Fantasy Football News 2007

Hache Man

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

Who? James Jones
Dwayne Bowe has been the best rookie receiver in the NFL this season. No other first-year pass catcher has neared his production. Bowe has caught 69 passes for 982 yards (14.2 YPC) and five touchdowns while starting every game for the Chiefs.

The second best rookie receiver isn't even a starter on his own team. He is James Jones, the third receiver for Green Bay. The third-round draft pick from San Jose State has come off the Packers' bench to catch 45 passes for 662 yards (14.7 YPC) and two scores.

It can be argued that Calvin Johnson has been better than Jones as a rookie, but Jones has been more reliable. Jones has been available for every game, whereas Johnson has dealt with back issues. Jones has also caught 60 percent of the 79 balls thrown his way. Johnson's catch percentage is only 53 percent. detroitlions.com

On Sunday against the Lions, Jones is expected to start and play extensively in Greg Jennings' split end spot. Jennings has a minor ankle sprain the Packers will be cautious with. The split end position in Green Bay's offense runs frequent downfield routes. Jones doesn't have the long speed Jennings does, but catches the ball over his shoulder proficiently.

With Ryan Grant unlikely to play much, the Packers may continue to emphasize the passing game even after Brett Favre is pulled, which is likely to happen before or during the second quarter. Donald Driver is also unlikely to make it into the second half. Jones could be the Packers' No. 1 receiver for all four quarters. greenbaypackers.com

The conditions at Lambeau aren't expected to be too undesirable. The current forecast calls for only a 30 percent chance of light flurries and temperatures in the 30s. 5-7 mile per hour winds shouldn't be a deterrent to passing.

Detroit has been terrible against the pass this year, and Jones' physical style could pose matchup problems as he goes against 5'10, 185-pound Lions right corner Travis Fisher. Look for a big game from Jones and the Packers' second teamers to take down the Lions' first unit.

[SIZE=+1]Week 17 Game-Time Decisions[/SIZE]

Arms
Ben Roethlisberger ? Charlie Batch is scheduled to start against Baltimore.
Jay Cutler ? Will start; one of the better QB1 options around in Week 17.
Kellen Clemens ? Despite "questionable" tag, Clemens will start vs. Chiefs.
Rex Grossman ? Could back up Kyle Orton in Chicago's final game of '07.
Brodie Croyle ? Injury prone QB will start after practicing in full on Friday.
Josh McCown ? JaMarcus Russell to make first career start vs. San Diego.

Backs
Brian Westbrook ? Was given Friday off, but he will start against the Bills.
Frank Gore ? Certain to start, but Chris Weinke playing hurts Gore's cause.
Earnest Graham ? Figures to barely play even if he's active versus Carolina.
LenDale White ? Probable; expect him to get a heavy dose of work @ IND.
Aaron Stecker ? Could have limited role, but Pierre Thomas to start at CHI.
Ron Dayne ? Expected to play, likely off the bench behind Darius Walker.
Michael Pittman ? Should play and share RB duties with Michael Bennett.
Ahmad Bradshaw ? Didn't practice this week, unlikely to play on Saturday.
Mike Anderson ? He'll back up Musa Smith if he's active against Pittsburgh.
Tatum Bell ? In-practice foot injury likely to keep Bell on the inactives list.
Michael Robinson ? Questionable; Maurice Hicks may back up Frank Gore.

Wides
T.J. Houshmandzadeh ? Probable; NFL's leading receiver will start @ MIA.
Andre Johnson ? Will start vs. the Jags, who may be minus Rashean Mathis.
Larry Fitzgerald/Anquan Boldin ? Both are slated to start against the Rams.
Greg Jennings ? Don't expect him to be active vs. DET due to ankle sprain.
Plaxico Burress ? Upgraded to probable; likely to play a lot if game is close.
Marvin Harrison ? Is likely to start, but come out after a possession or two.
Bernard Berrian/Muhsin Muhammad ? Both probable, will start vs. Saints.
Deion Branch ? Seahawks likely to play it safe, sit Branch against Falcons.
Ike Hilliard ? Questionable; it would be a shock to see Hilliard play much.
Javon Walker ? Probable, but has only five catches in the last five games.
Anthony Gonzalez ? Not expected to play despite listing as "questionable."
Brandon Stokley ? Is unlikely to be active after missing practices all week.
Joe Jurevicius ? Listed as questionable, but Jurevicius will start vs. Niners.
Joe Horn/Michael Jenkins ? Horn scheduled to start; Jenkins to be inactive.
Mark Clayton ? Status is uncertain after Clayton missed practice on Friday.
Brad Smith ? College QB is expected to start in place of Laveranues Coles.
Sidney Rice ? Rice is confident he'll play, but he'll be a game-day decision.
Terry Glenn ? "Probable," but won't play if conditions in D.C. aren't right.
Arnaz Battle ? Will start against Cleveland despite being limited this week.
Bobby Wade ? Probable; He's less than 100 percent but will start @ DEN.
Josh Reed ? Questionable w/back injury; Roscoe Parrish could start @ PHI.
Sinorice Moss ? Won't play due to a bad back; Moss' return time uncertain.
Jason Hill ? Doubtful; Ashley Lelie to be Niners' third receiver @ Browns.
clevelandbrowns.com
Ends
Kellen Winslow ? He'll start despite going through a limited week of work.
Ben Watson ? Classic game-time decision; check inactives Saturday night.
Chris Baker ? Slated to start despite continually being listed as questionable.
Daniel Graham ? May be active to block, but won't play on passing downs.
Ben Utecht ? Very unlikely to play; Bryan Fletcher should get lots of snaps.
Bubba Franks ? Probable, but Ryan Krause likely to see more playing time.

Legs
Nate Kaeding ? Kaeding won't kick off, but he'll kick field goals and PATs.
sandiegochargers.com
[SIZE=+1]Already Ruled out For Week 17[/SIZE]

Arms
Jason Campbell ? Todd Collins likely to be starter until Redskins' next loss.
Matt Schaub ? Will be No. 3 QB; Sage Rosenfels should play four quarters.
Trent Dilfer/Alex Smith/Shaun Hill ? Chris Weinke to get start against CLE.
Aaron Rodgers ? Craig Nall will come in when Brett Favre is pulled early.
Kyle Boller/Steve McNair ? Rookie Troy Smith to make second straight start.
washingtonredskins.com
Backs
Willie Parker ? Najeh Davenport takes over as Steelers' every-down back.
Larry Johnson ? Kolby Smith to start, but Jackie Battle could vulture TDs.
Willis McGahee ? Third-down RB Musa Smith will start against Pittsburgh.
Reggie Bush ? Could return next week if Saints win, 'Skins and Vikes lose.
Kevin Jones ? T.J. Duckett prepared to carry a big load against Green Bay.
Justin Fargas ? Dominic Rhodes to make start against Chargers on Sunday.
Rudi Johnson ? Kenny Watson to start in ultra-favorable matchup at Miami.
DeDe Dorsey ? High ankle sprain ended promising back's year in Week 16.
kansascitychiefs.com
Wides
Terrell Owens ? Signs point to T.O. being ready for live action in two weeks.
Joey Galloway ? Galloway should be ready next week despite ailing shoulder.
Eddie Kennison ? Jeff Webb, Samie Parker set to split snaps against the Jets.
Demetrius Williams ? Devard Darling to take Williams' place vs. Pittsburgh.
Maurice Stovall ? Won't play in postseason after fracturing his arm last week.
Keary Colbert ? Drew Carter will get a start for the second straight weekend.

Ends
Jeremy Shockey ? Unheralded rookie Kevin Boss starting in Shockey's place.
L.J. Smith ? Brent Celek to start; Smith not expected back in Philly next year.
Todd Heap/Daniel Wilcox/Quinn Sypniewski ? Lee Vickers set to start v. PIT.
newyorkgiants.com
Legs
None of significant note.

<!--RW-->

[SIZE=+1]First Round Rookie Review[/SIZE]

1. Adrian Peterson RB Vikings (#7 overall)
227-1305-5.7-12 (3 FL), 19-268-14.1-1
minnesotavikings.com
We'll have to see if he can ever put together a full 16-game season with such an upright, banging style, but there's no question about the impact Peterson made as a rookie. If he stays healthy and becomes better at the "little things" like pass protection and route running, Peterson is likely to go down as the best running back of our generation.

2. Joe Thomas LT Browns (#3 overall)
15 starts, all on Derek Anderson's blind side

The only real knock on Thomas coming out of Wisconsin was his durability, but he hasn't so much as missed a practice as a rookie. Thomas has been excellent in both pass protection and run blocking. In most years, he might be the top impact rookie, but Peterson's sensational season leaves Thomas as a close runner up.

3. Patrick Willis LB 49ers (#11 overall)
162-124 solo-3 sacks-2 FFs-4 PASS DEFs

Willis will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. He leads the NFL in tackles by a wide margin (Broncos MLB D.J. Williams is second with 29 fewer). Willis has also made his share of big plays and exhibited a freakish ability to run down ball carriers in pursuit. It's scary to think what Willis could've done had he not been playing with a club on his broken hand for half of the season.

4. Marshawn Lynch RB Bills (#12 overall)
258-1010-3.9-7 (1 FL), 17-162-9.5-0
buffalobills.com
Lynch will never be a breakaway threat, but as a rookie has been the Bills' only constant on offense. He showed a quick ability to recover after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 10 by returning in three weeks. Lynch's all around game is very solid and he will only get better behind a Bills offensive line that seemingly improves every week.

5. Jon Beason MLB Panthers (#25 overall)
130-98 solo-1 interception-1 FR-6 PASS DEFs

Beason began the season on the weak side. After Dan Morgan went down with a partially torn Achilles in Week 3, Beason moved to the middle and Carolina's run defense improved immediately. Beason is only 6'0/235, but is extremely difficult to block. He is also a student of the game and a central building block for the future.

6. Dwayne Bowe WR Chiefs (#23 overall)
69-982-14.2-5

Bowe has proven to be the complete package. Not only is he the dominant run blocking receiver he was billed as, Bowe stretches the field, makes plays after the catch, and excels in the red zone. Somewhat quietly, he is likely to finish with better catch and yardage totals that Marques Colston did in 2006. The two are also similar players.

7. LaRon Landry SS Redskins (#6 overall)
90-60 solo-0 INT-1.5 sacks-0 FFs-6 PASS DEFs

Landry has made some mental mistakes leading to penalties in his first season, but has also shown exceptional versatility. He's served both as a cover free safety and an in-the-box strong safety in coordinator Gregg Williams' complex defense. Washington has maintained a high level of play in the secondary despite the tragic loss of Sean Taylor, and Landry is much of the reason why.

8. Reggie Nelson FS Jaguars (#21 overall)
60-55 solo-5 interceptions-1 sack-FF-11 PASS DEFs

Because Jacksonville's front seven is so sturdy, Nelson has been able to focus on his strength ? manning centerfield. Nelson is the ideal free safety for the Jaguars because of his ability to make plays on the ball. He's been an upgrade over the man he replaced, Deon Grant, who had just two interceptions in his three years with the Jags.

9. Amobi Okoye DT Texans (#10 overall)
32-23 solo-5.5 sacks-1 FF-0 FR-0 PASS DEFs

Okoye admittedly hit the "rookie wall" around midseason and couldn't keep it going after a run of four sacks in the first month. Considering he's only 20, that's pretty excusable. Okoye will need to improve against the run, and that should come easier as he grows into his body. His long-term projection remains as a Kevin Williams type on the interior.

10. Aaron Ross CB Giants (#20 overall)
36-29 solo-3 interceptions-1.5 sacks-9 PASS DEFs

It's sagged since due to multiple injuries at the safety position, but the Giants' secondary got a noticeable lift when Ross joined the starting lineup in Week 4. Ross came from Texas with a lot of experience in press coverage, and has fit perfectly in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's blitz-happy scheme. Ross may never be a lockdown CB, but should be a solid starter for the next 6-8 years.

11. Ben Grubbs OG Ravens (#29 overall)
11 starts at right offensive guard

Grubbs took over as Baltimore's starting right guard in Week 5 against San Francisco. The next week, Willis McGahee began a run of touchdowns in seven straight games. Grubbs is a fixture on a young, athletic offensive line that the Ravens should be able to build around for the next five years.

12. Gaines Adams DE Bucs (#4 overall)
37-27 solo-6 sacks-0 interceptions-2 FFs-2 PASS DEFs
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
Adams didn't impress in camp and struggled to find playing time in the first half of the season, but was forced into a starting role after Greg Spires went down with torn calf muscle in Week 9. He's been out-produced by fellow first-year end Greg White, but not been an obvious liability in any area. Adams has room for improvement, but is off to a promising start.

13. Michael Griffin DB Titans (#19 overall)
49-36 solo-3 interceptions-5 PASS DEFs

After returning kicks adequately and focusing on playing corner early in the year, Griffin took over as the Titans' free safety in Week 8. He picked off a pass in three straight games between Weeks 13 and 15 and is a starter in the NFL's 11th ranked secondary. Griffin has excelled in coverage and is likely to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player in time.

14. Adam Carriker DL Rams (#13 overall)
29-20 solo-2 sacks-0 interceptions-1 FR-1 PASS DEF

Carriker has played every position on St. Louis' defensive line, a unit that hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season until Najeh Davenport busted loose for 123 last Thursday night. The Rams have thrown around the idea of switching to a 3-4 next year, and Carriker could be a run-stopping, pocket-pushing force in that alignment.

15. Calvin Johnson WR Lions (#2 overall)
44-702-16.0-4, 4-52-13.0-1
detroitlions.com
Johnson has dealt with a nagging back injury since Week 3 that cost him a starting job and consistent playing time. He has struggled with drops and made mental errors at times. But Johnson is averaging 16 yards-per-catch and flashed dominant ability. Losing Mike Martz and having to learn a new offense in 2008 won't help, but the 22-year-old could be a game breaker in any scheme.

16. Anthony Gonzalez WR Colts (#32 overall)
37-576-15.6-3
indianapoliscolts.com
Gonzalez went on a run Bret Saberhagen would be proud of after taking over as a starter for Marvin Harrison, seeming to trade a good game with a clunker on a weekly basis. He was coming around of late before suffering a bruised foot in Week 16. It does look like Gonzalez will be an effective outside receiver, not just a slot guy down the road.

17. Anthony Spencer OLB Cowboys (#26 overall)
32-26 solo-3 sacks-0 interceptions-2 FFs-0 PASS DEFs

A college end, Spencer made the transition to rush linebacker and earned decent marks while starting Dallas' first six games. He was replaced by Greg Ellis in Week 7, but has continued to contribute with two sacks and a pair of fumbles forced since the demotion. Spencer doesn't have Ellis' big-play ability yet, but he's already better than recent first-day picks Kevin Burnett and Bobby Carpenter.

18. Joe Staley RT 49ers (#28 overall)
15 starts at right tackle

While Staley's had his share of bad games, the 49ers are already projecting him as their left tackle of the future. He's been durable and effective enough that the team didn't want to move him from the right side when Jonas Jennings's season ended. Look for Staley and current LT Adam Snyder to switch spots in 2007 and Jennings to be cut.

19. Darrelle Revis CB Jets (#14 overall)
82-69 solo-3 interceptions-0 sacks-1 FF-16 PASS DEFs

Revis was thrown at as often as any cornerback in the league this year, especially when he was going against Randy Moss and Braylon Edwards in coverage. The Jets showed enough confidence in Revis to have him shadow the opponents' top receiver, but he was still burnt plenty. They never did give him a chance to return punts.

20. Ted Ginn Jr. WR Dolphins (#9 overall)
27-367-13.6-1, 4-3-0.8-0
miamidolphins.com
Ginn returned a punt for a touchdown in Week 11, but is only 47th in return average. Although his most promising work came as a receiver, even in that role he was inconsistent despite being handed a starting role after the Chris Chambers trade. Ginn does looks like more than the slot receiver we projected him as.

21. Leon Hall CB Bengals (#18 overall)
65-51 solo-5 interceptions-1 FF-12 PASS DEFs

The stats are there and Hall has locked up a starting job, but the Bengals' pass defense hasn't improved since the former Michigan Wolverine passed Deltha O'Neal on the depth chart in Week 10. The Bengals' last two first-round picks have been on corners, but they are still passed on consistently.

22. Greg Olsen TE Bears (#31 overall)
37-374-10.1-2

The Bears praised Olsen's blocking ability during camp after it was a major knock on him coming out of The U, but have used him consistently only on passing downs. Olsen has the skills to put up All-Pro numbers down the road, but must develop a more complete game to overtake Desmond Clark as a starter in 2008.

23. Jamaal Anderson DE Falcons (#8 overall)
30-26 solo-0 sacks-1 FF-3 PASS DEFs

A defensive lineman's impact can't be judged solely on sack totals, but when you start every game and don't have one, it's a problem. Anderson, 21, has tremendous growth potential and wasn't a major liability, but isn't close to Julius Peppers' level yet.

24. Levi Brown OT Cardinals (#5 overall)
10 starts at either tackle spot

Brown was unable to focus on playing primarily right or left tackle as a rookie, but is expected to hold down the blind side for southpaw Matt Leinart in 2008. The jury is still out on Brown due to the lack of positional stability.

25. Craig Davis WR Chargers (#30 overall)
19-176-9.3-1, 3-9-3.0-0

Davis was thrown into the fire as a starter to begin the season and struggled badly along with the rest of the Chargers' offense. He became a reserve after Chris Chambers was acquired at the trade deadline. The new role suits him better. Davis has also helped on punt returns. He was supposed to be more polished than this after a fine career at LSU.

26. Justin Harrell DT Packers (#16 overall)
14-8 solo-0 sacks-0 FFs

It took a pair of season ending injuries in front of him (to Johnny Jolly, Jr and Colin Cole) for Harrell to move into the third tackle role behind starters Corey Williams and Ryan Pickett. The Packers hope Harrell can become a pocket pusher down the road, but his strength remains against the run. He also has to show the ability to stay healthy. Harrell missed about a month at midseason due to an ankle injury.

27. Brady Quinn QB Browns (#22 overall)
15 games active as Derek Anderson's backup
clevelandbrowns.com
Quinn doesn't have any stats, but he's made an impact by keeping Derek Anderson on his toes. Anderson has enjoyed a breakthrough season while playing with a strong sense of urgency. The best bet is for Cleveland to retain both quarterbacks in 2008, but the feeling here is that Quinn's shot isn't as far off as it may seem.

28. Brandon Meriweather DB Patriots (#24 overall)
21-13 solo-1 FF-0 interceptions-3 PASS DEFs

The Patriots only recently began using Meriweather in their dime set. It speaks to their depth that such a talent would be buried more than it does to Meriweather's development. We're still waiting on a big play; those should come when Eugene Wilson departs in offseason free agency and Meriweather is pushing James Sanders and Rodney Harrison to start.

29. Lawrence Timmons LB Steelers (#15 overall)
13-11 solo-2 FR-0 FF-0 PASS DEFs

After falling behind fellow rookie LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker in training camp, Timmons was shifted inside behind starters Larry Foote and James Farrior. He has since focused on special teams. Both Foote and Farrior are under contract through next year, so Timmons may have to continue waiting to make a significant impact.

30. Jarvis Moss DE Broncos (#17 overall)
12-9 solo-1 sack-1 FF-0 FR-0 PASS DEFs

Moss, a lanky early entrant from Florida, began the season as a nickel rusher and was behind second-round rookie Tim Crowder before breaking his fibula in practice prior to Week 9. He appeared in only six games and will likely be asked to bulk up this offseason before being given the opportunity to pass Crowder and John Engelberger.

31. JaMarcus Russell QB Raiders (#1 overall)
13-of-35 (37.1 %)-1 TD-3 INT-4.3 YPA, 5-4-0.8-0, FL
oaklandraiders.com
Russell is starting in Week 17 and can make his case for being an impact rookie with a strong effort by giving the coaching staff confidence he's made progress. To this point, Russell has a holdout that extended into the season, an overweight initial weigh-in, and a whole bunch of bad decisions on his resume. He's shown nothing encouraging so far.

32. Robert Meachem WR Saints (#27 overall)
0 games active

Coach Sean Payton has continually said that Meachem is progressing after offseason knee surgery, but he's clearly not come along quickly enough. Meachem appeared stiff and unconfident in preseason action and has not appeared in a real game. He also plays the same position as Marques Colston, which makes the Saints' long-term intentions with Meachem unclear.
 

Hache Man

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

Post-Season Fantasy Rankings
Let's be honest; Post-Season Fantasy Football won't make up for a painful championship week. It won't erase the memories of an ugly set of early Week 17 games (more on that elsewhere). It won't make Shaun Alexander any less of a bust and it won't bring back Marc Bulger's interceptions.

It will, however, make watching January football a lot more fun. It will keep the season going. It will give you a reason to be excited about the Bucs-Giants game this week.

The rules aren't usually too different from regular fantasy football, except that total points are the key. (Evan Silva wrote up a quick primer last year that could help.) Pick a starting team, possibly a bench, and let them go at it. When their NFL team loses, the player is longer useful.

***

Strategy in playoff leagues is different because picking winning NFL teams matters. Games played are the most important stat. Wild Card round teams have one more potential game (four in all), and occasionally make the Super Bowl. The 2001 Patriots, 2003 Panthers, and 2006 Steelers are three recent examples that maxed out with four games. Any player who participates in three games is going to be a huge plus.

On the other hand, last year's Chargers squad crushed fantasy owners. LaDainian Tomlinson was the logical top pick after San Diego earned homefield advantage, but his owners only got one game out of him. The rest of the NFL playoffs in 2006 went mostly according to seed. sandiegochargers.com

Both conferences look top-heavy this season. While nearly any team is capable of an upset, the Patriots, Colts, Cowboys, and Packers are in good shape to make the conference championships. Jacksonville looms as the most dangerous team playing on Wild Card weekend, including all the division winners.

Of course, the NFL is always good for a few surprises. That's why spreading out your post-season rosters among a handful of teams is a good idea. It's like diversifying a stock portfolio. Grabbing a player or two from a handful of different teams is a safer approach than drafting all Cowboys or Patriots. That's a boom-or-bust approach that will sink a team with a quick playoff loss. New England will be difficult to stop, but the Colts and Jaguars both have the styles to get it done.

With all that in mind, we've ranked each position. My rankings are affected by which teams I believe are strong. If you are convinced the Steelers will beat the Jaguars, then Ben Roethlisberger is ranked too low. Good luck to everyone!

[SIZE=+1]Quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Quarterbacks have way more value in playoff leagues because of position scarcity and the total points format. Only eight will be left after the first weekend and they are guaranteed point-scorers. Owners that get three productive games from their quarterback position will have a good chance to win their leagues. Top quarterbacks should be taken ahead of running backs and wideouts.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots - Weather and difficult defenses stand in his way, but how can you pass on him with the first overall pick?

2. Tony Romo, Cowboys - Has an easier road than Brady in each round, and won't have to deal with poor weather. An argument could be made for Romo as the top overall pick if not for his thumb and T.O.'s ankle.

3. Peyton Manning, Colts - Will probably have to win in New England to play three games, but he's out-played Brady down the stretch with 15 touchdowns and three picks in the last five complete games. He may get a chance to avenge his six-pick game against the Chargers. indianapoliscolts.com

4. Brett Favre, Packers - Tough possible matchups: An improved Seattle secondary and then a Dallas team that confused him the first time around.
greenbaypackers.com
5. David Garrard, Jaguars ? He is playing at a Pro Bowl level and has the best chance of any quarterback to play four games. It's not a great chance, but I don't like Pittsburgh's odds of winning a game. jacksonvillejaguars.com

6. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks - Quietly having a good year. Hasselbeck is facing a peaking Redskins defense, but the Seahawks have a big home field advantage. Then Hasselbeck would get a rematch of the 'We want the ball and we're gonna score," game in Green Bay. He needs his offensive line to play better.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers - Pittsburgh's suddenly sagging defense will be a double-edged sword. They will force Roethlisberger to pass to win, but could get him knocked out of the tournament quickly.

8. Jeff Garcia, Bucs ? I don't like how he's played since his injury, but he's a better bet than Eli Manning because of the matchup. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

9. Todd Collins, Redskins - Good sleeper pick to get two games, although the Seattle secondary has played well all season. washingtonredskins.com

10. Philip Rivers, Chargers - Highly inconsistent season. He would face Indy's number one pass defense if he gets past the Titans. Rivers had a gutty effort in a fourth quarter comeback against Tennessee last time out.
sandiegochargers.com
11. Eli Manning, Giants ? Coming off a terrific effort, but that's probably just to get everyone's hopes up. Monte Kiffin will likely to add to his playoff woes. newyorkgiants.com

12.Vince Young, Titans- His running has been neutralized. He threw for 121 yards and two picks the first time against San Diego. tennesseetitans.com

<!--RW-->[SIZE=+1]Running Backs [/SIZE]

Last year, running back committees dominated the post-season. That's not the case this time around, making the backfield candidates more valuable. A top-tier quarterback is still best in this format, but primary running backs aren't far behind.

1. Marion Barber, Cowboys ? Look for his share of the workload to increase in the playoffs.

2. Joseph Addai, Colts ? A light workload down the stretch should have him fresh. indianapoliscolts.com

3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers ? Two strong games from LT2 might be better than three from anyone else. sandiegochargers.com

4. Laurence Maroney, Patriots ? His carries will depend on the matchup, but poor weather could make him a bigger factor.

5. Ryan Grant, Packers ? Overly reliant on big plays, but will get nearly all the carries on a high-octane offense.

6. Earnest Graham, Bucs ? Among the most consistent runners in the NFL this season. He could face two touch matchups, but he'll get the carries.

7. Clinton Portis, Redskins ? I don't know if the Redskins will win a game, but I know Portis is playing his best ball late in the season. Seattle is more vulnerable on the ground than through the air. Portis could be a good playoff value pick.

8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars ? Jacksonville had no problem pushing around Pittsburgh last time.

9. Fred Taylor, Jaguars ? Playing at an elite level, but Mo-Jo still gets the goal line carries.

10. Brandon Jacobs, Giants ? Injuries are always a concern; Eli's erratic play is a bigger one. Jacobs should be the focus of the offense in round one. He usually finds a way to 100 total yards.

11. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks ? Maurice Morris will be active, but Alexander should get the goal line carries.

12. Julius Jones, Cowboys ? Inconsistent touches may decrease.

13. LenDale White, Titans ? Gained 137 yards and a touchdown the first time against San Diego, but he's likely a one and done.

14. Najeh Davenport, Steelers ? Will carry the load with Parker out.

15. Maurice Morris, Seahawks ? Career best season. Will probably get 1/3 of Seattle's touches.

16. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
17. Kenton Keith, Colts
18. Michael Pittman, Bucs
19. Ladell Betts, Redskins
20. Chris Brown, Titans
21. Michael Turner, Chargers
22. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
23. Reuben Droughns, Giants


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

1. Randy Moss, Patriots - His possible first-round opponents are vulnerable to big plays.

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts - Coming off his career year, will be Manning's top option regardless of Harrison's health.

3. Terrell Owens, Cowboys - If he can come back from a broken leg to shine, a high ankle sprain should be no problem.

4. Wes Welker, Patriots - Only two games over 100 yards in second half, but he has a great chance for three games played.

5. Greg Jennings, Packers - Ankle injury shouldn't be a concern after two weeks off.
greenbaypackers.com
6. Donald Driver, Packers - Lack of touchdowns shouldn't overshadow another rock solid year.

7. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys - Expect him to play over Terry Glenn.

8. Bobby Engram, Seahawks - No matter who's on the outside, Engram gets it done in the middle of the field.

9. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts - It's hard to trust Marvin Harrison to play starters snaps.

10. Joey Galloway, Bucs - Shoulder injury is a concern, according to Gruden. But he'll be out there. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

11. Plaxico Burress, Giants - Tampa is excellent at preventing big plays. But Burress looks healthy again. newyorkgiants.com

12. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks - Redskins vulnerable to big plays and Hackett is back in starting lineup.

13. Marvin Harrison, Colts - Hasn't exactly lit up the playoffs even when he's fully healthy. indianapoliscolts.com

14. Chris Chambers, Chargers - Quietly productive season between two teams.

15. Santana Moss, Redskins - 509 yards and three scores in last seven games. washingtonredskins.com

16. Deion Branch, Seahawks - Injury is less concerning than inconsistent play.

17. Santonio Holmes, Steelers - Should outplay this spot if the Steelers win a game.

18. Jabar Gaffney, Patriots - Plays more when the Patriots are in running formations, but doesn't see that many targets.

19. Hines Ward, Steelers - Holmes is more likely to break big plays.

20. Reggie Williams, Jaguars- Nine touchdowns can't be a total fluke, but the yards aren't there.

21. James Jones, Packers
22. Donte Stallworth, Patriots
23. Amani Toomer, Giants
24. Ike Hilliard, Bucs
25. Antwaan Randle El, Redskins
26. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
27. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars
28. Terry Glenn, Cowboys
29. Nate Burleson, Seahawks
30. Roydell Williams, Titans
31. Justin Gage, Titans
32. Ernest Wilford, Jaguars
33. Nate Washington, Steelers
34. Matt Jones, Jaguars
35. Steve Smith, Giants
36. Brandon Jones, Titans
37. Devin Aromashodu, Colts

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

1. Jason Witten, Cowboys
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers
3. Dallas Clark, Colts
4. Chris Cooley, Redskins
5. Ben Watson, Patriots
6. Donald Lee, Packers
7. Heath Miller, Steelers
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
9. Ben Utecht, Colts
10. Alex Smith, Bucs
11. Bo Scaife, Titans
12. Anthony Fasano, Cowboys
13. Marcus Pollard, Seahawks
14. Jerramy Stevens, Bucs
15. Kevin Boss, Giants

[SIZE=+1]Kicker [/SIZE]

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Nick Folk, Cowboys
3. Mason Crosby, Packers
4. Adam Vinatieri, Colts
5. Nate Kaeding, Chargers
6. Josh Scobee, Jaguars
7. Josh Brown, Seahawks
8. Matt Bryant, Bucs
9. Jeff Reed, Steelers
10. Shaun Suisham, Redskins
11. Rob Bironas, Titans
12. Lawrence Tynes, Giants

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

1. Cowboys
2. Patriots
3. Packers
4. Colts
5. Bucs
6. Jaguars
7. Chargers
8. Seahawks
9. Steelers
10. Redskins
11. Giants
12. Titans
 

Hache Man

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

Post-Season Fantasy Rankings
Let's be honest; Post-Season Fantasy Football won't make up for a painful championship week. It won't erase the memories of an ugly set of early Week 17 games (more on that elsewhere). It won't make Shaun Alexander any less of a bust and it won't bring back Marc Bulger's interceptions.

It will, however, make watching January football a lot more fun. It will keep the season going. It will give you a reason to be excited about the Bucs-Giants game this week.

The rules aren't usually too different from regular fantasy football, except that total points are the key. (Evan Silva wrote up a quick primer last year that could help.) Pick a starting team, possibly a bench, and let them go at it. When their NFL team loses, the player is longer useful.
***

Strategy in playoff leagues is different because picking winning NFL teams matters. Games played are the most important stat. Wild Card round teams have one more potential game (four in all), and occasionally make the Super Bowl. The 2001 Patriots, 2003 Panthers, and 2006 Steelers are three recent examples that maxed out with four games. Any player who participates in three games is going to be a huge plus.

On the other hand, last year's Chargers squad crushed fantasy owners. LaDainian Tomlinson was the logical top pick after San Diego earned homefield advantage, but his owners only got one game out of him. The rest of the NFL playoffs in 2006 went mostly according to seed. sandiegochargers.com

Both conferences look top-heavy this season. While nearly any team is capable of an upset, the Patriots, Colts, Cowboys, and Packers are in good shape to make the conference championships. Jacksonville looms as the most dangerous team playing on Wild Card weekend, including all the division winners.

Of course, the NFL is always good for a few surprises. That's why spreading out your post-season rosters among a handful of teams is a good idea. It's like diversifying a stock portfolio. Grabbing a player or two from a handful of different teams is a safer approach than drafting all Cowboys or Patriots. That's a boom-or-bust approach that will sink a team with a quick playoff loss. New England will be difficult to stop, but the Colts and Jaguars both have the styles to get it done.

With all that in mind, we've ranked each position. My rankings are affected by which teams I believe are strong. If you are convinced the Steelers will beat the Jaguars, then Ben Roethlisberger is ranked too low. Good luck to everyone!

[SIZE=+1]Quarterbacks[/SIZE]

Quarterbacks have way more value in playoff leagues because of position scarcity and the total points format. Only eight will be left after the first weekend and they are guaranteed point-scorers. Owners that get three productive games from their quarterback position will have a good chance to win their leagues. Top quarterbacks should be taken ahead of running backs and wideouts.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots - Weather and difficult defenses stand in his way, but how can you pass on him with the first overall pick?

2. Tony Romo, Cowboys - Has an easier road than Brady in each round, and won't have to deal with poor weather. An argument could be made for Romo as the top overall pick if not for his thumb and T.O.'s ankle.

3. Peyton Manning, Colts - Will probably have to win in New England to play three games, but he's out-played Brady down the stretch with 15 touchdowns and three picks in the last five complete games. He may get a chance to avenge his six-pick game against the Chargers. indianapoliscolts.com

4. Brett Favre, Packers - Tough possible matchups: An improved Seattle secondary and then a Dallas team that confused him the first time around.
greenbaypackers.com
5. David Garrard, Jaguars ? He is playing at a Pro Bowl level and has the best chance of any quarterback to play four games. It's not a great chance, but I don't like Pittsburgh's odds of winning a game. jacksonvillejaguars.com

6. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks - Quietly having a good year. Hasselbeck is facing a peaking Redskins defense, but the Seahawks have a big home field advantage. Then Hasselbeck would get a rematch of the 'We want the ball and we're gonna score," game in Green Bay. He needs his offensive line to play better.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers - Pittsburgh's suddenly sagging defense will be a double-edged sword. They will force Roethlisberger to pass to win, but could get him knocked out of the tournament quickly.

8. Jeff Garcia, Bucs ? I don't like how he's played since his injury, but he's a better bet than Eli Manning because of the matchup. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

9. Todd Collins, Redskins - Good sleeper pick to get two games, although the Seattle secondary has played well all season. washingtonredskins.com

10. Philip Rivers, Chargers - Highly inconsistent season. He would face Indy's number one pass defense if he gets past the Titans. Rivers had a gutty effort in a fourth quarter comeback against Tennessee last time out. sandiegochargers.com

11. Eli Manning, Giants ? Coming off a terrific effort, but that's probably just to get everyone's hopes up. Monte Kiffin will likely to add to his playoff woes. newyorkgiants.com

12.Vince Young, Titans- His running has been neutralized. He threw for 121 yards and two picks the first time against San Diego.

<!--RW-->[SIZE=+1]Running Backs [/SIZE]

Last year, running back committees dominated the post-season. That's not the case this time around, making the backfield candidates more valuable. A top-tier quarterback is still best in this format, but primary running backs aren't far behind.

1. Marion Barber, Cowboys ? Look for his share of the workload to increase in the playoffs.

2. Joseph Addai, Colts ? A light workload down the stretch should have him fresh. indianapoliscolts.com

3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers ? Two strong games from LT2 might be better than three from anyone else. sandiegochargers.com

4. Laurence Maroney, Patriots ? His carries will depend on the matchup, but poor weather could make him a bigger factor.

5. Ryan Grant, Packers ? Overly reliant on big plays, but will get nearly all the carries on a high-octane offense. greenbaypackers.com

6. Earnest Graham, Bucs ? Among the most consistent runners in the NFL this season. He could face two touch matchups, but he'll get the carries.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
7. Clinton Portis, Redskins ? I don't know if the Redskins will win a game, but I know Portis is playing his best ball late in the season. Seattle is more vulnerable on the ground than through the air. Portis could be a good playoff value pick. washingtonredskins.com

8. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars ? Jacksonville had no problem pushing around Pittsburgh last time. jacksonvillejaguars.com

9. Fred Taylor, Jaguars ? Playing at an elite level, but Mo-Jo still gets the goal line carries.

10. Brandon Jacobs, Giants ? Injuries are always a concern; Eli's erratic play is a bigger one. Jacobs should be the focus of the offense in round one. He usually finds a way to 100 total yards. newyorkgiants.com

11. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks ? Maurice Morris will be active, but Alexander should get the goal line carries.

12. Julius Jones, Cowboys ? Inconsistent touches may decrease.

13. LenDale White, Titans ? Gained 137 yards and a touchdown the first time against San Diego, but he's likely a one and done. tennesseetitans.com

14. Najeh Davenport, Steelers ? Will carry the load with Parker out.

15. Maurice Morris, Seahawks ? Career best season. Will probably get 1/3 of Seattle's touches.

16. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
17. Kenton Keith, Colts
18. Michael Pittman, Bucs
19. Ladell Betts, Redskins
20. Chris Brown, Titans
21. Michael Turner, Chargers
22. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
23. Reuben Droughns, Giants


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

1. Randy Moss, Patriots - His possible first-round opponents are vulnerable to big plays.

2. Reggie Wayne, Colts - Coming off his career year, will be Manning's top option regardless of Harrison's health.

3. Terrell Owens, Cowboys - If he can come back from a broken leg to shine, a high ankle sprain should be no problem.

4. Wes Welker, Patriots - Only two games over 100 yards in second half, but he has a great chance for three games played.

5. Greg Jennings, Packers - Ankle injury shouldn't be a concern after two weeks off.
greenbaypackers.com
6. Donald Driver, Packers - Lack of touchdowns shouldn't overshadow another rock solid year.

7. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys - Expect him to play over Terry Glenn.

8. Bobby Engram, Seahawks - No matter who's on the outside, Engram gets it done in the middle of the field.

9. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts - It's hard to trust Marvin Harrison to play starters snaps.

10. Joey Galloway, Bucs - Shoulder injury is a concern, according to Gruden. But he'll be out there. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

11. Plaxico Burress, Giants - Tampa is excellent at preventing big plays. But Burress looks healthy again. newyorkgiants.com

12. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks - Redskins vulnerable to big plays and Hackett is back in starting lineup.

13. Marvin Harrison, Colts - Hasn't exactly lit up the playoffs even when he's fully healthy. indianapoliscolts.com

14. Chris Chambers, Chargers - Quietly productive season between two teams. sandiegochargers.com

15. Santana Moss, Redskins - 509 yards and three scores in last seven games. washingtonredskins.com

16. Deion Branch, Seahawks - Injury is less concerning than inconsistent play.

17. Santonio Holmes, Steelers - Should outplay this spot if the Steelers win a game.

18. Jabar Gaffney, Patriots - Plays more when the Patriots are in running formations, but doesn't see that many targets.

19. Hines Ward, Steelers - Holmes is more likely to break big plays.

20. Reggie Williams, Jaguars- Nine touchdowns can't be a total fluke, but the yards aren't there.

21. James Jones, Packers
22. Donte Stallworth, Patriots
23. Amani Toomer, Giants
24. Ike Hilliard, Bucs
25. Antwaan Randle El, Redskins
26. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
27. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars
28. Terry Glenn, Cowboys
29. Nate Burleson, Seahawks
30. Roydell Williams, Titans
31. Justin Gage, Titans
32. Ernest Wilford, Jaguars
33. Nate Washington, Steelers
34. Matt Jones, Jaguars
35. Steve Smith, Giants
36. Brandon Jones, Titans
37. Devin Aromashodu, Colts

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

1. Jason Witten, Cowboys
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers
3. Dallas Clark, Colts
4. Chris Cooley, Redskins
5. Ben Watson, Patriots
6. Donald Lee, Packers
7. Heath Miller, Steelers
8. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
9. Ben Utecht, Colts
10. Alex Smith, Bucs
11. Bo Scaife, Titans
12. Anthony Fasano, Cowboys
13. Marcus Pollard, Seahawks
14. Jerramy Stevens, Bucs
15. Kevin Boss, Giants

[SIZE=+1]Kicker [/SIZE]

1. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Nick Folk, Cowboys
3. Mason Crosby, Packers
4. Adam Vinatieri, Colts
5. Nate Kaeding, Chargers
6. Josh Scobee, Jaguars
7. Josh Brown, Seahawks
8. Matt Bryant, Bucs
9. Jeff Reed, Steelers
10. Shaun Suisham, Redskins
11. Rob Bironas, Titans
12. Lawrence Tynes, Giants

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

1. Cowboys
2. Patriots
3. Packers
4. Colts
5. Bucs
6. Jaguars
7. Chargers
8. Seahawks
9. Steelers
10. Redskins
11. Giants
12. Titans
 

Hache Man

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

Keeping Good Company
Early Monday morning, 20 NFL franchises arrived at work, ready to begin planning for next year. Keeper league owners should do the same.

League rules vary widely, but year-round owners can't afford to hibernate until August. There are trades to be considered, draft picks to be dealt, and keeper decisions to be made. If we had to make those decisions this week, here is how Rotoworld would rank the top-50 fantasy keepers, primarily concerned with 2008 value. We'll count down #30-50 today, followed by the top-30 on Friday.

[SIZE=+1]Not on the list[/SIZE]

(In no particular order)

Santana Moss, Marvin Harrison, Javon Walker, Derek Anderson, Matt Hasselbeck, Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones, Selvin Young, Travis Henry, Derrick Ward, Tony Scheffler, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Gonzalez, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Donovan McNabb, Cedric Benson, Kevin Jones, Jon Kitna, Chester Taylor, DJ Hackett, Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Vernon Davis, Rudi Johnson, Carnell Williams, DeAngelo Williams, DeShaun Foster, Jerious Norwood, Deion Branch.

[SIZE=+1]Just Missed [/SIZE]

Roddy White, Falcons - The only man other than Chris Redman that will miss Bobby Petrino. He could use a quarterback. atlantafalcons.com

Earnest Graham, Bucs - He's earned a big role, but I don't trust Jon Gruden to give him one. Cadillac Williams' return looms. atlantafalcons.com

Jason Witten, Cowboys - I have a hard time keeping a tight end over wideouts and running backs, even if he finished first at the position.

Donald Driver, Packers - Greg Jennings and James Jones will continue to erode his production. greenbaypackers.com

Hines Ward, Steelers - Safe, but on the decline. Santonio Holmes is the Steeler wideout to own.

Lee Evans, Bills - Quarterback situation could bring him down. buffalobills.com

Jay Cutler, Broncos - Closer to superstardom than most realize.

Brett Favre, Packers - Age hurts him in a keeper league.
greenbaypackers.com
[SIZE=+1]Top 50 Keepers[/SIZE]

50. Calvin Johnson, Lions ? Disappointing rookie season, but don't overreact. 756 yards and four scores when he didn't know the playbook is a sign of much better days ahead. Even without Mike Martz. detroitlions.com

49. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers - NFL active leader in yards-per-attempt still needs more of them. Roethlisberger finished only 16th in pass attempts behind guys like Jason Campbell, hurting his margin for error.

48. Justin Fargas, Raiders - He's come a long way. I suspect Fargas will be Oakland's starter next season. If not, zone-blocking teams like Houston will take a hard look at him. oaklandraiders.com

47. Kellen Winslow, Browns - If he did all that coming off microfracture surgery ? clevelandbrowns.com

46. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets - The poor man's Houshmandzadeh is bound to score more in 2008. newyorkjets.com

45. Laurence Maroney, Patriots - Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Tom Brady's dominance all conspire to make Maroney an inconsistent option. But he's going to get better and the starting runner on the Patriots has value.

44. Wes Welker, Patriots - A rich man's Troy Brown. 2007 was his ceiling, but he'll be a safe pick in New England as long as Brady is healthy.

43. Roy Williams, Lions - Worry more about the lack of development than the knee injury. Also worry about the loss of Mike Martz, although perhaps it will mean fewer targets for Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey. detroitlions.com

42. Jamal Lewis, Browns - I know he deserves to be higher, but how can we just ignore 2005-2006? If Lewis leaves Cleveland, all bets are off.

41. Santonio Holmes, Steelers - Twelfth in per-game numbers at wideout.

40. Greg Jennings, Packers - He won't keep scoring a touchdown a game, but he's the only Packer capable of running down Favre's deep balls. greenbaypackers.com

39. Plaxico Burress, Giants - Would be nice to see what he could do at "100%", but that doesn't seem likely to happen soon. newyorkgiants.com

38. Torry Holt, Rams - He's in decline, but you can still set your watch by his numbers.

37. Antonio Gates, Chargers - A lot to be said for consistency. He did it with very little help from his wideouts and quarterback. WEBSITE.WS - Your Internet Address For Life?

36. Reggie Bush, Saints - Value candidate or committee back? Bush needs to make his touches count more, because they are likely to take a hit per-game in 2008.

35. LenDale White, Titans - At worst, he's a reliable low-level RB2. Subtract twenty pounds and we might have something more. tennesseetitans.com

34. Michael Turner, Chargers - We all love the unknown, perhaps a little too much. Turner is a free agent and has the skills to land a big-time starting job, but where would he fit? Houston sounds perfect. After that, Denver, Arizona, Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, and Cincinnati could be fits. sandiegochargers.com

33. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins - Players seem to return faster and better from ACL surgeries every year. This rank is assuming that we only get 80% of Ronnie in 2008. miamidolphins.com

32. Drew Brees, Saints - Sean Payton is the new Mike Martz. That gives Brees a huge margin for error and a chance to break the NFL completions record. Again. I like keeping quarterbacks more than drafting them early because position scarcity is usually a bigger issue in keeper leagues.

31. Carson Palmer, Bengals - Sometimes, you have to trust your belief in talent. It wasn't a banner Palmer year, but I'll take 4,130 yards and 26 scores in a down year anytime. He will be the best fantasy quarterback one of these years.

We'll be back with the top-30 on Friday.
 

Hache Man

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

Top 30 Keepers
We ranked keepers #31-50 on Thursday; Now it's time for the big boys. If you are a looking for more time-wasting year-end lists, head over to Pancake Blocks for our top-ten busts of the season.

[SIZE=+1]Top 30 Keepers[/SIZE]

30. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals - Despite playing through injuries, he still wound up in the top-12 receivers in per-game numbers. A switch back to Matt Leinart would be a concern, but not devastating. arizonacardinals.com

29. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars - With Fred Taylor earning another year in a committee, MoJo's top-five talent will have to wait to be fully realized. jacksonvillejaguars.com

28. Tony Romo, Cowboys - Another receiver would be nice, but Romo is locked and loaded for a long run among the fantasy elite.

27. Ryan Grant, Packers - The Packers could bring in competition, but they are probably happy with their young guys backing up Grant. Like Willie Parker, he needs to work on gaining four-to-five yards on the plays he doesn't gain fifty. greenbaypackers.com

26. Brandon Jacobs, Giants - Sure, I've got a weakness for The Train. There are many reasons not to keep him, like the injuries, his hands, and the presence of Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw. newyorkgiants.com

But through all the disappointment, Jacobs was third in the NFL in rushing yards-per-game, and eighth in fantasy points per-game at running back. He can be a good RB2 even without 20 carries a game.

25. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals ? Who's his agent? Housh reportedly wasn't happy about his contract this season, and is likely to make more noise in the offseason if he doesn't get a new deal. Look for an extension to happen.

24. Steve Smith, Panthers- Another PPR power. Jake Delhomme will help, but he's no sure thing after major shoulder surgery. Smith's numbers this season wound up being not too different than 2006 anyhow. carolinapanthers.com

Smith is a great NFL receiver who has been overrated in fantasy leagues, including by myself. He's topped 1,200 yards once in seven seasons. He's topped eight touchdowns once. He has four good seasons, plus an injured year, since he emerged. In three of the four, he's been Donald Driver. Good, not great. He has some monster years left, but the only advantage he has over Marques Colston and Brandon Marshall is that he's done it for longer.

23. Marques Colston, Saints - So much for that sophomore slump. I love physical possession receiver stars like Colston because they are often more consistent week-to-week and year-to-year.

22. Brandon Marshall, Broncos - Tough guy to rank. Players like Steve Smith and Houshmandzadeh have rarely, if ever, reached the highs Marshall did in his second season. The Broncos will probably dump Javon Walker, although it's hard to imagine The Beast getting more targets after leading the league. Marshall has a slightly higher ceiling and lower floor than the other receivers ranked around him. We'll take the risk.

21. Marion Barber, Cowboys - Julius Jones is probably leaving. The only slight concern is that the Cowboys still seem to worry that Barber can't hold up to 350 touches. But he scores plenty with 250.

20. Larry Johnson, Chiefs - Even if he comes back as the old L.J., which is a huge question mark, he needs some teammates to help him score. kansascitychiefs.com

19. Peyton Manning, Colts - His worst season of the decade was in 2005: 3,745 yards and 28 touchdowns during a year he rested the last two weeks. Absolutely no risk in keeping him. indianapoliscolts.com


18. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals - Put up exactly the same numbers in 2005 and 2007: 1,409 yards and ten scores. A healthy Matt Leinart and Anquan Boldin could cut into next year some, but he's a safe WR1. arizonacardinals.com

17. Willie Parker, Steelers - All reports indicate that he'll make a full recovery. Parker was making strides in rounding out his game this year, but still doesn't help much on passing downs.

16. Willis McGahee, Ravens - Needs some help at quarterback and head coach, but it can't get much worse. An young offensive line will keep him consistent. baltimoreravens.com

15. Andre Johnson, Texans - The Texans have a passing game! The Texans have other receivers than A.J.! Johnson was on pace for 1,512 yards and 15 scores if he had avoided the knee injury.

14. Terrell Owens, Cowboys - Will be 35 next season, coming off a major injury. He's shown no signs of decline, but it has to happen eventually - right?

13. Chad Johnson, Bengals ? Set a career high in yards in down year. As safe as it gets ? if he stays in Cincy. Johnson may request a trade in the offseason, but the most likely scenario is a return to the Bengals.

12. Reggie Wayne, Colts - Like Addai at running back, there is virtually no downside in keeping Wayne. You can't ask for much more. indianapoliscolts.com

11. Braylon Edwards, Browns - A switch to Brady Quinn could slow down numbers, but Edwards should be a top-10 wideout for the next eight years. clevelandbrowns.com

10. Marshawn Lynch, Bills - If Trent Edwards shows normal progression, Lynch should have far more chances to score next year. buffalobills.com

9. Clinton Portis, Redskins - Improved receiving numbers helped Portis back to the land of the RB1s. Hopefully Gibbs doesn't wear him out during the playoff run. washingtonredskins.com

8. Tom Brady, Patriots - Tricky. Brady had never topped 30 touchdowns in his career before this season, but the Patriots aren't going to turn into a run-first team suddenly. Expect a significant decline, but he's still the favorite to be the top quarterback next year.

7. Frank Gore, 49ers - Sixth in yards-per-scrimmage, ninth among running backs in fantasy points, and a 4.2 ypc average on one of the worst offenses of the decade. You think we're jumping off the bandwagon after that?

6. Randy Moss, Patriots - We suspect he'll be back with New England on a short-term, high paying deal.

5. Joseph Addai, Colts ? He faded late, and hasn't quite proven he can carry the ball 300 times yet. On the Colts, he doesn't really need to in order to score 15 times. indianapoliscolts.com
Otherwise, he has the least amount of downside of anyone after LT2. On the Colts, he doesn't really need to in order to score 15 times.

4. Steven Jackson, Rams - Occasionally inconsistent, but Jackson ran with the best aggression of his career down the stretch of 2007. That's a great sign considering the lack of offensive line help.

3. Brian Westbrook, Eagles - Westbrook carried my office league team this season, and I'd vote for him as the most valuable non-QB in the NFL this season. So why does my gut want to rank Addai and Steven Jackson higher?

It shouldn't be the durability question. He's small, but he's only missed two games combined the last two seasons. News maven Evan Silva tires of the weekly questionable tag, but I can overlook that for the modern day Marshall Faulk. I'm going to debate spots spots two-through-five all offseason. For now, Westbrook gets the nod because only one other player was within 450 total yards of him.

2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings ? Riskier than the rest of the top-five, but he's the best chance to go completely bananas and set single-season records.
minnesotavikings.com
1. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers ? Peterson's slow finish will end any debate for the top spot in 2008. sandiegochargers.com
 

Hache Man

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

Season Recap: The QBs
During this most political of weeks, I just want to say that Rotoworld is the fantasy sports website for change. If you support us, we are going to find new ways of doing things. Clean up the internets and change all the old ways of covering fantasy sports.

Let's start with our season-in-review. Before moving on from the 2007 campaign, let's take one broad look back, and find out what this wacky season meant for fantasy options large and small. We're going to review every halfway decent offensive player in one sentence, all ranked by fantasy points scored. Hopefully this can be a reference people go back to during the offseason. I'll write a column on each skill position, plus look at some broader fantasy trends.

(And yes, the format inspiration came from FreeDarko, who is funnier and more original than we'll ever be. Let's see ? appropriating someone else's message and calling it your own; we're getting the hang of this politics thing.) Fantasy Sports - Fantasy Football? - Fantasy Sports News - Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Fantasy Basketball - Fantasy Football Advice

[SIZE=+1]Quarterback Season in Review [/SIZE]

The Players are listed in total fantasy points scored

This list is unusually long because of all the quarterback injuries. A non-strike year record of 65 quarterbacks started a game this season, more than two per team! The Panthers and 49ers were the first two teams in NFL history to start four quarterbacks in the same season. For point of reference, there were only 50 starters all of last season.

1. Tom Brady, Patriots ? Greatest quarterback season ever, all for a fourth-round pick.

2. Tony Romo, Cowboys - The Jasons (Garrett and Wittens) help Romo go from probably good to the fantasy elite.

3. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers ? Big plays and Willie's shortcomings lead to red zone fun; What motorcycle accident?

4. Peyton Manning, Colts ? Considering all he lost (Harrison, Glenn, Ugoh), 2007 was the ultimate sign he's bulletproof. indianapoliscolts.com

5. Derek Anderson, Browns ? Biggest surprise in the league started the season behind Charlie Frye, finished it ahead of Drew Brees. clevelandbrowns.com

6. Drew Brees, Saints ? After four-game meltdown to open the year, Brees was back to his pass-happy ways.

7. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks ? Huge increase in attempts leads to quiet career season.

8. Brett Favre, Packers ? Wideouts go from weakness to strength as Favre completes the season no one thought he had left. greenbaypackers.com

9. Carson Palmer, Bengals ? Confounding, but 4,131 yards and 26 scores is quite a down year.

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

10. Kurt Warner, Cardinals ? The Ken Whisenhunt Cardinals looked just the Dennis Green Cardinals, with better protection. arizonacardinals.com

11. Eli Manning, Giants ? More of the same, but he's durable. newyorkgiants.com

12. Jay Cutler, Broncos ? Best quarterback of the last three draft classes makes it work without much help from teammates.

13. Donovan McNabb, Eagles ? Strong finish provides hope that the old McNabb is buried beneath the headlines.

14. Philip Rivers, Chargers ? The only quarterback more inconsistent than Eli. sandiegochargers.com

15. David Garrard, Jaguars ? A quarterback you can win with, in real life and fantasy. jacksonvillejaguars.com

16. Jon Kitna, Lions ? The most unimpressive 4,000 passing yards since he did it last season. detroitlions.com

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

17. Jeff Garcia, Bucs ? Maxed out his potential, which isn't a good sign for next year. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

18. Vince Young, Titans ? With his running numbers down and passing numbers embarrassing, Young's second season was a career clouding worst-case scenario. tennesseetitans.com

19. Jason Campbell, Redskins ? Flashed progress before season-ending knee injury; a keeper. washingtonredskins.com

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

20. Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings ? Vince Young with less durability, which may or may not be a compliment. minnesotavikings.com

21. Sage Rosenfels, Texans - The best Jewish quarterback since Jay Fiedler.

22. Marc Bulger, Rams ? Biggest position bust wasn't in the top-30 per-game when healthy.

23. Damon Huard, Chiefs ? Market correction before giving way to Brodie Croyle, who was worse. kansascitychiefs.com

24. Matt Schaub, Texans ? Couldn't stay healthy, but 7.8 YPA is a sign of better things to come.

25. Chad Pennington, Jets ? Poorly timed picks, but the numbers before benched were nearly identical to the year before. newyorkjets.com

26. Cleo Lemon, Dolphins ? Probably won't start seven games again, but proved he belongs. miamidolphins.com

27. Joey Harrington, Falcons ? Tastes like a starter, but breaks like a little girl. atlantafalcons.com
<!--RW-->
[SIZE=+1]Tier Five[/SIZE]

28. Brian Griese, Bears ? Four week run as a fantasy savior is a distant memory after four-pick game and knee injury.

29. Kyle Boller, Ravens ? Improved, but not enough to escape a career backup role. baltimoreravens.com

30. Chris Redman, Falcons ? Bobby Petrino's lasting legacy in the NFL.
atlantafalcons.com
31. Quinn Gray, Jaguars ? After miserable start, did a fair David Garrard imitation. jacksonvillejaguars.com

32. Trent Edwards, Bills ? Put up the most yards ever for a third-round rookie quarterback with no receiver help, which counts for something.
buffalobills.com
33. Josh McCown, Raiders ? Predictably sub-mediocre on his final chance as a starter. oaklandraiders.com

34. Daunte Culpepper, Raiders ? Solid final two starts before moronic practice injury should keep him in the league. oaklandraiders.com

35. Kellen Clemens, Jets ? Quarterback of the future tag in question now.
newyorkjets.com
36. Todd Collins, Redskins ? The Damon Huard of 2007, with top-15 per-game numbers. washingtonredskins.com

37. Jake Delhomme, Panthers ? Tommy John surgery puts future in peril.
carolinapanthers.com
38. Luke McCown, Bucs ? The McCown to watch in 2008.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
39. Brodie Croyle, Chiefs ? Be afraid Chiefs fans ? at least he has Kelli.
kansascitychiefs.com
40. J.P. Losman, Bills ? Improved 2006 proved to be a mirage.
buffalobills.com
41. Trent Dilfer, 49ers ? Better on NFL Network than on the field.

42. Rex Grossman, Bears ? Late-season run before knee injury was better, but don't get carried away.

[SIZE=+1]Tier Everyone else[/SIZE]

43. Gus Frerotte, Rams ? Pulled off a rare five-interception game.

44. Trent Green, Dolphins ? Career probably over after another head injury.
miamidolphins.com
45. Vinny Testaverde, Panthers ? Better than David Carr!
carolinapanthers.com
46. Shaun Hill, 49ers ? Shockingly competent three-game run gives him a shot in '08.

47. A.J. Feeley, Eagles ? Hero of irrational Eagles fans everywhere ultimately looked like a backup.

48. David Carr, Panthers ? There is ladder extending miles below rock bottom that one must take to get to David Carr's 2007 season.

49. Alex Smith, 49ers - Shoulder injury requiring surgery hopefully explains his dreadful play.

50. Kyle Orton, Bears ? Neckbeard and a few late wins could give him a role in 2008.

51. Steve McNair, Ravens ? Injured and dink-and-dunking is a depressing way to go out.
baltimoreravens.com
52. Troy Smith, Ravens ? Earned valuable playing time down the stretch.

53. Matt Moore, Panthers ? Undrafted players was most impressive rookie quarterback in league.

54. Matt Leinart, Cardinals ? Abysmal start and worth ethic are a bigger worries than his collarbone injury. arizonacardinals.com

55. Kelly Holcomb, Vikings ? Worse than Brooks Bollinger, we think.

56. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks ? Only played in meaningless Week 17 games.

57. Brooks Bollinger, Vikings ? I probably should have stopped the list at fifty.

58. John Beck, Dolphins ? Margin for error is slim at age 27 after depressing rookie season.

59. Tim Rattay, Cardinals ? Best goal-line quarterback in the league.

60. Aaron Rodgers, Packers ? Great comeback against Cowboys, but has been hurt in two significant appearances as a pro. greenbaypackers.com

61. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders- Solid final game was nice way offseason present for Raiders. oaklandraiders.com

62. Kerry Collins, Titans ? Led the team to a few wins when asked.
tennesseetitans.com
63. Charlie Batch, Steelers ? Lucky that Roethlisberger stayed healthy.

64. Patrick Ramsey, Broncos ? Yep, still in the league.

65. Chris Weinke, 49ers ? Better than David Carr!

66. Jim Sorgi, Colts ? Showed why he's a backup in Week 17.
indianapoliscolts.com
67. Byron Leftwich, Falcons ? Hard to believe he's fallen this far.

68. Craig Nall, Packers ? Being Favre's buddy is good work if you can get it.

69. Matt Cassell, Patriots ? Matt Gutierrez nipping at his heels.

70. J.T. O'Sullivan, Lions ? Mike Martz departure ends his chance to play.

71. Bruce Gradkowski, Bucs ? Passed by Luke McCown.

72. Brad Johnson, Cowboys ? Double date with Ashlee?

73. Brock Berlin, Rams ? The most improbable starter of the season looked like it.

74. Andrew Walter, Raiders- Fourth on the Raiders depth chart is no way to go through life.

75. Brady Quinn, Browns ? Anderson's emergence will make him earn any playing time. clevelandbrowns.com
 

Hache Man

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

Divisional Round Rankings
A number of you have asked for weekly rankings during the playoffs, and we aim to please. Here goes.

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

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Peyton Manning, Colts indianapoliscolts.com
3. Tony Romo, Cowboys
4. Brett Favre, Packers greenbaypackers.com
5. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
6. David Garrard, Jaguars jacksonvillejaguars.com
7. Eli Manning, Giants newyorkgiants.com
8. Philip Rivers, Chargers sandiegochargers.com

[SIZE=+1]Divisional Round Running Backs[/SIZE]
indianapoliscolts.com
1. Joseph Addai, Colts
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
3. Ryan Grant, Packers
4. Marion Barber, Cowboys
5. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
6. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
7. Laurence Maroney, Patriots
8. Fred Taylor, Jaguars
9. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
10. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
11. Julius Jones, Cowboys
12. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
13. Maurice Morris, Seahawks
14. Michael Turner, Chargers
15. Kenton Keith, Colts
16. Greg Jones, Jaguars
17. Brandon Jackson, Packers greenbaypackers.com
Fantasy Sports - Fantasy Football? - Fantasy Sports News - Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Fantasy Basketball - Fantasy Football Advice
[SIZE=+1]Divisional Round Wide Receivers[/SIZE]

1. Randy Moss, Patriots
2. Reggie Wayne, Patriots
3. Wes Welker, Patriots
4. Terrell Owens, Cowboys
5. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks
6. Greg Jennings, Packers
7. Plaxico Burress, Giants newyorkgiants.com
8. Donald Driver, Packers
9. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
10. Chris Chambers, Chargers
11. Bobby Engram, Seahawks
12. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys
13. Marvin Harrison, Colts
14. Deion Branch, Seahawks
15. Amani Toomer, Giants
16. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
17. Reggie Williams, Jaguars
18. Nate Burleson, Seahawks
19. Donte Stallworth, Patriots
20. James Jones, Packers
21. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars
22. Jabar Gaffney, Patriots
23. Ernest Wilford, Jaguars
24. Steve Smith, Giants
25. Matt Jones, Jaguars
26. Sam Hurd, Cowboys

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

1. Jason Witten, Cowboys
2. Dallas Clark, Colts
3. Donald Lee, Packers
4. Ben Watson, Patriots
5. Kevin Boss, Giants
6. Ben Utecht, Colts
7. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
8. Marcus Pollard, Seahawks
9. Brandon Manumaleuna, Chargers
10. Bubba Franks, Packers
11. Kyle Brady, Patriots
12. Anthony Fasano, Cowboys
13. Bryan Fletcher, Colts
14. George Wrighster, Jaguars

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

1. Colts indianapoliscolts.com
2. Patriots
3. Packers greenbaypackers.com
4. Cowboys
5. Seahawks
6. Giants newyorkgiants.com
7. Chargers sandiegochargers.com
8. Jaguars jacksonvillejaguars.com


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

1. Adam Vinatieri, Colts
2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
3. Nick Folk, Cowboys
4. Mason Crosby, Packers
5. Josh Brown, Seahawks
6. Josh Scobee, Chargers
7. Lawrence Tynes, Giants
8. Nate Kaeding, Chargers
 

Hache Man

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

Bowl Review: NFL Draft Stock


The 2007 college football season was disappointing. A school with two losses, both in-conference, took home the BCS Championship. Other than the FedEx Orange and the Tostitos Fiesta, few bowl games were worth watching if your team wasn't playing. Notre Dame didn't even make the postseason after going 3-9.


The NFL was paying attention. Scouts monitor player situations all year, but the true shot callers don't have time to watch college football during the NFL season. The scouts will be in coaches and GMs' ears, but first impressions mean plenty. Witness last year's No. 1 overall pick and who fell all the way to 22.

So let's take a look at who helped themselves and who didn't during the college football postseason. Since this is a fantasy site, we'll focus on skill players before moving into the heart of the pre-draft process.
ncaafootball.com
[SIZE=+1]Stock Rising[/SIZE]

Rutgers RB Ray Rice
35-280-8.0-4 TDs, 2-15-7.5-0 TDs
International Bowl: Scarlet Knights 52, Ball State 30

Rice certainly had huge holes to run through against Ball State's 99th ranked rush defense. But the junior early entrant showed breakaway speed, executed in short yardage, and finished his runs. Rice eclipsed 2,000 yards for the season and posted the third highest rushing total for a bowl game ever. It may have locked up Rice's spot in the top two rounds. Despite his less than ideal size (5'9/205), zone-blocking teams will have interest.

Purdue TE Dustin Keller
7-150-21.4-1 TD
Motor City Bowl: Boilermakers 51, Central Michigan 48

Keller, who posted fantastic numbers in his last two seasons at Purdue, capped his career with a sterling effort. The highly athletic senior displayed his downfield abilities by racing for a 62-yard touchdown in the second quarter and showing off his sure hands with several catches underneath. At 6'3/240, Keller is undersized by every-down NFL standards and needs to polish his blocking, but at worst projects to be a zone-busting slot tight end at the next level.

Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart
23-253-11.0-1 TD, 2-29-14.5-1 TD
Sun Bowl: Ducks 56, South Florida 21

Oregon had dropped all its games after losing QB Dennis Dixon to a torn ACL in November, and Stewart took it upon himself to make redshirt freshman replacement Justin Roper's job easy against a supremely talented USF defense. Stewart shook off concerns about a lingering turf toe injury with his 71-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and another 41-yard burst in the third. The ideally built junior (5'11/234) announced his intentions to enter the draft last week and should be the No. 2 running back taken in April.

Michigan WR Adrian Arrington
9-153-17.0-2 TDs
Capitol One Bowl: Wolverines 41, Florida 35

Arrington, another junior-eligible who will forgo his final season, couldn't have saved his best collegiate performance for a better time. The 6'3/195-pound wideout had his way with 5'9 sophomore cornerback Markihe Anderson as the Wolves made sure retiring coach Lloyd Carr went out a winner. Arrington is raw and will be asked to add to his frame, but could sneak into the first day of the draft after his impressive last game.

East Carolina RB Chris Johnson
28-223-8.0-1 TD, 3-32-1 TD
Hawaii Bowl: Pirates 41, Boise State 38

Johnson likely earned himself a spot on an NFL roster in 2008 by pouring 408 all-purpose yards on the Boise Broncos. In addition to his rushing and receiving totals, the do-it-all senior brought back six kickoffs for 153 yards. Johnson is undersized at 5'10/195 and has struggled in short-yardage situations, but could have a future in the league as a No. 3 back and special teamer. He will be in attendance for the Senior Bowl, which invitees begin practicing for in less than two weeks.

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

Hawaii QB Colt Brennan
22-38-169-0 TDs-3 INTs
Sugar Bowl: Georgia 41, Rainbow Warriors 10

If Georgia was the best team in the nation in 2007, Brennan wouldn't disagree. The ferocious Bulldogs' pass rush got to Brennan for eight sacks and forced him to fumble twice, one recovered for a Georgia touchdown, in addition to his trio of picks. Hawaii came into the game as the nation's No. 1 offense, and left to chants of "overrated." Any chance of Brennan being a first-round pick in April is likely gone now.
ncaafootball.com
Purdue WR Dorien Bryant
5-65-13.0-0 TDs

His final numbers aren't anything to be ashamed of, but both of Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter's interceptions came on balls that bounced off Bryant's hands. The 5'10/170-pound senior projects as an NFL slot receiver, a position from which pro teams expect efficiency. While Bryant was a reliable pass catcher for most of his Purdue career, this performance will only hurt his stock on draft day. He'll try to make up for it during Senior Bowl week.

West Virginia RB Steve Slaton
1 rush, -2 yards, 1-2-2.0-0 TDs
Fiesta Bowl: Mountaineers 48, Oklahoma 28

Slaton, a junior, was originally expected to declare for the draft if coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan. Rodriguez departed, but Slaton won't pull the trigger. The scatback whose college career began so promising reached a low at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Slaton, who was outplayed by freshman Noel Devine for most of the 2007 season, was knocked out of the game with a leg injury and West Virginia still rolled without him. He would've been lucky to be taken on the first day, although Slaton could find himself backing up Devine under new coach Bill Stewart, so it's debatable whether returning to school was a smart choice.

Update: In a surprise move, Slaton declared for the draft on Sunday night.
Virginia Tech WR Josh Morgan
3-30-10.0-0 TDs
Orange Bowl: Kansas 24, Hokies 21

The senior wideout got open for a deep ball from quarterback Sean Glennon that surely would've went for a score and ultimately won the game for Va Tech, but outright dropped it. The play may have summed up Morgan's career. At 6'1/220 with low-4.4 speed and crazy athleticism, Morgan always had the tools, but never became a good route runner or a reliable target in his four years. He's a late-round prospect at this stage.

Boise State RB Ian Johnson
4-11-2.8-0 TDs, 0 catches

Johnson finished his junior season nursing an ankle injury on the bench, as freshman Jeremy Avery carried most of the load against ECU. If Johnson comes out early, he'll have major durability concerns because of his size (5'11/194) and inability to stay on the field. Johnson missed two games earlier in the year due to a bruised kidney and saw his overall numbers nearly cut in half after a monster sophomore campaign. It's safe to say he shouldn't entertain the idea of going pro.
 

Hache Man

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

Running it Back
Welcome back to the most misguided Rotoworld project since we covered Arena Fantasy Football: Our player-by-player, one sentence only season review. We've done quarterbacks, now lets look towards the runners.

There is a perception that it was a down year for running backs. While the first-round picks undeniably disappointed, the position was still deeper than wideout, like every season.

28 running backs averaged at least ten fantasy points-per-game, which is right at the average of the last five years. 16 wideouts reached the mark, which also isn't an abnormally high amount. In the fantasy playoffs, when the weather turned rough, only one receiver was in the top-30 fantasy point scorers. 12 runners were.

If perception pushes wide receivers too high in next year's draft, there will be opportunity for value at running back.
Fantasy Sports - Fantasy Football? - Fantasy Sports News - Fantasy Football Mock Draft - Fantasy Basketball - Fantasy Football Advice
[SIZE=+1]Running Back Season in Review [/SIZE]

Running Backs are listed in order of fantasy points scored, in a non-PPR league</B>

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers - Even when he's not quite the same, he's still the best. sandiegochargers.com
2. Brian Westbrook, Eagles- Tiki-like career path continues as injury reputation fades.

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

3. Adrian Peterson, Vikings- Most explosive back in league did it all despite 238 carries and eight games over ten fantasy points. minnesotavikings.com
4. Joseph Addai, Colts - Late fade can't hide metronome-steady first season as starter. indianapoliscolts.com
5. Clinton Portis, Redskins- Showed up to work every week despite injuries, led league in carries. washingtonredskins.com
6. Jamal Lewis, Browns- Rode his teammates to stunning mid-career rebound. clevelandbrowns.com
7. Marion Barber, Cowboys- More yards, but fewer touchdowns is a tradeoff we'll take.
8. Willis McGahee, Ravens- Proved he's a legitimate number one back. baltimoreravens.com
9. Frank Gore, 49ers- Heroically survived four quarterbacks and a dreadful offense.
10. Edgerrin James, Cardinals - Touches matter; the ultimate compiler. arizonacardinals.com
11. Earnest Graham, Bucs - Cadillac Williams' injury did the Bucs a favor.
Tampabaybuccaneers.com
[SIZE=+1]Tier Three[/SIZE]

12. Marshawn Lynch, Bills- First-rounder came as advertised, will be breaking tackles for the next five years. buffalobills.com
13. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars- Worse than rookie season, and still finished this high. jacksonvillejaguars.com
14. <A href="http://fantasyfootball.usatoday.com/content/playerpages/player_main.asp?sport=NFL&id=4428">Steven Jacksonhttp://fantasyfootball.usatoday.com/content/playerpages/player_main.asp?sport=NFL&id=1663, Rams ? Lived up to draft slot after returning from knee injury.
15. LenDale White, Titans- Surprisingly tough chubster was all substance, no flash. tennesseetitans.com
16. Willie Parker, Steelers - Couldn't buy a touchdown despite yardage.
17. Ryan Grant, Packers - Started fifth on Giants depth chart; finished fifth in fantasy scoring from the moment he became starter. greenbaypackers.com
18. Fred Taylor, Jaguars - Annually entertaining runner finally gets his due.
19. Kenny Watson, Bengals - What Chris Perry was supposed to be.
20. Brandon Jacobs, Giants - Lived up to our hype in the rare times he stayed on the field. newyorkgiants.com
21. Chester Taylor, Vikings - Lost starting job early, but retained decent value throughout. minnesotavikings.com

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

22. Thomas Jones, Jets - Big-plays and touchdowns were sorely lacking for healthy veteran. newyorkjets.com
23. Justin Fargas, Raiders- A revelation in a zone-blocking scheme. oaklandraiders.com
24. Reggie Bush, Saints - Proved he's not ready to be a primary back yet.
25. Laurence Maroney, Patriots - The Patriots didn't need to run, and Maroney didn't help on passing downs.
26. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins - Top fantasy back until torn ACL. miamidolphins.com
27. DeShaun Foster, Panthers - John Fox waited too long to replace him. carolinapanthers.com
28. Kevin Jones, Lions - Wildly inconsistent usage after foot injury and before torn ACL. detroitlions.com
29. Ron Dayne, Texans- The man can finish, but the Texans would prefer someone else start.
30. Warrick Dunn, Falcons- Petrino oddly stuck with him all year despite 3.15 yards-per-carry. atlantafalcons.com
31. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers- Underused until it was too late.
32. Najeh Davenport, Steelers- Vultured eight touchdowns.
33. Adrian Peterson, Bears- Competent job after Cedric Benson was hurt.
34. Maurice Morris, Seahawks- Earned committee role with improved play.
35. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks- After going from bad to worse, Alexander's days as a starter should be over.

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

36. Cedric Benson, Bears- Offensive line didn't help, but Benson was a bust far before broken leg.
37. Derrick Ward, Giants- Looked like a star before breaking his leg.
38. Selvin Young, Broncos- 5.2 yards-per-carry, but the fruitless wait for a Henry suspension defined season.
39. Travis Henry, Broncos- Life in running back heaven didn't take long to go hell.
40. Larry Johnson, Chiefs- Curse of 370 strikes again. kansascitychiefs.com
41. LaMont Jordan, Raiders- Among league leaders after September, buried on bench in second half of season.
42. Aaron Stecker, Saints ? The Billy Volek of 2007 enjoyed a playoff run unlikely to be approached again.
43. Jerious Norwood, Falcons ? First in yards-per-carry, 48th in carries.
44. Julius Jones, Cowboys ? Slipped even further into Barber's shadow as time in Big D draws to a disappointing close.
45. Chris Brown, Titans ? 175 rushing yards in Week 1, 289 the rest of the year.
46. Kenton Keith, Colts ? Proved that the Colts can find production at tailback with anyone.
47. Rudi Johnson, Bengals ? Bust of the Year was shell of former self.
<!--RW-->
[SIZE=+1]Tier Six[/SIZE]

48. Leon Washington, Jets ? Role decreased into third-down only.
49. Jesse Chatman, Dolphins ? Did reasonable Ronnie Brown impression ? for three weeks.
50. Kevin Faulk, Patriots ? Receiving specialist was thorn in Maroney owners' side.
51. Reuben Droughns, Giants ? Goal-line vulture faded into obscurity as season wore on.
52. Kolby Smith, Chiefs ? Chiefs found a quality backup in fifth-round.
53. Correll Buckhalter, Eagles ? Usefulness decreased because Westbrook never left the field.
54. Ladell Betts, Redskins ? Quietly busty because committee role never emerged.
55. Sammy Morris, Patriots ? Best running back on the Patriots until chest injury hit.
56. Musa Smith, Ravens ? Third-down back was finally freed in Week 17.
57. T.J. Duckett, Lions ? Showed pulse late, should keep career going.
58. Jason Wright, Browns ? Huge step forward to solid backup.
59. Pierre Thomas, Saints ? Week 17 explosion could lead to bigger role next season.
60. Leonard Weaver, Seahawks ? Mack Strong's injury did the Seahawks a favor.
61. DeShawn Wynn, Packers ? Ryan Grant may have never happened if Wynn didn't get hurt.
62. Ahman Green, Texans ? Fantasy leaguers and Texans should have seen decline coming.
63. Samkon Gado, Texans/Dolphins ? Fantasy luck: Willie Parker and Thomas Jones combined for two less touchdowns.
64. Fred Jackson, Bills ? Looks like a keeper backup to Marshawn Lynch.
65. Brian Leonard, Rams ? Blah run as starter when Jackson was out clouds future.
66. Michael Pittman, Bucs ? When healthy, was the same old Pittman.

[SIZE=+1]Tier Everyone Else[/SIZE]

67. Michael Bennett, Chiefs/Bucs ? Two franchises gave up on him in same season.
68. Greg Jones, Jaguars ? Successful return from second ACL injury, now as a full-time fullback.
69. Brandon Jackson, Packers ? Would have been cut before he had chance for Week 17 uprising if he wasn't a second-round pick.
70. Dominic Rhodes, Raiders ? Back-to-back 100-yard efforts to finish year could keep him in Oakland.
71. Andre Hall, Broncos ? Looked great when he played, like most unknown Broncos.
72. Cadillac Williams, Bucs ? Graham's outstanding play made Caddy's solid start look worse.
73. Darius Walker, Texans ? Serviceable as a committee back late in the season.
74. Michael Turner, Chargers ? About to make some keeper league owners very happy.
75. J.J. Arrington, Cardinals ? Dramatic improvement, but he's still just a role player.
76. Mike Sellers, Redskins ? The pride of Walla Walla.
77. Lorenzo Booker, Dolphins ? Didn't play until Week 13 despite a variety of Dolphin injuries.
78. Heath Evans, Patriots ? A rich man's Kyle Eckel.
79. Darren Sproles, Chargers ? Could backup LT2 after impressive garbage time numbers this year.
80. Vernand Morency, Packers ? Ineffectiveness, injuries ruined the chance of his career.
81. Tatum Bell, Lions ? Saw this one coming
82. Chris Henry, Titans ? Showed occasional spark before smoking up.
83. Vonta Leach, Packers ? What more can be said about Vonta Leach?
84. Cecil Sapp, Broncos ? Summer favorite never emerged from fullback role.
85. Maurice Hicks, 49ers ? Backup runners on the 49ers have limited upside.
86. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants ? Earned big role next season with late explosion.
87. Lawrence Vickers, Browns ? Pro Bowl quality fullback.
88. Justin Griffith, Falcons ? I probably should have ended this list twenty guys ago.
89. Anthony Thomas, Bills ? Could be the end of the line for the A train.
90. Mike Karney, Saints ? No three touchdown game this year.
91. Kyle Eckel, Patriots ? Belichick got his Naval Academy favorite a score.
92. DeDe Dorsey, Bengals ? 8.3 yards-per-carry in very limited work.
93. Garrett Wolfe, Bears ? Odd draft pick by Bears still looks odd.
94. Michael Robinson, 49ers ? See Maurice Hicks.
95. B.J. Askew, Bucs ? You are a true fan to have made it this far.
96. Aveion Cason, Lions ? Perhaps the lamest "Martz guy" ever.
97. Jerome Harrison, Browns ? Can't get past Jason Wright on the depth chart.
98. Mewelde Moore, Vikings ? Rotoworld favorite will make for a nice free agent pickup elsewhere.
99. Antonio Pittman, Rams - Will battle Brian Leonard for Steven Jackson handcuff status after ascendant season.
100. Priest Holmes, Chiefs - It was fun, if confusing, having Priest Holmes back in our lives.
 

Hache Man

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

Receiving Attention

Wide receivers get a bad wrap in fantasy circles as inconsistent. They can be up-and-down depending on the week, but the elite options reliably get their numbers over the course of the season. There were certainly less busts in the top-15 wideouts this year than at running back, which may push wideouts higher in next year's draft. Before we start looking ahead, let's take one final look at where everyone ended up in 2008.

If you missed any of earlier one sentence position reviews, take a peak at ?

Quarterbacks
Running Backs

---

[SIZE=+1]Wide Receiver Season in Review [/SIZE]

Players listed in order of fantasy points scored, in a non-PPR league

1. Randy Moss, Patriots - Andrew Walter-to-Tom Brady upgrade leads to best fantasy receiver season ever.

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

2. Terrell Owens, Cowboys - Sets career high in yards-per-catch as a 34-year-old.
3. Braylon Edwards, Browns - 16 scores: just needed some help from his teammates. clevelandbrowns.com
4. Reggie Wayne, Colts - So that's what he can do without Marvin Harrison around. indianapoliscolts.com
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals - Only two games under 70 yards made Fitz the most consistent receiver in the league, especially when Boldin was out. arizonacardinals.com
6. Chad Johnson, Bengals - Set a career high in yards in a "down year."
7. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals - Palmer's preferred red zone option faded after Chris Henry returned.
8. Marques Colston, Saints - After slow start, proved he's going to be a number one for a long time.

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

9. Plaxico Burress, Giants - Barely practiced, but scored 12 times while playing hurt. newyorkgiants.com
10. Brandon Marshall, Broncos - "Baby T.O." is all grown up and should be making big plays with Jay Cutler for years.
11. Wes Welker, Patriots - The new Troy Brown was a points-per-reception monster from day one.
12. Greg Jennings, Packers - Favre's new big play guy did it all in only 12 starts. greenbaypackers.com
13. Torry Holt, Rams - The explosion is gone, but the consistent production remains.
14. Roddy White, Falcons - The most improved receiver in the league made our sleeper list, but we never imagined he'd be this complete.
15. Bobby Engram, Seahawks - Resourceful slot receiver has career year at 34 while teammates can't stay healthy.
16. Kevin Curtis, Eagles - A few monster games skew his ranking, but he easily lived up to his contract and draft slot.
17. Steve Smith, Panthers - Four touchdowns in three games with Delhomme; three scores with everyone else. carolinapanthers.com
18. Santonio Holmes, Steelers - Greg Jennings of the AFC becomes Ben's big-play guy despite missing three games.
19. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals - What we expected: 11th in per-game numbers despite hip injury. arizonacardinals.com
20. Derrick Mason, Ravens - Amazing renaissance included the all-time NFL record of seven-yard catches. baltimoreravens.com
21. Joey Galloway, Bucs - Age-defying mid-thirties run continues despite weak-armed quarterbacks. Tampabaybuccaneers.com

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

22. Andre Johnson, Texans - Misses seven Sundays, but finishes third in per-game numbers while finally playing in a real passing attack.
23. Shaun McDonald, Lions - The evolution of Mike Furrey. detroitlions.com
24. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs - Best rookie receiver put up great numbers despite terrible passing attack. (Could it get worse?) kansascitychiefs.com
25. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets - T.J. Houshmandzadeh without the touchdowns. newyorkjets.com
26. Bernard Berrian, Bears - Continued upward climb despite inconsistent quarterbacks.
27. Nate Burleson, Seahawks - Fourth receiver when everyone was healthy, Burleson comes in second in the Marc Boerigter Memorial award with nine touchdowns on only 50 catches.
28. Reggie Williams, Jaguars - The winner of the Boerigter trophy (10 scores in 38 catches). jacksonvillejaguars.com
29. Chris Chambers, Dolphins/Chargers - Quiet rebound season split between Dolphins and Chargers. sandiegochargers.com
30. Donald Driver, Packers - Lack of scores, emergence of Jennings masked another rock solid campaign. WEBSITE.WS - Your Internet Address For Life?
31. Hines Ward, Steelers - The AFC Donald Driver is showing wear and tear, but he scores when healthy.
32. Lee Evans, Bills - Biggest healthy bust at wideout wasn't ready to carry entire offense on his back. buffalobills.com
33. Roy Williams, Lions - Didn't take the next step before December knee injury; 19th in per-game numbers. detroitlions.com
34. Patrick Crayton, Cowboys - Sleeper pick was prone to flops, but proved a solid WR3.

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

35. Jerry Porter, Raiders - Quietly impressive second half should lead to big free agent bucks. oaklandraiders.com
36. Kevin Walter, Texans - Give Gary Kubiak credit for turning former role player Walter into a legitimate threat when A.J. was hurt.
37. Reggie Brown, Eagles - Took a step back; may not be a number one.
38. Laveranues Coles, Jets - Same old Coles when healthy, but injuries starting to catch up. newyorkjets.com
39. Calvin Johnson, Lions - Slow to pick up complex offense, but still a productive rookie season. detroitlions.com
40. Santana Moss, Redskins - Second straight down year despite improved Washington offense; needed a big finish to get this high. washingtonredskins.com
41. Isaac Bruce, Rams - The definition of solid, if unspectacular, veteran competence.
42. David Patten, Saints - Gave the Saints far more than expected as de facto number two in pass-wacky offense.
43. Roydell Williams, Titans - Better than Brandon Jones, could be solid if Vince Young improves. tennesseetitans.com
44. Ronald Curry, Raiders - Has the skills, but sunk beneath the weight of another terrible passing attack. oaklandraiders.com
45. Amani Toomer, Giants - Average fantasy option keeps proving his worth to the Giants. newyorkgiants.com
46. Brandon Stokley, Broncos - Fantastic comeback season after Achilles injury, even if Denver would rather he come off the bench.
47. Deion Branch, Seahawks - Can't stay healthy, and shares the number one billing when he is.
48. Arnaz Battle, 49ers - Possession threat could thrive under Martz.
49. Donte' Stallworth, Patriots - Lost too much playing time to Jabar Gaffney and too many targets to Wes Welker.
50. Justin Gage, Titans - Ex-Bear was shockingly competent once handed the starting job.
<!--RW-->
[SIZE=+1]Tier Five [/SIZE]


51. Dennis Northcutt, Jaguars - Smart signing by Jaguars will be remembered for his playoff drops. jacksonvillejaguars.com
52. Bobby Wade, Vikings - Decent slot man was asked to do more.
53. Vincent Jackson, Chargers - Oddly invisible regular season as Philip Rivers regressed. sandiegochargers.com
54. James Jones, Packers - Excellent rookie will take over for Donald Driver in a couple years.
55. Joe Jurevicius, Browns - Still hasn't topped 750 yards in a season, probably never will. clevelandbrowns.com
56. Antwaan Randle El, Redskins - Only one score, but proved he is a real NFL receiver. washingtonredskins.com
57. Ike Hilliard, Bucs - Borrowed Galloway's juice to set career high with 62 grabs. WEBSITE.WS - Your Internet Address For Life?
58. Michael Jenkins, Falcons - Fairly safe to say that he's not going to get much better. WEBSITE.WS - Your Internet Address For Life?
59. Andre' Davis, Texans - Revived career with excellent run as starter when Andre Johnson was hurt.
60. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts - Strong finish and experience on outside lead to big seasons ahead. indianapoliscolts.com
61. Muhsin Muhammad, Bears - Number-one ranked season (2004) feels like a lifetime ago for fading vet.
62. Nate Washington, Steelers - Explosive off the bench, disappointing as a starter.
63. Jabar Gaffney, Patriots - Proof that every Patriot has his day.
64. Mike Furrey, Lions - Predictable downturn as the Lions receiver pie expanded.
65. Ernest Wilford, Jaguars - Didn't separate himself in spread-the-wealth offense.
66. Drew Carter, Panthers - Failing to pass Keary Colbert for most of the year is all we need to know.
67. Darrell Jackson, 49ers - Long-time overrated receiver stayed healthy, but met his reckoning on terrible offense.
68. Bryant Johnson, Cardinals - Big plays from '06 now look like anomaly in ordinary career.
69. Sidney Rice, Vikings - Rookie playmaker should be a starter in Minnesota for a long time. minnesotavikings.com
70. Marty Booker, Dolphins - Led the team in receiving ? with 556 yards.
71. Devery Henderson, Saints - Drop-prone player doesn't look developing after blowing chance to become a star.

[SIZE=+1]Tier Everyone Else[/SIZE]

72. Josh Reed, Bills - Proof the Bills have other receivers than Lee Evans.
73. D.J. Hackett, Seahawks - Topped 100 yards in half the games he finished; next step is finishing more.
74. Matt Jones, Jaguars - Former first-rounder takes huge step back while staying buried on depth chart. jacksonvillejaguars.com
75. Drew Bennett, Rams - Third receiver on a mediocre passing attack isn't going to put up numbers.
76. Ted Ginn, Dolphins - Too early to make a judgment.
77. Mark Clayton, Ravens - Injuries and quarterbacks don't fully explain scoreless season for once-rising star. baltimoreravens.com
78. Devard Darling, Ravens - Scored three times, mostly in meaningless final weeks.
79. Laurent Robinson, Falcons - Speedster had impressive rookie season, could be a future sleeper.
80. Derek Hagan, Dolphins - Book is still out, but didn't progress as expected. miamidolphins.com
81. Ruvell Martin, Packers - Not many fourth receivers score four times.
82. Chris Henry, Bengals - After disappointing half-year, may need Chad Johnson to move on to fulfill potential.
83. Robert Ferguson, Vikings - What the Vikings should have expected.
84. Jerheme Urban, Cardinals - A great sign that the Cardinals passing attack was healthy.
85. Greg Lewis, Eagles - If only he played the Patriots every week.
86. Brad Smith, Jets - Slash player isn't ready to start.
87. Lance Moore, Saints - Training camp star doesn't translate in regular season.
88. Devin Hester, Bears - Flashed potential once he got snaps late in the late season.
89. Samie Parker, Chiefs - Disappointing run in Kansas City is over now.
90. Roscoe Parrish, Bills - Useful slot receiver isn't trusted to start.
91. Jason Avant, Eagles - Better than Hank Baskett.
92. Jeff Webb, Chiefs - Didn't cement bigger role next year.
93. Sam Hurd, Cowboys - Dallas will want to upgrade on bench.
94. Brandon Jones, Titans - Expected number one couldn't stay healthy or climb depth chart. tennesseetitans.com
95. Eric Moulds, Titans - Veteran on last legs mostly helped in the locker room.
96. Keary Colbert, Panthers - Favorite from 2004 isn't likely to start eleven games ever again.
97. Keenan McCardell, Redskins - See Eric Moulds.
98. Marvin Harrison, Colts - Question now is whether he even wants to play anymore. indianapoliscolts.com
99. Joe Horn, Falcons - The Saints knew what they were doing.
100. Michael Clayton, Bucs - 161 fantasy points as a rookie, 109 fantasy points in three seasons since.
101. Koren Robinson, Packers - Probably will remain a special teamer if he stays in Green Bay. greenbaypackers.com
102. Troy Williamson, Vikings - So much for the new contacts.
103. Demetrius Williams, Ravens - Deep threat on a team that couldn't go vertical.
104. Javon Walker, Broncos - Knee problems could jeopardize career.
105. Greg Camarillo, Dolphins - One shining moment kept the Dolphins from infamy.
106. Cedrick Wilson, Steelers - Settled in as a fourth receiver.
107. Craig "Buster" Davis - Overrated rookie now likely stuck on the bench for a while.
108. Terrance Copper, Saints - The Saints love random wideouts.
109. Ben Obomanu, Seahawks - Would be sleeper to watch if Seattle receiving corps ever thins out.
110. Justin McCareins, Jets - Single-handedly lost a few games for Jets.
 

Hache Man

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

Conference Championship Ranks


[SIZE=+1]Conference Championship Quarterbacks[/SIZE]

1. Tom Brady, Patriots
2. Brett Favre, Packers greenbaypackers.com
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers sandiegochargers.com
4. Eli Manning, Giants ( Can he keep it up? newyorkgiants.com
5. Billy Volek, Chargers

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

1. Ryan Grant, Packers greenbaypackers.com
2. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers sandiegochargers.com
3. Brandon Jacobs, Giants newyorkgiants.com
4. Laurence Maroney, Patriots
5. Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
6. Kevin Faulk, Patriots
7. Michael Turner, Chargers
8. Darren Sproles, Chargers
9. Brandon Jackson, Packers

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

1. Randy Moss, Patriots
2. Greg Jennings, Packers
3. Wes Welker, Patriots
4. Donald Driver, Packers
5. Plaxico Burress, Giants
6. Chris Chambers, Chargers
7. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
8. Amani Toomer, Giants
9. Donte Stallworth, Patriots
10. James Jones, Packers
11. Jabar Gaffney, Patriots
12. Steve Smith, Giants

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

1. Ben Watson, Patriots
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers
3. Donald Lee, Packers
4. Kevin Boss, Giants
5. Brandon Manumaleuna, Chargers
6. Bubba Franks, Packers
7. Kyle Brady, Patriots


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

1. Patriots
2. Packers
3. Giants
4. Chargers

[SIZE=+1]Conference Championship Kickers[/SIZE]

1. Steven Gostkowski, Patriots
2. Mason Crosby, Packers
3. Lawrence Tynes, Giants
4. Nate Kaeding, Chargers
 

Hache Man

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

Senior Week Preview
The 59th annual Under Armour Senior Bowl will be played Saturday, January 26 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Practices begin on Monday. It is the offseason's second major pre-draft event, after the East-West Shrine Game, which was played Saturday following a week of practices. A review of it is available at the end of this column.

The Senior Bowl will be televised this week on the NFL Network. Here is a preview for what should be a productive and interesting week.
ncaafootball.com
[SIZE=+1]Running the Show[/SIZE]

The 49ers continue their perennial tradition of coaching the Senior Bowl's South squad, and will take on Lane Kiffin and the crosstown Raiders. Usually, the worst team in each conference gets the advantage of meeting the year's top senior prospects up close. But the Dolphins overhauled their front office and coaching staff, costing them the opportunity. The Rams eliminated themselves by firing Paul Boudreau, a respected offensive line coach whose position group was beset by injury in 2007, and coordinator Greg Olson, whose play-calling turned the Rams' offense into a formidable unit down the stretch in 2006. They did opt to keep head coach Scott Linehan around for "stability."

[SIZE=+1]Ryan a No-Go[/SIZE]

Andre Woodson (Kentucky) and Brian Brohm (Louisville) are on his heels, but Matt Ryan of Boston College is considered the No. 1 quarterback prospect at this stage of the draft process. Let the debate begin. Ryan has opted out of the Senior Bowl, and we can thank agent Tom Condon for that. Condon, who also represents Brady Quinn and Matt Leinart, annually encourages his clients to skip pre-draft competition. NFL teams don't like this approach, so it shouldn't be a surprise if Ryan's stock falls as the draft process moves along.
clevelandbrowns.com
[SIZE=+1]Hello, Joe Flacco[/SIZE]

Replacing Ryan on the North roster will be Joe Flacco, an ideally built QB prospect who started the last two years at D-IAA Delaware. Flacco threw for 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions while completing 63.5 percent of his throws as a senior. The 6'6/232-pounder began his college career at Pittsburgh, where he was stuck behind current Saints third-stringer Tyler Palko. Clearly, Dave Waanstedt wasn't basing his QB depth chart on his signal caller's chances of making it in the pros. While Palko was undrafted, Flacco has been projected to go as early as the second round, though a third- to fourth-round grade is likely more realistic. How Flacco fares against defensive backs significantly more talented than the ones he faced with the Fightin' Blue Hens will determine much about his draft-day status.

[SIZE=+1]I'm a Man, I'm Forty[/SIZE]

Oklahoma State head ball coach Mike Gundy will have two members of his 2007 roster at the Senior Bowl ? WR Adarius Bowman and RB Dantrell Savage. Bowman had a slightly disappointing senior campaign after being named Big Twelve Newcomer of the Year in 2006, but possesses all the tools to be a No. 1 receiver in the pros. The former North Carolina transfer stands 6'4/224 and is expected to run in the 4.4s at late February's Combine. Savage is a shifty scatback with homerun-hitting speed. If he can show value on returns, something he rarely had a chance to do as a Cowboy, Savage could crack the draft's first day. Bowman has a good chance to go in the first round.

[SIZE=+1]The Next Cromartie?[/SIZE]

What do Antonio Cromartie and Antoine Cason (Arizona) have in common? They're both shutdown cornerbacks with elite ball skills who can return punts and possess ideal size. Disappointingly, they also were both not participants in the Senior Bowl; Cason declined an invitation because he's got little left to prove and Cromartie didn't make it to his senior year. The brother of Aveion Cason, some have questioned Antoine's speed after he skipped the 40-yard dash at the Wildcats' Pro Day last year. The reason? Cason was busy running for the U of A track team. The kid can fly, and will likely be a high top-20 or 15 pick in April. arizonacardinals.com

[SIZE=+1]Family Ties[/SIZE]

Virginia DE Chris Long, who could go as high as No. 1 overall to the Dolphins, is the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long.

Projected fourth-round QB John David Booty of USC is the brother of Josh, who was with the Raiders for most of the 2007 offseason. Josh also was in the Florida Marlins' organization for five years.

Missouri TE Martin Rucker, a possible first-day selection, is the younger brother of Panthers DE Mike Rucker. They are the sons of Martin T. Rucker, a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. carolinapanthers.com

Texas FS Marcus Griffin is Titans 2007 first-round pick Michael Griffin's twin brother. Marcus was redshirted as a freshman and did not leave Texas early to enter the draft with Michael.

LSU OLB Ali Highsmith is the cousin of former Miami Hurricanes and Houston Oilers RB Alonzo Highsmith.

[SIZE=+1]East-West Shrine Game Notes[/SIZE]

In last year's E-W Shrine presentation, Nevada quarterback Jeff Rowe blew everyone away and was selected by the Bengals with the No. 151 pick overall. This year's star during practices was Appalachian State wideout Dexter Jackson, who played for Dick Vermeil's East squad. Jackson, who keyed Appy State's early-season upset of Michigan, lacks great size at 5'10/185, but can return punts and is extremely quick. Any positive scouting report from Vermeil can go a long way, as the old coach still has a lot of pull in NFL circles. Jackson helped himself with a strong week.

Others who drew high marks were San Diego QB Josh Johnson, Pittsburgh DE/OLB Joe Clermond, and Utah State WR Kevin Robinson. Johnson hooked up with Robinson on a five-yard touchdown in Saturday's game. Robinson also returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown.

Less inspiring were the performances of Nebraska QB Sam Keller, who played under Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter at Arizona State before transferring to the Cornhuskers for his senior season, and underachieving Anthony Morelli of Penn State. Oklahoma RB Allen Patrick also was injured during the game, and Wisconsin WR Paul Hubbard, a big deep threat prospect like Paul Williams was at this time last year, limped off at one point.
 

Hache Man

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

Live from Mobile: Day One

For the first practice of the week, I headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium to see the North team. Overall, the defensive lineman impressed me the most. There were a few that really struggled, while there were a couple of receivers that really looked good. Here's a look at which player's stood out the most today:
ncaafootball.com
Sedrick Ellis DT USC: There's a reason that Ellis is being projected as a lock for the Top 10 of this year's draft. His strength is unbelievable, and to see it in person is really a treat. He literally overpowered his opponent at least two or three times today. I was very impressed with him and expect him to be among the top players taken this year.

Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina: Balmer is a player that a lot of people don't know about; however, that should change pretty quickly. Balmer possessed a nice combination of quickness and strength today as he he was another defensive lineman that had a great day. I really like his quick hands and his ability to find the ball.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Royal had a few grabs today that were just sick. On one play he put a double move on the defender and sprinted up to the field to catch the ball in the back of the end zone. In another play he made a circus-like catch over a defender that had slipped to the ground, as got two feet down in bounds. He really opened some eyes today.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins really displayed his ability to make plays today as he made a few acrobatic catches that most other receivers wouldn't be able to make. He showed good quickness and nice elusiveness in the open field.

Thomas DeCoud S California: DeCoud quietly had a nice practice. I really like his ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks. He also showed nice hands in some of the individual drills for the defensive backs.

DeMario Pressley DT NC State: I really like Pressley's quickness. He showed this today when he, on back-to-back plays, gave the lineman a quick juke-move and got into the backfield. He also showed quick hands.

Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College: Cherilus was a beast today as he, from what I saw, didn't lose a single one-on-one battle with a defensive lineman. He has great size and showed the quickness and athleticism that you look for in a top offensive lineman. He also, at times, lined up at right tackle. I was very impressed with him today.

Adams S Michigan: Adams struggled at times in coverage today, which really worries me, but he did have a couple of plays where he literally would have been on the "jacked up" highlight reel. On one play, West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt caught the ball out of the backfield, turned up and field, and Adams was there to deliver the blow. Adams hit him so hard that Schmitt's helmet went flying off in the other direction. Adams' big hits today made up for his struggles in coverage.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I was really unimpressed by Bowman today. He clearly showed his athleticism, which was nice, but he dropped at least three very catchable balls. This did not bode well for him and he had better step it up the rest of the week.

Charles Godfrey CB Iowa, Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado: Both of these guys had a bit of a tough day. They both seemed to struggle a bit in coverage and each of them dropped a few passes in the individual drills. They both showed flashes at times, but overall they didn't have that great of a day.

Drew Radovich OG USC: Radovich did not have a good day today as he really struggled in the one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. He had a lot of trouble with Kentwan Balmer and DeMario Pressley. It'll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the week.
 

Hache Man

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

Live from Mobile: Day Two




[SIZE=+1]Tuesday[/SIZE]

From a Fantasy perspective, Chris Johnson from East Carolina has really impressed me. His speed is among the elite down here and he is really showing the scouts why he is being projected by some as the top senior running back in this year's draft. I think he has the potential to be a great player at the next level and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is going to be a huge plus for the team that drafts him.

Adarius Bowman continues to struggle as he dropped at least another three balls today. I don't know if it's a lack of concentration or just nerves, but he's definitely not helping his draft stock so far this week. Fantasy wise, Bowman isn't as much a player that I would like at this year in regular drafts, but in dynasty and rookie leagues, I'd say he'd be a nice Mid-Round prospect.

Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins have both looked great so far this week. They have the potential to be a nice #2 or #3 receiver at the next level. It also helps that they both have nice return skills, so that should help their stock. They have a chance to have an impact fantasy wise at receiver and for the defense/special teams that they are drafted to.

At quarterback, Chad Henne has had the best two days of practice so far. He's looked very poised and has done a great job of delivering the ball on time. He's had some really nice looking throws. Joe Flacco has looked pretty good as well. I think he could use some coaching on his footwork as his drops seem to take longer than the other quarterbacks.

John David Booty hasn't really impressed, but he has disappointed. He's looked like an average quarterback that should be a Mid-Late Round selection, which is what he is. While none of these quarterbacks will likely start next year, I think that both Henne and Flacco are players to look at in dynasty or rookie leagues. Flacco likely ahead of Henne, but with the way Henne's been playing this week, it could be a lot closer. ncaafootball.com

[SIZE=+1]Monday[/SIZE]
For the first practice of the week, I headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium to see the North team. Overall, the defensive lineman impressed me the most. There were a few that really struggled, while there were a couple of receivers that really looked good. Here's a look at which player's stood out the most today:

Sedrick Ellis DT USC: There's a reason that Ellis is being projected as a lock for the Top 10 of this year's draft. His strength is unbelievable, and to see it in person is really a treat. He literally overpowered his opponent at least two or three times today. I was very impressed with him and expect him to be among the top players taken this year.

Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina: Balmer is a player that a lot of people don't know about; however, that should change pretty quickly. Balmer possessed a nice combination of quickness and strength today as he he was another defensive lineman that had a great day. I really like his quick hands and his ability to find the ball.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Royal had a few grabs today that were just sick. On one play he put a double move on the defender and sprinted up to the field to catch the ball in the back of the end zone. In another play he made a circus-like catch over a defender that had slipped to the ground, as got two feet down in bounds. He really opened some eyes today.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins really displayed his ability to make plays today as he made a few acrobatic catches that most other receivers wouldn't be able to make. He showed good quickness and nice elusiveness in the open field.

Thomas DeCoud S California: DeCoud quietly had a nice practice. I really like his ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks. He also showed nice hands in some of the individual drills for the defensive backs.

DeMario Pressley DT NC State: I really like Pressley's quickness. He showed this today when he, on back-to-back plays, gave the lineman a quick juke-move and got into the backfield. He also showed quick hands.

Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College: Cherilus was a beast today as he, from what I saw, didn't lose a single one-on-one battle with a defensive lineman. He has great size and showed the quickness and athleticism that you look for in a top offensive lineman. He also, at times, lined up at right tackle. I was very impressed with him today.

Adams S Michigan: Adams struggled at times in coverage today, which really worries me, but he did have a couple of plays where he literally would have been on the "jacked up" highlight reel. On one play, West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt caught the ball out of the backfield, turned up and field, and Adams was there to deliver the blow. Adams hit him so hard that Schmitt's helmet went flying off in the other direction. Adams' big hits today made up for his struggles in coverage.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I was really unimpressed by Bowman today. He clearly showed his athleticism, which was nice, but he dropped at least three very catchable balls. This did not bode well for him and he had better step it up the rest of the week.

Charles Godfrey CB Iowa, Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado: Both of these guys had a bit of a tough day. They both seemed to struggle a bit in coverage and each of them dropped a few passes in the individual drills. They both showed flashes at times, but overall they didn't have that great of a day.

Drew Radovich OG USC: Radovich did not have a good day today as he really struggled in the one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. He had a lot of trouble with Kentwan Balmer and DeMario Pressley. It'll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the week.
 

Hache Man

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

Live from Mobile: Day Three





[SIZE=+1]Wednesday[/SIZE]

Afternoon Practice

At wide receiver, both Donnie Avery and Andre Caldwell have been the most impressive so far this week. They both have improved their stock and are now among the top senior wide receivers in this year's draft.

Matt Forte, running back from Tulane, is a strong, powerful player. He looks like an NFL running back and could have a shot at being a productive fantasy player next year.

Andre Woodson continues to impress me. His drops have been nice, he's got a strong arm, and he takes care of the football. I'd have no problem with taking him in the 1st Round of this year's draft.

Brandon Coutu is looking good as the kicker from Georgia was drilling balls from 48 yards out. He's the top kicker in a class that doesn't have a true superstar. Could he be 2008's Nick Folk for fantasy owners? Possibly, but I also wouldn't put it past the North Team's kicker Alexis Serna, who only stands 5 foot 6 and weighs 170 lbs.

Morning Practice

Chad Henne is raising his draft stock more than anyone so far this week. He's shown a very strong arm, had great accuracy, and showed to me that he is capable of throwing the ball on the run. I wouldn't be shocked if he snuck into the 2nd Round come April.

Dorien Bryant, the wide receiver from Purdue looked good today. He was running some nice routes and looks like he could be a great slot receiver at the next level. He's being projected as a Mid-Round pick.

Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins continue to shine. They are both doing everything right and have both raised their draft stock. Hawkins seems like he'd be a good #2 receiver at the next level and Royal seems more like borderline #2 or #3 receiver.

Justin Forsett was impressive today. He catches the ball well and is a nice little scatback. He's being projected as a Mid-Late Round pick due to so many juniors coming out.

Adarius Bowman improved today. He didn't drop as many balls as in previous days and he also showed how he is nice redzone target when he went up in the endzone and came down with the ball.

[SIZE=+1]Tuesday[/SIZE]

Afternoon Practice

Early Doucet is a player to keep an eye on. The former LSU Tiger and National Championship winner was impressive today as he looked like a player that was worthy of being a 1st Round pick in this year's draft. In fantasy leagues, he's a player that I'd consider for Dynasty or Rookie leagues.

Houston's Donnie Avery is another receiver that I would look at, as his speed and athleticism could really help a team at the next level. He is also a very good returner, so that should help his fantasy value in terms of defense/special teams.

While Andre Woodson likely won't begin the year as a starting quarterback, he has all of the tools to be a great quarterback at the next level. He'd be a player that I would really consider stashing away on a dynasty league team or in a rookie league draft.

Morning Practice

From a Fantasy perspective, Chris Johnson from East Carolina has really impressed me. His speed is among the elite down here and he is really showing the scouts why he is being projected by some as the top senior running back in this year's draft. I think he has the potential to be a great player at the next level and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is going to be a huge plus for the team that drafts him.

Adarius Bowman continues to struggle as he dropped at least another three balls today. I don't know if it's a lack of concentration or just nerves, but he's definitely not helping his draft stock so far this week. Fantasy wise, Bowman isn't as much a player that I would like at this year in regular drafts, but in dynasty and rookie leagues, I'd say he'd be a nice Mid-Round prospect.

Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins have both looked great so far this week. They have the potential to be a nice #2 or #3 receiver at the next level. It also helps that they both have nice return skills, so that should help their stock. They have a chance to have an impact fantasy wise at receiver and for the defense/special teams that they are drafted to.

At quarterback, Chad Henne has had the best two days of practice so far. He's looked very poised and has done a great job of delivering the ball on time. He's had some really nice looking throws. Joe Flacco has looked pretty good as well. I think he could use some coaching on his footwork as his drops seem to take longer than the other quarterbacks.

John David Booty hasn't really impressed, but he has disappointed. He's looked like an average quarterback that should be a Mid-Late Round selection, which is what he is. While none of these quarterbacks will likely start next year, I think that both Henne and Flacco are players to look at in dynasty or rookie leagues. Flacco likely ahead of Henne, but with the way Henne's been playing this week, it could be a lot closer.

[SIZE=+1]Monday[/SIZE]
For the first practice of the week, I headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium to see the North team. Overall, the defensive lineman impressed me the most. There were a few that really struggled, while there were a couple of receivers that really looked good. Here's a look at which player's stood out the most today:

Sedrick Ellis DT USC: There's a reason that Ellis is being projected as a lock for the Top 10 of this year's draft. His strength is unbelievable, and to see it in person is really a treat. He literally overpowered his opponent at least two or three times today. I was very impressed with him and expect him to be among the top players taken this year.

Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina: Balmer is a player that a lot of people don't know about; however, that should change pretty quickly. Balmer possessed a nice combination of quickness and strength today as he he was another defensive lineman that had a great day. I really like his quick hands and his ability to find the ball.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Royal had a few grabs today that were just sick. On one play he put a double move on the defender and sprinted up to the field to catch the ball in the back of the end zone. In another play he made a circus-like catch over a defender that had slipped to the ground, as got two feet down in bounds. He really opened some eyes today.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins really displayed his ability to make plays today as he made a few acrobatic catches that most other receivers wouldn't be able to make. He showed good quickness and nice elusiveness in the open field.

Thomas DeCoud S California: DeCoud quietly had a nice practice. I really like his ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks. He also showed nice hands in some of the individual drills for the defensive backs.

DeMario Pressley DT NC State: I really like Pressley's quickness. He showed this today when he, on back-to-back plays, gave the lineman a quick juke-move and got into the backfield. He also showed quick hands.
ncaafootball.com
Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College: Cherilus was a beast today as he, from what I saw, didn't lose a single one-on-one battle with a defensive lineman. He has great size and showed the quickness and athleticism that you look for in a top offensive lineman. He also, at times, lined up at right tackle. I was very impressed with him today.

Adams S Michigan: Adams struggled at times in coverage today, which really worries me, but he did have a couple of plays where he literally would have been on the "jacked up" highlight reel. On one play, West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt caught the ball out of the backfield, turned up and field, and Adams was there to deliver the blow. Adams hit him so hard that Schmitt's helmet went flying off in the other direction. Adams' big hits today made up for his struggles in coverage.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I was really unimpressed by Bowman today. He clearly showed his athleticism, which was nice, but he dropped at least three very catchable balls. This did not bode well for him and he had better step it up the rest of the week.

Charles Godfrey CB Iowa, Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado: Both of these guys had a bit of a tough day. They both seemed to struggle a bit in coverage and each of them dropped a few passes in the individual drills. They both showed flashes at times, but overall they didn't have that great of a day.

Drew Radovich OG USC: Radovich did not have a good day today as he really struggled in the one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. He had a lot of trouble with Kentwan Balmer and DeMario Pressley. It'll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the week.
 

Hache Man

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

TE Season in Review
January is normally a quiet time of the year in fantasy sports, but Rotoworld's football coverage is entering new territory over the next two weeks. Shawn Zobel is down in Mobile, Alabama covering the Senior Bowl live for us, while Evan Silva tracks all the draft stock news back home.

I will be heading to Glendale, Arizona Sunday night to help cover the Super Bowl for NBCSports.com and Rotoworld, and will be blogging about the whole week over at Pancake Blocks. Let me know what you want me to ask players at Media Day. In the meantime, let's wrap up our one-sentence season in reviews.

[SIZE=+1]Tight End Season in Review [/SIZE]

Before the season, I wrote that the depth at tight end is starting to devalue the position. With ten quality starters, almost every fantasy team is going to find a good option. That came true, but the names and order of the top ten surprised.

Long-time stalwarts like Todd Heap, Alge Crumpler, and Jeremy Shockey disappointed. Players like Jason Witten, Heath Miller, Dallas Clark, and Donald Lee had career years.

As a group, tight ends are becoming better fantasy flex options than ever before. Five zone-busting tight ends would have been in the top 22 wide receivers. The top-shelf options might actually move up in the draft next year.

Players listed in order of fantasy points scored, in a non-PPR league

1. Jason Witten, Cowboys - T.O, Romo, and Jason Garrett all helped, but the Cowboys offense ran through Witten.
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers - Almost identical numbers to 2006 despite quiet December, Rivers struggles. sandiegochargers.com
3. Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs - Major comeback season despite terrible offense for ageless wonder. kansascitychiefs.com
4. Kellen Winslow, Browns - Imagine what he could do with healthy knees. clevelandbrowns.com
5. Dallas Clark, Colts - Marvin Harrison injury led to career highs across the board. indianapoliscolts.com

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

6. Chris Cooley, Redskins - Consistent slow-starter finished strong once again. washingtonredskins.com
7. Heath Miller, Steelers - New coordinator, better Ben, unlock Miller's red zone potential.
8. Owen Daniels, Texans - Second-year pro with great hands should be fixture in top ten.
9. Donald Lee, Packers - Bubba Franks falls off cliff, Lee climbs it.
10. Tony Scheffler, Broncos - Athletic youngster catches passes while Daniel Graham blocks.
11. Jeremy Shockey, Giants - Same old steady year until Week 15 broken leg. newyorkgiants.com

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

12. Desmond Clark, Bears - Production slipped because of Olsen, but not by much.
13. Vernon Davis, 49ers - Disappointing lack of big plays wasn't just quarterback's fault.
14. Ben Watson, Patriots - More touchdowns, fewer yards because of Brady's new weapons.
15. Alge Crumpler, Falcons - Struggles to stay healthy and in shape starting to catch up. atlantafalcons.com

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

16. Zach Miller, Raiders - Promising start by the Owen Daniels of next season. oaklandraiders.com
17. Randy McMichael, Rams - Mediocre talent not a big part of Rams offense.
18. Chris Baker, Jets - Continues to improve, but still isn't explosive enough to matter. newyorkjets.com
19. Alex Smith, Bucs - Like teammate Michael Clayton, progress has stalled after rookie year. Tampabaybuccaneers.com
20. Leonard Pope, Cardinals - Scored five times on only 23 catches. arizonacardinals.com
21. Jeff King, Panthers - Second-leading Panther receiver showed solid possession skills. carolinapanthers.com
22. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars - Maybe not worth that first-round pick yet, but proved he's a capable starter. www.jacksonvillejaguars.w
23. Greg Olsen, Bears - Scheffler-like rookie flashes indicate that far better days ahead.
24. Eric Johnson, Saints - 48 catches, but he can't do anything with the ball in his hands.

[SIZE=+1]Tier Everyone Else [/SIZE]

25. Bo Scaife, Texans - Didn't evolve from decent bye week fill in.
26. Billy Miller, Saints - Proof that Sean Payton can squeeze yards out of odd places.
27. Jerramy Stevens, Bucs - Barely kept career going in Tampa.
28. Robert Royal, Bills - Two-score game in Week 14 is sole highlight. buffalobills.com
29. Ben Utecht, Colts - Surprisingly athletic option could be a pickup if Dallas Clark gets hurt.
30. David Martin, Dolphins - Finally stayed healthy, but Cam Cameron couldn't turn him into Gates-lite. miamidolphins.com
31. Marcus Pollard, Seahawks - Rough playoff game could be career capper.
32. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings - Showed why he's been a backup his whole career. minnesotavikings.com
33. Daniel Graham, Broncos - After much hype, had the same background role as in New England.
34. Justin Peele, Dolphins - David Martin's nemesis.
35. Michael Gaines, Bills - More pounds than weight (280-215).
36. Bubba Franks, Packers - Long past done. greenbaypackers.com
37. Quinn Sypniewski, Ravens - Serviceable fill-in for Todd Heap.
38. Todd Heap, Ravens - Hamstring injury led to second lost season in four. baltimoreravens.com
39. L.J. Smith, Eagles - Played through injuries, but not particularly well.
40. Will Heller, Seahawks - More proof of fantasy luck: scored as many touchdowns as Shockey and Daniels.
 

Hache Man

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

Live from Mobile: Recap



[SIZE=+1]Recap[/SIZE]

This week at the Senior Bowl, there were a number of players that both helped and hurt their stock for this April's NFL Draft. Here are my thoughts on the week that was:

Chris Williams OT Vanderbilt: In my eyes, there may not have been a more impressive player this week than Williams. Coming in, I hadn't seen that much of him so I really didn't know what to expect. Immediately, Williams looked good as he showed his pure athleticism in one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. Before the Senior Bowl, I'd have projected Williams to go in the 2nd or 3rd Round, now I'd be surprised if he fell out of the 1st Round.

Sedrick Ellis DT USC: Most scouts knew of Ellis and his production in college, but I don't think that anyone was expecting the type of domination that Ellis showed here this week. The outstanding defensive tackle from USC seemed nearly flawless and has solidified himself as a Top 10 pick in this year's draft.

Chad Henne QB Michigan: Henne is a player that really needed to come in and have a strong week. He did that and more. I think that Henne elevated himself up to the level of the Brian Brohm's and the Andre Woodson's of this year's draft. I'd be very surprised if he was still on the board when the 3rd Round started.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins was a bit overshadowed by his teammate DeSean Jackson while he was at Cal, but that certainly wasn't the case this week. Hawkins made acrobatic catches that really wow'ed the NFL scouts. I think he'll be a 2nd, maybe 3rd Round pick in April.

Jeremy Thompson DE Wake Forest: Thompson, in my eyes, quietly had a great week. He's been an under-the-radar type of player and it seemed like he still wasn't getting the attention he deserved down here. He showed great quickness and athleticism in one-on-one drills and has raised his stock among the rest of the defensive ends. I think he'd be a solid 3rd Round prospect.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Coming from Virginia Tech, Royal didn't receive as much publicity as other receivers. However, any doubt about his ability to play the next level was surely put to rest this week. Royal was about as consistent as you can get from a wide receivers perspective. He caught everything that came his way and consistently beat the defensive backs down the field for big plays. He's raised his stock to the 3rd, maybe the 2nd Round in my eyes.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie CB Tennessee State: Cromartie was a bit of an unknown coming into this week, but he certainly showed the scouts why he was selected to play in this game. He's got great instincts, nice ball skills, and has the potential to be a very good corner at the next level. I wouldn't be surprised to see him off the board in the 2nd Round.

Red Bryant DT Texas A&M: Bryant showed great strength this week as he consistently beat the offensive lineman in one-on-one drills. He was a bit of a mid-round selection prior to the Senior Bowl, but now I'd expect him to be a 3rd Round selection.

Cliff Avril DE Purdue: Avril looked great this week as he showed tremendous speed and agility at the defensive end position. Before this week, he was a 3rd or 4th Round pick in my eyes, but now I see him as being more of a 2nd Round pick.

Heath Benedict OT Newberry: Benedict impressed scouts the moment he arrived in Mobile, as his size is tremendous. Benedict showed his toughness and tenacity in the on-on-one drills when he dominated some of the defensive lineman. He even got into a fight with Hampton's Kendall Langford. Benedict has elevated his stock to the 2nd or 3rd Round.

Moving Down

Oniel Cousin OT UTEP: I was a big supporter of Cousins coming in this week, but he was a big disappointment in my eyes. He was beat by stronger, faster defensive ends and never showed a fire that you look for in an offensive lineman. I think he dropped one, if not two rounds this week because of this poor performance.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I'm not sure what was on Bowman's mind this week, but it definitely was not always on football. Bowman consistently dropped passes every day and never showed that he was worthy of being the 1st Round pick that some were projecting for him to be. He look good in some redzone drills, but that was about it. ncaafootball.com

Colt Brennan QB Hawaii: I wouldn't say that Colt's stock dropped a lot, he just wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunity given to him. This was a chance for him to forget about the game vs. Georgia and to come out and play like the player that so many people thought he was. Brennan struggled this week as he seemed to be still working on trying to adjust from Hawaii's shotgun offense to a traditional NFL offense. I think the 5th, maybe the 4th Round is the highest that Brennan will go.

[SIZE=+1]Wednesday[/SIZE]

Afternoon Practice

At wide receiver, both Donnie Avery and Andre Caldwell have been the most impressive so far this week. They both have improved their stock and are now among the top senior wide receivers in this year's draft.

Matt Forte, running back from Tulane, is a strong, powerful player. He looks like an NFL running back and could have a shot at being a productive fantasy player next year.

Andre Woodson continues to impress me. His drops have been nice, he's got a strong arm, and he takes care of the football. I'd have no problem with taking him in the 1st Round of this year's draft.

Brandon Coutu is looking good as the kicker from Georgia was drilling balls from 48 yards out. He's the top kicker in a class that doesn't have a true superstar. Could he be 2008's Nick Folk for fantasy owners? Possibly, but I also wouldn't put it past the North Team's kicker Alexis Serna, who only stands 5 foot 6 and weighs 170 lbs.

Morning Practice

Chad Henne is raising his draft stock more than anyone so far this week. He's shown a very strong arm, had great accuracy, and showed to me that he is capable of throwing the ball on the run. I wouldn't be shocked if he snuck into the 2nd Round come April.

Dorien Bryant, the wide receiver from Purdue looked good today. He was running some nice routes and looks like he could be a great slot receiver at the next level. He's being projected as a Mid-Round pick.

Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins continue to shine. They are both doing everything right and have both raised their draft stock. Hawkins seems like he'd be a good #2 receiver at the next level and Royal seems more like borderline #2 or #3 receiver.

Justin Forsett was impressive today. He catches the ball well and is a nice little scatback. He's being projected as a Mid-Late Round pick due to so many juniors coming out.

Adarius Bowman improved today. He didn't drop as many balls as in previous days and he also showed how he is nice redzone target when he went up in the endzone and came down with the ball.

[SIZE=+1]Tuesday[/SIZE]

Afternoon Practice

Early Doucet is a player to keep an eye on. The former LSU Tiger and National Championship winner was impressive today as he looked like a player that was worthy of being a 1st Round pick in this year's draft. In fantasy leagues, he's a player that I'd consider for Dynasty or Rookie leagues.

Houston's Donnie Avery is another receiver that I would look at, as his speed and athleticism could really help a team at the next level. He is also a very good returner, so that should help his fantasy value in terms of defense/special teams.

While Andre Woodson likely won't begin the year as a starting quarterback, he has all of the tools to be a great quarterback at the next level. He'd be a player that I would really consider stashing away on a dynasty league team or in a rookie league draft.

Morning Practice

From a Fantasy perspective, Chris Johnson from East Carolina has really impressed me. His speed is among the elite down here and he is really showing the scouts why he is being projected by some as the top senior running back in this year's draft. I think he has the potential to be a great player at the next level and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is going to be a huge plus for the team that drafts him.

Adarius Bowman continues to struggle as he dropped at least another three balls today. I don't know if it's a lack of concentration or just nerves, but he's definitely not helping his draft stock so far this week. Fantasy wise, Bowman isn't as much a player that I would like at this year in regular drafts, but in dynasty and rookie leagues, I'd say he'd be a nice Mid-Round prospect.

Eddie Royal and Lavelle Hawkins have both looked great so far this week. They have the potential to be a nice #2 or #3 receiver at the next level. It also helps that they both have nice return skills, so that should help their stock. They have a chance to have an impact fantasy wise at receiver and for the defense/special teams that they are drafted to.

At quarterback, Chad Henne has had the best two days of practice so far. He's looked very poised and has done a great job of delivering the ball on time. He's had some really nice looking throws. Joe Flacco has looked pretty good as well. I think he could use some coaching on his footwork as his drops seem to take longer than the other quarterbacks.

John David Booty hasn't really impressed, but he has disappointed. He's looked like an average quarterback that should be a Mid-Late Round selection, which is what he is. While none of these quarterbacks will likely start next year, I think that both Henne and Flacco are players to look at in dynasty or rookie leagues. Flacco likely ahead of Henne, but with the way Henne's been playing this week, it could be a lot closer.

[SIZE=+1]Monday[/SIZE]
For the first practice of the week, I headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium to see the North team. Overall, the defensive lineman impressed me the most. There were a few that really struggled, while there were a couple of receivers that really looked good. Here's a look at which player's stood out the most today:

Sedrick Ellis DT USC: There's a reason that Ellis is being projected as a lock for the Top 10 of this year's draft. His strength is unbelievable, and to see it in person is really a treat. He literally overpowered his opponent at least two or three times today. I was very impressed with him and expect him to be among the top players taken this year.

Kentwan Balmer DT North Carolina: Balmer is a player that a lot of people don't know about; however, that should change pretty quickly. Balmer possessed a nice combination of quickness and strength today as he he was another defensive lineman that had a great day. I really like his quick hands and his ability to find the ball.

Eddie Royal WR Virginia Tech: Royal had a few grabs today that were just sick. On one play he put a double move on the defender and sprinted up to the field to catch the ball in the back of the end zone. In another play he made a circus-like catch over a defender that had slipped to the ground, as got two feet down in bounds. He really opened some eyes today.

Lavelle Hawkins WR California: Hawkins really displayed his ability to make plays today as he made a few acrobatic catches that most other receivers wouldn't be able to make. He showed good quickness and nice elusiveness in the open field.

Thomas DeCoud S California: DeCoud quietly had a nice practice. I really like his ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks. He also showed nice hands in some of the individual drills for the defensive backs.

DeMario Pressley DT NC State: I really like Pressley's quickness. He showed this today when he, on back-to-back plays, gave the lineman a quick juke-move and got into the backfield. He also showed quick hands.

Gosder Cherilus OT Boston College: Cherilus was a beast today as he, from what I saw, didn't lose a single one-on-one battle with a defensive lineman. He has great size and showed the quickness and athleticism that you look for in a top offensive lineman. He also, at times, lined up at right tackle. I was very impressed with him today.

Adams S Michigan: Adams struggled at times in coverage today, which really worries me, but he did have a couple of plays where he literally would have been on the "jacked up" highlight reel. On one play, West Virginia fullback Owen Schmitt caught the ball out of the backfield, turned up and field, and Adams was there to deliver the blow. Adams hit him so hard that Schmitt's helmet went flying off in the other direction. Adams' big hits today made up for his struggles in coverage.

Adarius Bowman WR Oklahoma State: I was really unimpressed by Bowman today. He clearly showed his athleticism, which was nice, but he dropped at least three very catchable balls. This did not bode well for him and he had better step it up the rest of the week.

Charles Godfrey CB Iowa, Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado: Both of these guys had a bit of a tough day. They both seemed to struggle a bit in coverage and each of them dropped a few passes in the individual drills. They both showed flashes at times, but overall they didn't have that great of a day.

Drew Radovich OG USC: Radovich did not have a good day today as he really struggled in the one-on-one drills against the defensive lineman. He had a lot of trouble with Kentwan Balmer and DeMario Pressley. It'll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the week.
 

Hache Man

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

Underclassmen Report
Our guy down in Mobile covered Senior week like Nnamdi Asomugha on a helpless Marty Booker, with up to date live blogging of the first three days' action.

Reports from Mobile differ across the board annually, but it's clear that Michigan QB Chad Henne made a strong impression. Imposing Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus dominated the blind side, while undersized but relentless Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws looked like the second coming of Kelly Gregg. USC DT Sedrick Ellis is nipping at Glenn Dorsey's heels. Now that Senior Bowl practices are through, let's move onto the cream of 2008's draft crop: the underclassmen.

Profiled here are the top ten skill players who decided to leave early. As the draft process moves forward, we'll start kicking out position-by-position analysis and the all-important mock drafts. It appears Virginia DE Chris Long is currently the favorite to go No. 1 overall, if Miami keeps the pick. The Dolphins will shop it feverishly, but in the end, the odds are against them executing a trade.

Now, to the juniors.
ncaafootball.com
[SIZE=+1]1. Arkansas RB Darren McFadden[/SIZE]
325-1830-5.6-16 TDs, 21-164-7.8-1 TD
Comparison: Marcus Allen

If there is an early entrant in this class that will make an Adrian Peterson-type impact as a rookie, it is the two-time Heisman runner up. As far as rookie tailbacks go, the 6'2/215-pound true junior's game is near flawless. McFadden combines low 4.4 speed with an at-times punishing style. He is a polished receiver who runs hard after the catch and makes frequent use of a stiff arm. McFadden is more complete than Peterson was coming out of Oklahoma, as his blitz pickup skills are considered NFL ready and he has experience as an every-down back. He is also willing to take hits and drive forward after contact, which bodes well for his short-yardage effectiveness. Because he is a running back and Miami has Ronnie Brown, McFadden is unlikely to be taken first overall, but he should not get past the Falcons at No. 3.

[SIZE=+1]2. Michigan WR Mario Manningham[/SIZE]
72-1174-16.3-12 TDs, 19-120-6.3-0 TDs
Comparison: Greg Jennings

DeSean Jackson is rated higher by some, but no receiver is more prepared for the NFL in this draft than Super Mario. Not only does he possess an unmatched ability to track balls thrown over his head, Mario is highly proficient in the red zone despite his modest, 6'0/185-pound build. Manningham's ability to "go get it" will make his next QB look good, just as he did Henne for the Wolverines. Michigan's offense will be a spread under new coach Rich Rodriguez, but was run-heavy and built like a pro system under Lloyd Carr. UM wideouts succeed (Braylon Edwards, Derrick Alexander, Anthony Carter, Amani Toomer) more than they fail (David Terrell, Desmond Howard) in the pros. Manningham, who runs his routes with suddenness and rarely lets the ball into his body, will contribute as a third receiver/deep threat at worst initially. Buffalo (No. 11), Denver (No. 12), Carolina (No. 13), and Chicago (No. 14) will likely all have receiver needs by the time April's draft rolls around.

[SIZE=+1]3. Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart[/SIZE]
280-1722-6.2-11 TDs, 22-145-6.6-2 TDs
Comparison: a healthy Deuce McAllister

NFL teams looking for a power back who doesn't waste steps and catches the ball out of the backfield will love this 5-11/233-pound bruiser. Stewart, who wasn't overworked by the Ducks and will have just turned 21 when drafted, invites contact. He also boasts speed in the 4.45-4.5 range and was a dynamic kick returner before taking over as a feature back in his true sophomore season. Stewart was the strongest player on the 2007 Oregon football squad; his 402-pound power clean was second to only Haloti Ngata's in school history. Stewart jerked just five pounds fewer than the 346-pound Ngata. With the skills, body, and mentality to be a workhorse in a power running scheme, Stewart does not figure to make it past the Cardinals at No. 16.

[SIZE=+1]4. Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly[/SIZE]
49-821-16.8-9 TDs
Comparison: Braylon Edwards

There is no Calvin Johnson in this class, but Kelly comes closest. The 6'4/217-pound true junior won't run a 4.35 at February's Combine, but should time in the high 4.4s to low 4.5s. He also has a leg up because of his experience as a blocker in OU's run-first attack. Kelly was used almost exclusively as a downfield threat in Bob Stoops' offense and consistently made the highlight reel catch. He does have a history of minor injuries, having been hurt in the Sooners' Fiesta and Orange Bowl games the past two seasons. Kelly also must polish his underneath to intermediate route running, but the hands and work ethic are there. Buffalo, which picks 11th overall in April, is desperate for a big receiver to divert attention from Lee Evans. Adding Kelly should be a strong consideration.

[SIZE=+1]5. California WR DeSean Jackson[/SIZE]
65-762-11.7-6 TDs, 11-132-12.0-1 TD
Comparison: Santonio Holmes

Either Jackson or Houston senior Donnie Avery will likely run the fastest forty at next month's Combine. However, Jackson is a much better pro prospect because he is more than a straight-line athlete. The first-team All American all-purpose performer played in a pro-style offense under Jeff Tedford and learned to run all the routes. His production as a receiver was slightly down in 2007 due to shaky quarterback play, but Jackson still ended his Cal career with a Pac-Ten record 52 plays of 20+ yards. His six career punt return touchdowns were also an all-time conference best. Although Jackson has been mostly durable, he sports a thin frame at 6'0/173 and figures to struggle initially against physical coverage. Jackson should make an instant impact on special teams and as a situational deep threat, but maybe not as an every-down player. Still, he is likely to be taken in the middle to top half of the first round.

[SIZE=+1]6. Rutgers RB Ray Rice[/SIZE]
380-2012-5.3-24 TDs, 25-239-9.6-1 TD
Comparison: Frank Gore

Rice (5'9/205) lacks the measurables of McFadden, Stewart, and Rashard Mendenhall, but he is a serious gamer. The three-year starter plays faster than his timed speed will likely indicate and is rarely brought down before the line of scrimmage. He also never missed a game at Rutgers. Rice, who was so good as a freshman that 2007 second-round pick Brian Leonard was forced to take a backseat in the Scarlet Knights' running game, has experience as an all-down performer and is potent in short-yardage situations. Because the computer numbers won't be there, Rice may struggle to be taken in the first round. But his running style is tailor made for a zone-blocking system and he will be an excellent value pick for a team like Oakland, Houston, Denver, or Carolina in round two.

[SIZE=+1]7. Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall[/SIZE]
262-1681-6.4-17 TDs, 34-318-9.4-2 TDs
Comparison: Kevin Jones

Mendenhall is raw, having started just one year at U of I after sharing carries with Pierre Thomas. But he is bright and has an ideal NFL body at 5'11/224. An Academic All-Big Ten pick, Mendenhall graduated early from Niles West high to enroll in college with a head start. It paid off two years later, as Mendenhall captured Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior. Mendenhall isn't expected to time especially well (he'll likely run in the 4.5s), but has shown a second gear when running away from defenders in the open field and proved capable of hitting the big play, with 16 gains of 25+ yards in 2007. Mendenhall needs to refine the "little things" like his pass blocking, but flashes every-down ability as a receiver and runner. He'll have to interview and work out well in the next three months, but it would not be a surprise to see Mendenhall sneak into the top 20-25 picks.

[SIZE=+1]8. Texas A&M TE Martellus Bennett[/SIZE]
49-587-12.0-4 TDs
Comparison: Marcedes Lewis

Bennett, who quit the Aggies' basketball team prior to the 2007 season in order to focus on football, didn't get the ball enough under since-fired head coach Dennis Franchione until his true junior year. The super athletic, 6'7/254-pound 20-year-old is one of a few true every-down tight end prospects in this class. Several others are speedy converted wideouts who project as situational players at the next level. Bennett's route running is inconsistent and he is not a homerun threat after the catch. But he is experienced as a blocker, coming from Franchione's conservative attack, and has the size potential to dominate in that area. He is also very difficult to bring down. Bennett was a charismatic player at Texas A&M on and off the field and has a good head on his shoulders. He drew a first-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee before leaving school early. Bennett could be selected as high as No. 19 overall by Philadelphia.

[SIZE=+1]10. Texas RB Jamaal Charles[/SIZE]
258-1619-6.3-18 TDs, 17-199-11.7-0 TDs
Comparison: Jerious Norwood

Among draft-eligible tailbacks with long-term starting potential, Charles possesses the best pure speed. "J-Mall" was an All-American 100-meter sprinter in his early years at UT before giving up track to concentrate on the pigskin after a fumble-plagued sophomore season. Charles couldn't put the errors behind him, however, as he put the ball on the ground seven times in 2007, losing four. Charles' junior year numbers look good, but his down-to-down production was highly inconsistent. He struggles in short yardage and needs to add bulk to his lanky, 6'1/205-pound frame. Charles is not ready to be more than a No. 2 back/kick returner, but his upside is too great for him to fall out of the top three rounds. If Charles interviews well, he could go in the top half of round two to a team needing a change of pace runner.

[SIZE=+1]10. Arkansas RB Felix Jones[/SIZE]
133-1162-8.7-11 TDs, 16-176-11.0-0 TDs
Comparison: Laurence Maroney

As McFadden's three-year backup, Jones is proven only as a kick returner and change of pace. But he has shown rare game-breaking ability with the ball in his hands. Jones' 2007 yards per carry ranked first in the nation. He also averaged a prolific 31.3 yards per kick return, with two touchdowns. Former Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt would often split Jones out wide and put him on the field with McFadden in Arkansas' "Wildcat Package." Jones has not had the opportunity to develop a complete game, but there is no questioning his athleticism, speed, or potential. Like Charles, the 6'0/207-pound true junior needs time to develop, but will have immediate value as a No. 2 or 3 back and return ace. The team drafting Jones will be taking a risk, but it will likely pay off in time.

[SIZE=+1]Narrowly Missed the Top Ten[/SIZE]

11. Vanderbilt WR Earl Bennett
12. Michigan State WR Devin Thomas
13. Indiana WR James Hardy
14. Michigan WR Adrian Arrington
15. West Virginia RB Steve Slaton
16. Texas TE Jermichael Finley
17. Louisville WR Mario Urrutia
18. Central Florida RB Kevin Smith
19. West Virginia WR Darius Reynaud
20. Hawaii WR Ryan Grice-Mullen

Other Early Entrant Skill Players: Hawaii WR Davone Bess, Purdue WR Selwyn Lymon, Florida State QB Xavier Lee, Arkansas CB/WR Sean Penix
 

Hache Man

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

16 Reasons the Giants can Win


1. They can get to Tom Brady

By my highly unofficial count, Brady was hit nine times against the Giants the first time they played. He was pressured eight more times. While the Patriots were ultimately successful, they had to change their gameplan after the first quarter to short passes. Brady also was required to play perhaps his best game of the season. Until the game-winning touchdown to Randy Moss, nothing came easy in that game.

2. Eli is suddenly accurate
NY Giants
There is a misperception about how well Eli Manning is playing over the last month. He isn't just "managing the game" and "avoiding mistakes." He's playing lights out, throwing darts to back shoulders; He's making difficult throws look commonplace.

This is quite surprising because accuracy has always been a problem for him. His tendency to throw the ball two feet over Plaxico Burress' head was the stuff of punch lines. Against the Patriots, Bucs, and Packers especially, Manning completed pass after pass into tight windows.

3. Eli is suddenly calm in the pocket

The other deserved criticism of Manning as a pro was his tendency to bail out when defenders got him his face. Throughout this season, Eli has done a better job stepping up in the pocket. And during the playoffs, he has dealt well with blitzing teams, completing 21-of-31 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks. (Thanks to the excellent Albert Breer for those numbers).

Eli, unlike his older brother, also can make plays on the run. It's hard to say why things changed suddenly, but he isn't just lucky to be here like Rex Grossman last year.

4. They are balanced

Bill Belichick's coaching trademark is identifying the other team's greatest strength and taking it away. But what is the Giants' best offensive attribute?

In the first meeting, the Patriots were determined to stop the run and Eli Manning enjoyed a great start. The way Plaxico Burress is playing, perhaps he's the key to the New York offense. But that could open up running lanes for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

5. No one wants to tackle Brandon Jacobs

Jacobs was stuffed during the first half of the last Patriot meeting, but Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison took turns getting run over by the Train in the final 30 minutes. Jacobs had 80 total yards in the second half, many of them after Patriot defenders dove at Jacobs' feet.

6. Michael Strahan draws double teams

Patriots right tackle Nick Kaczur is the weak spot of their offensive line and can't block Strahan by himself. In the first meeting, the Patriots kept a tight end on the right side to help, although Kaczur was hurt in that game.

Strahan's double teams opened up opportunities for tackles Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins inside. Osi Umenyiora was singled up on Matt Light on the left side, and used his speed to get to Tom Brady.

7. They can protect Eli

The first time New England hit Manning in their first meeting was late in the third quarter! He was pressured seven times in all, mostly in the fourth quarter when the Patriots blitzed like crazy. While the Patriots were effective late, it's a concern that they couldn't create pressure without sending extra defenders.

8. They can score quickly

I don't think anyone is going to beat the Patriots without scoring 30 points. The Giants scored 28 in their first 35 minutes last time, albeit with a return touchdown. If they had stayed aggressive throughout the game, they could have scored 40.

9. Steve Smith is a factor

As a Patriots fan, I thought the Colts and Packers were best positioned to beat New England because wide receiver depth could expose a thin New England secondary. After Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs is ordinary and the other cornerbacks are worse.

Steve Smith, a rookie, has come on strong lately. He is getting a lot of separation from defenders and getting targets. He can beat corners like Randall Gay. The Giants have not been afraid to go three and four wide lately and that should happen in the Super Bowl.

10. They attack the quarterback with unpredictability

The four teams who got the most heat on Tom Brady this season were Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Diego, and the Giants. They have a lot in common. They may not blitz every down, but they don't repeat themselves. They vary their schemes. They create doubt.

It's impossible to totally stop the Patriots offense, but these teams get their licks in. Philadelphia, of course, is where Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo learned his trade. The Giants might be the best team in the league at creating pressure without blitzers, which will help their pass coverage.

11. Speedy running backs have given the Patriots trouble

The most effective backs against New England this season were Joseph Addai, Brian Westbrook, Willie Parker, and Willis McGahee. They are all fast and had success against New England catching the ball. So did Brandon Jacobs in the first meeting, but this time Ahmad Bradshaw should be a far bigger factor. He could give New England's slow linebacker group trouble.

12. Asante Samuel won't always be covering Plaxico Burress

The Patriots have one cornerback far better than the rest. The Giants have one wide receiver that dominates. But Asante Samuel won't necessarily be covering Plaxico Burress often because Samuel plays left cornerback, no matter which receiver is across from him.

The Patriots had Ellis Hobbs and safety James Sanders in coverage against Burress quite often in Week 17. Burress is playing like a top-five receiver and that's a huge mismatch.

13. Size Matters

New York's starting wide receivers are 6'3 and 6'5. New England doesn't have a meaningful cornerback that is above 5'11. Burress is going to see some jump balls in the red zone.

14. Antonio Pierce is smarter than you are

The bedrock of the Giants defense, Pierce had an up-and-down regular season. He's playing like an All-Pro in the playoffs. Pierce is one of the most intelligent players in the NFL and is great at sniffing out screens, which the Patriots use heavily. Pierce will have his teammates uncommonly ready before the snap, a perfect antidote to New England's complex defense.

15. Sam Madison, Aaron Ross be jammin'

Randy Moss doesn't like contact. Sam Madison and Aaron Ross specialize in it near the line of scrimmage. It's a risky strategy, but worth it. The Eagles were the first team to rough up Randy, and held him to 43 yards, his lowest output to that point in the season.

With other teams copying this strategy, Moss has been held to fifty yards or less five times in the last eight games. Madison, in particular, has had a lot of success against Brady and the Patriots when he played with the Dolphins.

16. The Game will be close
NY Giants
There is a moment in almost every recent Patriots game when the announcers marvel at the other team "hanging in there," as if it is some great shock. In the last ten games, the Patriots have trailed in the fourth quarter four times. They were tied with Jacksonville at halftime and only led the Chargers by two in the fourth quarter.

The only game against a decent team that was in hand early since was against Pittsburgh, and even that was tight at halftime. This is not to demean the Patriots' remarkable accomplishment. This is only to point out they are not they blowout waiting to happen of September and October; they are not infallible. The most likely outcome is a closely contested game.
 
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