Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'll trade you Pujols for Peyton ...

A friend of mine mentioned a pretty interesting idea the other day: could a combination football/baseball fantasy league work?

It's an intriguing proposition to say the least. The logistics would be complicated and the commitment great. First off, you'd have to get the same 8-12 people to sign up for a season that would last from April to December. My guess is there's probably a good deal of overlapping of folks who play in both a baseball and a football league, but who knows?

Another big factor: The standings and scoring format. Would you play head-to-head throughout the year? Would you crown a "midseason champion" at the end of baseball season and give that winner some kind of prize bonus (not that I condone monetary gambling of any kind)? Would you then reset the standings completely? (Probably not, since you might as well just play two separate leagues in that case.) If it's one long season and a team's stuck near the bottom of the standings around August, would the prospect of reinforcing your team with a whole football roster be enough to keep them interested?

Here's the really fascinating part, as my bud Jason Dill put it when he was pitching this idea: What if you could trade Albert Pujols for Peyton Manning? Or Alex Rodriguez for Adrian Peterson (A-Rod for AD)? Or to be a little more obscure, Chone Figgins for Shonn Greene?

If you held your football draft early enough in the NFL preseason, you could have about a month's overlap between football and baseball seasons with which to swap players between sports. You'd probably have to make this a keeper league, too, to keep owners from dumping all their best baseball players to shore up their football team - which adds yet another layer of complication to this Super League.

And if you really wanted to blow this thing out: How about making it a fantasy basketball league, too?

Just something to think about during a slow time in the fantasy sports world.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Could Kim Kardashian be on your fantasy team?

Reggie Bush would have been a decent addition to your fantasy team the past few years.

His girlfriend, Kim Kardashian? Not so much.

But that could be a different story if you're playing in a celebrity fantasy league, which appear to be all the rage among readers of US Weekly.

Here's how it works: Instead of drafting football players, you draft the most-gossipped-about celebs - Katie Holmes instead of Santonio Holmes; Taylor Swift instead of Fred Taylor - and you get points for every time they're mentioned in specific celeb magazines and blogs.

It's an interesting twist, and for some of us guys, it could be a great way to get our wives or girlfriends to finally understand this fantasy thing that can sometimes consume our free time.

Photo by McClatchy Tribune

Grading my 2009 busts


The veteran didn't have as much of a dropoff as I feared - he missed just one game due to injury - but his numbers did plummet. He threw for 26 TDs, down from 30 a year ago, but the big killer was his 3,753 passing yards, nearly 1,000 fewer than 2008. I said Warner wouldn't be a top-5 QB as many predicted, and that Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers would be better picks at QB. Turns out several others would have been better picks, too - Warner finished outside the top 10 among fantasy QBs. GRADE: A+


I tried to argue that Harvin wouldn't be consistent this season and therefore would be overrated as a No. 3 fantasy WR. In many ways, that was true - the rookie went through the entire month of October without doing much of anything, then tailed off again in late December while battling a headache problem. But his final stats - 790 receiving yards, 6 TDs, plus two return TDs - were helpful to anyone who used him at the right times, and he outperformed most of the other guys I liked better as No. 3s. GRADE: C+


I was pretty much right on the money on this one. Though LT2 did end up with 12 rushing TDs - one more than last year - his yardage totals plummeted from 1,110 to 730 (rushing) and 426 to 124 (receiving). In fact, he never even posted a 100-yard-rushing game. I cautioned that he'd be taken in the first round of many leagues based on reputation alone, but he actually ended up barely finishing among the top 10 RBs in fantasy scoring. GRADE: A+


I wasn't thrilled with the idea of Bryant as a No. 2 WR this year, as some suggested, and I wasn't even considering the fact Byron Leftwich wouldn't even make it three weeks as the Bucs' starting QB, or that Tampa Bay would be quite so awful. But all that contributed to Bryant's 600-yard, 4-TD season. GRADE: A+


I warned that Williams, coming off an out-of-this-world 2008 fantasy season, was bound to disappoint if you counted on a repeat. He ended up with 400 fewer rushing yards and less than half as many TDs as the year before. I reasoned that fellow Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart would siphon off a lot of Williams' stats, and Stewart actually ended up with more yards and more TDs than Williams, who played only 13 games. GRADE: A

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grading my 2009 sleepers


I pegged Davis as a breakout player in the case of Jamal Lewis' eventual demise as a feature back. Turns out I was half right. Lewis did break down, but by that time, Davis had already suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. That left room for James Harrison to step in and get all the glory, but I still believe without the shoulder injury, that could have been Davis. So I'm giving myself a bit of a mulligan. GRADE: C-


I thought Shady would have a bit more of an impact this year, especially with Brian Westbrook on the shelf so long. He did run for 3 TDs and had a few useful fantasy performances, but he also never topped 100 yards in a game and had quite a few stinkers mixed in. He does have a bright future in the league, especially with Westbrook's long-term health in question, but McCoy wasn't totally ready for prime time in 2009. GRADE: C+


I've been pretty high on Charles for quite a while and was biding my time for Larry Johnson to lose his grip on the starting job in K.C. He did, and Charles was masterful in LJ's place. He topped 1,000 rushing yards despite appearing in only 10 games and not getting double-digit carries until taking over as the starter in mid-November. I'm giving myself major props for this one. GRADE: A+


Bradshaw didn't have near the type of season I thought he would, but that could also be said for teammate Brandon Jacobs or the Giants in general. Bradshaw did have a couple outstanding games early in the season (104 yards vs. Tampa Bay, 110 yards and 2 TDs vs. Oakland) but never really evolved from being a marginal flex player or No. 3 back. Still, he was solid. GRADE: B


Orton was never very flashy - he had just one 3-TD game, in Week 16 against Philly, and topped 300 yards passing just twice - but he was never as bad as some expected, either (only two 3-INT games). I pegged him as a dependable No. 2 and ranked him 15th among fantasy QBs, and he actually slightly exceeded those expectations, finishing 14th in standard scoring ESPN leagues, above bigger names such as Carson Palmer, David Garrard, Joe Flacco, Jason Campbell, Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Ryan. GRADE: A


This one really hurt, because I thought the rookie was poised for a big breakout. He didn't get as much work as I hoped, but he wasn't extremely effective when he did (3.6 yards a carry), and he also missed several games with injury. He's still got a lot of potential and could very well overtake Joseph Addai as the Colts' lead back next year, but for now this sleeper's still dozing. GRADE: D

2009 Fantasy Awards, Pt. 2


Cleveland WR Mohamed Massaqoi is actually a double winner. After starting the year with two 1-catch games, he tantalized everyone with a 8-catch, 148-yard showing in Week 3 against Cincy. The following week? One catch. A few more lackluster games followed, and he was dropped from almost every league around. Then in Week 11, he catches 5 balls for 115 yards and a TD against Detroit. With Braylon Edwards traded to the Jets, some thought he might actually be a part of the offense and snatched him back up again. The next week? One catch.


49ers rookie Glen Coffee got rave reviews in training camp and was hyped as a big sleeper in some circles. "The Niners are going to run wild!" they said. "Coffee's a must-handcuff to Frank Gore!" they said. When Gore got hurt in Week 3 and was to miss at least 3 weeks, there was a mad rush to the waiver wire to get Coffee. To make it even more enticing, he was playing the Rams in Week 4. And here's what he did: 24 carries, 74 yards (3.1 average), 0 TDs. The following week he did score a TD, but ran the ball 12 times for just 45 yards. And then he was basically never heard from again.


RB C.J. Spiller from Clemson is probably a lock to go in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and if he lands on the right team, he has the size and the high-end speed to be a No. 1 back immediately next year. He could easily make the kind of contribution Knowshon Moreno (947 yards, 7 TDs) did this year as a rookie.


Jamaal Charles, Jerome Harrison, Jonathan Stewart, Beanie Wells, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Steve Smith (Giants), Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Matt Moore, Aaron Rodgers


Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Slaton, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, Steve Smith (Panthers), Roy Williams, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassell


1. Chris Johnson, 2. Adrian Peterson, 3. Drew Brees, 4. Maurice Jones-Drew, 5. Andre Johnson, 6. Ray Rice, 7. Peyton Manning, 8. Aaron Rodgers, 9. Randy Moss, 10. Frank Gore

Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Fantasy Awards, Pt. 1

Time for my annual season review and the handing out of some well-deserved honors. No popularity contests or personal biases here: These awards are based strictly on the cold, hard numbers and the players' direct impact on fantasy success.

Let's do this.


I was tempted to give the honor to Aaron Rodgers, who produced as well as any quarterback this season but could have been taken in the 3rd or 4th round or later at most drafts. But while there were a few QBs at the top of the rankings with similar stats - Rodgers, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning - one running back stood out from the pack at his position.

Chris Johnson's 2,006-yard rushing season will go down as one of the greatest in league history. CJ had a few disappointing games in the early weeks of 2009 - he had four sub-100-yard rushing performances in his first five games and failed to score a TD in any of them. But a monster Week 2 against Houston (197 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 87 receiving yards and a TD catch) showed us just what he was capable of. Johnson finished the season with 11 straight 100-plus-yard games. He scored 14 TDs on the ground, plus 2 more through the air to go with more than 500 receiving yards. In short, he was a fantasy beast, and in many leagues he wasn't among the top 5 or even 10 players drafted. That won't be the case next year.


I tended to be a little more bullish on Matt Forte's 2009 fantasy prospects than some publications. With the Bears' offseason acquisition of Jay Cutler, I thought Forte might significantly improve on a standout rookie season. Boy, was I wrong. He finished with just 929 rushing yards, down from last year's 1,238. He scored 4 rushing TDs, down from last year's 8. He caught 57 passes, down from last year's 63. He caught 0 TDs, down from last year's 4.

In other words, he was a bust.


QB - Drew Brees
RB1 - Chris Johnson
RB2 - Adrian Peterson
WR1 - Andre Johsnon
WR2 - Randy Moss
TE - Vernon Davis
K - David Akers
DEF - EaglesBold


Receivers Miles Austin of the Cowboys and Steve Smith of the Giants deserve recognition for going from off the radar to bona fide fantasy starters in 2009. But the honor goes to Kansas City's Jamaal Charles, who started the year blocked by Larry Johnson but finished as a 1,000-yard rusher. After the Chiefs unceremoniously dumped Johnson, Charles immediately stepped in with 103 yards and a TD against Oakland in Week 10 and never looked back. He scored 7 times in the season's final 8 weeks and topped 100 rushing yards in each of his final 4 games during a critical stretch of the fantasy season, culminating with his 259-yard, 2-TD showing in Week 17.


First-year running backs Knowshon Moreno, Beanie Wells and LeSean McCoy were all valuable fantasy commodities at various times, but WR Percy Harvin gets the nod after catching 6 TDs. That's more than such fantasy stalwarts as Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Terrell Owens, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Antonio Bryant. Harvin also rushed for 731 yards and scored two return TDs, making him one of the season's best flex players.


I hate to say it, but it's got to be Favre. He tied Rodgers for the third most pasing TDs with 33, his most since 1997. He also threw only 7 TDs, his fewest ever in a full season. That was a whopping improvement on last year's ratio (22 TDs/22 INTs). Favre entered the year considered a marginal fantasy backup but was one of the game's best QBs in 2009.