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It was that time of year again. Every year the same group (roughly the same, at least one is always coming and/or going) of fantasy football experts gather and compete in the same league. The league is run by SportsofBoston’s own KC Downey. This league started in 2004 and had been something I look forward to every year.
This is a 12 team league and the set up is different from a usual Yahoo default league. Most notable is the roster sizes. In our league we have positions of QB,QB,RB,RB,WR,WR,WR,TE along with DEF and K. We also have six bench spots.
This was the first time I did any sort of fantasy draft in person. True, only three of us could actually get together in the flesh, I was still excited. It was myself, and fellow SportsofBoston writers Dev Lutchman and KC Downey. Other writers from SportsofBoston that are in this league are Jeff Christenbury, Dan Pitrowiski, and the man behind the scenes, Chris Brickley.
The people in the league who are not writers for SportsofBoston.com are all friends of KC whom he met while at Boston University. But don’t look down on us just because we are young and inexperienced, we know what we are doing and these leagues are quite cut-throat.
Surprise Surprise, LaDainian went first overall. I think we all saw that coming. There is no reason to believe that LT will not be the overall points leader in fantasy football again this season. Even though his numbers wont be as ridiculous as last season, he will still blow away the competition. I like Dan’s pick of Marshawn Lynch in round six. Even though Lynch will be splitting duties in the Buffalo backfield for at least the start of the season, I believe he will emerge as the #1 by the end of the season. Folks, I am saying it now: “DO NOT DRAFT VINCE YOUNG!” I say this only because I am a firm believer in the Madden Curse. Michael Vick, Shaun Alexander, Donovan McNabb, and a list of others have done little to ease my mind about this urban legend. Vince Young is going down this season and he is going down hard.
**** ** Vick
In this league the top level QB’s went fast (four in the first two rounds), so I cant blame KC for jumping on Marc Bulger. Bulger had his best year ever as a starter last year in terms of yards, TD’s, and INT’s. I expect similar if not better numbers with the additions of new targets Drew Bennett and TE Randy McMichael. I am not a fan of Marion Barber III. The man is in a situation where he is splitting carries so you can not depend on him for a full load. Although he got the bulk of the goal line work last season (14 TD), there is no guarantee that he will get that many scores again as a man in his position.
This is last year’s owner who had the best regular season record? Clearly he has missed a step or two. First off, even though Peyton Manning is the only first round QB that should be taken, he should not be taken at third overall. Brandon missed out on Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, and Shaun Alexander in order to take Peyton. In round two he took Cedric Benson. I can’t blame him for it but if you were going to go with a RB at this point, then take Brandon Jacobs. Both RB’s have not proven themselves with full loads over the course of a season but I give the edge to Jacobs because in addition to getting full time carries he is also getting the goal line carries. Oh and Baltimore defense in round 4? Brandon hit the panic button after he missed the Chicago defense. This reckless drafting caused Brandon to miss out on a great WR. His WR core is headlined by Reggie Brown and Lavernaneus Coles. Brown has yet to have a breakout season and Coles is only good when Pennington is healthy. Brandon will not be the dominant force he was last season.
Big Things Starting
I don’t like Carnell Williams. After a good rookie campaign, the Cadillac needed a trip to the body shop. He saw his YPC (yards per carry) drop to 3.5 and he only had one TD all season. I can’t see a bounce back season from him this year. Donald Driver is round four is great only because he is really the only receiving option in Green Bay. Factor in a clearly inexperienced running game and you have 1,200 yards and 10 TD’s. Don’t worry, the medical staff has assured us that Driver will be ready for week one after suffering a sprained foot. Dev also drafted Calvin Johnson. Every “expert” will tell you to stay away from rookie WR’s but, I think this is an exception. Calvin is going to have a great rookie year. Mike Martz’s pass-happy offense made a 4,000 QB out of Jon Kitna and a 1,000 yard receiver out of Mike Furrey, so I expect that Johnson will be as good as advertised. I will be bold and call for 1,100 yards and 8 TD’s.
I am a firm believer on the fact that the person who drafts Antonio Gates will not win your league. Gates to me is going to put up numbers similar to a #2 receiver. He will get around 900 yards and 8-9 TD’s. Folks, that is amazing for a TE, but as an overall fantasy player, it is nothing to write home about. The pick in your league can be better spent on a #1 WR that will get on average 50-60 more points than Gates. Plus, this year is a great year for fantasy TE’s. There are more choices now than ever. In the past it was Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Jeremy Shockey. Since you have more than three options, you can now wait a while to take a TE instead of pressing the panic button. After Lomas Browns took Gates, he had to wait all this time to take a WR and by the time it got back to him, a lot of the best WR’s were gone and he was stuck with a WR that puts up Antonio Gates-like numbers. Instead of taking a much needed WR, he chose to jump the gun on Chicago. True, no other Defense is close to Chicago but, the pick would have been better spent on players like Andre Johnson, Lee Evans, or Philip Rivers.
I love Frank Gore. Frank Gore falling to 6th was a blessing for Xnbury’s Patriots. Gore has set a lofty 2,000 yard season for himself this year which no doubt has fantasy owners expecting the world from him. The 49ers have the easiest schedule this season based on last year’s defenses. 2,000 yards may be out of reach but, Gore is not a one year wonder and I predict he will be the number two fantasy player this season behind LT. Clinton Portis is a bad choice. He is still battling knee injuries and with him nursing those injuries, the team will not rush him back to action with the proven LaDell Betts ready to go. Deuce McCallister, who was taken one round later would have been the better choice because even though he is splitting carries with Reggie Bush, he will still gain 1,000 yards rushing. Kevin Jones? He might not even play this season. Ted Ginn Jr.? This league is not heavily dependent on players who have potential to be great kick returners.
Some may call Jerrious Norwood in round five ridiculous, but do not be so quick to judge. I have high hopes for this man. Warrick Dunn is coming off back surgery and he is 32 years old, which is not too old for the earth, but for a running back it is the time of descent. Without Vick this season, the running game will be at full blast especially with Joey Harrington’s passing ability. I expect Dunn and Norwood to split carries which has been the latest trend in backfield’s these days (Bush/McCallister, Taylor/Jones-Drew). Norwood could have a 1,000 yard season even in a split carries situation. I do anticipate for Dunn to show his age around week 10, and at that time Norwood will be getting all of the carries. As long as we’re talking about the Falcons offense, I must say that Alge Crumpler’s value is going to take a huge blow this season. Crumpler was Vick’s favorite target and with no Vick comes no looks to Crumpler. Oh and Nate Kaeding in round nine? Kickers should be drafted last!
John Olerud Lives
Ronnie Brown does not amaze me. I find him to be very over rated. It seems that each year analysts declare that Ronnie Brown is going to break out. It hasn’t happened yet, and it wont happen this year either. Word out of the Dolphins camp is that Ronnie Brown may actually be in a split backfield with Jesse Chatham. “Our best running back will play – I don’t care who it is,” Cameron said. When asked who he thought his best running back was, Cameron replied, “We’re not to the point where we’d say that.” Fred Taylor in round 11 was quite the drop. Clearly nobody in our league thinks he will stay healthy for another full season. If Fred proves us wrong, he will rush for another 1,000 yards and make us all look very stupid.
The Tyranny of Round
Ah, my team. No time for bias. I was amazed that I got Rudi Johnson. I was fully prepared to take Reggie Bush until Rudi dropped from Heaven and fell into my lap. I may have jumped on Jon Kitna too soon but, I was drawn by his 10 win guarantee and the fact that he had 4,000 yards passing last season with Mike Martz calling the shots. Plus Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson just sealed the deal. I also like my pick of Devery Henderson. Henderson averaged 23.3 yards per catch last season (32 catches, 745 yards in 13 games). Playing a full season (the magic 3rd year for WR’s) in the Saint’s mega offense with Drew Bress at the helm will be enough to put Henderson over his totals from last year. I dont know why I took Matt Schaub. Taking a Texans QB is never a smart choice espcecially if the QB doesn’t know what he is in for with Houston’s offensive line.
I don’t have a problem with T.J. Houshmandzadeh at all. However, when he is taken before Terrell Owens, then we have some beef. Owens is one of the game’s premiere receivers and is always good for double digit touchdown numbers. Tony Romo really only has Owens to target as Terry Glenn battles knee injuries. The entire draft room in unison let out a disgruntled groan as Vernon Davis went off the board. Held back by injuries his rookie year, Davis I believe will have a breakout year in an offense that has an up and coming Alex Smith and the easiest schedule in the NFL.
This draft was done before the decision on Vick’s playing was official. We know now that Vick wont step onto a field this season. Even so, the last round was the right place for him to be taken. Chris Chambers in round eight or any round is not worthy. The Miami offense is slowly going downhill and Chambers proved last year (59 catches, 677 yards) that he is not worthy to be called a #1 WR.
People are scared of any running back in a Mike Shannahan offense. I personally believe that Henry could have the biggest year of his career. Shannahan has already said that the Denver backfield will not be a committee which means Henry will carry a full load. Mike Furrey in round eleven only means that this guy thought he was getting a bargain 1,000 yard receiver late. Maybe he forgot about that Calvin Johnson guy.
Tom Brady- Brady seems poised to have another solid year, especially with additions of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth, and Kelley Washington. Brady has more options than ever and he will utilize every single one of them. I call for 3,600 yards and 25 TD’s.
Laurence Maroney- You can stop worrying about the shoulder, it will hold up just fine. He looked good in his first preseason game and I think all that rest was a blessing. With no more Corey Dillon, the full load is on his surgically repaired shoulder. 1,200 yards, 7 TD’s.
Randy Moss- He won’t have an attitude problem and even if he does, this is New England and we don’t take well to attitude. The hamstring is a concern but it wont linger all season. Once on the field, Moss will produce. He can still compete with the best WR’s in the league and is a huge red zone threat. So even if the yards are not there due to the immaculate depth of the WR core, the TD’s will come. Prediction: 700 yards and 12TD’s.
Ben Watson- He’s not flashy but he gets it done. Although he is not in the same class as Gates, Shockey, or Gonzalez, Watson is is a reliable TE as you can get. His great speed is a rarity in most TE’s and with the passing game looking the best it ever has, Watson may see alot less coverage while opposing defenses are busy covering Moss, Stallworth, and Welker. Prediction: 600 yards, 5 TD’s.
Donte Stallworth- Before the acquisition of Moss and Welker, Stallworth was looking like the #1 receiver in New England. He wont have numbers like last year with Philly but, he is still a great draft choice in deeper leagues due to the fact that he is now hooking up with Tom Brady every Sunday. 800 yards, 5 TD’s.
Wes Welker- Again, another WR. Welker wont have the same numbers like Moss or Stallworth, but he is a great possession receiver that can be depended upon. Even in deeper league he is not worth starting unless there is an injury to Moss or Stallworth. 500 yards and 3 TD’s.