Miami Dolphins Preview

28 August 2008

Few teams went through more of a turbulent offseason than the Miami Dolphins. They got a new Coach in Tony Sparano. They have a new QB in Chad Pennington. They are welcoming an old face back in Ricky Williams while the face of their franchise (Jason Taylor) was shipped out to the Nation’s Capital. His brother-in-law Zach Thomas left for Big D. Oh yeah, and The Tuna came to town.

Offensively Chad Pennington should give them stability if, and I repeat if, he can stay healthy.  While he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, he is an accurate passer with the ability to lead.  Ernest Wilford was added to the mix and Ted Ginn, Jr. has a season under his belt.   The Offensive Line should be better with the addition of #1 pick Jake Long at Left Tackle.  They will employ a two-headed monster at RB with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, assuming they can both stay healthy and away from the sticky icky.

Defensively, they will have to establish a new identity with the departures of Taylor and Thomas.  They will need more production from Channing Crowder, Vonnie Holliday and Rookie Phillip Merling.  Joey Porter is dealing with back issues which will limit his availability and production.  They were 4th in the league against the pass last year, but that’s simply because they had the league’s worst run defense last year and were behind in games for most of the year.

My outlook isn’t pretty for the Dolphins, although compared to last year’s one win, it will be a dramatic improvement.  I’m putting them on 4-5 wins.  It will still land them an early draft pick, but at least it’s a start.

Fantasy-wise I see a few options for the Fins.  I think Ronnie Brown will be a serviceable RB as he recovers from that knee injury.  I’d rank him as a 3rd RB at best at this point.  Ricky WIlliams has been growing on me, and I think he makes a decent 3rd or 4th RB.  I like Ted Ginn, Jr. as well, especially if your team awards points for his work in the return game.  Other than that, I wouldn’t invest too heavily in Dolphins for your fantasy team.

Buffalo Bills Preview

28 August 2008

The Bills went 7-9 last year and made a few offseason acquisitions that could help them stay around the 6-8 win mark. I don’t see them playing above .500 football, but they could at least be competitive. On the defensive side of the ball they added DT Marcus Stroud, LB Kawika Mitchess, rookie CB Leodis McKelvin as well as getting last year’s prize rookie Paul Posluszny back from a broken arm that cost him the bulk of his rookie year. On the offensive side of the ball that added WR James Hardy, who at 6’5″ should give them a solid red zone threat.

On offense Trent Edward will be guiding the team again. He won’t overwhelm you with his athleticism and arm strength, he does have the moxie to be an NFL Quarterback. They probably have one of the better backup QBs in the league in J.P. Losman so they shouldn’t see too much of a dropoff if Edwards to go down. The main cog in the offense is RB Marshawn Lynch. He was at least in the coversation of ROY last year until an injury sidelined him. He still finished with 1100+ yards (1300 total) and 7 TDs. They’ll need Lee Evans to be a more consistent threat and hope for a quick maturation of Hardy. A roadblock to the success of their offense is the holdout of LT Jason Peters. If they can’t work something out, they could struggle to match the pathetic 20 offensive TDs they tallied last year.

Defensively they have the pieces to be pretty good. Angelo Crowell (126) tackles, Mitchell, and Poz make up a solid LB corps. Marcus Stroud has been healthy this preseason, and if he can carry it over into the regular season, he should make it more difficult for the Bills to be run on. Terrence McGee had a solid year with 77 tackles and 4 INTs.

The strength of the Bills is their Special Teams. McGee is a dangerous return man, and McKelvin could contribute in that capacity as well. K Rian Lindell and P Brian Moorman are solid as well.

The best I see the Bills being is 8-8, although I’m guessing 6-10 will be their record.

Fantasy-wise the Bills don’t offer very much. Marshawn Lynch is their biggest fantasy star, but Peters’ holdout doesn’t help his cause. Lee Evans should be owned in all leagues, but he’s typically a “Use at Your Own Risk” play. James Hardy could be roster worthy if he catches on and is productive in the red zone. Trent Edwards is worthy of a backup spot in deep leagues. Their D should be good for the matchup game. Other than that, you want to avoid Bills on your fantasy teams.

Fantasy Football Out on a Limb , where I scour NFL rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week, is back. The last preseason game is garbage so I’ll just report on how I did in my preseason tune-up.

6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard. 

Brett Favre
over Aaron Rodgers +6
Aaron Rodgers 20.15 (14.15 actual plus six spotted points)
Brett Favre 5.5

Brett Favre let me down.  Now I know what it’s like to be a Packers fan these days.

Running Back
Larry Johnson
over Brian Westbrook
Brian Westbrook 5.8 (3.9 rushing, 1.9 receiving)
Larry Johnson 3.8 (3.6 rushing, 0.2 receiving)

LJ let me down.  It feels like 2007 all over again.

Wide Receiver
Brandon Marshall
over Randy Moss
Brandon Marshall 13.1 (7.1 receiving plus TD)
Randy Moss 0.1 (0.6 receiving, -0.5 rushing)
I was right on the money with this pick.  Marshall got loose on a 49 yard TD grab.  Moss basically did nothing.


Good thing it’s the preseason.  Again, the last preseason game is worthless so I won’t head out on a limb until Week 1.

Dallas Cowboys Preview

28 August 2008

Guest Review by LEV of Crazy Colored Glasses

The Cowboys did something this offseason that few teams do. They stood pat. They addressed certain weaknesses and upgraded at other positions. But when you went 13-3 last season and sent 13 players to the Pro Bowl there is generally not a ton of room for improvement.

In my eyes the Cowboys best move of the off-season was not letting Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach Jason Garrett become the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. He had a hand in guiding one of the most explosive Dallas Cowboys offenses in history. His mixture of run and pass and the way he effectively calls a game to play to his players hot hand were one of the main reasons for the Cowboys offensive success in ’07.

The offense returns all seven players who made the Pro Bowl last year (the team incredibly was able to keep every Pro Bowler from last year’s roster), and, scarily, I expect them to be better this year. Tony Romo showed he wasn’t a flash in the pan and is a top flight quarterback. One that can be mentioned in the upper echelon with the Mannings and Bradys. He has a tremendous offensive line (anchored by Flozell Adams, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode) that gives him plenty of time and opens up holes for the new feature back, Marion Barber.

Barber gives the Boys a straight ahead banger. I’m sure Cowboy’s fans everywhere got sick and tired of seeing Julius Jones dance behind the line of scrimmage and get dropped for losses again and again. Thats the beauty of Barber: he rarely gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage. He also led the NFL in yards after first hit last season. The guy is a beast who loves to initiate contact and breaks more tackles than any other back in the league. When he tires or when the offense needs a change of pace, the Cowboys go to the bench and plug in lighting quick first round draft pick Felix Jones. I really think he will bring a different dimension to this team running, receiving and on special teams.

The rest of Romo’s weapons include Terrell Owens (who even at 35 continues to put up ridiculous numbers, one of the top three receivers in the league) and the emerging Jason Witten. As scary as it sounds I think Witten might have a better season this season than last. Opposite Owens is Patrick Crayton, who is playing this season with a lot to prove after having an awful game against the Giants in the Playoffs. He should bounce back nicely in his second full season as a starter. The rest of the receiving corps is high on potential but short on experience. The Cowboys are hoping Miles Austin and Sam Hurd can be counted on as solid 3rd and 4th receivers. Look for rookie Martellus Bennett to win the backup tight end spot over Tony Curtis. Bennett is a big physical receiver who is really starting to come into his own as a blocker. This is only important because Garrett loves to run lots of double tight end formations late in games.

Two other impact moves for the Cowboys were on the defensive side of the ball. They signed veteran Zach Thomas away from the Dolphins and will line him up next to Bradie James in the middle of their linebacking corps. True, Thomas is in the tale end of his career, but he is still a tackling machine and definitely be an upgrade over Akin Ayodele. The other big upgrade is in nickleback and return man Pacman..ahem… excuse me, Adam Jones. Although he has looked a bit rusty in the preseason (15 months away from the game will do that) I expect him to show the form he showed in his first two seasons as a Titan.  Expect a big season from Tank Johnson. With so much attention paid to the Cowboys speed rushers Demarcus Ware and Greg Ellis (plus the blossoming Anthony Spencer when Ellis needs a break) expect Johnson to cause havok up the middle. The Cowboys starting secondary is simply one of the best in the game. Newman and Henry are both big physical corners and Hamlin and Roy Williams are bangers at safety. Although Williams got picked on in the passing game last year he is still a devastating tackler who I think will have a bounce back season.

The Cowboys special teams were a mix of good and bad last year. On the good side, Nick Folk turned  out to be a rookie free agent gem last year. Mat McBriar ended the season with an over 47 yard average per punt. One of the best averages in the history of the NFL. Now onto the bad. The return game was deplorable. Everyone got a shot and nothing stuck last year. This year will be very different. Between Felix and Adam Jones the Cowboys should be well stocked in their return game.

With all that firepower on both sides of the ball I expect the Cowboys to be the Beasts of the NFC East. They will play with a chip on their shoulders reminiscent of the ’95 Cowboys who used the ’94 Playoff ouster by the 49ers as inspiration for the whole season. I see another 13–if not 14 wins–and a trip to the Super Bowl. I’m not crazy enough to say a Super Bowl win, but I think they’ll be in the big one.

On the fantasy side of the ball, you can’t go wrong snatching up as many Cowboys as possible. Tony Romo is a Top 3 QB, maybe even the top QB if you’ re worried about the knees of Manning and/or Brady. Pencil him in for 4,000 yards and another 30 TD’s. Marion Barber should be a first round pick of any draft–1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns are very realistic for the Barbarian. With more playing time, I think he’ll be a weapon catching balls out of the backfield as well. Terrell Owens is always good for 1,300 yards and 10+ TD’s receiving. If he lasts longer than third receiver taken in any draft, I’d be surprised. Jason Witten is a top tier tight end. Right up there with Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez. Also, with age slowing down Gonzalez and injuries nagging Gates, I think Witten may be the finest Fantasy Tight End. Felix Jones and Patrick Crayton are also great late round value picks.  Jones especially. He could be a real sleeper. Nick Folk should get many  placekicking opportunities with this offense. Lots of extra points and chippy fieldgoals. The Cowboys defense was a Top 10 unit last year and I expect more of the same this year. Lots of pressure on the quarterback and lots of turnovers. They also play the offensively weak Ravens in week 16, which, as most Fantasy owners know, is usually championship weekend.

Very nice assessment LEV.  I too see another successful season for the Cowboys both in reality and in fantasy circles.  They very well could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  Their road got a little easier with the injuries the Giants (Osi) and the Eagles (Kevin Curtis) have had to deal with already.  Personally, I have the Saints going to the Big Game, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the Boys make it back.  I too put Romo, MB3, T.O., and Witten on huge years and Crayton and Felix Jones on solid years. 

New York Jets Preview

27 August 2008

The Jets made some noise this offseason with the acquisition of Alan Faneca, Damien Woody, and Tony Richardson.  They also drafted Vernon Gholston.  Finally, they upgraded at QB as well.  You may have heard about it.

I initially thought the Jets main focus was going to be on the ground attack when they added Faneca and Woody to a line that already had D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.  Obviously the addition of Brett Favre to the mix means they will be a balanced attack.  You can’t key on shutting down the run because Favre will make you pay.  If you try and stop the pass, Thomas Jones and company will make you pay on the ground.  It’s amazing how much easier life is when you have an offense that can stretch the field.

Defensively is where I worry.  The addition of Kris Jenkins, Calvin Pace, and Gholston should help.  How much so is the question.  Fortunately for them they get to face Miami and Buffalo twice each.  That should offset the challenge of playing New England twice.  They have looked good in the preseason, but we all know that isn’t exactly a good representation of how they will fare when the season gets underway. 

I don’t think the Jets will make the Patriots sweat out the division title, but I do think they have what it takes to win a Wild Card berth.  With Favre at the helm, a playoff victory isn’t out of the question.  I don’t see them winning more than one playoff game though.

Fantasy-wise there are some nice options here.  Obviously Brett Favre is worth having on your roster.  I’m not sure I would trust him as my starter, even in a 12 team league, but he’s showed last year he’s still capable of winning some fantasy games.  I think both starting receivers will be decent plays as well.  I liken Jerricho Cotchery to Greg Jennings (deep threat) and Laveranues Coles to Donald Driver (possession WR).  Therefore, I expect better fantasy numbers out of Cotchery.  I like Thomas Jones as well.   He should be able to produce 1400+ total yards and even crack the endzone a half-dozen times.  I also like Dustin Keller as a sleeper Tight End.  NYJ Defense will be worth using when the matchup is right.  Even Mike Nugent could end up being a solid fantasy starter.

Minnesota Vikings Preview

27 August 2008

The Vikings made some big splashes in the offseason by acquiring Jared Allen via trade and signing one of the biggest free agents on offense in Bernard Berrian.  Was it enough to put them over the hump and get them in the playoffs?  I think so. 

The Vikings Offense will rely heavily on the rushing attack of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.  They have the best Guard in the NFL in Steve Hutchinson, who should provide good running lanes for the aforementioned backs.  They will have to deal with the looming suspension of Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie for his misdeeds in the offseason.  However, I think the Vikes will be able to patch their line enough to get by.  In the passing game, Tarvaris Jackson will be asked to play relatively mistake-free football.  He won’t be required to make a lot of plays.  He just needs to avoid screwing up.  He also needs to prove that he can stay healthy.  At least if he goes down this year, they are in better hands with Gus Frerotte waiting in the wings.  Aside from Berrian, Sidney Rice should show improvement from a decent rookie campaign at the other WR slot.  Bobby Wade moves to the Slot, which he is better suited for. 

Defensively the Vikings need to shore up a pass defense that has been atrocious the past couple of seasons.  Ever since Tom Brady and New England carved them at the Dome a couple years ago, teams have basically abandoned the run and simply torched the Vikes through the air.  Jared Allen should put pressure on the Quarterback, which means they won’t have as much time to pick on the DBs.  That should have a great impact on their coverage ability.  Kevin Williams should receive less attention to as teams can’t focus on him with Allen by his side.  I could see both of them reaching double-digits sacks this year.

The Vikings should be able to win the division this year with the departure of Brett Favre.  I can’t imagine Green Bay being as good.  Chicago needs to prove it can actually score some points, and Detroit is just Detroit.  WIll they go anywhere in the playoffs?  It’s possible, but they will need T-Jax to make some plays.  We’ll see if he’s up for the task.  My guess is they are one-and-done.

Fantasy-wise it all starts with Adrian Peterson.  He has the ability to rush for 2000 yards.  Will he do it?  Not likely.  Is it a possibility?  You betcha.  Chester Taylor could be a flex position possibility in large leagues, but will mainly be used as a handcuff in case Adrian Peterson misses any time.  Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice will be worthy or rosters spots, but I’m guessing it’s hit or miss with them.  If a team has a good pass rush, you probably want to avoid them.  Minnesota Defense should be one of the top fantasy units in the game as they will likely pile up the Sacks.  Ryan Longwell could be a nice value at Kicker.

The Patriots will look to avoid the Super Bowl hangover. I expect a different mentality for the Patriots starting from the top down. With Spygate in their rearview mirror, the Patriots can focus on football. They will no longer feel the need to hang forty points on their opponents. They don’t have to justify their dominance in a manner that in the end could have led to their demise. When you pass as often as they did, it puts a lot of pressure on their offensive line. They never really established their rushing attack, and it ultimately failed them when they needed it the most. Look for them to be more committed to the run to wear defenses down to win the time of possession battle and keep their defense off the field.

In the Passing game, I don’t see as many deep routes. They will utilize more quick slant routes and timing patterns. They will also use more screen plays as LaMont Jordan has joined Kevin Faulk to give the Pats a pair of capable receivers out of the backfield. If you look back to the Super Bowl, this is what worked. Wes Welker could not be accounted for. To this day I contend that if short passes to Welker caught 20 passes that day, in essence making him the focus your ball-control rather than the RBs who couldn’t shake loose, the outcome may have been different. They truly had no answer for Welker. Obviously you can’t subject Welker to that sort of pounding all season long so Gaffney, the backs, and Benjamin Watson will have to get more in the mix. When defense try and shut down the underneath routes is when Randy Moss and Tom Brady will exploit them over the top.

Defensively the lost some leaders, but the Patriots’ M.O. is to replace those pieces and move on without much of a hitch. I feel they will be up for the challenge. I see Jered Mayo being a big playmaker for the Pats. If the Offense can control the clock keeping this unit fresh, I feel they can be one of the best defensive units in the league.

The Patriots won’t complete another perfect regular season. They’ll drop a couple of games along the way (including one to the Jets). They will win their divison as well as a first round bye. They will return to the Super Bowl, only this time they’ll leave a happier crew.

Fantasy-wise I don’t see the Patriots being as dominant.  Tom Brady and Randy Moss won’t come near their 2007 production.  Sorry, those numbers were historic, and won’t be approached any time soon.  This doesn’t mean they won’t be top end players at their respective positons, it just means they won’t be breaking any records htis year.  I even see Welker taking a small step back in terms of production.  I see increased production for Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson, assuming they can stay healthy.  The tough thing about being a Patriots owner is you may not get much from them in the Fantasy Playoffs.  Keep that in mind when assembling your team.

Week 3
Kyle Orton
- Celebrated being named starter by going 10/17 for 147 yards and 2 TDs.
J.T. O’Sullivan – Made most of his start going 7/8 for 126 Yards and a TD to nail down the starting gig.
Thomas Clayton – 18 carries, 81 yards, TD, 2 catches for 20 yards
Jason Hill – 4 catches, 94 yards, TD
Rashied Davis – 4 catches, 58 yards, 2 TDs
Matt Ryan – Looked sharp in his start going 15/21 for 102 yards and a TD.
Brian Finneran – 5 catches for 53 yards
Donovan McNabb – 13/17, 180 yards, TD
Matt Gutierrez – 14/20, 217 yards, 2 TDs
DeSean Jackson – 4 catches, 67 yards
C.J. Jones – 3 catches, 70 yards, TD
Marion Barber – 13 carries, 75 yards, TD
Kevin Walter – 6 catches, 61 yards, TD
Aaron Rodgers – 18/22 for 193 yards, TD
Jay Cutler – 6/13, 115 yards, 2 TDs
Brandon Marshall – 2 catches, 71 yards, TD
Roy Williams – Proved Calvin isn’t the only catch hauling in 3 passes for 61 yards.
Jalen Parmele - 7 carries, 88 yards, TD
DeAngelo Williams – 9 carries, 101 yards, TD
Jonathan Stewart – 10 carries, 100 yards, TD
Steve Smith – 4 catches, 60 yards, TD
Billy McMullen – 6 catches, 55 yards
Drew Brees – 14/22, 199 yards, TD
Lance Moore – 4 catches, 79 yards
Robert Meachem – 4 catches, 71 yards
Pierre Thomas - 5 carries, 46 yards, 4 catches, 35 yards
Marc Bulger – 18/25, 182 yards, 2 TDs
Derrick Mason – 6 catches, 85 yards, TD
Donnie Avery – 5 catches, 65 yards
Kennan Burton - 3 catches, 63 yards, TD
Rashard Mendenhall – 15 carries, 79 yards
Aundrae Allison – 5 catches, 56 yards
Willie Reid – 5 catches, 55 yards
J.J. Arrington – 2 carries, 71 yards, TD
Tim Hightower – 10 carries, 52 yards, TD
Anquan Boldin – 3 catches, 54 yards
Javon Walker – 4 catches, 60 yards
Devin Aromashodu – 1 catch, 94 yards, TD.  Talk about making the most of your one catch.
Charlie Frye - 19/29, 219 yads, 2 TDs, 2 carries, 22 yards
T.J. Duckett – 6 carries, 46 yards
Darren Sproles – 13 carries, 102 yards, TD
Nate Burleson – 1 catch, 68 yards, TD
Jordan Kent - 4 catches, 47 yards, TD
Vincent Jackson – 3 catches, 84 yards

Cory J. Bonini of offered an independent evaluation of the teams in the KFFL Analyis Draft.  Here’s what he thought of my selections.

By Cory J. Bonini
Edited by Tim Heaney

“I am here to independently evaluate each team in the KFFL Fantasy Analysis Draft. I’m not necessarily going to be kind, but I will play fair. I asked each participant to provide me with a few answers to specific questions and their best/worst picks of the draft.

Drafter: Ryan Lester
Pick: 1:02

Table:‘s roster


Naturally, the pick of Minnesota Vikings  running back Adrian Peterson has to excite one as an owner. I’m not so keen on AD after left tackle Bryant McKinnie was suspended for the first four games for being unruly off the field. It’s not like we didn’t see it coming, but how can you pass on Peterson at 1:02?

My first impression is that Mr. Lester built himself a strong team. In fact, I will go as far as saying this is the strongest team I have reviewed in the KFFL FAD yet. The only major weakness he could have is at quarterback if the St. Louis RamsMarc Bulger doesn’t show up or gets injured. I’m not wild about Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna as a backup, but you can’t be strong in all facets of your team, can you? I don’t think so in an expert league, anyway.

My biggest gripe is one that not a lot of fantasy owners will share: How can you grab Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in Round 4? I couldn’t draft him in Round 6, personally. There is simply too much uncertainty and potential for regression surrounding him. KC is an ugly team, to put it bluntly.

The only question I posed to Lester was about his suspect quarterbacks.

“Looking at the scoring system, it didn’t appear that QBs were very valuable in this league. Once the top guys went I decided to wait until I would get better value. I typically will wait for a QB until I think they are a good value. For example, if [Cincinnati Bengals quarterback] Carson Palmer had been there in the fifth [round] I would have taken him,” Ryan said.

Best: Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh

Worst: Houston Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter

I think his pick of Housh was fair value and not great. The best pick, which may be a bit of a stretch on my part, perhaps was Tennessee Titans tight end Alge Crumpler. I think he and quarterback Vince Young are capable of being a near-lethal combo in the red zone. As for his worst, I think I’d have to agree with the selection of Walter. He is only draftable to me in 20-round leagues or larger.

Grade: A-”

My retort:
First of all I would like to thank Cory for his kind words.  I’ll also take this opportunity to explain my rationale for some of the picks in question. 

Adrian Peterson – McKinnie will get suspended, but Peterson has 2000 yard potential.  I couldn’t pass that up.

Marc Bulger/Jon Kitna – While they aren’t sexy picks, I think they will be adequate in this format.  Bulger can be awesome when (if) he can stay healthy.  It’s a risk, but there’s a great reward if he can.  The more I think about the Kitna selection, the happier I am.  He has two stud WRs in Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams.  Gotta love that.

Dwayne Bowe – Given this is a PPR league, WRs were going like hot cakes.  I think he has the potential to catch 90 passes for Kansas City.  Theire offense may be awful, but it can still turn out some fantasy gems.  If I had a chance to see Calvin Johnson’s preseason prior to the Analysis Draft, I would have went that route.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Obviously I’m not enjoying the hamstring injury Housh is dealing with, but he’s a guy who tied for the league lead in receptions (which is huge in a PPR league), was 15th in receiving yards, and tied for 4th in TDs.  Not too shabby from a third round pick in a 12 team draft.

Kevin Walter – Kevin Walter was 26th among WRs (33rd overall) in receptions last year with 65.  He was 32nd in receving yards (36th overall) among WRs with 800.  Sure, he only scored 4 TDs, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be owned in a 12 team PPR league.

Alge Crumpler – I’m hoping that Alge ends up being my Steal of the Draft.


Captain Fantastic, who you may remember from the Big Ben Fantasy Football Cage Match and the LestersLegends Mock Draft, called into KFAN to ask Paul Charchian a fantasy football keeper league question.  He was kind enough to mention me to Paul on the air.  Click the arrow to see Captain Fantastic and Charch’s exchange.

Thanks Paul for the kind words.  See what Paul Charchian is up to at

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