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.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

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.


Football Jabber said...

Hey. I notice you have my old blog "TINO Sports Page" listed on your "Other" links. That blog isn't updated much anymore and if it is it's usually something from my new one, http://footballjabber.com

If you'll still have me I would appreciate it. I'm going to add yours to my blogroll now.


Chris Wesseling said...

Hey Lee,

Thanks for the update. Your new site is nice . . . I wasn't a regular at TINO sports, but I dropped by on occasion. Football Jabber seems like it has more (& better) dynasty league coverage. Very nice.

I sampled one of your articles and left an intro to your site with a link to your front page. I also moved your perma-link to the football blogroll instead of "other." Not that you needed the help. Seems like you're pretty established over there.


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