Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Favre From Over? Ugh!
Brett Favre: Bill Kostroun/AP

Unless Brett Favre is 100-percent healthy and in BOWFLEX-commercial shape, he has absolutely zero fantasyland value for the coming season. Yes, I know he's one of the NFL's five best quarterbacks of all-time. Yes, his new team (likely the Vikings) seemingly has all the talent necessary for a solid Super Bowl run. And yes, I'm acutely aware that Adrian Peterson's presence alone would make defensive coordinators think twice about blitzing Favre in normal down-and-distance situations. However, we're also talking about a guy who is trying to finagle his way out of minicamps and OTAs in May and June. We're talking about a graybeard who turns 40 in October. We're talking about someone who failed to throw for 300 yards in one single game last year with the Jets AND amassed one or less TD passes in 10 of the 16 games. But is this Favre mini-rant a tad unfair on my part? In light of Minnesota's subtle-yet-aggressive pursuit of old No. 4, we'll address Favre's fantasy outlook with the Vikings, Revelations-style:

What He'll Like: Visanthe Shiancoe possesses all the physical traits of a potential top-10 tight end in fantasyland -- great size (6-foot-4), good hands, uncanny athletic grace and a nose for the end zone (seven TDs in '08). But he's also been maddeningly inconsistent, catching one ball for eight yards one game (Week 15 at Arizona) ... and then pulling down seven catches for 136 yards and two scores the next (Week 16 vs. Atlanta). Perhaps Favre (or Sage Rosenfels) could help Shiancoe bridge the gap from "potentially good" to "great" in a hurry.

What He'll Like, Part II: In my mind, Sidney Rice is a can't-miss receiving talent, someone in the mold of Antonio Bryant, Chris Chambers or even Brandon Marshall. He only has 46 career receptions (over two seasons), but he's still one of my prime candidates for a major breakout in '09. Interestingly enough, I believe Rice would have a better season with Rosenfels playing QB over Favre for 16 games. With Favre out of the picture, Rosenfels-to-Rice could evolve into the Midwest equivalent of Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson.

What He May Love: Bernard Berrian could be the fastest wide receiver on Flubber turf ... which should undoubtedly please Favre, who loves to heave the ball 40-plus yards at least three times per game. But if Favre comes to Minnesota with a "checkdown" state of mind, Berrian might become the Vikings' real-life version of the Invisible Man.

What He May Love, Part II: Who knows what will become of highly touted rookie Percy Harvin? He may be an athletic freak, but it's also hard to gauge his NFL future: Is he a running back in the PPR mold of Reggie Bush? Is he a wide receiver in the mold of Dennis Northcutt? Or will he prove to be nothing more than a punt/kick returner extraordinaire?

What He'll Love: The aforementioned Peterson (1,825 total yards in '08) is the NFL's best running back and could rush for 1,600 yards in his sleep, from year to year. Surely, Favre would embrace Peterson's offensive gifts, knowing full well that he'd rarely experience blind-side blitzes or see WR double-coverage 25 yards downfield. Backup running back Chester Taylor (45 catches, 798 total yards, 6 TDs last season) offers peace of mind, as well.

What He'll Love, Part II: By all accounts, the Vikings have the best offensive line in the NFC North and maybe the NFC. The group (anchored by guard Steve Hutchinson and tackle Bryant McKinnie) is incredibly versatile, as well. Run or pass ... they'll dominante.

What'll Make Him Cringe: The immense pressure that comes with being a Super Bowl or Bust team. At 30, Favre might've embraced such a distinction. But 10 years later, playing in a new city, Favre is more apt to take fewer chances and make risk-averse audible calls at the line.

What'll Happen On Fantasy Draft Day: I would never take Favre as my QB1 at this stage in his career. Sure, he still has talent, guile and moxie -- traits of a great leader. But if given the choice, I'd rather have JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, Trent Edwards, Kyle Orton, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel and even Daunte Culpepper leading my fantasy squad. However, if Favre is still available at Round 17 ... maybe, just maybe I'll take the plunge.

Third Watch

There's a perception in fantasyland (whether real or not) that wide receivers make the biggest strides in their third professional season. To wit, here are my rankings for the Year 3 wideouts:

1. Calvin Johnson, Lions
2. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
3. Steve Breaston, Cardinals
4. Sidney Rice, Vikings
5. Ted Ginn, Jr., Dolphins
6. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
7. Jason Hill, 49ers
8. Johnny Lee Higgins, Raiders
9. Robert Meachem, Saints
10. Laurent Robinson, Falcons
11. Mike Walker, Jaguars
12. Yamon Figurs, Ravens
13. David Clowney, Jets
14. Courtney Taylor, Seahawks
15. Aundrae Allison, Vikings

Clip & Save

I realize it's way too early, but here's a little preview of the likely studs (factoring in opponent and weather) for Week 15, traditionally the second fantasy-playoff week. So, this should help you a little on draft day -- about three months from now:

QBs: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Donovan McNabb, Matt Schaub, Kerry Collins, JaMarcus Russell, Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme
RBs: Maurice Jones-Drew, Marion Barber, Reggie Bush, Marshawn Lynch, Beanie Wells, Larry Johnson, Michael Turner, Thomas Jones, Steven Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Darren Sproles, Adrian Peterson, Clinton Portis
WRs: Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Chris Chambers, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith, Sidney Rice

The Ultimate Handcuffs

In Points Per Reception leagues, I almost always draft a QB and the No. 1 wide receiver from the same team. In the biz, it's known as "handcuffing" ... which simply means every time your quarterback (say Tom Brady) completes a pass or TD-score to Randy Moss, the fantasy owner would earn double the points. The downside to this strategy, of course, lies in that rare game when the quarterback throws for only 130 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Odds are your wide receiver caught only a few passes and had little or no fantasy impact on that day. For the most part, though, handcuffing is a sneaky-good way to fantasy greatness, especially when you have the right weapons at your disposal. Here are the NFL's best QB-WR handcuffs in PPR leagues for the '09 season:

1. Tom Brady/Randy Moss, Patriots
2. Matt Schaub/Andre Johnson, Texans
3. Kurt Warner/Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
4. Kurt Warner/Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
5. Tom Brady/Wes Welker, Patriots
6. Peyton Manning/Reggie Wayne, Colts
7. Daunte Culpepper/Calvin Johnson, Lions
8. Drew Brees/Marques Colston, Saints
9. Matt Cassel/Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
10. Carson Palmer/Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
11. Jake Delhomme/Steve Smith, Panthers
12. Aaron Rodgers/Greg Jennings, Packers
13. Ben Roethlisberger/Hines Ward, Steelers
14. Drew Brees/Lance Moore, Saints
15. Trent Edwards/Terrell Owens, Bills
16. Matt Hasselbeck/T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
17. Kyle Orton/Brandon Marshall, Broncos
18. Chad Pennington/Greg Camarillo, Dolphins
19. Matt Schaub/Kevin Walter, Texans
20. Trent Edwards/Lee Evans, Bills

How To Handcuff Without Really Trying

Here's the best way to ensure a great handcuff on fantasy draft day -- without "reaching" for talent: By waiting until Rounds 7/8/9 to draft a quarterback (especially in 10- or 12-team leagues), you've afforded yourself time to pair an underrated QB with any one of your top-shelf receivers from the earlier rounds. Last year, for example, I sagely grabbed Broncos WR Brandon Marshall in Round 4, and then waited until Round 9 to take Jay Cutler. By season's end, Marshall would rack up 104 catches, 1,265 receiving yards and six touchdowns, while Cutler amassed 4,526 passing yards and 25 TDs.

Had I taken a QB in the first three rounds (like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo), I would've had to disrupt the flow of my entire draft board just to get Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston or Terrell Owens (then of the Cowboys), as the second part of the QB-WR handcuff. The morale to the story: The best fantasy teams are built throughout the entire draft -- not just the first five rounds.

Commercial Endeavor

The following is a TV bit I dreamed up last week, as an homage to NFL.com's brilliant fantasy commericals through the years -- like this one, this one, this one and, of course, the coup de grace, "Housh ... yourmama. (It's amazing what the mind can create when lying on a couch for 14 consecutive hours.) For the record, I have no plans on pitching this to an NFL Network exec ... I'm just having fun here. However, I wouldn't mind some brutally honest feedback from the Clicks reader. In the spirit of the immortal Dick Clark and American Bandstand ... do we Jam It or Slam It?



Backstory: The motivation for the following 30-second TV spot was borne out of ex-Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's legendary disdain for fantasy football -- at least that's his perception after years of randomly assigning reps to running backs in Denver, from week-to-week. It also helps that he's taking a break from coaching in 2009 (he's accessible), possesses TV-friendly charisma ... and that Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is one of his best NFL friends.

Setting: The NFL.com fantasy guys are watching a Houston Texans game in a spacious living room on a typical Sunday afternoon.

Step 1: Tight camera shot on the NFL.com fantasy guys watching the Texans intently (camera then flashes to old footage of Houston QB Matt Schaub throwing a red-zone touchdown to Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels or any other receiver NOT named Andre Johnson)

Step 2: After the TD, the NFL.com guys celebrate the Houston score (and subsequent Schaub fantasy points), on-camera ... but they are drowned out by the nonsensical ravings of a man, off-camera ... some of the guys look at the unseen wailer with bemusement

Step 3: Fast forward to another Schaub TD pass not involving Andre Johnson ... the NFL.com guys celebrate the Houston/Schaub score with unbridled delight -- but again, they are drowned out by the unseen wailer, off-camera ...

Step 4: Finally, one of the guys says to a buddy:

NFL.com Guy #1
Dude, what's with your friend?

Step 5: Suddenly, the camera pans to the previously unseen wailer, Mike Shanahan, who's donning a #80 Andre Johnson/Texans hat and a T-shirt that reads, "Ask me about my fantasy team" ... once on camera, Shanahan buries his face in his hands for a brief moment, before shouting to no one in particular:

Coach Shanahan
Why does Kubiak hate fantasy football?? That should be Andre Johnson's red-zone touchdown!!

Step 6: The NFL.com guys, sensing the irony, just look each other with scrunched faces, while hearing Shanahan bellow off camera:

Coach Shanahan
Jacoby Jones ... are you kidding me? Come on!

Screen goes black ... before "commercial voice-over guy" says:

Voice-Over Guy
Fantasy Rule #87: Avoid fantasy haters on NFL Sundays at all costs. Fantasy Rule #1: Play fantasy football on NFL.com.

Commercial Ends -- Fade To Black
Running Wild

Here are my revised RB rankings for standard-scoring leagues, from No. 1 (Adrian Peterson) to No. 35 (Ray Rice):

1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (still the NFL's best 2,200-total-yard threat)
3. Matt Forte, Bears
4. Michael Turner, Falcons
5. Steven Jackson, Rams
6. Frank Gore, 49ers
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (Jacksonville drafted two premium O-tackles ... wow!)
8. Marion Barber, Cowboys
9. Chris Johnson, Titans (absolutely unstoppable in the open field)
10. Clinton Portis, Redskins
11. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (will move up if at 100 percent this summer)
12. Darren McFadden, Raiders
13. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers (it feels like I'm disrespecting him here)
14. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
15. Willie Parker, Steelers
16. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
17. Kevin Smith, Lions
18. Larry Johnson, Chiefs
19. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
20. Ryan Grant, Packers
21. Joseph Addai, Colts
22. Pierre Thomas, Saints (rock-steady rusher keeps flying under the radar)
23. Chris "Beanie" Wells, Cardinals
24. Reggie Bush, Saints (this could be a make-or-break fantasy season)
25. Steve Slaton, Texans
26. Thomas Jones, Jets (beware of the always-fluctuating TD rate)
27. Darren Sproles, Chargers
28. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
29. Willis McGahee, Ravens
30. Jamal Lewis, Browns
31. Felix Jones, Cowboys
32. Michael Bush, Raiders
33. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (remember him?)
34. Earnest Graham, Buccaneers
35. Ray Rice, Ravens

Choose Your Superstar
Eli Manning: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

At first blush, Ben Roethlisberger seems like the stronger fantasy play over Eli Manning this season. After all, he has a slighty better track record over the years and a stable corps of pass-catchers to boot (Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, Heath Miller). And Eli, who doesn't have Anquan Boldin (at the time of this writing) or Plaxico Burress as a go-to receiver, has a marginal supporting cast that includes (Domenik Hixon, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss, Ramses Barden, Travis Beckum, Kevin Boss). However, when performing a week-to-week breakdown of the last two quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl, it's practically a dead heat:

Week 1 -- Manning (vs. Washington) over Roethlisberger (vs. Tennessee)
Week 2 -- Manning (@ Dallas) over Roethlisberger (@ Chicago)
Week 3 -- Roethlisberger (@ Cincinnati) over Manning (@ Tampa Bay)
Week 4 -- Manning (@ Kansas City) over Roethlisberger (vs. San Diego)
Week 5 -- Roethlisberger (@ Detroit) over Manning (vs. Oakland)
Week 6 -- Roethlisberger (vs. Cleveland) over Manning (@ New Orleans)
Week 7 -- Manning (vs. Arizona) over Roethlisberger (vs. Minnesota)
Week 8 -- Manning (@ Philadelphia) over Roethlisberger (BYE)
Week 9 -- Manning (vs. San Diego) over Roethlisberger (@ Denver)
Week 10 -- Roethlisberger (vs. Cincinnati) over Manning (BYE)
Week 11 -- Roethlisberger (@ Kansas City) over Manning (vs. Atlanta)
Week 12 -- Manning (@ Denver) over Roethlisberger (@ Baltimore)
Week 13 -- Manning (vs. Dallas) over Roethlisberger (vs. Oakland)
Week 14 -- Roethlisberger (@ Cleveland) over Manning (vs. Philadelphia)
Week 15 -- Roethlisberger (vs. Green Bay) over Manning (@ Washington)
Week 16 -- Manning (vs. Carolina) over Roethlisberger (vs. Baltimore)
Week 17 -- Roethlisberger (@ Miami) over Manning (@ Minnesota)

Verdict: How's this for a mild upset? Eli gets the nod by a razor-thin 9-8 vote ... although we're really splitting hairs in Weeks 2, 3, 5, 6 and 9. On the plus side for Big Ben, he's the preferred candidate for two of the three fantasy playoff weeks (Week 14 at Cleveland, Week 15 vs. Green Bay).

Birds Of A Feather ... Mock Together

The calendar reads only May, but I participated in my first substantial fantasy football draft on April 27. The draft, conducted by the delicate geniuses (thanks, George Costanza) at Mock Draft Central, attracted some of the highest-profile fantasy experts in the biz (to fill out the 12-man league, I got a last-minute invite -- HA!) ... and the results will be published in Rotoworld's next football magazine. So, here are Rounds 5 & 6 (Rounds 1-4 have already been listed here in previous weeks -- standard-scoring league, 14 rounds, 2 RBs/3 WRs start):

Round 5
49. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos
50. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
51. RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers
52. WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
53. WR Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
54. QB Kurt Warner, Cardinals
55. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys
56. WR Vincent Jackson, Chargers
57. WR Lance Moore, Saints
58. RB Willie Parker, Steelers (my pick)
59. WR Santonio Holmes, Steelers
60. RB LenDale White, Titans

Round 6
61. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers
62. RB Cedric Benson, Bengals
63. RB Joseph Addai, Colts (my pick)
64. WR Lee Evans, Bills
65. RB Darren Sproles, Chargers
66. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
67. WR Torry Holt, Jaguars
68. RB Willis McGahee, Ravens
69. QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles
70. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
71. TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
72. WR Laveranues Coles, Bengals

Speaking Of Mock Drafts ...

As I've mentioned in this space before, Sports Illustrated will be coming out with its biggest-ever preseason fantasy football publication this summer, and our official Experts Mock Draft is slated for May 19 (next Tuesday), which means I'll have plenty of post-draft nuggets in next Wednesday's Fantasy Clicks. Stay tuned.

Sudden Impact

Who cares about the 2012 season? Fantasy owners are all about the here and now. To wit, the top 10 most impactful rookie RBs for '09:

1. Chris "Beanie" Wells, Cardinals (he'll get 80 percent of the between-the-20s reps)
2. LeSean McCoy, Eagles (he may even get 3-4 starts if Brian Westbrook needs a rest)
3. Donald Brown, Colts (GM Bill Polian says he'll split touches with Joseph Addai)
4. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
5. James Davis, Browns (a sneaky-good candidate for 800 total yards)
6. Shonn Greene, Jets (sky-high potential ... but will have trouble beating out Jones/Washington)
7. Glen Coffee, 49ers (relatively tame competition ... after Frank Gore)
8. Andre Brown, Giants (Earth, Wind, Fire ... and Lightning?)
9. Chris Ogbonnaya, Rams (possesses interesting long-term potential)
10. Javon Ringer, Titans (I may be a Sparty at heart ... but he's no threat to LenDale White in '09)

Sudden Impact, Part II

Along those lines, here are the top 12 most impactful rookie WRs:

1. Michael Crabtree, 49ers (he's a smaller, slighter Andre Johnson)
2. Jarrett Dillard, Jaguars (Jacksonville is going to love him for the next 10 years)
3. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders (speed kills ... he also has no WR competition)
4. Percy Harvin, Vikings (a living, breathing human highlight film)
5. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles (pencil him in for three kick-return TDs this season)
6. Austin Collie, Colts (Peyton Manning's new favorite toy)
7. Juaquin Iglesias, Bears (plenty of immediate opportunities in Chicago)
8. Hakeem Nicks, Giants (lukewarm feelings ... but he'll certainly get reps)
9. Mohammed Massaquoi, Browns (a better short-term fantasy buy than Brian Robiskie)
10. Kenny Britt, Titans
11. Derrick Williams, Lions (should have a solid, if not spectacular pro career)
12. Brandon Tate, Patriots

Sudden Impact, Part III

And for good measure, here are the top seven most impactful rookie tight ends for '09:

1. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions (a day-one starter ... and receptions machine)
2. Chase Coffman, Bengals
3. Richard Quinn, Broncos (need any more evidence Tony Scheffler's on the block?)
4. Travis Beckum, Giants
5. Jared Cook, Titans (this man-mountain could supplant Bo Scaife sooner than later)
6. Cornelius Ingram, Eagles
7. Bear Pascoe, 49ers

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