Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 4

FIVE STARS (Out of five):

- RB GLEN COFFEE, 49ers: Frank Gore's understudy got rave reviews in Niners training camp. Now the rookie gets a starting gig with Gore out for the next three weeks with an ankle injury. It doesn't seem like San Fran will hesitate to lean on Coffee - he got 25 carries (for 54 yards) in relief of Gore last week against the run-tough Vikings. Now he gets a crack at the run-soft Rams D on Sunday.


- WR KEVIN WALTER, Texans: Some owner may have lost patience with Walter after he missed Weeks 1 and 2 with a hamstring injury and dropped him. He made them look really bad with a 7-catch, 96-yard, 1-TD effort in Week 3. He's back, and he should be on your team and in your lineup as a No. 2/3 WR or flex player against the Raiders this week.


- RB FRED TAYLOR, Patriots: His performance last Sunday (21 carries, 105 yards, TD) will automatically stamp him as a hot pickup in any league in which he's not already owned. There will probably be more of these types of performances to come, too. But be forewarned: He's facing the Ravens this week, and there's a decent chance Laurence Maroney or Sammy Morris or Kevin Faulk could lead the Pats in rushing on any given week.

- WR PIERRE GARCON, Colts: The dude with the cool name (wish I knew how to type that little accent thing under the C in his last name!) has now scored a TD in two straight weeks and seems to be rounding into a big-play threat for Peyton Manning in Anthony Gonzalez's absence. And that means he belongs on a fantasy roster.


QB CHAD HENNE, Dolphins: Henne's the man in Miami now that Chad Pennington is out for the season. Does that mean he should be picked up? I'd take a wait-and-see approach for now - chances are the Fins will lean heavily on Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown with a little bit of Pat White mixed in.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 3 Recap

Random fantasy thoughts while watching the Giants flat out dominate the Bucs on Sunday at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium ...

- Steve Smith (7 catches, 63 yards, TD) is Eli Manning's go-to receiver, no doubt about it. He's a must-own in all leagues at this point.

- Josh Johnson is the new Bucs starting QB, replacing Byron Leftwich. He's about the only Buc who showed a pulse on Sunday and deserves the start against Washington. But I want him nowhere near my fantasy team right now.

-Frank Gore's ankle injury is a huge letdown a week after his 200-yard game. Expect him to be out at least this week, and possibly two more after that (including a bye in Week 6). Preseason standout Glen Coffee will be a good waiver pickup this week and a sneaky play against the Rams next Sunday.

- Welcome to fantasy relevance, Vernon Davis (7 catches, 96 yards, TD). We've been waiting for you, man.

- Percy Harvin (101-yard kickoff return for a TD) continues to make an impact every week.

- Do the Patriots finally have a clear No. 1 tailback in Fred Taylor (21 carries, 105 yards, TD)? Maybe. Too bad he's got to face Baltimore next week, and then the Pats will probably reshuffle the whole rotation after that.

- Donovan McNabb has to be champing at the bit seeing the damage Kevin Kolb (327 yards, 2 TDs Sunday) is doing and looking forward to a possible Week 5 return against the Bucs after the Eagles' bye.

- Willis McGahee (7 carries, 67 yards, 2 TDs) apparently can't be stopped, but Ray Rice (11 carries, 48 yards, TD) is still getting the most work in the Ravens backfield. Le'Ron McClain (2 carries, 7 yards) is pretty much out of the picture at this point.

- Welcome, Pierre Thomas (14 carries, 126 yards, 2 TDs - all in the second half). It's now safe to use him, in case you were wondering.

- Speaking of Pierres, WR Pierre Garcon now has a place in the Colts lineup and should have a place on your roster after scoring for the second straight week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 3

- CARSON PALMER vs. Pittsburgh: Carson's had his share of trouble with the Steelers over the years (who hasn't?). He didn't play against them last year but threw just 1 TD against Pittsburgh in two games in 2007. And the Steelers' D is pretty good again.

- JOSEPH ADDAI vs. Arizona: This dude's act is getting old: 74 yards rushing in two games. He also had only 6 carries on Monday night against Miami. And the Cardinals' run defense has been quite good so far. Get ready, Donald Brown.

- ROY WILLIAMS vs. Carolina: Is this guy really a No. 1 WR? Is he a fantasy starter? Based on last week's one-catch effort, the answer right now is no. Put him on the shelf until further notice.


- Devery Henderson had a ho-hum 3 catches for 71 yards last week.

- Pierre Thomas had only one catch for -4 yards and still hasn't carried the ball this year. His knee injury has made him a huge bust so far.

- Ben Roethlisberger threw for 221 yards and 1 TD against Chicago.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 3

Need help picking a winner this week? Read on ...

- FELIX JONES vs. Carolina: After a quiet Week 1, Jones erupted in Week 2 (96 yards, TD) and showed off the big-play potential we knew he possessed. Now he runs against a surprisingly poor Panthers rush defense, and Marion Barber (quad) might not even suit up.

- VINCENT JACKSON vs. Miami: He's scored a TD each week so far, and he and QB Philip Rivers are coming off a huge game against Baltimore. Plus, Miami has given up more than 500 yards and 4 TDs through the air in two games.

- TIM HIGHTOWER vs. Indianapolis: I still believe Beanie Wells, not Hightower, will end up the most valuable Cardinals back at season's end. But until Beanie can cure his fumbilitis (two last week), Hightower's the man. He's been involved in the passing game and gets the red-zone carries.


- Percy Harvin got seven touches and scored for the second straight week. He'll be a good flex option again this week against San Fran.

- Antwaan Randle El didn't do much (4 catches, 39 yards) against the Rams, but neither did any of the other Redskins really. Despite the poor showing I'd still be tempted to use him against Detroit this week.

- Correll Buckhalter matched Knowshon Moreno's output on the ground (76 yards for Buckhalter, 75 for Moreno) on half the carries. Granted, he did have a 45-yard TD run, which will help pad the stats, but no one's complaining. Buckhalter also caught one pass for 30 yards.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hot pickups: Week 3

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

-WRs MARIO MANNINGHAM and STEVE SMITH, Giants: Who says the G-Men don't have a big-time receiver? In fact they have two, as these two proved by catching 10 balls and a TD apiece against the Cowboys. Manningham (above) is a better pickup in TD-heavy leagues, while Smith, the second coming of Amani Toomer, is a good choice for PPR formats. Both are worth a start against the Bucs.


- QB KEVIN KOLB, Eagles: A lot of good (391 yards, 2 TDs) and a lot of bad (3 INTs) in his first career start last week. The kid could replicate those numbers against the Chiefs D, assuming Donovan McNabb can't go again and Brian Westbrook is hampered by his ankle injury.

- TE BRENT CELEK, Eagles: He was already a good draft choice as your second TE with McNabb tossing him the ball. But Kolb liked him even more in Week 2 (8 catches, 104 yards) and should rely on him again vs. K.C.

- RB CEDRIC BENSON, Bengals: A feature back who runs for 141 yards has to be picked up, but I don't like him as a starter this week against Pittsburgh, and he's got several more tough matchups on the horizon.


- WR MIKE SIMS-WALKER, Jaguars: Had an impressive 106 yards and a TD against Arizona, one week after registering 0 catches. Troy Williamson is out for the year, so he should have some more passes coming his way this week at Houston.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Week 2 recap

Plenty of monster (and not-so-monster) performances to dissect from Week 2:

-Hats off to Tennessee's Chris Johnson for looking very much like a top-3 running back after a lackluster Week 1: 16 carries, 197 yards, 2 TDs; 9 catches, 87 yards, TD. Just an awesome performance from a super-talented player.

-Another Johnson came up big Sunday, too: Houston's Andre Johnson, in the same game (10 catches, 149 yards, 2 TDs). I had the pleasure of starting both of them on the same team in one of my leagues. I won.

- Things aren't going as well for Houston's Steve Slaton, who now has 51 total rushing yards in two games and 0 TDs. The good news is after opening the year against two challenging defenses, things should get a little easier in the coming weeks (Jacksonville, Oakland, Arizona).

- Frank Gore actually broke the 200-yard barrier (207 on just 16 carries) and scored twice. He also caught 5 passes for 39 yards for good measure and put the league on notice that the Niners' run game is no joke.

- Jake Delhomme wasn't great against Atlanta but he'll hold onto his starting job for the time being, which is good news for Steve Smith (8 catches, 131 yards) and his owners.

- Drew Brees halved last week's TD output but was still excellent (311 yards, 3 TDs), utilizing all his available weapons. And Mike Bell continues to run well (17 carries, 86 yards, TD) with Pierre Thomas on the shelf.

- Big effort from Cedric Benson for the Bengals (29 carries, 141 yards), but don't get too excited - he's got some brutal matchups on the horizon (Pittsburgh twice, Baltimore twice and Chicago) in the next seven weeks.

- Aaron Rodgers hasn't lit it up the way I expected - two TDs in two games now. It doesn't help when you're sacked 5 times and your best WR, Greg Jennings, is held catchless. Here's hoping Rodgers and the Packers can do some damage against St. Louis.

- Buffalo's Fred Jackson is the real deal (163 rush yards, 25 receiving yards) and is a must-start next week against New Orleans. Does Marshawn Lynch HAVE to come back?

- Philip Rivers did just fine without a running game (436 yards, 2 TDs). Does LaDainian Tomlinson HAVE to come back?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 2

- WR DEVERY HENDERSON vs. Eagles: Last week's 103-yard, one-TD game was sweet, but we've seen that before out of this dude. Last year he only had one 100-yard game, in Week 4, and then he never caught more than 3 passes in a game after that (and had only one more TD). In other words, he's a boom-or-bust guy, and my guess is after last week's boom against the Lions he goes bust against Philly.

- RB PIERRE THOMAS vs. Eagles: He was likely a high pick in your league and probably your No. 2 RB, but you'll have to wait another week to collect on your investment. Too many strikes against him - he's still hampered by a knee injury, replacement Mike Bell played very well in his stead, and the Eagles should be tough against the run.

- QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER vs. Bears: Week 1's ridiculous numbers notwithstanding, the Steelers would love to get their running game going this week. And Chicago's no slouch against the pass - take away Aaron Rodgers' late 50-yard TD bomb last week and Da Bears held the Packers QB to 134 passing yards and no scores for the majority of the game. Expect Big Ben's numbers to be a little smaller this week.


- Lee Evans had just a measley 3 catches for 25 yards in a loss to the Patriots. Thanks for playing, guy.

- Eli Manning threw for 256 yards and a TD against Washington. Solid but not start-worthy.

- Knowshon Moreno had only 8 carries for 19 yards in his pro debut.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 2

-WR PERCY HARVIN vs. Lions: I've been harsh on the young dude, but if there was ever a week to pencil him in as your flex player or No. 2 WR, this is it.

-WR ANTWAAN RANDLE EL vs. Rams: He was more effective than No. 1 WR Santana Moss in Week 1 (7 catches, 98 yards). I'll take a gamble that he'll find the end zone against the Rams, victimized for 3 TDs through the air last Sunday.

-RB CORRELL BUCKHALTER vs. Browns: I'm not a fan of Buckhalter's long-term, mostly because Knowshon Moreno is the future. But those two are splitting carries right now (8 apiece in Week 1), and Buckhalter was the more effective runner. He's also playing the Browns, who were abused by Adrian Peterson last week.


- Ray Rice ran for 108 yards on 19 carries - almost twice as many as Ravens backfield mate Willis McGahee (10). Unfortunately, both McGahee and fullback Le'Ron McClain found the end zone against the Chiefs, and Rice did not. Rice also had 2 catches for 12 yards.

- Shaun Hill was 18-of-31 for 209 yards, 1 TD and 0 INTs against Arizona. Effective, but not as good as I'd hoped. But he did win the game, if that means anything. Which it doesn’t.

- Julius Jones ran 19 times for 119 yards and a TD vs. the Rams. Jackpot.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 2

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

- RB CADILLAC WILLIAMS, Bucs: Finally healthy (for now) and getting first crack at carries. Ride him while he's hot and as long as his legs hold up.

- RB FRED JACKSON, Bills: Was a more effective weapon for Buffalo than Terrell Owens against the Patriots (15 carries, 57 yards; 5 catches, 83 yards, TD). With Marshawn Lynch suspended for two more games, Jackson gets to continue his starring role against a Bucs D that was steamrolled by Dallas for 462 yards of total offense.


- QB JOE FLACCO, Ravens: Worried about Donovan McNabb's status in Week 2? Why not go whacko for Flacco? He lit up the Chiefs for 307 yards and 3 TDs and should have some success against the Chargers this week.


- TE TODD HEAP, Ravens: Reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated (5 catches, 74 yards, TD in Week 1). If oft-injured replacement L.J. Smith can't get on the field, Heap might prove he still has something left.


- WR LOUIS MURPHY, Raiders: The former Florida Gator caught a TD in Monday's opener against San Diego and had another score taken away on a controversial ruling. The rookie may prove to be JaMarcus Russell's favorite target this year - but just how valuable that makes him for fantasy purposes is in the eye of the beholder. There are sure to be bumps all the way, but there might be a few more bombs awaiting him.

Talkin' fantasy (and more)

Go here to check out a recent podcast I did with a friend and colleague of mine, John Lembo, as we chat about Week 1 of the NFL from a fantasy perspective, with some other sports nuggets mixed in.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breaking down the Bucs' backfield

There was a lot of preseason discussion about how the Bucs would divy up the carries among their running backs. New coach Raheem Morris eventually announced he'd be primarily using a "2-2-1" rotation, giving Cadillac Williams (remember him?) the first two series, free-agent signee Derrick Ward the next two and then holdover Earnest Graham a series.

That's more or less how it played out Sunday against Dallas. Cadillac was the most effective runner (13 carries, 97 yards, TD) and is looking about as good as he ever has after years of injuries. Caddy alternated with Ward (12 carries, 62 yards, TD), the popular pick among fantasy drafters. But surprisingly, Earnest Graham was a non-factor (1 carry, 1 yard). In fact, he didn't even want the ball when his coach offered to get him in the game. Unselfish, or just strange? I'll let you be the judge.

Cadillac has to be picked up off the waiver wire this week, even though there's a decent chance his weary legs won't last 16 games. I stil believe Ward will end up being the most valuable Bucs running back by season's end. And Graham obviously belongs on your bench until further notice.

Week 1 recap

A few random thoughts on the opening weekend of 2009:

- Too bad Drew Brees (6 TDs) can't play the Lions every week. But consider starting every QB who faces Detroit from here on out - including Brett Favre next week.

- Told you to start Mike Bell (143 yards). Could be worth a flex spot again next week against the Eagles if Pierre Thomas can't go. Stay tuned.
- Percy Harvin's touches were about what anticipated: 2 carries, 22 yards, 3 catches, 36 yards. One of those was a TD, but what happens on weeks when he doesn't score? He won't be playing the Browns every week. I'm reserving judgment until I see more.

- Awful Chicago debut for Jay Cutler. It has to get better than this. The Bears' gameplan was questionable - Seven passes to Earl Bennett, but only one to your big breakout tight end, Greg Olsen, and that was in the fourth quarter, and zero passes to Matt Forte, the guy with 63 receptions last year? Puzzling.

- Aaron Rodgers salvaged what had been an awful day with a late bomb to Greg Jennings. I'd like to see more of those in the next two weeks against the Bengals and Rams.

- Chris Cooley's already matched his 2008 TD total. Now he faces St. Louis, who couldn't handle Seattle's John Carlson (6 catches, 95 yards, 2 TDs) on Sunday.

- Tim Hightower's 12 receptions for 121 yards were a major surprise. But will he get that many targets when Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin are healthy? Hightower only had 15 yards rushing on 8 carries (Beanie Wells ran it 7 times) and he had 34 receptions all of last year.

- Is Mark Sanchez this year's Joe Flacco? Maybe, but let's see how he does against New England and Tennessee the next two weeks before you even think about possibly starting him.

- Really awful time for Donovan McNabb to hurt himself with the Saints, Chiefs and Bucs up in the next three weeks. He's a gamer and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in the lineup Sunday, even with a broken rib. He's a good start even if he's not close to 100 percent in those games.

- Lackluster starts for Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, but they could go off this week against a Bucs secondary that looked lost on Sunday against Tony Romo and crew.

Monday, September 14, 2009

When stars refuse to shine

I know a bunch of people are bummed by their first- or second-round pick's performance in Week 1. I'm talking about guys like:

Chris Johnson (57 yards, 0 TDs)

Michael Turner (65 yards, 0 TDs)

Matt Forte (55 yards, 0 TDs)

Steve Smith (21 yards, 0 TDs)

Andre Johnson (35 yards, 0 TDs)

Steve Slaton (17 yards, 0 TDs)

Clinton Portis (62 yards, 0 TDs)

Brandon Jacobs (46 yards, 0 TDs)

Anquan Boldin (19 yards, 0 TDs)


Steven Jackson (67 yards, 0 TDs)

Those performances were all tough to swallow. But one of the worst mistakes you can make is to overreact to one game. There were reasons for all of those disappointments , from tough matchups (C. Johnson vs. Pittsburgh, Portis vs. the Giants, Slaton and A. Johnson vs. the Jets) to lingering injuries (Boldin) to poor offensive gameplans (Forte) to awful QB play (Smith). But you were willing to spend a high pick and build your team around all of those guys a week ago, so there's no need to go flipping out and totally writing off the season. All of those players are still studs and will serve you well in the weeks ahead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Titans-Steelers thoughts

Random thoughts from a fantasy perspective on last night's NFL season opener:

- Don't be too discouraged by Chris Johnson's meager rushing totals (15 carries, 57 yards), especially if you spent a first-round pick on him like I did. He'll be fine - it just so happens he had his toughest matchup of the season in Week 1.

- Do be discouraged by Willie Parker's meager rushing totals (13 carries, 19 yards - 1.5 yards per carry). The Titans are tough, but the Steelers have had trouble running the ball dating back to last year. Mewelde Moore (5 carries, 8 yards, 1.6 ypc) and Rashard Mendenhall (4 carries, 6 yards, 1.5 ypc) didn't fare any better. This could be a recurring problem.

- The Steelers' ground game deficiencies are good news for Ben Roethlisberger (a whopping 43 pass attempts) and receivers Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward (more than 100 yards receiving apiece).

- Justin Gage (7 catches, 78 yards, TD) is clearly Kerry Collins' go-to option through the air, but rookie Kenny Britt (4 catches, 85 yards, 21.3 ypc) showed some intriguing big play potential for the Titans - more than high-priced offseason acquisition Nate Washington (1 catch, 8 yards).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 1

WR LEE EVANS at Patriots: The Bills wideout totaled just seven catches for 85 yards and zero TDs in two matchups with the Pats last season - and that was before Terrell Owens came into the picture.

QB ELI MANNING vs. Redskins: He's a capable No. 2 fantasy QB, which means he belongs on your bench most weeks. This is one - he threw for just one TD in two games against the 'Skins in 2008. Not much upside here.

RB KNOWSHON MORENO at Bengals: The rookie's time as a fantasy star will come, but not this week. He's still been hampered by a bum knee, and it's unclear how many carries the Broncos braintrust plan to give to Correll Buckhalter, Peyton Hillis and LaMont Jordan - all of whom are listed above Moreno on the team's latest depth chart.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 1

RB RAY RICE vs. Chiefs: You may have drafted him as a backup, but expect No. 1-type numbers against a K.C. D that finished in the league's bottom three last year against the run.

QB SHAUN HILL at Cardinals: He managed two TDs against Arizona in Week 10 last year. Not a terrible spot starter this week if you're worried about your top guy's health (Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel).

RB JULIUS JONES vs. Rams: This could be one of the few weeks Jones is start-worthy. He rushed for 140 yards and one of his two TDs of 2008 in a Week 3 matchup with St. Louis.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fantasy draft recap No. 3

My third and final draft of a long fantasy-football-packed weekend ... this one is a 10-team league featuring mostly my Bradenton Herald co-workers. Pretty much standard scoring, and you must fill the following roster spots: 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs, 2 DEFs, 2 Ks. I had the sixth pick in the draft.

My mission this year is to dethrone two-time defending league champion and fellow Herald staffer John Lembo, hence the nickname. My squad (round of selection in parenthesis):


QB Aaron Rodgers (3)
QB Matt Cassel (10)

RB Chris Johnson (1)
RB Kevin Smith (4)
RB LenDale White (7)
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (10)

WR Andre Johnson (2)
WR Roy Williams (5)
WR Devin Hester (8)
WR Kevin Walter (11)

TE Chris Cooley (6)
TE Kevin Boss (13)

DEF Chargers (12)
DEF Texans (15)

K Robbie Gould (14)
K Rian Lindell (16)

RANDOM THOUGHTS: I was really unsure about who to take with my first pick at No. 6 overall. I ultimately decided on Tennessee's Johnson over Steven Jackson. I didn't want to reach for a QB at that spot - Drew Brees and Tom Brady went right after that. Johnson's certainly not a no-brainer that high and I may live to regret it - although I do feel better about the pick after getting LenDale in the seventh round as insurance. ...

I do have another problem at RB, however: Three of my four RBs have the same bye week. I didn't want to pass up Smith in the fourth round (he was the only starter-worthy RB left on my board), and I wasn't especially planning on getting LenDale later. But I'm going to have a problem in Week 7 when Bradshaw is my only active tailback. Yikes. I'm currently putting Smith up on the trading block and seeing what's available, but I'm not going to get too concerned yet. ...

Obviously thrilled with getting Andre Johnson with my second pick. He's a top-10 talent in my book ...

Also happy with Rodgers, although I had to take him a little higher (third round) than I would have preferred. But QBs were going quickly, including Tony Romo going in the second round ...

Stuck with Roy Williams again as my No. 2 receiver. Whatever. I'm happy with Hester and Walter on my bench. ...

Also like my TE tandem a lot. I consider them both top-10 guys at their position. I did reach for Cooley a bit, taking him in the sixth when I would have liked to grab a third RB. But I don't like a lot of the middle-tier RBs that would have been drafted around that spot, and I wanted to beef up my receiving corps because of my skepticism concerning Williams. ...

Despite all the concerns about Cassel, I'm pretty comfortable with him as a backup QB, especially with a solid starter like Rodgers on my roster. Cassel tumbled a bit in this draft and I was able to get him after Matt Hasselbeck, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning were taken by others as their No. 2s. Before his preseason injury a lot of prognosticators had Cassel well ahead of all those guys and a possible fantasy starter. ...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Breaking down a fantasy trade

First trade of the season:

I give up:

WR DeSean Jackson
RB Donald Brown

I get back:

WR Steve Breaston
RB Ray Rice

I like both of the guys I'm giving up. The deal was prompted by my trade partner, who's a big Eagles fan and wants a Philly player (Jackson) on his team. Jackson's my third WR behind Greg Jennings and Roy Williams (I also have Ted Ginn Jr. and Hakeem Nicks). Breaston would be a downgrade from Jackson obviously, but I feel I'm upgrading by replacing the rookie Brown with Rice, a guy I look and who I was targeteting in the draft.

I'm a little thin at WR overall but now I'm stacked at RB (Michael Turner, Marion Barber, LenDale White, Rashard Mendenhall, James Davis, plus Rice). And in this league's format I can start three RBs in a week if I choose, with Rice perhaps being a better every-week fit than White in that flex spot.


Draft recap No. 2

My second draft over the weekend was for a 10-team league I compete in with my brother and some of his friends. It's pretty much standard scoring, although a TD pass by a QB is worth 5 points for some reason instead of 6. The starting lineups are normal except for 1 flex position (RB or WR), and there are seven bench slots of any position. I had the third overall pick. Here's my squad (round of selection in parenthesis:


QB Philip Rivers (4)

RB Michael Turner (1)
RB Marion Barber (2)

RB/WR LenDale White (6)

WR Greg Jennings (3)
WR Roy Williams (5)

TE Greg Olsen (9)

K Jason Elam (15)

DEF Jets (13)

BE DeSean Jackson (7)
BE Donald Brown (8)
BE Carson Palmer (10)
BE Ted Ginn Jr. (11)
BE Rashard Mendenhall (12)
BE James Davis (14)
BE Hakeem Nicks (16)

I was able to get Turner with the third pick after someone took Drew Brees with the first pick and Adrian Peterson went second. I'm not complaining. ...

The first two rounds were pretty running back-heavy so I felt I had to take Barber at that point with a lot of elite WRs still available. Very pleased to see Jennings still there in the third round. ...

I decided to go for a top QB in Round 4, and Rivers was a guy I was targeting. Really wanted to team him up with Vincent Jackson in the next round but Jackson was taken two spots before I picked. I begrudgingly settled for Roy Williams. ...

Wanted a middle-tier RB in Round 5, particularly Ray Rice, but he was gone by the time I picked. Settled for No-Longer-Fat LenDale. ...

The format of this league, with the open bench slots, really allows you to reach for sleepers with big upside. That's why I went for Donald Brown in the fifth round, Mendenhall in the 12th and James Davis in the 14th. I don't NEED them all to pan out, but if just one of the three becomes a star I'll be in good shape. ...

I like having two young No. 1 WRs (Jackson and Ginn) on my bench, especially since I don't trust Roy Williams that much as a starter. And I took a flier on Nicks, the Giants rookie, with my final pick. ...

Only two kickers had been taken by the time I took Elam, the No. 1 guy on my board.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Three teams I'm trying to avoid

Call me crazy, but an NFL team firing its offensive coordinator less than two weeks before the start of the regular season usually isn't a formula for offensive excellence. That's why I'm trying to avoid most players from these three franchises:


Of all three of these revamped/reworked/rebuilt offenses I'm talking about, the Chiefs were perhaps the most intriguing. Even though now-departed Chan Gailey was a holdover from the previous (unsuccessful) coaching regime, new K.C. head man Todd Haley is the mastermind behind the Cardinals' electrifying offense from a year ago. The firing of Gailey might not make a huge difference, but there were already warning signs about this offense: the poor offensive line play of the past few years, the decline of Larry Johnson and his various issues, the departure of Tony Gonzalez and the preseason injury suffered by new QB Matt Cassel. The combination of all red flags makes K.C.'s playmakers a little less desirable than they seemed during the offseason. WR Dwayne Bowe and Cassel should probably drop out of the preseason top 10 at their respective positions, and I don't trust LJ as anything more than a No. 3 RB at best. Still like Jamaal Charles as a deep sleeper though.


The firing of OC Jeff Jagodzinski kind of came out of left field. Remember when the guy was a big NFL head coaching prospect? Well whatever, I guess being faced with the prospect of Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown as his starting QB, he was probably set up to fail anyway. McCown was traded to Jacksonville over the weekend, and Leftwich is officially the Bucs' Week 1 starter now, which shouldn't excite you much. It doesn't bode well for Antonio Bryant or Kellen Winslow either, so bump them down a peg from wherever they would be with a better QB at the helm. The Bucs do have a promising offensive line and should be able to to run the ball; the problem is they have three decent RBs to share the load, which means you have to be a bit skeptical of Derrick Ward, Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams until we see their roles.


Buffalo's Turk Schonert is another assistant coach who never even got to start the season in his new position. He's blasting head coach Dick Jauron because the offensive playcalling "wasn't simple enough." A little imagination might not hurt after the Bills have been so ineffective on offense the past few years. Terrell Owens certainly livens things up a bit, but I'm proceeding with caution and treating him like a No. 2 fantasy receiver. Trent Edwards is no Tony Romo (or Donovan McNabb or Jeff Garcia) at this point and has a long way to go before he's anything more than a low-end fantasy backup. Lee Evans is tantalizing as always but seems perpetually bound to disappoint no matter what you expect out of him. And it's tough to take a chance on either Marshawn Lynch or Fred Jackson when you know there will be a major shakeup in their roles once Lynch serves his season-opening four-game suspension.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Draft recap No. 1

Took part in my first of three drafts this weekend. This is my big-money league, which I'm competing in for the seventh or eighth straight year along with my dad. It's a 10-team, PPR (points per reception) snake draft with a whopping $100 entry fee, and we had the third overall pick. Dad fronts the money and I make the personnel decisions. You must carry 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs, 2 DEFs and 2 Ks on your roster. Round of selection in parenthesis.


QB Tony Romo (5)
QB Eli Manning (13)

RB Matt Forte (1)
RB Frank Gore (3)
RB Reggie Bush (6)
RB LeSean McCoy (11)

WR Steve Smith (2)
WR Anquan Boldin (4)
WR Kevin Walter (8)
WR Devin Hester (9)

TE Chris Cooley (7)
TE Donald Lee (14)

DEF Eagles (10)
DEF Patriots (12)

K Neil Rackers (15)
K ? (Dad made the last pick without me)

RANDOM THOUGHTS: I was thrilled to see Forte slip to us at the third pick, and I was surprised to see Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner go 1-2, given the PPR format ...

I wanted to come back with a WR and Smith was the only top-10 guy left on our board by the time we made our second pick ...

Very happy with Gore, still available in the third round. My plan all along was RB-WR-RB or RB-WR-WR with the first three picks ...

Also thrilled with Boldin as our fourth pick. I have him just outside the top 10 WRs this year at No. 11. ...

Wanted to grab Kurt Warner with our next pick; even though I'm not particularly high on him this year I think he's good value for a sixth-round selection and was the best QB available. But he went one pick ahead of us. I settled for Romo, taking him over Donovan McNabb. Those were the only two trustworthy No. 1 QBs left. ...

I'm not a huge Bush fan but I like him in this format, especially as a No. 3 ....

Not thrilled with our WR depth, but I had spent earlier picks on Bush and Cooley (I think he's a top-5 TE). I liked Walter as a possession receiver (wanted Anthony Gonzalez instead but he was gone) and Hester as a possible breakout candidate ...

Defenses were going way too high. Someone took Pittsburgh in the sixth round and the Giants in the seventh ... Will they really be that much better than my selections, the Eagles and Pats, who I got much later? I don't think so ...

I did feel the pressure to reach a bit for the Eagles when top-10 defenses started flying off the board. I really wanted the Jets but they were already gone. It turns out by reaching for Philly I missed out on getting Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Wells, two guys I probably would have taken ahead of McCoy as my fourth RB. ...

I took McCoy over Sproles because I think the guy he's behind on the depth chart (Brian Westbrook) is more likely to get hurt than the guy ahead of Sproles (LaDainian Tomlinson). ...

A few more surprises from other drafters: Eddie Royal went ahead of Brandon Marshall ... the Bengals' Chris Henry was among the 40 WRs drafted ... LT2 fell to the second round.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

9/4 Sleeper of the Day: James Davis


Davis, a 5-11, 210-pound rookie from Clemson, has been getting rave reviews this preseason. He was once considered a first- or second-round draft pick coming out of college, but an all-around disastrous senior year with the Tigers combined with a lackluster combine relegated him to a sixth-round selection this spring. But he's begun to erase all that with a fine effort thus far as a pro, averaging 7.8 yards a carry through the Browns' first three preseason games and grabbing the attention of the media and new head coach Eric Mangini.

Meanwhile, starter Jamal Lewis hasn't exactly been Jim Brown out there on the heels of a less-than-impressive season in which he barely cracked 1,000 yards. It seems like a perfect situation in which the two backs are headed in opposite directions. Lewis should still be drafted ahead of Davis, of course, as he's No. 1 on the depth chart. But he's also a 30-year-old back who's taken years of abuse, and I expect him to continue his decline. Davis, on the other hand, has pretty much already surpassed the injured Jerome Harrison and risen to backup status. He's at least earned his way into some sort of timeshare this season and perhaps consideration as the Browns' RB of the future. He's certainly worth a look as a Lewis handcuff or a late-round selection in 12-team leagues at this point.

9/3 Bust of the Day: Percy Harvin

Don't get me wrong, I respect Harvin's playmaking abilities and the Vikes' willingness to utilize him in a variety of ways on the field. But I'm hearing a bit too much hype about a rookie wide receiver, a position that often tends to disappoint.

Minnesota has been in desperate need of a playmaker not named Adrian Peterson, and Harvin, the electrifying former Florida Gator certainly fits the bill. I think he'll be a big contributor and end up with decent numbers on the season. But the problem is his production won't come consistently - not with him being used in gimmicky formations like the Wildcat and as a returner. I see him being a boom-or-bust type player, and I'm not sure that's the guy I'd want as my No. 3 WR when I can take a Ted Ginn Jr., Devin Hester, Kevin Walter or Jerricho Cotchery who I know will be getting targeted on a more regular basis. I'd be thrilled if he falls to me as my No. 4 WR, because he's exactly the type of big-risk, big-reward player you'd want in that slot, but I have a feeling he'll be taken much too early for that in most leagues. If that's the case, I'll pass.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

9/2 Sleeper of the Day: LeSean McCoy


The rookie known as "Shady" will be playing the Correll Buckhalter role this year for Philly - which means he'll be called on whenever Brian Westbrook can't go. And if you've followed football the past few seasons you know that could mean often.

Westbrook is constantly banged-up, partly because the Eagles haven't had a dependable or dynamic back that could spell him and have had few other offensive options. That's not the case this year, as Philadelphia is counting on an infusion of young skill players - DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and McCoy - to get the Eagles over the hump and into the Super Bowl. With Westbrook still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, McCoy has gotten plenty of first-team reps in training camp and the preseason, which will only help prepare him for a big regular season role.

Shady is a younger version of Westbrook: a small, shifty runner who can catch. At the very he'll least make a strong handcuff for Westbrook owners, much more valuable than Buckhalter has been the past few years because he should see the field more often and he's more talented. If Westbrook were to miss any significant length of time this season, McCoy would instantly become a must-have RB.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

9/1 Bust of the Day: LaDainian Tomlinson


I know, it's almost sacrilege to associate the great LT2's name with the term "bust." He's been so great for so long, the consensus pick as fantasy's best player for several years now ... but 2008 was a struggle for the San Diego Chargers' superback, the first real adversity he's had to face in his Hall of Fame-caliber career. The numbers were still fine - 1,110 rushing yards, 426 receiving yards, 12 total TDs - but that was still a career low for yards on the ground, and his fewest trips to the end zone since his rookie year.

If Tomlinson duplicates last year's numbers, he's a top-10 back. But here's the problem: I think those stats now represent his ceiling, not his floor. In other words, he has to stay healthy all year - which he didn't do last year - to reach those stats. And I'm not sure I'm willing to take that risk with a 30-year-old back with so much mileage on his legs. I'm not taking him in the upper half of the first round. I'd consider him at the end of the first and I'd most likely grab him if he fell into the second - but I have a feeling he'll be taken before then in a lot of drafts just based on reputation alone. And if that's the case I'm afraid he'll disappoint - which would make him a bust in 2009.