RealClearSports
Advertisement

Inside Fantasy Sports

September 20, 2009 4:20 AM

Sip on this Juice

The 2009 NFL season kicked off with a bang last weekend, providing us fans with the excitement, action, and superb highlights that we've come to expect out of the country's greatest sports league. While there wasn't a catastrophic injury that will impact fantasy owners like the one suffered by Patriots QB Tom Brady  in week 1 of the 2008 season, there were a few that will surely hurt fantasy owners for the next few weeks. Donovan McNabb, Anthony Gonzalez, and LaDanian Tomlinson all got banged up and will not see any action in week 2, causing owners to look elsewhere for production at key positions. You never like to see players go down, but it's part of the game and an important aspect of fantasy football is dealing with adverse situations like early season injuries to your stars. Finding viable replacements can be a bit tricky this early since there's such a small sample size of games to analyze, but there are a lot of good reads throughout the Internet where you can find helpful information to help you make those decisions. I recommend http://www.rotoworld.com/ as a site that has thoughtful commentary geared towards fantasy owners.

I'll be the first to admit it, my juice wasn't the freshest last week, but it surely wasn't bad. Sure, the Bengals and Broncos game was not the high scoring affair I'd thought it would be, but Cedric Benson put up good numbers in the Bengals' heartbreaking loss. Looking back on my picks, I'd say I was about 50% on, with Flacco and my tight ends (minus Greg Olsen, who will bounce back) being the top performers of the group, and Palmer and Schaub being the worst. Now that I've got a full set of games to look at, I expect this week's juice to taste like Minute Maid (my favorite OJ on the planet). I've been incredibly busy with work so I've had to cut down on the commentary, but here are the players you should consider plugging into your lineups this weekend.

Quarterbacks:

1. Joe Flacco (Bal) at San Diego: I've gotta stick with Flacco after last week's 307 yard, 3 touchdown performance. The Chargers defense looked pretty suspect against the Raiders on Monday night and, while they'll probably do a little better at home, they've always had difficulty stopping tight ends, which is really going to hurt them on Sunday against Flacco and TE Todd Heap. I'm not expecting another 300-yard game from Flacco, but 250 and a few touchdowns is certainly within reach.

2. Trent Edwards (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: He seemed hesitant to throw deep on Monday night, but Trent Edwards looked solid against the Patriots in week 1. He's got a nice looking matchup against a Bucs defense that got annhilated against Tony Romo and the Cowboys last weekend and I've got a feeling Terrell Owens is going to have a monster game. That adds up nicely for Edwards, who's careful with the football and also has Lee Evans to throw to opposite TO.

3. Mark Sanchez (NYJ) vs. New England: I'm starting to believe more and more every week this rookie is the real deal. The guy looked solid in the preseason and continued that success last weekend against the Texans. Further, the Patriots secondary looked vulnerable against Edwards and the Bills on Monday night. I like the weapons surrounding Sanchez, especially Leon Washington, Jerricho Cotchery, and Dustin Keller, making him an even more enticing QB option. Plus, the Pats will probably put up some points, forcing Sanchez and the Jets to air it out plenty.

Running Backs:

1. Darren McFadden (Oak) at Kansas City: Need I go back a year to McFadden's week 2 trip to Kansas City in 2008? Okay, I will just for fun. Hmmm, it looks like he dominated the Chiefs in KC last year, rushing 21 times for 164 yards and a touchdown. Like I said in last week's post, the Raiders offense will go as McFadden goes, so he'll get plenty of opportunity to shine, especially against a team with a run defense as poor as the Chiefs'. Sure, Michael Bush will get his share of carries (including goal-line duties), but McFadden is too good to sit this week.

2. Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) at Dallas: Bradshaw outperformed Brandon Jacobs last week and the Cowboy run defense was suspect against the Bucs running back committee (which is much, MUCH weaker than the Jacobs/Bradshaw combo).

3. Fred Jackson (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: Jackson's productive game against New England last Monday night was not what Marshawn Lynch owners wanted to see. While he was only decent as a runner, he was incredibly effective as a receiver. I think he's going to be a big part of what the Bills do tomorrow and will have more success on the ground against a Bucs defense that gave up 4.9 yards per rush last weekend against Dallas.

Wide Receivers:

1. Lee Evans (Buf) vs. Tampa Bay: He let me down in week 1, but I'm going right back to him this week against the Bucs. Tampa's got a big weakness at both safety positions, which bodes well for the speedy Evans. He won't blow you away with his reception total, but I believe he'll break a big play this weekend.

2. Percy Harvin (Min) at Detroit: After week 1 it's official that Harvin's explosiveness has transferred from college to the pros. While he didn't get the ball a whole lot last weekend, he made the most of his opportunities and he gets an even worse defense to pick on this week.

3. Louis Murphy (Oak) at Kansas City: The Raiders will probably run all game long, but to win they must balance their attack to a certain extent. Russell was very inaccurate on Monday night against the Chargers, but it's clear that Murphy is the WR he trusts most. The Raiders are incredibly thin at WR this week with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Nick Miller banged up, so Murphy will be on the field most of the game. TE Zach Miller will lead the team in receptions again, but Murphy could rack up the yards against an awful Chiefs secondary.

Tight Ends:

1. Zach Miller (Oak) at Kansas City: He's the best receiving option in Oakland and he faces a terrible Chiefs defense. There's really nothing not to like about Miller this week.

2. Todd Heap (Bal) at San Diego: As Zach Miller showed everyone on Monday, the Chargers still cannot stop a tight end. Heap was outstanding in the Ravens' week 1 win over the Chiefs and I expect him to put up big numbers in San Diaaaaaaaago.

3. Dustin Keller (NYJ) vs. New England: Keller got off to a great start last week against the Texans. As I've been saying about Keller, he's going to see plenty of targets with a rookie QB under center. Sanchez will need more of the same from Keller if the Jets are going to compete with the Pats tomorrow.

September 10, 2009 8:46 PM

Bringin' the Juice!

Copyright Spenser Ayres Photoshop Productions 
Seeing as how the NFL season begins today (remember that the Steelers host the Titans tonight, but please do not put Kerry Collins into your starting lineup because he's playing a prime time game), most drafts have already taken place. The decision-making is not over, however. The most important decisions you'll make from now until the season's end is who to start from week to week. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is more frustrating in fantasy football than benching a guy that goes off for a monster game while the guy you started in his place puts up a dud. Of course, it's nice to see your players do well, but successful fantasy owners ensure that they're getting the best players in their starting lineups on a weekly basis.
    
Assuming that my competitors (you know who you are...you're going down, suckas!) are following this blog, I could use this as a medium to obtain a competitive advantage by sharing information that may sway them to start the wrong players, but that wouldn't be the correct use of this space and, let's face it, my team is too good to be beaten by any of their feeble squadrons, anyway. So I will keep my integrity in tact and share my opinions regarding the juiciest week to week matchups, telling you which players I believe make for good starts. I won't waste your time in this series telling you to start your studs (you should be starting AP every week, regardless of the matchup, as long as he's healthy). Instead, this series will focus on players that are likely to be on your lineup bubble.

Before I get started, I want to enhance my credibility by noting that, in order to get in a truly juicy mood, I'll be rockin' out to music by my friend, The Juice, as I compose each entry for this series. In case you've never heard the jams of which I speak, type "Skeletummy" into your iTunes store search bar and prepare to be blown away.



Without further ado, here are my juicy matchups for week 1, broken down by position and ranked according to juiciness. I've decided to ignore kickers and defenses this week since they're nearly impossible to predict at the start of the season. Good luck to all (except Kevin Joyce) on this opening weekend!

Quarterbacks:

1. Carson Palmer (Cin) vs. Denver: I expect this one to be a pretty high scoring game since both defenses have huge issues. Denver's lack of a run defense will make them especially susceptible to play-action. Sure, Champ Bailey versus Chad OchoCinco should be a battle, but I expect 8 5 to have the upper hand. In addition, the Broncos have no one to stop Chris Henry and Laveranues Coles. As long as he can stay upright (which he should since the only unit worse than his offensive line is the Broncos defensive line), look for Palmer to have a monster opener at home.
2. Joe Flacco (Bal) vs. Kansas City: To put it lightly, the Chiefs have no chance in this one. Baltimore is going to be able to move the ball at will, with Flacco picking apart the secondary and Rice, McGahee, and McClain shredding through enormous gaps in the line. I see Flacco throwing for several touchdowns in front of what's sure to be a sold out home crowd in Baltimore.

3. Matt Schaub (Hou) vs. New York Jets: The Jets should be an improved defense since last year, but it may take a few more weeks for them to all get on the same page (new defensive minded head coach and several new players). That should mean a few blown coverages, which you never want to do against the Texans potent attack. WR Kevin Walter may not see much action due to injury, but Schaub's got Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and Steve Slaton. That's all he needs, really. Look for a big game from mister Schaub.

4. Matt Hasselbeck (Sea) vs. St. Louis: This matchup often yields close, high-scoring games, which is what I expect it to be on Sunday. The Hasselbeck to Housmandzadeh connection looked good in preseason, but I don't think we've even seen the half of it. Look for Housh to be showcased in front of the home crowd and Hasselbeck to put up big numbers against a defense that is just awful.

Running Backs:

1. Ray Rice (Bal) vs. Kansas City: As I wrote in the previous section, the Chiefs won't be able to find a way to stop the Ravens, which means great things are in store for Flacco and Rice. Flacco will get the Ravens a nice lead and Rice will preserve that lead by moving the chains and eating up the clock. Especially in PPR leagues, this matchup is just too juicy for Ray Ray to be sitting on the bench.

2. Cedric Benson (Cin) vs. Denver: One of these teams is going to score 30+ points and I think I know which (you should too after reading the last section). Denver has one of the worst front sevens in the league, so even the Bengals O-line should handle them with ease, creating large holes for Benson to run through. Look for Cedric to entertain his owners that start him on Sunday. I'm thinking 100+ yards and a score.

3. Ronnie Brown (Mia) at Atlanta: Brown is likely your RB2 so there shouldn't be any doubts about starting him this week, but just in case you were on the fence I thought I'd include him here. Atlanta's a great team, but they're known for their offense. While improved since 2008, the Falcon defense isn't anything to run and hide from. If the Fins will have any chance of keeping up with the birds, they're going to have to utilize Brown to the fullest.

4. Darren McFadden (Oak) vs. San Diego: Regardless of who Cable starts at RB (he'll announce it later today), DMC is going to get upwards of 25 touches on Monday night. With WR Chaz Schilens sidelined until week 2 at the earliest, McFadden will be the go-to guy for the Raiders and I expect big things from the 2nd year playmaker.

Wide Receivers:

1. Eddie Royal (Den) at Cincinnati: I don't mean to beat this matchup into the ground, but it's tough to ignore. It looks as though Broncos WR Brandon Marshall will play on Sunday and, despite his antics this preseason, the Bengals have no choice but to focus much of their attention on him. That means Royal is in store for a big day since the Bengals are not the deepest of teams on the defensive side of the ball. He started last season off with a bang and I expect him to do the same to start off his 2009 campaign.

2. Jerricho Cotchery (NYJ) at Houston: Texans CB Dunta Robinson recently ended a holdout that kept him out of training camp and the preseason. While he's a talented player, missing that type of time will have its consequences and Cotchery will be the biggest beneficiary. The Jets will probably ease rookie QB Mark Sanchez into the game with a heavy dose of running and quick, easy passes, but you can't do that all game long and expect to compete with an explosive offense like the Texans. At some point he'll be forced to showcase his big arm and I like Cotchery's chances in this matchup. Start him.

3. Anthony Gonzalez (Ind) vs. Jacksonville: Prior to last season, the Jags had been known for their smashmouth style of defense, but their level of play fell off bigtime in 2008. I doubt they'll be as bad as they were, but it may take a while for them to get that swagger back. Peyton Manning is the smartest QB in the league and I foresee him tearing the Jags secondary to shreds on Sunday. With so much attention on WR Reggie Wayne and TE Dallas Clark, Gonzo will find plenty of space to get open and you have to believe that Manning knows it and will find him.

4. Lee Evans (Buf) at New England: The Pats don't have many weaknesses, but their secondary is surely one of them. They simply were not the same after losing CB Asante Samuel to the Eagles. With Brady back under center, the Pats offense should be firing on all cylinders, meaning the Bills will be airing it out quite a bit as they'll be playing from behind for most, if not all, of the game. You have to start T.O., but Evans should see plenty of looks as well. I like this matchup for him.

Tight Ends:

1. Zach Miller (Oak) vs. San Diego: There are many reasons why I like Miller this week, but the main one is that San Diego was awful at guarding tight ends last season. With Schilens out, QB JaMarcus Russell is going to be looking Miller's way an awful lot on Monday night and Miller is one of the more sure-handed tight ends in the league. He'll lead the Raiders in receptions and should be able to find the end zone as the Raiders will probably be forced to pass more than they'd like to.


2. Greg Olsen (Chi) at Green Bay: Aside from RB Matt Forte, Greg Olsen is probably QB Jay Cutler's most reliable receiver. The Packers corners (Charles Woodson and Al Harris) will likely shutdown the Bears WRs, making Olsen ever more important to the success of the Bears offense. I think he'll be open often and should lead the team in receiving on Sunday night.


2. Dustin Keller (NYJ) at Houston: I've been saying it about Keller since I've started writing this blog: he's going to be Mark Sanchez's best friend in the passing game (rookie QBs tend to favor their tight ends). Sanchez has proved to be a capable QB in the preseason, so I'm not too concerned about him being able to get the ball to Keller. Look for a good game from the speedy TE against the Texans on Sunday.


3. John Carlson (Sea) vs. St. Louis: I'm not quite sold on him yet, but I think Carlson could be a solid producer for the Seahawks this season. The Rams are terrible defensively making just about any Seahawk player an attractive option this week. Don't start Carlson over any of the higher ranking tight ends, but if it's between him and a guy like Visanthe Shiancoe, Kevin Boss, or Vernon Davis I'd go with Carlson.

September 7, 2009 6:44 PM

Draft Commentary: Rounds 10-12

Round 10

1. Earl Bennett Troubanos

2. Tim Hightower Feed to Suce...

3. Philadelphia 8thstreetlatina

4. Green Bay World Watchers

5. Rashard Mendenhall the problem

6. Eli Manning BunnyT69

7. Ben Roethlisberger shark's in t...

8. Steve Smith The Dudes

9. Minnesota Beware! TreeHasCrabs

10. Dallas Dragon

11. Domenik Hixon Ice King

12. Steve Breaston A Brush With...

Pat (94) and Kevin (93) Williams (not related, but a deadly combo nonetheless)
Commentary: 6 defenses (NYG, Pit, Bal, Ten, Phi, GB) went from the 8th round until my pick in the 10th. Not happy with the RB and WR options available here, I decided to join in on the run and grab Minnesota's defense and special teams. While the team's secondary is not very good (tied for 21st in interceptions last year with 12), the Vikings front 7 makes up for it with sacks (4th with 45) and forced fumbles (T4th with 20). The team returned all four starters on the defensive line and added explosive rookie WR Percy Harvin as its kick returner, so they could be a top 5 defense/special teams unit from a fantasy perspective. In hindsight, I probably should have waited to grab the New York Jets D (13th round), but I thought the run would continue and leave me disappointed with my starting unit.

Four interesting sleeper WRs went this round: Earl Bennett (Chi), Steve Smith (NYG), Domenik Hixon (NYG), and Steve Breaston (Ari). Breaston is the only one of these guys that had solid production in 2008 (77 rec, 1006 yards, 3 TDs), but at least one more of these guys could emerge as a reliable fantasy option in 2009. My guess would be Hixon, who finished the season pretty well, breaking 60 receiving yards in 4 of his last 5 games (3 yards away from that being 5 of his last 6). The Giants passing game will likely struggle a bit without Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer, which is all the more reason why they'll need someone to step up. Smith is a nice deep threat, but in a PPR league I think Hixon is the guy to target on the Giants (though rookie Hakeem Nicks could emerge down the stretch).

Round 11

1. John Carlson A Brush With...

2. Chester Taylor Ice King

3. Matt Cassel Dragon

4. Dustin Keller Beware! TreeHasCrabs

5. Josh Morgan The Dudes

6. Laveranues Coles shark's in t...

7. Nate Washington BunnyT69

8. Willis McGahee the problem

9. Julius Jones World Watchers

10. Stephen Gostkowski 8thstreetlatina

11. Isaac Bruce Feed to Suce...

12. Visanthe Shiancoe Troubanos

Dustin Keller

Commentary: When Bud (A Brush With Death) snagged Seahawks TE John Carlson with the first pick in the 11th round, I knew that the waiting game was over and that I'd have to take a tight end. My options were Dustin Keller (NYJ), Visanthe Shiancoe (Min), and Anthony Fasano (Mia). I know, I know, Shiancoe and Fasano were amongst my value picks, but remember that I have a co-manager and his favorite of the three was Keller while I was impartial. As a rookie, Keller had 48 receptions for 535 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2008. Showing why the Jets took him in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft (his fantastic receiving skills), he got into a steady groove of production from week 10 to week 13, averaging 6.75 receptions for 78.25 yards in those four games. However, as QB Brett Favre's health became a major concern and his level of play significantly declined, Keller's numbers suffered (as did WR Jericho Cotchery's). With rookie QB Mark Sanchez under center, I think Keller will continue what he started in week 10. A rookie QB's best friends (aside from every quarterback’s BFFs, offensive linemen) are his running backs and his tight end, so Keller should see plenty of looks in 2009.

The fact that new Bengals WR Laveranues Coles fell all the way to the middle of the 11th round shows a lot about fantasy owners' faith (or lack thereof) in him, but Shae's (shark's in the water) pick here could prove to be one of the better bargains in the draft if QB Carson Palmer can stay healthy this year. The Bengals have plans to use Coles at now Seattle Seahawk T.J. Houshmandzadeh's old "Z" position, and if he can produce anything like Housh did in Cincinnati, this would be a great value pick. The "Z" receiver led the team in targets last season so Coles could be in store for a team-leading reception total in 2009.

Round 12

1. James Davis Troubanos

2. Rob Bironas Feed to Suce...

3. Devery Henderson 8thstreetlatina

4. Brett Favre World Watchers

5. Heath Miller the problem

6. Mason Crosby BunnyT69

7. Justin Gage shark's in t...

8. Patrick Crayton The Dudes

9. Earnest Graham Beware! TreeHasCrabs

10. Sammy Morris Dragon

11. Robert Meachem Ice King

12. Vernon Davis A Brush With...

Earnest Graham

Commentary: At this point in the draft I was simply looking for the WR or RB with the most upside. With two rookies (Moreno and Harvin) and some question marks with my backup RBs, Cedric Benson and Larry Johnson, I felt like I needed a little more depth in case of injury or poor production. While it seems as though Graham will start the season in a running back committee (sharing carries with Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward), he looks to be the goal line back due to his size and power. I figured it was worth a shot snagging him and seeing how the remainder of the preseason played out.

The majority of football fans have probably never heard of Browns rookie RB James Davis, but I have a feeling that his popularity in fantasy circles is on the verge of skyrocketing. Indications out of the Browns’ camp suggest that RB Jamal Lewis' job is not safe (many beat writers speculated that he was on the roster bubble before Saturday's cuts) and that Davis could unseat the aging veteran as the starter. Davis has looked solid in the preseason (24 rushes for 186 yards and a TD) and has been taking some reps with the first team in practices. If Lewis doesn't step up soon, Davis will get a shot at the starting job. Nice sleeper pick by Adam (Troubanos).

September 6, 2009 7:30 PM

Draft Commentary: Round 9

Round 9

1. Donald Driver A Brush With...

2. Jay Cutler Ice King

3. Matt Hasselbeck Dragon

4. Percy Harvin Beware! TreeHasCrabs

5. Donald Brown The Dudes

6. Pittsburgh shark's in t...

7. Baltimore BunnyT69

8. Derrick Mason the problem

9. Michael Crabtree World Watchers

10. Carson Palmer 8thstreetlatina

11. Tennessee Feed to Suce...

12. Chris Henry Troubanos

Rookie WR Percy Harvin
Commentary: With 4 RBs on my roster, I felt it was time to secure a 4th WR. There were question marks with every receiver on the board, but the guy that stood out to me was Vikings first round pick, Percy Harvin (one of my sleepers to look out for in 2009). Similar to why I like Leon Washington and Ahmad Bradshaw, Harvin is a threat to score every time he touches the ball (at least he was at Florida and I expect him to be the same way in the pros). Harvin is just one of many offensive weapons in Minnesota, but word is that the team has around 20 plays designed specifically to get him the ball. With that in mind, the team obviously wants to get him involved, and the way I see it, the more he's involved, the more he'll produce. I anticipate he'll have a season similar to DeSean Jackson's rookie campaign in 2008 (62 catches, 912 yards, and 3 TDs...including the punt he returned for a touchdown). I have plenty of time to determine if Harvin will be a reliable fantasy option (Welker and Bowe don't have their common bye until week 8), but I expect him to be an integral part of an explosive offense immediately. I'm definitely happy I was able to grab him in the 9th round.

There are very few bargains better than Bears QB Jay Cutler in the 9th round. He's proven that he's an elite NFL quarterback, but most fantasy owners are concerned about his supporting cast in Chicago. The fact of the matter is, however, that great quarterbacks aren't made great by the players around them. Instead, they make the players around them better. The addition of Cutler to the Bears is going to enhance the production of each skill player in that offense, from RB Matt Forte to WRs Devin Hester and Earl Bennett. While his numbers will likely decrease a bit going from a pass-first team to a run-first team, the Bears didn't give up the farm for Cutler to hand the ball off to Forte. They'll let him do what he does best: sling the ball down the field. Really nice value pick for Dan (Ice King).

One pick I really don't understand is Todd's (World Watchers) selection of 49ers holdout WR Michael Crabtree. Training camp is the most important part of the season for rookies as it introduces them to the team's playbook and allows them to build rapport with their new teammates. Crabtree is making the biggest mistake of his life by missing the entire preseason (and possibly some, if not all, of the regular season). Even if he signs today, there's just no way he'll produce in 2009. He's simply missed out on too much and, like JaMarcus Russell after his long holdout in 2007, his rookie season will be completely lost as a result of this poor decision. Crabtree should not be drafted in any leagues, especially not in the 9th round where you should be taking players that you can plug into your lineup during bye weeks or in case of injury.

September 6, 2009 7:26 PM

Draft Commentary: Round 8

Round 8

1. Kevin Walter Troubanos

2. David Garrard Feed to Suce...

3. Lance Moore 8thstreetlatina

4. Kellen Winslow World Watchers

5. Fred Jackson the problem

6. Devin Hester BunnyT69

7. Ahmad Bradshaw shark's in t...

8. Torry Holt The Dudes

9. Larry Johnson Beware! TreeHasCrabs

10. Jamal Lewis Dragon

11. New York Ice King

12. Le'Ron McClain A Brush With...

Larry Johnson
Commentary: Once Dave (8thstreetlatina) took Bears TE Greg Olsen in the 7th and Todd took Kellen Winslow of the Tampa Bay Bucs, I decided that I would wait a few more rounds to grab my tight end. It's rare for owners to draft a backup TE and, by the time I was on the clock in round 8, only 2 other teams (A Brush With Death and the problem) had yet to pick up a TE. With that in mind, I figured that only 4 (maybe 5) tight ends would be taken in the remainder of the drafts. Looking at the list of available options I saw John Carlson (Sea), Dustin Keller (NYJ), Visanthe Shiancoe (Min), Anthony Fasano (Mia), and Heath Miller (Pit), at which point I decided that I could wait on a TE and use my next few picks on backups. Also important to note is that I drafted in between the 2 teams that needed TEs, thus reducing the probability of 2 TEs being taken between two of my picks.

Now that I've touched upon who I didn't take, let me talk about the pick that I did make. Shae's (shark's in the water) selection of Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw pretty much forced me to take Chiefs RB Larry Johnson since he was the last true starting back on the board. I could have gone with my sleeper WR (who'll be named in the next post) here, but I felt like grabbing the last remaining option at RB (for me, at least...I didn't like any of the other available RBs) so I went ahead and picked LJ. I'm not crazy about him, but I don't see much competition in KC (backup Jamaal Charles has developed a fumbling problem this off-season) and the Cassel to Bowe connection should keep defenses somewhat honest (Cassel's injury isn't a good sign, but I don't think he'll miss much time). Unfortunately, LJ's offensive line is pretty bad and he's had injury issues recently, but I took him as my 4th RB so I don't have to rely on him unless things go really bad for me this season. I figure that at least one of my backups (LJ or Benson) will pan out and be a viable option for me this year (although both would be nice!).

Along with the Bradshaw pick, Adam's (Troubanos) selection of Texans WR Kevin Walter with the first pick this round deserves some praise. Walter's a big target that starts opposite Andre Johnson (remember him from the 1st round?), so he'll almost never see double coverage and can use his big frame to shield off defensive backs. He's not going to put up huge numbers, but he's a solid player to have on your bench as a bye week filler.

September 6, 2009 7:22 PM

Draft Commentary: Round 7

Round 7

1. Beanie Wells A Brush With...

2. Santonio Holmes Ice King

3. Antonio Bryant Dragon

4. Cedric Benson Beware! TreeHasCrabs

5. Jerricho Cotchery The Dudes

6. LeSean McCoy shark's in t...

7. Felix Jones BunnyT69

8. Bernard Berrian the problem

9. Santana Moss World Watchers

10. Greg Olsen 8thstreetlatina

11. Ted Ginn Jr. Feed to Suce...

12. Leon Washington Troubanos

Cedric Benson
Commentary: While I still hadn't drafted a tight end, my strategy for the next few rounds was to shore up my running backs and wide receivers. My reasons: 1) Moreno (my 6th pick) is a rookie and, while his potential is great, rookie's are always fantasy wildcards; 2) two of my WRs (Bowe and Welker) share a bye week, so I needed a viable option to fill in at the WR position that week; and 3) I wasn't crazy about the value I'd get out of the available TEs in round 7. The RBs I was considering this round were Cedric Benson (Cin), Leon Washington (NYJ), Larry Johnson (KC), and Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG). While I really like Washington and Bradshaw as sleepers for their big play abilities, I wanted a guy that was guaranteed starting RB touches on a weekly basis. While his 2008 totals are not at all impressive, Benson finished the season strong, recording 73, 171, and 111 yards in the final three games. With Carson Palmer back at QB for the Bengals, I feel comfortable with Benson as my 3rd RB.

Like Moreno, Cardinals rookie RB Chris "Beanie" Wells has immense potential. If he can find a way into the team's starting lineup early on in the season I believe he'll be a viable fantasy option down the stretch as defenses will focus most of their efforts on slowing the Cardinals aerial attack, led by QB Kurt Warner and WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. With the attention primarily on the wide receivers, Wells (a big, bruising runner) will likely see success on inside runs between the tackles. Beanie was the other option I considered in the 6th round before deciding to select Moreno. Kudos to Bud (A Brush With Death) for that pick.

As I've said in this post and previous posts, I really like Jets RB Leon Washington. What he's capable of in open space is stunning and, while he probably won't ever be a workhouse back (20+ carries a game over the course of a season), his receiving skills and explosiveness make him a nice fantasy option in the middle rounds as as backup RB. Very nice pick by Adam (Troubanos) to conclude the 7th round.

September 4, 2009 7:06 PM

6th Round

Round 6

1. Hines Ward Troubanos

2. Zach Miller Feed to Suce...

3. Darren Sproles 8thstreetlatina

4. Thomas Jones World Watchers

5. Derrick Ward the problem

6. Owen Daniels BunnyT69

7. Chris Cooley shark's in t...

8. Ray Rice The Dudes

9. Knowshon Moreno Beware! TreeHasCrabs

10. Willie Parker Dragon

11. Jonathan Stewart Ice King

12. LenDale White A Brush With...

Knowshon Moreno making some DB look really, really bad
Commentary: With 1 RB, 3 WRs, and a QB already on my roster, it was pretty clear to me that I needed to round out my backfield with a second running back, especially since each of the tight ends that I would have considered were all taken before my pick. I wasn't happy to see Thomas Jones, Derrick Ward, and Ray Rice taken ahead of me, but Broncos rookie RB Knowshon Moreno was still there and I pounced on him. I like his play-making ability, receiving skills, and the fact that he'll be running behind a solid offensive line. A rookie's production is always pretty tough to predict, but Moreno's got a ton of potential and looked explosive in the one preseason game in which I saw him play.

The majority of the owners in this league are 49er fans, so I thought I'd be able to wait until the 7th or 8th round to snag TE Zach Miller, but a fellow Raider fan, Joyce (Feed to Succeed LLP), snagged him early in this round, causing me to shout an expletive and startle my co-manager. Miller is the Raiders' best receiver and QB JaMarcus Russell has shown on multiple accounts that he trusts him to come down with the ball in the middle of the field. While I was not happy to see him taken so early, I like that pick a lot.

It was surprising to see Sproles go so early. I like Jones, Ward, Rice, Moreno, and even Parker more than Sproles this year. He's a talented player, but LaDainian Tomlinson is going to dominate that backfield for much of the season, if not all of it. Sproles will get a few opportunities to handle the ball, but I don't see him being a fantasy factor until the last third or fourth of the season (unless LT goes down early). I checked to see if this was a handcuff pick (usually owners will "handcuff" their top RB to his backup), but Dave (8thstreetlatina...brilliant team name) doesn't have LT.

Come back later for rounds 7-9, where the league starts getting into serious sleeper country.

September 4, 2009 7:04 PM

5th Round

Round 5

1. Eddie Royal A Brush With...

2. Antonio Gates Ice King

3. Joseph Addai Dragon

4. Matt Ryan Beware! TreeHasCrabs

5. Matt Schaub The Dudes

6. Brandon Marshall shark's in t...

7. Vincent Jackson BunnyT69

8. Donnie Avery the problem

9. Roy Williams World Watchers

10. Lee Evans 8thstreetlatina

11. Anthony Gonzalez Feed to Suce...

12. Dallas Clark Troubanos

Matt Ryan
Commentary: With QBs Philip Rivers and Donovan McNabb taken in the 4th round, I felt as though I couldn't wait any longer to grab my quarterback. I had Falcons QB Matt Ryan listed as the guy I wanted in my pre-draft preparation, so I went ahead and made sure I got him. What I like most about this pick is that it provided me with an elite QB to WR combination, pairing Ryan with his top receiver, Roddy White (who I selected in the 2nd round for those of you with short memories...or better things to remember than my draft picks). Now every time White scores a touchdown I get almost double the points (passing TDs are 4 points while receiving TDs are 6).

Other notable picks from this round, in my opinion, were Broncos WR Eddie Royal (A Brush With Death), Chargers WR Vincent Jackson (BunnyT69), and Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez (Feed to Succeed LLP). I thought each of these owners got good value out of their picks, as I expect all three of these guys to outperform their draft slots. After Kellen's (Dragon) selection of Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez late in the 4th round, the two remaining elite tight ends (Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark) came off the board in the 5th, which impacted the 6th round as you'll soon read about.

September 4, 2009 6:55 PM

4th Round Commentary

Round 4

1. Kevin Smith Troubanos

2. Reggie Bush Feed to Suce...

3. Chad Ochocinco 8thstreetlatina

4. Ronnie Brown World Watchers

5. DeSean Jackson the problem

6. Philip Rivers BunnyT69

7. Pierre Thomas shark's in t...

8. Darren McFadden The Dudes

9. Dwayne Bowe Beware! TreeHasCrabs

10. Tony Gonzalez Dragon

11. Donovan McNabb Ice King

12. Braylon Edwards A Brush With...

Dwayne Bowe
Commentary: As I said in the previous post, the QB run in round 3 made some good players available in the 4th. I would have liked to grab my second running back here, but all the guys I had pegged came off the board (Smith, Brown, Thomas, McFadden) before my pick. I didn't see good value in the leftover RBs, so I went for the best player available, WR Dwayne Bowe, to use as my flex (forgot to mention that the starting lineup includes 1 QB, 2 WRs, 2 RBs, 1 TE, 1 Flex (RB or WR), 1 K, and 1 D/ST). This pick also adds depth to my receiving corps, which is always a good thing in PPR leagues.

A lot of good players went off the board this round. I wouldn't have taken Bush and OchoCinco where they went, but I definitely see the logic behind those picks (Bush catches a ton of passes and OchoCinco's got Palmer back throwing to him). By this point, I'm pretty convinced that Bud (A Brush With Death) was set on having the comeback player of the year on his team. He took Tom Brady, Marques Colston, and Braylon Edwards (all good players that had issues for different reasons in 2008) in rounds 2-4. Just a funny detail I noticed while reviewing the draft and I'm 90% sure he'll have the CBPOY by year's end (unless he trades him). Good stuff, Bud. As Jeremy pointed out in the war room, your team finally doesn't look like an automatic victory. Everybody, please give Bud a round of applause.
September 4, 2009 2:59 AM

NUMERO TRES

Round 3

1. Marques Colston A Brush With...

2. Terrell Owens Ice King

3. Clinton Portis Dragon

4. Wes Welker Beware! TreeHasCrabs

5. Jason Witten The Dudes

6. T.J. Houshmandzadeh shark's in t...

7. Ryan Grant BunnyT69

8. Peyton Manning the problem

9. Kurt Warner World Watchers

10. Marshawn Lynch 8thstreetlatina

11. Tony Romo Feed to Suce...

12. Aaron Rodgers Troubanos

Wes Welker

Comments: With 1 RB (MJD) and 1 WR (White) selected, my mentality going into the 3rd round was to land the best value. I fully expect big things out of Colts QB Peyton Manning, but I couldn't take him with Patriots WR Wes Welker still around. I had some RBs and QBs I was excited about and comfortable with further down on the board and felt as though grabbing a reception-machine like Welker provided me with the most value in this spot. He proved last year that he was almost immune to injury to his quarterback, posting similar reception and yardage in 2008 as he did in 2007. His touchdown production declined, however, from 8 to 3 as the Patriots' offense wasn't as potent without Tom Brady at the helm. Brady's back and healthy now, so good things are in store for Welker (as long as he can get and keep himself healthy).
 
Interestingly, 4 QBs were taken in the latter portion of the round, taking the total number off the board to 6. I like the Manning and Rodgers picks, but I'm not as big on Romo and Warner there. While the brief QB run added a bit of pressure to snag one soon, it also made available some good values in the fourth round. Come back soon for the next three rounds.

A Member Of