BY JAY CLEMONS
Greg Jennings: J. Meric/Getty Images
With training camps set to open everywhere in the next 10 days, I'm quite comfortable with my positional rankings for the SI.com Fantasy Football Preview (due out Aug. 4) ... except for Greg Jennings' placement among the elite receivers. Yes, he finished with 17 catches, 359 yards and two TDs in his final three meaningful games last year ... but he also went six consecutive games without 100 yards or double-digit catches. On the season, Jennings caught 68 balls for 1,113 yards and four TDs -- a far cry from his 2008 production (80 catches, 1,292 yards, 9 TDs), but encouraging enough for Aaron Rodgers/Mike McCarthy devotees to write off as a one-year aberration.
For the record, I have Jennings conservatively listed at No. 8, right after Reggie Wayne and before Sidney Rice. As for my cohorts in the fantasy biz, check out their preseason expectations for Jennings in the prolific Packers offense:
|Greg Jennings Ranking/Projections|
As a respectful parody to SI.com guru Don Banks' 20 questions before training camp, I have concocted 20 rhetorical questions for the fantasy masses:
1. Will new 'Skin Donovan McNabb throw 60-plus passes in his two meetings with the Eagles?
2. Will Tim Tebow enjoy greater fantasy value as a QB or IDP guy?
3. Will the Bears become history's first team to average 30 points ... but lose 12 games?
4. Can the Broncos make the playoffs if Jabar Gaffney leads the team in receptions?
5. Will Sam Bradford lead the NFL in "most completions of 5 yards or less" this season?
6. Who is the Redskins' better IDP option -- Albert Haynesworth or LB London Fletcher?
7. Who'll have more catches of 30 yards or more -- Wes Welker or Darrius Heyward-Bey?
8. Who'll be the Vikings' No. 2 quarterback, should Brett Favre miss a start to injury?
9. Who's the faster runner -- Steelers QB Byron Leftwich or Cowboys kicker David Buehler?
10. Is Matt Moore a better fantasy prospect than Browns QB Jake Delhomme?
11. Can Darrelle Revis hold Anquan Boldin under the 10-catch, 217-yard, 2-TD threshold in Week 1 (Boldin's precise output the last time he debuted with another NFL club)?
12. Who'll catch more balls -- Brandon Marshall OR Tennessee's trio of Kenny Britt, Justin Gage, Nate Washington?
13. Will new Raiders QB Jason Campbell ever come close to touching JaMarcus Russell's, ahem, franchise record for most career starts with fewer than 100 yards passing (11)?
14. Will Mike Shanahan stick to one starting running back -- Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson or Willie Parker -- for an entire 16-game slate?
15. Will Matt Leinart's career arc as a franchise QB rival that of Kurt Warner or Timm Rosenbach?
16. Will Braylon Edwards find love, peace and happiness in the Big Appple as the Jets' sixth-best offensive option -- upon Santonio Holmes returning from suspension?
17. Is Pete Carroll already familiar with The Julius Rules, a time-tested fantasy creed that only endorses Julius Jones for Seattle home games against mediocre defenses?
18. Do the Lions have a QB coach who specializes in the jump-ball fade pass for the red zone ... just in case they run out of creative ideas for getting Calvin Johnson the ball?
19. If he's traded this summer, will Marshawn Lynch get the keys to his new club's injury golf cart?
20. What'll end up being the more egregious fantasy sin this season -- overlooking how Cadillac Williams didn't spend the summer rehabbing a knee or patella for the first time in four years ... or forgetting that Matt Forte amassed 1,400 total yards on a bum knee in 2009?
We're going to try something a little different for Friday -- three extensive mock drafts for 1) standard-scoring leagues, 2) Points Per Reception leagues and 3) Auction-draft leagues. The optimists would applaud this cutting-edge approach to Clicks, especially those who've been clamoring for more PPR and auction-draft insight. The pessimists, on the flip side, would characterize this experiment as the easiest, laziest way to offer fresh material before an extended vacation.
To that ... I'd say they're both right -- not unlike the time Priscilla Presley and Ricardo Montalban humorously sought out Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin character at the queen's reception in the first Naked Gun movie.
Drebin: You're both right.
Here are the revised starter rankings for QBs, from No. 1 (Aaron Rodgers) ... all the way to No. 32 (Jake Delhomme):
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
2. Drew Brees, Saints
3. Peyton Manning, Colts
4. Tom Brady, Patriots
5. Matt Schaub, Texans
6. Brett Favre, Vikings
7. Tony Romo, Cowboys
8. Philip Rivers, Chargers (assuming V-Jax sits until Week 10)
9. Jay Cutler, Bears
10. Kevin Kolb, Eagles
11. Matt Ryan, Falcons
12. Donovan McNabb, Redskins
13. Eli Manning, Giants (assuming Steve Smith remains a PPR hero)
14. Joe Flacco, Ravens
15. Matthew Stafford, Lions (one more transition year before fantasy greatness)
16. Vince Young, Titans
17. Chad Henne, Dolphins
18. Matt Leinart, Cardinals
19. Kyle Orton, Broncos
20. Alex Smith, 49ers
21. Mark Sanchez, Jets
22. Carson Palmer, Bengals
23. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
24. David Garrard, Jaguars
25. Jason Campbell, Raiders
26. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
27. Matt Moore, Panthers
28. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (assuming he misses 4-6 games to suspension)
29. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
30. Trent Edwards, Bills
31. Sam Bradford, Rams
32. Jake Delhomme, Browns
... to NOT draft Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck in any fantasy leagues, as either a platoon starter or a just-grab-a-clipboard-and-watch backup quarterback. Here are five simple reasons for the banishment -- none of which involve Hasselbeck's age (35), Costanza-like chrome dome, Pete Carroll's surprise Northwest Passage from USC, Deion Branch's dwindling effectiveness or Hasselbeck's loopy sister-in-law, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
**Hasselbeck had only four -- count 'em, FOUR! -- multiple-TD games last year.
**Perhaps even more galling, he had four games of zero touchdowns in 2009.
**Hasselbeck NEVER threw for 200-plus yards AND posted a positive TD/INT ratio in consecutive weeks of the '09 season.
**Citing Seahawks road games last year, Hasselbeck averaged only 180 yards passing with 1.25 TDs and 2 INTs.
**If you think it's unconscionable to judge Hasselbeck on one subpar season, just remember that he didn't have one 300-yard game in 2008. Check ... and mate!
The calendar reads July 22, but the good people at Fantasy Football Calculator are already hard at work, trying to make mathematical sense of this year's top fantasy football prospects. In fact, this site represents the perfect one-stop shopping for mock drafts and the Average Draft Position tool (ADP) -- perhaps the best learning aid for NOT reaching during the August drafts. Speaking of ADP, here's a list of running backs likely earmarked for Rounds 1-7 (12-team leagues):
Chris Johnson, Titans/Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- Round 1, Pick 2 (dead heat)
Ray Rice, Ravens -- Round 1, Pick 3
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- Round 1, Pick 4
Frank Gore, 49ers -- Round 1, Pick 6
Michael Turner, Falcons -- Round 1, Pick 7
Steven Jackson, Rams -- Round 1, Picks 9
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- Round 2, Pick 1
Shonn Greene, Jets -- Round 2, Pick 3
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- Round 2, Pick 6
Ryan Mathews, Chargers -- Round 2, Pick 8
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- Round 2, Pick 11
Ryan Grant, Packers -- Round 3, Pick 1
Cedric Benson, Bengals -- Round 3, Pick 7
Pierre Thomas, Saints -- Round 3, Pick 8
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos/LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- Round 3, Pick 10 (dead heat)
Chris Wells, Cardinals -- Round 4, Pick 1
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers -- Round 4, Pick 7
Ronnie Brown, Dolphins -- Round 4, Pick 9
Matt Forte, Bears -- Round 4, Pick 11
Joseph Addai, Colts -- Round 4, Pick 12
Felix Jones, Cowboys -- Round 5, Pick 2
Javhid Best, Lions -- Round 5, Pick 5
Brandon Jacobs, Giants -- Round 5, Pick 11
Justin Forsett, Seahawks -- Round 6, Pick 2
Ben Tate, Texans -- Round 6, Pick 8
Marion Barber, Cowboys -- Round 6, Pick 10
Ricky Williams, Dolphins/Jerome Harrison, Browns -- Round 7, Pick 1 (dead heat)
C.J. Spiller, Bills -- Round 7, Pick 4
Reggie Bush, Saints -- Round 7, Pick 7
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants -- Round 7, Pick 11
It's never too early too check out Fantasy Football Toolbox, which is always doing research for the upcoming season. This week's gems involve the most overused backs in 2008-09 or offensive line proficiency or contract-year players or Year 3 receiver rankings and the NFL's best finishers at running back (last six games of 2009):
1. Chris Johnson, Titans -- 6 games, 143 fantasy points = 23.8 per game
2. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- 6 games, 130 fantasy points = 21.7 per game
3. Jerome Harrison, Browns -- 6 games, 114 fantasy points = 19.0 per game
4. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 6 games, 103 points = 17.1 per game
5. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 6 games, 100 points = 16.6 per game
6. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers -- 6 games, 96 points = 16.0 per game
7. Thomas Jones, Jets (now Chiefs) -- 6 games, 89 points = 14.8 per game
8. Fred Jackson, Bills -- 6 games, 87 points = 14.4 per game
9. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 6 games, 86 points = 14.3 per game
10. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- 6 games, 85 points = 14.2 per game
11. Ryan Grant, Packers -- 6 games, 83 points = 13.9 per game
12. Arian Foster, Texans -- 4 games, 53 points = 13.3 per game
13. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 6 games, 78 points = 13.0 per game
14. LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets (now Chargers) -- 6 games, 75 points = 12.4 per game
15. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- 6 games, 74 points = 12.4 per game
Matt Cassel: John Sommers II/Getty Images
In the above quarterback rankings, Carson Palmer (No. 21) barely trumps Kansas City's Matt Cassel (No. 22). But that ranking only accounts for the total number of yards and touchdowns for the 2010 season -- not necessarily on a per-game basis. So, on the off chance you waited until ROunds 8 and 9 to draft comparable QBs -- like Palmer/Cassel or Cassel/Palmer -- here's a weekly breakdown of who deserves the week-by-week starting nod:
Week 1 -- Cassel (vs. San Diego) over Palmer (@ New England) -- TOSS UP
Week 2 -- Cassel (@ Cleveland) over Palmer (vs. Baltimore)
Week 3 -- Palmer (@ Carolina) over Young (vs. San Francisco)
Week 4 -- Palmer (@ Cleveland) over Cassel (@ BYE)
Week 5 -- Palmer (vs. Tampa Bay) over Cassel (@ Indianapolis)
Week 6 -- Cassel (@ Houston) over Palmer (BYE)
Week 7 -- Cassel (vs. Jacksonville) over Palmer (@ Atlanta)
Week 8 -- Palmer (vs. Miami) over Cassel (vs. Buffalo) -- TOSS UP
Week 9 -- Palmer (vs. Pittsburgh) over Cassel (@ Oakland)
Week 10 -- Cassel (@ Denver) over Palmer (@ Indianapolis)
Week 11 -- Palmer (vs. Buffalo) over Cassel (vs. Arizona) -- TOSS UP
Week 12 -- Cassel (@ Seattle) over Palmer (@ N.Y. Jets)
Week 13 -- Cassel (vs. Denver) over Palmer (vs. New Orleans)
Week 14 -- Palmer (@ Pittsburgh) over Cassel (@ San Diego)
Week 15 -- Cassel (@ St. Louis) over Palmer (vs. Cleveland) -- TOSS UP
Week 16 -- Palmer (vs. San Diego) over Cassel (vs. Tennessee)
Week 17 -- Cassel (vs. Oakland) over Palmer (@ Baltimore)
Final Tally: Cassel wins, 9-8
The uber-creative geniuses at Fantasy Football Toolbox have constructed a team name generator for the jet-set crowd of moniker-challenged fantasy owners. Traditionally, I'll name my own squads after breakfast cereals (i.e. Count Chocula's Henchmen) or TV shows and sports/pop-culture figures (The Fighting Skippy Handelmans); but now, I may offer FF Toolbox the chance at securing the name rights for my SI.com & Friends league team ('10 football).
Speaking of the Toolbox, here are the updated auction values for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers (since they own the greatest pound-for-pound value in IDP leagues).
Kickers and defensive teams might be dime-a-dozen assets in fantasyland, but drafting the right tight end at the right time can often be the difference between winning and losing ... earning a playoff slot ... or even capturing a fantasy championship in Week 16. To wit, the hallowed five tiers of tight ends:
Tier 1 (1,000 total yards and/or 8 TDs)
Dallas Clark, Jason Witten, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Brent Celek, Tony Gonzalez
Tier 2 (800 total yards and/or 6 TDs)
Kellen Winslow, Jr., Jermichael Finley, Owen Daniels, Visanthe Shiancoe, Greg Olsen
Tier 3 (675 total yards and/or 5 TDs)
Dustin Keller, Zach Miller, John Carlson, Fred Davis, Tony Scheffler, Jeremy Shockey, Chris Cooley, Todd Heap, Heath Miller
Tier 4 (500 total yards and/or 4 TDs)
Jermaine Gresham, Jared Cook, Brad Cottam, Brandon Pettigrew, Kevin Boss
Tier 5 (375 total yards and/or 3 TDs)
Aaron Hernandez, David Thomas, Dennis Pitta, Shawn Nelson, Rob Gronkowski, Ben Utecht
Kickers may be the red-headed step-children of fantasy football; but, like it or not, they're still a vital part of the game. So, if you're playing in a league that rewards kickers three points for field goals 21-39 yards, four points for FGs 40-49 yards and five points for 50-plus-yard FGs ... here's something to consider: CBSSports.com's projections for every kicker who'll make at least 22 field goals. Noticeably absent is new Jets kicker Nick Folk, who's earmarked for only 21 field goals with the Super Bowl-bound Jets.
David Akers, Eagles -- 30 field goals
Garrett Hartley, Saints -- 28 field goals
Rob Bironas, Titans -- 28 field goals
Ryan Longwell, Vikings -- 27 field goals
Mason Crosby, Packers -- 27
Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots -- 27
Robbie Gould, Bears -- 26
Nate Kaeding, Chargers -- 25
Lawrence Tynes, Giants -- 25
Ryan Succop, Chiefs -- 24
Jay Feely, Cardinals -- 23
Shayne Graham, Ravens -- 22
Joe Nedney, 49ers -- 22
Dan Carpenter, Dolphins -- 22
Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders -- 22
Rian Lindell, Bills -- 22
The eggheads at Fantasy Football Toolbox are off and running with unique takes for the season:
1. Running backs 29 or older
2. Positional fantasy studs
3. The most overused running backs
4. Fail-safe picks
5. Best bye-week running backs
6. Prime comeback candidates (author, Rob Warner)
7. IDP rankings -- starring the mullet-free Jared Allen
After wading through your Twitter responses to my two-player, keeper-league dilemma -- choosing among Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden, Mike Sims-Walker, Roddy White or quarterbacks Chad Henne/Matthew Stafford -- I have decided to keep ... (cue Jim Gray guffawing) ... Moreno and Roddy White.
Truth be told, I wanted to keep running backs Forte (my No. 1 overall pick in PPR leagues last year) or Jacobs (the NFL's leading rusher after the first hit in '09) instead of White; but eventually, I succumbed to the time-tested fantasy creed of Don't overthink the obvious, stupid! and committed to White and his 256 catches, 3,737 yards and 24 TDs from 2007-09. Here's another's factor in my decision: I own the No. 2 overall pick in this CBS draft and will likely get a clean shot at Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ryan Grant, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Sidney Rice, Brandon Marshall, Jonathan Stewart, Shonn Greene, LeSean McCoy, Miles Austin, Steve Smith, Beanie Wells, Vincent Jackson, Rashard Mendenhall and Randy Moss in Round 1.
Realistically speaking, my first eight players should be:
Keepers: Moreno, White
Round 1: RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Round 2: WR Sidney Rice, Vikings
Round 3: QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
Round 4: RB Matt Forte, Bears
Round 5: WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Round 6: TE Brent Celek, Eagles
... Sirius NFL Radio's forgettable simulcast of the "celebrity" fantasy draft in Times Square:
**Co-host Rich Gannon takes his job at Sirius very seriously (pun intended) ... and it shows.
**Fantasy Guru czar John Hansen was the smartest person in the room -- again.
**Jay Thomas has perfected the art of tastefully swearing before making picks.
**During the pre-draft introductions, Sirius wisely stopped short of updating Steve Phillips' highlights to his celebrity résumé.
**College kids could get wasted when taking a shot every time Adan Schein mutters excellent.
**What's the value of having C-list celebrities who know nothing about sports ... let alone fantasy football?
**The irrepressible Thomas oughta write down the terms of a trade before accepting it -- especially in Round 1.
**Speaking of Schein, when did he cross the line that separates quality broadcasters with insight and passion ... from shills that'll do anything to please their guests -- like characterizing Gary Dell'Abate's reasoning for taking Chris Johnson over Adrian Peterson as "excellent" ... or glowingly telling Byron Leftwich that he "oozes leadership" on the Sirius airwaves a few weeks ago?
**Sloppily negotiating on-air trades does NOT make for good radio.
**It's not too late for Sirius to pull the plug on Maurice Jones-Drew's weekly show this fall.
**IF Sirius was really he**-bent on adding a woman to the broadcast, why not invite someone who actually knows what they're doing? Believe it or not, there are thousands of savvy women owners in fantasy football -- worker-bee Sara Holladay, aka The Fantasy Librarian, immediately comes to mind -- who would never select a player in Round 1, based on the 1) color of his uniform, or 2) how he adroitly juggles his son AND the Lombardi Trophy on Super Bowl Sunday.