Friday, July 29, 2005

Fantasy football primer

As the NFL season mercifully approaches thoughts turn to local allegiances, Super Bowl predictions, and of course fantasy football. So I now bring you, subject to change at my whim, pre-season awards, prognostications, and other useless stuff.

Best player-He lit up score boards last year like no quarter back ever did and this year Peyton Manning should not fall off much, if at all. He still has Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerin James, and an underrated Dallas Clark at tight end. Plus Brandon Stokely gives Manning arguably the best third WR in the game. This offense is flat out scary.
Best RB-LaDanian Tomlinson has been the best back in football for three years and has a passing game that will take much of the heat off his back. In each of the last four years he’s rushed for an average of over 1400 yards, 13 TD’s, and 75 receptions out of the back field. LT should get better as his O-line improves and Drew Brees and/or Philip Rivers solidify the quarterback position, and the scary thing…he’s only 26.
Best WR/TE-Love him or hate him you can’t argue with the fact Randy Moss is the most explosive player in football. Moss can get 1500 yards and 15 TD catches a year in his sleep and can dominate a game at will.
Best QB-see above
Best K-Jason Elam has the tantalizing combination of accuracy and a booming leg. He can hit 55+ yard field goals with frightening ease and has the added benefit of a loaded offense that puts him into field goal position early and often.
Best D-It’s hard to ignore a unit that’s led defensive scoring six out of the last seven years. From a fantasy perspective the Ravens’ D is the gold standard.
Best sleeper-There are several guys out there who will be sneak up on everyone and have balls out years…Tiki Barber is the Giants’ best offensive players and very quietly one of the top five backs in football…Corey Dillon pumps out 1400 yard seasons with frightening regularity and the Patriots will ride his legs until he drops…Clinton Portis is the most physically gifted back in football and if Joe Gibbs ever learns how to use him he’ll be an elite runner again…if Michael Vick can learn how to recognize defenses and can get bona fide receivers to throw to the kid will be terrorizing defenses and giving coordinators nightmares...with Chad Johnson to throw to Carson Palmer has the complimentary talent to break out for 3400 yards and 25 TD’s…it’s hard to believe that a guy who can get 1200 yards receiving and ten TD’s whenever he wants is a sleeper but that’s what Joe Horn is, he quietly has strung together five straight seasons of 80+ catches…with Chad Pennington now throwing him the ball look for Laveranues Coles to put up big numbers.
Most overrated-Santana Moss was supposed to be a top five receiver last year but limped to 838 yards and five touchdowns…Javon Walker ended his hold out but Brett Favre was pissed about the contract demands and Walker plays the most dependent position in sports…Aaron Brooks has the physical talent to be a top flight QB but he’s way too erratic to be relied on as anything but a fantasy back up…Deuce McCallister will get you 160 yards and three scores one week and will disappear for the next month…Jamal Lewis will never come within 500 yards of his 2003 season total of 2,066 yards.
Late round gems-Look for Arizona’s J.J. Arrington to get 1100 yards and ten TD’s…if Ricky Williams returns to his bruising former self he could be a late round steal, especially if he gets traded to Jacksonville or someone else in need…if he’s available past round 8 snatch up Drew Brees, you won’t be sorry…Troy Williamson goes into the season as the Vikings’ No.3 receiver but look for him to push for a starting spot by September…Lee Evans closed last season with a flourish and was arguably the hottest receiver in the league the last five weeks of ’04.
Players to avoid-never, ever, ever start Matt Hasselbeck, has great receivers but this offense will break your heart…the Vikings have a running back by committee approach so avoid purple RB’s…Jerome Bettis will get 25 yards and a TD, big deal…Ashley Lelie has big play potential but he is oft times invisible.
Never bench ‘em-All he does is rack up 150 yards total offense and score at least one touchdown every week so anyone who benches Edgerin James is clinically insane…Jimmy Smith has been one of the most consistent wide outs in the NFL for ten years and is Byron Leftwich’s favorite target…Marvin Harrison is the best receiver on the best offense the game has ever seen…Brett Favre gets 250+ passing yards and two TD throws like clockwork…Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez are the lynch pins of a powerful offense that’s capable of breaking the bulbs on the score board.
Rookies to watch-Cedric Benson, Carnel Williams, Ronnie Brown, J.J. Arrington, Mike Williams, Mark Clayton, Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson, Roddy White, Reggie Brown.