Fantasy Football News 2007

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#41
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Targeting mid-round QBs

After taking part in multiple late-offseason mock drafts, keeping an eye on ADP (Average Draft Position), and grasping fully Gregg Rosenthal's invaluable Tiering System for QBs, it's become clear that reaching into the top six rounds for quarterbacks not named here would be a mistake:

1. Peyton Manning
2. Carson Palmer
3. Marc Bulger
4. Drew Brees
5. Tom Brady
6. Donovan McNabb
7. Tony Romo


In fact, if you're confident enough to go with a quarterback not named above, pairing two who'll be available later and playing weekly matchups can be a league-winning strategy. Waiting for a pair of Tier Three-to-Five quarterbacks will allow you to fill out the remainder of your lineup while also landing a quality RB3 or WR3 and a high-quality starting tight end. Here are the Tier Three-to-Four QBs you should target, along with analysis. Look for these guys in Rounds 7-12, and grab two:

8. Jon Kitna - There are some owners out there who will actually believe Kitna's 50-TD prediction. In plenty of drafts, however, he will fall, and there's not a better QB value if you can get Kitna somewhere in Rounds 7-10. He's an every-week starter in an extremely passer-friendly Mike Martz offense with Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams, Mike Furrey, and the underrated Shaun McDonald. Whichever running back the Lions go with (Tatum Bell, Kevin Jones, or Brian Calhoun) all possess the ability to catch, then make things happen afterwards.


9. Vince Young - His receiving corps is unremarkable, but the Titans have encouraged VY to run more this season, which should translate to a large increase in his fantasy production. Young could even become Tennessee's go-to running option near the goal line if LenDale White can't hang onto a starting job. His passing stats may be down near the 25-30th range, but Young's legs make him a top-15 option with upside for the top 10 in all formats. He's a worthwhile seventh-to-ninth round pick.


10. Matt Hasselbeck - The entire Seahawks offense experienced a bit of a down year in 2006 due to injuries. Hasselbeck struggled with a knee ailment for the second half of the season and had his top offensive weapon (Shaun Alexander) available for only ten games. Darrell Jackson was banged up, as usual, and Bobby Engram's thyroid condition rendered him almost completely ineffective. But Mike Holmgren is still the same offensive genius he's always been and will get the 'Hawks turned around. Hasselbeck's surgery on his non-throwing shoulder shouldn't affect anything he does during the season, and he's a good bet to bounce back for a QB1 year. Hasselbeck normally can be had in Rounds 8-10.


11. Philip Rivers - Even if Norv Turner can't make the Chargers better as a team, the least he'll do is make Rivers better. Turner has a great history of helping quarterbacks reach their potential, and a more vertical offense featuring Rivers' arm along with Vincent Jackson and Craig Davis' skill sets figures only to bring the best out of an emerging air attack. LaDainian Tomlinson is great, but he probably won't score 31 times again. Look for Rivers and company to pick up the slack. And look for Rivers in the ninth-to-eleventh rounds.


12. Ben Roethlisberger - Big Ben hopes to rebound after never seeming to find his footing following an offseason motorcycle crash and subsequent pre-Week 1 emergency appendectomy. Roethlisberger still has the talent and will be more equipped with receivers on the field thanks to new coordinator Bruce Arians' multi-wide sets. Arians' offense should get Heath Miller more involved and spread out opposing defenses. Roethlisberger is again fully healthy and should capitalize. Considering how low he's going in drafts, Roethlisberger may be the best value among all QBs, even better than Kitna. You can often wait until Round 10 or even later to snare him.


13. Jay Cutler - Cutler may not have the services of Rod Smith (hip surgery) for the first half of the season, but Denver did upgrade at running back by signing Travis Henry after finding no consistency from 2006's rotation of Tatum and Mike Bell. Brandon Marshall is set to be an intermediate weapon with his good speed and T.O.-like body. Marshall is also likely to see frequent single coverage with Javon Walker opposite him. Brandon Stokley will provide assistance from the slot. Cutler's big arm and athleticism make him an ideal fit for coach Mike Shanahan's attack, and he's as good a bet as any young QB to have a breakout season. Don't reach higher than the tenth, but jump if Cutler is available after that.

14. Eli Manning - Hate on Eli all you want, but he still has a laser-rocket arm just like his brother. And the Giants only upgraded his receiving corps with second-round pick Steve Smith to go with a healthy returning Sinorice Moss. New York lost a marquee tailback in Tiki Barber but has groomed Brandon Jacobs to take over the load. Manning is no bum (he's thrown 24 touchdowns in two seasons straight), and may be forced to pass even more with the Giants' defense looking as suspect as ever. Most owners are down on him, and Manning can be had in the latter half of 16- and 18-round drafts.

Tier Five Quarterbacks:

Matt Leinart, Byron Leftwich, Jason Campbell, Brett Favre, Jake Delhomme, J.P. Losman, Matt Schaub, Alex Smith, Jeff Garcia
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
These quarterbacks should be available in Round Nine through the end of your draft. All are worth roster spots, but are more clear-cut QB2s. Leftwich and Favre have the most upside. Please don't reach for Leinart, who is being taken as high as the sixth and seventh rounds in many drafts. The new coach in Arizona, Ken Whisenhunt, is a conservative, run-heavy former Steelers coordinator who won't go downfield nearly as much as Dennis Green. As good as he will be in time and as electrifying as his receivers are, it would be a grave mistake to expect consistent QB1 value from Leinart as a sophomore. We have the southpaw penciled in for a fantasy backup-esque 19:13 TD:INT ratio.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#42
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Top Ten Vultures

The names change, but the trend does not. In this NFL era of specialization, the touchdown vulture is alive and well. They swoop in and steal a starter's hard-earned fantasy points.

This is our third annual top-ten list, but here's a quickie primer for the newbies. A touchdown vulture is any running back that cleans up at the goal line after the primary ball carrier does most of the work.

They are short-yardage anvils, between-the-tackles bruisers who own an oddly marketable skill set: They can push a pile of 300-pound men slightly forward. In fantasy leagues, vultures are inconsistent weekly options unless you play in touchdown-only leagues. Their main relevance is to subtract points from your fantasy starters. Players like Maurice Jones-Drew, who may lead the Jaguars in touches at running back, don't qualify.

Here are our top ten vultures for 2007, with the team's starter in parenthesis.

Honorable Mention: Greg Jones, Jaguars </B>

He needs to prove he's recovered from a torn ACL to get back in the rotation with Mo Drew and Fred Taylor.

Honorable Mention: Adrian Peterson, Vikings </B>

Technically, Chester Taylor should remain the starter to open the year. But Peterson is still the odds-on favorite to lead the team in carries, especially near the goal line. Taylor struggled in power situations in 2006, but Peterson is much more than a vulture if he can stay healthy.

[SIZE=+1]10. Jason Snelling, Falcons (Warrick Dunn/Jerious Norwood)[/SIZE]

Snelling isn't even guaranteed to make the final Atlanta roster. The seventh-round compensatory pick does have a great chance to stick as a fullback who can help in short-yardage situations similar to the godfather of touchdown vultures ? Mike Alstott.

Snelling can do a little of everything ? block, catch, and run in tight spots. Looking at Atlanta's roster, Jerious Norwood and Warrick Dunn are both smaller backs who don't fit Bobby Petrino's power running prototype. Don't be surprised to see Snelling swoop in for a handful of their touchdowns. The danger, in the impending Joey Harrington era, is that the Falcons may not need a red zone specialist too often.

[SIZE=+1]9. Mike Alstott, Bucs (Carnell Williams) [/SIZE]
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
He just won't quit. Alstott was ineffective inside the five-yard line last year (two scores in nine attempts), but he still sells tickets, catches passes, and led the NFC in third-and-short conversion rate last year.

The Bucs backfield is crowded with Caddy Williams, Michael Pittman, and rookie Kenneth Darby, so Alstott won't have a huge role. But look for Jon Gruden to keep the hometowns fans happy with a few scores. The days where Alstott are draftable in standard leagues has passed.

[SIZE=+1]8. Dwayne Wright, Bills (Marshawn Lynch) [/SIZE]

Marshawn Lynch has justifiably received the majority of press in the McGahee-less Bills backfield. But only ten rookie runners were taken ahead of Buffalo's other rookie back, and fantasy leaguers should go to school on Wright.

Wright has the right makeup: A hard-nosed runner who doesn't give up at first contact. He lacks top-end speed, but that's not necessary near the goal line. He projects as Lynch's long-term backup, but Anthony Thomas may hold down the job this year. That could make Wright a poor handcuff in fantasy leagues, but he's likely to score more touchdowns than the A-train. With Dick Jauron hinting at committee, Lynch owners might get to know Wright all too well this season.

[SIZE=+1]7. Tony Hunt/Correll Buckhalter, Eagles (Brian Westbrook) [/SIZE]

Philadelphia has been looking for a short-yardage runner since Duce Staley left town. The numbers indicate that Correll Buckhalter can handle the job, but the Eagles don't trust him to stay healthy.

Enter Tony Hunt, who certainly sounds like a guy you wouldn't want to tackle. The Penn State product is a Mike Mayock favorite, and thus a Rotoworld favorite. Intelligent, no-frills backs are likely to succeed on the Eagles. The line is excellent and opposing teams expect the pass. Brian Westbrook matched his previous career total with nine carries inside the five last year, but we doubt he'll hit that mark again.

[SIZE=+1]6. Sammy Morris, Patriots (Laurence Maroney) [/SIZE]

Bill Belichick does not care about fashion, conventional wisdom, and your fantasy football team. He does care about maximizing his players' strengths. And Sammy Morris is a consistently efficient short-yardage runner. Laurence Maroney got stuffed behind the line of scrimmage too often as a rookie.

Watching Corey Dillon leave town was good news for Maroney, but don't be surprised if Morris pilfers half a dozen scores from the starter.

[SIZE=+1]*** Discuss your favorite vultures in the Rotoworld Forums. ***[/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]5. T.J. Duckett, Lions [/SIZE]

Duckett is the only three-time member of the top-ten Vulture list, an honor that should help the sting of being dumped by two franchises in less than a year. Duckett's consistency on the list speaks to his limited skill set. Short-yardage backs need to evolve to keep their jobs, and Duckett's game is lacking between the twenties.

Duckett's track record in goal-line situations, however, lives up the hype. He's tough to stop and the numbers back it up. With Kevin Jones hurting and Tatum Bell a lighter back, Mike Martz is going to use Duckett. Depending on Jones' health, Duckett is an option to draft in TD-heavy leagues. He's a reasonable flier in any league. Detroit will pass plenty in the red zone, but Duckett has a good chance to lead the team in rushing scores.

[SIZE=+1]4. Ron Dayne, Texans [/SIZE]

Stats Inc. keeps track of often a running back is "Stuffed" at or behind the line of scrimmage. It's not a perfect stat, but avoiding lost-yardage is a premium skill of goal-line backs. Ron Dayne led the NFL last season in the category, getting stopped only six times in 151 yards.

Dayne would be a better vulture candidate if Ahman Green, Houston's starter, wasn't ranked third on the list. Green can be effective near the stripe, but Gary Kubiak should be interested in pacing his starter's workload. Letting Dayne get the glory (and pounding) near the end zone is one way to keep Green fresh. Dayne's transformation from draft bust to useful role player is complete. That's true in the NFL and fantasy leagues. Don't let him go undrafted.

[SIZE=+1]3. Ladell Betts, Redskins [/SIZE]

Like McAllister, Betts is good enough to be a quality full-time starter. His 1,093-total yard effort in the second half of last season showed he might be a better fit in the Washington offense than Clinton Portis. His downhill style fit Joe Gibbs' offense perfectly.

Portis has the big contract and the starting job, though. Betts will only split carries if Portis isn't fully healthy. The Redskins should consider replacing Portis near the goal line, where he's scored on a mediocre 29% of his carries inside the five-yard line since joining Washington. This ranking is largely speculative because Joe Gibbs has shown a tendency to work Portis hard in the past.

[SIZE=+1]2. Deuce McAllister, Saints [/SIZE]

Deuce is going to cost fantasy owners a top-40 pick this season, which Rotoworld strongly believes is too high. He's included in this vulture list because Deuce could transition to a lesser role in the offense as Reggie Bush matures.

McAllister had 23 carries inside the five-yard line last season, while Bush only had eight. It's worth noting Bush's TD rate was higher with four scores to Deuce's seven at the goal line. Sean Payton will want to keep McAllister involved, and it makes sense to use him on the short field. Just don't expect 244 regular season carries again.

[SIZE=+1]1. Marion Barber, Cowboys [/SIZE]

Despite average size, Barber has turned into the dominant touchdown vulture in football. He only topped ten carries in a game four times all last season, but wound up as a top-15 fantasy back because of his sixteen scores.

13 of those touchdowns came from snaps inside the five-yard line. An astounding 18% of Barber's carries came in the shadow of the goal-line as Bill Parcells clearly didn't trust Julius Jones to finish the job.

One of the biggest questions in fantasy football this camp is whether the new coaching staff will change the roles at running back. The team's website indicates that a committee is still likely. Julius Jones will be playing for a new contract, and motivated to play well, but Barber is still likely to score more touchdowns. That's why he'll get drafted before Jones in fantasy leagues, although still far too early for our tastes. Ultimately, he's a backup and his touchdowns are likely to decrease significantly.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#43
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Warrick Dunn's Rapid Decline
Over-30 running backs don't lose their mojo gradually. Just ask Curtis Martin, Duce Staley, and Priest Holmes.

We can probably add Warrick Dunn to the list. Halfway through last season, Dunn was a top-15 fantasy running back on pace for 1,300 rushing yards. He stumbled to the finish line with a 3.4 yards-per-carry average in the second half, then was forced to under serious shoulder surgery after the year. He watched his prize offensive line change schemes, his quarterback is under indictment, and now surgery for a herniated disc in his back will force him to miss the preseason.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
I'm skeptical about the 3-4 week timeline the Falcons placed on the injury, especially after the original six weeks timeframe. Dunn's body is failing him.

When he returns, don't expect him to be the same player we last saw. The Falcons offense will be diminished, with Jerious Norwood likely to be one of the bright spots. Dunn was already headed for a reserve role, so fantasy leaguers should not count on Warrick Dunn helping them this season. Before this injury, I divided the carries in the Atlanta backfield like this.

Norwood: 205
Dunn: 155
Jason Snelling: 30


That left Norwood with a fifth-round grade and Dunn with a late-eighth-round grade.

Now I'll project Snelling and undrafted rookie Justin Vincent to pick up few carries depending on how camp goes. Look for Norwood to get a healthy boost in carries and fantasy points, while Dunn sinks to around 100 carries. He came into the league as a third-down back and he'll probably leave as one. If he's lucky.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#44
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

IDP Draft Recap
Roughly two weeks ago I took part in a 29-round IDP league "Experts" draft on CBSSportsline.com. Starting lineups look like this:
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
1 QB
2 RB
3 WR
1 TE
1 FLEX (WR/RB/TE)
1 K
1 ST
2 DL
3 LB
3 DB
1 FLEX (DL/LB/DB)

The league's scoring system (abbreviated):

Head-to-Head weekly
1 Passing TD = 6 Points
1 Receiving/Rushing TD = 6 Points
1 Reception = 1 Point
1 Sack/Interception = 3 Points
1 Tackle = 1 Point
1 Assist = .5 Points

The scoring system (PPR) made it necessary to go after a strong group of wideouts early. Since you start at least three each week, it was beneficial to secure a starting-caliber WR4. Running backs that tend to catch a lot of passes also are much more valuable than those that do not.

Since no points are awarded for negative sack yardage, the league is decidedly tackle-heavy, and does not place a premium on sacks. Therefore, pursuing IDPs that consistently rack up stops, and not necessarily glory stats, should have been the goal for all owners.

The draft was so long that this recap had to be broken into two parts. Part II can be found here.

Round One

1. Rotoworld ? LaDainian Tomlinson
2. Sports Illustrated ? Steven Jackson
3. Footballinjuries.com ? Larry Johnson
4. Fantasy Guru ? Frank Gore
5. KFFL ? Shaun Alexander
6. CBS ? Brian Westbrook
7. RotoWire ? Joseph Addai
8. CBS2 ? Willie Parker
9. Pro Football Weekly ? Peyton Manning
10. Football Guys ? Travis Henry
11. Football Outsiders ? Laurence Maroney
12. Krause ? Reggie Bush


Trends:
Running backs run the show, so no surprises. Any time Gore can be had outside the top three picks, he's a steal. I even considered taking him No. 1 overall, but figured I'd play it safe. We've harped on this plenty, but L.J. is a major injury risk coming off a 416-carry campaign and not the consensus No. 3 choice many make him out to be. He should face eight- and nine-man fronts in every game Brodie Croyle is under center.

Round Two

2.1 Krause ? Rudi Johnson
2.2. Football Outsiders ? Maurice Jones-Drew
2.3 Football Guys ? Chad Johnson
2.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Willis McGahee
2.5 CBS2 ? Ronnie Brown
2.6 RotoWire ? Torry Holt
2.7 CBS ? Thomas Jones
2.8 KFFL ? Carson Palmer
2.9 Fantasy Guru ? Steve Smith (CAR)
2.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Cedric Benson
2.11 Sports Illustrated ? Edgerrin James
2.12 Rotoworld ?Brandon Jacobs


Trends:
Rudi has fallen to the second round in all the early drafts I've taken part in, which is quite a surprise for a 27-year-old running back that's been so consistent the past four seasons. James is going way to high, in my opinion. To me, Edge is a third-round pick at best. I'm making certain Jacobs is mine in every league I play, even those awarding points for catches. Reuben Droughns probably scares opposing defensive coordinators about as much he scares me. It wouldn't be a surprise if Jacobs approaches 20 TDs this year.

Round Three

3.1 Rotoworld ? Reggie Wayne
3.2 Sports Illustrated ? Terrell Owens
3.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Clinton Portis
3.4 Fantasy Guru ? Marvin Harrison
3.5 KFFL ? Deuce McAllister
3.6 CBS ? Roy Williams (DET)
3.7 RotoWire ? Marshawn Lynch
3.8 CBS2 ? Andre Johnson
3.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Adrian Peterson (MIN)
3.10 Football Guys ? Marion Barber
3.11 Football Outsiders ? Donovan McNabb
3.12 Krause ? Larry Fitzgerald


Trends:
It's gotta say something positive about Portis' health when a company called "Footballinjuries.com" drafts him. Portis began practicing earlier than expected during minicamps and has been running 100-yard dashes on a daily basis leading up to training camp. He's coming at great value in Round Three. I normally like the RB-WR-Best Player Available strategy, but this year getting two stud runners in the first two rounds, then grabbing a WR1 in the third is how I'm consistently leaning.

Round Four

4.1 Krause ? T.J. Houshmandzadeh
4.2 Football Outsiders ? Antonio Gates
4.3 Football Guys ? Drew Brees
4.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Javon Walker
4.5 CBS2 ? Anquan Boldin
4.6 RotoWire ? Lee Evans
4.7 CBS ? Donald Driver
4.8 KFFL ? Ahman Green
4.9 Fantasy Guru ? Tom Brady
4.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Marques Colston
4.11 Sports Illustrated ? Randy Moss
4.12 Rotoworld ? Plaxico Burress


Trends:
A particularly wideout-heavy round. I was really hoping Colston would fall to me, but was happy to see Plax there. Moss, Brees, and Ahman are going too high for my taste. The Pats spread the ball around too much and Moss is a major injury risk. Green will be losing goal-line carries to Ron Dayne behind an offensive line that isn't half as good as the one he played with in Green Bay last year. The Saints' offense could at least return halfway back to earth in 2007.

Round Five

5.1 Rotoworld ? Marc Bulger
5.2 Sports Illustrated ? Jamal Lewis
5.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Hines Ward
5.4 Fantasy Guru ? DeAngelo Williams
5.5 KFFL ? Laveranues Coles
5.6 CBS ? Vince Young
5.7 RotoWire ? Reggie Brown
5.8 CBS2 ? Tatum Bell
5.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Carnell Williams
5.10 Football Guys ? DeMeco Ryans
5.11 Football Outsiders ? Fred Taylor
5.12 Krause ? Warrick Dunn


Trends:
The Outsiders paired their Maurice Drew pick with Taylor. This is a risky strategy but could obviously pay off if one or the other gets hurt. Thing is, Taylor has been available way later than the fifth round in most drafts I've done. Ryans is a hoss, but I don't get reaching for LBs in a draft like this so early. With Kevin Jones 50-50 for Week 1, Tatum Bell should be rising up draft boards, but not into Round Five. Dunn is 32, injured, and a likely backup.

Round Six

6.1 Krause ? Matt Hasselbeck
6.2 Football Outsiders ? Deion Branch
6.3 Football Guys ? Keith Bulluck
6.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Darrell Jackson
6.5 CBS2 ? Mark Clayton
6.6 RotoWire ? Tony Romo
6.7 CBS ? Jason Taylor
6.8 KFFL ? Julius Jones
6.9 Fantasy Guru ? LaMont Jordan
6.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Jerious Norwood
6.11 Sports Illustrated ? Brian Urlacher
6.12 Rotoworld ? Calvin Johnson


Trends:
I didn't like many picks in this round, other than my own. To me, Calvin Johnson is an ideal WR3. Romo and Hasselbeck are both fine QB1s but, as an e-mailer recently pointed out, the latter could struggle in fantasy playoff matchups against Carolina and Baltimore. Gotta love Branch as a flanker in Mike Holmgren's offense; Deion may have been the round's best value.

Round Seven

7.1 Rotoworld ? LenDale White
7.2 Sports Illustrated ? Matt Leinart
7.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Todd Heap
7.4 Fantasy Guru ? Santana Moss
7.5 KFFL ? Jeremy Shockey
7.6 CBS ? Vernand Morency
7.7 RotoWire ? London Fletcher
7.8 CBS2 ? Michael Vick
7.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Tony Gonzalez
7.10 Football Guys ? Ladell Betts
7.11 Football Outsiders ? Donte' Stallworth
7.12 Krause ? Braylon Edwards


Trends:
Looking back, the riskiest pick of the round was clearly Michael Vick, but this draft was held prior to his indictment and CBS2 couldn't predict the future. Morency went before Brandon Jackson, which probably won't happen in most drafts even though V-Mo is the Packers' most likely Week 1 starter. Moss and Edwards were great values. Gonzalez is bound to struggle for production while attempting to catch passes from Boy Brodie. Fantasy owners seem to love Betts, but he's a backup and not seventh-round material.

Round Eight

8.1 Krause ? Zach Thomas
8.2 Football Outsiders ? Donnie Edwards
8.3 Football Guys ? Greg Jennings
8.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Terry Glenn
8.5 CBS2 ? Vernon Davis
8.6 RotoWire ? Brandon Jackson
8.7 CBS ? Adalius Thomas
8.8 KFFL ? Joey Galloway
8.9 Fantasy Guru ? Chris Cooley
8.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Chris Chambers
8.11 Sports Illustrated ? Alge Crumpler
8.12 Rotoworld ? Jerricho Cotchery


Trends:
Edwards is still a good player at age 34, but will be manning the strong side in Kansas City and is ranked 40th among IDP linebackers in our Draft Guide. Crumpler has become someone to avoid, especially with Joey Harrington under center. Adalius Thomas' stock is rising with the news that he'll play inside in New England, although it could cost him a few sack opportunities. Cooley and Cotchery are both excellent values this late.

Round Nine

9.1 Rotoworld ? D.J. Williams
9.2 Sports Illustrated ? Vincent Jackson
9.3 Footballinjuries.com ? D.J. Hackett
9.4 Fantasy Guru ? Kevin Jones
9.5 KFFL ? Jon Kitna
9.6 CBS ? AJ Hawk
9.7 RotoWire ? Kellen Winslow
9.8 CBS2 ? Chris Henry (TEN)
9.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Shawne Merriman
9.10 Football Guys ? Jerry Porter
9.11 Football Outsiders ? Muhsin Muhammad
9.12 Krause ? Chester Taylor


Trends:
I wanted to continue to wait for defenders, but in the midst of a linebacker run, had to take my guy. I wrote about D.J. Williams in our first offseason edition of IDP Nation and expect him to compete for the league lead in tackles. Henry went too way too high, in my opinion. He could be as low as third on the depth chart to start the season and the Titans never kept three tailbacks active on game days last year. Porter is an underrated gamble in what should be a pass-heavy Raiders offense.

Round Ten

10.1 Krause ? Ray Lewis
10.2 Football Outsiders ? Brian Dawkins
10.3 Football Guys ? Brandon Marshall
10.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Bernard Berrian
10.5 CBS2 ? Champ Bailey
10.6 RotoWire ? Santonio Holmes
10.7 CBS ? Terrell Suggs
10.8 KFFL ? Kevin Curtis
10.9 Fantasy Guru ? Brandon Jones
10.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Jay Cutler
10.11 Sports Illustrated ? Antonio Pierce
10.12 Rotoworld ? Jason Witten


Trends:
Many are doubting Curtis, but as a Rams fan who's watched him for years, I can't understand why. The guy has blinding speed, is smart, has sure hands, and plays his heart out. He is a fine WR4. Suggs could be destined for a huge season as he enters the final year of his contract and takes on more pass-rush responsibility now that Adalius Thomas is in New England. Witten was the absolute last clear-cut TE1 on the board, so with no tight ends yet on my roster, I thanked my lucky stars he was there. Witten also went surprisingly late in my other most recent draft. A trend?

Round Eleven

11.1 Rotoworld ? Sean Jones
11.2 Sports Illustrated ? Ronde Barber
11.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Aaron Kampman
11.4 Fantasy Guru ? DeShaun Foster
11.5 KFFL ? Devery Henderson
11.6 CBS ? Adrian Wilson
11.7 RotoWire ? Will Witherspoon
11.8 CBS2 ? Julius Peppers
11.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Troy Polamalu
11.10 Football Guys ? Kerry Rhodes
11.11 Football Outsiders ? Cato June
11.12 Krause ? Ben Watson


Trends:
Pretty much all defense in this round. The Outsiders apparently love strong-side 'backers in Tampa 2s. June actually should be a good source of big plays, as he won't come off the field in nickel situations. Henderson was a nice risk here, but I can't envision him keeping the starting job opposite Marques Colston all year long. Peppers could see frequent double teams with unproven Stanley McClover set to book end. Rhodes and Jones are our top two IDP defensive backs.

Round Twelve

12.1 Krause ? Matt Jones
12.2 Football Outsiders ? Michael Turner
12.3 Football Guys ? Chris Hope
12.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Julian Peterson
12.5 CBS2 ? Bart Scott
12.6 RotoWire ? Michael Bush
12.7 CBS ? Joe Horn
12.8 KFFL ? Reuben Droughns
12.9 Fantasy Guru ? Kirk Morrison
12.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Chris Brown
12.11 Sports Illustrated ? Ed Reed
12.12 Rotoworld ? Ronald Curry


Trends:
Reed is not only an extremely overrated player in reality, he is a horribly overrated IDP. On the flipside, "Captain" Kirk Morrison is quite underrated and poised for another huge year in the middle of a Raiders defense that should be among the league's elite and on the field long enough for loads of big-play and tackle opportunities.

Round Thirteen

13.1 Rotoworld ? Nate Kaeding
13.2 Sports Illustrated ? Isaac Bruce
13.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Gibril Wilson
13.4 Fantasy Guru ? Osi Umenyiora
13.5 KFFL ? Jonathan Vilma
13.6 CBS ? L.J. Smith
13.7 RotoWire ? Charles Tillman
13.8 CBS2 ? Rashean Mathis
13.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Leonard Little
13.10 Football Guys ? Lofa Tatupu
13.11 Football Outsiders ? Andra Davis
13.12 Krause ? Philip Rivers


Trends:
Thought I'd try to get a kicker run going here. It didn't work. Anyways, Umenyiora is bound to bounce back after an injury-marred '06 campaign. He could easily be a top-five DL. Tillman is annually one of the better IDP defensive backs in the game, but we'll see how he fares now that he's gotten paid.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#45
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Recap of IDP Draft Part II
Round Fourteen
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
14.1 Krause ? Nick Barnett
14.2 Football Outsiders ? Stephen Gostkowski
14.3 Football Guys ? Owen Daniels
14.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Aaron Schobel
14.5 CBS2 ? Derrick Brooks
14.6 RotoWire ? Robert Mathis
14.7 CBS ? Roy Williams (DAL)
14.8 KFFL ? Keith Brooking
14.9 Fantasy Guru ? Ernie Sims
14.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Mike Peterson
14.11 Sports Illustrated ? Charles Grant
14.12 Rotoworld ? Mike Bell


Trends:
Love the Ernie Sims pick. He is a much better bet for 120+ tackles than many LBs selected before him. Peterson is coming back from a serious injury and will be playing the weak side, not the middle. Mike Bell is my favorite clear-cut backup. I'm getting him in all my drafts, especially after reading this assessment of his projected role in the Broncos' offense from an informed source.

Round Fifteen

15.1 Rotoworld ? Ben Roethlisberger
15.2 Sports Illustrated ? DeMarcus Ware
15.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Derrick Burgess
15.4 Fantasy Guru ? Justin Smith
15.5 KFFL ? Randy McMichael
15.6 CBS ? Drew Bennett
15.7 RotoWire ? Ken Hamlin
15.8 CBS2 ? Sean Taylor
15.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Bob Sanders
15.10 Football Guys ? Jared Allen
15.11 Football Outsiders ? Kyle Vanden Bosch
15.12 Krause ? Eddie Kennison


Trends:
This was before we knew Allen's suspension had been reduced, but he looks to be an excellent value once he's reinstated and was definitely worth tabbing here. Bennett is a third receiver and Kennison could be too if Jeff Webb, Chris Hannon, and/or Dwayne Bowe steps up. Ware has premier pass-rush ability but is inconsistent from a tackles standpoint, making him likely to disappoint in plenty of weeks.

Round Sixteen

16.1 Krause ? Quentin Jammer
16.2 Football Outsiders ? Dallas Clark
16.3 Football Guys ? Will Smith
16.4 Pro Football Weekly ? DeDe Dorsey
16.5 CBS2 ? Dwight Freeney
16.6 RotoWire ? Madieu Williams
16.7 CBS ? Correll Buckhalter
16.8 KFFL ? Derrick Mason
16.9 Fantasy Guru ? Dominic Rhodes
16.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Barrett Ruud
16.11 Sports Illustrated ? Eli Manning
16.12 Rotoworld ? Karlos Dansby


Trends:
Of all positions in an IDP draft, this is exactly why you can wait on linebackers and still get tremendous value. I loved adding Dansby to my arsenal here. Ruud is another sleeper. Freeney is overrated because he won't rack up tackles. Rhodes will be of no use early in the season as he serves a four-game suspension.

Round Seventeen

17.1 Rotoworld ? Yeremiah Bell
17.2 Sports Illustrated ? Leon Washington
17.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Brett Favre
17.4 Fantasy Guru ? Antoine Winfield
17.5 KFFL ? Dunta Robinson
17.6 CBS ? Anthony Gonzalez
17.7 RotoWire ? Lance Briggs
17.8 CBS2 ? James Farrior
17.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Wes Welker
17.10 Football Guys ? Tony Scheffler
17.11 Football Outsiders ? Dwayne Jarrett
17.12 Krause ? Mario Williams


Trends:
Love Mario this late. Can Bell be the playmaking DB Miami desperately needs in its secondary? After he forced three fumbles, recovered two, picked off a pair of passes, and sacked two QBs in a handful of starts last season, I'm guessing yes. Gonzalez may be even more valuable this season than Jarrett. His role is definitely more defined on a much better offense.

Round Eighteen

18.1 Krause ? Dre` Bly
18.2 Football Outsiders ? Joe Jurevicius
18.3 Football Guys ? Lorenzo Booker
18.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Jake Delhomme
18.5 CBS2 ? Kamerion Wimbley
18.6 RotoWire ? J.P. Losman
18.7 CBS ? Michael Huff
18.8 KFFL ? Angelo Crowell
18.9 Fantasy Guru ? Troy Williamson
18.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Michael Strahan
18.11 Sports Illustrated ? Patrick Kerney
18.12 Rotoworld ? Tamba Hali


Trends:
Angelo Crowell is playing the SAM linebacker spot in Buffalo and could get less tackle ops as he's forced to consistently fight through trash. We're to the point where most owners are adding low-grade offensive depth and starting defenders. If Ronnie Brown gets hurt this season, I'd love to see Booker try to carry the load at 195 pounds after failing to show he could do so at Florida State.

Round Nineteen

19.1 Rotoworld ? Ron Dayne
19.2 Sports Illustrated ? Mike Furrey
19.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Drew Carter
19.4 Fantasy Guru ? Bobby Wade
19.5 KFFL ? Nate Clements
19.6 CBS ? Chad Greenway
19.7 RotoWire ? Trent Cole
19.8 CBS2 ? Alex Smith (SF)
19.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Heath Miller
19.10 Football Guys ? Dwayne Bowe
19.11 Football Outsiders ? Steve McNair
19.12 Krause ? Michael Pittman


Trends:
Heath Miller is a great value pick and is going way too late in most drafts. He's a high-upside potential TE1 in new coordinator Bruce Arians' offense. Furrey has underrated value in all leagues and is a WR4 in ones like this (PPR). Cole will be playing in a rotation along with Victor Abiamiri and Juqua Thomas behind starters Jevon Kearse and Darren Howard.

Round Twenty

20.1 Krause ? Nick Collins
20.2 Football Outsiders ? Donte Whitner
20.3 Football Guys ? Jeff Garcia
20.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Jeff Wilkins
20.5 CBS2 ? Anthony Thomas
20.6 RotoWire ? Alex Brown
20.7 CBS ? Bears Special Teams
20.8 KFFL ? John Henderson
20.9 Fantasy Guru ? Asante Samuel
20.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Jermaine Phillips
20.11 Sports Illustrated ? Michael Lewis
20.12 Rotoworld ? Brian Leonard


Trends:
Brown isn't even a starter anymore, and my money is on Sabby Piscitelli beating out Phillips for the strong safety job in Tampa Bay. I'd never done a draft with "Special Teams" units, but Devin Hester and the Bears seem like a pretty solid pick. Finally, kickers are coming.

Round Twenty One

21.1 Rotoworld ? Chike Okeafor
21.2 Sports Illustrated ? Eric Johnson
21.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Thomas Howard
21.4 Fantasy Guru ? Daniel Graham
21.5 KFFL ? John Abraham
21.6 CBS ? D'Qwell Jackson
21.7 RotoWire ? Shayne Graham
21.8 CBS2 ? Roydell Williams
21.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Derrick Johnson
21.10 Football Guys ? Maurice Stovall
21.11 Football Outsiders ? Kalimba Edwards
21.12 Krause ? Adam Vinatieri


Trends:
Howard flew under the radar as a rookie in Rob Ryan's Raider defense last year, accumulating 110 tackles but making few big plays on the weak side. I fully expect him to take the next step as a sophomore. Williams looks like the Titans' No. 2 receiver to begin the season, but that may not mean much in what figures to be a mediocre-at-best passing offense.

Round Twenty Two

22.1 Krause ? Jevon Kearse
22.2 Football Outsiders ? Kevin Faulk
22.3 Football Guys ? Bernard Pollard
22.4 Pro Football Weekly ? T.J. Duckett
22.5 CBS2 ? David Thornton
22.6 RotoWire ? Gerald Hayes
22.7 CBS ? Rodney Harrison
22.8 KFFL ? Erik Coleman
22.9 Fantasy Guru ? Matt Schaub
22.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Jeremiah Trotter
22.11 Sports Illustrated ? Napoleon Harris
22.12 Rotoworld ? E.J. Henderson


Trends:
I was hoping Pollard, or "Bonecrusher," would fall into my lap but settled for LaRon Landry (see below) and the Vikings' new MIKE linebacker here. Coleman I don't think will keep his job all year with second-year SS Eric Smith waiting in the wings. Kearse, Harrison, Trotter, and Harris are all likely to miss time during the season.

Round Twenty Three

23.1 Rotoworld ? LaRon Landry
23.2 Sports Illustrated ? Nnamdi Asomugha
23.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Ben Troupe
23.4 Fantasy Guru ? Rex Grossman
23.5 KFFL ? Ty Warren
23.6 CBS ? Byron Leftwich
23.7 RotoWire ? Kenny Irons
23.8 CBS2 ? Marty Booker
23.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Devin Hester
23.10 Football Guys ? Kevan Barlow
23.11 Football Outsiders ? Ahmad Brooks
23.12 Krause ? Chris Gamble


Trends:
Why is Hester getting drafted in re-draft leagues? (Watch him make me eat my words.) Brooks' potential takes a hit with the likely reinstatement of Odell Thurman from his year-long suspension. Gamble shouldn't start a game in 2007 barring an injury to Richard Marshall or Ken Lucas.

Round Twenty Four

24.1 Krause ? Marcus Pollard
24.2 Football Outsiders ? Carlos Rogers
24.3 Football Guys ? Gary Brackett
24.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Terrence Newman
24.5 CBS2 ? DeAngelo Hall
24.6 RotoWire ? Terrence McGee
24.7 CBS ? Cedric Houston
24.8 KFFL ? Shaun Phillips
24.9 Fantasy Guru ? Neil Rackers
24.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Sean Considine
24.11 Sports Illustrated ? Adrian Peterson (CHI)
24.12 Rotoworld ? Robert Meachem


Trends:
Marcus Pollard leads off the round, so you know it's a goodie. After being a hugely popular pick just after he was drafted into New Orleans' high-powered offense, Meachem's stock has crumbled. He's still an even-money bet to be starting by mid-season.

Round Twenty Five

25.1 Rotoworld ? Mike Vrabel
25.2 Sports Illustrated ? Robbie Gould
25.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Anthony Henry
25.4 Fantasy Guru ? Paul Posluszny
25.5 KFFL ? Maurice Morris
25.6 CBS ? Jason Elam
25.7 RotoWire ? Tony Hunt
25.8 CBS2 ? Amani Toomer
25.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Charles Woodson
25.10 Football Guys ? Roman Harper
25.11 Football Outsiders ? Michael Bennett
25.12 Krause ? Joey Porter


Trends:
Gould had a nice 2006, but he's the perfect example of a kicker that is highly unlikely to repeat a fluke year. The Bears lost their most consistent, and arguably best, offensive weapon in Thomas Jones, and who knows what to expect from Rex Grossman with added pressure in a contract season. Chicago's defensive scoring and Hester should keep Gould near the middle of the kicker pack, but he's doubtful to be worth relying on in fantasy leagues.

Round Twenty Six

26.1 Krause ? Simeon Rice
26.2 Football Outsiders ? Tommy Kelly
26.3 Football Guys ? Mike Anderson
26.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Ian Gold
26.5 CBS2 ? Sammy Morris
26.6 RotoWire ? Corey Dillon
26.7 CBS ? Morlon Greenwood
26.8 KFFL ? Jon Beason
26.9 Fantasy Guru ? Ravens Special Teams
26.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Bertrand Berry
26.11 Sports Illustrated ? Luis Castillo
26.12 Rotoworld ? Antrel Rolle


Trends:
Kelly is looking like a third defensive tackle at best in Oakland behind Warren Sapp and Terdell Sands. The Guru takes a gamble that Yamon Figurs can continue his K-State return success in Baltimore. I'm not normally a big fan of cornerbacks as IDPs, but former Rotoworld IDP ace Scott Morrow had Rolle projected to finish fifth among all DBs in scoring. I took his word for it and made Rolle my DB4.

Round Twenty Seven

27.1 Rotoworld ? Brett Keisel
27.2 Sports Illustrated ? Saints Special Teams
27.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Josh Brown
27.4 Fantasy Guru ? Michael Robinson
27.5 KFFL ? David Akers
27.6 CBS ? Greg Jones
27.7 RotoWire ? Sidney Rice
27.8 CBS2 ? Dan Morgan
27.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Marcel Shipp
27.10 Football Guys ? Patrick Willis
27.11 Football Outsiders ? Trent Green
27.12 Krause ? Michael Jenkins


Trends:
Robinson is Frank Gore's clear-cut handcuff at this point. Rice is looking like a good bet to start in Minnesota with Troy Williamson opposite him and Bobby Wade in the slot. Dan Morgan is boom or bust considering his long history of concussions, but well deserving of a 27th-round flier.

Round Twenty Eight

28.1 Krause ? Bills Special Teams
28.2 Football Outsiders ? Danieal Manning
28.3 Football Guys ? Josh Scobee
28.4 Pro Football Weekly ? Dolphins Special Teams
28.5 CBS2 ? Olindo Mare
28.6 RotoWire ? Bryan Thomas
28.7 CBS ? Nathan Vasher
28.8 KFFL ? Antoine Bethea
28.9 Fantasy Guru ? Dwight Smith
28.10 Footballinjuries.com ? Jaguars Special Teams
28.11 Sports Illustrated ? Ashley Lelie
28.12 Rotoworld ? Rams Special Teams


Trends:
Manning is a reserve swing safety-cornerback, and there's a decent enough chance that Mike Brown will get hurt again and Manning will regain value. He's just not worth a draft pick in a normal IDP league like this. Mare is a true breakout candidate as he moves to a dome and a better offense in the Nola. I have a sneaking suspicion that Smith will be cut in favor of Greg Blue and Mike Doss closer to the end of training camp.

Round Twenty Nine

29.1 Rotoworld ? David Martin
29.2 Sports Illustrated ? Chad Pennington
29.3 Footballinjuries.com ? Jerome Harrison
29.4 Fantasy Guru ? Channing Crowder
29.5 KFFL ? Jets Special Teams
29.6 CBS ? Chris Henry (CIN)
29.7 RotoWire ? Bengals Special Teams
29.8 CBS2 ? Chargers Special Teams
29.9 Pro Football Weekly ? Richard Seymour
29.10 Football Guys ? Patriots Special Teams
29.11 Football Outsiders ? Redskins Special Teams
29.12 Krause ? Adewale Ogunleye
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#46
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Top 50 Position Battles
Oh sweet training camp. The offseason is necessary, but the practice reports rolling in this week made us realize how ready we were for it to be over. While the rest of the sports world focuses on the courts, fantasy owners focus on the field.

The two key things to watch in training camp are injuries and position battles. We've been painstakingly counting down the Top 50 Position Battles on my blog over the last two weeks, now reaching the Top 18. The rest of our watch list is below. Since it's ranked by fantasy importance, the top of the list is mostly running backs. Evan Silva will be updating all 50 battles and more in a weekly position battles column throughout camp starting next week.

1. Redskins starting RB: Clinton Portis vs. Ladell Betts

This almost didn't make the cut because Portis is really battling himself ? his shoulder, knees, and hand. Early reports indicate he's fully ready for camp. If Portis can take a few hits and look healthy in August, he should get most of the carries. Most owners believe that there will be a timeshare this season, but don't be sure. Portis has the speed and the big contract.

Portis could be a good value as a RB2; we've seen him fall to the third round in some places. Betts should only step in as a committee partner or possible starter if Portis has to be eased back into the pool.

2. Titans starting RB: LenDale White vs. Chris Brown vs. Chris Henry

The winner here could be a bargain on draft day for two reasons.

1. Jeff Fisher has been hesitant to use running back committees in the past.
2. Tennessee has a young, underrated offensive line that could mature like Jacksonville's unit a year ago.

White enters as a slight favorite despite his weight problems. Brown can't stay healthy and the rest of the NFL didn't want to sign him for a reason. Henry is raw and hasn't impressed this summer yet.

3. Cowboys starting RB: Julius Jones vs. Marion Barber III

MBIII fans had to be disappointed this summer when they read that Jones was going to remain the starter despite the coaching staff change. It's possible, in fact, that Barber has less of a role with Bill Parcells gone. Perhaps the new coaches will notice that Barber had the lowest conversion rate inside the two-yard line in a year.

All that said, Barber was better than Jones on the rest of the field. The Dallas website indicates a committee remains likely, and it's possible Jones could be moved to the bench. Camp will decide plenty as the new staff gets to know their horses. Our money is still on Jones leading the team in carries.

4. Packers starting RB: Brandon Jackson vs. Vernand Morency

These two players have similar games, but Jackson has more potential to be an every-down back. Morency has struggled with injuries as a pro, and almost got released by the Texans last year. If Morency starts, the Packers are going to split carries. Jackson has a better chance to top 250 carries. In Green Bay's improving zone-blocking scheme, the winner here should be a bargain reserve pick.

5. Lions starting RB: Kevin Jones vs. Tatum Bell vs. T.J. Duckett

Like the Redskins battle, this one mostly comes down to health. Kevin Jones will be The Guy if healthy, but we suspect that won't happen in August. He's not ready for the start of camp, and some reports say he's not close. The regular season PUP list, which requires missing the first six weeks, could become a possibility if Jones can't play in the preseason.

Tatum Bell will hold down the fort in the meantime and has received rave reviews this summer. We're not convinced he can succeed in the passing game and Duckett will swipe touchdown opportunities. Mike Martz runs the football about as often as Matt Millen wins, so this group may wind up canceling each other out as the season plays on.

6. Saints number two WR: Devery Henderson vs. Robert Meachem vs. Terrance Copper

Copper is window-dressing, a productive fallback option that makes for an excellent fourth receiver. Don't be surprised to see him on some fantasy teams if injuries strike the Saints wideouts.

Meachem was drafted to replace Henderson, but the rookie showed up to minicamps overweight and underwent knee surgery in June. He says he's ready to go for the start of camp, so he has an outside shot to win this job right away. Henderson knows the system better, but he's in a contract year and the smart money is on Devery dropping the gig, like he has so many passes, before the season is up.

7. Panthers starting RB: DeAngelo Williams vs. DeShaun Foster

We struggled whether this was really a battle or not. John Fox is going to use a committee and he appears committed to Foster as the starter ? for now. Foster is a replacement-level running back, though, and Williams has potential to be much more. The new offense in Carolina values versatility; Williams has it. A strong August could help push Williams out of the gate stronger.

8. Bucs number two WR: Maurice Stovall vs. Michael Clayton
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Former top-ten fantasy wideout takes on would-be supersleeper to win starting flanker job in a Jon Gruden offense. Hot damn! There are all kinds of fantasy value potential here. I'm the last Michael Clayton fan standing, but my guess is he's the slight underdog. Stovall has a similar physical game, and has enjoyed a strong offseason. The winner is a sleeper, even Clayton. If he manages to hang on to the job, it means he's had a strong offseason.

9. Jaguars starting wideouts: Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Charles Sharon, Ernest Wilford, and Mike Walker for two spots

We do know a few things here ?

1. Dennis Northcutt should be the slot (third) receiver.
2. Sharon and Wilford finished minicamps as "starters" although Wilford finished last minicamp season in the same position before quickly returning to the bench.
3. Jack Del Rio likes playing games with his depth charts.
4. Walker is going to start for this team in 2008 or 2009.
5. Jack Del Rio has a wee problem with indecision.

If Del Rio is on the hot seat, Williams and Jones are right there with him. Perhaps Del Rio is trying to motivate them or perhaps he sees them as coach killers who need to benched before Del Rio is. In the end, Jones is the only player you want to draft. And he needs a strong camp to be worth his Average Draft Position (mid rounds).

10. Dolphins number two WR: Marty Booker vs. Ted Ginn vs. Derek Hagan

Chris Chambers' starting job is secure, but it's a mystery how new Dolphins coach Cam Cameron will divide up the rest of the time. Booker was rumored to be on the outs, but enters camp as the starter. Unless Trent Green finds his 2005 form, it may not matter in fantasy leagues.

11. Colts backup RB: DeDe Dorsey vs. Field

Dorsey is the heavy favorite to be Joseph Addai's backfield partner, which makes him among the best sleepers in fantasy football. While he doesn't have an NFL carry, the resumes of his competition (former CFL star Kenton Keith, undrafted rookies Luke Lawson, Clinton Dawson) are no better. The Colts staff likes Dorsey and any Colts running back is worth owning. Addai has never carried a full load before.

12. Panthers number two WR: Drew Carter vs. Dwayne Jarrett vs. Keary Colbert

Carter is an annual coaches favorite with speed who is suddenly in a contract year with only 33 career catches. Colbert is a dark horse, trying to get his career back on track with a new offensive coordinator. We aren't digging dirt on his career yet, but its getting close. Jarrett should ultimately win the job, whether it's August 15 or November 15.

I wouldn't draft any of these guys because Carolina is going to spread the wealth around after Steve Smith.

13. Raiders Running Back: LaMont Jordan vs. Michael Bush vs. Dominic Rhodes vs. Justin Fargas

This would be higher, but LaMont Jordan is almost surely going to win by default. Dominic Rhodes is suspended for the first four games of the season, Bush may not be healthy all season, and Justin Fargas is Justin Fargas.

The key is how Jordan plays in the first four games of the season. Lane Kiffin seems hell-bent on a running back committee, but if Jordan plays like he did during the first five years of his career, he should lead this team in carries. Bush is a total question mark at this point. He could get carries in Week 1 (unlikely) or he could miss most of the season. We just don't know yet.

14. Broncos backup RB: Cecil Sapp vs. Mike Bell

Mike Shanahan's "Wheel O' Random Running Backs" landed on Sapp, so the Mastermind has decided the former fullback will rise from the depths to fantasy football prominence. Sapp has taken second team snaps at some offseason practices, meaning that he has a real chance to displace Bell. The Denver Post, however, believes Shanny is trying to motivate Bell. Travis Henry owners should keep on eye on this one, and early drafters should take a flier on Sapp in deep leagues.

15. Bears backup RB: Adrian Peterson vs. Garrett Wolfe

Backing up Cedric Benson could be a lucrative gig. The former Texas star has struggled with minor injuries and inconsistent play as a pro. Peterson was pegged as one of our favorite sleepers until the Bears drafted Wolfe, a bite-sized third-down back with a similar skill set. The winner of this battle is worth a fantasy roster spot in any format.

16. Giants number two wideout: Amani Toomer vs. Steve Smith

Don't assume that veterans are going to return from major surgery the same as when they left. Especially if said player (we're talking about Amani Toomer by the way), was already in decline. Smith is a young version of Toomer, and will try to show he's better than the real thing.

17. Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell vs. Josh McCown

Fantasy leaguers should almost always root for the veteran quarterback to win their battle. As a Ronald Curry owner, though, we're conflicted. There are 50 quarterbacks in the league better than Josh McCown. Oakland may as well get on with the future if the present is so uninspiring.

The rest of the Top 50 breakdowns are on the blog, but here's a handy list of the rest of the battles we're watching.

18. Browns QB: Derek Anderson vs. Brady Quinn vs. Charlie Frye
19. Titans number two receiver: Roydell Williams vs. Courtney Roby vs. Eric Moulds
20. Steelers backup RB: Najeh Davenport vs. Kevan Barlow
21. Chiefs backup RB: Kolby Smith vs. Michael Bennett (made pre-Priest Holmes)
22. Chiefs number two receiver: Dwayne Bowe vs. Jeff Webb vs. Samie Parker
23. Patriots number two receiver: Donte' Stallworth vs. Reche Caldwell
24. Dolphins backup QB: Cleo Lemon vs. John Beck
25. Bengals backup RB: Kenny Watson vs. Kenny Irons
26. Ravens backup RB: Musa Smith vs. Mike Anderson
27. Bears third receiver: Mark Bradley vs. Rashied Davis
28. 49ers backup RB: Maurice Hicks vs. Thomas Clayton vs. Michael Robinson
29. Vikings receivers: Troy Williamson vs. Sidney Rice vs. Bobby Wade vs. Billy McMullen
30. Chargers number two receiver: Craig Davis vs. Eric Parker
31. Bills backup RB: Anthony Thomas vs. Dwayne Wright
32. Bengals third receiver: Tab Perry vs. Antonio Chatman
33. 49ers number two receiver: Ashley Lelie vs. Arnaz Battle
34. Lions backup QB: Dan Orlovsky vs. Drew Stanton
35. Bills number two receiver: Peerless Price vs. Roscoe Parrish vs. Josh Reed
36. Jaguars TE: Marcedes Lewis vs. Jermaine Wiggins vs. George Wrighster
37. Bucs backup QB: Chris Simms vs. Bruce Gradkowski
38. Packers third receiver: James Jones vs. Robert Ferguson vs. Ruvell Martin
39-41. Falcons, Giants, and Cowboys Kickers battles
42. Bucs TE: Jerramy Stevens vs. Alex Smith
43. Eagles third receiver: Hank Baskett vs. Jason Avant vs. Greg Lewis
44. Raiders third receiver: Travis Taylor vs. Mike Williams vs. Johnnie Lee Higgins vs. Doug Gabriel
45. Saints TE: Eric Johnson vs. Billy Miller
46. Broncos third receiver: Rod Smith vs. Brandon Stokley
47. Steelers third receiver: Nate Washington vs. Cedrick Wilson
48. Packers TE: Donald Lee vs. Tory Humprey vs. Bubba Franks
49. Browns third receiver: Tim Carter vs. Travis Wilson
50. Panthers TE: Jeff Kings vs. Michael Gaines
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#47
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Football Daily Dose is Back
Six months without football can make grown men irritable and irrational. That's why, as a public service, we're introducing our Football Daily Dose earlier than ever before.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Welcome to the 2007 fantasy football season. It's not August yet, but there are news stories breaking every minute that affect your draft. The Dose will warm up to Daily status with editions on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through training camp. You can get the daily dose sent to you via email each day that it is posted by simply inputting your email address on the right side of this column. We'll provide strategy, position battles, and Mock Draft columns on the other weekdays. We'll also be updating our online draft guide daily, and blogging like crazy. If you are sick of hearing what we think, then head to our growing football forums to say what you think. Now let's get to the biggest developments of camp thus far. It's good to be back.

***

July should be a time for optimism, but there is already a faint whiff of panic surrounding the Green Bay Packers offense. The running back situation is a quagmire, Donald Driver failed a team physical due to a shoulder injury dating back to last season, and backup TE Tory Humphrey is already lost for the season. The Packers actually had to stop practice early Sunday night because they ran out of healthy tight ends.

The backfield situation is the one fantasy leaguers are watching. Vernand Morency entered camp as the "starter," but he's already missing practices with a knee injury. Morency is an injury-prone player who faces serious questions about whether he can handle a full load. This won't quiet those concerns.

Brandon Jackson was taken in the second-round as the heir apparent to Ahman Green, but he's reportedly struggling with pass protection and offensive know-how early in camp. That's not surprising for an early entrant rookie, but it highlights Jackson's inexperience. (He had a total of 291 carries in college.) The Packers and Fantasy Nation have high hopes for Jackson, but perhaps we're expecting too much, too soon.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel even suggests former Bears practice squader P.J. Pope has an outside chance to start, which shows the uncertainty surrounding the team.

Fantasy Leaguers are hedging their bets in drafts thus far, taking both Morency and Jackson as eighth-round picks. My guess is that that the Packers will go with a committee and disappoint their owners. If the Packers don't know what their backfield will look like this year, fantasy leaguers with early draft dates shouldn't bother taking a crack.
While Corey Dillon's agent finds Packers GM Ted Thompson's number in his rolodex, here are some other notes from around training camp ?

* The positive vibes surrounding Kevin Jones' recovery from a Lisfranc fracture in his foot are waning. He still can't cut hard, and his agent said he wouldn't be ready for hitting "anytime soon." He will take a few weeks to get back into football shape when he hits the field, putting his availability for Week 1 in doubt.

The Lions have been very pleased with Tatum Bell's assimilation into the offense and he looks like the favorite to be a Week 1 starter. He's starting to pass Jones on Average Draft Position lists, but we're not sure either player is a great bargain. It will be Jones' job once healthy, but T.J. Duckett is around to vulture touchdowns and there just aren't many carries to go around in a Mike Martz offense. The Lions back could cancel each other out.

* We've said it all offseason, but LenDale White is being recognized as the heavy favorite for the Titans starting job. He reportedly came into training camp in improved shape (which isn't saying much), and has taken first-team snaps in every practice. The Titans were expected to rotate the snaps more, but rookie Chris Henry is raw, and veteran Chris Brown will ideally fill a third-down back role.

White still has a lot to prove, but he has a versatile game that should translate to fantasy points. I drafted him with the 83rd pick in my latest "industry" league draft. Don't expect him to last that long as we get closer to September.

Two Minute Drill: Bills coach Dick Jauron continues to say that Buffalo will use a running back committee, but no one seems to be listening ? DeShaun Foster opened training camp as Carolina's starter, but some writers surrounding the team believe DeAngelo Williams has a shot to displace him in camp ? Deposed former Bucs DE Simeon Rice will visit the Titans and Giants this week ? Tarvaris Jackson is taking nearly all the first team snaps in Minnesota and is headed for the starting quarterback job ? Chris Simms is struggling with injuries and may be put on injured reserve or released. Bruce Gradkowski is also struggling, raising the chances that the Bucs will sign Daunte Culpepper ? Eric Moulds has impressed the Titans and could be zeroing in on a significant role.

Returning to Action: Darrell Jackson practiced fully for the first time as a 49er this week, quieting concerns about his chronic turf toe injury. It looks like he'll play opposite Arnaz Battle, with Ashley Lelie coming off the bench ? Second-year Pittsburgh wideout Santonio Holmes practiced fully for the first time in camp Sunday ? Kellen Winslow admits he's far from 100%, but he's practicing again with the Browns and reportedly looks good. The Browns will take it slow with Winslow, but it's a positive sign ? Mike Williams isn't guaranteed to make the Raiders, but he's finally healthy enough to practice after missing all of minicamp season ? Clinton Portis is off and running at Redskins camp, quieting concerns about his offseason injuries.

Out of Action: We broke down the Warrick Dunn injury impact last week. We're skeptical about the timeline set out by the Packers, but Dunn says he'll be ready for Week 1. ? Terry Glenn left practice with a knee injury, but an MRI came up negative. He'll be fine ? Texans reserve runner Chris Taylor will miss the season with torn ligaments in his knee. His injury could mean that Samkon Gado and Wali Lundy will make the team as reserves.

Sleeper-in-waiting Brandon Marshall is expected to miss the first 7-10 days of camp with a quadriceps injury. He's been hurt most of the summer, and we're growing concerned ? Priest Holmes is on the camp/PUP list as he gets back into football shape ? Perennially injured WR Donte' Stallworth is missing practices for New England. Don't automatically assume he'll be the team's starter opposite Randy Moss ? Raiders rookie RB Michael Bush isn't ready to practice.

Holdout Update: Six first-round picks remain unsigned: JaMarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson, Levi Brown, Darrelle Revis, Brady Quinn, Dwayne Bowe, and Jon Beason.

Russell and Quinn are losing valuable time as rookie quarterbacks, which won't help their chances of playing early this year. We're not too concerned with Calvin Johnson, but Dwayne Bowe could lose some early season snaps if he falls behind Jeff Webb with a long holdout.

* And finally, in homage to Keith Olbermann (this isn't some sort of synergy idea from above we swear), we present a new Daily Dose feature for camp ?

The Worst Person in the Fantasy Football World

The inaugural award goes to a player who could have won the award for worst person of the 2006 season: Redskins wideout Brandon Lloydhttp://fantasyfootball.usatoday.com/content/playerpages/player_main.asp?sport=NFL&id=449. Washington has demoted him to third receiver behind Antwaan Randle El to open training camp. As the Washington Post pointed out, no starting No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL started more games in the Super Bowl era while producing less. Now it appears he won't have a shot to make amends.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#48
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Post-Hype All Stars
Post-hype picks are not for the weak. They inspire sarcastic emails, nasty message board posts, and groans on draft day. They are anti-buzz, yesterday's Now. And they can win you fantasy leagues.

When looking for draft day value, the successful owner must be open-minded to all possibilities. That means examining the flaws of conventional wisdom when it comes to players coming off disappointing seasons. Post-hype All-Stars are often last year's sleepers. They just never woke up.

I broke down my criteria for Post-Hypocity last year, with the four key traits being Elite Skills, Youth, Opportunity, and Value.

Brandon Jones will be hyped this season. Matt Jones is Post-Hype. Matt Leinart is overhyped this season. Eli Manning is post-hype.

Without further ado, here goes the second annual Post-Hype All star extravaganza.

[SIZE=+1]Quarterbacks [/SIZE]

[SIZE=+1]Eli Manning, Giants [/SIZE]

Let's start with Manning because he's a textbook post-hype example. Two years ago, he wasn't even drafted in most leagues. Last year, Fantasy Nation got more overexcited than Ernie Accorsi on draft day and took him as the QB6. Now we're splitting the difference, taking him as a mid-to-late draft backup option. (QB15)

Have his prospects really changed that much? Manning threw 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2005. He threw 24 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2006. His yardage sank during an ugly second-half last year and that's why his stock is down. Too many owners have seen Eli befuddled fourth-down face and want no part of him.

Throwing 24 touchdowns while playing so poorly is a testament to how safe a pick Eli is. That's one hell of a downside. Tom Coughlin teams consistently throw for touchdowns, and that's not going to change. Manning's wideout group is undeniably improved with Amani Toomer returning, Sinorice Moss healthy, and promising rookie Steve Smith in the mix. He's a young quarterback with another year of experience on his side. Manning is a serviceable fantasy starter who will get drafted as a reserve.

[SIZE=+1]Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers [/SIZE]

Big Ben has the highest yards-per-attempt career average (minimum 1,000 attempts) since Sid Luckman, all the way before the AFL merger. Yet we don't get a sense that Fantasy Nation sees him as a potential breakout candidate.

Ben's hype mostly comes from the "real" media, not fantasy leaguers who have been afraid of Bill Cowher's run-heavy ways. Cowher is gone, a pass-friendly coordinator is in his place, and the Pittsburgh wideout corps is in better shape than before Plaxico Burress left town. Most importantly, Roethlisberger is fully healthy, and perhaps a bit pissed.

[SIZE=+1]Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks [/SIZE]

Hasselbeck is a slight stretch because we usually want our Post-Hype candidates young. But Hasselbeck was being taken as early as the QB2 last season and now is often falling out of the top-ten after an injury-plagued year. Seattle's system is proven, the receiver group is still solid, and the NFC West is still weak. He's one reason to feel safe if you don't take a starting quarterback early.

[SIZE=+1]Byron Leftwich, Jaguars [/SIZE]

Leftwich isn't getting drafted in most leagues, but there are many pieces in place for a big season. The offensive line, which has traditionally been a problem in Jacksonville, now is among the best in the league. The running game is elite, and will keep extra men defending the run near the line of scrimmage. The offensive scheme also has been tweaked to maximize Leftwich's vertical skills.

The receiver group is deeper, but Leftwich needs a couple players to step up. He also needs to stay healthy. There is some risk here, but I don't think you will find a higher ceiling QB2 in the final rounds of your draft.

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

[SIZE=+1]Carnell Williams, Bucs [/SIZE]
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
It's been a long year since Caddy was the reigning rookie of the Year and a first-round fantasy pick.

In 2006, Williams couldn't shake injury concerns even while playing the first 14 games. His running was tentative, and he only looked like the old Williams during a three game stretch in October. Concerns remain about whether he'll ever be a 325-carry back.

All that said, please can't discount the Bruce Gradkowski effect. Or how you felt about Williams a year ago. Defenses keyed on Williams with no threat of a deep pass and the entire Bucs offense crumbled. We share worries about his back, but there is a truckload of talent here for a running back often falling to the fourth round. Caddy is a good example of how value should dictate drafts. Don't reach for him late in round two at the end of a second running back run. Take him after you grab an elite receiver or two.

[SIZE=+1]Ronnie Brown, Dolphins [/SIZE]

We were as guilty as any outfit of hyping Brown. The Miami offense did him no favors, but Brown struggled to rise above the fray until an impressive late-season stretch. He still possesses a wide array of skills and now plays for an offensive minded coach. The quarterback situation isn't good, but it can't be worse. The risk of taking Brown is lowered since he'll only cost a RB2 pick in the second round. Quality young starters still come at a premium, so we'd take Ronnie ahead of most of the elite wide receivers.

[SIZE=+1]Tatum Bell, Lions [/SIZE]

Occasionally a player will fill all the requirements of post-hype, and emotionally we still don't believe in him. That's the case with Tatum Bell. He's shown flashes of elite skill before and has great speed. He's gone from fantasy magazine covers in Denver to a mid-round pick in Detroit, so the value is there. He's only 26 and has a huge opportunity as Mike Martz's starting running back if Kevin Jones can't get healthy for Week 1, as expected.

There won't be a ton of carries to go around in Detroit, so Jones' status is the key. We still have doubts (bias?) about Bell's ability overall, but he will be hard to ignore if Jones can't get healthy.

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

All the negative articles on White have had a dramatic affect on his fantasy draft stock. Training camp is paramount to the puffy runner, but he'll be a fantastic post-hype bargain if he wins the starting job. All indications thus far are that he's on his way.

[SIZE=+1]Julius Jones, Cowboys [/SIZE]

Rotoworld has admittedly overrated Jones for two years running. His current draft guide ranking is at RB29, very close to his Average Draft Position. Jones has less-than-ideal vision, but he qualifies as a post-hype All-Star at that ranking. He's a talented young starting running back on a high-scoring team. He's motivated entering a contract year. His brother had a similarly slow development curve before a solid NFL career. The ceiling is high for a mid-round RB3.

Honorable Mention: LaMont Jordan

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

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

Williamson is another reminder that drafts are more about value than players. A year ago, we pegged him as a mid-round bust, a player too raw to live up to his preseason WR40 ADP. He went on to drop the second-most passes in the league and get benched late in the season for guys like Billy McMullen.

Now Williamson is slipping completely out of drafts and we are intrigued in him as a late-round flier. There is still almost no competition at receiver in Minnesota and he's a year more mature.

[SIZE=+1]Santana Moss, Redskins [/SIZE]

Like Laveranues Coles before last season, Moss is being unfairly punished for the previous season woes of his offense. Washington's passing game should improve in year two of the Al Saunders/Jason Campbell experiment, making Moss a nice value as a late WR2.

[SIZE=+1]Matt Jones, Jaguars [/SIZE]

We had Jones pegged as a true sleeper until our buddy Mike Dempsey at 1010XL in Jacksonville called him a bust in our second print magazine this year. There are major questions about Jones' toughness and spot on the depth chart, but the new Jaguars offense seems made for him. He has the skills and opportunity to be a good mid-to-late-round value, but needs to improve his consistency.

Honorable Mention: Mark Bradley

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

[SIZE=+1]Heath Miller, Steelers [/SIZE]

Miller was the Vernon Davis of the 2006 draft season, a second-year tight end that owners expected a major leap from. It didn't happen for a variety of reasons, the largest being that he was barely used in the offense, often coming off the field for passing downs. That reportedly won't be the case this season under coordinator Bruce Arians, so Miller has a better chance to fulfill his Todd Heap-like upside. And he'll only cost a flier pick.

[SIZE=+1]Jason Witten, Cowboys [/SIZE]

Here's a list of tight ends we see as nearly identical for the 2007 season: Chris Cooley, Tony Gonzalez, Todd Heap, Alge Crumpler, and Jason Witten. Cooley is our favorite and ranked second at the position, but Witten makes the most sense on this list because of his value. On average, he's being taken in the tenth round because owners were frustrated with his one touchdown last season.

His numbers have been consistent as a pro and the touchdown total was largely a fluke. The big guy knows how to get open and a full season of Tony Romo should help him.

[SIZE=+1]Team Defense [/SIZE]

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

A year ago, the Steelers were a veteran-laden team that was being selected as the second defense in most drafts. They still have most of the veterans (except the overrated Joey Porter) and some intriguing developing players. Dick Lebeau is going to be aggressive and Mike Tomlin is a defensive-minded coach, making this unit a fine post-hype target.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#49
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Daunte's Peaked? www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Less than three years ago, Daunte Culpepper set the all-time quarterback record for yards from scrimmage in a season. Now he's hoping to beat out Josh McCown and Andrew Walter for a roster spot. In a move that Al Davis has probably wanted to make for years, Culpepper signed a one-year deal with the Raiders Tuesday. Nothing should be assumed about his return to an NFL roster.

Best-case scenario, his knee will prove healthy and he'll stick as a serviceable starter for most of the season. But he could also sit the whole season without taking a snap, and he could be released before September. Miracles can't be expected after signing so late.

The move says more about Oakland's confidence in McCown and Walter than Culpepper, whose workout private reportedly was spotty. McCown has failed in his other NFL spots and his arm reportedly isn't "Raider quality." The new coaching staff clearly doesn't think Walter is the answer.

The 260-pound quarterback in the room is JaMarcus Russell. His holdout, like Brady Quinn's, could cause serious damage to his rookie season. We pegged him to take over in Oakland before midseason, but Culpepper provides the Raiders with another option.

The real losers here are the Raiders actually worth drafting in fantasy leagues: Ronald Curry, Jerry Porter, and LaMont Jordan. All three players are buy-low candidates if new coach Lane Kiffin can make the Oakland offense respectable. Spotty quarterback play stands in their way, and now Culpepper can try to do something about it.

While Kiffin wonders if Culpepper can also be a backup on the offensive line, here are some other notes from around training camp.

* Frank Gore is already participating in some non-contact drills after breaking a bone in his hand earlier this week. He will miss the first three preseason games, but coach Mike Nolan hopes to get him back on the field for the exhibition finale. As I wrote about in the blog, Rotoworld isn't adjusting our optimistic projection. The most talented runner in the NFC was already performing light non-contact drills at practice Tuesday.

Gore will probably be back at practice fully next Monday after a cast is put on, so it's not like he will get out of shape. Pounce on Gore if the injury causes his stock to fall.

* One surgery that should affect your cheat sheets is Terry Glenn's. He'll undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee Wednesday. While he should be healthy before Week 1, surgery begets more surgery, and Glenn has stayed unusually healthy the last two years. He had missed ten games or more in two of the four seasons prior. The ultimate BPG (Bill Parcells Guy), Glenn's decline his overdue and his patron Saint is watching horses in Saratoga.

* Clinton Portis continues to struggle with knee tendinitis. This could be a case of a veteran wanting to take it easy in camp or it could be a problem that lingers all season. It looks like he'll sit out the rest of the week of practice. A timeshare in Washington with Ladell Betts grows much more possible if Portis can't get fully healthy shortly. Rotoworld was open to moving Portis up to a first-round grade with a strong camp, but he's off to a bad start.

[SIZE=+1]Out of Action[/SIZE]

Chester Taylor was carted off the field with an arm injury Tuesday, but the Vikings are only calling it a contusion. It appears he dodged a bullet ? The news got worse for Vernand Morency and his owners this week. He's now expected to miss "at least" two more weeks because of his knee injury. If the injury sidelines him longer than that, he's probably going to back up Brandon Jackson ? Willie Parker missed his second straight practice Wednesday and was seen icing his knee. We'll let you know if it's more than usual camp soreness ... Jaguars starting C Brad Meester will miss the next two months, which puts a dent in one of the best offensive lines in the league ? Chris Simms and the Bucs have denied reports about the severity of his arm injury, but he remains limited in Bucs camp.

Projected Patriots nickel back Chad Scott will miss the season, increasing the team's need to get Asante Samuel signed ? Chargers wideout Eric Parker continues to struggle with a toe injury. His absence could open up time for rookie Craig Davis ? Detroit's second round pick QB Drew Stanton underwent knee surgery, crushing any chance he had to win the Detroit backup job ? Kevin Walter remains the starting wideout opposite Andre Johnson despite Keenan McCardell's signing.

[SIZE=+1]Returning to Action
[/SIZE]
Donald Driver is back at Packers practice making spectacular catches, easing any concern about his shoulder ... Mike Williams is practicing with the Raiders again, but the team says he weighs too much. We've heard this one before. Don't be surprised if he's cut before the year ? After an offseason of injuries, Saints rookie wideout Robert Meachem has stayed on the field this month.

[SIZE=+1]Two Minute Drill [/SIZE]

Vikings reserve Mewelde Moore appears to be ahead of Ciatrick Fason in the battle for a roster spot ? Perhaps it's all an act, but Cleo Lemon has actually been sharing first-team snaps with Trent Green some days ? The Derek Anderson-Charlie Frye duel has been locked in an uninspiring tie. The Browns would like to decide sooner than later.

Tim Carter appears to have the third receiver spot locked up in Cleveland over Travis Wilson. Romeo Crennel implied that Braylon Edwards' starting job wasn't necessarily safe, but that seems like empty motivational talk ? Former fullback Cecil Sapp continues to run ahead of Mike Bell at Broncos camp. Bell needs a push to keep his stud-handcuff status ? The Steelers want to use Willie Parker on third downs more often this season, which would help his fantasy value greatly.

[SIZE=+1]Holdout Update[/SIZE]

The Magnificent Seven remain: JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Calvin Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Levi Brown, Dwayne Bowe, and Jon Beason. Brown appears the closest to signing. Bowe might be waiting for Quinn to sign, which means he could be waiting a while.

[SIZE=+1]Flashing[/SIZE]

This isn't an update of training camp streakers. It's a record of the players that are impressing with standout play in camp. A coach or writer will often say a player "flashed", but we don't post it always because it changes from day to day. We'll try to compile some of the consistent risers in the Wednesday Camp Dose each week

Marty Booker just won't go away. His veteran professionalism and quality hands have stood out over Ted Ginn and Derek Hagan in Dolphins camp ? Heath Evans has impressed in Patriots camp and could have a significant role if Laurence Maroney is ever hurt ? Jabar Gaffney could be passing Reche Caldwell on the Patriots depth chart with a strong camp. Donte' Stallworth needs to get on the field ? Before he became an internet legend, Kyle Orton was once a promising quarterback prospect. A strong camp is putting heat on Brian Griese ? Packers rookie wideout James Jones is pushing hard for the third receiver role with a consistent camp. He could challenge Greg Jennings eventually for a starting job if he keeps it up ? Kellen Winslow is reportedly putting concerns about his knee surgery behind him with a standout camp.

[SIZE=+1]Not Flashing[/SIZE]

Brian Griese has thrown an interception every single day of camp. He's probably closer to Orton than Rex Grossman right now ? Derek Hagan has been inconsistent in Dolphins camp and may get stuck as their fourth receiver ? Kellen Clemens, the Jets "quarterback of the future" has received consistently poor marks for slow development.

And finally ?

[SIZE=+1]The Worst Person in Fantasy Football[/SIZE]

Agent Tom Condon and JaMarcus Russell's mom today will share the award. Condon and Brady Quinn want to be paid a huge premium at the No. 22 pick because he's a quarterback despite the informal slotting system the NFL holds. Russell's mom is reportedly leading the hard bargaining team representing the number one pick. Like Philip Rivers a few years ago, the players may get more money, but less playing time.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#50
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Camp Position Battles
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

You already know. On Tuesday night the Raiders purchased the rights to have Daunte Culpepper join them for training camp and will give him a shot to start in Week 1. Big fantasy implications right? Wrong. While one of Culpepper and Josh McCown is likely to lead the Silver and Black when it hosts Detroit on the afternoon of September 9, the two vets are now probably battling for one roster spot. Quarterbacks currently on the Raiders roster (in alphabetical order), and the amount of money the team will have committed to each for 2007 if they are cut like poor Cody Pickett was Wednesday:

Daunte Culpepper $750,000
Josh McCown $0
Jeff Otis $0
JaMarcus Russell A lot
Andrew Walter roughly $632,000

Culpepper will be much more difficult to cut than McCown by virtue of the guaranteed money he received, so?the position battle is basically settled. McCown looks like a goner, with Walter sticking around as the third quarterback. But the race in Oakland made only the intro to our first Position Battles column because drafting a player involved in it would be a mistake in any league with roster limits under 30. Russell is likely to take over early in the season, making the Raiders' Week 1 starter inconsequential. Weekly on Thursdays, we'll try to focus on the somewhat important competitions going on around the league, not ones with next to zero potential for fantasy significance.

Titans No. 1 Running Back
LenDale White v. Chris Brown v. Chris Henry


At this point, Henry is well behind. The super-raw rookie who never started a game at Arizona has struggled to pick up Norm Chow's offense, is putting the ball on the ground, and is now being tried as a gunner. Brown is seeing some first-team work, but will likely get hurt late in camp or during the season. The coaches want White to start because his every-down skills are the best of the bunch. He should be rising up draft boards.

Predictions:
Week 1: White > Brown > Henry
Week 8: White > Henry > Brown
Stretch Run: White > Henry > Brown

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: RB3 in 12-team leagues.

Bills No. 1 Running Back
Marshawn Lynch v. Anthony Thomas v. Dwayne Wright


The Bills say they favor a committee, but Lynch is making his move to be the clear lead back. He's excelled in blitz pickup (a huge factor for rookie RBs) and team beat writers have only been impressed by his early camp performance. There's an outside chance Thomas could be the starter ala Dominic Rhodes in Indy last year, but don't bet on it. Wright will be Lynch's backup eventually, but probably not until 2008.

Predictions:
Week 1: Lynch > Thomas > Wright
Week 2: Lynch > Thomas > Wright
Stretch Run: Lynch > Thomas > Wright

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Lynch, RB2 in 12-team leagues.

Seahawks No. 2 Receiver
D.J. Hackett v. Nate Burleson v. Bobby Engram


Hackett missed a few practices after his wife gave birth, and Burleson finally seems to be picking up the offense after struggling with it last year. Engram is ticketed for the slot, which will translate to some PPR value because Seattle goes three-wide often. But the staff wants D.J. to start, and it'll be a major upset if he doesn't. Burleson is an effective punt returner and workable No. 4 who may take over in 2008 if Hackett leaves in free agency.

Predictions:
Week 1: Hackett > Engram > Burleson
Week 8: Hackett > Engram > Burleson
Stretch Run: Hackett > Engram > Burleson

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Hackett, WR4 in 10-team leagues.

Packers No. 1 Running Back
Brandon Jackson v. Vernand Morency v. P.J. Pope


Noah Herron is also in the mix, but has seen few reps so far this summer. Morency will miss the next two weeks with a knee injury. Opportunity and talent are on Jackson's side, but the Nebraska product has been tentative in blitz pickup. Pope apparently could help in short yardage. This battle is wide open, but Morency is the best bet to start Week 1 until Jackson shows something. The threat of a committee in Green Bay is very real.

Predictions:
Week 1: Morency > Jackson > Pope
Week 8: Morency > Jackson > Pope
Stretch Run: Jackson > Morency > Pope

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: RB4 in 10-team leagues.

Broncos No. 2 Running Back
Mike Bell v. Cecil Sapp v. Andre Hall


Maybe the most underrated position battle in fantasy football. The Broncos' backup is worth drafting in every format by any owner, not just those who already have Travis Henry. Sapp, a 28-year-old ex-fullback and undrafted free agent who has plates in both legs from past surgeries, has taken every second-team snap thus far. But the beat writers aren't buying it, and neither am I. Bell's skills fit in perfectly with the zone-blocking system Denver runs, and he proved himself an exceptional short-yardage back last year. Tailback depth charts in Mike Shanahan's training camp are about meaningless.

Predictions:
Week 1: Bell > Sapp > Hall
Week 8: Bell > Sapp > Hall
Stretch Run: Bell > Sapp > Hall

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Bell, RB4 in 12-team leagues.

Panthers No. 2 Receiver
Dwayne Jarrett v. Drew Carter v. Keary Colbert


Of the contenders, Jarrett is best suited as a possession No. 2 opposite Steve Smith. The ideal role for Carter is in the slot. Colbert opened training camp with the first unit after a strong offseason and if he remains there ? which is a long shot ? Jarrett could struggle to be active on game days initially because he doesn't play special teams. This is a battle to monitor closely, but the smart money says Jarrett will take over early in the season.

Predictions:
Week 1: Colbert > Carter > Jarrett
Week 8: Jarrett > Carter > Colbert
Stretch Run: Jarrett > Carter > Colbert

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR5-6 in 10-team leagues.

Patriots No. 2 Receiver
Donte` Stallworth v. Jabar Gaffney v. Reche Caldwell


From a fantasy standpoint, know that these guys could easily end up canceling each other out in the Pats' spread-the-wealth attack. New England hasn't had a 1000-yard receiver since 2001, and I'm of the belief that Wes Welker is the team's best bet to rival that mark this year considering Randy Moss' recent injury history. If and only if Stallworth is starting when you draft, he's a doable WR4. Gaffney is currently running with the ones and impressing.

Predictions:
Week 1: Gaffney > Stallworth > Caldwell
Week 8: Stallworth > Caldwell > Gaffney
Stretch Run: Stallworth > Caldwell > Gaffney

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Avoid if it isn't Stallworth.

49ers No. 2 Running Back
Michael Robinson v. Maurice Hicks v. Thomas Clayton</B>

Following Frank Gore's hand injury, it appears the Niners will keep four backs on the active roster to start the season. Until then, this trio will vie for the backup role. Clayton has drawn the ire of RBs coach Bishop Harris in camp and isn't putting his reputation of immaturity behind him. Hicks can return kicks but keep in mind his 2.8 YPC from a year ago. Robinson has all-down ability and is Gore's clear handcuff until proven otherwise.

Predictions:
Week 1: Robinson > Hicks > Clayton
Week 8: Robinson > Clayton > Hicks
Stretch Run: Robinson > Clayton > Hicks

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late-round handcuff for Frank Gore.

Texans No. 2 Receiver
Kevin Walter v. Keenan McCardell v. Jacoby Jones


McCardell has entered the scene and brings loads of experience, but coach Gary Kubiak said Tuesday that Walter has already won the job as far as he's concerned. We've heard little about Jones since an inconsistent showing at minicamps. The Texans shouldn't be playoff contenders, so look for the 6-3 speedster Jones to get starts once they're officially out of the race. Until then, expect McCardell to man the slot and Jacoby to return kicks.

Predictions:
Week 1: Walter > McCardell > Jones
Week 8: Walter > McCardell > Jones
Stretch Run: Jones > Walter > McCardell

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR6-7 in deep leagues.

Chiefs No. 2 Running Back
Michael Bennett v. Kolby Smith v. Priest Holmes


Holmes made a big splash upon returning to the Chiefs, but has yet to take one carry during training camp and there's plenty of reason to believe he won't be on the 53-man roster to start the season. With Larry Johnson holding out, Smith and Bennett are sharing first-team reps but the rookie from Louisville is drawing the most attention early on. If Holmes doesn't make the club, either undrafted rookie Marcus O'Keith or Derrick Ross likely will. I don't see Bennett 1) staying healthy or 2) keeping the No. 2 job for long.

Predictions:
Week 1: Bennett > Smith > Holmes
Week 8: Smith > Holmes > Bennett
Stretch Run: Smith > Holmes > Bennett

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late-round handcuff for L.J.

Redskins No. 2 Receiver
Antwaan Randle El v. Brandon Lloyd v. Mike Espy


According to coordinator Al Saunders, Randle El already has this one locked up because he finished 2006 as the starter over Lloyd. Bad news is these guys are going to make each other negligible in fantasy leagues no matter what. Espy, a player those near the team seem to love, could move up by the end of the year if Washington falls out of the playoff race quickly. Still, there will be marginal fantasy noise made by any of these players. Randle El and Lloyd may be the two most overpaid players in the NFL.

Predictions:
Week 1: Randle El > Lloyd > Espy
Week 8: Lloyd > Randle El > Espy
Stretch Run: Lloyd > Randle El > Espy

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR6-7 in deep leagues.

Packers No. 3 Receiver
James Jones v. Ruvell Martin v. Robert Ferguson


Jones has emerged as the leader here, running with the ones while Donald Driver was held out with a shoulder injury early on. Martin and Ferguson can play special teams, which will keep both around until the latter part of camp, but Martin is younger, cheaper, and a better red-zone option. I don't think Ferguson will make the team. Jones, who is a flanker, could have value if Driver's shoulder problems persist during the season.

Predictions:
Week 1: Jones > Martin > Ferguson
Week 8: Jones > Martin > Ferguson
Stretch Run: Jones > Martin > Ferguson

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Monitor in all leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Clarification[/SIZE]

The following are not immediately competing to start.

Marion Barber and Julius Jones
In no way does Wade Phillips plan to alter the committee Bill Parcells left behind during camp. While there's an outside chance Barber will overtake Jones in-season, Julius is highly likely to begin the year starting, with Barber stealing goal-line and third-down work.

Drew Bennett and Isaac Bruce
Bennett is a third receiver. The Rams signed him to play the slot, act as another downfield threat in three-receiver formations, and help out in the red zone, where coach Scott Linehan loves to throw the rock. Bruce is the Rams' starter.

Arnaz Battle and Ashley Lelie
This may also change during the season, but for now Battle is the Niners' starting flanker, with rookie Jason Hill positioned behind him. Lelie is working behind split end Darrell Jackson. Hill and Lelie are more likely battling for the third-receiver slot.

Tarvaris Jackson and Brooks Bollinger
Vikings coach Brad Childress might say otherwise, but Jackson is getting all the first-team repetitions and will be Minnesota's starter in Week 1, barring injury. Bollinger is underrated as a backup, but that's all he is.

Rod Smith and Brandon Marshall
Smith is headed for PUP (or possibly injured reserve) to start the season. Marshall hasn't done himself any favors by missing all of training camp so far with a quadriceps injury, but his starting job is safe until further notice.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#51
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

QB Drama in Miami?
No one listened when Dolphins coach Cam Cameron told the media that there was a true competition for the Miami starting quarterback job. Perhaps it's because no one can stay awake during his vanilla press conferences or perhaps we assumed that Trent Green vs. Cleo Lemon was a mismatch of Tyson/Spinks proportions. We were wrong. It's become a closer battle than anyone imagined and that does not bode well for the Miami offense.

Many peg Green as a fantasy sleeper, but a Palm Beach Post reports say he's looked like, "An aging veteran and a first-year quarterback learning a new system." Most telling is that Cameron has privately told veterans not to assume Green will be their leader come Week 1.

We shouldn't so surprised. Green is a 37-year old on a new team coming off a devastating concussion. One mistake fantasy leaguers often make, myself included, is assuming that a player will return good as new after injury. We see their old stats, and hope for the best.

Trent Green was not the same player when he returned late last season. He felt the pass rush too early and his timing was off. Cleo Lemon is no world-beater, but he has more upside and is enjoying a solid camp.

All of this uncertainty portends disappointment for Chris Chambers, Marty Booker, Ted Ginn, and Ronnie Brown owners this season. The quarterback situation in Miami could be more of the same.

While Mangenius, Jauron, and Belichick salivate over schemes to destroy the Dolphins this season, here are the rest of the notes from around training camp.

* Another 37-year-old on the decline is Broncos wideout Rod Smith. His underrated career isn't likely to have the ending it deserves. Smith has been hobbling around Broncos camp, nowhere close to being ready for football after hip surgery this offseason. He's "virtually certain" to begin the year on the PUP list, meaning he'll miss at least the first six weeks of the season. There is serious doubt where he'll make it back at all.

Smith's health makes Brandon Marshall more important to the Denver passing game. But the promising second-year wideout still hasn't practiced during camp because of a quadriceps injury, continuing a lackluster summer. Brandon Stokley is the only Bronco wideout on the mend exceeding expectations in camp. He looks to be headed for a big role as a slot receiver, but don't go nuts drafting him. Stokley is among the most injury-prone players in the NFL, and Denver will use their tight ends quite often.

* Brodie Croyle has reportedly been highly impressive in Chiefs camp, exceeding the coaching staff's expectations. It appears he has a solid edge over Damon Huard, but he needs to back up his practice performance during the preseason. If he has strong sessions against the Vikings this weekend and a solid first exhibition game, Herm Edwards will probably end the QB drama early.

Returning to Action

Terrell Owens returned to Cowboys practice after missing a few sessions, saving us all from re-living HamstringGate 2006.

Out of Action

The bad news: Randy Moss tweaked his "upper right leg" at practice Wednesday. The good news: he was in the midst of a dominating practice performance. Like every Patriot not on injured reserve, he's day-to-day ? Vernand Morency seems to get worse every day. He could reportedly miss up to a month. Asked about when he'll return, Morency said, "I want to be on the field. I was born on the field." Way to go Mrs. Morency! ? Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson both gave Minnesota fans scares this week with minor injuries. Taylor was carted off the field Wednesday, but it turned out only to be an arm "contusion." Peterson suffered a hip pointer on Thursday, but was doing individual work later in the day. They should be fine, but are worth monitoring.

Texans wideout Keenan McCardell has missed the better part of this week and isn't likely to be back soon because of a strained quadriceps. The veteran will need to show something in camp to make the team ? Titans WR Roydell Williams has missed practices for Tennessee, but so has much of his competition at various points: Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby, and Justin Gage.

Two Minute Drill

Brett Favre was the latest player to lavish praise on Rotoworld's favorite keeper league rookie sleeper James Jones, who he compared to Sterling Sharpe ? Vince Young had the bright idea to punch one of his teammates at practice Wednesday. In the helmet. With his throwing hand. Luckily, his hand was fine ... Jaguars second-year TE Marcedes Lewis is on his way to locking up the starting job over Jermaine Wiggins, among others. Lewis is an interesting TE2 pick if you are in a deeper league ? The terms of Daunte Culpepper's contract make it highly unlikely he'll get cut before the season. Either Josh McCown or Andrew Walter should get the boot ? Cecil Sapp continues to run ahead of Mike Bell in Broncos camp ? Browns RT Ryan Tucker was suspended four games by the league for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

IDP Alert

In a IDP battle worth watching closely, 49ers LB Derek Smith has the early edge over first-round pick Patrick Willis ? Saints MLB Mark Simoneau looks surprisingly likely to keep his starting job over free agent acquisition Brian Simmons ? The acquisition of safety Chris Harris by the Panthers could put Mike Minter on the bench ? Steelers first-round pick Lawrence Timmons has barely practiced since joining the team.

Holdout Update

Calvin Johnson signed a six-year deal Friday morning and was on the practice field immediately. We think his superhuman abilities can make up for the misses time ? Levi Brown, the future blind side protector of Matt Leinart, signed with the Cardinals Thursday. That leaves five first-round holdouts.

#1) Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell ? Arguing over option bonus, don't appear close.
# 14) Jets CB Darrelle Revis ? Revis' agent wants a five-year deal, the Jets are insisting on six. Ben Watson had to fire his agent to extract himself from a similar battle with the Patriots two years ago. Revis may have to do the same.
# 22) Browns QB Brady Quinn ? Like Philip Rivers a few years ago, this could take a while.
# 23) Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe ? I'm not sure if Bowe is a genius or a moron for waiting on Quinn to sign.
#25) Panthers LB Jon Beason ? Also in line behind Quinn, perhaps annoyed at the Patriots' below-market deal for Brandon Merriweather. The Panthers, like the Raiders, are fighting over option bonus precedent.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
The Worst Person in Fantasy Football

Today's award goes to Titans S Donnie Nickey, for inciting Vince Young to punch him in the helmet this week. We don't care whose fault it was; do not tempt the Madden Curse Gods. Nickey was also the player who received a phlegm shower from LenDale White in camp last year, so he's doing something wrong.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#52
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

The Fake Stuff
Preseason results are a lie. The box scores are deceiving. Exhibition games are called as such for a reason. If we can find enough different ways to say that the on-field action in August is phony, perhaps it will overwhelm our urge as football fans to draw conclusions.

Like far too many people in this football-addicted country, I watched Sunday night's preseason opener between the Steelers and Saints with barely restrained glee. Sure, Brian St. Pierre was in before halftime and Reggie Bush had only two carries, but it was live football. Sort of.

The good players aren't playing at full intensity and the coaches don't scheme. The preseason only matters when it affects regular season playing time. That may have happened Sunday night, as a few position battles starting taking shape during Pittsburgh's 20-7 victory.

Steelers wideout Cedrick Wilson made a handful of big plays totaling 99 yards, while Nate Washington, his competition for the third receiver role, dropped two passes. Saints rookie first-round wideout Robert Meachem also dropped two passes, and was briefly knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter after getting drilled. He was able to return, but it's a bad sign that Meachem was even playing in the fourth quarter. He's currently a long way from starting.

While Meachem owners in preseason fantasy leagues scan the waiver wire, here are the other notes from around training camp ?

* San Diego's most experienced wideout, Eric Parker, will miss roughly ten weeks following toe surgery Friday. While the news won't shake up draft boards, it robs Philip Rivers of his steadiest wide receiver. The rest of San Diego's green group (Vincent Jackson, Craig Davis, Malcom Floyd, Kassim Osgood, Greg Camarillo) have combined for only 78 career catches.

The Chargers are counting on Jackson to grow up fast as their top option, but rookie first-round pick Craig Davis benefits the most in fantasy value. The LSU product wowed observers at a team scrimmage, but he's struggled to stay on the field consistently as a pro because of various. Pro Football Prospectus also points out that Davis is known for his laziness, especially when he doesn't get the ball. That doesn't bode well for a rookie wideout in a system that focuses on the tight end and running back. We'd rather take a flier on a veteran receiver than Davis, even in deep leagues. Parker is now also not worth drafting. Toe injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from.

* Discuss Parker's injury and all your draft plans in Rotoworld's growing football forums.

* Get to know the other Adrian Peterson. The Bears backup runner was one of our favorite sleepers before the NFL Draft, when Chicago drafted a similar player in Garrett Wolfe in the third-round. But Wolfe has missed a great deal of practice time during training camp and it appears Peterson has a solid lead in the battle to backup Cedric Benson. He's a versatile back who excels on passing downs.

Benson missed some practice time over the weekend with a sore shoulder, giving Peterson a chance to work with the first team. Benson has struggled with minor injuries as a pro, although he expects to return this week. If he gets hurt during the season, Peterson could be a starter-worthy fantasy option.

* If you haven't joined the thousands of fans who get the Daily Dose delivered to their inbox, sign up using the box on the right rail of this page.

Two Minute Drill

Corey Dillon told the Boston Globe this week that he's through playing football. He hasn't signed any retirement papers yet, and teams may call in-season if injuries strike ? DeAngelo Williams has reportedly struggled in goal-line work during camp, along with Eric Shelton. Look for DeShaun Foster and Nick Goings to get the ball more often inside the five ? The Packers rewarded Donald Driver with a pay increase this week. Most of the $11 million in "new money" will never be earned, but he still can earn $3.6 million more over the next three seasons. He's now signed through 2010 ? Derek Anderson entered camp as the favorite to start in Cleveland, but hasn't stepped up. Charlie Frye's recent surge has the race too close to call at this point.

Good news for Raiders QB Andrew Walter: He was Oakland's starting quarterback during their team scrimmage. The bad news: He turned the ball over twice in a short period. Daunte Culpepper took turns with the third-team, and it is looking more likely that he'll be Oakland's Week 1 starter ? There were a number of scrimmages this weekend. Brodie Croyle struggled in Kansas City according to the Kansas City Star and SI's Peter King. He'll have to struggle quite a bit more to lose the starting job ? Brandon Jackson had a solid night in the Packers' scrimmage, flashing some skills on the goal-line and in the receiving game. With the rest of the Packers backfield in shambles, including a recent injury to reserve P.J. Pope, Jackson is earning snaps just by staying healthy. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

Returning to Action

Donte' Stallworth was back on the field for the Patriots, and sounded confused about why he was out in the first place. Our concerns that he would have to battle for the starting job admittedly look overblown now. Stallworth immediately began taking first-team reps.

Out of Action

TE L.J. Smith had a "minor setback" in his return from hernia surgery. It's an injury that can be difficult to shake, so Smith is a bigger risk than usual this season. It's time to move him down draft boards slightly ? Profootballtalk reported that Joey Porter underewent knee surgery, but the Dolphins deny it. It sounds like it's still possible, but the team may be evaluating their options.

Holdout Update

Chiefs first-round pick Dwayne Bowe finally signed on Sunday. Missing over a week of training camp is never a good thing, but his competition (Samie Parker, Jeff Webb, Chris Hannon) has reportedly been underwhelming. That makes Bowe the favorite to start opposite Eddie Kennison.

Panthers LB Jon Beason also ended his holdout Saturday and should be a starter before long. That leaves only three remaining first-round holdouts: JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. All three have seen little progress in recent days.

The Worst Person in Fantasy Football

Raiders receiver Mike Williams has disappointed fantasy owners for so long, he is going to great lengths to avoid negative press. After dropping a 20-yard pass during Oakland's scrimmage, Williams told a reporter to forget it ever happened.

"You can't write about that dropped post. I don't drop balls. That's an anomaly. It doesn't happen," Williams said.

To repeat, Mike Williams does not drop balls. In related news, Mel Kiper has him moved him up to first his big board.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#53
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Auction Values
Fantasy football auctions give owners the chance to own any player they choose. This abundance of choice and budgeting adds an element of strategy not available in traditional draft formats. As any fantasy baseball diehard knows, very little beats a live auction with friends.

I still prefer the draft format with football, probably out of habit. But websites like FantasyAuctioneer.com are making the online auction experience better every season. Two weeks ago, I completed an auction run by Fanball with many of the industry heavyweights. The dollar values are more instructive than a draft regarding how the industry views a player. Twelve owners, instead of one, determine value.

Here are the results broken down by position. We had a $100 cap, but only had to fill a 13-player roster, including a small starting lineup (QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, TE, K).

* For more detailed player profiles, cheat sheets, rankings and everything you need to get ready for your fantasy football draft, look no further than our online Fantasy Football Draft Guide [SIZE=+1]Running Backs[/SIZE]

LaDainian Tomlinson, SD - $61
Steven Jackson, STL - $56


Many owners were willing to spend over half their salary cap on a single player. With the amount of quality values available late, I don't blame them. It's interesting that Jackson was much closer to Tomlinson in value than the number three back. Jackson is not going to last until the third pick in many drafts.

Frank Gore, SF - $44
Larry Johnson, KC - $44

www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
This looks right. We have Gore ranked ahead of LJ, regardless of his holdout status. A lot of owners see Gore closer to the group of RB1s behind, but the industry folk clearly saw a huge drop-off after the top four. This auction took place before Gore broke his hand, but that wouldn't have changed it more than a few dollars.

Shaun Alexander, SEA - $33
Joseph Addai, IND - $30
Willie Parker, PIT - $29
Rudi Johnson, CIN - $29
Travis Henry, DEN - $29


I'm surprised Alexander is getting so much play as the fifth-best fantasy pick this year, but perhaps it's because of a lack of quality options. Once aging backs start wearing down physically, they usually don't stop. Travis Henry and Rudi Johnson have more risk than owners think, but they aren't getting out of the first-round in nearly any format.

Brian Westbrook, PHI - $25
Laurence Maroney, NE - $23


We don't get a point-per-reception in this league, but it's still surprising to see a $4 drop-off to Westbrook. He's a relative bargain at that price. Maroney was seen as the last possible stud running back by this group. He still went for more dollars than any wide receiver or quarterback.

Ronnie Brown, MIA - $19
Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX - $19
Willis McGahee, BAL ? $19
Reggie Bush, NO ? $18
Cedric Benson, CHI ? $18


Benson and Jones-Drew are surprisingly $5 ahead of the next group of RB2s below. Rotoworld sees them a lot closer to Brandon Jacobs and Thomas Jones than potential RB1s like McGahee and Bush. Bush and Jones-Drew are most expensive committee backs.

Marshawn Lynch, BUF - $13
Marion Barber III, DAL ? $12
Thomas Jones, NYJ ? $11
Carnell Williams, TB ? $10
Deuce McAllister, NO - $9
Brandon Jacobs, NYG ? $8
Edgerrin James, AZ - $8
DeAngelo Williams, CAR - $8
Adrian Peterson, MIN - $8


The rest of the second running back brigade. Thomas Jones is probably the safest pick here, and comes at a bargain price. I drafted Jacobs, Peterson, Cadillac, and Norwood later to go with a loaded receiver group, proving it's possible to miss the first 20 minutes of an auction and still survive.

Edgerrin James goes in the second round in a lot of drafts, but this price better reflects his value. There will be an owner in nearly every league that believes he can recapture the magic, but he's a poor bet to be a difference-maker again. Barber went for $7 more than Julius Jones, which is a strong statement. Whether Barber is the better player or not, he's not the starter and is likely to get fewer touches.

Jamal Lewis, CLE - $7
Ahman Green, HOU - $7
Ladell Betts, WAS - $6
Jerious Norwood, ATL ? $5
LaMont Jordan, OAK ? $5
Chester Taylor, MIN ? $4
Kevin Jones, DET - $4
Julius Jones, DAL - $4
Fred Taylor, JAX - $4
Tatum Bell, DET - $4


Packers and Titans aside, these are the last of the starting running backs. Owners are betting on rebounds from overworked veterans (Lewis, Green) rather than young players trying to bounce back from poor years (Julius Jones, LaMont Jordan, Tatum Bell). We'd take the young guys, especially at these prices. Bell and Kevin Jones are going for the same cost, which is appropriate.

The auction took place before Warrick Dunn's back injury. Norwood's price would have probably gone up a few bucks.

Vernand Morency, GB - $3
Warrick Dunn, ATL ? $3
Chris Brown, TEN ? $3
Michael Turner, SD - $2
Lorenzo Booker, MIA - $2
Brandon Jackson, GB - $2
Brian Leonard, STL ? $2
Chris Henry, TEN - $2
DeShaun Foster, CAR ? $2
Michael Bush, OAK - $1
Garrett Wolfe, CHI - $1
Anthony Thomas, BUF ? $1
Leon Washington, NYJ ? $1
Tony Hunt, PHI ? $1
LenDale White, TEN ? $1


Surprising to see Chris Brown and Chris Henry go for more than LenDale White. It's another sign how depressed White's value has become.

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

Chad Johnson, CIN - $22
Steve Smith, CAR - $21


They have turned into the big two this season, but that may simply reflect Fantasy Nations' desire for consensus. There really isn't a big difference between Smith, Ocho Cinco, and the next four-to-six options.

Marvin Harrison, IND ? $18
Torry Holt, STL - $18
Terrell Owens, DAL - $16
Reggie Wayne, IND ? $16


I bought Harrison and Wayne as my starters, something I would gladly do in a draft format if I had a top-three pick, then could swipe them on the second/third-round turn. Drafting them together should increase weekly consistency, not take away from it.

T.O. is set up for a monster season and is managing to stay out of the headlines. Could he really (gasp) be maturing? With Holt, you are paying for consistency. Offseason surgery on his knee will hopefully help the late-season slowing that has bogged him down the last two years.

Marques Colston, NO - $14
Roy Williams, DET - $14
Javon Walker, DEN - $13
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CIN - $13
Lee Evans, BUF ? $13
Randy Moss, NE ? $13
Donald Driver, GB - $12
Larry Fitzgerald, AZ - $12
Andre Johnson, HOU ? $12
Anquan Boldin, AZ ? $11


It's a surprise that Colston, Walker, and Housh went for more than Fitzgerald and Boldin. Perhaps the industry is beginning to think that Ken Whisenhunt's run-first history will lead to diminished numbers from the Cardinals passing game. The difference is only a few dollars, so perhaps it doesn't mean much. And there are enough owners in every league betting on a Randy Moss comeback to make him a consistent top-15 WR pick.

Plaxico Burress, NYG - $10
Hines Ward, PIT - $9
Reggie Brown, PHI ? $8


The wideout values were surprising in this auction. Burress, Ward, and Reggie Brown make sense as the best of the WR2s, but the separation between them and some similar players (Laveranues Coles, Braylon Edwards) was worth noting. People weren't willing to pay for reserves and we only started two wide receivers.

Deion Branch, SEA - $6
Calvin Johnson, DET ? $6
Santonio Holmes, PIT - $5
Joey Galloway, TB - $5
Vincent Jackson, SD - $5
D.J. Hackett, SEA - $4
Santana Moss, NYJ - $4
Greg Jennings, GB ? $4


Owners didn't go nuts to acquire Calvin Johnson despite the hype. Deion Branch is expected to find improvement after a full offseason with the Seahawks. But will he score? The interest in Greg Jennings shows that a couple owners see him taking a big leap. Santana Moss, a top ten wideout two years ago, comes at a good value. Jackson and Hackett have emerged as "consensus sleepers" so they really aren't sleepers at all. But Hackett will still live up to his value.

Laveranues Coles, NYJ - $3
Chris Chambers, MIA - $3
Braylon Edwards, CLE - $3
Mark Clayton, BAL ? $3
Jerricho Cotchery, NYJ - $2
Bernard Berrian, CHI - $2
Devery Henderson, NO ? $2
Darrell Jackson, SF ? $2
Wes Welker, NE ? $2


Only auctions will have Darrell Jackson and Wes Welker go for the same price. Jackson is one of Rotoworld's most likely busts, and it appears we're not alone in that thinking. Once again, you don't have to pay more than $2-$3 dollars to get starting-caliber quality in an auction. Coles, Edwards, and Cotchery are our favorite values here.

Jerry Porter, OAK - $1
Donte' Stallworth, NE - $1
Troy Williamson, MIN - $1
Matt Jones, JAX - $1
Brandon Marshall, DEN ? $1
Kevin Curtis, PHI ? $1
Terry Glenn, DAL - $1
Brandon Jones, TEN ? $1
Derrick Mason, BAL ? $1


Notable players that weren't purchased: Isaac Bruce, Ronald Curry, Drew Bennett, Joe Horn, Eddie Kennison, Robert Meachem, Mike Furrey.

[SIZE=+1]Quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Peyton Manning, IND - $21


In the end, auctions don't go that differently than drafts. Manning went for less than the top eleven running backs and one wide receiver, which is roughly where he'd go in a standard draft format. He's worth it this season. The Colts are likely to have more offensive drives and they are going to need to score to keep up with their defense.

Carson Palmer, CIN - $16
Drew Brees, NO - $14
Tom Brady, NE - $13
Marc Bulger, STL ? $13


Palmer should be closer to Manning than he is to Brees/Brady/Bulger, so he comes at a fine value in this auction. Most drafts and auctions are viewing these quarterbacks as a consensus 2-5. I bought Bulger.

Donovan McNabb, PHI - $11
Jon Kitna, DET - $9


Look below and you will see a $5 cliff following Kitna, which was the most surprising value of this entire auction. Kitna should be a yardage monster this season and Rotoworld ranks him eighth at quarterback, but he's no longer a "bargain" or "sleeper" at these prices. His primary risks: The Detroit offensive line will get him killed, and how many more yards can he really get than last year's total, 4,200?

McNabb doesn't exactly come at a discount here, but Rotoworld is very high on him as the sixth quarterback because we see a serious tier drop to Romo/Kitna/Young. People want to talk about the injuries, and that has merit. But McNabb was so good last season, you could have paired him with any replacement-level pickup after the ACL tear and still had a top-three quarterback for the season.

Vince Young, TEN - $4
Philip Rivers, SD - $4
Tony Romo, DAL - $3
Matt Hasselbeck, SEA - $3


Because of the small roster sizes and starting lineups, this league was weighted heavily towards spending on top-25 studs. That left plenty of bargains at all positions. Romo and Hasselbeck probably won't win games for you most weeks, but they won't lose them either.

Brett Favre, GB -$2
Jake Delhomme, CAR - $2
Eli Manning, NYG - $2
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT - $2
Jay Cutler, DEN ? $2
Matt Leinart, AZ ? $2
J.P. Losman, BUF ? $1
Rex Grossman, CHI ? $1


In auctions, when a player is brought up is very important late in the game. Everyone ultimately gets his choice of QB2s. With the small roster sizes, many owners passed on taking a backup quarterback altogether. I'm not sure that would happen if we were playing this league out.

Michael Vick, ATL - $1

Ah, those pre-indictment days when Vick was still worth a flier.

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

Antonio Gates, SD - $14


Gates cost 350% more than the next tight end, partly because he was brought up much earlier than the rest. That said, there truly is a huge value gap that isn't reflected in most actual drafts. Gates often goes in the fourth round, while the next group starts going in the sixth round or earlier.

Tony Gonzalez, KC - $4
Vernon Davis, SF - $4
Chris Cooley, WAS - $3
Alge Crumpler, ATL - $3
Jeremy Shockey, NYG - $3
Todd Heap, BAL - $2
Ben Watson, NE - $2
Kellen Winslow, CLE ? $2


And here's that next group. There is very little separating this crew, and it's clear auction owners don't need to allocate big resources towards their starting tight end. Some of the out of the ordinary ordering here has to do with when players were brought up in the draft. Vernon Davis came early when money was flowing, Todd Heap went late. Heap has lost some of his 10-touchdown ceiling luster, but he's a better bet than the other $2 options.

Ten tight ends went between $2-$4, which says a lot about the tightly clustered group behind Antonio Gates this season.

Dallas Clark, IND - $1
Owen Daniels, HOU - $1
L.J. Smith, PHI - $1
Jason Witten, DAL - $1
Heath Miller, PIT - $1


Witten is on our undervalued list because of his fluky lack of touchdowns last year. His price in this auction underscores how overlooked he is as a late-round tight end option.

[SIZE=+1]Kickers[/SIZE]

No Kicker went for more than $1, which is a good reminder to wait until the last two rounds to take one.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#54
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Changing of the Guard
Coaches like to hand out early August depth charts as much as mid-December injury reports. But the NFL requires both, and fantasy leaguers should be grateful. While depth charts will evolve all month, they are often an indication of a changing of the guard.

That is the case in Tampa Bay, where Maurice Stovall has displaced Michael Clayton as a starting receiver. One of the best rookie receivers of the decade in 2004, Clayton's play has vanished the last two years due to injuries and a lack of separation from defenders. Jon Gruden has prepared everyone for this move for months, and just saved fantasy owners from wasting a flier pick on Clayton again.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
That pick should be used on Stovall, who is one of our favorite deep sleepers this season. He only had seven grabs as a rookie last season (all in the final three games), but a few of them were eye opening. His size and strength combination should be attractive in the red zone. He's a hard-worker with good hands. Gruden's offense has produced productive flankers dating back to Tim Brown in Oakland, and Stovall should see plenty of targets.

While dynasty league owners wonder if it's finally time to let go of Clayton, here are some more notes from around training camp ?

* Take Reggie Williams off your cheat sheets. He's been demoted to the third-team in Jacksonville, and is battling just to make the roster. While its possible Jack Del Rio is trying to motivate Williams, we think he's simply tired of waiting for development. With a new vertical offense in place and Dennis Northcutt, Ernest Wilford, Matt Jones, and promising rookie Mike Walker on board, Williams is no longer a fit.

Jones' progress is also being called into question. He's currently slated to be the team's slot receiver, which would be a disappointment in his career arc. Jones has showed up well on Sundays as a pro, but his inattention to detail and toughness has drawn the ire of the coaching staff. He still is worth a look in fantasy leagues, but is a boom-or-bust pick that should be taken as a reserve.

* Other interesting developments from the first depth charts released this week: Cecil Sapp is Denver's backup running back over Mike Bell (handcuff alert!), Alex Smith is now the starting tight end in Tampa, Luke McCown is currently Jeff Garcia's backup over Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski, Robert Ferguson may not make the Packers, and Charlie Frye will start Cleveland's preseason opener.

* Discuss all the depth chart moves on Rotoworld's Forums.

* Brady Quinn's holdout ended a week before Matt Leinart's last season. Leinart, another Tom Condon client, started for the Cardinals in Week 5. While it's not unreasonable for Quinn to follow the same path, Romeo Crennel doused some cold water on the rookie Tuesday, saying "'I have the feeling that (Quinn) was lost in the OTAs. Because that's what he was.''

The other Cleveland quarterbacks haven't stepped up in Quinn's absence, which doesn't bode well for productive seasons from Braylon Edwards, Jamal Lewis, and Kellen Winslow. Winslow is expected to play a quarter of Cleveland's first preseason, a remarkable achievement after undergoing microfracture surgery this offseason.

Two Minute Drill

Kevin Jones caught passes for the first time in his recovery and is still hopeful to be ready for Week 1. He also had some fighting words for new teammate Tatum Bell ? Brodie Croyle will start Kansas City's first preseason game this weekend. Damon Huard will start the second game on August 16. Herm Edwards should decide on a starter shortly thereafter, and Croyle will have to play poorly to lose the job ? It's early, but the reports surrounding Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson have been consistently poor during camp ? NFL Network's Adam Shefter says Josh McCown is the favorite to be Oakland's starter in Week 1. He'll start the preseason opener ? Billy Cundiff should be Atlanta's starting kicker after the team released Aaron Elling in camp.

Returning to Action

Eagles TE L.J. Smith returned to full contact practice. If he encounters no setbacks, he'll be ready to play well before Week 1 ? Last year's starting tight end in Jacksonville, George Wrighster, returned to practice this week. He's currently behind Marcedes Lewis and Jermaine Wiggins on the depth chart ? Donte' Stallworth has run with the first and second team since returning to action for the Patriots. For now, Patriots coach Bill Belichick says other receivers are ahead of him ? T.O. returned to practiced after missing a few sessions with a sore back ? Packers rookie RB Deshawn Wynn has impressed since returning to practice. He could compete for playing time right away in the wasteland of Green Bay's backfield.

Out of Action:

Randy Moss has missed five straight practices with what appears to be a hamstring injury. He's worth monitoring this month, but it's not a major concern yet ? It's been a camp filled with near misses concerning major knee injuries. Jaguars wideout Ernest Wilford and Saints All Pro LT Jammal Brown were the latest to crumple to the ground on Tuesday, only to find out later that the injuries were minor ? Priest Holmes still hasn't practiced fully in Chiefs camp. He's probably two weeks away. SI's Peter King says that many of his teammates wonder why he's at camp at all ? Giants LB Gerris Wilkinson is expected to miss 3-6 weeks, likely opening up a starting job for Kawika Mitchell ? Greg Jennings has missed some practices with a hip flexor at Packers camp.

Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler still haven't fully participated at Broncos camp. Brandon Stokley is currently listed as a starter over Marshall, who appears closer to returning ? Saints prospective third wideout David Patten has missed time with a toe injury ? Joey Porter will likely miss the preseason after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery ? Alge Crumpler, recovering from more knee surgery, remains out at Falcons camp. It's time to downgrade him towards the bottom of the second tier of tight ends.

Holdout Update

With Brady Quinn signed, only two first-round holdouts remain: Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell and Jets CB Darrelle Revis. There hasn't been much progress in either situation.

The Worst Person in Fantasy Football

It was only a matter of time before Mike Shanahan won the award. In a year where there is finally a clear starting running back in Denver (Travis Henry), Shanahan is still up to his old depth chart machinations at the backup spot. Is former fullback Cecil Sapp going to stick as Henry's handcuff? Is Shanahan just toying with Mike Bell like he did last year when Bell was temporarily inserted as the starter? Will Olandis Gary and Maurice Clarett come out of retirement to form a committee? Only The Mastermind knows.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#55
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Camp Position Battles

Wide receiver competitions dominate this week's edition of Position Battles.
If you haven't purchased the Jeff Garcia's strong training camp have made Jon Gruden's decision an easy one.

We should see some battles develop when the preseason gets into full swing this weekend. For now, let's talk wideouts.

Broncos No. 2 Receiver
Brandon Marshall v. Brandon Stokley v. Domenik Hixon


Hixon, who "redshirted" as a rookie, has made waves at camp. Coach Mike Shanahan says the 2006 fourth-round pick "has got a big future with us" and is giving him starter reps with Marshall (quads) on the mend. Stokley has played well and stands atop the depth chart, most likely because he's a veteran. He should have slot duties wrapped up, but will probably get hurt at some point coming off an Achilles' tear. Marshall needs to get on the field if he is to start in Week 1. It's bound to happen soon, but this is a battle to continue watching closely.

Predictions:
Week 1: Marshall > Stokley > Hixon
Week 8: Marshall > Stokley > Hixon
Stretch Run: Marshall > Hixon > Stokley

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Marshall, WR4 in 10-team leagues.

Saints No. 2 Receiver
Devery Henderson v. Robert Meachem v. Lance Moore


Not only did Meachem get his wig rocked by Steelers CB William Gay in Sunday's Hall of Fame Game, he looked stiff and dropped two passes, one over the middle. Meachem's reluctance to go for balls between the hashes was evident during his time at Tennessee and is one reason he doesn't project to be a true "No. 1 receiver." The job is currently all Henderson's, even though he'd best fit in the slot. David Patten recently came down with a case of turf toe, which has put him behind Terrance Copper and Moore for the No. 3 role.

Predictions:
Week 1: Henderson > Moore > Meachem
Week 8: Henderson > Moore > Meachem
Stretch Run: Henderson > Meachem > Moore

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR4 in 12-team leagues.

Jaguars No. 1 Receiver
Matt Jones v. Ernest Wilford v. Mike Walker


After seeing that his name topped the Jags' initial depth chart, Wilford suffered a minor knee injury in practice Tuesday. But he's only day-to-day and appears the favorite to start in Week 1 because of his consistent work ethic. While Jones has the biggest upside, his inability to stay on the field has the coaching staff losing patience. Reggie Williams is basically out of contention and on the roster bubble. It's Wilford's job right now and may be Walker's eventually, but most likely not until 2008. Jones will have to fend off usual slot guy Dennis Northcutt for time in two-receiver sets for the rest of the preseason, but is the best bet to start when the games matter the most because of his big-play ability.

Predictions:
Week 1: Wilford > Jones > Walker
Week 8: Jones > Wilford > Walker
Stretch Run: Jones > Wilford > Walker

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Jones, WR4 in 12-team leagues.

Chargers No. 2 Receiver
Eric Parker v. Craig Davis v. Malcom Floyd


Parker's toe surgery will sideline him for at least the first four weeks of the regular season, meaning the gig is Davis' to lose. Parker is best suited as a third-down specialist, slot receiver, and punt-return ace anyways, and the Bolts didn't draft Davis to ride the pine. Sure handed with good size and speed, Davis should start for an improved passing attack under Norv Turner. Floyd is reliable and a weapon in the red zone, but no more than a fourth receiver. Look for Davis to keep the job all year long.

Predictions:
Week 1: Davis > Floyd > Parker
Week 8: Davis > Parker > Floyd
Stretch Run: Davis > Parker > Floyd

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR5 in 10-team leagues.

Bucs No. 2 Receiver
Michael Clayton v. Maurice Stovall v. David Boston


After barely playing last season but looking plenty ready in the short time he did, Stovall overtook Clayton as the top flanker in camp. Clayton has lost several steps, possesses inconsistent hands, and is mostly a blocker at this point. Boston's strong showing thus far has him as the No. 2 split end behind Joey Galloway. Stovall is the future, however. He's smart, will catch the ball over his shoulder, excel in the red zone, and isn't going away anytime soon.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Predictions:
Week 1: Stovall > Clayton > Boston
Week 8: Stovall > Clayton > Boston
Stretch Run: Stovall > Clayton > Boston

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR5 in 12-team leagues.

Chiefs No. 2 Receiver
Dwayne Bowe v. Samie Parker v. Jeff Webb


Chris Hannon is also in the mix, but more likely to end up on the practice squad. I doubt the Chiefs will be any good this season, so I'd expect the players they have the most invested in long term to get the run late in the year. While Parker can be a fine slot option, camp reports on Webb have been mixed. Bowe should easily be part of the first unit by the time Kansas City's Week 8 bye rolls around, but after a holdout he's no lock to start the season that way. Herm Edwards is notorious for deferring to veterans and running a conservative-style offense that could make any player here negligible in shallow leagues.

Predictions:
Week 1: Parker > Bowe > Webb
Week 8: Bowe > Parker > Webb
Stretch Run: Bowe > Webb > Parker

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Bowe, WR5 in 12-team leagues

Jaguars No. 1 Tight End
Marcedes Lewis v. George Wrighster v. Jermaine Wiggins


Lewis has the job all but sewn up after an extremely disappointing rookie campaign. The 6-7/265-pounder from UCLA has separated himself from the pack and should excel in new coordinator Dirk Koetter's vertical offense. Wrighster recently came off camp/PUP and can be a useful backup with solid all-around skills. Wiggins isn't a lock to make the team but could see action when the Jags use two tight ends on obvious passing downs. He's not an efficient run blocker.

Predictions:
Week 1: Lewis > Wiggins > Wrighster
Week 8: Lewis > Wrighster > Wiggins
Stretch Run Lewis > Wrighster > Wiggins

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late-round TE2 in all leagues.

Browns No. 1 Quarterback
Charlie Frye v. Derek Anderson v. Brady Quinn


Quinn enters this race exactly one week earlier than Matt Leinart did his in Arizona a year ago. Leinart debuted in Week 4, which is right around the time Quinn should get the nod from Romeo Crennel. These predictions would've been different during minicamps, but Anderson didn't create any separation when it looked like he would. Frye, who is currently atop the depth chart, is the leading candidate to act as Quinn's placeholder to start the season. He could easily be trade bait in 2008, however, so Anderson will work well as Quinn's backup during the stretch run.

Predictions:
Week 1: Frye > Anderson > Quinn
Week 8: Quinn > Anderson > Frye
Stretch Run: Quinn > Anderson > Frye

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Only in 2-QB leagues.

Steelers No. 3 Receiver
Nate Washington v. Cedrick Wilson v. Willie Reid


Wilson has pulled ahead here with a standout Hall of Fame Game performance. He's also been running as the first-team split end with Santonio Holmes recuperating from an offseason surgical procedure. Holmes played like he was 100 percent last Sunday and Wilson isn't in the hunt to start, but it looks like he'll be a fixture in three-wide sets to begin the year. Washington is dropping passes and listed as the No. 4. I'm a believer in the Tiffin product and somewhat raw deep threat, but he's got ground to make up.

Predictions:
Week 1: Wilson > Washington > Reid
Week 8: Wilson > Washington > Reid
Stretch Run: Washington > Wilson > Reid

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR6-7 in deep leagues.

Cowboys No. 1 Placekicker
Martin Gramatica v. Nick Folk


According to one report, Folk has taken the lead in this battle. Dallas likes the idea of a big-legged youngster who could be a long-term answer at the position. As a sixth-round pick, Folk is also considerably cheaper than Gramatica. However, Folk's accuracy was nothing to write home about at Arizona and it isn't like he'll suddenly become Nate Kaeding. The safe bet is on Gramatica kicking field goals and extra points for the potential Super Bowl contenders.

Predictions:
Week 1: Gramatica > Folk
Week 8: Gramatica > Folk
Stretch Run: Gramatica > Folk

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Automatica, late-round K1 in all leagues.

Bucs Third-Down Back
Carnell Williams v. Michael Pittman v. Kenneth Darby


Coach Jon Gruden is on the record as saying he wants Cadillac to catch 60 passes this season, but that's not going to happen unless Pittman is almost completely removed from the game plan. Pittman is exceptional at what he does and one of the better all-around backups in the league. He's not going anywhere. Darby was mentioned as a competitor during minicamp season, but shouldn't make Pittman expendable before 2008.

Predictions:
Week 1: Pittman > Williams > Darby
Week 8: Pittman > Williams > Darby
Stretch Run: Pittman > Williams > Darby

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Pittman, RB5-6 in PPR leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Clarification[/SIZE]

The following are not immediately competing to start.

Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor
As much as Peterson owners and potential Peterson owners hope the stud from Oklahoma overtakes Taylor for Minnesota's starting job, it won't happen. Taylor is being paid a nice sum to start, play on third downs, and provide a change of pace. Peterson will likely get the goal-line carries and the most touches overall come season's end, but he's not pushing Chester down the depth chart until next year at the earliest.

David Martin and Courtney Anderson
Martin wasn't signed away from Green Bay to be a backup. He's a top 15 or 20 receiving tight end in the league when healthy. Anderson thinks he's competing to start, but will probably have to take a pay cut just to have a chance at the 53-man roster.

DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams
Coach John Fox is so loyal to Foster that he's likely to be Carolina's starter until he gets hurt or seriously plays his way out of the position. Foster was rarely effective last season but started every game he was active for. Williams still has a lot of work to do in blitz pickup and short yardage. In fact, Nick Goings and Brad Hoover might have the inside track on goal-line carries no matter who's starting for the Panthers. If Williams is to overtake Foster, it won't happen until about midway through the season.

Hank Baskett and Kevin Curtis
I recently heard someone predict that Baskett will end up starting over Curtis. Not happening. Curtis has a $32 million contract, the speed and smarts to expose seams in opposing secondaries, and the hands and durability that Donte` Stallworth didn't. Curtis will see action from the slot in three-receiver sets, but he'll also undoubtedly be in there when the Eagles go two-wide. Baskett is a valuable player but his skills are limited. There is a reason he wasn't drafted.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#56
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

NFC Projected Carries

During a relatively quiet week of training camp news, we decided to give you some advanced draft prep for today's Dose. We will look at projected carries across the NFC. The AFC will come on Tuesday, after your regularly scheduled dosage on Monday. Enjoy the weekend and check out my live blog of NBC's Sunday Night game.

***

Running backs don't have to play well to be valuable. They just have to get the ball enough.

Rudi Johnson is a great example from last season. Rudi averaged a mediocre 3.8 yards-per-carry on the season, and didn't help much in the passing game. The Bengals finished with their lowest yards-per-carry average in franchise history, but it didn't substantially affect his fantasy owners. Rudi still carried the ball 341 times, got his 1,300 yards and 12 scores, and put up top-ten fantasy production for the third straight year.

He lost half-a-yard per carry, which is significant in real football, but was relatively minor in fantasy football because Rudi consistently gets the ball. (Now Rudi better turn that trend around this year or risk losing touches, but that's another article).

Projected Carries thus becomes one of the most important considerations when building your rankings. That's how I start my projections each offseason ? estimate how much the team will run, then divvy up the carries. That's what we'll do in this article.

We have included the average number of carries from running backs for each NFC coach/coordinator combination at their current coaching stop as a guide. And, of course, for complete projections, and updated cheat sheets on all these backs until Week, buy our draft guide.

Arizona Cardinals
Coach: Ken Whisenhunt, Average Rushers/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 425

When Whisenhunt coordinated the Steelers with a second-year quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger), his backs ran 500 times. But the rest of the Cardinals aren't nearly as good as the Super Bowl champion Steelers, so they won't play with the lead as much.

Edgerrin James: 290
Marcel Shipp: 100
J.J. Arrington: 35

Edgerrin James still has a chance to be a high volume runner, but we expect Whisenhunt to get Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington more involved this year. The Arizona papers say Shipp is geared up to take goal-line snaps. James is also overdue to get hurt, but he's been that way for a while.


Atlanta Falcons
Coach: Bobby Petrino, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 380


The Falcons were one of the most run-heavy teams in the league under Jim Mora, but Bobby Petrino figures to be more balanced. My concern is that Joey Harrington will be so poor, the team won't have a chance to run often.

Jerious Norwood: 225
Warrick Dunn: 110
Jason Snelling: 45

Dunn's back surgery opens the door for Norwood to be a lead back. But Norwood is hardly a pounding running back and struggled with minor injuries in the past. He should get enough work to be very good in fantasy leagues if he maintains a high average, and possibly great if his teammates help. Dunn should slide into a third down role.

Carolina Panthers
Coach John Fox, Average Rushes/Year: 428
Projected Rushing Attempts: 415


Carolina likes to run, even when they aren't very good at it. Former Patriots assistant Jeff Davidson may pass more than his predecessor Dan Henning, but they should remain a run-heavy team.

DeAngelo Williams: 200
DeShaun Foster: 160
Eric Shelton: 30
Nick Goings: 25

It's a mystery how Carolina will use Williams this year after he received inconsistent touches last season. But he's more talented and versatile than Foster, so we look for Williams to pass him before long. We also project Williams to get 20 more catches than Foster, so their values are not that close. It will be interesting to see if Shelton gets out of the doghouse with Henning gone. The early indications are no.

Chicago Bears
Coach: Lovie Smith, Average Rushes/Year: 432
Projected Rushing Attempts: 450


Lovie Smith has averaged over 470 rushing attempts from his running backs the last two years, which is more indicative of how Chicago should look this season with a solid team coming back.

Cedric Benson: 310
Adrian Peterson: 95
Garrett Wolfe: 45

It's hard to keep Benson down in projections, no matter how much we have concerns about his consistency. Only durability issues keep him from a higher projection. Benson, like Rudi Johnson last year, is one of those players that may not have to play well to be quite valuable in fantasy leagues. Since the Bears run so much (and pass to their backs), Adrian Peterson is a great sleeper in drafts if he clearly wins the backup/third-down job over Garrett Wolfe. It's looking that way early in camp.

Dallas Cowboys
Coach: Wade Phillips, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected Rushing Attempts: 400


Wade Phillips skewed heavily towards the run in Buffalo, but was balanced at his other head coaching stops. That indicates he'll go with what the personnel dictates, so look for more balance in Dallas.

Julius Jones: 230
Marion Barber: 160
Assorted Flotsam: 10

The Cowboys are very difficult to project, but Jones is holding down the starting job for now. That means he should get significantly more carries, and may be undervalued in fantasy leagues, at least in relation to Barber. Since Barber will play more on third downs, their touches will inch closer. Last year, Jones had 276 touches, Barber had 158.

Detroit Lions
Coach: Rod Marinelli, Average Rushes/Year: 270
Projected Rushing Attempts: 325


This is a Mike Martz offense. And Mike Martz offenses aren't going to run very often unless they have a big lead, which the Lions rarely do. Detroit should run more this season, but they will still be among the league trailers in rushing attempts.

Tatum Bell: 125
Kevin Jones: 120
T.J. Duckett: 60
Brian Calhoun: 20

The paucity of attempts and the uncertain situation in Detroit makes Jones and Bell shaky fantasy picks. Jones will earn most of the work when he's fully healthy, but there's no telling when that will be. The Lions will probably ease him back into the mix. The receiving numbers will help the Lions' values, but not enough.

Green Bay Packers
Coach: Mike McCarthy, Average Carries/Year: 396
Projected Rushing Attempts: 375


Green Bay was around the league average for attempts with Ahman Green. That number could drop slightly because of the shaky talent currently in the backfield.

Brandon Jackson: 170
Vernand Morency: 130
Assorted Flotsam: 75

We have been high on Jackson throughout the offseason because of his opportunity. With Vernand Morency's knee hurting, Jackson is getting all the first-team reps. The early practice reports have been mixed, and there are serious doubts whether Jackson can handle a big role. We've adjusted during camp, and given more carries to whoever emerges from the P.J. Pope/Noah Herron/Dexter Wynn battle royale. Wynn has the most upside of that group, and Jackson has the best chance to emerge overall, but this looks like a committee waiting to happen.

Minnesota Vikings
Coach: Brad Childress, Average Rushes/Year: 393
Projected Rushing Attempts: 375


Brad Childress leans more towards the run than his mentor Andy Reid and this team is geared up for a high percentage of carries because of their offensive line. Tarvaris Jackson threatens to limit the overall carries if he can't move the chains.

Adrian Peterson: 220
Chester Taylor: 150
Mewelde Moore: 25

Minnesota's situation is not unlike Indianapolis' last season, except Adrian Peterson is far more talented than Joseph Addai. Peterson may start on the bench and give way to Taylor on passing downs, but he should be the dominant half of this committee before long. Peterson should get the ball in the red zone. I suspect the split will be close enough to frustrate fantasy owners.

New Orleans Saints
Coach: Sean Payton, Average Rushes/Year: 427
Projected Rushing Attempts: 405


Sean Payton is a pass-first coach, so the Saints' overall carries could drop if this season isn't as magically delicious. Reggie Bush is better insulated as a fantasy option than Deuce McAllister because half of his value comes on passing downs.

Reggie Bush: 175
Deuce McAllister: 215
Aaron Stecker/Antonio Pittman: 25

Bush learned how to run against NFL defenses during the middle of last season. His role is likely to grow this season, and it has to come at the expense of someone. Deuce's carries are likely to go down. When you factor in Bush's receiving yards, he's easily more valuable.

New York Giants
Coach: Tom Coughlin, Average Rushes/Year: 418
Projected Rushing Attempts: 425


Tom Coughlin's Giants teams run more than average, especially the last two years when Eli Manning has been a passable quarterback. That trend should continue even with Tiki Barber gone.

Brandon Jacobs: 275
Reuben Droughns: 100
Ahmad Bradshaw: 50
Jacobs will probably beat these projected carries if he can hold up as a starting running back for the first time. There aren't many running backs in NFL history his size that have, but there aren't many running backs his size in NFL history period. Droughns isn't going to get the committee-like carries some are expecting, and rookie Bradshaw may play a role on third downs.

Philadelphia Eagles
Coach: Andy Reid, Average Rushes/Year: 334
Projected Rushing Attempts: 350


Andy Reid ran more last season after Donovan McNabb was hurt. He says he wants to balance the offense better, but Andy Reid often talks dreamily of the running game in the summer, only to pass 35 times after halftime in November. His version of "balance" will still be pass-heavy.

Brian Westbrook: 225
Tony Hunt: 65
Correll Buckhalter: 60

Reid's passing proclivity doesn't affect Brian Westbrook, similar to Reggie Bush. We could see Westbrook's rushing attempts declining slightly, but his receiving numbers will remain elite. Correll Buckhalter and rookie Tony Hunt will be scrounging for scraps.

San Francisco 49ers
Coach: Mike Nolan, Average Rushes/Year: 373
Projected Rushing Attempts: 410


The 49ers have run the ball quite a bit under Mike Nolan considering how poor their passing offense has been. If the 49ers are average overall on offense, they should get above the league average in attempts.

Frank Gore: 330
Michael Robinson: 60
Maurice Hicks: 20

Gore is going to be a high-volume runner if he stays healthy. This is the biggest talent gap between starter and reserves in the NFC. The 49ers lose too much by taking Gore off the field. Rookie Thomas Clayton has a chance to get into the mix, as the reserve roles have yet to be defined.

Seattle Seahawks
Coach: Mike Holmgren, Average Rushes/Year: 407
Projected Rushing Attempts: 420


Mike Holmgren is known for his passing, but the fast pace of the Seattle offenses leads to a lot of plays, especially rushing attempts. Seattle has actually averaged 450 carries from their running backs the last three years, among the highest in the NFL.

Shaun Alexander: 300
Maurice Morris: 105
Assorted Flotsam: 15

Alexander is a runner that doesn't have to play well to be worth a first-round pick in fantasy leagues. He simply has to stay healthy. Mike Holmgren is going to ride his starter until he breaks. Check out Alexander's ridiculous 228 attempts in only eight games (including the playoffs) after returning from a broken foot last season. That volume makes up for one of the lowest averages in the league and a total lack of receiving yards. Our concern is that Alexander has been worked too hard and is likely to miss game time. Morris isn't an inspiring backup, but he'll probably get a start or two.

St. Louis Rams
Coach: Scott Linehan, Average Rushes/Year: 396
Projected Rushing Attempts: 390

The Rams are a pass-heavy team, especially inside the red zone. But their poor defense led to a lot of plays overall, so their rushing attempts were average.

Steven Jackson: 325
Brian Leonard: 65

Once you factor in his receptions, Jackson had nearly as many touches as Larry Johnson last season. Look for that number to decline with improved receiving options in St. Louis and a superior backup in Leonard. Even with a moderate decline in touches, Jackson should be among the top workhorses in the league.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coach: Jon Gruden, Average Rushes/Year: 376
Projected Rushing Attempts: 380

Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Jon Gruden likes to run more than his reputation would suggest. He just needs to see production. His 2005 division championship team ran 422 times.

Carnell Williams: 285
Michael Pittman: 65
B.J. Askew: 20
Kenneth Darby: 10

Jon Gruden has never coached a 300-carry back, although Williams got the closest with 290 in his rookie season. Cadillac Williams has a chance to pick up more third-down and goal line work this season, especially following Mike Alstott's retirement. An improved passing game would help his rushing totals by keeping drives alive. Once again it comes down to health.

Caddy is going to outperform his Average Draft Position by leaps and bounds if he stays on the field. That's a guarantee.

Washington Redskins
Coach: Joe Gibbs, Average Rushes/Year: 443
Projected Rushing Attempts: 450


We are only counting Gibbs' return to the NFL in the numbers. Good teams run more, so it's remarkable Gibbs has averaged so many carries despite a 21-27 record since returning to the NFL. Imagine what they will do if they are any good. Joe Gibbs has the personnel to run wild this season. If the Redskins can stay around .500, it wouldn't surprise me if they lead the league in rushing attempts.

Clinton Portis: 250
Ladell Betts: 165
Rock Cartwright: 35

The run-heavy system helps explain why we project both Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts to have significant value this season. It's the rare backfield with enough carries to go around. Based on camp thus far, I have adjusted these numbers closer in recent days. We will continue to even out the carries in camp if Portis continues to struggle with injuries, but don't go overboard. If Portis is right, this shouldn't be a committee.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#57
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Don't forget that RB handcuff
We love fantasy football, in part, because we can sit in our comfortable air conditioning and experience some sort of team-building glory.

That does not mean that we always are spared a punch to the gut ? a figurative blow that often comes at the expense of a real player's actual pain. Anybody who has ever opened their e-mail or the newspaper to learn about a star player's season-ending injury knows this pain. Yet losing the heart of your team does not have to be that bad or as harmful to your season as the stud who went down.

'Tis the season for the handcuff. Knowing when (and whom) to pick as a backup to your star can be a season saver. If Priest Holmes was your top pick in 2005, hopefully you knew enough to grab Larry Johnson. After Holmes went down with a neck injury, you would have had 143.8 rushing yards a game, eight consecutive 100-yard efforts and 14 TDs from Johnson. Or last year, if you took Ladell Betts behind Clinton Portis, you would have wound up with the NFL's No. 13 rusher, even though Betts was the man for only eight games.

Of course, you must tread a fine line between players who have a chance to hit it big and guys who are simply backups. If Steven Jackson were injured, there might be a stampede to add Travis Minor. What's that worth, really? Some of the following hot spots, however, might create stars.

Michael Turner, San Diego Chargers. He clearly is the cream of this crop, as evidenced by his career mark of 6.0 yards a carry and the interest he generated from other teams this offseason. Turner has increased his carries and yards over each of his three seasons, but starter LaDainian Tomlinson has missed one game in his six-year career. Because of Turner's success in limited time and the potential of being the starter in the high-powered offense, he should be one of the first backups taken. If you land Tomlinson, you will start thinking about insuring yourself with Turner as early as the seventh or eighth round.

Ladell Betts, Washington Redskins. One of the few non-starters who might go before Turner is Betts, who could see regular time given how well he played last year. And with Portis already missing time because of knee tendinitis, Betts' playing time could come soon. He could go as early as the sixth or seventh round.

Priest Holmes, Kolby Smith, Michael Bennett, Kansas City Chiefs. Great spy thrillers don't have as much intrigue as this spot. Holmes is coming back after missing nearly two years, starter Larry Johnson is holding out and the Chiefs say they like what they see from rookie Smith. Bennett's talent has always been tantalizing but his injuries myriad. The Chiefs also are trying to hold on to the remnants of their line and are unsettled at quarterback. What to do? Try waiting. It is difficult to see Holmes or Smith in meaningful roles, just as it is tough to imagine the Chiefs not paying Johnson. Regardless, Johnson is so valuable and the Chiefs lean on him so heavily that you need to get Johnson's backup, whoever it is.

Adrian Peterson, Chicago Bears. You'll have to call him the "other" Adrian Peterson when you draft him, but you will wind up with a solid, unheralded runner who will back up enigmatic Cedric Benson. You'd be crazy to think Benson is a lock to have a big season despite a few shining moments last year. The Bears dealt Thomas Jones and drafted Garrett Wolfe, but Wolfe missed training camp time with a hamstring injury and probably will be behind Peterson. Save yourself sleepless nights and nab Peterson late if Benson is your starter.

Maurice Morris, Seattle Seahawks. After doing little in his first four seasons, Morris responded reasonably well during Shaun Alexander's absence in 2006. Alexander is nearing 30 and trying to rebound from foot problems, so Morris could be called on again. His biggest problem? He couldn't find the end zone.

Leon Washington, New York Jets. The Jets brought in Thomas Jones to be their featured runner, so do not think Washington will get much of a chance to build on a strong rookie season. Jones also has missed only three games over the last four years, though Washington showed he could handle a lot of work by rushing for 100 yards in each of his two games with at least 20 carries last year.

Reuben Droughns, New York Giants. Don't be surprised if he is not really a backup, but he gets on this list because starter Brandon Jacobs is unproven in a feature role. Droughns has some value as a move-the-chains guy, though he will not break many big plays and won't sniff the end zone as long as Jacobs can walk.

Dominic Rhodes, Oakland Raiders. If he were not suspended for the first four games, Rhodes already would be pushing starter LaMont Jordan, who has had two disappointing and injury-prone seasons. Rhodes ought to see substantial time, though the suspension throws his value for a loop. He deserves to go before other true backups but after other guys in split-time situations. But Oakland is such a mess that you could draft all its backs and not wind up with a single valuable one. If you're stuck with Jordan, you might as well go after Rhodes.

Ron Dayne, Houston Texans. This is one of those picks you mutter under your breath, because you're bound to get snickers when you say his name. But remember that Dayne was a good player over a four-game stretch in December when he scored five times and averaged 107.3 rushing yards. And starter Ahman Green is not getting any younger or more durable. Dayne's reputation is still so bad you ought to be able to grab him late.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Lorenzo Booker, Miami Dolphins. They plan to use Booker much like the Jets did with Leon Washington last year and hope Booker can be an explosive, change-of-pace runner. They also plan to give starter Ronnie Brown considerably more than the 16 carries he averaged in his first two seasons, which would put Brown at greater risk of injury. Booker is a bit of a hot sleeper, and you might have to jump on him sooner than you really should, perhaps around the 10th or 11th round.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#58
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Quarterback Quandaries
Four NFL teams entered the preseason without a clear starting quarterback: Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, and Miami. After an ugly first weekend of quarterback play, each team is still searching. And running out of time.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
The Chiefs want Brodie Croyle to win their job, but he imploded. Among his first plays were a near interception, a fumble, and then a comically bad decision on a pick that Rex Grossman would have laughed at. If you watched the first episode of Hard Knocks (highly recommended), you know that Croyle is a gunslinger. His bullets were wild against the Browns.

Croyle is reportedly a great practice player, but he's been overmatched in live action as a pro this year and last. Damon Huard also threw an interception in limited work, but this battle is more about Croyle. He needs to step up next week, but will be coming off the bench.

Croyle has inexperience as an excuse, but his old teammate Trent Green has no such luxury. The 37-year-old former Chief looked shell-shocked in a 6-for-15 performance that included two sacks, an interception, many fluttery passes, and some early boos from the Miami faithless. His protection was abysmal, but that may also be the case in the regular season. Cleo Lemon will get a chance to start Miami's second preseason game, and could make this race interesting with a big effort.

The Browns hoped to name a starting quarterback by now, but Derek Anderson and Charlie Frye won't allow it. Frye outplayed Anderson in the first preseason game, but that's not saying much. Frye only led the Browns to three points, while a lateral pass he threw was returned for an interception. Frye has a reputation as a heady quarterback, but made two huge mental mistakes that affected the scoreboard. Still, he looks like the slight favorite because Anderson did even less.

Oakland is the most confusing situation. Daunte Culpepper has more upside than Josh McCown and Andrew Walter, but he has a long way to go. Playing with the third team, Culpepper fumbled twice in his first three plays as a Raider. The other quarterbacks played better. After joining the Raiders so late, Culpepper may wind up competing with JaMarcus Russell to be an in-season replacement.

While receivers across the AFC wonder who will throw them the damn ball, here are some more notes from around training camp ?

* Bengals second-round pick RB Kenny Irons will miss the season with a torn ACL. He was one of our favorite "handcuff" options in fantasy leagues because of the team's explosive offense. That honor may wind up belonging to Kenny Watson, but we need to see how the situation shakes out. Third running back Quincy Wilson may also get a chance to step up and the Bengals could claim someone off waivers. Whoever wins the job should catch at least 30 passes and provide great insurance for Rudi owners. Johnson should be happy, as he may be asked to pick up some extra work.

* Warrick Dunn made a surprisingly fast return to practice with the Falcons Monday morning, only three weeks after undergoing back surgery. The key is whether Dunn can stay healthy after a rough offseason. The Falcons will be careful with his workload, and he's likely to be the lesser half of a committee with Jerious Norwood. We'd still stay away.

* I didn't include Minnesota's situation in my quarterback quandaries because Tarvaris Jackson has all but sewn up the job. After a training camp filled with negative practice reports, Jackson was composed and efficient in his first preseason game. While we're not optimistic that will keep up in the regular season, Jackson is expected to start the second preseason game as well and his "competition" with Brooks Bollinger should end soon.

* It was a huge thrill to hear Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels plug Rotoworld's draft guide during Sunday night's telecast. We've come a long way. We also have a commercial that has been running nationally on NBC over the last week. Let us know what you think.

* Thomas Jones crumpled to the ground during Jets practice Sunday, scaring many onlookers. While he had his ankle taped and an air cast put around his leg, Jones didn't go for x-rays or hit the locker-room after the injury. It's probably minor, but you never know.

Two Minute Drill

Roddy White started over Michael Jenkins in Atlanta's first preseason game. His speed fits Bobby Petrino's offense well. We'd stay far away from Jenkins and take a look at White in deep leagues ? Mike Bell has reclaimed his backup running back job in Denver over Cecil Sapp ? Mike Williams took a big step towards making the Raiders, making a key first down conversion and catching a touchdown early in the game for Oakland ? Michael Pittman started at fullback in Tampa's preseason opener. It may not affect his value because Mike Alstott caught a lot of passes. Rookie Kenneth Darby may be in the mix more, however, if Carnell Williams is hurt.

In a surprise, David Boston started over Maurice Stovall for the Bucs' first preseason game. Stovall is still the favorite to be the Week 1 starter ? Free agent DE Simeon Rice visited with the Rams, but doesn't appear close to signing ? Mike Anderson is currently ahead of Musa Smith on the depth chart in Baltimore ? Eric Moulds started opposite Brandon Jones in Tennessee's first game.

Returning to Action

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan made Brandon Marshall return to practice last Friday after sitting out the first two weeks with a quadriceps injury. "I was shocked. I was scared. But I guess that's what it takes," Marshall said. Um, yeah. Welcome to the NFL. Marshall has plenty of time to win the starting job if he encounters no setbacks.

Randy Moss participated in Patriots practice Sunday. It was only a walk-through, but that's a sign of progress from last week. Ben Watson also returned for the light work, and appears almost ready for full contact practice ? Michael Clayton returned to Bucs practice. He's running out of time to win back his starting job.

Out of Action

Kevin Jones, despite a lot of hot air, still doesn't look close to being ready to practice for the Lions. It would be a surprise if he was active for Week 1 ? Further tests on Clinton Portis' knee didn't reveal anything new. He hopes to return to practice next week ? DeAngelo Williams sat out Carolina's preseason opener with a minor ankle injury. Rookie Dwayne Jarrett also sat out. Both are worth monitoring ? A few more starters were lost for the season this weekend, but not at fantasy positions. The Cardinals are expected to lose OLB Chike Okeafor and RT Oliver Ross. That won't help their shaky offensive line. Houston lost starting strong safety Glenn Earl, so teammate C.C. Brown will slide over into his position. The Browns also lost backup LB Matt Stewart for the year, in addition to Willie McGinest for the next six weeks.

Holdout Update

JaMarcus Russell and Jets CB Darrelle Revis remain the only two rookies sitting out. At least the Jets are talking to Revis' agents again.

Larry Johnson and the Chiefs are reportedly making progress in contract talks. We'd be shocked if he's not with the team two weeks before the season starts ?

The Worst Person in Fantasy Football

Romeo Crennel has dealt with a lot of bad luck as coach of the Browns, and that has continued with a number of injuries in training camp. But his handling of the team's quarterback situation is on him.

Crennel had five months to evaluate his starting quarterbacks, yet he felt the need to bring them to his office for a coin flip to decide the preseason starter. Charlie Frye won ? sort of. Frye and Derek Anderson traded series throughout the first half, and unsurprisingly struggled to find a rhythm. Why create artificial situations that aren't conducive to success?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#59
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

AFC ProjecAFC Projected Carries
Last week, we projected the carries for every NFC running back. Now let's look at the coaches and runners in the AFC. Remember, the average rushes per year for each coach is only at their current job. We are only counting attempts from running backs.ted Carries

Last week, we projected the carries for every NFC running back. Now let's look at the coaches and runners in the AFC. Remember, the average rushes per year for each coach is only at their current job. We are only counting attempts from running backs.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Baltimore Ravens
Coach: Brian Billick, Average Rushes/Year: 427
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 415


Billick has a reputation for passing, but he loves to pound the football. Last year's 405 carries from his backs was actually the third lowest total in his eight years despite a 13-3 record. He could more with Willis McGahee in town.

Willis McGahee: 325
Mike Anderson: 55
Musa Smith: 35

McGahee, like Jamal Lewis in recent years, probably won't have to play well to get a lot of carries. He struggled with a big workload early last year, but he should be among the league leaders in attempts if healthy. It makes him safer than most RB2s, even if his talent is questionable. I flip-flopped Anderson and Smith recently because of camp reports. Smith is more likely to get passing down work, though.

Buffalo Bills
Coach: Dick Jauron, Average Rushes/Year: 368
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 380


Jauron still leans run, but he's not quite as conservative as he was in Chicago. Offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild's has a lot to do with that. This team would ideally be balanced. Jauron consistently says he wants to use a running back by committee this season, and we believe him to a degree.

Marshawn Lynch: 245
Anthony Thomas: 90
Dwayne Wright: 45

Difficult team to project. I see the Buffalo backups getting more carries than the average reserves, but Lynch's talent should win out over time. Don't be shocked, though, if the Bills run something similar to a Joseph Addai/Dominic Rhodes situation at the beginning of the season. Lynch could be slightly overheated in fantasy leagues if he's not a workhorse as a rookie.

** For a look at our running back cheatsheets, check out our online draft guide. Or watch Tiffan and I talk about them on the Fantasy Fix.

Cincinnati Bengals
Coach: Marvin Lewis, Average Rushes/Year: 404
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 410


The Bengals, like the Colts, pass to set up the run. Their attempts will wind up being average, but they don't run often in the first half. Rudi Johnson gets his carries when they are holding on to victories.

Rudi Johnson: 330
Kenny Watson: 55
Quincy Wilson: 25

Rudi was my example of a player who has great value even when he's not playing well. None of Rudi's backups have topped 61 carries since Corey Dillon left town. The Bengals drafted Kenny Irons to help share the load, but Irons' season-ending injury has Cincy searching again. Don't be surprised if the team uses the waiver wire later in the month to pick up a back like Kevan Barlow. Chris Perry's status is a total mystery, but I'm not expecting him to make an impact.

Cleveland Browns
Coach: Romeo Crennel, Average Rushes/Year: 334
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 350


The Browns have been near the bottom of the league in rushing attempts under Romeo Crennel. That is a reflection of the poor overall offense instead of a true pass-first mindset. The Browns would like to run more this season, but it's unlikely they will be effective enough to do so consistently.

Jamal Lewis: 235
Jason Wright: 60
Jerome Harrison: 55

Lewis' projection could be low, but we just can't support drafting a player who has performed like he has the last two years. Offseason puff pieces aside, there's no reason to think he'll suddenly turn back the clock. Harrison will play third downs and has some sleeper potential. He's had a strong offseason.

Denver Broncos
Coach: Mike Shanahan, Average Rushes/Year: 438
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts:
450

I decided to average the post-Elway years only. Denver has skewed more heavily towards the run than ever in recent seasons, perhaps because of the lack of an elite starting quarterback. They topped 450 carries in the three years before 2006, and still topped 425 last season despite below-average results.

Travis Henry: 295
Mike Bell: 115
Cecil Sapp: 40

Henry has only started 16 games in his career once, although he only missed one game to injury in both 2003 and 2006. There is potential for 350 carries, but we don't believe Henry will get there. Mike Shanahan can be fickle with playing time. Mike Bell, after winning back the No. 2 job, is our favorite true backup in fantasy football because of Denver's high attempt totals.

Houston Texans
Coach: Gary Kubiak, Average Rushes/Year: 365
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 375


The Texans were balanced in Gary Kubiak's first season as a head coach. The team was more effective running, like many of the teams Kubiak coordinated in Denver.

Ahman Green: 225
Ron Dayne: 100
Samkon Gado: 25
Wali Lundy: 25

It's difficult to build injury risk into projections, but it would be foolish to ignore Ahman Green's risk at age 30. He noticeably wore down late last season and hasn't topped 266 carries in the last three seasons. Kubiak knows this and will get his backups involved more than most teams.

Indianapolis Colts
Coach: Tony Dungy, Average Rushes/Year: 407
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 410


Peyton Manning certainly helps the Indy rushing game, but he can work against a high attempt total. The team passes in the first half to set up the run. And opposing offenses limit the Colts' drives by milking the clock. That leads to an average rush total for the Colts, although they are highly effective.

Joseph Addai 305
DeDe Dorsey: 90
Assorted Flotsam: 15

Last season was the first in the Tony Dungy era that he employed a running back committee. Joseph Addai hasn't been a primary back before, so the Colts should be conscious of overworking him. Addai has a huge role on third downs and should top 350 touches with ease. He can be a top-five player with that total, but 400-450 touches is a stretch. Dorsey remains one of our favorite deep sleepers.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Coach: Jack Del Rio, Average Rushes/Year: 423
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 440


Jack Del Rio teams run early and often. His average is especially impressive considering the Jacksonville offense hasn't excelled during his coaching reign. They hit 444 carries from running backs last year with an 8-8 squad. The Jaguars should be among the league leaders in attempts.

Fred Taylor: 200
Maurice Jones-Drew: 180
Greg Jones: 40
Assorted Flotsam: 20

They aren't paying Fred Taylor $5 million to climb the all-time rushing list. He's going to have a bigger role than Mo-Jo owners want to admit. Jones-Drew will get much of his value from his work on third downs and the goal line. He better hope Greg Jones doesn't become a vulture.

Kansas City Chiefs
Coach: Herm Edwards, Average Rushes/Year: 470
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 440


It's no surprise that Herm Edwards coached a running back to the all-time rushing attempts record. His old Jets teams were among the slowest paced units in recent NFL history. The Chiefs will remain run-heavy this season, but an overall offensive decline will hurt their total.

Larry Johnson: 320
Michael Bennett: 70
Kolby Smith: 50

I see the Chiefs running attack playing out in one of three ways.

1. Herm Edwards could keep up Johnson's pace from last year and LJ will break down.
2. Herm Edwards could get the backups more involved starting in Week 1 and LJ could stay healthy.
3. Herm Edwards could get the backups more involved and LJ could get hurt anyway.

No matter how you slice it, Johnson's attempts should decline significantly. And so will his fantasy value.

Miami Dolphins
Coach: Cam Cameron, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 360


Cameron's teams in San Diego were run-first enterprises, but not always aggressively so when the game was close. It's unlikely Cameron has the offensive line to push people around this year and pile up rushing attempts.

Ronnie Brown: 280
Lorenzo Booker: 65
Jesse Chatman: 15

Brown should set a career high in attempts this year, but the Miami offense may keep him under 300. Booker is likely to help on third downs.

New England Patriots
Coach: Bill Belichick, Average Rushes/Year: 405
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 440


The Patriots are a pass-first team, but their rushing game benefits from their consistently effective passing attack. They have averaged 430 attempts the last four years, which is a good indicator for 2007.

Laurence Maroney: 285
Sammy Morris: 100
Kevin Faulk: 35
Heath Evans: 20

The Patriots like to spread the ball around, especially in the red zone. That could limit Maroney's carries somewhat. They won't overwork him like Corey Dillon in 2004. But Maroney will be fine (say it with me) if he stays healthy. If Maroney gets hurt, Morris, Faulk, and Evans would all get a taste.

New York Jets
Coach: Eric Mangini, Average Rushes/Year: 426
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 400


The Jets ran the ball a ton considering how ineffective they were (3.54 YPC). I suspect that was in part to shorten games and keep their rush defense off the field.

Thomas Jones: 260
Leon Washington: 110
Assorted Flotsam: 30

I might be guilty of overrating Washington. But Thomas Jones has proven more effective with fewer carries, and Washington's excellent rookie season is worth of 6-10 carries a game. The Jets should share the ball to maximize their offense, and I suspect they will. His recent calf strain is not a serious concern.

Oakland Raiders
Coach: Lane Kiffin, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 360


The Raiders want to run, but will they be effective enough? Lane Kiffin used a committee at USC, and it looks like he'll go that route again when he has enough bodies.

LaMont Jordan: 195
Dominic Rhodes: 100
Michael Bush: 50
Justin Fargas: 25

Jordan's total is buoyed by the first month of the season when Rhodes is on suspension. The schedule is favorable early, so Jordan could earn lead back status with some good numbers. He's the best pro of this group. Bush's status is unknown, but I'd be shocked if he played during the first half of the season. He hasn't fully practiced as a pro, and we've heard nothing optimistic this month.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Coach: Mike Tomlin, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 415


Reading the tealeaves in Pittsburgh, the Steelers won't as run-heavy under Mike Tomlin and coordinator Bruce Arians as they were under Bill Cowher. Few teams are. Look for the Steelers to run plenty, but nothing like the 2004-2005 Steelers.

Willie Parker: 320
Najeh Davenport: 75
Verron Haynes/Kevan Barlow: 20

Parker has a chance to be among the league leaders in carries. Despite his boom-or-bust tendencies, he doesn't have much downside in fantasy leagues because of his job security. Davenport may play a big role on third downs, but he isn't expected to get many early-down carries.

San Diego Chargers
Coach: Norv Turner, Average Rushes/Year: N/A
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 450


Turner has a great reputation as a quarterback teacher and fantasy running back enabler, but his history as a head coach is decidedly average on offense. His Washington teams skewed run slightly, but his Oakland teams were forced to rely on the pass. The Chargers had 461 carries from their backs last season.

LaDainian Tomlinson: 335
Michael Turner: 90
Darren Sproles: 25

Perhaps Tomlinson's most underrated trait is his durability. He's finished among the top-six in rushing attempts in five of the last six years. There has been no indication that Michael Turner will have a bigger role this season.

Tennessee Titans
Coach: Jeff Fisher, Average Rushes/Year: 400
Projected 2007 Rushing Attempts: 385


I think of Jeff Fisher as a run-heavy coach, but the numbers don't always back it up. Since Eddie George retired, the Titans have averaged 370 carries a year. That number has a lot do with Tennessee's poor offense overall. They were third in the league in rush percentage in the first half of games last season, according to FootballOutsiders.com.

LenDale White: 205
Chris Brown: 115
Chris Henry: 60

Rotoworld has been driving the LenDale White bandwagon all offseason. Unfortunately, LenDale is on it or it would go faster. (With that, I swear to retire all LenWhale fat jokes).

You aren't going to find a higher upside selection than White for a RB3 in the sixth round or later. His Average Draft Position is starting to improve with Henry clearly lagging behind Brown and White in camp. Henry had a nice preseason game against third-stringers, but that's not a big concern. The Titans know what Brown can do, and would rather White take charge of this job. For the right price, we're gambling he does just that.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#60
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

McNabb Ready to Return
After the wall-to-wall coverage of Carson Palmer's ACL recovery last year, it's surprising that news surrounding Donovan McNabb's rehab has stayed beneath the headlines ? at least outside of Philadelphia. McNabb will return to the game action Friday against the Panthers, and the night represents a huge moment for number five and his prospective fantasy owners.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
McNabb's mobility won't be all the way back this year, but his rushing yards were already waning. I'm more concerned about his accuracy. Palmer was definitely affected last year, although he had a shorter recovery time. McNabb has struggled at times throughout his career with accuracy, and the injury could throw off his timing.

Watch McNabb closely over the next two weeks. If he looks healthy and accurate, McNabb will be one of the best quarterback values in fantasy leagues. In most drafts, he's going to be the best, last elite quarterback available.

While Mama McNabb prepares a blog entry about Donovan's successful return, here are some other notes from around training camp ?

* Larry Johnson and the Chiefs are getting closer on a contract agreement, and it comes at a predictable time. The team are readying to head back to Kansas City for practices after slumming it at a college in River Falls, Wisconsin. It looks like Johnson will be signed and practicing by next week and ready for the season.

He might actually get back on the field faster than Priest Holmes, who is still at least a week away. Holmes' chances of making the Chiefs are virtually nil. Herm Edwards said that Holmes will probably suit up for Kansas City's final preseason game, which we're guessing is the final time we'll see Holmes in a Chiefs uniform. It would end one of the most ill conceived comebacks in memory.

* We have video season previews this week on the Fix for quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers.

* I have noticed that rookie Raiders running back Michael Bush is among Fantasy Nation's favorite sleeper picks this year. On the surface, it makes sense. Bush was a beast at Louisville and the Oakland backfield has a lot of questions. There's only one problem with this thinking: Bush is recovering from a devastating leg injury and may not play this season.

Bush encountered a setback in his recovery from multiple surgeries on his broken leg and doesn't appear close to practicing fully with the team. Members within the Raiders believe he may wind up on I.R. Rookies are generally worth avoiding in fantasy leagues because of their risk. There's no point betting on someone that may not play at all. Especially one that plays for the Raiders.

* Let's pause for a moment of silence for the overlooked victims in the Michael Vick case: his keeper league owners. It sure looks like Vick's legal saga will end by Friday, when he is expected to reach a plea agreement with the federal government. A jail sentence would follow, then a league suspension, so we're likely looking at a couple years at least before he returns. I think he makes it back to the NFL. Talent always gets a second chance in the end. Why do you think the Titans haven't released Pacman Jones yet?

Two Minute Drill

Mlive.com's Tom Kowalski, writing for Sporting News, says the Kevin Jones is likely to end up on the PUP list to start the year. We'd draft accordingly until we hear otherwise ? It looks like the Bucs will release Chris Simms or placed on injured reserve. He may spend the 2007 out of football as he tries to get healthy ? DeAngelo Williams and Dwayne Jarrett returned to practice for the Panthers ... Terrance Copper, David Patten, and Lance Moore are all pushing for the number three receiver role in New Orleans. Noticeably absent from the discussion: rookie first-round pick Robert Meachem. He will climb the list in time, but we wouldn't waste a 12-team redraft selection on him ? Julius Jones has worked during goal line and third-down situations more during camp. While the Cowboys will go committee this season, Jones' fantasy value will soar if he catches a few more passes and gets the ball occasionally on the goal line.

Ashley Lelie was the sixth 49er receiver to enter their first preseason game. While we expect him to make the team, he's no longer a fantasy option in most leagues. That could change during the season ... Brady Quinn won't play until the second half of the Browns' preseason game. He doesn't have a chance to start for the team by Week 1 ? Eagles RB Ryan Moats' season-ending ankle injury shouldn't affect the team. He was a candidate o be released ? Andrew Walter may get the chance to start for the Raiders this weekend, and isn't out of their quarterback competition ? Damon Huard will start for the Chiefs this weekend. A strong outing could earn him the starting job in Week 1.

Returning to Action

Willie Parker (knee) will start at running back for the Steelers this weekend. His knee injury proved to be minor, and he has plenty of time to get ready for the season ? LaMont Jordan (back) returned to practice Monday and reportedly had a few nice catches ? Brandon Lloyd returned to practice Tuesday, and it couldn't come sooner for the desperate Redskins. Lloyd still has a shot to start in Washington, but now has to compete with Todd Pinkston, the former Eagle who was signed this week ? Seahawks' premier run-stuffer Marcus Tubbs returned to practice ? Ben Watson was back in action for the Patriots after missing close to a week ? Keenan McCardell returned to practice for the Texans ? Ernest Wilford is healthy and running with the first team again in Jacksonville.

Out of Action

Plaxico Burress' ankle injury has kept him out of practice for almost two weeks. He appears to be another veteran that is happy to take it easy in August, but it will be a growing concern if he doesn't return by next week ? Thomas Jones is only expected to miss one-to-two weeks with a calf strain. We wouldn't adjust your cheat sheets.

Holdout Update

JaMarcus Russell's holdout may last until September. If he misses all of camp, it's hard to imagine him starting before the tail end of the season.

Jets CB Darrelle Revis is expected to end his holdout Wednesday.

The Worst Person in Fantasy Football

Michael Vick has avoided the honor long enough. Subjecting us to 16 more tapes of Joey Harrington is not cool. Neither is the idea that a prominent teammate of Vick's could be forced to testify at a possible trial. Although it looks like it won't get that far. It's time to say goodbye.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#61
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Tiers of Heaven: RBs
Any chowderhead can decide whether they want to draft Ronnie Brown or Willis McGahee. The difficult decisions on draft day come when you must decide between your running back of choice and an elite receiver like Marvin Harrison. Rotoworld's Tiers of Heaven will help you make those decisions.

Cheat sheets aren't always enough. Cheat sheets often don't see the big picture, and they aren't flexible enough to adapt to each draft. Establishing tiers at each position is the essential component of Rotoworld's overall draft strategy. By separating similar-value players into small groups, an owner can establish a loose game plan before the draft. Then as the draft goes to hell, the tiers will help maximize value as the rounds go by.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Imagine you are in round seven of your draft. Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez is the highest player on your board, and you still have a hole at tight end. It looks like a no brainer. Looking at your tiers, however, you notice that a crowded gang of tight ends in Gonzo's tier remain on the board: Chris Cooley, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Shockey, Alge Crumpler, and Kellen Winslow.

You check your running back tiers and notice that LenDale White is the last running back standing from your fifth tier. You don't necessarily need another running back, but choosing White maximizes value. There is almost certain to be a similarly valued tight end to Gonzalez available with your next pick.

Now before I get to the running back preview, I've got some bad news. While the running back tiers of heaven is included below, the rest of the positions are exclusively in our online draft guide.

This isn't part of an overall plan to make Rotoworld a premium site, rather a way to reward those subscribers of our draft guide. Frankly, it's not a decision I would make on my own because I love to get content out there, but cooler business heads prevailed.

The draft guide will have the can't miss Tiers of Heaven updated continuously, but also everything else you'll need to make your fantasy football draft a success, including with 40+ strategy articles, 600 player profiles, customizable cheat sheets and much more.

So check out the draft guide and if it isn't what you expected, we'll have no problems refunding your money. We're confident you'll find it the best draft guide available. And if you aren't interested, enjoy the daily free news, draft analysis columns, videos, and blog posts we will be cranking out for you all season long.

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

The proliferation of running back committees will attract a lot attention this season. But it's not a new trend, just a reversal to the norm in the NFL after a brief run of 335-carry, 1400-yard monsters that we enjoyed earlier this decade. And for every team adding a committee this year (Minnesota, Oakland, Green Bay), there is another headed towards a primary running back system (Indianapolis, New England, Chicago, Denver).

Players flying solo will come at a premium this season. There will be a cut-off regarding truly elite options somewhere around the top-15 backs. The amount of committees means quality fantasy options will slip further, increasing the depth at the position. I can't remember a season in recent years where young likely starting running backs like Julius Jones, LenDale White, LaMont Jordan, and DeShaun Foster were all falling out of the top 60-80 picks. There will be players who get consistent carries available in your middle rounds.

As always, plan for injuries and a busted pick. They will happen. While your opponents are complaining about bad luck, you'll have quality options on the bench. Let's go.

Tier One ? LaDainian Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Frank Gore

You don't really need us to tell you to draft Tomlinson first, right?

The number two pick, on the other hand, should be a subject of great debate. Larry Johnson is noticeable by his absence in this tier, and we'll get to him later. Jackson and Gore get a big edge because they are less likely to get hurt. Gore's hand injury shouldn't affect his draft status. Jackson and Gore's total yardage was already in the top four, and they aren't likely to see their touches decline much. Jackson gets the edge for the number two spot because the Rams offense is superior to San Francisco's. Stick Gore on the Chargers, though, and he'd win the league MVP. He's that talented.

Tier Two ? Joseph Addai, Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, Brian Westbrook, Rudi Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Reggie Bush, Laurence Maroney, Travis Henry

Johnson's holdout is not a concern. His record-setting number of carries last year and the collapsing team around him is. The history of running backs in the season after they get 370 carries is nasty and overwhelming. He would defy all odds by playing 16 games. The shaky quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line situation in Kansas City creates even more risk. We don't want to a top-five pick to be so risky. Rotoworld had LJ ranked fourth for much of the summer, but it was a case of hedging our bets. I polled our staff and none of our writers would actually draft him ahead of Addai, so he was moved this week.

We had such a big drop-off after Westbrook that we could break this into two tiers. In the end, we'd still draft all the players listed above before our top quarterback (Peyton Manning) or wide receiver (Chad Johnson), so it doesn't matter. Westbrook has proven he can handle a bigger workload and will be a force in leagues than count receptions. Parker and Addai will get all their teams' carries and are in their prime. Addai has a complete game. There is almost no downside to him on a bulletproof Colts offense, so he gets the nod as the top of the tier. Avoiding busts is more important than finding sleepers, and Addai isn't going to be a bust.

Rudi Johnson is a reasonably safe bet as a primary option on an explosive offense, especially after Kenny Irons' injury. We project him to have 50 more touches than Shaun Alexander because of the aging Seahawks' injury risk and pass-catching deficiencies. Alexander's touchdowns should make up for it. Bush's talent and receiving skills should win out despite having fewer carries. He's a younger Westbrook. Maroney and Henry have slightly more risk, but will get the ball consistently for productive running games.

These are every-week starters in any format.

Tier Three ? Willis McGahee, Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs

Tiny tier here, but it's for a reason. These three are the only other running backs we'd take ahead of the elite (top 8) wide receivers in rounds two and three. They don't have great competition for carries, and they are in their prime.

Ronnie Brown has the game to be a RB1, but does he have the offensive line? He's a solid RB2. Willis McGahee is moving to a slightly better offense, but hasn't showed much as a pro. He will pile up touches, though, if healthy. Brandon Jacobs is perhaps our favorite value at running back in drafts because he'll score. He will last until the third or fourth round in nearly any league, but we give him a second round value.

Ideally, you could grab an elite WR1 in round two, and still pick Jacobs up in round three or four. Consider yourself strong at running back if you draft two running backs in the first three tiers. If not, depth will be a greater priority.

Tier Four - Maurice Jones-Drew, Carnell Williams, Cedric Benson, Thomas Jones, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Petersonhttp://fantasyfootball.usatoday.com/content/playerpages/player_main.asp?sport=NFL&id=2491

Second and third-round RB2s are among the riskiest picks on the board. You can take one of the many safe elite wide receiver picks and plug them in every week, or you can take a chance with some these guys. Half will be disappointments; the other half will be on fantasy championship squads. The risk factor is why we'd prefer to grab these running backs for value in rounds three and four ? if possible.

Cedric Benson has the job to himself in Chicago, but has to prove he can withstand the punishment. Maurice Jones-Drew will need an injury from Fred Taylor to fulfill his potential. If Taylor was hurt, MoJo would be a top-five player. But he's simply not likely to score as much as last season. Honestly, I don't know what to do with Portis. He's the ultimate boom-or-bust pick this season. His ceiling is sky-high, but the injury concerns grow every day. He's looking like a fourth-round gamble.

Williams has the opportunity and talent to be a serious value. Don't discount the injuries and Bruce Gradkowski effect from last season. Jones and James will give you workmanlike production each week, although their 'ceilings' are a bit lower than some young guys. Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson are explosive rookies playing on poor offenses. They will have to share the ball with teammates more than you'll like.

Most of these players should be fantasy starters, but they could be benched for a RB3 depending on the matchup. There isn't a huge drop-off to the next tier. If you don't get a RB2 from this group, you need to load up on players from the tier below.

Tier Five: Jerious Norwood, Deuce McAllister, DeAngelo Williams, Julius Jones, Ahman Green, Marion Barber, LenDale White, LaMont Jordan, Fred Taylor, Chester Taylor, Brandon Jackson, Ladell Betts

These are great fantasy reserves (RB3s), but we wouldn't draft them ahead of most second wideouts. The fact that such young, promising players (Norwood, White, Williams) and proven point-scorers (McAllister, Barber, both Taylors, Green) will be available so late is a sign of depth this season. It won't be hard to find a quality third runner. These players will go between rounds four-through-seven.

McAllister and Taylor are veterans coming off good seasons, which could push their price tags too high. They are splitting carries with younger, explosive options. LaMont Jordan is a talented player who will come at a massive discount this year. His early-season value rose tremendously with news that Michael Bush is still in recovery mode and Dominic Rhodes will be suspended four games. But a committee is probably coming. We are in wait-and-see mode with the Dallas backfield, but Julius Jones should remain the starter. The roles in the red zone may not be so defined with Bill Parcells gone. Don't expect Barber to repeat his touchdown numbers.

Norwood's emerging stock soared with the news that Warrick Dunn needed another back surgery. Dunn will return, but Norwood should lead the Falcons in yards this year. Betts' value continues to rise as Clinton Portis stays on the sidelines.

Williams has Brian Westbrook-like skills, but his touches may be inconsistent because of DeShaun Foster, who remains the starter. Ahman Green would be slightly undervalued here if he stays healthy, but he's joining a poor offense and his performance is fading fast. Brandon Jackson looks likely to start for the Packers, but a committee appears inevitable when Vernand Morency gets healthy. Jackson's camp has been inconsistent. Chester Taylor is now in a committee with Adrian Peterson, but he'll still be the man on passing downs. LenDale White's slow climb up our rankings will continue when he locks up the starting job. He has the highest ceiling in this tier.

Drafting three players from the top five tiers keeps you on pace at running back. Drafting four gets you well ahead of the game.

Tier Six: Jamal Lewis, DeShaun Foster, Tatum Bell, Kevin Jones, Vernand Morency, Mike Bell

Foster and Lewis have defined roles, but limited skills and poor recent history. They have both been subject to a lot of puff pieces this offseason, but there's no reason to think they'll suddenly improve. Jones is probably headed for the PUP list and his value will continue to fall if that happens. Tatum Bell will be a placeholder until Jones is ready. When Jones is healthy, there may not be enough carries for both players to have value - Mike Martz doesn't like to run. We'd stay away from both. Morency is likely to be overvalued because he's hurt and will only split carries when he returns. Mike Bell would be an every-week starter if Travis Henry was hurt, and has more stand-alone value than your average handcuff.

Be wary of drafting most of this group too early. For the most part, they should be projected as useful reserves. Great RB4s, poor third running backs.

Tier Seven: Leon Washington, Michael Turner, Ron Dayne, Warrick Dunn, Chris Brown

Leon Washington will get more touches than most backups in New York. Michael Turner has extra value for Tomlinson owners and would be an every-week starter if healthy. Dunn and Brown have a chance to start, but are more likely to fill third-down roles. Ron Dayne has some stand-alone value as a possible short-yardage back in Houston, in addition to being a backup to an injury-risk veteran.
These are your high ceiling backups and your lower-potential committee partners. That makes them fun boom-or-bust RB4s to take in the latter portions of your draft. Get at least four running backs from the top seven tiers.

Tier Eight: Brian Leonard, Michael Pittman, Adrian Peterson, Lorenzo Booker, Reuben Droughns, Sammy Morris, Najeh Davenport, Maurice Morris, DeDe Dorsey, Dominic Rhodes, T.J. Duckett

"Handcuffs" we like. For the newbies out there, "handcuffs" are backup running backs to attach to your starter. They are far more valuable to you than to other owners. Rhodes is a special case, but do you really want a committee partner on a bad offense that is suspended for four games? Duckett has extra value in touchdown only leagues. Leonard and Dorsey are unknowns, but they are backups on high-octane offenses. Davenport, both Morris', and Droughns are serviceable veterans with defined roles.
A lot of these teams will go committee if the starter gets hurt, so we wouldn't reach too early for anyone. These should only be taken towards the end of your draft.

Tier Nine: Kenny Watson, Marcel Shipp, Anthony Thomas, Tony Hunt, Correll Buckhalter, Michael Bennett, Chris Henry, Musa Smith, Kevin Faulk, Michael Robinson, Kolby Smith, Michael Bush, Garrett Wolfe

These guys are on the radar. Fliers. They probably should get drafted in deep leagues, and they only need a positive spike in news to be worth a pick in 12-by-15 leagues. They are shots in the dark, but have a long way to go to before entering your lineup.
Watson could be a valuable handcuff to Rudi Johnson, but the situation is uncertain. Marcel Shipp has a shot for goal line carries in Arizona. Thomas may be the lesser half of a committee in Buffalo. Bennett and Smith will vie for work if Larry Johnson breaks down.

* If you liked this kind of analysis, you'll love the rest of the Tiers of Heaven article and more on the Rotoworld.com Fantasy Football Draft Guide. Click here to check it out.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#62
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Preseason Positioning
We spend so much time sifting through the news that doesn't matter in the preseason, that it's easy to miss the meaningful developments. Here are eight stories that mattered during the second week of preseason games.

1. Travis Henry owners, Redskins Nation can take a deep breath

Henry was knocked out of Denver's preseason game with a knee injury, but it's been classified as the lowest grade MCL sprain possible. Don't expect him to play again in the preseason, but he should be ready for Week 1. The injury is a reminder that Henry has struggled with injuries as a pro, but it shouldn't cause a dramatic change in his draft day value. We have him ranked tenth at running back in our online draft guide. He could lose a spot or two depending on his recovery.

Backup Mike Bell may have suffered a worse injury; His hip ailment will keep him out at least two weeks, making him questionable for the season opener. He's still an excellent backup running back to own, but Cecil Sapp's fantasy value inches up.

Henry is important to the Broncos, but an injury to Jason Campbell would have ended Washington's season before it started. It appeared Campbell suffered a serious knee injury on Friday, but he could be back to practice this week. Campbell is one of our favorite QB sleepers and the key to Washington's playoff hopes.

2. Donovan McNabb is just fine, thank you
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
We wrote about McNabb's big test on Friday. He came through with 138 passing yards on nine pretty pass attempts. McNabb will have his ups and downs, but it's safe to say he's ready to go and remains a top-six QB option in fantasy leagues.

3. LaMont Jordan is back

Preseason games don't usually matter for veterans, but Jordan has a new coaching staff to impress and a legion of fantasy players to win over. Done and done. Playing after Dominic Rhodes but with the first team, Jordan touched the ball eight times on his first drive, a 17-play affair he capped with a touchdown run. Jordan added a sparkling 32-yard run that included multiple missed tackles on the next drive.

Jordan finished with 86 total yards on nine touches. Jordan is expected to share carries once Dominic Rhodes returns from suspension, but this effort should earn him plenty of September carries.

4. Daunte Culpepper has a chance to start in Week 1

Daunte Culpepper replaced Andrew Walter in Oakland's preseason game, throwing two touchdowns in two drives. Perhaps most importantly, he juked a defender in the open field during a 13-yard run. 2006 Daunte Culpepper could not have done that.

Everything wasn't pretty. Culpepper fumbled two snaps for the second straight week. If the 49ers had fallen on those snaps, we'd be talking about Culpepper's struggles. Walter's play was mixed, but he did lead the team on a long touchdown drive. Josh McCown's chances of starting in Week 1 appear to be fading, but this remains a three-horse race. Don't give Culpepper the job just yet, but we'll probably see how he performs with the first team this week.

5. Ronnie Brown is under fire

When Dolphins runner Jesse Chatman opened training camp ahead of third-round pick Lorenzo Booker, we figured it was just a matter of time before Booker took his spot as Ronnie Brown's backup.

Now Dolphins coach Cam Cameron is sending strong messages through the media that Chatman has a chance to take some of Brown's playing time.

I watched Miami's preseason game and saw a lot to like about Brown's performance. But the Dolphins were not excited when Brown was caught from behind in the open field in the team's preseason game against the Chiefs. "The expectation is when you're in the open field, that better be a house call," Cameron said.

He not so subtly challenged Brown to improve in a Sunday press conference saying, "Our best running back will play."

The Miami papers are all agog Monday morning about the new competition. Our take: Cameron is trying to light a fire under Brown, but it doesn't bode particularly well for his chances for 300 carries. We still see him as a second-round running back, though he's a risky one.

Booker, on the other hand, is a much less exciting fantasy pick than a few weeks ago. He hasn't even played in the preseason, and Cameron keeps talking about Patrick Cobbs. We are trying not fall for preseason hype, but Chatman looks like a better handcuff than Booker.

Trent Green, by the way, was officially named the Miami starter on Monday. We still wouldn't go near him in fantasy leagues.

6. Brandon Jackson is your Week 1 Green Bay starting running back.

Not that it's been much of a competition; Vernand Morency hasn't practiced and may not even be ready for the season opener. Jackson showed up well in Green Bay's second preseason game. Barring injury, he's going to lead the Packers in carries this season.

7. Laurence Maroney is no longer wearing red

This one is from Monday morning, but well worth mentioning. The Patriots are no longer requiring Maroney to wear a red, non-contact jersey in practice. Look for him to get some preseason action this weekend. The team appears to have Maroney's recovery on a set schedule, and he's going to be ready for Week 1.

8. Jones and Jones

A year ago, Packers WR James Jones and Texans WR Jacoby Jones were playing in anonymity at San Jose State and Lane University, respectively. Now they are bidding to be this year's Marques Colston.

Now before we get carried away, the odds on any rookie matching Colston's productivity other than Calvin Johnson are somewhere between nil and negative nil. But keeper league owners looking for a possible late-round fliers should take notice.

James Jones scored two touchdowns this week, has ten catches in two games, and has cemented the third receiver spot in Green Bay. He's been making news since he was drafted, and it wouldn't surprise me if he finishes the season with similar numbers to Greg Jennings. Jacoby Jones is clearly the third receiver in Houston, and it looks like he'll pass Kevin Walter for a starting gig during the year. His physical skills are excellent.

Both are keeper league sleepers, but James Jones would get our nod for 2007.

Note: To find out how all these stories affected our rankings, check out our online draft guide. And for more stories from the preseason action, including game notes and a Brady Quinn breakdown, head to my blog: Pancake Blocks.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#63
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Mocking Down the Days

I had the opportunity to represent Rotoworld in MockDraftCentral.com's points-per-reception (PPR) industry draft. In this league, you get four points for passing TDs, which devalues the quarterback position, and one point per reception. Receiving and rushing TDs are obviously worth six points and the yardage scoring is standard. You start one QB, two RBs, three WRs, one TE, one flex, one kicker and one defense. The draft took place almost two weeks ago; so a few things have changed in the meantime.

Editor's Note:: Rotoworld.com's $100,000 Fantasy Challenge is open for signups. This is your chance to prove you are the best fantasy football player in the country and take home the $100,000 Grand Prize. The game is free to play. Click here to sign up.



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

1.1 FantasyFootball.com ? LaDainian Tomlinson
1.2 Rototimes ? Steven Jackson
1.3 Football Diehards ? Frank Gore
1.4 Rotoworld ? Joseph Addai
1.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Larry Johnson
1.6 Creative Sports ? Brian Westbrook
1.7 FF Mastermind ? Shaun Alexander
1.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Willis McGahee
1.9 BFD Fantasy ? Willie Parker
1.10 Sports Illustrated ? Rudi Johnson
1.11 Game Time Decisions ? Reggie Bush
1.12 KFFL ? Maurice Jones-Drew


Trends: If Larry Johnson was in camp, I would have taken him over Addai. For me, the most important thing about Round 1 is not taking a bust. I don't see Addai disappointing if he stays healthy. Gore, Westbrook, Alexander and L.J. might have more upside, but I think Addai is the safest at this point. McGahee went higher than normal but could easily justify the pick. I actually thought about Willie Parker at No. 4, and then he slipped until ninth. Jones-Drew was picked too high. He's good, very good ? but he doesn't even start for his own team. I would have taken Henry, Maroney or an elite receiver. That said, this is about where MJD goes in most drafts.

[SIZE=+1]Round 2[/SIZE]

2.1 KFFL ? Travis Henry
2.2 Game Time Decisions ? Laurence Maroney
2.3 Sports Illustrated ? Edgerrin James
2.4 BFD Fantasy ? Chad Johnson
2.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? Steve Smith
2.6 FF Mastermind ? Ronnie Brown
2.7 Creative Sports ? Marvin Harrison
2.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Larry Fitzgerald
2.9 Rotoworld ? Terrell Owens
2.10 Football Diehards ? Torry Holt
2.11 Rototimes ? Antonio Gates
2.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Reggie Wayne


Trends: The elite receivers, plus the No. 1 tight end, get selected in the second round, which is typical in PPR formats. This is going to leave plenty of owners scrambling for a running back in the next round. I don't think Ronnie Brown has done enough to justify being selected ahead of perennial studs Harrison, Owens and Holt. Edgerrin James is also a risky selection this early.

[SIZE=+1]Round 3 [/SIZE]

3.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Roy Williams
3.2 Rototimes ? Peyton Manning
3.3 Football Diehards ? Javon Walker
3.4 Rotoworld? Brandon Jacobs
3.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Thomas Jones
3.6 Creative Sports ? Marshawn Lynch
3.7 FF Mastermind ? Anquan Boldin
3.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Andre Johnson
3.9 BFD Fantasy ? T.J. Houshmandzadeh
3.10 Sports Illustrated ? Randy Moss
3.11 Game Time Decisions ? Carson Palmer
3.12 KFFL ? Clinton Portis


Trends: Peyton Manning in Round 3? Wow. Don't expect this to happen in your league. Rototimes has a chance to have the best player at three different positions with Jackson, Gates and Manning. That said, their receivers are going to be weak because of this strategy and in a PPR league ? that's not good. I think Brandon Jacobs scores 15-plus TDs and enters 2008 as a no-brainer first-round pick.

[SIZE=+1]Round 4 [/SIZE]

4.1 KFFL ? Drew Brees
4.2 Game Time Decisions ? Cedric Benson
4.3 Sports Illustrated ? Donald Driver
4.4 BFD Fantasy ? Cadillac Williams
4.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? Deuce McAllister
4.6 FF Mastermind ? Marques Colston
4.7 Creative Sports ? Ahman Green
4.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Tom Brady
4.9 Rotoworld ? Lee Evans
4.10 Football Diehards ? Jerious Norwood
4.11 Rototimes ? DeAngelo Williams
4.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Adrian Peterson


Trends: Drew Brees going before Tom Brady doesn't make much sense to me, as I think Brady could throw up monster numbers with all his new weapons. I've never been a huge Lee Evans guy, but he was clearly the best WR on the board when my pick came up. The back end of this round saw some of the "trendy" running backs fly off the board. Cadillac has a chance to be a steal in this round, but I'm not a huge fan.

[SIZE=+1]Round 5 [/SIZE]

1.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Jamal Lewis
5.2 Rototimes ? Braylon Edwards
5.3 Football Diehards ? Plaxico Burress
5.4 Rotoworld? Calvin Johnson
5.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Laveranues Coles
5.6 Creative Sports ? Darrell Jackson
5.7 FF Mastermind ? Hines Ward
5.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Marc Bulger
5.9 BFD Fantasy ? Santana Moss
5.10 Sports Illustrated ? Marion Barber
5.11 Game Time Decisions ? Chris Chambers
5.12 KFFL ? Reggie Brown


Trends: Darrell Jackson, who many "experts" are picking as a bust candidate, might be a little early here. I took Calvin Johnson too early in some people's opinion, but I think he has more upside than anyone in the league. I bet he's a perennial early second-round pick in fantasy leagues starting next season.

[SIZE=+1]Round 6 [/SIZE]

6.1 KFFL ? Fred Taylor
6.2 Game Time Decisions ? Deion Branch
6.3 Sports Illustrated ? Joey Galloway
6.4 BFD Fantasy ? Tatum Bell
6.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? Julius Jones
6.6 FF Mastermind ? Donovan McNabb
6.7 Creative Sports ? Mark Clayton
6.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Tony Gonzalez
6.9 Rotoworld ? LenDale White
6.10 Football Diehards ? Jon Kitna
6.11 Rototimes ? Brandon Jackson
6.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Vincent Jackson


Trends: I wanted Tatum Bell as my flex here, but he was snagged a few picks before me, so I settled for LenDale White. Earlier in the day, Gregg Rosenthal was talking up White and I think it was fresh in my head. Looking back I'd prefer Brandon Jackson, but hopefully Gregg was right. McNabb is a potential fantasy MVP when healthy and is a rare player that can win you a league in Round 6. I also love Deion Branch this season and he could prove to a great value here.

[SIZE=+1]Round 7[/SIZE]

7.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Chester Taylor
7.2 Rototimes ? Todd Heap
7.3 Football Diehards ? Kevin Jones
7.4 Rotoworld? Chris Cooley
7.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Santonio Holmes
7.6 Creative Sports ? LaMont Jordan
7.7 FF Mastermind ? Kellen Winslow
7.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Ladell Betts
7.9 BFD Fantasy ? Jeremy Shockey
7.10 Sports Illustrated ? Alge Crumpler
7.11 Game Time Decisions ? Bernard Berrian
7.12 KFFL ? Tony Romo


Trends: Round 7 is often where tight ends start drying up in this format, because many owners use their first six picks on two RBs, three WRs and a flex player. If you want a particular TE, snag him in Round 7. Kevin Jones was probably picked too early for a guy coming off such a serious injury ? he's a typical high risk/ high reward selection. The Tony Romo pick was smart, as KFFL knows he can wait on a TE at this point, and Romo was the best player on the board.

[SIZE=+1]Round 8 [/SIZE]

8.1 KFFL ? Jason Witten
8.2 Game Time Decisions ? Jerricho Cotchery
8.3 Sports Illustrated ? Matt Leinart
8.4 BFD Fantasy ? DeShaun Foster
8.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? Vernon Davis
8.6 FF Mastermind ? Chris Brown
8.7 Creative Sports ? Randy McMichael
8.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Warrick Dunn
8.9 Rotoworld ? Vince Young
8.10 Football Diehards ? Anthony Gonzalez
8.11 Rototimes ? D.J. Hackett
8.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Phillip Rivers


Trends: Well, KFFL didn't wait too long to snag a TE. Matt Leinart probably won't put up better numbers than many QBs that were still on the board. DeShaun Foster will be the steal of this round if he stays healthy, as it appears he'll start when he's able to play. I love Vince Young and, if he wasn't on the cover of Madden '08, I'd love this pick. Oh, it would be nice if the Titans got him a quality receiver, too.

[SIZE=+1]Round 9[/SIZE]

9.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Devery Henderson
9.2 Rototimes ? Donte Stallworth
9.3 Football Diehards ? Heath Miller
9.4 Rotoworld? Leon Washington
9.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Vernand Morency
9.6 Creative Sports ? Mike Furrey
9.7 FF Mastermind ? Greg Jennings
9.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Drew Bennett
9.9 BFD Fantasy ? Ronald Curry
9.10 Sports Illustrated ? Terry Glenn
9.11 Game Time Decisions ? Matt Hasselbeck
9.12 KFFL ? Mushin Muhammad


Trends: If Thomas Jones' injury forces him to miss games, or if he gets hurt again, than Neon Leon Washington would be a PPR monster. Greg Jennings is another guy with really high upside and could be terrific value in Round 9. Morency is a decent value here, because he has a chance to start, but he doesn't have much upside even if he earns regular carries (he won't).

[SIZE=+1]Round 10 [/SIZE]

10.1 KFFL ? Joe Horn
10.2 Game Time Decisions ? Ben Watson
10.3 Sports Illustrated ? Reuben Droughns
10.4 BFD Fantasy ? Brett Favre
10.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? L.J. Smith
10.6 FF Mastermind ? Jay Cutler
10.7 Creative Sports ? Matt Jones
10.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Kevin Curtis
10.9 Rotoworld ? Eli Manning
10.10 Football Diehards ? Kevin Faulk
10.11 Rototimes ? Michael Turner
10.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Ben Roethlisberger


Trends: Great value in this round. Turner would be an absolute beast if LT2 suffers an injury. Matt Jones is soft and a disappointment thus far, but has the opportunity to make a major fantasy impact. Cutler, Manning, Favre and Roethlisberger are terrific backups and bye-week starters because they have so much job security. Droughns and Faulk are the kinds of players you drop when you see a free-agent RB score a touchdown on television. It's too early to take players you'll never start in Round 10. In non-PPR leagues, Faulk should barely get drafted and Droughns is only worth something if you own Brandon Jacobs.

[SIZE=+1]Round 11[/SIZE]

11.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Ravens Defense
11.2 Rototimes ? Bears Defense
11.3 Football Diehards ? Michael Jenkins
11.4 Rotoworld ? Demetrius Williams
11.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Jerry Porter
11.6 Creative Sports ? Alex Smith
11.7 FF Mastermind ? Michael Bennett
11.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Patriots Defense
11.9 BFD Fantasy ? Chad Pennington
11.10 Sports Illustrated ? Chargers Defense
11.11 Game Time Decisions ? Anthony Thomas
11.12 KFFL ? Brandon Jones


Trends: Brandon Jones has a chance to be the No. 1 receiver on a dynamic young offense, making him a terrific value in Round 11. Looking back, I can't believe I took Demetrius Williams ahead of him. That said, Williams is a nice sleeper. This round also saw the elite defenses get selected ? which is about right in this format.

[SIZE=+1]Round 12[/SIZE]

12.1 KFFL ? Brandon Marshall
12.2 Game Time Decisions ? Isaac Bruce
12.3 Sports Illustrated ? J.P. Losman
12.4 BFD Fantasy ? Michael Pittman
12.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? Wes Welker
12.6 FF Mastermind ? Dallas Clark
12.7 Creative Sports ? Matt Schaub
12.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Priest Holmes
12.9 Rotoworld ? Dominic Rhodes
12.10 Football Diehards ? Cowboys Defense
12.11 Rototimes ? Mike Bell
12.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Adam Vinatieri


Trends: I've written about it recently, so I won't get too into my argument, but I honestly think Dom Rhodes will be a starting running back for the final 12 games of the season. He's a phenomenal value here if my theory pans out. Pittman, Holmes and Bell could all be worthless eventually, but they remain solid bench players until you need to start cutting them for bye-week replacements. Wes Welker has the tools to become a Tom Brady favorite, so he's a nice risk at this point.

[SIZE=+1]Round 13[/SIZE]

13.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Owen Daniels
13.2 Rototimes ? Kenny Irons
13.3 Football Diehards ? Jake Delhomme
13.4 Rotoworld ? Lorenzo Booker
13.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Robbie Gould
13.6 Creative Sports ? Steelers Defense
13.7 FF Mastermind ? Derrick Mason
13.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? Jason Campbell
13.9 BFD Fantasy ? Stephen Gostkowski
13.10 Sports Illustrated ? Eric Johnson
13.11 Game Time Decisions ? Broncos Defense
13.12 KFFL ? Brian Leonard



Trends: This draft was held before Kenny Irons got injured. I was actually going to take him, but he was snagged two picks before I had the opportunity. Lucky me. I thought Lorenzo Booker was a great player to leave on my bench with the hopes that he becomes this year's version of Jones-Drew. Well, Jesse Chatman has since passed Booker on Miami's depth chart. This round is a great example of why your "money" leagues shouldn't draft until Labor Day Weekend.

[SIZE=+1]Round 14[/SIZE]

14.1 KFFL ? Nate Kaeding
14.2 Game Time Decisions ? Tony Scheffler
14.3 Sports Illustrated ? Jeff Wilkins
14.4 BFD Fantasy ? Eagles Defense
14.5 The Fantasy Football Times ? The Other Steve Smith
14.6 FF Mastermind ? Shayne Graham
14.7 Creative Sports ? Josh Brown
14.8 Fantasy Jungle ? Drew Carter
14.9 Rotoworld ? Jaguars Defense
14.10 Football Diehards ? David Akers
14.11 Rototimes ? Michael Vick
14.12 FantasyFootball.com ? Michael Robinson


Trends: Michael Vick? This draft took place late enough that Rototimes should have known better. At least if was only the fourteenth round. The rest of this round is fairly bland. Too many kickers.

[SIZE=+1]Round 15[/SIZE]

15.1 FantasyFootball.com ? Craig Davis
15.2 Rototimes ? Matt Stover
15.3 Football Diehards ? Bryant Johnson
15.4 Rotoworld ? Neil Rackers
15.5 Fantasy Jungle ? Panthers Defense
15.6 Creative Sports ? Ashley Lelie
15.7 FF Mastermind ? Packers Defense
15.8 The Fantasy Football Times ? John Kasay
15.9 BFD Fantasy ? Desmond Clark
15.10 Sports Illustrated ? Eddie Kennison
15.11 Game Time Decisions ? Jason Elam
15.12 KFFL ? Vikings Defense

www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Trends: If you don't take a kicker in the last round, it means you took one too early. I like the Vikings as a sleeper defense this season, but their offense might struggle too often for them to be of use in fantasy play ? think the '06 Raiders.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#64
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

What To Do
Everybody always wants you to do something, don't they? Maybe it's your boss, or wife, or mother, or child. Or it could be one of those fantasy columnists you're always reading when you're not doing what you really should be.

What you need help with is not being told that you need to improve something but how to do it. And that is why I'm here. I'll be showing up on you screen/phone/PDA/dreams in the middle of every week from here on out to help you win.

You're inundated with news and information about individual players all the time. What isn't always so clear is what you should do with all of that. The point of this column will be to tell you how you should be improving your team every week throughout. Some weeks, that might be general strategies to improve your roster. Some times, it is trades to not make or players and teams to pursue or avoid.

Editor's Note: Matt's column was posted under the Daily Dose Wednesday, but will have his own column during the season. Send your suggestions for the title to

A few of you might have had the misfortune to come across my advice at other stops, but here are a few things you might want to know about me before completely ignoring what I have to say:

* I will not prattle on and on about drafting running backs with your first two picks or about waiting until the final round to take a kicker. There are plenty of situations in which going RB-RB to open your draft makes sense -- and many times when it does not. I was in a draft this summer in which I waited until the fourth round to take a running back and was just fine, if you consider having Ahman Green and Tatum Bell as your second and third backs to be fine. But we only start two backs and I'm getting a point per reception out of Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald and everybody has to start at least three receivers.

And, yes, there are times that drafting a kicker relatively early does make sense. It's not often, but if you're feeling good about all of your starters and you have one kicker rated significantly higher than the rest, pull the trigger. Adam Vinatieri is the only kicker I'd call significantly better than any other. And you are getting only a small advantage, but think of it this way: If every one of your players were two points better than your competition's, you'd be sitting pretty.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
* There are two critical elements in putting together a successful team: fantasy strategy and football knowledge. When the two collide, such as whether to draft Bernard Berrian or take a chance on Titans running back Chris Henry, I probably will take Berrian barring some unusual outside considerations. Berrian is the better relative player on the better team, even though a cheap, breakout running back can have a ton of value. I put faith in my belief that the better overall player eventually will emerge, barring an overwhelming reason to go the contrary route.

So, as we sit here about two weeks before the first game kicks off, here is what you should be doing.

If you already have drafted:

* Petition your league to move next season's draft day. Sure, there sometimes are legitimate reasons that you have to hold your draft early, but surely you can start planning now to avoid them in 2008. I do not like drafting before the third preseason game if only because the injury risk to most starters drops significantly after that. Injuries are part of the game during the regular season, but preseason injuries are completely avoidable. Just ask any NFL coach.

* Keep track of your players. You need to figure out whether anybody you drafted is out of a job or sidelined by an injury. In one of my leagues, I drafted Kenny Irons a month ago. It was an experts league, which required the early draft date, even though I look like a fool now for having him on my team. Make sure you don't turn around at the onset of Week 1 and already have lost the service of someone you were counting on. Many online league sites make this easy by putting one of those notebook symbols next to a player's name when there is news. Do yourself a favor and check on them.

* Keep track of all the other players. OK, this is a slightly larger job, especially if you're thinking that the draft was your major preseason job. You probably can narrow this down to your league's free agents, unless you're looking for preseason trades. Every league has different transaction rules regarding pickups before Week 1 so get familiar with those first. Then see if there is anybody worth grabbing. For instance, you might want to replace Irons with Jesse Chatman, who is shockingly close to regular playing time. That means keeping up with news league-wide, which can be daunting if you thought you were done with that for a while. But it can be very valuable if any late-preseason sleepers pop up.

If you have not drafted yet:

* Get familiar with your league. Simple, right? Well, start studying. Learn your rules, roster requirements and whatever you can about your fellow owners' draft strategy. Figure out how many wide receivers you start, how many points you get for passing TDs, whether you're getting points for receptions, etc. That all sounds like common sense, but how many times has somebody asked you about certain scoring rules during your draft?

* Tailor your cheatsheets. Find the rankings you like, or come up with your own, and make sure they match your league scoring rules. If you're getting points per reception, Brian Westbrook picks up value, while Rudi Johnson loses some. Quarterbacks are more valuable in leagues that award six points per passing TD and wide receivers gain importance if you're starting three or more of them vs. only two running backs. Do you need to start a tight end or does he count as a wide receiver? All of these adaptations to your rankings get you that much closer to putting together a winning team. Besides, not everybody in your league is doing this.

Editor's Note: Rotoworld.com's $100,000 Fantasy Challenge is open for signups. This is your chance to prove you are the best fantasy football player in the country and take home the $100,000 Grand Prize. The game is free to play. Click here to sign up.

* Get the latest info. You have an advantage over the guys who already have drafted in that you do not need to know the details of every last player. Just make sure your rankings are updated with all of the latest news. Don't sweat the details of L.J. Smith's groin, just drop him far enough in your rankings to reflect the fact that he is injured again. You can forget that Eric Parker will miss half the season. Not that you'd be likely to draft him anyhow, but he will be so far down your list that you'll be sure to leave him for waivers.

* Know how you feel about preseason play. This is in correlation to keeping track of the news around the league, but it goes further in that you might have some opinions about how well (or poorly) people are playing. Don't put too much stock in what you see, although sometimes you might notice quality players even if the results are mediocre. You wouldn't want to put too much stock in preseason TD machine Taye Biddle, but you might have seen improvement from Packers rookie RB Brandon Jackson from his first game to second. Further steps like that should give you more confidence in drafting him.

Show up for your draft. I've forgotten about drafts until minutes before they were supposed to start. Don't be like me.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#65
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

What to do beyond L.T.
You spent your summer vacation researching every player in the league, ran your complex statistical formulas, read this issue from front to back ? and back to front.

And then you drafted LaDainian Tomlinson.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Well, bully for you. Now make about 15 more perfect picks, and you might have a chance to win.

The other picks, of course, are a little bit more difficult. If you luck into the No.1 overall pick, taking Tomlinson is a no-brainer. Most of the other spots in the first round have obvious selections, too.

But we're here to help with the ultimate draft tips in case you have to choose between Joseph Addai and Willie Parker. Whomever you choose, you'll have the cornerstone of a potential contender ? if you know what to do with the remainder of your choices.

In past years, you might simply have beefed up on the backs early on and tried to grab one star at another position. This season, the running back class is strong and deep. As always, the studs run out by the end of the first round, but there are plenty of runners when you get into the class of Thomas Jones or Jamal Lewis. Not stars, they will get the job done, they will be available in the third or fourth round and, despite what many people tell you, you can pass on that second back in the second round.

That is different than saying you should. Your draft position will go a long way to determining what you will do in rounds 2-4. Think of each round in chunks, the beginning, middle and end of the first round. Assuming a serpentine draft (picks 1-12 in the first round, 12-1 in the second, 1-12 in third, etc.), each group will have different strategies through the first few rounds. Figure out the right one, and you'll be on the way to a perfect draft.

PICKS 1-4

Bank on adding a clear-cut stud in the first round. Tomlinson, Steven Jackson, Larry Johnson and Frank Gore should be the first four players taken, though they do not have to go in that order. The third pick is the toughest one; you'll have to choose between an injury-prone Gore and Johnson, who is a tough selection even without the holdout that ended Aug. 22 because of the status of the Chiefs' offense.

In the second round, you'll have a late pick, and that might be one of the sweet spots in the draft. The player you take will not be substantially worse than players going early in the second, plus you'll get another star coming back early in the third. You also will know generally how the draft is going by that second pick. Whatever positional runs have happened will dictate your choices.

In the second round, if everybody takes running backs, do not assume you should. If Deuce McAllister were the only remaining legitimate No.2 back available, you'd have to take him. But even if everybody else is taking backs in the second round, players like Lewis or even Ahman Green will be around later. Again, they're not stars, but they'll do just fine.

Instead, take a long look at the wide receivers. The pool of elite receivers is only a half-dozen: Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens. Yes, you can find plenty of capable starting receivers throughout the draft but for the studs, this is it. Chances are, at least one of those receivers, and maybe as many as six, will be there for your second pick. Taking one gives you an advantage over half of the rest of your league.

Getting two of those six would give a huge edge and is something to consider with your third pick. If Holt and Smith are your top two receivers, nobody will come close to matching you. The big negative is that you would have to wait until late in the fourth round for your second running back and that means the likes of Julius Jones or Fred Taylor. Picking late in the second and early in the third is the only place this receiver strategy could work because that elite half-dozen should be gone after the first third of the third round.

PICKS 5-8

If you do not like making major strategic decisions, this is the place for you. Your choices will be dictated largely by those picking around you.

Start with the first round. The top four backs ought to be gone. If not, take whomever is left. Otherwise, figure out how you want to rank backs in the caliber of Shaun Alexander, Addai and others and take you top available player. Simple, right?

In the second round, strongly think about taking one of those top wide receivers. The best reason not to take a receiver is if you are convinced you will get one in the third round. In that case, take your No.2 back and then grab the receiver in the third. The difference between the top six receivers is much smaller than the difference between the back you'll get in the mid-second and mid-third rounds.

More likely, though, you'll miss out on the elite receivers if you pass here. Plus, taking one will force the teams selecting before you draft again to think hard about taking a receiver, which will push another running back down to you in the third round. You might wind up with somebody like Cedric Benson as your No.2 back but combined with Steve Smith, that is a better pick than Edgerrin James and Donald Driver.

By the fourth round, your decision also will be fairly simple. If a strong second receiver falls (Driver, Randy Moss, Marques Colston), take him. Otherwise, you have your two running backs and one excellent receiver so look at quarterback. You're still in the range to get one of the five top-tier quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Marc Bulger.

PICKS 9-12

The positional choices at the bottom of the first round also should be relatively straightforward because your pair of picks will be close enough together to project who you can get in the comeback spot.

You also are locked into the structure of the first part of your team. With the first- and second-round picks, take running backs. Not much imagination, but there really is no other decision to make. You could consider Manning (or whomever is your No.1 quarterback) in leagues that heavily value quarterbacks with six points for all TD passes. It is hard to find your advantage doing that. You'll wind up with a below-average No.2 back and without a significant advantage over whomever winds up taking the other top passers.

In the third and fourth rounds, you'll be forced into a best-available player situation, which will require you to have confidence in your rankings. The top receivers will be gone, but you might be able to land a top quarterback ? assuming your league has little use for a third top running back.

Most likely, you will come away from those two picks with a quarterback and receiver, though taking two receivers would not ruin your chances. You would have to come up with the right quarterback choice later.

One of those two picks is where you could consider taking Antonio Gates, the only tight end worth taking this high. Some owners are opposed to ever taking a tight end so early because you miss out on a quality starter at another position. But Gates could offer the best available value because of how much better he is than everybody else at his position.

You need to find quality sleepers at whatever position you ignore by taking Gates. But if you have the confidence to do so, that also can be a winning strategy. It is an aggressive move that can lead to a different composition of your club if you do not usually take a tight end early.

And when so many picks, or at least the position your picks play, can feel predetermined, different can be good
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#66
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Who's Got the Edge?

There are some intriguing position battles around the league that could take shape over the weekend.




One is in Tennessee, where LenDale White returned to practice Wednesday after missing about a week due to swelling in his ankle and knee. He'll start the Titans' game at Buffalo, and a lot is hinging on his effort. The Titans want White to emerge as their starting tailback and a big (and injury-free) game could secure him the Week 1 nod.

In Seattle, watch to see if D.J. Hackett takes the field before Nate Burleson. Burleson started last week's game in a surprise. Hackett is still the going-away favorite to man the split-end position, but it's a situation to keep an eye on. Young D.J. has been quiet in the preseason thus far.

Also keep track of the No. 2 receiver battle in Houston. Kevin Walter's inconsistent camp has coach Gary Kubiak calling exciting rookie Jacoby Jones "Receiver 2.5." Jones has played so well of late that he could get the start against Dallas. It's appearing likely that he'll be roster-worthy during the season.

Raiders No. 1 Running Back
LaMont Jordan v. Dominic Rhodes v. Adimchinobe Echemandu


Predictions:
Week 1: Jordan > Echemandu > Rhodes
Week 8: Jordan > Rhodes > Echemandu
Stretch Run: Jordan > Rhodes > Echemandu

Michael Bush would be in this if he wasn't headed for PUP. I'm not sure Justin Fargas will make the team, and it's not like he's a central part of the future plan either being in a contract year. Echemandu has acquired new life in Oakland's zone-blocking system, but his ceiling is low and the coaching staff knows it. Jordan will have the first four games to prove he's worth keeping in the starting lineup when Rhodes returns from suspension. Considering the way he ran in the Raiders' last preseason affair, the bet here is that Jordan keeps the job all season. He'll lose carries to Rhodes beginning in Week 5, but as low as he's being drafted, Jordan remains an excellent RB3 for value in all leagues.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: RB3 in 12-team leagues.

Colts No. 2 Running Back
DeDe Dorsey v. Kenton Keith v. Clifton Dawson


Dorsey was supposed to be leading this battle clearly by now, but he's been hesitant in preseason action. Dorsey has shown solid receiving ability. Keith can return kicks, which gives him added value, and gained 16 yards on his two carries last Monday night. Dawson, a ground-and-pound runner from Harvard, might be the best fit as a change of pace for Joseph Addai but he's on the raw side and has practice squad eligibility. Dorsey still has the best grip on the offense and remains a fine handcuff for Addai. Just continue to monitor this situation over the last two weeks in case anything changes out of the blue.

Predictions:
Week 1: Dorsey > Keith > Dawson
Week 8: Dorsey > Keith > Dawson
Stretch Run: Dorsey > Keith > Dawson

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late-round handcuff for Addai in all leagues.

Dolphins No. 2 Running Back
Jesse Chatman v. Lorenzo Booker v. Patrick Cobbs


All hell broke loose last week when coach Cam Cameron suggested that Ronnie Brown might not be his opening-day starter. This was clearly a motivational tactic on Cameron's part. Chatman hasn't been in the NFL since 2004, and while he knows Cam's system from their time together in San Diego, his physical skills are not in the same area code as Brown's. He does have a grip on the backup job. Chatman displayed improved pass-catching ability in Miami's last preseason game by hauling in five balls for 43 yards (he's never caught more than five passes in any year) and is ahead of the rookie Booker. The two would likely split the load if Brown were ever to get injured, but Chatman makes the best handcuff for Brown owners currently. Just don't draft him and think you're getting a possible starter. Expect Booker to ascend as the season progresses, as he is better fit for a change-of-pace type role. Cobbs may or may not make the team out of camp. Normally, teams try to avoid wasting more than three roster spots on halfbacks when the players they have are young and can be relied on to stay healthy.

Predictions:
Week 1: Chatman > Booker > Cobbs
Week 8: Chatman > Booker > Cobbs
Stretch Run: Booker > Chatman > Cobbs

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late-round handcuff for Brown in all leagues.

Falcons No. 2 Receiver
Roddy White v. Michael Jenkins v. Laurent Robinson


The competition begins after Joe Horn, who is locked in as a starter. Jenkins has been working from the slot and become someone to completely avoid in standard 10- and 12-team leagues. It's not like he ever did anything particularly well anyways. White and Robinson have been the stories of Falcons camp, and are vying to start outside. While White has the upper hand so far, Robinson could close quickly. Bobby Petrino is high on the rookie from Illinois State and the two players have comparable speed, a necessity in Petrino's high-flying attack. Once the Falcons realize they're not in the playoff race (Prediction: Week 5), look for Robinson to take over.

Predictions:
Week 1: White > Jenkins > Robinson
Week 8: Robinson > White > Jenkins
Stretch Run: Robinson > White > Jenkins

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: WR6-7 in deep leagues.

Seahawks Third-Down Back
Shaun Alexander v. Maurice Morris v. Leonard Weaver


Weaver hasn't overwhelmed in summer work, but is still being given every opportunity to secure the third-down role because Alexander is no longer an effective pass catcher. The 2005 league MVP hasn't caught more than 15 balls in a season since 2004, and the 'Hawks would likely prefer a more expendable player performing grueling blitz-pickup work. Morris has registered double-digit catches just once in his career. Weaver will probably end up securing the job simply because the team lacks for better options. Make sure to downgrade Alexander substantially in leagues that award points for receptions.

Predictions:
Week 1: Weaver > Alexander > Morris
Week 8: Weaver > Alexander > Morris
Stretch Run: Weaver> Alexander > Morris

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Weaver, late-round flier in PPR leagues.

Jets No. 1 Quarterback
Chad Pennington v. Kellen Clemens


Some Jets writers say Pennington's poor preseason showing thus far may have given Clemens a chance. Clemens has proven he's not a great practice quarterback but comes to play in games, and has produced back-to-back solid exhibition performances. The second-year QB from Oregon won't capture the job before Week 1, but it's quite possible that Pennington will get yanked in-season, especially if the Jets don't continue to overachieve as they did last year. Pennington's base salary skyrockets in 2008, so if New York is struggling come mid-season, it'll be time to take a good look at the future. Consider Pennington a high-risk QB2 pick and grab Clemens in your dynasty league.

Predictions:
Week 1: Pennington > Clemens
Week 8: Pennington > Clemens
Stretch Run: Clemens > Pennington

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Late QB2 in all leagues.

Eagles Goal-Line Back
Brian Westbrook v. Correll Buckhalter v. Tony Hunt


Hunt will get some chances on the goal line this season, but it seems unlikely that he'll get the job full time. The third-round pick did perform well in the Eagles' second preseason game as a goal-line artist. That will give the Birds more options near the stripe, but anticipate Westbrook scoring plenty. Westbrook was an effective short-yardage back a year ago and catches enough passes that he's bound to take multiple to the house over the course of the season. Three or four goal-line vultures for Hunt isn't out of the realm of possibility, but it's no reason to downgrade a top-six running back who plays on a highly explosive offense and is protected by arguably the NFL's top offensive line.

Predictions:
Week 1: Westbrook > Hunt > Buckhalter
Week 8: Westbrook > Hunt > Buckhalter
Stretch Run: Westbrook > Hunt > Buckhalter

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: If Hunt, late flier in 10-team leagues. Westbrook is a top-eight RB option in all leagues regardless.

Bengals No. 3 Receiver
Tab Perry v. Antonio Chatman v. Bennie Brazell


None of these players is likely to emerge as half the offensive weapon Chris Henry was, but a big game or two from the winner is realistic. The Bengals love to go three wide to maximize their running attack and get either T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Chad Johnson in single coverage. Chatman might be kept on the roster to start the season, but once Henry is activated he's probably a goner. Perry wasn't impressive last weekend against the Saints, but has the best physical skills of the group. He's the leader. Brazell is in a special-teams battle with Glenn Holt just to remain on the club.

Predictions:
Week 1: Perry > Chatman > Brazell
Week 9: Henry > Perry > Brazell
Stretch Run: Henry > Perry > Brazell

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Monitor in deep leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Update</B>[/SIZE]
49ers No. 3 Receiver
Ashley Lelie v. Jason Hill v. Taylor Jacobs


Jacobs has emerged as the frontrunner here after a tremendous camp. He is considered a lock to make the team at this point, although his grip on the third-receiver role will be tenuous at best once the season starts. Lelie's experience, deep threat, and contract will have upper management pulling for him to see time during the season. Recall that he was signed to be a starter, and for awhile looked like the Niners' No. 1 receiver. Hill's up-and-down showing in practice hasn't translated to many preseason repetitions, which is fair, but his upside is the greatest of the group. In an underrated and up-and-coming NFC West, he should be the choice to see ample late-season work if the 49ers are struggling.

Predictions:
Week 1: Jacobs > Lelie > Hill
Week 8: Lelie > Jacobs > Hill
Stretch Run: Hill > Lelie > Jacobs

Recommendation for Week 1 Leader: Worth monitoring in all leagues.

[SIZE=+1]Clarification</B>[/SIZE]

Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen
Olsen has had a standout training camp and will get action in two-tight end sets, but don't expect him to overtake Clark, a more well-rounded player coming off a strong season. The Bears will be very good again this year, and the rookie shouldn't start until 2008.

Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts
If Portis is healthy, it's his job. Currently, he is not. But the Redskins say Portis would be playing if this was the regular season, and I believe them. The 'Skins have no reason to take chances with Portis at this stage of his career. Betts is a must-have handcuff for Portis owners and they should reach into the middle rounds to grab him. But Betts isn't competing to start.

Sidney Rice and Troy Williamson
Williamson might not be able to catch, but he's going to start. The addition of Robert Ferguson will limit Rice's potential early in the season, although I'd expect Ferguson to be more of a special teamer down the stretch. In a perfect world, Rice would overtake Bobby Wade on the other side of Williamson, but he hasn't stepped up yet. There's no reason to target any receiver other than Williamson, who should go very late in fantasy drafts.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#67
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

2007 Draft Trends
Every draft is different, but owners forget that every draft season is also unique. Here are some of the defining traits of 2007 drafts.

[SIZE=+1]Third and fourth running backs are not hard to find[/SIZE]

This is a byproduct of all the running back committees, but there will be starting running backs available deep into most drafts. Most of them will be young. That's not normal. Some examples: Julius Jones, LaMont Jordan, Chester Taylor, DeShaun Foster, LenDale White, Brandon Jackson, Fred Taylor, and Tatum Bell.

Are all of these players going to get a "nice pick" by your league mates? Of course not. But there isn't that big a difference between them and some of the early round gambles like Carnell Williams, Edgerrin James, Marshawn Lynch, and Deuce McAllister

I see a drastic drop-off in running back certainty after the top-15; The next twenty running backs are a lot closer in value than people think. All the split backfields could mean fewer standouts, but more depth. And all that depth affects early value ?

[SIZE=+1]Wide receivers are better top-40 picks than usual[/SIZE]

Rotoworld usually doesn't rank elite wide receivers over second running backs, but this year is an exception. One reason is the depth of running back options I listed above. Another is the established names at wide receiver that are in their prime.

More than half of all running back picks taken in the second and third round last season disappointed owners. All the while, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Andre Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Larry Fitzgerald, Lee Evans, and Javon Walker put up predictably solid seasons.

Successful NFL teams like the Ravens and Patriots often talk about trying to hit "doubles" in their drafts instead of always going for the boom-or-bust home runs. The same principles can work in fantasy leagues. Take the safe picks early.

Rotoworld sees a substantial drop-off after the first 15 receivers. If you draft two, perhaps in rounds two and four, you will have an edge over the rest of your league, especially if you start three receivers or get a point-per-reception. You will be slightly behind building running back depth, but that won't be hard to fill in this year.

[SIZE=+1]The tight end position is beyond deep[/SIZE]

You are guaranteed an every week starter in round seven or later, often in round eight or nine. With the proliferation of "Tampa 2" zone defenses, NFL offenses are naturally developing tight ends to bust open the seams in the middle of the field. Tight ends have become so good that they are devalued in fantasy leagues. Supply and demand.

Here's a stat I included in our online draft guide

In the six years spanning 1998-2003, there were 16 seasons from tight ends that topped 100 fantasy points. In the last three years, players have topped the century mark twenty times. At least ten tight ends have a shot this season.

Other than Antonio Gates, it is very difficult to separate the second tier of tight ends. There isn't that much room between Todd Heap and Jason Witten. Chris Cooley is our second-ranked tight end and has an average draft position in the eighth round. Jason Witten is around 100. Some of my favorite sleepers at any position, Heath Miller and Owen Daniels, are barely being taken.

The lesson: Don't worry about your tight end. They will come to you. Load up elsewhere first.

[SIZE=+1]Backup runners taken ahead of starters[/SIZE]

Here's a quick list of some examples with their average draft position attached.

* Reggie Bush (RB10) will get drafted ahead of Deuce McAllister (RB18).
* Marion Barber (RB22) is going before Julius Jones (RB31).
* DeAngelo Williams (RB29) will be taken ahead of DeShaun Foster (RB38).
* Adrian Peterson (RB27) is getting drafted just ahead of Chester Taylor (RB28)
* Maurice Jones-Drew (RB14) will go far before Fred Taylor (RB32).

I can't remember anything quite like this happening before in such volume. The sentiment is right in all the above cases except for Dallas, where I'd still take Jones, especially now that it's unclear how the third-down and goal-line roles will be defined.

While the sentiment is right, there is a lot of risk being taken because of the size of the gap between the two players in most cases. Maurice Jones-Drew and Marion Barber are highly skilled players, but they are unlikely to repeat their touchdown totals from a year ago while coming off the bench. DeAngelo Williams owners will be disappointed if John Fox stays loyal to a veteran, like he did with Steven Davis a few years ago.

[SIZE=+1]The top six quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Here are Rotoworld's top six quarterbacks in order: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Marc Bulger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Donovan McNabb. I place Manning and Palmer above the pack, but the next four are all close. These are all elite, every-week options.

Does drafting one of these quarterbacks give you a definite edge at quarterback? Yes.

Can you survive without one? Absolutely.

Like tight end, the quarterback position gets devalued because of depth and position scarcity. There are number of young, exciting quarterbacks ranked between seventh and fifteenth in our rankings. Jon Kitna and Matt Hasselbeck are two veterans who are safe bets. Let the draft come to you at quarterback. There will be times Carson Palmer is worth taking. In general, take a hard look at any of these quarterbacks in rounds four and five, although it depends who else is available on the board.

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

Last year's group of rookie quarterbacks scored more fantasy points than any group of true rookies in NFL history (I'm not counting transplants from other leagues). Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart both showed promise, and many valuable fantasy assets will depend on them maturing: Travis Henry, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Javon Walker. Only Peyton Manning has scored more fantasy points as a true rookie quarterback than Vince Young (Jim Kelly did, but after playing in the USFL.)

Fantasy owners have to decide whether these guys can progress and how to evaluate them. Usually the first-to-second year marks the biggest maturation for a quarterback. With normal maturation, all three should be outstanding options this year.

Matt Leinart might be getting the most hype, but Ken Whisenhunt may scale back the passing game. Cutler is a pure passer, but may be the most mistake-prone quarterback of the group. Young has the highest ceiling (top-five) because he'll probably rush for 600-800 yards and score at least five times on the ground. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

If we include other nascent starters like Jason Campbell, Philip Rivers, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Schaub, this fantasy season is going to rise and fall on a lot of young arms.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#68
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

QB Tiers of Heaven

Position scarcity is not a problem at quarterback. Fantasy leaguers only need to start one, and there are 32 weekly scoring options to choose from. That's why the best quarterbacks traditionally will go later in drafts than the top wide receivers and running backs.

There are advantages to taking a top quarterback. There will be fewer "busts" at the top of the quarterback rankings than other position. Health permitting, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, and Marc Bulger are all going to perform well. It's just a question of how well.

How high to value top-level quarterbacks in relation to other positions remains one of the toughest questions facing fantasy leaguers each year. Here is how we see the 2007 class.

Note: For tiers at every other position, check out the Rotoworld online draft guide, with up-to-the-minute tiers and customizeable cheat sheets. The draft guide also includes 40+ strategy articles, 600 player profiles, 32 team reports, and much more.

So check out the draft guide and if it isn't what you expected, we'll have no problems refunding your money. We're confident you'll find it the best draft guide available. And if you aren't interested, enjoy the free news, draft analysis columns, videos, and head over to my blog Friday, where I'll discuss Donald Driver's injury, Jerious Norwood's "demotion", and Brodie Croyle's "implosion."


Enough with the plugs, they keep the lights on here for the rest of the year, enjoy the tiers.

Tier One ? Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
The suspect Colts defense makes it likely that Manning will need to throw often to win. He's almost a lock to reach 4,000 yards and shouldn't slip far in the second round of drafts. He's a first-round pick if you get six points per passing touchdown. Carson Palmer is nearly as safe and could be a better value if he slips to the third round. He put up huge stats while recovering from a torn ACL and should only improve. Palmer is closer to Manning than he is the tier below.

Tier Two ? Marc Bulger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb

These are every-week starters. Bulger has more weapons than ever and can make another leap. Brees could be slightly overvalued coming off a career year, but will be productive even with a decline. McNabb won't run much this season, but he was the top quarterback by far when healthy last year. He should be ready to start Week 1, and may be the best value of this group. Brady has more weapons then ever, and the Patriots love to throw in the red zone.

These quarterbacks should go between rounds three-through-five in most leagues. We wouldn't reach earlier than round four, and will probably target Bulger and McNabb if they slip out of the top 50 picks. This tier is among the safest at any position. That's worth a premium if necessary. Draft one and don't worry about taking your QB2 until the end of the draft.

Tier Three ? Tony Romo, Jon Kitna, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck

I broke down this small tier because these are the last high ceiling QB1s. We believe Tony Romo's arrival was for real. Young is probably going to be drafted higher, but his teammates will hurt him. His rushing yards and touchdowns give him a top-five ceiling, though.

Kitna is going to put up huge yardage in Detroit, while Hasselbeck is proven and should bounce back in the Seattle offense. Kitna and Hasselbeck are great values, although Kitna is a bigger injury risk because of Detroit's offensive line. Some of these quarterbacks will last until rounds six-through-eight. Get them if you don't have a QB yet. Backing them up with a great QB2 won't be a priority, but don't close your eyes to value.

*** Play Rotoworld.com and NBCSports.com's $100,000 Challenge. It's free, and it involves different strategy than regular head-to-head leagues. Plus we've worked really hard to make it look fancy. And ? it's free.

Tier Four - Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning

Proof that it's easy to find good quarterbacks, even if they aren't great. Everyone on this list has potential, but there are question marks.

We probably have Roethlisberger ranked higher than most outlets, so he would be a great value QB2. He's among our favorite value selections at quarterback because of a primed young offense. It's his time, and the Steelers will throw deep. Rivers looked like a steady veteran from day one, but the wideout group is shaky. Don't expect his numbers to improve much. Eli Manning manages to rack up touchdowns because of his aggressive offense. If last year was his downside, well, that's not so bad. Cutler, along with Young, has a chance to stick as a top 10 quarterback for a long time. We just don't think it will happen this year.

We project a huge drop-off after this group, giving them more value. These are the only QB2s worth targeting in the first 100 picks.

Tier Five ? Matt Leinart, Byron Leftwich, Brett Favre, Jason Campbell, Alex Smith,J.P. Losman, Jake Delhomme, Matt Schaub, <A href="http://fantasyfootball.usatoday.com/content/playerpages/player_main.asp?sport=NFL&id=3119">Jeff Garcia

The best clear-cut QB2s. If you draft a top-six quarterback, it's fine to wait until this tier to grab his backup. We expect steady progress from Leinart, although owners expecting Arizona to air it out will overvalue him. Leftwich and Campbell won't get drafted in every league, but they are set up for success in improving offenses. Leftwich is finally in a system that suits his skills. Campbell is wild, but has job security, a proven system, and his running ability helps. Check their Average Draft Position, because there's no need to reach if they are available late in your draft.

Favre will put up serviceable numbers as long as Green Bay continues to lead the league in pass attempts. Schaub has all the tools and underrated running skills, but his teammates are lacking. Delhomme is erratic and has to worry about David Carr. Losman has poor talent around him and could be overhyped by owners expecting another leap. The 49ers finally got Alex Smith a worthwhile supporting cast. He could make another big jump. Garcia probably won't stay healthy for 16 games, but should do better per-game than many of the young QBs in front of him.

Target a few backup quarterbacks you want to look for deep, and grab one before the run in your draft is over.

Tier Six ?Chad Pennington, Rex Grossman, Steve McNair, Trent Green, Daunte Culpepper, Tarvaris Jackson, Joey Harrington

Unless you draft Manning or Palmer, we'd aim higher for our backup quarterback spot. Pennington wins games, but rarely puts up big numbers. McNair and Grossman will be lucky to keep their jobs all year, whether because of injury (McNair) or performance (Grossman). Trent Green has to prove he's still a viable starter. The Miami offensive line spells trouble for him. Tarvaris Jackson should start in Minnesota and rack up rushing yards, but his passing numbers are likely to be inconsistent. Harrington takes over an uncertain offense in Atlanta. Culpepper needs to lock up the Oakland job this weekend. As QB3 fliers go, you may as well aim high, and he's worth a roster spot in deeper leagues.

Like all starters, this group's value would skyrocket in leagues that start 2QBs. If you start one quarterback, we'd only draft three in very deep leagues.
Tier Seven Brodie Croyle, Charlie Frye, Damon Huard, Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Josh McCown, Andrew Walter, Cleo Lemon</B>

It's hard to draft a quarterback early until you know they have a starting job. The Cleveland competition is strictly hands off, but Quinn is likely to get his chance by November. Huard will be serviceable if he plays in Kansas City. We were ready to bump Croyle up a tier until he imploded Thursday night. The backups in Oakland are a mystery. We don't trust Trent Green to stay healthy, so Cleo Lemon may get some starts. These players are only options in 2 QB leagues.

Tier Eight ? David Carr, Kyle Boller, Derek Anderson, David Garrard, John Beck, Brian Griese, Kellen Clemens, Brooks Bollinger, Gus Frerotte, Kurt Warner, Sage Rosenfels, A.J. Feeley, J.T. O'Sullivan

Included here are some interesting backups who either have a better-than-average chance to start (Carr, Beck, Boller) or would be highly useful if an injury gave them a shot (Warner, Frerotte, Feeley).
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#69
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

2007 Draft Trends
Every draft is different, but owners forget that every draft season is also unique. Here are some of the defining traits of 2007 drafts.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
[SIZE=+1]Third and fourth running backs are not hard to find[/SIZE]

This is a byproduct of all the running back committees, but there will be starting running backs available deep into most drafts. Most of them will be young. That's not normal. Some examples: Julius Jones, LaMont Jordan, Chester Taylor, DeShaun Foster, LenDale White, Brandon Jackson, Fred Taylor, and Tatum Bell.

Are all of these players going to get a "nice pick" by your league mates? Of course not. But there isn't that big a difference between them and some of the early round gambles like Carnell Williams, Edgerrin James, Marshawn Lynch, and Deuce McAllister

I see a drastic drop-off in running back certainty after the top-15; The next twenty running backs are a lot closer in value than people think. All the split backfields could mean fewer standouts, but more depth. And all that depth affects early value ?

[SIZE=+1]Wide receivers are better top-40 picks than usual[/SIZE]

Rotoworld usually doesn't rank elite wide receivers over second running backs, but this year is an exception. One reason is the depth of running back options I listed above. Another is the established names at wide receiver that are in their prime.

More than half of all running back picks taken in the second and third round last season disappointed owners. All the while, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Andre Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Larry Fitzgerald, Lee Evans, and Javon Walker put up predictably solid seasons.

Successful NFL teams like the Ravens and Patriots often talk about trying to hit "doubles" in their drafts instead of always going for the boom-or-bust home runs. The same principles can work in fantasy leagues. Take the safe picks early.

Rotoworld sees a substantial drop-off after the first 15 receivers. If you draft two, perhaps in rounds two and four, you will have an edge over the rest of your league, especially if you start three receivers or get a point-per-reception. You will be slightly behind building running back depth, but that won't be hard to fill in this year.

[SIZE=+1]The tight end position is beyond deep[/SIZE]

You are guaranteed an every week starter in round seven or later, often in round eight or nine. With the proliferation of "Tampa 2" zone defenses, NFL offenses are naturally developing tight ends to bust open the seams in the middle of the field. Tight ends have become so good that they are devalued in fantasy leagues. Supply and demand.

Here's a stat I included in our online draft guide

In the six years spanning 1998-2003, there were 16 seasons from tight ends that topped 100 fantasy points. In the last three years, players have topped the century mark twenty times. At least ten tight ends have a shot this season.

Other than Antonio Gates, it is very difficult to separate the second tier of tight ends. There isn't that much room between Todd Heap and Jason Witten. Chris Cooley is our second-ranked tight end and has an average draft position in the eighth round. Jason Witten is around 100. Some of my favorite sleepers at any position, Heath Miller and Owen Daniels, are barely being taken.

The lesson: Don't worry about your tight end. They will come to you. Load up elsewhere first.

[SIZE=+1]Backup runners taken ahead of starters[/SIZE]

Here's a quick list of some examples with their average draft position attached.

* Reggie Bush (RB10) will get drafted ahead of Deuce McAllister (RB18).
* Marion Barber (RB22) is going before Julius Jones (RB31).
* DeAngelo Williams (RB29) will be taken ahead of DeShaun Foster (RB38).
* Adrian Peterson (RB27) is getting drafted just ahead of Chester Taylor (RB28)
* Maurice Jones-Drew (RB14) will go far before Fred Taylor (RB32).

I can't remember anything quite like this happening before in such volume. The sentiment is right in all the above cases except for Dallas, where I'd still take Jones, especially now that it's unclear how the third-down and goal-line roles will be defined.

While the sentiment is right, there is a lot of risk being taken because of the size of the gap between the two players in most cases. Maurice Jones-Drew and Marion Barber are highly skilled players, but they are unlikely to repeat their touchdown totals from a year ago while coming off the bench. DeAngelo Williams owners will be disappointed if John Fox stays loyal to a veteran, like he did with Steven Davis a few years ago.

[SIZE=+1]The top six quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Here are Rotoworld's top six quarterbacks in order: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Marc Bulger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Donovan McNabb. I place Manning and Palmer above the pack, but the next four are all close. These are all elite, every-week options.

Does drafting one of these quarterbacks give you a definite edge at quarterback? Yes.

Can you survive without one? Absolutely.

Like tight end, the quarterback position gets devalued because of depth and position scarcity. There are number of young, exciting quarterbacks ranked between seventh and fifteenth in our rankings. Jon Kitna and Matt Hasselbeck are two veterans who are safe bets. Let the draft come to you at quarterback. There will be times Carson Palmer is worth taking. In general, take a hard look at any of these quarterbacks in rounds four and five, although it depends who else is available on the board.

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

Last year's group of rookie quarterbacks scored more fantasy points than any group of true rookies in NFL history (I'm not counting transplants from other leagues). Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart both showed promise, and many valuable fantasy assets will depend on them maturing: Travis Henry, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Javon Walker. Only Peyton Manning has scored more fantasy points as a true rookie quarterback than Vince Young (Jim Kelly did, but after playing in the USFL.)

Fantasy owners have to decide whether these guys can progress and how to evaluate them. Usually the first-to-second year marks the biggest maturation for a quarterback. With normal maturation, all three should be outstanding options this year.

Matt Leinart might be getting the most hype, but Ken Whisenhunt may scale back the passing game. Cutler is a pure passer, but may be the most mistake-prone quarterback of the group. Young has the highest ceiling (top-five) because he'll probably rush for 600-800 yards and score at least five times on the ground.

If we include other nascent starters like Jason Campbell, Philip Rivers, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Schaub, this fantasy season is going to rise and fall on a lot of young arms.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#70
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Dress Rehearsal
The preseason is essentially over after Monday night's game. Depth charts are now set, whether we know the details or not. The third preseason game remains the best indicator what we can expect to see when the real thing starts in 10 short days.

So while the sports news world focuses on a certain deposed Falcons quarterback (not Chris Chandler), let's look at eight things fantasy owners need to know from this weekend.

1. A Nicked Handcuff

Michael Turner suffered a high ankle sprain in San Diego's preseason game Saturday. If nothing else, this injury should make it easier for LaDainian Tomlinson owners to get their handcuff. Turner remains one of the best backups in the league, but he was going too early for our tastes to non-LT owners.

While the sprain isn't as bad as originally feared, Turner's status for the first few weeks of the season is a question mark. Turner is a lottery ticket worth buying, but only after the first ten rounds in most leagues. Like most lottery tickets, odds are that he won't pay off.

2. LenDale White steps up; Chris Brown not far behind

Regular readers of Pancake Blocks are aware of my unhealthy obsession with all things LenDale. It was a great weekend for the true believers.

White returned to practice Wednesday after missing a week with injuries, then started at running back for the Titans, looking sharp while gaining 74 total yards on 14 touches. He made a lot of yards after contact, which Jeff Fisher looks for.

Chris Brown came off the bench to add 67 total yards on only eight touches. Fisher was so impressed that he said both players will be used heavily in Week 1. The head coach warned he wants a true lead back eventually, and White is the likely pick. He remains a great value RB3 in fantasy leagues, and a steal as a RB4.

3. Donald Driver should be fine

After fearing the worst, the Packers are cautiously optimistic Driver will be ready for Week 1. Any foot injury is worth a minor downgrade on your cheat sheets, but he's still a reasonable WR2 pick that we'd target in the fifth round.

*** See where Driver moved in our online draft guide cheat sheets.

4. Charlie Frye, Damon Huard get the nod

After Brodie Croyle imploded Thursday, Herm Edwards had to make Damon Huard the starting quarterback or face the wrath of his veteran players. Huard's ascension is good news for Larry Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, and the rest of the Chiefs offense. They could go from league-worst to mediocre.

Charlie Frye hasn't officially been named the starting quarterback in Cleveland yet, but he played half of Saturday's game with improved competence. Brady Quinn's sparkling second half effort will give Romeo Crennel reason to give Frye the hook earlier in the year if Cleveland is struggling.

5. D.J. Hackett starts over Nate Burleson

Fantasy owners grew concerned when Burleson got a surprise start in the second preseason game, but it appears Mike Holmgren was just playing around with the depth chart. Hackett, who we consider a rock solid WR3, was back in the starting lineup.

6. Daunte Culpepper is the favorite to start in Oakland

Lane Kiffin might not name his Week 1 starter until game time, but it would be a surprise if it wasn't Culpepper. Kiffin noted that Culpepper's knowledge of the offense is still sketchy, but the burly quarterback was accurate on three drives for the Raiders Friday night.

And while his footwork was occasionally clumsy, he did rush for 17 yards on three carries. Don't expect miracles from Culpepper, but he has a higher ceiling than most QB3 options at the end of fantasy drafts.

*** I probably won't be starting Culpepper in our $100,000 free-to-play game. I can't win the dough anyway. Maybe you can.

7. Sleeping Sleepers

Brandon Jones and Maurice Stovall were on a lot of sleeper lists going into the preseason, including our own. They haven't woken up yet.

The Titans have been grooming Jones to be their number one receiver, but an inconsistent offseason of practices had him coming off the bench in game three behind Roydell Williams and Eric Moulds. Williams dropped a pass, but he also led the team with 68 receiving yards and four catches. Jones didn't record a reception. Jones is still the most physically gifted wideout on the Titans, and the favorite to lead Tennessee in receiving yards on the season. But he needs to be knocked down to WR5 status until he's in the starting lineup.

Stovall's offseason appeared to peak early in training camp when he was briefly named the team's starter.

Jon Gruden recently called Stovall a "magician," for the wrong reasons.

"He disappeared on me for about 10 days ... he really showed up at training camp and was dominant. He had a great opening week, (but) he did disappear, in my opinion, from what I wanted to see in the next 10 days. He's picked it back up."

Ike Hilliard started Saturday's game over Stovall, but can't be a serious threat long-term. David Boston's status could be clouded after a recent arrest. I'd still take Stovall late, especially in PPR leagues, but he's a riskier pick than he was two weeks ago.

8. Keary Colbert likely to start in Week 1

All summer long, Dwayne Jarrett was pegged as the likely starting wide receiver in Carolina. Some owners thought Drew Carter would emerge as a sleeper wideout. But Friday night, it was 2004 rookie star Keary Colbert that opened the game and scored a 48-yard touchdown. Carter gained more yards, but suffered a trademark drop.

Jarrett could get the job eventually, but we shouldn't be surprised. Rookie wide receivers rarely develop quickly, and usually disappoint fantasy owners. I wouldn't be excited about taking any Carolina wideout other than Smith, but Jarrett should be dropped in redraft leagues.

Two Minute Drill

Jacoby Jones scored two more touchdowns for the Texans; one on a long punt return. He's earning snaps with every game and could start opposite Andre Johnson before long ? Laurence Maroney held up well after carrying the ball 15 times. He'll be ready for Week 1 ? Torry Holt sat out St. Louis' game, but it appears the Rams are being cautious with his knee. If you are looking for a reason to separate the first tier of receivers, Holt's offseason surgery is one reason to put him towards the back of the list.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Ted Ginn has won the third receiver job in Miami over Derek Hagan ? Reche Caldwell is in danger of being cut by the Patriots ? Vernand Morency won't practice this week, meaning his Week 1 availability is in serious doubt ? The Jaguars cut Jermaine Wiggins Monday ? Marques Colston and Devery Henderson both returned to practice Sunday, and could take snaps in the preseason finale.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#71
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Last Minute Draft Help
The following is our last Mock Draft of the season for the owners smart enough to draft as late as possible. Since I haven't tackled Average Draft Position since a pair of columns written before training camp, I will include some ADP thoughts after each round. It's also ADP day over at Pancake Blocks.

This is a points-per-reception league. We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 DEF no flex. So it's about as heavily tilted towards wideout as you can get. Four points per passing touchdown. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

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

1.01. Footballguys ? LaDainian Tomlinson
1.02. FFToday ? Steven Jackson
1.03. FSP ? Frank Gore
1.04. KFFL ? Larry Johnson
1.05. FootballInjuries ? Joseph Addai
1.06. The Huddle ? Brian Westbrook
1.07. Rotoworld ? Willie Parker
1.08. FantasyGuru? Reggie Bush
1.09. Rotowire ? Maurice Jones-Drew
1.10. FFMastermind ? Shaun Alexander
1.11. DraftSharks ? Travis Henry
1.12. Fantasy Insights ? Willis McGahee

Trends: In points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, we project a monster drop-off in running back value after eight backs. The same eight went first in this draft. Mo-Jo looks a little early, but he gets a big boost in this format. Shaun Alexander gets a downgrade because of his poor receiving skills and that's reflected. In a heavy wide receiver league like this, I'd consider wideouts at the end of the first round, but the owners took them on the way back. No difference really.

ADP Analysis: Drew is being taken on average as the RB14, usually mid-way through the second round. He's not your average backup, but that's awfully early for someone splitting time ... Alexander's ADP has steadily risen all offseason to RB5 despite Rotoworld's low ranking ? Willie Parker (RB8) usually goes after Westbrook (RB7), which I'm surprised about.

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

2.01. Marvin Harrison
2.02. Chad Johnson
2.03. Laurence Maroney
2.04. Rudi Johnson
2.05. Steve Smith
2.06. Rotoworld ? Reggie Wayne
2.07. Ronnie Brown
2.08. Cedric Benson
2.09. Edgerrin James
2.10. Torry Holt
2.11. Peyton Manning
2.12. Terrell Owens

Trends: Six wideouts, Rotoworld's entire first tier as of a week ago, go in round two. I was surprised wideouts didn't go a little faster in this format. We've dropped Torry Holt a few spots in the meantime, and it would have been interesting to see where Holt went after the latest round of news surrounding his knee. I still wouldn't let him get out of round three.

I considered Brandon Jacobs in round two, and would have done it in a non-PPR league. The lack of a flex player, though, makes Reggie Wayne a better scorer. Ronnie Brown is beginning to slip a bit because of the relative unease in Miami.

ADP Analysis: Peyton Manning, and quarterbacks in general, go later in industry league drafts than normal. I learned that with two work leagues in the last week. Manning is averaging being taken with the eleventh or twelfth pick ... Johnson (RB10) and Maroney (RB11) will go in the first round in most formats ... Wayne (WR6) is usually the last of the first tier receivers to be taken, but he still is off the board by the top of round three. Chad Johnson and Steve Smith, on average, go three picks ahead of the rest of the wideouts. I'm amazed Edgerrin James (RB16) is still a second-round pick. This league stuck closely to ADP averages early.

*** Play the free $100,000 Challenge and prove you are the best fantasy owner in America.

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

3.01. Roy Williams
3.02. Brandon Jacobs
3.03. Andre Johnson
3.04. Clinton Portis
3.05. Antonio Gates
3.06. Larry Fitzgerald
3.07. Rotoworld ? Thomas Jones
3.08. Javon Walker
3.09. Lee Evans
3.10. Carnell Williams
3.11. Deuce McAllister
3.12. Marion Barber

Trends: In a PPR league, Thomas Jones make a fine RB2 pick. I'd much rather have him than players in job shares like McAllister and Barber. No quarterbacks are taken in the third round, a rarity ? Lee Evans received no downgrade for the scoring format.

ADP Analysis: Brandon Jacobs' ADP has steadily climbed from RB28 early in the summer to RB20 now. We've had him no worse than RB16 all along, but still never wind up getting a chance to draft him ? Gates (TE1) is averaging being taken in the late third-round. I'd look hard at him in the fourth round if available ... Marion Barber's ADP (RB24, late fourth-round) seems to be slipping as it becomes clear he won't start for the Cowboys early in the year ? It's rare to see Andre Johnson (WR12) and Roy Williams (WR 10) both go ahead of Larry Fitzgerald ? Carnell Williams (RB22, early-fourth round) remains a low cost RB2 on average.

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

4.01. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
4.02. Marshawn Lynch
4.03. Donald Driver
4.04. Marques Colston
4.05. Adrian Peterson
4.06. Rotoworld ? Anquan Boldin
4.07. Laveranues Coles
4.08. Hines Ward
4.09. Randy Moss
4.10. LaMont Jordan
4.11. Plaxico Burress
4.12. Ahman Green

Trends: Some PPR plus players like Housh, Colston, Boldin, and Coles come at solid value in the fourth round. With nearly every team having their starting running back slots filled, only the top two rookie runners, Lamont Jordan, and Ahman Green are taken at the position. Peyton Manning is still the only quarterback off the board.

ADP Analysis: Don't expect Housh (WR10) and Boldin (WR9) to last this long in this format ... Randy Moss (WR14, mid-fourth round) has settled into this draft slot for better or worse. I still think there's a better chance he'll be a bust than a second-round value, but he should score if healthy. ? This was early for LaMont Jordan (RB35, seventh-round) according to his ADP, although we've had him in our Top 60 players since March, so there are probably a lot of Rotoworld users rolling with him as a RB3. Good luck to all of us.

*** Join the thousands of owners who have signed up for the NFL Daily Dose to be delivered to your inbox every morning. It's on the right side of this column.

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

5.01. Braylon Edwards
5.02. Deion Branch
5.03. Jerious Norwood
5.04. Carson Palmer
5.05. Reggie Brown
5.06. Drew Brees
5.07. Rotoworld ? Marc Bulger
5.08. Tom Brady
5.09. Vince Young
5.10. Donovan McNabb
5.11. DeShaun Foster
5.12. Jerricho Cotchery

Trends: Industry drafts tend to wait on quarterbacks, and Carson Palmer could prove to be the steal of the draft in the fifth-round. Six of seven picks were quarterbacks in the middle of the round, with Vince Young the most surprising pick. I was happy to take our third-ranked quarterback this late because I was confident in the running back and wideout depth available that I'd need to fill out my roster. This was the first time all draft season I saw Foster go in front of DeAngelo Williams.

ADP Analysis: Cotchery (WR32) won't normally be taken this high, but he has extra value in this format. He was easily the highest wideout remaining on our board, as well as Footballguys, who drafted him. This draft was done before the recent discouraging news on Jerious Norwood (RB29, sixth round). His ADP is falling, although he's still a fine third running back pick. ? This group of quarterbacks will usually be taken in the third round (Palmer) or the fourth (everyone else but Young). Young looks like a good value with an ADP in the eighth round if you can get him that late.

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

6.01. Jamal Lewis
6.02. Calvin Johnson
6.03. Joey Galloway
6.04. Santana Moss
6.05. Julius Jones
6.06. Rotoworld ? DeAngelo Williams
6.07. Fred Taylor
6.08. Jon Kitna
6.09. Darrell Jackson
6.10. Tony Romo
6.11. Brandon Jackson
6.12. Tatum Bell


Trends: This is where the depth at running back starts showing up. This is a WR-heavy league, but Jones, Williams, Fred Taylor, and Brandon Jackson have great potential for picks this late. I was excited to take Williams as a RB3 in this format because of his receiving ability.

ADP Analysis: Romo (QB7) and Kitna (QB8) went right at their ADPs overall. They are seen as the next-best options to the elite six quarterbacks we've written about in the last few weeks ? Darrell Jackson (WR24) has been knocked down draft boards because of his recent injuries, but most owners seem to believe San Francisco's offense won't hurt him ? Tatum Bell (RB31) is rising by the week, and went around his average slot here. Rotoworld believes it's too high. Brandon Jackson (RB32) also continues to rise up draft boards ? Santana Moss (WR22) gets a downgrade in this format, but he's one of our favorite mid-round picks this year coming off a down season.

*** To see Brandon Jackson's latest move on our cheat sheets, check out the Rotoworld draft guide.

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

7.01. Todd Heap
7.02. Mark Clayton
7.03. Vernon Davis
7.04. Ladell Betts
7.05. Bernard Berrian
7.06. Santonio Holmes
7.07. Rotoworld ? D.J. Hackett
7.08. Kevin Curtis
7.09. Vincent Jackson
7.10. Kellen Winslow
7.11. Chris Chambers
7.12. Bears Defense


Trends: Tight end run starts! Once again, the quarterback and tight end runs go a little later in industry drafts than elsewhere. One thing I've noticed this season is that I like the WR3s almost as much as the late WR2s. Clayton, Holmes, Hackett, and Jackson are all emerging players who I believe have little downside ? Betts is the only running back taken this round. He definitely occupies the space in drafts between starters and backups because he's the best "backup" available.

ADP Analysis: Of the wideouts I mentioned above, Hackett (WR35) and Curtis (WR36) have the lowest ADPS ? in the ninth round overall. Jackson (WR27) and Chambers (WR25) will go earlier in most drafts ? The tight end run usually starts in sixth-round with Tony Gonzalez, and ends in the eighth round with Alge Crumpler ? The Bears defense (DEF1) goes in the seventh-round on average, which is too early for us.

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

8.01. Tony Gonzalez
8.02. Patriots Defense
8.03. Ravens Defense
8.04. Chris Cooley
8.05. Jeremy Shockey
8.06. Rotoworld ? LenDale White
8.07. Devery Henderson
8.08. Chris Brown
8.09. Alge Crumpler
8.10. Warrick Dunn
8.11. Chester Taylor
8.12. Philip Rivers

Trends: Still quality starting tight ends and solid running back values available in round eight. White was a luxury pick in this format, and will only be worth it if I deal one of my running backs. Only one wide receiver was taken, an oddity in the middle rounds, but most of the quality third wideouts were off the board.

ADP Analysis: Owners don't know what to do with LenDale White (RB40) and Chris Brown (RB 45), usually passing on both in the first nine rounds. Chris Henry (RB47) isn't getting taken much later, which is a big mistake. White has a higher ceiling than any other back taken this late ? Dunn (RB39) went around his ADP, but I'm just not interested.

***

You can go to the league website to see the rest of the draft picks. Below are a handful of the most interesting remaining picks.

9.01. Kevin Jones: This is about right. Jones looks likely to start the year on the PUP list (we'll find either way Thursday), but he's a nice gamble once your starting lineup is set.

9.04. Matt Hasselbeck: He's going to be the last best starting fantasy quarterback available in a lot of leagues. Good value.

9.07. Jason Witten: Last best tight end.

10.04. Ronald Curry: Amazingly, it wasn't me that took him.

10.12. Brandon Jones: Probably not starting in Tennessee.

11.02. Terry Glenn: Falling by the day. This late, he's worth it.

11.08. Jacoby Jones: I love the kid, but it's amazing what a few preseason games can do.

11.09 Mike Bell: He's back at practice and turning into a great value.

12.04. Chris Henry, TEN: May be inactive on game days.

12.10. Dominic Rhodes: Should be part of committee when suspension is over.

13.01. Ben Watson: More proof that it's easy to find tight ends.

13.03. Matt Jones: Best Jones available.

15.06. James Jones: Greg Jennings went at 10.08. I'd certainly rather have James than Jacoby.

15.11. Sammy Morris: Not bad for a backup running back who should see some goal-line carries on a high scoring team.

16.08. Tab Perry: It's fine for a flier pick, but Tab Perry has shownnothing this month. Don't assume he'll have a big role in the offense or that he's even the third receiver. Maybe it's not fine.

17.10. Daunte Culpepper: Worth a shot this late.

17.11. Ernest Wilford: Currently the number one receiver in Jacksonville.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#72
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

All Aboard
We've barreled through the meaningful part of the preseason, if there is such a thing. All that is left now before the real action is a few more lineup decisions from coaches, a horrible management move by the Browns and hopefully no more than 17 additional hours of peering into Ookie's soul.

Then we all will find out how much we didn't know. We pay close attention to all of the preseason action in an attempt to pick up on this year's fashionable sleepers, as well as trying to figure out just how much sexy Chad Johnson is going to bring back.

Once the regular season starts, a lot will blow up in our faces. It happens every year and the only thing predictable about it is that it definitely will happen. Which players and which teams is far more difficult to pin down, but we have to give it a shot, right?

I've picked out three teams that I believe will exceed expectations and three that will fall short. You can make the logical leap to extend the teams' success to the players included. The point is to look beyond the obvious teams - hey, everybody likes the Colts, right? - and try to hit a couple of potential surprises. So if you have any sense at all, you will take my opinions and . . . do what you will with them.

THREE I LIKE

Atlanta Falcons

I go back and forth on the Falcons, but the fact is that expectations could not be much lower. Many of the team's fans already have written off the season, mostly because Joey Harrington is the starting quarterback. The Falcons also have something going for them with a pair of former first-round receivers, Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler and two solid backs, Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood.

I'm not suggesting you rush out and load up on Falcons in the fourth round, but don't you think an offensive mind such as Bobby Petrino can make something out of this bunch? Harrington will have a few decent games so don't be scared to consider him as a backup or a bye-week fill-in. The backs are a little dicier. While Norwood clearly has much more upside, Dunn looks like he will retain the starting role for now as his veteran presence could calm the offense. Who knows how much the Falcons will win, but they will score more than you expect in many of those losses.

Oakland Raiders

The Daunte Culpepper Reclamation Project is turning into something serious and we are going to have to start thinking about drafting him soon. He is buying into Lane Kiffin's offense and appears healthy enough to be the Raiders' best threat at quarterback right now. Considering how he was discarded in Miami, that revival is nothing short of amazing.

The Raiders will remain generally conservative on offense early on, which will limit Culpepper's stats. He also is not nearly the runner he was a few years ago so don't go looking for extra numbers there. Then there are the wide receivers. Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter are not amazing, but as late-round finds, you could do much worse. And keep an eye on TE Zach Miller. The Raiders love him, they have little depth at tight end and could run this guy into the ground by Week 6 with all the playing time he will get.

Chicago Bears

OK, I think I'm the only person on the Rex Grossman bandwagon. And he still might fumble away my so-called support. However, let us be completely objective about this. In his first full season as a starter, Grossman finished tied for seventh in the league with 23 TDs passes and led his team to a 13-3 record and the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning would have killed for that kind of success in his first season.

Sure, Grossman does some funny things and many of his mistakes are particularly galling. He still is a young guy and young quarterbacks tend to do stupid things. After another full offseason in the offense and with a game-breaker such as Bernard Berrian continuing to grow and with TE Greg Olsen joining the offense, there is a lot to look forward to. Still, Grossman is going undrafted in many leagues. He isn't worth a roster spot at all? That is absurd.

THREE I DON'T

Cincinnati Bengals

When we get into January, one thing you'll hear about the teams still playing is about how they have great depth. Every club will go through some rough spots, but the good ones have enough depth to fight through. Well, the Bengals have no depth. They already lost rookie running back Kenny Irons, on top of perennially injured Chris Perry, and have nobody to lighten Rudi Johnson's load. And they have had no luck finding somebody to fill Chris Henry's valuable third receiver role for the first half of the season. The Bengals also were without their two starting tackles for much of the preseason, although left tackle Levi Jones came back Monday night.

That is a dicey combination of problems, and we're still a few days from September. If everything runs perfectly smoothly, the Bengals will be fine and their dynamic offense will keep rolling. But hoping to avoid problems at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and both tackle positions is a long bet. Maybe they get in trouble for only a game or two, but it's those games that could have a dramatic effect on how the season turns. I get a bad feeling when I see a team without capable reserves ready to pitch in, and that is what I see here.

Houston Texans

This isn't exactly going out on a limb, but with a bunch of people doing wacky things like picking Matt Schaub as their breakout player of the year, I feel compelled to bring some reason to the argument. Doesn't anybody remember Rob Johnson? The Bills dumped a first-round pick to go after Johnson, who had 35 passes in three seasons with the Jaguars and basically one good game. So what happened but Johnson gets involved in a quarterback mess with Doug Flutie and never amounts to anything. Oh, he did throw 12 TD passes one season but a star? Not quite.

I bring all of that up to keep the Schaub hysteria in perspective a bit. He has no business being more than a late-round pick, not with all of the offensive problems Houston has had in its existence. The Texans never have been able to protect the quarterback, their running game has been all over the map and other than Andre Johnson, what good receivers have they had? Maybe Schaub does mark the arrival of a new era. History is a bear to overcome here, though, especially when the rest of the cast is not appreciably better.

Miami Dolphins

Maybe I missed something, but when the Dolphins come up with such an excess of playmakers that they could dangle Chris Chambers as trade bait? They let Wes Welker go, got rid of TE Randy McMichael -- not a star but a nice target -- and QB Daunte Culpepper (see above). OK, new coach Cam Cameron wants his own guys in place, but Ted Ginn Jr. isn't ready to contribute as an every-down receiver and Marty Booker . . . well, he is Marty Booker. www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws

And where'd this hype about Ronnie Brown come from? Folks are falling all over each other to draft him in the first round. Let me count the problems with this idea: He has a total of 10 career TDs, a career-high of 241 carries and did not play 16 games in either of his two seasons. The Dolphins still haven't figured out who plays where on the offensive line (hey, no rush, guys) and saying that Trent Green is playing like a 37-year-old is kind of insulting to 37-year-olds.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#73
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

The Great Unknown
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
The preseason is a time marked by the unknown. Take young Danny Baugher, for instance. Two weeks ago, the Patriots cut veteran Josh Miller and Baugher was virtually assured the punting gig. In my world, I imagine he's spent the time since sidling up to attractive women and informing them that he was, in fact, the Danny Baugher, punter for the New England Patriots (it's a line every single man should try, by the way). It's possible he mimed a punt for added sex appeal.



But today, Mr. Baugher woke up to a much crueler world. The Pats signed Chris Hanson and he is suddenly out of a job. Baugher not only loses a bunch of money, he loses the infinite sex appeal of a punter in the NFL. Such is life.

The 100KFC is a game built on match-ups. You want to play good players against bad defenses. Simple enough. But as Danny Baugher knows, it's hard to predict where someone stands in the preseason. Is Brandon Jacobs going to be this years Frank Gore? Is Braylon Edwards going to put up top tier WR numbers? Is Romo for real? There are a lot of unknowns now that will be painfully clear come week four.

Once the season is underway, we'll be able to see which teams give are giving up a ton of points to tight ends. Injuries will weaken pass defenses. We'll be able to see how coaching changes in Arizona, Oakland and Dallas have affected their respective team's performance.

In the meantime, however, it's probably best to play it safe. And to help you do so, I've picked out three teams that I can almost promise you will be terrible against the pass, and three more that will be decimated by the run. Until we have a better idea of how other defenses will fare this season, you should check the following teams' match-ups, and strongly consider starting anyone that goes against them.

Three Porous Run Defenses:

The Indianapolis Colts

Until Booger McFarland showed up, the Colts run defense stopped the rush about as well as a wet diaper last year. By the time the playoffs rolled around, though, the squad's defense held like the finest cloth diaper (yes, this is the first of many extended diaper metaphors). Well, McFarland is on IR, and the Colts are destined to once again give up big rushing numbers. Their first three match-ups are against New Orleans, Tennessee and Houston. Reggie Bush makes a great start in Week 1 against these guys, and using Ahman Green in Week 3 (before he is injured) could also be prudent.

The Buffalo Bills

On the plus side, the Bills have Dick Jauron as their head coach. The energy this firecracker exhibits is unmatched in football. When you think "game face," you think Dick Jauron. And the Bills defense will need to feed off his obvious energy if they want any shot this year. Don't get me wrong; they have a squad of very solid young players. Unfortunately, they lost most of their veteran leadership in Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher-Baker. There's no doubt that this team is poised to improve, but this season they will be little more than a group of inexperienced and undersized speedsters. Travis Henry, Willie Parker, and Laurence Maroney should all fare well in the first three weeks.

The Tennessee Titans

Considering the only other person who can make it rain is God, you have to imagine that losing Pacman Jones will hurt the Titans' anemic defense. Jones truly is an elite defensive weapon, and seeing as the Titans' defense was terrible with him, I don't think there's a word that accurately describes how bad they will be without him this season. The signing of Corey Simon could help, but his ability to contribute this season is unknown. The lack of run-stoppers in the secondary will make them easy pickings. Their first three opponents are Jacksonville, Indianapolis and New Orleans. It could be Addai's biggest game of the season.

Send Help for these Pass Defenses

The Atlanta Falcons

DeAngelo Hall is fast, and definitely gets the "Most Willing to Shave a Message in His Hair and Have It Backfire" award. But he's not the only person to give himself too much credit. Hall is overrated because of his speed, and he's still the anchor of a terrible Atlanta secondary. Chris Houston and Jimmy Williams provide hope for the future, but the Falcons should still be victimized often this year. Having Joey Harrington run the offense means they should be on the field quite often (because Harrington will throw 80-yard touchdown bombs on first down, obviously). Atlanta faces Minnesota, Jacksonville and Carolina in the first three weeks. Steve Smith probably can't wait.

The Detroit Lions

Woe is the Lions. They have a lot of offensive firepower, but it might not be enough to overcome one of the worst all-around defenses in the NFL. They were brutal last year, and their major offseason defensive move was shipping Dre' Bly off to the Broncos. Run-stopping safety Daniel Bullocks was recently placed on IR, only making matters worse. The Lions play Oakland, Minnesota and Philadelphia in the first three weeks. McNabb is a great start, and since the 100KFC forces you to start 24 QBs over the course of the regular season, it might even make sense to start Culpepper. That's how hard up the Lions are.

The New York Giants

The Giants secondary is full of mediocre talent. Rookie Aaron Ross will eventually be an elite corner, but for now is stuck behind two grizzled vets, making his impact minimal. Michael Strahan will probably return, but that shouldn't make the Giants any better against the pass than they were last year. They should give up plenty when they face Dallas, Green Bay and Washington in the first three weeks.

I suggest you find yourself a grid of the NFL Schedule. Scour the first twelve weeks and find what you believe to be strong match-ups. Try to decide when you want to play studs like Manning, LT or Chad Johnson and mark off those weeks. That way you know when you're going to need to dig a little deeper and you can prepare for it. There's no shame in becoming a dork over this game. Winning involves planning and the potential payoff is huge. Nobody's gonna call you a nerd when you're walking around in your brand new NBC polo shirt, damn it.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#74
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Camp Battle Roundup





[SIZE=+1]Battles Clearly Won[/SIZE]
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Raiders No. 1 Running Back
Winner: LaMont Jordan
Losers: Dominic Rhodes, Justin Fargas, Adimchinobe Echemandu


A back injury sidelined Jordan for a short spell, but he returned with successive outstanding preseason performances. He'll begin splitting with Rhodes in Week 5, but is a fine RB3.

Cowboys No. 1 Running Back
Winner: Julius Jones
Loser: Marion Barber


The new coaching staff won't fiddle with what Bill Parcells left in place. Jones will start games with Barber the "closer." While Barber is unlikely to score 16 times again, he remains the better fantasy pick.

Steelers No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Santonio Holmes
Losers: Nate Washington, Cedrick Wilson


Wilson started the preseason opener but was quickly replaced by Holmes when the second-year wideout fully recovered from an undisclosed offseason surgery. Holmes will keep the job all season.

Saints No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Devery Henderson
Losers: Terrance Copper, David Patten, Lance Moore


Moore may have pulled ahead for the third-receiver job, but starter's status belongs to Henderson, hamstring injury or not. The speedy LSU product will be worth using as a WR3 in the right matchups.

Broncos No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Brandon Marshall
Losers: Brandon Stokley, Rod Smith


Stokley topped Denver's first camp depth chart only because Marshall was on PUP at the time. He's since rebounded strong and reclaimed his position. Smith will miss the season's first six weeks.

Jets No. 1 Quarterback
Winner: Chad Pennington
Loser: Kellen Clemens


Pennington has lost considerable ground to Clemens, who the Jets will want to give a chance late in the season if they fall out of playoff position. Pennington isn't playing well, so that possibility is growing.

Packers No. 3 Receiver
Winner: James Jones
Loser: Ruvell Martin


Jones has a great chance to be the NFL's most productive third-receiver this year because the Packers' line is good, their tight ends are weak, and the offense will go three-wide frequently.

Falcons No. 1 Running Back
Winner: Warrick Dunn
Loser: Jerious Norwood


Dunn won this battle because he's a veteran, definitely not due to his preseason play. His body is breaking down and the explosive Norwood should easily out-produce him across the board this season.

Chargers No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Craig Davis
Losers: Eric Parker, Malcom Floyd


Davis will start Week 1 in place of the injured Parker, who may miss up to six weeks and not be 100 percent all year. The Bolts will use Floyd's size in the red zone, but he's No. 3 for now.

Jaguars No. 1 Receiver
Winner: Ernest Wilford
Losers: Matt Jones, Mike Walker


Wilford won out because he showed up for every day of camp while Jones and Walker nursed injuries. There is a slight chance Jones could overtake him, but he seems more likely to stay in the slot.

Chiefs No. 2 Running Back
Winner: Michael Bennett
Loser: Kolby Smith, Priest Holmes


Smith couldn't move the ball forward in the preseason, so Bennett retained his job by default. Because Larry Johnson is such a risk to break down, his owners must continue to track the pecking order here.

Saints No. 1 Tight End
Winner: Eric Johnson
Losers: Mark Campbell, Billy Miller


Campbell recently got hurt and Johnson created separation from Miller after a slow start in pre-camp work. You could do worse than Johnson in a PPR league, though he's no field-stretcher.

Falcons No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Roddy White
Losers: Michael Jenkins, Laurent Robinson


Jenkins is the slot receiver with Robinson nursing a leg injury. White showed he's the same Roddy he's always been by dropping two catchable balls Monday night, but isn't in much danger because Atlanta values his long speed.

Dolphins No. 1 Quarterback
Winner: Trent Green
Losers: Cleo Lemon, John Beck


Green was named the starter two weeks ago despite not playing well in the preseason. With a miserable line in front of him, he's unlikely to play all 16 games. Both Lemon and Beck could see multiple starts.

Texans No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Kevin Walter
Losers: Jacoby Jones, Keenan McCardell


Jones seems to be everyone's "next Marques Colston" except for coach Gary Kubiak, who confirmed last Sunday that Walter will begin the year starting. Still, expect Jones to pass him by mid-season.

Eagles No. 2 Running Back
Winner: Correll Buckhalter
Loser: Tony Hunt


Brian Westbrook made it through camp unscathed, so it seems he's less of an injury risk this year than in any other. But because of his history, know that Hunt will get goal-line carries if Westbrook gets hurt.

Jaguars No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Dennis Northcutt
Losers: Reggie Williams, Charles Sharon


Williams has moved up to the fourth-receiver spot, but isn't close to Northcutt. New coordinator Dirk Koetter prefers a speed receiver opposite Ernest Wilford, meaning Northcutt's job is safe and sound.

49ers No. 2 Running Back
Winner: Maurice Hicks
Losers: Michael Robinson, Thomas Clayton


Hicks is officially second on the depth chart but Robinson should still see the majority of the work if Gore gets hurt, making the former Penn State QB a better handcuff. Clayton is headed for the practice squad.

Titans No. 2 Receiver
Winner: Eric Moulds
Losers: Chris Davis, Paul Williams


Moulds made an immediate impression upon signing in July and has captured the starting role. Davis seems to have found his niche in the slot. Williams may be destined for waivers.

Jaguars No. 1 Tight End
Winner: Marcedes Lewis
Losers: George Wrighster, Jermaine Wiggins


Wiggins was among the first round of cuts, leaving Lewis atop the depth chart with Wrighster backing him up. The Jags probably won't use both tight ends often, so Lewis has sleeper potential as a TE2.

Chiefs No. 1 Quarterback
Damon Huard v. Brodie Croyle


Croyle played his way out of the job and Huard got the nod. Neither will likely be worth owning during the season in an ultra-conservative offense, but keep in mind that Huard is only keeping the seat warm.

[SIZE=+1]Battles That Are Less Clear[/SIZE]

Dolphins No. 1 Running Back
Ronnie Brown v. Jesse Chatman


Brown will be named Miami's starter on Monday. Chatman had an exceptional preseason and looks like a fine backup, as he was behind LaDainian Tomlinson in 2004, but Brown's skills are far superior.

Bills No. 1 Running Back
Marshawn Lynch v. Anthony Thomas v. Dwayne Wright


Coach Dick Jauron didn't formally name a starter, saying only that he plans to use a committee. We expect Lynch's talent to win out and Thomas to play a relatively minor role. Wright is safely third on the depth chart.

Packers No. 1 Running Back
Vernand Morency v. Brandon Jackson


Jackson never won this battle outright, but Morency might not play in the opener anyways. When Green Bay begins showing its real offense and not just a preseason-styled vanilla version, Jackson will have every opportunity to rack up yardage and keep the job all year.

Seahawks No. 2 Receiver
D.J. Hackett v. Nate Burleson


Although coach Mike Holmgren has made nothing official, Hackett started the all-important third exhibition game. It's an indication that the contract-year wideout has formally moved pass Burleson, who should focus on kick returns.

Titans No. 1 Running Back
LenDale White v. Chris Brown v. Chris Henry


The Titans will use a two-man rotation in Week 1, but it's uncertain who will start the game. In the end, White should get more carries overall with Brown playing on third downs. Henry could be inactive.

Patriots No. 2 Receiver
Donte' Stallworth v. Jabar Gaffney v. Reche Caldwell


Stallworth is ahead of Gaffney based on recent preseason games, but we won't know the starter officially until coordinator Josh McDaniels sends out his lineup on opening day. Expect Caldwell to be released.

Broncos No. 2 Running Back
Mike Bell v. Cecil Sapp v. Selvin Young


While a hip injury temporarily opened the door for Sapp, we'll be shocked if Bell isn't the pick. He knows the offense well and is too effective near the goal. Young will have a spot on the practice team.

Panthers No. 2 Receiver
Dwayne Jarrett v. Keary Colbert v. Drew Carter


It'll be Colbert or Carter on opening day, but Jarrett should take over by mid-season. Despite some drops and inconsistency in camp, Carter's role is defined as a speed threat who needs to be on the field.

Bucs No. 2 Receiver
Maurice Stovall v. Ike Hilliard v. David Boston v. Michael Clayton


Stovall's upside is the best but Hilliard has tenure on his side. Clayton could be traded or released, while the results of Boston's urine test are pending. Look for Hilliard to start in Week 1 and catch two passes.

Titans No. 1 Tight End
Bo Scaife v. Ben Hartsock v. Ben Troupe


Even though he's been hurt, Troupe tops the team's official depth chart. Hartsock is a valuable blocker, so his spot isn't in jeopardy. Scaife may be the best player here but is no lock to start in Week 1.

Chiefs No. 2 Receiver
Samie Parker v. Dwayne Bowe v. Jeff Webb


The Chiefs will keep Bowe at flanker (Eddie Kennison's position), so he almost certainly won't start Week 1. Parker is the apparent favorite, but has negligible value. Webb failed to step up in camp.

Colts No. 2 Running Back
DeDe Dorsey v. Kenton Keith v. Clifton Dawson


Dorsey wasn't fantastic this preseason but remains the slight leader. It would probably take a monster finale from Keith for him to move up a notch on the depth chart. Dawson should go to the practice squad.

Titans No. 1 Receiver
Brandon Jones v. Courtney Roby v. Roydell Williams


In a suspect passing attack, Williams has emerged the favorite to be a deep complement to Eric Moulds. Jones has fallen behind and can be dropped in re-draft leagues. Roby's camp mirrored his career: quiet.

Browns No. 1 Quarterback
Charlie Frye v. Derek Anderson v. Brady Quinn


The job is almost certainly Frye's to start the year, but he won't last long. Quinn has outperformed both of the players currently listed ahead of him and proven he's ready to play sooner than later.

Eagles No. 3 Receiver
Hank Baskett v. Jason Avant v. Greg Lewis


Because Avant is the slot, he'll get more playing time than Baskett. Baskett will help inside the 20 and when the Birds go four wide. It's uncertain who would start if Reggie Brown or Kevin Curtis gets hurt.

Cowboys No. 1 Kicker
Nick Folk v. Martin Gramatica


Gramatica's hamstring injury has given the sixth-round pick Folk a significant edge. While it'd be preferable for a potential Super Bowl contender to have a veteran kicker, Folk's done nothing to show he isn't worthy.

Raiders No. 1 Quarterback
Daunte Culpepper v. Josh McCown v. Andrew Walter


Culpepper has been fantastic considering how late he came in but the job is still up for grabs. If McCown tears it up Thursday, he has a good chance. Every rep JaMarcus Russell misses decreases the chances he'll start at all this year.

Giants No. 1 Kicker
Josh Huston v. Lawrence Tynes


Tynes hasn't kicked well or stayed healthy and costs about $600,000 more than Huston. We still won't know the winner of this battle until final cuts are processed this weekend.

Other borderline or less-important battle results:

Vikings No. 1 QB: Tarvaris Jackson > Brooks Bollinger
Eagles No. 2 QB: A.J. Feeley > Kevin Kolb
Bills No. 2 QB: Trent Edwards > Craig Nall
Giants No. 2 QB: Jared Lorenzen > Anthony Wright
Giants No. 1 RB: Brandon Jacobs > Reuben Droughns
Redskins No. 1 RB: Clinton Portis > Ladell Betts
Vikings No. 1 RB: Chester Taylor > Adrian Peterson
Panthers No. 1 RB: DeShaun Foster > DeAngelo Williams
Bears No. 2 RB: Adrian Peterson > Garrett Wolfe
Ravens No. 2 RB: Mike Anderson > Musa Smith
Vikings No. 1 WR: Bobby Wade > Sidney Rice
Giants No. 2 WR: Amani Toomer > Steve Smith
Redskins No. 2 WR: Antwaan Randle El > Brandon Lloyd
49ers No. 2 WR: Arnaz Battle > Ashley Lelie
Steelers No. 3 WR: Nate Washington > Cedrick Wilson
Broncos No. 3 WR: Brandon Stokley > Domenik Hixon
Bengals No. 3 WR: Tab Perry > Antonio Chatman
Browns No. 3 WR: Tim Carter > Travis Wilson
Bucs No. 1 TE: Alex Smith > Anthony Becht
Dolphins No. 1 TE: David Martin > Courtney Anderson
Raiders No. 1 TE: Zach Miller > John Madsen
Bears No. 1 TE: Desmond Clark > Greg Olsen
Packers No. 1 TE: Donald Lee > Bubba Franks
Panthers No. 1 TE: Jeff King > Michael Gaines
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#75
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Little reward in risky picks
The absurdity of the NFL preseason is never on display more so than during this final week of exhibitions. You better get to pregame warm-ups early if you have any hope of seeing your favorite stars in uniform. Coaches just want to iron out roster spots Nos. 40-53 and start game-planning for Week 1.

They will have you believe that training camp and preseason play is of paramount importance, but let's be real: jobs are won in May and June as much as they are in August anymore. That means most of the remaining training camp battles are between players flawed enough to leave the door open to competition.

That does not mean, however, that everybody fighting to start is worth drafting. Some players will be destined for success, though they might start off as reserves on your roster. Just be sure you know what is going on in these spots; there is little worse than drafting a guy who just got stuck on the bench.

Miami Dolphins running back. This gets top billing not so much because it is a true competition but because of the shock value. Ronnie Brown is not really about to lose his job, especially to Jesse Chatman. But the fact coach Cam Cameron thinks he needs to light a fire under Brown should end any crazy ideas about taking Brown in the first round. The third round is more like it, especially if you're getting the feeling the Dolphins are waiting until the regular season to unleash a secret weapon in rookie Lorenzo Booker.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
Tennessee Titans running back and wide receiver. As shocking as it sounds, the Titans ought to let LenDale White start at running back. Give him the ball, see if he stays healthy and see what happens. They know what they have in veteran Chris Brown, and while it isn't bad, it's nothing special. White starting is far from certain, and even if he does, Brown will not be far thanks to White's horrible injury history. White also is a surprisingly good receiver and a potential TD threat, yet this is a situation to stay away from. Rookie Chris Henry is not a factor.

The wide receivers remain muddled, though veteran Eric Moulds has room to make a move after not exerting much effort in preseason. Youngsters such as Brandon Jones and Roydell Williams have not made an impact and do not appear ready to be consistent threats. Tight end Bo Scaife is worth a look, considering he appears to be the only receiver Vince Young looks for regularly.

Atlanta Falcons running back. We might have jumped the gun a bit in proclaiming Jerious Norwood the next great thing when news of Warrick Dunn's back surgery broke just before camp. Dunn got back on the field quickly and earned coach Bobby Petrino's trust with his experience as a blocker and receiver. Norwood missed some time because of a stomach ailment, and the pendulum swung back toward Dunn. Dunn's age (32) is a concern, though he has not missed a game since 2003. He also has a career high of 286 carries, so both will get work, even though Dunn looks like the guy to grab now.

Green Bay Packers running back. Injuries, especially to Vernand Morency, have given this job to rookie Brandon Jackson by default, and he steadily has moved up draft boards. Counting on him as an every-week starter is risky, but adding him as a third back is a high-upside move. It has been tough to get a read on Jackson's potential as a featured back, and his biggest value could come as a TD threat. The Packers do not have anybody else to get the goal-line rushes.

Oakland Raiders quarterback. Daunte Culpepper has established himself as the top quarterback and, with JaMarcus Russell's extended holdout, he could start most of the season. The Raiders will remain conservative offensively early on, so do not expect Culpepper to match the dramatic numbers he used to have with the Minnesota Vikings. But if he secures Oakland's starting role, he will be worth a shot as your backup. Do not expect many rushing stats.

Cleveland Browns quarterback. Rookie Brady Quinn has caught up quickly to his competition, which is not saying much. Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson barely have been able to get out of their own way all preseason, and the Browns' best hope is to throw Quinn in as the starter and hope he is passable by midseason. That would mean some ugly moments early on but also some times when Quinn is worth a place on a roster, especially with playmakers such as Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow II in place.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver. David Boston was starting to make the push for Tampa Bay's No. 2 job interesting, bringing back memories of his 1,598-yard season in 2001, before his arrest on a driving under the influence charge put his rise into question. Now it is Maurice Stovall who might get a shot ahead of the disappointing Michael Clayton if the Bucs sour on Boston. Stovall is worth a look early in the season, but he is not nearly as interesting a story as Boston.

Detroit Lions running back. This is pretty much Tatum Bell's spot, and he is a popular sleeper as a dynamic running threat in what should be an explosive offense. But he banged up his shin last week, highlighting how risky that gamble is. If the Lions keep Kevin Jones on the physically unable to perform list into the regular season, a Bell injury means the Lions are down to T.J. Duckett, Brian Calhoun and Aveion Cason. If the Lions activate Jones, he could be pressed into action sooner than expected if Bell gets dinged again. Bell will have some great stretches but is unlikely to be a season-long answer.

Minnesota Vikings wide receivers. This is a bad combination of a muddled depth chart and conservative passing game. Bobby Wade looks like a solid possession receiver, and Troy Williamson is a decent deep threat who drops too many passes on a team that will not throw deep very often. Rookie Sidney Rice does not look ready to make an impact, and recently signed Robert Ferguson could immediately win playing time. Yes, this is a competition, but you don't want the winner.

Kickers. With so many options available, there is no reason to draft anybody in jeopardy of losing his job. But in case you're wondering ? inexperienced Josh Huston easily could beat out veteran Lawrence Tynes for the New York Giants job, though neither has been great. John Vaughn's rise in Tennessee hit a ceiling and Rob Bironas' inconsistency could send the Titans to the waiver wire. If Martin Gramatica needs time to recover from his hamstring injury, that will reopen the door for rookie Nick Folk with the Dallas Cowboys, while the Packers are feeling better about rookie Mason Crosby replacing Dave Rayner.

ROOKIE REPORT

We usually get a little overexcited about rookies, especially when they break off fancy moves in a preseason game against a backup defense. But whenever you start to think you have uncovered a rookie destined to star, remember there have been only three rookie 1,000-yard receivers in the last eight years.

Running backs are more likely to make an impact, though that realistic talent pool generally is limited to first-day draft picks. You know you want to draft a rookie or two; some to consider, aside from obvious prospects Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson.

Brian Leonard. He has shown a spark given extensive work with starter Steven Jackson sitting out most of the preseason. Leonard will get some work regardless and has been good enough to be worth a look if Jackson were injured. Add him to your running back handcuff list because of how expensive Jackson is to acquire.

Tony Hunt. The Philadelphia Eagles are giving him a look as a short-yardage back, and Hunt has become a common late pick. Remember, though, that the Eagles rarely lean on rookies much and starter Brian Westbrook is a reliable TD threat, even if he is injury-prone.

Calvin Johnson. Almost all expectations for Johnson are out of reach. Somebody in your league will think he will dominate like Randy Moss did as a rookie (1,313 yards, 17 TDs), but that is unrealistic. Did you forget how good Roy Williams is and the 98 catches Mike Furrey had last season? If Johnson approaches 1,000 yards and six to eight TDs, he will have had a dream season.

Craig Davis. The San Diego Chargers return one of the worst receiving groups in the league, especially for a team that went 14-2 last year and led the league in scoring (by more than four points). Davis drops into a starting job, and possibly the No. 1 role, after veteran Eric Parker's foot injury sidelined him for a big part of the season. Vincent Jackson also is on the rise, but he is inconsistent. Davis has an opportunity to seize, though Antonio Gates and LaDainiain Tomlinson will keep most of the scoring chances.

James Jones. Pencil Jones in as one of the late-preseason risers. Donald Driver's foot injury and Greg Jennings' quiet preseason have made Jones a hot prospect. He will be at least the No. 3 receiver and possibly more, depending on Driver and Jennings. Jones has made plenty of fine catches thus far, but do not get too carried away. Jennings looks like he is being kept under wraps by design, and he had an excellent start to his rookie season before injuries hit. If Driver is ready for Week 1, Jones' role will be substantial yet limited.

Anthony Gonzalez. Plenty of people want to make him a high pick simply because he plays for the Indianapolis Colts, something that should be good for him in the long term. For now he is stuck behind Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in an offense that features the pass less than a few years ago and likes to use its tight ends. Think of Gonzalez as another Wayne. Wayne had 345 yards and zero TDs as a rookie and did not hit 1,000 yards until his fourth season. Gonzalez will not take off until either Harrison or Wayne is out of the way.

Dwayne Jarrett. The Carolina Panthers need a big receiver such as Jarrett and another threat behind star Steve Smith. So Jarrett certainly will get an opportunity, and you can spend a late pick if you have the flexibility. He will get some goal-line chances but not enough playing time.

Robert Meachem, Dwane Bowe, Ted Ginn. None of these first-round receivers have done anything noteworthy and seem relegated to a longer development curve. Meachem at least is in a dynamic offense, while Bowe has a poor passing game to overcome and Ginn a crowded depth chart.

Jacoby Jones. Look here for the 2007 version of Devin Hester. Don't expect much out of him as a wide receiver, though he will see some time. He has made a preseason splash as a returner and is worth a pick if your league rewards individuals; he also ups the value of the Houston Texans' special teams.

Greg Olsen. He is getting a lot of hype as the possible final piece to the Rex Grossman puzzle, but as we've seen, Grossman has plenty of other issues to work through. Yes, Olsen might turn into an excellent receiver; however, his issue as a rookie is splitting time with Desmond Clark. Let's not consider him the next Gates just yet; he is a backup at best.

Zach Miller. The Raiders are throwing Miller right into the mix, and his downfield ability is crucial to a team that needs regular receiving options. The passing game remains a question, but he will get plenty of playing time and be a threat in the red zone. Plus, he is a receiving tight end who wears No. 45. That alone makes him worth a pick.

AROUND THE LEAGUE:

Remember the name J.T. O'Sullivan. Why? Because Lions starter Jon Kitna, 35, is dealing with back spasm and because No. 2 Dan Orlovsky's job is in jeopardy because of injuries and spotty play. O'Sullivan might open the season as Detroit's backup, and coordinator Mike Martz seems to love the guy. Why is that important? Because you had never heard of Kurt Warner or Marc Bulger either before Martz made them stars. O'Sullivan has been around a bit (the Lions are his sixth team, third in the NFC North) and has never attempted a regular-season pass. A perfect Martz project.

Damon Huard took over what used to be a competition and will start at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, but that was a fight nobody won. Huard missed time because of a calf injury, and Brodie Croyle took himself out of the running by playing like he needs at least one more redshirt season. Huard will have a short leash, and you should not expect any of the occasional magic he produced last year in relief of Trent Green. The Chiefs will give Croyle a shot at some point and Huard is no more than a one-week emergency fill-in.

The New York Jets' quarterback situation isn't a controversy just yet. A discussion is more accurate, considering Chad Pennington helped the team to the playoffs last year and that type of veteran will not lose his job in preseason. Kellen Clemens was drafted for the future, meaning Pennington is not beyond benching in-season. That obscures the fact that Pennington is not a great fantasy pick anyhow because of the team's offense and his arm strength. Take him off your board completely if you're worried about Clemens moving in.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#76
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

When to sit Carson Palmer
In Pro Football Prospectus 2007, I posed a question that stands up there in the pantheon of difficult-to-answer conundrums like "Is anyone going to eat the last buffalo wing?" and "Do I look fat in these?"

"When is Alex Smith better than Carson Palmer?"

Of course, the initial reaction to the question is just a simple "No". Smith is a developing quarterback on a solid team, but to compare him to the All-World Palmer? They're not in the same stratosphere. And, well, about 95% of the time, you'd be right.

The correct answer to this question, for the purposes of this column, is "Week 1 of the 2007 NFL Season."

My name is Bill Barnwell, and I'm a contributing editor at Football Outsiders, the statistical analysis website that breaks down football in the way that people like Bill James and Baseball Prospectus have developed statistics and guides for baseball.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
What we've done in the past four years is develop a series of statistics that do a better job of determining what wins games on a week-to-week and year-to-year basis than what people normally use for metrics, things like yards and the previous year's win totals and what-not. Our core stats are DVOA and DPAR. For a quick explanation of how these stats work, check out the bottom of this column.

***

In the essay I wrote for the book, I evaluated how players of different levels of talent and experience do versus five different tiers of defenses, ranging from great to average to replacement-level.

My findings can be summated into two points:

1. All players at a given position are affected by defenses to the same extent.

While there are rare exceptions, over the course of time, great players suffer just as much mediocre ones do. Peyton Manning's affected when he plays against the Ravens passing defense just as much as Charlie Frye is -- the difference is that Manning has more to lose, because he normally gains more points than Frye.

2. Quarterbacks and running backs lose about a third of their value when playing the best defenses in the league as opposed to the worst; wide receivers lose about 15% of their value, and there's no real pattern for tight ends.

Of course, not even fantasy football is played on paper, so you can't just take LaDainian Tomlinson's typical performance, subtract a percentage, and then compare it to someone else. You have to consider many other things -- namely, the context of the matchup and the opposition. Do they stop running backs who catch the ball out of the backfield? Will the team be winning and running the ball in the second half, or losing and throwing desperately to catch up? Is the player suffering from a nagging injury? Have the players around him changed? Is the protection alright?

It's impossible to account for all these things, but using them as a background, you can also account for the defense he'll be facing using the defensive stats available on our website. And, on average, a great defense will cost a player 30% of his value as opposed to an awful one. There will always be days where Larry Johnson gets 44 points against the Ravens (well, maybe not anymore) and Maurice Morris only goes for three against Indy. What this column aims to do is present the likeliest scenarios to you based upon the data we've collected in an attempt to isolate matchups that are good or bad for your fantasy team.

As for Smith and Palmer? In Week 1, Palmer goes up against the Ravens, whose pass defense (-25.2% DVOA) was best in the league last year. Palmer averaged 12 fantasy points (in a standard configuration) per game against the Ravens last year. Meanwhile, Smith is up against the Cardinals -- he averaged 12.5 points per game against them. While that half-point isn't a huge difference, he had 18 points in his Week 1 game against Arizona; by the time their second game rolled around, Antonio Bryant was gone and LT Jonas Jennings was hurt and not protecting Smith's blindside. With Darrell Jackson in the fold, Jennings (and Joe Staley) on the field instead of Kwame "The Human Turnstile" Harris, and Chris Henry suspended, all signs are pointing to Alex Smith outplaying Carson Palmer for at least one week. Next week, we'll preview Week 1 and detail the fantasy matchups to look out for.

How our system works

A good example is a typical Carolina Panthers drive. Jake Delhomme lofts up an eight-yard pass that Steve Smith catches. Smith dekes out three defenders, gets a cheerleader's phone number as he runs down the sideline, stops to film a DirecTV commercial, and gets tackled on the opponent's two-yard line after gaining 74 yards. A great play for your NFL team and your fantasy team, if you have Smith or Delhomme. On the next play, DeShaun Foster runs the ball in from two yards out. A good play for all parties involved, again, but not a particularly difficult one for Foster. NFL teams convert from the two five out of six times.

It's with this in mind that we developed our two core statistics, DVOA and DPAR. DVOA breaks down every play, assigning it a value based upon how much closer it brings a team towards scoring a touchdown. Then, we compare that play and its value to the average success value of a play to "similar" plays, as judged by down and distance, field location, the time remaining, and the difference in score. A three-yard gain by Donovan McNabb on third-and-20 is different than a three-yard gain by Brian Westbrook on third-and-1.

Finally, we adjust the value based upon the defense the play is up against. Those three yards would have meant a lot more against the Ravens last year than it would have against the Colts. We then convert this into a percentage -- a 0% DVOA would be league-average. DPAR measures how often a player does versus the same level of performance that would be provided by a replacement-level player, freely-available off the street (think David Terrell here). It accounts for the value of a player running the ball at a 0% DVOA 300 times as opposed to ten.

Using DVOA, we rate both teams and players on their performance over the course of the season, and use these metrics to gain a better understanding of their levels of play as the season goes along. Since DVOA adjusts on a play-by-play basis, we can evaluate how a particular team does against tight ends or inside the red zone. Of course, since we all play fantasy football, this data is easily applicable. We'll be back next week with some surprising Week 1 plays.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#77
Re: Fantasy Football News 2007

Preseason in Review
There are only so many ways to say we like Brandon Jacobs.

Of course, the end of the preseason (28 teams wrapped up last night) only means the start of our coverage. After the flurry of cuts that will happen in the next two days, we'll flip the switch to regular season mode, with our waiver pickups, weekly Goal Line Stand rankings, and Season Pass projections starting up on Tuesday. Our new columns from Matt Pitzer and Football Outsiders have already begun.

Before I hand off the majority of Daily Dose duties to the capable hands of Aaron Gleeman, let's take a final broad look back at what players went up and down during the preseason. If you've been paying attention to the Dose all month, you may already know many of these.
www.tampabaybuccaneers.ws
[SIZE=+1]Rising[/SIZE]

LenDale White & Chris Brown, Titans - Yes, both can rise. Brown wasn't even signed until late June, and had a lot to prove. White ran with the Tennessee starters for more than a half on Thursday night, ripping off a 21-yard run and throwing a devastating block that allowed Vince Young to score a touchdown.

This looks like a committee early in the year, with White as the lead back and Brown taking third downs. Chris Henry is an afterthought.

Leon Washington, Jets - Thomas Jones' injury is a good reminder that Leon will have a big role for a backup.

Laurence Maroney, Patriots - Recovery from shoulder surgery went as planned.

Ladell Betts, Redskins - Clinton Portis looks like a riskier pick than he did during the summer.

Kellen Winslow, Browns - Recovery from microfracture surgery went better than reasonable expectations.

Nate Burleson, Seahawks - He's still not draftable, but a strong preseason put him back on the radar. He may be Seattle's third receiver ahead of Bobby Engram.

Demetrius Williams, Ravens - Like a poor man's Chris Henry (CIN), Williams could emerge into a red zone force as a third receiver.

Kenny Watson, Bengals - Cincinnati hasn't signed another veteran running back yet, although Chris Perry is threatening to avoid the PUP list. We'll find out by Saturday.

Charlie Frye, Browns - Hung on to starting job, making him draftable in leagues that start two quarterbacks.

Matt Schaub and Alex Smith, Texans and 49ers - I take preseason action with a boulder of salt, but both young quarterbacks enjoyed an excellent month.