Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brett Favre stays retired

Brett Favre has finally made the right decision...he will remain retired and not taint his legacy (and spit in Packers fans' faces) further by playing for the Minnesota Vikings.

This is excellent news for Sage Rosenfels, who should have little trouble winning the starting job over the mediocre Tarvaris Jackson. Rosenfels has had a handful of solid statistical games as a replacement starter over the years, most notably for the Texans, who traded him to Minnesota this offseason. With the strong cast around him, Rosenfels could make some noise in fantasy circles this season. He might even crack my Top 10 sleepers list, provided he looks good in the preseason games.

Meanwhile, thanks for the memories, Brett. We'll do our best to forget those final games with the Jets.

Columns, rankings coming soon!

Several of my long-time readers have been asking when my "regular" weekly columns and preseason positional rankings will begin. The answer is: Monday, August 10.

We'll begin with our "Old Faces, New Places" feature, which updates all of the significant player movements since the end of the '08 season, complete with analysis of the move's affect on each player's value.

The following week, we'll examine the 2009 Rookie class. On August 24, it's time to pick our favorite fantasy sleepers and, finally, on August 31, the much-heralded, oft-imitated, never-duplicated 2009 Perfect Draft debuts!

Rankings will be updated at least weekly, but more often than that as necessary, here at the Fantasy Fools blog.

If you haven't already, sign up as a Fools follower, and urge your friends to do likewise. I appreciate your help in making this one of the most popular fantasy football blogs in the blogosphere!

And don't forget to read Sporting News and your local newspaper, assuming it's carrying my column. And if it's not, complain!

Monday, July 27, 2009

QB battles to ignore

Of the many developments NFL observers will be dissecting during August training camps, starting QB battles should be among the least interesting to fantasy enthusiasts. The reason is fairly simple: If the guys aren't locks to start for their own team, what are the chances they will provide a lift to your fantasy squad?

The only real interest we have in these competitions is in how the result will affect the team's receiving corps.

Here's where the action is likely to be the most intense over the next few weeks:

Cleveland: 2007 shooting star/2008 bust Derek Anderson vs. golden (dome) boy Brady Quinn. Why you should care: Neither passer will likely merit a fantasy roster spot, but Anderson's stronger, more-accurate-downfield arm would enhance Braylon Edwards's value (assuming he doesn't drop his passes). Quinn is a dink-and-dunk QB, who will probably have more success unloading the ball to pass-catching RB Jerome Harrison than his wideouts.

New York Jets: Mediocre veteran Kellen Clemens vs. Rookie Mark Sanchez. Why you should care: Frankly, I don't know. Clemens should never get anywhere near a fantasy roster, and Sanchez is highly unlikely to replicate Matt Ryan's rookie stats. Neither QB offers much reason to get excited about Jerricho Cotchery or any other receiver in a Jets uniform.

Detroit: Lost-Without-Moss Daunte Culpepper vs. Great White Hope Matthew Stafford. Why you should care: One word: Megatron. Either way, to be honest, Calvin Johnson is a beast and should be a top 3 fantasy WR. If he can soar with the likes of Jon Kitna, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and Culpepper in '08, he can play with anybody. As for the QBs, we know Culpepper is well past holding any consistent fantasy value. Stafford is somewhat intriguing, but only as a possible mid-season benchwarmer should he show some early promise. But really, probably not till 2010.

San Francisco: Shaun Hill vs. Alex Smith. Why you should care: Only Hill has demonstrated anything close to occassional fantasy value, but the organization wants Smith to succeed most, given their investment in him as the #1 overall pick in '05. You're really desperate if you're drafting either player in August. Of the 49ers WRs, Michael Crabtree offers the most fantasy upside, but -- per a previous posting -- even he is unlikely to shine much as a rookie, especially if his holdout drags on.

Minnesota: Sage Rosenfels vs. Tarvaris Jackson vs. Brett Favre? Why you should care: This one matters quite a bit, actually. Of course, Favre is the wild card. If he un-retires, the job is his. That probably improves Bernard Berrian's draft stock, but I strongly suggest avoiding the QB and his unhealthy TD:INT ratio. I actually like Rosenfels' chances to be a quality fantasy backup should Favre stay in Mississippi. Though he is mistake-prone, he's shown flashes of high production, and clearly has more upside than Jackson.

Tampa Bay: Luke McCown vs. Byron Leftwich. Why you should care: You shouldn't. Antonio Bryant will not be worth the draft pick you'll have to use to get him, and neither QB offers any kind of consistent fantasy value. Kellen Winslow should be OK with either.

Oakland: JaMarcus Russell vs. Jeff Garcia. Why you should care: This is Russell's job to lose, and he could very well lose it. The second-year player with the #1 pick pedigree showed some signs of "getting it" late last season, but it's his lack of leadership/maturity that has people speculating that he may not be NFL QB material. Garcia is a proven leader who still has something left in the tank. Neither QB should be drafted, but whomever emerges with the job could prove to be a decent free agent pick-up if he starts clicking with his young and speedy WR corps.

Miami: Chad Pennington vs. Chad Henne. Why you should care: This really isn't about who starts Week 1, but how long before Henne takes over. And that all depends on whether Pennington has the Dolphins winning early or not. Either way, there's very little to get excited about in this passing game.

Something in the water in Baltimore?

What's the deal with Ravens receivers?

First, Derrick Mason abruptly retires. (Or did he?)

Then, the veteran they bring in as insurance, Drew Bennett, retires a couple days after being signed. Bennett -- forever adored or vilified, depending on your perspective -- for his late season, out-of-nowhere heroics in 2004 (593 yards and 9 TDs in the final five games in tandem with Billy Volek in Tennessee) apparently aggravated a knee injury while working out for the team. That convinced him he could no longer play, so he hung up his cleats before we even had a chance to label him a bust.

So who's next in the Ravens WR carousel? Perhaps Joe Horn (roughly 80 by now)...Plaxico Burress...Marvin Harrison...

At this point, the only receiver wearing purple having even a shred of value is Mark Clayton, and then only as an injury or bye week fill-in.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Training camp opens! In Buffalo...

Training camp has begun, in Buffalo anyway, which signals the official beginning of quality fantasy football speculation. It's time to get serious now folks, paying attention to key position battles on the various teams, seeing how old faces are faring in new places, and keeping a close eye on the injury front.

For now, only the Bills have opened camp, and as you might expect, all the oxygen is being sucked out of the room by T.O. Expect a tremendous amount of speculation about his impact on team chemistry and Trent Edwards' fantasy stats, but know this: No QB-WR duo accounted for as many TD connections (38) as T.O. and Tony Romo over the last three years. The chances of Owens keeping that kind of pace with Edwards are about as good as Romo replicating that success with Roy Williams. It's just not going to happen. Feel free to keep your popcorn in the pantry.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, keep an eye on Michael Crabtree's contract situation. The rookie from Texas has a reputation as a diva, and it appears his agent is catering to his ego by threatening to hold out for more money than his #10 draft position would justify. Crabtree is the kind of player I could see pushing the team to the brink before agreeing on a number, which could backfire on him and any fantasy owners who draft him this season. Rookie WRs have a hard enough time contributing on a consistent basis when they get into camp on-time. Hold-outs usually cost themselves invaluable preseason reps, which translates into little or no production when the games start counting for real. Drafters beware...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Curry traded to Rams. Yawn...

The Lions traded WR Ronald Curry to St. Louis, making the former Oakland underachiever the odds-on favorite to win the Rams' starting job opposite second-year player Donnie Avery.

This news is really an indictment of the Rams' receiving corps more than anything else, that a player of Curry's mediocre credentials (13 TDs in 6 seasons) could waltz into a starting role so easily. After all, he barely had time to unpack in Detroit (he was signed in April) before he was unceremoneously shipped south to a team whose No. 2 slot was being contested by the likes of Keenan Burton and Falcons castoff Laurent Robinson.

We haven't seen anything since 2004 to suggest that Curry can be a reliable fantasy contributor, so don't bother looking his way on draft day.

Rams WRs sure aren't what they used to be...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tidbits from around the league

There's very little of substance going on in the NFL right now, which makes it a good time for me to be on vacation and somewhat negligent with my blog postings. Hey...what do you expect? It's free, isn't it?

But here's a smattering of semi-interesting info for those looking for a fantasy fix:

Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape and/or sexual assualt by a hotel employee in Vegas. There's no way at this time to know if this is a legitimate accusation or not, but you can be certain it is indeed a serious distraction for the Super Bowl champ. If you're drafting early, you should think twice about selecting Big Ben. No telling where this will end up.

By contrast, there are lots of positive vibes surrounding Darren McFadden this offseason. After an injury-marred and streaky rookie season, McFadden seems poised to become the lead back in Oakland in '09. It also appears that Michael Bush will get plenty of opportunities to overtake '08 starter Justin Fargas as the primary back-up. I like McFadden a lot at his current ADP (selected 56th in the recent Sporting News Experts Mock Draft).

Brett Favre is expected to make his "comeback" decision by Friday. Yawn.

Don't be surprised if Greg Olsen ends up as a top 5 fantasy TE this year. Chicago is gearing much of its passing game around him, and Jay Cutler's presence gives him a lot of upside, especially as a red-zone weapon.

Lots of speculation out there that Derrick Mason may be pulling a Favre and re-considering his retirement decision already. So perhaps you should put him back on your draft chart, and consider him as a very-late round flier if you're drafting early.

FoxSports.com is reporting that Brian Westbrook is likely to see fewer carries this season, and his goal-line touches might be reduced as well. He is still recovering from offseason surgery, and FB Leonard Weaver gives the Eagles some hefty options in short-yardage. Think hard before making Westy your #1 pick.

Much like the Favre hype machine, expect to hear a lot about Michael Vick's next NFL destination. The commissioner is expected to rule on his potential reinstatement soon -- perhaps even allowing some kind of probational approval for him to go to some team's training camp -- so the rumor mill will be active with speculation on where he may end up. He is seen as a superb "wildcat" QB, which is essentially what he did prior to his dogfighting arrest. But Vick has rarely been a reliable fantasy contributor, and should be nowhere near your draft board even if a team does take a flier on him.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bust alert: Antonio Bryant

Perhaps the most overrated player on this year's preseason draft boards is Tampa Bay WR Antonio Bryant. I'm convinced that if it wasn't for his extraordinary primetime performance in the Bucs' Week 14 thriller against the Panthers (200 yards, 2 TDs, including the awesome one-hander above), he would be considered no better than a fantasy WR3 in '09.

But that one game, seen by so many fantasy enthusiasts, has positioned Bryant in many minds as a worthy WR1. Those owners will be sorely disappointed.

For starters, Jeff Garcia is gone, leaving the QB position in the questionable hands of either Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown. Second, prior to 2008, Bryant has been mediocre at best since he entered the league as a Cowboy in 2002. He even suffered the ignominy of sitting out the entire 2007 season when no team wanted him or his bad attitude.

Recently, Bryant himself has been downplaying his prospects, suggesting to the St. Petersburg Times that he is unlikely to catch as many balls in '09 since the team is planning to spread the ball around more. You have to figure newly acquired Kellen Winslow will be getting a lot of attention.

All of which is to say that Bryant is a very risky proposition and should not be counted upon as a WR1 in any fantasy format. WR2? Maybe...but I will feel more comfortable seeing him in my opponents' lineups than in mine.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Latest Sporting News Experts Mock Draft -- Picking 11th out of 12

I participated in another mock draft with my fellow Sporting News writers yesterday. Drafting from the 11th slot in a standard, non-PPR 12-man league, with a starting lineup that includes 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 DEF and 1 K, here's what I did:

Pick #1: Larry Fitzgerald , AZ WR -- Unfortunately, I was running late because I am on vacation and was having a heck of a time finding internet access from Yosemite Natl Park. The auto drafter selected Fitzgerald for me -- the first WR off the board. Of course, I love Fitz, but I would have taken Chris Johnson here instead. Who knows? Fitz may have dropped to me at my next pick, or I would have been happy taking Randy Moss or Andre Johnson. I just don't think there's a huge difference between those 3, plus Calvin Johnson. All in all, I can live with this auto draft selection, but I love Chris J. and wish I had him as my RB1.

Pick #2: Steve Slaton , HOU RB -- In my mind, he was far-and-away the best RB left on the board (he was the 12th selected). Had I gotten CJ with my first pick, I would have been sorely tempted to take Slaton here anyway instead of an elite WR, if he slid. Slaton had a tremendous rookie season with 1,659 combined rushing and receiving yards and 10 total TDs. No reason he won't build on that this season, with virtually no real competition in the backfield. Love Houston's wide-open offense, and Slaton's role in the receiving game.

Pick #3: Phillip Rivers , SD QB -- I've written about how high I am on Rivers, so I had to grab him here or on the swing back. Since the guy drafting next didn't have a QB, I didn't want to take any chances. I love Rivers as my QB1.

Pick #4: Wes Welker , NE WR -- I struggled with this pick, but felt Welker offered the best value on the board. This would be a better pick in PPR leagues, but a healthy Brady makes Welker a very strong WR2. With 3 starting WRs, it's critical to take at least 2 strong receivers early.

Pick #5: Chris Wells, AZ RB -- I took Beanie in the 4th round of the SN Mock Draft held for the annual draft guide, so I love him here in the 5th. I firmly believe Wells will be the lead back in AZ from Day One, and will be this year's top rookie RB.

Pick #6: Larry Johnson , KC RB -- Pretty salty RB3, with plenty of potential to have a bounce-back season.

Pick #7: Eddie Royal , DEN WR -- If Brandon Marshall holds out, is suspended, is traded, or does something else stupid, Royal would become the No. 1 receiver in Denver. Even if Marshall is there, I like the second-year player's chances of being a solid fantasy contributor this season.

Pick #8: Kellen Winslow , TB TE -- Boom or bust TE selection. Best on the board after the elites (Gates, Witten, Gonzo, Dallas Clark) and others were already gone.

Pick #9: Matt Cassel , KC QB -- The Chiefs just paid him a king's ransom, so they must feel very good about their prized free-agent acquisition. Plenty of experts think he's starting QB material for their fantasy squads, but I feel much better with him in a backup role.

Pick #10: Vikings defense -- Probably the second-best fantasy defense after the Steelers, I felt good getting them as the 5th unit off the board.

Pick #11: Ahmad Bradshaw , NYG RB -- Another potential breakout player I've blogged about, I could see Bradshaw starting for me for at least a couple of weeks when Brandon Jacobs inevitably breaks down.

Pick #12: Mark Clayton , BAL WR -- Was hoping either Earl Bennett or Miles Austin would be here, but they were taken a few picks before. Clayton is the presumed No. 1 WR in Baltimore now that Derrick Mason has retired, assuming the Ravens don't bring in Marvin Harrison, Brandon Marshall or someone else. Not counting on much here, but Clayton could be a decent bye-week fill-in.

Pick #13: Jamaal Charles , KC RB -- Insurance for my Larry Johnson gamble.

Pick #14: Mark Bradley , KC WR -- If Cassel performs well, big-play Bradley could be a steal this late. But come to think of it, how good can I feel about 4 Chiefs on my roster? Just realized that...

Pick #15: Chris Henry, CIN WR -- Quite possibly the steal of the draft, especially if he emerges as a starter opposite Ochocinco (and ahead of Laveranues Coles). Henry has always been a fantasy factor when he's playing and Carson Palmer is healthy. Love this pick this late.

Pick #16: Ladell Betts, WAS RB -- Lots of positive vibes out of DC about Betts' offseason performance. He has always had the talent to thrive outside of Clinton Portis' shadow. Portis is aging, so Betts could easily be in the starting lineup for some games this season. Nice trade bait...

Pick #17: Neil Rackers, AZ, K -- Solid kicker on a great offense. Not bad for second-to-last pick in the draft. But I don't like his early (Week 4) bye week. That may force me to make a hard free-agent decision early.

Derrick Mason...Thanks for the memories!

It seems only fitting that just a few days after Steve McNair's tragic death, his favorite target decided to retire.

Derrick Mason was always one of the most underrated WRs in the league, as both a Titan and Raven, though fantasy enthusiasts appreciated his talents. Always a PPR contributor, Mason was rarely spectacular; just consistent and reliable.

Mason's well-deserved retirement (he's been in the league for a dozen years) leaves an opening in the Ravens' starting receiver corps. Mark Clayton deserves a slight bump up the charts (I just grabbed him late in our latest Sporting News Experts Mock Draft), as Joe Flacco's presumed favorite target. Demetrius Williams is likely next in line, but don't be surprised if Baltimore looks more seriously at disgruntled Brandon Marshall.

Rumors are also circulating that Mason hasn't filed his retirement papers yet and may change his mind. But that seems unlikely. Take him off your draft board until further notice.

Monday, July 13, 2009

FANTASY FOOLS EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Grant predicts 10+ TDs!

Just chatted with Ryan Grant. And while I probably am overselling this a bit, I got him to predict a RB1 fantasy season for himself.

When told that he was falling to the late 2nd/early 3rd rounds in this year's draft, he said that we'd better get him "early 1st round or [we] will be sorry, especially since i'm healthy."

When asked if he would put up 10+ TDs this season, his response was a succinct (and overly respectful) "yessir."

So, there you have it, folks. And by the way...there's no reason to think Ryan is being unreasonable in his optimism, either. With Aaron Rodgers entering his second full year as the starter, and an outstanding WR corps to keep opposing defenses honest, a healthy Grant could once again be a rushing powerhouse.

Feel free to move him up your draft lists. I will...

Three week wonder?

Three weeks can be an eternity in fantasy football. Loose 2 or 3 out of your first three matchups of the season, and you could be dead in the water before you even realize what hit you.

That's why Fred Jackson could be an exceptional late-round draft pick. Here's three reasons why:

1. He's slated to start the first three games of the season for Buffalo, while starter Marshawn Lynch serves his NFL suspension.
2. Jackson performed very nicely in Lynch's absence last season. He could conceivably do so well in his early '09 starting gig that he earns continued playing time even after Lynch returns.
3. If you're fortunate enough to face Lynch's owner in the first three weeks, you'll get double the fun of sticking it to him with the guy he should have handcuffed to his RB1 or RB2.

Jackson could turn into a full-season gem, or simply a three-week wonder. Either way, he's absolutely worth a late-middle round draft pick.

Which one doesn't belong?

So Jerry Rice is apparently tutoring some of the finest WRs in the game in Minneapolis this week. Let's see, there's Greg Jennings, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Clayton.


How exactly does Clayton get an invitation to train with those guys? Surely it takes more than a banner rookie campaign -- followed by four of the sparest seasons any starting WR in the NFL has ever strung together -- to break into such elite company. Clayton must have incriminating photos of one of them. Hopefully he's just there to fetch water for the real WRs.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

You be careful out there...

Donte Stallworth has been released from prison. Please, people...remember to look both ways!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turner, Roddy constrained by Gonzo?

Word out of Atlanta is that newly acquired TE Tony Gonzalez is being integrated so fully into the Falcons' offensive scheme that he has become QB Matt Ryan's "hot read" on blitzes. Last year, Roddy White played that role.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter -- a writer for the Atlanta Constitution who might just be a little pretentious for a sports columnist -- Roddy was targeted on a third of Ryan's passes in 2008. He projects that will fall to around 25% due to Gonzo's presence.

D. Orlando also expects Turner's carries to be reduced from the astronomical (and league-leading) 377 rushes to something in the neighborhood of 270-280. That's a huge (25%-ish) cut. D projects that Jerious Norwood will pick up much of the slack.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I sounded the alarm on Turner a couple of months ago when I selected Matt Forte with the second overall draft pick in the Sporting News experts draft. Sure, Turner is a stud, and a very worthy first-round pick. But don't expect him to carry as much of the load in 2009 as he did last season, when the team was letting its rookie QB get comfortable under center. Turner also isn't a contributor as a receiver. Expect more passing -- especially with Gonzo's addition -- with a healthy, but somewhat reduced, dose of Turner from the suddenly high-octane Atlanta offense.

By the way, don't expect Gonzo to match his position-leading stats (96 rec, 1,058 yards, 10 TDs) from 2008, either. He won't be the No. 1 target as he was in KC, he likely will take some time to get comfortable with his new team, and he turns 33 this season. Oh yeah...the team says they plan to use him in more of a blocking role than the Chiefs did, too.

Top 5 TE? Sure. But it's a safe bet that Gates, Witten and possibly even Dallas Clark will out-perform him in '09.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Philip Rivers: Time for your close-up

Quick: Who were the top 3 fantasy QBs in 2009?

You know Drew Brees was the Big Cheese. But you might be surprised to recall that Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers were two and three, respectively.

In fact, Rivers matched Brees passing TD for passing TD, at 34. And his 4,009 passing yards were 5th best in the league.

Yet while Brees is likely to be the first QB off the board in most fantasy drafts -- followed closely by Peyton and Brady -- Rivers will probably still be sitting there biding his time when the fourth or fifth rounds roll along.

In fact, in Sporting News' experts mock draft conducted in April, Rivers was picked #45 overall, the 7th QB off the board (following the aforementioned passers, plus Rodgers, Romo and Warner).

Where's the love for Rivers?

Hard to say, exactly. Though many of us reflexively dislike the guy because he's so freaking cocky, we also have to recognize that he has become an outstanding fantasy QB. And with excellent receiving weapons in LT, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson, and a solid line protecting him, there is every reason to believe that Rivers could emerge as this year's most valuable fantasy QB.

I am determined to secure his services for at least one of my teams this season.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Two sleeper WRs to watch closely in camp

Every season, a couple of WRs come out of nowhere to have outstanding seasons (Antonio Bryant, anyone?). The shrewd owners who drafted them late, or snared them early in free agency, get to profit from WR1 or WR2 production for the price of a kicker.

While it's still early on -- training camps haven't even opened, for Pete's sake -- it's not too soon to start identifying players in a position to break out in 2009. Today I offer two intriguing candidates for your consideration: Pierre Garcon and Chris Henry.

Garcon, a second-year player with the Colts, is coming off a rookie season in which he caught just four passes for 23 yards. So he's not exactly top-of-mind in fantasy circles. But perhaps he should be. Now that Marvin Harrison is gone, a starting gig is available in Peyton Manning's receiving corps (reason enough to pay attention). Anthony Gonzalez is on everyone's radar, but he could very well remain in his familiar role as the slot receiver, leaving the outside flanker spot to either Garcon or promising rookie Austin Collie. Garcon is big (6'0", 210 lbs), sure-handed and quick, but Collie has a reputation for catching everything near him. Still, Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post has dubbed Garcon "the new Marvin Harrison." The WR3 in Indy deserves a place on your roster. Right now, it looks like Garcon's job to lose.

A few miles east, the Bengals are acting like a team that thinks it can compete for a division title again. While the Steelers and Ravens might have something to say about that, it's not a huge stretch to believe that a healthy Carson Palmer could re-energize the offensive side of the ball. Here too, the lineup has changed. TJ Houshmandzadeh is out; Laveranues Coles is in. And lurking in the shadows is the lanky, lightning-fast, legally challenged Henry, who has tantalized Bengals fans and fantasy players alike over the years with his game-breaking talent. But he just can't seem to stay out of trouble off the field. So far in 2009, everything is hunky dory, and Palmer has been praising Henry all offseason. While most assume Henry is a lock in the No. 3 role, the fifth-year speedster is actually challenging Coles for the WR2 position. Either way, he's always a long-ball threat, and his leaping ability makes him an outstanding red-zone target.

Stash Garcon and Henry in your sleeper file, and keep an eye on them throughout training camp and the preseason. One, or both, could prove to be late-round gold.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why Marion Barber is not a first-round RB

I love Marion Barber. In the purest, manliest sense of the word, of course. But despite his powerful, no-holds-barred running style that makes him an outstanding fantasy RB, he simply can't be considered a first-round value in 2009.

Blame Felix Jones.

As a rookie, Jones showed extraordinary play-making ability, including an otherworldly 8.9 yards-per-carry average. Only a toe injury prevented him from being a fantasy powerhouse, and from stealing from Barber's spotlight. In his second year, the Cowboys know what they have in Jones, and won't hesitate to feed him the ball early and often. There's rampant speculation that both backs will frequently be on the field at the same time, possibly with Felix split out as a receiver. And there's still the very real possibility that Jones will be tapped as the starter, with the bruising Barber kept in check until late in the game, when he can pummel worn-out opposing defenses. That was the strategy that first made Barber a star a couple of years ago; and made Julius Jones a Seahawk.

And we can't forget that Tyson Thompson has earned some playing time as well, after his late-season rushing heroics in 2008.

Any way you look at it, it's bad news for Barber. He simply can't be an every-week elite RB along the lines of AP, S-Jax, Forte and Turner. He'll likely be taken with a No. 1 pick, but he won't play up to that level.

I'll take Felix a few rounds later, and get similar (if not better) production.

Air McNair...R.I.P.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day to all!

Enjoy the holiday, remember the troops, and get ready for the stretch run to the NFL season opener. It will be here before we know it!

Happy 4th!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Marvin's return considered a stretch

We may have seen the last of Marvin Harrison not just in a Colts uniform, but in any uniform. Following two disappointing, injury-marred seasons in which he ranked No. 100 and No. 42, respectively, this should come as no surprise.

What's surprising is that talent evaluators around the league have the future Hall of Famer rated below such mediocre free agents as Amani Toomer and Joe Horn.

Frankly, I'd hate to see Marvelous Marvin playing out his final year(s) for another team, joining the likes of Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Joe Namath and others who didn't know when to hang 'em up. Retire, Marvin, and go enjoy the good life! We'll see you in Canton in five years!

Also on the wire today, the Brandon Marshall saga continues in Denver. The team is reportedly not making any trade offers, but they'll listen to any team that has an offer for their troubled All Pro WR. Word is, they want a 2010 first-rounder to replace the one they traded away in order to move up in this year's draft.

If Marshall is traded -- a big if, to be sure -- Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley would likely compete for the starting job opposite Eddie Royal. And right now, Gaffney appears to have the edge. You'll recall Gaffney as the sometimes brilliant, other times invisible target of Tom Brady in New England.

But honestly, how excited can you get about either Gaffney or Stokley as Kyle Orton's No. 2? I'm not even sure I like Royal's prospects this year, and I love Royal!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Santonio adds 10...Alert the media!

You know we're in the dog days of summer when the biggest news on the fantasy landscape is that Santonio Holmes has added 10 pounds of muscle to his frame since the Super Bowl in an effort to become a more physical receiver. I figure this new information is worth, let's see, an upgrade of one additional slot in the WR rankings. Unfortunately, I haven't compiled my rankings yet, so I've got nothing to show for this...

Also, Willie McGinest doesn't want to retire yet, and the Dolphins signed third-round pick WR Patrick Turner.

Anybody else ready for training camps to open???