Saturday, September 02, 2006

Afterthought positions: TE

The only tight end mentioned below who deserves to be taken in the first 5 rounds is Antonio Gates. That's why the TE position is an afterthought to me on draft day...I load up on RBs and WRs, then nab a solid starting QB or two, THEN look at the TE position to see what's left. A good strategy is to do just that, and let your opponents draft your TE for you. What I mean by that is, let people waste early picks on a TE...then you can take an Alge Crumpler, LJ Smith, Chris Cooley, Randy McMichael, Ben Watson, Heath Miller, or Jason Witten in the 7th or 8th round to go along with a nice RB stable and a solid WR corps. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you can get one of the above-mentioned TEs in the 7th round or later. And if you find yourself in that one-in-a-hundred predicament, fear not because Vernon Davis will be waiting for you.

1) Antonio Gates. Don't take him until the 4th. If he's gone, so be it -- take a #2 RB, Carson Palmer, or a #2 WR instead and get nice TE value in the 7th or 8th, per above.

2) Todd Heap. Nobody likes to throw to the TE more than Steve McNair. Heap starts looking good in the 6th round.

3) Jeremy Shockey. Like Gates, he's being drafted too high as well...he's often going in the 4th round; don't even look at him on your draft sheet until the mid-6th. There are too many other decent TEs to waste an early pick on Shockey.

4) Tony Gonzalez. The only other TE I'd think about taking before the 7th round.

The rest of these guys are all the same; I'll rank them in order of upside:

5) Alge Crumpler. The #1 receiving option in Atlanta.

6) Ben Watson. Moving way up my draft board courtesy of Deion Branch.

7) Chris Cooley. All the guy does is produce...and Clinton Portis' bum shoulder bodes well for Cooley's fortunes.

8) L.J. Smith. Falls a spot or two with the acquisition of Stallworth, but still a favorite target of Donovan F. McNabb.

9) Jason Witten. The fact that he's ninth on this list underscores my point about not taking a TE too early...his ranking here is less of an indictment of Witten as it is a statement about the sneaky depth available at the TE position.

10) Randy McMicheal. The Dolphins offense will find itself in the red zone much more often this year, which means great things for McMicheal...assuming he can stay out of trouble again.

11) Heath Miller. I'm high on Heath since the loss of Bettis means increased looks for Miller in the red zone.

The rest: 12) Vernon Davis, SF; 13) Dallas Clark, IND; 14) K. Winslow, CLE; 15) A. Smith, TB; 16) B. Troupe, TEN; 17) L. Pope, ARI; 18) Z. Hilton, NO; 19) J. Stevens, SEA; 20) M. Lewis, JAX; 21) J. Wiggins, MIN; 22) B. Franks, GB; 23) D. Graham, NE; 24) J. Putzier, HOU; 25) C. Anderson, OAK.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Top WR will give opponents Fitz


WRs are tough to rank for several reasons. First, there's the sheer volume: there are so many of them to rate. Second, once you get past the upper echelon, there are about 10-20 WRs who are very similar in value. Essentially, a wise strategy is to grab two top RBs, THEN a bona fide #1 WR. Afterwards, grab a couple promising RBs, then load up on as many upper-to-mid-tier WRs as possible before nabbing a QB and a TE. Now that you're in the know, here are your WR rankings:

LEGIT #1 WRs:

1. Larry Fitzgerald. Has the fewest question marks and the most upside of any top receiver. I like that combination.

2. Torry Holt. New run-friendly offense in town. How will it affect Holt? Will the TD #s drop?

3. Chad Johnson. In the wake of Carson Palmer's comeback party on Monday night, you could make a strong case for Chad at the #2 slot in these rankings...but Holt still has him by a nose.

4. Steve Smith. Nagged by a hamstring. Thanks, but I like my top wideouts to be injury-free to start the season. Steer clear of wideouts with bum wheels whose games are speed and explosiveness.

5. Reggie Wayne. Before you freak out and say, "where's Marvin Harrison?"...now is the part where I remind you that this is the year when Wayne takes the #1 WR laurels away from the aging Starvin' Marvin.

6. Anquan Boldin. Would've led the NFL in receptions had he stayed healthy last year. Would be even higher on this list if he could stay healthy ANY year.

7. Randy Moss. Uncertainty surrounding the Oakland QB situation keeps him out of the top 5. Makes a great value pick in Round 3.

8. Marvin Harrison. I love this guy...I really do...but he's got nowhere to go but down.

9. Chris Chambers. Here is a guy I am targeting as my #1 WR because he's a stud that can often be had a round or two later than most of the WRs above. Will benefit big time from the addition of Daunte Culpepper.

EXCELLENT #2 WRs:

10. Roy Williams. Would move up to the next tier if he could just stay healthy. I'm targeting Roy as my #2 WR whenever possible.

11. Terrell Owens. I don't have the stomach to plug him in as my #1 WR. Too many issues, too much baggage, too much uncertainty.

GOOD, SOLID #2 WRs:

12. Plaxico Burress. 13. T.J. Houshmanzadeh. 14. Derrick Mason. 15. Hines Ward. 16. Santana Moss. 17. Donald Driver. 18. Javon Walker. 19. Joey Galloway. 20. Lee Evans.

SERVICABLE #2 WRs/EXCELLENT #3s:

21. Matt Jones. 22. Deion Branch. 23. Darrell Jackson. 24. Donte Stallworth. 25. Andre Johnson. 26. Rod Smith. 27. Joe Horn.

GOOD, SOLID #3 WRs:

28. Nate Burelson. 29. Laverneus Coles. 30. Mushin Muhammad. 31. Reggie Brown. 32. Micheal Clayton.

SERVICABLE #3 WRs/EXCELLENT #4s:

33. Terry Glenn. 34. Ernest Wilford. 35. Drew Bennett. 36. Antonio Bryant. 37. Eddie Kennison. 38. Joe Jurevicius. 39. Jerry Porter. 40. Travis Taylor. 41. Keenan McCardell.

SOLID/SERVICABLE #4s:

42. Keyshawn Johnson. 43. Isaac Bruce. 44. Troy Williamson. 45. Brandon Stokely. 46. Mark Clayton. 47. Reche Caldwell. 48. Samie Parker. 49. Greg Jennings. 50. Devery Henderson.

Beyond this, everyone is a 5th WR at best...take a flier on any unlisted player at your own risk; just be sure to do so very late (if at all).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Dr. Bass ranks the RBs

Blah, blah, blah. I'll spare you the witty intro and cut right to the meat. Fantasy football is all about RBs, and there seems to be a dearth of good ones with full time gigs this season. Therefore, a good RB list is more important than ever, so without further ado, here are my 2006 fantasy football RB rankings:

1. Larry Johnson. Yes, he's lost his fullback, Tony Richardson. And his left tackle, a bulldozer named Willie Roaf. And his offensive coordinator Al Saunders (Redskins), as well as head coach Dick Vermeil (retirement). Yet LJ STILL tops my rankings...but not by much. Expect close to 20 TDs and 1800+ rushing yards.

2. LaDainian Tomlinson. There is no safer pick in fantasy. I won't argue with anyone who says he should go first overall.

3. Shaun Alexander. Effectively, he's #1c on my rankings...right there with LJ and LT. You can make a case for him as a #1 overall pick as well.

4. Tiki Barber. Wow, what a drop-off. Still, Tiki should be the 4th or 5th player taken overall in most fantasy drafts. Will lose touches near the goal line, so Tiki could legitimately drop as low as #6 or #7 in some drafts.

5. Rudi Johnson. Safest pick this side of Shaun Alexander and LaDainian Tomlinson. A veritable lock for 1200+ rushing yards and 10-12 TDs, which is something you can say for only a handful of running backs. Carson Palmer is back, and that means great things for Cincy's offense.

6. Stephen Jackson. Poised for a breakout season now that Martz is gone. This kid is the real deal.

7. Edgerrin James. From one high-octane offense to another, the newest Arizona Cardinals RB could legitimately go as high as #4...but questions along the offensive line temper my enthusiasm for Edge ever-so-slightly.

8. Ronnie Brown. Some feel this is a little high, but Brown has the total package and he's in a great situation as the primary ballcarrier in Miami.

9. Cadillac Williams. Should be the 9th overall pick in the first round. Someone STOLE him in the mid 2nd in my redraft money league (I picked 1st overall, so I watched helplessly).

10. LaMont Jordan. He can get it done. Too bad the rest of his team can't. Still a Top 10 back...barely. LaMont should be the last RB you pick before Peyton.

11. Willie Parker. His stock keeps rising and rising as the season nears. The latest buzz in Pittsburgh is that Parker will stay on the field as the primary ball carrier in goal line situations. If this indeed becomes the case, Parker instantly becomes a Top 10 RB ahead of LaMont Jordan. Parker is a no-brainer pick in the second round.

12. Brian Westbrook. Injury history keeps him from being ranked any higher; potential, talent, and his position as the primary ballcarrier and receiver in a pass-happy offense keep him in the Top 12. If Westbrook is there at the end of the 2nd round, grab him.

13. Willis McGahee. Tremendous talent; terrible team. Unfortunately for Willis, the Bills won't be in position to run the football often enough. Still, McGahee is a legitimate 2nd round pick.

14. Clinton Portis. A few weeks ago, he was the #4 RB on my board. What a difference one play makes. Portis should not be taken until the end of the 2nd round at the earliest...his injured shoulder could nag him all season.

15. Kevin Jones. Can Mike Martz work magic in Detroit? If so, Jones could become a Top 10 back. If not, he'll flirt with 1000 yards and log 6-8 TDs. Take Jones in the 3rd round if he's still there.

16. Warrick Dunn. The Duckett trade forced me to move Dunn up the rankings. Why don't I seem excited to do so? Two words: Jerious Norwood. Norwood's a first-day draft pick out of Mississippi State, and he's been a beast so far. Expect Dunn to go in the mid 3rd to mid 4th round.

17. Mike Bell. Looks like Mike Shanahan wasn't blowing smoke after all. Yet. It remains to be seen whether or not Bell (Mike) will hold off Bell (Tatum) as the season progresses, so Bell's appearance at #17 is more an indictment of this year's RB crop than an endorsement of Mike Bell's projected performance. Bell's draft position is all over the place...he went in the early 3rd round of a 12-team draft last night, but he's also lasting well into the 6th round of some drafts. I say he's closer to a 3rd rounder than a 6th.

18. Rueben Droughns. This guy has quietly rushed for 1200 yards in two consecutive seasons...one with Denver, one with Cleveland. Yes, that's right...Cleveland. Droughns should be someone you target in rounds 4-6.

19. Jamal Lewis. Battling a nagging hip injury right now, but the good news is that the knee is finally healthy. Lewis looked good against the Eagles a week or so ago...but how many carries will he lose to Mike Anderson? That said, if you can get Jamal in the 4th or 5th, don't hesitate to snatch him up...he's not too far removed from a 2,000 yard season, and the Ravens' offense is in much better hands this year with McNair in town.

20. Frank Gore. The trade of Kevan Barlow caused Gore to leapfrog at least 15 spots up the list. Essentially, Gore is a poor man's Willis McGahee. He offers tons of upside, but his pathetic team severly limits his opportunity for fantasy success. Gore is a very good 5th round pick, and he could go in the late 4th in some leagues.

21. Reggie Bush. Moved up a spot because of Chester Taylor, not because of one preseason play against a terrible Titans defense that couldn't tackle an old lady with a walker cutting back across the field. Bush came back to earth somewhat against better defenses, and the eye-raising performance of Deuce McAllister should keep Bush from setting the world on fire...for now. Bush is being selected WAY too early in most drafts. If you take him in the 1st or 2nd round, just hand your money over and walk away. He deserves to go somewhere between rounds 4 and 6, depending on your propensity for risk and your first two or three draft picks.

22. Chester Taylor. His stock is falling in my eyes; I am not at all impressed with what I've seen from Chester in Minny so far. For now, Taylor remains the primary ball carrier in Minny, but Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Faison are waiting in the wings in case he falters. I smell a running-back-by-committee in coming weeks. Stay away, but if he falls to you in the late 5th round or later, you have to consider taking him.

23. Julius Jones. Parcells has said the injury-prone Jones will come out on 3rd downs, which will hinder Jones' numbers. Hopefully, the move will help Jones stay healthy for a full 16 game slate. Take Jones no earlier than Round 5.

24. Dominic Rhodes. People keep taking Joseph Addai ahead of Rhodes. Don't be one of those people. Start keeping tabs on Rhodes in the 4th round; do yourself a favor and take him in Round 6 if he's still there...especially if someone rolled the dice on Addai a couple of rounds too early.

25. Corey Dillon. He has looked great so far. Unfortunately, so has rookie first-round RB Laurence Maroney. Don't expect vintage Corey Dillon...but he makes a nice #3 fantasy RB this year. Dillon may go early because he's a familiar name; all things equal, he rates as a 5th or 6th rounder on Dr. Bass' board.

26. DeShaun Foster. Can't stay healthy, doesn't produce at the goal line, and now has first-round pick DeAngelo Williams looking over his shoulder. Let someone else take Foster (he went in the 2nd in one draft I participated in). If he's still around in Round 6 or 7, start thinking about pulling the trigger.

27. Thomas Jones. I begrudingly place TJ in my Top 25, mostly because of what Cedric Benson HASN'T done...stay healthy, play hurt, and stay on the sidelines while the game is being played. Benson is losing the respect of teammates and coaches, which should open the door for Jones. The big money question is, can Jones stay healthy enough to take advantage of the opportunity to be the full-time back? Start looking at Thomas Jones in Round 6.

28. Joseph Addai. Here's where I think Addai should go...late 6th or early 7th. Currently listed as the #2, behind a guy who's had past success as the Colts' primary ballcarrier...behind a guy who's familiar with the blitz pickup schemes...behind the guy who knows the playbook inside and out...behind the guy who...you get the idea. Take Rhodes first. But if anything should happen to Rhodes, Addai should flourish in the Indy offense.

29. DeAngelo Williams. Hasn't looked as good as Maroney, but Williams should get more opportunities. After all, he's playing caddy to DeShaun Foster.

30. Laurence Maroney. If anything happens to Dillon, this guy will put up Top 10 RB numbers. That makes him worth a dice roll in the middle rounds.

31. Fred Taylor. The Jags are a good team, and Taylor is their undisputed primary ballcarrier. But, as we all know: death, taxes, and Fred Taylor injuries. 'Nuff said.

32. Chris Brown. LenDale White is rubbing some the wrong way. Then again, so is Chris Brown. It's a coin flip as to who will hold the job through the season, but Brown has experienced past success...and lots of it...in Tennessee. Problem is, he racks up injuries in the process...and lots of 'em.

33. Cedric Benson. So much talent; it's hard to believe this guy is apparently peeing away his opportunity to be the main man in the Bears' ball control offense.

34. Ahman Green. Can't stay healthy, and the Packers' offense can't stay on the field. I do not like Green one bit this season.

35. Kevan Barlow. Should be a primary ballcarrier...for the Jets. Being traded to the Jets to be the lead runner is kind of like winning the lottery and finding out that your wife's divorcing you and taking half.

36. Domanick Davis. Fluid on the knee. Not good. The Texans will employ a Running Back By Committee (RBBC) in the process. Also not good. Expect Davis to be part of a RBBC if/when he returns to health, as the team is liking what they are seeing from Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency in Davis' stead.

37. Deuce McAllister. Would be a top 15 RB if not for some guy named Reggie Bush...knee and all.

38. Tatum Bell. You can't write him off entirely. In fact, if you draft Mike Bell, move Tatum up the rankings for handcuff purposes. Remember, Denver has had a 1000 yard rusher in 10 of the last 11 seasons.

39. T.J. Duckett. Mandatory handcuff for Portis owners.

40. LenDale White. Ditto for Chris Brown owners.

41. Marion Barber, DAL; 42. W. Lundy, HOU; 43. M. Drew, JAX; 44. M. Anderson, BAL; 45. J. Norwood, ATL; 46. S. Gado, GB; 47. M. Moore, MIN; 48. V. Haynes, PIT; 49. V. Morency, HOU; 50. M. Turner, SD