Deserved Credit

By Zack Cimini

When fantasy football drafts roll around fantasy owners are scraping up and down their cheat sheets pondering quick decisions. Often an owner will take a youthful player that is coming off a phenomenal year expecting nothing short of a duplicate performance. It?s a big gamble because one year doesn?t mean anything, it?s all about how that player has performed over a four or five year period.

Age always catches up to a professional athlete, but unless you?re blind you can see a player?s downfall ahead of time. There was a big reason why the Tennessee Titans finally parted ways with Eddie George, because they knew his time was up. George then moved on to Dallas where he couldn?t take control of the starting job after Julius Jones went down. His speed just isn?t there anymore, and fantasy owners new that George was an outside shot as a number three fantasy running back.

Then you have a player like Amani Toomer who?s seasons have went from 8 touchdowns, to five last season, and to a grand total of zero this season. The blame can?t all go on his shoulders, as the Giants have yet to have a receiver with a touchdown. But owners knew the risk of taking Toomer because of rookie quarterback Eli Manning. It can be a frustrating transition for a player like Toomer to adjust to a new quarterback, but expect him to have a bounce back year with Manning?s improvement.

So what is this leading to? There is a certain team out there that has two of the best consistent players in the entire league. They?ve been a catalyst to this team for years, but seem to be under appreciated for their worth when fantasy drafts come around. For some reason owners expect these two to fold and they keep being steals in fantasy drafts.

The two players are Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith. Try to name any other consistent receivers or running backs that have done it as long as them and you?ll be hard pressed to think of one. They?re the main reason why Byron Leftwich has matured each and every game, and why they?re a scary threat if they can get in the playoffs.

Fred Taylor came into the league with Robert Edwards in the 1998 NFL Draft as the two had dominant rookie years. Taylor then struggled a couple of years with injuries, but still had solid seasons. From then on Taylor has always been labeled with a question mark injury prone symbol when drafts come around. Yet, he is two games away from playing his third straight complete season. He has always been a monster for yards, and has 1500 total yards to go along with three touchdowns. The touchdowns could be better, but at least you know he isn?t going to lose you points by fumbling the football (McAllister, Green, etc.).

Taylor?s versatility as a power back and speed demon is unmatched among any other running back in the league. He can breakaway from anyone and once he is hit is one of the best at getting extra yards. Almost every fantasy draft I see he always slips into the mid to late second round, and sometimes even the third round. Taylor has at least three great years left in him, and it?s time for the fantasy owners to wake up and smell the coffee and stop letting him slip. Of course the owners that get him as their second running back aren?t complaining.

Jimmy Smith?s days are numbered but his reign as a top receiver over the last ten years is also under rated. In fact if it weren?t for his four game suspension last season, he would have nine straight 1000 yard seasons. There isn?t another receiver even close to that consistency, and Smith has always been good for six to eight touchdowns every year. Somehow he has managed to keep his work ethic ahead of the age of his body and maintain his great speed. Hopefully his presence will rub off on youngsters Troy Edwards and Reggie Williams and develop them in the way Cris Carter did to Randy Moss.


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