NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider 4 New Articles Added 11/6/06

#81
yeah i think its crazy too...but just i have a question for you...first of all there is this really great FFL website called antsports.com (i think thats it) and you can do mock drafts ( i have 9 going right now) and you should check it out...however my question is that in one of my mock drafts i got Clinton Portis with the fourth pick, and then somehow stole Peyton Manning with 13th pick (only an 8 team draft)...and then my third round pick came along and i had a choice between Dominick Davis and Julius Jones....it was a tough one...and i ended up going with davis..do you agree with my decision?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#82
I expect bigger things from Domanick Davis this year, so I would of taken him over Jones as well.

Julius Jones is likely to lose more carries to Marion Barber than Davis is to his backup, which will probably be Antowain Smith.......
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#83
Jul. 21, 2006, 3:17 PM
FFL mailbag: July 21


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Ken, Simpsonsville, S.C.: I am in a 12-team, three-player keeper league. My choices for keepers are Ronnie Brown, Jamal Lewis, Thomas Jones, Antonio Gates and Anquan Boldin. To me, Ronnie Brown is a lock. I am leaning to keeping Gates and Boldin as the other two. The question mark for me is Lewis. Last year was just awful, but the potential for a rebound is there.<!--##FRONTSTOP##--> <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER width="8" type="block" height="1"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>[FONT=Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif]The FFL Mailbag has the answers you need every Friday! Click here to send FFL questions and comments on players and trends. [/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
Engel: Brown should be a lock, as he is apparently poised for a breakthrough season as Miami's prominent ball carrier. Boldin should remain a top receiver even if a more balanced Arizona offense means his numbers drop a bit as the team runs the ball more successfully. Lewis now has the motivation to perform better, as the team rewarded him with a three-year deal in the offseason after indications were that they might let him go after the 2005 season. The organization's perceived lack of confidence in Lewis seemed to affect his performance last year, and now with newly-acquired Mike Anderson a realistic threat to steal carries, Lewis has every reason to bounce back this year. And it's just a matter of time before Cedric Benson fully pushes Thomas Jones into a lesser role in Chicago. So Lewis is the better option of those two RBs, of course. And there is also the reality that not many top RBs will be available in a league of your size and format. So while Gates can still give you a good advantage at a weak position, Lewis could turn out to be a fine No. 2 RB for you this season, and you should take the chance. Keep Brown, Boldin and Lewis.
Keanu, Boxboro, Mass.: Almost all of the mock drafts I've seen are based on leagues that only require one starting quarterback. I am in a league which requires two starters at QB and two at RB, thus improving the value of QBs. I have the fourth pick and the "big three" are likely gone. Is Peyton Manning my best option or do I roll the dice with Clinton Portis or Tiki Barber? Can you see any other QBs sneaking into the top 10?
Engel: In leagues with two QBs, I usually advise taking two RBs and one QB in the first three rounds, and taking the second QB no later than the fifth round, depending on the flow of the draft. With many questions surrounding a lot of top RBs, you can't pass up the opportunity to take a top standout like Barber or Portis. You could see Carson Palmer or Tom Brady picked towards the end of the first round. After grabbing your franchise RB, take the best available QB in the second round. Only in two-QB leagues would I use this strategy, obviously, as you'll have a shaky lot of RBs to consider in the third round. But other owners also will have to take at least one QB with their first two picks, so you still might see a few decent starters fall to you by the third round. In the fourth and fifth rounds, depending on how the draft goes, you should take one QB and one WR, in no particular order. Make sure you come out of the first five rounds with two RBs, two QBs and at least one top 15 WR if possible.
John, Gilroy, Calif.: I'm in a three-WR, TD-heavy league and in mocks I've been taking two RBs and two WRs with my first four picks. Lately, I've been going with Corey Dillon or DeShaun Foster as my second RB, then I handcuff them with Laurence Maroney and DeAngelo Williams in the late fifth or sixth. Typically, is this a good strategy to use?
Engel: Handcuffing is always a smart approach, but you can never count on getting exactly who you want in drafts. In a three-receiver league, there is obviously a higher emphasis on wideouts, but I'd still go for a better RB pick than Dillon or Foster in the second round, then grab the best two receivers available in the third and fourth rounds. Then I would take another RB and WR in the fifth and sixth round, in no particular order. In your format, I might wait until the seventh round to take my QB. If I have the opportunity to "handcuff," I'll do it, but I wouldn't plan on that ahead of time as you can never know for sure who will be available in the fifth and sixth rounds. I would simply concentrate on getting the best RBs available in the first two rounds and a top backup in the fifth or sixth round, while making sure my starting receiver slots are also filled throughout the first six rounds. Handcuff if you can, but don't bank on it.
Ryan, Indianapolis: I have a scoring system question concerning QBs. I personally think that four points and -2 for interceptions is a good way to go. A few of my league mates think that only -1 for turnovers is good enough. I think TD to interception ratio is a big reflection of a QB's performance and should be taken into consideration, even in the fantasy world.
Engel: I agree with you that -2 points is a better measure of a quarterback's performance, as mistakes must be taken into account. Lowering or eliminating interception weights puts some mistake-prone passers into range with players who should be drafted earlier. Taking away two points for interceptions can reflect Brett Favre's struggles instead of making him a top 10 QB, and also will portray accurately the growing pains of young QB, like Eli Manning last year. Mistakes are part of a QB's game and should not be minimized. At the same time, I prefer leagues that count six points for a passing TD, as awarding only four points for a score devalues QBs even more. But I play in leagues with both four and six points awarded for a TD and can adapt easily to either one, but I would more openly object to reducing the emphasis on interceptions.
Tom, Richmond, Va.: With the unpredictable nature of defenses from one year to another, would I be making a drafting mistake to take two defenses with my second to last and third to last picks (my last pick being a kicker) to double my chances of landing a good one?
Engel: At the end of the draft, there really isn't anything that could be considered a major mistake, as many final picks often get cut even before the season starts. But I'd rather only one of my final picks on a defense, as the two you might pick will be very close in value, and you should confidently pick just one and stick with it. I'd rather use one of my late picks on a Greg Jennings or Cedric Humes instead of taking a reserve defense. I don't believe in drafting backup defenses and kickers, since they will only be used once during the season and can be obtained easily in free agency. If my starting unit doesn't work out, a defense I pluck off the free agent list early in the year can be as good as any one as I drafted late. The key is simply to do your defensive homework, be aware of personnel and coaching changes, and be ready to tab an underrated unit like the Bengals, which forces a lot of turnovers and might do so again. The Dolphins should improve this year and could be undervalued as well. You don't need to pick the Bears in the eighth round to guarantee defensive success. Knowledge is power, and know the defenses who are underrated and units that might improve, like Cleveland.
Brandon, Tumwater, Wash.: I'm in a first-year, 16-team, two-player keeper league and I have the 14th and 19th picks in the first two rounds. Do I draft three straight RBs in the first three rounds to make up for the lack of talent and compensate with depth? With the 19th pick, is a guy like Joseph Addai worth taking there or would he fall to me at 46? Or do I look to get two RBs and then maybe a WR in the third? Engel: In a league of such large size, you simply have to grab the best two RBs you can get with your first two picks. Addai is no guarantee to slip to you at No. 19, although I think there's a very good chance of it, and I'd be shocked to see him drop to 46th overall in a 16-team keeper league. If a decent RB is available with your third pick, go for it, as your first two picks might have some question marks surrounding them. Then you can load up on at least two receivers with the fourth and fifth picks. You must be ready for anything, though. If you see a rush on receivers in the third round, you might be able to grab a decent third RB in the fourth round. Just make sure you get RBs with your first two picks, and get more insurance for them no later than the fourth or fifth round.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#85
EagleFan5 said:
dominick davis or cadillac williams...who would you take?


Cadillac in a hearbeat

Word is Tampa Bay plans on including him more in the passing game this year as well
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#87
EagleFan5 said:
cadillac or westbrook?....who would you take?

If you play in a league where you get points for every reception, I would take Westbrook.

If in a normal league, I would take Williams.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#89
EagleFan5 said:
lamont jordan, ronnie brown, or stephen jackson
I personally would automatically narrow it down to Ronnie Brown & Steven Jackson.


This is a toss up in my opinion.

I expect Ronnie Brown to have a huge year, but Steven Jackson's workload should increase with coincidentally, ex Dolphins Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan taking over as Head Coach.....
 
#90
Hache Man said:
I personally would automatically narrow it down to Ronnie Brown & Steven Jackson.
Why do you personally narrow it to them...do you not like LaMont? He's great in my league because they count every reception
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#91
EagleFan5 said:
Why do you personally narrow it to them...do you not like LaMont? He's great in my league because they count every reception

Just that I expect bigger years by both Jackson & Brown, combined with the fact I think Oakland's offense is still a question mark with Aaron Brooks.
 
#92
in mock drafts i've been say pick number 8 and i've had a choice of say Ronnie Brown or Peyton Manning...and i've been taking peyton every time...knowing that i can get a good rb early in the second round and an average rb in the third...do you dislike this strategy...considering how much manning will throw this year?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#93
EagleFan5 said:
in mock drafts i've been say pick number 8 and i've had a choice of say Ronnie Brown or Peyton Manning...and i've been taking peyton every time...knowing that i can get a good rb early in the second round and an average rb in the third...do you dislike this strategy...considering how much manning will throw this year?

I can't really argue with that strategy Eagle at pick #8 because in a 10 man league it's coming right back to you and you're sure to land someone like Steven Jackson, Carnell Williams, or Rudi Johnson.

Nice strategy!
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#96
Jul. 24, 2006, 4:28 PM
FFL: Position Battles


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Every pick in a fantasy football draft is important, so savvy owners stay on top of the latest news during training camp. Some of the most prominent stories revolve around competition for playing time at key spots. There are also less-publicized battles for starting jobs that concern fantasy leaguers. The earlier you draft, the more difficult it becomes to get a handle on just who could emerge as a starter or the more appealing draft pick between players who are competing with one another. Here's a look at some of the most crucial position battles for fantasy purposes, and how the results could affect your drafting strategies.
Running Back
Indianapolis: Veteran Dominic Rhodes has the edge in experience over rookie Joseph Addai, but he's considered an injury risk who was more effective earlier in his career. There are perceptions that Rhodes can easily get banged up, but his familiarity with the Colts' system could give him a chance to play at least a part-time role early in the season, and he is initially expected to be the starter. It just seems like a matter of time, though, before Addai wins the job outright, and Rhodes ultimately appears to be temporary insurance in case Addai doesn't pick up the offense quickly enough. Addai is the better inside runner of the two and has the potential to be a good receiver out of the backfield and a competent pass blocker. His blocking matters to fantasy leaguers, because if he picks up the blitz well, he'll spend more time on the field. Addai can be the all-around threat the Colts need in place of the departed Edgerrin James. The job seems to be his for the taking when he wants it. James Mungro is listed at 5-9 like Rhodes, but he is thicker and stronger and could steal a few goal-line carries. Prediction: Addai should at least share playing time with Rhodes early, but the job could be fully his by the second half of the regular season, if not sooner. Mungro could "vulture" a few TDs, but Addai is a quality third-round pick in 10 and 12-team leagues. Rhodes should be drafted for RB depth in the middle rounds.
Denver: Conventional wisdom seemed to dictate that Tatum Bell would get a real chance to become the team's full-time featured back when Mike Anderson signed with Baltimore, but that's simply not the case. Bell is certainly explosive, but there are concerns that he will wear down or get banged up with the chance to play more often. He didn't rush for more than 71 yards after Week 9 last year and was a non-factor in the postseason. The Broncos don't want to overuse him, as he has often been outstanding when sharing carries in the past. Plus, his blocking skills haven't been up to par. Bell seemed to complement the physical style of Anderson well last year, and the natural thought process in Denver appears to be that Ron Dayne will step in as the physical half of Denver's two-headed running monster. Dayne has been a major disappointment in the past, but a seven-carry, 98-yard performance against Dallas last year might have been a glimpse of what he can do in Denver's zone-blocking offense if given the chance. Former Patriot Cedric Cobbs is a late-round sleeper type who could get a chance to deliver on past preseason hype if Dayne fails again. Prediction: Expect Bell and Dayne to share playing time, making neither one the ideal No. 2 fantasy RB, but very good "flex" players in leagues that allow the position. Bell might be statistically inconsistent again, and Dayne is no lock to be a regularly effective goal-line runner. Don't overrate Bell based on Anderson's departure, and look to take him in the fourth round. Dayne is an intriguing pick a round or two later.
Chicago: A player like Thomas Jones would seemingly get better treatment after delivering a career season in 2005. But he's apparently unhappy about his contract and possibly his reduced lack of playing time. He missed offseason workouts because of the situation and Cedric Benson, who missed training camp last year, is getting work with the first-team offense. Ideally, the Bears would like to use both RBs to keep defenses off balance, but it might be difficult to convince either player to fully accept a part-time role. The Bears spent a first-round pick on Benson, and could give him the opportunity to be the clear No. 1 back if they must make a decision between the two. There has been some talk that Jones could be traded before the season starts, and that would be the best-case scenario in the minds of both players and fantasy owners, who would hate to see the two split reps. Benson is clearly Chicago's top ball carrier of the future. If he proves he is ready to handle a large load during the preseason, Jones could be on his way out of town, even though trades of such significance seem rare in the NFL these days. Prediction: It's hard to imagine either player embracing a part-time role, although the organization would like to use them to complement each other. Benson should be drafted first, because Jones has already hurt his cause by sulking, and Benson was drafted by Chicago to eventually become their star runner. You'll see Benson go as early as the third round in some drafts, although that might be a bit too early considering he is unproven and there's no guarantee he will start full-time. Jones makes a good fifth-round pick because of the trade possibilities.
New Orleans: This isn't exactly a "battle" as it is apparent both players will get quality playing time, but will one overshadow the other in a major way? Reggie Bush is a good bet to outperform Deuce McAllister statistically. While he might carry the ball only 10 or 12 times per game, he can score any time he touches the ball, and he will get the ball often as a receiver. The Saints intend to use him in a variety of ways, so you could see him lined up as a slot receiver and he could be very dangerous on screen passes and downfield routes. Many linebackers won't be able to cover Bush, and he'll challenge a lot of defensive backs. McAllister might need close to a full season to recapture much of his past form as he makes his way back from a major knee injury. Just how much the Saints will be able to depend on him remains to be seen. If McAllister is dependable, he'll likely get the majority of the goal-line carries and he has already split time with Bush early in training camp. The two seem destined to complement each other, with Bush having the great upside and the Saints hoping McAllister can simply be an adequate inside running presence. The Saints still have Michael Bennett, who is insurance if Bush is a holdout or McAllister can't stay healthy. But he has been an annual disappointment in the past and has been a subject of trade rumors. Prediction: Assuming he doesn't hold out for a lengthy period, Bush could actually live up to the hype. He's going as early as the second round in some drafts. Those who argue he is unproven must also realize that a back with such tremendous promise cannot be ignored once the top dozen or so RBs are off the board. There are many more established players at the position who are also surrounded by question marks and don't have Bush's promise. McAllister is a viable middle-round pick, but could be less of a story as Bush explodes often. He might be a good "flex" player because of his TD potential.
San Francisco: Kevan Barlow has been a yearly disappointment, and he doesn't have far to fall this season. He's recovering from knee surgery and is no lock to be the No. 1 guy after he has been tentative and enigmatic in the past. Frank Gore runs with more authority and explosion, but he is coming off surgeries on both shoulders during the offseason. Unless Barlow runs with surprising new zeal, it's hard to imagine him holding off Gore if the latter can stay healthy. But both players appear to be big question marks in an offense that won't scare anyone except for 49er fans. Maurice Hicks has already run with the first team in offseason workouts and can rip off large chunks of yardage at any time. But he doesn't figure to be a dependable full-time back if pressed into service. Rookie Michael Robinson is exciting and could play on third downs, but he doesn't figure to be much of a statistical contributor in his rookie year. Prediction: Gore should overtake Barlow if his shoulders aren't a major issue, so draft Gore first over Barlow in the middle rounds. At this point, we all know we can't trust Barlow. Hicks is worth a late-round flier and could have a good game or two if he's needed to start.
Other RB situations to watch: In the Jets' backfield, Cedric Houston should take some carries away from Curtis Martin. ... If Duce Staley can't stay healthy, Verron Haynes could be the preferred change-of-pace back to keep Willie Parker fresh. ... If Chris Brown gets his wish to be traded or suffers another injury, it's hard to imagine Travis Henry holding off LenDale White. ... How Samkon Gado and Najeh Davenport figure into the Green Bay RB picture depends heavily on the health of Ahman Green. ... Jerious Norwood could see some playing time in Atlanta, possibly at the expense of T.J. Duckett.
Quarterback
Buffalo: This is a wide-open competition between three guys who won't start for most fantasy teams, and will go undrafted in many leagues. Kelly Holcomb has the most experience and can be dependable from an NFL perspective, but he will never post outstanding fantasy numbers over a long stretch and injuries have been an issue for him in the past. J.P. Losman has all the abilities that scouts love, but his decision-making skills are highly questionable and he doesn't handle pressure very well. Craig Nall has appealing athletic ability, but he has no real NFL experience to speak of. Whoever wins this job will surprise fantasy players if they put up anything better than average numbers. Prediction: Holcomb is the best pick for the Bills if he can stay healthy, but you should avoid this situation unless you start two QBs or play in a very large league.
New York Jets: Chad Pennington was once a promising fantasy QB, but he is coming off surgery on his right shoulder for the second consecutive year. It's hard to envision him being able to make all the throws needed to hold down the job. Patrick Ramsey has a very good arm, but he doesn't have the field vision or accuracy of a healthy Pennington, and he has struggled as a starter in the past. Rookie Kellen Clemens is a terrific keeper prospect who could get pressed into service later in the year. Brooks Bollinger only seems to be a major emergency option. But emergencies have happened before with the Jets. Prediction: Like the Bills QBs, there's no reason to draft any of these guys in yearly leagues unless you don't play in a standard format. Ramsey could get the call early but might be replaced by Clemens when the losses start to pile up.
Tennessee: Billy Volek opens camp as the starter, but he is still more ideally suited to be a backup, despite his brief flashes of success as a starter in the past. Volek is confident and can be a good game manager, but he doesn't have a big-time arm and can sometimes make questionable throws downfield. Vince Young is raw, of course, but he has great confidence, natural leadership skills and has already impressed the Tennessee coaching staff in early workouts. His mechanics need some fine-tuning and there will be natural growing pains if he gets the chance to start at any point. Prediction: If the Titans play respectably early, Volek should hold onto the job for some time, but you'll likely see Young at some point. Don't overrate Volek, and draft him as a fantasy reserve. As a rule in most yearly leagues, most rookie QBs shouldn't be drafted.
Detroit: Jon Kitna is penciled in as the starter, but he doesn't have a vice grip on the job. Kitna has better intangibles than Josh McCown, who has more natural ability and the better arm. Kitna has been good enough to start for the Seahawks and Bengals in the past. He can make things happen because he is confident and experienced. But he is also notorious for making untimely errors. Kitna can post above-average fantasy numbers if he holds onto the job, and McCown can learn a lot from him. Kitna is the better game manager, and if he can teach McCown how to read defenses better and improve his decision-making, McCown should be the eventual starter. Prediction: Kitna should keep the job and will be a top fantasy backup for most of the year, worthy of an occasional start. McCown could get a look late in the year, but shouldn't be drafted in most leagues.
Other QB situations to watch: If Alex Smith struggles a lot early, the 49ers might not hesitate to turn to Trent Dilfer. ... Brian Griese could see playing time for the Bears if Rex Grossman falters. ... Matt Leinart could be ready to manage the offense adequately if Kurt Warner gets hurt, and could be worth adding as a reserve.
Wide Receivers
New England: While Chad Jackson was drafted as the ideal complement to Deion Branch, it remains to be seen how quickly he can adapt to the pro game. He has the ideal combination of size and speed, and it seems just like a matter of time before the job is his for good. Former Charger Reche Caldwell is insurance in case Jackson comes along slowly, and he doesn't figure to be an outstanding playmaker. Longtime Patriot Troy Brown is still around and could still make some occasional big plays if needed, but he has never been a model fantasy receiver and he is in the twilight of his career. Prediction: We all know Tom Brady spreads the ball around a lot, and he might incorporate tight ends more into the passing game this season. Either Jackson, a worthy late-round pick, develops quickly, or Branch will be the only Patriots receiver worth drafting.
Pittsburgh: Despite his off-field issues, Santonio Holmes will be groomed as the ideal complement to Hines Ward. Holmes is the deep threat who can improve the passing game, which could open up more this season now that Jerome Bettis has retired and Pittsburgh can no longer bang the opposition into submission. Holmes could make a quick transition to the pro game, but don't expect consistency in his first NFL season. Wilson is more suited to playing in the slot. He does have a knack for making timely grabs, but he might not be able to hold off Holmes for long. Prediction: The organization has expressed confidence in Holmes despite his off-field issues, so draft him in the later rounds as a reserve with upside. Wilson is a decent late-rounder in case Holmes doesn't develop quickly or has more problems.
Jacksonville: While Matt Jones appears poised to replace the retired Jimmy Smith as the team's No. 1 target, it's a big question who will be his top complement. And given that Jones is just in his second year, he's no lock to hold onto his job. Ernest Wilford is a big, possession type who has shown a flair for the timely catch in the past, and he's a proven red zone threat. Reggie Williams, a former No. 1 pick, has been a bust so far. He has been prone to drops, sloppy route running, and doesn't challenge defenses consistently. This could be his last chance to prove himself. Troy Edwards is a veteran presence, but he has never been dependable in the past. Prediction: Jones will sometimes be outstanding and is worth drafting as a third receiver with upside. There's no apparent reason to trust Williams or rely on Edwards, so Wilford could start by default and will continue to be useful when the matchup is right.
Detroit: Charles Rogers still has the ability to be a big-play type after being plagued by collarbone injuries and enduring a league suspension in his still-young career. He has the deep gear to be a perfect partner for Roy Williams. Mike Williams was another disappointment at receiver for the Lions last season, as he turned out to be enigmatic, slow and might be limited to making only possession and red-zone grabs. If Rogers can't stay healthy or out of trouble, and Mike Williams continues to be a plodder, the Lions have two other viable options. Corey Bradford is a pure deep guy who can catch an occasional home-run ball and not much else, but he fits well in Mike Martz's offense. Scottie Vines is dependable and hard-working, and can be a decent fantasy reserve. Prediction: All Rogers has to do is steer clear of bad luck and trouble, and he could have some very good games. He's still worth a late-rounder. Mike Williams looks like a bust already, so consider adding Bradford or Vines as free agent reserves after the draft if either one starts for the Lions. Other WR situations to watch: Nate Burleson could emerge as Seattle's clear No. 2 receiver, pushing Bobby Engram back to the No. 3 spot, where he is most effective. ... Kevin Curtis might surpass Isaac Bruce as St. Louis' second receiver this season. ... If Mark Bradley stays healthy, he should be a better No. 2 receiver choice than Bernard Berrian for Chicago.

<!--end leftcol --></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
#99
Jul. 26, 2006, 2:14 PM
FFL: The Reggie debate


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = tristan --><!-- lastName = Cockcroft -->

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Don't let Saints rookie Reggie Bush fool you; he's not worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 fantasy football drafts, no matter what he tells you in the commercials.
There's a significant debate brewing surrounding Bush, easily the most hyped rookie in several years. Is Bush already overhyped? Will his potential holdout affect his overall fantasy value? When is the right time to draft this exciting rookie prospect?
Bush cracked the top 20 overall in both my and colleague Scott Engel's rankings, lofty status for a player who has yet to make his NFL debut. (I had him 17th, Scott 19th.) Generally speaking, most people seem to rank him, at worst, among the top 25 picks overall, meaning he'll be off the board by no later than early-to-middle third round. Maybe that seems early for a completely untested player, but Bush's talent does back up the notion.
Widely considered the best overall prospect in this year's draft, Bush earned that honor thanks to his unbelievable agility, explosiveness and triple-threat ability, possessing elite talent as a runner, receiver and return man. What makes a great fantasy running back is often his ability to rack up solid statistics not only on the ground, but also in the receiving game, and Bush should be every bit as good as some of the all-time greats in that department. Scouts have frequently compared him to Tony Dorsett, Marshall Faulk, Barry Sanders and Gale Sayers, four all-time greats. With that kind of upside, it's understandable that there's a significant buzz developing around the rookie.
But can Bush make that kind of impact in his first NFL season? Take a look at what those four comparables did in their debut seasons:
Dorsett: 208 attempts, 1,007 yards, 12 TDs (rushing); 29 catches, 273 yards, 1 TD (receiving)
Faulk: 314-1282-11; 52-522-1
Sanders: 280-1470-14; 24-282-0
Sayers: 166-867-14; 29-507-6
In other words, all four of those players were talented enough to make immediate adjustments to the pro game, even if they didn't enjoy their best seasons as rookies. With an average rushing line of 242 attempts, 1,157 yards and 13 touchdowns and receiving line of 34 catches, 396 yards and two TDs in their first NFL seasons, the quartet does seem a fair statistical comparison for Bush. Remember, he enjoyed the third-best season in Division I-A history in 2005 with 2,890 all-purpose yards, only 360 short of Sanders' all-time record set in 1988, so it's clear he has the overwhelming talent to warrant an early-round selection.
However, while there's little doubt Bush's talent makes him a strong bet for one of the great rookie seasons of all time, his story isn't all positives. Players like this often build such a level of preseason hype that they can't help but become overpriced come draft day -- remember, that day is more than a month away for many owners -- so while I stand by my ranking of Bush, resist the temptation to push him any higher on your draft sheet.
For one thing, there's increasing concern that Bush will endure a significant holdout as Saints camp prepares to open on Thursday. Now, I'm not one to worry too much about holdouts this early in the year, at least as far as veteran players are concerned. They already have the experience to quickly get in gear for the regular season even if they miss a few preseason weeks. Rookies, however, can use as much time as possible getting acclimated to the NFL game, learning their pro teams' offenses and getting in quality time in preseason contests. A running back might be able to adjust more quickly than a player at another position. But in Bush's case, the fact that he's so important to the Saints not only as a runner but also in a variety of receiving packages sparks concern that if he misses too much time, he won't be properly prepared to exploit his receiving ability.
For example, look no further than Dolphins sophomore Ronnie Brown, the No. 2 pick overall in the 2005 draft who missed three weeks of training camp due to his contract squabbles as a rookie last year. As a result of the missed time, Brown didn't seem quite so ready to bear the brunt of being Miami's featured back. He finished the season with a disappointing 907 rushing yards and five total touchdowns, though to be fair, he also had Ricky Williams around to steal some of his carries.
Brown's example is important because Williams diluted some of his value last year; Bush is in a similar situation with veteran Deuce McAllister around to alleviate pressure in the ground game. The more time Bush misses, the more apt New Orleans will be to hand McAllister the ball during opening week, and at that point Bush might have to do that much more to overtake the veteran for the starting job. Even if Bush is the primary back -- which seems likely -- there's little chance he'll be a 20-plus-carry-per-game runner, meaning he's going to have to make the most of his opportunities on the ground.
Not that I'd expect McAllister to be a serious threat to Bush's fantasy value. After all, he's recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which history shows us can take a player not only several months to heal, but then up to a full year of game action to get back to full strength. Jamal Anderson, Edgerrin James and Terrell Davis are just three examples of players who were disappointing statistically in their first years back from that surgery.
The other factor to consider with Bush is his team situation. Keep in mind he played on a stacked college team (USC) with a top-notch quarterback (Matt Leinart) and solid receivers, meaning his team helped divert much of the defensive attention. On a team like the Saints, which isn't quite so deep, Bush should expect to be much more the focus of opposing defenders. Plus, considering that New Orleans doesn't have much of an offensive line to create holes, Bush should prepare for a lot more tough hits than he received in college.
Taking into account all the above factors, Bush naturally should enjoy better future seasons than his rookie campaign of 2006. He's a franchise running back, and certainly worthy of a first-round selection in keeper formats. But in yearly leagues, Bush is still capable of a 1,000-yard rushing season with 8-10 touchdowns, and he has the upside for a little better, assuming he comes to terms in the near future.
That's still a little better potential than you'll get in comparable running backs in the Nos. 20-25 overall range, like Tatum Bell, Kevin Jones and Willis McGahee. All of those players can be solid starters, but none has the immense upside of a player like Bush. I'd still take Bush before the end of the second round, though he's highly unlikely to move up from my current No. 17 ranking. In fact, the more time he misses this preseason, the more likely he'll decline on my draft sheet. Remember, getting Bush at the back end of the second round means you probably got one of the "big three" fantasy running backs in the first round, and in that event, an owner can afford taking a chance on a high-upside No. 2 running back like him. I doubt I'd want him as my leading rusher, but there's little doubt he can be a solid No. 2 option with an outside chance at being better.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Jul. 26, 2006, 1:48 PM
FFL: Engel's Round One Guide


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
You've waited since last season ended for this moment. The chance to make your first draft pick of the 2006 season. This will be the cornerstone of your team, the centerpiece of your fantasy "franchise." So, of course, you want to make this choice one to remember, one to carry you all the way to a championship. Even the best players have a few questions surrounding them, so there's no such thing as a "sure thing" at any spot. Here's a guide on which players you should consider at every slot in the first round, with ideal picks and top alternative choices.
First Pick: Do you take the guy with seemingly great upside, or the proven superstar? With the opportunity to be a full-time starter, Larry Johnson could have one of the most unreal seasons we've ever seen. Shaun Alexander is coming off his best season in a very impressive career and is a proven, durable standout. Johnson, however, could challenge or break Alexander's TD record this season. He's that good, and new coach Herm Edwards will tie his offense to Johnson's back. Even if defenses know Johnson is coming, that doesn't mean they'll be able to stop him, and the offensive line is still very solid overall. Alexander might see his numbers drop, but not in a major way. The loss of OG Steve Hutchinson will be felt. Still, Alexander deserves serious consideration at this spot. While Johnson has never been a starter over a full season, I've seen enough of him to have confidence that he'll put up outstanding numbers on a regular basis. Alexander might seem like the safer pick, but I think Johnson is a safe pick as well. He's already been a highly successful starter when given the opportunity. Ideal Pick: Larry Johnson Top Alternative: Shaun Alexander.
Second Pick: If anyone can break the "Madden jinx" it's Alexander. His style of running has preserved him well, as he has outstanding vision. Plus, he knows how to make tacklers miss. Any claims that he was "soft" should have evaporated last year, when he finished his runs more often than ever before, and became more physical and successful in short-yardage situations. Alexander is very smart, as he knows when to elude defenders and avoid a hit, and when to dive into the pile. There simply isn't a better running back for the combination of durability and excellent numbers on an annual basis. He plays in a potent offense that gives him lots of chances to finish off drives with short TD runs. Walter Jones still leads the way at left tackle, and the right side of Seattle's line isn't terrible, either. Even if his numbers slip from last year, he should approach the 20-TD mark. LaDainian Tomlinson is obviously a proven performer, but he tends to get nicked up more than Alexander, and we all know we have to wait and see just how effective Philip Rivers will be. I think the young QB will at least keep defenses honest, but Alexander is the preferred pick here. Ideal Pick: Shaun Alexander. Top Alternative: LaDainian Tomlinson.
Third Pick: Once Johnson and Alexander are off the board, Tomlinson is the obvious choice. There isn't a better RB in fantasy football for the pure combination of great rushing and receiving totals. And don't let the presence of Rivers scare you away. He's a smart young quarterback who already has won the confidence of his teammates, and he won't be the next J.P. Losman. At the least, Rivers should be a respectable game manager who can keep defenses from simply focusing on Tomlinson. And in many pressure situations, he'll use Tomlinson as a safety receiver, and Tomlinson will burn defenses who are overaggressive in their eagerness to blitz the passer. Tomlinson posted terrific numbers a few years ago when Drew Brees appeared to be headed for the trash heap, and L.T. doesn't shy away from extra defensive attention. He simply adjusts and still will get his yardage. He just might not score quite as often as Johnson or Alexander. Ideal Pick: LaDainian Tomlinson. Top Alternatives: Tiki Barber or Clinton Portis if Rivers really scares you. But how could you pass on Tomlinson, really?
Fourth Pick: Like Alexander, Barber is smart and preserves himself well. Yes, he is 31 years old, but he has been a full-time featured back only for the last four years or so, not for his entire career. Plus, you can't ignore the fact that he had his best rushing yardage total ever (1,860) last year when you heard the same whispers about him turning 30 and a possible decline. Barber might not score nearly as often as the top three RBs, but he pads his totals with terrific receiving skills, and he's got at least another fine season or two left in him. Brandon Jacobs will vulture a few goal-line chances, but not all of them, and Barber can score from outside the goal-line area at any time. I wouldn't pass on a proven superstar when he has shown no obvious signs of wearing down yet. Ideal Pick: Tiki Barber. Top Alternative: Clinton Portis.
Fifth Pick: If you simply can't convince yourself to take Barber, Portis is a fine choice. It took him some time, but he eventually adjusted well to leaving Denver and now appears to have more upside and promise in 2005. Fantasy leaguers just want to see more consistent TD production from Portis, like they did during the second half of last season. Reportedly, Portis has trimmed down and new offensive coordinator Al Saunders supposedly will give him more chances to exhibit his breakaway speed. Portis isn't afraid of running inside, either. As long as Mark Brunell stays healthy, Portis should flourish as the crux of a balanced offensive attack. But if Brunell goes down at any point, that could mean more defensive attention and a few disappointing outings. Ideal Pick: Clinton Portis. Top Alternative: Edgerrin James.
Sixth Pick: If Edgerrin James was still with the Colts, he'd be a very good No. 4 pick, but obviously his stock drops with the move to Arizona. It doesn't fall that far, though. Yes, there are still questions about the Arizona offensive line. But if the linemen remain healthy and communicate better with one another this season under new OL coach Steve Loney, the unit could at least perform respectably. And you can't blame all of last season's failures on the line, when J.J. Arrington was way overrated and Marcel Shipp probably would have been as ineffective even behind a better group of blockers. James instantly adds more balance to the Arizona offense and his receiving skills will make him a regular target when the QBs get in trouble. James is much more talented than his predecessors in the backfield and defenses can't give him extra attention because of the Cardinals passing game, which is guaranteed to open up some lanes for the running game. And even if Kurt Warner goes down, Matt Leinart has the poise and outstanding receivers needed to keep the offense playing at a respectable level. James is too good to expect a major drop-off, and while his numbers might slip overall, he shouldn't fall too far on your board. Ideal Pick: Edgerrin James. Top Alternatives: LaMont Jordan, Rudi Johnson.
Seventh Pick: Despite Oakland's struggles last season, Jordan was very impressive in his first year as a featured back. He scored nine times and caught 70 passes as a regular flat pass target for Kerry Collins, who often hesitated to throw downfield in key situations. This season, Jordan should carry the ball more often and you should get better overall rushing totals from him. He's a strong back with deceptive quickness, and his receiving numbers might drop while his rushing totals rise. In the end, he should be good for 1,200 plus rushing yards and double-digit TD totals. And if the Oakland offense continues to sputter under Aaron Brooks, and he can't throw downfield with consistently positive results, you can bet the Raiders can still call on Jordan to catch screen and swing passes often. Jordan will get his numbers no matter how much the Raiders improve in other areas or struggle overall. He's versatile and determined to get his yards, and Jordan is money near the goal line, where he should get more chances this year. Ideal Pick: LaMont Jordan. Top Alternative: Rudi Johnson.
Eighth Pick: Sure, he's not the "sexiest" pick, but Rudi Johnson is one of the most dependable players in fantasy football. He's delivered two consecutive seasons of 1,400-plus yards and 12 TDs. He played through knee problems last year and a recent procedure to clean up the knee should ease any minor concerns his prospective owners have about the issue. Johnson is ultra-tough and doesn't back down from even the toughest opponents. He rushed for 98 yards and two TDs in Week 13 against the Steelers last year. Johnson plays in a potent offense that will continue to give him a lot of chances to finish off scoring drives, and he's simply a safe, smart pick in the second half of the first round. Ideal Pick: Rudi Johnson. Top Alternative: Steven Jackson.
Ninth Pick: You could see Steven Jackson go as early as the fourth pick in some drafts, but I personally prefer to go with a more proven player. Yes, Jackson is expected to get the ball more this season, and that's good news for such a player, who needs regular carries to develop more rhythm. Jackson has a ton of upside, as he has uncanny quickness for a big back and he is very difficult for defenders to bring down once he starts to hit full stride. But Jackson also has to prove he can play well for extended periods, and there are some questions about his durability and stamina that need to be answered. Jackson should be worthy of a first-rounder, but he has to earn a higher draft slot, in my opinion. Ideal Pick: Steven Jackson. Top Alternatives: Peyton Manning, Domanick Davis.
10th Pick: RBs are going to fly off the board quickly, so it's a bold move to not follow the run. But by this point, the one player worth heavy consideration from another position is Peyton Manning. You can take him late in the first round, especially in a 10-team league, because you know you will still have a shot at one of the better running backs when your turn to draft comes in the second round. No other player at quarterback offers the combination of annual above-average production and durability as Manning. You simply know you're going to get outstanding numbers, even if he doesn't approach 40 TD passes, and you'll have complete peace of mind at a position that doesn't have too many superstars. Outside of a healthy Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, most passers are either steady and occasionally spectacular, or have something to prove. In leagues that award six points for a TD pass, Manning becomes even more attractive late in the first round. Just make sure you take RBs in the second and third rounds if you deviate from the RB flow here. Ideal Pick: Peyton Manning. Top Alternatives: Domanick Davis, Ronnie Brown.
Pick 11: There have been regular concerns about Domanick Davis because of injuries. He now is going to be brought along slowly early in training camp because of knee inflammation. But when Davis is healthy, he certainly can produce fine numbers as both a runner and receiver. Much of Davis' past injury issues can be attributed to the fact that he was overworked, as he had little else around him on offense. The Texans won't make great strides on offense this year, but they should be improved, and Davis won't endure the same amount of pounding he has absorbed in past seasons. It's very possible that Davis might get fewer touches per game overall, but that could also help him stay healthy and he could produce quality fantasy totals on a more regular basis in 2006. Ideal Pick: Domanick Davis. Top Alternative: Ronnie Brown.
Pick 12: Like Steven Jackson, Ronnie Brown has a lot of upside, but he also has to prove himself over a full campaign. There are some questions whether he can handle the pounding of being a regularly featured back over a full season. Brown likely will quell the doubts, as he will become a focal point of an improved Miami offense, especially if Daunte Culpepper plays most or all of the schedule. He'll prove to be a dependable goal-line runner who will finish off a lot of Miami scoring drives. Plus, his receiving skills should become more apparent this year. It's no stretch to take Brown a pick or two earlier, and he shouldn't fall past this point. Ideal Pick: Ronnie Brown. Top Alternative: Carnell Williams. Other Angles to Consider: Cadillac Williams is easily another good late first-rounder, especially if you decide to pass on Manning or Davis. If your league is larger than 12 teams, follow the RB run, because the best ones will disappear even more quickly. Sure, it's tempting to take a top wide receiver, but if you don't go with the RB flow, you might regret it. Some very good receivers still can be drafted in the third and fourth rounds. In keeper leagues, a lot of RBs likely will be kept, making the ones available in the first round even more valuable. Yes, there are a lot of questions outside the top dozen backs or so, but that will make the best ones disappear seemingly more quickly than ever. In dynasty leagues, make sure that you fill your most pressing need with your first pick over a more glamorous choice that might only be for depth. That's a prime strategy to consider in keeper leagues as well. The lure of trading up into the first round can be great, but I prefer to stay wherever I am initially. If you do your homework, you'll make the best pick you can at any draft slot.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Sketchy RBs?


posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Last week I blogged about the first overall pick and who I would choose if I was lucky enough to get the pick that starts the draft. You know, that's pretty important. We know that last season the best spot to pick was second. Why? Well, Shaun Alexander was picked there, right after LaDainian Tomlinson, in most leagues.
Where didn't you want to pick? Well, take your pick! Peyton Manning generally went fourth, and we all know that wasn't such a smart move. The final four running backs taken in the top 10 were Deuce McAllister, Willis McGahee, Jamal Lewis and Kevin Jones. Nice. That went well. Drafted 5-through-8 among running backs, they finished ranked 48th, 14th, 27th and 32nd. What gives?
It's a crazy game. We make our best efforts to rank players properly, and take our chances. I was never on the Manning-in-round-one bandwagon, but those four bust running backs, there wasn't much else you could do if you picked middle to late in round one.
So how do we avoid the same fate in 2006? Who is this year's Jamal Lewis, a guy everyone thought would bounce back and be a top 10 player, but he ended up with more fumbles than touchdowns?
For the record, here's my top 12 overall, which as you'll see, mirrors my top 10 at running back. That's right, you won't see me taking a quarterback or wide receiver in the first round. Didn't happen last year, or the year before, won't occur this season. But I fully admit, some of these running backs in the top 12, I'm not feeling the love. Surely Domanick Davis could get hurt early on, or stink, mirroring what McAllister did last season. The Rams' Jackson has been inconsistent, he's no lock. I like LaMont Jordan, but what if Aaron Brooks starts throwing the ball backward again? Plenty of Jordan's value is in his pass catching.
Anyway, my top 12 players are:
1. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
2. Larry Johnson, Chiefs
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
4. Tiki Barber, Giants
5. Clinton Portis, Redskins
6. Edgerrin James, Colts, um, I mean Cardinals
7. Rudi Johnson, Bengals
8. Carnell Williams, Buccaneers
9. Steven Jackson, Rams
10. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
11. LaMont Jordan, Raiders
12. Domanick Davis, Texans
That's right, none of those evil four running backs from last year's first round are back, though I do seem to like McGahee (my 13th pick at RB) more than others, and the Lions' Jones is in my second round. Who else worries me from my current top 12? Glad you asked.
? There's no way we can assume Edgerrin James duplicates his stats in Arizona. I, for one, don't think he'll approach the yards. Edge got his money, and certainly nobody can fault him for that, but his perennial Hawaii trip and more importantly playoff streak is in jeopardy. The Cardinals do not have an effective offensive line, which puts Kurt Warner in danger and hinders running backs (and when you're trailing all the time, that doesn't help). You might say J.J. Arrington and Marcel Shipp are just bad and that's why the Cards couldn't run last year, or Emmitt Smith's 3.5 yards per carry in 2004 occurred because he's old. Well, he was. But the o-line was also a major problem.
I still rank Edge sixth because I could see 1,200 yards and double digit scores, but he won't be as consistent, thanks to the Arizona defense making games into shootouts, and while he's a nice pass-catcher, the Cards won't use him as much as Peyton did. Remember, when Portis switched teams, he had to deal with a clear downgrade on the line and his numbers took a hit. Portis wasn't a lesser player, but all backs need help. Edge might not get that help.
? In Cincinnati, Rudi Johnson has had consecutive seasons of 1,450-something yards and 12 touchdowns. And fantasy owners love him for it, but might get complacent. Carson Palmer is a big key here, because Johnson's effectiveness will be sorely tested if Palmer isn't on the field (remember, Jon Kitna said goodbye) and if he is on the field and not as successful. Johnson does a lot of his damage on first down, and you rarely see him on third downs. Chris Perry is younger, faster, caught 51 passes and averaged 4.6 yards per rush. Is he taking over for Johnson? Of course not, but I could see him getting more carries in his third year and make things more interesting for Johnson.
? Mike Martz is gone from St. Louis, and that's a good thing for Steven Jackson. Maybe now we'll see a consistent running game, and Jackson can count on getting the ball 25 times per game, and near the goal line. Of course, the playcalling only counts for so much. Jackson teases us with potential, has some really big games, but he doesn't look or act durable. That's right, we still don't know if he can play through the pain. The Rams are saying all the right things. Jackson talks a big game. And fantasy owners are jumping on board. But if Jackson delivers another season in which he barely tops 1,000 yards, he'll be viewed next season the way we now look at McGahee.
? I think David Carr showed some improvement last season, and he'll make things easier for Dom Davis. Depending on your style of play and/or league rules, Davis is either a monster option with all the pass catching he does or too risky due to the durability issues. Certainly Houston's refusal to draft Reggie Bush is a good thing for Davis, but some fantasy owners might misread the intent. Davis played in 11 games last season, with his last two games (Weeks 13 and 14) arguably his best. So for the first 12 weeks, he was mighty average, barely a top 20 back. Now he's top 10? I view Davis' ascent into the top 12 as a risk, but worth it for the touchdown potential. But he's no lock.
***
Tremendous feedback about last week's fantasy football blog on who's No. 1 in this year's drafts. Interestingly, while I couldn't find too many others before the blog who agreed with Shaun Alexander as the top choice in 2006 drafts, I've since encountered people who agree or seen a magazine or two with some hesitation on Larry Johnson. Look, I never said this was a slam dunk decision on the top pick in drafts. I continue to say, it's your team, if you get the first pick and want to take LaDainian Tomlinson or even Mike Vanderjagt first, go for it. If I get the first pick, it's the Seahawk. In the meantime, check out the funny Mobile ESPN commercial with Reggie Bush. Even he wants Larry Johnson! Who knows? Remember the year Ricky Williams was the first overall selection? Wasn't too long ago, actually.
? Jay, Gainesville, Fla.: "I believe Shaun Alexander is an extremely risky pick since he is on the cover of Madden 2007 this year."
Eric: Good point, but really, is this how we make decisions now?
? Brent, Pittsburgh: "Eric, I always enjoy your articles, and I was just curious about the latest blog. I own Alexander and he always has 2-3 maddening games due to Mike Holmgren passing 40 times a game and not giving him the ball. Meanwhile, Herm Edwards just runs, runs, runs. Also, although both divisions have questionable defenses, I'd take the sorry AFC West to get torched before the NFC West."
Eric: I don't disagree with your points about Holmgren or Edwards, or about the divisions, but Alexander's overall numbers have been fine for years. Most backs don't do what Johnson did the final two months last season, which is never have an off game. And to be honest, Edwards doesn't inspire confidence as an offensive mind to me.
? Wesley, Casper, Wyo.: "Eric, just wanted to say I completely agree with taking Alexander No. 1. This is what seals the deal for me. While the Chiefs O-line is fantastic when healthy, I think losing even one guy from that starting unit decimates the entire unit. When Willie Roaf was hurt last year, Tony Gonzalez has to stay in and block more and that really takes away the only other weapon on that offense. Say what you want about Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker, they don't scare anyone. I just don't see Roaf or Brian Waters playing the entire season. From the Seattle side, the loss of Steve Hutchinson will be felt, but he still plays guard. Even if he is the best guard in the league, Seattle has sufficient depth to absorb that loss. I also think their receiving corps will be improved with a healthy Darrell Jackson and the addition of Nate Burleson, which will only help Shaun. Thanks for the time."
Eric: A few people asked why I didn't consider Seattle's loss of Hutch as a negative. I do. It should affect him. But how much? I don't think Alexander gets more than 20 touchdowns this season, but the yards, the durability, the entire package is safe no matter who is blocking.
? Suss, New York: "Eric, in regards to the draft order I think it becomes even more challenging picking one when you consider these factors. For Johnson, the loss of Tony Richardson should not be overlooked. He's been as valuable as any fullback. Also, with Trent Green on the decline, an aging O-line and the lack of a true No. 1 receiver, this will allow opposing defenses to stuff the box (and the more Johnson plays, the more familiar defenses become with him). For Alexander, the loss of all-world guard Hutchinson certainly can't help and while I don't buy into the contract year theory either, he did say last year that every run he made, came with the thought of someone showing him the money. With that said, I rode LJ to many league playoffs and I recognize what he can do (note: K.C. has a much tougher schedule). I can't tell you how many times I've changed my draft order and I almost want the third pick so I don't have to make this decision."
Eric: Another fair assessment in that one could make the case the third spot is the best in the draft, because the dropoff to Tomlinson isn't great, and then in round two the LT owner picks ahead of the ones who selected 1-2. Nice call on that.
? Kevin, Gulf Breeze, Fla.: "While it's hard to argue with Alexander's consistent scoring production, there is an obvious reason to go with LJ instead at No. 1. Last year was Alex's contract year and now his incentive is not as strong considering Seattle's antipathy towards him prior to his signing."
Eric: While we're at it, we should throw in the fact that every Super Bowl losing team struggles the next season as a negative. Maybe the Seahawks will suffer some unlucky fortunes this season, lose some though games or have injuries, but I don't want to assume that makes Alexander undesirable. Maybe Johnson had incentive as well since he was trying to prove he could be an every down back with Priest Holmes still in the picture.
? Robb, Austin, Texas: Are you smoking something? Tomlinson is better than Alexander and Johnson combined. You don't watch football much do you?"
Eric: Well, I actually watch quite a bit of football, and I don't smoke. If you asked me who the best player of the three is, I'd be tempted to select Tomlinson. He is a terrific pass catcher, a history of consistent play and durability. But for fantasy football, considering all the factors, Tomlinson ranks third. That's not to say he can't finish first, though.
? Jeremy, Seattle: "Shaun over LJ? You know, my first thought was how you picked Shaun over LT last year. You considered them a 1 and 1a. Am I surprised you would go with Shaun, nope. Not at all. I would prefer not to have the first pick because I don't believe in LJ yet. If I picked second, I may even take LT over LJ. Who knows? But I just wanted to let you know that you had a solid gut feeling last year when you made Shaun your No. 1 pick, so stick with it."
Eric: Full disclosure here, I did consider Tomlinson and Alexander 1 and 1a last season, but I would've taken Tomlinson first. Frankly, I don't recall having either guy in any league. I picked ninth so many times, I developed a hatred for Willis McGahee and Jamal Lewis around midseason. But thanks anyway. OK, tomorrow it's the Closer Report for fantasy baseball. Adios.
 
Who's your number two quarterback? Obviously Manning is no. 1...but who's number 2? I have Drew Bledsoe at 2...even though in mock drafts he's somewhere around no. 7. I have him at 2 because even though he may be aging he has TO and terry glenn and jason witten...what do you think?

Oh and what do you think about Eli Manning this year?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
EagleFan5 said:
Who's your number two quarterback? Obviously Manning is no. 1...but who's number 2? I have Drew Bledsoe at 2...even though in mock drafts he's somewhere around no. 7. I have him at 2 because even though he may be aging he has TO and terry glenn and jason witten...what do you think?

Oh and what do you think about Eli Manning this year?


Eagle, even though I have stated I am scared of him because nobody is sure he can hold up, I still have to make Carson Palmer my #2.

After that, it's a crap shoot between Matt Hasselbeck, Bledsoe, Brady, and even Eli Manning in my opinion, which may answer your question above.. Eli has weapons in Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, and Tiki Barber out of the backfield. As long as he has those guys, he will continue to put up numbers.....
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Peyton's true value


posted: Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


Is Peyton Manning the most misunderstood player in fantasy football? Some could argue that Manning is overrated, but also that we know exactly what we're getting, which is nice.
Well, I decided to look into this a bit more. Is it not a bit hypocritical talking up Manning as the top quarterback in fantasy this season, yet we can't decide whether to rip him for his shortcomings or praise him for being merely better than average?
First of all, I don't buy into the implication that Manning will be throwing the ball more than 500 times, like he did in 2003, or nearly did in the record-breaking 49-touchdown campaign. Manning is the most reliable, consistent quarterback in the game, reaching the high 20s in touchdown passes in six of his eight seasons. In 2000 he threw 33 touchdown passes, and then, of course, the amazing 2003. So isn't this enough of a sample size on Manning that we know him? He's very likely to throw 28 or so touchdowns, top 4,000 yards, never miss a game (unless the Colts don't need him in Week 17, of course) and be one of the top QBs in the game.
So we know him, right? Or do we? We draft the guy first among signal callers every season. The thing is, Manning has never actually finished a season as the top fantasy quarterback even once! Never! Top five every year, sure, but never the best.
? In 2005, he was third behind Carson Palmer and Tom Brady. Week 17 could have changed that, but it didn't.
? In 2004, as great as he was, Daunte Culpepper barely edged him out.
? In 2003, it was Culpepper again.
? In 2002, Rich Gannon, Michael Vick and Culpepper beat Manning.
? In 2001, Kurt Warner, Jeff Garcia, Gannon, Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb topped Peyton.
? In 2000, it was Culpepper and Garcia.
? In 1999, Warner, Steve Beuerlein (remember that season?) and Gannon beat him.
? And in 1998, Manning's rookie year, plenty of QBs were better in fantasy, thanks to Manning's 28 interceptions, including top 10 guys Steve Young, Randall Cunningham, Vinny Testaverde and Chris Chandler, of all people.
So what are we to make from all this? Why does Manning always get drafted as the top fantasy quarterback when he's never actually been the top quarterback? Good question. Let's aim to answer it.
It's safe: While Week 17 is normally a disappointment, nobody is more consistent than this guy. While we all yearn for that monster season, you can pretty much count on Manning giving you some numbers, some nice, safe 28 touchdowns. How'd you feel about Brett Favre last season? Exactly. Those stats weren't safe, they made you want to stop playing fantasy. By the way, have you noticed just how good Daunte Culpepper has been the past few years. He beats out Manning pretty much every season. Gannon had his moments as well. Manning might be the best pure passer in the game, but fantasy football also rewards the running ability of its quarterbacks. With Manning, you know what you're going to get, you know the value, and even if it's not the best value, it's safe. Plus, he doesn't deliver that miserable, zero week, you're getting something from him each and every week, until the final one!
He never gets hurt: The Cal Ripken Jr. of quarterbacks, I know that Favre has played more consecutive games and all, but we can't count on Favre anymore. Maybe a day off would be a good thing. Ripken wasn't only a fantasy stalwart because he never took a seat, he was also a consistent run producer when he was out there. Sure, fantasy owners tend to overrate players who are known for durability and thus view their stats differently, like Miguel Tejada and Hideki Matsui from baseball, but you can pretty much assure yourself of a full Manning season, and the requisite stats. Can't say that about Favre anymore. If the Packers start out 2-6, it could be Aaron Rodgers time. You take Palmer in round one this season, you'll be worrying about that balky knee for months. Maybe we're jinxing Manning, but he never, ever gets injured.
Who else? I don't want to make Tom Brady the top quarterback, because that might also be by default, and with Carson Palmer trying to make it back from his serious knee injury, he's certainly no lock. Give us a better option for the top quarterback, we'll certainly listen. But this is not the year to even make a case for someone else. Culpepper might come back strong and be the same ol' Daunte, but isn't that a huge risk so early in a draft? So Manning might be getting top honors here merely because of his lack of competition.
The offense, the receivers: This goes with the safety factor, but you know what the Colts are going to do this season. Again, take away the 49-touchdown aberration and you've got nearly a decade of a prime passing offense scoring 30 points per game, and Peyton leading the way. If you were playing fantasy back in the day, old timers, you know that Dan Marino always put up numbers, but did he put up the best numbers after his first few seasons? Marino reached 30 touchdown passes only once (and right at 30) after his fourth season in the league. He settled in to a nice, safe role on a team that couldn't run the ball. The Colts might find this year that they'll miss Edgerrin James more than they think, but I doubt it affects Manning's stats too much. Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are still around, and while it doesn't guarantee wins, it does mean points. It's the offense, baby, and to some degree, the fact the defense used to give up almost as many points.
It's the right thing to do: I hear excuses like this all the time, that they draft a player in the first round because their fantasy football magazine tells them to or he "should have been off the board by now" because every ranking system has it that way. It's your team, if you really think Matt Hasselbeck will be better than Manning, then go in that direction. I don't think that's the case, but it's dangerous for a fantasy football owner to make a pick just because everyone else says that's the smart way to go. Manning actually deserves top billing among the quarterbacks, and your league will likely see him be the first QB off the board, but do it for the right reasons.
Comeback? Some poor sap will think he's "bouncing back" to 49 touchdown passes again. Folks, I don't see that happening. We've got plenty of proof that Manning is consistent, safe and durable, but to expect that monster season again, that fascinating upside, isn't wise. Even Manning knew during the 2004 season that what he was doing was out of line with his career path, and normal expectations. But nobody can forget that year, either, which Manning can put on his resume for life and fantasy owners will continue to use as reasoning for a high draft pick.
So why do I have Manning ranked first? Well, I guess it's a little of all these reasons. But the funny thing about this is, I've owned Manning maybe once in the last five years. I almost never get him, because someone else will always want him more and, to me, overpay. Sometimes they're drafting Manning too high because of the wrong reasons. Last year, for example, I didn't have Manning in my overall top 10. Some people had Manning ranked as high as third overall! Did I know Manning would drop from 49 touchdowns to 28? Of course not. That drop of 21 touchdowns is pretty significant, wouldn't you say? I mean, only nine quarterbacks even topped 21 touchdowns last season! So the dropoff in Manning's touchdowns alone was greater than the final total of touchdown passes for Favre, Jake Plummer, Trent Green, McNabb, Bulger and many others. Amazing.
Just thought I'd point all that out. Manning is the best, despite never being the actual best. And we'll do it all again this season!
Want some bold predictions on who will be the top fantasy quarterback this season? Well, before I name names, I'll say I wouldn't draft these guys first at the position, but I could see some big things.
Palmer, Bengals: He had 32 touchdowns last season, was fantasy's top QB and if he's healthy, and with those considerable Colts-like weapons, he should be able to do it again. But the concern about the knee is enough to drop him a bit. I still have him the third quarterback off the board. I'll end up getting him in plenty of drafts, I think.
Jake Delhomme, Panthers: I know what you're thinking, how could this guy be good enough to do this, but hear me out. He's got one of the top receivers in the game to throw to, but this season he's got help in Keyshawn Johnson. While some are concerned it will make Steve Smith see fewer chances, we know Keyshawn wants the darn ball and he's going to get 75 catches, at least. So Delhomme, and maybe Smith as well, are really helped by the presence of a solid No. 2 wide receiver. If DeShaun Foster can stay healthy, or rookie DeAngelo Williams fills in ably, the Panthers' offense is among the best in the league. Delhomme, who has started 47 straight games, did throw 29 touchdown passes the Super Bowl season of 2004, so it's not far fetched to expect him to reach 30. Remember, Manning has only reached 30 twice in eight seasons.
Eli Manning, Giants: Again, I don't expect Eli to make that much of a jump to superstardom, but consider how good he was in the good games last year. Now he just needs to be more consistent. He ended up with 24 touchdown passes and the fifth most yards passing, and was the No. 4 quarterback for fantasy, just 20 points behind his big brother. I consider that Eli's first real season, and if you look at what Peyton did as a rook, it's somewhat comparable. This Manning managed a total of four touchdown passes the final five weeks, and if he can raise his level of play for all 16 games, I can see him reaching 30 touchdowns. I have him ranked seventh overall, just ahead of Delhomme, but I'm absolutely considering moving both these guys up ahead of Bulger and McNabb.
***
What's in the news?
? Worried about Tom Brady's so called dead-arm? Don't be. It's Aug. 2. He has plenty of time to deal with it before Week 1. Plus, I'm not even sure I believe he has a dead arm. I think it's more a dead news week in New England.
? Chad Pennington has been named the starting quarterback for the Jets. Wasn't this really a foregone conclusion anyway? And talk about a quick decision, the Jets haven't even played a preseason game yet. Fantasy owners can take a shot on Pennington, but I'd make sure you have two other, safer quarterbacks.
? Michael Bennett has found a new team, as the Saints moved him to the Chiefs for a future draft pick. Makes sense. Saints didn't need him once Reggie Bush inexplicably fell to them in the draft. Larry Johnson is a top fantasy option, but if you're drafting a running back in round 13 anyway and you own LJ, handcuff the position just to make sure. Even with Willie Roaf retired, that Chiefs line and style of play could make Bennett look passable.
? Rumor has it Joseph Addai looks terrific, and starter Dominic Rhodes merely average. I think they're going to split the playing time, personally.
? Good luck being traded, Jerry Porter. He'll be a Raider, and his same underachieving self.
? The Falcons lose Brian Finneran for the season with a torn ACL, so cross him off your lists. He did catch 50 passes last season, a few for touchdowns, but I'll know him as the guy I interviewed years ago when he was just out of Villanova. Very good guy. Now he's 30, and there are no guarantees he'll be on a team next season, either.
? Both Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson are banged up. But please don't throw the name Adrian Peterson my way and point out his 120-yard rushing game Week 10 of last year against the 49ers. Means nothing.
***
Fantasy chats: As many of you know, a member of the ESPN Fantasy Games crew hosts an online chat each weekday at 10 a.m. ET. Now that football season is here, but baseball hasn't exactly gone away, we need to decide which days are used for which sports, and how much of each is necessary. Obviously, those who play fantasy baseball and not football will vote that way, and vice versa.
But we want your opinion. Use the feedback link at the top of this blog and share your thoughts on our chat schedule and what you'd like to see. Currently the schedule is:
? Mondays and Thursdays, fantasy baseball
? Tuesdays and Wednesdays, both sports
? Fridays, fantasy football
The 10 a.m. ET slot isn't changing, and we can't add chats, so tell us what you want and we'll make a decision for August. In September, we'll obviously add more football, but you can help shape our August coverage.
Personally, as the one who generally handles Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I don't see the harm in taking baseball or football questions in those chats, and just answer the good questions regardless of sport. But we'll wait to see your thoughts. And as always, check out the "From the Top" section of the fantasy baseball and football pages for all the archived chats. OK, back to fantasy baseball blogging tomorrow and the Closer Report.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 2, 2006, 4:06 PM
FFL: Preseason Watch List


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = tristan --><!-- lastName = Cockcroft -->

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Preseason NFL games, at least statistically speaking, are almost entirely irrelevant to fantasy owners. However, now that training camps are underway and preseason games are just days away, we're finally getting daily news reports for the first time in months.
My best advice is to ignore the statistical accomplishments of players once the preseason games get underway, but that doesn't mean there isn't useful information to be gained by watching the games. Every preseason sees several players enter with question marks surrounding them -- usually due to injuries or uncertain roles -- and this is the first time we've had in awhile in which those players' values can change so quickly. As a result, as I do every preseason, I've compiled my list of eight players I'll be watching most closely, as they're among the most likely to see dramatic spikes in value before their teams' openers:
Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos: It's never easy to decipher coach Mike Shanahan's plans with the running-back spot, but as fantasy owners know, the winner of the starting job is always a rather attractive pick. As training camp gets underway, Ron Dayne appears the favorite for the job, but one has to wonder whether he's capable of being a workhorse, having carried the ball just 53 times last season. If he can't, who else could it be, Cedric Cobbs? Bell has been the one seemingly generating a buzz in early fantasy drafts, probably thanks to his youth and upside, but I'd like to see him getting more time with the first team and racking up encouraging performances in the preseason before trusting him as a No. 2 fantasy option. It's not going to be easy to get a read on that Denver backfield in the next month, but perhaps we'll at least get some of our questions answered.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bears: He doesn't have the greatest reputation as a pass-catching running back, struggling in that area during the team's early-offseason workouts. However, Benson is still getting the bulk of the work with the first-team offense this preseason, as the Bears prepare him to take over the starting job. It's clear he'll get every chance to prove himself worthy of that role, though Benson is going to have to continue the improvement as a receiver that he has since training camps open to hold off Thomas Jones. It'll be interesting to see how Chicago handles the position in the next month, but if Benson can maintain the momentum he appears to be building, he could enjoy one of the biggest gains in fantasy value of any player, with Jones potentially facing the biggest loss.
Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins: He participated in Miami's first training camp practice over the weekend, and looked healthy enough to convince some fantasy owners he's capable of being that top-three quarterback once again. Still, let's not be too hasty here; Culpepper is recovering from major reconstructive knee surgery, and as a scrambling quarterback, one has to worry about how effective or willing he'll be to utilize his skills as a runner this year. Without that aspect of his game being at 100 percent, he might be no more appealing a statistical performer, and every bit as much of an injury risk, as the Rams' Marc Bulger. Culpepper needs to show us solid running skills and good chemistry with his new receivers in the preseason if we're to be convinced he's a safe top-10 quarterback.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars: Though Leftwich's 2005 statistics weren't extraordinary by fantasy standards, he showed marked improvement in his on-field performance, and probably would have done better for our purposes if not for the broken ankle he suffered in Week 12. He's going to be the focal point of an offense with three developing receivers -- Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams -- but it's important that he develop strong chemistry with them during the preseason. After all, while the trio's upside is impressive, Jacksonville did lose its leading receiver from a year ago, Jimmy Smith, to retirement, and it's no guarantee that any of those guys is ready to immediately step up and fill the void. I think Jones can, but I'd like to see it from one of them before believing in Leftwich as a potential breakout from your No. 2 quarterback spot.
Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints: With Reggie Bush now under contract, I can't see any way McAllister will be the most valuable running back in New Orleans. In fact, I doubt he'll even get the carries that Ricky Williams did in Miami behind Ronnie Brown last season. However, McAllister still brings veteran experience to a team, and the Saints could use a two-back set this season, assuming his knee is healthy enough to allow him to take constant hits. He has yet to take that step in training camp, so his value is still very much in the questionable range. A healthy McAllister could be a useful pick in the fourth or fifth rounds; a less-than-stellar McAllister this preseason might only be worthy of "handcuff" status for Bush owners, the type you should only target after your starting lineup is filled.
Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders: A calf injury has been bothering him since training camp opened, but of greater importance is his desire to be traded due to his frustration with Oakland's team direction. Raiders owner Al Davis appears frustrated with Porter, and it seems now like it'd be better for fantasy owners if the seventh-year receiver gets dealt before the season begins. Porter hasn't even been working out with the first-team offense when he has been able to participate in workouts, and don't overlook that he didn't do a lot with the passes thrown his way in 2005 after an encouraging finish to his 2004. He really could use a change of scenery, and if he stays in Oakland and continues to be used in a fashion that seems to indicate he's being punished for making his unhappiness public knowledge, it's going to drastically lower his draft-day value.
Ben Troupe, TE, Titans: Can you believe this guy finished 2005 second on the team in receptions (55) and receiving touchdowns (4)? Sure, those aren't stellar numbers for a receiver, but they're good for a tight end. Plus, with Erron Kinney lost for the preseason due to arthroscopic knee surgery, Troupe has his chance to step up as Tennessee's leading receiving target among tight ends this season. He's working with new tight ends coach John Zernhelt on improving his all-around game, and a strong preseason could ensure him enough of an opportunity for a breakout campaign. The Titans frequently include their tight ends in the receiving game -- their 149 combined receptions in 2005 were second-most by any team in history -- and that Troupe was starting to take over the leading role in that area late last year could put him in line for a big statistical step forward this season.
Javon Walker, WR, Broncos: All reports on Walker thus far have been glowing, seemingly describing him as a player who never even had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Nevertheless, the Broncos plan to play it safe with him, keeping him out of the team's preseason opener and perhaps another game. That's nothing to worry about yet, but Walker could use as much time as possible to adjust to Denver's offensive scheme, and as much game action to convince his prospective fantasy owners that he's free of any potential setbacks as a result of his surgery. Remember, receivers need as much stability as possible in their knees to remain elusive enough to be successful at their skill, and it'd be nice to see him get in a few quarters just so we can see how he's shaping up.
Got a question or comment? Send them right here, and I'll address them in my column every week. Note: Please be sure to include your full name, city and state with your submission to be considered.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Modified: Aug. 2, 2006FFL: Engel's Top 200

<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Here is my revised list of the Top 200 for 2006.<!--##FRONTSTOP##-->
1. Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2. Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
4. Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
5. Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
6. Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
7. LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
8. Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
9. Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
10. Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
11. Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
12. Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
13. Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
14. Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
15. Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
16. Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
17. Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals
18. Torry Holt, WR, Rams
19. Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
20. Willis McGahee, RB, Bills
21. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
22. Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
23. Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
24. Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
25. Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
26. Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
27. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
28. Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
29. Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
30. Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns
31. Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
32. Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
33. Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots
34. Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
35. Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
36. Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
37. Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
38. Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks
39. Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
40. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
41. Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
42. Ahman Green, RB, Packers
43. Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
44. Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants
45. Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
46. Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
47. Roy Williams, WR, Lions
48. DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
49. Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins
50. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals
51. Javon Walker, WR, Broncos
52. Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
53. Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons
54. Cedric Benson, RB, Bears
55. Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks
56. Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
57. Marc Bulger, QB, Rams
58. Chris Brown, RB, Titans
59. Fred Taylor, RB, Jaguars
60. Todd Heap, TE, Ravens
61. Curtis Martin, RB, Jets
62. Thomas Jones, RB, Bears
63. Donald Driver, WR, Packers
64. Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints
65. Joe Horn, WR, Saints
66. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers
67. Drew Bledsoe, QB, Cowboys
68. Eli Manning, QB, Giants
69. LenDale White, RB, Titans
70. Rod Smith, WR, Broncos
71. Lee Evans, WR, Bills
72. T.J. Duckett, RB, Falcons
73. Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts
74. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers
75. Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
76. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
77. Drew Brees, QB, Saints
78. Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
79. Ron Dayne, RB, Broncos
80. Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens
81. Alge Crumpler, TE, Falcons
82. Trent Green, QB, Chiefs
83. Samkon Gado, RB, Packers
84. Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots
85. Keenan McCardell, WR, Chargers
86. Eddie Kennison, WR, Chiefs
87. Mike Anderson, RB, Ravens
88. Randy McMichael, TE, Dolphins
89. Kevan Barlow, RB, 49ers
90. Brett Favre, QB, Packers
91. Donte' Stallworth, WR, Saints
92. Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks
93. Jake Plummer, QB, Broncos
94. Drew Bennett, WR, Titans
95. Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys
96. Kurt Warner, QB, Cardinals
97. Deion Branch, WR, Patriots
98. Terry Glenn, WR, Cowboys
99. Aaron Brooks, QB, Raiders
100. Heath Miller, TE, Steelers
101. Cedric Houston, RB, Jets
102. Duce Staley, RB, Steelers
103. Michael Vick, QB, Falcons
104. Jerry Porter, WR, Raiders
105. Koren Robinson, WR, Vikings
106. David Givens, WR, Titans
107. Chris Cooley, TE, Redskins
108. Byron Leftwich, QB, Jaguars
109. Amani Toomer, WR, Giants
110. Steve McNair, QB, Ravens
111. Muhsin Muhammad, WR, Bears
112. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Redskins
113. Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars
114. Billy Volek, QB, Titans
115. Bears Defense/Special Teams
116. Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
117. Joe Jurevicius, WR, Browns
118. L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles
119. Steelers D/ST
120. Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons
121. Mewelde Moore, RB, Vikings
122. Keyshawn Johnson, WR, Panthers
123. Reggie Brown, WR, Eagles
124. Neil Rackers, K, Cardinals
125. Panthers D/ST
126. Michael Clayton, WR, Buccaneers
127. Jason Elam, K, Broncos
128. Shayne Graham, K, Bengals
129. Mark Clayton, WR, Ravens
130. Chris Perry, RB, Bengals
131. Ciatrick Fason, RB, Vikings
132. Jerramy Stevens, TE, Seahawks
133. Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants
134. Mark Brunell, QB, Redskins
135. Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets
136. Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns
137. Colts D/ST
138. Jeff Wilkins, K, Rams
139. Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts
140. Kevin Curtis, WR, Rams
141. Travis Henry, RB, Titans
142. Jon Kitna, QB, Lions
143. Seahawks D/ST
144. Ryan Moats, RB, Eagles
145. Eric Moulds, WR, Texans
146. Brian Calhoun, RB, Lions
147. Ben Watson, TE, Patriots
148. John Kasay, K, Panthers
149. Mike Vanderjagt, K, Cowboys
150. Isaac Bruce, WR, Rams
151. Brad Johnson, QB, Vikings
152. David Carr, QB, Texans
153. Antonio Bryant, WR, 49ers
154. Verron Haynes, RB, Steelers
155. Samie Parker, WR, Chiefs
156. Ben Troupe, TE, Titans
157. Najeh Davenport, RB, Packers
158. Jeff Reed, K, Steelers
159. David Akers, K, Eagles
160. Giants D/ST
161. Chris Simms, QB, Buccaneers
162. Eric Shelton, RB, Panthers
163. Priest Holmes, RB, Chiefs
164. Marty Booker, WR, Dolphins
165. Robert Ferguson, WR, Packers
166. Cedrick Wilson, WR, Steelers
167. Jay Feely, K, Giants
168. Josh Brown, K, Seahawks
169. Buccaneers D/ST
170. Roddy White, WR, Falcons
171. Ernest Wilford, WR, Jaguars
172. Cedric Cobbs, RB, Broncos
173. Mark Bradley, WR, Bears
174. Lawrence Tynes, K, Chiefs
175. Olindo Mare, K, Dolphins
176. Jaguars D/ST
177. Cowboys D/ST
178. Michael Pittman, RB, Buccaneers
179. Vernand Morency, RB, Texans
180. Antwaan Randle El, WR, Redskins
181. Matt Stover, K, Ravens
182. Bengals D/ST
183. Eagles D/ST
184. Dallas Clark, TE, Colts
185. Marcus Robinson, WR, Vikings
186. Dolphins D/ST
187. Mike Williams, WR, Lions
188. Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars
189. Zach Hilton, TE, Saints
190. Charlie Frye, QB, Browns
191. Ryan Longwell, K, Vikings
192. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars
193. Broncos D/ST
194. Ravens D/ST
195. Michael Turner, RB, Chargers
196. Mike Alstott, RB, Buccaneers
197. Jeb Putzier, TE, Texans
198. Joe Klopfenstein, TE, Rams
199. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders
200. Redskins D/ST

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 
Brian Westbrook is going to be a great Fantasy player this year.

Kind of a Marshal Faulk type back.

Could put up very big numbers this year.

Lots of Receptions out of the backfield.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Bensonville said:
Brian Westbrook is going to be a great Fantasy player this year.

Kind of a Marshal Faulk type back.

Could put up very big numbers this year.

Lots of Receptions out of the backfield.


Yep, in points per receptions leagues he's huge.

I had him last season, as well as McNabb.

They were both putting up huge numbers, until things fell apart.....:rolleyes:
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 3, 2006, 4:27 PM
FFL: Draft spotlight


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Each week, we will take a look at a recent ESPN.com draft and break down the early rounds. You'll see which players other people are drafting this year, and we'll provide in-depth analysis and commentary on the choices. Make sure you execute a strong draft strategy when you make your picks on ESPN.com this season. We might be watching you!
This Week's Featured League: Miami 117914. Starting lineup includes 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 RB/WR, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST. Four points for a TD pass plus two-point bonuses for passing, rushing and receiving TDs of 40-plus yards.
Round One
1. Team Sommes: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2. Team Stone: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
3. Don't Hate the Playa: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
4. Team Adkins: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
5. Team Marie: Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
6. Team Walk: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
7. Stewie: Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
8. Team Alabama: Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
9. Team Dowling: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
10. Team McCarver: Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
Engel's Take: No major surprises in the first three picks, although I have seen Alexander fall to third in some other drafts. Team Adkins might have taken Manning a bit too early, especially when there were other top RBs available. Team Marie then smartly took Barber fifth overall, and will probably be rewarded with another outstanding statistical season. Stewie had to be overjoyed to land Portis at seventh overall, when he is going fourth in many drafts. I question taking Cadillac at No. 8 overall when there are more proven RBs available, and Williams still must prove he can stay healthy for a full season. Team McCarver made the solid, smart choice by tabbing Rudi Johnson at No. 10, and he is a much safer pick than Cadillac or Steven Jackson. With nine RBs gone in the first 10 picks, this draft is a model of how the best RBs will fly off the board early in a lot of leagues. There are many questions surrounding a lot of top RBs, so the best ones will disappear quickly.
Round Two
11. TMC: Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals
12. TD: Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
13. TAL: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
14. ST: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
15. TW: Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
16. TM: LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
17. TAD: Willis McGahee, RB, Bills
18. DH: Torry Holt, WR, Rams
19. TST: Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
20. TSO: Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
Engel's Take: Team McCarver now has two Bengals, and it's always a risk to lean too much on one team. If Cincinnati's offense struggles in any week, that could really hurt Team McCarver. Bush has amazing receiving skills, possibly the best I've seen in a long time of any RB, but it's too early to take a rookie RB when there are more proven RBs still available. Jordan would have been the ideal choice at 12, and Team Marie landed the best pick of the first two rounds by getting Jordan at No. 16 overall. A RB duo of Barber and Jordan is making Team Marie look very good so far. Ronnie Brown was also a nice gift to Team Alabama at No. 13. After taking Manning in the first round, Team Adkins settled for Willis McGahee as its No. 1 RB. And he wasn't even the best RB left on the board. Team Sommes made a terrific pick, landing Domanick Davis at the end of the second round. The best wide receivers get picked here, and considering this league only requires teams to start one RB, those aren't bad picks. But I personally prefer taking the second RB since players at that position get more guaranteed touches.
Round Three
21. TSO: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
22. TST: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
23. DH: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
24. TAD: Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
25. TM: Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
26. TW: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
27. ST: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
28. TAL: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants
29. TD: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
30. TMC: Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
Engel's Take: While I do endorse taking RBs with your first two picks, I don't agree with taking three to start your draft when you can't start that many in your league. Team Sommes and Team Marie take third RBs here, obviously with an eye on trading in the future or building depth. But teams should fill out their starting spots at WR before making such considerations. The type of player they might make a deal for in the future is likely still on the board. If I already have two RBs, I want to take a No. 1 WR if he's still available. I also question going for tight ends when there are still very good wide receivers available. Yes, Gates is the best player at his position, but I'd rather take a guy like Boldin when I have to start only one tight end and I have to start at least two receivers and might end up starting three. Team Stone has a very good trio of Alexander, Julius Jones and Larry Fitzgerald so far.
Round Four
31. TMC: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
32. TD: Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
33. TAL: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
34. ST: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
35. TW: Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
36. TM: Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns
37. TAD: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
38. DH: Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots
39. TST: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
40. TSO: Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
Engel's Take: How much insurance do you really need at one position? Team Marie and Team Sommes actually draft fourth running backs in this round. Again, why do so when they can only start two each and the players they might trade Droughns or Taylor for could still be on the board for them to take right now? Team Marie could conceivably trade Droughns for Burress, but why not just draft Burress? Eli Manning is a reach here. He has tremendous potential, but he has to develop more consistency and I'd rather have Matt Hasselbeck or Donovan McNabb, who should be steadier and more dependable. Team Dowling has an impressive pair of receivers in Boldin and Santana Moss, proving you can still have a fine starting duo even if you follow the RB run early on. Team Adkins also went for the TE when it only had one RB and one WR on its roster so far, another questionable choice. Team McCarver starts the run on QBs, and Brady should provide TM with stability all year long. Don't Hate the Playa might still get pretty good TD production out of Dillon if he stays healthy for much of the year.
Round Five
41. TSO: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
42. TST: Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
43. DH: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks
44. TAD: Rod Smith, WR, Broncos
45. TM: Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
46. TW: Ahman Green, RB, Packers
47. ST: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals
48. TAL: Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
49. TD: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
50. TMC: DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
Engel's Take: At this point, the RB hoarding by Teams Sommes and Marie is just getting plain silly. But I have seen it happen before, as some owners angle to load up on one position for the "fun" of trading and to corner the market on a position so they can trade for the players they want. Such owners believe they will be in a position of "strength", as many other owners will seek them out for trades. I'd rather execute a strong draft strategy, fill out my starters and trade for need later. Drafting to trade is a big gamble when I can simply select whom I want. Hasselbeck is another quality pick by Don't Hate the Playa, who has built a pretty good starting lineup to this point. You can never question picking Rod Smith, as we shouldn't believe he will fade until we actually see it happen. Houshmandzadeh is also a very good pick at this point. He's undervalued in some drafts. With the McNabb pick, another good choice here, Team Dowling has a solid starting lineup after five rounds.
Round Six
51. TMC: Joe Horn, WR, Saints
52. TD: Cedric Benson, RB, Bears
53. TAL: Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons
54. ST: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
55. TW: Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins
56. TM: Thomas Jones, RB, Bears
57. TAD: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers
58. DH: Todd Heap, TE, Ravens
59. TST: Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints
60. TSO: Chris Brown, RB, Titans
Engel's Take: You have to love the smart approach of Team Dowling to this point. TD has already filled out its starting lineup, and now it lands one of the best bargain picks of the draft in Benson, who has gone as early as the third round in a few drafts I have seen. Wayne is a great pick by Stewie, and it's surprising to see him fall to this point. Roethlisberger is a questionable pick by Team Adkins. It's too early to take a backup QB when TAD can build some depth at RB, which is more important when you consider all the team has is McGahee after five rounds. Daunte Culpepper could end up being an outstanding choice for Team Walk, which has already drafted well at WR and has built some depth at RB. The RB craziness continues here for two teams, and you have to shake your head and wonder when Teams Marie and Sommes will stop the madness. The Later Rounds: Team Sommes (Roy Williams) and Team Marie (Darrell Jackson) finally pick wide receivers in the seventh round. Team Marie also lands Lee Evans in round eight. Don't Hate the Playa takes the first defense (Chicago) in the eighth round. Team Stone gets great upside and value with DeAngelo Williams in the ninth round. Team Dowling lands LenDale White in the same round. Dowling also takes Laurence Maroney in the 11th round, loading up on young RBs with considerable upside. TD then adds Mike Anderson in Round 13. Team Alabama takes Matt Jones in Round 15, another possible good bargain.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 3, 2006, 12:31 PM
Book Excerpt: Why Fantasy Football Matters


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox --><!-- firstName = --><!-- lastName = -->Special to ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
From the book, "Why Fantasy Football Matters (And Our Lives Don't)." Text (c) 2006 by Erik Barmack and Max Handelman. Reprinted by permission of Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.

In "Why Fantasy Football Matters (And Our Lives Do Not)," two grizzled veterans revel in the addiction that is fantasy football. From pre-draft hijinx to post-draft trash talk, from tumultuous trades to the perils of free agency, it celebrates the eccentric personalities, absurd rituals, and hilarious superstitions of one of the most fanatical fantasy leagues on earth.
Chapter Three - The Draft


"Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster." - Sun Tzu, The Art of War, ca. 500 B.C.
A successful draft goes beyond selecting the best players. You must also understand your fellow drafters. They're your enemies, and they all have specific strengths, weaknesses, and buttons to be pushed. Knowing their drafting tendencies will put you at a distinct advantage.
But to do so requires understanding the profound psychodynamics of fantasy football. We've spent countless hours diagramming the personalities of our fellow Bush League managers, and we believe that among all the different, zany, and unpredictable drafters out there, consistencies can be found. Patterns emerge. And, if you concentrate hard enough, even the savviest drafter becomes predictable.
The Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter
The Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter is a peasant thrown to the lions for our amusement. He means well, has a good heart, and tries in earnest. But a man is only as good as his weaponry, and this guy has come armed with a meager slingshot and pebbles.
And the inevitable result of this flaccid bit of drafting artillery often leads to him selecting a retired, cut, or injured player. Remarkably, that guy is often Ricky Watters. We can't explain why. <!---------------------INLINE TABLE (BEGIN)---------------------><TABLE id=inlinetable cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width=250 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ececec" vAlign=top><TD width=250>
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><!---------------------INLINE TABLE (END)--------------------->


Players Taken By The Out of Date Cheat Sheet Drafter
1. Earnest Byner
2. Ricky Watters
3. Carl Pickens
4. Antonio Freeman
5. Barry Sanders
6. Jamal Anderson
7. Mark Duper
8. Irving Fryar
9. John Riggins
10. Billy "White Shoes" Johnson
How could this happen? Most often, this drafter is simply lazy. And his laziness leads him to a batch of fantasy football magazines that go to print a week after the previous season's Super Bowl. Seeking verification for his purchase, our sheep-like friend eyes the "Sell By" date of early fall that suggests the information remains current up through his draft.
Evil, evil magazines, they are.
The manner by which these fantasy rags fall into the Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter's hands is quite innocuous, but tragically predictable. At ten AM, pinching the bridge of his nose, he enters the local Target with his fianc?e to buy a gift for her friend's baby shower. But once inside, she careens off course, and starts jibber-jabbering about wicker baskets.
The Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter tries to tune her out, but now she's picking her way through a bunch of chintzy "home furnishings." This is his cue to shuffle over to the magazine rack and play time off the clock.
At first, he thumbs through Newsweek, and feigns outrage at a potential Supreme Court nominee. Then he turns his attention to the lad magazines - Maxim, FHM, and Loaded. He scans an interview with D-list "actress," Alissa Milano, who is seeking more "intellectualmalized" roles.
Then, finally, it happens. His eyes fall to the cheaply made covers of fantasy football magazines that are placed next to Hot Rod and Guns & Ammo. Like a spider to a fly, he's drawn into their web of deceit. With articles proclaiming the soon to be out-for-the-season David Boston as this year's breakout wide receiver and projections for a monster year from Ricky Williams, the trap is sprung.
On draft day, the Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter's train wreck is easy to identify. Simply listen for the rapid rustling of papers. This is the sound of the Out-of-Date Cheatsheet Drafter flailing. Sure, he'll be fine like everyone else in the beginning. But he'll start to unravel by Round Six.
You'll know it's happening when you hear this conversation:

Commissioner: Yo, it's your pick.
Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter: Oh, um, right. [shuffle, shuffle] Okay. Let's see, um, I'll, uh, go with Joe Horn.
Commissioner: He was taken. Three rounds ago.
Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter: Oh. [rustle, rustle] Um, okay well, how about, hmm, no, wait, yes. [shuffle, rustle] Okay, how about Dorsey Levens? Is he still available? [shuffle]
Commissioner: The Eagles cut him two days ago. Pick someone else.
Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter: [more rapid rustling] He was? [shuffle, rustle] I wonder why he's on my cheat sheet?
Commissioner: Stop stalling and pick. Pick someone. Anyone.
Out-of-Date Cheat Sheet Drafter: [now completely flustered] Fine. [shuffle, rustle, shuffle] I'll take [rustle, rustle, rustle] Ricky Watters.
Commissioner: [giggle] Fine. He's all yours. Gentlemen, Ricky Watters is off the board.
It's now curtains for the Out-of-Date Cheatsheet Drafter. He's been exposed. He's rustled and shuffled his papers, and now he's the owner of the retired Ricky Watters. If only he hadn't been seduced by the All-Pro, All-Star Fantasy Review.
The Over-Prepared Egghead
The Over-Prepared Egghead rolls into the conference room ten minutes before the draft feeling preposterously overconfident. He's out-prepared everyone, conducted more research, and done more analysis. There isn't a statistic he doesn't know.
He scans the room, slow-blinking at everyone. Then he fires up his laptop, and taps rapidly on his keyboard. Up pops a slew of numbers, complicated formulas, and colored charts. None of this really means anything, but it looks impressive to the untrained eye. Some managers steal glances at his monitor.
Soon he begins speaking authoritatively about football insiders like Len Pasquarelli, Chris Mortenson, Ron Jaworski, and Peter King. He won't, however, mention anything having to do with Michael Irvin.
Looking up from his computer, the Over-Prepared Egghead glances at others' cheat-sheets, and offers unsolicited advice. He nods, saying, "You like Randle-El, huh? Not bad, not bad - I really think Pittsburgh is going to get creative with the 'Z' position this year." Other managers are forced to nod back and mutter something about the "Z" position, too. Like they get his point. Like he even gets his point. Like anyone in the Bush League understands anything about the "Z" position in Pittsburgh.
Finally, having sensed the increased anxiety in the room due to his various bells and whistles, he assumes his Mr. Burns-like repose. The Over-Prepared Egghead punches one more key, numbers flash on the screen, and, with his chin resting on his peaked hands, he slithers, "Excellent."
As the draft begins, he starts pecking away at the computer, smiling to himself as if there's a joke that only he's in on. When things start going poorly for other drafters, and their confidence sours, the Over-Prepared Egghead may even let fly with various Bill Walton maxims. "That is just terrrrrriiiibbbble," he'll use for starters. Then maybe he'll mix in a "Never mistake activity for achievement" line after another manager spends a long time before whiffing on a pick.
And if he's truly inspired, he may re-enact one of the greatest Walton exchanges ever:
Bill Walton: [following a tough driving basket by John Stockton] John Stockton is one of the true marvels, not just of basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization!
Tom Hammond: Wow, that's a pretty strong statement. I guess I don't have a good handle on world history.
Bill Walton: [chuckling] Well Tom, that's because you didn't go to UCLA.
Walton's commentary, as it applies to the universe as a whole, is simultaneously brilliant and annoying. Kind of like the Over-Prepared Egghead.
Walton-isms
1. "Tracy McGrady is doing things we've never seen from anybody - from any planet!"
2. "Mick Jagger is in better shape than far too many NBA players. It's up in the air whether the same can be said of Keith Richards."
3. "Eric Piatkowski makes perhaps the greatest defensive play in Clipper history!"
4. On Larry Johnson's lackluster performance in the NBA Finals: "What a pathetic performance by this sad human being. This is a disgrace to the game of basketball and to the NBA. He played like a disgrace tonight. And he deserved it."
5. On his beard: "But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it's the only beard in the history of Western Civilization that makes Bob Dylan's beard look good."
Which leads us to the pervasive irony of his situation: All of his preparation ultimately leads to the Egghead's undoing. His laptop is his nerve center, and he's dependent on his technology. So when the Over-Prepared Egghead's second derivation of an algorithm tells him that Hines Ward is a "value pick" in the second round, he's stuck.
His techno-dependence could lead to other problems. His laptop may freeze, or he may get lost in a flurry of ALT+TABs while monitoring his spreadsheets. With that much data to process, there are simply too many things that could go wrong.
Panic sets in. The Egghead starts punching more violently at his keyboard as his face creeps closer and closer to his screen. But the damage is done. He's lost.
The Father in Misery
If you ever wanted to understand the American Male in Transition - from immature post-college dope to responsible, protective father - you need only observe the guy who drafts with a child in tow.
The task of identifying the Father in Misery is easy. You don't even need to be in the same room. You can hear him over the speakerphone. Simply listen for the giggling, cooing, and crying sounds of a baby. If you hear that, you have your man.
The Father in Misery is a bundle of contradictions. On the one hand, he's been preparing for his draft for months. On the other, he's a proud father, embracing his role in caring for his young child.
Unfortunately for him, these positions are incompatible. The center will not hold. And how did he find himself in this situation? The simple answer: his wife..
As with many things in marriage, everything comes down to leverage. And in the Father's case, he has none. Why? Because he's about to spend the next sixteen weeks posted up on his couch, eating pretzels, getting up only to fetch a Coors Light from the fridge.
Yes, for one-third of the year, he'll be a burden to his wife, useless around the house, and setting a bad example for his kid. Three strikes, and he's out. She knows it, his in-laws know it, and even he concedes that he's heading - a la Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney - into choppy waters.
So on the eve of his descent into fantasy football malaise, his wife strikes her final ninja-death blow. She's going out for a night with the ladies, and leaving him with the kid.
Does the Father in Misery mind? No, honey, of course he doesn't mind. He can't mind. Because he's in no position to mind. Whether his wife's evening entails sipping sherry by the fire and discussing Oprah's latest Book of the Month, or going dancing with twenty-year-old boys is immaterial. His fate is sealed. He's drafting with the kid. And not just any kid - a kid who's on the verge of a meltdown.
This is a devastating early setback, and one from which The Father in Misery won't recover. He's like a sprinter in the hotly anticipated Olympic 100 meter dash. All his competitors stretch out as they take the blocks. The starter asks for quiet. The gun goes off. The runners explode from the starting line, and about ten meters into the race, there's always that one guy who jolts up out of stride, grabs his hammy, grimaces, and fades as the other racers tear down the stretch.
That's the Father in Misery. A bad hamstring pull waiting to happen. Sad but Amusing Sports Injuries
1. Mary Decker Slaney getting knicked by Zola Bud in the 1984 Summer Olympics.
2. Evel Knieval flying over handlebars inside Wembley Stadium
3. Vinko Bokataj's failed ski jump on ABC's "Wide World of Sports"
4. Scottie Pippen's headache in Game 7 against the Detroit Pistons.
5. Thomas Hearns smiling, bobbing around the ring on rubber legs before getting knocked out by Sugar Ray Leonard.
6. Embarrassing Philadelphia Eagle fans cheering as Michael Irvin lay on the turf with a neck injury.
7. Arizona kicker, Bill Grammatica, after hitting a successful Field Goal, pumping his fist and doing a little leap in the air before landing awkwardly and tearing his ACL.


At first, everything seems to be going well. He nails his first few picks, and turns to his child with a big grin. Look at proud papa, will you! He's just bagged his first sleeper! But then the inevitable strikes: the kid, largely ignored, smacks his head against the corner of the dining room table. This leads to a torrent of crying mixed with some whining. Perhaps the child layers in a little more aggressive slapping at his father's cheatsheet, sending pages flying.
The Father is now officially miserable.
He puts the child on his shoulder and pats his back. No luck. Then he goes to the swing-the-baby-in-the-air move. The kid isn't impressed. The shrieking builds. Panicking, he starts bouncing the kid on his knee. But it's too little, too late.
During this battle, The Father in Misery receives a double dose of anxiety: not only is his draft faltering, but he also feels guilty for having such screwed-up priorities. Why can't he be a better father? Why can't he dedicate himself fully to his family? And is fantasy football really so important to him that he'll let his child cry before his very eyes? The answers to these questions are: we don't know, we don't know, and yes.
Amid this flurry of deep thoughts and introspection, his sixth round pick is up. The Father in Misery, having lost track of who's still available, scrambles and takes a tight end, pats his kid on the head, and shuts it down.
His race against time is over.
Kim Jong Il and the Bitter Drafter
There's always one skunk at the garden party. Some guy who's just not happy to be there. On a night that's the equivalent of Christmas Eve for most managers, the Bitter Drafter is expecting coal.
He shuffles into the draft room and takes his seat in silence, his eyes pink and glazed. From time to time, he stares at other managers and shakes his head. While most guys engage in the usual pre-draft hijinks, smack talk, and useless misdirection, he quietly stews.
He looks like Arvydas Sabonis after Rasheed Wallace threw a towel in his face during the Portland Trailblazers' annual playoff meltdown. Sabonis had to be thinking to himself, "I should wipe that dopey birthmark off that howling knucklehead with my big meat hooks, but I'll play it cool."
Don't think Sabonis forgot about that, though.
This year, the Bitter Drafter has it in for one guy. There could be multiple causes for his agitation. Perhaps it was a bad egg salad sandwich at lunch, or perhaps he didn't like the rather pointless Koko B. Ware arm motions the guy did when he made his picks last year. Honestly, we don't even think that the guy knows that the Bitter Drafter is after him. Which is even funnier. Because The Bitter Drafter just might destroy that guy's entire season.
If the Bitter Drafter were an international politician, he'd be North Korean maestro Kim Jong Il - someone who openly disregards the principle of mutually assured destruction. Someone who's happy to wear a dopey beige jump suit and 70s-style tinted eyewear, spout a few lines of discursive propaganda, and sip brandy as global superpowers collide around him. Dopey Dictators
1. Saddam Hussein (recently retired - Iraq) - A man who tugged on the tail of the sleeping lion one too many times, and got bit; photographed in his underwear for good measure.
2. Fidel Castro (Cuba) - "The revenues of Cuban state-run companies are used exclusively for the benefit of the people, to whom they belong."
3. Muammar al-Qaddafi (Libya) - Punishes entire towns for "collective guilt." Wears fashionable sunglasses.
4. Mobutu (Zaire) - Wore leopard-skin pillbox hat.
5. L. Ron Hubbard - Forced the masses to read "Dianetics"; ultimately led to Tom Cruise bunny-hopping on Oprah's couch.


When it comes to his drafting strategy, all accepted rules of engagement are out the window. The Bitter Drafter derives more satisfaction out of wrecking other people's teams than building his own. Like Kim Jong Il, he uses his irrationality to keep his enemies off-balance, all of which leads to him vulturing players of strategic importance to other teams earlier than he should.
Even if the Bitter Drafter hasn't drafted a starting running back yet, that won't stop him from nabbing perennial backups Maurice Morris or Najeh Davenport. The Bitter Drafter aims to spite. His team is finished before the season even begins. But he's hurt your team, too, and in the sick mind of the Bitter Drafter, that's a sufficient reason to act.
The Ex-College Football Player

The Ex-College Football Player enters a draft with a great deal of respect. He greets guys with his deep baritone voice, rubs his tightly shorn scalp, and smiles that winning smile, save for the chipped right bicuspid.
He circles the War Room in a Nordstrom's suit that's just a bit too tight across the shoulders and a shirt collar that's excessively starched. The crispness of his outfit will come into play late in the draft as his stress builds, and his neck-veins bulge.
If you have an Ex-College Football Player in your league, you know the drill. He was a backup linebacker at Penn State who used to ball with Lavar Arrington. Or he was the long-snapper at Princeton who used to ball the Governor's daughter.
In either case, the dude has skills.
The Ex-College Football Player starts the draft with a string of visionary picks. In the third round, he takes an emerging wide receiver, and says, "My boy James played with this cat in D-II - he says he runs tight routes." Murmurs break out in the draft room. The rest of the Bush League frets over his insider knowledge.
Ultimately, however, he is a sheep in wolf's clothing - dangerous looking but toothless. The Ex-College Football Player evaluates players based on their real skills, as opposed to their far more important fantasy potential. And that's a problem.
The first danger sign is when he adds Cory Schlesinger to his running back stable because "he's a great lead blocker and will be rewarded for his effort with goal line carries." Then he nabs a backup flanker on the Chiefs because he thinks that "his footwork is sharp and Coach Vermeil will need to get him involved in the passing game."
Then he takes Andre Davis because he "likes the work ethic of Virginia Tech players."
Phrases Used By The Ex-College Football Player
1. "I like his burstability."
2. "That guy can do twenty benches at two-twenty-five without sweating."
3. "His hands are the softest of any tight end I've seen in the last ten years."
4. "He elevated his stock at the Combine."
5. "My old position coach loves his can-do attitude."
At this point, the Ex-College Football Player's knowledge, once a key strength, becomes a weakness. Much like the Empire's fearsome "Scout Walkers (AT-ST)" were felled by the Ewoks' primitive ropes and boulders in the forests of Endor, the Ex-College Football Player now starts lurching forward, mired in his own analysis. By the eighth round, he collapses in a heap amid a group of fantasy football Ewoks, a third his size, dancing around and chanting "Yubb, yubb!"
This is how it ends for the Ex-College Football Player. Not with a bang, but with a trip, a stumble, a thud, and a whimper. The starched shirt is now tight around his neck. His once promising team is now in trouble.
But he remains a good sport. He smiles across the table at the geeky half-pints in his league - guys that he could snap like Joe Theismann's fibula - who snicker, snicker again, and then crack one joke after another at the big man's expense.
The Two-Headed Hydra

Every so often you encounter a dual-manager team. The rationale for this pairing is twofold. First, these guys are inherently cheap, and are looking for a way to split the league entry fee. Second, they're under the misguided impression that two heads are better than one. But just as a two-headed hydra spends more time snapping at itself than grabbing extra food, so, too, is this partnership destined for trouble.
The reason it won't work is an absence of leadership. Consider the great military generals throughout history. Did Napoleon have an aide de camp he relied upon when rolling across Europe? Did Eisenhower have a peer issuing commands on the beaches of Normandy? Did George W. Bush have a silent partner calling the shots in the march to war in Iraq?
Okay, don't answer that last one. But you get the point. Great leaders make tough decisions unilaterally. And they alone must live with the results.
By way of contrast, the Two-Headed Hydra believes in consensus-driven management. They've coordinated their first few picks, and may even exchange an audible high-five when "their guy" falls to them at the end of the second round. But even then, fissures start to show.
Hydra #1: Booyah! Dante Culpepper fell to us.
Hydra #2: Solid scouting, partner.
Hydra #1: Booyah!
Hydra #2: Dude, stop yelling "Booyah!" You're hurting my ears.
And so it begins. They're already snapping at each other. Now it's just a matter of time before they disagree on a pick, start debating useless stats, and their system breaks down completely.
If they're calling into the draft, you might hear muffled phone conversations, the ruffling of papers, one insisting that they "stick with the system," and the other arguing that they "follow their gut."
This wasn't the plan. They took a tight end early, and missed out on a slew of running backs. Now they can't agree on anything. When a fellow drafter says, "Hustle up, you're on the clock," they tell him to take it easy. They stall. They hem. They haw.
And then, when everyone tells them to pick - that they have to pick, now -they settle on the dreaded "middle option." So in the sixth round, they take Keyshawn Johnson, a player neither of them could possibly want, which will only lead to more Hydra-snapping for the rest of the draft.
The Guy Who Loves Rookies

There's something odd about the Guy Who Loves Rookies. Coaches don't like rookies. Teammates don't like rookies. Rookies often don't even like rookies. So what does that say about the manager who only drafts young punks for his fantasy football team?
We point to the Tao of Dazed and Confused for a potential answer. In this film, Matthew McConaughy's character wistfully says, "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."
The Guy Who Loves Rookies is obsessed with youth - infatuated with nubile prodigy to near perversion. Rookies offer promise, upside, and excitement.
"I love fresh meat," he announces to no one in particular. He then reinforces his declaration by stating, "Give me young legs, give me young knees."
His obsession for young talent began during his undergrad years. Hours logged watching ESPN's "College Game Day" planted the seed. Kirk Herbstreit shimmered on camera, Lee Corso donned the local college hat and foam finger, and our man got all misty-eyed.
Back then, the hot college player du jour was running through Rutger's turnstile defensive line, and Keith Jackson let fly with a half-dozen "Woah Nellies!" Finally, this rookie was cemented in his mind when, at the NFL Draft, Mel Kiper Jr. uttered some nonsense about how he "grades out" to be the greatest at his position in the last decade. Or, possibly, ever.
Then John Clayton rolled his eyes. Chris Berman gave him a nickname, and the player slow-limped up to the stage in some ill-fitting, six-piece suit equipped with a dangling timepiece. Perhaps he even had a top hat or cane. And just like that, the manager was locked in - that's his guy. He fell in love right there with the rookie's pimpiness.
It's true that the Guy Who Loves Rookies can put together a decent team every three or four years. And yes, few things are more exciting than rolling the dice on a highly touted rookie and coming up with double-sixes. Taking Edgerrin James in 1999 and seeing him run roughshod over the NFL, silver teeth gleaming after one of his seventeen TDs, was better than winning big in Vegas, better than a lap dance at Scores, better, even, than taking a savvy veteran who'd posted equally gaudy numbers the year before.
A Rookie Might Pan Out If ...
1. He isn't a quarterback. Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, and Donovan McNabb all had miserable rookie campaigns.
2. He is a running back. Over the last seven years, at least one rookie has finished in the top ten among running backs for fantasy scoring. (That being said, according to ESPN, running backs drafted in the NFL's first round over the last ten years have averaged a measly 654 rushing yards and four touches.)

3. He isn't taken in the first five rounds. Chances are, fresh meat fetishists will overvalue young players to the point of leaving better options on the table.


But for every Edge, there are six Ron Daynes. For every Randy Moss, there are a half-dozen Charles Rogers. These guys will cripple most fantasy teams. That doesn't stop the Guy Who Loves Rookies from taking them, though. The thrill of the hunt is too strong, the scent of fresh meat too intoxicating, and the allure of the next big thing too overwhelming.
So he assembles his team full of promise, pep, and optimism. His squad is exciting - on paper, at least. But it will crumble by Week Two when Coach Shanahan decides that his rookie running back can't block. Or Eli Manning coughs up three picks during his first start.
And that is that.
The Death Maiden

Susan B. Anthony, she of the useless one dollar coin and champion of women's suffrage, once said, "...It is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this Democratic-Republican government - the ballot."
We're not sure what any of that really means, or what liberty has to do with fantasy football. But perhaps it speaks to the need, nay right, of women to participate equally with men in any activity. To prohibit women from doing so would mock the very freedoms that soldiers have given their lives to defend.
Yesteryear's ballot box is today's fantasy football league.
Or something like that.
The emergence of women in fantasy football, however, will never be smooth. The seeds of hostility between the sexes actually predate the advent of fantasy football. It started, we surmise, in the realm of Dungeons & Dragons - when men were boys, boys were dorks, and girls found them irritating.
This phenomenon was captured perfectly in the following scene from Wet Hot American Summer:
Caped Boy: Excuse me, ladies. You may remember me as the guy who came to dinner a few weeks ago with underwear on my head ... And as you may have heard, I am recently a crowned class B dungeon-master. So if any of you would like to play D&D today, please speak now or forever hold your peace. [He chuckles, and there is an awkward silence at the table]
Anyone? Alexa! Maybe you would like to join in? We do need a druid, and you have definitely cast a Level-5 charm spell on me.
Alexa: In your dreams, douche-bag!
Caped Boy: Douche-bags are hygienic products; I take that as a compliment. Thank you.
Men haven't forgotten that adolescent scorn. Today, when a woman enters the male dominated fantasy football arena, there's always friction because men are afraid of being trumped by women in anything sports-related.
Which is why female managers are the ultimate stealth-bombers. They show up at the draft, looking skittish and acting clueless. But, by flying beneath the radar and not over-thinking everything, they're able to assemble lethal teams with simple, common sense picks.
At the start of the draft, the Over-Prepared Egghead eyes the Death Maiden and mutters, "She may be able to cook up a mean meatloaf, but what does she know about the Chargers' wide receiving corps?"
Big mistake. In a cunning bit of fantasy football jujitsu, women use their inexperience, lack of football knowledge, and inability to chew kielbasa and grapes at the same time to their advantage. They flip it.
While men run regression models gauging the breakout likelihood of third-year wide receivers, women ponder bigger questions, like: Who has the nicer uniforms? What charities does he support? And which quarterback has prettier eyes?
The myopic guy scoffs at these questions, but the savvy guy fears them. Because he knows that whenever there's a woman in the league, you're all but guaranteed to look up in Week Five and see her team near the top of the standings, cheering for a running back like Tiki Barber, because "he seems so articulate and such a nice guy. And plus he's a twin - that's cute."
These are the same women that always seem to run the table in the March Madness tourney brackets. They couldn't tell you the difference between LaSalle University and the University of Louisville, but they pick fifteen of the Sweet 16 teams. No one knows precisely how they do it, they just do.
The Rest of the Riffraff

In the interests of time, we've excluded full descriptions of certain draft archetypes. But below you'll find our honorable mentions. 1. The Guy Who Takes His Defense and Kicker Too Early
2. The Guy Who Drafts on a Bad Cell Phone
3. The Hometown Drafter: The Pats fan who grabs David Givens, Kevin Faulk, and Daniel Graham.
4. The Guy Who Elongates Player Names. In announcing his picks, chooses to say, "Clintonius Portis," "Frederick Taylor," "Chadwick Johnson," "Edward Kennison," "Torrence Holt," and "Touraj Houshmandzadeh."
5. The Drunk Drafter
6. The Guy Who Favors Players from his Alma Mater
7. The Guy Who Searches for Position Loopholes: Nabs Jimmy Kleinsasser as a fullback/tight end/h-back.
8. The Guy Who Drafts Exceptional Special Teamers. (A/k/a "The Dante Hall Drafter")
9. The Guy Who Tries to Retract His Pick: Makes his pick, waits two or three picks, then asks if anyone minds whether he can "cycle a different player in."
10. The Guy Who Drafts Players Based on the Hiring of a New Offensive Line Coach

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 
keep posting these articles HacheMan...its great stuff...i've been drafting alot lately on espn...i have 9 teams so far...heres my latest team...

QB- Eli Manning
RB- Tiki Barber
RB-Ronnie Brown
WR- Hines Ward
WR- Plaxico Burress (too many Giants?)
TE- Randy McMichael
DST- Bucs
K- Jeff Reed

Bench
QB-Drew Beldsoe
RB- DeShaun Foster
RB- Samkon Gado
RB- Brandon Jacobs
WR- Lee Evans
WR- Derrick Mason
WR- Mushin Muhammed
TE- Dallas Clark
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 8, 2006, 5:35 PM
FFL: Coaching Changes


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div --><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->While coaches don't earn fantasy points in most leagues, their impact is definitely felt in fantasy football. New approaches and schemes can play heavily into the performances of notable fantasy players. There were several coaching and coordinator changes during the past offseason, and here are the most important moves that will affect your fantasy strategies for 2006.
Buffalo: Dick Jauron is the new head coach, but he will place a lot of the offensive responsibilities on new coordinator Steve Fairchild, who was the Rams' offensive coordinator before coming to Buffalo. While Fairchild might try to open things up on occasion, he does place an emphasis on a strong running game, as does Jauron. The talent limitations at QB and a shaky offensive line present challenges for Fairchild. Look for him to depend heavily on Willis McGahee, with varying results if the QBs can't keep defenses honest on a consistent basis. He'll use some two-TE sets to help the line, and will likely feature Lee Evans often when the Bills go downfield. Roscoe Parrish could also make some big plays on occasion if he nails down the No. 3 receiver job. Peerless Price is also still a good run blocker, even if his receiving skills have faded. Fairchild might be able to run successfully at times, but can he use the downfield pass effectively enough to keep pressure off McGahee? Probably not on a regular basis. Outlook: McGahee's numbers will fluctuate as the line gets a lot of blocking help, and Evans will still have some good games when the matchup is right. Consistency will be a major issue, especially if Kelly Holcomb doesn't win the starting QB job.
Denver: The Broncos replaced the departed Gary Kubiak by promoting former offensive line coach Rick Dennison. Mike Heimerdinger returns to Denver, where he used to be a wide receivers coach. Heimerdinger, the new assistant head coach, will ensure that the passing game continues to operate efficiently, while Dennison will continue to run the traditional zone-blocking style of running the ball that has been so successful. While the ground game should remain the same, Heimerdinger could open up the passing game some more, especially with the addition of Javon Walker. Outlook: No matter which RB gets the most carries, the running game will still be strong. Jake Plummer could be more aggressive throwing downfield as Heimerdinger spreads defenses out more often, meaning a few more TD passes, and also a few more interceptions. Overall, the offense should be very proficient and balanced, in the Mike Shanahan tradition.
Detroit: New head coach Rod Marinelli gives the offense to new coordinator Mike Martz, who might not have the personnel needed to make great things happen. Jon Kitna should absorb the challenging schemes better than Josh McCown, and could post good fantasy totals on occasion, but he has always been erratic. Of the receivers, only Roy Williams has the quickness and discipline needed to fit well into the passing game, which demands attention to detail as well as speed and good route-running. Charles Rogers is sloppy and enigmatic, and Mike Williams has looked too slow at the NFL level. Corey Bradford is smart and fast and might be a better fit. Martz likes his running backs to catch passes out of the backfield, so Kevin Jones will have to prove he is up to the task. Rookie Brian Calhoun could be a wild card for Martz on passing downs. Jones could still get a lot of touches and Martz won't completely overlook the ground game and the potential he has there. Outlook: The passing game will sputter and Kitna could have some good statistical outings when the matchups are right. Kitna isn't the ideal QB for Martz, and the receivers are very shaky. Jones can finally have his breakthrough year if he shows he is ready to carry a big load while adding more pass-catching skills to his game. The upside is still there.
Green Bay: New head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski will look to make the Packers more balanced and efficient. Jagodzinski will be the architect of a zone-blocking running game, which could play well to the strengths of Ahman Green if he can stay healthy. Samkon Gado has the potential to excel in the offense, but he has struggled to pick up the nuances of the new offense in camp so far. In the passing game, look for a West Coast style of throwing the ball, with shorter routes that could put more emphasis on possession catches and depending on receivers to make things happen after the catch. But the receiving depth is questionable, and ultimately, both McCarthy and Brett Favre have been overaggressive downfield in the past. Outlook: The running game could sputter even with the zone-blocking approach, mainly because of a troublesome offensive line. Favre ultimately might try to force things in desperation again, and he could be in for another season filled with too many interceptions.
Houston: New head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Troy Calhoun will implement more of the zone-blocking schemes that were so successful for them in Denver. Calhoun also comes over from Denver, and both will try to emphasize the confidence and strengths of Domanick Davis. But he might not be overworked, as Kubiak will help David Carr by using more short, timing passes and will give him the green light to throw on the run when the still-questionable offensive line breaks down. Two of Houston's most promising linemen are rookies (tackles Charles Spencer and Eric Winston). So Carr will have to get rid of the ball quickly to possession types like newcomers Eric Moulds and Jeb Putzier. He might throw to Davis less, because the RB has been overworked in the past by a lack of receiving talents around him. Outlook: Davis could avoid injuries and might have a terrific year if his preseason knee problems fade away. Carr could be more efficient, but the offense won't explode as the protection will still be shaky. Andre Johnson might still struggle with consistency as Carr still isn't able to go deep without a lot of regular defensive pressure.
Kansas City: Herm Edwards isn't going to mess too much with success. He'll attach the wagon to Larry Johnson, and new offensive coordinator Mike Solari, last season the offensive line coach, who is the driving force behind a still-solid line that paves the way for big yardage. He'll be challenged by the losses of OT Willie Roaf and FB Tony Richardson, but Solari should make the needed adjustments, even if it means more blocking for Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs will miss Al Saunders, a masterful play-caller, and should be more simplistic, relying more on the running game while Trent Green is asked to continue to manage games well and keep defenses honest, even if his numbers aren't outstanding. Outlook: Johnson is worthy of a No. 1 overall choice, as the Chiefs are strong enough on the line to roll over teams even if they know the run is coming often. Green's numbers won't be great, but he'll throw well enough to prevent defenses from keying on Johnson. Gonzalez could be saddled with more blocking responsibilities that hurt his numbers again.
Minnesota: Brad Childress and new coordinator Darren Bevell will lean heavily on the running game. Childress is expected to call the plays and focuses a lot on the run, so Chester Taylor will have a prime opportunity to prove he is worthy of a starting job. Taylor will be expected to take pressure off of veteran Brad Johnson, who will direct a controlled passing game that could feature a lot of receivers and no clear standout. A potentially outstanding offensive line gives the Vikes a chance to operate efficiently. Outlook: Taylor could be statistically dependable and solid No. 2 RB who also shows off receiving skills. Don't overrate Johnson, who will be asked just to be a good game manager. He might spread the ball around a lot, and only Koren Robinson might make some occasional big plays for him.
New Orleans: New head coach Sean Payton is expected to call the plays, and while he has been known for emphasizing balance, he has the talent to add in a few unique looks. A healthy Deuce McAllister would help keep pressure off Drew Brees, who will be given the go-ahead to make things happen in a West-Coast style of offense that should stretch the field on occasion. Reggie Bush will certainly keep defenses off balance, and Joe Horn could have a rebound year as a top target for Brees. Outlook: Payton could really mix things up on offense. Bush will play a large part in the multiple looks, and Brees will have another good year if McAllister can give the team an inside running presence.
New York Jets: Not much to say here, because new head coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brain Schottenheimer don't have a lot to work with. There are big questions at QB, RB and WR that can't be solved by new coaches alone. Schottenheimer lacks experience as a play-caller, and while he might try to strike a solid balance between run and pass, it won't work unless the Jets make a move for a more stable RB and Chad Pennington throws well enough to challenge defenses often. Outlook: Too many questions at the skill positions for the new staff to make a major difference.
Oakland: Art Shell returns, but it might take some time for him to make the offensive line jell as a unit. Tom Walsh returns to the NFL after being out of the game since the late 1990s. Shell is hoping Walsh can reinvigorate the passing game and bring back the vertical offense that used to be Oakland tradition. But asking Aaron Brooks to go downfield is always a risk. Outlook: Shell was notorious for not always making proper adjustments when things weren't going well. There's no solid proof he and Brooks won't struggle together. Shell might soon realize he has no choice to pound the ball with LaMont Jordan to keep defenses from converging on Randy Moss. Outside of those two, there's little reason to have confidence in the rest of the offense.
St. Louis: Scott Linehan has been known to use the run to set up the pass in the past, but he knows what he has in Steven Jackson. He's a rhythm RB who needs regular carries to gain momentum, and Linehan will make him a focal point of the offense. The Rams will still utilize the great talents of receivers such as Torry Holt and Kevin Curtis, especially on routes where Marc Bulger hits them in stride on shorter drops, and the receivers will be expected to gain additional yardage after the catch. The tight end will be more prominent in St. Louis as a receiver than in the past, making rookie Joe Klopfenstein an interesting late-round choice. Outlook: Jackson is the "chic" pick to have a breakthrough year, and Bulger could be less susceptible to big hits with shorter drops and quicker throws. This offense could be more efficient and less explosive than in the past.
Washington: New "Associate Head Coach" Al Saunders will use a power running approach to set up a diverse passing game. That works well for Clinton Portis, who became more confident as a power runner last season. Expect Saunders to mix things up well, sometimes challenging defenses with three-receiver sets, and also utilizing reliable targets such as Chris Cooley as Mark Brunell cycles through multiple options in various situations. Outlook: Portis will certainly be a top five back. While he isn't the model power runner, he is determined, and could rip off some long runs when Saunders spreads the field. Santana Moss will continue to be outstanding with better complements, and Brandon Lloyd could emerge as a fantasy bargain and Washington fan favorite. The key is for Brunell to stay healthy. If he gets hurt, Saunders might have to become much more conservative than usual.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Bronco Bells


posted: Wednesday, August 9, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL, Denver Broncos


This Denver Broncos running back situation is getting out of hand. We've known for years that Mike Shanahan can put anyone in that backfield and get 1,000 yards. Those who think Shanahan hates fantasy football are wrong. He loves it! Who else gives us more to write about?

(Well, there's T.O., but more on that later.)
We all say we want Denver running backs, but in reality, we want the right Denver running backs. Think you know who it is? Do you feel lucky, punk? Well do ya?
Monday's news was about a man named Bell being named the team's starting running back for the early preseason. C'mon, we knew that already. Problem is, when we clicked on the story, it wasn't Tatum Bell. Nor was it Greg Bell, Ricky Bell, Kerwin Bell, Kendrell Bell, David Bell, Albert Belle or me, Eric Karabell.


<TABLE class=text11 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=2 width=200 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top><TD width=8><SPACER height="1" type="block" width="8"></TD><TD width=300 bgColor=#ecece4>FANTASY SPORTS BUZZ
1. Finally, that Matt Garza kid comes up, but still no Francisco on the DL.
2. I guess this means the Jets won't take a look at Maurice Clarett?
3. Seth McClung gave up another grand slam? If only he'd get a save opp.

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
It's Mike Bell, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona, a 6-0, 221-pounder who is shifty and elusive and possibly most importantly, a Denver native. He's quick, consistent and can catch the ball. Will he be "The Guy" in a month? Is he just the next Quentin Griffin?
On Aug. 10, it's way too early to tell, but based on Shanahan's history of decision making, we shouldn't assume this is just a phase and Mike Bell will be forgotten by Week 1. Look at Denver's rushing leaders the last few years:
2005: Mike Anderson, 1,014 yards, 13 touchdowns. Who'd you draft first? That's right, you took Tatum Bell. He did fine, with 921 yards and eight scores, but he was no Reuben Droughns.
2004: Droughns, 1,240 yards, 8 touchdowns. Remember who the names were in fantasy drafts? Certainly wasn't Droughns. It was Tatum Bell, then a rook, Griffin and Garrison Hearst. Complete stunner that Droughns, who entered the year with 10 carries the previous two seasons combined, got the chance.
2003: Clinton Portis, 1,591 yards, 14 touchdowns. No surprise, though based on the year before, fantasy owners might have expected even more. Portis would then become a bust in Washington in 2004.
2002: Portis, 1,508 yards, 17 touchdowns. He was a rookie, drafted in the second round. More fantasy owners went after Olandis Gary.
2001: Anderson, 678 yards, 4 touchdowns. Terrell Davis had a few more yards in his 11 games, but did not score. Fantasy owners spent the high pick on him, hoping he could return to his 1998 glory, when he ran for 2,008 yards and scored 23 times. Both 1999 and 2000 were lost years. But even Anderson was a huge disappointment.
2000: Anderson, 1,487 yards, 15 touchdowns. Folks, he was a rookie. And he was 27 at the time.
1999: Olandis Gary, 1,159 yards, 7 touchdowns. Rookie.
And that's as far as we need to go, since Terrell Davis was dominant in 1998. Shanahan could care less about fantasy football owners. He could care less about the media, or hurting feelings, or who gets paid the most, whatever. He just wants to win. And look at the stats of his prime running backs, look at Shanahan's (regular season) record since 1999 and it's tough to argue that Mike Bell won't be a great fit as this team's top running back.
So if you're drafting today, what should you do? Tatum Bell still has the most value, but it is entirely possible Mike Bell wins this job and keeps it. We have enough of a Shanahan sample size at this point to believe it. In a few weeks, I'd have to recommend drafting Bell in the fourth round. What choice will we have if this story doesn't change? The guy has talent. The Broncos have a terrific offensive line and running scheme. I wouldn't bet against Mike Bell.
Incidentally, Tatum Bell is none too happy with Shanahan's controversial decision.
"They don't think I can be the man, period," T. Bell told the Rocky Mountain News. "They don't think I can do 25 carries. ... They don't trust me ... I'm going to keep fighting for it, and I've got it in the back of my mind that I'm going to be the man, but in reality, it ain't worked like that in three years. It's a long season. Anything can happen and Mike's looking good, I'm not taking nothing from him. But I feel like I should be the No. 1 - to be named the starter and then lose it. I don't know, man. I'm still (ticked) off about it."
Pretty harsh words for a guy who's still fighting for a job, no? Sounds to me like Bell might be right. The Broncos don't think he can carry the ball 25 times, don't trust him and it's kind of been that way since he was drafted. Who are we to say Shanahan is wrong? It's possible Bell could be a fantastic every down back who runs for 1,600 yards, but then again, maybe his best role is as a change of pace back.
Problem with that scenario is Mike Bell doesn't look a whole lot different than Tatum Bell. Now if Ron Dayne, or even Cedric Cobbs were to get some run, those are backs with a different style.
Good for Shanahan. Tatum Bell and Dayne fantasy owners may not like it, but who cares? Shanahan has been the team's head coach for 11 years, and he's won 10 or more games seven times. He's had a losing record once. Conventionality for the sake of doing what others think is best is taking the easy way out.
And it leaves fantasy owners with a lot more to think about.
***
Who is going to be the main running back for the Jets this season? Folks, this might get ugly. In fact, rumors have the Jets looking into acquiring some of the more available backs out there, like Thomas Jones and Chris Brown, because it's looking increasingly unlikely that Martin will be ready for the season with knee problems.
Martin's best days are clearly behind him, that can't be argued, but as recently as 2004 this guy was really good. In fact, Martin led the league in rushing that season and finished up as the No. 7 player in all of fantasy. Not bad for a guy on the other side of 30. Of course, his age really showed last season, when he played in 12 games and ended up the No. 30 running back overall. As bad as he was, however, he still beat out Fred Taylor, Kevin Jones and Kevan Barlow.
Before this recent injury news, Martin was not going to be real popular in fantasy leagues anyway. I ranked him 35th at running back a few weeks ago. Scott Engel has him at 31. Tristan Cockcroft, because he updated his rankings this week, dropped Martin to 59 at the position. I'd agree. Time to stick a fork in Martin and praise him for his career accomplishments, but we'll wait until retirement becomes official. This is, after all, the guy who is No. 4 all-time in rushing.
Which current Jet stands to benefit? First of all, this is not a good team. Not a good quarterback situation, or offensive line, or defense. The Jets are in for some trouble. Cedric Houston had some moments last year, and former Chief Derrick Blaylock is still around. Basically, it's too early to tell. If you're drafting today, let Martin go to someone else. As for the other Jets in this section, someone has to draft 'em, but make it late. Can't depend on any of them at this point.
Who knows, maybe they trade for Tatum Bell.
***
Speaking of running backs, Giants star Tiki Barber appeared on a number of ESPN shows yesterday, and one of the things he said during the Pardon The Interruption interview sent off alarms to fantasy football owners.
"I'm not the goal line back, so don't take me in fantasy," he said.
Well, Tiki, not only do we have to take you in fantasy, you're ranked as the No. 4 player in the game by most of us in the industry. That's right, after the big three of Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson, many people have decided that you come next. Now you warn us to stay away?
This is typical Giants coachspeak, when we hear about Brandon Jacobs (and Ron Dayne before him) stealing all the carries inside the five-yard line. The team has done this before, including last season, and this has rarely been to the detriment of Barber. Last season Barber rumbled for a career-best 1,860 yards, along with nine rushing touchdowns. Jacobs did run for seven touchdowns, making him an occasional fantasy option, but let's investigate further.
? Jacobs scored on a run of five yards in the opener, three yards in Week 8, and the other five touchdown runs were all one yard. So yes, he was an option, but not the only option near the goal line.
? He carried the ball 38 times all season, for 99 yards, meaning all his fantasy value is tied to scoring touchdowns.
? In the 11 Giants wins, Jacobs ran the ball 34 times and scored all his points. In the five losses, he carried the ball four times for nothing. That's pretty interesting, no?
Meanwhile, you might be wondering whether Barber scored on any runs inside the five-yard line. Well, he did.
? Barber ran for nine touchdowns, with three of them four yards or less.
? He also scored on runs of 21 yards, 12, 16, 41, 20 and in the season finale, 95 yards!
My conclusion: What Barber's telling us does not affect his draft status. While it's true Jacobs remains a consideration for stealing touchdowns, each time Barber doesn't have to run into the line from inches away also keeps him healthy and thus breaking off these long runs. And he still scores touchdowns. Barber has finished each of the last two seasons as fantasy's No. 4 player. We can't complain about him settling for single digits in rushing touchdowns.
Pardon this interruption, but continue to draft him fourth overall.
***
Finally, what should fantasy football owners make of Terrell Owens skipping a few preseason games? Nothing at all. He's going to have a terrific season, as long as Bill Parcells doesn't get fed up and try to cut him. (That will be in 2007.) Tomorrow, the fantasy baseball Closer Report.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 10, 2006, 1:08 PM
FFL: Question of the Week


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = --><!-- lastName = -->ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div -->
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Each week leading up to and throughout the season, we'll ask our Fantasy Games experts about a hot topic in fantasy football.
This week's question: Would you draft a non-running back in the first round of a 12-team league?
Eric Karabell: I'll make this easy for you: Peyton Manning is not likely to end up on any of my fantasy teams. Oh, I like the guy and appreciate his fine, Hall of Fame numbers, I even enjoy his work in commercials, but if you take him in the first round of your draft, you're leaving yourself a gaping hole at running back, and one which can only be solved by luck. Don't be that guy who takes Peyton in the first round. Every year a few running backs not drafted in the first two or three rounds become stars, but you don't know who they will be. Nobody does. So take what you know. Fantasy teams with Manning don't win very much. Even if this is the year he finally finishes as the top QB in fantasy, which he's never done, give me a running back no matter which top 12 spot I pick in, and I'll grab Jake Delhomme an hour later. It's easy. And don't even ask me about a wide receiver in the first round.
Tristan Cockcroft: Well, it won't be a wide receiver, that's for sure! I can't remember the last time I drafted a wide receiver in the first round and this won't be the year I'd do it, not with five receivers that could serve as interchangeable No. 1s. To me, the first round is all about players with the potential to carry you in any given week, and let's face it, running back is the position that will ultimately decide your season the majority of the time. Quarterback is the other that can, and that's why Peyton Manning would be my lone non-running back to crack the first round. Sure, he has never been the No. 1 quarterback in terms of fantasy points in his career, but he has come awfully close, and he's a consistent, 4,000-yard, 30-TD, 10-INT option, which isn't as easy to come by as you'd think. If Manning even splits the difference between his record-setting 49-TD season of 2004 and 28-TD season of 2005, he'll carry a fair share of fantasy teams to a title, making him well worth taking at the back end of the first round, after the top-notch running backs are off the board. I'd feel a lot safer with Manning as my first-round pick than a less-dominant running back like Steven Jackson, Domanick Davis or Willis McGahee, who might be the only options available after the eighth pick of the draft. Those guys could easily slide to the early second round and be nicely paired up with Manning, by far the safest quarterback on the board.
Scott Engel: In 10 and 12-team leagues, I am going to take running backs if I am in the first eight slots for sure. To me, there are clearly eight proven standout RBs who are a cut above the rest, and I hope to get one of them. That includes the "big three," plus Tiki Barber, Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, LaMont Jordan and Rudi Johnson. Anyone after that has more question marks surrounding them, so late in the first round, if he slips to me, I might take Peyton Manning if I can "snake" around and get the same type of RB I would have available late in the first round, especially if I'm picking ninth or 10th in a 10-team league. Manning is the lone exception, though, because RBs will fly off the board and you simply have to join in the run whether you like to or not. Manning is the only QB I know for certain who will give me top numbers every year, and his durability is unquestioned. But I would then definitely take RBs with my next two picks. Once Jordan and Rudi are off the board, I'll start considering the "upside" backs, such as Steven Jackson and Ronnie Brown, after the more proven guys are gone. I've seen both Jackson and Brown go as high as the top six, but I think they need to earn that type of spot first before I pick them there.
Kevin Rounce: The running back position for fantasy in 2006 is top-heavy. The top three backs seem clear and it can be argued that, after Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson, the next 10 running backs all have question marks. That will make it tempting to draft a non-running back later in the first round with the idea that each running back in the Nos. 8-15 range are similar. I disagree and believe that there is a drop-off after the 12th running back. If you take Peyton Manning, Steve Smith or Terrell Owens in the first round, then Willis McGahee or Brian Westbrook might be the best running back available in the second round. I will target a running back with my first pick, regardless of draft position. Pair up a good running back like Ronnie Brown or Cadillac Williams with a top receiver in the second round. There is not a big drop-off from Steve Smith to Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens to Torry Holt. Target those receivers early in the second round and look for a quarterback later on in the draft when you can pick up Matt Hasslebeck, Jake Delhomme and other solid signal callers. A running back is generally crucial to success in fantasy football, so settling for McGahee or worse would not be a good start to the year.
Do you agree or disagree? Let us know and we'll run a few e-mails next week! Also, if you have ideas for future questions of the week, or comments on our fantasy coverage, send them here.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 10, 2006, 4:12 PM
FFL: Draft spotlight


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div -->
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Each week, we take an in-depth look at the early rounds of a real ESPN.com draft, and review the picks. So next time you draft, be aware that we may be watching!
This Week's Featured League: New Orleans 166304. Starting lineups include 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 RB/WR, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST. Four points for a TD pass, plus two-point bonuses for TD passes, runs and receptions of 40-plus yards.
Round 1
1. Weapons of Mazz Destruction: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2. Team Ungs: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
3. Team Brandwein: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
4. Team Sandy: Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
5. Team Sisk: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
6. Team Williams: Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
7. Team R: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
8. Team Yoshimura: LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
9. Team Robles: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
10. Team Fontenot: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
Engel's Take: Team Ungs takes a pass on Shaun Alexander, which isn't out of the ordinary. But with Alexander's track record of durability and annual excellence, only Johnson figures to be a better pick because of his huge upside as a full-timer. Alexander has been less suspectible to injury than Tomlinson, and he plays in a better offense. No. 5 is a bit early for Manning when there are still elite RBs available. Team Williams made out nicely with Barber at the sixth spot. Jordan was a very smart, safe choice by Team Yoshimura. The two hot "upside" running backs close out the first round, and this is where they should be picked, once the more established top RBs are off the board. But I would have rather taken Rudi Johnson over either Jackson or Brown, as the Bengals' ball carrier is already a definite standout. I prefer players with a past record of success over potential stars in most cases.
Round 2:
11. TF: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
12. TRO: Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
13. TY: Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
14. TR: Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
15. TW: Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals
16. TSI: Torry Holt, WR, Rams
17. TSA: Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
18. TB: Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
19. TU: Willis McGahee, RB, Bills
20. WMD: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Engel's Take: Team Robles is smart enough not to pass on Rudi Johnson again, and as a result, ends up with a terrific RB duo of Rudi and Steven Jackson. With some very good RBs still available, there is still a healthy run on top WRs, as you are only required to start at least one in this league. But I'd rather take an RB for that "flex" spot when he usually gets more touches and the WR pool is deeper with top-level talents. Team Sisk still hasn't taken an RB in the first two rounds, which could leave that owner with a very shaky starter. Davis' value is starting to slip as he continues to battle knee problems. It's no shock to see McGahee fall this far. With the QB and offensive line concerns in Buffalo, McGahee is the one widely ranked top-15 RB I might pass on if he's still available late in the second round.
Round 3
21. WMD: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
22. TU: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
23. TB: Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots
24. TSA: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
25. TSI: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
26. TW: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
27. TR: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
28. TY: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
29. TRO: Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
30. TF: Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
Engel's Take: While most reports on Palmer have been positive, I believe it's too early to take a QB here when you still have some very good RBs and top-level WRs available. Weapons of Mazz Destruction could have taken a pretty good RB to pair with Larry Johnson here, as a few attractive choices have slipped to this round. Dillon wasn't one of them, as he is obviously in the late stages of his career and there are better, more promising RBs still available. Westbrook is the ideal pick, even though I don't agree with taking three RBs in the first three rounds like Team Sandy did. If you can't start more than two, then you should take a top WR in the third round. Team Sisk still doesn't have an RB, and Team Williams also could have waited for a QB. Team Yoshimura gets the best TE available, but it's better to take a top WR when you only have to start one TE. Team Robles also gives me mixed feelings on his strategy. Yes, it's a steal to get Bush here, but why do so when you haven't taken a starting WR yet? Parker's value is rising now that there is talk he might get goal-line carries and more regular work.
Round 4
31. TF: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
32. TRO: Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
33. TY: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
34. TR: Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
35. TW: Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
36. TSI: Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
37. TSA: Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns
38. TB: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
39. TU: Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
40. WMD: Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
Engel's Take: This is honestly the furthest I have seen Kevin Jones and Julius Jones fall in any draft, and I wouldn't expect this to happen in too many leagues. Team Robles is hoarding RBs, and Team Sandy is doing the same. Like I said last week, owners who do this obviously have an eye on making trades, but why draft to trade when the type of player you might trade for is still available? Will Julius Jones or Reuben Droughns net you a better receiver than Chris Chambers in a trade? I think not. Team Sisk still has yet to take a RB, even with some decent possible starters left on the board. Obviously, Team Sisk will start three very good WRs, but might open the season with a very shaky RB situation. Team Yoshimura grabs Hines Ward here, proving you can still get a top WR if you take two RBs early. TY might be having the best draft of any team so far, even with the Gates pick maybe being a bit early. The McNabb pick by Team Fontenot might have been a reach when TF still needs a second starting WR. Weapons gets great value with the Chambers pick at the end of the fourth round.
Round 5
41. WMD: Javon Walker, WR, Broncos
42. TU: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks
43. TB: Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks
44. TSA: Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
45. TSI: Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons
46. TW: Todd Heap, TE, Ravens
47. TR: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants
48. TY: Roy Williams, WR, Lions
49. TRO: DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
50. TF: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
Engel's Take: Stop the madness! It's major overkill to take five RBs in the first five rounds, but Teams Sandy and Robles are looking to corner the market on the position. I know some people in my own leagues who trade often just for the "fun" of it, but that's usually not a championship strategy. Team Ungs shows us you can still wait until the fifth round to get a good starting QB. Team Sisk finally takes a RB, but could have done much better than Dunn as his starter. Team Yoshimura is still looking good, because if Roy Williams and Cadillac stay healthy, TY could field one of the best teams in this league. Team Williams is obviously very high on Todd Heap, or down on Tony Gonzalez, or both. This is one of the few times I have seen Heap picked ahead of Gonzalez. But with Steve McNair now in Baltimore and Gonzalez possibly being asked to block more with the retirement of Willie Roaf, it's not as outlandish a choice as it may seem.
Round 6
51. TF: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals
52. TRO: Ahman Green, RB, Packers
53. TY: Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
54. TR: Eli Manning, QB, Giants
55. TW: Deion Branch, WR, Patriots
56. TSI: Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
57. TSA: Rod Smith, WR, Broncos
58. TB: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
59. TU: Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
60. WMD: Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints
Engel's Take: Team Robles needs to read the league rules again. You can't start more than two running backs! We repeat, you can't start more than two running backs! Fill out the rest of your starting lineup! Team Fontenot gets a great bargain here with the improving Houshmandzadeh. Team Yoshimura gets good insurance in Galloway in case Roy Williams doesn't stay healthy. Branch should go a little later, because the holdout could affect his conditioning, and he tends to be overrated anyhow. Vernon Davis has top-TE talent, but he is a reach here because he is just a rookie and plays in a very questionable offense. Burress and Andre Johnson are good picks at this point, and demonstrate just how deep the WR pool is this season. The Later Rounds: Team Brandwein takes the Bears' defense/special teams in the seventh round. Team Robles takes its first wide receiver (Joe Horn) in the same round. Team Fontenot takes the shot on Denver RB Mike Bell in the seventh round. TF then opens the eighth round by taking the first kicker, Adam Vinatieri. TF gets a very good upside pick with LenDale White in the ninth. Aaron Brooks falls to Team Sisk in Round 12. Weapons takes Kellen Winslow Jr. in the same round. Jerry Porter falls all the way to Round 15, where he is finally taken by Team Brandwein.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 
sure is..

i have the seventh pick in my 100$ draft...and im assuming that LJ, SA, LT, Clinton Portis, and Tiki Barber will be gone. After those people are gone i like Rudi Johnson, LaMont Jordan, and Steven Jackson. Who would you guys take out of those three? Oh and i'm not high on Edge, cuz i can easily see the offense failing.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
sure is..

i have the seventh pick in my 100$ draft...and im assuming that LJ, SA, LT, Clinton Portis, and Tiki Barber will be gone. After those people are gone i like Rudi Johnson, LaMont Jordan, and Steven Jackson. Who would you guys take out of those three? Oh and i'm not high on Edge, cuz i can easily see the offense failing.


I personally would go with Johnson or Jackson.

As we've talked about previously Eagle, I am scared of Rudi Johnson because if Carson Palmer goes down, I believe the whole offense will struggle, and that spells trouble for Rudi Johnson and/or Chad Johnson Fantasy Owners.

So in the end, I have to go with Steven Jackson.

They are supposed to be dedicated to the run this season, he should have huge numbers........
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 11, 2006, 9:35 AM
FFL: Contract Year Players


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = Scott --><!-- lastName = Engel -->

By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div -->
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->
Pro football is a game often fueled by emotions, as rivalries and must-win scenarios are among the situations that seem to drive certain players to a higher level of performance at times. Playing for more money or a longer commitment from a franchise is also certainly a major motivating factor for a full season. Players in contract years can certainly take their games to higher levels. Last year, Shaun Alexander had his best season ever as he looked forward to a new deal with the Seahawks. In 2004, Muhsin Muhamamd had the season of his life before he landed on the free-agent market. Jamal Lewis recently signed a three-year deal with Baltimore, but admitted that contract issues might have affected his performance last year when it seemed the Ravens weren't going to re-sign him. Here's a look at some candidates to possibly perform at higher levels, as they seek to gain new or improved deals
Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: He opens the preseason as the team's No. 1 running back, and he's in the final season of a two-year deal. With rookie Joseph Addai pushing him for playing time, Rhodes has clear incentives to prove he is still worthy of being a No. 1 RB. But there are questions about whether he can carry often due to his size, 5-9 208, and injury issues he has dealt with in the past. Rhodes could start fast as he tries to hold off Addai and compensate for the loss of Edgerrin James, but ultimately, his frame might not be able to take the pounding of frequent action. Trade him if he comes out of the gate quickly.
Chris Brown, RB, Titans: Whether he gets traded or not, Brown is in the final year of his current deal with Tennessee. Not only does he apparently want to be dealt into a situation where he might not have much competition for playing time, but he is also seeking an extension from the Titans. There have been rumblings that he might leave training camp at some point as well. If Brown relents and opens the season as Tennessee's starter, or is moved to another team, he'll be one to watch when he is healthy. But his situation is still developing, and Brown could easily be out of the contract-year category if he gets a new deal with the Titans or another team.
Ahman Green, RB, Packers: He re-upped with the Packers with a one-year deal in the offseason, and he has much to prove as he makes his way back from a thigh injury that ruined his 2005 season and later required surgery. He also has Samkon Gado and Najeh Davenport to contend with if he struggles. So there's a lot of reasons for Green to bounce back in 2006, including proving he isn't finished yet. But Green might have taken too many big hits over the years, and he might not have much left in his tank. His best days might be behind him at age 29, and motivating factors might not be enough for him to bounce back.
Samkon Gado, RB, Packers: Not only is he in a contract year, Gado also has the incentive to prove himself worthy of being a starter again. He'll open the season behind Green on the depth chart, and must also battle Najeh Davenport for a prime spot behind Green also. That doesn't seem like the correct treatment for a guy who had three 100-yard games and six rushing TDs after being pressed into service during the second half of 2005. Gado is having some trouble grasping the new Packers' offense, but he still has more upside than Green or Davenport and could be a very good value pick this season. He could be a major bargain in round eight or later.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens: While his new deal is technically for three years, upon further examination, it's basically a one-year contract that might be reworked before 2007. The final two years of his new contract will net him $10 million each season with roster bonuses of $5 million in March that the Ravens have to elect to pay or renegotiations will begin for a new contract in 2007. His role with the team will be reviewed after the 2006 season. Not only does Lewis have Mike Anderson ready to steal carries if he struggles, he must also prove that he still can be a top RB. Lewis would certainly like the comfort a big season and the possible roster bonuses that $10 mil per year would bring him. If Lewis plays well this year, he could easily firm up his current deal, so he is a good pick for a rebound year in the fourth round of fantasy drafts.
Chris Simms, QB, Buccaneers: Tampa Bay signed Simms to one-year deal to keep the restricted free agent this past offseason. Simms has been looking good in camp so far, and there is talk the team might throw downfield more with him this season. Simms now has the opportunity to prove he deserves the starting job without question. He still might make some mistakes that could prevent him from becoming a quality fantasy starter. But he might seize the opportunity and play steadily enough, with a few above-average outings, that could stamp him as a solid fantasy reserve QB in 2006.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots: He's in the final season of a five-year deal and hasn't been satisfied with the numbers the Patriots have thrown at him for a new deal. Branch continues to hold out as of this writing, and he if he ultimately comes to camp without a new deal soon, he'll want the ball often to get big money when he hits the free-agent market. But missing more time could affect his conditioning, so fantasy owners are hoping he returns quickly. If he comes back without a new contract, he could be more consistent than he has been in the past.
Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks: He's in the final season of a four-year deal. The Seahawks also acquired Nate Burleson in the offseason to further upgrade their passing game. At 33 years old, Engram could secure his future for a bit longer with a solid season. But he has always been a possession type who has never posted appealing fantasy numbers, and it would be surprising to see him deliver outstanding numbers in an offense that often features many different receivers.
Ernest Wilford, WR, Jaguars: He is in the final season of a three-year deal that he signed as a rookie, and someone has to step forth as a primary target for Byron Leftwich now that Jimmy Smith has retired. Wilford often benefitted from playing across from Smith, and he has looked good in camp so far as he fills in for the injured Matt Jones. Wilford is a big target with good hands who has shown a knack for making timely catches, especially in the red zone. Wilford might not perform consistently enough to be a regular fantasy starter, but he appears to be tougher and a better receiver than Reggie Williams, so he might be the team's best target after Matt Jones and he could be a top fantasy reserve in 2006.
Ben Troupe, TE, Titans: He is in the third year of a deal that he signed in 2004, that includes an option for 2007. The Titans are experimenting with new ways to use him this year, such as lining him up at receiver in practices. This season, Troupe could finally have his expected breakthrough season. He has all the natural skills to be one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends. He could crack the top 10 from a fantasy perspective this season, so take a shot on Troupe if you don't get one of the elite tight ends in your yearly draft. Jerramy Stevens, TE, Seahawks: He is in the final season of a five-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2002. Most of the first few years were disappointing, but Stevens had the best season of his career in 2005 and emerged as an integral part of the Seattle passing game. He'll be out to make people forget about his Super Bowl drops, a problem that seemed to disappear from the Seattle receiving corps for the most part in 2005. Look for similar numbers to last year, maybe a bit improved. Stevens will certainly be a quality fantasy starter.
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 12, 2006, 2:01 PM
FFL: Analyzing Schedules


<!-- end pagetitle --><!-- begin bylinebox -->

<!-- firstName = tristan --><!-- lastName = Cockcroft -->

By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

<!-- begin presby2 -->

<!-- end presby2 -->
<!-- end bylinebox -->
<!-- begin text11 div -->
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->Strength of schedule is an important factor in evaluating an NFL team's or player's potential for any given season. Perhaps more than in any other sport, weekly matchups are a critical thing to examine every preseason, as the NFL schedule is considerably shorter than that of any of the other major sports and it's specifically designed to give better teams from the previous season a tougher time in their quests to repeat.
You'll probably read a lot of columns and charts breaking down strength of schedule this preseason, and while they're helpful, I find they can often be a bit misleading. Most take into account only 2005 statistics, meaning offseason roster changes aren't reflected. Also, most only look at opponents' win-loss records, while in fantasy football, it'd be more helpful if they took a look at the talent of the defenses those teams are scheduled to face.
As a result, in order to devise a more helpful strength of schedule report for fantasy owners, I took a look at each team's schedule taking into account only the strength of the defenses they're scheduled to face. Rankings for the 32 defenses take into account a consensus ranking between my rankings as well as those of colleagues Scott Engel and Eric Karabell. For instance, Scott and I both ranked the Indianapolis Colts defense fourth overall, Eric ranked it sixth, for an average ranking of 4.67. That's good enough to rank the Colts fourth on our consensus list, behind the Bears, Panthers and Steelers.
The overall strength of schedule rankings are listed below, in order of toughest to easiest schedule. (Tampa Bay's is the toughest, Seattle's is the easiest.) Teams are ranked by the average ranking of the defenses they'll face in their 16 games this season.

<TABLE style="FONT-SIZE: 10px; FONT-FAMILY: verdana; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c9c9c9" cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=3 width="100%"><TBODY><TR style="COLOR: white; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #2969ad"><TD align=middle width="100%" colSpan=7>STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #acacac"><TD width="5%">RK</TD><TD width="25%">TEAM</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">AVG</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">T10</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">B10</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">UH</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">LH</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">1.</TD><TD width="25%">Tampa Bay</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">10.94</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">2</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">13</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">2.</TD><TD width="25%">New Orleans</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">11.06</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">2</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">13</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">3.</TD><TD width="25%">N.Y. Giants</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">12.44</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">13</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">4.</TD><TD width="25%">Atlanta</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">12.63</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">5.</TD><TD width="25%">Cincinnati</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">13.56</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">2</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">9</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">6.</TD><TD width="25%">Carolina</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">13.94</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">7.</TD><TD width="25%">Dallas</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.13</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">8.</TD><TD width="25%">Washington</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.31</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">9.</TD><TD width="25%">Cleveland</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.38</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">10.</TD><TD width="25%">Pittsburgh</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.75</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">2</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">11.</TD><TD width="25%">Philadelphia</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.81</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">12.</TD><TD width="25%">Tennessee</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">14.88</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">13.</TD><TD width="25%">Baltimore</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">15.81</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">14.</TD><TD width="25%">Houston</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">16.69</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">9</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">15.</TD><TD width="25%">Jacksonville</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">17.38</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">16.</TD><TD width="25%">St. Louis</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">17.50</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">17.</TD><TD width="25%">Detroit</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">17.69</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">18.</TD><TD width="25%">Minnesota</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">17.75</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">19.</TD><TD width="25%">Kansas City</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">17.94</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">20.</TD><TD width="25%">Buffalo</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.06</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">22.</TD><TD width="25%">Green Bay</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.19</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">21.</TD><TD width="25%">Indianapolis</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.19</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">9</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">23.</TD><TD width="25%">Denver</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.38</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">24.</TD><TD width="25%">New England</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.38</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">9</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">25.</TD><TD width="25%">Miami</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.44</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">12</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">26.</TD><TD width="25%">Oakland</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.69</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">27.</TD><TD width="25%">N.Y. Jets</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">18.75</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">28.</TD><TD width="25%">Arizona</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">19.06</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">7</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">29.</TD><TD width="25%">San Francisco</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">19.44</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">5</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">11</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">30.</TD><TD width="25%">Chicago</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">19.56</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">8</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">12</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="5%">31.</TD><TD width="25%">San Diego</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">19.75</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">6</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">10</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #dedede"><TD width="5%">32.</TD><TD width="25%">Seattle</TD><TD align=middle width="18%">20.56</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">3</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">9</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">4</TD><TD align=middle width="13%">12</TD></TR><TR style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: white"><TD width="100%" colSpan=7>AVG: Average defensive ranking of team's weekly opponents; T10: Number of opponents ranked among the top 10 defenses; B10: Number of opponents ranked among the bottom 10 defenses; UH: Number of opponents ranked in the upper half of the league defensively; LH: Number of opponents ranked in the lower half of the league defensively.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

While the above rankings shouldn't serve to completely sway your draft strategy, they're useful tidbits to keep in mind, particularly when considering two similarly priced players. For instance, if you consider Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson and Arizona's Edgerrin James comparable in terms of value, it could help make your decision to know that the Bengals' have the league's fifth-toughest schedule, while Arizona's is fifth easiest. Here's a closer look at some of the most notable good and bad schedules:
THE GOOD ...
Seattle Seahawks: You know that interesting fact about how none of the past five Super Bowl losers -- before the Seahawks, of course -- have even made the playoffs the following season? This is the year that string likely gets snapped, as Seattle enjoys not only the benefit of playing in one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, but also by far the league's most favorable schedule. That's no coincidence since Seattle draws division rivals Arizona, St. Louis and San Francisco, all bottom-10 defenses, twice each, and plays a game apiece against the four AFC West teams, none of which has a standout defense. In other words, those of you adhering to the ideas that the Seahawks are bound for a Super Bowl-loss hangover, or that Shaun Alexander is destined to fall prey to the Madden cover jinx, are going to miss out on players who could by all means be every bit as productive as they were a year ago. Incidentally, further breaking down Seattle's schedule, this could be a team destined to create several buy-low opportunities in the season's early weeks. The Seahawks face top-10 defenses in Weeks 3 (N.Y. Giants) and 4 (Chicago) before heading into the bye, so don't be fooled by any slow starts here. Beginning with a game in St. Louis in Week 6, Seattle doesn't face a defense ranked higher than 15th again until the regular season's final week (at Tampa Bay), meaning an opportune trade for an Alexander or Matt Hasselbeck could be the perfect remedy for a fantasy team off to a sluggish start.
San Diego Chargers: That the AFC West and NFC West, neither of which is known for defensive greatness, play each other this season should create the opportunity for a fair share of shoot-outs and high-scoring games, and that might help young Philip Rivers' transition in his first year as an NFL starting quarterback. He's hardly an exciting fantasy commodity, with only bench-status sleeper potential right now, but it's nice to know that despite the questions surrounding the passing game, San Diego won't be facing many defenses deep enough to key entirely on players like LaDainian Tomlinson or Antonio Gates. Baltimore in Week 4, Pittsburgh in Week 5 and Seattle in Week 16 are the only teams that should give those Chargers headaches.
Chicago Bears: This shouldn't be construed in any way as an endorsement of Rex Grossman, but having the league's third-friendliest schedule should help create more matchup opportunities for players like Muhsin Muhammad, Mark Bradley and perhaps even Bernard Berrian. Plus, the winner of that running back battle is going to benefit, assuming either Cedric Benson or Thomas Jones can prove healthy enough to claim the job in the next several weeks. The Bears face bottom-10 defenses in half of their 16 games, only three defenses ranked higher than No. 16 all year and one of the latter is the Buccaneers at home in Week 15, when the weather inevitably will be cold and in the Bears' favor.
... AND THE BAD
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This is simply a treacherous schedule, with the lone bright spot the Week 16 game at No. 22-ranked Cleveland, when a lot of fantasy leagues will be holding their championship games. Of course, considering that the Buccaneers will be coming off a stretch of nine of 10 weeks in which they faced defenses ranked 14th or better, including five top-10 units, there might not be anyone on the roster by then besides Carnell Williams in whom fantasy owners are willing to trust in such an important week. Remember, this is a team relying on a mostly untested quarterback in Chris Simms, and pairing that with the fact that the only bottom-10 defense Tampa Bay will face all season is the Saints (Week 5, road; Week 9, home), the chances aren't good that Joey Galloway matches his career-year numbers of 2005, or that Michael Clayton bounces back to his standout rookie-year rates of 2004.
New Orleans Saints: If you're looking for more reasons to steer clear of rookie Reggie Bush, worried that he might be overpriced in your draft, his schedule might be the best case-maker yet. New Orleans suffers the misfortune of playing in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, and its three division rivals, Atlanta (No. 12), Carolina (2) and Tampa Bay (5) are three of the league's stronger defensive units. Plus, the NFC South draws the AFC North as its interconference matchups for the 2006 season, and that means throwing Baltimore (No. 8), Cincinnati (11) and Pittsburgh (3) into the mix. That alone isn't enough to condemn Bush, who has the talent to overcome what should prove to be a fair share of challenging matchups, but it does limit his potential to step up as a No. 1-caliber fantasy running back in his rookie season. In addition, prospective Drew Brees owners should be a little concerned by the Saints' schedule; from 2004-05 as the Chargers' starter, he averaged 248.9 passing yards per game and had 37 touchdowns and five interceptions in 15 games against bottom-10 defenses, compared to 187.6-14-17 numbers in 16 games against the rest of the league.
New York Giants: The league's third-ranked offense in terms of points (26.4 per game) and fourth in terms total yards (361.7/g) in 2005, the Giants will have to earn those lofty rankings again facing some staunch defenses. They won't draw a defense ranked in the bottom half until Week 9 against Houston, and while that might portray them as buy-low candidates at the midway point, keep in mind New York still faces Chicago (No. 1, Week 10), Jacksonville (9, Week 11), Philadelphia (10, Week 15) and Carolina (2, Week 14) after that point. There are some offenses on the schedule that could engage the Giants in some shoot-outs -- Indianapolis in Week 1 and Seattle in Week 3 stand out immediately -- but it still seems likely Eli Manning might look a little closer to the 2005 second-half version (243.9 passing yards per game, 10 TD, 12 INT) than the first (226.4 passing yards per game, 14 TD, 5 INT).
BEST FANTASY POSTSEASON SCHEDULES (WEEKS 14-17): Minnesota Vikings (at Detroit, Week 14; vs. N.Y. Jets, Week 15; at Green Bay, Week 16; vs. St. Louis, Week 17); Oakland Raiders (at Cincinnati, Week 14; vs. St. Louis, Week 15; vs. Kansas City, Week 16; at N.Y. Jets, Week 17); New England Patriots (at Miami, Week 14; vs. Houston, Week 15; at Jacksonville, Week 16; at Tennessee, Week 17); Chicago Bears (at St. Louis, Week 14; vs. Tampa Bay, Week 15; at Detroit, Week 16; vs. Green Bay, Week 17).
WORST FANTASY POSTSEASON SCHEDULES (WEEKS 14-17): Atlanta Falcons (at Tampa Bay, Week 14; vs. Dallas, Week 15; vs. Carolina, Week 16; at Philadelphia, Week 17); New Orleans Saints (at Dallas, Week 14; vs. Washington, Week 15; at N.Y. Giants, Week 16; vs. Carolina, Week 17); Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Atlanta, Week 14; at Chicago, Week 15; at Cleveland, Week 16; vs. Seattle, Week 17); Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. Cleveland, Week 14; at Carolina, Week 15; vs. Baltimore, Week 16; at Cincinnati, Week 17).
BEST BUY-LOW SCHEDULES (TOUGH WEEKS 1-6): Minnesota Vikings (at Washington, Week 1; vs. Carolina, Week 2; vs. Chicago, Week 3; at Buffalo, Week 4; vs. Detroit, Week 5); Houston Texans (vs. Philadelphia, Week 1; at Indianapolis, Week 2; vs. Washington, Week 3; vs. Miami, Week 4; at Dallas, Week 6); Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Dallas, Week 1; vs. Pittsburgh, Week 2; at Indianapolis, Week 3; at Washington, Week 4; vs. N.Y. Jets, Week 5); New York Giants (vs. Indianapolis, Week 1; at Philadelphia, Week 2; at Seattle, Week 3; vs. Washington, Week 5; at Atlanta, Week 6).
BEST SELL-HIGH SCHEDULES (EASY WEEKS 1-6): Philadelphia Eagles (at Houston, Week 1; vs. N.Y. Giants, Week 2; at San Francisco, Week 3; vs. Green Bay, Week 4; vs. Dallas, Week 5; at New Orleans, Week 6); Dallas Cowboys (at Jacksonville, Week 1; vs. Washington, Week 2; at Tennessee, Week 4; at Philadelphia, Week 5; vs. Houston, Week 6); Washington Redskins (vs. Minnesota, Week 1; at Dallas, Week 2; at Houston, Week 3; vs. Jacksonville, Week 4; at N.Y. Giants, Week 5; vs. Tennessee, Week 6); and Miami Dolphins (at Pittsburgh, Week 1; vs. Buffalo, Week 2; vs. Tennessee, Week 3; at Houston, Week 4; at New England, Week 5; at N.Y. Jets, Week 6
</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
 
Top