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

Interesting stuff gentlemen, I don't think you can put Brown ahead of Portis. Portis had his best year in Washington last year and can only improve with the addition of Al Saunders. Look what Al did with the Kansas City offense.
 
Also what a run by Reggie Bush last night. I know it is preseason but I can't imagine he will not be an unbelievable NFL runningback. Not sure where to rank him this year, should be interesting with Deuce still around? Top 15? Top 20? Top 25?
 
top 25 btwizzy.....Bush is gunna be a star...no doubt about that...but its his first year in the league and duece is still around

also remember that his 44 yarder was in the preseason
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 15, 2006, 4:50 PM

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FFL: Engel's 10 Questions


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->The beginning of the fantasy football season is less than a month away, and as we get closer to the first week of the schedule, more names seem to be making news. The same questions we had about certain players for 2006 weren't necessarily the same concerns we had a month ago. Here's some of the biggest questions that have leapt into the collective minds of fantasy owners recently, with detailed answers.
1. How does Clinton Portis' injury affect his draft value?: Before his injury , Portis was the clear No. 5 fantasy running back overall, and you could make a good case he should have been picked fourth, only behind Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. Now Portis is expected to miss the rest of the preseason and his status is unclear for the regular season opener. There have been reports that Portis should play in the season opener if his partially dislocated shoulder responds well to rehabilitation. So he remains worthy of a first-round fantasy draft choice. But there is always the fear that another big hit on the shoulder could cause him to miss more time during the season. So I have personally dropped Portis from fifth to ninth in my overall rankings, behind a healthy and dependable Rudi Johnson, and Steven Jackson, who seems primed for a big year. LaMont Jordan and Edgerrin James have some concerns surrounding them, but for now, I'd also take them over Portis, who carries a bit of fear/risk with drafting him. He's the centerpiece of a power running game and his shoulder will often be suspect to a lot of jarring hits on inside runs. Ladell Betts is the obvious handcuff. He is recovering from a mild hamstring injury, but Betts still is a good pick in the ninth or 10th round of 10 and 12-team leagues.
2. Have you bumped up Reggie Bush on your draft list?: Before he played his first preseason game, Bush was the subject of much controversy among fantasy owners. Some thought he might be an instant superstar, while others were saying he was overrated. After an impressive exhibition opener, many fantasy leaguers are now considering Bush as early as the first round. His 44-yard run against Tennessee, coupled with the continued questions about other top-level RBs such as Domanick Davis and Willis McGahee, has boosted Bush's appeal even more. Even before his first flash of NFL glory, I was among those who thought Bush could be a very good fantasy starter right away. He is an explosive runner, especially in the open field, and he has amazing receiving skills, as he can challenge many NFL defensive backs with his separation speed and downfield gears. But the fact remains that Deuce McAllister will still be a part of the New Orleans offense, and Bush won't be the only Saints RB getting touches. He can score any time he has the ball, but Bush remains a good early second-round pick. I'd still rather have another promising RB who gets regular carries, such as Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown. Bush has only moved up one spot in my personal rankings, from No. 14 to 13, because I have dropped Domanick Davis behind him.
3. The Oakland offense scares me. Should I avoid LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss early on?: So far in exhibition play, Aaron Brooks has looked confused and out of place. Now fantasy owners are starting to worry that the lack of a quality passing game, plus a shaky offensive line, could spell doom for Jordan and Moss. If the Raiders are forced to go with unproven Andrew Walter, defenses could focus heavily on Jordan, and Moss won't get enough catches. While these are indeed legitimate issues, it's too early to be overly concerned. While Brooks might be no better than the departed Kerry Collins, he needs time to adjust to new surroundings, and the line hasn't helped him much, either. Once he gets more comfortable, Brooks will at least keep defenses honest, and let's remember that Jordan performed quite well in adverse situations last year. Collins struggled, Moss missed time, the line was a question mark, and yet Jordan was still a dependable workhorse for the Raiders and a very good fantasy RB. Under new coach Art Shell, the line should eventually play better, and Brooks still has time remaining during the preseason to show he can manage the offense adequately. His decision-making skills have always been a problem, but he'll get the ball to Moss often enough, and Moss won't lose any points for the interceptions Brooks throws. While the situation should be monitored, it's too early to panic and not consider Jordan a first-rounder. Moss remains a good late second-rounder or early third-rounder. As long as he is healthy, the Raiders will get him the ball.
4. Is Carson Palmer going to be ready and in top form for the season opener?: Palmer has made very good progress in his rehabilitation from major knee surgery, and the Bengals recently increased his reps in practice. From a physical perspective, Palmer has looked good, exhibiting great arm strength and satisfactory mobility in drills. But Palmer recently admitted he doesn't have full confidence in the knee yet, and he feels some rust in terms of his timing. He has yet to take a hit on the knee, or in it's area, in a game situation. That might not happen until the third preseason game, and if all goes well once Palmer gets into a game situation, he should be ready and confident for the season opener. Palmer must first clear the hurdle of getting into game action and getting his rhythm down and regaining the confidence to take a hit. He might start the season slowly, but he's still worth a fourth-round pick and should ultimately be a top fantasy starter again if he has no further setbacks.
5. Can I count on Domanick Davis this season?: Davis (knee) missed the preseason opener and is not expected to play in Houston's second preseason game. Davis recently said he is feeling better, but Houston doesn't have a concrete timetable for his return and it's uncertain if he will be available for the regular season opener. Davis has often been an injury concern in the past, but if he can get back on the field soon, he should be less overworked than he was in the past, in what should be a more balanced offensive attack. But it's not easy to spend an early pick on Davis when it isn't clear when he will return. While I still have him as a Top 15 RB, you should consider drafting another viable RB in the third round if you take Davis in the second. Once he returns, he should deliver very good all-around numbers again, but until he comes back, another early pick spent on an RB should give you peace of mind. Who will play if Davis sits out an extended period is uncertain, but rookie Wali Lundy looked very good in the preseason opener.
6. Which Denver RB should I draft first?: For now, it should be Tatum Bell until undrafted rookie Mike Bell proves himself further in the preseason. Yes, Mike Bell remains atop the depth chart even though he fumbled in his first preseason game, but he still has to build a lot more on his impressive training camp in real game situations. Tatum Bell has already shown a lot of potential in the regular season. Mike Bell simply hasn't earned draft position over Tatum Bell yet, and he hasn't sewn up the No. 1 RB job. If Mike Bell continues to have trouble holding onto the ball, or doesn't perform as well as the Broncos expect during the rest of the exhibition season, the No. 1 spot could easily go back to Tatum Bell. For now, Tatum Bell drops to the fifth round, and Mike Bell is worthy of a sixth or seventh round pick. Don't forget about Ron Dayne, either. If Mike Bell turns out to be nothing more than a temporary tease, Dayne could still share some carries with Tatum Bell. He's worth a late-round flier.
7. What's the RB situation in Chicago?: Cedric Benson should return in another week or two from a shoulder injury, and he should be ready for the regular season if he has no further setbacks. Thomas Jones (hamstring) has been able to do individual drills and might return to the practice field before Benson. But that won't guarantee Jones the No. 1 RB job, and while no official pronouncements have been made, Benson should remain the starter upon his return. The Bears spent a No. 1 pick on him and want to get the proper return on their investment. Benson has the makings of a fine inside runner and goal-line RB. He's a very good late fourth round pick right now. If both RBs are healthy and stay in Chicago, they could share some playing time, which would certainly aggravate fantasy leaguers. Jones shouldn't be drafted until the sixth round in the current situation.
8 Will Joe Horn rebound this season?: Until 2005, Horn was regarded as an elite fantasy receiver, but he was a major disappointment last year as he was plagued by injuries. Now Horn is healthy again, and he has already displayed signs of promise early in the preseason. In the exhibition opener, Horn caught two passes for 40 yards from new Saints QB Drew Brees. While Donte' Stallworth has struggled to pick up the new offense during the preseason, and Devery Henderson hasn't looked good, either, Horn is looking like a good choice. Even if he doesn't have a dependable complement, Horn has always worked hard to beat top cover cornerbacks and double-teams in the past. With a better QB throwing him the ball this year, and no apparent reasons to worry about his health, Horn becomes a possible fantasy bargain. I have seen him slip as far as the seventh round in some drafts. That's a steal.
9. Should I still spend an early pick on Kevin Jones?: He was a major disappointment last year, but with lowered expectations in 2006, Jones could satisfy many fantasy owners. If you're not expecting Jones to be the 1,600 to 1,800-yard superstar some said he was going to be last year, you should enjoy his production. Jones won't be overworked in a Detroit offense that places a high emphasis on the passing game, and he's been working on improving his receiving skills during the preseason. With an improved offense, Jones should get into position to score from short range a decent amount of times. The offense won't always click under the direction of Jon Kitna, but they will have some good days. Jones is certainly worth a late third-round pick and is capable of giving you 1,150-plus rushing yards and seven TDs if he has no major injury issues. He should get strong consideration as a No. 2 fantasy RB.
10. Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb have no reliable receivers. Should I expect them to struggle? Brady might be missing Deion Branch, but some quarterbacks simply make their receivers look better, and get the ball to whoever is available. Brady has always distributed the ball well among many receivers, and has played without Branch before when the wideout has dealt with injury issues in the past. Brady will utilize whoever he has, even if it means using his tight ends more often, tossing to his RBs, or spreading catches among lesser-name receivers. Brady remains the second-best fantasy QB available this year after Peyton Manning. As for McNabb, the knee-jerk reaction is that he will be mediocre without Terrell Owens. Those who make such claims conveniently forget McNabb was still a top fantasy QB before he played with Owens. He won't post great numbers without Owens, but he'll still be quite good overall. McNabb consistently delivered at least 19 or more combined passing/rushing TDs from 2000 to 2003, while dealing with thin talent at receiver. He does a great job of taking what the defense gives him, and should at least be among the top five to seven fantasy passers in 2006 if he stays healthy.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 17, 2006, 1:15 PM
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FFL: Running Into Trouble


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By Tristan H. Cockcroft
ESPN Fantasy Games

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As if the running back position wasn't thin enough in top-quality talent, this week has already brought us the terrible news that two more premier running backs might have the starts to their 2006 seasons threatened. One day after we learned that the Redskins' Clinton Portis would miss the preseason with a separated shoulder, the Eagles' Brian Westbrook on Tuesday was ruled out of the preseason with a foot injury.
Now, the first thing that should be noted when injuries like this surface is that Portis' and Westbrook's fantasy owners -- or prospective ones -- shouldn't totally panic. Neither running back has been ruled out for Week 1 of the regular season, and even 15 games of production from either of them are more valuable than 16 from a less-talented option. Plus, it's the preseason, and veterans like these two don't need a lot of time to get in gear for the regular season. In Westbrook's case, it's clear the decision to sit him is more a precautionary measure than a long-term issue.
Still, Westbrook's injury does put him further under the microscope, which will help illustrate why he's not the kind of first-round, No. 1 fantasy back you should be drafting to lead your offense. He has missed seven games combined the past two seasons alone, demonstrating his propensity for injury, and foot problems aren't something a fantasy owner wants to see in a running back in the preseason.
Look at Westbrook's performance when he has been healthy as well: In the 24 games he started from 2004-05, he averaged a mere 13.6 rushing attempts and never topped 22 in a single contest, showing that he's not a workhorse back like some of his brethren. The fifth-year veteran is more of a dual threat, almost more effective as a receiver than runner. Westbrook did lead all running backs in receiving yards in each of the past two seasons (1,319 combined), and his 134 receptions from 2004-05 are 27 more than Domanick Davis had during that span. But a closer look at Westbrook's performance in 2005, especially after Terrell Owens was sidelined for the season, shows that even when Westbrook played an important part of the receiving game, he wasn't that great a statistical performer, never catching more than five passes in any game after Owens was shut down.
In short, be wary of pushing a 15-carry, five-reception a game running back too high on your draft sheets, especially taking into account the injury risk involved. Westbrook should serve his owners better as a No. 2 fantasy back, meaning it would be smarter to go after the top tier of wide receivers. Those who picked up any of the top six or seven running backs in the first round could use a guy like Westbrook to round out their backfields.
I'd put Davis in that category as well, especially since he has been battling a knee problem. Leg problems are not a good thing for a running back, nor is running behind a shoddy offensive line, which is why I'd lump Davis, Westbrook, Kevin Jones and Willis McGahee in that group of solid second-round, No. 2 fantasy back picks. Save your first-round selections for the elite backs or the young ones with upside, a group that includes the Dolphins' Ronnie Brown, Rams' Steven Jackson and Buccaneers' Carnell Williams.
One final note: With so many injuries to clear-cut starting running backs of late, the importance of getting a premier back in the early (if not first) rounds of your draft is evident. With the second tier so banged up right now, entering the season with a questionable leading man like Davis, Westbrook or even Portis could be disastrous. If you get one of them, make sure you build depth at the position, and consider the "handcuff" backup options, like Philadelphia's Ryan Moats, Washington's Ladell Betts or perhaps even Houston's newest sleeper, Wali Lundy.
TRISTAN'S MAILBAG
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.
Matt, Baldwin, N.Y.: I'm in a 10-team, one-player keeper league with two RB, three WR and one RB/WR slot to fill. My keeper is Tiki Barber and I have the 10th pick overall. I imagine I could still get a good second running back, a Ronnie Brown/Domanick Davis-type player with the 10th pick. My question is this: Should I take a third RB for my RB/WR spot or take an elite receiver since the rest of the guys will most certainly have to take RBs before me? I see a Chad Johnson or Randy Moss being available to me with the 11th pick. Is a top-tier WR more valuable than a lower-end, but probably starting RB?
Tristan: With a pick that deep in the draft, there are no guarantees that either of the running backs you mentioned will still be available, and in fact, I'd estimate that if 10 players are kept in your league, you're going to be looking more at the Brian Westbrook/Willis McGahee/Julius Jones class of running backs by the time your first two picks come around. I think it's imperative that you get one of them with one of the picks, since that's essentially the 20th and 21st picks taking into account the 10 players kept, and that's a couple of spots later than they'd likely go in most yearly formats. However, I wouldn't use both the picks on running backs. While I think it's a smart move to use a running back when given the choice between RB/WR, if you can get one of the elite five receivers -- Chad Johnson, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, Terrell Owens or Larry Fitzgerald -- it's smarter to get one of them before nabbing a third running back. That'll give you two solid, starting running backs and an elite receiver, which is a great start toward building a winner.
Zach, Hopkins, Minn.: A question about trading draft picks. I have the 11th pick in a 12-team league and the guy with the sixth pick wants to switch spots with me if I throw in my ninth-round pick. When is it a good idea to trade draft picks?
Tristan: When weighing offers like that, it's a good idea to figure out the exact pick numbers in the draft that are involved, and then estimate what kinds of players might be available in those spots. In this case, it's a No. 6 for Nos. 11 and 107, meaning that's like trading your No. 4 running back or wide receiver, backup quarterback or a so-so tight end in order to upgrade five spots in the first round. That doesn't seem unfair at all, nor is it the kind of thing that should hurt your overall roster, and while normally I'd say there aren't any bad draft positions, this season is one of the few in which it's tough to be in one of the final spots in the first round. You'd likely be looking at some questionable running backs, like Domanick Davis or Brian Westbrook, or starting the run on wide receivers, which I don't think is a smart move so early. (Save that for the early second round.) Moving up to the sixth spot could net you a chance at Edgerrin James, Rudi Johnson or perhaps even Peyton Manning, meaning a little more safety with your pick.
Jason Conquest: Does it change your draft outlook of a running back-heavy first round in a league where you start two quarterbacks? We have two QBs, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, one WR/RB and one defense. Tristan: I actually play in such a format, and from my experience, quarterbacks have considerably higher value in that league than they do in a traditional one-QB league. Of course, whether you earn four or six points for a passing touchdown is an important factor, but it's a lot more critical to get a solid, safe quarterback to lead your team than to get two running backs in the first two rounds. In that kind of format I generally try to get one solid quarterback in either the second or third round -- assuming I miss out on Peyton Manning in the first -- and then take a second in the fifth or sixth rounds. Remember though, that there are still a fair share of second-tier quarterbacks who usually slide into the middle rounds, so it shouldn't change your rankings quite as drastically as you might think.

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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 17, 2006, 5:50 PM
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FFL: Draft spotlight


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we review the early rounds of an ESPN.com draft. See who other owners are choosing as you prepare for your own draft. All leagues reviewed have a starting lineup of 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 RB/WR, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST. All leagues award four points for a TD pass and two-point bonuses for TD passes, runs and receptions over 40 yards. All leagues reviewed are real leagues, not mock drafts. So next time you're drafting on ESPN.com, remember, we could be watching you!
This Week's Featured League: Minnesota 242816
Round One
1. Team Swan: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2. Team Wiest: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
3. Can of Whoop: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
4. Team McLaughlin: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
5. Team *: Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
6. Team Sullivan: Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
7. Team Glass: Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
8. Lynch Mob: Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
9. Team Butler: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
10. Team Prati: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
Engel's Take: Many owners still have a lot of faith in Johnson and Alexander as the top two picks, despite some minor questions surrounding each player. Johnson and the Chiefs ran well even without the now-retired Willie Roaf when he was injured last year. Alexander lost Pro Bowl G Steve Hutchinson, but his annual excellence and durability are unrivaled. James goes fourth here even with the worries about his offensive line, which does have some hope of improving during the year with a new line coach (Steve Loney, formerly of Minnesota) if injuries aren't a major issue again. Portis falls to sixth here after the shoulder injury, and I have seen him remain in the first round in many drafts this week. Many owners are starting to realize that Rudi Johnson is a very safe pick, and he now seems to be getting stronger consideration between the fifth and seventh picks. Owens is a reach here. He might not even be the best receiver available (I'd prefer Steve Smith) and I would never take a WR in the first round when there are still top RBs on the board. Owens could easily be available in the second round, and if not, Chad Johnson and Torry Holt are certainly in the same range of fantasy quality and have been more dependable with no major character issues.
Round Two
11. TP: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
12. TB: LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
13. LM: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
14. TG: Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
15. TSU: Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals
16. T*: Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
17. TM: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
18. COW: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
19. TW: Willis McGahee, RB, Bills
20. TSW: Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
Engel's Take: Jordan's stock seems to be dropping because of Oakland's early preseason struggles and the fear that QB problems could hurt the running game. But as long as the Raiders have a healthy Randy Moss, defenses can't key on Jordan, who should continue to be a good receiver out of the backfield as well. Lynch Mob takes a second receiver, once again passing on some very good RBs who are still available. Team Glass can be only overjoyed to land Cadillac, who is going in the first round in many drafts. Santana Moss should have another very good year, but I wouldn't take him this early when he might still be available a round later and isn't the best receiver on the board at the 16th pick. Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison are all better picks, in my opinion. Fitzgerald is blossoming into the next Cris Carter. Randy Moss can outproduce Santana Moss if he stays healthy, and Harrison is still a better bet for TDs than the Washington wideout. McGahee seems like a pick you settle for, as he doesn't inspire much confidence that he'll be much better than last year. Davis' stock is falling fast as he continues to sit out with a knee injury, with no definite timetable for his return yet.
Round Three
21. TSW: Torry Holt, WR, Rams
22. TW: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
23. COW: Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
24. TM: Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
25. T*:: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
26. TSU: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
27. TG: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
28. LM: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
29. TB: Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
30. TP: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
Engel's Take: Teams Swan and Wiest watch two elite receivers fall into their laps, and Wiest is looking very good so far with a solid duo of RBs and a top wideout. Bush is a great pick in the third round, as his early preseason highlights are making some owners think about taking him late in the first round. I still like him early in the second round. This is too early to pick Brady, as he still might be available a round later and the team drafting him could use another RB and also had a shot at a very good WR like Boldin or Chris Chambers. Gates seems to be going in the third round in a lot of drafts, but I'd rather take another RB or WR when you consider you only have to start one TE in this league. Ward is a good pick in this round, but Lynch Mob isn't going to have a dependable RB after spending its first three choices on receivers.
Round Four
31. TP: Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
32. TB: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
33. LM: Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
34. TG: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
35. TSU: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
36. T*: Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
37. TM: Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
38. COW: Roy Williams, WR, Lions
39. TW: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
40. TSW: Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns
Engel's take: Chambers is a fine pick at the beginning of the fourth round, although the team that chose him now has two Miami starters, and will be in trouble in any week when the Dolphins' offense sputters. Lynch Mob finally takes a RB, and while there is talk of Parker getting goal-line carries and more regular touches, he isn't built for a consistent workload and isn't a recommended No. 1 fantasy RB. Lewis could be a good value here. He has looked good in the preseason and has a lot to prove. Lewis might be motivated for a big rebound campaign, one we didn't get last season. Team McLaughlin could get decent, but not outstanding numbers from Kevin Jones, and that's good enough when you land him in the fourth round. McNabb will still be a good QB without Owens, but he might still be available a round or two later in other drafts. Reuben Droughns slipped too far, but Team Swan didn't really need a third RB.
Round Five
41. TSW: Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots
42. TW: Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
43. COW: Javon Walker, WR, Broncos
44. TM: Todd Heap, TE, Ravens
45. T*: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants
46. TSU: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks
47. TG: Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
48. LM: DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
49. TB: Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks
50. TP: Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons
Engel's Take: Team Swan continues to load up on RBs that might have slipped farther than expected, but has other needs that should be addressed. Again, filling out key starting spots at WR and possibly QB is more important than hoarding RBs. We've seen this before. A second WR is more important than a fourth RB. Team Wiest takes that second WR and now has a nice, balanced starting five. The value of Heap is rising, as the early preseason returns indicate he could have a career year working with Steve McNair. Don't expect Taylor to fall this far in all drafts. He's going as early as the third round, especially in larger leagues. Jackson and Dunn are both quality choices at the end of the round. Both tend to be underrated, especially Dunn, who works out nicely as a No. 2 RB for Team Parti, which still built a strong starting lineup after taking Peyton Manning over a RB with the first-round pick.
Round Six
51. TP: Alge Crumpler, TE, Falcons
52. TB: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
53. LM: Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys
54. TG: Drew Bledsoe, QB, Cowboys
55. TSU: Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
56. T*: Thomas Jones, RB, Bears
57. TM: Drew Brees, QB, Saints
58. COW: Daunte Culpepper, QB, Dolphins
59. TW: Ahman Green, RB, Packers
60. TSW: Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
Engel's Take: The appeal of Gonzalez is dropping fast, as fantasy owners are expecting him to stay in and block more this year. Gonzalez's numbers might not be on par with his best seasons from the past, but he should still catch a lot of balls and outperform Crumpler. Bledsoe isn't the best QB left in my opinion, even with the addition of Owens. He's immobile and there are no guarantees his line will give him adequate protection. You have to like the Addai pick here, as it's just a matter of time before he overtakes Dominic Rhodes, and that could happen rather quickly this season. Culpepper has made a great recovery, and is starting to look like a great mid-round value pick. The best years of Ahman Green appear to be behind him, but he's still worth the risk by the sixth round. As you can see, Bell has slipped from being a fourth-rounder in many leagues to a mid-rounder in more recent drafts. The Thomas Jones pick might be the most baffling one of the round, as he doesn't seem to have a good chance of starting even though Cedric Benson might miss another week or two.
The Later Rounds Team Swan steals T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the seventh round. ? Three defensive/special teams units go in round seven, including Seattle to Team Butler. ? Team * bags Eli Manning in Round 8, showing that you can still get a top 10 QB while waiting until later in the draft. ? Team Parti makes a smart choice in Round 10, landing Chris Cooley. ? Marc Bulger actually falls to Round 11, where Team Swan takes him. ? Swan gets another great value in Round 13, taking Eddie Kennison. ? Mike Bell slips through to the final round, where finally, Team Glass is the one to remember that Bell is curernty atop the Denver depth chart at RB.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Aug. 18, 2006, 3:14 PM
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FFL: Question of the Week


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<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: Which quarterback, outside of your personal top 15, would you label as a sleeper?
Eric Karabell: Oh what a difference a few years make when it comes to Philip Rivers. Have people totally forgotten about how good this guy was going to be? Sure, Eli Manning got all the press and the starts the first two seasons, but Rivers was his equal coming out of college, and really, would have been the first pick if not for the draft-day trade. Rivers has skills, and now that Drew Brees is somewhere else, Rivers gets the chance. He has a strong arm, solid weapons and had plenty of time to develop. While I wouldn't make Rivers a fantasy starter, he does make my top 20, meaning there's backup consideration. I don't put much stock into preseason stats, but Rivers has looked terrific so far, showing a maturity few figured he'd get grasp right away. Sure, not all quarterbacks taken in the top five turn out good, with Ryan Leaf the poster child, but we shouldn't assume Rivers will fail like the 49ers' Alex Smith did last season. I think he's going to surprise.
Tristan Cockcroft: You had to specify "outside my top 15," didn't you? I'd love to pick Arizona's Kurt Warner here, since he's going to go overlooked in a fair share of leagues due to people thinking Matt Leinart will be his Eli Manning from 2004, but sticking to the past-15 rules, I'll tab Jacksonville's Byron Leftwich. Really, what we saw from him last season might have qualified as a breakout campaign for him, as he managed 15 touchdowns compared to five interceptions and averaged 210.5 passing yards in his 10 full games, and the numbers most certainly would have been better had a broken ankle not cost him the final five contests, when the Jaguars faced perhaps the lightest schedule for a quarterback in the league. Leftwich might not be much as a runner, which could limit his statistical appeal, but he's an efficient, accurate thrower who should be able to make the most of what is a developing group of receivers. I don't see a top-five season coming from him by any means, but there's at least matchups potential here, and with continued development Leftwich could step up as a solid weekly starter you could get on the cheap.
Scott Engel: Philip Rivers for sure. Even before his impressive preseason opener, albeit it against Green Bay, Rivers had the makings of a potentially solid fantasy reserve. Rivers is no J.P. Losman, and not every QB who lacks game experience will be a flop. Rivers is a very smart QB who has asborbed a lot of knowledge while sitting on the sidelines early in his career. He has confidence, makes quick reads, and accurate throws downfield. Many inexperienced QBs are overwhelmed by the pace of the pro game, the breadth of the playbook, and the pressure. Not Rivers. He's poised, makes crisp reads and doesn't hold onto the ball too long. Rivers is certainly going to keep defenses honest, which bodes well for owners of LaDainian Tomlinson. The Chargers are ready to hand the offense over to him, and their front office might know much more about him that we don't. Don't be surprised if Rivers becomes a top fantasy reserve in his first year as a full-time NFL starter.
Kevin Rounce: I really like Byron Leftwich to step up this season and have his best year to date. His injury history is well documented, but he's a very tough player, in the Steve McNair mold that will give every bit of himself to play in a game. In his first three seasons in the league, his interceptions have dropped while maintaining a very strong touchdown rate. Project his numbers last year over a full season and he would have more than 20 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions. His average per attempt is also going up each year. He has a developing receiving corps that could very easily blossom several superstars. Jacksonville loves to spread the ball around, manage the game on offense and control the clock. Leftwich will not often be put in a deep drop situation. There is no Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor is always iffy when it comes to his health, but if Leftwich can stay healthy this year and play in 15 games, it's likely he'll throw more than 20 touchdowns and be very efficient. Leftwich should be looked at as a backup/matchups fantasy quarterback and could surprise and outperform many of the starters.
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.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
NFC Notes


posted: Friday, August 18, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


So what do I think about the preseason schedule in football? Well, it's tough to argue that each team needs as many as four games, or five in a few cases, but fantasy football owners are looking at it the wrong way. People get hurt all the time. If you own Clinton Portis and think the preseason schedule is the reason he got hurt, you're missing the point.

While you think it would be more justified for a preseason injury to happen in a practice, the fact is, it's not. Portis might play in Week 1, he might not. But what if he gets hurt in Washington's only preseason game? That's a reason to cut out the preseason entirely? There is some value for coaches in seeing players perform. Of course they know what Portis and T.O. can do, but not necessarily their backups. Anyway, I've gone on record as saying I won't drop Portis in my rankings until the severity of the shoulder injury is made more clear. So what if he misses the preseason? So what if he misses Week 1?
Remember last year, when a certain All-World tight end missed Week 1 due to a suspension? Yep, Antonio Gates turned out all right in 2005, didn't he?


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Eric updated his rankings, so check 'em out.

Player Rankings
Top 200
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Portis was my No. 5 pick months ago, weeks ago and remains there today. The Brian Westbrook injury, however, is different. He's never been durable, and his foot injury is likely to linger. Portis could separate his shoulder at any time, but for me to move him down my rankings past other questionable backs, I want to wait.
While Portis is the big news so far, with Westbrook, Lee Suggs, Ben Roethlisberger, Koren Robinson and others getting legit attention, I've decided to go team-by-team through the NFC with general fantasy football thoughts today. Why? Because I can. Next week it will be the AFC.
? New York Giants: Fantasy owners seem increasingly concerned about both Eli Manning and Tiki Barber, but I don't understand why. Manning could have a brutal preseason (which he isn't) and it wouldn't change my stance that he's going to be a star, as soon as this season. I could see him threatening for the league lead in touchdown passes. And Tiki, despite his inclination to scare fantasy owners with talk of no goal line carries, remains the fourth pick in most drafts. If there's a fantasy concern with this team, it's the defense getting off to a slow start; the G-men open the season with the Colts, Eagles, Seahawks, then the Redskins, Falcons and Cowboys. I like the Giants defense for fantasy, but not early on.
? Washington Redskins: Obviously the Portis injury has everyone talking, and complaining, but I want to point out another thing with him, that he's not exactly a fast starter. Portis didn't score the first five games last season, yet still finished the year with 11 scores. I think fantasy owners are panicking too much when it comes to drafting a player who might miss a week. Portis would be in your lineup regardless, but draft him for the terrific second half he had. This injury is serious, but I think he can play through it once the season starts. As for Ladell Betts, I don't move him up my draft lists all that much. He doesn't go to the top of my backup running back list yet, but I would consider him as a No. 4 fantasy running back if I owned Portis.
? Dallas Cowboys: I can't believe the Terrell Owens e-mails I'm getting, those that accuse Owens of faking it, those that say they're dropping down their lists, things like that. He's a top five fantasy wide receiver in any format, arguably the top guy. This hamstring injury doesn't change that. If he's still hurt in mid-September, that's a different story, but I think Owens playing with Drew Bledsoe in actual preseason games is overrated. Also, as angry/frustrated as Bill Parcells might be getting, he's not going to let T.O. mess up this team this season. All heck breaks loose here in 2007.
? Philadelphia Eagles: I've been trying to point out to people how the Eagles made three NFC title games before T.O., but nobody seems to listen. Look it up, it's true! And Donovan McNabb was generally a top five fantasy quarterback option in that stretch. Philly doesn't have big names at wide receiver, and maybe nobody here is a great fantasy option (Greg Lewis might be, and watch this kid Hank Baskett with acrobatic catches), but that doesn't limit the effectiveness of McNabb. He's looked terrific so far, healthy and on target with his passes, I'm thinking he's a top five quarterback again.
? Chicago Bears: If I was drafting today, what would I do with the Bears running backs? I'd probably let someone else take Thomas Jones, with the thinking I won't bite until at least late in round three, but someone else will. I still think Cedric Benson is the No. 1 back here, and will have a nice season. He generally goes after Jones in drafts, which is fine with me. As for the quarterback, you don't want either Rex Grossman or Brian Griese in fantasy, but I do think Grossman will start Week 1, and Griese will see action soon after. I just don't think Grossman is that special, and Griese does have a track record. This team can win with an ineffective quarterback regardless.
? Minnesota Vikings: I'd move Troy Williamson up my draft lists a bit now that Koren Robinson's future is in doubt. If you've already drafted him, you couldn't have known he'd be so foolish to get suspended again, but moving forward, avoid the guy. I don't think Koren will see the field, or if he does that he will live up to expectations. Chester Taylor has a lot riding on his shoulders on this team, since it's a running team. I'm not so sure he lives up to the hype either.
? Detroit Lions: I'm not even looking at the stats Jon Kitna puts up this preseason. Doesn't matter to me. He's the starter over Josh McCown, no questions asked. I think this Martz offense is going to score points, even if the defense allows them all back. Watch Kitna, he can be a steady backup fantasy option. I wouldn't even bother taking McCown. Also, I'd feel great about getting Kevin Jones in round three. I'm seeing him go earlier as each week goes by in the preseason, and for good reason. I'm also seeing Brian Calhoun taken as the handcuff option.
? Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre is not retiring, and last week's rumor on that subject has proven to be false. But that doesn't mean you want Favre in fantasy. I've avoided Favre in drafts because I don't think this team's offense is going to improve. Did you see that swiss cheese line play in the first preseason game? Favre's going to be running for his life. Aaron Rodgers did look effective, but most of his throws in a 9-for-11 effort were rushed. Other than Donald Driver as a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver, I doubt I'll end up with any Packers. Ahman Green hasn't played yet, and even when he does, you could see a Curtis Martin situation developing here.
? Tampa Bay Buccaneers: There's a lot of fantasy value to be had here. For one, I traded down in a recent league from six to 10 so I could get Carnell Williams. Hey, I think Cadillac is going to be pretty good, and while I could have just taken him at six, I knew he'd last. He did. Then I scarfed up Ronnie Brown at 11 on the turn. One might wonder, if I like Cadillac better than Edge, why don't I rank them that way? Well, I don't necessarily see better stats, but better value. Meanwhile, Chris Simms looks like he could break out, though I won't make him a fantasy starter, and I could see Joey Galloway and Michael Clayton literally switching statistics this season. Clayton was bad in 2005, but he's lost weight and looks great in camp. Galloway's not exactly a kid.
? Carolina Panthers: Lots of discussion about the injured Steve Smith recently, and while I would consider him moving him from my No. 1 WR spot to three or four, I haven't done it yet. If I do it's because I'm starting to think the Panthers won't look at him as much this season. I didn't think that a few weeks ago. Watch Smith catch fewer passes because of Keyshawn Johnson, but still score in double digits. Also, this hamstring injury appears to still be a problem.
? Atlanta Falcons: Keep the name T.J. Duckett on draft lists, even as it appears his days as a Falcon might be numbered. We just saw the Jets go after Lee Suggs, which didn't end up happening, and Duckett could be next on the Jets' list. Plus, Jerious Norwood isn't just a threat to Duckett, he could make things interesting for Warrick Dunn as well. Norwood is already Chris Perry in that he catches passes and will see playing time. Is Dunn as good as Rudi Johnson? See where I'm going with this?
? New Orleans Saints: Sure, we all saw that 44-yard run Reggie Bush broke off in his first preseason game. Wonderful. What did he do the other carries? When I saw Bush play it was obvious he can cut and accelerate and do some special things, but he reminded me a bit of Tiki Barber. You know Tiki gets caught at the line plenty if you watch him play, but he also breaks off a 20-yarder seemingly each game. That's Bush. Until Drew Brees shows his arm is attached, defenses can key on Bush and injury risk Deuce McAllister. I'd still take Bush late second round, but in some leagues I'm seeing him go ahead of Steven Jackson and Cadillac, which seems way premature.
? Seattle Seahawks: I'm an Eagles fan, and the 2005 season was torture, of course, but look for the sad run of Super Bowl-losing teams becoming losers to stop right here. The Seahawks have a cake schedule and can't help but get back to the postseason. Why does this matter in fantasy? Well, the only thing that scares me about Shaun Alexander, who remains my No. 1 pick, is when the Seahawks lead the 49ers by 30 at the half. Twice. And the Seahawks open on turf at the Lions and then play the Cardinals. Points will surely be scored, but will the opposition score? So Alexander will do just fine, unless games get out of hand.
? St. Louis Rams: I know I ranked Marc Bulger sixth among fantasy quarterbacks, but I'm not drafting him there. Frankly, I have concerns, and would take Eli Manning or Jake Delhomme first. I'll adjust the rankings. You see, it's easy to say you like Bulger better, which I thought I did, but in these drafts I've avoided him. What's the issue? I think he's going to get hurt. I don't like predicting things like that, but Bulger seems to be brittle, and I'm not as high on the post-Martz offense as others are. Plus, I think Bulger has become overrated; I mean, he's no Trent Green. Bulger approached 4,000 yards twice, but this offense looks to be heavier on the run. And he never topped 22 touchdowns. I'd bet most people wouldn't know that. So, out of instinct, I've reassessed Bulger for fantasy.
? Arizona Cardinals: Meanwhile, I've also reassessed Edgerrin James, and through little fault of his own am going to drop him down a notch or two. The Arizona line is awful. We can all see how Pittsburgh shut down the Cardinal running game last week and overreact, but I don't think James has any idea what he's gotten himself in to. It might not get better when the season starts. This remains a passing team, as long as Kurt Warner is out there slingin' it, and you can trust the wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, but watch Edge pull a McGahee and lose touchdowns.
? San Francisco 49ers: While I still have some doubts that Frank Gore can be a 20-carry per game everydown back, I'm quite certain Kevan Barlow won't be healthy enough to be that guy. Barlow has said all the right things, came to camp in good shape off his knee surgery, and he remains young enough to reach his potential, but this is not a good situation for Barlow or Gore. Stop looking at what Barlow did in 2003, it's over. Gore will get that Week 1 start and look a bit like Reuben Droughns this year, with decent yardage, but few touchdowns. Barlow might look like Lee Suggs! OK, have a great weekend and the blog returns on Monday. Hopefully there won't be any major injuries to discuss.
 
Who is Top WR?

Who is Top WR?

If Karabel is waivering on SSmith as #1 WR, who does he have at #2 in his new list?

I have #12 & #13 in a 12-team, no PPR league, and I assume my choices will be Caddy, McGahee, Westbrook and all WR's.

(Most likely the top 10 RB's and Peyton will be gone, based on prior league history -- we have 6pts per passing TD).

I have been thinking 1 RB (Caddy most likely) and the #1WR on the turn, but if Smith is dropping, who else to look at?

Westbrook looks shaky, and I'm not sure on McGahee. Would love the stud WR because it's 20+ picks before I go again, but don't want to do it over securing a #2 RB for the wrong WR.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
I don't think Steve Smith can possibly match last season's performance Caddy.

And we all know Terrell Owens may not make it through the season before all he!! breaks out.

This leaves Chad Johnson, Marvin Harrison, and the 2 Arizona Wideouts.

Chad Johnson gets the edge in my opinion, however, it's risky because if Carson Palmer gets hurt, there goes a lot of Johnson's numbers.

Harrison could very well be the #1 guy this year.
We thought Indy aired it out before, but this season they may even more so.

Caddy, if Ronnie Brown is available, would you still take Cadillac over him?
 
Caddy vs. Ronnie

Caddy vs. Ronnie

Yes, I would probably take Ronnie over Caddy. Although, it is a very close call for me.

Like everyone else, the main reason would be the fear of Caddy getting hurt is a little greater than the same fear for Ronnie.

By the way, my name "Cadillac" is for the great Carnell, who I have seen play since high school. I grew up about 25 miles from Attalla and graduated from Auburn, so I obviously hold Caddy and Ronnie in the highest regard.

Plus, it lets me know that Caddy's 2 injuries at AU were not so much a product of his "frail body" because I saw them both, and any RB would have suffered the same injuries from the same plays. So, my injury fear for Carnell is a little less than most people's.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
I would also take Ronnie Brown over Caddy.

However, Tampa Bay is pushing very hard to get Williams involved very much into the passing game this year, so that could make a difference......
 
cadillac...a few posts ago you asked if steve smith isnt the number 1 reciever in fantasy football, than who is....well, i'm not saying that he is, but i'm surprised that torry holt wasn't even considered

he's great every year, posting over 1,000 yards recieving in the last seven seasons...he's consistent and he doesn't get into trouble or care about getting the headlines...he's top five in my mind

hey guys my 100 league drafted today...take a look at my team

QB- Eli Manning
RB- Steven Jackson
RB- Jamal Lewis (comeback year?)
WR- Marvin Harrison
WR- Darrell Jackson
TE- Randy McMichael
DST- Eagles
K- Adam Viniateri

Bench
QB- Ben Roethlisberger
RB- Frank Gore
RB- Tatum Bell
WR- Mushin Muhammed
WR- Issac Bruce
DST- Redskins

whatcha think?
 
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

How many teams in the league? If 12, I like it very much. Where did you draft from. It looks like about 1.5 - 1.8.

I think you will end up playing Gore over Lewis.

Where did you get Gore? I really want him as my #3 RB.
 
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

yeah...there are 12 teams in my league...and i drafted from the number 7 spot....i think you'll be able to get gore in most drafts in the fifth round...and if you want him as your number three...you should take two backs and wideouts before him

your right i could end up starting gore over lewis..but then again this could be a 1200 year from lewis..so considering lewis plays in baltimore with a better offense than the offense in san fran...lewis will be my starter in week 1(also gore has never started a full season)

i have another question...i only drafted Issac Bruce because I thought i could keep him on the bench and hope that Torry Holt's injury becomes serious and Bruce becomes the number 1 (I did the same thing with Mushin Muhammed two years ago and it took me to the super bowl)

but after drafting i looked at the free agents and saw Antonio Bryant...i think this will be a huge year for bryant...i think he will be as good as Brandon Lloyd was last year because the Niners will be behind in most games and have to throw

The waivers don't start for another week...but should I pick up Antonio Bryant and drop Bruce?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Aug. 22, 2006, 4:08 PM
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FFL: Weekend Wrap


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's an in-depth look at some of the top stories from the past weekend, including player news, injuries and exhibition game performances.
? Jets acquire Kevan Barlow: Before this trade, Barlow was considered a past disappointment with limited fantasy appeal. Frank Gore has obvious upside, but fantasy leaguers still weren't sure about his possible output with Barlow still in the San Francisco RB picture. The trade instantly boosts the value of both players.
A change of scenery is good for Barlow, who hasn't officially been named the new Jets starter, but it's clear he is in line to be the No. 1 guy in New York. In the past, Barlow has been enigmatic and only occasionally looked like he is worthy of being a fantasy starter. But he could be motivated by a chance to start over and he still has the chance to post decent overall numbers with the Jets if he avoids injuries. Barlow is coming off knee surgery in January, and he has already dealt with shoulder and thigh problems this preseason. New York has an offensive line that could potentially be solid if everyone stays healthy and the younger players come along quickly. The Jets will need Barlow to take pressure off the QB as well.
Chad Pennington's shoulder remains a question mark, as does the Jets' QB situation. So Barlow's owners will have to hope the New York passing game can at least be respectable, and there is also the reality that the Jets could play from behind often, neutralizing the running game. Barlow still has the skills to perform well occasionally and he should be dependable near the goal line when needed. Look for Barlow to be inconsistent overall, and he is more attractive as a "flex" player or top backup to your best two starters. Don't expect more than a maximum of 950 rushing yards or six TDs. Barlow still has a lot to prove, must stay healthy, and is surrounded by questionable talent at the other skill positions. All signs now point to Curtis Martin being a wasted fantasy draft choice.
Gore now becomes a very good fourth-round pick as long as he doesn't have any further shoulder issues. He's a sparkplug with good speed who should now become a focal point of the offense, as offensive coordinator Norv Turner has always made the running game a major part of his offensive attack. If Gore stays healthy, he could be good for 1,100-plus rushing yards and six or more TDs. His owners just have to hope QB Alex Smith can keep defenses honest. Maurice Hicks is good late-round insurance for Gore, who has dealt with injury problems in the past.
? QB controversy in Dallas?: The buzz is getting louder that Tony Romo, who looked sharp in Dallas' second preseason game, could threaten the playing time of Drew Blesdoe at some point. While Bledsoe remains the starter for now, and Bill Parcells has openly dismissed any talk of a QB "race", Bledsoe might not have much room for error early in the regular season. If Romo continues to impress, he could take over for Bledsoe at some point during the 2006 schedule. How Romo would fare during the regular season remains to be seen, but fantasy owners should drop Bledsoe a few spots on their cheat sheets for now, knowing there is a chance he could lose his job at some point. Don't worry about Terrell Owens in light of this talk. Once Romo gets the ball in the hands of Owens, T.O. can do much of the rest and he's still worthy of a second-round selection. Parcells won't give Romo the chance to play if he doesn't trust him to get the ball to his best target.
? Jamal Lewis out two weeks: Just when it appeared his preseason was getting off to a good start, Baltimore's top RB had a setback. Lewis is expected to miss two weeks because of a hip problem. He has recurring soreness in the hip and quadriceps areas, and will now rest and rehab for the regular season. Lewis had rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries in the first two Baltimore exhibition games, but he still has pain and said he isn't playing at 100 percent. While Lewis should still be ready for the regular season, fantasy owners should proceed with caution and avoid him until the fourth round. Lewis had been on the physically-unable-to-perform list earlier in the summer because of the problem. While Lewis has been happy about his new contract and wants to prove he can still be a top RB, his body is not guaranteed to cooperate. Mike Anderson, who is trying to overcome a foot problem, is the obvious handcuff pick in the middle rounds.
? The Houston RB picture: It is still uncertain when Domanick Davis will return from a knee injury, or if he will be ready for the beginning of the regular season. In the meantime, Vernand Morency, who seems to have the endorsement of the Houston braintrust, made a solid case to be the interim starter. He rushed for 99 yards and two TDs against St. Louis. Wali Lundy totaled 66 yards from scrimmage, but Morency appears to be the favorite to start when Davis is out. The Texans are giving Morency every opportunity to prove himself this preseason. Both Morency and Lundy make good later-round picks right now. Morency might get the chance to start first, but don't rule out Lundy eventually surpassing him on the depth chart. Lundy has looked very good early in the preseason and Morency will have to deliver some more good outings to keep the No. 2 RB job.
? Palmer ready to return?: Carson Palmer now says he expect to play in next Monday's preseason game. While Marvin Lewis has yet to officially confirm that, it is apparent Palmer is becoming more confident in taking the field and testing his knee. As long as he doesn't have any more swelling prior to Monday, he could make his preseason debut. This is encouraging news for Palmer's owners. Meanwhile, Anthony Wright has played adequately in Palmer's place. He threw a TD to Chad Johnson, who finished with five catches for 73 yards on Friday. Johnson has already shown us that he won't suffer a major drop in production if Palmer misses any regular season time. He has worked well with Wright so far in exhibition play.
? Fred Taylor not secure: Jack Del Rio has not yet named a starter at RB and there is still a reported open competition between Fred Taylor and Greg Jones. Neither one has distinguished himself over the other in a major way yet in exhibition play. Taylor has rushed for 27 yards, and Jones 26. But with Taylor's injury history, smart fantasy owners know Jones could eventually start even if he doesn't win the job outright. Both RBs should be picked in the fifth or sixth round of fantasy leagues.
? Mike Bell looking better: After fumbling in his exhibition debut, rookie RB Mike Bell worked on his running style in the days leading up to Denver's second preseason game. Bell had focused on keeping his shoulder pads lower, and the adjustments seemed to boost his confidence against Tennessee. Bell rushed for 73 yards on 10 carries and scored twice. He appears to have tightened his grip on the starting RB job for now, and Bell shouldn't be picked later than the end of the fourth round in most fantasy leagues. There is also now talk that Ron Dayne, who has been battling a toe injury, isn't assured of making the team.
? More adversity for Larry Johnson?: The Chiefs are still dealing with the retirements of tackles Willie Roaf and John Welbourn. Now there are injury issues at guard to contend with. Right guard Will Shields now has a high ankle sprain. Left guard Brain Waters has just returned from a foot injury. Shields is still expected to be ready for the regular season and Waters is back at practice. There's no reason to panic yet, but monitor the situations. I have yet to drop Johnson from his spot atop my player rankings, but he is no lock to stay there ahead of Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson.
? Dillon not done: While rookie Laurence Maroney has a lot of upside, Corey Dillon isn't about to surrender his starting job. Dillon rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries and scored on Saturday. While the final numbers aren't impressive, it's apparent Dillon will get most of the carries when he is healthy. He certainly will remain a top option near the goal line. Maroney has looked good, but his only real opportunity to shine might come as a result of a Dillon injury.
? Pick this Packer: Rookie Greg Jennings has looked very good this preseason, and has impressed onlookers with his ability to catch the ball in stride and gain extra yards after the reception. Jennings finished with 115 receiving yards, including an 85-yard TD reception, against Atlanta. He could easily overtake Robert Ferguson in the starting lineup at some point, and Jennings is looking like a terrific late-round fantasy draft choice. Tomorrow: Watch for an exclusive fantasy report on Saturday's Vikings-Steelers preseason game.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Aug. 22, 2006, 1:50 PM
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Carroll Injury Report: Portis


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ESPN Fantasy Games

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Injuries are like the weather; everyone talks about them but no one seems to do anything about it. That's where I come in. Like the weather, injuries follow patterns and move in ways that we can both predict and forecast. We're no longer without the data and research necessary to say more than a broad range ("He's out six to eight weeks.") Every fantasy player, every fan of a team, everyone that follows the game understands that injuries can make or break the season. If you follow the metaphor, I'm your weatherman. You might know my work from Baseball Prospectus, where my "Under The Knife" column is read by thousands of readers and all 30 front offices. I brought the same approach to injury analysis to Pro Football Prospectus in 2005 and 2006, making some NFL head coaches call me "their worst nightmare." I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV; I'm a reporter and analyst, focused on using contacts, databases, and information to help the fantasy player avoid the injuries that can ruin a season. Let's get to it:
The biggest injury on the football radar right now is the shoulder of Clinton Portis. Portis had a subluxation of his right shoulder, commonly called a 'partial dislocation.' The humeral head sits in the Carson Palmer. Where Culpepper has been confident, Palmer has been tentative. It's an interesting contrast.
For fantasy players, both are excellent risks. There's seldom an immediate recurrence of the injury, players come back in better condition due to their hard work in rehab, and once returned to function, a player on a reconstructed knee is at very little additional risk compared to any other player at his position and profile. Culpepper has looked great in camp according to most reports and appears ready for Week One. He'll throw a bit more, run a bit less, but doesn't appear to have made significant changes to his style. Palmer, on the other hand, is unlikely to be ready until Week 3 or 4. If he comes back sooner, it won't be a "rush job" as some will call it, but it raises a possibility that he won't be at level. Both players have some risk of pain and soreness costing them some time, but both play on grass through Week Three, a big plus. (Minnesota visits Houston in Week 4, a FieldTurf stadium.) If you can talk up the injury in pre-draft chatter, you might just steal two of the top ten fantasy QBs. Bumps and Bruises: Another ACL survivor is Deuce McAllister, who has Reggie Bush firmly in his rear view mirror. McAllister saw his first game action on Monday and looked good, not great. He lacked burst and didn't appear to be confident in his ability to move laterally. Recovered fully or not, McAllister is likely to lose some touches to Bush ... I'm growing more and more concerned about Steve Smith. The speedy receiver isn't making normal progress after a hamstring strain. Don't overdraft Smith; this injury puts him a few slots down on the WR charts and with all the depth out there, passing up Smith might be the best way to manage roster risk ... An interesting side effect of Ben Roethlisberger's crash was that he lost 15 pounds on his enforced diet. That's good for his knees, but doesn't help his thumb. Big Ben's thumb is rapidly becoming a chronic problem ... The outlook is bleak for Domanick Davis. His knees have a bone-on-bone situation after "minor" surgery last season, something that won't change any time soon. Remember, Texans fans - Reggie Bush has no knee problems. You might remember another Davis with similar problems - Terrell Davis. Last I saw him was in Madden 2006. ... The Cowboys have two big problems. One, Terrell Owens, has been covered elsewhere and his hamstring injury isn't worth typing about. The other, Mike Vanderjagt, had a recurrence of his groin strain while warming up Monday and is doubtful for Week 1.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Aug. 22, 2006, 1:14 PM
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FFL: Taylor/Williamson


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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If you're looking for a good early-round bargain running back in your fantasy football draft this season, you might have seen him if you caught any of the first half of Saturday's Steelers-Vikings preseason game, which I did in person at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.
In what was a mostly uneventful 17-10 Minnesota victory, it became apparent that Chester Taylor is going to be a major part of the Minnesota offense this season. The ex-Raven is going to get a very healthy amount of touches as both a ball carrier and pass catcher. Taylor saw extensive first-half action, carrying the ball 10 times for 36 yards and catching three passes for 15 yards. Those aren't terrific numbers. But they certainly indicate that the Vikings will lean heavily on their new No. 1 RB this season.
"Chester is going to have a great year," Minnesota fullback Tony Richardson said. "We have a great offensive line here and he does it all well. He knows how to catch the ball out of the backfield and he does a great job of following his blockers."
Richardson, another new Viking, was certainly acquired to pave the way for Taylor after many seasons as an unsung, yet key part of the Chiefs' running game. He sees what is obvious. The Vikes are going to use Taylor a lot on offense. They continually handed the ball to him Saturday against one of the league's premier run defenses, and when QB Brad Johnson was pressured, he looked for Taylor in the flat and short-pass areas regularly. Richardson, who has blocked for superstars such as Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, confirms that Taylor is ready to assume a heavy workload after beginning his career as a backup and part-timer in Baltimore.
"He kind of reminds [me] of Priest in the way that he was mostly unknown and I think he is a very talented guy. I have a hunch he is really going to do a lot of special things this year," Richardson said.
Like Taylor, Holmes began his career as a Baltimore backup. Taylor is finally getting his opportunity to start regularly in his fifth season. Richardson doesn't expect classic Holmes-type production from Taylor, but foresees good overall production from his new backfield partner. "He's going to post some very good numbers," Richardson said.
Taylor's primary backup, Mewelde Moore, missed Saturday's game with a knee injury, and while that might seem like a prime reason for Taylor getting a lot of work early in the second preseason game, Moore's absence actually gave Minnesota a chance to get Taylor more reps as he prepares for his first full-time gig in the NFL. Taylor isn't ready to talk about big numbers, though. He hopes he just started to get into a positive rhythm by playing most of the first half against Pittsburgh.
"The coaches know what they are doing here, so I'm thankful they are giving me the opportunities" Taylor said. "It's nice to get into a groove a week after our first [exhibition] game. The offensive line played great and that's important. This West Coast style of offense is a good fit for me. We can spread people out and this is the beginning stages of showing what we can do. I just want to go out there and step up my game when my number is called."
Taylor isn't focused on statistical goals, as he just wants to make the most of his chance to to start. "I'm just really thankful for the opportunity to do this in my life," he said. "Luckily they are giving me a great chance over here."
While Taylor shies away from talking about stats and individual desires, smart fantasy owners will realize that he is going to be a centerpiece of the Minnesota offense. He's going to get a lot of touches every week, as Minnesota has strengthened their blocking crew and the team doesn't have too many ways to challenge defenses with the passing game. The Vikings will depend on Taylor to set the offensive tone and take pressure off their veteran QB. Taylor isn't going to wow too many onlookers with his speed, but he is smart, has good vision and is dependable. He's versatile and tough, and could be a lesser version of LaMont Jordan. That makes him a quality No. 2 fantasy RB.
Taylor can be a good value choice this season. While he's not quite as quick or strong inside as Jordan, he can be very reliable for solid overall numbers. He can elude tacklers, as was evidenced on his best run on Saturday night, a 17-yarder. He might not be a fantasy superstar, but Taylor can be the quality No. 2 RB you seek when the top 15 or so RBs are already off the board.
Just don't ask him to turn up his level of performance for your fantasy purposes. Taylor is only focused on helping the Vikings win this season.
"I know a lot of people play fantasy football, but I'm not paying any attention to it and I don't know much about it," Taylor said. "I'm not thinking about that. If it's not on my regular-season schedule, I'm not concerned about it"
Maybe Taylor won't care about your fantasy team. But he can certainly be a key part of your success in 2006. Don't hesitate to grab him for good all-around yardage numbers late in the second round or early in the third.
Getting up to speed
With Koren Robinson now out of the picture at receiver, second-year man Troy Williamson could be pushed into a prime role. Williamson realizes he might be asked to become the Vikings' new No. 1 receiver, and he is ready to face the challenges that come with the responsibility.
"I've been working real hard on what I need to do to get better," Williamson said. "I've been working on my route running and hand-eye coordination. Whatever they need me to do here, I'm ready to fire away."
Williamson is noted for his outstanding deep gears and open-field speed. But the knock on him as a rookie was that he ran sloppy routes and needed a lot of work on his fundamentals. Williamson is well aware of the improvements he needed to make, and has worked closely with veterans Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor on the finer points of his game.
"When you work with guys that have been around for so long, you just take whatever they show you and put [it] in your bag to carry with you into the season," Williamson said. "I've got a great opportunity here and I couldn't ask for more."
The Vikings' receivers are a tight group, and it's clear Robinson and Travis Taylor have quickly made their young teammate into a welcomed member of their crew. While the three wideouts joke easily and warmly with each other, the two veterans think Williamson will be up to the task of facing top cover corners on a regular basis if he's asked to do so.
"Me and Marcus are getting old," Travis Taylor said with a laugh. Turning more serious, though, he noted that Williamson should improve greatly in his second pro campaign "Troy is very talented and he has learned a lot. He doesn't drop balls and he's made big progress in terms of running his routes. He's really improved his game. And anytime you have a receiver with 4.2 speed, that's going to strike fear in any defensive back."
The two veteran receivers agree that Williamson's natural speed could help him make great strides if he's pushed into a major role this season. And both of the experienced receivers are going to continue to work with Williamson to ensure he succeeds early in his career.
"We have a good group of wide receivers here, and we're only wishing for success for one another," Robinson said. "Troy is focused on running his routes and becoming more disciplined. You can see a big difference in him from last year's camp. He's a lot more confident."
Robinson said that the bond between the Minnesota receivers can ease pressure on Williamson, who doesn't need to concentrate on being a No. 1 receiver even if he is asked to do so. "We have a calm atmosphere here, and he doesn't have to put too much pressure on himself. He has great sped and we just want to help him perfect his game." Robinson said he and Travis Taylor have certainly dedicated themselves to helping Williamson improve.
With two veterans in his corner, and tremendous natural skills, Williamson could be a great late-round sleeper in fantasy leagues this season. He only lacks experience, but he certainly has upside and could have some impressive performances when the matchup is right. He finished with only two catches for 13 yards against Pittsburgh, but could post occasionally impressive numbers in 2006.
Fantasy views from the Vikings
While Chester Taylor isn't concerned about where fantasy owners draft him, his lead blocker has a great appreciation for the hobby. "It's definitely a good thing for our game," Richardson said. "I'm on the Executive Committee of the NFL Players Association and I understand how important it is to the NFL and a lot of fans. I understand that it's personally important to a lot of people. The more you play, the more you get interested in the NFL. It generates a lot of excitement."
Williamson said he doesn't know much about fantasy football. "But anything that invites more fans into the game is good," he said. "If people want to draft me, that's their decision. But I don't know much about how it works."
Travis Taylor said some of his friends play fantasy football. "I don't know much about how the game is played, but it's funny sometimes because people will talk to you about it. It's good that people get to know everyone in the game and learn their stats. Women are playing fantasy football too, and it's only raising the perceptions and awareness of the NFL." Robinson said he appreciates much of the enthusiasm of fantasy leaguers. "So many more people pay attention to the NFL because of fantasy football, and it helps us gain a bigger fan base," Robinson said. "When people tell me they drafted me, I say I'll try to do my best for them. Sometimes it makes the fans more demanding about how well you perform, but it also helps them enjoy the games even more."
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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

so....did you guys here about the three way trade?

the falcons send tj duckett to washington in exchange for a draft pick and the broncos send ashlie lelie to the falcons in exchange for the same draft pick (washingtons 3rd rounder in 2007)

Clinton Portis now drops back to number 12 on my list

TJ Duckett jumps up some...but his role will be similar to what it was in Atlanta

Ashlie Lelies fantasy value now skyrockets....and he becomes a great reserve will potential to start

.....now heres the question for me...pick up Ashlie Lelie off free agency...or pick up Antonio Bryant?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Lelie for Duckett


posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


While Ashley Lelie and T.J. Duckett were certainly players in need of a change in scenery, that doesn't mean they belong to be trusted members of your fantasy football team. Let's examine this Tuesday trade and what it means for our game.

Lelie to the Falcons: Most observers believe that Michael Vick has needed people to throw to for years, but maybe Vick actually is the problem, not the wide receivers. Nobody was the biggest Peerless Price fan when he left the Bills for Georgia, but still, I've always believed the system held him back, not necessarily his talent. Let's take a look at Vick's favorite targets this decade. These guys aren't Pro Bowlers (at wideout, not the tight end), but would it even matter?
? 2005: Tight end Alge Crumpler was by far the most popular pass catcher, with 65 receptions. Brian Finneran, now lost for the 2006 season with a torn ACL and dislocated knee (people, do not draft him) caught 50 passes, but was a possession guy. Michael Jenkins and Roddy White combined for 65 catches. Woo-hoo.
? 2004: Nobody even caught 50 passes! Crumpler and Price led the way, and Crumpler scored 40 percent of the receiving touchdowns. Dez White was third with 30 catches. Incidentally, running back Warrick Dunn has 29 catches each of the last two seasons.
? 2003: Vick missed much of this season, so Doug Johnson threw the ball, and not all that well. But isn't it interesting to note that Peerless had 64 receptions this season? It was his first year with Atlanta, and in retrospect shouldn't have received as much bad press as he did. Fantasy owners just overrated him and the situation.
? 2002: Finneran was the top receiver with 56 catches, and he and Crumpler caught 11 of the team's 18 receiving touchdowns. Dunn caught 50 passes out of the backfield, but at 7.5 yards per pop, that's nothing special. This was probably Vick's finest season throwing the ball, with career marks in attempts and completions, yards and rating, touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
? 2001: Chris Chandler was the quarterback, with Vick throwing 113 passes, but still no wide receiver stood out. Terance Mathis was the possession receiver with 51 catches, and nobody had more than three receiving touchdowns.
So what do we learn from this? Well, as long as Michael Vick is running around and making up some of the plays as he goes along, I don't think any wide receiver is going to put up significant statistics. Vick is a blast to watch, of course, and no quarterback can run like he does, improvise and make things happen. But don't we have enough of a sample size to know that no wide receiver is going to break out with 75 catches or anything close to 1,000 yards with Michael throwing? Blame Vick. He's not a great fantasy option at all, or not as good as people think, and neither are his receivers. This is a running team, including the quarterback.
And even if Vick was going to become a pocket passer in the mold of Carson Palmer or alter his game to be more like Donovan McNabb, Ashley Lelie wouldn't be the guy I'd predict for stardom. Denver's offensive system clearly favors the run as well, but Lelie couldn't break out there, despite Jake Plummer's affinity for throwing deep passes and begging for a home run threat (until 2005, of course). Lelie broke 1,000 yards two seasons ago by averaging a league-leading 20.1 yards per reception, so he clearly has talent, but the Falcons won't be able to take enough advantage of this. If Lelie comes here with the right attitude, which is hardly a given with his track record, he might find that he's merely the next Price statistically, making it tough for him to cash in.
Already Atlanta coach Jim Mora has announced that White and Jenkins will remain the starters, and Lelie is the No. 3 guy, so really, even if Lelie were to move up in the pecking order, which hasn't happened yet, his situation hasn't improved. Mora also made reference to the fact that Lelie has to accept this role, or he can look elsewhere for work. You don't mess around with Jim!
Bottom line: I expect the best Lelie could do is to catch around 50 or so passes, which might lead the team, for 800 yards and five or six scores. But I don't even expect that yet. What's that worth in fantasy? He's not a starter. I might not even rank him among the top 50 fantasy wide receivers. Currently the only Falcon receiver I have ranked is Roddy White, at 62. I had Lelie at 58. I don't think I'll change a thing. Even as a reserve Lelie can score more than White, be a home run guy, but he's not going to pile up the numbers at all.
Duckett to the Redskins: On first glance this appears to be a panic move by Washington in case Clinton Portis isn't ready for the season. But think about it, this is a team that doesn't mind spending money, even for expensive backups. I still believe Portis might play in Week 1, which leaves Duckett in a similar situation to what he dealt with in previous seasons.
The change is for Portis, however. Warrick Dunn is not a fantasy superstar, not with five or fewer touchdowns in two of the last three seasons, and the reason why that occurred is Duckett stole the goal line carries! And he might just do it again. No word from Washington on this yet, but if you've got a top running back with Portis who will surely be dealing with a tender shoulder for some or all of the season, and a bowling ball like Duckett weighing more than 250 pounds at your disposal, wouldn't you use him? This trade makes Portis, assuming he's on the field, a lot more like Tiki Barber than we think, since he's got to deal with the Brandon Jacobs. I might go so far as to say the Duckett trade affects Portis statistically more than his shoulder will.
Last year the Redskins scored 15 rushing touchdowns, and Portis had 11 of them. Rock Cartwright might be built like a rock, but he scored only twice. Ladell Betts has potential, but he must step aside now for Duckett. The Redskins made their backfield deeper with this deal, parting with only a draft pick.
Duckett has scored 27 touchdowns over the last three seasons, which is only five scores short of Portis. And he's great insurance to let Portis heal properly.
Bottom line: Good for the Redskins. Duckett's value doesn't change too much. He was going to score touchdowns in Atlanta, he'll do it now in Washington. I rank him in the top 40 among running backs, along with the backups waiting for a chance to shine, like Ryan Moats, Mike Anderson and Lendale White. Duckett doesn't rush for a ton of yards, so his value is more pronounced in touchdown-friendly leagues. Portis doesn't become a bad fantasy pick now, but like the Giants' Barber, he'll need to score on those 10-yard runs, because he won't see nearly as many touches near the goal line. I just dropped Portis from No. 5 overall to 7, and that was because of the injury and its potential ramifications. I'll leave Portis at seven for now, expecting seven to nine touchdowns.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, don't go thinking Dunn becomes a superstar anytime soon. The Falcons have this rookie named Jerious Norwood, a 210-pound rookie who should get some goal line looks now, and could be more than just a third-down back. The Falcons made this trade not only to get receiving help after the Finneran injury, but to avoid having a camp battle among Duckett and Norwood. Draft Norwood around where you would Duckett. I'd say that means round seven or 10 or whatever, but every league is different, has different roster sizes and league sizes, so there's no way to say which round is the right one.
***
Recent news, or since yesterday when I last blogged football:
? The Bears running back situation continues to have no clear winner. Cedric Benson is in the news not for his recovery from a left shoulder injury, but for apparently leaving the sideline early during the preseason game against the Chargers last weekend. Benson didn't play. It's no secret that some Bears players would prefer Thomas Jones win this job, since he's a proven commodity who rushed for 1,300 yards and nine scores last season. The team wants Benson, a sophomore player, to win the job. Jones is back in practice and should play this weekend. If he plays well, he could cement the Week 1 starting assignment and move up a round or two in fantasy drafts.
? Drew Henson will not make the Cowboys. Not a big deal for fantasy, especially since we've seen how much the team likes Tony Romo. No need to draft Romo, by the way. If he ever passes Drew Bledsoe on the depth chart, which I think could only happen if Bledsoe suffers an injury, there would still be better fantasy options available. Who knows, that's how Tom Brady got started. But we didn't know that then.
? For those who don't know, we've been talking fantasy football each day this week in the 3:40 p.m. ET and 3:50 segments on ESPNEWS, myself and rotowire.com's Jeff Erickson and Chris Liss. On Tuesday we discussed wide receivers, and at the end we all named a deep sleeper, someone we'd take after the big guys that would surprise others in the league. The other guys chose Minnesota's Troy Williamson and the Rams' Kevin Curtis, which I totally agree with, and I went with new Titan David Givens. Of course he's battling a hamstring problem and just had an MRI, and now comes word Givens might not play the entire preseason. Why did I pick him? This on-field love affair between Billy Volek and Drew Bennett played out for about two weeks, two years ago. Bennett is not a No. 1 receiver. Givens, however, could be that guy for Tennessee, and I see him breaking out, assuming he plays. On today's Hot List we're discussing running backs, and tomorrow it's defenses.
? Take a look at the ESPN fantasy debut of Will Carroll, who is now a regular writer for us. Will is one of the foremost experts in the football community when it comes to evaluating injuries, and he writes in depth about what's going on with Portis right here, as well as other names. You might not know all the terms, like subluxation, posteriorly and glenoid fossa, but Will knows his stuff, and his information can definitely help you figure out whether your fantasy football players are going to return to action soon, and how effective they will be. Will is the injury expert for ESPN's new "The Fantasy Show", which you can check out each Thursday on ESPN2, and he does play fantasy football and understand what the users want. His "Under The Knife" baseball injury column on Baseball Prospectus has been on my favorites list for years. Will will continue that fine work (thankfully!) and provide football analysis for us twice a week as well as a Friday chat session at 3 p.m. ET. Welcome to Will, we're sure you'll enjoy his work. Tomorrow, we hit the fantasy baseball Closer Report, then go back to football Friday.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Aug. 23, 2006, 12:35 PM
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FFL: Question of the Week


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<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: Who is a running back, in your top 20, you fear could be a major bust this season and why?
Eric Karabell: I've had the No. 6 pick in a draft already, and I passed on Edgerrin James. Now some might think that's odd, since I originally ranked Edge in that exact spot, but I'm starting to think James has no idea what he's in for in Arizona, nor do his fantasy owners. The Cardinals do not have the offensive line to support the style James is accustomed to. They don't have the line to support much at all! And this team will be throwing a lot to keep up with the shootouts its defense gets into. Kurt Warner will again be running for his life and dealing with injuries, and James is likely to see his yards per carry drop quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, James remains a top talent, but that might not be enough. If he drops a few hundred yards to the 1,200 yard range and scores "only" six or seven times, then he'd be a bust if you draft him in the top six. James is my No. 8 running back, and might soon leave my top 10.
Tristan Cockcroft: I was once a big fan of Domanick Davis for fantasy. What wasn't to like? He was a strong enough runner to make an impact, and he had the added bonus of being a quality pass catcher as well, a trait I love to see in a running back. This year, however, I have a feeling he's going to be more trouble than he's worth. A lot of people are looking at the guy as a back-of-the-first-round pick, in that Nos. 10-12 range, or at least they were before knee troubles started hindering him this preseason. Now, he just keeps sliding down my rankings, from the top 12 overall, to the top 15, to the middle of the second round or later, and now I'm wondering whether he's going to be healthy enough at all to warrant using as a No. 2 fantasy back. Sure, the Texans skipping on Reggie Bush was good news for Davis, but look at his 2005 numbers, were they really that great anyway? Plus, it's not like Houston's offense is developing at the speed everyone thinks it has. The offensive line isn't going to help him much, and that'd be assuming he was fully healthy in the first place. Davis will certainly be picked in the early second round in most leagues, and all I can say is, you can have him.
Scott Engel: While he remains one of my top 15 RBs overall, and isn't a terrible pick in the second round as a No. 2 fantasy running back, I'm still not comfortable with picking Willis McGahee at any time. We all know how shaky the quarterback situation is in Buffalo, as J.P. Losman could be turning into the next Heath Shuler/Rick Mirer and Kelly Holcomb has not been the adequate game manager I thought he could be. Not only will opposing defenses key on McGahee again, they'll quickly get to him often behind a very shaky offensive line. The unit failed to open holes for McGahee consistently last year, and the team didn't do much to improve the group during the offseason. McGahee won't stink every week. He plays the Jets twice, Houston, Green Bay and has a handful of appealing matchups right now. But I certainly won't depend on him for consistent production and I'll certainly back him up with upside RBs if I end up taking McGahee. I'm already ranking Reggie Bush ahead of him, as even though McGahee has more experience, he doesn't have any upside for 2006.
Kevin Rounce: Brian Westbrook is currently being taken about the 23rd pick in most fantasy drafts and 15th among running backs. That seems a very appropriate spot for him, but his fantasy owners have to be concerned. Westbrook is a small back (5'9" 200 lbs) who has never played a full season, often missing multiple games. He is an elusive back who is among the best at catching the ball out on the edges. When he's healthy, he could be among the top 10 running backs in fantasy, as he was for much of 2004. But even in 2004 he was not able to play every game and actually missed the final two games of the year (fantasy championship week). While his value comes in his versatility, Westbrook has never rushed for 1,000 yards. It's unlikely he ever will and though he is a good risk as your second running back, reports that his foot is just now ready to start running in the pool scares me away. While likely a top 20 back, Westbrook could easily experience the injury problems that limited him to 12 games in 2005 and an 18th-place ranking among fantasy running backs.

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. Here are two emails we got about last week's question, Which quarterback, outside of your personal top 15, would you label as a sleeper?
LC: How could you not put Chris Simms in your 'sleeper qb' section. Did you watch him last season as his confidence grew? The Bucs' playbook is wide open now. Michael Clayton is healthy. Cadillac keeps the D's honest, and Alex Smith is going to be utilized more. Chris Simms will be the breakout QB this season. Jeff Drossart from Powers, MI: I couldn't agree with you more. Phillip Rivers will have a good season. He won't win any awards, but he is capable of making all the throws and wa very accurate in college. However, what about the Browns QB Frye? Could he make some noise this year or does he need more "seasoning?"
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Preseason QB stats


posted: Tuesday, August 23, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


You've been told for years that NFL preseason stats don't mean a thing. Heck, I've been saying that for the last month. They don't matter. Except when they kinda do.

It's human nature for us to see Reggie Bush make a terrific run and all go ooh and aah and move him up our draft lists. Or we can see Aaron Brooks throw footballs all over the field, with no apparent aim or reason, and promise we'll never draft him again. And that's the point; we see the highlights, some of us see the actual games, and you can just tell who looks good and who does not.
So maybe it's not really all about the preseason stats, it's about the preseason itself. Maybe Bush is going to be a monster, and that 44-yard run a few weeks ago shouldn't sway us in any way. As for Brooks, it's not that he's playing badly this preseason, that's just him!
Anyway, let's take a look at the leading quarterbacks this preseason so far, and discuss if any of these numbers matter.
Quarterbacks, top 10 in passing yards:
Matt Cassel, Patriots
Tony Romo, Cowboys
Bruce Gradkowski, Buccaneers
Andrew Walter, Raiders
Jay Cutler, Broncos
J.P. Losman, Bills
Shaun King, Colts
Doug Johnson, Bengals
David Garrard, Jaguars
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Doesn't matter, right? Well, not so far. Some of this could matter. While nobody in New England is worried about Tom Brady losing his job, with good reason, a few of these names do have fantasy value. In Dallas, the media has made a big deal out of Romo getting tons of playing time, but does anyone really believe that Drew Bledsoe is in danger of losing his job? I don't. Not gonna happen in what might be Tuna's last chance at a Super Bowl run. And while Cutler has looked good, Jake Plummer gets one more year before Mike Shanahan punts he and Tatum Bell out the door.
But in Oakland, Buffalo and San Diego, I have been watching. I don't want Aaron Brooks on my team. He's not good. He did play a bit better this weekend, scrambling around, but the Raiders aren't going to be very good and Brooks is going to take the fall for this. Just like Kerry Collins did. So Walter clearly has a shot here. He's 6-5 and has a strong arm, and while he's not relevant for fantasy yet, don't be stunned if this is his team at some point midseason.
J.P. Losman has a chance to be a decent player, though I admit he's not in my top 20 at the position, nor should he be. But Lee Evans is a legit talent, and there is a running game here. Losman will beat out Kelly Holcomb and could become a spot starter if you own a Manning or Brady and don't want to waste a middle round pick on the top backups.
Rivers is the one to watch. I just moved him to No. 19 among quarterbacks, so I'm not saying he's better than Michael Vick or Byron Leftwich, but there is definite upside here. Remember, he was regarded as similar to Eli Manning. Rivers could have been the first overall pick. He's the one the Chargers wanted. While people paint the Chargers situation as Rivers only getting the chance because Drew Brees left, the truth is it's Rivers' time. I can see him doing a little what Eli did last season; he's going to make mistakes, which Manning did with the 17 interceptions. But he has a strong arm and nice weapons, and should top 20 touchdown passes. Don't forget about Rivers.
Anything else interesting about this list? Well, it's getting more likely that Carson Palmer will have to miss a week or two in September, so someone gets to step in and throw bombs to Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and hand off to Rudi Johnson. It could be Doug Johnson, but more likely it will be Anthony Wright. I'm not saying I want these guys active, but the Bengals open with Kansas City and Cleveland. Those teams aren't exactly Pittsburgh defensively.
Sure, the preseason really doesn't mean too much statistically. We might never see Matt Cassel or Tony Romo play in a game all year. I mean, who is Bruce Gradkowski? He's a rookie from Toledo who might be the No. 3 quarterback. Really, not only does Chris Simms have to get hurt, but Jay Fiedler and Tim Rattay as well. So you don't need to draft Gradkowski.
***
Other stuff:
-Good for the Jets, good for Kevan Barlow, but I gotta say, I'm just not too impressed. Who has been a bigger fantasy bust the last two seasons than Barlow? Who has angered fantasy owners more? You could say Jamal Lewis, maybe Chris Brown, and last year the Joneses (Kevin and Julius) weren't our pals, but Barlow has been a big disappointment since that 1,000 yard season in 2003. Then Garrison Hearst left and the job was Barlow's, and things didn't go well. The Jets don't have much of an offense. D'Brickashaw Ferguson will help, but he can probably throw the ball further than Chad Pennington. Barlow is not going to find the running situation any better at Giants Stadium than he did in San Francisco. Don't draft him in the first three rounds. I'd take Frank Gore higher, and this trade was made for his sake. As for Curtis Martin, no need to even draft him any more. Thanks for the memories, Curtis.
-People, Mike Bell is the Denver running back. Move him up to the third round on your lists. As for the unrelated Tatum Bell, this is no longer a ploy to motivate him. Draft him after Mike Bell. Ron Dayne might be lucky to be on the team in two weeks. -I didn't have Koren Robinson in my top 10 for wide receivers, but he was going to be Minnesota's No. 1 option and I did consider him a decent flex option. Now I'm wondering if he ever plays again in the NFL. Robinson's off the field issues have taken over his career, and he's probably blown his latest chance for stardom. This is good news for Troy Williamson, who has the ability to step into that role and be Brad Johnson's new best friend. Could happen.
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/18/06)

so....did you guys here about the three way trade?

the falcons send tj duckett to washington in exchange for a draft pick and the broncos send ashlie lelie to the falcons in exchange for the same draft pick (washingtons 3rd rounder in 2007)

Clinton Portis now drops back to number 12 on my list

TJ Duckett jumps up some...but his role will be similar to what it was in Atlanta

Ashlie Lelies fantasy value now skyrockets....and he becomes a great reserve will potential to start

.....now heres the question for me...pick up Ashlie Lelie off free agency...or pick up Antonio Bryant?


You're right Eagle, this really hurts Portis' value.

We'll still have to see if Vick can get Lelie the ball in Atlanta though....
 
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

should i pick up ashlie lelie off waivers?

or should i pick up antonio bryant...

oh and by the way i'd be dropping Issac Bruce

this is a pretty crucial decision cuz its my 100$ league

so whos the best out of Bruce, Bryant, and Lelie
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

should i pick up ashlie lelie off waivers?

or should i pick up antonio bryant...

oh and by the way i'd be dropping Issac Bruce

this is a pretty crucial decision cuz its my 100$ league

so whos the best out of Bruce, Bryant, and Lelie


Even though he's fading, I would personally give Bruce a chance with the new coaching staff this season Eagle......
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (2 New Articles Added 8/23/06)

Aug. 24, 2006, 1:40 PM
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FFL: Late-Round Sleepers


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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As the preseason has moved on, it has become clear that some players have seized the opportunity to show what they can do. Not all preseason performances matter, but some guys certainly have put themselves on the fantasy radar. These players are worth a late-round flier, based on how they have looked so far this summer or because of recent roster developments. Every fantasy draft pick can be a good one, so here's a list of some possible sleepers to nab in the final rounds of your draft. <!--##FRONTSTOP##-->
Drew Carter, WR, Carolina: If Steve Smith's hamstring problem becomes a lingering issue, Carter could get the chance to start opposite Keyshawn Johnson. He caught two passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game last year and has followed that performance with a strong training camp.
Maurice Hicks, RB, San Francisco: Yes, Frank Gore is the clear starter in San Francisco. But injuries have been an issue for Gore before, and if he can't stay healthy, Hicks has displayed the ability to step in and play well when given the chance.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay: He is less of a secret after a 115-yard outing this past weekend. Jennings ultimately could win the starting job across from Donald Driver, and he was creating a major buzz among NFL insiders even before his fine exhibition outing this past weekend.
Travis Taylor, WR, Minnesota: With Koren Robinson not around, someone has to catch the ball from Brad Johnson. If Troy Williamson isn't quite ready for a prime role, Taylor will be used often because of his experience and the fact that he can function as a reliable possession receiver. Don't expect him to be great, but he's worth drafting in larger leagues and might be a dependable reserve this year.
Wali Lundy, RB, Houston: Savvy fantasy players already are thinking about him in the late rounds, but not everyone is sold on using a pick on him yet. Lundy has become notable after a 25-yard run and a 3-yard TD in his preseason debut. He totaled 66 yards from scrimmage in his second game. Domanick Davis looks like a major risk right now, and Vernand Morency has yet to show us he can stay healthy, so Lundy might be a nice story and quality fantasy player in his rookie year.
Tony Scheffler, TE, Denver: So far, Scheffler has caught eight passes for 127 yards in two preseason games. He is behind Stephen Alexander on the depth chart, but Scheffler has had a very impressive camp so far and, in his first NFL season, could fill Denver's need for a pass-catching tight end.
Brian Griese, QB, Chicago: He has looked better than Rex Grossman so far, especially in the preseason opener, when Griese completed six of seven passes and threw for two TDs. Griese looks as though he has made a good recovery from knee surgery, and let's not forget he threw 20 TD passes in 11 games for Tampa Bay just two years ago.
Dee Brown, RB, Kansas City: New acquisition Michael Bennett has been out with a hamstring problem. Bennett has been an injury concern in the past, and Brown has performed pretty well so faras the interim primary backup for Larry Johnson. He rushed for a TD in the opener and could be a good Johnson handcuff in the final rounds.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, New York Jets: He has been working with the first-team offense and appears to have taken the No. 2 receiver job from Justin McCareins. He could become a reliable possession type and decent complement for Laveranues Coles and is worth considering as a reserve receiver.
Doug Gabriel, WR, Oakland: He has been starting while Jerry Porter has been sidelined and unhappy, and ultimately could keep the No. 2 receiver job. Gabriel caught a TD pass this past weekend and has displayed big-play potential in the past.
Verron Haynes, RB, Pittsburgh: You might already be aware of him, but I'm just confirming that he seems to have moved ahead of Duce Staley for good as a preferred option to back up Willie Parker. And Parker doesn't figure to be able to carry regularly. Haynes runs well in short space, can catch balls out of the backfield and is a nifty late-rounder.
Bryan Gilmore, WR, San Francisco: Arnaz Battle has been trying to overcome a knee injury, and Gilmore has showed off good fundamentals and speed in camp. He caught three balls in the preseason opener and a 17-yarder in the second game. Gilmore could post respectable numbers if he gets a chance to start.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Philadelphia: If you're looking for a guy to step up and become a fairly dependable target for Donovan McNabb, Gaffney has shown some promise this summer. He caught four balls this past weekend and is worth monitoring even if you don't draft him. Gaffney doesn't have amazing skills, but he's smart and can be a presence in the red zone.
Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England: The Patriots released Martin Gramatica after Gostowski made all three of his field goal attempts this past weekend against the Cardinals. Many other owners will pass on him because he's unknown, but the Patriots spent a fourth-rounder on this guy and the efficient New England offense should put him in position for a lot of scoring opportunities. Cedrick Wilson, WR, Pittsburgh: He caught a TD pass in the team's preseason home opener, and although Santonio Holmes eventually should start across from Hines Ward, Wilson could post decent numbers while Holmes develops and remains behind him on the depth chart for a while. If Ward continues to miss time, Wilson could be a top target for Ben Roethlisberger.
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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

in my 100$ league...i passed on the like of Dominick Davis, Julius Jones, Kevin Jones, and Chester Taylor to get Jamal Lewis in the second round...

I know this pick doesn't make sense if you look at most peoples rankings...but I continue to defend it against my friends...

Dominick Davis is too hurt to play right now...and although i love him i just couldn't draft him

Julius Jones is healthy and good but should be inly getting about 65% of the carries with Marion Barber around

Kevin Jones is yet to prove himself in my book

Chester Taylor is good but the offensive line in Minnesota isn't

All this info left me with Lewis...at first I firgured i could get him in the third round..and just take a good no. 1 reciever in the second...but then i remember how important RB's are so i took Lewis (which ended up being a good move because right after i took him someone said 'nice pick, he might be in for a big year')

So while I never had him in my mind as my number two, i've come to realize that he is decent. He's had a good camp this summer and played well in the preseason. He recently had a hip injury that put him out of the preseason, but coach Billick says that that move is precautionary. This is why I defend my pick...

Am I crazy? Or am i right?
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

If Jamal can stay healthy you probably made the correct choice Eagle........:+thumbs-2

I think Kevin Jones has a very good year though under the new coaching staff........
 
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Today I emailed one of the fantasy football experts at CBSSportsline.com and asked him how he got his job. I am very interested in getting a job as a fantasy football expert as something to do on the side because its my favorite hobby...

Do you have any tips for me or know any people who are experts themselves who could maybe get me started?

Oh by the way i'd do it for free
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

I actually know a guy who writes for one of the larger fantasy sites on the net Eagle. I could possibly get some details for you.

Shoot me an emai at hacheman@eog.com

Have you considered simply starting your own site........:cheers
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Aug. 25, 2006, 5:31 PM
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Carroll Injury Report: Smith, Owens


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ESPN Fantasy Games

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->I'll admit to being spoiled. As I type this, I'm sitting at the gate at Washington Dulles airport, typing away on my MacBook despite the inexplicable lack of Wi-Fi here. The great thing about this job and modern technology is that I can still do it. My Sidekick is bringing me texts and e-mails while my Mobile ESPN phone is pinging me with alerts and news. Sure, my pockets might be full, but time is no longer wasted waiting on airplanes.
Steve Smith was, by many measures, the best fantasy WR in 2005. It's hard to repeat as champion in any way, even just repeating this feat. Smith is already behind a bit as his strained hamstring has kept him off the field through most of training camp. Smith is a speed receiver who runs short routes and gets big YAC. If Smith loses just a half-step, that means more DBs and LBs will be able to run him down or, worse, get him before he gets separation. Speed receivers seldom recover in-season from leg injuries, and the chronic ones can be career changers if not career enders. Smith has shown the ability to come back from injury without a significant effect on his game. Realistic expectations for this season combined with the injury should drop him back on your draft board, but keep him in the elite tier of WRs.
Continuing the theme of WRs with leg problems -- among other things -- Terrell Owens is reporting a setback in his long rehab from a strained hamstring. Missing more reps and keeping the national media on Tunawatch won't help Owens' standing. A recurrent hamstring strain is even worse. Although he's not a speed receiver, Owens is missing reps while the Cowboys go through an interesting training camp. Owens isn't getting time on the field with Drew Bledsoe or Tony Romo, which leaves whoever wins the QB job plenty of time to develop a connection with Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten. Owens, even if he gets back soon, is fast becoming the third or fourth receiving option in Dallas.
The Bengals announced that Carson Palmer will play in their upcoming exhibition game, so what should medheads and others, perhaps those thinking of drafting last year's top QB, look for when he takes the field? It's tough to spot confidence, whether you're in the stands or watching on TV, so instead, let's all become mini-Jaworskis for a bit. Watching Palmer, you want to take note of his dropback: Is he getting back quickly? Is there a limp? Can he plant that knee as he throws? Watch the way he moves: Is he tentative or halting? Is there a limp? Is his first step quick enough to avoid rushers, or will he be more willing to take a sack? Watch his throws: Are they crisp, thrown from good mechanics, or is he antsy as he throws? What's his reaction after the throw: Is he looking for the next Kimo von Oelhoffen to roll him up or is his confidence back. Palmer is too talented to not come back, and let's face it, running isn't part of his skill set. For Palmer and the Bengals, we just need to see signs of the old Palmer before drafting him as high as we would have with the old Palmer.
Some injuries just sound painful. Torn quadriceps tendon. It's an injury that sounds as if it should be announced by John Facenda and punctuated by a crack of doom. Maybe a torn quad tendon isn't quite as uncomfortable as a torn groin or a Thiesmann-style fracture, but it's definitely a problem for a RB. Ahman Green came back too early, testing the tendon, then experiencing a catastrophic failure at the middle of the 2005 season. It's a testament to the Packers medical team and Green's work ethic that he's back at all. According to sources close to Green, he's a tireless worker who practices as hard as he plays, something he carried into his rehab. There's no history of a RB returning from this injury, so combining that with his age and workload, expect him to be good, not great -- a solid No. 2 RB you'll be happy to use a midround pick to acquire.
You just learned that your starting running back has been shut down for the remainder of the preseason. What will you do? If you drafted Jamal Lewis, expecting the revamped Ravens offense to help him return to his power-running form, the news that he'd miss the rest of the preseason had to be worrying. I'm here to tell you to exhale and tell you that you made a great pick. Lewis has a hip pointer, a painful injury that is a bruise at the iliac crest, the point of the hip, just below the love handles. (And if you don't have love handles, I hate you.)
Darrell Jackson was off a lot of injury radars after coming back last season to help the Seahawks make their playoff run. However, Jackson had a second surgery after the season and is still dealing with the consequences. He's on a rehab program designed to rid him of contractures, a problem with scar tissue inside the knee that reduces the range of motion. Let's add this up -- speed receiver with a recurrent knee problem. That equals bad. Jackson was replaced pretty easily last season without much detriment to the Seahawks, but if you're looking for a late-round draft steal, Jackson isn't it. He will be worth keeping an eye on; his rehab should have him on track to be a nice waiver wire pickup in the early season.
Every time I have to talk about a kicking injury, I feel a little bit as though Jim Mora's playoff rant is going to come out of my mouth. Kickers are often interchangeable parts in fantasy leagues, but two big-name kickers might need to be adjusted on your draft board. Adam Vinatieri moved from the cold of Foxborough to the consistent indoor comfort of Indy, something sure to help his kicking. Unfortunately, it looks as though an ankle sprain might be enough to not only keep him out of the preseason but maybe also keep him out at the start of the season. Drafting Vinatieri means you'll have to have two kickers on your roster for Week 1 -- or drop him, wasting a pick. There's even more risk with Mike Vanderjagt. The former Indy kicker took his act to Dallas, where it has been a mess. Vanderjagt injured his groin early in camp, then exacerbated it warming up for the second preseason game. There are whispers that Vanderjagt's injury has Bill Parcells thinking of cutting the newly signed free agent already. I think he'll end up staying with the Cowboys, but don't waste a draft pick -- even a late one -- on Vanderjagt without more certainty.
Quick Cuts: Ron Jaworski got a good look at Chad Pennington and came away impressed. My pal Jaws said the magic word -- velocity -- when discussing what he saw. Baseball pitchers often take two years to come back from similar injuries, so its too early to give up on Pennington just yet ... When your guy has knee surgery -- and let's face it, it's when, not if -- the word you want to hear is "scope." Although surgeons and physical therapists have made great strides in all knee surgeries, scopes are nearly a nonfactor. The Colts managed to hide the fact that DT Corey Simon had undergone a scope for nearly a week, but projecting him back for the opener was an easy call, regardless. One factor to remember is that weight causes stress on a knee. Simon and many other players like him are missing the shock absorption the meniscus (knee cartilage) once provided
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Weekend fantasy watch


posted: Friday, August 25, 2006 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Fantasy NFL


I know the preseason means next to nothing, but that doesn't mean we can't watch some individual players this weekend to see what happens. Preseason performance shouldn't be more than a minor consideration (especially statistically) in deciding who to draft, but c'mon, you're not at all curious how Carson Palmer looks on Monday night?

Look, I'm going to watch at least the first quarter of tonight's Eagles-Steelers tilt. I know I will, and it's not just to see Tony Kornheiser and Joe Theismann sweat. It's just not that warm in Philly today, not like Louisiana last week. Hey, I was worried for their health. But watching how first-team players look in the preseason, it can play a role in drafts. I'll be drafting tonight as well. Should be fun.
Here are 10 or so players to watch this weekend. You won't watch them all, at least I hope not, because then you'd need a 10-step program. But read about their performances later. And don't get too worried when one of the players you're looking at drafting fails to play at all this weekend. It's not a big deal, unless injury is holding them back, or they might not have a job.
Carson Palmer, Bengals: Whether Carson's issues are in his head or his knee, it's important that he's playing. The Bengals need to see him out there making throws and, to borrow a line from Tom Cruise's "Top Gun," he needs to engage. In other words, he's looked very timid out on the field since the major knee surgery, and it's tough to make him one of the top five quarterbacks in a fantasy draft unless we're sure he's ready to take some chances. So don't worry about the stats in this preseason game, but whether Palmer looks confident in the way he moves around. It's on Monday night, who am I kidding, I will be watching.
Thomas Jones, Bears: Basically, he came back from his injury sooner than Cedric Benson did, and considering it's only two weeks until opening weekend, Jones could really solidify his place on the depth chart by running strong and breaking a long carry or two. Jones has the ability; he'd only be losing this starting job if Benson were to be better. Benson is not playing this weekend.
Correll Buckhalter/Todd Pinkston, Eagles: Even though the Eagles brought Stephen Davis in for a much-ballyhooed interview earlier this week, the team didn't offer a contract. The Rams, later in the week, did. I think the Eagles want to see how Buckhalter looks. Most fantasy owners have given up on him, considering he has missed three of the last four full seasons with major knee injuries. I can't say I'd be confident in those knees, so let's see how Buckhalter does with extended carries. He could be Philly's goal line back. As for Pinkston, he's not likely to be a key fantasy contributor, but he could find his way into the starting lineup if he plays well. Reggie Brown needs someone else to get open.
Kevin Jones, Lions: I seem to be alone in thinking Jones could put things together for a fine season, so maybe if he shows up on SportsCenter after tonight's game, his value will change. Jones has Mike Martz calling the plays, which I think will help him overall. So while Jones is not playing for health or battling anyone, his performance tonight could affect fantasy judgment, which might not be a bad thing. As a late-second rounder, I like Jones.
Mike Bell, Broncos: The fact is that this Denver situation can change at any time, with or without notice. If Bell fumbles this weekend, it changes. If Bell breaks off a 50-year touchdown, it changes less, because I think Bell is pretty much entrenched as the starter. Bell says he wants to work on blocking and picking up the blitz this weekend, which certainly plays into whether he keeps the job. I've already moved Bell into early fourth-rounder range, but with each solid performance, the rest of the fantasy football world will be forced to do likewise.
Kevan Barlow, Jets: He's unlikely to play very much tonight against the Giants, which is a good thing. I think he can only hurt his role with the team by playing poorly. He's brand new, doesn't know the plays or the blocking schemes, he's being given a pass this weekend. It's clear he's the starter. Meanwhile, Derrick Blaylock has had a decent month, and is a nice passing option and blocker. Barlow's the starter, but Blaylock could get noticed with another fine game.
Matt Jones, Jaguars: His role is cemented as well, despite a balky ankle this month, but his name is frequently mentioned as a fantasy sleeper, which he might or might not be. He's already had a few big plays this preseason as Byron Leftwich's favorite target, another highlight catch or two probably moves him into No. 2 fantasy wide receiver territory. And throw Troy Williamson into this class as well. He's starting, but fantasy owners will be more likely to grab a guy with some preseason numbers.
Vernand Morency, Texans: Depending which rumor you want to believe about the health of Domanick Davis, Morency is either in control of the starting job here, or merely wasting his energy this preseason as the No. 2 back, and Davis will be fine for opening weekend against the Eagles. Morency himself is a bit banged up, and rule No. 1 in a training camp battle is it's hard to win it unless you're out there on the field. Look for Morency to play this weekend like his job is on the line. Fantasy owners take note of this good gamble late.
Deuce McAllister, Saints: We still don't have much clarity on the running back situation here, but McAllister is going to get plenty of carries if he can handle the load. Neither he nor Reggie Bush did much in Monday's game against Dallas, so let's see what happens tomorrow against the Colts. It's not about the stats for McAllister, but like with Cincy's Palmer, how he looks.
Reche Caldwell, Patriots: Deion Branch is definitely not playing for the Pats this weekend, and possibly never again, which means Tom Brady (or for this weekend, Matt Cassel) needs someone to throw to. Caldwell, like most Pats in the Brady-Belichick era, shouldn't be expect to put up big stats this season, regardless of whether he's the No. 1 option or not. But now that Branch is officially on the trade block, and it's unlikely the Pats will get a starting receiver in return, let's see how Caldwell looks with all this pressure on him. He could be an occasional No. 3 fantasy WR option this season if things go right for him. OK, enjoy those preseason games this weekend, we'll blog again on Monday
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Aug. 25, 2006, 3:05 PM
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FFL Mailbag: Aug. 25


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Rebel Solomon, Lexington, Ky.: I completed my draft last weekend. I gambled late and took Jerry Porter, Greg Jones, Kevan Barlow, and Isaac Bruce in Rounds 11 through 14. I am beginning to have some serious reservations about Porter. Should I drop him now with Greg Jennings and Travis Taylor available? Or should I just stow him away and pray he gets traded?
<!--##FRONTSTOP##--><TABLE 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>[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: A calf injury has held Porter back this preseason, and while there have been rumors that the Raiders have been talking about meeting his trade demands, nothing has materialized for sure. If Porter does get moved, though, or stays with Oakland, he simply has too much talent not to give a shot at starting for your team. We'd all like to see more consistency from him, and Porter has been overrated in the past, but he can still get you decent overall numbers and he'll be a quality starter capable of big plays when the matchup is right. He might be statistically erratic, but I wouldn't cut him loose yet. Jennings is having a fine preseason, but he is still just a rookie. I'd try to cut someone else to add Jennings if you can. Taylor might post some decent numbers occasionally, but Porter still has more potential to make plays downfield. Keep Porter for now.
Dustin, Indianapolis: You had Daunte Culpepper over Eli Manning in your one-man mock draft. I just don't see it. Can you give me some insight as to why you would draft Daunte over Eli?
Engel: I'm not quite as high on Manning as some other fantasy players. But that's only for this season. I eventually think he'll be fairly close to his brother in terms of fantasy appeal. Yet I also believe his learning process will continue this season, and he still has some work to do in terms of his decision-making and accuracy, especially under pressure. I don't expect Manning to be statistically consistent, even though he will have some big games and his final numbers might look good overall. As for Culpepper, he's certainly healthy again and surrounded by much more talent in Miami than he was in Minnesota last year. We've already seen the kinds of numbers Culpepper can post with a quality supporting cast. While he doesn't have Randy Moss, he could still throw 25-plus TD passes and rush for a few scores, while making less mistakes than Manning. I believe much of Culpepper's struggles last year before he was hurt were do to the fact that he had a limp crew of skill position players, and he tried to force things too often. Culpepper has exhibited better decision-making skills so far this preseason and doesn't look like the same major disappointment he was in 2005. I think he'll have a big rebound year and will be more statistically dependable than Manning, who might have a few bigger outings. I'd rather have the more steady QB of the two, and that will be Culpepper. Manning would have went in the seventh round of my 10-team mock.
Matt, Boca Raton, Fla: I have the sixth pick in a 12 team league. I know Tiki Barber and Edgerrin are going fourth and fifth. So that leaves me with either Clinton Portis, Ronnie Brown, Steven Jackson, or LaMont Jordan. It seems the only one that has the most upside and least question marks is Ronnie Brown, but he's constantly ranked below the others. Would I be wrong to take Brown sixth? I'm not a Dolphins fan, so that doesn't play into my approach.
Engel: Don't assume Barber and James will be gone. You never know for sure what other owners will do, and some are steering clear of Barber because of age and goal-line concerns, and avoiding James because of his questionable offensive line. If Barber falls to you, he's the automatic choice, as I don't buy into the age arguments (it's just a label and doesn't apply to Tiki) and he'll still score a good amount of times even if he isn't the preferred goal-line option. Brown is potentially outstanding and versatile, but I'd rather go with a more proven RB. If Rudi Johnson is there at the sixth spot, I believe he's very dependable and underrated, and he is one of the safest picks you can make when questions surround other top running backs. I like Jordan after Rudi, because he runs well and catches pass, and then I would go for Jackson, who might get more regular touches than Brown and should be more of a red zone presence than the Miami RB. So be ready to take Tiki if he falls to you, otherwise go for Rudi. Portis' shoulder issues have put him out of the top 10 at his position in my estimation.
Clayton Keirns, Fontana, Calif.: So you have been talking about Reggie Bush and Chester Taylor as good No.2 RB's. Which one would you take first?
Engel: I go for Bush early in the second round, as he can score or make a big play any time he touches the ball. I think he will be one of the best No. 2 RBs in fantasy football this season. Yes, Deuce McAllister is still there, but he might come along slowly and the Saints are going to find a lot of ways to get Bush a healthy amount of touches every week. Bush can be an even more productive version of a healthy Brian Westbrook, form the statistical perspective. Taylor is quickly gaining more appeal, as he will be a focal point of the Minnesota offense. But while he should get a very healthy amount of touches, Taylor is more yeoman worker than standout playmaker. He'll be dependable, but he won't wow you with speed or monster performances. Taylor is a solid pick early in the third round, and you could see him go off the board late in the second in some leagues.
Dave, Dallas: My 10-team keeper league allows two keepers each season. I decided to keep Shaun Alexander and Willie Parker, so the first round of our draft basically becomes the "third" round . Who would you select from these available players in the third round? Peyton Manning, Torry Holt, Steve Smith, or maybe even Reggie Bush because of his keeper value?
Engel: You already have a pretty impressive duo of RBs, so I'd pass on Bush if I could get Manning, easily the top QB in any format. If Manning won't be available, you can't get a more reliable receiver than Holt, who is unmatched at his position for annually excellent production. Smith can surely post huge numbers if his hamstring doesn't become a lingering issue this year. I'd take Manning, Holt, Smith, then Bush in your situation.
Dan Korensky, Grand Island, Neb.: Recently, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne usually are ranked top five and top 10 respectively. Yet I can't shake the feeling that this is the year their ratings switch places. Wayne did have more yards last year and is younger.
Engel: It certainly could happen, but there really aren't any apparent signs that Harrison is going to slow down in the TD department just yet. The Colts might throw more this season without Edgerrin James, but that doesn't lead me to believe Wayne will outscore Harrison. Wayne scored only five times last year, and while I expect better TD totals from him last year, Harrison is still Peyton Manning's preferred target when he goes for the home run. Harrison can still beat many defenders deep and knows how to get open in the red zone. There are many assumptions that Harrison will decline because of his age, but I can't buy into them yet. I can't base a possible drop in production simply on a number when Harrison is still clearly playing at a very high level. Wayne should be better than last year, but he wasn't dependable last year for scores and needs to show us he can deal better with the extra defensive attention he saw last year. He'll see more tight coverages in 2006 as defenses expect Manning to go downfield more. Harrison has already proven that he can still score often while facing extra defenders and defenses geared to contain him. Wayne must show he can find the end zone more against defenses geared to shut down the Indianapolis wideouts.
Oscar P., Portland, Ore.: I respect your opinion on fantasy football but you and a lot of the other "experts" who always recommend taking an 11th or 12th-best running back rather than a top four or five wide receiver are overlook something about running backs. While yes, it's true that every team only has one starting RB, the trend over the past two or three years is for teams to have a second running back get the vast majority of the goal-line opportunities. In fantasy leagues that give one point for every 20 yards gained and six points for TDs, those goal-line backs are just as good fantasy-wise as those starting RBs. Even the Seahawks, with TD-machine Shaun Alexander, are working during training camp/preseason on developing a goal-line back. Engel: Thanks Oscar. I respect your opinion also. But I don't agree with it. I believe you are overrating the amount of goal-line RBs we are seeing. A few teams have tried to develop them, but I don't think the phenomenon is widespread. It depends on the team and the scheme. Brandon Jacobs, T.J. Duckett, Marion Barber and Mike Alstott are the only guys who really have a chance of getting consistent goal-line opportunities this year. Greg Jones and Ciatrick Fason are also candidates, but the latter might not really be a factor with Chester Taylor expected to assume a heavy workload. There are also a few teams who don't have a clear-cut starting RB yet, making many of the top 15 or so RBs even more appealing. Most fantasy leagues award one point for every 10 rushing yards. And there's no way you can convince me Shaun Alexander is going to lose goal-line carries in Seattle. Leonard Weaver scoring form short range in exhibition games means nothing. He only had 17 regular season carries last year and I doubt he'll get much more than that this year. I fail to see the goal-line RB as a widespread trend. A few teams will employ a goal-line specialist, but not too many.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (1 New Article Added 8/24/06)

Aug. 25, 2006, 3:12 PM
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FFL: Draft spotlight


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Each week, we review the early rounds of an ESPN.com draft. See who other owners are choosing as you prepare for your own draft. All leagues reviewed have a starting lineup of 1 QB, 1 RB, 1 RB/WR, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST. All leagues award four points for a TD pass and two-point bonuses for TD passes, runs and receptions over 40 yards. All leagues reviewed are real leagues, not mock drafts. So next time you're drafting on ESPN.com, remember, we could be watching you!
This Week's Featured League: San Francisco 242726
Round One
1. Team Howen: Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs
2. Team Jones: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks
3. Team *: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers
4. Birmingham Panthers: Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
5. Team Thompson: Tiki Barber, RB, Giants
6. Team TV: Edgerrin James, RB, Cardinals
7. Team Goldman: Steven Jackson, RB, Rams
8. Team Moore: Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins
9. Team Perret: LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders
10. Team Cottrell: Carnell Williams, RB, Buccaneers
Engel's Take: No surprises in the first three here, although I'm on the verge of moving Alexander past Larry Johnson, as the Kansas City offensive line now has injuries as well as two notable retirements to contend with. This is too early for Manning, especially in a league that only awards four points for a TD pass. Barber is the smart pick at No. 5 and has become more attractive to fantasy owners in the fourth and fifth slots because of the Portis injury concerns. James' offensive line concerns are going to hurt his overall numbers for sure, and I won't take him if I'm in the top six. Portis' value is slipping to the point where I might not take him in the first round of a 10-team league. Jordan is terrific value at No. 9 overall. There is some hesitation by some owners to take him because of Oakland's preseason issues at QB, but Jordan performed well in adverse circumstances last year.
Round Two
11. TC: Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins
12. TP: Rudi Johnson, RB, Bengals
13. TM: Domanick Davis, RB, Texans
14. TG: Willis McGahee, RB, Bills
15: TTV: Steve Smith, WR, Panthers
16. TT: Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals
17: BP: Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles
18. T*: Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
19. TJ: Torry Holt, WR, Rams
20: TH: Terrell Owens, WR, Cowboys
Engel's Take: Team Cottrell builds himself a fine backfield by taking Brown as the second of his back-to-back picks, and Team Perret makes another terrific value pick, getting Rudi Johnson at No. 12. Rudi is ultra-consistent and just because he isn't glamorous, he's slipping in some drafts when he is definitely worthy of a mid first-round pick. Davis' value is falling fast because of his knee problems, and you'll see him fall past this round in many upcoming drafts. With other top receivers dealing with injury problems, Chad Johnson is starting to look like the safest pick at the position. He has performed well with Anthony Wright in the preseason, easing concerns about how Cincinnati's QB picture might affect him. Westbrook's appeal is starting to fall a bit although he should still be ready for the season if he has no further setbacks. Bush is a great pick late in the second round, as he has no real major questions surrounding him and he looks like a threat to score often even if he doesn't get the ideal amount of touches.
Round Three
21. TH: Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
22. TJ: Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts
23: T*: Randy Moss, WR, Raiders
24. BP: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
25: TT: Julius Jones, RB, Cowboys
26. TTV: Kevin Jones, RB, Lions
27. TG: Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals
28. TM: Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
29. TP: Reuben Droughns, RB, Browns
30. TC: Santana Moss, WR, Redskins
Engel's Take: Teams Howen and Jones pass on No. 2 RBs to grab No. 2 WRs, which is more applicable in a league that only requires a minimum of one RB starter, but I'd take the second RB here in most formats if I still need him. Gates is now settling in as a surefire third-rounder in a lot of drafts now that Philip Rivers is showing us he at least won't be a major flop. Julius Jones might not be the best RB on the board. Droughns is a better selection towards the end of the round, although I don't agree with Team Perret taking a third RB when you only have to start one. How about grabbing a starting receiver first instead of building depth? That's what I prefer. Team Cottrell is building a solid roster so far, with two strong running backs and a top wide receiver.
Round Four
31. TC: Chris Chambers, WR, Dolphins
32. TP: Corey Dillon, RB, Patriots
33: TM: Willie Parker, RB, Steelers
34. TG: Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings
35. TTV: Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts
36. TT: Jamal Lewis, RB, Ravens
37. BP: Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals
38. T*: Joseph Addai, RB, Colts
39. TJ: Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers
40. TH: DeShaun Foster, RB, Panthers
Engel's Take: Another solid pick by Team Cottrell, although he has two Dolphins, and could be leaning too heavily on one team for his success this year. Team Perret becomes the one guy (there always seems to be one) who chooses to hoard RBs instead of filling out his starting lineup at receiver first. Why draft to trade when the players you might target in a deal are still on the board? The Parker pick is smart for Team Moore, which took two injury-risk RBs early on. Team Goldman doesn't need a third RB, but Taylor is still a great value pick here. He might go as early as the second round in some upcoming drafts. Team Thompson takes another questionable RB. But the most baffling pick of the draft so far is the Palmer selection by the Birmingham Panthers. There's absolutely no good reason to take a second QB in the fourth round, especially when you have the ultra-reliable Manning already. This is clearly a "draft-to-trade" move, which I totally disagree with. Again, why draft to make a deal when the players you might try to acquire later can simply be taken now? You should trade to fill needs later on, not draft to make deals down the line. Making sure you have a strong starting lineup comes first. The Delhomme pick is a definite reach, as you can get him at least two rounds later and there are better QBs still available.
Round Five
41. TH: Ahman Green, RB, Packers
42. TJ: Tony Gonzalez, TE, Chiefs
43. T*: Tatum Bell, RB, Broncos
44. BP: Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants
45. TT: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
46. TTV: Warrick Dunn, RB, Falcons
47. TG: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals
48. TM: Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers
49. TP: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles
50. TC: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks

Engel's Take: I wouldn't take Tatum Bell over Mike Bell right now, especially with the former not giving us any reasons to believe he'll be anything more than a part-time RB. The Birmingham Panthers still get the receiver they might have been considering a round earlier, but could have taken another RB or a No. 2 WR at this pick instead of having to take a No. 1 receiver here. Brady is a great pick at this point, and should have been the second QB off the board after Manning. We're seeing the best QBs go by this point, and McNabb is also a solid choice. He was a good fantasy QB without Owens and a thin receiving corps in the past. Hasselbeck tends to go a bit earlier in some leagues, but he's the perfect choice here. He's not a classic elite fantasy QB, but he fills out the starting lineup of Team Cottrell very nicely here. TC has now filled out five of his starting slots, a very smart way to execute the first five rounds of your draft.
Round Six
51. TC: Bears defense/special teams
52. TP: Thomas Jones, RB, Bears
53. TM: Deuce McAllister, RB, Saints
54. TG: Chris Brown, RB, Titans
55. TTV: Jeremy Shockey, TE, Giants
56. TT: Roy Williams, WR, Lions
57. BP: Andre Johnson, WR, Texans
58. T*: Cedric Benson, RB, Bears
59. TJ: Falcons D/ST
60. TH: Darrell Jackson, WR, Seahawks

Engel's Take: Just when I was heaping praise on Team Cottrell, he takes a D/ST way too early. Even the best units shouldn't be considered for at least another four rounds, and you can still get a good one if you wait until the final rounds, which is the ideal strategy. Team Perrett is avoiding WRs for some unknown reason. Jones is the first of the two Chicago RBs picked, a newer trend recently because of some controvesry surrounding Benson. Shockey is a fine value selection here, and it's a little surprising to see Roy Williams slip this far, where Team Thompson makes the outstanding "steal". Team Jones also takes a D/ST, its second very questionable pick of the draft. Again, it's too early to take a unit at the position, and Atlanta's D/ST isn't even one of the best available. Team Jones started strong in the first three rounds but has made some very shaky picks in recent rounds.
The Later Rounds Team * makes a great pick in the seventh, grabbing Javon Walker. ... Team TV snatches Eli Manning in the same round. ... Team Moore also gets Todd Heap in the seventh. ... Team Cottrell lands Frank Gore at the end of the seventh round. .. Team Cottrell follows up with Donald Driver in the eighth. ... Team * nabs Lee Evans in the ninth. ... The Birmingham Panthers snare Mike Bell in the 10th round. .. Team Howen takes Kevan Barlow at the end of the 10th. ... Team Thompson steals Greg Jones in Round 13. ... Team Jones takes Jerious Norwood in the 14th round. .. Team Perret gets Reggie Brown in the 15th round.

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Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Hache what do you think about Eli Mannign this year?

Some think he'll be great, some think he's a bust
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Hache what do you think about Eli Mannign this year?

Some think he'll be great, some think he's a bust


He's got weapons Eagle, in Plaxico Burress, Shockey, Tiki Barber out of the backfield, etc.

Giants went 11-5 last season and was 3rd in the league in scoring with 422 points.
Seems that went unnoticed by many......

I personally expect him to do well........
 

Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Aug. 28, 2006, 3:25 PM
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FFL: Weekend Wrap


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By Scott Engel
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Here's an in-depth look at some of the top stories from the past weekend, including player news and exhibition game performances.
Javon Walker breaks exhibition silence: Denver's newest receiver had missed the preseason opener and didn't catch a pass in the second exhibition game, raising some concerns among fantasy leaguers that he was coming along slowly in his return from a major knee injury. On Sunday night, however, Walker showed he is indeed ready to put a lost 2005 season behind him. Walker caught three passes for 41 yards, and it's clear Jake Plummer will make Walker a prime target in the Denver passing game this season. Walker has been dropping to the middle rounds of many drafts, and if he continues to show no apparent ill effects of last year's injury, he could be quite a bargain choice, especially as a No. 2 fantasy receiver.
The Houston RB picture: There have been nothing but vague reports and gloomy rumors about the health of Domanick Davis. So reserves Vernand Morency and rookie Wali Lundy continued to battle for playing time at RB on Sunday against Denver. While the Houston staff has indicated they want to see better play for Morency this preseason, he was outplayed by Lundy, the impressive and versatile rookie. Morency totaled 56 yards from scrimmage, but Lundy carried the ball 10 times for 44 yards while Morency finished with 36 rushing yards on 13 carries. Lundy also caught three passes for 17 yards. The two could end up sharing carries while Davis is out, but Lundy is looking like the slightly better fantasy pick in the later rounds right now. Morency has the edge in experience, but Lundy has shown a lot of promise during the preseason and could eventually beat out Morency for more playing time.
Big game for Ben Watson: Deion Branch has been sitting out because of a contract dispute, but Tom Brady still has looked good this preseason, and he might have found a new favorite target. Tight end Benjamin Watson caught eight passes for 97 yards and a TD against Washington. Watson also drew two flags for pass interference. Even if Branch returns to New England soon, Brady is known for distributing the ball well, and it's clear Watson could be one of his top options on a regular basis. Watson could be primed for a breakthrough season, so don't hesitate to bump him up on your cheat sheets and take him when the top five or so tight ends have already been picked.
Barlow's forgettable debut: In his first game in a Jets uniform, Kevan Barlow rushed for only 11 yards on three carries and lost a fumble. While Barlow did nothing to inspire fantasy leaguers to gain more confidence in him, his outing shouldn't necessarily be viewed as a sign of things to come in 2006. It will take Barlow some time to adjust to new schemes and surroundings. He could still ultimately end up as a decent flex player or a third fantasy RB. If Barlow doesn't play well, though, don't expect Derrick Blaylock to become a prime option for the Jets. Blaylock might not be able to take the pounding of playing often and has had trouble with his pass blocking this preseason. Barlow should remain worthy of a mid-round pick in most leagues, and you should see improved play from him soon as he attempts to prove himself with his new ballclub.
Gore seizes the opportunity: Frank Gore quickly showed what he is capable of as San Francisco's starting RB. With Barlow now out of the picture, Gore immediately pounced on the chance to be a featured back. Gore carried nine times for 49 yards against Dallas and was a clear challenge to the defense even while quarterback Alex Smith didn't play at an optimum level. Since the Barlow trade, Gore has shot up in fantasy value, and is now being targeted as a No. 2 fantasy RB by many owners. He makes a fine pick early in the fourth round of upcoming drafts.
More Terrell Owens trouble: The details of Terrell Owens' unsettling preseason are already well-known to most fantasy players, and now he has drawn a fine from his new team. Instead of rehashing the details, it's more important to affirm that Owens, who was considered a possible top-three fantasy receiver before camp began, has certainly hurt his fantasy stock with his continued antics. Many fantasy owners expected Owens to be on his best behavior this year while he tried to put his problems with the Eagles behind him, at least for one year. But Owens has continued to be a big problem for his new team, the Cowboys, and has even hurt his chances of opening the season as a starter. Owens is still a top-10 fantasy receiver because of his incredible talent and the possibility that he will suddenly become healthy and less of a problem for Dallas when the regular season starts. But it's clear you shouldn't pick him over other top receivers with no character or injury issues. Chad Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Marvin Harrison are among the top-level wide receivers who are clearly better picks than Owens right now.
Duckett doesn't look good: T.J. Duckett didn't do much to raise his fantasy appeal in his first exhibition game with the Redskins, as he rushed for only eight yards on four carries. Still, one forgettable preseason performance shouldn't make fantasy owners avoid Duckett, especially as a handcuff pick to Clinton Portis. Duckett is a proven goal-line presence who could really shine if he gets the opportunity to carry often for Washington. If Portis misses any time this season because of his shoulder problem, Duckett could play well if he is needed to start for the Redskins at some point. He should be at least good for some spot scores as a fantasy reserve. Don't hesitate to grab Duckett in the middle rounds of your draft or to make a trade for him if you already have Portis on your roster.
Falcons rookie puts on a show: Jerious Norwood might have driven Duckett out of Atlanta with his great camp, and he continued to amaze onlookers when the Falcons took on Tennessee on Saturday. Norwood rushed for 104 yards on nine carries, including a 62-yard scoring run. Norwood certainly is in line to share some carries with Warrick Dunn and is looking like a very appealing flex option/No. 3 fantasy RB. Dunn might get some more goal-line carries with Duckett gone, but Norwood should certainly serve as a regular option to keep Dunn from getting overworked. Norwood has created a major buzz in Atlanta's 2006 camp since the beginning, and he has the potential to score from anywhere on the field.
Deuce shows some promise: While much hype surrounds his rookie running mate, Deuce McAllister served notice that both he and Reggie Bush could be integral parts of the New Orleans offense this season. McAllister rushed for 62 yards and a TD against the Colts. It's clear McAllister will get a healthy amount of touches and opportunities to score if he can steer clear of any further injury issues. He might be statistically inconsistent in his first season back from a major injury, but he could have some quality outings and he looks like a good third fantasy RB for now. McAllister's successful Saturday, however, shouldn't reflect negatively on the appeal of Bush. The rookie had 10 touches against Indianapolis, and he should get a lot of work as both a runner and receiver. Bush can score from anywhere on the field. He still should be drafted as a No. 2 fantasy RB with great upside.
Braylon Edwards back in action: Second-year receiver Braylon Edwards has recovered quicker than expected from last year's knee injury. He made his preseason debut against Buffalo. Edwards caught only one pass for nine yards, but his return to the field was very encouraging. With no setbacks, Edwards should be ready for the regular season. Even if he starts slowly from a statistical perspective, and the Browns exercise caution with him, Edwards clearly has the ability to re-emerge as a quality fantasy starter later in the season. He's looking like a fine later-round bargain or good trade target for upside right now.
Larry Johnson runs over Rams: While there have been recent concerns about injuries and losses of key veterans on the Kansas City offensive line, Larry Johnson has remained focused on making the most of his first chance to be a clear-cut starter. Johnson carried nine times for 37 yards and a TD against St. Louis. While Johnson is still certainly worthy of a top-three pick because of his upside, I noted that he posted those promising weekend numbers against a Rams defense that could be one of the league's weaker units this year. Johnson should still finish with fine overall numbers, but he could have to work harder for yardage against better opponents during the regular season. Personally, I have dropped him to third at RB behind safer choices Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. Thomas Jones returns: Jones carried four times for three yards against the Cardinals on Friday. While he didn't report any problems following his preseason debut, it was apparent he wasn't quite himself in his return from a hamstring problem. Cedric Benson sat out again because of a shoulder injury but could still pass Jones on the depth chart when he is healthy again. The two RBs could conceivably split playing time during the regular season.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Aug. 28, 2006, 1:25 PM
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Carroll Injury Report: Smith, Owens


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<!-- firstName = Will --><!-- lastName = Carroll -->By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD style="PADDING-TOP: 10px" vAlign=top><!-- begin leftcol --><!-- template inline -->I'll admit to being spoiled. As I type this, I'm sitting at the gate at Washington Dulles airport, typing away on my laptop despite the inexplicable lack of Wi-Fi here. The great thing about this job and modern technology is that I can still do it. My PDA is bringing me texts and e-mails while my cell phone is pinging me with alerts and news. Sure, my pockets might be full, but the time spent waiting on airplanes is no longer wasted because I can still do my job.
Steve Smith was, by many measures, the best fantasy WR in 2005. It's hard to repeat as champion in any way, even just repeating this feat. Smith is already behind a bit as his strained hamstring has kept him off the field through most of training camp. Smith is a speed receiver who runs short routes and gets big YAC. If Smith loses just a half-step, that means more DBs and LBs will be able to run him down or, worse, get him before he gets separation. Speed receivers seldom recover in-season from leg injuries, and the chronic ones can be career changers if not career enders. Smith has shown the ability to come back from injury without a significant effect on his game. Realistic expectations for this season combined with the injury should drop him back on your draft board, but keep him in the elite tier of WRs.
Continuing the theme of WRs with leg problems -- among other things -- Terrell Owens is reporting a setback in his long rehab from a strained hamstring. Missing more reps and keeping the national media on Tunawatch won't help Owens' standing. A recurrent hamstring strain is even worse. Although he's not a speed receiver, Owens is missing reps while the Cowboys go through an interesting training camp. Owens isn't getting time on the field with Drew Bledsoe or Tony Romo, which leaves whoever wins the QB job plenty of time to develop a connection with Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton and Jason Witten. Owens, even if he gets back soon, is fast becoming the third or fourth receiving option in Dallas.
The Bengals announced that Carson Palmer will play in their upcoming exhibition game, so what should medheads and others, perhaps those thinking of drafting last year's top QB, look for when he takes the field? It's tough to spot confidence, whether you're in the stands or watching on TV, so instead, let's all become mini-Jaworskis for a bit. Watching Palmer, you want to take note of his dropback: Is he getting back quickly? Is there a limp? Can he plant that knee as he throws? Watch the way he moves: Is he tentative or halting? Is there a limp? Is his first step quick enough to avoid rushers, or will he be more willing to take a sack? Watch his throws: Are they crisp, thrown from good mechanics, or is he antsy as he throws? What's his reaction after the throw: Is he looking for the next Kimo von Oelhoffen to roll him up or is his confidence back. Palmer is too talented to not come back, and let's face it, running isn't part of his skill set. For Palmer and the Bengals, we just need to see signs of the old Palmer before drafting him as high as we would have with the old Palmer.
Some injuries just sound painful. Torn quadriceps tendon. It's an injury that sounds as if it should be announced by John Facenda and punctuated by a crack of doom. Maybe a torn quad tendon isn't quite as uncomfortable as a torn groin or a Thiesmann-style fracture, but it's definitely a problem for a RB. Ahman Green came back too early, testing the tendon, then experiencing a catastrophic failure at the middle of the 2005 season. It's a testament to the Packers medical team and Green's work ethic that he's back at all. According to sources close to Green, he's a tireless worker who practices as hard as he plays, something he carried into his rehab. There's no history of a RB returning from this injury, so combining that with his age and workload, expect him to be good, not great -- a solid No. 2 RB you'll be happy to use a midround pick to acquire.
You just learned that your starting running back has been shut down for the remainder of the preseason. What will you do? If you drafted Jamal Lewis, expecting the revamped Ravens offense to help him return to his power-running form, the news that he'd miss the rest of the preseason had to be worrying. I'm here to tell you to exhale and tell you that you made a great pick. Lewis has a hip pointer, a painful injury that is a bruise at the iliac crest, the point of the hip, just below the love handles. (And if you don't have love handles, I hate you.)
Darrell Jackson was off a lot of injury radars after coming back last season to help the Seahawks make their playoff run. However, Jackson had a second surgery after the season and is still dealing with the consequences. He's on a rehab program designed to rid him of contractures, a problem with scar tissue inside the knee that reduces the range of motion. Let's add this up -- speed receiver with a recurrent knee problem. That equals bad. Jackson was replaced pretty easily last season without much detriment to the Seahawks, but if you're looking for a late-round draft steal, Jackson isn't it. He will be worth keeping an eye on; his rehab should have him on track to be a nice waiver wire pickup in the early season.
Every time I have to talk about a kicking injury, I feel a little bit as though Jim Mora's playoff rant is going to come out of my mouth. Kickers are often interchangeable parts in fantasy leagues, but two big-name kickers might need to be adjusted on your draft board. Adam Vinatieri moved from the cold of Foxborough to the consistent indoor comfort of Indy, something sure to help his kicking. Unfortunately, it looks as though an ankle sprain might be enough to not only keep him out of the preseason but maybe also keep him out at the start of the season. Drafting Vinatieri means you'll have to have two kickers on your roster for Week 1 -- or drop him, wasting a pick. There's even more risk with Mike Vanderjagt. The former Indy kicker took his act to Dallas, where it has been a mess. Vanderjagt injured his groin early in camp, then exacerbated it warming up for the second preseason game. There are whispers that Vanderjagt's injury has Bill Parcells thinking of cutting the newly signed free agent already. I think he'll end up staying with the Cowboys, but don't waste a draft pick -- even a late one -- on Vanderjagt without more certainty.
Quick Cuts: Ron Jaworski got a good look at Chad Pennington and came away impressed. My pal Jaws said the magic word -- velocity -- when discussing what he saw. Baseball pitchers often take two years to come back from similar injuries, so its too early to give up on Pennington just yet ... When your guy has knee surgery -- and let's face it, it's when, not if -- the word you want to hear is "scope." Although surgeons and physical therapists have made great strides in all knee surgeries, scopes are nearly a nonfactor. The Colts managed to hide the fact that DT Corey Simon had undergone a scope for nearly a week, but projecting him back for the opener was an easy call, regardless. One factor to remember is that weight causes stress on a knee. Simon and many other players like him are missing the shock absorption the meniscus (knee cartilage) once provided
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Aug. 28, 2006, 3:17 PM
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Langendorf: Defensive Thinking


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By Jason Langendorf
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Show me anything more glamorous than drafting a fantasy defense. A runaway victory in a toenail-clipping contest? Uh-uh. An all-expenses-paid trip to a "Battlestar Gallactica" fantasy camp? No chance.
Look, defenses are where it's at. And the special teams? I have one word for you: dreamy. Who cares about The Next Michael Jordan? Let's talk about The Next Steve Tasker.
Fine, defense/special teams aren't exactly A-listers on draft day--but don't fall asleep on them. Absent-mindedly grab some unit with a rep or just settle on one that scored well last season, and rival owners will have a name for you: putz.
Because little separates the first-tier and second-tier units and there's all kinds of volatility among D/STs from year to year, assessing relative value as your draft unfolds is crucial. Know the best, but don't be afraid to wait on the rest (which, weirdly, could wind up being the best by season's end). A quick primer on the D/STs fantasy owners should familiarize themselves with:
<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]Jason Langendorf's D/ST Rankings
1. Bears
2. Steelers
3. Panthers
4. Jaguars
5. Seahawks
6. Ravens
7. Eagles
8. Colts
9. Buccaneers
10. Chargers
11. Cowboys
12. Falcons
13. Patriots
14. Redskins
15. Dolphins
16. Giants
17. Vikings
18. Bengals
19. Chiefs
20. Broncos
21. Cardinals
22. Browns
23. Packers
24. Lions
25. Bills
26. Titans
27. Raiders
28. Jets
29. Rams
30. Saints
31. 49ers
32. Texans
[/FONT]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>1. Bears, 2. Steelers, 3. Panthers
Why bother separating this bunch? All three defenses have a sweet mix of youth and veteran experience, time-tested systems and tough-guy coaches who put a premium on physical play and creating chaos for opposing offenses. With so many returning starters and so few questions, Chicago has the edge over Pittsburgh and Carolina -- but only a slight one. If Panthers DT Kris Jenkins stays healthy and/or the Steelers fill holes left behind by DE Kimo von Oelhoffen and FS Chris Hope, either or both could leapfrog the Bears. It's slim margins like these, not to mention heavy turnover and wildly fluctuating injury fortunes, that make drafting a defense/special teams unit so dicey. Let some other sucker in your league take a defense in the middle rounds while you stockpile insurance policies at running back and receiver.
6. Ravens
Yeah, so they stunk it up last year and fell well short of expectations. Or did they? Despite being dragged down by a bumbling offense and losing LB Ray Lewis and SS Ed Reed (among others) for significant stretches, Baltimore ranked No. 11 among D/ST units in ESPN traditional leagues in 2005. Truth is, the Ravens could score well in '06 with Ray Liotta and Ed Lover in the lineup. DE Terrell Suggs is an East Coast Dwight Freeney, and CB Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are the league's best pair of cover corners. QB Steve McNair will increase Baltimore's offensive efficiency, giving the D more rest. And don't get me started on B.J. Sams, a blink-and-you-miss return man. If DE Trevor Pryce has anything left and wide-load rookie DT Haloti Ngata can protect the linebackers on running downs, this group will be more consistent against the run. And if Lewis and Reed are healthy, the Ravens will make the move from top 10 to top five in sacks and could realistically double last season's 12 interceptions. True story: I've routinely snagged Baltimore in the 16th and 17th rounds of my preseason drafts.
7. Eagles
Philly is the White Castle of 2006 D/ST units: It's late, your choices aren't exactly thrilling -- but, dude, you need something. ... Well, there's always the Eagles. And why not? Philadelphia signed DE Darren Howard and drafted DT Broderick Bunkley to replenish its line depth -- a key to the system -- and prodigal-son LB Shawn Barber could spruce up a second-level trio that can be kindly described as LB Jeremiah Trotter and the Pips. What matters most is the health of QB Donovan McNabb and RB Brian Westbrook. If the offense starts humming again and Philly's D gets to regularly work with a lead, coordinator Jim Johnson will dust off his blitz packages and give the NFL's best secondary more chances to make plays. I trust this bunch more than several '05 flashes in the pan (Cincy, the Giants and even Indy).
8. Colts, 9. Buccaneers
Two cover 2 defenses that scored respectably in '05 (Colts: third, Bucs: seventh). Indianapolis has enough bullets to keep the offense dangerous A.E (After Edge), and Tampa Bay appears poised to make a leap behind maturing QB Chris Simms and RB Carnell Williams. But both of these teams rely on front-four pressure to disrupt the run and get to the quarterback -- something I'm skeptical they can summon every week. The Colts desperately need DT Corey Simon to be in shape to plug the run and make up for weak depth, but his arthroscopic knee surgery last week is a bad omen. Indy's undersized linebackers won't hold up if Simon doesn't play a lot of downs and the offense can't provide adequate rest. The Bucs still have playmakers, but they're geezers -- scary stuff for a D that no longer has a passel of promising reserves.
10. Chargers
I want to fall head-over-heels "Swimfan"-crazy in love with San Diego's D. I really do. But the Bolts' offense scares the bejesus out of me -- only slightly more so than the secondary and the schedule. QB Philip Rivers is a smart coach's kid with plenty going for him: savvy, touch, toughness. What he doesn't have is a single NFL start under his belt. And those receivers make San Francisco's coaches say, "Geez, we thought we had it bad ..." If this club keeps abusing poor RB LaDainian Tomlinson like some kind of a circus animal, he'll break down and leave the offense on the skids. And then no level of heroics from a studly front seven can save the Chargers from the AFC West offenses and their own defensive backfield shortcomings. Of course, if LT can keep channeling Cal Ripken and giving the D extra sideline time and a lead, LB Shawne Merriman and the boys could make as many plays as any D/ST unit.
13. Patriots
Casual fans who saw highlights of the 2005 Duane Starks Toast-a-thon don't realize that New England actually has the makings of a solid secondary. The wiles and machinations of Bill Belichick and his staff and a healthy return by SS Rodney Harrison (though hardly a foregone conclusion) could make the unit a bona fide strength. Less rosy is the outlook for the front seven. The starters, almost to a man, are cream-of-the-crop players whose talent, experience and familiarity with the system can't be overemphasized. But they're graying a bit (especially the linebackers) and don't have the most sterling health history. If DE Richard Seymour and LB Tedy Bruschi can avoid injuries and the Pats emerge from their Week 6 bye relatively unscathed, there's plenty of patsies to pick off on the other side.
16. Giants, 20. Broncos I can believe in "The 4400", every plotline in "Lost" and the graceful aging of country crooner and "Six Pack" uber-star Kenny Rogers. But not for a second am I buying New York and Denver's defenses. Don't get me wrong, both have their share of assets. The Giants have to bookend edge men in DEs Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, and LB LaVar Arrington give N.Y. opponents another pass rusher to somehow account for. The Broncos' linebackers are excellent, the cornerbacks should only get better, and the line stunned with its steadiness in '05. But the Giants' D has a soft, gooey center and fun prizes for opposing run games (touchdowns!). And the corners will get burned downfield -- and probably often -- if the pass rush doesn't cook up unwavering heat. Denver? DE Trevor Pryce will be missed, if only for the depth he provided. It will be almost impossible to repeat last year's 36 takeaways (fourth in the NFL) without a stronger pass rush (uh, adding DE John Engelberger ain't gonna cut it). And the opportunities just won't be there if the Broncos' offense doesn't overcome an aging line and massive turnover at the skill positions.
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Hache Man

"Seven Days Without Gambling Makes One Weak"
Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Re: NFL Fantasy Football News/Articles - ESPN Insider (5 New Article Added 8/25/06)

Aug. 28, 2006, 1:24 PM
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Carroll Injury Report: Portis may be ready for Week 1


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<!-- firstName = Will --><!-- lastName = Carroll -->By Will Carroll
ESPN Fantasy Games

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Injuries are like the weather; everyone talks about them but no one seems to do anything about it. That's where I come in. Like the weather, injuries follow patterns and move in ways that we can both predict and forecast. We're no longer without the data and research necessary to say more than a broad range ("He's out six to eight weeks.") Every fantasy player, every fan of a team, everyone that follows the game understands that injuries can make or break the season. If you follow the metaphor, I'm your weatherman. You might know my work from Baseball Prospectus, where my "Under The Knife" column is read by thousands of readers and all 30 front offices. I brought the same approach to injury analysis to Pro Football Prospectus in 2005 and 2006, making some NFL head coaches call me "their worst nightmare." I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV; I'm a reporter and analyst, focused on using contacts, databases, and information to help the fantasy player avoid the injuries that can ruin a season. Let's get to it:
The biggest injury on the football radar right now is the shoulder of Clinton Portis. Portis had a subluxation of his right shoulder, commonly called a 'partial dislocation.' The humeral head sits in the Carson Palmer. Where Culpepper has been confident, Palmer has been tentative. It's an interesting contrast.
For fantasy players, both are excellent risks. There's seldom an immediate recurrence of the injury, players come back in better condition due to their hard work in rehab, and once returned to function, a player on a reconstructed knee is at very little additional risk compared to any other player at his position and profile. Culpepper has looked great in camp according to most reports and appears ready for Week One. He'll throw a bit more, run a bit less, but doesn't appear to have made significant changes to his style. Palmer, on the other hand, is unlikely to be ready until Week 3 or 4. If he comes back sooner, it won't be a "rush job" as some will call it, but it raises a possibility that he won't be at level. Both players have some risk of pain and soreness costing them some time, but both play on grass through Week Three, a big plus. (Minnesota visits Houston in Week 4, a FieldTurf stadium.) If you can talk up the injury in pre-draft chatter, you might just steal two of the top ten fantasy QBs. Bumps and Bruises: Another ACL survivor is Deuce McAllister, who has Reggie Bush firmly in his rear view mirror. McAllister saw his first game action on Monday and looked good, not great. He lacked burst and didn't appear to be confident in his ability to move laterally. Recovered fully or not, McAllister is likely to lose some touches to Bush ... I'm growing more and more concerned about Steve Smith. The speedy receiver isn't making normal progress after a hamstring strain. Don't overdraft Smith; this injury puts him a few slots down on the WR charts and with all the depth out there, passing up Smith might be the best way to manage roster risk ... An interesting side effect of Ben Roethlisberger's crash was that he lost 15 pounds on his enforced diet. That's good for his knees, but doesn't help his thumb. Big Ben's thumb is rapidly becoming a chronic problem ... The outlook is bleak for Domanick Davis. His knees have a bone-on-bone situation after "minor" surgery last season, something that won't change any time soon. Remember, Texans fans - Reggie Bush has no knee problems. You might remember another Davis with similar problems - Terrell Davis. Last I saw him was in Madden 2006. ... The Cowboys have two big problems. One, Terrell Owens, has been covered elsewhere and his hamstring injury isn't worth typing about. The other, Mike Vanderjagt, had a recurrence of his groin strain while warming up Monday and is doubtful for Week 1.
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