Monday, August 31, 2009

8/31 Sleeper of the Day: Jamaal Charles


Larry Johnson apologists need not read any further. But if, like me, you have trouble believing in LJ this year, Charles could be a guy to watch. The second-year pro is just another Johnson injury/suspension/meltdown away from being KC's feature back.

Charles averaged 5.3 yards a carry last season in limited duty. The one time KC did feature him in the backfield, he gave them an 18-carry, 106-yard effort against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Charles can also be used as a receiver - 27 receptions for 272 yards in '08 - in new coach Todd Haley's spread offense. For now he's a third-down back, but Charles has the potential to be much more and wouldn't be a bad pick as the last RB on your roster.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

8/30 Bust of the Day: Antonio Bryant


Bryant was a pleasant surprise last year, finally delivering on his potential with a 83-catch, 1,248-yard, 7-TD season. But as good as he was for the Bucs last year, there's plenty of reason to dislike him this year.

Start with the torn meniscus in his knee, which has kept him sidelined for the preseason so far. Factor in the fact that he doesn't have much to work with at QB this year (Byron Leftwich has been named the Bucs' Week 1 starter), and also consider the well-traveled receiver's spotty track record, and that's enough for me to treat Bryant as a No. 3 fantasy WR this year instead of the No. 2 many have him pegged as.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

8/29 Sleeper of the Day: Ahmad Bradshaw


Bradshaw brought the fire to the Giants' "Earth, Wind & Fire" running back trio of the past few years, providing a change of pace behind Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward. Now, with Ward in Tampa Bay, Bradhsaw should see an expanded role as Jacobs' primary backup.

The 5-foot-9, 198-pound Bradshaw is a violent and elusive runner with a low center of gravity and the speed to break off long runs. As No. 2 on New York's tailback depth chart, ahead of Danny Ware, Bradshaw is more than just a Jacobs handcuff - Ward rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year in the same capacity, and the Giants could be even more run-oriented in 2009 behind a veteran offensive line that returns intact and without Plaxico Burress as a receiving option. I have Bradshaw slotted 30th in my latest RB rankings, which makes him your top target as a No. 3 back and one of the top backups in the league.

Friday, August 28, 2009

8/28 Bust of the Day: DeAngelo Williams


Can the unquestioned 2008 Fantasy MVP possibly be a bust in 2009? Depends on how you define bust ...

In my eyes, a bust is any player who doesn't live up to common expectations set for him, and by that criteria, Williams is bound to be one. The man scored 20 total TDs last year, after being an afterthought in most drafts and no better than a third RB on most teams to start the year. This season, he'll cost you a small fortune in an auction or a first-round pick in a regular draft. And if you're paying that kind of price, you're expecting Williams to come close to last year's numbers.

But can he? Remember, Williams' stats were padded just a bit by two 4-TD games last year, plus two games in which he rushed for more than 170 yards. He also cracked the 100-yard mark only once in his first seven games last year - which makes his second-half production that much more remarkable.

The problem with Williams is his backup, Jonathan Stewart, who is better-suited for goal-line duty and who will be part of a clear timeshare as soon as his nagging Achilles' injury heals. The Panthers should again boast the most run-heavy offense in the league, which means there will be plenty of carries for both Williams and Stewart. But frankly, I feel like Williams got a little lucky last year, and I believe his stats are bound to level off a little bit as Stewart takes on more respnosibility. I wouldn't be shocked to see Williams' TD total get cut in half this year and his yardage total dip down toward the 1,200- to 1,300-yard range. Those are impressive numbers, no doubt, but there are several other backs capable of duplicating them while not surrendering that many carries to a backup.

I penciled in Williams at No. 8 on my RB rankings, which makes him a late first-round/early second-round choice. Taking him any higher may leave you a bit disappointed if he's simply good and not great in 2009.

Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8/27 Sleeper of the Day: Kyle Orton


The preseason didn't begin well for Denver's new starter, who tossed three picks and was booed off the field in his first start of 2009. But he was much improved last weekend (18-for-26, 182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and still has the backing of first-year Broncos coach Josh McDaniels. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that injury plagued backup Chris Simms is hurt again, and the other QBs on the roster are named Tom Brandstater and Ingle Martin. After the franchise alienated Jay Cutler and eventually traded him for Orton in the offseason, Denver doesn't have many other options anyway.

Orton may not be a marquee name, but it's worth nothing he scored more total TDs than Chad Pennington, Matt Ryan or David Garrard while playing much of 2008 on a bad ankle with the Bears. Now he gets a head coach known for making mediocre QBs into stars (see Matt Cassel), and is surrounded by much shinier toys (Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Tony Scheffler, Knowshon Moreno) and a better offensive line to play with.

I have Orton ranked 15th among QBs this year, which would make him an upper-tier backup in 10-team leagues. He does carry some risk, which is why I'd ideally pair him with a solid performer like Peyton Manning or Donovan McNabb. If he can limit his mistakes and the Broncos run the kind of high-octane, imaginative offense one would expect out of McDaniels, Orton could be a big surprise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

8/26 Bust of the Day: Kurt Warner


I know, I know. He threw for 30 TDs last year and he's got the league's best WR tandem in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. He's a top-five fantasy QB according to most fantasy pundits. But not me.

I put Warner at No. 6, and here's why: He's 38 years old, he had offseason hip surgery, and he's tanked before, due to both injury and poor play. A recent report by ESPN’s John Clayton said Warner’s surgically repaired left hip “hurts only when he stands or walks.” So does my grandfather's, and I'm not picking him for my fantasy team.

I don't hate Warner. I think he could have another good year and help out your fantasy team. But I'm a little wary of spending a high pick on him - I've seen him go as high as the fourth round - when I might be able to wait another round and get a younger, healthier guy like Philip Rivers or Aaron Rodgers, both of whom I think will outperform everyone's favorite former grocery bagger. If that hip still bothers Warner this year, or he and the Cards suffer the same letdown as other recent Super Bowl runners-up, or Warner's deal with the devil simply runs out (again) and he reverts back to the same mistake-prone, aging QB who lost his job in St. Louis and New York - well, I don't really want my fantasy team's success hinging on that.

8/26 Sleeper of the Day: Donald Brown


The Colts spent a first-round draft pick this year on Brown, an outstanding collegiate running back at Connecticut who led all of Division I in rushing last year. Brown is a versatile player who has drawn raves for his ability to block and catch passes out of the backfield, and he projects to be an every-down back at the NFL level.

Indy obviously brought in Brown to compete with the underwhelming Joseph Addai for a spot in the backfield, and though I expect this to be a timeshare situation, at least initially, I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown getting more touches per game than Addai by year's end. You can grab Brown as your No. 3 RB - and much later than Addai - and get some significant points out of him, particularly if Addai finds himself once again on the trainer's table this year.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mock draft podcast

I took part in a mock draft last week with some of my co-workers at the Herald as part of our 2009 fantasy football preview, and we recorded it in a podcast for your listening pleasure:

You can spend hours reading magazines and making lists as you prepare for your season, but it's not easy to predict how others in your league will approach the draft and what strategies will unfold. Hopefully our podcast, featuring myself and five other self-proclaimed fantasy nuts, will offer some insight into how the first round might unfold. Some interesting tidbits we saw in our mock draft: Two QBs and two WRs made the top 10 and LaDainian Tomlinson and DeAngelo Williams didn't.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


**Updated 8/26

1. Adrian Peterson
2. Michael Turner
3. Matt Forte
4. Maurice Jones-Drew
5. Steven Jackson
6. Chris Johnson
7. LaDainian Tomlinson
8. DeAngelo Williams
9. Frank Gore
10. Brandon Jacobs
11. Steve Slaton
12. Clinton Portis
13. Brian Westbrook
14. Marion Barber
15. Ryan Grant
16. Kevin Smith
17. Pierre Thomas
18. Ronnie Brown
19. Derrick Ward
20. Darren McFadden
21. Thomas Jones
22. Joseph Addai
23. Jonathan Stewart
25. Willie Parker
26. Marshawn Lynch
27. Larry Johnson
28. Knowshon Moreno
29. LenDale White
30. Ahmad Bradshaw
31. Jamal Lewis
32. Reggie Bush
33. Ray Rice
34. Cedric Benson
35. Julius Jones
36. Donald Brown
37. Felix Jones
38. Beanie Wells
39. Fred Jackson
40. Earnest Graham
41. Rashard Mendenhall
42. Darren Sproles
43. Leon Washington
44. LeSean McCoy
45. Willis McGahee
46. Tim Hightower
47. Jamaal Charles
48. Ricky Williams
49. Justin Fargas
50. Shonn Green
51. Chester Taylor
52. Jerious Norwood
53. Fred Taylor
54. Michael Bush
55. Tashard Choice
56. Maurice Morris
57. Edgerrin James
58. Kevin Faulk
59. Glen Coffee
60. James Davis

NOTES: Peterson is the clear No. 1 player on the board. Sure, his running style sometimes exposes him to a lot of wear and tear. But he's just 24 years old and has both the size to wear down defenses as well as the speed to break off game-changing runs and put them out of their misery. He led the league in rushing last year and is a good bet to do it again. ...

Turner (much like the Falcons as a team) isn't going to surprise anyone this year, nor is he going to get 376 carries again, only because the human body can't withstand such punishment. But as a career backup before last year, he hasn't taken a lot of abuse, and Atlanta's improved passing game will help keep defenses off him. He's not likely to repeat last year's numbers, but he's the team's unquestioned feature back and will get the first crack at the goal line. ...

I'm having a hard time separating Jones-Drew and Forte at three and four. Both are heavily featured in their teams' passing game, which adds to their value, especially in PPR leagues. I give Forte the nod because the Bears have a better passing attack than the Jags, plus he proved last year he can carry the load all by himself. MJD has been dangerous as a change-of-pace back, but can he still be as effective without Fred Taylor around to soften up defenses for him? ...

After the first four RBs there are plenty of question marks. Steven Jackson's had his last two seasons marred by injuries and awful OL play, but if the Rams stay lucky in those two respects, he has the raw skills to be fantasy's top back. ...

I love Chris Johnson and I think the run-heavy Titans' reported plans to use him more are wise. The presence of White - even the new slim-and-trim version after he cut back on the alcohol - is still cause for concern, but here's hoping more of the goal-line duties go to Johnson. ...

Here's where things really get tricky. I think LT2 can still be effective and I wouldn't mind having him on my team. But I do have a problem spending my first-round pick on a dude who threw up so many red flags last year and is 30 years old. As we've seen before, when a workhorse running back - especially a stud like Tomlinson or Priest Holmes or Shaun Alexander - hits the wall, there's no turning back. I can't build my team around a guy with so much risk, so let someone else reach for him with a top-10 or even top-five pick. ...

DeAngelo Williams also comes with a similar risk, even though he's much younger. Last year's fantasy MVP season was something of a fluke if you really think about it - the Panthers' backfield was supposed to be a timeshare with Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and Williams had been nothing more than mediocre before 2008. His stats last year were incredible - though they were inflated a bit by two four-TD games. And it's another timeshare situation this year as long as Stewart's healthy - and who's to say Stewart doesn't get the hot hand in a couple games and steal some of the glory? Nope, too much risk for me to take Williams that high. If he falls to me in the second round, however, I'd scoop him up for sure ....

I think Gore, Jacobs and Slaton could each become top-five backs if everything breaks right for them this year. Big upside for guys you can probably get in the second round or later. ...

Westbrook always carries a certain amount of drama, as you have to wonder each week if he's healthy enough to play or not. He almost always comes through for his owners, but you have to wonder if this is the year he lets us down, if his age and injuries finally catch up to him. He could really be a bargain if he falls into the late second round or beyond ... or he could really burn you. Big opportunity for rookie backup and Westbrook clone LeSean McCoy to step up. ...

I think Ward can succeed as the Bucs' feature back. Granted, having Brandon Jacobs softening up defenses for him helped him be a superb change-of-pace runner last year for the Giants, who also provided a very good offensive line to run behind. But Tampa Bay's up-and-coming OL won't be too bad, and if Earnest Graham can still get the job done, Ward can be that much more effective. Both are ownable, but Ward moreso because he figures to get more touches. ...

I'd be leery of counting on Thomas Jones too much. He's 31 now, and the Jets drafted Shonn Green for a reason. There will be a lot of running by Gang Green, with an inexperienced QB under center and new coach Rex Ryan leaning toward a back-by-committee approach (see the Ravens last year), and that probably means you can take away about half of Jones' 13 TDs from a year ago and split them up among Green and Leon Washington this year. ...

There are a lot of RBs I'll be looking to grab in the later rounds this year : Bradshaw is a violent and elusive runner who will get all those extra carries that went to Ward last year with the Giants ... I like Donald Brown a lot in Indy and wouldn't be surprised to see him supplant Addai at No. 1 on the Colts' depth chart at some point this year ... Ditto for Mendenhall in Pittsburgh unseating Fast Willie ... Felix Jones, Sproles and Washington are all guys who might not be useable every week but who can put up big points when the matchups are in their teams' favor. ...

Jamaal Charles averaged 5.3 yards a carry last year in limited duty for K.C. He's also one Larry Johnson injury/meltdown/suspension away from being the Chiefs' starter ... Just throwing that out there. ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009


1. Steelers
2. Giants
3. Vikings
4. Jets
5. Titans
6. Eagles
7. Chargers
8. Ravens
9. Patriots
10. Cowboys
11. Bears
12. Redskins
13. Texans
14. Colts
15. Packers
16. Dolphins
17. 49ers
18. Panthers
19. Buccaneers
20. Bills
21. Raiders
22. Cardinals
23. Seahawks
24. Falcons
25. Jaguars
26. Browns
27. Saints
28. Rams
29. Broncos
30. Bengals
31. Chiefs
32. Lions

Friday, August 21, 2009


1. Jason Elam
2. Stephen Gostkowski
3. Ryan Longwell
4. David Akers
5. Nate Kaeding
6. Mason Crosby
7. Robbie Gould
8. Rob Bironas
9. Neil Rackers
10. John Kasay
11. Lawrence Tynes
12. John Carney
13. Rob Bironas
14. Kris Brown
15. Joe Nedney
16. Matt Prater
17. Rian Lindell
18. Jay Feely
19. Dan Carpenter
20. Shayne Graham
21. Phil Dawson
22. Josh Scobee
23. Adam Vinatieri
24. Jason Hanson
25. Mike Nugent

Thursday, August 20, 2009


1. Andre Johnson
2. Larry Fitzgerald
3. Randy Moss
4. Calvin Johnson
5. Greg Jennings
6. Steve Smith
7. Reggie Wayne
8. Roddy White
9. Marques Colston
10. Anquan Boldin
11. Dwayne Bowe
12. Terrell Owens
13. Wes Welker
14. Roy Williams
15. Brandon Marshall
16. Anthony Gonzalez
17. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
18. Vincent Jackson
19. Chad Ochocinco
20. Braylon Edwards
21. Eddie Royal
22. Lee Evans
23. Santana Moss
24. DeSean Jackson
25. Bernard Berrian
26. Antonio Bryant
27. Kevin Walter
28. Devin Hester
29. Hines Ward
30. Jerricho Cotchery
31. Lance Moore
32. Torry Holt
33. Domenik Hixon
34. Ted Ginn Jr.
35. Percy Harvin
36. Lance Moore
37. Josh Morgan
38. Donnie Avery
39. Laveranues Coles
40. Derrick Mason
41. Michael Crabtree
42. Steve Breaston
43. Patrick Crayton
44. Nate Washington
45. Jeremy Maclin
46. Justin Gage
47. Isaac Bruce
48. Bobby Engram
49. Joey Galloway
50. Devery Henderson

Notes: Johnson gets the surprise nod at No. 1 over fantasy favorite Fitzgerald. AJ did lead the league in receptions and yards last year, not Fitz, after all. And while Johnson's QB, Matt Schaub, is a bit unproven, he's no more of an injury risk than Kurt Warner. Plus there's the Madden Curse to consider with Fitzgerald, as well as the post-Super Bowl hangover. ...

I don't think you can go wrong with making any of the top 10 guys your No. 1 fantasy receiver, and if you can grab two of those top-10 guys, you'll be golden. ...

I think White's numbers take a slight dip after the addition of Tony Gonzalez, who should definitely take away some TD opportunities. ...

I don't have too many worries about T.O. in Buffalo, but Trent Edwards is no Tony Romo (or Donovan McNabb, or Jeff Garcia) and the upstate N.Y. winds will be a legit concern as the season wears on. Don't overpay for Owens. ...

If you draft Marshall you might want to invest in some antacid pills. The constant stream of bad news associated with him that's come out of Denver's camp is enough to cause an upset stomach, yet he's too talented to let fall too far. Broncos possession receiver Eddie Royal, a great mid-round pick in his own right in Josh McDaniels' new offense, will be that much more valuable in case of a Marshall meltdown. ...

I think Hester, Holt, Hixon and Ginn could all be steals. They're all likely No. 1 receivers on their respective teams, but you can draft them at a spot where your leaguemates might be taking real-life No. 2s or No. 3s (Moore, Breaston, Coles) who will have their share of big games but be way less consistent. ...

Surprised to see Morgan ahead of Crabtree? I was too. But Crabtree's prolonged holdout (will he seriously sit out all year?) and the ill will that comes with it have really set him back in San Fran. It's hard enough for rookie receivers to step in and be fantasy-worthy in Year 1, and at this point I'd have trouble justifying putting him on a roster in leagues that carry four WRs. He might make a better midseason pickup after we see some positive signs out of him. ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Favre's fantasy outlook

Just when you thought it was safe to rank your fantasy QBs ... Brett Favre is back.

Remember this?

Forget it.

And this?

Never happened.

The old guy's latest return to the NFL shouldn't shake up things too much. If there's anything his 2008 campaign with the Jets taught us, it's that Favre is simply an average QB at this point (22 TDs, 22 INTs), one who is still capable of putting points on the board but is also a major injury risk. At age 39 (40 in October), that's to be expected.

The move to Minnesota shouldn't drastically alter his output, either. He's got some nice weapons at WR (Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin), but then, he had some in New York too. He'll obviously have a stronger running game to rely on - maybe the league's best with Adrian Peterson toting the rock - but that just means he won't have to wing it as much as he has in years past, something which actually helped pad his fantasy stats in years past.

I'm amending my 2009 QB rankings to put Favre at No. 18, which makes him a low-level No. 2 QB in most 10-team leagues. In other words, he might make for a decent spot starter, but you can't rely on him to carry a team, and I wouldn't take him over younger, healthier, steadier veterans (Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Hasselbeck) or less established QBs who have more upside (Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


1. Jason Witten
2. Tony Gonzalez
3. Antonio Gates
4. Dallas Clark
5. Chris Cooley
6. Owen Daniels
7. Greg Olsen
8. Kevin Boss
9. Kellen Winslow
10. John Carlson
11. Anthony Fasano
12. Zach Miller
13. Visanthe Shiancoe
14. Dustin Keller
15. Tony Scheffler
16. Jeremy Shockey
17. Donald Lee
18. Brent Celek
19. Bo Scaife
20. Heath Miller
21. Brandon Pettigrew
22. Marcedes Lewis
23. LJ Smith
24. Vernon Davis
25. Ben Watson
26. Chase Coffman
27. Todd Heap
28. Shawn Nelson
29. Billy Miller
30. Desmond Clark

Notes: I went against the grain a bit in making Witten the No. 1 TE this year over Gonzalez, who seems to be the consensus pick. I just think Witten's familiarity with BFF Tony Romo and the touchdown void created by Terrell Owens' absence means big things are in store for the Cowboys TE. But Gonzalez should still have a super season playing in an upgraded Falcons offense that's thirsty for a pass-catching threat at the position. ...

I also expect great seasons for now-healthy Gates in San Diego and the ever-reliable Clark in Indianapolis, making those four guys the upper-echelon TEs. ...

The position is incredibly deep after that, with the next 10 guys or so on the list all being deserving No. 1 fantasy starters. ...

The addition of Jay Cutler makes Olsen's stock rise because the QB has shown a knack for getting the ball to the tight end. ...

Boss will continue to be the Giants' primary red-zone target on pass plays until/if another wide receiver emerges to take Plaxico Burress' place. ...

Move up Shiancoe a spot or two if Brett Favre is indeed the Vikings' starting QB this year, because you know the old guy loves to hit his TE. ...

I wouldn't be surprised to see Scheffler and Keller take a step back because both teams have seemingly been downgraded at QB. ...

This could be the first time Shockey is undervalued in your draft, rather than overvalued, because the shine finally wore off last year (zero TDs). There's always hope for a revival with Drew Brees under center.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How does Vick fit into the fantasy world?

Michael Vick continues to grab all the headlines and will be perhaps the biggest story in the NFL as the season opens. But that doesn't mean he should command too much attention from fantasy players.

Vick's signing with the Eagles is the kind of storyline fans and pundits will be talking about for weeks and months, but for fantasy purposes it's just another transaction. No need to go making a major overhaul to your pre-draft rankings. Sure, Vick's an intriguing late-round sleeper because Philly figures to use him in the wildly popular "Wildcat" role that often results in big plays. He gives the Eagles another skilled player who can certainly be an effective runner/passer/receiver in their West Coast offense. But honestly, how many touches can he get in an offense that also includes Pro Bowl performers like Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook and young playmakers DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin?

The idea behind the Wildcat is to utilize the elements of surprise and unpredictability, so how consistently would Vick be used anyway? At least other presumed Wildcat players around the league - Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams in Miami, Percy Harvin in Minnesota - will be taking more snaps at their regular positions throughout the game, whereas Vick would only be stepping onto the field at a few strategic points when the Eagles use the package.

Make no mistake, McNabb is the starting QB. This won't be an even timeshare. Of course, taking into account McNabb's history, there is a decent chance of him getting injured at some point and Vick perhaps taking over, but that's not something you can bank on. And even then, the Eagles do have a supposed QB of the future, Kevin Kolb (although he's hurt right now). And assuming Vick is listed on Philly's roster as a QB and is eligible at that position in fantasy leagues, it's hard to justify taking him as your No. 2 fantasy QB when you could instead own another starter in the league - say, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Matt Hasselbeck, etc. - who will see the field far more often and produce many more points on a more consistent basis.

If your league allows three QBs, by all means, take Vick. If your league allows really deep rosters with open bench spots from any position, Vick's your guy. If the Eagles for some reason use Vick exclusively as a RB/WR, snatch him up. The potential is there for some cheap fantasy points. But good luck predicting when they might come.

The true concern for fantasy purposes should rest with anyone who owns an Eagles skill player. Every time Vick touches the ball he'll be taking away potential points from Westbrook, Jackson and co. And more alarmingly, how will the signing affect McNabb's psyche? You could look at it as yet another slap in the face for a franchise QB who's been maligned by his team's fans for years, witnessed the franchise draft a potential replacement (Kolb) and who was benched by his coach last year for poor play. Now McNabb's got to deal with the circus that follows such a publicized move, and the guy may have to take a backseat to Vick at key points in the game and give up snaps. There's potential here for bad blood and fan backlash if the Eagles, clearly in a win-now-at-all-costs mode, aren't winning. And instability is never a good thing for fantasy production. Maybe it's no big deal, but it's something to think about

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


**Updated 8-19

1. Drew Brees
2. Tom Brady
3. Peyton Manning
4. Aaron Rodgers
5. Philip Rivers
6. Kurt Warner
7. Matt Ryan
8. Donovan McNabb
9. Tony Romo
10. Matt Schaub
11. Matt Cassel
12. Jay Cutler
13. Carson Palmer
14. Eli Manning
15. Kyle Orton
16. Ben Roethlisberger
17. Matt Hasselbeck
18. Brett Favre
19. Trent Edwards
20. David Garrard
21. Jason Campbell
22. Chad Pennington
23. Jake Delhomme
24. Shaun Hill
25. Joe Flacco
26. JaMarcus Russell
27. Marc Bulger
28. Brady Quinn
29. Mark Sanchez
30. Byron Leftwich

NOTES: As we've already discussed, Brees gets the nod as the top overall QB by a hair over Brady and Manning. Those three form the upper tier of the list ...

Just below them are two young guns, Rodgers and Rivers, who I think are capable of being the top fantasy QB if none of the other three big guys really has a standout year. But I think one of them will, and my guess is Brees. ...

Warner obviously has the talent and the amazing receiving corps to be a top-flight fantasy QB, but I worry that his deal with the devil could expire yet again at age 38. If you're drafting him, please get a trustworthy backup QB (or Matt Leinart) ...

There's a dropoff after Ryan and McNabb, who are helped by offseason acquisitions in the passing game. ...

Romo has to be devalued a bit after losing Terrell Owens as a target. He'll still throw it a bunch, though. ...

I view Schaub, Cassel, Cutler, Palmer, and Orton similarly: all have big upside, but each could blow up in your face, for a variety of reasons. ...

Hasselbeck will show you he has something left, but there will be hiccups along the way. ... Edwards will be a good spot starter. He and T.O. will have a few monster games when the matchups dictate, but at other times, when the weather's bad in Buffalo especially, he'll be useless. ...

Is this the year Campbell takes The Leap? I'd give him a shot, but only if I was pairing him with a rock-steady guy like Brees or Manning as my No. 1. Campbell could easily become droppable a few weeks in. ...

Bulger took a big tumble - remember when he was a top-five fantasy QB? I'm not going down that road. ...

In cases where one of the lower-ranked guys doesn't win a starting job, you can pretty much substitute with the guy who beats them out - Derek Anderson for Quinn, Kellen Clemens for Sanchez, etc. - and keep them ranked right where they're at. If an NFL team doesn't have a clear-cut starter at this point, the eventual starter's fantasy prospects are tied much more to the team around them than their individual talent. In other words, the Vikings QB, whoever it is, might be worth a late-round flier simply because he'll be throwing to Percy Harvin and working behind a good offensive line.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The great QB debate

Who's the top QB to target in fantasy this year? For me, the choice comes down to three: Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Let's start with old reliable, Mr. Manning. Has he had a disappointing season yet? He's never missed a start in 11 seasons. He's never thrown for fewer than 3,700 yards or 26 TDs in a season either. Now, Manning is a long way from his amazing 49-TD season in 2004, the record-breaking Reggie Wayne-Marvin Harrison duo is no more, and he's dealing with the most significant coaching changes of his NFL career. At age 33, Peyton doesn't offer the same kind of upside he once did - but at the same time, there's probably no safer pick in all of fantasy. He checks in at No. 3 on this year's QB rankings.

If you're more of a gambler, Brady might be your pick. Some people want to pretend like last year's devastating Week 1 knee injury never happened and Brady will pick up where he left off with 2007's 50-TD campaign. I'm not sure I can go with that, and I'd have to think long and hard before making Brady my QB. We've seen other quarterbacks - Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb - struggle to come back from similar ACL injuries, but they were much more mobile than Brady to begin with. Carson Palmer also suffered a similar injury in 2005 but bounced back nicely the following season. Can Brady do the same? He's had a full year to recover, and his strong point has never been his legs anyway. Can he return to the same record-setting, fantasy-MVP level he was at in '07? Maybe. He's got just as many receiving targets - Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis - a similar running back committee and and the same mastermind, Bill Belichick, running the offense. There may not be a QB with more fantasy potential, but if that knee isn't fully healed, taking Brady with a first-round pick could devastate your team. He's No. 2 on our list.

That leaves Brees as this year's top fantasy QB. He's led the league in pass attempts the past two seasons, and although the Saints might like to be a little more balanced on offense, Sean Payton's not afraid to air it out, meaning Brees has a legit shot at hitting the 5,000-yard mark and maybe setting the single-season passing record. With a complete arsenal - Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas - to spread the ball around to, Brees could finish head and shoulders above the rest of the league's QBs.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Audio: Hear me talk fantasy sports with Doobie

In case you missed me on the airwaves Monday, click below to hear me talk fantasy football with Ryan "Doobie" Boyd on the "Talk Sports With Doobie" radio program on 1490-AM WWPR in Bradenton.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hear me on the radio today

You can hear me live on the radio today, chatting about fantasy football on the "Talk Sports with Doobie" show, 2:45 p.m. on 1490-AM in Bradenton or online here.