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Preseason Wrapup

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Yeah, I know. There is still one week of the preseason left. But the starters rarely play any significant amount of time in the 4th preseason game. So now seems like as good a time as any to look back at the preseason and see what we learned.

So, with that in mind: I know it’s only preseason, but…

1. The Packers offense looks very good. I have said a few times already that I expect QB Aaron Rodgers to end the season as the top scoring player in fantasy (and to back this up, I picked him in two of my three leagues so far this year). Rodgers has looked very sharp in the preseason, completing 27 of 38 passes for 458 yards, with 6 TDs and no interceptions — and he did this in approximately 4 quarters of play. Which is, like, pretty good. Beyond Rodgers, though, there is RB Ryan Grant, who should get 300 carries and rebound from his poor 2008, WR Greg Jennings, who is a top-10 (and maybe even top-5) WR, WR Donald Driver, who is an undervalued WR3, and sleepers such as WR James Jones and TE Jermichael Finley, who could put up good numbers in an offense that should be in the top 5 in the league.

2. We have no idea what TO will do in Buffalo. TO looked like he could still play early during BUF’s 1st preseason game. But that is all we saw of him. He has missed the rest of the preseason with a mysterious toe injury. I have my own issues with TO — mostly related to the QB and OL in BUF — but there is no denying the guy’s talent. If you like to gamble, you can probably get a pretty good deal on him.

3. Chris Henry could be very good. I have had this kid on many of my fantasy teams in the past, only to end up disappointed by his inconsistency and apparent stupidity. But now it seems like he has things figured out. He caught a TD in each of the preseason games, and is a prime candidate to replace the production that went with WR TJ Houshmandzadeh to SEA. He is a great sleeper pick.

4. Brett Favre still has it. At least for a few more weeks. No one really doubted that Favre could still play. I think the real question is whether he can still play for 16 (or 19 or 20) weeks. I suspect he will look pretty sharp during the early portion of the season, but judgment day(s) will come later in the year when he is getting tired and beat up. Will he still have the desire? Will his body hold up? Who knows. But he does give the other offensive players in MIN a boost — at least in the short-term.

5. We have no idea what any of the rookie RBs will do. There is some great talent at RB in this year’s rookie class. Unfortunatley, we still do not know whether any of them will be productive. We finally got to see RB Beanie Wells last week against GB, and he looked good, but questions linger about his injury issues. Everyone was excited when RB Knowshon Moreno ended his holdout, but he only lasted half a game and then was injured. And we still have no idea how DEN plans to use him. RB Donald Brown was a popular sleeper pick, but IND does not seem like it has any plans to give up on RB Joseph Addai any time soon. RB LeSean McCoy finds himself in a similar position — if (when?) RB Brian Westbrook goes down, McCoy should blow up. But what if that does not happen? Enough people are predicting Westbrook’s demise that I am convinced it is not going to happen. RB Shonn Greene is also waiting behind an aging veteran. But we have no idea when or if he will see the field. In fact, out of all the rookie RBs, RB James Davis might have the best chance of seeing the field sooner rather than later. He is stuck behind an ineffective and aging RB Jamal Lewis, and there have been rumors that Lewis might not make the final roster. (But you know how rumors go…) Overall, I think Wells has the best chance to have a big fantasy season, but Brown and McCoy could blow up if injuries open the door. And keep an eye on Davis — he is a sleeper if I ever saw one.

6. The Seahawks could surprise some people. SEA was terrible last year. But that was mostly due to a rash of injuries. Although they still have some issues along the OL, and RB Julius Jones does not scare [m]any teams, their offense could be pretty good. QB Matt Hasselbeck is a sleeper at QB, WR TJ Houshmandzadeh is a very good value at WR, TE John Carlson is a great value at TE, and WR Deon Butler is a deep sleeper. Shoot, even Jones is the main ballcarrier, so he should put up solid yardage totals and can likely be picked very late in your draft.

7. Eli Manning is still a mouthbreather. Nothing has changed. Except now he has lost his favorite target at WR. Which means he will probably do a lot more mouthbreating and blaming his teammates when things do not go right.

8. The Raiders are one messed up franchise. There are guys in OAK with potential — RB Darren McFadden, RB Michael Bush, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Zach Miller — but can we really trust anyone in OAK to produce on a weekly basis? The team is so dysfunctional that it seems foolish to draft any of them. Which really makes me wonder why I took both Bush and Schilens in one of my recent drafts…

9. Brady and Moss could return to their 2007 form. The circus that is the Brady-to-Moss connection could be back. They make it look too easy. Way too easy. Which is why I made sure to grab Moss in a couple of my leagues. I expect him and Brady to put up huge numbers. And since Moss is going as the 3rd or 4th WR, he is a great value, because he could very well end up as the number 1 WR at the end of the year — especially since the other top WRs — WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Andre Johnson, and WR Calvin Johnson — all have QB health/quality issues.

10. Fantasy football is fun. I am so glad the season is (almost) here. I have been thinking about this sh!t way too long. So I am happy that the season is right around the corner…

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RB Handcuffs

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

As I have said before, you should not automatically grab the “handcuff” for the RBs you draft simply because they are their real life backup.

However, there are some “handcuffs” you should defnitely grab if you draft certain RBs. And here is a list of guys that, if you draft them, you should also draft their “handcuff”:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson has been a workhorse since he came into the league as a rookie. But he is not without injury concerns. And he may have one of the better backups in the league in RB Chester Taylor. If AP misses any time, Taylor should put up very good numbers in his stead.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): MJD has had a very healthy career thus far. But he has also been limited in the amount of touches he’s had. This year JAX (finally) expects to use him as a fulltime ballcarrier. Although that increases his fantasy value, it also increases his chance to get injured. There has been no official word from JAX on his backup, but I expect RB Chauncey Washington would get the nod (initially) to take over the load. But also keep an eye on rookie RB Rashad Jennings, who could get some touches, too.

RB Michael Turner (ATL): Whether you believe “The Curse of 370” or not, you cannot argue with the fact that there is a body of statistical evidence out there that says it is very likely Turner will get injurd this year. So, even if you do not believe it, you should play the odds and pickup his backup. Unfortunately, his top backup, RB Jerious Norwood, suffered a knee injury recently. But he should be fine by the time Turner goes down. But you should also keep an eye on RB Jason Snelling and rookie RB Thomas Brown, who could get some work if Turner succumbs to “the curse”.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore is a highly-ranked RB this year, due to his skill level, the offense he is working in, and his history of being productive. However, he also has a history of being injury-prone. And rookie RB Glenn Cofffee is playing ver well. So add him if you have Gore, and look like a genius when Gore misses time and you casually insert Coffee into the lineup and pile up the points.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): If you gamble on Westbrook early, you need to make sure you get RB LeSean McCoy later in the draft. McCoy should put up very Westbrook-like numbers if/when Westbrook goes down.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): It is not entirely clear what role Barber will have in the DAL offense this year. But he should get enough touches to make him a very solid RB2. Either way, in the event that his brutish running-style causes him to miss any games, look for RB Tashard Choice to pick up his touches. RB Felix Jones should continue to get his own touches no matter what, although they would likely increase in the event that Barber goes down.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas came into the year with high expectatoins, but an MCL injury has put his status for week 1 in doubt. If you have Thomas on your team, you should also add RB Mike Bell, who would benefit immensely if Thomas misses any time.

RB Clinton Porits (WAS): Those who had Portis on their team last year remember how much fun it was at the beginning of the season when he was killing it. And they also remember how miserable it was at the end of the year when he was getting killed. And now there are reports that he has a bruised rib. I love Portis and think he is about as tough as they come for NFL RBs. But as a result of his toughness, he often has nagging injuries. I think RB Ladell Betts will be involved more this year, and he should be on your roster if you own Portis.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): We already know Lynch is going to miss the first 3 games of the year, which means RB Fred Jackson is going to get a majority of the touches during that time. Add him to your roster if you have Lynch, not only for those first three games, but also for later, just in case Lynch gets injured or cannot keep his nose clean.

RB Thomas Jones (NYJ): Thomas is getting older and has not looked good so far this year. But he did have a career-year in 2008, so it is hard to discount him completely. Either way, if he were to get hurt or become entirely ineffective, RB Shonn Greene would probably take over his role as the main ballcarrier. Although I think RB Leon Washington is the only NYJ RB worth owning, Greene will probbaly do alright in the event Jones goes down. But, like the situation in DAL, Washington would probably see his touches go up, as well.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): Moreno has a ton of potential, unfortunately we have no idea whether he will ever meet said potential, because we have yet to see him play in the NFL for any legitimate amount of time due to a knee injury he suffered early on in his first preseason game (after a long holdout). I suspect he will be fine once he recovers, but if you took a flyer on him in your draft, you should also add RB Peyton Hillis, who seems (to me, anyway) as the best option DEN has if/when Moreno is out. RB Correll Buckhalter and RB LaMont Jordan are also in the mix, I suppose, but Hillis should be the most effective RB in the group.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): Addai has been fairly ineffective recently, and he has struggled to stay healthy. Enter rookie RB Donald Brown, who has looked sharp so far. It is hard to say what will happen with this RBBC, but it is safe to say that if Addai gets injured or cannot get the job done, Brown will step in and could do very well.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis has looked slow this preseason and is at that magical age (30) when RBs go down hill. So if you take him, you should also grab RB James Davis, who could supplant him as the starter by midseason.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has seen his YPC go down each year since becoming the starter. That is not a good sign of things to come. So if you take Fast Willie, make sure you also grab RB Rashard Mendenhall, who should see his role increase as the year goes along, especially if FWP cannot stay healthy.

Don’t Buy the Hype

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Everyone loves to put together lists of sleepers during the preasons, to show how smart they are and how well they can evaluate up-and-coming talent. But most of the guys on these lists will not do anything during the regular season.

On an entirely unrelated note, please see my list of sleepers here.

So, here are some guys who have been identified as “sleepers” by many (including me) who are not likely to be worth a pick. They are, however, worth keeping an eye on, because if they continue to perofrm, they will be worth adding as a FA or WW acquisition.

QB Michael Vick (PHI): I am annoyed that I keep finding myself writing about Vick. Hey, I am fine that the guy is getting a second chance. In fact, I support his endeavor to return to NFL stardom. Lord knows I have had my fair share of second chances. But do we really have to follow his every step? Or does ESPN and NFLN have to show every single snap he takes — four times? He is a backup QB who will get a few snaps a game. But he will never put up enough stats to make him worthwhile as a starter. Who knows, though. Maybe I am wrong. I hope I am. But there is no way I will waste a draft pick on a guy like him. I would rather take QB Jamarcus Russell than Vick. At least Russell plays every snap.

WR Troy Williamson (JAX): He has caught some balls and put up some yards in the preseason, but I am still not buying into the hype. I have him on my list of sleepers (gotta cover my bases, right?), but I think he is only worth consideration in very deep leagues. Even if he does continue to catch passes (as opposed to, you know, dropping them like he usually does), he will be a Devery Henderson type player — catching one or two long bombs each game, or catching nothing. Too risky.

WR David Clowney (NYJ): Clowney seems kinda like Williams, insofar as he has looked good in the preseason catching mostly long passes, but I am not convinced that he will continue to produce during the regular season. It is also worth noting that Clowney led the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason in 2008. And then he proceeded to have exactly 1 catch during the regular season. I do think Clowney will have a somewhat productive year, since he is (currently) listed as the starter opposite WR Jerricho Cotchery. As you may know, I have Clowney listed as a sleeper (I think), but I consider him a “deep” sleeper who has a pretty high chance of not showing up.

RB Shonn Greene (NYJ): Some people are convinced that Shonn Greene is going to take over for RB Thomas Jones at some point this season. While I do expect Jones to experience a decline in production this year, I do not expect him to be replaced by the rookie. First, I am not all that high on Greene. Second, RB Leon Washington will still get a lot of touches in this offense no matter how well Jones (or Greene) is playing. So even if Greene does get some carries, he is probably not worth starting anytime soon. I would allow Greene to go undrafted and consider picking him up later if it looks like the NJY are going to use him.

Alright… That is enough for now. It’s Friday night. And it’s time for me to go have some fun. And by “fun” I mean prepare for my auction draft tomorrow…

Do Not Draft List

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

So, I (finally) have my first draft this weekend. It is a live auction draft with a group of friends, so it should be fun. As I finalize my rankings and prepare for the draft, I like to make a “Do Not Draft List” with all the guys I am going to avoid at all costs. Most of these guys I want to avoid because I think they are too risky — i.e. they will either bust or get injured. Some of them, I simply do not like.

DO NOT DRAFT

QB Kurt Warner (ARI): Age, injury history, and, well, that’s pretty much it.

QB Eli Manning (NYG): Mouthbreather.

QB Brett Favre (MIN): Traitor.

QB Mike Vick (PHI): He will miss the first part of the season. And he is a backup QB. I still do not get whey people are drafting him.

QB Pat White (MIA): Again: Backup QB. 3rd string, even. Yes, I realize he will run the Wildcat. So, put him in at QB one week. And enjoy losing your game. You would be better off with QB Brady Quinn as your starting QB.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Everyone is convinced that this is the year he falls apart. Which means he will probably blow up. So, I guess you can thank me.

RB Thomas Jones (NJY): Career year last year. Career-ending year this year?

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): He’s had a nice run. But I think he is phased out this year in favor of RB James Davis.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): He could do well. Or he could get replaced by RB Donald Brown. I am not taking the risk.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Oh, FWP, we’ve had some good times. But, seriously, now it’s time for you to leave.

RB Derrick Ward (TB): He is sharing the job with RB Earnest Graham and RB Cadillac Williams. And Ward will find that life is a lot tougher when not running behind the NYG OL.

RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR): He has to prove he can stay healthy before I add him to my roster.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI): Call me silly or call me stupid, but I am a believer in the Madden Curse.

WR Terrell Owens (BUF): Toe injuries scare me. And so does the OL in BUF.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF): His hubris is unreal.

WR Brandon Marshall (DEN): Extremely talented. Extremely stupid.

WR Antonio Bryant (TB): No way he has back-to-back monster years. Especially not with those QBs.

WR Devin Hester (CHI): He is not a WR. I repeat: He is not a WR.

Preseason Injury Updates

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Here are some notable injuries to be aware of as you draft your teams and/or scour the waiver wires after your drafts:

QB Kurt Warner (ARI): Warner is old and has a hip issue. Although his hip is reportedly getting better, it is still a concern.

QB Carson Palmer (CIN): Palmer missed nearly all of 2008 with an elbow injury, only to injure his ankle upon his return to the field in 2009. I do not expect either to be very serious, but it would be nice to see him play a little more before the real action begins.

QB Drew Brees (NO): Thankfully, Brees is not hurt. But his starting LT Jamaal Brown is. Which does impact Brees’ value. Brees is still a top-ranked fantasy QB, but this might be enough to bump QB Tom Brady above him.

QB Brett Favre (MIN): Favre ended 2008 on a down note due to a bum shoulder. He seems to be ready to go this year, but keep an eye on him and see how he feels after throwing a few passes.

RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR): The most recent reports say that Stewart will miss the rest of the preseason due to a lingering achilles injury. This is bad news for Stewart but very good news for RB DeAngelo Williams, who would benefit immensely from the absence of Stewart.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook had offseason ankle surgery, and is likely recovering from any number of other injuries he sustained in 2008. Many think 2009 could be the end of the line for Westbrook, but he is a tough player and will not go away easily. But do pay attention to his injury status, because RB LeSean McCoy is lurking in the shadows waiting for his chance to shine.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas suffered a minor sprain to his MCL recently, but should be fine by the time week 1 rolls around.

RB Reggie Bush (NO): Bush is reportedly going to see his first action in the next preseason game after missing time due to various injuries. Which is nothing new for Bush.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): After all the hype and the holdout, all Moreno did was get injured. When healthy, he should get enough touches in DEN to make him a borderline RB2. Keep an eye on his knee.

RB Beanie Wells (ARI): Another rookie with some hype was Wells. But no one was surprised when he hurt his ankle on the first day of camp. Wells has dealt with injury issues throughout his career. So it is worth seeing how quickly he recovers.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): Lynch is not injured, but he will miss the first 3 games of the season due to a suspension. If RB Fred Jackson (see below) is healthy, he should get the carries. Otherwise, RB Xavier Omon could get some extra work, along with RB Dominic Rhodes.

RB Fred Jackson (BUF): Jackson has been dealing with a wrist injury and recently left practice due to a thumb injury. It is not yet clear how serious either one is, but since Lynch will miss some time, it is worth following his progress.

WR Calvin Johnson (DET): Johnson returned to practice recently after missing some time with a thumb injury. I think he should be fine for the regular season. If not, he could still probably put up 1000 yards with one hand.

WR Terrell Owens (BUF): Owens will miss another preseason game with a sore toe. Which is not good. Foot/toe injuries have a way of lingering and causing problems all year. Hopefully this one is not serious.

WR Antonio Bryant (TB): Bryant added to the long list of question marks hovering over him heading into 2009 when he injured his meniscus. He could be ready by week 1, but the timetable for his return is not clear. I was already avoiding him, so this does not help his cause.

WR Donnie Avery (STL): Avery suffered a foot injury early in camp, but the reports are that he is on the road to recovery. He could have a very good year, but there are a lot of question marks in STL, including the OL and the QB.

WR Chaz Schilens (OAK): Schilens was rocketing up draft boards (which was easy, since he started near the bottom) and was on everyone’s sleeper lists, and then he broke a bone in his foot and had to have surgery. He will miss the first couple games of the season, but should be back eventually and ready to make an impact.

WR Nate Washington (TEN): Washington injured his hamstring and will miss the remaining 2 preseason games. Which is unfortunate, because it seemed like TEN was working on getting him more involved in the offense.

WR Mike Sims-Walker (JAX): Walker is another sleeper candidate who cannot seem to get on the field and prove he is worthy of a late-round pick. I still like his potential, but he needs to show me something before I waste a pick on him rather than someone else — like his teammate WR Troy Williamson, who is playing well in place of Sims-Walker in the lineup.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF): Crabtree is not injured (that I know of), he is simply being a complete idiot and not signing a contract. Obviously, if he is not under contract, he will not play. So you draft him at your own risk.

That is all I have for now. I am sure I missed someone, or someone else will get injured. So check back for injury updates as we get closer to the regular season.

Stock Up

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s tough to predict much based on the preseason. Most top players only get a few series per game, and even then it is hard to tell much. But there are some players who look very sharp, and as a result, they see their fantasy draft stock rise. Here is a list of players who are looking very good and are moving up draft boards.

QB Aaron Rodgers (GB): Rodgers has looked very sharp in the preseason and I am confident that he will end the season as one of the top fantasy players. If he continues to look this sharp, it is going to be hard to keep him out of the top 3 QBs in the rankings.

QB Tony Romo (DAL): Just in case you forgot, Romo is a very good QB. WR Terrell Owens certainly made him better, but Romo will still do very well even without TO. He has looked good so far and should play very well this year, despite the fact that DAL wants to focus on the running game more.

QB Matt Hasselbeck (SEA): After a miserable 2008 season marred by injuries all across the board, Hasselbeck has looked very sharp this year. Besides being healthy, Hasselbeck is now throwing to newly-acquired WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, a healthy (for now) WR Deion Branch, and impressive rookie WR Deon Butler. Plus, second-year TE John Carlson looks to build on a solid rookie campaign. I do not expect Hasselbeck to be among the top-scoring fantasy QBs, but he does present a very nice value in the later rounds as a backup who could post solid numbers in favorable matchups.

RB DeAngelo Williams (CAR): Count me among the skeptics. And by that, I mean I am not one who expects DeAngelo to continue his unreal performance to end 2008. However, I am reconsidering that position, because DeAngelo has looked very good this preseason, and RB Jonathan Stewart cannot seem to stay healthy, which is an issue he has dealt with since his college days in Oregon. If Stewart’s injury issues continue, DeAngelo’s stock goes way up. But even if he returns, I think we can expect DeAngelo to do quite well in 2009.

RB Darren McFadden (OAK): Obviously, McFadden is not going to average 8.5 YPC all year. But that is what he is doing in the preseason. Which shows that he has big-play ability. I am still worried about him as a full-time RB, but OAK runs the ball enough and will use him out of the backfield as a receiver to allow him to post pretty solid fantasy numbers.

RB Ray Rice (BAL): Rice has been steadily rising up draft boards for awhile. Which kind of worries me. I liked him a lot more before when he was undervalued. I think the hype surrounding him now could push him high enough where he is borderline overvalued. Either way, his stock is going up, because he seems to be ready to handle the load in BAL. RB Willis McGahee will still get some carries, and LeRon McClain is always a threat to steal TDs. But Rice is the best all-around RB on the roster. And it was nice to see him get a 3-yard TD against NYJ. It was also nice to see him as the only RB to get carries with the 1st team offense.

RB Cedric Benson (CIN): I am aware of his past, but he seems to have found a new home in CIN. And, if nothing else, he is set to get a lot of touches in what should be a much-improved offense. He should be a solid RB3 and you can get him very late in most drafts.

RB Leon Washington (NYJ): This guy is extremely fast/quick and catches the ball very well out of the backfield. I think RB Thomas Jones is on the way out, but I am not convinced that RB Shonn Greene is the answer. Instead, I think NYJ will try to get Washington the ball more often and let him work in space.

RB Ryan Grant (GB): Grant teased us with a great finish in 2007, only to limp through 2008 with an injured hamstring after holding out all through camp. But Grant looks much quicker and faster this preseason, which makes me think he is ready to regain his late-2007 form. Plus, the GB offense looks very sharp and primed to score a ton of points. And you have to love a guy who is not part of a RBBC, even if he is not all that dynamic.

WR Troy Williamson (JAX): Thus far in his career, Williamson has been known mostly for not being able to catch the ball. But this preseason, he is actually becoming known for making catches. In fact, he leads all WRs in the preseason with 221 yards (on only 7 catches). He is still considered a very deep sleeper, but he could be worth a roster spot if he can keep, you know, catching the ball.

WR Laurent Robinson (STL): Speaking of reviving your career, Robinson has been playing well in STL. WR Donnie Avery is recovering from a foot injury, allowing Robinson some more reps. And Robinson has been taking advantage of the increased playing time. As with Williamson, Robinson is still a sleeper and is only worthy of a bench spot in deeper leagues. But keep an eye on him and see how STL uses him.

WR David Clowney (NYJ): Clowney might as well be called “Mr. August”. After leading the NFL in receiving yards during the preseason in 2008, Clowney has played very well again this year, scoring 2 TDs already. But it is worth noting that, after playing well in the 2008 preseason, he only had 1 catch for 26 yards in the regular season. His stock is certainly up due to his play, but do not get too excited. Especially with a rookie QB under center.

WR Chris Henry (CIN): Henry has finally (or so they say) cleaned up his act and is ready to play football. The guy is freakishly athletic and is a favorite target of QB Carson Palmer, which could work out very well for him if he can keep his head on straight. I think the CIN offense is very underrated, so Henry could end up posting some very solid numbers.

QB Rankings: Updated

August 20, 2009 1 comment

I have updated my QB Rankings. Here is my top 10:

1. Drew Brees (NO)
2. Tom Brady (NE)
3. Peyton Manning (IND)
4. Aaron Rodgers (GB)
5. Tony Romo (DAL)
6. Donovan McNabb (PHI)
7. Matt Ryan (ATL)
8. Kurt Warner (ARI)
9. Matt Schaub (HOU)
10. Philip Rivers (SD)

And here is the rest of the list