Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 3 Sit 'Em: Eli, Greene, Wallace

- ELI MANNING vs. Tennessee: The Giants' offense is predicated on establishing the run, but it hasn't really worked so far. Even though Eli's got 5 TD passes in two games, figure on New York sticking to the ground game against a Titans secondary that's allowed just one passing TD and one play over 20 yards.

- SHONN GREENE at Miami: It was good to see Shonn getting more involved (15 carries) and being more productive (52 yards) in Week 2 after Week 1's bomb. Unfortunately, he hasn't been good enough, and LaDainian Tomlinson is still lurking in the Jets backfield.

- MIKE WALLACE at Tampa Bay: It sure looks like any value Wallace will have in 2010 will have to wait until Ben Roethlisberger's return - he has just 4 catches through 2 Big Ben-less games. The Steelers spun the wheel and came up with Charlie Batch at QB this week, and the Bucs' defenders haven't been pushovers this year.

Last week's picks

- Vince Young's stat line against the Steelers: 7-for-10, 66 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, one benching. Nailed it.

- Michael Crabtree's stat line against the Saints: One catch for 32 yards. Nailed it.

- Jahvid Best's stat line against the Eagles: 78 rushing yards, 154 receiving yards, 3 total TDs. Little off. I still stand by my prediction - the kid ran for 20 yards on 14 carries a week earlier in his debut! - but clearly I underestimated him.

The Associated Press

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 3 Start 'Em: McFadden, Moss, Favre

RB DARREN McFADDEN at Arizona: It’s time to take this guy seriously again after 145 rushing yards on 30 carries last week against St. Louis. He’s the NFL’s second-leading rusher, and the this week's opponents, the Cardinals, are second-worst against the run (153.0 a game).

WR SANTANA MOSS at St. Louis: The veteran has hit it off with new QB Donovan McNabb, catching 16 passes so far. The Redskins will look to pound the ball against a soft Rams run defense, but I still see Moss doing some damage through the air.

BRETT FAVRE vs. Detroit: Favre’s thrown 51 TDs in 30 career games against the Lions. Only his own Vikings (52 TDs) and the Bears (53 TDs) have been victimized more by the man that Father Time forgot. It’s been a rough 2010 for Brett, but he returns to form this week against the Lions.

Last week’s picks

- Ahmad Bradshaw had a commendable 89 yards on 17 carries against the Colts. Not exactly Arian Foster-level production, but solid, and the good news for Bradshaw’s long-term value is teammate Brandon Jacobs carried the ball only four times and suffered a helmet-tossing, possibly trade-demanding meltdown.

- Dwayne Bowe’s 4 catches for 45 yards against the Browns weren’t quite what I had in mind but are a step in the right direction.

- Dez Bryant recorded only 2 catches against Chicago, but he made them count (52 yards) and he added a 62-yard punt return for a TD to boot.

Photo by The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Week 3 Hot Pickups: Snelling, Thomas, Murphy


Michael Turner
(groin) says he’ll be fine for Week 3, but Snelling (186 total yards, 3 TDs) looked great in his absence and is an obvious handcuff with big-time upside.


The rookie made his presence felt (8 catches, 97 yards, TD) in his first pro game last week and will be an important part of the Broncos’ air attack again this week vs. Indy.


Murphy looks like the best wideout in Silver & Black, catching 6 balls for 91 yards and a TD vs. St. Louis. He should benefit if Bruce Gradkowski takes over at QB, as the two have some chemistry.

Week 2 Recap, Part II: Bucs worth owning

-Is Josh Freeman a fantasy star? Not yet, but he and WR Mike Williams (2 TDs in first two games) are on their way. Williams has to be owned at this point, and Freeman might be a darkhorse No. 2 QB worth a spot start somewhere down the road. He's got some mouth-watering matchups with St. Louis and Arizona during bye-week time.

-Only six QBs have thrown for more than 600 yards so far this season. The first five? Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub. Ho hum. No. 6? Kyle Orton, who’s also got 3 TDs to 1 INT. Unfortunately, he’s about to run a gauntlet of Indy, Tennessee, Baltimore and the Jets in the next four weeks.

-Only two catches for Rams WR Mark Clayton, one of last week’s Hot Pickups, but both of them went for TDs. Clayton had only one other two-TD game in his career, back in 2006 with the Ravens.

-Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez (6 catches, 101 yards, TD) continues to be a big-play threat for the Patriots. The Florida product had a 45-yard catch in Week 1 and a 46-yarder in Week 2 vs. the Jets. How about a 47-yarder this week against Buffalo?

-It’s been a rocky road for rookie RB Ryan Matthews of San Diego – 25 carries for 104 yards (4.2 average) but also 2 fumbles and 1 protective boot after Sunday’s ankle injury. Mike Tolbert stepped in to carry the ball 16 times for 82 yards and 2 TDs against the Jags in Week 2 and figures to hurt Matthews’ value even more, at least in the short term.

-Arian Foster goes from 231 yards rushing in Week 1 to 69 in Week 2. Matt Schaub goes from 107 yards passing in Week 1 to 497 in Week 2. What’s the real deal for these two Texans? Probably somewhere in the middle.

-Brandon Jacobs owners would like to toss their helmets or demand a trade too after their guy’s performance (4 attempts, 8 yards) against the Colts. He’s clearly benchable this week against Tennessee and until further notice.

-I’m loving what I’m seeing out of how the Saints are using Pierre Thomas so far. He touched the ball 26 total times on Monday night, and with Reggie Bush gone for the next six weeks with a broken fibula, Thomas should have even more opportunities.

Photo by The Associated Press

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week 2 Recap, Part I: How 'bout them Cowboys?

- The Cowboys are a mess. The only ones who should undoubtedly be in your lineup each week right now are Miles Austin and probably Jason WittenTony Romo's got just 2 TDs in two weeks, and Marion Barber and Felix Jones are afterthoughts behind a shaky offensive line.

- Michael Turner was off to a fine start against Arizona (75 yards on 8 carries) before exiting against with a groin injury. Jason Snelling (129 rushing yards, 57 receiving yards, 2 TDs) got to reap the benefits of injuries to turner and second-stringer Jerious Norwood - but I'll give you a dollar if you actually started him.

- Two games and we're still waiting for top-five pick Ray Rice to find the end zone. Problem is, the Ravens have faced two very good Ds in the Jets and Bengals. Figure Rice will have his best day so far in Week 3 vs. Cleveland.

- Todd Haley is messing with us. The Chiefs coach gave Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles an equal number of carries in Week 1, then Jones gets twice as many (22 to Charles' 11) in Week 2. That makes both of those guys a questionable play this week against San Francisco, unfortunately.

- Michael Vick bailed out those who picked him up this week with 284 yards passing and 2 TDs. Unfortunately it's now back to the bench with Kevin Kolb returning to starting duty for the Eagles. You may want to keep Vick on your bench, too, if Kolb should falter.

- Packers TE Jermichael Finley is a big play waiting to happen. Four catches for 103 yards for the big fella on Sunday, and he had one more target than both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.

- You may want to think twice about starting your RBs against the Steelers defense after they limited both Turner (42 yards) and Chris Johnson (34 yards) in consecutive weeks. The Bucs' Cadillac Williams is up next - good luck with that.

- Just when you were about to declare Brett Favre (1 TD, 4 INTs in 2010) a bust, he gets a crack at the Lions in Week 3.

Photo by The Associated Press

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2 Sit 'Em: Young, Crabtree, Best

QB VINCE YOUNG vs. Pittsburgh: VY gets no Heisman Trophy, and he gets no fantasy love here in Week 2. Yes the Titans QB looked good in Week 1, tossing 2 TDs, but he also attempted a mere 17 passes and finished with 154 yards. And Pittsburgh ain’t Oakland.

WR MICHAEL CRABTREE vs. New Orleans: Thought this guy was supposed to be the truth – last week’s stats (2 catches, 12 yards) must have been a misprint then. Seriously though, I still like Crabtree’s long-term potential this year, but you have to avoid him if possible this week, especially against a Saints defense that bottled up Brett Favre and the Vikings’ passing game in the opener.

RB JAHVID BEST vs. Philadelphia: Hey, Best’s 2 TDs in his first-ever NFL game were great, but if you’re expecting the same in Week 2 you’re a sucker. If you were paying attention you noticed he rushed for just 20 yards on 14 carries, a miniscule 1.4 yard average, against the Bears. There’s considerable risk here with Best if the Shaun Hill-led Lions can’t get near the goal line against a usually stout Eagles run D.

Fantasy Focus podcast: Vick's value

Go here for the latest installment of the Fantasy Focus weekly podcast.

This week we're debating the fantasy values of Michael Vick, Brandon Jackson, Legedu Naanee, Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw and more.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week 2 Start 'Em: Bradshaw, Bowe, Bryant

- RB AHMAD BRADSHAW at Indianapolis: Bradshaw looked like the best runner in the Giants’ backfield Sunday, rushing 20 times for 76 yards and a TD while Brandon Jacobs mustered just 44 yards on 12 carries. Now Bradshaw gets to face a reeling Colts D that was terrorized by Arian Foster in Week 1.

- WR DWAYNE BOWE at Cleveland: His season debut was forgettable (1 catch, 14 yards), and though he was targeted only five times, that led all Chiefs receivers on what was a rainy Monday night. Bowe is still a dangerous WR1 and K.C.'s best option, and this matchup should help him prove it.

- WR DEZ BRYANT vs. Chicago: The rookie was targeted a team-high 12 times by QB Tony Romo in Week 1. Just so we're clear, that's more than Miles Austin and more than Jason Witten. There's a good chance these boys will tear up Chicago, which makes Bryant a pretty good WR2 or Flex option.

'The League' is back on TV tonight

If you're a fantasy football player and have a sense of humor, you owe it to yourself to check out the comedy "The League," which premieres its second season at 10:30 tonight on FX.

It's a pretty hilarious, somewhat true-to-life look at a bunch of guys competing in a fantasy football league. There's a good chance you'll see someone you recognize from your own league represented on screen, from the guy who traded for Plaxico Burress last season without realizing he was in jail, to the guy who has a personal vendetta against Antonio Gates for knocking him out of the playoffs (and then actually runs into Gates at a day spa, and hilarity ensues).

I have to warn you the show is "iffy" for viewers younger than 16, as my TV likes to remind me, but other than that I highly recommend it.

Worried about Randy Moss?

You drafted Randy Moss in the first round.

Then he goes out and catches 5 balls for 59 yards and 0 TDs in the Pats' Week 1 rout of the Bengals.

OK, you can live with that, I suppose. Not what you want out of your top wideout, but not unforgivable.

Then, after the game, Moss starts yapping about his unhappiness with his contract situation.

Uh oh. If you remember his days as a Raider, you know an unhappy Moss can be an unproductive Moss. The mercurial wideout has said you won't hear another peep out of him on the subject this year, though, and he's happy to be a Patriot and is "still going to play some football."

That's reassuring. Only problem: this week the Pats face the Jets, and that means Moss can expect a heavy dose of his new nemesis, Darrelle Revis. New York plans to match up its lockdown cornerback exclusively with Moss, who was held to a total of 9 catches and 58 yards (and 1 TD) in two trips to Revis Island last year.

In other words, expect another so-so showing from your best wideout this week.

Things should get better after that, especially with a tasty matchup with Buffalo looming in Week 3, but until then it could be a rough couple weeks for Moss supporters.

Photo by The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hot Pickups, Week 2: Jackson, Vick, Clayton


Fourth-year understudy gets his chance with starter Ryan Grant (ankle) lost for the season. Jackson has won his coaches' confidence and should be ready to roll vs. Buffalo.


Assuming Kevin Kolb's concussion keeps him out, Vick's legs (103 rushing yards in Week 1) make him valuable against the Lions in relief.


Former Ravens underachiever had a career-high 10 catches in his 2010 debut, and with Sam Bradford slinging it so much (55 attempts), there should be more.

Week 1 Recap, Part II: Kolb toast?

- So much for Kevin Kolb’s big debut as the official Eagles starting QB (5-for-10, 25 yards, concussion). I’m not ready to declare him a fantasy bust, but hopefully you already recognized the risks with a largely untested QB and have a capable backup ready. If not, it might be time to look Michael Vick’s way.

- Running to the waiver wire to get Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis? Not so fast. Sure, he had two catches, both for TDs. But this is also the same guy whose career high for TDs in a season is two, and who didn’t catch more than 4 passes in a game last year. Maybe he’s worth a grab, but temper your expectations.

- Sam Bradford sure aired it out in his first pro game (55 attempts). But he connected on just 32 of those (4.6 yards per completion), threw 1 TD and 3 picks, and finished with a 53.1 QB rating. He’s not a fantasy option at this point.

- Good luck making sense of the Seahawks’ backfield rotation. Justin Forsett was the most impressive (7 carries for 43 yards, 6.1 average), but Julius Jones and Leon Washington each had 1 more carry apiece. You’ll want to avoid this situation until it gets a little less murky.

- Remember all the hullabaloo about Redskins TE Fred Davis being a fantasy sleeper this year? Davis wasn't even targeted on Sunday night, but starter Chris Cooley caught 6 passes for 80 yards to lead all Skins receivers. Cooley could be in line for a big year if he stays healthy and the synergy with Donovan McNabb continues.

- OK, maybe LaDainian Tomlinson's got some fantasy life left in him (11 carries, 62 yards). But you have to figure Shonn Greene can't be that miserable again (5 carries, 18 yards, a fumble, a dropped pass and a second-half benching). That wasn't how Gang Green drew it up.

- Legedu Naanee had the nicer stat line Monday among Chargers WRs (5 catches, 110 yards, TD), but it was actually Malcom Floyd (3-48) that was targeted a team-high 12 times to Naanee's eight, including three of San Diego's four shots at the end zone on a 1st-and-goal series to end the game. Read into that what you will.

- Saints RB Pierre Thomas might have tough sledding against the 49ers' D this week, but it was good to see him get the lion's share of the carries (19 of the team's 25 rush attempts) as New Orleans pounded the rock last Thursday against the Vikings. That equaled his season high from last year, which came in Week 4.

Photo by The Associated Press

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Who's buried in Grant's tomb? Brandon Jackson

OK, maybe the title of this blog post is a little misleading. Ryan Grant is not dead. He's just dead to me and the rest of his fantasy owners.

Grant is out for the year, reports, after suffering an ankle injury that didn't look that terrible on Sunday against the Eagles. But it's still a terrible blow for anyone who made Grant their No. 1 RB or took him in the first or second round this year (yours truly included).

The obvious replacement is Brandon Jackson, Grant's backup, who carried the ball 18 times for 63 yards in relief of Grant on Sunday. Jackson does have the backing of head coach Mike McCarthy, who believes Jackson can be an every-down back. The fourth-year RB was actually once considered for the Packers' starting job as a rookie in 2007 before injuries and ineffectiveness eventually caused him to lose out to Grant. But he's improved since then and had time to learn the system.

Jackson's a little smaller than Grant but may be a better receiver (2 receptions for 12 yards on Sunday), and in Green Bay's offense he has a chance to at least be a 1,000-yard rusher. I've never considered Grant a supremely skilled guy to begin with; most of his value came from the consistent number of carries he's received and the benefits of the great passing game around him. Slot Jackson into that role and the production shouldn't suffer all that much, provided Jackson's up to the task.

Photo by The Associated Press

Week 1 Recap, Part I: Foster's for real

A few musings from Week 1's action while I thank the football gods for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket free preview:

- Welcome to fantasy stardom, Arian Foster (231 yards, 3 TDs). We’re waiting with baited breath to see what you do in Week 2.

- Somebody slow down the C.J. Spiller bandwagon. Seven carries for 6 yards isn’t going to cut it as a fantasy star yet.

- For those who were wondering who would be Mike Martz’s most utilized wideout in Chicago (Devin Hester? Johnny Knox? Devin Aromashodu)?), the surprising answer was his RB, Matt Forte, who led the team with 7 catches for a whopping 151 yards and 2 TDs. The other three combined for 9 receptions.

- Roll on, Chris Johnson (27 carries, 142 yards, 2 TDs).

- Guess Wes Welker is OK – 11 targets, 8 catches, 2 TDs. Those who got him at a discount price this year because of the injury concerns have to be smiling right about now, especially with the Jets up next on the Pats’ schedule. In his last four games vs. Gang Green, the Welk Man has averaged 7 catches for 92 yards.

- Giants WR Hakeem Nicks established himself as a fantasy force with 3 TDs against Carolina. Granted, he only had 4 catches, but Eli Manning targeted him 8 times, as many as Steve Smith.

- Roddy White’s stat line against Pittsburgh was strong (13 catches, 111 yards), but the most eye-opening number was the whopping 23 targets. With those kind of looks he could demolish Arizona this week.

- Could Peyton Hillis be a factor in the Browns’ backfield? Sure, given the fact he had 9 carries (as many as starter Jerome Harrison) and also scored a TD.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Week 1 Sit 'Em: Owens, Mason, Jackson

- TERRELL OWENS at Patriots: T.O. hasn't fared well historically against New England. In four career meetings with the Pats he's averaged just 48 yards a game, his third fewest against any opponent - and he's played 'em all. Sure, this year's Pats' secondary is largely untested, and the Bengals will probably want to feed T.O. enough passes to keep him happy, but I just have a hard time believing he'll be a consistent performer anymore. I'm not getting any popcorn ready this week.

- DERRICK MASON at Jets: T.J. Houshmandzadeh's arrival in Baltimore is bad news for Mason. Now Ravens QB Joe Flacco has two aging possession receivers to choose from. There's a decent chance they'll consistently cancel each other out for fantasy purposes, and that's not even mentioning the arrival of big-ticket WR import Anquan Boldin. Mason has gone from undervalued fantasy commodity to a risky play. Factor in the possibility of Mason spending some time on Revis Island this weekend, and he has to stay on your bench until further notice.

- FRED JACKSON vs. Dolphins: I happen to like Freddie Jax a lot, but this isn't the week to use him. Not with Jackson still nursing a broken hand that cost him a month of the preseason and with rookie C.J. Spiller being named the starter. Jackson might have some fantasy value this year, but this isn't the week.

Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week 1 Start 'Em: Harvin, Forte, Wells

It’s time once again for the Fantasy Focus weekly features, Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em. The concept is pretty simple: Each week, in preparation for that Sunday’s action, I’ll offer three guys I recommend for your starting lineup, then three guys I think you should stay away from.

I’m not going to waste your time, or mine, by telling you to start Peyton Manning and sit Sam Bradford. Duh. Instead I’ll be focusing on borderline guys, backups, flex players – because that’s where fantasy matchups are won or lost.

Just to keep me honest, I’ll also check in on my previous week’s picks so you can track my recommendations and hold me to them. Sound good? Alright, then here we go:

- PERCY HARVIN at Saints: Harvin says his doctors have found the cause of the debilitating migraines that have plagued him for years and put his 2010 season in jeopardy. The Vikings aren't sharing this medical breakthrough with the millions of other migraine sufferers, but I guess we can let that slide if Harvin can contribute to our fantasy teams. The Vikes seem to have no doubt that will be the case, as they traded away kick returner Darius Reynaud to give the job to Harvin. Minnesota would be wise to go to Harvin early and often with Sidney Rice on the shelf. He's an optimal flex play this week.

- MATT FORTE vs. Lions: If only Forte could've played Detroit 16 times last year. The Bears RB only cracked the 100-yard mark twice in an otherwise dismal 2009, but both came against the Lions: 121 yards and a TD in Week 4, 101 yards in Week 17. I'm not totally sold on a Forte comeback in 2010, but this is one week I'm buying.

- BEANIE WELLS vs. Rams: I'm still not sure how coach Ken Whisenhunt envisions splitting up the work this year between Cardinals RBs Beanie and Tim Hightower. But with Derek Anderson piloting the offense (yikes!) I expect to see a heavy workload for Wells. In his two meetings with St. Louis last year, Beanie ran for 74 yards and a TD and 64 yards and a TD, so we could very well see a repeat.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 1 Hot Pickups: Williams, Gaffney, Taylor


Former Southern Cal bust is reunited with old coach Pete Carroll and sits atop Seattle’s depth chart with T.J. Houshmandzadeh gone. Grab and observe.


He’s probably not a true NFL No. 1 WR, but he’s the best Denver’s got in Week 1. And he had 14 catches for 213 yards in his last regular season game.

3. RB FRED TAYLOR, Patriots

You never know what New England will do with its backfield, but formerly fragile Fred, age 34, will never be fresher this season than he is right now.

Photo by The Associated Press

What roster cuts mean to you

The finalization of NFL rosters creates a number of new questions for fantasy fans to ponder.

How does T.J. Houshmandzadeh's relocation to Baltimore affect his fantasy value? Is the RB situation in Washington any clearer? Is there a new dark horse RB to watch in Denver?

Get the answers to these burning questions and more in this week's edition of the Herald's Fantasy Focus podcast.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lamenting a lost league

This will be the first season in at least 8 or 9 years that my dad and I won't be sharing a fantasy football team.

The tradition started back when I was in college. Dad got invited to join a league run by some of his younger colleagues at his office back in New Jersey, where he's a supervisor. Dad's always been a big football fan - a standout prep player in his day and a lifelong Giants fan, he taught me most of what I know about the game, and even a little on how to bet on it - but he wanted my help with picking the team. So we came to an agreement: He'd front the league entry fee, and I'd handle the draft and weekly lineup, acting as a kind of GM. And thus, Ace in the Hole was born.

Now, this was no run-of-the mill fantasy league. First off, the yearly league entry fee has always been at least $100, plus anywhere from $2 to $5 for every transaction. And instead of just a 10-team league, it was actually set up with TWO divisions of 10 teams apiece, with the two division champs ultimately meeting in the fantasy super bowl. The divisions (in reference to Dad, we were placed in the "Old People" division, as opposed to "Young People") each held separate drafts, so the same players could be owned in both. You'd play all the teams in your division during the season, but you'd also face some cross-divisional opponents as well, which always led to some interesting dilemmas. For instance, you might own Priest Holmes but end up facing another team that had Holmes in its starting lineup. Would you start Holmes as well in the hopes of canceling each other out? Or would you risk starting some other running back in his place in the hopes of outscoring the "other" Holmes?

The drafts were always a good time. They were usually held on a Friday night in late August at somebody's house, with the "Young People" set up in folding chairs in the backyard and the "Old People" huddled around a converted poker table inside enjoying the AC. The beer flowed freely from a keg, and some of Central Jersey's finest cuisine, from tomato pie to hoagies to wings, was on the menu.

In our first couple years of competing I was able to attend with Dad, with draft day coming before I went back to college to start the semester. But in subsequent years, when the real world called and I held newspaper jobs that kept me in the office on Friday nights, I had to draft long distance, with Dad attending in person to make the picks and me strategizing with him via cell phone. I spent many a Friday night with one eye on my work on the computer screen (my editors will love reading this) and another on our cheat sheet, with my right earlobe and my cell phone minutes burning up. A couple years ago I even picked the whole team on the phone while on a 7-hour road trip from Columbus, Ga., to Bradenton, much to the delight of the other four people trapped in the minivan with me.

There are a lot of other fond, and not-so-fond, memories that stick out from Ace in the Hole's existence. Like the time we only needed one stinking catch from Shannon Sharpe on a Monday Night Football game to clinch a fantasy playoff spot and didn't get it (we still haven't forgiven him). Or the time Daunte Culpepper's awesome 39-TD season in 2004 led us to the postseason; we had him again in 2005 and his injury-plagued debacle that year destroyed us.

I'll always remember the guys who played well for us (Tiki Barber, Mike Alstott) and the guys who didn't (LaMont Jordan, Matt Forte). And I won't forget the Sunday afternoons when Dad and I would call each other to rejoice over those guys or curse them out. We're both men of few words, so Ace in the Hole always gave us something easy to talk about and helped us stay in touch, especially these past few years with me living in Florida and him back in the Garden State.

Dad decided to pull the plug on Ace in the Hole this year. He wasn't really thrilled about fronting the entry fee, economic times being as they are. Maybe it would have helped if we made the playoffs more than the few times we did over the years and at least won our money back. But also, the sad truth is most of the guys he worked with and made up our league over the years got laid off when Dad's company went through some massive downsizing and outsourcing recently. Much of the enjoyment he got from being in the league came from ragging on those guys during the week around the office, telling them his kid was going to build a championship team that would kick their butts. Now most of those guys aren't around anymore, and a lot of them dropped out of the league too.

I'll still play in other leagues of course, but I don't think it can ever be the same. If you're in one this great, enjoy it. If you share a team with your dad or your son, cherish it while it lasts.

I know I do.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 preview in Sunday's Herald

You can find my 2010 Fantasy Football preview in the sports section of Sunday's edition of the Herald.

Herald readers can also look for my weekly Hot Pickups in print throughout the season.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hard times for Hardesty owners

Montario Hardesty was a popular sleeper entering 2010. Unfortunately, he won't have a chance to awaken this year after suffering an ACL tear that will cost him his rookie season.

Hardesty, taken by the Browns in the second round out of Tennessee, had a chance to be the primary runner for Cleveland this year. Instead, that part is now likely be played by Jerome Harrison, whom you may recall from a blistering three-game run last season. In Weeks 15-17, Harrison rushed for 561 yards and 5 TDs and helped a lot of lucky owners win fantasy championships. Granted, he did his damage in meaningless games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars - not exactly three defensive powerhouses - and the Browns still felt compelled to go out and spend a high pick on another RB in the spring.

That being said, Harrison has a shot to prove he's not a fluke, and he's definitely someone to target if he hasn't already been claimed in your league. He's a solid receiver, too, and he should get first crack at being the Browns' feature back, with Peyton Hillis and James Davis waiting in the wings if he's not up to the task.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Matt Leinart out, Derek Anderson in?

Matt Leinart's out in Arizona. Derek Anderson's in.

At least that's the early indication from Cardinals camp, with reports surfacing that Leinart is on the trading block after failing to grab the starting QB job.

Leinart wasn't a very intriguing fantasy prospect this year thanks to some poor showings in preseason action and an ongoing clash with head coach Ken Whisenhunt. The former USC party guy has had multiple chances to prove he's the Cardinals' answer at QB but failed. Leinart's only fantasy appeal came from the fact he'd be throwing to All-Pro talent Larry Fitzgerald and a few other solid receivers in Arizona. But with Leinart on the trading block - and facing the possibility of being cut by Saturday - it's looking like he'll end up riding the pine somewhere else to start 2010.

That leads us to the Cardinals' next best option at QB, Anderson, a man last seen getting run out of town in Cleveland. Think about that for a second. CLEVELAND didn't want him! That's how bad Anderson was last year (3 TDs, 10 INTs, 42.1 QB rating) and in 2008 (9 TDs, 8 INTs, 66.5 rating). But it's easy to forget DA had an improbable Pro Bowl season in 2008 with the Browns, when he threw for more than 3,700 yards and 29 TDs with 19 INTs. He also helped WR Braylon Edwards join him on the AFC Pro Bowl squad and led Cleveland to a 10-6 record.

Alright, so he's no Bernie Kosar. Derek Anderson isn't even Ken Anderson. But maybe DA still has a few tricks up his sleeve and could come close to reproducing those '07 stats. Having Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet, Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells around him will help. Do I think you need to run out and add Anderson to your team? Not so fast. The situation in Arizona is still too volatile. But Anderson's somebody to keep tabs on and possibly consider at the first sign of trouble if you're in the market for a fantasy No. 2.