It’s time to start thinking fantasy football and I’m thrilled. For those that play regularly, you know that the draft is similar to Christmas.
This is my 15th season playing and it seems like every year I’m in too many leagues. I can’t help it; I love the draft. I’m going to take a look at all the fantasy positions, but for now we’ll just talk running backs. Any ideas I throw out regarding different rounds of the draft are all based on a 10- or 12-team league. If you play in a league with eight teams or less, why bother even researching? Ever team will be littered with studs.
RB’s are the key to your team and season. You can never have too many good RB’s, and this year there are a bunch. I’m not going to sit here and rank them, but here is my take on every teams RB situation.
-Ladanian: ‘Nuff said. I’m not even writing his last name.
-Larry Johnson: Keep a very close eye on the Kansas City situation. (do NOT draft with a magazine. You can use one to remind you of the players at the draft, but ignore the rankings. Those things are printed months before the season and much changes). Larry wants more money, and with Priest Holmes possibly back, he’s losing leverage. He is not the no-brainer #2 overall RB that you would think. I want to see that situation resolved before I go near him with a high pick.
Shawn Alexander: I’m weary of that foot. If it’s still not right, I don’t want to mess with him. Not in the top three picks.
-Edgerrin James: Don’t want him. Maybe in the third round, but he won’t fall that far. I’d let someone else take him. That line still stinks until I see otherwise and it just seems that RB’s don’t do well on that team. Garrison Hearst and Thomas Jones went on to productive careers once they left, and finally shedded the “bust” label. Edgerrin went there only to stink. They drafted Levi Brown at #5 overall this year and were wise to get Deuce Lutui in the second round last year. But….we’ll see. Sure, he had over 1,100 yards last year, but he averaged 3.4 yards per carry and only had 6 TD’s. Let someone else draft him high (and they will, I promise). No Edge for me.
-Brian Westbrook: Extremely productive player whether the Eagles run or not. If your league gets a point per reception, jump on him. He’s worth it very early.
-Willie Parker: Monitor the Steelers situation. I loved this guy last year and he was very high on my board. If he is “the guy,” then you could bump him possibly into the top three picks. Go ahead, make fun of me, that’s fine. I love Fast Willie and he made me look smart last year. If he’s still getting the goal-line carries, he’s in my top four at least.
-Laurence Maroney: He’s the man in New England now, but how hurt is his shoulder and can he last a whole season? I love his running style and he’s very productive, but his health could be an issue.
-Thomas Jones: Great situation with the Jets. This is the kind of back that can round out a nice stable for your team. He’ll be available in the second round in most drafts, unless you get the one Jet fan that takes him #5 overall. Those kinds of fans kill me. Absolutely hilarious. Don’t be that guy at your draft.
-Clinton Portis: Interesting player and an interesting situation. Someone will draft this guy too high based on name recognition. He has a lot of potential, but injuries and the success of Ladell Betts concern me. I wouldn’t take him the first round if you put a gun to my head.
-Cadillac Williams: That shine from his rookie season has sure worn off. Could be a decent find in the third round, and a definite steal in the 4th.
-Cedric Benson: All of a sudden he shoots up the board, huh? If I’m picking late in the first round (say the 12th, with the 13th pick coming right back), I’d have to think about it. Thomas Jones is gone and Benson is now the horse now in Chicago. Oh, and don’t forget their quarterback stinks (I’m not trying to pile on Grossman, but what’s with the eyebrows? Those creep anyone else out?), so they’ll have to rely on the run more.
-Travis Henry: Could fly low on the radar. Mike Bell is still out there, but Henry has busted 1,200 yards in his career three times. He added 14 TD’s to his 1,400+ in 2002, so he can certainly be productive. And he’s in Denver now! I could probably run in that system. I’m getting excited for Henry now. He won’t go in anyone’s first round, but he’d be a nice find in the second or lower.
-Ahman Green: Eh, he’s on Houston. I was a little excited about Wali Lundy last year and it turned out that I was excited for no reason. Green has been banged around in the NFL for a while now, I wouldn’t expect too much.
-Joseph Addai: Love him. With Dominic Rhodes urinating in cop cars in towns not named Indianapolis now, he’s “the guy.” That offense is a point-scoring machine. I would think about him in the middle of the first round.
-Jamal Lewis: I’ve heard that he’s looking better. But he’s on Cleveland and he was running soft last year. I’d think about him in the third round if I didn’t really get anyone else for my back field. Maybe.
-Willis McGahee: Seems to think he’s a lot better than he is. But I expect big things from him in Baltimore this year. He’s showed flashes, but it’s tough to tell when you play in Buffalo.
-Frank Gore: Injuries are still a concern, he was hurt a lot at U Miami. But his production last year showed you just how devastating he can be. He could almost single handedly take you to a championship, but buyer beware.
-Warrick Dunn: Just watching him play, he’s maybe the most underrated RB in the league. Excellent, excellent player. That said, I don’t know how much I’d invest in the Atlanta offense this year. He’s 32 years old and just had back surgery. Oh, and Atlanta’s offense is going to stink.
-Rudi Johnson: Always a great bargain. You can find him outside the first round, but he’s a very steady performer. Always nice to have Rudi on your team.
-Ronnie Brown: This guy has not impressed me in his young career. It’s not a disaster if you have to take him in the third round, but I wouldn’t be psyched about it.
-Steven Jackson: Stud. #2 player to go off the board.
-Marshawn Lynch: I think he may slide a bit in the draft. And when he does I will grab him and be thrilled about it. I think he’s going to be a player.
Situations that are a little cloudier:
-New Orleans Saints: Here’s a tip: Let someone else take Reggie Bush. It’s not that I don’t think he’ll be productive. I think he’ll have a nice year. But someone will take him too high. As electrifying as he is, he’s still splitting time with Deuce McAllister. I like both of them as fantasy backs (McAllister was great for me last year), but sit on them a bit.
-Dallas Cowboys: Julius Jones and Marion Barber seem destined to split time. It’s a situation to watch closely before selecting either guy. This should clear up a bit as we near the season.
-NY Giants: I like Brandon Jacobs, but they also brought in Reuben Droughns. What kind of change of pace is that? Brandon Jacobs needs Dave Meggett to compliment him, not Reuben Droughns. I loved Jacobs before the Droughns acquisition, but now I’m not so sure. I’ll be monitoring that one.
-Green Bay Packers: Last I checked Vernon Morency was the starter, and right now he is. Keep an eye on second-round pick Brandon Jackson. A lot of people see a talented runner that can’t get on the field and wonder how that is. If this kid can’t pick up the blitz schemes, he won’t play much. Morency could turn out to be a nice value.
-Minnesota Vikings: They have two nice backs in Chester Taylor, and now the explosive Adrian Peterson. Peterson is a stud, but I worry about injuries. Chester Taylor carried the ball over 300 times last year, so Brad Childress certainly wasn’t the guy yelling to pass every down here in Philly. They will probably use both backs equally, but this isn’t like the New Orleans situation. The Vikings can’t score. Look for their offense to stink again this year.
-Detroit Lions: I don’t have faith in Kevin Jones’ foot. I hear “Lisfranc” and I’m done. Tatum Bell could be great value. Let the idiot next to you at the draft take Jones in the second round. Then giggle to yourself.
-Carolina Panthers: Could be immense value in DeAngelo Williams. They didn’t take him in the first round last year so he could sit the bench. Carolina isn’t afraid to pull that committee garbage (which I actually love for real football, but hate for fantasy), so that could be a concern. John Fox tends to like old running back (see: Stephen Davis), so who knows? Training camp should answer some questions.
-Oakland Raiders: Ten-foot pole. That’s what I wouldn’t touch their players with.
-Jacksonville Jaguars: I haven’t heard too much about the plan here, but the Jags have two really nice backs in Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Jones-Drew busted out last year and proved that he’s an excellent fantasy back. I want to see if I can find more about which one will carry more of the load before I take one too high.
ennessee Titans: Looks like Lendale White will get his shot, but you never know. If they catch him eating footballs they may bench him. He’s down to his target weight of 240 lbs, so we’ll see if he can keep it off. Training camp will answer a lot of questions for them. If Lendale is good enough to keep Chris Brown (runs too upright) and Chris Henry (fumbling all over training camp right now) off the field, then he could be a nice value pick.
If you think I’m stupid and way off base with my assessments, you know where to find me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I always welcome fantasy football talk.