Third Tier WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs and Second Tier WRs, now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  Again, these will be #2 & #3 wideouts for most teams.

Santonio Holmes/Hines Ward – Has Santonio Holmes officially surpassed Hines Ward as the top dog?  Juding by last year’s stats (942 yards, 8 TDs to 732, 7) and it appears that way.  I’m not quite ready to write Hines Ward off, but Holmes will likely be the first Steeler WR drafted.  They will probably be picked fairly close together and produce very similar numbers.

Marvin Harrison – Last year was a wasted year for the former Syracuse Orangeman.  Then he showed some bad judgement in the offseason.  Was last year the beginning of the end for #88?  I don’t think so.  I think he keeps himself in good enough shape, has one of the games best QBs slinging it to him, and has great knowledge of his system that he’s in for a nice rebound.

Calvin Johnson – Here’s a guy I’m high on.  He has the size and speed to be an elite wideout.  He was decent enough (756 yards, 4 TDs) as he was adjusting to the NFL.  Now that he has a year behind him, I can see his career taking off.

Dwayne Bowe – Bowe had a nice rookie campaign last year, nearly hauling in 1000 yards.  I see him leaving that mark behind as well as tacking on a couple of TDs to his decent five-spot he produced last year.

Roddy White – Roddy had a sneaky 1200 yards last year.  On name recognition alone I wouldn’t put him in this tier, but his numbers talk.  He was one of the top wideouts from Week 12 on (minus the dud he dropped in Week 15) scoring in 4 games and topping 140 yards twice.

Chris Chambers – I think San Diego was a good fit for CC.  With a full training camp and preseason with the Bolts, I expect him to do even better.   He’s one of the WRs I’m targeting for ’08.

Lee Evans – If someone can just convince Evans that December year round (17 of his 29 career TDs have come in December), he’ll make the leap into Big Dog status.  He almost always starts off slow out of the gate so he’s a guy you may want to hold off on using during the beginning weeks of the season.  However, targeting him for a midseason trade may not be a bad idea.  I think he can return to the 1000 yard territory with 8 TDs.  Let’s just hope they don’t all come in December.

Jerricho Cotchery – He’s produced back-to-back 82 reception seasons for the Jets.  He topped the 1100 yard mark.  He just needs to prove he can be more a factor in the endzone.  His measly 2 TDs conjure up thoughts of past Jet Wideouts like Keyshawn Johnson.

Donald Driver – Driver slid under the Third Tier wall like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He failed to reach 1200 yards for the first time since 2003 last year, but his 1048 weren’t bad.  What was bad was the 2 TDs he scored.  Greg Jennings was clearly Brett’s go-to-guy last year in the red zone.  With a new QB though, the steady Driver could be leaned on heavier than the explosive Jennings.

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I did my eighth Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today.  This time I used 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 sixth pick in a ten team 20 round mock draft.   Joseph Addai was available and I didn’t hesitate to select him.  In the second round I selected Clinton Portis.  I was surprised he came back to me.  In the 3rd round I wanted a top WR.  I took Steve Smith.  In the 4th I grabbed Plaxico Burress.  He showed a lot of maturity and guts last year.  In the 5th I went with RB depth and grabbed Willie Parker.  In the 6th I opted for Brandon Marshall.  He was a great value there.  In the 7th I went with a stud TE, Tony Gonzalez.  In the 8th I decided it was QB time so I took Marc Bulger.  In the 9th I went for best available and grabbed Deuce McAllister.  In the 10th I turned to Philip Rivers for Bulger insurance.  In the 11th I got RB depth with Kenny Watson.  In the 12th I decided it was time to go Defense with San Diego.  In the 13th I decided I better get some WR depth so I took Donte Stallworth.  Since everyone was ignoring the top Defenses I grabbed another one in New England in the 14th.  In the 15th & 16th I went for more WR depth with Ted Ginn, Jr and Jabar Gaffney.  In the 17th and 18th I went for RB depth with DeShaun Foster and Jamaal Charles.  I added TE depth in the 19th with Zach Miller.  I wrapped it up in the 20th with a Kicker.  I chose David Akers.

QBs
Marc Bulger
Philip Rivers

RBs
Joseph Addai
Clinton Portis
Willie Parker
Deuce McAllister
Kenny Watson
DeShaun Foster
Jamaal Charles

WRs
Steve Smith
Plaxico Burress
Brandon Marshall
Donte Stallworth
Ted Ginn, Jr.
Jabar Gaffney

TEs
Tony Gonzalez
Zach Miller

DEF
San Diego
New England

K
David Akers


I did my seventh The Sporting News Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today.  They offer 10 & 12 Team Drafts that go 15 rounds, which  I use to gauge where people are picked.  As the season approaches, these Mock Drafts become better because everyone is more up-to-speed on the players and you get a full draft.  When there isn’t a full draft, there is an Autopick in place.  They go by Sporting News rankings.  It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable.  Another cool feature is the chat board which allows you to discuss players with other fantasy football fanatics.    
I had the ninth pick in a twelve team draft.  I made Larry Johnson my 1st pick.  I’m still high on him despite his poor 2007 season.  In the 2nd round I grabbed Willis McGahee.  I couldn’t resist the RB-RB combo.  In the 3rd round I opted for Torry Holt.  I continued the WR route in Round 4 with Brandon Marshall.  In the 5th I got RB depth with Darren McFadden.  I grabbed Chris Chambers as my 3rd WR in the 6th.  In the 7th I turned to RB depth again with Kevin Smith.  In the 8th I selected Donovan McNabb as my QB.  In the 9th I added WR depth with Patrick Crayton.  In the 10th I grabbed Philip Rivers as an insurance policy for McNabb.  With my 11th pick I selected Vernon Davis.  In the 12th I went with Donte Stallworth.  In the 13th I opted for Bryant Johnson to complete my WR corps.  In the 14th I went Defense with Jacksonville.  I finished up with DeShaun Foster.

QBs
Donovan McNabb
Philip Rivers

RBs
Larry Johnson
Willis McGahee
Darren McFadden
Kevin Smith
DeShaun Foster

WRs
Torry Holt
Brandon Marshall
Chris Chambers
Patrick Crayton
Donte Stallworth
Bryant Johnson

TEs
Vernon Davis

DEF
Jacksonville

Second Tier WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs,  now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  These will most likely be your 2nd or 3rd WRs depending on your league size and your draft stratgey.  They are solid wideouts, but not quite the caliber of the Big Dogs.

Brandon Marshall – The only thing that kept Brandon Marshall from runnin’ with the Big Dogs is his maturity, or lack thereof.  Numbers are numbers though and he went for over 1300 yards and 7 TDs last year.  If he can avoid fast food bags, he should have another solid year.  He’s the one 2nd Tier WR that’s most likely to be a Big Dog.

Wes Welker – When the Patriots offense is clicking, there really is no answer for Welker.  I still think if he caught 20+ passes in the Super Bowl the outcome would have been different.  The Giants had no answer for him.  112 catches last year.  That’s amazing.  I think he can catch more if that’s what the Defenses present to TB. 

Anquan Boldin – Boldin took a step back in yardage last year, but his TD production went up.  He caught a career high 9 TDs depsite missing 4 games.  If he gets steady QB play again this year he’ll produce with the best of them.

Greg Jennings – Jennings was awesome last year.  He had 12 TDs and nearly 1000 yards.  Of course, Brett Favre was throwing to him.  I couldn’t quite justify making him a Big Dog without his favorite gunslinger.  He scored in 10 of the 13 games he played in last year.

Roy Williams – Roy took a major step back from the 1300 yard 2006 season he produced.  That doesn’t mean he can’t return there though.  He needs to prove he can stay healthy and he’ll be a heck of a value come draft day.

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Friday Tidbits 7/25/08

25 July 2008


The Mets had their ten-game winning streak snapped.  C.C. Sabathia tossed another Complete Game for Milwaukee.  Milwaukee sent some Minor Leaguers to San Fran for Ray Durham.  J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Alfonso Soriano, and Troy Percival returned from injury.  Chris Duncan and Kerry Wood landed on the DL.  Hall of Fame sportswriter Jerome Holtzman, who invented the Save, died at the tender age of 81.  San Diego traded Randy Wolf to Houston for a Minor Leaguer.  Arizona got RP John Rauch for a Minor Leaguer.  The Brew Crew signed Jay Gibbons to a Minor League deal.  The Mets moved into first place.
 

Washington landed Jason Taylor for 2nd & 6th round draft picks.  The Saints got richer by adding TE Jeremey Shockey for 2nd & 5th round draft picks.  Brian Urlacher and the Bears resolved their contract issue.  Devin Hester skipped the Bears’ first practice.  Luis Castillo signed a mega-deal with San Diego.  Marques Colston signed a three-year deal with New Orleans.  Rod Smith finally retired.


Make that a three-year extension for Deron Williams.  New Jersey bought Kenyon Dooling from Orlando.  Boston signed Eddie House and Tony Allen.  The Wolves signed Sebastian Telfair to a multi-year contract.  The Spurs signed Kurt Thomas.  New Jersey sent Marcus Williams to Golden State.  Josh Childress signed with a Greek team.  He got $20 million over three years.  Have a gyro for me Childress as you become a distant memory.  Phoenix signed Matt Barnes.  Utah sent Jason Hart to the Clippers for Brevin Knight.  Chris Andersen is leaving New Orleans for Denver.  Why?  Better weed there.  Just kidding Birdman.  The Warriors matched the Clippers offer for Kelenna Azubuike.  They also signed Monta Ellis to a six-year $67 million deal.  Is it me or does every offseason move seem to involve the Warriors or Clippers?
 

Chicago named Jonathan Toews their Captain for next season.  Pittsburgh gave Coach Michel Therrien a three-year extension.  The Islanders signed C Frans Nielsen to a four-year deal.  Buffalo signed G Ryan Miller to a five-year deal.  Philly inked RW Joffrey Lupul to a four-year deal.  Phoenix re-signed LW Daniel Carcillo.  Anaheim signed Coach Randy Carlyle to a two-year extension.  Boston signed D Dennis Wideman to an extension. 
 
 

Ohio University gave Coach Frank Solich an extension.  Vanderbilt RB Jermaine Doster was arrested for disorderly conduct.  Updating an earlier story, San Jose LB Ryne Gonzalez won’t lose his scholarship.  He busted a guy in the face a couple years ago over a girl. 
 

Oregon gave Coach Ernie Kent an extension. 
 

Padraig Harrington won the British Open.  Greg Norman tied for 3rd.  R.W. Eaks won the 3M Championship (Champions Tour).  Colt Knost won the Price Cutter Charity Championship (Nationwide Tour).  RIchard Johnson won the U.S. Bank Championship.  Ji Young Oh won the State Farm Classic (LPGA).
 
Carl Edwards won the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Gateway International Raceway.
 
Fernando Verdasco beat Igor Andreev in the ATP Studena Croatia Open Umag.  Juan Martin Del Potro beat Jurgen Melzer in the ATP Tour Austrian Open.  Gilles Simon beat Dmitry Tursunov in the ATP Indianapolis Tennis Championship.  Albert Montanes beat Steve Darcis in the ATP Dutch Open.  On the Women’s side, Aleksandra Wozniak beat Marion Bartoli in the WTA Tour Bank of the West Classic and Pauline Parmentier beat Lucie Hradecka in the WTA Gastein Ladies.  Rpger Federer lost in the first round of the Rogers Cup.

There was a brawl in a WNBA game resulting in 11 suspensions.  David Stern tried to get Ron Artest suspended too, but they didn’t go for it.  50 year old Nancy Lieberman will play for Detroit.
 
That concludes the Tidbits. As always feel free to add any stories you liked this week in sports or discuss any of the stories I mentioned.
 
Thanks again for supporting my blog. Be sure to check out Links Page for some great sites.


I did my sixth The Sporting News Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today.  They offer 10 & 12 Team Drafts that go 15 rounds, which  I use to gauge where people are picked.  As the season approaches, these Mock Drafts become better because everyone is more up-to-speed on the players and you get a full draft.  When there isn’t a full draft, there is an Autopick in place.  They go by Sporting News rankings.  It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable.  Another cool feature is the chat board which allows you to discuss players with other fantasy football fanatics.    

I had the first pick in a ten-team draft.  I took LT, who I feel is the safest pick for the top spot.  My back-to-back 2nd & 3rd picks netted me a pair of dandy wideouts, Marques Colston and Andre Johnson.  With my next two seletions (4th & 5th rounds) I chose Edge and Carson Palmer.  With my 6th & 7th picks I grabbed another pair of WRs in Dwayne Bowe and Roddy White.  In the 8th & 9th rounds I selected Matt Forte, for RB depth, and Jeremy Shockey.  I went for RB depth in the 10th & 11th by taking Felix Jones and Deuce McAllister.  In the 12th & 13th I snagged Santana Moss and Ahman Green.  With my two final picks I took Pittsburgh and Indianapolis Defenses.

QBs
Carson Palmer

RBs

LT
Edge
Matt Forte
Felix Jones
Deuce McAllister
Ahman Green

WRs
Marques Colston
Andre Johnson
Dwayne Bowe
Roddy White
Santana Moss

TEs
Jeremy Shockey

DEF
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis

Big Dogs
The beauty about the WR position is there are more Big Dogs than any other position.  For that reason, many fantasy footballers are contemplating grabbing stud WRs in the middle-to-late first round and early second round rather than mindlessly taking the best RB available.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at who those characters are.

Randy Moss – How can you start anywhere else after the historic season Moss produced last year?  The thing that worries me about Moss is he looked vulnerable to physical play during the playoffs.  If you’re expecting another 23 TDs, you’ll be disappointed.

Terrell Owens – So far so good in Big D for MeO, I mean T.O.  As long as he’s happy, he’ll continue to produce in bunches.  I can see T.O. lead all WRs in scoring this year.

Reggie Wayne – Well, he officially surpassed Marvin Harrison as the Top Dog in Indy, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  You can pretty much pencil him in for 1300 yards and 10 TDs.  How many RBs can you say that with?  That’s why he’s a safer pick than a Clinton Portis or Willis McGahee.

Braylon Edwards – Braylon finally showed why he was a 3rd pick last year scoring 16 TDs.  I don’t see him reaching paydirt quite as often, especially with the addition of Donte Stallworth, but double-digits isn’t out of the question.

Andre Johnson – He averaged close to 95 yards and nearly a TD a game last year.  That translates to 1500 yards and 14 TDs.  Will he reach those lofty numbers?  I doubt it, but he’ll come close if he gets a full season in.

Larry Fitzgerald – I am a huge fan of Fitzy.  He just seems to get it.  Must be his Minnesota ties.  Every other year he gets 1400 yards and 10 TDs.  If he can avoid his even-year slump, he’ll be worth his weight in gold again for fantasy owners.

Steve Smith – Here’s a guy who NEEDS his QB to stay healthy.  He’s had two down years (compared to his 2005 masterpiece), but he still has what it takes to be an elite WR in this league.  If Delhomme goes down, he could easily lose his Big Dog status.

Chad Johnson – Ocho Cinco had 1440 yards and 8 TDs last year.  Unfortunately his TDs came in just 4 games last year.  That’s what bugs me about Ocho.  His end of the year stats look great, but he’s not as solid week-to-week like some of the Big Dogs.  His contract situation is a little scary, but I think he’ll play.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Unlike Ocho, Housh likes to spread the wealth out during his season.  He scored a TD in his first 8 games last year.  He’s not going to wow you with big yardage (only three weeks over 100 and none after Wek 6), but you’ll be happy with his production.

Marques Colston – I was tempted to put him a tier lower, but his improvement on an already outstanding rookie season was too hard to ignore.  If the 3rd Year Rule applies to Colston, the league better look out because he’s already blown up.  He caught nearly 100 balls last year for over 1200 yards and 11 TDs.  Those are solid digits.

Torry Holt – Holt had a down year by his standards last year, failing to produce either 1200 yards or 10 TDs for the first time since his rookie season.  I see Marc Bulger bouncing back this year though, and Holt will rebound with him.  He’s going to be a great value pick this year.

Plaxico Burress – I wasn’t going to put him in the Big Dog Club, but when you consider what he did last year despite knee and ankle injuries.  He scored in his first 6 games last year and racked up 1025 yards and 12 scores for the year.  It was his second straight double-digit TD year with the G-Men, and Eli’s added confidence (and pressure from NY media and fans removed) following the Super Bowl victory should keep the success going.

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Big Dogs
These are the guys that everybody wants to own.  At times, they can almost single-handedly carry you to a victory.  They go for the most in auctions and take up the majority of the first round in snake drafts.  A word of caution, there is usually a bust or two among these.  Last year Larry Johnson and Frank Gore didn’t meet expectations.  Before that it was Shaun Alexander.

LaDainian Tomlinson – What can you say about LT that hasn’t already been said. He’s quite possibly the best fantasy football player that’s ever existed. 

Adrian Peterson – All Day is right up there with LT when it comes to projected fantasy numbers following his amazing rookie campaign.  He cracked the 200 yard mark twice last year, including breaking the single-game mark.  He’ll need to score more TDs (as if 13 isn’t enough) to be considered the Alpha Dog.

Brian Westbrook – Westy was a major force last year going for 2100 total yards and 12 TDs.  He’s such a dual threat, with over 1200 yards rushing and 700 yards receiving the past two years.  The knock on him is his health, but he only missed two games over the past two years.  He did kill some fantasy owners by taking a knee on a sure TD last year.

Steven Jackson – He had somewhat of a down year because of injuries, but he still topped the 1000 mark rushing and added nearly 300 receiving.  His TD production took a major hit, but St. Louis’ offense as a whole was down.  Steven Jackson can be had with the third to fifth pick.  Talk about a great value.

Joseph Addai – Addai was a force as well last year with over 1400 total yards and 15 TDs despite missing a game.  He’s had virtually the same amount of rushing and receiving yards both years to show his consistency.  With Peyton Manning keeping defenses in check, Addai should be able to have his way once again.  Like Westbrook and Steven Jackson, Addai will be the 3rd-5th player taken, which makes the 5th pick in the draft the most attractive slot to me.

Second Tier RBs
These are guys that will go in the first couple of rounds.  They aren’t quite of the Big Dog ilk, but if you’re in the back end of a snake draft you can pick up a pair of these 2TRBs.

Marion Barber III - So MB3 can’t the chance to shine on his own.  Well, not exactly.  The Cowboys replaced Julius Jones with rookie Felix Jones.  Marion the Barbarian will still be your TD man, but the other Jones will cut into his yardage.

Clinton Portis – Portis will still only be 27 when the season kicks off.  He seems so much older than that.  I guess that’s what success will do to you.  Will he be like Emmitt Smith and just keep turning it out?  I think so.  I don’t see 1500  yards in him, but 1200 & 10 is attainable.

Frank Gore – Here’s a guy I love.  Everyone was HUGE on him last year and he failed miserably by his draft postion standards.  However, he still had over 1500 total yards.  If that’s a “down year”, I’d be glad to grab him and see what he can do in a good year.

Larry Johnson – Maybe because I own him I am wishful thinking, but I see a rebound for LJ.  He’s still a beast.  He hasn’t reached the 30 mark.  He doesn’t have a lot of mileage considering his age.  He is a year removed from back-to-back 1700 yard 17+ TD seasons.  I know Shaun Alexander dropped like a elevator with the cable cut, but I see a different story for LJ.  As long as he has some burst and he gets a decent showing from the passing game, LJ will be solid.  I don’t see another monster year, but if he can turn out 1400 yards and 12 TDs, I’d be stoked.

Marshawn Lynch – Here’s another guy I own.  I was huge on him before his little hit-and-run drama.  I hope that was a one-time slip-up and not a sign of things to come.  He was the Bills’ offense last year.  He wasn’t a contender for the ROY last year as All Day was unbelievable, but for a while he was at least a part of the conversation.

Willis McGahee – Here’s another guy who was his team’s offense last year.  Willis has over 1400 yards and 8 TDs in his first year in Baltimore.  All of that despite only having five carries the past two weeks.  He should be fully recovered from his rib injury that finished his season a little early last year.

Third Tier RBs
These are likely your #2 backs unless you opted to go QB or WR early (which isn’t a bad idea).

Willie Parker – Fast Willie piled on the yards last year (1316 to be exact), but didn’t make many trips (2) to the endzone. I don’t see Big Ben tossing as many TD passes next year so that number should go up. The problem I have with Willie is the drafting of Rashard Mendenhall. He scares me if I’m a Willie Parker owner.

Jamal Lewis – Jamal had a terrific season (1552 total yards, 11 TDs) last year with Cleveland, but I just don’t trust him to be my #1 RB. I expect their passing attack to take a step back next year, which will make it harder to run.

Ryan Grant – Ryan Grant came in and answered Green Bay’s prayers for some balance. Lost in the whole QB debate is whether or not Grant will be a fluke. If Rodgers struggles at QB, things could get difficult for Grant. I’d hate to pin my hopes on him.

Maurice Jones-Drew/Fred Taylor – MJD gets the TDs. Fred Taylor gets the yards. Will the recipe be the same in Jacksonville next year? Most likely. They compliment each other so well. Unfortunately for fantasy owners it makes it difficult to rely on either one. Obviously I give MJD the edge because of his age and his ability to reach paydirt.

Laurence Maroney – Did you see Maroney run in the playoffs? I’m sure the Patriot Coaches did. Heck, they probably even have video on it. Bad jokes aside, I see the Patriots running a more balanced attack next year. With the holes the passing game should open, Maroney should run wild.

Ronnie Brown – Until he got hurt, Ronnie Brown was having one of the best years by any RB. Unfortunately he blew out his knee following an Interception (thanks Cleo Lemon) and will likely take a year or so to get back to form.

Brandon Jacobs – Brandon Jacobs is a beast. He should have plenty of opportunity to score TDs. He needs to prove he can stay healthy. He’ll likely have to share carries with some capable running mates.

Edgerrin James – Edge had over 1400 total yards last year, but will turn the dreaded 30 next month. That usually doesn’t go over very well for a Running Back. The Cards have two extraordinary WRs to keep defenses honest, but I’d be shocked if Edge replicates his 2007 campaign.

Darren McFadden – This one is based on potential, but Run DMC sure seems to be this year’s version of Adrian Peterson. I don’t see him running for as many yards, or breaking any records, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he finished in top ten for RB fantasy scoring.

Fourth Tier RBs
We’re getting into #2 RBs if you have stacked your team elsewhere and/or your bench RBs.

LenDale White - LenDale silenced his critics last year by running for 1110 yards and 7 TDs.  He had either a TD or 100 yards in six games during a seven-game stretch last year.  Then he ran for 81 yards combined the next three weeks before four straight weeks of 95+ yards or a TD.  That middle stretch is what keeps him out of the third tier.

Reggie Bush- I think the best thing that can happen for Reggie Bush and New Orleans is for Deuce McAllister to return healthy.  The 1-2 punch was ideal for Bush and the Saints.  Bush doesn’t have to pound it between the tackles so frequently.  He is free to be able to get to the outside as well as become a bigger factor in the passing game. 

Thomas Jones – The Jets made some nice moves in the offseason, mainly to improve their Offensive Line.  The acquisitions of Alan Faneca and Damien Woody (along with FB Tony Richardson) should open the running lanes for Jones.  He had a decent amount of yards last year (1119 rushing, 1336 total), but needs to score more than 2 TDs.

Michael Turner – I hesitate to put him in a higher bracket because he doesn’t have a track record to prove he can hold up to a full load.  He’s also going to a team that will likely be behind in most games, and may have to abandon the run.  It’s also unclear if he was a product of the system (San Diego) or if he can bring his explosiveness to Atlanta.  Oh, and he was mainly used after LT wore the defenses down.  How is he going to do against a fresh defensive unit?  These are the questions I have, and the reason he lands in the 4th tier.  That said, he is worth taking a chance on as your 3rd RB.

Earnest Graham – Tampa’s Earnest Graham falls into the category of RBs I don’t quite trust.  He was a great story last year running for 898 yards (1222 total) and 10 TDs.  I’m just afraid the fluke factor is high for him.  Not to mention the acquisition of Warrick Dunn could cut into his digits.  If Cadillac Williams makes a successful return, Tampa’s backfield is further muddied.

Julius Jones – The Seahawks parted ways with Shaun Alexander and have tabbed JJ as their replacement.  He has the ability, but hasn’t really been a force since his shortened rookie season in 2004.  Since then he hasn’t been much of a TD threat.  We’ll see how he’s used in Seattle, who also has Maurice Morris and T.J. Duckett.

Serviceable RBs
We’re getting your bench RBs and Bye Week plays.  You can use these guys for trades or simply use them as insurance policies in case of injury.

Selvin Young – Usually a Denver RB is as good as gold.  I just can’t quite trust any of them this year.  Selvin had 960 total yards last year, but only 1 TD.  Michael Pittman and Ryan Torain could steal touches from Young.

Rudi Johnson/Kenny Watson – Early indications are that Rudi is back.  He’s in terrific shape and is hitting the holes hard.  Problem is Kenny Watson easily outplayed him last year.  I think this is going to be a true RBBC with them splittiing carries fairly equally (barring injury).  Kenny Watson had over 1000 total yards and 7 TDs.  Rudi had 600 and 4.  You would think Rudi would be the short yardage back, but Watson will probably get plenty of work in the redzone because of his pass-catching ability. 

Jonathan Stewart – Since DeAngelo Williams hasn’t lived up to the hype, I see the Oregon rookie stealing the show down in Carolina.  He’s a bruiser at 5′11″, 230 Lbs with good speed.  He ran for 1722 yards for the Ducks last year, and should have a solid rookie showing.

Matt Forté - Things looked real good for the Tulane rookie before Kevin Jones inked a deal with Da Bears.  That said, I’m not sure KJ is healthy enough (or will remain healthy) to keep Forte from being a decent fantasy play.  He ran for 2127 yards and 23 TDs in his Senior season.  He’s also capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. 

Kevin Smith – Another rookie that could make waves this year is Detroit’s Kevin Smith.  He doesn’t have great speed, but he tore it up for UCF last year racking up 2567 yards and 29 TDs.  If the Pro game isn’t too fast for him, he could be a steady contributor.

Scrap Pile RBs
These are RBs that you’ll only use for bye weeks or in case of injury.

Ahman Green – He’s on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off an injury-plagued season.  However, he is still a starting RB (for the time being) so he’s worthy of a roster spot.  If he can stay healthy and Houston’s passing attack is on, there could be some decent weeks for Ahman.

DeAngelo Williams – He had close to 900 total yards last year while finishing strong (242 yards & 3 TDs in his last three games).  He also had 121 yards in Week 6 and 82 in Week 13 so he displayed some signs of life.  However, the Panthers brought in Jonathan Stewart for a reason.  DeAngelo may hold the starting job out of the gate, but he could easily be lapped.

Chester Taylor – If Adrian Peterson misses some time, Chester Taylor will vault into the Top Ten the weeks All Day is out.  As is, he’ll spell All Day and pick up some decent 40-60 yard games.  He’s probably the #1 handcuff out there.

Felix Jones – This dude is fast.  He’s from the University of Arkansas like Jerry Jones.  MB3 is the goods, but Felix will be taking carries for sure.  He’s also one of the best handcuffs given Dallas’ potent offense.

Deuce McAllister – He’ll turn 30 this year and is coming off an injury.  He also has to share the load with Reggie Bush in a pass-happy offense.  Things are stacked against him.  He will be the short-yardage guy though so he should score some TDs.  That said, I don’t see much more than 500 yards out of him.

Justin Fargas – You’ve got to feel a little bad for Fargas.  He ran for over 1000 yards last year for the sorry Raiders.  His reward?  The drafting of Run DMC.  He still should get some play though.  He clearly has big-game ability as evidenced by his three games of 139+ yards.  He averaged 106 yards and 0.6 TDs in Weeks 9-13.

Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is interesting as the Steelers already have Willie Parker.  He’s got great speed with a great build.  He had a great Junior year for Illinois rushing for 1681 yards and 17 TDs.  He added 34 receptions.  Given his size over Fast Willie, he could get the goal line touches.

Ahmad Bradshaw/Derrick Ward - Ahmad didn’t do much in the regular season (190 yards), but looked pretty solid in the playoffs (208 yards in 4 games).  Ward looked good early, but didn’t didn’t do anything after Week 6 except for a big 154 yard effort in Week 13.  It’s likely that all three Giant RBs (Brandon Jacobs included) will get some touches.  If Jacobs goes down Bradshaw and Ward will have bigger roles.

Chris Brown – He was one of my Sleeper picks last year for Tennesse, and he did decent at times.  Now he’s on to Houston.  He seems older than the 27 he turned in April so there is still tread on the tires.  If (and most likely when) Ahman Green goes down, he’ll likely be thrust into the starter role.  Never much of a TD threat, he scored 4 in the last 5 weeks of the 2007 season. 

Chris Johnson – Replacing Chris Brown in Tennessee will be rookie Chris Johnson out of East Carolina.  He’s listed behind 2007 rookie Chris Henry, but the Titans must not have been thrilled with him given their 1st round selection of Johnson.  He’s not a big back, but could be a nice change-of-pace to LenDale White.  He’s lighting quick (4.24).  He had 1423 yards and 17 TDs rushing and another 528 yards and 6 TDs receiving.  He’ll have to prove he can stay healhty, but he’s a Home Run waiting to happen.

Jerious Norwood – His reign in Atlanta was short-lived as Michael Turner has stolen his starting gig.  He is lighting-quick though and should be a nice change-of-pace to Turner.  If Turner proves he can’t stay healthy or is not up to the task of being the Lead Dog, Norwood’s value will increase.

Warrick Dunn – Until he hangs up his cleats, I will not overlook Mr. Dunn.  He has quietly surpassed the 10,000 yard mark for his career.  How many people would have expected that.  Even in a down year he had close to 1000 total yards.  If Cadillac Williams isn’t up for the task, Dunn will still have some fantasy relevance.

Tatum Bell – If Kevin Smith doesn’t make the adjustments needed to be an NFL back suddenly Tatum Bell becomes interesting.  That said, the ceiling is rather low for Bell, and I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were him.

Ladell Betts – He proved he’s more than capable if CP goes down.  However, Portis has been very durable in his career.  Betts will take touches away to keep CP fresh, but don’t look for major numbers out of Betts barring an unforseen injury.

Ryan Torain – He plays for Denver so never count him out.  The rookie out of Arizona State probably has the highest high-low differential in the league.

DeShaun Foster – He’s backing up Frank Gore now so there’s not much hope for Foster.  However, if Gore goes down, Foster is an adequate replacement.

Jamaal Charles/Kolby Smith – If Larry Johnson suffers a setback, the load will likely be shared between Kolby, who ran decent down the stretch, and rookie Jamaal Charles out of Texas.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Football, NFL | Tagged: Fantasy Football, NFL, Running Backs |

I did my fifth The Sporting News Live Mock Fantasy Football Draft today.  They offer 10 & 12 Team Drafts that go 15 rounds, which  I use to gauge where people are picked.  As the season approaches, these Mock Drafts become better because everyone is more up-to-speed on the players and you get a full draft.  When there isn’t a full draft, there is an Autopick in place.  They go by Sporting News rankings.  It’s not ideal, but it’s acceptable.  Another cool feature is the chat board which allows you to discuss players with other fantasy football fanatics.   

Here’s the team I drafted:
I had the 11th pick and started with Frank Gore with my 1st pick.  I see a bounce back season for Gore and loved the value.  With my 2nd pick I took Reggie Wayne.  He is perhaps the safest of the Big Dog WRs because of his age and his QB.  With my 3rd pick I opted for Torry Holt.  I followed that pick up with a quick grab of Edgerrin James in the 4th.  I think he’s got at least another high-end season in him.  I figured he was a good value for the 4th round.  In the 5th I took Tony Gonzalez, the last elite TE left.  In the 6th I finished my skill position starters with Dwayne Bowe.  In the 7th and 8th I grabbed some RB depth in Matt Forte and Felix Jones.  In the 9th I opted for WR depth in Vincent Jackson.  In the 10th I decided to grab a QB.  I selected Donovan McNabb.  In the 11th Round I added another RB in Tennessee’s Chris Johnson.  In the 12th I added WR depth with Patrick Crayton.  I took Matt Schaub in the 12th as McNabb insurance.  In the 13th I took Washington Defense.  I wrapped it up with Philadelphia Defense.

QBs
Donovan McNabb
Matt Schaub

RBs

Frank Gore
Edgerrin James
Matt Forte
Felix Jones
Chris Johnson

WRs
Reggie Wayne
Torry Holt
Dwayne Bowe
Vincent Jackson
Patrick Crayton

TEs
Tony Gonzalez

DEF
Washington
Philadelphia

We’ve done the Big Dog RBs, Second Tier RBs, Third Tier RBsFourth Tier RBs, and Serviceable RBs, now it’s time to look at the Scrap Pile.  These are RBs that you’ll only use for bye weeks or in case of injury.

Ahman Green – He’s on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off an injury-plagued season.  However, he is still a starting RB (for the time being) so he’s worthy of a roster spot.  If he can stay healthy and Houston’s passing attack is on, there could be some decent weeks for Ahman.

DeAngelo Williams – He had close to 900 total yards last year while finishing strong (242 yards & 3 TDs in his last three games).  He also had 121 yards in Week 6 and 82 in Week 13 so he displayed some signs of life.  However, the Panthers brought in Jonathan Stewart for a reason.  DeAngelo may hold the starting job out of the gate, but he could easily be lapped.

Chester Taylor – If Adrian Peterson misses some time, Chester Taylor will vault into the Top Ten the weeks All Day is out.  As is, he’ll spell All Day and pick up some decent 40-60 yard games.  He’s probably the #1 handcuff out there.

Felix Jones – This dude is fast.  He’s from the University of Arkansas like Jerry Jones.  MB3 is the goods, but Felix will be taking carries for sure.  He’s also one of the best handcuffs given Dallas’ potent offense.

Deuce McAllister – He’ll turn 30 this year and is coming off an injury.  He also has to share the load with Reggie Bush in a pass-happy offense.  Things are stacked against him.  He will be the short-yardage guy though so he should score some TDs.  That said, I don’t see much more than 500 yards out of him.

Justin Fargas – You’ve got to feel a little bad for Fargas.  He ran for over 1000 yards last year for the sorry Raiders.  His reward?  The drafting of Run DMC.  He still should get some play though.  He clearly has big-game ability as evidenced by his three games of 139+ yards.  He averaged 106 yards and 0.6 TDs in Weeks 9-13.

Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is interesting as the Steelers already have Willie Parker.  He’s got great speed with a great build.  He had a great Junior year for Illinois rushing for 1681 yards and 17 TDs.  He added 34 receptions.  Given his size over Fast Willie, he could get the goal line touches.

Ahmad Bradshaw/Derrick Ward - Ahmad didn’t do much in the regular season (190 yards), but looked pretty solid in the playoffs (208 yards in 4 games).  Ward looked good early, but didn’t didn’t do anything after Week 6 except for a big 154 yard effort in Week 13.  It’s likely that all three Giant RBs (Brandon Jacobs included) will get some touches.  If Jacobs goes down Bradshaw and Ward will have bigger roles.

Chris Brown – He was one of my Sleeper picks last year for Tennesse, and he did decent at times.  Now he’s on to Houston.  He seems older than the 27 he turned in April so there is still tread on the tires.  If (and most likely when) Ahman Green goes down, he’ll likely be thrust into the starter role.  Never much of a TD threat, he scored 4 in the last 5 weeks of the 2007 season. 

Chris Johnson – Replacing Chris Brown in Tennessee will be rookie Chris Johnson out of East Carolina.  He’s listed behind 2007 rookie Chris Henry, but the Titans must not have been thrilled with him given their 1st round selection of Johnson.  He’s not a big back, but could be a nice change-of-pace to LenDale White.  He’s lighting quick (4.24).  He had 1423 yards and 17 TDs rushing and another 528 yards and 6 TDs receiving.  He’ll have to prove he can stay healhty, but he’s a Home Run waiting to happen.

Jerious Norwood – His reign in Atlanta was short-lived as Michael Turner has stolen his starting gig.  He is lighting-quick though and should be a nice change-of-pace to Turner.  If Turner proves he can’t stay healthy or is not up to the task of being the Lead Dog, Norwood’s value will increase.

Warrick Dunn – Until he hangs up his cleats, I will not overlook Mr. Dunn.  He has quietly surpassed the 10,000 yard mark for his career.  How many people would have expected that.  Even in a down year he had close to 1000 total yards.  If Cadillac Williams isn’t up for the task, Dunn will still have some fantasy relevance.

Tatum Bell – If Kevin Smith doesn’t make the adjustments needed to be an NFL back suddenly Tatum Bell becomes interesting.  That said, the ceiling is rather low for Bell, and I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were him.

Ladell Betts – He proved he’s more than capable if CP goes down.  However, Portis has been very durable in his career.  Betts will take touches away to keep CP fresh, but don’t look for major numbers out of Betts barring an unforseen injury.

Ryan Torain – He plays for Denver so never count him out.  The rookie out of Arizona State probably has the highest high-low differential in the league.

DeShaun Foster – He’s backing up Frank Gore now so there’s not much hope for Foster.  However, if Gore goes down, Foster is an adequate replacement.

Jamaal Charles/Kolby Smith – If Larry Johnson suffers a setback, the load will likely be shared between Kolby, who ran decent down the stretch, and rookie Jamaal Charles out of Texas.

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