Archive for June, 2006

Addai or Rhodes?

Tuesday, 20 June, 2006

What is the most frustrating thing for a fantasy owner? Well, injuries has to top the list and behind that would be a starter being unnamed. In Indianapolis everyone has come to the expected realization of the power fantasy numbers from Edgerrin James. With him in Arizona someone now has to fill that void. Will Tony Dungy go back to the days of splitting carries like he did in Tampa Bay with Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott? Or will Joseph Addai or Dominic Rhodes be the clear cut starter?

As of now we would give the upper hand to Joseph Addai. He is the future feature back without question and the Colts did spend their first round pick on him. With that being said Dominic Rhodes has handled the ball well in prior instances when needed. The Colts will test him out as a starter, but Addai might has the extra edge with his athleticism.

Rookie running backs tend to make the adjustment to the NFL easier than any other position. Addai played for a great college football team in LSU. So there should not be too much of an adjustment for him besides the speed of the game. Even looking at last years rookies in Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, they both probably did a little better than people envisioned.

Another negative slight on Dominic Rhodes is his contract status. The Colts have not invested or sought to extend his contract…yet. It would take Rhodes having an unthinkable year for the Colts to draw him another offer. His two year deal that he did sign was amazing for a backup running back at nearly 5 million for two years with a 2 million signing bonus.

Foreshadowing anything but split carries in this battle is the only reality unless a couple of things happen. Joseph Addai struggles mightily adjusting to the NFL…ala JJ Arrington, or the most probable cause in that either or gets hurt for a serious duration of time.

Addai better get hit butt signed and to training camp. As Peyton Manning has no patience for a rookie when he is no huddling and doing Manning things. If he holds out too long that puts a serious damper on Addai having any fantasy value for the first half of the season. It will be fairly close to what Cedric Benson caused himself last year.

In early fantasy and mock drafts there have been some owners that have taken Addai before Rhodes. We would question that especially at this point until Addai signs. Of course do not forget Addai is a rookie, so expect rookie numbers from him. He can’t be considered more than a third running back in fantasy leagues.

As for Rhodes just remember what he was able to do when Edgerrin James missed action in 2001. In ten starts and fifteen total games of action, Rhodes had over 1100 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s a wide gap from then and now but it is definitely possible.

Shoulder Watch

Monday, 12 June, 2006

The ins and outs of the NFL can be glamorous but also short lived. One minute you could be comparable to Trent Dilfer, as a winning Super Bowl quarterback. A journeyman like Dilfer is past from team to team in his career, with little intentions by those teams of maintaining a future interest. The money is great in the NFL but the stresses of always looking over your shoulder are the obvious necessities of competition. With free agency playing a bigger role every year and the NFL Draft growing as an seven round talent feast; athletes that some would never think would be looking over their shoulders are.

Of course heading into fantasy football drafts, nothing is worse than drafting a bust of an athlete. Knowing the possibilities of an athlete being benched is one of the keys to not wasting a valuable pick. Do not be fooled and lose your senses in thinking that every pick in a fantasy football draft is not important. Every pick is and if you draft right, you will not have to worry about having to dig in on a trade or pray for landing a waiver wire phenom. With that in mind we have compiled a section solely on the premise of athletes heading into the 2006 season with their heads twisted and looking over their shoulders.

Joey Harrington vs. Jon Kitna
Let the snarling and growling begin. Jon Kitna has made the bold statements that he has the job and that there is no competition for the starting job. Having cockiness could be a good or bad sign for Kitna. The Lions do need a leader with tough tenacity but the Lions will not be scared to shuffle the situation. McCown is younger and has played fairly well in his stint duty starts for the Cardinals. There may not be enough for McCown to show in preseason to surpass Kitna, but he is almost a given to see action at some point during the season.

Joey Harrington vs. Daunte Culpepper
Determining the strength of Culpepper’s recovery from multiple surgeries and his progression of rehab will determine if this battle starts in Joey Harrington’s favor or not. If Harrington does start the season as the Dolphins starter it could be his for the majority of the year. That is of course only if he is winning. Often times if a quarterback shows that he has the team in the right direction than there is and will not be an immediate change. If Culpepper is forced to limited reps and a low amount of preseason action, than Harrington is the guy to lose the job. There is no way that Nick Saban would jeopardize a regular season preseason training environment for Culpepper to show his rust. He will make Culpepper show he can play with many weeks of practice.

Kelly Holcomb vs JP Losman and Craig Nall
The Bills may be regretting sending Drew Bledsoe’s bags packing with thoughts that JP Losman would be their starter for years. It turned out that he did not even last a whole season and now is a question to be the Bills backup quarterback. Things got so bad that there were rumors that the Bills were going to try to deal him. Overall, the Bills quarterback situation looks cloudy with a clear forecast not in the near future. True Buffalo weather. Holcomb can not be the starter all season, so eventually the Bills will need to decide on which youngster to try to utilize. For fantasy football owners anyone with one of these athletes on your team will be as desperate as can be. These three names should be thrown on a list of fantasy deserted island, with no hopes of thinking of rescuing them to your squads.

Brian Griese vs. Rex Grossman
You know your watching your shoulder when people are criticizing you for Kyle Orton. That was truly amazing to hear people call out the Bears for making the move to bring in Grossman for Orton. With Griese now lurking in the shadows the whispers are already stirring. The fact that Grossman has never been able to stay healthy is another reason to suspect that Griese will be on the field at some point. If that does happen it may not be such a bad situation for the Bears. Griese could thrive in the system of the Bears where a quarterback has the least pressure of any team.

Matt Leinart vs. Kurt Warner
Warner has seen this before when the Giants drafted Eli Manning. He did play well for the Giants and that was not even enough for him to stay away from being benched. This time around Warner will have to play like an MVP to avoid being sat in place of the future of the Cardinals. Of course Warner will also have to try to keep his body well, which has been plaguing him since his MVP days. The Cardinals have done a great job marketing and Leinart is atop the plan, so which week will he enter?

Jay Cutler vs Jake Plummer
If there ever has been a coach that pulls the trigger on a move with the quickness, it is Mike Shanahan. He does not care about a name, he cares about performance. Jake Plummer may have been raved about by Shanahan from the time he was signed, but Shanahan is unhappy with what Plummer has brought over the last few years. That’s obvious with the drafting of Cutler. So it will be up to Plummer to bump off the appearance of Cutler and continue to move the Broncos further into the playoffs. After all he did get them to the AFC championship game, but we all know that is not ever good enough.

Running Backs

Laurence Maroney vs. Corey Dillon
Backs that are drafted in the latter part of the first round have proven to be extremely valuable picks. Maroney hopes to keep that pattern going well, and the Patriots believe he is their back of the future. Corey Dillon is approaching the phase of a running back in which you do not know how much you can get out of him anymore. Dillon has been banged up far too much and the Patriots can ill afford to head into 2006 without insurances. Maroney will pose as a potential fantasy option if Dillon’s injury woes continue.

Mike Anderson vs. Jamal Lewis
Stutter stepping Jamal Lewis will need to get back to moving his legs forward or else Mike Anderson will show him how. Anderson is a straight forward plowing runner and the Ravens will not shy away from using him. Therefore the number of carries will not be shocking to see escalate more and more into Anderson’s arms. Especially if Lewis struggles as he did last year, albeit, the Ravens offense did not help.

Cleveland’s backfield
Just when the Browns thought they had their sure guy, Reuben Droughns goes ahead and gets himself into trouble as well off the field. It seems no one really wants to have the starting job in Cleveland. Not looming too far off from Droughns are Lee Suggs and William Green. It will be entertaining to watch who gets on Romeo Crennel’s good side. In all likelihood the Browns will use a running back by committee. As all are fairly talented backs.

Cedric Benson vs. Thomas Jones
Somehow Thomas Jones was able to stave off Cedric Benson from taking over last season, until Benson was out of the picture with a season ending injury. How Jones did it was by playing well and being the Bears offense every week. Can he repeat that success? We think so, as he seems to have found a niche with the Bears and has improved all around as a back. Yet, the Bears did not use a high first round pick on Benson for nothing. So the eventual problem will soon translate to Benson getting more carries. How that will affect Jones remains to be seen.

Maurice Drew vs. Fred Taylor
Fred Taylor has staved off competition since the James Stewart days. With that in mind, is the time nearing where he will finally succumb? He has yet to lose any of his explosiveness and is still one of the better complete running backs in the NFL. Injuries may have helped Taylor by making his role less heavy than most feature backs. Drew is expected to push Taylor but do no expect anything significant to happen for at least this season.

Wide Receivers

Keary Colbert vs. Keyshawn Johnson
Colbert sure downed fantasy owners last season and the Panthers. It was the Steve Smith and nobody else show if you were a Carolina Panther wideout last season. Recent reports have came out on why that happened. Colbert was playing through an ankle injury all season long even though it was never reported as a weekly factor. If Colbert can come in healthy there is no reason to see why he can not push Keyshawn Johnson. The Panthers would like to have the duo they envisioned last season, and Johnson is not necessarily a serious threat these days.

Chad Jackson vs. Reche Caldwell
Most rookie wide receivers struggle but Chad Jackson may have extra motivation to succeed. After being predicted as a first round pick he slipped all the way into the second round to the New England Patriots. Not bad in terms of where he landed, but a horrible shot to his confidence heading into the NFL. The only way he can change that is to go out and prove to Tom Brady that he wants to be the go to guy. With the Patriots losing David Givens and bringing in Reche Caldwell they are in dire need for someone to step up opposite Deion Branch.

Jabar Gafney vs. Reggie Brown
It is amazing that the Eagles are fine with their existing wide receivers. From top to bottom the group looks like a no name list of AFL or NFL Europe players. Poor Donovan McNabb but he will have to throw to someone. Gafney had some okay games with the Houston Texans that paved the way in the Eagles taking a chance on him. Frankly, if he can not grab a hold of the Eagles second receiver job than the Eagles may need to think about signing or trading for a wideout.

David Boston vs. Michael Clayton
Being in Jon Gruden’s doghouse is never a good thing but Michael Clayton is. With the recent signing of David Boston and Chris Simms raving about him, things do not look too well for Clayton. What does, is the fact that David Boston has been a ghost in the NFL since he left Arizona in 2001. Boston still is a beast but may have suffered too many injuries to get back to being a starting wide receiver.

Reggie Williams vs. Ernest Wilford
Williams may have the obvious talent edge over Wilford but where he lacks is in the department of favoritism. Byron Leftwich loved Jimmy Smith but was always looking for Wilford secondly. Matt Jones has all but ensured himself a starting job so the battle between Williams and Wilford could be a sleeper choice in fantasy leagues.

New Faces In New Places

Monday, 12 June, 2006

Pack your bags and board a plane. It is suppose to only happen for sixteen games a season in terms of wins and losses for an athlete. They forget to tell you that there is more to the travel side of the NFL than the game. Attending and participating in charity events could be on the menu all the way to searching for a new job. These NFL stars along with their agents will spend sometimes up to a month flying from city to city as a free agent trying to lure the best dollars out of teams. Often times those dollars turn into over spent money, but whose fault is that.

There was a time in years past where the thought of free agency was new, fresh, and fun to look forward to. Now it has become a whirlwind event that is becoming an unexpected shift of changes. Add fantasy football to the mix and you could be stuck on missing out on shifting athletes that slip through the cracks of your draft. Take for example last years free agency marvel stud Santana Moss. He was perceived as a weak option as a fantasy second wide receiver and a possible filler in the third spot. This was just after having a mediocre campaign that was not his fault with the Jets in 2004, but not far removed from a fabulous campaign in 2003. Negative opinions on Moss were abound and even more were out on Washington’s offensive capabilities. Well that was all squashed a few weeks in the season, and Moss draftees were much happier with the product of Santana than Randy.

Focus has to be on the wide receivers, were change was amuck and frequent this off-season in the NFL

Quarterbacks are always moved around but like usual, not as much for immediate participation. They are brought in to add depth and perhaps be a reliever if the opportunity presents itself. So here is an extensive look at which athletes on new teams will be worth a valuable look at when your fantasy draft comes.

1. Terrell Owens
The former disgruntled wide receiver is happy to move on and have a chance to end his career in the Big D. Yet, he is 33 years old and has been dinged up over the past few seasons. The vengeance on his mind and his overall work ethic skills just make him too good to pass up as a late second or early third round pick taken in leagues. No receiver in the league competes with his physical presence, and he will also be playing with a quarterback that is a sharp veteran. To gauge his season is rough to do considering the new environment, but stars shine everywhere.

2. Edgerrin James
Athletes just get tired of hearing they are on their way out. Edgerrin James has been hearing that he is not worth his value, and that the Colts need to use his salary to build up the rest of the team. Well, the Colts are about to see how valuable James was and the Cardinals are about to improve in terms of steps to their goal as a yearly playoff team. James is a dynamic back that fits the Cardinals offense about as best as any team he could have went to. The receivers with the Cardinals are better and Kurt Warner is a winner that will have this offense functioning forward. With the threat of all of the Cardinals wide receivers the amount of touchdowns James will have could be a little low to draft him in the high part of the first round. Still, the Cardinals will score a lot of points and it is hard to imagine James not being a huge part of that.

3. Drew Brees
Initial reports indicate that Brees shoulder and arm are looking fine. Fine could be translated in any realm, so do not believe the hype. Wait to see his arm throwing in training camp and see if the sharpness is there or not. New Orleans is a revamped team with extreme weapons offensively. Brees should not miss a beat with the way he performs as a quarterback. He is always calm and just knows how to play the quarterback position. In the end, the Saints will reap the benefits of signing Brees, which may be sooner than people think.

4. Daunte Culpepper
How old will Culpepper’s body act and look when he makes his debut? We all know his body has lost some portion of his athleticism, and that may affect other areas of his quarterback skills. Miami insured themselves by bringing in Joey Harrington, but Culpepper also has a huge motivation chip on shoulder. The guy has a laser of an arm and is with a coach that will do everything possible to make sure he succeeds. We just do not know if Culpepper can shake his turnover problems and play consistently well to be a top fantasy quarterback.

5. Adam Vinatieri
Talk about absolute no loyalty towards a key component of your franchises success. The Patriots displayed that by allowing Vinatieri to roam as a free agent and ignoring his claims of seriousness to sign elsewhere. Now he gets to boot for Peyton Manning and the high flying scoring machine Colts. If you want the extra edge for close fantasy games than you better snatch up Vinatieri. He will have plenty of games where his leg will give you ten to fifteen points.

6. Antwaan Randle El
Randle El over the past few years has seemed like an athlete ready to breakout. In the way though was an offense that rarely passed, and Hines Ward. Even with that Randle El would constantly show his big play abilities and be the spark the Steelers needed in many cases. In Washington he is headed in as the third option behind Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd. It will be up to him to outdo Lloyd, but he should still see the field and get plenty of looks as an opposite speed threat to Santana Moss.

7. Nate Burelson
If ever a receiver capitalized off of ability than performance Burelson has the resume now of doing it. The Seahawks shelled out a seven year, $49 million contract to finally have a receiver that is more of a feature second wide receiver than a Joe Jurevicious. The same expectations fantasy owners expected last year better be toned down to a degree. Rather than risking a pick on Burelson stick with the more for sure receiver for the first five rounds. If you’re in a deep league than consider him a player with an asterisk for success or bust in the fifth or sixth round.

8. Keyshawn Johnson
Not to take anything away from Johnson but being let go by numerous teams in a few years is not good. The Cowboys only let Johnson go because of their intentions to go after Terrell Owens and try something different at wide receiver. For the most part Johnson is just an athlete that is going to make the tough catches and be an end zone threat. With the Panthers still unsure of there running backs, Johnson may become the offense for short gains that normally would be counted on by a running back.

9. Javon Walker
If he is recovered 100 percent than obviously he would be ranked higher. But usually that is not even a possibility for a receiver after they tear up their knee. The Broncos evaluated Walker before they traded for him, and apparently believe that he is ready to play well immediately. With Rod Smith defying age and Ashley Lelie acting like an Ashley, the opportunities are more than lovable for a fantasy owner.

10. Aaron Brooks
Not too long ago Brooks was considered a top ten fantasy quarterback with upside. It got to the point in New Orleans that the situation just looked unworkable for Brooks and the Saints. Two years late, the Saints finally parted ways with Brooks and now Brooks gets a chance to perform for the Oakland Raiders. When Brooks is on there are not many quarterbacks that can be as accurate and effective. The problem though is that he develops more rust than Vinny Testaverde’s ancient arm.

The rest
11. Eric Moulds, Houston Texans
12. Chester Taylor, Minnesota Vikings
13. Martin Gramatica, New England
14. Joey Harrington, Miami Dolphins
15. Brandon Lloyd, Washington Redskins
16. David Givens, Tennessee Titans
17. Antonio Bryant, San Francisco 49ers
18. Peerless Price, Buffalo Bills
19. Mike Anderson, Baltimore Ravens
20. David Boston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21. Josh McCown/Kitna, The winner of the Detroit Lions battle
22. Jabar Gafney, Philadelphia Eagles
23. Michael Bennett, New Orleans
24. Brian Griese, Chicago Bears
25. Quentin Griffin, Kansas City Chiefs