Archive for August, 2008

RB Rankings; PS Coseo Stinks

August 27th, 2008

By now you’ve probably drafted in most (if not all) of your leagues.  If you’re not done, just make sure you finish them before Sept. 4th, when the NFL season kicks-off as the Redskins take on the Giants.

Speaking of, this seems like an appropriate time to remind you that Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, and Plaxico Burress (and if you’re having a hard time letting go, Jeremy Shockey) are all good, but not elite fantasy players.  If you take them before players like Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Terrell Owens or Jason Witten, then in addition to being a stinking Giants fan, you won’t be setting your fantasy team up for success.  (This woudn’t be as dumb as say, drafting ANY Philadelphia Eagles’ Wide Receivers.  But it bears mentioning, because – lo and behold – people are still doing just that).  Finally, for any waste-of-space Redskins fans out there, it’s not that I revile your team any less than the Eagles or Giants, it’s more just that there really aren’t any ‘Skins players who are impact fantasy football players, aside from Clinton Portis).

With that said, here are my RB rankings.  These assume 6 point touchdowns and 10 yards per point.  Also, these are re-draft rankings, not Dynasty or Keeper rankings.

1) LaDainian Tomlinson – for what seems like forever, LT remains #1.
2) Brian Westbrook – Westbrook isn’t better than Adrian Peterson, but until the Eagles trade for a WR with a pulse, he and McNabb constitute their offense.
3) Adrian Peterson – Remember when Peterson had 14 carries for 3 yards in week 14 vs. the “Niners?!?  Peterson owners vividly do, especially since week 14 is a playoff week in most leagues.  You can expect AD (That’s for Adrian “All-Day” Peterson, for you non-Oklahoma University fans out there) to range from 20 to 25 carries per week this year, destroying the attempts-weighted Yards Per Carry (YPC) record while he’s at it.
4) Steven Jackson – the Rams’ O-line self destructed so badly last year that it would be like winning the lottery twice if it happens again.  He’ll improve tremendously.
5) Marshawn Lynch – eeks out the #5 spot over Addai, due to an improved YPC with an improving Edwards at QB and thus less 8 man fronts to run through.
6) Joseph Addai – is by far the safer choice than #’s 2 through 5.  Lower risk, but a lower ceiling with Indy’s pass-oriented offense.
7) Maurice Jones-Drew – ascends to Top 10 for the first time in his young career, as additional wear on ageless Fred Taylor and a bona-fide passing game bolster Jones-Drew’s opportunities.
8 Earnest Graham – Ranking him this high is unorthodox, but I think Cadillac Williams’ career is over, and Warrick Dunn is a creaky change-of-pace passing option.  The Bucs play an easy schedule – you can expect to see Graham on the field A LOT.
9) Ryan Grant – A little risky in keeper leagues since his role isn’t cemented (forget the big contract: only $4.5 is guaranteed, and that’s all for this year).  But he’s the feature back in one of the NFC’s best offenses.
10) Laurence Maroney – Teams have upgraded their secondaries and pass-rushes to try and disrupt the NE passing game.  This will open up opportunities for Maroney and the other NE running backs (Morris, etc.)  Hopefully a little load balancing will help ease Maroney’s myriad nicks and scrapes.
11) Clinton Portis – call him by whatever name or character you like, he’s less injury prone than people think.  Like Marshawn, he will benefit from an improving QB.
12) Larry Johnson – Herm Edwards is entertaing and a great motivator, but KC is a terrible team.  But I think LJ will accumulate good stats despite seeing nothing but 8 or even 9 man fronts.
13) Ronnie Brown – Who knows what to expect here.  I really don’t know if he’ll shake the injury bug, but he’s got great upside if he does.  Also, I don’t buy Ricky Williams as an alternative – I think Parcells and Co. might be trying to trade Ricky b/c they know that rookie Jalen Parmele is already a great backup.
14) Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs is a wrecking ball who’s a risk to get hurt on every play.  But he’s in his prime.  I would feel ok having him on my team, so long as I had his primary backup, Ahmad Bradshaw as well.
15) Darren McFadden – Zone blocking schemes do great, great things for running backs.  And unlike the Denver Broncos RBs that made the system famous (exception: Portis), McFadden is actually a great running back.
16) Frank Gore – Mike Martz offenses do terrible, terrible things for RB fantasy production.  Gore is still a fine choice, but as a #2, not a #1 back.  (With luck the Martz system might save wear and tear on him).
17) Marion Barber III – It’s two factors that make me want to avoid Barber this year 1) Any injury to Romo or any O-Lineman would really hurt him, and 2) Felix Jones is a rocket who’ll get 5 to 10 carries per game.  As a Cowboys fan, I hope that Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett is smart enough to keep Barber’s carries under 250.  (i.e., Barber ending up as a top 20 fantasy RB may be better for the Cowboys as a team than Barber as a top 10 RB).
18) Jamal Lewis – I don’t see as good a year as last year, but 1300 total yards is still pretty good.
19) Fred Taylor - The Jags will be good this year.  I think Taylor will cede 40+ carries to MJD.
20) Willis McGahee – Unfortunately the Ravens will stink this year, and the O-Line is really young.  I like McGahee better next year than this year.
21) Willie Parker – Pittsburgh’s line is going to be terrible this year, as their best players signed with the Jets.   “Fast Willie” is still fast, but the key is I think he’s as fast as rookie Rashard Mendenhall.
22) Rashard Mendenhall – The first of many great years for him in Pittsburgh.
23) Edgerrin James – Uses luck and a lock on the starting job on his way to 1200 total yards with a bad YPC.
24) Reggie “I’m Not a Bust” Bush – Reggie’s definitely not a bust.  He’s just not a fantasy FB all-star.
25) Thomas Jones – He and Jerricho Cotchery had to be the happiest guys in NY when Farve was signed.

Other notables: Lendale White, Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Kevin Smith, Chester Taylor, Julius Jones, Matt Forte, Felix Jones, and DeAngelo Williams.

Injury Alert – K. Curtis/McNabb and Ronnie Brown

August 21st, 2008

Donovan McNabb ****Breaking News**** Kevin Curtis is hurt and out for a significant portion of the season.  McNabb now has what’s looking like the worst starting receiver corps in the NFL.  If you’ve already drafted McNabb (or if you’re an unfortunate-as-usual Eagles fan) then you better hope the front office trades for or signs some WR help.  Sorry kids, Westbrook can’t do it all by himself.

As far as quantifiable impact goes, I would revise McNabb’s numbers down by 5% to 10%, perhaps even 15%.  (That’s both yards and TDs).

Ronnie Brown is hurt again.  That plus his recovery from an ACL tear means he’ll be even more beat up during the first few games of the season.  Plus as Kyle put it, “the coach said he absolutely won’t be traded, which, knowing Bill Parcells, is pretty much a guarantee that he will be traded”.

Kyle thinks the beneficiary of Brown’s misfortune will be Dolphins’ now 1st-String WR Ricky Williams.  I think the player you should really have your eye on is 3rd Stringer Jalen Parmele, who weighs in at 221 lb, but ran a 4.47 40 at the combine.   This could be a 2007 Ryan Grant scenario.  Or it could be the second (or is it third?) coming of Ricky Williams.

QB Rankings (Who’s Gisele?)

August 20th, 2008

I’m overdue in posting my Quarterback rankings, so here you go

It’s my duty to remind you that how you rank your QBs should depend on your league’s scoring. These assume 5 points per TD and 1 point per 20 passing yards.

  1. Tom Brady – I can’t argue with Kyle’s logic about him dating Gisele.
  2. Peyton Manning – Even if he missed the first game, he’ll end up 2nd overall. Indy’s schedule is relatively easy this year, and his receiving corp will be significantly better than last year, when – at times – he was throwing to Reggie Wayne and guys who looked like Keanu Reeves from The Replacements.
  3. Drew Brees – New Orleans threw the ball some obscene number of times last year (like 650+ attempts). You can expect more of the same this year. TE Shockey’s arrival can also be seen as a boost/lifeline for Robert Meachem’s career.
  4. Carson Palmer – Shame the Bengals defense stinks, otherwise they’d be a playoff team.
  5. Ben Roethlisberger – You’re rolling the dice with an injury to Big Ben, since his O-Line will struggle (i.e., you have to hope he stays healthy by continuing to have good luck dodging the pass rush, which he will see VERY VERY often).
  6. Donovan McNabb – Do you feel lucky? On a points per game basis, McNabb will probably outscore everyone on this list except Brady. But the million dollar question is . . . how many games will he play this year? Otherwise his absolute dearth of receivers is mitigated by Andy Reid’s pass-happy offense. ****Breaking News**** Kevin Curtis is hurt and out for a significant portion of the season. McNabb now has what’s looking like the worst starting receiver corps in the NFL. If you’ve already drafted McNabb (or if you’re an unfortunate-as-usual Eagles fan) then you better hope the front office trades for or signs some WR help. Sorry kids, Westbrook can’t do it all by himself.
  7. David Garrard – Slow and steady puts you in the top 10. Having receivers with live, active heartbeats also helps.
  8. Tony Romo – It’s purely an injury risk scenario that has him this low. One injury to any among TO, Barber, the O-Line, or himself will depress – but not tank – his value.
  9. Eli Manning – Will the real Eli please stand up? I think it’s somewhere between the regular season and the Playoffs. Frustrating, but better than your other options at this point.
  10. Derek Anderson – If Peyton Manning is Mr. Consistency, then Anderson is Mr. IN-consistency, although we do know the Browns will give him 10 or so starts to prove he’s for real.
  11. Matt Hasselbeck – Now that Bobby Engram is hurt he has no WRs to throw to. But at least he can toss dump-passes and screens to Julius Jones, instead of watching Shawn Alexander use the ball as a pillow.
  12. Jay Cutler – He’s great, but his O-Line is recovering and his receiver (Marshall) is TBD whether he can catch and hold onto the ball due to potential nerve damage in his arm and hands. Beyond Marshall he has Scheffler and a bunch of over-hyped, under-deliver guys to throw to.
  13. Aaron RodgersKyle said “all he has to do is get the ball to the receivers and they’ll do the rest”, and I can’t agree more.
  14. Jeff Garcia – This is another slow and steady argument for why he’s in the top 15.
  15. Brett Favre – Alive, alive, alive, he’s alive! The Jets O-Line is markedly improved this year, and Coles and Cochtery are good enough (a la poor mens’ Driver and Jennings).
  16. Matt Shaub – Houston doesn’t suck anymore, but this is tough for people to get for some reason. Schaub’s main question mark is also a “Can he stay healthy?” issue.
  17. Jake Delhomme – He looks like he’s healthy. If so, then he’ll be really good. He’s below the above 3 b/c of Steve Smith’s suspension.
  18. Marc Bulger – It can’t be as bad as last year, right? Right? Yes, St. Louis overall will be terrible, but Bulger will recover better than the team on the whole.
  19. Philip Rivers – Remember when Carson Palmer tore his ACL? The following he season he struggled for the first six games before righting the ship and kicking ass as usual. I expect the same/similar timeframe for Rivers. That’s why I have him relatively low.
  20. Jason Campbell – Hopefully he’ll
  21. JaMarcus Russell – He will use the most powerful arm in the NFL . . . to hand off 30x per game to McFadden and Fargus. Slightly better for Oakland, but not great for his fantasy numbers.
  22. Jon Kitna – It’s a shame to think about, but due to all the sacks he’s taken, he won’t be able to remember his own name in a decade or so. In the meantime, enough yards and TDs to warrant backup QB candidacy.
  23. Trent Edwards – At least Buffalo seems to have picked the right QB to start, seeing as Edwards improved last year while Losman just sort of . . . can throw the ball deep . . . and not much else.
  24. Tarvaris Jackson – Heavy is the head that wears the QB crown in Minneapolis. I hope it turns out differently, but I can’t help but see his time in MN resembling Quincy Carter’s performance in Dallas.
  25. Vince Young – His rushing yards help, but they only do so much. He’s not looking like a good NFL QB after last season.

Second in a Series: Draft Strategy – How to Understand What Your Competition is Thinking

August 5th, 2008

Most of your opponents’ draft-day preparation consists of four steps:

Step 1) Purchasing a fantasy football magazine.

Step 2) Come draft day open the magazine (for the first time).

Step 3) Flip to the Cheat Sheet.

Step 4) Draft players using the cheat sheet, and end up with whomever star players the magazine’s staff writers had man-crushes on that year.

Sound familiar? It should. Most of your opponents won’t prepare for your draft. Not in any substantiate way, anyhow. They will rely on the magazines to tell them what to do. Sure they’ll maintain some awareness through SportsCenter, or through ongoing conversations with their friends, colleagues, and you. (Yes, for the record you should not be a jerk and withhold breaking news like Steve Smith’s suspension when you converse with your friends). But when push comes to shove, it’s EPSN’s Top 200 that will drive their behavior.

This matters to you, because you need to be aware of what ESPN’s Top 200 says. You need to know how the consensus media values the top 50 or so players, because it should affect which players you target. Specifically, I think you should consider these two principles in developing your draft strategy:

1) Don’t target players whom the consensus values higher than you do. They won’t fall to you. For example, Marion Barber is currently consensus-ranked as the 8th best fantasy player. I personally do not believe Marion Barber will pan out to be worth the 8th pick. (I expect 15 to 16 players to outperform Barber). Would I love to have Barber on my team? Absolutely, but I’m not going to base my draft strategy on him falling to me with my 2nd round pick. It’s just a waste of time.

2) Equally importantly, don’t be too aggressive in reaching for players who are underrated by the consensus. In other words, if you think Joey Gallaway will have another rock-star season, then don’t be too aggressive in drafting him too early. There’s no sense in taking him with your 3rd or 4th round choice when he will likely be available in rounds 5 or 6.

Together these two principles imply that the players you should target with your early picks are the players whom you and the consensus agree on – where the value you ascribe to them is about the same as the way they’re perceived by everyone else. Take them when they are available, or otherwise they’ll be gone prior to your next pick.

I’ll leave you with a handy-dandy summary of what the “consensus” is as of August 5, 2008 (i.e., this table shows consensus rankings by popular fantasy analysts). I’ll attempt to update it in a couple weeks, but barring pre-season injuries, you shouldn’t expect it to change that much

Consensus Name Expert MFL Mock Calc Mags CBS
1 LaDainian Tomlinson 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Adrian Peterson 3 2 2 2 2 2
3 Brian Westbrook 2 3 3 4 3 3
4 Steven Jackson 4 4 4 3 4 4
5 Joseph Addai 5 5 5 5 5 6
6 Tom Brady 6 6 6 6 6 4
7 Frank Gore 7 9 9 9 7 8
8 Marion Barber III 8 7 8 8 9 10
9 Randy Moss 9 8 7 7 10 9
10 Clinton Portis 10 10 11 10 8 12
11 Marshawn Lynch 16 11 13 11 11 11
12 Peyton Manning 13 13 17 14 13 7
13 Larry Johnson 12 15 10 15 12 15
14 Reggie Wayne 14 12 12 13 15 17
15 Terrell Owens 15 14 15 12 17 14
16 Willis McGahee 21 18 16 17 14 16
17 Braylon Edwards 22 17 18 16 20 18
18 Tony Romo 19 20 19 22 21 13
19 Ryan Grant 26 21 14 18 16 21
20 Larry Fitzgerald 18 19 21 20 22 20
21 Andre Johnson 23 23 24 19 18 22
22 Maurice Jones-Drew 17 16 27 21 23 27
23 T.J. Houshmandzadeh 20 26 22 25 24 25
24 Steve Smith 25 25 26 24 25 26
25 Marques Colston 32 24 28 23 26 24
26 Jamal Lewis 30 29 25 26 27 23
27 Drew Brees 29 27 31 27 31 19
28 Reggie Bush 11 22 30 32 36 38
29 Chad Johnson 24 28 29 28 34 30
30 Laurence Maroney 47 38 20 34 19 29
31 Torry Holt 27 31 32 30 37 31
32 Plaxico Burress 33 30 35 29 33 33
33 Brandon Jacobs 40 39 23 31 32 41
34 Ronnie Brown 31 37 34 33 28 48
35 Wes Welker 35 32 36 35 38 37
36 Carson Palmer 39 40 39 40 40 28
37 Anquan Boldin 36 33 38 37 41 42
38 Earnest Graham 28 49 33 48 42 32
39 Brandon Marshall 37 34 52 36 30 47
40 Michael Turner 38 42 37 41 35 44
41 Willie Parker 41 45 43 39 29 46
42 Jason Witten 43 35 42 45 45 40
43 Darren McFadden 42 36 50 43 53 36
44 Ben Roethlisberger 46 44 45 50 47 39
45 Roy Williams 44 43 46 42 49 49
46 Edgerrin James 34 51 40 54 39 57
47 Antonio Gates 60 41 44 47 44 45
48 Santonio Holmes 50 46 49 38 50 53
49 Thomas Jones 48 55 51 44 43 52
50 Kellen Winslow Jr 51 47 48 53 51 50
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