Welcome to the "Original" Dynasty Rankings Fantasy Football Blog

This blog was born out of a Dynasty Rankings thread originally begun in October, 2006 at the Footballguys.com message boards. The rankings in that thread and the ensuing wall-to-wall discussion of player values and dynasty league strategy took on a life of its own at over 275 pages and 700,000 page views. The result is what you see in the sidebar under "Updated Positional Rankings": a comprehensive ranking of dynasty league fantasy football players by position on a tiered, weighted scale. In the tradition of the original footballguys.com Dynasty Rankings thread, intelligent debate is welcome and encouraged.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 31, 2008: Three Fingered Brown & John McGraw

Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch featuring the wit and wisdom of Hall of Fame manager John McGraw on the subject of Mordecai "Three Fingered" Brown:

In some strange way, Brown has achieved wonders with this crippled hand. It is on account of the missing finger that he is called "Three Fingered" Brown, and he is better known by that appellation than by his real name.

Brown beat the Giants a hard game one day in 1911, pitching against me. He had a big curve, lots of speed, and absolute control. The Giants could not touch him. Next day McGraw was out warming up with Arthur Wilson, the young catcher on the club.

"Wonder if he gets any new curve with that short first finger?" said McGraw, and thereupon crooked his own initial digit and began trying to throw the ball in different ways off it to see what the result would be. Finally he decided:

"No, I guess he doesn't get anything extra with the abbreviated finger, but that's lucky for you fellows, because, if I thought he did, I'd have a surgeon out here tomorrow operating on the first fingers of each of you pitchers."

Tags: Mathewson, pinch

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

TE Dynasty Ranks | Rotoworld: March, 2008

By Chris Wesseling

Dynasty Ranks: Tight Ends

The important factor to keep in mind about dynasty league tight ends is that they develop as slowly as quarterbacks only to suffer the shelf-life of running backs. A rookie tight end offering startable production is just as rare as an over-thirty tight end remaining a true difference-maker. There are exceptions, of course, such as Shannon Sharpe and Tony Gonzalez. But even going back to Hall of Fame talents like Marion Motley, Mike Ditka, Kellen Winslow, and Ozzie Newsome, aging mows them down much earlier than most positions.


1. Antonio Gates SD 28 - When healthy, he's been a tier unto himself among tight ends. Chargers offense could have a tough time working out the cobwebs early with so many key components returning from injury.
2. Kellen Winslow II CLE 25 - Similar to Frank Gore in that many believe he will age quickly due to the seriousness of past leg injuries, but that's mere speculation for now and he's producing like a stud.
3. Jason Witten DAL 26 - A great bet to stay heavily involved in the offense, if not quite as impressively as in '07.


4. Chris Cooley WAS 26 - How will he produce in the West Coast offense with a new head coach? He's a terrific red zone weapon, and a consistent bet for 65-70 receptions and 750 yards.
5. Todd Heap BAL 28 - One of the best buy-lows of the off-season at any position; even with putrid QB play, Heap has been a difference maker when healthy.
6. Vernon Davis SF 24 - Kept up statistically with guys like Heath Miller & Jeremy Shockey over the second half of '07 and offers much more upside.
7. Dallas Clark IND 29 - Long-term contract offers very good dynasty value in Colts offense; will he be used as heavily as he was last season, or was that a one-year aberration?
8. Tony Gonzalez KC 32 - Hasn't slowed down yet, but turns 33 during the season and has major QB issues.
9. Tony Scheffler DEN 25 - Young, athletic Heap clone benefits from an obvious rapport with Cutler and stands to build on outstanding second half numbers.


10. Jeremy Shockey NYG 28 - Could be seen as a very good buy-low as flavor of the month Kevin Boss isn't nearly as talented, but there's a definite injury factor here.
11. Heath Miller PIT 25 - Great red zone option and very good in the open field, but he just doesn't see consistent enough targets to move to the next level.
12. Ben Watson NE 27 - Running out of time to make good on that tremendous promise. Very good big-play ability, and a nice red zone target, but his poor hands often leave him without the trust of his QB.
13. Owen Daniels HOU 25 - A major component of the Texans passing attack, but he needs to be more involved in the red zone game plan.
14. Greg Olsen CHI 23 - Showed promise on that 1st round talent, but he worked much better with Griese and Desmond Clark re-signed to bleed value from Olsen.


15. Zach Miller OAK 22 - One of the few bright spots in the Raiders offense, he had rookie teammate JaMarcus Russell's attention when the two of them played together in Weeks 16 & 17.
16. Donald Lee GB 28 - 2007 is flashing "career year" in bright neon lights, especially with Rodgers taking over for Favre.
17. Alge Crumpler TEN 30- At age 30 becomes the safety valve for another subpar passer, but he was always able to take that and make it valuable with Vick.
18. L.J. Smith PHI 28 - Could bounce back in '08, but not much security here if he doesn't sign a long-term deal with the Eagles.
19. Marcedes Lewis JAX 24 - Not heavily involved in the Jags offense, but expecting steady, continued improvement isn't unreasonable.


20. Ben Troupe TB 26 - Buccaneers hoping he pushes Alex Smith to the sidelines more often; Troupe has had some obvious issues over the past couple of seasons, but the upside is there if he can put it all together.
21. Alex Smith TB 26 - Talented but always left his NFL team and his fantasy owners wanting more; now in a dogfight with Troupe for his job.
22. Leonard Pope ARI 25 - Fantastic red zone weapon at 6'7", but he's just not used enough between the twenties.
23. Jeff King CAR 24 - Worth more in PPR leagues, but not dynamic or well-rounded enough to do much more than he did in '07.
24. Randy McMichael STL 29 - McMichael had only five of 16 games last season with more than two receptions; not enough TDs or targets in the Rams offense.
25. Ben Utecht CIN 27 - TE2 possibility as easily the best receiving tight end of the Carson Palmer/Marvin Lewis era Bengals. Some are expecting him to be used as Palmer's version of Dallas Clark, but he's not that talented and the Bengals don't use their tight ends as much as the Colts do.
26. Chris Baker NYJ 28 - Seems like he could put up better numbers if the Jets would concentrate on getting him the ball more often, but he hasn't exactly been a difference-maker.
27. Desmond Clark CHI 31 - Still putting up interesting numbers, but he's already 31-years-old with Olsen hot on his heels for the starting job while siphoning production in the meantime.


28. David Thomas NE 25 - Nice sleeper stash if Watson's hands continue to leave doubts about his game.
29. Kevin Boss NYG 24 - Shockey's eventual replacement, but it's not likely to happen any time soon.
30. Anthony Fasano DAL 24 - Needs a Witten injury or the onset of free agency before he accrues real value.
31. Bo Scaife TEN 27 - Never had much of a ceiling and now blocked by Crumpler.
32. Eric Johnson NO 29 - Slowly weeded out of the offense last season, but brought back again.
33. Joe Klopfenstein STL 24 - McMichael's caddy for now.
34. Daniel Graham DEN 29 - He blocks while Scheffler catches passes.
35. Martrez Milner ATL 24 - Crumpler's replacement is the new receiving tight end in Atlanta.

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Quote of the Day | March 30, 2008: The Cardinal Sin in a Ball Player

More from Christy Mathewson's 1912 Pitching in a Pinch:

But the ideal way to break a star into the Big League is that which marked the entrance of Grover Cleveland Alexander, of the Philadelphia club. The Cincinnati club had had its eye on Alexander for some time, but "Tacks" Ashenbach, the scout, now dead, had advised against him, declaring that he would be no good against "regular batters." Philadelphia got him at the waiver price and he was among the lot in the newspapers marked "Those who also joined." He started out in 1911 and won two or three games before anyone paid any attention to him. Then he kept on winning until one manager was saying to another: "That guy, Alexander, is a hard one to beat."

He had won ten or dozen games before it was fully realized that he was a star. Then he was so accustomed to the Big League he acted as if he had been living in it all his life, and there was no getting on his nerves. When he started, he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. If he didn't last, the newspapers wouldn't laugh at him, and the people wouldn't say: "$11,000, or $22,500, for a lemon." That's the dread of all ball players.

Such is the psychology of introducing promising pitchers into the Big Leagues. The Alexander route is the ideal one, but it's hard to get stars now without paying enormous prices for them. Philadelphia was lucky.

There is another element which enters into the form of athletics. Tennis players call it nervousness, and ball players, in the frankness of the game, call it a "yellow streak." It is the inability to stand the gaff, the weakening in the pinches. It is something ingrained in a man that can't be cured. It is the desire to quit when the situation is serious. It is different from stage fright, because a man may get over that, but a "yellow streak" is always with him. When a new player breaks into the League, he is put to the most severe test by the other men to see if he is "yellow." If he is found wanting, he is hopeless in the Big League, for the news will spread, and he will receiver no quarter. It is the cardinal sin in a ball player.

Tags: Mathewson, pinch

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 29, 2008: The Break

From baseball hall of famer Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch, originally published in 1912:

In minor leagues, there are fewer games in which a "break" comes. It does not develop in all Big League contests by any means. Sometimes one team starts to win in the first inning and simply runs away from the other club all the way. But in all close games the pinch shows up.

It happens in many contests in the major leagues because of the almost perfect baseball played. Depending on his fielders, a manager can play for this "break." And when the pinch comes, it is a case of the batter's nerve against the pitcher's.

Tags: Baseball, pinch, pitching, Christy Mathewson

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 28, 2008: The Pinch

From baseball hall of famer Christy Mathewson's Pitching in a Pinch, originally published in 1912:

In most Big League ball games, there comes an inning on which hangs victory or defeat. Certain intellectual fans call it the crisis; college professors, interested in the sport, have named it the psychological moment; Big League managers mention it as the "break," and pitchers speak of the "pinch."

This is the time when each team is straining every nerve either to win or to prevent defeat. The players and spectators realize that the outcome of the inning is of vital importance. And in most of these pinches, the real burden falls on the pitcher. It is at this moment that he is "putting all he has" on the ball, and simultaneously his opponents are doing everything they can to disconcert him.

Managers wait for this break, and the shrewd league leader can often time it. Frequently a certain style of play is adopted to lead up to the pinch, then suddenly a slovenly mode of attack is changed, and the team comes on with a rush in an effort to break up the game. That is the real test of a pitcher. He must be able to live through these squalls.

Tags: Mathewson, baseball, pinch

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 27, 2008: Life Is Not Always Ascendant

Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, 1986:

"So, like. Whaddaya do?" She has adopted a new sleepy way of talking, as if nothing could bore her more than I do. Again I hear a gull cry. My lip, where Vicki socked me, throbs like a goddamn boil.

"I'm a sportswriter."

"Uh-huh." She parks one hip against the door molding and leans into it. "Whaddaya write about?"

"Well. I write about football and baseball, and players." I take a sip of my sweet, cold float. I actually feel better. Who would've thought a root-beer float could restore both faith and health, or that I would find it in as half-caste a town as this, a place wizened to a few car lots, an adult book store, a shut-down drive-in movie up the road---remnants of a boom that never boomed. . . .

"So, were you, like, a pretty good jock sometime when you were young?"

"I liked baseball then, too, except I couldn't hit or run."

"Uh-huh. Same here." She takes a preposterous puff on her cigarette and exhales all the smoke out her mouth and into the shopping center air. "So. How'd you get interested in it? Did you read about it someplace?"

"I went to college. Then when I got older, I failed at everything else, and that's all I could do."

Debra looks down at me, worry hooding her eyes. Her idea of a big success has a different story line, one that doesn't confess any start-up problems. I can teach her a damned useful lesson in life about that. "That doesn't sound so great," she says.

"It is pretty great, though. Successful life doesn't always follow a straight course to the top. Sometimes things don't work out and you have to change the way you look at things. But you don't want to stop and get discouraged when the chips are all down. That'd be the worst time. If I'd stopped when things went the wrong way, I'd be a goner."

. . .

She has lost interest in me, and I can't blame her. I might as well have speaking French from the planet Pluto. I am not an answer man of any kind. . . .

As I watch her walk out into the lot toward the Ground Zero, her hands fishing in her pocket for a new cigarette, shoulders hunched against a cold breeze that isn't blowing, her hopes for a nice day, I could guess, are as good as mine, both of us out in the wind, expectant, available for an improvement. And my hopes are that a little luck will come both our ways. Life is not always ascendant.

Tags: Richard Ford, The Sportswriter

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 26, 2008: A Thoroughly New Idea

Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence:

Bodin's Republic was widely read in France, influential also in England, and reissued at frequent intervals; all of which shows that the public mind was prepared by other influences to find it good. A thoroughly new idea gets no response.

Tags: Barzun

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

WR Dynasty Ranks | Rotoworld: March, 2008

By Chris Wesseling

Dynasty Ranks: Wide Receivers

One of the keys to dynasty league success is identifying stars before they explode on the scene. Your challenge is to draft them or trade for them before they become untouchable. That's a tired old chestnut, but try roasting it like this: In a complex position often requiring a lengthy learning curve, try letting another owner develop your wide receivers for you. Attempting to rank receivers coming out of college is far too inaccurate of a science to invest your precious resources in their enigmatic development.

An elite young wide receiver, on the other hand, is worth his weight in gold because he can produce Top-10 numbers consistently whereas the turnover among the tier two and tier three wide receivers is staggering. The tundra is littered with early round receiving prospects who never made the leap to impact fantasy starter. Wait a year or two to identify those with a favorable chance to become a WR1 and strike while their value is still relatively low. If you do your homework, you should trust your gut instinct and have faith in your own analysis.


1. Randy Moss NE 31 - Staying in New England stabilizes both his and Brady's value.
2. Larry Fitzgerald ARI 25 - Young, ultra-talented, reliably consistent, and a target monster as well as red zone stud; ideal nucleus player.
3. Andre Johnson HOU 27 - The elite talent was always there, and now he has a QB who can get him the ball; only minor negative is history of unreliability at times.
4. Reggie Wayne IND 29 - Being Peyton Manning's #1 target is the perfect recipe for long-term value; high marks for consistency going forward.
5. Steve Smith CAR 29 - Personally, I'd take Smith ahead of Wayne and Johnson, but I'm a gambler. Smith would be fighting for the top spot on this list if not for short- & long-term QB issues.
6. Braylon Edwards CLE 25 - I'm expecting consistent TD numbers, but the targets and yardage may be slightly less than the guys ahead of him.
7. Marques Colston NO 25 - Seems to disappear for a 2-3 game stretch, but you can't argue with the success to start his career. Figures to stay consistently productive as long as Brees stays healthy.


8. Brandon Marshall DEN 24.5
- Target monster is due for an increase in TDs in '08; there's a hint of high knucklehead potential here.
9. Calvin Johnson DET 23.0 - I'm always willing to stick my neck out for dominant talent, and Calvin Johnson remains the most dominant WR talent to enter the league since Randy Moss; buy low.
10. Chad Johnson CIN 30 - Highly consistent seasonal numbers but schizophrenic game-to-game numbers. Would be higher if not for his more severe than usual shenanigans this off-season; becoming very high risk.
11. Terrell Owens DAL 34 - Worth more to an annual contender than he is to a rebuilder; a true difference maker at a position where there aren't many, T.O. still gives you a weekly advantage over most of the owners in your league.
12. Torry Holt STL 32 - After an impressive display with a bum knee in a sunk offense in '07, expect Holt to bounce back with another Tier 1 performance in '08. Age & gimpy knee keeping his value down just a tad.
13. Anquan Boldin ARI 27 - The difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 is weekly reliability, and Boldin hasn't been reliable for a couple of seasons now. The talent is top-notch, but the assurance is waning.
14. Roy Williams DET 26 - Another ultra-talented WR who has shown flashes but hasn't been able to consistently produce like the elites; free agent after '08 season likely to be tagged by the Lions . . . unfortunately.


15. Plaxico Burress NYG 31
- Years ago, Plax inspired me to create the phrase "high knucklehead factor" for a player who is under-motivated, prone to mental vacations and off the field imbroglios, and always a risk for a sudden reduction in value. If he produced like Randy Moss, I could easily see past it.
16. Dwayne Bowe KC 24 - Value is highly dependent on the Croyle situation this season; another elite physical talent at WR who should produce as both a playmaker and a possession WR.
17. T.J. Houshmandzadeh CIN 30 - Clearly the #2 WR in the Bengals offense, Housh has produced like a #1 for two years, but he's an ideal sell high this off-season due to his lack of staying power.
18. Lee Evans BUF 27 - Has Tier 1 talent but the Bills offense, especially the QB play, has held him back. Evans can be both a possession WR and a huge big play threat down the field. He has the whole package if his QB can get him the ball.
19. Santonio Holmes PIT 24 - Outstanding playmaker who excels at taking a short-to-middle pass to the house; not yet the go-to WR in his own offense, and I'm slightly concerned that he's not physical enough to be a high reception WR.
20. Greg Jennings GB 25 - Was the '07 TD total an aberration, or can we expect Jennings to overcome his low target numbers to produce like a star even with Rodgers taking over for Favre?
21. Wes Welker NE 27 - The Stokley and Furrey comparisons are ludicrous. Welker's role in the Pats' offense is too significant to expect a steep drop-off though the whole passing attack is likely to take at least a small step back in '08.
22. Santana Moss WAS 29 - Went from over-rated to under-rated in one season. His inconsistency from game-to-game and year-to-year will always keep him out of the top tier, but he's too talented to be passed up by flavors of the day.
23. Jerricho Cotchery NYJ 26 - Concerns: doesn't get in the end zone, has to fight Coles for top billing, and his QB has problems getting the ball too him consistently. On the flip side, he can makes some plays when given the opportunity.
24. Hines Ward PIT 32 - Off-season surgery should help him regain a step or two after playing through tears of his MCL, PCL, and right meniscus last season; as exhibited in the playoff game against JAX, he's still Big Ben's most reliable WR as well as a prime red zone weapon.


25. Anthony Gonzalez IND 24
- It's so tough to rank Colts offensive players on talent because the Peyton Manning factor skews the results. There's no reason Gonzalez can't produce like a starter as long as he plays like a starter---no sure thing with Marvin possibly bouncing back this season.
26. Roddy White ATL 26 - Prime sell-high. White did produce under all 3 woeful QBs in '07, but the Falcons had to pass a ton because their running game was so dreadful. With Mularkey's power running game and Michael Turner in town, and further poor quarterbacking, the passing numbers will suffer in '08.
27. #Marvin Harrison IND 36 - "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun, but Mama, that's where the fun is." High risk, high reward. How lucky do you feel? I think Marvin could easily have another difference-making season left in him, but I'm not willing to invest heavily to find out at age 36.
28. Chris Chambers SD 30 - I've yet to see a convincing argument for Catch % as a tell-all metric, but that didn't stop the stats guys from hammering Chambers for years. He's still a very good talent, one of the better red zone receivers, and his current QB is a considerably better passer than any QB he ever had in Miami.
29. Sidney Rice MIN 22 - The talent is obvious. Rice should be a playmaker and a TD scorer in a normal offense, but the Vikes are far from a normal offense; pray for a QB trade.
30. Laveranues Coles NYJ 30 - With the explosion gone and his failure to ever exceed 7 TDs in a season, he looks like a poor man's Hines Ward to me.
31. Bernard Berrian MIN 27 - Grossman was a horrible QB, but at least he had eyes for Berrian. Changing teams is rarely friendly to non-elite WRs, and Berrian is headed to one quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson.
32. Vincent Jackson SD 25 - Did Vincent Jackson make the leap in the playoffs, or was it simply the result of increased opportunity with Gates so gimpy? He can be a red zone weapon, but there are only so many balls to go around in San Diego.
33. Donald Driver GB 33 - It doesn't pay to be Favre's go-to guy when Favre is no longer around; heading into his mid-thirties, Driver may be entering his last startable season.


34. Kevin Curtis PHI 30
- Explosive in doses but not reliable enough to be a weekly fantasy starter. Still, 1100 yards and 6 TDs isn't bad production for a WR3.
35. Nate Burleson SEA 27 - Plenty of opportunity in '08 with Branch injured and Hackett gone. If that translates into a marked increase in targets to go with his impressive '07 red zone production, Burleson could be a major sleeper.
36. #Javon Walker OAK 29 - Swampland in Florida, oceanfront property in Arizona---you name it, Walker is it. When your coach is openly pining for you to undergo microfracture surgery, then you might have a problematic future.
37. Chris Henry CIN 25 - Poor man's Randy Moss. High reward, little risk since it shouldn't cost much to gamble here. With Chad Johnson a possible holdout, Henry's playmaking skills are worth a roll of the dice.
38. D.J. Hackett CAR 27 - Being Steve Smith's partner isn't a good bet for steady production; would have been higher had he remained in Seattle.
39. Mark Clayton BAL 26 - Talk about a let-down season. As disappointing as Clayton's production was in '07, it's tough to muster up the faith again in '08. Seriously, zero TDs?! You better hope the string of foot, calf, and back injuries were much worse then he let on.
40. Ted Ginn Jr. MIA 23 - No matter how fast you are, it's going to be tough for an unpolished WR to produce in that offense. All upside, no production at this point.
41. Ronald Curry OAK 29 - I want to rank him higher, but I see tough days ahead in '08 with Russell learning on the job.


42. James Jones GB 24
- Favre's exit may lead the Pack to a gradual shift away from Driver and towards the younger receivers. Jones had a terrific rookie season as a 3rd WR in the Packers offense.
43. Reggie Brown PHI 27 - He just couldn't get the separation needed to become a reliable target for McNabb; may bounce back somewhat, but the lack of speed looks troublesome.
44. Jerry Porter JAX 30 - Extremely high knuckle-head factor, always an over-rated talent, and the Jags just don't pass enough. Still, it beats the Raiders offense.
45. Reggie Williams JAX 25 - Fluky TD total was the result of abnormally high blown coverage due to the Jags dominant rushing attack; he's improving every year, but he's not a good bet to surpass last year's numbers.
46. Drew Bennett STL 30 - Right now he's the #2 WR in an offense that could bounce back to put up some interesting numbers. By no means a reliable WR3, but he has a chance at regular startability in '08.
47. Donte' Stallworth CLE 27 - Has there been a bigger WR tease over the past 10 years? Stallworth always shows just enough to get his owners excited before letting them down with another season well under 1,000 yards.
48. Laurent Robinson ATL 23 - Needs to bulk up while he's stashed on your bench; it won't take much to bypass Michael Jenkins and Joe Horn, and he could end eventually end up with a Darrell Jackson type of career in right offense.
49. Robert Meachem NO 24 - Great buy-low as a '07 first rounder who redshirted last season with a bothersome knee. A good deal more talented than the WRs ahead of him on the Saints depth chart, so don't rule a fast move now that he's healthy and working with teammate David Patten to improve.
50. #Deion Branch SEA 29 - Formerly known as the captain of the all-overrated team with no seasons over 1,000 yards and never more than one 100 yard game in a season. He's still that guy, but now with an ACL injury and a half-season stay on the PUP list.
51. Steve Smith NYG 23 - Came on strong in the playoffs, but I believe his upside is still #2 WR in his team's offense.
52. Bobby Engram SEA 35 - Coming on age 36, but should be startable for at least another season as Hasselbeck's safety blanket in an offense lacking experienced receiving options.
53. Darrell Jackson SF 29 - Better find a home soon, or he'll slip all the way down to waiver wire material; it would behoove him to find the a West Coast Offense with a need at WR.
54. Demetrius Williams BAL 25 - Can he expand his game beyond deep-threat? Needs improved QB play and a larger role in the offense, neither of which should be unreasonable beyond '08.


55. Derrick Mason BAL 34
- Can he repeat his '07 season? I just don't see him approaching last year's target numbers again.
56. Bryant Johnson SF 27 - Can he become the #1 WR in Martz' offense? I thought he'd be a nice complementary #2 for a guy like Lee Evans in Buffalo, but I'm not sold on Johnson as a major piece of the 49ers offense.
57. Antonio Bryant TB 27 - If he has his act together, Bryant could leapfrog Galloway & Co. to become the Bucs most threatening WR. That's not saying much, I know, but Bryant has been relevant in fantasy circles before, and he's still only 27.
58. Patrick Crayton DAL 29 - Ideally, more of a 3rd WR so the Cowboys will continually look to upgrade.
59. Joey Galloway TB 36 - May still be in Gruden's doghouse for his playoff performance, and rightly so. At close to 37-years-old, the cliff is fast approaching.
60. Devin Hester CHI 25 - Intriguing stash; I still don't like his chances to ever become a fantasy factor on offense, but as long as the Bears are willing to give him a chance he's worth a roster spot.
61. Mark Bradley CHI 26 - Can he stay healthy? If so, the opportunity could be forthcoming in a talent-starved offense.
62. Jacoby Jones HOU 24 - How tough can it be to beat out Kevin Walter? The recent DWI didn't help matters.
63. Matt Jones JAX 25 - Pure wildcard. One of the few players who could conceivably see his value rise if his NFL team releases him. Has the talent to make a fantasy impact on the right team.
64. Chad Jackson NE 23 - He's been an injury-prone bust, and the Pats no longer need his speed game as direly now that Moss is around. He'd have to beat out Gaffney to have much of a role in the offense.
65. Craig Davis SD 22 - Looked like a reach in last April's draft, and now he's blocked at WR behind Chambers and V-Jax.


66. Jason Hill SF 23
- Injuries and inexperience made '07 a lost year for Hill, but there's nothing foreboding ahead of him on the long-term depth chart.
67. Ben Obomanu SEA 24 - Could be in for an expanded role with Seattle's relevant WRs dropping like flies.
68. Justin Gage TEN 27 - Started to show progress as Vince Young's go-to WR in the second half, but his upside is limited.
69. Isaac Bruce SF 35 - Might hit the startable level for one more year, but he'll turn 36 during the season.
70. #Mike Walker JAX 23 - Positive reports from last year's camp, but still injured and further blocked after the Porter signing.
71. Brandon Stokley DEN 32 - Will it take much to beat out Keary Colbert for the #2 WR spot opposite Marshall? I agree.
72. Arnaz Battle SF 28 - The original poor man's Hines Ward could've been a nice sleeper heading into '08, but he appears to be behind Bruce and Johnson on Martz' depth chart.
73. #Roydell Williams TEN 27 - Not a bad step forward in '07, but another Titans WR with limited upside.
74. #Brandon Jones TEN 25 - Possibly the most talented of the gaggle of Titans WRs, but that's damning with faint praise; Coach Fisher seems to have soured on him a bit.
75. Derek Hagan MIA 24 - Can he catch the ball? Does he have maturity issues? Those are the knocks that led the Dolphins to sign Wilford.
76. Koren Robinson GB 28 – Reclamation project, but nothing more than a roster stash at this point in his career.
77. Devery Henderson NO 26 - Failed utterly with his window of opportunity last season.
78. Troy Williamson JAX 25 - He simply can't catch the ball; still young and speed always buys opportunity, but this is likely his last chance.
79. Dwayne Jarrett CAR 22 - Disappointing '07, now blocked by Hackett and Muhammad.
80. Kevin Walter HOU 27 - Just not talented enough to turn that Texans #2 WR role into a long-term fantasy commodity.
81. Shaun McDonald DET 27 - His slot receiver value went out the door right right behind Mike Martz.
82. Keary Colbert DEN 26 - Can Denver really be counting on him to be the #2 WR this year?
83. Courtney Taylor SEA 24 - In line for an increased role if the Seahawks don't add any help at WR.
84. Logan Payne SEA 24 - Seattle GM Ruskell has been raving about the undrafted 2nd year WR.

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Quote of the Day | March 25, 2008: It's Not the Thing You Fling, It's the Fling Itself

Chris Stevens flinging the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska into Spring, from the "Burning Down the House" episode of Northern Exposure, 1992:

I've been here now for some days, groping my way along, trying to realize my vision here. I started concentrating so hard on my vision that I lost sight. I've come to find out that it's not the vision, it's not the vision at all. It's the groping. It's the groping, it's the yearning, it's the moving forward.

I was so fixated on that flying cow that when Ed told me Monty Python already painted that picture, I thought I was through. I had to let go of that cow so I could see all the other possibilities. Anyway, I want to thank Maurice for helping me to let go of that cow. Thank you Maurice for playing Apollo to my Dionysus in art's Cartesian dialectic. And thanks to you, Ed, cause the truth shall set us free! And Maggie, thank you for sharing in the destruction of your house so that today we could have something to fling.

I think Kierkegaard said it oh so well, "The self is only that which is in the process of becoming." Art? Same thing. James Joyce had something to say about it too: "Welcome, oh life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience, and to forge in the smythe of my soul the uncreated conscious of my race."

We're here today to fling something that bubbled up from the collective unconsciousness of our community. Ed, you about ready? The thing I learned folks, this is absolutely key: It's not the thing you fling. It's the fling itself. Let's fling something, Cicely!

Tags: Northern Exposure, Chris in the Morning

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Time to Trade Tomlinson?

The guys who used to run TINO Sports Page have an impressive new fantasy football blog, and this one appears to have more of a dynasty league angle. Below is an interesting article from their new FootballJabber.com, but I had a tough time choosing which one to run here. They also have several thought-provoking general dynasty strategy articles and a front-page analysis of the top fantasy QB for 2008.

When to trade LaDainian Tomlinson? A Dynasty Dilemma

by TD Hill @ March 19, 2008

The ultimate quandary for dynasty league football owners is figuring out when it’s the right time to move that special player that consistently made you perennial playoff favorites. For many LT2 owners that time, unfortunately, is now.

After seven straight seasons of dominance his presence alone on your squad made up for any questionable roster move you may have made. Despite a few weak links in your starting lineup, you still were able to strike fear in your opponents heart as they waited all Sunday to watch him single handily beat their team. Despite not matching his career plateaus set the previous season, Tomlinson was still able to churn out nearly 2,000 total yards and almost 20 touchdowns at age 28. Supremely impressive especially when considering this was his lowest output in three seasons. Anyone would kill to have a running back with such constant production on which to lean his squad on. But in the year when the heir apparent was born, Adrian “The Purple Jesus” Peterson, many began questioning Tomlinson’s stranglehold as the most valued running back in fantasy.Now begins the delicate balance of knowing when to start entertaining trade offers while his value is still high or riding Ladainian for the next few years for that one last shot at glory.

If there’s one thing we know about star running backs it’s that their demise comes swiftly and harshly. Shaun Alexander and Priest Holmes are the recent examples. However, the best example to compare LaDainian Tomlinson to is a running back that dominated the fantasy world almost as much as LT2: Marshall Faulk. After his, at the time, record setting season of 26 TD’s, Faulk enjoyed a memorable campaign the year after notching over 2,000 total yards and 21 touchdowns (numbers eerily similar to Tomlinson last season). Of course we all know Faulk’s injury history and fall from the fantasy throne after that. It would be extremely presumptions to claim that Tomlinson will face a similar fate in 2008 as Faulk did in 2002 and beyond, but the writing is on the wall that this ride is ending its run.

So with the future now, Ladainian Tomlinson owners should be working the phones and looking for a package that should include a younger running back upon which to build and some other pieces that can continue to make your dynasty team formidable in the future. By doing so you may very well be jeopardizing your chances to win that championship this season, but as always is the case in Dynasty, it’s better to make yourself slightly weaker now so that you can dominate later. If you trade wisely and obtain a few players that can still make you a contender and build your team for the future, by all means don’t hesitate to pull the trigger. It’s been fun being the envy of the league for so long as a Tomlinson owner, but it’s time to move on.

*TD Hill is a part-timer at Football Jabber who writes only because we are holding his cat hostage. To catch more of his stuff check out The Endzone View

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Baseball | Gammons: Youth Gives Reds Hope

Reds hype now going national. Brand spankin' new article from Peter Gammons (subscription required) on the Reds' young talent:

Youth gives Reds hope in '08

Think about where the Reds were two years ago in terms of pitching, and now they have Aaron Harang and his 32 wins and 434 strikeouts the last two years, as well as Bronson Arroyo. But one of the best storylines in western Florida has been the springs of Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez.

"We're at the point where we could have two of the better young power arms in baseball in Cueto and Volquez," says Dusty Baker. "Cueto is special -- three or four pitches, a real presence, great stuff. Volquez [acquired for Josh Hamilton] is really good, too. And in his last couple of outings, Homer Bailey has started throwing a lot better. By going out and getting [Francisco] Cordero, we've got the makings of a pretty good staff. With our offense, we can be dangerous."

Cincinnati has been the consensus sleeper in the NL Central behind favorites Chicago and Milwaukee. The Cubs are still trying to address center field and Brian Roberts issues. After losing Chris Capuano to Tommy John surgery, the Brewers' depth isn't what it appeared to be, and scouts say Eric Gagne has yet to throw as well as he did last season.

"At least now we have some depth in our rotation," says Reds GM Wayne Krivsky.

There are still decisions to be made. The first is between Joey Votto and Scott Hatteberg at first base. The second is in center field, between Corey Patterson, Norris Hopper and Ryan Freel.

Baker has already struggled managing Patterson and his career .298 on-base percentage, but wants his defense between Junior Griffey and Adam Dunn. But Dusty sees Patterson maturing as a player.

"Corey seems to be better taking some pitches, trying to get on base, and he's starting to bunt and go the other way," says Baker. Hot prospect Jay Bruce isn't coming through that door for awhile, so maybe they got Patterson at the right time.

Krivsky was hired as GM right before spring training two years ago, but has done an outstanding, underappreciated job with scouting and development. If Cueto, Volquez and even Bailey -- who had fallen in the eyes of many baseball people -- all come on this season, the Reds will be in the best position they've enjoyed in years.

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Quote of the Day | March 24, 2008: A Paradise of Triple Exclamation Points

J.D. Salinger is best known in America for that high school curriculum staple The Catcher in the Rye, but he was also a fairly prolific short story writer for The New Yorker in the late '40s. A bundle of those stories were anthologized in his 1953 collection Nine Stories. Parenthetically, if you recall bohemian one-hit wonder chick Lisa Loeb of the Reality Bites hit breakup song Stay (I Missed You), her band---Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories---was named after the collection.

Along with A Perfect Day for a Bananafish, the other highly popular story from the collection was For Esme with Love and Squalor. It was in this later story that I encountered my favorite of many memorable Salinger quotes:

Loretta was Clay's girl. They intended to get married at their earliest convenience. She wrote to him fairly regularly, from a paradise of triple exclamation points and inaccurate observations.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 23, 2008: Happy Easter

From Albert Einstein's Ideas and Opinions

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose.

From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men—above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. My peace of mind is often troubled by the depressing sense that I have borrowed too heavily from the work of other men.

. . .

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. This insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong in the ranks of devoutly religious men.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own—a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism. It is enough for me to contemplate the mystery of conscious life perpet­uating itself through all eternity, to reflect upon the marvelous struc­ture of the universe which we can dimly perceive, and to try humbly to comprehend even an infinitesimal part of the intelligence mani­fested in nature.

Tags: Albert Einstein, Religion

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 22, 2008: Pro Football Players

The opening paragraph to Roy Blount Jr.'s 1974 chronicle of the Pittsburgh Steelers, About Three Bricks Shy . . .

Pro football players are adults who fly through the air in plastic hats and smash each other for a living. I now know a bunch of them, and I think they are good folks. They are made up, loosely speaking, of rickety knees, indoctrination, upward mobility, pain tolerance, public fantasies, meanness, high spirits, brightly colored uniforms, fear, techniques, love of games, Nutrament (a diet supplement used, sometimes with steroid drugs, for "bulking up"), corporate kinesthesia, God-given quickness, and heart.

Sober, one of them told me, "What it boils down to is, sacrifice your body with a picture in your mind." Drinking, one of them told me, "When I'm on the football field I'm a knight in shining armor. When I'm selling insurance I'm just an asshole." Stoned, one of them told me, "You can be hit so hard it burns." High on the game he had just played, one of them told me, "There was no other world outside it. There was nothing."

Tags: Roy Blount Jr., Steelers

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Baseball | Reds Final Roster?

CATCHER (Could be a an addition via trade)
#David Ross: May open season on DL
Javier Valentin
Paul Bako

1B - Scott Hatteberg
2B - Brandon Phillips
SS/UT - Jeff Keppinger
3B - Edwin Encarnacion
1B - Joey Votto: I'm calling for an upset here; I think he stays whether his hitting comes around next week or not---just a hunch
SS - #Alex Gonzalez: DL bound

LF - Adam Dunn
RF - Ken Griffey Jr.
CF - Corey Patterson
CF/UT - Ryan Freel: Trade candidate
OF - Norris Hopper: May not be out of the woods yet if he doesn't start hitting

Final position player candidates: Juan Castro [inf], Andy Green [ut], Jerry Hairston Jr. [ut], Jolbert Cabrera [ut]

Aaron Harang
Bronson Arroyo
Johnny Cueto
Edinson Volquez
Josh Fogg
Homer Bailey: Still hanging around, but Louisville is beckoning
#Matt Belisle: May open season on DL

Francisco Cordero
David Weathers
*Jeremy Affeldt
Todd Coffey
*Mike Stanton - Shouldn't
make team, but Reds are afraid to swallow $3M
*Bill Bray - Pitching well, but could face demotion if there are still concerns about his arm
Jared Burton - Not out of the wood yet; may need a strong outing or two to close out the spring

Still alive: Kent Mercker (needs a Stanton cut or Bray demotion), Mike Lincoln (throwing 95 mph after 2 Tommy John surgeries & 3 years off), Jose Capellan (Rule 5 pick likely to be offered back to BoSox), Jim Brower (come on, let's get real)

Interesting note on Stanton. Let's see if the team's manager is allowed to pick his own 25 players or if the front office overrules him. Here's Dusty Baker on the Stanton situation:

The question was the final determination of the bullpen, who goes and who stays. As candid as always, Baker said, “I know it is not my money, but I hope money isn’t a factor in the final choices. I know the team wants to stay in a budget, but…”

But, indeed.

The reference obviously was to lefthanded relief pitcher Mike Stanton, who wasn’t very good last year and has been mediocre, at best, this spring. But he has a $3 million guaranteed contract with a $500,000 buyout. If the Reds want him to go away (he already cleared waivers, nobody claimed him) and they can’t trade him, it will cost them $3.5 million to show the fans they REALLY want to win this year.

Baker’s bullpen of lefthanders would be Jeremy Affeldt, Bill Bray and Kent Mercker. If ownership says, “Keep Stanton,” then Bray has options and might land in Louisville. Or they could jettison Mercker, a situational pitcher Baker likes.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 21, 2008: Renascence

A short excerpt from American poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay's 1917 Renascence and Other Poems.

"If F. Scott Fitzgerald was the fictional voice of the Lost Generation, she was its poetic spokesperson."


Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound; 185
Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,

Tags: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lost Generation

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Baseball | Cueto, Volquez Top Spring Training All-Eye-Popper Team

Jayson Stark's latest column for ESPN.com features the 2008 Spring Training All-Eye-Popper Team. Who is the buzz-master champion? Why, Johnny Cueto, of course.

[Click here for my column on Johnny Cueto from last week]

Cueto, others turning heads with eye-popping springs

SARASOTA, Fla. -- How can you tell when a pitcher has inspired a scout to awaken from his somnambulant spring-training state? When he bolts to attention as his radar gun begins to rattle. And, especially, when he then feels the need to start texting the gun numbers to his disbelieving friends. "94-mph 2-seam ... 96 4-seam ... 96, 95, 94, 95, 94 ... 95 fb, 88 sli (slider), 87 sli, 96, 88 sli, 86 (change)." The vignette we just described is true. Those text-message excerpts? Also 100 percent true. The scout will remain nameless. The pitcher who provoked this text-a-thon? He will not remain nameless.

That name, for future reference: Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto. Remember it. We'll help you remember it, in fact, by naming him the 21-year-old captain of our 2008 Spring Training All-Eye-Popper Team. So what did a guy need to do this spring to qualify for this team? It wasn't too complicated: Just have himself a spring training that blew up the stat sheet, woke up every scout in the ballpark and even caused a fan or three to stop leaning against the tiki bar. So let's start at the top -- with the buzz-master champion of the entire state of Florida:

Johnny Cueto, RHP, Reds

SPRING STAT LINE: 0-0, 2.08 ERA, 13 IP, 8 H, 12 K
Cueto and fellow Reds phenom Edinson Volquez (more on him later) have turned into more than mere March curiosities this spring. They've moved their new veteran teammates to start actively lobbying -- loudly -- for both of them to make the team. "I don't know where they're going to start the season," said Adam Dunn this week. "But I would be pushing for them to start the season with us." Well, thanks for the advice. The Reds aren't tipping their hand on that front. But they might have a mutiny on their hands if one, or both of those two, don't open the season in the rotation.

Cueto has been putting on a show from day one, blowing mid-90s fastballs past good hitters, freezing them with his dive-bombing slider, throwing invisible changeups on any count and doing it all with a presence and command that makes it tough to believe he's still only 21. "His stuff speaks for itself," said catcher Paul Bako. "But for me, what's even more impressive is just where he is as a pitcher at a young age, and the way he commands the ball. He's got three 'plus' pitches, and the way he can pitch with those pitches has impressed me much more than his stuff." "You see so many guys this time of year throwing [their fastballs] in the high 80s and low 90s," said one scout, "that when a guy comes along who throws it 94-97, to both sides of the plate, down in the zone, and complements that with a hard upper-80s slider and a changeup that goes straight down -- all for strikes -- let's just say it catches your attention." Well, he's got our attention, anyway. All he has left to catch at this point is a spot on the Reds' roster.

Edinson Volquez, RHP, Reds

SPRING STAT LINE: 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 15 IP, 21 K
A scout we know announced to a large delegation of onlookers the other day: "The best trade this winter was Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton." And after that Josh Hamilton riff a few paragraphs to the north, you would probably agree -- except that this scout meant it the other way around. That's how dazzling Volquez has been this spring.

That news might shock people who saw Volquez go 3-11, with a 7.20 ERA, in three different passes through Texas. But this spring, at age 25, he has totally clicked it into gear. In fact, he's tied with the Mets' duo of Johan Santana and John Maine for the lead in the whole sport in strikeouts. But it isn't the number of whiffs that has stood out. It's how this guy has piled them up. His first three March outings, in order, went: four punchouts in 2 1/3 innings against the Red Sox, eight K's in four innings against the Yankees and six strikeouts in five innings against the Phillies. And that's three of the four best lineups in baseball we're talking about. "Unbelievable movement," said a coach of one of those teams. ... "Electric stuff," gushed one scout. ... "His changeup is really, really, really dirty," said Bako.
Tags: Cueto, Volquez

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 20, 2008: Time Will Judge

From Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein's 1974 classic Watergate expose' All the President's Men.

Ron Ziegler, White House Press Secretary for President Nixon, October, 1972:

For the last week, the Republican Party has been the victim of a barrage of unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations by George McGovern and his partner-in-mud-slinging, the Washington Post. Given the present straits in which the McGovern campaign finds itself, Mr. McGovern appears to have turned over the franchise for his media attack campaign to the editors of the Washington Post, who have shown themselves every bit as sure-footed along the low road of this campaign as their candidate.
. . .

Clark MacGregor, President Nixon's campaign director, October, 1972:
And the Washington Post's credibility has today sunk lower than that of George McGovern.

Using innuendo, third-person hearsay, unsubstantiated charges, anonymous sources and huge scare headlines, the Post has maliciously sought to give the appearance of a direct connection between the White House and the Watergate---a charge which the Post knows and half a dozen investigations have found to be false.

The hallmark of the Post's campaign is hypocrisy---and its celebrated "double standard" is today visible for all to see.

Unproven charges by McGovern aides, or Senator Muskie, about alleged campaign disruptions that occurred more than six months ago are invariably given treatment normally accorded to declarations of war---while proven facts of opposition-incited disruptions of the President's campaign are buried deep inside the paper. When McGovern headquarters in California was used as a boiler room to rally hardcore, anti-war militants to confront the President---that was apparently of no significance to a newspaper which has dispatched a platoon of reporters to investigate charges that somebody sent two hundred pizzas to a Muskie rally last spring.
. . .
When Bernstein returned to the office, Ben Bradlee was examining the statements made by Ziegler, Dole and MacGregor, noting that all had emphasized the same things and had used similar language. At the Post, there was little doubt that the attacks were orchestrated and, if not ordered by the President, made with his knowledge and approval.

Reporters from other news organizations were calling Bradlee for a response. He put a sheet of his two-ply paper in his typewriter and banged out a statement:

"Time will judge between Clark MacGregor's press release and the Washington Post's reporting of the various activities of the CRP. For now it is enough to say that not a single fact contained in the investigative reporting by this newspaper about these activities has been successfully challenged. MacGregor and other high administration officials have called these stories 'a collection of absurdities' and the Post 'malicious,' but the facts are on the record, unchallenged by contrary evidence."

Tags: Watergate, Nixon, Bradlee, Bernstein, Woodward

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quote of the Day | March 19, 2008: American Television

A Steven Bochco quote from Robert J. Thompson's Television's Second Golden Age, 1997:

Traditionally television is not an art medium. It's not really an entertainment medium. It is really a commercial sales medium. It does not want to do anything to encourage controversy or distress. The ideal piece of programming for selling things, I suppose, lulls you into a pleasant sense of well-being, and that's what some of the most successful people in this business have done. There's nothing wrong with that, but they're entrepreneurs, not artists. That's not what I want to do.

Pay no attention to that Cop Rock behind the curtain.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sons of the Tundra Goes Mainstream

Rotoworld has my Dynasty Rankings up as a column on their website this week. Quarterbacks and Running Backs were put up late last night, and Wide Receivers/Tight Ends will be up late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

3/20/08 EDIT: The WR/TE rankings won't be up on Rotoworld until next week. The rankings were originally supposed to be rolled out one position at a time on Tuesdays on Thursdays spread out over two weeks, so they have decided to hold off until Tuesday for WRs.

The rankings themselves won't be a regular (weekly) feature on Rotoworld simply because news and values don't change often enough during the off-season. But we may do this again after April's NFL draft and towards the end of the pre-season for Rotoworld's Season Preview package.

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Fantays Football Q & A: Do It Up Again!

Since the last fantasy football Q&A was such a smashing success, I've decided to try another one. I have a friend, Duane Pulliam, who used to do some freelance writing for FantasyAsylum.com, FantasyFootball.com, and CNN.SI. Duane and I blindly sent each other a list of questions a couple of weeks ago, and below is the aftermath of my questions to Duane.

1. Sons of the Tundra: You are something of a Colts homer. Give me a full report on Marvin Harrison. Is he done? How seriously is he injured? Is retirement a possibility? Is returning to the old Marvin for another season a possibility? Should I rush out to grab Anthony Gonzalez or temper my expectations that he will take over Marvin's role in the offense post haste? Is Marvin a buy, sell, or hold right now?

Duane: Marvin’s health is a closely guarded secret—even around here (Indianapolis). However, what we are not told speaks volumes. Dungy’s refusal to really address the issue tells me that there are problems. There is persistent swelling and the word is that he’ll never play without pain again. One has to wonder how long a sure Hall-of-Fame receiver with a ring that shuns the spotlight will want to continue to do that? I am not sure that he will retire before giving it one more shot in 2008, but he’s not going to be a great “hold” in Dynasty Leagues. If one has a buyer and can get decent value- one should sell.

In most competitive dynasty leagues Anthony Gonzalez is going to be on a roster. The owner of that roster is probably following the Harrison situation pretty closely and is going to want too much for Gonzalez. If Gonzalez can be gotten for a decent price he is going to be worth it. Early in the season he established himself as a great slot receiver. The Colts put him on fly patterns late in the season and he flourished. Once he got comfortable the whole offense benefited. I would not advocate making a one-sided, blockbuster deal to acquire him, but there might be an aging, yet still possibly productive receiver (Holt?) that might entice an owner to give up Gonzalez.

(Note from Sons of the Tundra: Wow! Torry Holt for Gonzalez. Now that's going out on a limb.)

2. Sons of the Tundra: You traded Jamal Lewis shortly after re-acquiring a franchise in our league, so there may be some bias involved here but I'll ask anyway. Who's a better fantasy RB bet for the next two seasons: Jamal Lewis, Michael Turner, or Earnest Graham?

Duane: I am going to go with the most proven commodity of the bunch- Jamal Lewis. Jamal has signed a 2-year contract and I think the Browns are a burgeoning team. They have a look of a playoff team in the next two seasons and if (and it’s a big IF) Jamal stays healthy I think he produces the most in the next two years.

Michael Turner needs to overcome a pretty dismal Falcons team to out-produce Jamal. It’s pretty tough for even the best of running backs to perform up to expectations on a poor team. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson proved that in 2007 where their dismal team (and injuries) lead them to produce numbers well under their expectations. I think Turner could be in a similar situation. Plus, I am more than a little troubled by the fact that Turner failed to produce when LT went down in the playoffs. That should have been the ideal opportunity to shine and he didn’t. Don’t get me wrong- I have him stashed on a Dynasty team and I plan on starting him from day 1. However, that is more out of necessity—I am still skeptical whether he puts up huge numbers.

I don’t really know what to think of Ernest Graham at this point. He was productive during the season, but I wasn’t really impressed with what I saw in the playoff game against the Giants. Plus, any team coached by Jon Gruden is not a great opportunity for consistent fantasy points. Gruden is likely to feature him for a while and then promote the guy selling Miller Lite in the stands to starting tailback. A more likely scenario sees the Bucs taking a running back in the draft. If they don’t address it in the first round, I think that with the deep crop of running backs coming out they could look to address the situation sometime in the middle of the draft. Bottom line: I haven’t seen enough of Graham to take him over the other two backs and I don’t trust Gruden.

3. Sons of the Tundra: Who will be the starting QB for the 49ers? If the answer is Shaun Hill, how much of a fantasy factor can he become?

Duane: My gut tells me that Alex Smith is going to get at least one more opportunity to start. At the start of 2006, it really appeared as thought Smith had turned a corner. However, as that year progressed and he had an abysmal 2007, it appears that he might just be another Andre Ware or David Klingler that put up gaudy numbers in a college system taking advantage of weaker opponents.

If (when?) Smith fails then Shaun Hill will take over. However, I would not really expect a great deal of fantasy production out of either of them. Mike Nolan seems like a nice guy, but it looks as though he might have sealed his fate by taking Smith first overall before he even coached his first game.

4. Sons of the Tundra: Can the Rams offense bounce back?

Duane: Yes, but the offensive line needs to get healthy. It’s amazing how the loss of the offensive lineman really affected this team. I am not sure I thought they were playoff bound, but I didn’t think they would lose their first eight games. They did not have good depth in behind their starting offensive lineman and it cost them. I look for them to address the line in the draft.

5. Sons of the Tundra: Another one where recent trading activity on your part might influence the answer: Who would you rather have in a dynasty league, Ronnie Brown or Larry Johnson?

Duane: Ronnie Brown. His recent injury is certainly a concern, but he has less “tread on the tires” and is going to be running for a soon-to-be good team. How can I say this about a 1-15 franchise? Two words: Bill Parcells. Love him or hate him he builds winner wherever he goes and now he has more time on his hands to find personnel. Over his career Parcells has taken the dregs of the NFL and turned them around with solid defense and a great rushing attack. These facts will make a Brown a factor in future and makes him a better bet over LJ in the long-run. Johnson has been used extensively and there doesn’t appear to be as bright a future for the Chiefs.

6. Sons of the Tundra: What do you see as Marion Barber's role over the next couple of seasons? Who will the Cowboys bring in to replace Julius Jones, and how big of a role will the newcomer have?

Duane: I have an uncle who is fond of saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. That is pretty apropos in this scenario for Dallas. They will probably find their “Julius Jones” in the draft (Felix Jones?) to be a change-of-pace, between the 20’s back. Barber is still going to get the TD’s (both rushing and receiving). Look at the 2007 and 2006 numbers and that’s my forecast for 2008 and 2009.

7. Sons of the Tundra: Have you ever seen anything more odd than the last 6 weeks of Eli Manning's season? Please explain your lovefest for all things relating to the Manning family, including your bizarre opinion that sense of humor is a strong suit for the family.

Duane: As far as a QB going from wildly inconsistent to carving up four teams on his way to a Super Bowl championship, no, I have not seen anything like Eli Manning’s run. However, one improbable run that comes to mind was Jeff Hostetler’s run for the Giants in 1990.

Hostetler was a back-up QB that took a very good Giants team and beat two great teams in the playoffs (49ers and Bills). The Niners were as strong as ever (maybe even the 2nd strongest team to not win the Super Bowl next to the 2007 Patriots) and looking for a three-peat. History is not kind to the Buffalo Bills of the early 90’s because they lost four Super Bowls, but that 1990 team was a great team. In addition to their trademark high-scoring offense that team had a legitimately great defense. While Hostetler didn’t exactly carve up the competition (the Giants won on five field goals vs. the Niners) he’s managed those games very well under Parcells’ tutelage and came away as one of the more improbable championship runs in the Super Bowl era.

Peyton Manning has put Indianapolis on the map. I travel extensively throughout the country and when people find out that I am from here the first question or comment is about Peyton Manning- and it’s always positive. He has achieved God-like status here. Just a few months after winning the Super Bowl he had a hospital named after him. I predict that one day in Market Square there will be a statue of him (ala Michael Jordan or Dale Earnhardt). If he should choose to stay here after retirement he basically could run for and win about any office he’d like. I am not sure that any professional sports championship has helped a city as much as Super Bowl XLI did for Indianapolis. I fully expect it to lead to Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl soon and without that title in 2006 I don’t think we’d even be considered- even with the new stadium. The perceived decline of the Indianapolis 500 has been easily filled by Peyton Manning and the Colts as this city’s identity. As you well know, I buy into all of that. Eli, Archie, Olivia, and Booker…they just get a free ride.

As for the humor? I am not saying that Peyton is Denis Leary, but he has some uncommonly good skills for an athlete. His delivery of the line “6’5”, laser-rocket arm”…that’s not something that too many jocks pull off. You’ve seen it a million times, so it’s no longer funny. However, the first time anyone saw him with the fake mustache and wig in that commercial- it got a laugh. “Cut that meat”, “Priceless advice”…we’re overexposed to him now, but I couldn’t see too many of today’s athletes pulling off that kind of self-depricating humor convincingly. I don’t think he’s a master of comedy, but he’s probably tops for athletes.

(Note from Sons of the Tundra: Peyton = not funny.)

8. Sons of the Tundra: Is this the beginning of the end of LaDainian's pure dominance?

Duane: Yes. He’s still going to be a significant fantasy factor, but Adrian Peterson is now on that level and Steven Jackson is not far behind. Darren McFadden is going to have some significant numbers as well. In fact, there are a few guys coming out (Rahard Mendenhall and Jonathon Stewart) that are going to be strong running backs. LT is still going to be relevant, but I am not sure that he is a no-brainer #1 overall pick anymore.

9. Sons of the Tundra: More egregious mistake: Chiefs wasting time with an obviously appalling QB in Brodie Croyle, or the Bears wasting a Super Bowl window on teases like Rex Grossman & Cedric Benson?

Duane: Da’ Bears! I don’t think that the Chiefs could be blamed for giving Croyle a chance. He was an interesting prospect out of Alabama and while no one thought he was going to be Tom Brady I think that there was reason to believe that he could manage a game well enough to win with the Chiefs. Of course, that was not true, so they will have to start again. What better time that right now when there are four, maybe five QB’s coming out in the draft that are already better than Croyle without taking an NFL snap?

The Bears as snake-bitten when it comes to QB’s. When the best QB in your team’s history is Sid Luckman (who retired in 1950) you know it’s not been a good run. The first half of 2006 it looked like Grossman was about to write the next chapter in great Bears QB’s. Then he realized that he was Rex Grossman (and opposing defensive coordinators realized it was a good idea to cover Bernard Berrian deep) and he came back to Earth. If 2007 proved anything, it is that no matter who Lovie would have gone with in 2006 the result would have been the same in the Super Bowl. Neither Griese nor Orton could lead the team to victory.

I feel that Cedric Benson’s career might mirror that of his former backfield mate Thomas Jones. Cedric needs a change of scenery. Thomas Jones languished for four years in the desert of Arizona before being traded to Tampa and eventually signing on with Chicago and having some success. A new home and a more mature attitude did Jones wonders and, even though they have a different skill set, I think it can do the same for Benson. I am not sure that you can blame the Bears brass for going with the younger of the two, but it definitely was not the right move to capitalize on 2006’s success.

10. Sons of the Tundra: Shouldn't the Browns have traded Derek Anderson this off-season while they had the opportunity?

Duane: No. They should keep both he and Quinn for as long as possible. Don’t get rid of the guy that has proven it on the field for the potential sitting on the bench. Anderson has some skills and the Browns are starting to really look like an organization going in the right direction. QB’s are prone to getting nicked and missing time. It’s better to have that back-up that can come in and help win games. Brady is saying all the right things right now and as long as everyone is playing nice- keep it going!

11. Sons of the Tundra: If you were the Bears, Ravens or the Vikings, what would be too much to give up for Donovan McNabb? Isn't "game manager" Chad Pennington the perfect low-cost off-season acquisition for a team with the Vikings' unique strengths and weaknesses? How does that trade not happen?

Duane: I don’t think that the Bears and Ravens are “just a QB” away from contention. They have some other issues that are hurting them, such as age (Ravens) or free agent losses (Bears). They are closer to rebuilding than retooling. I am hearing that JP Losman is a QB that might interest the Vikings. I don’t think that is a great way for them to go.

There seems to be another Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb love-fest going on right now, so I don’t think McNabb is going anywhere.

You know of my penchant for Penningto
n. I think it would be a great idea for the Vikings to make a play for him. The reason it would not happen is because I am not convinced that the Jets have a strong front office making correct moves. Calvin Pace came way overpriced and a team that cannot figure out how to use Jonathon Vilma effectively has something seriously wrong. Plus, they are not sold on Kellen Clemens, so Pennington is their insurance policy. I will give the Jets high marks for going out and getting Alan Faneca to go along with an already up-and-coming line. Whoever is running the ball there in 2008 should see some holes.

12. Sons of the Tundra: Tough to tell before we know where they will play, but who impresses you most as a possible NFL and fantasy stud from the passel of strong RBs in this year's NFL draft?

Duane: This is going to be boring, but Darren McFadden is the back that impresses me the most. He might not have Adrian Peterson’s skill set, but to the right team he is going to be top fantasy producer. Size, speed, elusiveness, the extra gear, and durability…have I missed something? I am hearing that he is going 6th to the Jets. That’s a steal for them. The only problem with that is can he handle the New York lifestyle? He’s got some issues off the field and there is no better place for a guy like that to get into trouble than New York.

The only reason I can think of that McFadden would fall to 6th is that it is a very deep class. Reshard Mendenhall looks special on tape. We’ll see how he does at the NFL level. The tape I have seen on Jonathon Stewart doesn’t look particularly impressive. He doesn’t look elusive to me. However, he has produced against some top-notch programs, so that has to count for something. Felix Jones, Jamaal Charles, or Chris Johnson…any of these guys in the right situation are going to be strong producers.

13. Sons of the Tundra: How good is Brandon Marshall? Should he be considered a Top-10 dynasty WR?

Duane: Brandon Marshall is Denver’s Terrell Owens/Marques Colston-like find- a fourth round gem that is now one of the premier wide receivers of the league. Teamed with Jay Cutler he should be putting up great numbers for years to come—a sure top 10 guy. Now that Walker is gone, though, Denver will need to get someone on the opposite side to avoid double-teams on Marshall. I am seeing some mocks that have them taking DeSean Jackson from Cal with their 1ST round pick. That would give them the speed guy to take the heat off of Marshall.

14. Sons of the Tundra: What's your prognosis for Matt Leinart in 2008? Will he bounce back, or will Kurt Warner take over again at some point?

Duane: I strongly feel that Leinart is the real deal. I am not sure what was happening last year before the injury, but it’s my guess that it was an aberration and he will get back on track. The only way I see Warner taking over is due to some injury. That’s my biggest worry with Leinart is injury. He has the talent, but he has to stay healthy or Arizona will be forced to always be looking for quality back-ups and this will retard his growth as there will always be the lingering question of who should be starting.

I'll steal a few of Brad Spieser's questions from the previous Q & A:

15. Sons of the Tundra: Will Sean Payton ever figure out how to get the most out of Reggie Bush?

Duane: Oh, yes. I would be surprised if Payton hasn’t spent most of the off-season revising plans for Bush. Last year, the McCallister injury threw a monkey-wrench into everything. This year, Payton will not be fooled again. I wouldn’t be surprised if they devised plans to use Bush much the same way that the Eagles use Westbrook. Bush is a special talent catching the ball out of the backfield and working in space. He might not ever reach Westbrook’s level running between the tackles, but I think that he can develop that skill set to go along with his other considerable talents.

16. Sons of the Tundra: Did Phil Rivers show you enough with his playmaking and guts in the postseason to make you believe he can lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl in the next two years (while Tomlinson is near the top of his game)?

Duane: My inclination is to say “no” and then I think about Eli Manning and how he got his act together. San Diego is an awfully talented team- probably more talented than the New York Giants. So, why not?

Rivers was gutsy, but he’s also kind of flakey and immature. Eli got derided for being boring and laid back- now he’s lauded as cool and collected with the precision of a surgeon. I am not sure I buy either one. However, I would rather have a QB like that than one that taunts opponents and fans like a 3rd grader. His regular season was very inconsistent. Maybe that was Norv Turner- maybe not. He’s got the talent…I just question whether he has the maturity. However, in today’s post-Super Bowl XLII world, I guess anything is possible.

17. Sons of the Tundra: Is there any chance that the McNabb situation ends well in Philadelphia?

Duane: No. Philly is a city that booed Mike Schmidt and Santa Claus. Donovan will get unceremoniously shipped out one day. The Eagles window of opportunity to win the Super Bowl with McNabb is past. Of course, by me saying that you can pretty much go to Las Vegas right now and place your bet that the Eagles will win the 2008 Super Bowl.

Obligatory music questions:

18. Sons of the Tundra: You're a guitar player with a love of the Blues (at least that's what I've been led to believe). Who is on your musical Mt. Rushmore? And don't feel obligated to fill it with guitar players and Blues/Rock musicians for my sake.

Duane: I am going to go with guitar players since that is what I know. They won’t necessarily be “blues” guitarists per se, but each of them has an incredible ability to play the blues as well as other forms.

1. Jimi Hendrix- Obviously, there were great guitar players prior to Jimi Hendrix. However, no other guitar player so greatly altered the way the guitar is played. In Hendrix’s hands the guitar was no longer simply a lead or rhythm instrument. He fluidly moved into and out of lead and rhythm lines creating an aural tapestry that had not really been heard in a single artist prior. Heavily influence by the Beatles, his recordings are some of the most deeply emotional and creative pieces of music ever produced.

While I would not consider him a technically diverse soloist he was a master of emotion. Each of his solos seems to match the emotion conveyed by the entire song. Meanwhile, he was hands-down the best rhythm guitarist ever. He scratched, palm-muted, played suspensions and arpeggios- sometimes all in the same measure. The best example of this is his “Axis: Bold as Love” album. Each cut contains a litany of tasty rhythm guitar. Every guitar player owes a debt of gratitude to Hendrix whether they realize it or not because everyone that came after was influenced by him.

2. Eric Clapton- Eddie Van Halen once said that Eric Clapton was the only guitar player that “touched” him. That pretty much says it all because EVH doesn’t have much good to say about any other guitarist that isn’t named Eddie Van Halen. He’s a master of the blues. He’s a master of rock guitar. He has tremendous control of the acoustic guitar (see his recording of “Unplugged” for a great example). He’s been a major component of some of the greatest bands off all-time (Cream, Derek and the Dominos, and Traffic) and has written the soundtrack of the lives of at least three generations. His solo in “Crossroads” on the live Cream album is arguably the greatest rock guitar solo ever.

3. Jeff Beck- Beck is the guitar player’s guitar player. There isn’t style of music or technique known on the guitar that he hasn’t mastered and incorporated into his songs. Eric Clapton has said on more than one occasion that Jeff Beck is the best guitar player on the planet. His phrasings are so fluid and melodic that his guitar seems to speak.

Even in the eccentric community of guitar players, Beck stands out. He has almost intentionally put out ground-breaking music that is well ahead of commercial success. He quit The Yardbirds (or was fired- depending on who you believe) because they were too commercial. He let Rod Stewart slip away from The Jeff Beck Group. He was a pioneer of Fusion (‘fusing’ both Rock and Jazz music together). Just as it was taking off, he switched to electronic music. For decades he has played with just his fingers—no picks (yet he didn’t lose any ability to fire off blistering solos). About 10 years ago he hired Jennifer Batten, a virtuoso guitarist whose prior work had been with Michael Jackson, to be his co-lead guitarist in his band.

In the wake of all of this is some brilliant music. One would have to pick a style that suits them to get Beck’s best work. For Rock, it would be something from “Beck-Ola”. For Fusion I would suggest “Wired”. For electronic I would highly recommend “Who Else!” But for an idea of the complexity of his technique that he makes sound rather subtle one could check out any video of “Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers” on YouTube. Brilliant.

4. Jimmy Page- There are many guys that deserved to be in this slot (EVH, Randy Rhoades, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc) and I wrestled with it bad. In the end, it came down to this- Page has a catalog that I could take onto the proverbial desert island and have all that I would ever want or need. I am not sure I could say that about any other artists catalog. Led Zeppelin did rock, hard rock, country, blues, jazz (or at least, jazz-like compositions), ballads, power ballads…they did it and did it well. At the forefront of all of this was Jimmy Page. Was he sloppy on the speed runs? Yep. But again, like Hendrix, it was an emotion; a feel. It fit the song. And when he was “on”, such as the solo to “Stairway to Heaven” or “Heartbreaker”…it was magical. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have to take the entire catalog to my island. I could just take Led Zeppelin IV and be happy. From the beginning of “Black Dog” to the end of “When The Levee Breaks” that album has it all. I hate to sound old-fashioned, but they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

19. Sons of the Tundra: Give me 5 underappreciated songs that any aficionado should be embarrassed not to have in his collection.

Duane: I am going to stick with my “guitar theme”:

“Revelation: Mother Earth”- Ozzy Osbourne (Randy Rhoades on lead guitar)- The song is alright, but it’s the last two minutes of the song- the outro solo by Randy Rhoades that makes this most likely the greatest solo Randy ever played. I have heard it a million times and I get goose bumps every time I hear it.

“Wait Until Tomorrow”- Jimi Hendrix- I know most people will site “Little Wing” as his greatest representation of rhythm guitar work, but I will assume that most aficionados already have that one in their collection. For my money, this is one of the most interesting rhythm guitar lines of all-time. Listen to it closely, it’s pretty busy. And the song is pretty good as a whole, too.

“Scuttle Buttin’”- Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble- For my money, this is a two-minute wonder that captures everything that was great about Stevie’s playing. The song is up tempo, full of fire, with great phrasing, and technique; all in one short little instrumental to start off his “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” album.

“Sails of Charon”- The Scorpions (with Uli Jon Roth on lead guitar)- The lyrics on this one are pretty far out there, but hey, it’s the mid-70s and my guess is that some pretty strong German weed was involved. The part that makes this song great is the solo at the beginning. Roth was a genius. He was so much a disciple of Hendrix that he went on to marry Hendrix’s girlfriend! His playing here is not reminiscent of Hendrix, though. This is all his own. Brilliant stuff.

“Not An Addict”- K’s Choice- O.k. this has nothing to do with the guitar, but if there is something I love it’s the post-grunge, alternative music of the mid-90’s. There was a lot of great stuff put out into the mainstream that probably had been around a while, but was not for mass consumption. This song definitely fits that description. How this doesn’t accompany every “Interdiction” episode on A&E is beyond me. What a great song.

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