt: 5-11/191
40: 4.39
Four-year starter is ideal cover CB; will be playing the nickel by 2008

3. (88) Akron G Andy Alleman
Ht/Wt: 6-4/305
40: 5.07
Late bloomer is first-round athlete at his position; must add strength

4. (107) Ohio State RB Antonio Pittman
Ht/Wt: 5-11/207
40: 4.4
Tough but smallish; should make Deuce McAllister expendable in '08

4. (125) Towson OL Jermon Bushrod
Ht/Wt: 6-4/322
40: 4.92
Mel Kiper special started all four years; should be G/T reserve at worst

5. (145) Wingate CB David Jones
Ht/Wt: 6-0/196
40: 4.43
D-II playmaker faces long transition period, odds to make final roster

7. (220) Tennessee LB Marvin Mitchell
Ht/Wt: 6-3/249
40: 4.79
Two-down inside 'backer may not be suited for Saints' 4-3 scheme

Overall: While he may be an early step behind Devery Henderson to start, Meachem has plenty of time to drop the four pounds he's overweight. It will be a surprise if he's not an above average starter in Sean Payton's system by his second year. The Saints followed the Meachem pick by drafting excellent middle-round athletes, all of whom possess starting potential. Jones and Mitchell may not be long for the league but were worth fliers. New Orleans could've used another pass rusher.

Overall Grade: B-

[SIZE=+1]Bucs[/SIZE]

1. (4) Clemson DE Gaines Adams
Ht/Wt: 6-5/258
40: 4.64
Highly explosive with long arms; Adams' downside is Robert Geathers
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
2. (35) Tennessee G Arron Sears
Ht/Wt: 6-4/315
40: 5.44
Marginal athlete with unimpressive strength; has battled weight issues

2. (64) Oregon State S Sabby Piscitelli
Ht/Wt: 6-3/224
40: 4.47
Ballhawk (15 INTs in college) is a sound tackler; could start instantly

3. (68) New Mexico LB Quincy Black
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/240
40: 4.42
Instinctive high-motor player has size, mentalityfor the strong side

4. (106) Syracuse CB Tanard Jackson
Ht/Wt: 6-0/192
40: 4.56
"Banger" converts to free safety, provides competition for Will Allen

5. (141) North Carolina Central DE Greg Peterson
Ht/Wt: 6-5/285
40: 4.73
Big sleeper has great size, pass-rush ability but needs time to develop

6. (182) Portland State LB Adam Hayward
Ht/Wt: 6-0/235
40: 4.48
Could also play strong safety but likely a middle linebacker in Tampa

7. (214) Fresno State OT Chris Denman
Ht/Wt: 6-6.5/315
40: 5.5
Four-year starter a backup right tackle at best; unlikely to make the club

7. (245) Virginia CB Marcus Hamilton
Ht/Wt: 5-11/187
40: 4.55
College playmaker is still developmental, especially as Cover 2 corner

7. (246) Alabama RB Kenneth Darby
Ht/Wt: 5-10/211
40: 4.64
Durable and should be a solid NFL backup but has weak measurables

Overall: The Bucs finally made a concerted effort to improve on defense and while none of the draftees are guaranteed starting jobs, they will be pushing Tampa's complacent incumbent starters. That makes sense for a defense that struggled mightily in all facets a season ago and is obviously aging. The Bucs' few picks on offense are far less exciting and none of Sears, Denman, or Darby is a lock to contribute in the NFL.

Overall Grade: C+

[SIZE=+1]Bills[/SIZE]

1. (12) California RB Marshawn Lynch
Ht/Wt: 5-11/215
40: 4.46
The Marv Levy Bills have proven they're willing to reach to fill a need

2. (34) Penn State LB Paul Posluszny
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/238
40: 4.67
Odd fit as Cover-2 MIKE but Poz should help a poor Buffalo run defense

3. (92) Stanford QB Trent Edwards
Ht/Wt: 6-4/231
40: 4.75
A season-ending injury waiting to happen but has starting-caliber upside

4. (111) Fresno State RB Dwayne Wright
Ht/Wt: 5-11.5/228
40: 4.68
Major knee injury in 2004 but has all-down skills and runs hard downhill

6. (184) Wyoming S John Wendling
Ht/Wt: 6-1/222
40: 4.48
Should be one of the NFL's better backup safeties behind Donte Whitner

7. (222) Boise State TE Derek Schouman
Ht/Wt: 6-2/247
40: 4.74
Well-rounded athlete with good strength, hands but only backup upside

7. (239) Oklahoma DE C.J. Ah You
Ht/Wt: 6-4/274
40: 4.7
Wasn't a need but Ah You has both pass-rushing and run-stuffing ability

Overall: Overall: Buffalo's top four picks all come with varying degrees of medical concerns (Posluszny tore his ACL in 2005, Wright his patella tendon, Edwards several body parts, and Lynch has a congenital back abnormality), but the argument can be made that after their first-rounder, the Bills adhered to the best-player-available strategy without fail. Wendling and Wright could turn out to be backups whose play doesn't present a major drop off if the starters ahead of them go down. This makes two straight strong drafts for GM Levy.

Overall Grade: B

[SIZE=+1]Dolphins[/SIZE]

1. (9) Ohio State WR Ted Ginn Jr.
Ht/Wt: 5-11/178
40: 4.28
It's been said before, but Brady Quinn should've been a no brainer here

2. (40) BYU QB John Beck
Ht/Wt: 6-2/215
40: 4.75
Atoned somewhat for passing on Quinn with the highly-accurate Beck

2. (60) Hawaii C Samson Satele
Ht/Wt: 6-2/278
40: 5.26
Undersized and extremely raw coming from pass-heavy Hawaii offense

3. (71) Florida State RB Lorenzo Booker
Ht/Wt: 5-10/191
40: 4.46
Ideal third-down back when healthy, problem is that Booker rarely is

4. (108) Utah DT Paul Soliai
Ht/Wt: 6-4/344
40: 5.11
Pure 3-4 nose tackle should see action as a rookie, be starting by 2008

6. (181) Hawaii FB Reagan Mauia
Ht/Wt: 6-0/289
40: 4.88
Good receiver, mind-boggling athleticism for his size; wildcard pick

6. (199) Central Michigan OL Drew Mormino
Ht/Wt: 6-3/305
40: 5.38
Guard-center lacks extensive experience; likely a versatile NFL backup

7. (219) Syracuse LB Kelvin Smith
Ht/Wt: 6-2/240
40: 4.83
Mediocre athlete started all four years; fine fit as 3-4 inside linebacker

7. (225) Michigan State P Brandon Fields
Ht/Wt: 6-5/239
40: 4.81
Not considered technically sound but has a big leg; likely instant starter

7. (238) Colorado DE Abraham Wright
Ht/Wt: 6-2/242
40: 4.89
Great college pass rusher unlikely to transition that success to the NFL

Overall: Aside from Beck and Soliai, none of the players the Dolphins drafted are especially likely to make contributions in the NFL other than on special teams. Wright, Smith, Mormino, and Mauia are hardly in great position to secure roster spots out of training camp, and while Booker has potential, he's not the type of back you normally want to rely on behind a starter (Ronnie Brown) that hasn't yet played a 16-game season. Satele shouldn't have gone so high. Miami should request a do-over.

Overall Grade: D+

[SIZE=+1]Patriots[/SIZE]

1. (24) Miami (FL) S Brandon Meriweather
Ht/Wt: 5-10.5/195
40: 4.47
Prototypical free safety should start as a rookie over Eugene Wilson

4. (127) Miami (FL) DE Kareem Brown
Ht/Wt: 6-4/290
40: 5.39
Not much of an athlete but high-effort player can rush the quarterback

5. (171) Colorado State OT Clint Oldenburg
Ht/Wt: 6-5/297
40: 5.26
Converted tight end has all-around makeup to be effective NFL sub

6. (180) SMU DE Justin Rogers
Ht/Wt: 6-3/265
40: 4.78
Conference USA sackmaster will be converted to outside linebacker

6. (202) Notre Dame CB Mike Richardson
Ht/Wt: 5-11/189
40: 4.48
Major liability in awful Irish secondary will be asked to cover kicks

6. (208) Central Connecticut RB Justise Hairston
Ht/Wt: 6-1/218
40: 4.58
Pure downhill back has unpolished game; could help in short yardage

6. (211) USC LB Oscar Lua
Ht/Wt: 6-1/245
40: 5.01
Two-down inside 'backer lost starting job to better player as a senior

7. (247) Iowa G Mike Elgin
Ht/Wt: 6-3/290
40: 5.16
Hard working, smart but vastly undersized; wasn't a college standout

Overall: After taking the coveted Meriweather, New England basically traded out of the first four rounds of the draft. Picking up the Mossman for a fourth-round pick should help the team in the short term but developing players like Oldenburg and Rogers is the Patriots' bread and butter. With some good tutelage, Hairston too could be a long-term sleeper, though I wouldn't expect Richardson or Lua to last long in the league. This draft consists of a slew of developmental fliers and one virtually surefire stud.

Overall: C-

[SIZE=+1]Jets[/SIZE]

1. (14) Pittsburgh CB Darrelle Revis
Ht/Wt: 5-11.5/204
40: 4.54
Physical shutdown coverman should be Jets' top cornerback as a rookie

2. (47) Michigan LB David Harris
Ht/Wt: 6-2/243
40: 4.53
A steal this late; Harris will likely usurp Eric Barton's spot in the lineup

6. (177) Nicholls State OT Jacob Bender
Ht/Wt: 6-6/316
40: 5.22
Held Adam Carriker without a sack in matchup with Nebraska last year

7. (235) Clemson WR Chansi Stuckey
Ht/Wt: 5-10.5/197
40: 4.61
Heady slot prospect shouldn't have problems making the team as a rookie

Overall: There aren't many players to analyze in this draft class, but the Jets almost certainly got two instant starters, both of whom should help against the run, with their first two picks. Revis could make recently arrested CB/KR Justin Miller expendable, while Harris projects as a better run stuffer and playmaker than the man he'll take over for. Stuckey (speed) and Bender (weak competition) have their shortcomings but offer potential as role players. The top two picks are the story here.

Overall Grade: B

[SIZE=+1]Ravens[/SIZE]

1. (29) Auburn G Ben Grubbs
Ht/Wt: 6-2/311
40: 5.2
Athletic, packs a punch; should beat out Keydrick Vincent at right guard

3. (74) Kansas State WR Yamon Figurs
Ht/Wt: 5-11/174
40: 4.3
Returner/gunner will likely produce right away but may never as a receiver

3. (86) Iowa OL Marshal Yanda
Ht/Wt: 6-4/315
40: 5.08
Athletic, especially hard working; projects as solid right tackle-guard sub

4. (134) South Florida LB Antwan Barnes
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/240
40: 4.43
Big, strong and fast, Barnes can get to the passer and is a perfect fit at SLB

4. (137) Alabama FB LeRon McClain
Ht/Wt: 6-0/256
40: 4.86
Prototypical lead blocker, good receiver could be better than Ovie Mughelli

5. (174) Ohio State QB Troy Smith
Ht/Wt: 6-0/225
40: 4.64
Behind Steve McNair may be best-case setup for possible QB of the future

6. (207) Michigan LB Prescott Burgess
Ht/Wt: 6-3/240
40: 4.85
Likely too slow to make it in the league as any more than a special teamer

Overall: The Ravens don't have glaring needs and accomplished their goal by selecting players that clearly fit their system. Barnes is the ultimate hybrid DE/OLB and will combine with Jarret Johnson and Dan Cody to replace Adalius Thomas. McClain should start as a rookie. Smith has his detractors but a pedigree that says he'll be an average-to-above average QB when and if he takes the reigns. The Ravens added more athleticism to a young, changing offensive line. While a decent backup for Ray Lewis would've been nice, Ozzie Newsome scored again this year.

Overall Grade: A-

[SIZE=+1]Bengals[/SIZE]

1. (18) Michigan CB Leon Hall
Ht/Wt: 5-11/193
40: 4.39
Fills a hole as either Cincy's nickel or starter opposite Johnathan Joseph

2. (49) Auburn RB Kenny Irons
Ht/Wt: 5-10.5/203
40: 4.45
Shifty back with weak passing-game skills has no apparent role for now

4. (114) TCU S Marvin White
Ht/Wt: 6-1/199
40: 4.53
Superb tackler and natural center fielder; possible '08 starting free safety

5. (151) Nevada QB Jeff Rowe
Ht/Wt: 6-5/226
40: 4.91
Accurate and experienced; is perfect as a backup to groom for the future

6. (187) Oregon DT Matt Toeaina
Ht/Wt: 6-2/307
40: 5.06
Athletic developmental run stopper flashed in college but was inconsistent

7. (230) Notre Dame G Dan Santucci
Ht/Wt: 6-4/296
40: 5.13
ND's best offensive lineman in '06 should have an NFL career as a reserve

7. (253) Notre Dame S Chinedum Ndukwe
Ht/Wt: 6-2/206
40: 4.52
Bengals' run on former Golden Domers ends with a special teamer at best

Overall: Apparently the Bengals have given up on drafting linebackers in the non-supplemental draft after swinging and missing on countless picks at the position the last few years. Cincinnati picked up a probable starter in Hall but added a smallish, nagging-injury prone running back to team with oft-injured Chris Perry and durable Rudi Johnson in the second round. Rowe and White are solid prospects, but none of the Bengals' other picks are ever likely to amount to NFL starters.

Overall Grade: C-
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#24
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Final Grades Are In
[SIZE=+1]Browns[/SIZE]

1. (3) Wisconsin LT Joe Thomas
Ht/Wt: 6-8/303
40: 4.92
Has athleticism, strength to take Kevin Shaffer's job, give team options

1. (22) Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn
Ht/Wt: 6-4/232
40: 4.73
Football Outsiders projects Quinn to be a "very good NFL quarterback"

2. (53) UNLV CB Eric Wright
Ht/Wt: 5-10.5/192
40: 4.42
Off-field troubles dropped him but expected to start at RCB as a rookie

5. (140) Memphis CB Brandon McDonald
Ht/Wt: 5-11/181
40: 4.61
Quicker than fast, good tackler will contribute on special teams initially

6. (200) Hawaii DE Melila Purcell
Ht/Wt: 6-4/280
40: 5.19
Ikaika Alama-Francis' former bookend has knack for getting to the QB

7. (213) LSU DE Chase Pittman
Ht/Wt: 6-5/273
40: 4.96
Odd fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker due to inherent lack of good speed

7. (234) Arizona WR Syndric Steptoe
Ht/Wt: 5-8.5/194
40: 4.61
Collegiate return ace isn't fast enough to outrun NFL coverage units

Overall: It's a risky proposition for a team that's been as bad as the Browns have recently to trade away a future first-round pick (to acquire Quinn). But the former Irish star and local product is likely to be a franchise quarterback. The Browns have added quite a bit of promising young talent in their past two drafts and appear to be a team on the rise. Still, that doesn't guarantee Dallas' first-rounder in 2008 won't be a top-ten selection.

Overall Grade: B-

[SIZE=+1]Steelers[/SIZE]
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
1. (15) Florida State LB Lawrence Timmons
Ht/Wt: 6-1/234
40: 4.62
Complete linebacker should start over James Harrison in his first season

2. (46) Michigan DE LaMarr Woodley
Ht/Wt: 6-1.5/266
40: 4.62
Likely situational pass rusher once Steelers transition to full-fledged 4-3

3. (77) Minnesota TE Matt Spaeth
Ht/Wt: 6-7/270
40: 4.86
Lacks starting upside but could be a decent No. 2 behind Heath Miller

4. (112) Baylor P Daniel Sepulveda
Ht/Wt: 6-3/223
40: 4.49
Great athlete, two-time Ray Guy Award winner took Chris Gardocki's job

4. (132) Oklahoma State DL Ryan McBean
Ht/Wt: 6-4/286
40: 4.98
College tackle transitions to 3-4 end initially; especially explosive player

5. (156) Rutgers OL Cameron Stephenson
Ht/Wt: 6-5/304
40: 5.45
Developmental prospect could land on practice squad to begin pro career

5. (170) Louisville CB William Gay
Ht/Wt: 5-11/184
40: 4.51
Cover corner with decent ball skills may only be a dime in the Tampa 2

7. (227) Florida WR Dallas Baker
Ht/Wt: 6-3/208
40: 4.62
Minimal threat after the catch but sure handed, could produce in red zone

Overall: New coach Mike Tomlin's draft isn't very exciting but the Steelers picked versatile defensive players who should be able to succeed in both the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive alignments. The picks on the other side of the ball aren't as likely to make obvious impacts but Spaeth could be a cheaper version of Jerame Tuman and Baker has potential as a fourth and situational receiver. Sepulveda will instantly be an upgrade over Gardocki. None of the draftees were substantial reaches or head scratchers.

Overall Grade: B-

[SIZE=+1]Texans[/SIZE]

1. (10) Louisville DT Amobi Okoye
Ht/Wt: 6-2/302
40: 5.07
Was No. 1 defender on Texans' draft board; has perennial All-Pro potential

3. (73) Lane WR Jacoby Jones
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/210
40: 4.53
Big sleeper can return kicks, likely give Kevin Walker a strong run to start

4. (123) South Carolina CB Fred Bennett
Ht/Wt: 6-1/196
40: 4.46
Replaces FA loss Lewis Sanders; pure cover corner despite impressive size

5. (144) Stanford S Brandon Harrison
Ht/Wt: 6-2/227
40: 4.58
Questionable pick; a third strong safety to go with C.C. Brown, Glenn Earl

5. (163) Virginia Tech OL Brandon Fry
Ht/Wt: 6-4/301
40: 5.08
Enormously strong and athletic; developmental but could be starter someday

6. (183) Texas G Kasey Studdard
Ht/Wt: 6-3/285
40: 5.18
Small and athletic; Studdard fits Houston's zone-blocking scheme perfectly

7. (218) Kansas State LB Zach Diles
Ht/Wt: 6-0/240
40: 4.8
Productive collegiate has uphill battle to defeat Danny Clark for a roster spot

Overall: The Texans lost a second-round pick in the Matt Schaub deal but did well to draft the best player available at No. 10 overall. It's debatable whether they continued to use that strategy. Jones is a fun player but far from a sure bet to amount to anything in the NFL. Fry and Studdard fit the system but neither is likely to challenge to start. The Diles pick didn't accomplish much and Bennett has major question marks about his ball skills and tackling ability. Houston is only guaranteed one useful player out of its entire draft class.

Overall Grade: C

[SIZE=+1]Colts[/SIZE]

1. (32) Ohio State WR Anthony Gonzalez
Ht/Wt: 6-0/193
40: 4.44
Impact slot receiver could evolve into Marvin Harrison's successor

2. (43) Arkansas OT Tony Ugoh
Ht/Wt: 6-5/305
40: 5.06
Gets a year to learn before likely taking over for Tarik Glenn in 2008

3. (95) California CB Daymeion Hughes
Ht/Wt: 5-10/190
40: 4.74
Elite playmaker should excel in Indianapolis' zone-heavy scheme

3. (98) Ohio State DT Quinn Pitcock
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/299
40: 4.93
"The goat" will focus on rushing the passer; a fine value at this point

4. (131) Troy S Brannon Condren
Ht/Wt: 6-1/208
40: 4.47
Intriguing size, speed but his most likely impact will be on specials

4. (136) Pittsburgh LB Clint Session
Ht/Wt: 6-0/235
40: 4.57
Highly athletic and could push to start at SAM linebacker right away

5. (169) Ohio State WR Roy Hall
Ht/Wt: 6-2/229
40: 4.38
Didn't crack rotation as a senior but interesting straight-line prospect

5. (173) Alabama State DB Michael Coe
Ht/Wt: 6-0.5/190
40: 4.6
Physical and overachieving; can play safety and corner; potential starter

7. (242) Texas Tech DE Keyunta Dawson
Ht/Wt: 6-1/254
40: 4.72
Colts think diminutive pure pass rusher can be similar to Robert Mathis

Overall: All of the above players will have opportunities to play right away except for Ugoh. The Colts picked rookies that should fit right in and may have gotten a true steal in Hughes, an elite playmaker who fell due to a lack of top-end speed and athleticism. Hall was worth a flier but is probably the least likely to become a long-term contributor. Pitcock and Session have starting potential.

Overall Grade: B+

[SIZE=+1]Jaguars[/SIZE]

1. (21) Florida S Reggie Nelson
Ht/Wt: 5-11/198
40: 4.56
Pure center fielder will take over for free agent departure Deon Grant

2. (48) Hampton LB Justin Durant
Ht/Wt: 6-1/230
40: 4.51
Stud athlete will cover kicks initally, take over on weak side by 2009

3. (79) Central Florida WR Mike Walker
Ht/Wt: 6-2/209
40: 4.45
Enters crowded position but has potential to be part of rotation right away

4. (101) Maryland P Adam Podlesh
Ht/Wt: 5-11/209
40: 4.43
Don't support punters this high but speedster will be a weapon on fakes

4. (113) Missouri DE Brian Smith
Ht/Wt: 6-3/239
40: 4.65
Prolific college pass rusher has size, injury history working against him

5. (149) Purdue G Uche Nwaneri
Ht/Wt: 6-3/325
40: 5.38
Heady converted defensive tackle has wide frame but is likely a project

5. (150) Wake Forest S Josh Gattis
Ht/Wt: 6-1/206
40: 4.53
Technician in the secondary could eventually replace SS Donovin Darius

5. (166) Notre Dame DT Derek Landri
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/288
40: 4.93
Penetrating interior lineman may struggle for playing time as a rookie

7. (229) San Jose State WR John Broussard
Ht/Wt: 6-1/178
40: 4.38
Long-term upside is as a return ace and may not make the 53-man roster

7. (251) Elon LB Chad Nkang
Ht/Wt: 5-11.5/220
40: 4.51
Smallish but fast; will cover kicks as a rookie and should make the club

7. (252) Arizona State OT Andrew Carnahan
Ht/Wt: 6-7/306
40: ?
Recovering from season-ending knee injury; practice squad candidate

Overall: The Jags love pass rushers and secured two solid mid-round prospects in Landri and Smith. Neither is likely to become starting caliber down the road but both should be useful in situations. Nelson has been knocked as a "one-trick pony" who will hold down the deep middle but isn't an intimidator. Walker and Durant are the most interesting parts of this draft class and could make the players currently ahead of them expendable sooner than later. Although Broussard and Carnahan may not make the team as rookies, this deep crop is impressive overall.

Overall Grade: B

[SIZE=+1]Titans[/SIZE]

1. (19) Texas DB Michael Griffin
Ht/Wt: 6-0/202
40: 4.47
Playmaker can perform everywhere in the secondary; playing CB initially

2. (50) Arizona RB Chris Henry
Ht/Wt: 5-11/230
40: 4.4
Substantial reach for workout warrior but has opportunity to play right away

3. (80) Fresno State WR Paul Williams
Ht/Wt: 6-1/205
40: 4.53
Boom-or-bust prospect needs chance for playing time; has all the tools

4. (115) NC State C Leroy Harris
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/298
40: 5.37
Versatile guard-center started 42 straight games during Wolfpack career

4. (128) Florida State WR Chris Davis
Ht/Wt: 5-10/182
40: 4.52
Quicker-than-fast slot receiver could also help Titans' in-flux return game

5. (152) Mississippi State DT Antonio Johnson
Ht/Wt: 6-3/310
40: 5.15
Run plugger shined at Senior Bowl; has physical tools to become starter

6. (188) Texas Tech WR Joel Filani
Ht/Wt: 6-2/211
40: 4.55
Productive collegiate likely no more than a fourth or fifth receiver in NFL

6. (204) Central Arkansas DE Jacob Ford
Ht/Wt: 6-3.5/249
40: 4.68
Looks the part but a typical 'tweener; probably not the answer as a starter

6. (206) Florida CB Ryan Smith
Ht/Wt: 5-10/174
40: 4.72
Heady with terrific ball skills; must add strength or risks being camp cut

7. (223) Purdue OT Mike Otto
Ht/Wt: 6-5/305
40: 5.25
Sound college pass protector needs to add strength to forge NFL career

Overall: It's been said that Tennessee didn't need help at safety, but Lamont Thompson is no star at the free spot and Griffin is a major upgrade no matter where he's playing. Henry was one of the most questionable picks in the entire draft but the Titans said afterwards that they were so high on him they considered taking him in Round One. Williams, Johnson, and Harris could grow into starters eventually. Draft analysts have knocked this class but there is plenty of potential for it to be respectable.

Overall Grade: C+

[SIZE=+1]Broncos[/SIZE]

1. (17) Florida DE Jarvis Moss
Ht/Wt: 6-6.5/250
40: 4.7
Enormous upside but won't be more than a situational player as a rookie

2. (56) Texas DE Tim Crowder
Ht/Wt: 6-3.5/272
40: 4.69
Has every-down ability; more likely to start immediately than Moss

3. (70) Notre Dame OL Ryan Harris
Ht/Wt: 6-5/299
40: 5.09
Smart and athletic; likely a guard or right tackle in zone-blocking system

4. (121) Florida DT Marcus Thomas
Ht/Wt: 6-3/296
40: 4.92
First-round talent has myriad of off-field problems; typical boom or bust

Overall: The Crowder pick should pay dividends, as he projects to be a player that rarely has to come off the field, but Moss is a risk who could turn out to be just a rotational type. He's unlikely to solve Denver's problems at the defensive end position in 2007. Denver invested a lot in Thomas by trading up to get him. Harris had a highly inconsistent senior season and didn't help himself in the pre-draft process. The Broncos had a solid offseason overall but their draft isn't pretty.

Overall Grade: C-

[SIZE=+1]Chiefs[/SIZE]

1. (23) LSU WR Dwayne Bowe
Ht/Wt: 6-2/221
40: 4.57
Strong blocker, red-zone threat should emerge as top receiver right away

2. (54) Tennessee DL Turk McBride
Ht/Wt: 6-2/277
40: 4.81
'Tweener defensive tackle/end wasn't much of a college pass rusher

3. (82) NC State DT Tank Tyler
Ht/Wt: 6-2/306
40: 5.3
Nose tackle has tremendous strength but could be buried as a rookie

5. (148) Louisville RB Kolby Smith
Ht/Wt: 5-11/220
40: 4.51
Underrated prospect has chance to take over as the primary backup

5. (160) UCLA K Justin Medlock
Ht/Wt: 5-11.5/198
40: 4.9
Consistent; will start as a rookie and be upgrade over Lawrence Tynes

6. (196) TCU OL Herbert Taylor
Ht/Wt: 6-4/282
40: 5.19
Highly athletic and smart; Taylor possesses upside to be starting guard

7. (231) Whitworth TE Michael Allan
Ht/Wt: 6-6/255
40: 4.71
Project has passing-game skills down but won't make immediate impact

Overall: All the players Kansas City drafted are near certain to make the team, and that's a real positive. But the Chiefs are putting quite a bit on McBride's plate by asking him to start while Jared Allen serves his two-game suspension. The rookie is not likely to generate production. Smith has an outside chance to be the Chiefs' running back of the future if Larry Johnson moves on in 2008. Tyler was probably the best player available at No. 82 but will have to beat out several higher-paid tackles for time. Bowe is a perfect fit for the conservative Chiefs offense and will start from Day One.

Overall Grade: B-

[SIZE=+1]Raiders[/SIZE]

1. (1) LSU QB JaMarcus Russell
Ht/Wt: 6-5.5/265
40: 4.83
Good long-term prospect slated to redshirt behind Josh McCown in '07

2. (38) Arizona State TE Zach Miller
Ht/Wt: 6-4/256
40: 4.86
Complete tight end likely to start and bring consistency to the position

3. (65) Georgia DE Quentin Moses
Ht/Wt: 6-5/261
40: 4.82
Lacks ideal measurables, production as a senior; could help in a rotation

3. (91) Florida State OT Mario Henderson
Ht/Wt: 6-6.5/307
40: 5.11
Athletic like Alex Barron but unlikely to contribute early in his career

3. (99) UTEP WR Johnnie Lee Higgins
Ht/Wt: 5-11/186
40: 4.48
Slot prospect is shifty and explosive; will battle Chris Carr for return job

4. (100) Louisville RB Michael Bush
Ht/Wt: 6-2/243
40: 4.63
Ideal every-down back could be a huge steal if his leg heals as expected

4. (110) Cincinnati CB John Bowie
Ht/Wt: 5-11/188
40: 4.37
Speedster couldn't stay healthy at UC; Raiders took him way too high

5. (138) Ohio State DL Jay Richardson
Ht/Wt: 6-5.5/279
40: 5.04
College underachiever is versatile but not explosive enough to be starter

5. (165) Washington State S Eric Frampton
Ht/Wt: 5-11/204
40: 4.64
Likely core special teams player could take Jarrod Cooper's roster spot

6. (175) Arkansas State FB Oren O'Neal
Ht/Wt: 6-0/248
40: 4.78
Classic lead-blocking prospect has series of medical issues in his past

7. (254) Louisiana Tech WR Johnathan Holland
Ht/Wt: 6-0/191
40: 4.45
Has sprinter's speed; basically a poor man's version of J.L. Higgins

Overall: The Raiders are overhauling their roster with projects. Even Bush can be considered a pick for the future, as he doesn't figure to help right off the bat while recovering from leg surgery and battling several backs for playing time. However, this draft certainly is not devoid of talent and it's possible Oakland will eventually field a starting lineup that includes Russell, Bush, Miller, and Henderson on offense. The Raiders took risks but they were well calculated.

Overall Grade: B+

[SIZE=+1]Chargers[/SIZE]

1. (30) LSU WR Craig Davis
Ht/Wt: 6-1/207
40: 4.49
Unsung hero of Tigers' offense has been impressive in early workouts

2. (37) Utah DB Eric Weddle
Ht/Wt: 5-11/203
40: 4.56
Unusual fit at strong safety but should shut down opposing tight ends

3. (96) Clemson LB Anthony Waters
Ht/Wt: 6-2.5/245
40: 4.62
ILB prospect could be a steal if rehab from torn ACL continues smoothly

4. (129) Iowa TE Scott Chandler
Ht/Wt: 6-7/270
40: 4.87
One-dimensional converted WR has a ways to go before he'll be useful

5. (172) Boise State WR Legedu Naanee
Ht/Wt: 6-2/225
40: 4.45
Interesting measurables but still developing; being tried at F-back position

7. (240) Florida LB Brandon Siler
Ht/Wt: 6-2/241
40: 4.52
Instinctive and quick; fell from early-round prospect for unknown reasons

Overall: Even though they traded away multiple picks to secure Weddle early in the second round, the Bolts did an excellent job again in this draft. They filled their most pressing needs in Rounds One and Two and loaded up on athleticism the rest of the way. Waters and Siler both could push for playing time as rookies. Naanee will be on Malcom Floyd and Brandon Manumaleuna's heels soon. Already arguably the most talented NFL team, the Chargers improved via the draft with two possibly instant starters and added competition for their incumbents.

Overall Grade: A-
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#25
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

This one time, at minicamp ...
Minicamp and Organized Team Activities (OTAs) season is in full swing, with depth chart decisions already being made. Here's a look around the league, with the AFC up first. We'll continue our team-by-team notes throughout the week on the blog and in this column space. Also check out our latest Fantasy Fix, complete with sweet handcuffs graphics!
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
[SIZE=+1]AFC East[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Buffalo Bills[/SIZE]

One of the main reasons the Bills jettisoned Willis McGahee for Marshawn Lynch is their belief that Lynch can play every down. He's impressed in early practices catching the ball. If he can block, Lynch can get 375 touches and be a safe pick as a second running back. ? Lynch owners will want to monitor the battle between Anthony Thomas and fourth-round pick Dwayne Wright for the backup job. Wright is a hard-nosed runner who could vulture short-yardage carries. ? The Bills never upgraded their receiver position, so they are expecting improvement from Peerless Price and Roscoe Parrish to help the offense. They could be waiting a while. In the long run, Lee Evans is going to suffer without some help.

[SIZE=+1]Miami Dolphins[/SIZE]

The Dolphins improved their offer for Trent Green slightly last week and a deal should happen eventually. The delay is similar to Steve McNair's situation when he was stuck in Tennessee last offseason. Both the Ravens and McNair said it was a major setback for McNair to miss so much summer work in Baltimore. He became a Raven on June 9th. While Green knows Cam Cameron's offense, he's still a 37-year-old player joining his first new team in seven seasons. It's asking a lot to expect him to fix the Miami offense. ? Daunte Culpepper looks like a goner if Green arrives, but he's talking tough and saying he's ready to fight for the job. The real question is where could Culpepper go if released? Baltimore and Jacksonville, where some of his old coaches work, look like decent fits.

The Dolphins are moving Chris Chambers to the "X" position in Cam Cameron's offense, which could lead to less targets being thrown his way. He will remain a big downfield threat. It could also be a sign that Ted Ginn isn't being counted on to start. It's only a guess, but I'd put Ginn behind Chambers as the team's third receiver. Marty Booker, who just won't die, looks like the favorite over Derek Hagan on the other side. I'm staying away from the Miami passing game in fantasy leagues if possible. ? There were reports about the new coaching staff being disappointed with Ronnie Brown's weight, but they have spoken glowingly of him in the press. Brown should set a career high in touches if he stays healthy.

[SIZE=+1]New England Patriots[/SIZE]

Randy Moss was a surprise participant in New England's offseason conditioning program. It's a sign that the Patriots could enjoy at least one "honeymoon" year, like Philadelphia did with Terrell Owens in 2004. ? In a column we're compiling for our second draft guide magazine, I asked Boston Globe writer Mike Reiss how many touches he expects to see Laurence Maroney have this season. He believes Maroney will get roughly 18 a game, with four catches mixed in, which works out to 288 carries and 64 receptions. I also had Maroney projected for 285 carries, on the lower end of true starting running backs. Maroney is talented enough to be worth a top-12 fantasy pick if he reaches that total. Playing on a high-octane offense will help him even if he's not a Larry Johnson-like workhorse. ? New England has talked to Chris Brown, a free agent, but they are probably comfortable with Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris as reserves.

[SIZE=+1]New York Jets[/SIZE]

The Jets have enjoyed a quiet minicamp season because their offense is mostly set. Justin McCareins remains on the roster, but they will probably ship him to Tennessee if the Titans make a decent offer. Brad Smith would be a candidate to replace him. ? I think Chad Pennington's leash will be shorter than people realize this season. If the Jets are 3-5, it wouldn't surprise me to see them go to second-year pro Kellen Clemens, provided he looks good in training camp.

[SIZE=+1]AFC North[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Baltimore Ravens[/SIZE]

Was it the offensive line or Jamal Lewis that limited Baltimore's running game the last two seasons? Lewis was a huge factor, but the aging unit upfront didn't help. The success of Baltimore's youth movement on the offensive line this year will help decide Willis McGahee's value. McGahee seems to be talking himself into becoming motivated this year. It's clear he didn't take his job as seriously as he should have in the past. I still don't see him as a first-round pick because of the Ravens' limited offense, but he's close because he'll get a ton of carries. ? Derrick Mason will remain with the Ravens this season, but look for Demetrius Williams to get a larger role. Mark Clayton is the only bankable fantasy receiver.

[SIZE=+1]Cincinnati Bengals[/SIZE]

It would not surprise me if Carson Palmer won the league MVP award this season. Practicing without a knee brace, he's fully healthy and ready regain the accuracy that was lost in 2006. Palmer still threw for 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in a down year. With the Bengals defense looking weak, Cincy will have to throw like crazy to win. That should result in big numbers for Palmer and wideouts Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who will get more passes while Chris Henry is out. ? Housh is sitting out of voluntary work, and is probably unhappy happy with his contract. He'll be there for mandatory work, so it's not a major concern. ? Fantasy leaguers will want to keep an eye on how the Bengals plan to use second-round running back Kenny Irons.

[SIZE=+1]Cleveland Browns[/SIZE]

It was possible to defend the Jamal Lewis signing if Lewis was paired with another quality runner. But Cleveland surprisingly didn't draft a running back in April, and now have one of the shakiest depth charts in the league. The new offensive staff likes Jerome Harrison's versatility, and we're guessing he'll be a third-down back. Jason Wright is a poor man's Jamal Lewis, which isn't a compliment. If nothing else, the lack of competition boosts Lewis' stock. He may get 300 carries once again. ? Early minicamp reports shouldn't be taken too seriously, but Derek Anderson has reportedly looked the best of the Cleveland three-headed monster at quarterback so far. Anderson is a longshot to start, but don't forget about him.

[SIZE=+1]Pittsburgh Steelers[/SIZE]

With Verron Haynes possibly returning to the team, Najeh Davenport and Kevan Barlow may be locked in a battle for a roster spot. It pits two players Fantasy Nation has been frustrated with for a long time. Barlow is the underdog here, but not by much. Davenport is more explosive, but Barlow could be better in short-yardage and pass protection. Willie Parker owners should be happy there is not a natural vulture for short-yardage carries. FWP should continue to score. ? The new coaching staff appears intent on getting Heath Miller more involved. It defied reason that Miller was on the sideline so often last year. He still has the skills to be a solid producer and should come at a better value in fantasy leagues this season.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#26
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Camp Tour: The Vick Chronicles
We started our Minicamp and Organized Team Activity Tour on Tuesday in the AFC and continued it on on the blog. This time we'll take a trip around the NFC East and South, with the first stop in Mr. Vick's controversial neighborhood.

[SIZE=+1]NFC South[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Atlanta Falcons[/SIZE]

All of the excellent reporting on the Michael Vick dog fighting investigation, from Sports Illustrated to ProFootballTalk.com -- The Best Pro Football Scoop on the Internet, has overlooked one admittedly minor factor: The fantasy owners! Okay, we're not the victims here. But Vick owners in keeper leagues should be prepared for the possibility of Vick being suspended this year. Yes, the legal system could take time to run it's course. But it's clear this is a top priority for the NFL, and the evidence mounting against Vick looks worse every day. If Vick is caught in a bold-faced lie to the commish, that could damage his chances to play just as much as the crime itself.

So where do the Falcons go from here? They can't exactly give up on Vick as the franchise if he's suspended, say, four games. They may be caught in a transition year unless Vick is somehow gone for the whole year. If that happens, there is only one quarterback for the Falcons that makes more sense to me other than current backup Joey Harrington ? Harrington's old teammate Daunte Culpepper. Daunte's vertical ability could mesh in Bobby Petrino's offense, although he'd have to prove healthy and able to absorb the system quickly.

It's more likely that Harrington will be the guy, and that may not change the fantasy value of the Atlanta receivers much. They still don't have any. Joe Horn, Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and Laurent Robinson seem likely to cancel each other out. I don't see Harrington as a great fit for a bombs-away offense. He is the master of the too-quick release, the safe five-yard dumpoff instead of waiting for a big play to develop.

The Falcons may have to rely on their running game for the big plays. While I love Jerious Norwood as a sleeper, there is some concern about his ability to hold up physically for 16 games. Warrick Dunn will remain a big factor in a committee, even if he's the lesser half.

[SIZE=+1]Carolina Panthers[/SIZE]

Drew Carter is lining up as Carolina's starting wideout opposite Steve Smith, but he may not stay there for long. Carter works best as a third receiver ready to stretch the field. Dwayne Jarrett is more likely to provide a physical threat opposite Keyshawn Johnson. Keary Colbert also has one last chance to impress the team, but he's an underdog now. ? The best reason to expect improvement from the team's offense is improvement from the offensive line. Travelle Wharton is back at left tackle and rookie Ryan Kalil will be a leader for the unit in the future. ? No word yet on the DeAngelo Williams vs. DeShaun Foster battle, but Jeff Davidson's offense is going to emphasize versatility. Williams is more versatile.

[SIZE=+1]New Orleans Saints[/SIZE]

Robert Meachem showed up to his first minicamp overweight, but dropped many of the pounds by the time OTAs started. He will push Devery Henderson for playing time. If the 2007 Saints are anything like last year's version, they can both be useful fantasy reserves. ? The drafting of Antonio Pittman probably means this is Deuce McAllister's final season in New Orleans, assuming Pittman works out. Reggie Bush owners in deep keeper leagues should grab Pittman. ? I think Drew Brees is bound to fall back to Earth somewhat, but there are reasons to believe otherwise. He's had a full offseason to throw in Sean Payton's system for the first team. His tight end (Eric Johnson) is better and the offensive line is stable. Most importantly, Payton is willing to pass like crazy no matter the situation. He may have to this year to keep up with a defense that overachieved in 2006. ? Newcomer Brian Simmons will battle Mark Simoneau for the starting middle linebacker job.


[SIZE=+1]Tampa Bay Buccaneers[/SIZE]
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Tampa is the perfect landing spot for Antonio Bryant, but the Bucs don't seem to be in any rush to sign him. The development of Maurice Stovall may be one reason. Stovall's physical play is similar to Michael Clayton, and the two will battle it out for the starting job opposite Joey Galloway. ? Jerramy Stevens' signing severely damages Alex Smith's potential as a pass-catching tight end, assuming Stevens makes the team. I don't see any reason why he won't as long as he keeps his nose clean. ? Chris Simms has lined up with the first team thus far in the offseason, which isn't a surprise. Jeff Garcia will be given every chance to win the job, however, and we probably will be writing about the story until December unless Simms plays lights out right off the bat.

[SIZE=+1]NFC North[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Chicago Bears[/SIZE]

We haven't heard much about Mark Bradley this offseason, and that's probably a good thing. He's finally healthy and will take targets away from Mushin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian in the long run. With pass-catching back Garrett Wolfe and Devin Hester added to the offensive mix, the Bears receivers are likely to be unpredictable any given week. ? The Bears are up their old tricks, signing nearly their entire draft class before May is up. Greg Olsen and the team are targeting early July, so don't expect any holdouts in Chicago. Olsen isn't guaranteed anything as a rookie with Desmond Clark coming off his best season. They will probably cancel each other out for fantasy purposes. ? Brian Griese has missed much of the offseason practices with a foot injury. That squashes any chance to gain ground on Rex Grossman.

[SIZE=+1]Detroit Lions[/SIZE]

There is optimism surrounding Kevin Jones' foot these days, although no one really knows if he'll be ready for the season. He's still the only Lion running back I'd be interested in drafting this year. Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett have struggled in ideal situations and they won't get the ball enough. Detroit tailbacks rushed 264 times last year, dead last in the NFL. That number could go down if Jones misses any time and it will be Jones' job once healthy. ? Roy Williams has been missing practices with a hamstring injury. It's not a huge deal, but his inability to play through relatively minor injury has held him back as a pro. Calvin Johnson has reportedly been making a handful of 'wow' plays every practice to keep the locals happy. ? Paris Lenon is locked into the middle linebacker job, usually a great source of tackles in a Tampa 2 defense.

[SIZE=+1]Green Bay Packers[/SIZE]

Greg Jennings survived an offseason of Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson rumors and remains a starter. With only third-round pick James Jones and Robert Ferguson as true competition, the second-year player is going to get a lot of targets in a pass-heavy offense. ? Jones is a physical threat who projects as an interesting player long-term. ? Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are both doing well in their respective rehabs and should be fully ready for training camp, if not sooner. ? Favre may not have old pal Bubba Franks to throw to anymore, as the former Miami tight end may be cut. Don't expect big fantasy production from the tight end position in Green Bay, with Donald Lee and Tory Humphrey the two favorites to overtake Franks.

[SIZE=+1]Minnesota Vikings[/SIZE]

Troy Williamson has been the story of OTA season because the Vikings believe they have corrected some eyesight problems. I'm more interested in the fact that he's been spending quality time with the JUGS machine and the early results look good. Williamson and rookie Sidney Rice will compete for a starting job across from Bobby Wade, who is way out of his league as a "number one" receiver. Williamson has to be considered the favorite, although we wouldn't touch any Vikings receiver in Tarvaris Jackson's first full season as a starter. ? All indications are that Jackson will be the guy over Brooks Bollinger provided he doesn't tank the offseason. He could run enough to make him an emergency pickup if you have injuries at quarterback. ? Adrian Peterson has impressed with his ability to catch the ball early in the offseason. Chester Taylor is still more likely to get third-down work. The news that Peterson will forgo surgery on his collarbone is a big blow to Taylor's chance at retaining value.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#27
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Camp Tour rolls on: NFC


[SIZE=+1]NFC West[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]San Francisco 49ers[/SIZE]

There has been very little news in Niner-land because their OTAs started late. Darrell Jackson has been unable to practice as a 49er because of turf toe, an injury that dates back to last season. His inability to stay on the field was a bigger issue than his drops in Seattle. Jackson will play his familiar flanker role when healthy, but practicing with his new team would be a plus. Arnaz Battle will slot in behind him and shouldn't be drafted in most leagues. Ashley Lelie and Jason Hill are similar deep threats on the other side of the field. Look for Lelie to start the year, but Hill may finish it.

49ers personnel chief Scot McCloughan made some waves recently when he said the San Francisco offensive was better top to bottom than the Seattle group he worked with including Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones. That borders on blasphemy, but it's good to see him confident in his emerging unit. If he's half-right, Frank Gore, Alex Smith, and Vernon Davis will have great seasons. We do think San Francisco has built impressive depth, but they are still waiting for elite talent to emerge.

[SIZE=+1]Arizona Cardinals[/SIZE]

Ken Whisenhunt wants Edgerrin James to get roughly 325 carries this season, which isn't much different than his workload last year. Whisenhunt also said he wants the team to get roughly 500 carries, which would limit how many pass targets Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald can get. I'm going to tone down their projections slightly. Such a huge workload for the team is only possible if the offensive line is playing fairly well, and Marcel Shipp is a reasonable backup. J.J. Arrington is locked into a third-down role at best. Whisenhunt occasionally did get pass-happy in Pittsburgh, and perhaps he'll change his strategy when he realizes his best personnel are in the passing game.

[SIZE=+1]St. Louis Rams[/SIZE]

Torry Holt underwent knee surgery in late January, and isn't yet running at full speed. This would indicate it was more involved than a simple arthroscopy. Holt wasn't playing at full strength for parts of the last two seasons, so the surgery could be good news. But it could also mean a slow start to the year. Marc Bulger certainly has more options to throw to, so Holt better increase his uncharacteristically weak efficiency from last season.

Contract talks with Bulger have been quiet thus far, but coach Scott Linehan sounds confident a deal will get done. ? A lot of people have asked if Brian Leonard could cut into Steven Jackson's production. I doubt he will much on how own, but Leonard plus Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael could. The team doesn't want Jackson catching 90 passes again.

[SIZE=+1]Seattle Seahawks[/SIZE]

Deion Branch was moved to flanker, Darrell Jackson's old position. This should help him get off the line of scrimmage better and ultimately lead to more pass targets. D.J. Hackett will be used on deep routes more often and is the better red zone threat of the two because of his leaping ability. Hackett, however, had most of his production last season while playing in the slot. Bobby Engram will probably take that role this year, so Hackett won't be the first option. ? Shaun Alexander owners have to be happy Seattle didn't add talent to their backfield this year. Even if Alexander's play doesn't improve, he's one of the few running backs guaranteed 325 carries if healthy.

Matt Hasselbeck was practicing without limits after having surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in the offseason. We like Hasselbeck's play to improve, but there may be an adjustment period for him without Darrell Jackson and Jerramy Stevens in town. Thanks to Mike Sando of Seahawks Insider for helping with this section. We'll have more from him in our second magazine.



[SIZE=+1]NFC East[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Dallas Cowboys[/SIZE]

It's hard to get a handle on what Jason Garrett will do as a first-time coordinator, but the Cowboys are set up to be a high-octane attack based around a vertical passing game. They will probably run less than under Bill Parcells. I think Jason Witten will benefit the most by stretching the middle of the field instead of blocking so much. Terrell Owens is also set up to get a huge amount of targets with Tony Romo starting 16 games. ? One of the big questions of the offseason was whether the new staff would favor Julius Jones or Marion Barber. So far, it looks like Jones has a lock on the starting job and could see more action on passing downs. I've seen Jones go much later than Barber in fantasy drafts thus far, which is a mistake. There is no guarantee Barber will have a similar vulture role without Bill Parcells. No matter what you think of Barber, you just can't draft a backup running back in the top-40 picks, no matter how many touchdowns he scored last year. Jones has been going as late as the seventh-to-eighth round, which is great value.

[SIZE=+1]New York Giants[/SIZE]

One thing you'll read in Rotoworld over the next three months is our belief in Brandon Jacobs as a solid value this year. Part of our reasoning lies with Jacobs' underrated all-field game and obvious touchdown potential. The rest lies with our lack of faith in all things Reuben Droughns. While it's early, Droughns might have to worry about seventh-round pick Ahmad Bradshaw more than Jacobs. Bradshaw is an undersized player out of Marshall who would have been drafted much earlier if not for off-field concerns. He's turned heads at OTAs and could be in the mix for some third-down snaps ala Leon Washington.

Another rookie impressing early is USC receiver Steve Smith. He looks like the heir to Amani Toomer's job, and it wouldn't surprise me if Toomer gave way during the 2007 season. Sinorice Moss looks more likely to play out of the slot. Toomer is working out on the side of practice as he recovers from ACL surgery. ? Eli Manning's blind side now looks likely to be protected by Guy Whimper, a fourth-round pick from last season. GM Jerry Reese's boldest move of the offseason was cutting Luke Petitgout, so he's banking on Whimper. David Diehl will stay at left guard if Whimper pans out. New York headline writers are thrilled with the development.

[SIZE=+1]Philadelphia Eagles[/SIZE]

Lost in the Kevin Kolb controversy is the reality that he won't contribute this season. Tony Hunt, the team's third-round pick at running back, is the name fantasy leaguers should get to know. Hunt has the skills to play on passing downs and in short-yardage. The Philly offense isn't easy to learn, but he could take carries from Correll Buckhalter and touchdowns from Brian Westbrook. Throw in seventh-round FB Nate Illoa, who closely resembles a wrecking ball, and Westbrook could see fewer short-yardage carries this year.

Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are locked into the starting wideout jobs and will be highly productive if they stay healthy. Curtis has never had to play 16 games as a starter, so it's key to watch who would be his likely replacement. Hank Baskett and Jason Avant are battling for the team's slot receiver role, but Baskett's speed makes him a better choice to become a starter if injuries strike. ? L.J. Smith's hernia surgery is a red flag. He has a history of minor injuries and this is one that tends to linger. At least he'll be motivated to play as much as possible because this is a contract year.

[SIZE=+1]Washington Redskins[/SIZE]

Joe Gibbs wants Clinton Portis to be his workhorse, but Portis' physical problems complicate matters. His recent bout of tendonitis isn't a huge deal on it's own, but it will put Portis further back in his recovery. Ladell Betts may have a bigger role early in the season while Portis works himself into shape. The uncertainty may push Portis out of the first round of our next magazine, but we will move him back up if training camp goes well. ? Santana Moss also continues to sit out practices with a groin injury. He has a chance for a big comeback year as Jason Campbell and the Redskins offense assimilates Al Saunders' complex offense. ? IDP leaguers looking for a sleeper should watch LB Rocky McIntosh. Washington linebackers have historically put up big numbers and he's been guaranteed the starting weak-side linebacker job. ? Thanks to Jason LaConfora of the valuable Redskins Insider for contributing to the Portis information here. He'll be included, along with many of our favorite writers, in a column in our second magazine.
[SIZE=+1]NFC North[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Chicago Bears[/SIZE]

We haven't heard much about Mark Bradley this offseason, and that's probably a good thing. He's finally healthy and will take targets away from Mushin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian in the long run. With pass-catching back Garrett Wolfe and Devin Hester added to the offensive mix, the Bears receivers are likely to be unpredictable any given week.

The Bears are up their old tricks, signing nearly their entire draft class before May is up. Greg Olsen and the team are targeting early July, so don't expect any holdouts in Chicago. Olsen isn't guaranteed anything as a rookie with Desmond Clark coming off his best season. They will probably cancel each other out for fantasy purposes. Brian Griese has missed much of the offseason practices with a foot injury. That squashes any chance to gain ground on Rex Grossman. ? Alex Brown is reportedly on the trade market, and has surprisingly garnered little interest for Chicago's second-round asking price. Is Brown's well-rounded game all hype? In a league that prizes defensive ends, it's telling that Chicago can't deal him.

[SIZE=+1]Detroit Lions[/SIZE]

There is optimism surrounding Kevin Jones' foot these days, although no one really knows if he'll be ready for the season. "Ahead of schedule" doesn't mean much until he's cutting at full speed with pads on.

Jones is still the only Lion running back I'd be interested in drafting this year. Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett have struggled in ideal situations and they won't get the ball enough. Detroit tailbacks rushed 264 times last year, dead last in the NFL. That number could go down if Jones misses any time and it will be Jones' job once healthy. Bell is going to get drafted too high in most leagues. ? Roy Williams has been missing practices with a hamstring injury. It's not a huge deal, but his inability to play through relatively minor injury has held him back as a pro. Calvin Johnson, on the other hand, has reportedly been making a handful of 'wow' plays every practice to keep the locals happy. ? Paris Lenon is locked into the middle linebacker job, usually a great source of tackles in a Tampa 2 defense.

[SIZE=+1]Green Bay Packers[/SIZE]

Greg Jennings survived an offseason of Randy Moss and Keyshawn Johnson rumors and remains a starter. With only third-round pick James Jones and Robert Ferguson as true competition; the second-year player is going to get a lot of targets in a pass-heavy offense. ? Jones is a physical threat who projects as an interesting player long-term. ? Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers are both doing well in their respective rehabs and should started practicing in full team drills last week. They will have no limits on them by training camp.

Favre may not have old pal Bubba Franks to throw to anymore, as the former Miami tight end may be cut. Don't expect big fantasy production from the tight end position in Green Bay, with Donald Lee and Tory Humphrey the two favorites to overtake Franks. ? How the mighty have fallen: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila was running with the third team at OTAs. He will be a situational pass-rusher this year. ? Rookie runner Brandon Jackson missed minicamp because of an NFL rookie event, but he has plenty of time to pass Vernand Morency on the depth chart. I expect Jackson to finish with more carries on the season, but a running back by committee is possible.

[SIZE=+1]Minnesota Vikings[/SIZE]

Troy Williamson has been the story of minicamp season because the Vikings believe they have corrected some eyesight problems. I'm more interested in the fact that he's been spending quality time with the JUGS machine and the early results look good. Williamson and rookie Sidney Rice will compete for a starting job across from Bobby Wade, who is way out of his league as a "number one" receiver. Williamson has to be considered the favorite, although we wouldn't touch any Vikings receiver in Tarvaris Jackson's first full season as a starter. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

All indications are that Jackson will be the guy over Brooks Bollinger provided he doesn't tank the offseason. Jackson reportedly struggled when under pressure at minicamp, which is a concern. He looked awfully raw in his appearances last season. Jackson could run enough to make him an emergency pickup if you have injuries at quarterback. ? Adrian Peterson has impressed with his ability to catch the ball early in the offseason. Chester Taylor is still more likely to get third-down work. The news that Peterson will forgo surgery on his collarbone is a big blow to Taylor's chance at retaining value.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#28
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Injury Watch

The following is a list of hurting players you may own in a fantasy football dynasty league or be targeting on draft day. No "studs" have incurred season-ending injuries during their teams' offseason programs to this point, but a few are likely to do so as we move forward. If you're interested in ailments, also check out our NFL Injury Page, which is updated whenever a player goes on the mend.


49ers WR Darrell Jackson (turf toe)
Jackson is still recovering from the same injury that kept him out of his final three games as a Seahawk. It's possible he underwent surgery that was never disclosed. Jackson won't be a full participant until training camp.

Bears FS Mike Brown (Lisfranc foot surgery)
The Bears expect Brown to start at free safety, most likely across from Adam Archuleta. He's been practicing at minicamps but could be limited to once-a-day work in training camp.

Bears CB Charles Tillman (back surgery)
Unlike his partner in the secondary, "Peanut" has not taken part in offseason workouts, although he's expected to be ready for training camp. This is a big season for Tillman as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Bengals RB Chris Perry (broken leg/ankle)
After beginning 2006 on PUP, the team has admitted that Perry will likely do the same this year. He appears to be the odd man out in a backfield that has added Kenny Irons and retained Kenny Watson. Perry could be as low as fourth on the depth chart when and if he returns.

Broncos TE Tony Scheffler (broken foot)
Scheffler had his foot operated on in mid-May and Denver is optimistic he'll be ready to start training camp. But this is still a situation to monitor, as the second-year player is in a competition for time with Daniel Graham and Stephen Alexander.

Broncos WR Brandon Stokley (Achilles' tear)
Stokley missed May and June minicamps but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. He's still unlikely to practice fully during August two-a-days.

Broncos WR Rod Smith (hip surgery)
Smith has missed all of minicamp season and Organized Team Activities, and the last we heard he was walking with the assistance of a cane. The 37-year-old backup receiver's status for the beginning training camp is in doubt.

Browns RB Jamal Lewis (ankle surgery)
Lewis had bone spurs removed from his ankle in January. He began running in April and is currently participating fully at Browns OTAs.

Browns TE Kellen Winslow (microfracture knee surgery)
He was off crutches in early March and his rehab appears to be well ahead of schedule, as Winslow has been jogging at OTAs. Monitor this situation, but Winslow should be close to full speed once the season kicks off.

Bucs DE Simeon Rice (shoulder surgery)
The 12-year vet, who is entering a contract year, has not been practicing at minicamps or Organized Team Activities. Specific word on his condition has been unavailable, but the general feeling is that Rice will be fine come training camp.

Cardinals TE Ben Patrick (hamstring pull)
The seventh-rounder appeared to be a potential sleeper when he was drafted into a thin and unproven tight end corps, but has missed upwards of 20 workouts. Patrick should be ready for training camp but is well behind Leonard Pope.

Chiefs RB Priest Holmes (neck/spine)
Holmes was extended a training-camp invite and hopes to play in 2007, but has yet to receive medical clearance. He's far from certain to ever see the field again.

Colts FS Bob Sanders (shoulder surgery)
The team is being cautious with arguably its top defender and will likely limit him in training camp, but Sanders should be 100 percent by Week 1.

Cowboys OLB Greg Ellis (Achilles' tear)
Ellis, who is the favorite to start over first-round pick Anthony Spencer, began light running in early March. He could struggle to stay healthy this season coming off an injury that frequently lingers.

Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (finger surgery)
T.O. had the cast removed from his right ring finger in early April. He surprised everyone by catching passes during May minicamps.

Dolphins QB Daunte Culpepper (knee surgeries)
The likely soon to be ex-Dolphin was recently medically cleared to begin practicing. When he does, Culpepper will probably be fourth string behind starter Trent Green, backup Cleo Lemon, and quarterback of the future John Beck.

Dolphins WR Ted Ginn (mid-foot sprain)
Ginn will report to minicamps on Thursday. He's expected to be ready for training camp but was already raw as a receiver and has made no strides in that aspect of his game. Ginn's initial impact will likely be strictly on returns.

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (torn ACL w/meniscus damage)
McNabb began running in February, ahead of schedule. The Eagles say he could begin throwing passes in June and remain positive whenever asked about the injury. It'll be a surprise if McNabb's not ready for training camp.

Eagles TE L.J. Smith (surgery for sports hernia)
Procedures like the one Smith underwent in late May normally take eight-to-ten weeks to recover from even though the team says he'll be set for the start of training camp. Smith is entering a contract year, so he needs to get healthy.

Falcons WR Brian Finneran (knee surgery)
The Falcons haven't addressed the issue specifically, but initial reports had Finneran re-tearing the ACL that cost him all of last season at an early minicamp. Laurent Robinson and Roddy White are currently battling for the third-receiver role.

Falcons RB Warrick Dunn (shoulder surgery)
Dunn's surgery took place in January. He'll face heavy competition for his starting job, but has impressed new coach Bobby Petrino thus far.

Falcons TE Alge Crumpler (knee surgery)
Crump's second "arthroscopic" procedure in as many offseasons prevented him from participating in minicamps. He's someone to keep an eye on in the preseason but should remain a top TE1 once the season starts.

Falcons WLB Demorrio Williams (torn pectorals muscle)
The newly-named starter seemed a candidate for PUP after injuring himself in Atlanta's offseason conditioning program, but Petrino says he'll be a go in Week 1. Rookie Stephen Nicholas is taking first-team reps in his stead.

Giants WR Amani Toomer (partially torn ACL)
After he was placed on I.R. in 2006, rumors circulated that the Giants were unhappy Toomer called it quits when they felt he could've finished the season. That would seem to indicate his injury wasn't serious. But Toomer could be limited to once-a-day work in training camp and possibly lose his starting job to rookie Steve Smith.

Giants DE Michael Strahan (foot surgery)
Strahan was limping in February, immediately after his foot was repaired. He hasn't been practicing at minicamps and his status going forward is uncertain.

Jaguars RB Greg Jones (torn ACL)
Jones tore up his knee last August and all reports about his rehab have been positive. But he's likely lost some speed after suffering the same injury twice and could do more lead blocking in 2007.

Jaguars SS Donovin Darius (broken leg)
Darius has been replaced by Gerald Sensabaugh as the Jags' first-team strong safety at offseason workouts, but is expected to be healthy in late July. If Sensabaugh performs well, it's possible the 32-year-old Darius will lose some in-season snaps.

Jaguars TE George Wrighster (shoulder surgery)
Wrighster, recovering from a torn labrum, isn't taking part at OTAs but hasn't lost any ground to Marcedes Lewis, who's dealing with nagging injuries of his own.

Lions RB Kevin Jones (Lisfranc fracture)
Direct indications from the Lions have been positive about Jones' rehab, but their offseason acquisitions tell a different story. Although he is doing some running at OTAs, Jones' status for Week 1 remains up in the air.

Jets RB Curtis Martin (bone-on-bone condition in knee)
Despite a New York Daily News report that Martin was considering coming back for another season, he will announce his retirement prior to training camp.

Lions WR Roy Williams (hamstring pull)
Williams has missed quite a bit of offseason work but his injury is of minor concern. He's considered day-to-day and should recover before training camp.

Lions RB Brian Calhoun (torn ACL)
A once-promising draft pick out of Wisconsin, Calhoun isn't slated to fill much of a role even if he avoids the PUP list, which he currently seems headed for.

Packers WR Robert Ferguson (Lisfranc sprain)
The Pack is counting on Ferguson to contribute as a No. 3 or 4 receiver and gunner. He won't have fantasy value even if he's healthy.

Panthers MLB Dan Morgan (concussions)
The Panthers re-did Morgan's contract in the offseason, safeguarding themselves against further concussions. Early reports sound satisfactory, but Morgan is likely one play away from a career-ending hit.

Patriots WR Chad Jackson (torn ACL)
Reports as to the severity of Jackson's injury have varied. He remains a strong candidate for the Physically-Unable-to-Perform list.

Patriots TE David Thomas (broken foot)
Thomas was injured during the Patriots' offseason conditioning program. He's uncertain to be ready for training camp, which is good news for Ben Watson.

Patriots RB Laurence Maroney (shoulder surgery)
Maroney isn't practicing in 11-on-11s but participated in a few light agility drills and took at least one handoff on Wednesday. The second-year back is considered likely to be ready for the start of training camp. His backup, Sammy Morris, is recovering from a similar procedure but has been doing more work.

Raiders RB Michael Bush (surgery for a broken leg)
Bush missed all pre-draft events after undergoing surgery to remove a rod from his tibia in March. He's expected to be a go for training camp but faces an uphill battle to make an impact early in his rookie year.

Raiders QB Andrew Walter (arthroscopic knee surgery)
Walter claims to have played all last season with a knee injury suffered in the 2006 preseason. He had the scope on Monday and will miss four-to-six weeks. It has virtually eliminated his already meager chances of being Oakland's starter.

Raiders WR Mike Williams (hamstring pull)
Williams continues to miss action at OTAs after getting hurt during his first workout in silver and black. Travis Taylor's signing and Williams' inability to practice have put his roster spot into serious jeopardy.

Rams WLB Pisa Tinoisamoa (shoulder surgery)
After playing through numerous broken and dislocated body parts in 2006, Tinoisamoa has been limited this offseason. He should be ready for Week 1 but the Rams added insurance in Chris Draft and are getting Jon Alston ready just in case.

Rams WR Torry Holt (knee surgery)
Holt hasn't begun running at full speed during Organized Team Activities and there's been some speculation that he had reconstructive knee surgery rather than a simple scope. He's someone to keep a close eye on.

Redskins RB Clinton Portis (shoulder/hand surgeries)
Portis missed minicamps and OTAs after experiencing knee tendonitis in addition to his other rehabs. He vows to be ready for training camp but is an injury risk having taken on such a large workload early in his career.

Redskins WR Santana Moss (hip flexor)
Moss has been nagged by minor injuries since early in 2006, but he's likely being withheld from offseason work merely as a precaution.

Saints RB Deuce McAllister (knee clean-up surgery)
A very common procedure, Deuce had his knee cleaned out in early February to repair his meniscus and some scar tissue. He's been practicing, but it's a concern that he's undergone knee surgery in back-to-back years.

Saints WR Robert Meachem (surgery for damaged meniscus)
Meachem had his surgery performed on Tuesday. Doctors repaired his medial meniscus and some torn cartilage in his right knee, the same one Meachem had problems with early in his college career. He's expected to miss four-to-six weeks and could be ready for training camp, but will be an injury risk as a rookie.

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck (torn labrum in non-throwing shoulder)
Hasselbeck could be held out of a few preseason games if Seattle is still worried, but he's close to 100 percent at this point. His injury shouldn't bother him long term.

Titans WR David Givens (torn ACL, meniscus w/broken bone in leg)
Coach Jeff Fisher thinks Givens will be ready for training camp but others near the team say he won't be ready for Week 1. A report in late May even suggested Givens may not play at all this year. If he does, he's doubtful to be 100 percent at any point.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#29
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Going on the Offensive
Offensive linemen are walking paradoxes. They are freakishly large, but nearly invisible on the field. They play a brutally physical position, but are among the most well-spoken, intelligent athletes in all of sports. They are offensive players who spend the majority of their time going backwards.

It's difficult to appreciate individual linemen while watching on television, but fantasy owners can appreciate the efforts of the entire unit when reading the boxscore every Sunday. Behind every great running back and quarterback is usually a great offensive line. Identifying the best lines in the summer can often point you to fantasy players who are undervalued. So let's give it a try, with last year's ranking in parentheses.

1. Colts (10) ? These guys are technicians. Peyton Manning's low sack total is partly due to the quarterbacks smarts, but Tom Moore's system makes everyone look good. They picked up blitzers beautifully against the Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs. They get the nod as our top-ranked team because they are the most balanced team in in run blocking and pass blocking. LT Tarik Glenn may only have one year left in Indy.

2. Chargers (11) ? They don't get enough credit for LaDainian Tomlinson's success. Or Michael Turner's. This young group bounced back from a weak 2005 season largely because of standout rookie LT Marcus McNeil solving the left tackle spot. The interior line of Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff, and suddenly rich Kris Dielman are nasty. They are solid in pass protection as well.

3. Eagles (12) ? They turned it up a notch last season. Any squad that makes Jeff Garcia look good at his age is doing something right. Jammaal Jackson is turning into a great center. I love that this unit has promising replacements ready to go at most spots they are aging. After pass protecting so much over the years, this unit showed in 2006 they can be top-notch run-blockers when given the chance.

4. Bengals (4) ? This ranking is for their talent and potential more than their 2006 production. Injuries ravaged this line last season and Eric Steinbach left town, but Levi Jones and Willie Anderson remain fantastic bookends. Andrew Whitworth should fit in nicely at guard. Look for this group to make Carson Palmer and Rudi Johnson look great this year.

5. Jaguars (20) ? The next great line? No team ran block better than the Jaguars last year. Their guards are terrific, but their tackles need to improve their pass protection. Khalif Barnes and Baltimore import Tony Pashos could make Byron Leftwich (or Daunte Culpepper) a sleeper if they play to their potential.

6. Broncos (3) ? A unit in transition, but they are still the Broncos. LT Matt Lepsis is recovering from a torn ACL. C Tom Nalen is 36 years old. The group is a little larger at the other spots than normal, but they will still be zone-blocking fools. Travis Henry's rank depends on them maintaining their level of play.

7. Redskins (5) ? Great run blockers. Will the rest of the offense come together? Consider that some Redskins observers thought Derrick Dockery, he of the $18.5 million guaranteed from the Bills, was their fifth-best lineman. With veteran savvy at almost every position, this group risks getting old. But I think they have one big year left. Santana Moss and Jason Campbell could be seriously undervalued because of it.

8. Vikings (9) ? Steve Hutchinson was a disappointment for the money paid to him, but he still is part of a potentially dominating left side of the line with Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk in the middle. Minnesota's passing game looks terrible on paper, but perhaps their strong line can carry Tarvaris Jackson.

9. Patriots (8) ? Greater than the sum of their parts, although some of the parts (Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Logan Mankins) should start making Pro Bowls. This group needs to protect Tom Brady better, though. If Matt Light doesn't improve this season, the team could consider looking for another left tackle.

10. Seahawks (1) ? How low can you rank a line that has Walter Jones on it? Some observers feel that Jones' play fell off some last season, but it was Sean Locklear's decline, Steve Hutchinson's absence, and a number of injuries that caused the most problems. This group has the potential to rebound. Shaun Alexander needs it.

11. Saints (28) ? This is a great pass-blocking unit and they came out of nowhere last year. Jammal Brown can improve his consistency, but he deserved his Pro Bowl nod. The interior line is strong with Jahri Evans leading the way. The only question is at right tackle. Can Jon Stinchcomb do it again? Some regression to the mean seems likely for the whole group.

12. Bears (15) ? Based on the last few years, the Bears should be in the top ten. In fact, they were one of three teams to rank in the top ten of both passing and rushing in FootballOutsiders.com's adjusted offensive line stats. I'm skeptical a unit bookended by tackles over 32 can stay so effective.

13. Steelers (6) ? A great system, but this is a transition year. Alan Faneca is likely to leave after the season. Willie Colon may replace Max Starks on the right side. Bill Cowher is gone and long-time RB Dick Hoak retired, so the running game may take a step back. At least we know the linemen will have good reading material.

14. Titans (24) ? Jeff Fisher consistently puts together an underrated unit and they should improve after a recent youth movement. They have a pair of young tackles in Michael Roos and David Stewart that are each 6'7! They like to run in power formations, which will help LenDale White and Chris Henry.

15. Giants ? (14) Who will replace Luke Petitgout? David Diehl and Guy Whimper will battle for the job in August. Otherwise, this is a roughneck crew whose run blocking should make Brandon Jacobs look good. They aren't quite as good at pass blocking.

16. Packers (27) ? Another rising group. Chad Clifton remains on the left side, but the zone-blocking scheme Green Bay installed combined with two promising second-year starters (Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz) could lead to a big season for Brandon Jackson.

17. 49ers (32) ? Frank Gore makes this group look better than it is, but it has some interesting young pieces. Justin Smiley, Joe Staley, Eric Heitmann, and Adam Snyder are the future. Larry Allen is still hanging around. This is one of the few groups ranked this low with excellent depth on the bench.

18. Ravens (22) ? Not sure what to think about this group. Was the running game the last few years their fault or Jamal Lewis'? With Jonathan Ogden back, this is still a team that can pass protect. Steve McNair needs it.

19. Jets (29) ? D'Brickashaw Ferguson was good, Nick Mangold may already be great. With those two pieces in place, the Jets should be solid for a long time. They need to improve their run blocking overall to help Thomas Jones out.

20. Rams (18) ? Mike Martz is gone and Marc Bulger is staying healthier. I doubt it's a coincidence. Once the last Donut Brother standing (Andy McCollum) is gone, the entire unit will be playing on their rookie contract except future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. Alex Barron took strides last year.

21. Panthers (13) ? They were worse than this ranking last year, but a return to health for Travelle Wharton and Justin Hartwig will help. Rookie Ryan Kalil may make Hartwig obsolete before long though. The Panthers usually have a mediocre running attack, so DeAngelo Williams needs improvement upfront.

22. Cowboys (17)? They look good on paper, but that was the case last year at this time. This line will go as Flozell Adams goes, and the old warhorse is starting to wear down.

23. Falcons (7) ? Fantasy owners should be afraid that Bobby Petrino took one of the best offensive lines in football and completely changed the philosophy. The linemen don't seem to mind because they can eat again.

24. Lions (25) ? Two ways to make linemen mad: pass every down and don't give them enough help with tight ends. As a Jon Kitna owner, I'm concerned about a potential injury.

25. Chiefs (4) ? The future Hall of Famers are gone. Damion McIntosh, Chris Bober, and Chris Terry are starting. Let's hope the system prevails because it could be an ugly season for Larry Johnson otherwise.

26. Bucs (16) ? Luke Petitgout was a find if he can stay healthy. There is potential for some good run-blocking play in the middle if Jon Gruden ever chooses to run.

27. Cardinals (26) ? A good test to see how much coaching matters. Levi Brown and Ken Whisenhunt must be worth five spots because this was the worst group in the league except Oakland last year.

28. Bills (30) ? The Bears are the only team I can think of that successfully re-built its offensive line with free agent acquisitions. I'm not buying that Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker will make that big a difference, and this group has been consistently bad. Their performance against Baltimore late last year was dreadful. It's one reason to question Marshawn Lynch in his rookie season.

29. Browns (19) ? Joe Thomas will help, but he proves that Kevin Shaffer was a waste of free agent dollars. So was LeCharles Bentley, even if was just bad luck. It's hard to have faith in this unit after the last few years.

30. Dolphins (21) ? Line coach Hudson and Houck and Cam Cameron have a nice history together. They will need all the help they can get re-making this perennially weak group. At least they are looking to go young by starting two rookies. Expect a learning curve.

31. Texans (31) ? There were some strides forward last year, but left tackle remains a huge question mark if Charles Spencer can't get healthy. They have a good coach in Mike Sherman to get it done and a promising zone-blocking system, but they have to prove they can do it.

32. Raiders (23) ? Losing Art Shell and the Oakland coaching staff may be all the upgrade this group needs to become average. The Raiders are banking on it because they barely changed personnel on the worst unit in the league.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#30
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Going on the Offensive
Offensive linemen are walking paradoxes. They are freakishly large, but nearly invisible on the field. They play a brutally physical position, but are among the most well-spoken, intelligent athletes in all of sports. They are offensive players who spend the majority of their time going backwards.

It's difficult to appreciate individual linemen while watching on television, but fantasy owners can appreciate the efforts of the entire unit when reading the boxscore every Sunday. Behind every great running back and quarterback is usually a great offensive line. Identifying the best lines in the summer can often point you to fantasy players who are undervalued. So let's give it a try, with last year's ranking in parentheses.

1. Colts (10) ? These guys are technicians. Peyton Manning's low sack total is partly due to the quarterbacks smarts, but Tom Moore's system makes everyone look good. They picked up blitzers beautifully against the Patriots and Ravens in the playoffs. They get the nod as our top-ranked team because they are the most balanced team in in run blocking and pass blocking. LT Tarik Glenn may only have one year left in Indy.

2. Chargers (11) ? They don't get enough credit for LaDainian Tomlinson's success. Or Michael Turner's. This young group bounced back from a weak 2005 season largely because of standout rookie LT Marcus McNeil solving the left tackle spot. The interior line of Nick Hardwick, Mike Goff, and suddenly rich Kris Dielman are nasty. They are solid in pass protection as well.

3. Eagles (12) ? They turned it up a notch last season. Any squad that makes Jeff Garcia look good at his age is doing something right. Jammaal Jackson is turning into a great center. I love that this unit has promising replacements ready to go at most spots they are aging. After pass protecting so much over the years, this unit showed in 2006 they can be top-notch run-blockers when given the chance.

4. Bengals (4) ? This ranking is for their talent and potential more than their 2006 production. Injuries ravaged this line last season and Eric Steinbach left town, but Levi Jones and Willie Anderson remain fantastic bookends. Andrew Whitworth should fit in nicely at guard. Look for this group to make Carson Palmer and Rudi Johnson look great this year.

5. Jaguars (20) ? The next great line? No team ran block better than the Jaguars last year. Their guards are terrific, but their tackles need to improve their pass protection. Khalif Barnes and Baltimore import Tony Pashos could make Byron Leftwich (or Daunte Culpepper) a sleeper if they play to their potential.

6. Broncos (3) ? A unit in transition, but they are still the Broncos. LT Matt Lepsis is recovering from a torn ACL. C Tom Nalen is 36 years old. The group is a little larger at the other spots than normal, but they will still be zone-blocking fools. Travis Henry's rank depends on them maintaining their level of play.

7. Redskins (5) ? Great run blockers. Will the rest of the offense come together? Consider that some Redskins observers thought Derrick Dockery, he of the $18.5 million guaranteed from the Bills, was their fifth-best lineman. With veteran savvy at almost every position, this group risks getting old. But I think they have one big year left. Santana Moss and Jason Campbell could be seriously undervalued because of it.

8. Vikings (9) ? Steve Hutchinson was a disappointment for the money paid to him, but he still is part of a potentially dominating left side of the line with Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk in the middle. Minnesota's passing game looks terrible on paper, but perhaps their strong line can carry Tarvaris Jackson.

9. Patriots (8) ? Greater than the sum of their parts, although some of the parts (Dan Koppen, Stephen Neal, Logan Mankins) should start making Pro Bowls. This group needs to protect Tom Brady better, though. If Matt Light doesn't improve this season, the team could consider looking for another left tackle.

10. Seahawks (1) ? How low can you rank a line that has Walter Jones on it? Some observers feel that Jones' play fell off some last season, but it was Sean Locklear's decline, Steve Hutchinson's absence, and a number of injuries that caused the most problems. This group has the potential to rebound. Shaun Alexander needs it.

11. Saints (28) ? This is a great pass-blocking unit and they came out of nowhere last year. Jammal Brown can improve his consistency, but he deserved his Pro Bowl nod. The interior line is strong with Jahri Evans leading the way. The only question is at right tackle. Can Jon Stinchcomb do it again? Some regression to the mean seems likely for the whole group.

12. Bears (15) ? Based on the last few years, the Bears should be in the top ten. In fact, they were one of three teams to rank in the top ten of both passing and rushing in FootballOutsiders.com's adjusted offensive line stats. I'm skeptical a unit bookended by tackles over 32 can stay so effective.

13. Steelers (6) ? A great system, but this is a transition year. Alan Faneca is likely to leave after the season. Willie Colon may replace Max Starks on the right side. Bill Cowher is gone and long-time RB Dick Hoak retired, so the running game may take a step back. At least we know the linemen will have good reading material.

14. Titans (24) ? Jeff Fisher consistently puts together an underrated unit and they should improve after a recent youth movement. They have a pair of young tackles in Michael Roos and David Stewart that are each 6'7! They like to run in power formations, which will help LenDale White and Chris Henry.

15. Giants ? (14) Who will replace Luke Petitgout? David Diehl and Guy Whimper will battle for the job in August. Otherwise, this is a roughneck crew whose run blocking should make Brandon Jacobs look good. They aren't quite as good at pass blocking.

16. Packers (27) ? Another rising group. Chad Clifton remains on the left side, but the zone-blocking scheme Green Bay installed combined with two promising second-year starters (Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz) could lead to a big season for Brandon Jackson.

17. 49ers (32) ? Frank Gore makes this group look better than it is, but it has some interesting young pieces. Justin Smiley, Joe Staley, Eric Heitmann, and Adam Snyder are the future. Larry Allen is still hanging around. This is one of the few groups ranked this low with excellent depth on the bench.

18. Ravens (22) ? Not sure what to think about this group. Was the running game the last few years their fault or Jamal Lewis'? With Jonathan Ogden back, this is still a team that can pass protect. Steve McNair needs it.

19. Jets (29) ? D'Brickashaw Ferguson was good, Nick Mangold may already be great. With those two pieces in place, the Jets should be solid for a long time. They need to improve their run blocking overall to help Thomas Jones out.

20. Rams (18) ? Mike Martz is gone and Marc Bulger is staying healthier. I doubt it's a coincidence. Once the last Donut Brother standing (Andy McCollum) is gone, the entire unit will be playing on their rookie contract except future Hall of Famer Orlando Pace. Alex Barron took strides last year.

21. Panthers (13) ? They were worse than this ranking last year, but a return to health for Travelle Wharton and Justin Hartwig will help. Rookie Ryan Kalil may make Hartwig obsolete before long though. The Panthers usually have a mediocre running attack, so DeAngelo Williams needs improvement upfront.

22. Cowboys (17)? They look good on paper, but that was the case last year at this time. This line will go as Flozell Adams goes, and the old warhorse is starting to wear down.

23. Falcons (7) ? Fantasy owners should be afraid that Bobby Petrino took one of the best offensive lines in football and completely changed the philosophy. The linemen don't seem to mind because they can eat again.

24. Lions (25) ? Two ways to make linemen mad: pass every down and don't give them enough help with tight ends. As a Jon Kitna owner, I'm concerned about a potential injury.

25. Chiefs (4) ? The future Hall of Famers are gone. Damion McIntosh, Chris Bober, and Chris Terry are starting. Let's hope the system prevails because it could be an ugly season for Larry Johnson otherwise.

26. Bucs (16) ? Luke Petitgout was a find if he can stay healthy. There is potential for some good run-blocking play in the middle if Jon Gruden ever chooses to run. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

27. Cardinals (26) ? A good test to see how much coaching matters. Levi Brown and Ken Whisenhunt must be worth five spots because this was the worst group in the league except Oakland last year.

28. Bills (30) ? The Bears are the only team I can think of that successfully re-built its offensive line with free agent acquisitions. I'm not buying that Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker will make that big a difference, and this group has been consistently bad. Their performance against Baltimore late last year was dreadful. It's one reason to question Marshawn Lynch in his rookie season.

29. Browns (19) ? Joe Thomas will help, but he proves that Kevin Shaffer was a waste of free agent dollars. So was LeCharles Bentley, even if was just bad luck. It's hard to have faith in this unit after the last few years.

30. Dolphins (21) ? Line coach Hudson and Houck and Cam Cameron have a nice history together. They will need all the help they can get re-making this perennially weak group. At least they are looking to go young by starting two rookies. Expect a learning curve.

31. Texans (31) ? There were some strides forward last year, but left tackle remains a huge question mark if Charles Spencer can't get healthy. They have a good coach in Mike Sherman to get it done and a promising zone-blocking system, but they have to prove they can do it.

32. Raiders (23) ? Losing Art Shell and the Oakland coaching staff may be all the upgrade this group needs to become average. The Raiders are banking on it because they barely changed personnel on the worst unit in the league.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#31
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Still down with ADP
The NFL is ready to rest. By my unofficial count, 29 of the NFL's 32 teams are done with football activities until training camp. Our final draft board tinkering before training camp will take place over the next week as we send our second draft guide magazine to the printer (including writing from Profootballtalk and Deadspin). Our online draft guide is set to launch in early July. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

With news slowing to a crawl, it's time for some draft analysis. Here are some of the early trends at running back that caught my eye regarding Average Draft Position (ADP). ADP is the best way to anticipate how the rest of Fantasy Nation sees the 2007 season.

[SIZE=+1]Larry Johnson is not the consensus second pick [/SIZE]

Our pals at Football Outsiders wrote an article in our first magazine detailing the reasons why Larry Johnson was likely to decline this season. He has a great chance to break down after his 416-carry year and is a huge injury risk. If overuse doesn't kill him, Brodie Croyle and his offensive line may. We already had LJ ranked fourth in all formats behind Steven Jackson and Frank Gore and the article helped confirm our feelings. Johnson is our sixth back in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues.

It looks like we're not alone in our caution. LJ is being taken third in most leagues, behind Jackson. Gore is usually fourth. Jackson is simply a safer pick on a loaded Rams offense.

[SIZE=+1]Owners betting on aging runners [/SIZE]

Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James are two of the toughest players to evaluate this year. The list of recent aging running backs that bounce back after the start of their decline is short (Jerome Bettis). Alexander and James started to fall off last season, no matter what the shape of their offensive lines.

Owners are still drafting Alexander as a top-five running back, usually fifth. In a season where there are so many players are splitting carries, I talked myself into sneaking Alexander into the end of the top ten. But younger options like Brian Westbrook, Joseph Addai, and Willie Parker are much better picks.

James is being drafted as an above-average RB2, often in the middle of the second round. That's putting a lot of faith in Ken Whisenhunt to resurrect the Arizona offensive line. We have James pegged at least a round later. There are better values out there. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of this draft season is the depth of quality RB3s. (That's another column). We'd rather draft an elite wideout than feel trapped by going RB-RB in the first two rounds.

[SIZE=+1]What Committee? [/SIZE]

Fantasy Nation loves running backs so much, they are willing to draft ones in a job share at a high cost. This is especially interesting in the case of some clear backups like Ladell Betts and Michael Turner. Committees and high-ranked backups will help define 2007. I suspect many of the season's busts will come from their ranks. Their ADP, which I came to by averaging three leading sites, is in parentheses.

Reggie Bush (RB8)
Deuce McAllister (RB21)


These two beat the odds last year and both managed to be solid RB2s in fantasy leagues. Their value largely depends on the scoring system you play in. In a points-per-reception league (PPR), Bush is a safe top ten pick. Their value is closer in a standard league.

It's asking a lot for the Saints offense to be as productive again this season. McAllister is a system back. Fantasy Nation sees Bush carrying a bigger load this year, and we tend to agree. Deuce will rely heavily on touchdowns. There is far more downside to the veteran this year at that price tag. He's a risky pick in the first three rounds.

Clinton Portis (RB14)
Ladell Betts (RB 36)


Owners are hedging their bets by drafting Ladell in the middle rounds. If Portis stays healthy, he's going to get the majority of carries in the Washington backfield. Betts will be used more on passing downs. If Portis is hurt, Betts is an every-week starter. Still, Betts is getting taken in the same ballpark as backs like Adrian Peterson, LenDale White, LaMont Jordan, and both Packers candidates to start.

I love Betts as a player, but not as a mid-round gamble. If I'm going to roll the dice with a RB3 ahead of quality wideouts, I want one with a real chance to start.

Maurice Jones-Drew (RB15)
Fred Taylor (RB34)


Mo-Jo is like Ladell Betts, but better. He would be ranked in our top-five if Fred Taylor didn't exist. But the Jaguars aren't paying Freddy $5 million this season to climb the all-time rushing yardage list. It's going to cost a high-second round pick to get Drew this year. He's got a chance to live up to the pick in points-per-reception leagues, but it's hard to imagine him scoring 15 times again unless Taylor gets hurt. Of course that's not a terrible bet.

The Jacksonville running game was so strong last year partly because they stopped passing when David Garrard took over. They have an uphill climb to be so dominant again. For value, I'd rather take Taylor as a cheap RB3 than Drew so high.

DeAngelo Williams (RB25)
DeShaun Foster (RB42)


DeShaun Foster is officially old news in the eyes of Fantasy Nation, and that's a good thing. I'd rather have DeAngelo Williams because of his versatility and explosiveness. He is going to cost a top 45 pick, though, which is expensive for someone presently coming off the bench.

And for owners that assume John Fox will simply have to start benching the unproductive veteran, may I present Stephen Davis' 2005 season. Williams should only be drafted this high if he is made the starter in training camp. It looks like a situation to avoid.

Adrian Peterson (RB30)
Chester Taylor (RB31)


There could be opportunity for value here, especially with Peterson. I don't expect him to be drafted so low once we get closer to September. Even Taylor could be a competent flex or RB3 option if he maintains his hold on passing downs. Taylor is expected to start to open the year.

Minnesota has a promising offensive line and a terrible passing game, which means they will skew heavily on the run. This is one committee that owners aren't reaching for, which makes them more attractive as mid-round gambles.

Jerious Norwood (RB32)
Warrick Dunn (RB33)


Another pairing where owners are hedging their bets. Warrick Dunn is a proud player, but the writing is on the wall for him after multiple surgeries and a coaching change. Norwood has a great deal of potential for someone taken after the top 50 picks. Training camp will mean a lot to these two because coach Bobby Petrino hasn't detailed who will start for the Falcons. I expect it to be Norwood. He could struggle to hold up for 16 games, but he's a great value play at this price.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#32
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Backup Plans
This is the time of year when fantasy owners spend countless hours trying to figure out which stud running back will grace their team. We've all been there. But the truth is everyone will have a stud on their team, barring injury and the obvious "did-he-really-just-take-Lamont-Jordan-in-Round 1 again" selections.

The key to winning fantasy titles is to have multiple players provide early-round value. Last season, if an owner had any healthy first-round pick, Frank Gore as their fourth-rounder and snagged Maurice Jones-Drew later on, I'm willing to bet that owner was in contention throughout the fantasy playoffs.

Every season there are late-round running backs that wind up providing first-round value because of either injury or simply outperforming the incumbent starter. Some, like Willie Parker and Larry Johnson, end up as perennial fantasy studs for years to come. Others, such as Samkon Gado, go back into obscurity. It doesn't matter. These players are essential if you're looking to celebrate in December.

The key is to load up your bench with high-upside backup running backs and give yourself a chance for someone to emerge. There is no point in owning a backup kicker, tight end, or defense if that roster spot could be used on a potential stud. Here are some of the players who could outperform their draft value:

[SIZE=+1]Lorenzo Booker, Dolphins[/SIZE]

This third-round rookie was so good coming out of high school that he was considered somewhat of a bust at Florida State despite leaving the program as its seventh best rusher of all time with 2,298 yards. He's elusive, quick and can take it to the house on any carry. If Ronnie Brown were to miss an extended period of time for whatever reason, you're looking at a potential fantasy stud. If Brown stays healthy, you could easily be looking at this season's Jones-Drew.

[SIZE=+1]Mike Bell, Broncos [/SIZE]

All fantasy owners should know two things. First, Denver always has a terrific running game. Second, head coach Mike Shanahan will make a change if the starter isn't producing. Now, try to remember that Travis Henry was a fantasy punch line for two seasons before resurrecting himself in 2006. Spending a late-round pick on his talented backup Mike Bell seems like a pretty good idea right now, doesn't it?

[SIZE=+1]Kolby Smith, Chiefs [/SIZE]

Larry Johnson is unhappy with his contract and coming off a 416-carry season. Michael Bennett is unreliable, often injured and shouldn't be in the team's long-term plans. Herm Edwards is going to pound the ball regardless of whose back there and Smith, a fifth-round rookie out of Louisville, is the L.J. handcuff with the most upside.

[SIZE=+1]Michael Turner, Chargers[/SIZE]

Turner is somewhat of an oddity on this list because he's already well known among fantasy circles. The free-agent-to-be should be starting for a different team in 2008. If that's the case, he'll be a trendy early-round pick with enormous upside. However, it's still 2007 and this is the year to snag Turner in keeper formats. In yearly leagues, he qualifies for this column because new head coach Norv Turner can take four limbs, a helmet and some duct tape and turn it into a 1,000-yard rusher. The possibilities are endless if LaDainian Tomlinson were to get injured.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
[SIZE=+1]The Titans backup ? TBD[/SIZE]

Recently re-signed veteran Chris Brown, LenDale White and rookie Chris Henry will battle for the starting job in Tennessee this preseason. I'm going to give some advice that wouldn't normally make sense ? draft whoever loses the job, seriously. The Week 1 starter will probably be announced before your draft and will most likely be selected by the end of Round 3 ? don't be that guy. The trio of backs will keep stepping on each other's toes all season and the "backup" that will fall to the end of your draft has just as good of a chance to lead the team in rushing as the "starter."

[SIZE=+1]Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB [/SIZE]

Peterson is too good to be on this list and he's already becoming a trendy draft pick because of his enormous upside. He's the classic example of a guy that could provide first-round value if given enough carries. There is one problem: Everyone in your league knows how good he is. He's not worth a pick in the first few rounds unless Chester Taylor gets hurt before your draft. But if the rookie falls too far, get ready to snatch him up.

[SIZE=+1]Anthony Thomas, Bills RB[/SIZE]

The A-Train should enter the season as rookie Marshawn Lynch's primary backup and, to be honest, he doesn't have much high-end fantasy upside. The veteran isn't going to be the type of late-round pick that leads your team to fantasy glory (especially with Buffalo's weak offensive line). However, Lynch wouldn't be the first trendy rookie to become hated among fantasy owners by midseason because of underperformance. If Lynch falters, Thomas should be right there to snag the carries. He'd be a decent flex player or fill-in when your usual starter is on a bye week if he's getting regular touches.

[SIZE=+1]Leon Washington, Jets RB[/SIZE]

Washington enters the season as the primary backup for newly acquired veteran Thomas Jones. However, the undersized former Seminole ran for 100-plus yards both times he received at least 20 carries last season. Coach Eric Mangini likes to spread around the touches and Washington's game-breaking ability will keep him on the field. He won't be worth starting for fantasy purposes unless Jones suffers an injury, but anything can happen. If Washington was given a chance to carry the workload for a few games, his receiving ability could give him the fantasy value of a poor man's Brian Westbrook.

[SIZE=+1]DeAngelo Williams, Panthers RB[/SIZE]

By the time your league holds the draft, you could be targeting Williams as your stud RB2. As of now, he's expected to split carries with DeShaun Foster and this should cause him to slip to the middle rounds. Williams is the better back, much better. If the Panthers' new zone-blocking system is a success, and Williams plays up to his potential, you're looking at a first-round pick in 2008. Now, cross your fingers and hope that Foster has a big preseason to throw off your competition.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#33
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Minicamp Mysteries
Football played in mesh shorts can only tell you so much. For the most part, minicamp season is all about preparation and avoiding injury. That doesn't mean fantasy owners can ignore it.

If you've been snoozing or paying attention to baseball, here's a rundown of what you've missed the last few months. We'll take a look at the questions still hanging after minicamp season and the big items we learned. Let's start with the unsolved mysteries.

[SIZE=+1]The Questions[/SIZE]

1. Will Michael Vick be suspended?

We've heard precious little since the federal government took over the investigation into Vick's alleged dog-fighting ring. Make no mistake; this issue will hover over the Falcons' season until it's resolved. This article provides the most clear-headed and sobering view of how Vick's life may change.

The Falcons are certainly acting as if nothing is wrong and their season will proceed as planned. Fantasy leaguers will probably have a better read on things by late August, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if Vick is forced to miss some games this year ? possibly a big chunk of the season.

I usually rank Vick higher than his Average Draft Position (ADP) because his running game provides underrated consistency. This season, I'm a little surprised Fantasy Nation is still taking him as a starter (QB12). The new offensive system plus the dog-fighting allegations make him an untenable risk that high until his legal situation is resolved. His status as your fantasy starter isn't going to slow down a federal investigation.

2. Will Larry Johnson hold out?

I've covered this topic exhaustively in my blog. Perhaps too exhaustively. In the end, I don't see a team willing to give up a bounty of draft picks and over $25 million guaranteed to get Johnson.

Green Bay is the only candidate that makes sense, and that's a long shot after they drafted Brandon Jackson. It looks like Larry Johnson could very well hold out, but the Chiefs and Johnson have too much shared interest; they should come to an agreement. Odds are that he's the Kansas City Starter in Week 1.

3. Will Dominic Rhodes get suspended?

The Oakland running back situation is shrouded in mystery, like most things involved with the Raiders. It appears LaMont Jordan remains the favorite for the job, but Rhodes could be involved in a committee with a strong training camp. I also haven't heard a peep about whether Rhodes could be suspended by the NFL for pleading guilty to reckless driving in February. Jordan would be a better draft pick if so.

4. When will Kellen Winslow's knee get healthy?

Fantasy Nation is oddly ignoring this story. Winslow is currently getting drafted as a top-five fantasy tight end despite undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee after last season. It wasn't that long ago such procedures ended careers. The situation reminds me of Domanick Davis last season, when owners continued to draft the former Texan despite medical warnings.

Winslow has had three major knee surgeries as a pro and broken his leg twice. At one point, the Browns optimistically said he'd be ready to practicing during minicamps. He didn't. They said he would be "100%" for training camp. Now it looks like he'll be limited at best to start camp.

It shouldn't surprise anyone if Winslow misses the start of the 2007 season. And if he plays, it may be unrealistic to think he will be the same player anytime soon.

[SIZE=+1]The Answers[/SIZE]

Here are five things we did learn in minicamp season.

1. Jeff Garcia is Tampa's man for better or worse.

We should have known that Jon Gruden was smitten with Garcia the moment he attended his wedding. Garcia provides Gruden a version of the coach on the field ? fiery, intelligent, abrasive, and fighting for his career.

I'm not sure Tampa's offensive line can protect Garcia, but I wouldn't bet against Gruden squeezing out solid QB2 numbers as long as Garcia stays healthy. He probably won't last 16 games, so the training camp battle for the backup job between Bruce Gradkowski and Chris Simms is worth watching. Word is that Simms is the underdog in that battle because of poor mechanics. Simms may get a chance to start in the NFL again, but we doubt it will be for the Bucs. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

2. Donovan McNabb is ahead of schedule.

It's easy to forget now, but McNabb was the most valuable fantasy player during the first half of last season. Another season-ending injury happened and now he's often getting drafted behind relatively unproven commodities like Matt Leinart and Vince Young.

Perhaps the positive reports concerning McNabb's knee will change things. McNabb is light years ahead of where Carson Palmer and Daunte Culpepper were at this time a year ago, already taking part in full team sessions in June. It's a near-certainty he'll be starting in Week 1. McNabb is always an injury risk, but he's going to put up numbers in Andy Reid's pass-wacky offense if he's on the field.

3. Derek Anderson passed Charlie Frye in Cleveland

Frye will absolutely have a chance to beat out Anderson (and Brady Quinn) for the Browns starting job if he enjoys a strong preseason. But all things being equal, this currently looks like Anderson's job to lose. Quinn is a long shot, and he'll be even longer if he skips any part of training camp.

Anderson will struggle to keep his job all year, but his big arm bodes well for Braylon Edwards' value to open the season. The rest of the quarterback battles to monitor in training camp ...

Minnesota: Second-year pro Tarvaris Jackson remains a heavy favorite over Brooks Bollinger despite an inconsistent minicamp season.

Kansas City: Herm Edwards prefers that Brodie Croyle wins the job over veteran Damon Huard. Croyle will probably be the pick unless he tanks in exhibition season.

Oakland: Josh McCown remains the favorite, but the rumblings around the Raiders indicate that JaMarcus Russell could be starting sooner than later. It wouldn't be a shock if Russell is starting in September.

4. Daunte Culpepper is irrelevant.

Only three years removed from one of the greatest fantasy quarterback seasons of all time, Daunte Culpepper simply doesn't matter anymore. At least not during 2007. We'll write lots of updates about his progress and eventual trade over the next few months, but Culpepper is going to be a backup this season.

5. Jack Del Rio is just as sick of the Jaguars receivers as you are.

Maybe he's just trying to scare them straight. But Del Rio sent a strong message by placing Matt Jones and Reggie Williams on the second team during minicamp season in favor of Charles Sharon and Ernest Wilford. Throw impressive rookie Mike Walker and free agent acquisition and slot receiver Dennis Northcutt into the mix, and the Jacksonville receiver group looks like a quagmire.

Also Receiving Votes: Saints wideout Robert Meachem undergoes knee surgery, boosts Devery Henderson's stock ? Tennessee still has vacancies at running back, wide receiver, and tight end ? Broncos sleeper tight end Tony Scheffler breaks foot ? Maurice Stovall challenges Michael Clayton for starting job ... New 49ers Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson miss entire minicamp season with injuries ... Laurence Maroney still not recovered from shoulder surgery ? Vernand Morency holds early lead over Brandon Jackson for Packers running back job ? Writers still jealous of Tony Romo's off-field life.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#34
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

IDP Breakout Candidates
[SIZE=+1]Defensive Linemen[/SIZE]

1. Bills DE Aaron Schobel
Rotoworld Rank Among DLs: 7

Schobel is already a well-known name in IDP circles because he's a relentless pass rusher, but his tackle count dropped in 2006 and he finished second among Bills ends to Chris Kelsay. Now that Kelsay has gotten his money, Schobel is out to prove himself worthy of a big paycheck. Schobel will be especially motivated to pile up statistics and an Aaron Kampman-like breakout appears possible as a second-year student in coordinator Perry Fewell's pressure-reliant system.

Last year: 53 tackles (36 solo), 15 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 3 pass defs
Projection: 64 tackles (41 solo), 13 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 4 pass defs

2. Cardinals DE Chike Okeafor
Rotoworld Rank Among DLs: 11

The former Seahawk has been among the most consistent ends in the game over the past three seasons, and now that the Cards will be lining up in the 3-4 more often, Okeafor's tackle stats could explode. Okeafor played some linebacker at Purdue and has an ideal body type for the switch outside. Opponents will have their hands full with Bertrand Berry opposite him and Karlos Dansby inside, preventing any threat of double teams. Look for a large spike in Okeafor's stops total and increased pass-breakup opportunities.

Last year: 54 tackles (42 solo), 9 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 6 pass defs
Projection: 68 tackles (50 solo), 8 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 6 pass defs

3. Texans DE Mario Williams
Rotoworld Rank Among DLs: 16

Mario was hesitant at times as a rookie, but flashed enough of the potential Charley Casserly saw before making him the No. 1 overall pick to inspire confidence he'll take a large step forward as a sophomore. Pass-rushing first-round DT Amobi Okoye will require a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines and Williams will benefit. It was an especially good sign that Mario didn't need offseason toe surgery and he should be more comfortable focusing on playing right end after seeing action at tackle a year ago. A statistical increase across the board is likely.

Last year: 47 tackles (35 solo), 5 sacks, 1 fumble forced, 4 pass defs
Projection: 59 tackles (46 solo), 9 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 5 pass defs

4. Steelers DE Brett Keisel
Rotoworld Rank Among DLs: 20

The new Steelers' coaching staff has asked Keisel to shed weight and will give him a chance to play with his hand up like the Ravens did Adalius Thomas in an end-linebacker hybrid role. While he lacks Thomas' natural athletic gifts, Keisel, a special teamer prior to the 2006 season, has a similar story to the newly acquired Patriot and should easily surpass the statistics from his first full year starting. Don't expect double-digit sacks, but rather a consistent tackles load for a DL and great value in the late rounds of your draft.

Last year: 56 tackles (38 solo), 6 sacks, 0 fumbles forced, 4 pass defs
Projection: 69 tackles (44 solo), 6 sacks, 2 fumbles forced, 5 pass defs

5. Bears DE Mark Anderson
Rotoworld Rank Among DLs: 25

Dubbing this a possible "breakout year" for Anderson from a pass-rushing standpoint might be a misnomer, as he's probably not going to post 12 sacks regularly. But the Alabama product has deservedly been inserted into the starting lineup at right end, ahead of incumbent Alex Brown. Brown should continue to see the field often because he's so polished playing the run but Anderson's tackle opportunities will rise as he sees extended action on early downs. Brown, who is unhappy with his contract, could also be traded during training camp, which would make rookie Daniel Bazuin Chicago's third end.

Last year: 28 tackles (23 solo), 12 sacks, 4 fumbles forced, 2 pass defs
Projection: 46 tackles (36 solo), 10 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 3 pass defs

[SIZE=+1]Linebackers[/SIZE]

1. Rams MLB Will Witherspoon
Rotoworld Rank Among LBs: 7

The converted weak-side Panther wasn't too shabby in terms of tackles as a first-year MIKE, but the Rams expect Witherspoon to be more of a ball hawk at the position. With bulked-up, 313-pound Adam Carriker occupying the nose, 'Spoon will have more room to run free than he did behind first-round washout Jimmy Kennedy and thus increase his sideline-to-sideline effectiveness. The Rams' talent at LB is underrated, but Witherspoon is their best 'backer in wrap-up pursuit. Improvement across the board is quite possible.

Last year: 116 tackles (102 solo), 3 sacks, 0 picks, 3 FFs, 9 pass defs
Projection: 124 tackles (101 solo), 3 sacks, 2 picks, FF, 11 pass defs

2. Lions WLB Ernie Sims
Rotoworld Rank Among LBs: 9

The Lions are trying to buildup Paris Lenon after failing to address their gaping hole at middle linebacker in the offseason, but let's be realistic. Lenon poses little challenge to Sims, a far superior athlete, for tackles and big plays. Because Sims is so small (some predicted he'd be a pro safety coming out of FSU), opponents will likely look to run at him early in games. Not only will this translate to a high number of tackle opportunities, Sims is a devastating hitter and should force a sizeable amount of fumbles.

Last year: 125 tackles (82 solo), 1 sack, 0 picks, FF, pass def
Projection: 139 tackles (104 solo), 2 sacks, 0 picks, 4 FFs, 3 pass defs

3. Broncos MLB D.J. Williams
Rotoworld Rank Among LBs: 16

Admittedly, 16 is a pretty conservative rank for a player expected to far and away lead the Broncos in tackles in his first stint as an every-down linebacker. But Williams has been on the IDP-value crushing strong side for the past two seasons and hasn't topped 100 stops since his rookie campaign, so he has something to prove. Williams has immense potential behind a new-look and massive frontline in Jim Bates' defense, so anything less than 120 tackles would be a disappointment.

Last year: 73 tackles (59 solo), 1 sack, 0 picks, FF, 2 pass defs
Projection: 130 tackles (90 solo), 2 sacks, 1 pick, FF, 5 pass defs

4. Cardinals ILB Karlos Dansby
Rotoworld Rank Among LBs: 22

Dansby's true breakout came in 2005 and he managed to string together some big games a season ago, but a change in coaching staff and scheme is good news for the 6-4/240-pound Auburn product as he enters a critical contract year. After manning the SAM the last few seasons, Dansby will be playing mainly inside linebacker in Arizona's 3-4 defense, meaning a major increase in tackle ops is in store. He's also a primo pass rusher, so coordinator Clancy Pendergast will likely get Dansby out on the edge in passing situations when he can. A slight decrease in QB hurries is possible but Dansby has too much new upside in every other category to be less than a trusty LB2.

Last year: 81 tackles (68 solo), 8 sacks, 0 picks, FF, 3 pass defs
Projection: 114 tackles (78 solo), 7 sacks, 1 pick, 3 FFs, 4 pass defs

5. Bucs MLB Barrett Ruud
Rotoworld Rank Among LBs: 50

Ruud, who takes over for Shelton Quarles after two years of bench warming, enters a very nice spot for production in the middle of a Tampa-2 defense. The Nebraska wunderkind and 2005 second-round pick is a pure run stuffer, something the Bucs need desperately after last year's dramatic defensive collapse. If Ruud can somehow convince coordinator Monte Kiffin and company he's worth keeping in on nickel downs over Cato June and Derrick Brooks, his playmaking potential will skyrocket. For now, expect 100 stops and career highs in every other stat.

Last year: 57 tackles (37 solo), 0 sacks, 0 picks, 0 FFs, 0 pass defs
Projection: 103 tackles (71 solo), 3 sacks, 0 picks, 2 FFs, 2 pass defs

[SIZE=+1]Defensive Backs[/SIZE]

1. Browns SS Sean Jones
Rotoworld Rank Among DBs: 1

The emerging centerpiece of Cleveland's overachieving secondary, Jones had a terrific and Pro Bowl-caliber first season as a starter in 2006. But with the upgrades at cornerback (drafting of Eric Wright, return of DeMario Minter, and signing of Kenny Wright), Jones should be able to focus more on getting in the box and laying the lumber on oncoming ball carriers. Brodney Pool is plenty capable of holding down center field and the slot, freeing up Jones inside. He should follow up an excellent '06 with an even better and more consistent '07.

:Last year: 111 tackles (71 solo), 1 sack, 5 picks, O FFs, 16 pass defs
Projection: 123 tackles (83 solo), 1 sack, 4 picks, FF, 14 pass defs

2. Dolphins SS Yeremiah Bell
Rotoworld Rank Among DBs: 10

Bell, a deceptively vicious hitter who toiled away on special teams before getting a chance to start down the stretch last year, enters training camp as Miami's unquestioned starting strong safety. The Dolphins' cornerbacks are hurting (Andre' Goodman), average (Will Allen), and unproven (Jason Allen), meaning Bell will be able to use his physical style frequently while he rolls over in coverage. On an aging defense, Bell is one of the team's few players with upside. He's also heading into a contract season. A large boost from last year's numbers is inevitable.

Last year: 70 tackles (46 solo), 2 sacks, 0 picks, 3 FFs, 12 pass defs
Projection: 88 tackles (68 solo), 3 sacks, 2 picks, 4 FFs, 14 pass defs

3. Rams FS O.J. Atogwe
Rotoworld Rank Among DBs: 21

Atogwe still has something to prove after beginning 2006, his first full year as a starter, ever so slowly but the Stanford alum's electrifying finish leaves us confident he'll put together a full season of top-notch, DB2-type production. Over the final eight games, Atogwe racked up five forced fumbles, averaged nearly six tackles-per-contest, and chipped in a few other glory stats. In an up-and-coming St. Louis secondary, Atogwe's responsibilities will be expanded. Expect the impending restricted free agent to be a ball and ball carrier magnet in 2007.

Last year: 75 tackles (66 solo), 1 sack, 3 picks, 5 FFs, 10 pass defs
Projection: 76 tackles (69 solo), 2 sacks, 3 picks, 4 FFs, 11 pass defs

4. Chiefs SS Bernard Pollard
Rotoworld Rank Among DBs: 22

Pollard, or "The Bonecrusher" as he is known to Purdue fans, takes over for Sammy Knight as Kansas City's strong-side safety. As a rookie, Pollard was a serious force on special teams, blocking several punts and covering kicks as a gunner. Pollard's hitting ability is scary, and we project him to lead the league in fumbles forced. A more athletic player in this stage of their careers, Pollard should also surpass Knight's total tackle numbers in a secondary with aging corners. Just don't expect much initial success or production in coverage.

Last year: 11 tackles (11 solo), 0 sacks, 0 picks, FF, 1 pass def
Projection: 90 tackles (76 solo), 3 sacks, 0 picks, 7 FFs, 2 pass defs

5. Ravens SS Dawan Landry
Rotoworld Rank Among DBs: 28

The lesser-known half of the brothers Landry, Dawan is coming off a very fine statistical season overall but one that involved inconsistent week-to-week tackle numbers. The 220-pound strong safety spent too much time in coverage, helping out Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister as Ed Reed seemed to wander aimlessly. This year, Landry should have more confidence in where he needs to be, which is inside the box filling against the run and rolling over only when it's vital. He also will likely continue to be good for some sprinkled-in glory stats.

Last year: 70 tackles (49 solo), 3 sacks, 5 picks, 0 FFs, 11 pass defs
Projection: 83 tackles (59 solo), 2 sacks, 4 picks, FF, 14 pass defs
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#35
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Just a little patience
The NFL is currently sleeping, but Fantasy Draft season is just getting started. I participated in two excellent fantasy "industry" drafts last week and got a taste of some trends that will shape your draft strategy over the next two months. Let's take a closer look.

Quality tight ends available very late

The depth and quality of the tight end position in fantasy leagues has reached a tipping point. There are more quality draftable players than ever, but the same number of starting jobs in fill (12 at most.) That makes all the tight ends less valuable.

Drafting Antonio Gates in the fourth round is acceptable. He'll perform like a solid WR2, and there is a significant gap between him and the second tight end, whoever you think that is.

Here's what you don't want to do: Start a tight end run in the fifth-round by selecting Tony Gonzalez or Todd Heap. The run isn't going to happen. Enough owners will smartly be patient this year and wait to snap up Chris Cooley and Vernon Davis after the first 85 picks are off the board.

In one of my drafts, the second tight end (Tony Gonzalez) was taken off the board early in the sixth round. In the other, Gonzo lasted until the seventh round despite being the second player drafted at his position.

In those drafts, here are some sample spots where tight ends got slotted in the two drafts. Since I'm including two drafts, players are listed in multiple slots.

Round Eight

Chris Cooley (No. 88, No. 91)
Alge Crumpler (No. 96)

Round Nine

Vernon Davis (No. 98)
Jason Witten (No. 104)
Ben Watson (No. 105, 108)

Round Ten

Alge Crumpler (No. 111)
Jason Witten (No. 115)
L.J. Smith (No. 115)

Round Twelve

L.J. Smith (No. 139)

Round Thirteen

Heath Miller (No. 156)

Round Fifteen

Heath Miller (No. 185)

Let the tight ends come to you. Cooley is our second-ranked tight end for 2007 and won't get taken in the first half of nearly all drafts. Crumpler has some injury concerns, but he's a consistent top-eight option. Witten caught 64 passes last year and plays on a good offense. Vernon Davis is the most frightening man in the world.

Perhaps these tight ends won't win leagues on their own, but they will productively fill a starter position every week for cheap. Let the wideouts, running backs, and quarterbacks taken in the first seven rounds make you money. I'm going to be banging this drum until September, so I apologize in advance to all you hearty July readers.

Travis Henry is a first-round pick

The Average Draft Position data we've seen calls Travis Henry an early second round pick, but he went in the tenth slot of both my drafts last week. In a year with many split backfields, Henry's alpha dog status in Denver is going to push him awfully high ? ahead of players like Reggie Bush, Willis McGahee, Ronnie Brown, and every wideout on the board.

Rotoworld isn't quite so optimistic, but we're not far off. Henry the NFL player may only be a league-average starter, but Henry the fantasy option is nearly full proof. An injury is the only concern.

No one likes LenDale White

I left myself a little thin at running back in my first draft and wanted a high ceiling player to draft for depth in round eight. It's late enough that I can live with swinging and missing if I'm swinging for the fences. LenDale White was the pick.

The other two Titans runners (Chris Henry and Chris Brown) also both went in the next 12 picks, a sign that no one has any clue what will happen in Tennessee.

In the next draft, I drafted my fourth running back early and watched as White hung around until late in round ten! He was taken after luminaries such as Correll Buckhalter, Reuben Droughns, and Anthony Thomas. He was taken four rounds after Chris Brown and two rounds after Chris Henry.


Until I hear information suggesting otherwise, White has to be considered the favorite to lead the Titans in carries this season. He's more talented than Brown and has a long-term deal. He's more experienced than Henry. There's no reason for Henry to be taken in front of him. An argument can be made that Brown is a better bet than White, although not four rounds better.

Jon Kitna ? Last Decent Quarterback available

Despite Rotoworld's best efforts, Kitna is not going to be as trendy a sleeper as we imagined. I read ESPN's magazine on the plane home from finishing our second magazine, and they included a preamble about not believing they ranked Kitna so high ? then they ranked him fourteenth. That's not going to be high enough.

Any 4,000-yard quarterback who is projected to improve (Calvin Johnson) is a top-ten, QB1 option. We have him eighth and he's been the highest quarterback left on the board by far in one of our drafts where he lasted until late in tenth round. The other he went with the last pick in the seventh round (84th), but was the eleventh quarterback off the board.

I have the feeling that Kitna is going to be the last best quarterback available in a lot of leagues for owners who decided to load up on wide receivers and running backs first. Sure, it'd be nice to back him up with a solid QB2 in case the Detroit line can't protect him. But the yardage is going to come, and Mike Martz is not going to run the ball.

Likely starting running backs available in middle rounds

The flipside to the Running Back by Committee problem is that running backs that are expected to get plenty of carries will be available in the middle rounds of your draft. Perhaps it will be hard to get a decent RB2 in the second round, but finding quality depth won't be a problem.

Here are few notable drafts slots, and these are in drafts where very few players "fall" past where they should.

Ahman Green ? (No. 65)
Julius Jones ? (No. 66)
Fred Taylor ? (No. 68)
Chester Taylor ? (No. 78)
Warrick Dunn ? (No. 79)
Vernand Morency ? (No. 80, 87)
Brandon Jackson ? (No. 85)
LaMont Jordan ? (No. 86, 91)
DeShaun Foster ? (No. 110)

The majority of these players are starting running backs, however uncool. This information tells me that it's better to load up on your second and third receivers or quarterback before investing in running back depth. Solid options will fall further than usual.

Calvin Johnson is the exception to the rookie receiver rule

Kitna has to throw to someone. Going into the magazine season, I thought Johnson would be among the hardest players for the touts to project. I placed him as the WR21, somewhere in between Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald's rookie seasons ? Johnson's best two comps in the last ten years. It was easily the highest we've ranked a rookie wideout in my four seasons at Rotoworld.

It turns out a consensus wasn't so hard to reach on Johnson after all. He was taken nearly exactly at this spot in both my drafts, a fifth/sixth-round grade. He's a fun, risky WR2, and a WR3 for a loaded squad. The standard rookie receiver caution doesn't apply to his talent in Detroit's system.

Fitzgerald creates separation

In the past, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin have been receivers 1 and 1A in Arizona. Fitzgerald is now creating some separation with fantasy leaguers after Boldin's disappointing four-touchdown season. In the NFL.com draft I participated in, Fitzgerald was taken early in the third round and Boldin went with the second-to-last pick of the fourth.

Looking at Average Draft Position data, Fitzgerald is being taken as a top-four receiver. Boldin is going anywhere from ninth to fourteenth. I have some concerns that Ken Whisenhunt's approach in Arizona will mute both receivers, so Boldin looks like the better bet here, at least for value. Whisenhunt is using Boldin like he did Hines Ward, so perhaps that touchdown total will rise.

The second-round cut-off question

I'm going to write about this at length in the future, but one of the defining aspects of the 2007 draft season will come in the second round. When do you start taking elite (and safe) wide receivers over many of the shaky RB2s that will come off the board early like Edgerrin James, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Deuce McAllister?

My cut-off is around my fifteenth running back. That means I'd take Ronnie Brown, Willis McGahee, and Clinton Portis instead of a WR1 in most cases. After those three are off the board, I'd rather draft an elite wideout and hope that Brandon Jacobs slips to me in the third round. If he doesn't, Carnell Williams, Thomas Jones, or Cedric Benson will.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#36
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Bell Could Charm Motown
I recently had an opportunity to speak with NFL.com's Pat Kirwan, one of the most respected men around the league. While discussing my previous column on backup running backs, he quickly jumped on the fact that I didn't mention the Detroit backfield situation. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "I wanted to see how it plays out and if Kevin Jones looks healthy."
Kirwan: "Tatum"
Me: "Really? Away from Denver? In a pass-happy offense?"
Kirwan: "Tatum"

His enthusiasm over Bell really got me excited from a fantasy perspective. Plus, Kirwan was basically running the New York Jets when I was still playing in free Yahoo! public leagues.

Fantasy football veterans know that a running back is going to come out of nowhere to provide unexpected value almost every season. In 2007, that player could easily be Tatum Bell.

Yes, I'm aware that they still have the aforementioned Kevin Jones and the newly acquired T.J. Duckett. It might not matter.

Jones is coming off a serious Lisfranc injury to his foot and could even end up on the PUP list to start the season. Jon Kitna recently said that Jones looked good at minicamp, but I don't buy it. We're talking about a guy who also recently said the Lions would win 10 games. Jones might not ever be the same player we saw before the injury. Detroit wouldn't have parted with Dre' Bly if they felt Kevin Jones would be ready to carry the load by Week 1.

Duckett is a candidate to steal goal-line carries, but it shouldn't deter fantasy owners. Bell will do his damage mostly on draw plays when teams are afraid to stack the box because Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson will burn them downfield. Bell is a terrific draw-play runner and offensive coordinator Mike Martz will utilize those skills early and often this season.

Bell didn't get too many opportunities to catch balls out of the backfield in Denver. In fact, he only had 47 receptions in three seasons. This was a result of the Broncos' offensive style, not a sign of Bell's inability to haul in passes. The Lions expect Bell to work on his hands and receiving ability, something he's been doing throughout the offseason.

A healthy Jones caught 61 passes in 12 games for the Lions last season. If Martz and Co. expect Bell to fill that role, his fantasy value in points-per-reception leagues will obviously skyrocket.

The Lions finished dead last in the NFL with only 19 rushing attempts per game last season, probably putting a sour taste in the mouths of anyone who owned their running backs in fantasy play. However, they often had to abandon the run when trailing last year and many people around the league expect them to be improved in 2007. They'll run the ball more often if they're more competitive and fantasy owners should take that into consideration on draft day.

Keep in mind that Jones was a nice fantasy contributor while the team was hardly running the ball last season, and it's easy to understand how the Lions' offense can turn Bell into a valuable player even if they're primarily a pass-first team. If they run the ball a little more this season ? it's a nice bonus.

Bell wore out his welcome in Denver because head coach Mike Shanahan was sick of his fumbling issues, not because he isn't a capable back. Plus, we all know Shanahan isn't afraid to trade high-upside running backs to improve his defense (think Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey). Bell has all the tools and the opportunity to be a solid RB2 for fantasy purposes if he can cure his case of the drops and adjust to a new offense. He's a terrific high-upside player to target in the middle rounds on draft day.

Not quite end of the Rhode

Back in May, the San Francisco Chronicle speculated that Dominic Rhodes would earn the starting job over LaMont Jordan in Oakland. I agreed 100 percent and considered Rhodes a great sleeper for the upcoming season. Since then, Rhodes has obviously been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. It doesn't scare me away one bit.

Most fantasy owners are going to shy away from the suspended running back and he might even go undrafted in some leagues. Perfect. When you build your fantasy team, you're not only building it for the first four weeks. You're building it to compete through December. By Week 4, there is a good chance that Jordan will be frustrating the Raiders with poor performance and they'll be counting on Rhodes to inherit a bulk of the carries upon his return. Oakland happens to have a Week 5 bye, so Rhodes will have two weeks to get game ready once he's eligible to suit up.

New head coach Lane Kiffin wants to put his stamp on the offense and Rhodes could easily emerge as his guy, although Jordan will have four games to prove otherwise. If the Raiders are struggling on Oct. 1 when Rhodes is eligible to return to action, a change at running back could be a quick fix for the rookie coach. How often can you get a back with a legitimate chance to start 12 games as a late-round flier? Wouldn't it be nice to have some fresh legs come Week 6 when your regular players start missing games with injuries and bye weeks?

One thing is certain: The Raiders running game should be improved regardless of whose getting carries. The team brought in Gregg Knapp and Tom Cable, Alex Gibbs disciples, to install the legendary zone-blocking scheme. Never heard of Alex Gibbs? All you need to know is that running backs have a tendency to become fantasy studs under his method.

Meanwhile, Jordan has only resembled a player with fantasy value once in his career ? 2005. His coach in 2005? Running back guru Norv Turner. Ask Frank Gore what Norv can do to a running back's value. Rhodes managed 641 yards last season in Indianapolis while sharing the carries with rookie Joseph Addai, who is clearly superior to Jordan at this stage.

Rhodes is far from a lock to dethrone Jordan once he returns to action. I just think spending a fourth-round pick on Jordan isn't good value when you can spend a late rounder on Rhodes. The former Colt is eligible to participate in training camp and all preseason games, so he shouldn't have a problem learning the offense and potential fantasy owners will get to monitor his progress before draft day.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#37
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Offseason Lowdown: Quagmires
Beware the quagmire. Across the fantasy football landscape, there are slowly sinking positions where fantasy owners get stuck, throwing good roster spot after bad into the mess. Certain position battles are best avoided. <!--break-->

Just like in politics, however, quagmires are often difficult to identify until it's too late. That's what this column is for: To find the mudded areas to stay away from and recognize which ones could lead to solid footing.

Jets Running Back
Contenders: Curtis Martin, Cedric Houston, Leon Washington, and Derrick Blaylock


Curtis Martin's steady run had to get bogged down eventually, and it finally happened in 2005. Now coming off the first serious injury of his career, Martin accepted a drastic paycut to compete for carries. He should open the season as a starter, but the Jets brass has hinted that they will divide his workload up.

Rookie Leon Washington has great skills for passing downs and can't be ignored. Second-year back Cedric Houston proved to be a tough, workmanlike option late last season. Veteran Derrick Blaylock is versatile, but struggling with injuries. He may not make the roster. The Jets brass should favor their youth as the season wears on, but there are too many options for any one player to emerge.

Salvagable: None

Packers No. 2 Wideout
Contenders:
Rod Gardner, Robert Ferguson, Greg Jennings, and Marc Boerigter

Where have you gone, Javon Walker? That's what Brett Favre will be wondering this season while Donald Driver gets double-teamed. This mishmash of second-tier talent, plus rookie second-rounder Greg Jennings, has no standouts. Robert Ferguson would be the slight favorite if he could stay healthy. Gardner was cut by two teams last season and missed many off-season practices. Jennings is the future, but the transition from Western Michigan to the pros won't be easy. Boerigter probably isn't a serious candidate.

Green Bay's consistent passing game has yielded two quality fantasy receivers for years, but I don't recommend an investment this time. Ferguson is only worth a flier if he impresses during training camp, while Jennings may see his playing time increase down the stretch.

Salvagable: None

Titans Running Back
Contenders:
Chris Brown, LenDale White, Travis Henry

Entering a contract year, Brown is no longer Tennessee's "running back of the future". He doesn't have the durability to take the 300-carry pounding that coach Jeff Fisher prefers. Brown requested a trade this month, but we don't see why Tennessee would be motivated to listen; he's still the team's best third-dwon threat. This is LenDale White's backfield, and we hear the coaching wants him to assume a big responsibility sooner than later. Henry could be dangled in training camp as trade bait. Since Brown is excellent on third downs, it appears that a running back by committee will be the Norm (Chow) this season. White is a high-risk, high-reward pick, but will probably need an injury to Brown to be a fantasy starter. He is costing too much in fantasy drafts that I am probably going to stay away though.

Salvagable: White

Jets Quarterback
Contenders: Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Patrick Ramsey


I'm going to eliminate Brooks Bollinger from contention as an act of mercy to Jets fans. Ramsey recently signed an extension, but it doesn't mean much. By all accounts, Chad Pennington is likely to start the season if his shoulder holds up. After two surgeries, that's far from certain. The NFL Network's Mike Mayock believes Clemens would be the Week 1 starter if Pennington can't play, and will take over during the first half of the season anyway. If Clemens doesn't work, Vinny Testaverde is probably throwing backyard footballs through a swinging tire somewhere.

Vikings No. 2 Wide Receiver

Contenders:
Troy Williamson, Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson

When Koren Robinson is counted on as a rock solid No. 1 receiver, you've got problems. Williamson, the No. 7 pick of last year's draft and one of the fastest players in football, has the most potential. But he is only 23, very raw, and learning a new offense after missing the minicamp season. His rookie season was uneven. Taylor and Robinson are both serviceable veterans who figure to cancel each other out. Don't be surprised if they pull Williamson down with them.

Salvageable: None

Eagles No. 2 Wide Receiver
Contenders: Todd Pinkston, Greg Lewis, Jabar Gaffney


Like Minnesota, the Eagles are counting on a potentially shaky No. 1 receiver (Reggie Brown) and have set up a scrum of second-tier talent behind him. Pinkston is recovering from a torn Achilles, Gaffney is best used out of the slot, and Lewis disappointed as a starter last season. The pre-Terrell Owens years are proof that Philadelphia can survive without a 1,000-yard receiver. If they are going to get one this year, it should be Brown.

Salvagable:None

Packers Running Back
Contenders: Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, Samkon Gado, Noah Herron


Green (torn quadriceps) and Davenport (broken ankle) are both coming off serious injuries and an off-season of inactivity. Both are signed to small one-year contracts that would be easy to release before the season. They won't be ready for the start of camp, so it will be a pressure-packed August because they have a chance to start or get cut. Gado is the most promising pick because of his cheap contract and excellent 2005 season. But he struggled to learn Green Bay's new zone blocking system this summer, often running behind the unheralded Herron in minicamps. Herron and Davenport could also play fullback, adding to the confusion. This situation remains toxic until training camp shakes a few roles out.

Salvagable: Pending camp reports

Buffalo Quarterback
Contenders: Kelly Holcomb, J.P. Losman, Craig Nall


Re-read the names above. Consider that the Bills lost Eric Moulds, but gained Dick Jauron and Marv Levy. The No. 2 receiver spot is being contested by three veterans absolutely no other team wanted. Which reminds me ?

Salvageable: No

Buffalo No. 2 Receiver
Contenders: Peerless Price, Andre' Davis, Josh Reed

Combined 2005 numbers of this veteran group: 47 catches, 735 yards, 3 TD. Reed accounted for the majority of those totals, but his signing was the toughest to swallow. The former second-rounder disappointed Bills brass for three straight seasons, never topping 600 yards, then was rewarded with a pricey four-year deal. Price's signing was odd after he was cut twice in six months, but bringing Reed back was inexplicable. I'm staying away from this group.

Salvageable:No

Denver Running Back
Contenders: Ron Dayne, Tatum Bell, Cedric Cobbs


Mike Shanahan doesn't care about you. Just get over it now before trying to read his motivational tea leaves in order to figure out his thought process. After making Reuben Droughns (released backup fullback) and Mike Anderson (32-year-old fullback) 1,000-yard rushers the last two seasons, Shanahan now wants to flip the rest of the league the finger by making Dayne a star. Kyle Johnson is up next year, then it's time for the resurrection of Amos Zereoue in 2008. I don't ever doubt the Mastermind, but Tatum Bell will have his moments as well. Dayne and Bell could both approach 1,000 yards. While they will lack consistency, they are still assets worth owning, just not as your RB2. The system is too good to ignore.

Salvageable: Dayne, Bell, Cobbs

Browns Backup Running Back
Contenders: Lee Suggs, Jerome Harrison, William Green, Jason Wright


Cleveland's starter, Reuben Droughns, only scored two touchdowns last season. Until we know more, their backup isn't worth drafting.

Salvageable: No

Jaguars Running Backs
Contenders: Fred Taylor, Greg Jones, Maurice Drew, Alvin Pearman, LaBrandon Toefield


Different coaches like carrying extra players at certain positions. Mike Tice loved having a gang of tight ends. Mike Martz likes keeping six wideouts active. Bill Belichick tries to bring every last veteran cornerback in the league to camp in hopes of striking gold. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio loves his running backs.

The depth is ridiculous. Taylor is easily the most talented player when healthy. Jones can handle the short-yardage pounding. Drew and Pearman will compete for third-down duties. Toefield can back everyone up. There are so many little roles that a RBBC looks inevitable, even if injuries strike. Jones and Drew have value as late picks, but do they have any prayer of getting 20 carries in a game? Taylor's value is shaky because of his health, but his starting role is secure. At a drastically reduced price this season (ADP over 50), he's worth the gamble.

Salvageable: Taylor

Saints Tight Ends
Contenders: Ernie Conwell, Mark Campbell, Zach Hilton, Tim Euhus


I hear the new coaching staff isn't in love with Hilton, who closed well in 2005. There are too many players with different skills to get excited about any of them individually.

Salvageable: None

Denver Tight Ends
Contenders: Stephen Alexander, Tony Scheffler


Jeb Putzier was jettisoned because he couldn't block consistently. It's unlikely that Scheffler, a promising rookie, will be any better this season. Look for new Broncos staffer Mike Heimerdinger to run more three wideout sets this season and de-emphasize the tight end.

Salvageable: None
Lions No. 2 WR
Contenders: Corey Bradford, Mike Furrey, Mike Williams, Charles Rogers


The presence of Mike Martz puts the spotlight on this gnarly battle. Bradford was running as the starter all off-season, but has a mediocre track record. Furrey was reportedly in the No. 3 spot in June, but he was playing safety last year. Williams and Rogers still face major work ethic questions. I'll be temped to invest a flier pick on the winner of this job, but Martz will probably get impatient and give everyone a turn. It's best to stay away. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

Salvageable: None

Jaguars Wide Receiver
Contenders: Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, Ernest Wilford


The retirement of Jimmy Smith should be good news for this trio, but no one has stepped to the forefront this off-season. Jacksonville brass is reportedly worried. Judging purely by pro performance, Wilford has been the most consistent. But the coaching staff demoted him again behind Williams this summer and view him as a reserve. Jones showed explosive potential as a rookie, but only steady progress can be expected in his second year as a receiver. Williams' upside appears to be the 30-year old version of Keyshawn Johnson. I suspect these three will take turns putting up decent fantasy outings.

Salvageable: Jones (at the right price)
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#38
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

13 Habits to Avoid



***

Every season is different, but the same mistakes ruin fantasy teams year in and year out. Here are thirteen recurring brain farts we've noticed.

1. Falling for offseason fluff pieces

Every player in the NFL is currently in the greatest shape of his life. If a player was slow last season, he's lost weight to improve his speed. If he was injured or wore down, he gained muscle mass to improve his durability. Jamal Lewis will now run well behind a great offensive line. Troy Williamson has fixed his vision.

Lazy players are now focused. Nervous players are now calm. Troubled players are now good citizens. The game has slowed down for all second and third-year players. The new player-friendly coach will allow everyone to relax and perform. The new disciplinarian coach will bring some much-needed direction to the organization. The boring offense can now throw it vertically. If a player is injured, he'll be 100% before training camp. Above all else, please remember that all offseason surgery was "minor."

2. Trusting the preseason

Training camp matters, but exhibition games don't. August is an important time to watch position battles and injuries that affect playing time. It is not an important to check the box scores or see what player is succeeding in game action. Paranoid coaches use vanilla schemes throughout the preseason in fear of giving away their regular season goods.

The preseason is primarily for players fighting for NFL roster spots, not fantasy roster spots. Even a player like Fast Willie Parker, who was a revelation in camp two years ago, didn't play much in the preseason because Bill Cowher knew he was the team's secret weapon. Parker earned his playing time in practice. That's why checking practice reports, on Rotoworld of course, is more important.

3. Following the herd

This is crucial. No matter how crazy your pre-season rankings are, they will never approximate the unpredictability of the NFL season. Chad Johnson wasn't a top thirty wideout for half of last season. Maurice Drew, Jon Kitna, and Bernard Berrian were fantasy stars from day one in 2006 after going undrafted in many leagues. Frank Gore often fell out of the top 40 picks. Drew Brees was a weak-armed quarterback coming off shoulder surgery that nobody wanted.

Fantasy football's unpredictability is part of what makes it fun. Yet every August, there is a Nation of fans with nearly identical draft boards. We're not sure how this consensus forms, but deviating from the herd is sure to draw scorn on draft day. Ignore the whispers. Ignore Rotoworld if you have to. If you feel like taking Brandon Jackson two rounds early to make sure, just do it. This isn't a science. It's more about luck than most want to admit. Winning fantasy football requires homework, creative thinking, and a lot of luck. Following the consensus draft board does not win titles. The consensus is stupid.

An addendum to this habit is the belief that fantasy "experts" know all the answers. There is no right answer until Sunday. Do the homework, get input from multiple sources, including fantasy writers, and make a decision.

4. Drafting with too much emotion

Every player has a price. Repeat it: It's the bedrock of Rotoworld's philosophy. At a certain draft position, everyone on your draft board has value. Too many owners eliminate players because they failed for them in a previous year. Don't hold a grudge and don't assume this year will be like the last.

Nothing is constant in the NFL. You are either getting better or getting worse. Teammates change, schemes change, motivation changes, schedules change, and luck changes. Don't assume the 2007 version of Ronnie Brown will be the same as the 2006 version.

5. Creating an inflexible draft strategy

Every week, every season, I get emails that start something like this. "I have the eighth pick in the draft. I am thinking about going RB/RB/WR/QB for my first four picks. What do you think?"

Um, it depends. Every draft is it's own animal. But I never want a set plan like this.
Who knows what running back may slip to your second round pick? If Peyton Manning is available in the third, will you pass on him because of your strategy? The best advice I can give for drafting is to be prepared and know the players. Then let the draft come to you.

Prepare for a few scenarios. That way you can make quick decisions rather than be stuck in some preconceived plan of how the draft should go. That way you can exploit any inefficiencies during the draft. Keep your mind open. Personally, I like loading up on running backs and wide receivers as much as possible early, who doesn't? Some of my best teams, however, came when I drafted players I never expected to get because my board had them listed first, and I trusted the board.

6. Setting your weekly lineup on Friday

Countless fantasy games are lost each week at 4:45 PM when owners get ready to leave work. Football is a sport of injuries and last minute replacements. Players that are listed as probable on Friday may be on the bench Sunday. Players that are listed as doubtful on Thursday break off 100-yard games. Get on your computer between 11:30 AM and 1 PM EST Sunday and find out for sure who is playing and what it all means. Then set your lineup. If you can't get online Sunday, do it as late in the week as possible. (And after checking Evan Silva's Last Minute Decisions column.)

*** Discuss this article, and all your draft plans on Rotoworld's Forums***

7. Listening to coachspeak

Part of my job is to listen to as many press conferences as possible. After perfecting my BS detector, I can prove that 90% of what an NFL head coach says is worthless to fantasy leaguers. At the very least, most of the information needs a coach-specific translator to break down what he's really saying.

Now in some cases, like Herm Edwards, Rod Marinelli, and Jon Gruden, pressers are very entertaining. (Where have you gone Joe Vitt and Mike Tice?) But aside from injury updates, there is very little useful information. Fantasy owners occasionally trust what a coach says about playing time at face value and assume it will come true.

Some coaches praise everyone on the roster, so it means very little. Some coaches never talk about the players they do. Scant playing time information or strategy is ever revealed midweek. Let us waste our time listening so you don't have to separate the wheat from the chaff. We'll let you know what matters.

8. Not planning for injuries

Plan to use four running backs this season. Plan to start five different wide receivers over the course of the season. Expect injuries, and be pleasantly surprised if they don't happen. There is always one team in every fantasy draft whose starting lineup looks unbeatable, but their bench is trash. That team isn't going to win. Don't stop drafting running backs just because you already have three studs.

NFL teams don't blame injuries and fantasy owners shouldn't either. Every year, an owner in your league will whine because of his bad luck with his injuries. Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong, but laugh at him for being unprepared. Then take advantage of the situation in a trade.

Depth is integral to winning fantasy football. Injuries are going to happen and bad picks are going to happen. Winning teams have enough ammo to survive the onslaught, and step softly around all the grenades the season has set up for you. If you are lucky enough to have "too many" productive bench players at midseason, you can package them for upgrades.

9. Overrating last season

Most fantasy starters have significant bodies of work to examine before making preseason rankings. Yet we inevitably overrate last season. Marion Barber isn't particularly likely to ever score 16 times again, but owners will expect it because it happened in 2007. Jeff Garcia was in a massive career spiral before finding relevance in Philadelphia again. Mike Furrey caught 98 passes out of nowhere, but would have been highly unlikely to repeat the feat even if Calvin Johnson wasn't draft. Last year should not be dismissed, of course, either. It's the most relevant season to examine. But it should always be taken into context of a longer view.

An addendum to this one is overrating the previous year's playoffs. Dallas Clark has topped 70 yards exactly once in his last 34 regular season games before going over 100 yards twice during Indy's Super Bowl run. Guess which part too many fantasy owners will remember?

10. Ignoring Career Arcs

FootballOutsiders.com's fearless leader Aaron Schatz preaches the value of career arcs, and we are believers. It sounds simple, but too many owners ignore the pattern of aging when drafting well-known favorite players. You are usually getting better or getting worse, and most of the "Busts" littered around fantasy football every season have shown signs of starting their decline phase.

Perhaps we haven't always followed this advice enough in the past, but we'd rather give up on a guy a year too early than hang on too long like many owners did with Keenan McCardell, Edgerrin James, Drew Bledsoe, Rod Smith, and Derrick Mason last season.

11. Disregarding year-specific trends

We'll write a column later in the draft season about some trends that define the 2007 season, like the second-year quarterbacks, the running back committees, the deep field at tight end, and the closely bunched first tier at wide receiver. The key is, every season and every draft is it's own creature. In the past, there was a lot more value in a top-five tight end because of the severe drop-off afterwards. That's no longer the case.

This habit dovetails directly into our tier strategy, which we outline in the draft guide and magazine. Know where the talent drop-offs are at each position. Know how many wide receivers you think are acceptable to start for your team and make sure you get two or three of them.

Using Average Draft Position (ADP) is another way of accounting for year-specific trends. Within the draft, you can see the type of quarterbacks who will likely be available after the eleventh round and decide if they are acceptable QB2 options. Perhaps you love Jerious Norwood with a burning passion and he's already atop your board to start round three. Using ADP, you might see that he's likely to be available for at least one more round, and then you can get more value out of your pick.

12. Not trading enough

See that guy across the table on draft day? He may be an idiot. Take advantage of him. If he's not, his team has a weakness. Your team probably does to. Figure out how to help him fill that weakness while helping your team more. Trading is easy if you are confident in your evaluation of players. You will be surprised how different some owners' value for certain players is to your own.

One mistake owners make is not knowing when to sell high. If you have two mid-to-late round draft picks at running back that are performing very well through three weeks, try not to fall head over heels in love with them. Pick the one you believe will fall off, and trade

13. Drafting multiple kickers and team defenses

In nearly any league format, it's roster suicide to draft two kickers or two team defenses. Load up on running backs and wide receivers instead. You'll need them. No matter what league, there should be quality kicker and defense options on the waiver wire every single week. Both positions are crapshoots. More importantly, there are 32 options every week at both positions that will score points. There are only 12 owners in your league. That's also why you can wait five rounds or more to draft a quarterback and still do fine. It's all about position scarcity.

In leagues that allow it, its not a crazy idea to pass on drafting kickers and team defenses altogether. Pick them up right before Week 1. I love playing the matchups for team defenses. There's always a team playing the Raiders.

I also don't recommend drafting two tight ends in 15-player roster leagues if your starter is above average. There's no need to own Alge Crumpler and Chris Cooley when quality backup options should be available on the waiver wire if you need one. Tight end is deeper than ever this season, making it an easy position to fill late on draft day and during the season.

Pick up a backup if one intrigues you during the season. If you don't take a top nine tight end, then drafting two is a good idea.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#39
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Fantasy Defense Preview

When searching for a fantasy defense to draft, the best options are ones that will provide a consistent pass rush. Sack masters keep you from getting zeroes at a fantasy position in any week. Interception-making corners can turn a slow week into a good one. The elite defenses normally combine both elements.

Check out the unparalleled Rotoworld Fantasy Football Draft Guide to access our Tiering Strategy, which helps to decipher when and where defenses should be drafted. This column examines certain sorts of defenses by differentiating between those that should be reliable and those that shouldn't based on certain characteristics.

The Ringer

Bears


Chicago is the LaDainian Tomlinson of fantasy defenses. The Bears combine a scoring-friendly Tampa 2 scheme with a slew of studly young pass rushers and defensive backs with a knack for the big play. There is no reason to believe the Bears will experience a drop off, and they're the only defense we'd reach into the third- or fourth-to-last round of fantasy drafts to secure.

Consistent Options

Ravens
Chargers
Patriots
Jaguars
Eagles


Coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme is what keeps the Ravens elite year in, year out. The ability to insert talented youngsters who've been waiting in the wings nearly always offsets seemingly big losses. Jarret Johnson, a skilled linebacker-end hybrid, will combine with athletic freak Antwan Barnes to replace Adalius Thomas. Chris McAlister is arguably the second-best corner in the game and FS Ed Reed will be looking to build on a six-pick 2006 campaign.

The Jags and Iggles have excellent defensive lines and boast quality depth. The Patriots will take a hit if franchise CB Asante Samuel sits out the first ten games of the season but got a nice boost in the pass-rushing department with Thomas' addition, whether he's playing inside or out.

The Chargers are the exception to the rule here, as there are no big-play specialists in their secondary. They are consistent, however, because ends Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo create constant havoc and OLBs Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips are relentless off the edge. It'd be quite difficult for new coordinator Ted Cottrell to thwart the Bolts' success.

If you're unwilling or don't have the time to play week-to-week matchups, make sure to secure a consistent option if you don't get the Bears.

Poised to Break Out

Broncos
Raiders
Packers
Cowboys


The Broncos' defense is now run by Jim Bates, a production-friendly coach who emphasizes a strong pass rush. He added stud college ends Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder via the draft and will use Jimmy Kennedy at his more natural under tackle position. Dre` Bly came from Detroit to give Denver the top CB duo in the game. With playmaking SS Nick Ferguson returning, the Broncos have potential to be a top-five fantasy defense in Bates' first year.

The Cowboys will benefit greatly from Wade Phillips coming from San Diego. Phillips will understand how to use Dallas' super-talented ends and linebackers, even if the Cowboys remain a suspect pass defense.

The Raiders emerged down the stretch of 2006 as an every-week fantasy start and have all the elements of a defense that can produce for an entire season. Rob Ryan's unit features CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who is entering a contract year, DE Derrick Burgess, the NFL's sack leader over the least three seasons who may also be playing for a new deal, and emerging LBs Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard. With all the talent, not even a poor offense that might struggle to stay on the field should keep this group from being worth a second-to-last round pick.

Green Bay is listed No. 10 among Rotoworld's fantasy defense ranks, which can be accessed through our Draft Guide. Using Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila as a situational pass rusher was long overdue for the Pack and will keep the contract-year player fresh. Al Harris may not be an INT machine, but Charles Woodson is and FS Nick Collins can be. We think the Packers are well worth a last-round choice in fantasy drafts.

Looking to Bounce Back

Bengals
Colts
Panthers
Buccaneers


The Panthers were probably the biggest bust among 2006 fantasy defenses. In some leagues, they were even drafted first, ahead of the Bears. That proved to be a mistake by owners, as DE Mike Rucker, MLB Dan Morgan, and CB Ken Lucas suffered injuries that either cost them most of the season or nagged throughout. Morgan returns, but probably won't make it through all 16 games. Richard Marshall seems to be emerging opposite Lucas but Chris Gamble is too inconsistent to be a starter any longer.

The Bengals led the NFL in takeaways in back-to-back years until this past season. They still finished a respectable ninth in the category but have yet to remove DE Bryan Robinson from the starting lineup in favor of exciting talent Robert Geathers. Cincy's situation at cornerback is also much less proven than the one fielded in seasons prior and the team's linebacker corps will rely on new faces.

Two reasons the Colts disappointed from a fantasy perspective in 2006: FS Bob Sanders couldn't stay healthy and Dwight Freeney didn't post a full sack until Week 10. Now, with Sanders back at 100 percent and Freeney potentially playing for a new deal, the Colts should rebound. DE Robert Mathis and SS Antoine Bethea enter their second full years as starters. WLB Freddie Keiaho may be a slight downgrade from Cato June, but it'd be a surprise if Indianapolis doesn't bounce back to be a top-ten unit.

The Bucs devoted most of their draft to the defensive side of the ball and picked some very promising players but could easily still be placed in the "Aging Defenses" category (see below). It'd be hard to put much faith in Tampa coming back strong.

Teams In Transition

Steelers
Vikings
Cardinals
49ers
Giants
Falcons


These are normally units you want to avoid at the beginning of the season because their players are learning new concepts and the defenses as a whole have a lot to prove. They can be worth in-season pickups, but aren't defenses to draft.

The Niners and Cardinals are converting to 3-4 alignments. Both have chances to be worth mid-year grabs, but don't count on it. Minnesota has a new coordinator who'll be teaching the same defense as predecessor Mike Tomlin but the Vikings' pass rush is anemic until someone steps up and does something about it (and stays healthy).

The Giants need Michael Strahan back to book end Osi Umenyiora, but the 35-year-old didn't practice much this offseason. Aaron Ross should prove an upgrade in the secondary over Corey Webster and R.W. McQuarters and has loads of playmaking potential, but is still a rookie. The Giants are breaking in two new linebackers and a new coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo. Wait and see before drafting them.

The Falcons have a completely new coaching staff, a secondary with major question marks, and a rookie starter at defensive end. Also detracting from Atlanta's potential is an injury to pass-rushing interior tackle Rod Coleman, who may begin 2007 on PUP.

Young Defenses

Chiefs
Rams
Browns
Bills


You have to love the Chiefs' new safety duo of Jarrad Page, a prolific playmaker, and Bernard Pollard, a devastating hitter, but DE Jared Allen's four-game absence to open the year decreases a lot of their early-season potential. While K.C. should be worth grabbing at some point, don't expect it to be while rookie Turk McBride (one sack for the Tennessee Vols in 2006) is starting opposite Tamba Hali.

The Bills have an excellent safety duo of their own in FS Ko Simpson and blooming SS Donte Whitner to go with one quarterback-terrorizing end (Aaron Schobel). But the team revamped its linebacker unit, losing stalwarts London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes, and has a gaping hole at the CB spot vacated by Nate Clements. There are too many question marks for the Bills to be drafted.

The Browns need to find another way to keep pressure on QBs than just Kamerion Wimbley. Antwan Peek could be the answer, but isn't until he proves otherwise. The Rams must find a way to be competitive versus the run so their somewhat injury-prone pass rushers don't tire. They also need more big plays from CB Tye Hill and MLB Will Witherspoon.

Aging Defenses

Dolphins
Seahawks
Redskins


The Dolphins are obviously the cream of this crop but it's hard to be confident they'll produce many takeaways with such a suspect secondary. Yeremiah Bell is a bonafide breakout candidate, but aside from him the 'Fins don't have many big-play DBs. The addition of Joey Porter helps on paper and Jason Taylor remains one of the most dominant forces in the league, but a slight drop off is quite conceivable for this aging unit.

Seattle only aged with the acquisitions of safety Brian Russell (29) and defensive end Patrick Kerney (30). Free safety Deon Grant will handle center-field duties but isn't much of a playmaker. Darryl Tapp is the defense's end with the best long-term potential for production, but it sounds like returning DE Bryce Fisher rookie Baraka Atkins will cut into his early-down development.

Washington got old in a hurry in 2006 and is safely off the fantasy radar.

Vanilla Defenses

Saints
Jets


New Orleans has one stud pass rusher (Will Smith) and one solid all-around end (Charles Grant) who's topped eight sacks just once in the past three seasons. Strong end play can keep a fantasy defense afloat and worth using in the right matchups, but the Saints don't have big playmakers in the secondary and lack elite pass-rushing LBs.

The Jets' only proven pass rusher is Bryan Thomas, who was playing for a contract in 2006, his breakout year. CB Darrelle Revis was an excellent pickup for New York's secondary but will face a steep learning curve. Coach Eric Mangini does well to get the best out of this unit; there's just not much upside. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

Untouchables

Titans
Lions
Texans


Rod Marinelli may have the Lions on the right path, and they may even go 8-8 this season, but it won't be because of their defense. Tennessee's loss of Pacman Jones and continued gaping hole opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch crushes any fantasy upside even though the Titans have some good veterans in place. The Texans are just awful.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#40
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

16-round Mock Draft Breakdown
You asked for more Mock Drafts, and we aim to please. I completed a quality industry league draft two weeks ago held by Krause Publications with many of the top names around. I attempted liveblogging the occasion at the time, but now we can go over everyone's picks for all 16 rounds.

Like every draft, it's important to note the scoring. The league uses "NFFC" scoring. For those that have requesting a points-per-reception (PPR) mock draft, this is close. There is a point-per-reception for wideouts and tight ends, and half a point for running backs. There is six points per passing touchdown, which makes quarterbacks more valuable. We start one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, a tight end, one kicker, one team defense, and a flex, so depth at the skill positions is crucial.

[SIZE=+1]Round One[/SIZE]

1.01. Mike Sheets, Rototimes ? LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers RB
1.02. Tom Kessenich, NFFC ? Steven Jackson, Rams RB
1.03. Roger Rotter, FoxSports ? Shaun Alexander, Seahawks RB
1.04. Pasko Varnica, Creative Sports ?Larry Johnson, Chiefs RB
1.05. Brandon Funston, Yahoo ? Frank Gore, 49ers RB
1.06. Scott Engel, ESPN ? Willie Parker, Steelers RB
1.07. Rotoworld ? Joseph Addai, Colts RB
1.08. David Dodds, FootballGuys ? Rudi Johnson, Bengals RB
1.09. Geoffrey Stein, MockDraftCentral ? Brian Westbrook, Eagles RB
1.10. Rob Benetti ? Travis Henry, Broncos RB
1.11. Greg Ambrosius, Krause Publications ? Reggie Bush, Saints RB
1.12. Jeff Erickson, Rotowire ? Laurence Maroney, Patriots RB

Best Value: Brian Westbrook - He caught 54 more passes than Rudi last year. At half a point per reception, that's like getting an extra 4-5 touchdowns.

Shadiest Pick: Shaun Alexander - Younger options who are better in the passing game were available.

Overview: The first round went mostly according to plan. In a league whose scoring system helps receivers and quarterbacks, running backs still ruled the first 12 picks. Alexander won't go in the top three in most drafts, but Larry Johnson will slip to the fourth pick often if owners choose Frank Gore.

Parker and Addai seem to be establishing themselves as consistent top six-seven picks. Henry is starting to show up in many first rounds ? don't expect him to slip.

[SIZE=+1]Round Two[/SIZE]

2.01. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars RB
2.02. Willis McGahee, Ravens RB
2.03. Chad Johnson, Bengals WR
2.04. Peyton Manning, Colts QB
2.05. Steve Smith, Panthers WR
2.06. Rotoworld ? Ronnie Brown, Dolphins RB
2.07. Marvin Harrison, Colts WR
2.08. Torry Holt, Rams WR
2.09. Clinton Portis, Redskins RB
2.10. Terrell Owens, Cowboys WR
2.11. Edgerrin James, Cardinals RB
2.12. Reggie Wayne, Colts WR

Best Value: Manning - Especially with six points per passing touchdown, Manning is a safer bet than the round two running backs.

Shadiest Pick: James- Line coach Russ Grimm is great, but James' decline has started.

Overview: Every owner must decide when they will start drafting top receivers ahead of shakier second running backs. In this draft, we got to RB14 before Chad Johnson was taken. I was set to take Steve Smith, but Ronnie Brown was the last of the running backs I had ranked ahead of the rest of my top receiver group.

That group: Harrison, Holt, Fitzgerald, Roy Williams, Reggie Wayne, etc. is very tightly bunched. Any order may happen depending on your draft.

Maurice Jones-Drew may slip further in some drafts because he's splitting carries. Portis could climb closer to the first round if he looks healthy in camp.

[SIZE=+1]Round Three[/SIZE]

3.01. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals WR
3.02. Javon Walker, Broncos WR
3.03. Thomas Jones, Jets RB
3.04. Roy Williams, Lions WR
3.05. Marshawn Lynch, Bills RB
3.06. Deuce McAllister, Saints RB
3.07. Rotoworld ? Anquan Boldin, Cardinals WR
3.08. Cedric Benson, Bears RB
3.09. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals WR
3.10. Andre Johnson, Texans WR
3.11. Donald Driver, Packers WR
3.12. Lee Evans, Bills WR

Best Value : Roy Williams- No one stands out in a predictably "tight" draft, but it wouldn't surprise me if Williams contends for the top fantasy wideout spot.

Shadiest Pick: Deuce McAllister- McAllister's numbers are likely to decline in favor of Reggie Bush's. That said, this is a normal value according to Average Draft Position. I just don't agree with it.

Overview: Eight receivers fly off the board after six in round two. Housh and Driver are the first of the WR2 types to be drafted. Marshawn Lynch could slip to the fourth round in some drafts, but he'll usually be the first rookie to go.

I choose Boldin over Johnson because it's a PPR league. The following day I took Andre with a different scoring system. Cedric Benson is in a terrific situation, but the fantasy industry has questions about his consistency.

[SIZE=+1]Round Four[/SIZE]

4.01. Carson Palmer, Bengals QB
4.02. Randy Moss, Patriots WR
4.03. Carnell Williams, Bucs RB
4.04. Brandon Jacobs, Giants RB
4.05. Marques Colston, Saints WR
4.06. Rotoworld ? Antonio Gates, Chargers TE
4.07. Plaxico Burress, Giants WR
4.08. Hines Ward, Steelers WR
4.09. Jamal Lewis, Browns RB
4.10. Adrian Peterson, Vikings RB
4.11. Deion Branch, Seahawks WR
4.12. Tom Brady, Patriots QB

Best Value: Brandon Jacobs - Was praying he'd get to me. He's our favorite running back to target after round two.

Shadiest Pick: Jamal Lewis - Why settle so early?

Overview: Proven quarterbacks continue to slip behind options like Deion Branch, Lewis, and Hines Ward. In this league format, Palmer is a great deal. He's a lot closer to Manning than the rest of the QB1s.

The shine is off Cadillac Williams, which makes him an intriguing gamble this late. Gates is slipping because of the depth at tight end. There is still a big gap from him to the next tight end, so he's a solid fourth round pick. I've never owned him before and this pick put me behind at running back. Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson are two high ceiling players that are difficult to project. The fourth round seems appropriate. Marques Colston slipping past the top tier of receivers is a mild surprise.

[SIZE=+1]Round Five[/SIZE]

5.01. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers RB
5.02. Marion Barber, Cowboys RB
5.03. Drew Brees, Saints QB
5.04. Darrell Jackson, 49ers WR
5.05. Marc Bulger, Rams QB
5.06. Reggie Brown, Eagles WR
5.07. Rotoworld ? Laveranues Coles, Jets WR
5.08. Santana Moss, Redskins WR
5.09. Jerious Norwood, Falcons RB
5.10. Chris Chambers, Dolphins WR
5.11. Donovan McNabb, Eagles QB
5.12. Calvin Johnson, Lions WR

Best Value: Donovan McNabb Could have also picked Brees, Johnson, or Williams.

Shadiest Pick: Chris Chambers Crowded receiver group and shaky quarterback situation.

Overview: Barber won't usually fall this far, but this is closer to where Rotoworld slots him. One thing you'll notice in this draft is that the round five and six running backs aren't that much different than some of the round two and three options. RBBCs mean fewer studs, but more depth.

McNabb, Bulger, Brady, and Brees are forming a closely bunched tier behind the top two quarterbacks. Norwood is an inspired pick this early, but I like it. I continued to draft PPR studs like Coles over players like Moss and Johnson, who I'd consider in different formats.

[SIZE=+1]Round Six[/SIZE]

6.01. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks WR
6.02. Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs TE
6.03. Todd Heap, Ravens TE
6.04. Ahman Green, Packers RB
6.05. Julius Jones, Cowboys RB
6.06. Rotoworld ? Jerricho Cotchery, Jets WR
6.07. Fred Taylor, Jaguars RB
6.08. Braylon Edwards, Browns WR
6.09. Jeremy Shockey, Giants TE
6.10. Kevin Jones, Lions RB
6.11. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB
6.12. Mark Clayton, Ravens WR

Best Value: Julius Jones- Time to gamble on a starting running back on an explosive offense.

Shadiest Pick: Tony Gonzalez- Good player, wrong year to take him. Similar tight ends will be available 40 picks later.

Overview The second tier of the tight ends start, but notice that it doesn't continue. Enough owners know there are 10-12 quality starters, so there is no rush.

Ahman Green won't fall so far in most drafts, but the touts aren't betting on a comeback. Decent starting running backs like Green, Jones, and Taylor are available in round six as quarterbacks fall.

We love D.J. Hackett, but he's no longer undervalued if he goes this high. I was disappointed Green and Jones went in the two picks before me, so I went with another PPR-friendly wideout. Cotchery had at least five catches in eight of his last ten games last season. For those who don't like drafting receivers on the same team, check out Doug Drinen's excellent post on the subject.

[SIZE=+1]Round Seven[/SIZE]

7.01. Tatum Bell, Lions RB
7.02. Joey Galloway, Bucs WR
7.03. Vincent Jackson, Chargers WR
7.04. Vince Young, Titans QB
7.05. Ladell Betts, Redskins RB
7.06. Chester Taylor, Vikings RB
7.07. Rotoworld ? Tony Romo, Cowboys QB
7.08. Terry Glenn, Cowboys WR
7.09. Warrick Dunn, Falcons RB
7.10. Vernand Morency, Packers RB
7.11. Bernard Berrian, Bears WR
7.12. Santonio Holmes, Steelers WR

Overview: Hard to single out a terrific or poor value here. It was a fun round, with a lot of players that we didn't want to gamble on too early. In a league where passing touchdowns are at a premium, Vince Young's rushing prowess isn't quite as exciting. I wasn't sure if Romo and Jon Kitna would get back to me, so I drafted Romo to be sure. Kitna lasted three more rounds. In hindsight, a running back may have been a better pick here.

Dunn went two rounds after Norwood amid injury concerns. Chester Taylor could be a fine value three rounds after Adrian Peterson. We've entered a tier of receivers where everyone will have their favorites. Galloway and Glenn have shown no signs of slowing down ? yet. Jackson, Berrian, and Holmes are quality WR3s on the upswing. No tight ends are taken.

[SIZE=+1]Round Eight[/SIZE]

8.01. Brandon Jackson, Packers RB
8.02. LaMont Jordan, Raiders RB
8.03. Mike Bell, Broncos RB
8.04. Devery Henderson, Saints WR
8.05. Greg Jennings, Packers WR
8.06. Rotoworld ? LenDale White, Titans RB
8.07. Chris Cooley, Redskins TE
8.08. Kevin Curtis, Rams WR
8.09. Matt Jones, Jaguars WR
8.10. Kellen Winslow, Browns TE
8.11. Donte' Stallworth, Patriots WR
8.12. Alge Crumpler, Falcons TE

Best Value: LaMont Jordan, Brandon Jackson, LenDale White - Take a swing on talented running backs with a good chance to start if they reach the eighth round.

Shadiest Pick: Devery Henderson - Rotoworld loves the opportunity, but not Henderson's skills.

Overview: The boom-or-bust possible starting running backs defined the round. If guys are available this late, you don't need to reach to draft your RB3 or 4. We transitioned from possible starters to handcuffs quickly. Mike Bell will cost a premium to Travis Henry owners. Quality TE1s like Cooley (our second-ranked player at the position) are still available halfway through drafts.

[SIZE=+1]Round Nine[/SIZE]

9.01. Chris Brown, Titans RB
9.02. Vernon Davis, 49ers TE
9.03. Drew Bennett, Rams WR
9.04. Philip Rivers, Chargers QB
9.05. Chris Henry, Titans RB
9.06. Michael Vick, Falcons QB
9.07. Rotoworld ? Ronald Curry, Raiders WR
9.08. Jason Witten, Cowboys TE
9.09. Reuben Droughns, Giants RB
9.10. Michael Turner, Chargers RB
9.11. Bears Defense
9.12. Ben Watson, Patriots TE

Best Value: Vernon Davis - Four rounds after Tony Gonzalez and Todd Heap. Davis has risk, but his ceiling is just as high as anyone tight end outside of Gates.

Overview: All three Titans running backs were taken within 12 picks. Michael Vick is the ultimate risk this year, but he's one worth considering this late. And only this late. I took him a round later in another draft.

One round after Mike Bell, premium handcuffs Michael Turner and Reuben Droughns are off the board. Expect Turner to got a little higher in most leagues. The last of the starting TE1s (Watson, Witten) are off the board. Witten is a player I'll be happy to own in this slot because the new Dallas coordinators will not ignore him. The first defense (Bears) is taken. Look for them to go earlier in most leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Round Ten[/SIZE]

10.01. Leon Washington, Jets RB
10.02. DeShaun Foster, Panthers RB
10.03. Brett Favre, Packers QB
10.04. Randy McMichael, Rams TE
10.05. Ravens defense
10.06. Rotoworld ? Isaac Bruce, Rams WR
10.07. Wes Welker, Dolphins WR
10.08. L.J. Smith, Eagles TE
10.09. Dominic Rhodes, Raiders RB
10.10. Jon Kitna, Lions QB
10.11. Brandon Jones, Titans WR
10.12. Chargers Defense

Best Value: Jon Kitna - Roger Rotter gets a steal. Looking back, its shocking Kitna fell so far in an industry draft weighted towards quarterbacks. Kitna isn't a fourth-round pick like Peter King said, but he'll put up consistent numbers.

Shadiest Pick: Chargers defense - Want to take Chicago and Baltimore early? Not my style, but fine. There are too many defenses similar to San Diego's though.

Overview: No one wants to draft DeShaun Foster, but getting him five rounds after DeAngelo Williams is a bargain. He'll be a serviceable flex position play if you need help.

By this stage of the draft, I decided that the value was with building receiver depth rather than backup running backs. With three wideout starters and a flex option, serviceable PPR wideouts like Isaac Bruce are more useful than handcuffs. You can start them. Bruce is my fifth wideout, and I can feel confident starting four every week. Unless LenDale comes through, I'll need to.

[SIZE=+1]Round Eleven[/SIZE]

11.01. Joe Horn, Falcons WR
11.02. Ron Dayne, Texans RB
11.03. Patriots Defense
11.04. Muhsin Muhammad, Bears WR
11.05. Anthony Thomas, Bills RB
11.06. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers QB
11.07. Rotoworld ? Eli Manning, Giants QB
11.08. Matt Leinart, Cardinals QB
11.09. Mike Furrey, Lions WR
11.10. Jerry Porter, Raiders RW
11.11. Jay Cutler, Broncos QB
11.12. Eddie Kennison, Chiefs WR

Overview: Big Ben and Eli are quality QB2 options this late. They are candidates for my post-hype all-star list coming out in a few weeks. In my tiers article in our draft guide, I write about a big drop-off among QB2s after the top 16 overall. That makes Ben and Manning worth grabbing. Jerry Porter and Dayne were also solid selections in this round. The touts aren't buying a Joe Horn resurgence.

[SIZE=+1]Round Twelve[/SIZE]

12.01. Eagles Defense
12.02. Dwayne Jarrett, Panthers WR
12.03. Steve McNair, Ravens QB
12.04. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts WR
12.05. Brandon Marshall, Broncos WR
12.06. Rotoworld ? Lorenzo Booker, Dolphins RB
12.07. T.J. Duckett, Lions RB
12.08. Derrick Mason, Ravens WR
12.09. Dallas Clark, Colts TE
12.10. Robert Meachem, Saints WR
12.11. Jake Delhomme, Panthers QB
12.12. Reggie Williams, Jaguars WR

Overview: The second tier of rookie receivers starts flying off the board. I don't understand Anthony Gonzalez going before Meachem and Dwayne Bowe. He's a third receiver. Brandon Marshall has questions, but also a lot of potential for a pick this late. Lower tier handcuffs like Booker and Duckett are taken.

[SIZE=+1]Round Thirteen[/SIZE]

13.01. Correll Buckhalter, Eagles RB
13.02. Dolphins Defense
13.03. Amani Toomer, Giants WR
13.04. Nate Burleson, Seahawks WR
13.05. J.P. Losman, Bills QB
13.06. Maurice Stovall, Bucs WR
13.07. Rotoworld ? Marty Booker, Dolphins WR
13.08. Alex Smith, 49ers QB
13.09. Tab Perry, Bengals WR
13.10. Drew Carter, Panthers WR
13.11. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs WR
13.12. Adrian Peterson, Bears RB

Best Value: Adrian Peterson, Bears - One of our favorite backups is worth a look this late.

Shadiest Pick: Marty Booker, Amani Toomer, Nate Burleson, Tab Perry - Aim higher. I was set to take Stovall and then took Booker, the next higher receiver on my board. He's not as high now. The pick made me ill hours later, usually not a good sign.

Overview: Not much to analyze here ? we're into the fliers. This is a league where players were still taking QB2s all the way until the buzzer. Notice no kickers or defenses are being taken yet.

[SIZE=+1]Round Fourteen[/SIZE]

14.01. Antonio Bryant, FA WR
14.02. Adam Vinatieri, Colts K
14.03. Matt Schaub, Texans QB
14.04. Jason Campbell, Redskins QB
14.05. Bobby Wade, Vikings WR
14.06. Rotoworld ? DeDe Dorsey, Colts RB
14.07. Tony Hunt, Eagles RB
14.08. Cowboys Defense
14.09. Steelers Defense
14.10. Kenny Irons, Bengals RB
14.11. Corey Dillon, FA RB
14.12. Michael Bush, Raiders RB

Overview: If you are going to gamble late, you may as well aim high. That's why picks like Irons, Dillon, Bush, and Bryant are excellent round 14 picks. Jason Campbell is one of our favorite late quarterbacks to grab because of the system in Washington, his job security and running ability.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
[SIZE=+1]Round Fifteen[/SIZE]

15.01. Jeff Wilkins, Rams K
15.02. Brian Leonard, Rams RB
15.03. Devin Hester, Bears WR
15.04. Nate Kaeding, Chargers K
15.05. Heath Miller, Steelers TE
15.06. Jaguars Defense
15.07. Rotoworld ? Raiders Defense
15.08. Shayne Graham, Bengals K
15.09. Robbie Gould, Bears K
15.10. Broncos Defense
15.11. Michael Bennett, Chiefs RB
15.12. Chad Pennington, Jets QB

Overview: Four kickers, three defenses, two handcuffs and ? Devin Hester? He's a fun player, but a couple catches a game is a stretch.

The presence of Heath Miller this late is a sign that many quality TE2s won't even get drafted this season. If you miss with your draft pick, decent options will be on the wire to snap up.

[SIZE=+1]Round Sixteen[/SIZE]

16.01. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots K
16.02. Eric Johnson, SaintsTE
16.03. Jason Elam, Broncos K
16.04. Packers Defense
16.05. Rex Grossman, Bears QB
16.06. Rotoworld ? Neil Rackers, Cardinals K
16.07. Josh Brown, Seahawks K
16.08. Jason Hanson, Lions K
16.09. David Akers, Eagles K
16.10. Matt Stover, Ravens K
16.11. Josh Scobee, Jaguars K
16.12. Trent Green, Dolphins QB
 
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