Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com


Image courtesy of Icon SMI


The Washington Redskins have three established, veteran running backs on their roster, not too mention youngsters Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams.  Let’s take a look at the battle for playing time and try to determine who may have fantasy value for the upcoming season:


Clinton Portis
The odds on favorite to emerge as the Redskins starter, when healthy he has proven to be among the best running backs in the league.  In the six seasons where he has played at least 13 games, his worst season is 1,262 yards and only once has he had less then nine rushing TDs.


He’s also a receiving threat out of the backfield, routinely topping 30 receptions.  The addition of Donovan McNabb, who knows how to integrate the RB into the passing game from his time with Brian Westbrook, certainly makes this seem like a perfect marriage.


He’ll turn 29-years old on September 1, so there certainly is a chance that he’ll start slowing down, but he’s not over-the-hill by any stretch.  He’s also coming off a year where he played just eight games due to concussion problems, the more worrisome proposition.


Of course, let’s not forget that Portis thrived under Mike Shanahan’s system when both were in Denver.  He’s the running back I’d draft, if I were going to go with the muddled Redskins backfield, as long as I get him as my RB3.  There’s too much of a risk to draft him as more then that.
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The Redskins made a big splash by adding Donovan McNabb in the offseason. After a couple years of actually having some weapons in the passing game, McNabb takes a major step back with Washington’s offering. He always seems to find a way to make it work, so expect the Skins’ offense to improve.


Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
They open up the fantasy playoffs against Tampa Bay at home in Week 14. They then go on the road to face Dallas and Jacksonville.


Five Star Fantasy Options


Four Star Fantasy Options
Donovan McNabb – Normally I would give him a five star rating, but he does have an injury history, and he has the aforementioned drop-off in talent at WR. Perhaps his best options are TEs Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.


Three Star Fantasy Options
Clinton Portis – The Redskins brought in competition in the form of Larry Johnson and Willie Parker. McNabb’s presence should open things up for the ground game. If he can stay healthy, Portis brings the most to the table.


Santana Moss – Moss isn’t the player he once was, but he hasn’t had a QB the caliber of McNabb, perhaps ever. He is notoriously inconsistent, but he should have some big games still left in him. Brian Orakpo should pile up the sacks.


Chris Cooley – The Skins have a good problem having two talented TEs. Mike Shanahan is gifted enough to figure out a way to get both Cooley and Davis involved in the passing game.


Redskins Defense/Special Teams – The Redskins will need Albert Haynesworth to make nice with the team to remain a decent fantasy defense. Highlights include the Rams (Week 3), Lions (Week 8), and the Bucs (Week 14).


Two Star Fantasy Options
Larry Johnson – If Portis were to go down or finally hits the wall from the extensive use in his career, LJ would be the one to step in and carry the load. I think he still has some football left in him. It’s just a matter of how many  opportunities he’ll get.


Devin Thomas – He hasn’t lived up to his expectations yet, but McNabb should help. He is not afraid to rely on young receivers. Thomas has good size (6’2″, 215) and speed. He just has to put it all together.


Fred Davis – Davis stepped in when Cooley went down and ran with his opportunity. He had 41 catches for 464 yards and 6 TDs in the Skins last ten games. The Skins can’t ignore that kind of production, especially with a sub par receiving corps.


One Star Fantasy Options
Willie Parker – If he can stay healthy, he should be able to produce in spots for the Skins. That won’t help your fantasy team go. Unless he can earn the #2 RB gig, he’s not a viable fantasy option.


Malcom Kelly – Kelly is a 6’4″ receiver that has failed to score a TD in 21 games. That should change with McNabb, but don’t expect him to transform into a stud.


Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

Now that we went through the majority of the #1 & #2 Running Backs, it’s time to look at RB3s.  These Backs are ones you would use in a flex position (if you have one in your league format), as bye week replacements, or spot starters based on matchups.  If you load up elsewhere early, they could serve as RB2.

Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay -  Ward ran for 1025 yards and 2 TDs on 182 carries for an amazing 5.6 yards per carry.  He added 41 receptions for 384 yards.  Not bad for a RB that didn’t even start for his team.  He left the incredible Offensive Line that the Giants provide him, but he should get more touches.  Don’t expect him to get too many carries though as Earnest Graham and Cadillac Williams will likely be in the mix as well.  I can see Graham handing the red zone chances.  Ward’s best matchups appear to be against New Orleans in Weeks 11 & 16.  The rest of his schedule is pretty tough.  I expect Ward to produce 1200 total yards and 5 TDs.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens – Rice had decent production last year despite a limited role.  He had 454 yards on 107 carries (4.2 ypc) and added 273 yards on 33 receptions.  With Le’Ron McClain sliding over to Fullback, and McGahee moving to the backup role, Rice should get a much heavier workload in 2009.  Though McClain will get the ball at the strip and McGahee will get his touches, Rice should be a solid RB3, and even a nice RB2 in PPR leagues.  The Ravens have a some great matchups against Kansas City in Week 1, Cleveland in Weeks 3 & 10, Cincinnati in Weeks 5 & 9, Denver in Week 8.  Unfortunately they play the Raiders in Week 17.  Their fantasy playoff schedule starts off sweet with a game against Detroit.  Then they face the Bears and the Steelers.  If McGahee stays healthy, he’ll cut into Rice’s production, but I think he should be good for 1100 total yards, 4 TDs, and 55 receptions.

Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs – Larry Johnson reported to training camp lighter, hoping improved conditioning will lead to a more successful 2009 season.  Even more than his weight, though, has been his attitude.  He has stayed out of the headlines.  He’s not going to return to his old form, but he should be able to build upon the 847 yards on an impressive 4.5 ypc last year.  He only scored 5 TDs, but with Tony Gonzalez gone, that number could easily doubt next year.  Jamaal Charles will push him for time, especially on third downs, but that could help to keep LJ fresh.  LJ is a back who could put up first round numbers, which is sweet considering you can get him in the third or fourth round.  He loses a cushy matchup with Denver in Week 17, but still faces Oakland in Weeks 2 & 10 and Denver in Week 13.  He does have some tough matchups early against Baltimore in Week 1, Philly in Week 3, NYG in Week 4, Washington in Week 6, and Pittsburgh in Week 11.  He’s a good Buy Low candidate if he gets off to a slow start because his fantasy playoff matchups against Buffalo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are sweet.  There is a huge variance in the numbers LJ could produce.  I think he has 1100 total yards and 8 TDs.

LenDale White – Tennessee Titans – LenDale retired the LenWhale moniker (at least temporarily) by putting down the tequila.  Even though he’s in better shape, I don’t see LenDale having anything close to the year he had last year.  Let’s face it, 15 TD seasons don’t come along very often.  With Albert Haynesworth residing in Washington, will Tennessee’s Defense be good enough to suffocate teams and allow LenDale to slowly wear them down in the fourth quarter?  That could be a big reason why LenDale gets much fewer than the 2000 carries he had last year.  The Titans don’t really have any cakewalks on their schedule until Week 14 against the Rams.  It’s hard to use a guy in the fantasy playoffs when you’re not sure how many touches he’s going to get in the game.  LenDale is nice to own, but he’ll be tough to use unless Chris Johnson goes down.  I’m guessing LenDale has about 600 total yards with 10 TDs.

Darren McFadden – Oakland Raiders -  Run DMC had a pretty forgettable Rookie season thanks to a toe injury.  He had one monster week (164 yards. 1 TD vs. KC in Week 2) and one great week (10 carries for 38 yards, 2 TDs vs. Denver in Week 12).  He actually had more 50+ yard receiving games (3) than rushing (1).  Still, I believe he has too much talent to not have a much better Sophomore season.  He’ll be even more of an asset in PPR leagues, and I could see him throwing a couple passes this year to keep Defenses on their toes.  He has some good matchups this year against Kansas City in Weeks 2 & 10, Denver in Week 3 & 15, and Cincinnati in Week 11.  If you can get by the opening round of the fantasy playoffs against Washington, you’ll get the benefit of facing Denver and Cleveland in Weeks 15 & 16.  I’m predicting 1200 total yards and 8 TDs for McFadden.

Willie Parker – Pittsburgh Steelers – Willie Parker will be pushed by Rashard Mendenhall this year, but I think he’ll hold him off for the most part, assuming he stays healthy.  I just wouldn’t count on him for anything more than a bye week alternative or spot matchup Back.  Those matchups are Weeks 3 & 10 against Cincinnati, Weeks 6 & 14 vs. Cleveland, Week 5 against Detroit, Week 9 against Denver, Week 11 against KC, and Week 13 against Oakland.  I’m guessing Fast Willie has 1000 total yards and 6 TDs.

Jamal Lewis – Cleveland  Browns – Jamal Lewis turns 30 this month and though he managed another 1000 yard season, he appears to be on the decline.  He is going to be challenged for carries by Jerome Harrison and possibly Rookie James Davis.  They both can provide a burst that Jamal just can’t muster.  Mangini will try to limit the workload early as Jamal recovers from ankle surgery, which would be unfortunate because they have three games against soft run D’s in the first four weeks.  Minnesota (assuming Pat & Kevin Williams are suspended) in Week 1, Denver in Week 2, and Cincinnati in Week 4.  Later they face Detroit and Cincy in Weeks 11 & 12.  The Bengals actually have a pretty sweet fantasy playoff schedule with tilts against KC and Oakland in Weeks 15 & 16, though the Browns could be playing for the future by then.  I expect 700 yards and 6 TDs from Jamal in 2009.

Cedric Benson – Cincinnati Bengals – Cedric Benson was a fantasy hero last year with two 150+ total yard games in Weeks 15 & 16.  He managed just 3.5 ypc for the year though and his plodding style may not work as well considering they face Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice.  They do have some pretty nice matchups though against Denver in Week 1, Cleveland in Weeks 4 & 12, Oakland in Week 11, and Detroit in Week 13.  His fantasy playoffs heroics will be hard to repeat against Minnesota and San Diego, but he could have a big finish in Week 16 against KC.  I’m predicting 900 total yards and 6 TDs for Benson.

The Champs are in good shape.  They are fine with Big Ben at QB, but Byron Leftwich will likely test the free agent waters in search of a place to start.  Detroit may be a good fit as a stopgap before Matthew Stafford is ready to take over.  Charlie Batch is also a free agent, but he’ll likely return as the backup as the Steelers groom Dennis Dixon to take over that role.  The Steelers should have a glut of RBs next year with Willie Parker, a healthy Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, and Gary Russell.  Hines Ward and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes will be back to lead the wideouts.  Nate Washington is a free agent and will likely move on for a chance to start.  Limas Sweed will be given the opportunity the opportunity to win that 3rd receiver slot.  Heath Miller was very impressive at TE down the stretch.  He and Matt Spaeth form a solid TE team.  The team needs to improve in the trenches.  Tackles Marvel Smith, Max Starks, and Willie Colon  and Guards Chris Kemoeatu and Trai Essex all are free agents.  They won’t be able to lock them all up so expect changes on that line.  That may not be a bad thing as they allowed 49 last year, which was good for 29th in the league.
On Defense they are working to lock up Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison.  CB Bryant McFadden is the only key free agent so the Steelers will make it a priority to get a deal done with him.  No major changes necessary for this team.  They can simply make a few tweaks and will still have a championship caliber club.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Charlie Batch UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
QB Byron Leftwich UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
RB Justin Vincent Re-signed Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
FB Carey Davis RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
WR Nate Washington UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
TE Jon Dekker RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
TE Sean McHugh RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
TE Dezmond Sherrod Re-signed Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
OG Chris Kemoeatu RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
OT Willie Colon RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
OT Trai Essex RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
OT Marvel Smith UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
OT Max Starks UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
C Doug Legursky Re-signed Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
DL Orpheus Roye UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
LB Keyaron Fox UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
LB Andre Frazier UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
CB Roy Lewis Re-signed Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
CB Bryant McFadden UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
SS Ryan Mundy Re-signed Pittsburgh Steelers Pittsburgh Steelers
FS Anthony Madison RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
FS Anthony Smith RFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent
ST Jared Retkofsky UFA Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent


I continue the Super Bowl comparisons with a look at the Running Backs.  Neither team features an elite back, but they both get contributions from multiple players.

Willie Parker, in my opinion, is the back most capable of delivering a big game in Super Bowl XLIII.  He didn’t have a banner year (210 carries for 791 yards & 5 TDs), but turned in a 146 yard, 2 TD performance against San Diego in the Divisional Round.  He was limited to 47 yards on 24 carries in the AFC Championship, but he faced Baltimore.  Arizona has been playing great D in the playoffs, but they are no Baltimore.  Parker had 93 yards on 10 carries (including a 75 yard TD) in his first Super Bowl appearance.

Mewelde Moore is one of the most versatile Running Backs in the league and one of Pittsburgh’s unsung heroes.  In the mold of New England’s Kevin Faulk, Moore had 588 rushing yards with 5 TDs and 40 catches for 320 yards and a TD.  He hasn’t been used much in the postseason, but I sense he might have a bigger role against Arizona.

Finally, Gary Russell (5’11, 215 lbs) can be used for the tough yardage.  He didn’t do much in the regular season (28 carries for 77 yards), but he did punch it in three times.  He added a TD against San Diego.  I don’t see him being a big factor.

For Arizona, Edgerrin James has re-emerged as a feature back during the playoffs.  It actually started in Week 17 when he ran for 100 yars on 14 carries.  He had 207 yards and a TD in wins over Atlanta, Carolina, and Philadelphia.  This after managing just 514 yards and 3 TDs in the regular season.  There is no player I am rooting for more in the Super Bowl than Edge.  I think he got a bum deal in Indy (although it was a move they had to make based on economics).  He has always been a complete back.  Despite his awesome quote “”I didn’t come here to block. I’m not an offensive lineman”, he has always been good at picking up the blitz.  As much as I like Edge, I think this could be his last hurrah in Arizona and likely as a feature back.  He’s on the wrong side of thiry and doesn’t seem willing to accept a backup role gracefully.  Hard to blame him, because that’s all he really knows.  I’d like to think he can continue his playoff success against Pittsburgh, but I’d just be kidding myself.  Pittsburgh’s D is just too tough.  Arizona is going to have to use it’s bread and butter…the passing game.  You can hardly expect a TD out of him because that’s Hightower’s territory.

Tim Hightower is a beast.  He reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Leroy Hoard.  “If you need one yard, I’ll get you three.  If you need four yards, I’ll get you three”.  Talk about a guy who knew his limitations.  He averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in the regular season. He did score 10 TDs though.  Edge has got a lot of credit for stepping up his game in the regular season, but Hightower has as well.  After rushing for 399 yards in 16 games he has 132 in three and a more respectable 3.9 yards per carry.  He also has scored (1 rushing, 2 receiving) in each game.  To me he’s the back most likely to reach paydirt.

J.J. Arrington is a guy who quietly played a nice role for Arizona this year.  He averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 187 yards and a score.  He also caught 29 passes out of the backfield for 255 yards and a score.  He’s  been a pretty effective Kick Returner averaging 25.6 yards per carry with a score.  Like Mewelde Moore he hasn’t played a prominent role this offseason, but is the type of player who could be a sneaky hero on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Advantage:  Even


David Campanelli, one of my best friends and a Steelers fanatic, was kind enough to review his Steelers for me. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a moderately successful year, especially considering it was Mike Tomlin’s first season as coach, replacing long-time coach Bill Cowher. But what will happen in his second season? The team, more and more, is taking on his personality, where many of the mainstays from the Cowher years (Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Clark Hagans, etc.) are gone. but as Tomlin molds the franchise to “his team” rather than the team he inherited, he has a tough challenge in 2008.

The challenge begins with the schedule. The Steelers have the toughest schedule in the league this year (based on opponents winning % from 07), and play in an increasingly tough division. The Browns are the “it” team of the moment, the Ravens are always dangerous, and even though the Bengals seem to be in some disarray they always play the Steelers tough. The Steelers also play the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Colts, Titans and Patriots. Ouch. They should win the division, but it will be a tough battle.

The second challenge is rebuilding the offensive line. The Steelers biggest offseason move was letting Alan Faneca walk in free agency. Now Alan Faneca is an all-time great Steeler , go back to Week 14 in 2005 when the Steelers beat the eventual NFC North Champ Chicago Bears. That win set off a string of 8 straight wins, culminating in a Super Bowl victory. Alan Faneca starred in that game, dominating more than i have ever seen an offensive lineman (particularly a guard) dominate a football game. Without that performance they do not make the playoffs and do not win the Superbowl. You always hate to see a franchise guy and future Hall of Famer leave the team, but the contract the Jets gave him was ridiculous. He’s turning 31, and he’s not the dominate force he once was. The Steelers line, particularly in pass protection was terrible last year. This unit, minus Faneca will be the key to what the Steelers are able to accomplish this season. But Left tackle Marvel Smith is reportedly back to full strength after off-season surgery finally fixed a lingering neck problem. Faneca’s replacement Chris Keomeatu is their secret weapon. He’s nasty and will show it on the field this year.

The reason why the offensive line development is so key is because the Steelers have as much talent at the skill positions as they have in ages. Ben Roethlisberger is turning into an elite QB. Hines Ward is still Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes is poised for a huge breakout year. Newly drafted wide out Limas Sweed is the big target Big Ben was looking for, although he might be a year away from being a contributor. Heath Miller is the best pass catching TE the Steelers have had since the days of Eric Greene. The RB corps should be good again this year. Fast Willie Parker is coming off a broken leg, but he seems fine. He’s been overused the last couple of years so having Rashard Medenhall spell him and work the goal line should be great for both backs. Mendenhall could be the steal of the draft at the 23rd pick. Also, for the first time in ages the Steelers have a legit pass catching 3rd down back in Mewelde Moore.

Defensively the Steelers will be solid, if not outstanding. They need to develop a pass rusher, other than James Harrison who can get to the QB without too many “gimmicky” blitzes to help them get there. That man should be LaMar Woodley, their 2nd round pick from last year. If the two OLBs can apply pressure on their own, this D gets immensely better. Also, watch out for Lawrence Timmons, their 1st round pick from last year, who has been flying around camp hitting anything that moves. The Steelers moved him inside and he should challenge Larry Foote for the starting spot at some point this season.

Fantasy Focus: From a fantasy perspective the two guys to go after are Big Ben and Santonio Holmes. Roethlisberger is the best of the 2nd tier of QBs, and should really be the 5th QB off the board. His only drawbacks are the numbers of picks he throws and sacks he takes. But both of those should improve this year. Santonio Holmes is going to be the breakout WR in fantasy this year. I’ve been taking him just after the top 10 WRs are off the board, right after a guy like Plaxico Burress. The RB situation is one I’d stay away from. Willie Parker was a yards horse, but has never scored a lot of TDs. With Mendenhall stealing carries, and yards, Parker’s value drops. Mendenhall will get the goal line carries, but i don’t know that he’ll get enough touches in between the 20′s to be a huge fantasy factor. Finally, Jeff Reed remains one of the most overlooked kickers in fantasy football. The Steelers will score a lot of points this year, and he’s always been consistent, despite kicking at unfriendly Heinz Field. Let everyone else draft a kicker and then take Reed with your last pick in the draft.

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.

Marc Bulger
Philip Rivers

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

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

Tony Gonzalez
Zach Miller

San Diego
New England

David Akers

I did my fourth 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:
It was a 12 team draft and I had the fourth pick so I knew I was going to go with a RB to start things off.  I went with Brian Westbrook because I love his versatility.  With my 2nd pick I went with another RB in Willie Parker.  I don’t see Pittsburgh passing as much as last year.  With my third pick I opted for Steve Smith.  I could have had Ocho Cinco, but I think he’ll become a problem at some point this year.  In the 4th round I snagged Anquan Boldin.  I figured he made a pretty good #2 WR in a 12 team league.  In the 5th I added RB depth with the acquisition of LenDale White.  The WRs available were Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, etc.  I thought I would secure my RB position rather than reach for a 3rd WR.  In the 6th I went with Dallas Clark as Chris Chambers got picked right before my spot.  Instead of reaching for that 3rd WR, I went with a top TE.  In the 7th I took WR Bernard Berrian.  I didn’t want to be stuck with a Reggie Brown/Santana Moss type for my 3rd WR.  With my 8th pick I decided to go QB.  I was fortunate enough to have Donovan McNabb still hanging around.  In the 9th I went for more RB depth with Cowboy rookie Felix Jones.  In the 10th I figured I needed some QB insurance so I took Philip Rivers.  In the 11th I knew my WR depth wasn’t strong so I grabbed Donte Stallworth. In the 12th I went with best available and took Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker’s handcuff.  In the 13th I grabbed Bryant Johnson to add to my WR depth.  With my 14th pick I went with Jacksonville Defense.  I finished with Washington Defense for some depth.

Donovan McNabb
Philip Rivers

Brian Westbrook
Willie Parker
LenDale White
Felix Jones
Rashard Mendenhall

Steve Smith
Anquan Boldin
Bernard Berrian
Donte Stallworth
Bryant Johnson

Dallas Clark


We’ve done the Big Dog RBs and the Second Tier RBs, now it’s time to look at the next wave of 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.

Previous Previews

2004 NFL Draft Re-mix

19 June 2008
Here’s a look back at the 2004 NFL Draft to see who the teams would take if they could do it over knowing what they know today.  This was a lot of fun making.  I hope you enjoy it. 

#1 San Diego Chargers – Larry Fitzgerald
So you keep Drew Brees and add a two-time Pro Bowl WR.  There is no QB controversy and you add a WR with a pair of 100 catch, 1400 yard, 10 TD seasons.

#2 Oakland Raiders – Ben Roethlisberger
To say Robert Gallery has been a disappoinment is a major understatement.  If they could do it over again they would add Big Ben, who has the arm and th moxie to lead Oakland out of the doldrums.

#3 Arizona Cardinals – Jared Allen
The Cardinals can’t let a high-energy pass rushing phenom get away.  They grab the 2007 NFL Sack leader here.  He has 230 Tackles and 43 Sacks in four seasons. 

#4 New York Giants – Eli Manning
We’ll avoid all of the nonsense that went on with this draft day trade and simply keep Eli Manning in New York, where he led them to a Super Bowl last year.  He has 11.385 yards and 77 TDs in four seasons.

#5 Washington Redskins – Sean Taylor
You can’t predict the tragedy that took Sean Taylor’s life.  I won’t disparage his memory by replacing him.

#6 Cleveland Browns – Vince Wilfork
Perhaps nobody clogs up the middle quite as well as Wilfork (listed at 6’2″, 325 lbs).  He’s racked up 195 Tackles and 5.5 Sacks in his career.  The game is won in the trenches, and Wilfork provides an immediate upgrade.

#7 Detroit Lions – Will Smith
Instead of drafting another Wide Receiver the Lions go with the Fresh Prince instead.  In four years he has 220 Tackles and 33.5 Sacks.  He’s never had less than 7 Sacks in a year. 

#8 Atlanta Falcons – Philip Rivers
DeAngelo Hall has skills, but he was such a pain that they shipped him out of town.  With Michael Vick a few years away from the cooler, the Falcons would be wise to grab Philip Rivers, who’s been pretty solid for San Diego.  The 2006 Pro Bowler has 6540 yards and 43 TDs (to only 24 INTs) the past two years.  He has a 86.6 career passer rating and a 60.8% completion percentage.

#9 Jacksonville Jaguars – Roy Williams
The Jags brought in Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson this year so you know their situation needs addressing.  They turn to Roy Williams who has 244 catches for 3650 Yards and 28 TDs in four years.

#10 Houston Texans – Steven Jackson
Action Jackson could have possibly gone sooner, but when you can address QB and defensive line needs, you do so.  Jackson has 4249 Rushing Yards, 1586 Receiving Yards, and 36 TDS (30 Rushing) in four years.  He has three straight 1000 yard seasons despite being hampered with an injury last year.

#11 Pittsburgh Steelers – Willie Parker
I guess this time they’ll have to draft two-time Pro Bowler Fast Willie.  He’s had three straight 1200+ yard seasons.  For his career he has 4198 Yards and 19 TDs.   

#12 New York Jets – Bob Sanders
Jonathan Vilma was a pretty good selection for the Jets, but considering they already chose to go in a different direction, I’ll pick Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders to bring some toughness to the Jets D.  He’s not big, but he packs a punch.  He has fought through injuries to rack up 251 Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, and 4 INTs.  He’s earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2005 & 2007.

#13 Buffalo Bills – Lee Evans
Although he’s inconsistent, can you imagine the Bills without him?  They would be even more hurting at WR.  He has 233 Receptions for 3727 Yards, and 29 TDs.  If only I can convince him that month is December.

#14 Chicago Bears – Tommie Harris
Chicago  sticks with their pick and takes two-time All-Pro (3 Pro Bowls) DT Tommie Harris.  When healthy he’s one of the best in the game.  He has 141 Tackles and 19.5 Sacks to date.

#15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jonathan Vilma
Putting Vilma alongside Derrick Brooks would be a lot of fun.  Vilma has 441 Tackles, including 173 in 2005 earning him a Pro Bowl nod, and 6 INTs. 

#16 Philadelphia Eagles – Shawn Andrews
Anytime you draft a quality Offensive Lineman, you hold on to him if at all possible.  The Eagles are following that mantra by sticking with All-Pro (2 Pro Bowls) G Shawn Andrews.  He’s too important to their offense to pass up.

#17 Denver Broncos – Shaun Phillips
Not that D.J. Willimas hasn’t worked out for the Broncos, but Shaun Phillips is a little more dynamic.  He has 195 Tackles, 31 Sacks, and 3 INTs.

#18 New Orleans Saints – Kellen Winslow
The Saints go with Pro Bowl TE Kellen Winslow for another weapon in their passing attack.  He has back-to-back 80 reception seasons, including leading all TEs with 89 in 2006, as well as averaged 990 receiving yards the past two seasons. 

#19 Miami Dolphins – Jason Peters
Miami grabs All-Pro Tackle Jason Peters to improve their offensive line. 

#20 Minnesota Vikings – Chris Cooley
Short of weapons in the passing game, Minnesota turns to All-Pro TE Chris Cooley.  He has three straight 700+ yard seasons and 231 catches for 2608 Yards and 27 TDs. 

#21 New England Patriots – DeAngelo Hall
Hall is very talented and a pain in the butt.  The Patriots have enough veterans to keep him in line.  Plus, when he’s winning, he won’t have as much reason to grumble.  The two-time Pro Bowler has 203 Tackles and 17 INTs already.

#22 Buffalo Bills – D.J. Williams
The Bills bolster their LB corps with D.J. Williams, who has 388 Tackles in four years.  He’s coming off a 141 Tackle season.

#23 Seattle Seahawks – Darnell Dockett
The Seahawks correct their mistake of drafting DT Marcus Tubbs by selecting Pro Bowl DT Darnell Dockett.  He has 180 Tackles and 15 Sacks.  He had 9 Sacks last year to earn the Pro Bowl nod.

#24 St. Louis Rams – Julius Jones
With Steven Jackson long off the board, the Rams turn to Julius Jones to compliment Marshall Faulk.  He had 800+ rushing yards in his first three years in the league, and a total of 3484 with 18 TDs.  He’s also added 672 receiving yards.

#25 Green Bay Packers – Nathan Vasher
Pro Bowl CB Vasher represents and upgrade over Ahmad Carroll for the Packers.   He has 130 Tackles and 17 INTs.

#26 Cincinnati Bengals – Gibril Wilson
The Bengals turn to Safety Gibril Wilson, who has 365 Tackles, 6 Sacks, and 11 INTs.  He’s has averaged over 100 Tackles the past three years.

#27 Houston Texans – Matt Schaub
The Texans grab Matt Schaub since he’s their starting QB now.  He passed for 2241 Yards and 9 TDs in his first year starting, but was derailed by injuries.  He did have a Passer Rating of 87.2 and a 66.4% completion rate.

#28 Carolina Panthers – Chris Gamble
The Panthers stick with their selection of CB Chris Gamble.  He has 264 Tackles and 17 INTs.

#29 Atlanta Falcons – Dunta Robinson
Since they didn’t get DeAngelo Hall, the Falcons instead turn to Dunta Robinson, who had 80+ Tackles his first three years in the league.  He has 294 Tackles and 11 INTs. 

#30 Detroit Lions – Jerricho Cotchery
It wouldn’t be the Lions if they didn’t take a WR in the first round.  Cotchery has back-to-back 82 reception seasons and 2091 Yards over that two year span.  Considering Roy Williams has 2146 Yards, this isn’t that big of a downgrade.

#31 San Francisco 49ers – Stuart Schweigert
The 49ers bolster their secondary by adding Safety Schweigert.  He has 316 Tackles and 4 INTs. 

#32 New England Patriots – Madieu Williams
The Patriots make a second quality addition to their secondary with Safety Madieu Williams.  He has 290 Tackles, 4 Sacks, and 9 INTs.

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