I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a third string TE can’t make a nice catch in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of TEs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

Owen Daniels – Owen will likely be the 8th-10th Tight End taken in drafts, but could end up being a Top 5 TE.  He’s got great hands and is the second best target on the Texans behind Andre Johnson. 

Vernon Davis – Here’s another Top 5 candidate.  He has the size and speed.  Now if he can just stay healthy.  Having pass-happy Mike Martz on board should help his progress.

Greg Olsen – With Benard Berrian gone, Olsen is probably the Bears best option in the air attack (I use that term loosely).  If Orton wins the job, Olsen will probably be leaned on even more.  He’s a sneaky good pickup.

Zach Miller – Zach is another second-year TE that intrigues me.  He meshed well with JaMarcus Russell and could be in store for a solid fantasy season.  He also may be his team’s best receiving target.

Deeper Sleepers
Kevin Boss –
They got rid of Shockey because of his Super Bowl catch.  Oh, and the whole attitude thing.
John Carlson – Rookie out of Notre Dame could win the starting job in Seattle.

We’re going to try something a little different here at LestersLegends today.  I have asked a couple of friends to put their two cents in.  I did it in part because they are solid fantasy football minds, but mainly because their off-the-wall twisted humor should give you a unique perspective when you’re prepping for the fantasy football season.

The Fantasy Cage Match (of the Century, Decade, Day, or Minute, etc.) 
Awesome vs. Captain Fantastic

In a no holds barred – they may even rip on each other’s children—contest of wit and sarcasm (or lack thereof), in a 15 foot tall steel cage laced with barbed wire and surrounded by super-hot, scantily clad Terrorist chicks ready to douse the loser with anthrax. (Pause for mental image to set in).  Who will win? I think it was JFK or Jesus who said: It’s not whether you win or lose, but how many people you step on and offend during the course of the game.



 “I may not be right, I’m not politically correct, and I’m probably going to offend you in some way, but I’m always AWESOME.”    

The Fantasy Football Cage Match:
Position: 
Quarterback
Player:  Peyton Manning
Stance:  Pro
By:  Awesome

Ok, so when we do these things, these “Fantasy Cage Matches” as I’ve come to call them (it took all of 12 seconds to come up with that brilliant bit of marketing, and if I use my imagination, I can think of waaaay more interesting people to put in a cage, but that’s another topic for another day), we try and make it challenging, ideally for both arguments. The general presumption is that you, the informed reader/fantasy junkie, have at least an IQ of, say 125, and that you’re not looking for what everyone else is saying (with maybe the exception of Fanball. Maybe ). We try to pick players that are still “on the fence” in your mind. Obviously, something has gone terribly awry here.
 

If you think I would want waste my time writing about how Peyton Manning is one of the best QBs in fantasy football (and in the history of the NFL), you’ve come to the wrong place (Starbucks is around the corner), because anyone with half a brain knows that already. This is obviously my counterpart’s selection, in that he wanted the challenge of taking the “con” argument for (or against, as it were) Payton Manning, which, I’ll give him, is certainly a challenge.

What he isn’t taking into account is that I’m not going to waste anyone’s time (especially mine) telling you how great Peyton Manning is, and why he should be your #1 or #2 QB (#1 if you want the sure thing, #2 if you’re willing to risk it that Brady can/’t repeat).

HE’S PEYTON FREAKING MANNING. There’s nothing else to say.

I hope he makes an interesting case for why you shouldn’t want him on your team. Honestly, I can’t see how he could make you believe it, but he may make it interesting.

Captain Fantastic, as always, nice work. Keep it up. You make me look good, and I love that.

This article is over. 


The Fantasy Football Cage Match
:
Position: 
Quarterback
Player:  Peyton Manning
Stance:  Pro
By:  Captain Fantastic

 

Betting against Peyton is like finding faith and choosing scientology.  Everyone is bound to think you have gone loony toons.   I balk at the fact I have to say something bad about a guy with a dopey looking brother, a retard redneck father and a muti-million dollar bank account.  I think this is the year that Jim Sorgi follows through with the plan which will find Peyton stuck in North Korea wearing an I heart Osama Bin Laden tee shirt.
 

Projection: 38 touchdowns and 4400 yards passing.
  
 

Lester’s Ruling
Well, I’ll rule this one an incomplete because neither combatants decided to take the con approach.  Talk about a bunch of wimps.  Wait, what’s this?  Doing a Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka leap from the top of the cage is “The Legend”.  Since either you guys are too scared to take the con stance or too dumb to understand the difference between a pro and a con, I’ll take it from here. 

  
The Fantasy Football Cage Match:
Position: 
Quarterback
Player:  Peyton Manning
Stance:  Con
By:  The Legend

You can draft Peyton Manning if you want to, but that’s like guaranteeing you won’t win your fantasy championship.  Sure, you’ll have a good regular season record, but when it comes time to lift the trophy, you’ll be sulking at what could have been. 

Manning has averaged 4163 passing yards and 30.6 TDS (vs. 15.3 INTs) in his career.  Who wouldn’t want those lofty numbers?  If you dig a little deeper and compare his Week 16 (Fantasy Football Super Bowl Week) stats over the past three years (average of 210 yards, 2 TDs) and five years (232, 1.6 TDs) and you can see why having Peyton Manning at your main gunslinger may not be the best way to build a Championship Team.  Sure a postseason appearance is important, and a runner-up usually brings home some bacon, but we’re in it for fantasy glory.  Nobody wants to finish second.  The money is nice, but the satisfaction of winning it all (plus the additional winnings) leaves runner up at the starting line.  So go ahead and take Peyton with your early pick.  You’ll make one of your leaguemates happy and rich!

 

 

 

The legendary Paul Charchian was kind enough to do a mock draft with 11 ordinary fantasy football players (myself included).  We are greatful at the opportunity to both learn from Charch as well as bragging rights with our friends because we were able to do a mock draft with a fantasy football icon.  Here are the guidelines.

Round 1
Jon – LaDainian Tomlinson

I chose him because he’s a fantasy scoring machine, year in year out. The only question mark   that’s even near him is the lack of Lorenzo Neal’s presence. Still, I think he’s good enough to make do.

Tom – Adrian Peterson

David – Brian Westbrook
If this draft was 3 weeks from now and Stephen Jackson was in camp, he’d be the pick, but this holdout concerns me.  Will he report?  What shape will he be in when he does?  Westbrook (knock on wood) seems to be past his injury issues and, to me, is one of the most underrated RBs in the game.

Awesome - Randy Moss
It was a little tough passing on Addai, given his versatility and the overall greatness of Indy, but Moss’ dominance at the position, in a field of pretty hazy projections (how does Marvin Harrison go from being ranked #1 last year to #37 this year???) and lackluster performers made picking Moss at #4 pretty easy.  QBs are pretty deep, or at least you can grab one on the waiver wire in a pinch if you need to, when, inevitably, one of the starters gets hurt or replaced.  WRs are the biggest drop off in talent this year, once you get rid of the top 5. And I have Moss ranked #1 at that position, like everyone else.   It also helps that I’m not sold on any RB outside of LT, and I really won’t be surprised if 7 of this year’s top 10 ranked RBs end up as severe disappointments. There’s way too many RBBC in the NFL these days; the dominance of the RB in fantasy football is over. Grab the best player in the best situation (i.e. on the best team), and you won’t be disappointed. Everyone who picked Larry Johnson at #2 last year can’t say the same thing. Waaaay too many middle tier RBs (like 25 of them) for me to sweat grabbing one that, more than likely, will end up injured or a bust.  I would have taken Moss at the #2 spot.  And unless he gets hurt, I won’t be disappointed or surprised at his numbers. Let’s see how many people who take RBs in the first round this year can say that at the end (or middle) of the year.

Jason – Steven Jackson
Even with his hold out, which will end soon due to the amount of money he is losing and his bluff failing, with the Rams needing Jackson to be a focal point, he will be hard pressed not to strive for numbers he achieved in 2006.  His catches out of the backfield should go up and, fingers crossed, barring an injury, his rushing numbers should be ridiculous.  This year should also be a good Jackson year with the return of pro bowler Orlando Pace.  A risk maybe, but the upside is to good to pass up at #5.

Luis – Marion Barber III
Marion has been a solid fantasy back the past 2 seasons as the backup and goal line back for the Dallas Cowboys. With Julius Jones gone he becomes the feature back for the Cowboys. With more carries and opportunities I expect 1200-1300 yards and close to 15 touchdowns. Close to 30 receptions as well. He’s more of straight ahead runner who is very durable and who rarely fumbles. I think he may be one of the stars of this upcoming fantasy season.

Ryan (Me) – Joseph Addai
Addai was too good of a value to pass up here.  He is an explosive back for an explosive offense.  As long as Peyton Manning is at the helm for the Colts the running game will always be set up. 

Dan – Frank Gore
I choose Frank Gore.  Albeit reluctantly. I dislike this pick. I would have liked to have taken Barber. The thinking behind that is Barber put up solid numbers whilst sharing carries with a veteran. Why couldn’t he continue with a rookie. Luis, I now dislike you as well. However, at least I didn’t take someone who will hold out for half the season with his team having no reason to sign him as they are going no-damn-where. (Steven Jackson) That said, Gore has put up good receiving numbers in his short career, and now Martz is in the picture. The hope is that Martz can only help Gore’s numbers.

Jase – Tom Brady

Paul Charchian - Reggie Wayne

Captain Fantastic - Larry Johnson

Joe – Clinton Portis
Stays on the field a ton.  Gets the Goal Line carries. 

Feel free to leave a comment (pro or con) about the picks.

Thanks to everybody, especially our Expert Paul Charchian, for participating in this.

 | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Football, NFL | Tagged: Fantasy Football, mock draft, NFL |

KFFL Analysis Draft

6 August 2008

I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in the KFFL Fantasy Football Analysis Draft.  It is a group of 11 fantasy football experts and little old me.  Here is a look at the participants:

  • George del Prado, FantasyAuctioneer.com
  • Matt Knopf, FantasyPlayers.com
  • Tony Holm, FantasySharks.com
  • Jeff Christiansen, FFToolbox.com
  • William Del Pilar, KFFL.com
  • Ryan Lester, LestersLegends.com
  • Paul Greco, MelnickandGrecoFantasySports.com
  • Geoff Stein, Mock Draft Central
  • Jeff Paur, RTSports.com
  • Scott Engel, RotoExperts.com
  • Derrick Eckardt, RotoNation
  • David Dorey, TheHuddle.com
  • It’s not just an mock draft though.  We will be keeping our players and competing in an actual league.  I had the second pick in the draft.  LT went #1 overall.   Here is my draft and analysis.

    First Round, 2nd Pick (#2 overall) – Adrian Peterson

    I do not consider this the #2 pick considering that Adrian Peterson was available.  Instead I choose to call it the 1-B pick.  Peterson exploded on the scene with 1,341 yards and 12 TDs on the ground.  He added another 268 yards and a score through the air.  He topped the 200 yard mark twice. He lit up the Bears for 224 yards and 3 scores in Chicago before setting the single-game rushing record against San Diego with 296 yards and 3 TDs.  The Vikings have a good offensive line (including the league’s best Guard in Steve Hutchinson) and the type of Defense that should allow them to dominate the Time of Possession.  The passing game should be better this year with the maturation of Tarvaris Jackson and the addition of Bernard Berrian, which should keep defenses honest.  This was truly a no-brainer selection.

    Second Round, 11th Pick (#23 overall) – Maurice Jones-Drew

    With my second selection I went with MJD.  I love the fact that he is a multi-purpose threat.  In his first two seasons he had at least 40 catches a year for 400 yards.  He’s also averaged 850 rushing yards (5.1 yards per carry) and 11 rushing TDs a year.  Fred Taylor helps keep him fresh and Jacksonville is typically ahead in games allowing MJD to pile on the yards.  I debated going Jamal Lewis or T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but in the end, I couldn’t pass up this young, fireball of a Running Back.  I’m hoping for 1200+ total yards and around 10 TDs.  I’d love his 40 reception streak continue as well.

    Third Round, 2nd Pick (#26 overall) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh

    I debated between MJD and Housh, and was fortunate enough to get both.  Housh has been a force in recent years, but was amazing last year.  He caught 112 passes for 1143 yards and 12 TDs.  I believe he’s the best WR available (with the possible exception of Chad Johnson) and I wanted to have a big-play WR that is a TD target.  I’d like to see Housh catch 90+ balls for 1000+ yards and 10+ TDs.  If he comes close to those standards, he’ll be a great value in the 3rd Round.  I considered going Chad Johnson (didn’t want the drama), Tony Romo or Drew Brees (I’ll wait a bit for a QB) or Antonio Gates (I’ll wait for TE as well.

    Fourth Round, 11th Pick (#47 overall) – Dwayne Bowe

    I was hoping Kellen Winslow would have made it to me, but alas, he was selected under my nose.  I instead turned to second-year WR Dwayne Bowe.  I love his size and strength (6’2″, 221 lbs).  He caught 70 passes for 995 yards and 5 TDs as a rookie.  I think he should be able to increase those numbers next season.  I also considered Greg Jennings, Calvin Johnson, and Santonio Holmes.  In the end, I just like Bowe.

    Fifth Round, 2nd Pick (#50 overall) – Edgerrin James

    I decided to get defensive in the fifth round and add some RB depth.  A couple of the teams had only 1 RB at the time so I figured I would take one of the options off the board instead of reach for another WR or TE at the time.  As with my last pick (Dwayne Bowe) I may have went a different direction if a player, in this case Carson Palmer, was still available.  I debated taking the same three WRs again, but decided I could get similar value with my next pick.

    Sixth Round, 11th Pick (#71 overall) – Chris Cooley

    Everything about Chris Cooley is big.  His size (6’3, 249 lbs), his hair, and his game (700+ yards each of the past three seasons).  He has also been a solid TD threat with 27 in his first four years in the league.  He’s never had fewer than 6 TDs in a  year.  I really like the value of Colley here as I feel he’s just a shade below the Big 4 (Gates, Witten, Gonzo, & Winslow).  I knew if I didn’t get a Tight End here I would have to take a lower tier TE later.  I could have waited until the seventh round (three picks later), but this way I got the TE I wanted (Dallas Clark and Shockey were alternatives).  I’m hoping for 70+ receptions for 700-800 yards and 6-8 TDs. 

    Seventh Round, 2nd Pick (#74 overall) – Donald Driver

    With essentially a rookie QB at the helm (assuming that’s how “As the Favre Turns” shakes out), I figure Donald Driver will be a nice security blanket.  Sure, Greg Jennings hits the Home Runs, but without #4 that well could dry up.  Enter Donald Driver.  He’s caught at least 80 passes each of the pass four seasons.  He had 1,048 yards last year ending a streak of three consecutive 1200 yard seasons.  I don’t see him getting back to the 1200 mark, but he’s also not a #1 or #2 fantasy WR anymore.  My expectations have lowered for Driver, but an 80 reception, 900 yard, 6-8 TD year would be adequate from my #3 WR.

    Eighth Round, 11th Pick (#95 overall) – Felix Jones

    I chose Felix Jones for RB depth.  He is lightning quick and should fill the void left by Julius Jones’ departure.  He is accustomed to sharing the load as he teamed up with Darren McFadden in Arkansas to form a dangerous 1-2 punch.  He should get some play in 3rd down situations so a healthy reception total is very possible.  A final nugget that could prove useful for Jones is that Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones went to Arkansas.  I considered going QB here, but knew that one would be there in the next round.  I’m hoping for somewhere around 20-30 receptions, 600-800 total yards, and 4 TDs.  

    Ninth Round, 2nd Pick (#98 overall) – Marc Bulger

    To say Marc Bulger struggled in 2007 is a major understatement.  He had just 2,392 yards, 11 TDs to 15 INTs, and a 70.3 QB Rating.  The Rams in general were a major disappoinment though.  I think the Rams will bounce back in ’08 if they can avoid the injury pitfalls that derailed them last year.  Bulger was considered one of the top QBs a year ago when he threw for 4301 yards, 24 TDs, and 8 INTs.  If he can return to that form I’ll have one of the best values in the draft.  I am hoping for 3600-3800 yards, 20-24 TDs, and less than 15 INTs out of Bulger.

    Tenth Round, 11th Pick (#119 overall) – New England Patriots Defense/Special Teams

    With Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and San Diego DSTs already off the board I decided now was the time to grab an elite DST.  I love the fact that NE plays Miami, Buffalo, and the Jets twice during the season.  They also play Kansas City, San Francisco, and most importantly Oakland in the fantasy playoffs.  I think the Patriots are going to play with a chip on their shoulder on defense after seeing their Perfect Season slip through their hands.  Sure, they lost some pieces on Defense, but they are the Patriots.  They’ll carry on without them.  I also considered the Bears, Baltimore, and Jacksonville Defenses, but opted for the AFC Champs instead.  I am hoping for 45+ Sacks, 20+ INTs, 10+ Fumble Recoveries, and 3+ TDs. 

    Eleventh Round, 2nd Pick (#122 overall) -Bryant Johnson

    Johnson has left the desert for the bay.  He has had 40+ receptions in each of the past four seasons with Arizona.  He’s going to an offense that should be pass happy with Mike Martz’s influence.  He’s a big WR (6’3″, 213 lbs) and could be coming into his prime in his sixth season in the NFL.  I knew I needed some WR depth here and Johnson has been a guy I was big on during the free agency period.  I thought if he landed in the right spot he could have a solid year.  Hopefully SF is the right spot.  I am hoping for 60 catches for 700 yards and 6 TDs.

    Twelfth Round, 11th Pick (#143 overall) – Alge Crumpler

    I’m hoping a change of scenery will work wonders for Alge Crumler, who up until last year was a top five Tight End.  He is happy to get away from the disaster that Atlanta became, and is looking forward to hooking up with new QB Vince Young, who athleticism probably reminds him of his old QB.  Despite his injury issues and team issues he still turned in a decent year for a TE last year with 42 catches for 444 yards and 5 TDs.  If he can split the difference between those stats and an average of the previous three years where he had 774+ yard each year, I’d be happy.  I’m hoping for at least 50 catches for 600 yards and  TDs from Alge.

    Thirteenth Round, 2nd Pick (#146 overall) – Jon Kitna

    I decided to go for a backup QB here.  I thought I would have more options, but the teams on both sides of me took QBs (Brett Favre and Alex Smith).  Kitna’s value takes a hit with Martz gone, but he does have a couple of good WRs still.  He has consecutive 4000 yard seasons completing over 62% of his passes both years.  His TD numbers (21 & 18) will likely go down, but I’m hoping that his INTs will follow.  I’m hoping for 3600+ yards, 18+ TDs, and 15 or fewer INTs.

    Fourteenth Round, 11th Pick (#167 overall) – Jacob Hester

    This late in the game I decided to take a risk in Jacob Hester.  He’s big (6’0″, 224 lbs) and will likely get some carries late in ball games as San Diego finishes teams off.  Darren Sproles doesn’t have the size to take the beating so Hester could fill the void left by Michael Turner’s departure.  The rookie out of LSU could be in line for serious touches if this were the year LT went down.  I’m hoping for 400+ yards and 4 TDs, but those numbers could skyrocket if he were to receive more carries.

    Fifteenth Round, 2nd Pick (#170 overall) – Kevin Walter

    I like Kevin Walter in a PPR league because he has the opportunity to catche a lot of balls.  With all the attention Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels receive, Walter could be the poison that more often than not gets picked.  He had seven games of 5+ receptions last year en route to 65 catches for 800 yards and 4 TDs.  He’s bigger than I initially thought at 6’3″, 215, which makes him a decent redzone target.  I’m hoping for 75+ receptions for 700 yards and 6 TDs from Walter. 

    Sixteenth Round, 11th Pick (#191 overall) – Neil Rackers

    I wouldn’t have went with a Kicker here since we were drafting so early, but you can’t make a roster move until after the first week.  I would have grabbed another Running Back in case there was a Preseason injury.  Since I had to choose a Kicker I went with Rackers.  He opens up with two nice games against San Francisco and Miami.  He should get me off to a good start.  I’d be happy if he returned to his 2005 form, but I’m just hoping he does better than last year.

    Thanks KFFL for allowing me to participate.

    The legendary Paul Charchian was kind enough to do a mock draft with 11 ordinary fantasy football players (myself included).  We are greatful at the opportunity to both learn from Charch as well as bragging rights with our friends because we were able to do a mock draft with a fantasy football icon.

    Here are the guidelines:
    Teams:  12 Teams
    Draft Style:  Snake
    Rounds:  16
    Roster:  1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 D/ST, and 7 Bench slots.  
    Scoring:
     
    QBs/RBs/WRs/TE
    4 points for a TD
    6 points for a Rushing or Receiving TD
    2 points for a Two-point Conversion
    -1 for an INT
    -1 for a Fumble
    0.05 points per passing yard
    0.1 points per rushing or receiving yard
    0 points for a return TD (That goes to D/ST)
     
    Kickers
    1 point for PAT
    3 points for FG 39 yards and fewer
    4 points for FG 40-49 yards
    5 points for FG 50-59 yards
    6 points for FG 60+
     
    Defense/Special Teams
    6 points for a Return TD
    1 point per Sack
    2 points per Fumble Recovery/INT
    Let’s skip yardage and points allowed bonuses to simplify it
     
    Draft Order :
    Jon
    Tom
    David
    Awesome (from Fantasy Football Cage Match)
    Jason
    Luis
    Ryan (Me)
    Dan
    Jase
    Paul Charchian
    Erik  (from Fantasy Football Cage Match)
    Joe

    Feel free to leave a comment (pro or con) on the picks.  I’ll post after each round.

    Thanks to everybody, especially our Expert Paul Charchian, for participating in this.  It should be fun.

     | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Football, NFL | Tagged: Fantasy Football, mock draft, NFL |

    I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a fourth string WR can’t make a one-handed grab in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of WRs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

    Anthony Gonzalez – OK, he’s not a sleeper to most fantasy football fans, but I see Anthony Gonzalez leapfrogging a lot of WRs that will be picked in front of him.  With Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Dallas Clark demanding attention, Gonzalez will be the posion most defenses will pick.

    Nate Burleson – Nate had a rough start to his Seattle Seahawk career.  He turned it on down the stretch last year though grabbing five TDs in the last five weeks.  He meshed well with Hasselbeck, and should be his go-to-guy this year.

    Sidney Rice – I thought Rice was decent at times last year.  His numbers would have been even better if his QB (T-Jack) could have hit him when he was open.  With Bernard Berrian working the deep routes and Bobby Wade working the slot, Rice could find himself with plenty of opportunities.  I like his size (6’4″) in the red zone.

    Bryant Johnson – Bryant is going from Third Fiddle to First Fiddle in San Francisco.  He’s also moving to a Mike Martz offense.  With Isaac Bruce taking some of the pressure off, he should have a solid year by the Bay.

    Ted Ginn, Jr.  – If his small frame can avoid big hits, he could be a nice surprise for fantasy owners.  He’s super quick and has big game ability.  He just needs to stay focused.  He should be playing from behind quite a bit increasing his opportunties. 

    Deeper Sleepers
    James Hardy
    – Dude is 6’7′.  He should be money in the goal line for the Bills.
    Devin Hester – Is this the year he does better at WR than KR since he’ll be avoided at all costs in the return game?
    Jacoby Jones – Has the build (6’2″, 210 lbs).  Does he have the game?
    Troy Williamson – Will he finally produce or will he just produce more drops?
    Devard Darling – Will the move from Baltimore pay off like Priest Holmes?  Ha.  Could be decent though.
    Robert Meachem – Flopped as a Rookie.  Will he show strides in Year 2?
    Chad Jackson – Big and fast and plays for Tom Brady.  Good combo.
    DeSean Jackson – Rookie for Philly could have solid Freshman Year.
    Limas Sweed – Big Red Zone target for Big Ben.
    Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly – Washington’s Rookie Wideouts could be produce.  Kelly bigger red zone threat.

    I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a fourth string RB can’t make a DB miss in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of RBs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

    Justin Fargas – A lot of people assume that the addition of Darren McFadden means the end for Justin Fargas.  I couldn’t disagree more.  He was an 1000 yard back last year on a rotten team.  He’ll likely be penciled in as the starter while Run DMC gets accustomed to the NFL, it’s speed, blocking assignments, etc.  Plus, McFadden has had a great deal of success sharing the backfield.  Why change that up?  I don’t see another 1000 yard year from Fargas, but 800-1000 total yards isn’t without question.  Neither will likely get the red zone carries as Michael Bush looks ready to contribute. 

    Steve Slaton – Right now he’s #3 in the depth chart behind Ahman Green and Chris Brown.  Durability has been an issue for both of those RBs though, which could bode well for the rookie out of West Virginia.  Even if just one of them go down, Slaton could stand to receive a fair amount of work.  He has a lot to overcome, but Slaton is a decent risk to contribute down the stretch.

    LaMont Jordan – Getting cut by the Raiders of all teams has to sting.  However, LaMont couldn’t have landed in a better situation.  New England almost always takes teams’ castoffs and turns them into serviceable players.  He’ll be buried initially in the depth chart behind Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk, but his versatility could earn him some touches.  He is a big, strong back (5’10, 230 lbs) who has exceptional hands out of the backfield.  If Maroney and Morris struggle at the line, he could get a shot at that.  If Faulk struggles or misses time, Jordan can fill that void.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Faulk and Jordan used together in third-down packages. 

    Darren Sproles – With Michael Turner moving on to greener pastures (at least according to his bank account), Sproles gets the envious task of backing up the best RB in the game.  The recipe could be similar for Sproles.  The Chargers light teams up early, and then run them into submission.  Sproles is quick and could hit some Home Runs.  He averaged 10.9 yards per carry last year, which is an indication of his big play ability.  If something terrible were to happen to LT, he would be one of the most sought after pickups in the league.

    Pierre Thomas – If Deuce McAllister’s health is an issue this year, Pierre Thomas suddenly has some fantasy merit again.  He didn’t do much last year, but he finished the 2007 with a bang running for 105 yards on 20 carries and 12 receptions for 121 yards against the Chicago Bears.  That could have been a fluke, especially when you consider it was the season’s final game, but it’s worth taking notice. 

    Deeper Sleepers
    Jacob Hester – If Sproles gets hurt or is unable to handle to workload as LT’s backup, rookie Jacob Hester could be given a shot.
    Jamaal Charles – If LJ struggles, the rookie out of Texas could be given a shot.
    Brandon Jackson – He was supposed to win the job last year.  If Grant continues to holdout or gets hurt, Jackson can get another chance.
    DeAngelo Williams – Jonathan Stewart will be drafted ahead of him, but if he struggles to catch on, DeAngelo could surprise a lot of people.

    We’re going to try something a little different here at LestersLegends today.  I have asked a couple of friends to put their two cents in.  I did it in part because they are solid fantasy football minds, but mainly because their off-the-wall twisted humor should give you a unique perspective when you’re prepping for the fantasy football season.

    The Fantasy Cage Match (of the Century, Decade, Day, or Minute, etc.) 
    Awesome vs. Captain Fantastic

     
    In a no holds barred – they may even rip on each other’s children—contest of wit and sarcasm (or lack thereof), in a 15 foot tall steel cage laced with barbed wire and surrounded by super-hot, scantily clad Terrorist chicks ready to douse the loser with anthrax. (Pause for mental image to set in).
     
    Who will win? I think it was JFK or Jesus who said: It’s not whether you win or lose, but how many people you step on and offend during the course of the game.

     
     “I may not be right, I’m not politically correct, and I’m probably going to offend you in some way, but I’m always AWESOME.”  

    The Fantasy Football Cage Match:
    Position:  Quarterback
    Player:  Big Ben Roethlisberger
    Stance:  Con 
    By:  Awesome

    “Excuse me, waitress? We’d like to order now.”
    “Ok (jerk), and my name is Vivian, not ‘waitress’ thanks.”
    “Ok, sorry toots.”
    “What can I get you?”
    “Well, I’m looking to totally screw up my QB situation this year, and I’d really like to come in dead last in my league.”
    “Do you at least want to make the playoffs?”
    “Hell no, I’m going Detroit style, better than them if possible–I’m going for perfection…the goose egg.”
    “Ok, well, then I’ve got just the thing, and it’s on special today: What you want is the Big Ben Worthless Burger, well done, with extra onions and jalapenos so it burns on the way out.”
    “Ok, great, I’ll have that.”

    The preceding situation hasn’t happened…yet. But it will, if you select Big Ben as your starting QB this year. Ok, I’m not saying I can’t imagine a situation where he is your starting QB: If he slips to the 13th round, for example, by all means, grab him up, because he’s now a value pick.  But if you’re one of those sentimental losers who thinks he’s going to bring the steel curtain some frequent flyer miles, you’re dumber than Big Ben on a Ducati.  Is he a good QB? Sure he is, in real life. But in fantasyland, he stinks.  What’s that you say? Look at last year? Oh, hey, wait a minute; you’re right…he did have a pretty good year last year. Hmmm.  32 TDs, that’s pretty good. Only 11 picks, that’s good too. Maybe he can repeat it, ya? I mean, don’t most players have a year EXACTLY LIKE THE YEAR BEFORE??? Especially when they did only half as good FOR 3 YEARS IN A ROW? And one of those years his team won a super bowl???  See people, Big Ben had what we smart people call a “fluke” season. Meaning that in all probability, it won’t happen again. Could it? Sure, and Haley’s Comet could come crashing through my bosses office window in 5 minutes too, but it probably won’t.  And here’s why.

     

    First off, there’s this thing in Pittsburgh that they like a lot. And they actually are known for it, historically, over decades. It’s won them several super bowls, and gotten them the reputation as a “smash mouth” or “tough” team. It’s called “a running game.” And Pitt is, almost always, right up there in the top running games. It’s more than just a philosophy to the Steelers, it’s practically a religion; eat your vitamins, work hard, and most importantly ESTABLISH THE RUN. Defense certainly comes in a close second, but the ground game is what’s gotten them to paradise before, and it will again. If Terry Bradshaw can win 4 Super bowls while throwing 212 TDs vs. 210 INTs, you damn well know it wasn’t the QB who got them there. Sure, the Steel Curtain closed down many-a-offense in the 70’s, but the offense had to score some points. And despite what all you Lynn Swan backers say, they didn’t do it in the air, they did it on the ground.  And that’s how they did it in 2005, when Big Ben led them there. Was he what they needed to get there? You bet he was, but not because he put up great fantasy numbers. Here were his numbers for that “magical” year, 2005: 268 pass attempts, 168 completions (62.7%, not a bad percentage, but I think John Daley threw up more than 268 times that year), 17 TDs, 9 INTs, 98.6 QB rating (and if you’re in a league where they score the QB rating, go ahead and kill yourself). Oh, and he rushed for a killer 69 yards on 31 attempts, for a 2.2 average, and 1 TD, stats only Cedric Benson is envious of.  And that’s what the Steelers want out of Big Ben. They want a running game. They love to run. They don’t need Ben to do anything other than manage the game and not screw it up. A couple big plays here and there to throw off opposing Defenses, to reinforce the ground game, that’s all they need from Roethlisberger . Would they like it if Big Ben tossed another 30+ TDs and 4,000 yards? Sure they would. But only if they win the Super Bowl too, because I guarantee you, the fine people of Pittsburg will demand a running game if they don’t win. And make no mistake, they didn’t have a running game last year, and they didn’t win. And in Pittsburgh, they expect to win, every year. 

    Let’s also take a look at the Passing game, since that’s where Benji would score points if he were going to.  Hines Ward. Great player in the past, and I’m sure he’ll make one hell of a shuffle board player next year, after he has hip surgery and checks into an expensive retirement facility. But he’s done. Some people will have expectations of him this year, and he’ll try his hardest, give it all he has, because he has a great work ethic. But I’m pretty sure they don’t allow players to carry oxygen tanks on the field, and those little tennis balls on his walker are going to have to slow him down a little. Have a Wild Turkey Manhattan to wash down that Lipitor Hines, you’ve earned it.  But they have some youth in the WR corps, too, right?  Sure, Santonio Holmes showed some potential, I’ll give him that. But what smart people like in a WR is consistency, not the guy who will win you 1 game by getting 110 yards and 2 TDs, and then gets 53, 13, and 34 yards respectively  (I guess) with 0 TDs in 3 out of the next 4 games which is exactly what Santonio did last year (and yes, I had him, and thanks again Holmes). That guy is called a “dud,” and filling your team with duds is a sure fire way to go 5-9, and walk away with yet another toilet bowl trophy.  And the TE in Pitt will never, repeat NEVER be a factor in fantasy Football on a regular basis, so I’m not even going to bother. 

    As I said from the beginning, this doesn’t mean you can’t have Big Ben on your team. I’d love to have him on my team, but only as a backup, in case my real quarterback gets hurt or has a bye. So I guess if you’ve read through all this (assuming you know what all the words mean), and you still want to draft him as a top QB, the only thing I have left to say to you is this: we have an open spot in my league, and I’d love to “compete” against you. 

     

    The Fantasy Football Cage Match:
    Position:  Quarterback
    Player:  Big Ben Roethlisberger
    Stance:  Pro
    By:  Captain Fantastic

    Roethlisberger’s 32 Touchdowns in 2007 put him in the top ten conversation for 2008.  NFL “experts” have said Pittsburgh will be getting back to “Steeler” football.  Yeah, this is not my Dad’s NFL anymore and most teams have taken a liking to the forward pass.   Pittsburgh’s questionable Offensive Line could mean the Offense will be in catch-up mode most Sundays.  Big Ben will be a good pick in your line draft and a value pick in your auctions.   

    Projection 1: 34 touchdowns and 3,700 yards passing 
    Projection 2: Awesome will have a newly discovered STD by the time this hits the internet.  When you are humping a
    platypus all the time, the itchy bumps downstairs are bound to happen. 

    Lester’s Ruling

    Well, this round goes to Awesome.  He presented a great argument with solid reasoning.  It helps that I totally agree with his position.  I think Big Ben comes back to Earth this year.  He had great TD numbers last year, but his yardage was alarming.  If he throws for 20% fewer TDs with similar yardage numbers, there will likely be eight higher scoring QBs than Big Ben (who will likely be the 4th-6th QB selected).  

    See how I’m doing in the KFFL Analysis Draft.


    I did my 13th Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today using Mock Draft Central.  The thing I liked about this site is there is much more flexibility.  You can sign up for a variety of team sizes, rounds, and even styles.  If you are in a PPR league you can do a PPR mock draft.

    I had third pick in an eight-team 17 round draft.  The sexy picks (LT & All Day) were gone, but Brian Westbrook has been equally as impressive the past couple of seasons.  With my 2nd pick I opted for his former teammate T.O.  He’s a pain-in-the-butt, but he puts up huge numbers.  In the 3rd Round I turned to Jamal Lewis, who quietly had one of the best fantasy seasons last year.  In the 4th Round I drafted Chad Johnson to corner the market on talented pain-in-the butt WRs.  In the 5th I opted for Torry Holt.  I didn’t want all loudmouth WRs.  In the 6th I went for Derek Anderson.  I’m not convinced he’ll repeat last year’s amazing numbers, but figured he was too good of a value to pass up here.  In the 7th I added Kellen Winslow.  Lot of Browns, but I figured why not?  In the 8th I opted for LenDale White for RB depth.  In the 9th I took Donald Driver for WR depth.  In the 10th I added Rudi Johnson for RB depth.  In the 11th I took Jay Cutler as a backup QB and in case DA’s year was a fluke.  In the 12th I went with Anthony Gonzalez for WR depth.  He should have some nice matchups with all of the weapons the Colts have.  In the 13th I figured it was time to go Defense so I selected Chicago.  In the 14th I went with more WR depth in Patrick Crayton.  T.O. and Witten demand so much attention that Crayton should be able to run wild.  In the 15th I added Defense depth with New England.  In the 16th I added Ryan Torrain.  The way Mike Shanahan operates, he could win that starting job in Denver. I finished up with a Kicker (Nate Kaeding). 

    QBs
    Derek Anderson
    Jay Cutler

    RBs

    Brian Westbrook
    Jamal Lewis
    LenDale White
    Rudi Johnson
    Ryan Torrain

    WRs
    T.O.
    Chad Johnson
    Torry Holt
    Donald Driver
    Anthony Gonzalez
    Patrick Crayton

    TEs
    Kellen Winslow

    DEF
    Chicago
    New England

    K
    Nate Kaeding

    I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a third string QB can’t make a nice pass in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of QBs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

    Jake Delhomme – Delhomme was having an outstanding season before getting hurt last year.  He should be good to go and ready to bounce back in a big way.  There are around 15 QBs that are ranked higher or taken before him in mock drafts.  He has one of the game’s elite WRs in Steve Smith.  They added a pair of quality WRs in Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett.  Assuming he and his weapons can stay healthy, there is no reason he can’t return to the land of Top Ten QBs.

    Vince Young – Last year VY was one of the guys I thought were going to bust.  This year I’m selecting him to pick himself up, dust himself off, and turn in a decent year.  He finally has a go-to-guy in Alge Crumpler, who jived well with another athletic QB.  I’d like to see him make some more plays with his feet. 

    Alex Smith – Fool me one, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  I predicted good things from Alex Smith last year.  To say he let me down is an understatement.  Instead of avoiding him like the plague though, I’ll give him another shot to prove himself.  Naturally, he’ll need to stay healthy and fend off Shaun Hill.  If he manages to do both he could be in line for a sneaky season.  Vernon Davis should be better in his third season.  They added Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson so at least he has some weapons to work with.  Throw Mike Martz into the mix and you see the stars beginning to align.  If you want further proof, check out their last four games.  In Week 13 when you’re looking to secure your playoff spot he faces Buffalo.  In the fantasy playoffs he goes against the Jets, Miami, and St. Louis.  Stop drooling.

    JaMarcus Russell – He got a little taste of the NFL last year.  He has the physical tools to be a good QB in the league.  It will depend on how quickly he can pick up the mental aspect of the game.  If Javon Walker can be a factor, his progression will be that much easier.  That said, he still has Zach Miller, who he vibed well with last year.  He can be Russell’s security blanket.  I wouldn’t take Russell until deep in the draft, but he could be a pleasant surprise for whoever is willing to give him a chance.

    Tarvaris Jackson – The acquisiton of Bernard Berrian gives T-Jack a deep threat.  Sidney Rice looked decent at times last year.  He is a big target and can be the red zone guy.  Bobby Wade did well last year, and should be more comfortable sliding into the slot.  T-Jack has a good line and a solid ground game.  They will basically beg him to pass.  If he can show any poise, he could have a nice, solid season.

    Deeper Sleepers
    Joe Flacco
    – If Baltimore’s season is in the tank, they could start developing Flacco.
    Shaun Hill – If he can overcome Alex Smith’s contract and lofty expectations, he could be the SF slinger.
    Brodie Croyle – WIth Gonzo and Dwayne Bowe he has options.  If the ground game can return, he could be serviceable.


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