Fantasy Clicks: The Obligatory All-Favre Revelations
Brett Favre: AP
Citing God Shammgod as my witness, I swear baseball was supposed to be the sole focus of today's Fantasy Clicks. But it seems our nation's NEW favorite pastime -- chronicling Brett Favre's every single move -- has taken over fantasyland once again, thus moving baseball to the backburner until next Wednesday (Aug. 5). So please, by all means, let's enjoy this Favre-inspired Clicks ... because it's the last time we'll mention his name in 2009 -- even if he decides to return to some desperate (read: gullible) franchise around Week 9. If that's the case, he'll simply be known as The Diva Who Cried Wolf (And Still Got His Way).
Yes, Favre still has the potential to throw six touchdowns on any given Sunday -- a quality possessed by few quarterbacks in today's NFL. But taking away his all-world gem against Arizona in Week 4, he averaged only 0.83 TD passes in the Jets' final 12 games. We're also talking about someone who failed to throw for 300 yards in any game last year ... and -- not to harp on touchdowns too much -- amassed 0-1 TD passes in 10 of the 16 games. D'oh!
Verdict: Even at perfect health and with a full training camp under his belt, the 40-year-old Favre (come Oct. 10) would have been nothing more than a low backup QB in fantasyland. Sorry.
This just in: The Vikings' cadre of coaches, players and executives have voted to carry on with the 2009 season, even though they'll be without the services of a certain Canton-bound quarterback who was supposed to lead the Purple Gang to a Super Bowl berth. (Quick question: Is it possible to lead a team when you've never even visited their practice facility?) Obviously, this bodes well for either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson, the club's primary quarterbacks. But which one will get the starting nod? Conventional wisdom says Jackson (1,056 yards passing, 9 TDs in '08) has a leg-up on Sage, given his familiarity with Minnesota's offensive scheme and coaches. But I believe Rosenfels' tools are tailor-made for the Vikings -- unless he's trying to protect a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter with mad quarterback scrambles -- and that he'll be the redoubtable starter for at least 10 games in '09.
Regardless of which QB wins the job, I don't think there'll be any long-term resentment toward head coach Brad Childress for letting the Favre saga spill into the summer months, and here's why: Jackson is at a crossroads in his NFL career, meaning he needs to show tangible improvement this season ... or risk being lumped with David Carr, Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, Akili Smith, Tim Couch, etc. as high-round picks who fell woefully short as NFL starters. And for Rosenfels, this is a golden chance to become an established starter for a souped-up core of offensive and defensive playmakers -- not unlike ex-Falcons backup Matt Schaub after making the impactful move from Atlanta to Houston in 2007. In all honesty, Rosenfels may never have a better opportunity to succeed in the NFL.
Gut Reaction: Assuming Rosenfels ends up starting all 16 games for Minnesota, I would confidently rank him at No. 20 among QBs -- right behind Kyle Orton and Jason Campbell ... and just ahead of Chad Pennington, Jake Delhomme, Shaun Hill and JaMarcus Russell. And if T-Jax should get the starting job, he'd warrant a mid-20s ranking among signal-callers.
Here are the revised rankings for all 32 starting QBs (and yes, we're assuming Sage Rosenfels claims the Vikes' job at Week 1):
1. Drew Brees, Saints
2. Tom Brady, Patriots
3. Peyton Manning, Colts
4. Philip Rivers, Chargers
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
6. Kurt Warner, Cardinals
7. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
8. Matt Ryan, Falcons
9. Tony Romo, Cowboys
10. Matt Schaub, Texans
11. Carson Palmer, Bengals
12. Jay Cutler, Bears
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
14. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
15. Trent Edwards, Bills
16. Eli Manning, Giants
17. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
18. Kyle Orton, Broncos
19. Jason Campbell, Redskins
20. Sage Rosenfels, Vikings
21. Chad Pennington, Dolphins
22. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders
23. Jake Delhomme, Panthers
24. Shaun Hill, 49ers
25. David Garrard, Jaguars
26. Marc Bulger, Rams
27. Daunte Culpepper, Lions
28. Kellen Clemens, Jets
29. Joe Flacco, Ravens
30. Kerry Collins, Titans
31. Brady Quinn, Browns
32. Luke McCown, Buccaneers
In the wake of getting closure on the Favre saga, here are some Revelations facing Jackson and/or Rosenfels for the coming year:
What They'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 Rosenfels could help Shiancoe bridge the gap from "potentially good" to "great" in a hurry.
What They'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. With Favre out of the picture, Rosenfels-to-Rice could evolve into the Midwest equivalent of Matt Schaub-to-Andre Johnson.
What They May Love: Bernard Berrian could be the NFL's fastest wide receiver on Flubber turf. But if Rosenfels or Jackson take the field with a "checkdown" state of mind, Berrian might become the Vikings' real-life version of the Invisible Man.
What They May Love, Part II: When people ask me which rookie WR will stand out this season, I immediately look past Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Darrius Heyward-Bey and focus squarely on Percy Harvin. In the vast historical wasteland of NFL rookie wideouts buckling under the weight of unrealistic expectations, Harvin is a unique choice for value-seeking fantasy owners -- given Minnesota's desire to use him in 'Wildcat' situations, bubble-screen passes, reverse handoffs, kickoff returns ... and, oh yeah, actual patterns downfield (especially quick slants)! Add it all together, and Harvin is the only non-rookie rusher or quarterback who's a stone-cold lock for 15-18 touches in every game -- if not more. (It also helps that Harvin is an athletic freak of nature).
What They'll Unconditionally Love: Adrian 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. Backup running back Chester Taylor (45 catches, 798 total yards, 6 TDs) offers similar peace of mind in the backfield. Need I say more on this front?
What They'll Unconditionally 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.
Here are my revised backup-QB rankings for standard-scoring leagues, from No. 1 (Tyler Thigpen) to No. 32 (Caleb Henie). Noticeably absent from this list is recently reinstated wunderkind Michael Vick, who could very well crack the top 10 -- as soon as he signs with an NFL (and not UFL) club:
1. Tyler Thigpen, Chiefs
2. Derek Anderson, Browns
3. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks
4. Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings
5. Vince Young, Titans (assuming his head's in the game)
6. J.T. O'Sullivan, Bengals (a perfect fit in Cincy)
7. Chris Simms, Broncos
8. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (he can beat out Gibran Hamdan, right?)
9. Kevin Kolb, Eagles
10. Dan Orlovsky/Rex Grossman, Texans
11. Matt Leinart, Cardinals (the new MMA king of Scottsdale)
12. Jeff Garcia, Raiders
13. David Carr, Giants
14. Josh McCown, Panthers
15. Byron Leftwich/Josh Freeman, Bucs (assuming Luke McCown's the starter)
16. Mark Sanchez, Jets
17. Matthew Stafford, Lions (the greatest fantasy potential of anyone on this list)
18. Kyle Boller, Rams
19. Alex Smith, 49ers
20. Chad Henne/Pat White, Dolphins
21. Billy Volek, Chargers (the "rust" factor justifies this low ranking)
22. Cleo Lemon, Jaguars
23. Brooks Bollinger, Cowboys (a fractional upgrade over Brad Johnson)
24. Todd Collins, Redskins
25. Troy Smith, Ravens
26. Kevin O'Connell, Patriots (should probably be higher on the Pats' reputation alone)
27. Jim Sorgi, Colts
28. Mark Brunell, Saints (thank goodness for Drew Brees' durability, eh?)
29. Chris Redman, Falcons
30. Charlie Batch, Steelers
31. Matt Flynn/Brian Brohm, Packers
32. Caleb Henie, Bears (as bad as he is, he's guaranteed to NEVER be replaced by Vick -- thanks to Jay Cutler's fragile psyche)
The dynamic p.r. eggheads at Sports Illustrated have booked (or will be booking) an army of fantasy writers on radio stations across the country to promote our fantasy football magazine; and as luck would have it, I've already gotten my fair share of radio run in the last week (WCNN in Atlanta and Sports Byline Radio, to name a few) ... which leads me to the following: Come Wednesday afternoon, I will own a Twitter account, freeing me up to update fantasy honks on future radio/TV interviews or simply offer my two cents on fantasy-related issues. On the flip side ... here are some preseason Tweets you most likely won't see come August:
Hall of Fame Game -- Aug. 9: "I wonder ... who 'created' the iconoclastic tradition of proudly wearing mustard-yellow blazers for all the world to see -- 1970s network TV announcers or Pro Football Hall of Famers?"
Week 1 -- Minnesota @ Indianapolis: "Marvin Who? Looks like P-Manning has found a worthy route-tree replacement for the pregame in rookie WR Austin Collie!"
Week 2 -- Oakland @ San Francisco: "Breaking News: The Raiders plan to un-retire Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff's #85 to satisfy WR Chaz Schilens' out-of-control ego."
Week 3 -- San Diego @ Atlanta: "Mark it down, kids. At 8:07 p.m. EST, Jim Nantz became the first NFL announcer to utter the hollow phrase, 'Super Bowl preview!'"
Week 4 -- Houston @ Tampa Bay: "You've heard it here first. Glenn Martinez will supplant Andre Johnson as the Texans' go-to receiver by Week 3."
... To announce the arrival of Sports Illustrated's fantasy football spectacular, available online and at magazine racks nationwide. This 168-page tome is chock-full of rankings, columns (two from yours truly), features, draft-day advice, in-season strategies, booms, busts and an experts' mock draft, enlisting an army of SI's award-winning fantasy and NFL writers (including Peter King). Last but not least, it boasts perhaps the coolest cover of any fantasy magazine you'll ever see!
Am I overselling it a little bit? Perhaps. But the early feedback I've gotten from my fantasy brethren suggests SI's first major foray into fantasy football will be an absolute triumph -- and that it could become an all-time best seller within the genre. (UPDATE: My well-placed moles have informed me that SI's fantasy mag is indeed the top seller to date ... sweeeeeet!)
Steven Jackson: Peter Newcomb/Icon SMI
Happy days are here again. I am officially done with all the so-called "expert mock drafts" and can now focus on the real drafts for August and September. The final gathering of experts occurred on Tuesday night, as part of the National Football Post's exclusive draft selection show -- featuring fantasy shamans like Gregg Rosenthal, Greg Kellogg, Brandon Funston, Ken Daube, Jonathan Phillips, Joe Fortenbaugh, Jamey Eisenberg, etc. In fact, here are Rounds 1-5 of the standard-scoring league draft (10 teams, 16 rounds, 2/3 RBs, 3/4 WRs start):
1. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. RB Matt Forte, Bears
3. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
5. RB Drew Brees, Saints
6. RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
7. RB Tom Brady, Patriots
8. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
9. RB Steven Jackson, Rams (my pick)
10. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
11. WR Randy Moss, Patriots
12. RB Chris Johnson, Titans (my pick)
13. RB Brian Westbrook, Eagles
14. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
15. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
16. RB Steve Slaton, Texans
17. RB Frank Gore, 49ers
18. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
19. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos
20. QB Peyton Manning, Colts
21. RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants
22. RB Marion Barber, Cowboys
23. RB Clinton Portis, Redskins
24. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
25. RB Kevin Smith, Lions
26. WR Roddy White, Falcons
27. RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
28. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
29. RB Ryan Grant, Packers (my pick)
30. RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
31. WR Marques Colston, Saints
32. WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals (my pick)
33. WR Terrell Owens, Bills
34. RB Marshawn Lynch, Bills
35. RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers
36. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
37. RB Pierre Thomas, Saints
38. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
39. RB Thomas Jones, Jets
40. WR Vincent Jackson, Chargers
41. WR Wes Welker, Patriots
42. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
43. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
44. WR Lee Evans, Bills
45. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys
46. RB Donald Brown, Colts
47. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers
48. RB Joseph Addai, Colts
49. WR Braylon Edwards, Browns (my pick)
50. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Well, hath no fear or ambivalence ... because here's a great strategy for nailing your mixed-league draft when owning the 4th pick:
Round 1, Pick 4: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars ... 2nd option: RB Steven Jackson, Rams
Round 2, Pick 17 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR available (a tad too early for QBs)
1st option: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions ... 2nd option: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Round 3, Pick 24 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB (ONLY QB considerations: Brees, Manning, Brady)
1st option: RB Ryan Grant, Packers ... 2nd option: QB Peyton Manning, Colts
Round 4, Pick 37 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available
1st option: RB Kevin Smith, Lions ... 2nd option: WR Braylon Edwards, Browns
Round 5, Pick 44 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available (too much TE depth to reach here)
1st option: RB Darren McFadden, Raiders ... 2nd option: RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers
Round 6, Pick 57 overall: Motive -- Best player available (last chance for a great QB1)
1st option: QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles ... 2nd option: WR Hines Ward, Steelers
Round 7, Pick 64 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB/TE available
1st option: WR Hines Ward, Steelers ... 2nd option: TE Dallas Clark, Colts
Round 8, Pick 77 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE available
1st option: RB Felix Jones, Cowboys ... 2nd option: WR Steve Breaston, Cardinals
Round 9, Pick 84 overall: Motive -- Best TE/RB/WR (perfect spot to grab TE1 or QB2)
1st option: TE Owen Daniels, Texans ... 2nd option: WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
Round 10, Pick 97 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR available
1st option: QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs ... 2nd option: WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Round 11, Pick 104: Motive -- Best RB/WR/TE available (you can never have enough RB depth)
1st option: RB Fred Jackson, Bills ... 2nd option: WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Round 12, Pick 117: Motive -- Best WR available
1st option: WR Sidney Rice, Vikings ... 2nd option: WR Earl Bennett, Bears
Round 13, Pick 124: Motive -- Best WR/TE/RB available
1st option: WR Earl Bennett, Bears ... 2nd option: WR Justin Gage, Titans
Round 14, Pick 137: Motive -- Best D/ST available (although you have permission to draft a kicker)
1st option: D/ST San Diego Chargers ... 2nd option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers
Round 15, Pick 144: Motive -- Best TE, PK or D/ST available
1st option: TE Brent Celek, Eagles ... 2nd option: RB Michael Bush, Raiders
Round 16, Pick 157: Motive -- Best defense or kicker
1st option: PK Ryan Longwell, Vikings ... 2nd option: PK Matt Prater, Broncos
Just when I thought I had seen it all, 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 squads after breakfast cereals (i.e. Count Chocula's Henchmen), TV shows or sports/pop-culture figures; but now, I may offer FF Toolbox the chance at securing the name rights for my SI.com & Friends league team ('09 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).
Introducing ... my revised WR rankings for standard-scoring leagues, from No. 1 (Larry Fitzgerald) to No. 40 (Cincy's enigmatic Chris Henry):
1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (gets the nod over AJ in non-PPRs)
2. Andre Johnson, Texans
3. Randy Moss, Patriots (still waffling on the Randy/Calvin debate)
4. Calvin Johnson, Lions (a solid No. 4, no matter the league rules)
5. Reggie Wayne, Colts
6. Greg Jennings, Packers
7. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
8. Roddy White, Falcons
9. Steve Smith, Panthers
10. Marques Colston, Saints
11. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
12. Brandon Marshall, Broncos (he'd be No. 6 if Jay Cutler was still his QB)
13. Wes Welker, Patriots
14. Terrell Owens, Bills
15. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
16. Braylon Edwards, Browns
17. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
18. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
19. Antonio Bryant, Bucs (would be higher if he had a better QB)
20. Santana Moss, Redskins
21. Lee Evans, Bills
22. Hines Ward, Steelers
23. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
24. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
25. Steve Breaston, Cardinals
26. Santonio Holmes, Steelers
27. Kevin Walter, Texans
28. Sidney Rice, Vikings
29. Percy Harvin, Vikings
30. Donnie Avery, Rams
31. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
32. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
33. Roy Williams, Cowboys
34. Bernard Berrian, Vikings
35. Laveranues Coles, Bengals
36. Eddie Royal, Broncos
37. Earl Bennett, Bears (someone has to reap the Cutler benefits)
38. Chris Chambers, Chargers
39. Mark Clayton, Ravens
40. Chris Henry, Bengals
Here's what I don't get about me: If I would rather have Luke McCown as a fantasyland QB over Jeff Garcia (weak arm + aging legs + diva attitude = um, no thanks) every day of the week -- and twice on Sunday -- then why is Bucs receiver Antonio Bryant (89 catches for 1,248 yards and 7 TDs in '08) suffering on my preseason rankings? Am I fretting over Tampa Bay's inexperienced new head coach, Raheem Morris? Am I reading too much into offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski's evil plan to implement a run-oriented attack, designed solely for one-cut-and-go rushers? Or, am I simply worried that talented, but extremely raw rookie Josh Freeman will log significant snaps once the franchise is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (say, Week 11)? Whatever the reason ... Mr. Bryant, I apologize in advance.
On the off chance that you're still reading today's Clicks BUT weary of my sometimes-lucent opinions of all-things Favre and the left-at-the-altar Vikings, I have included an impromptu Q&A session with Jeff Ritter, my SI.com colleague and silky-smooth host of our weekly fantasy radio show on Blog Talk Radio, thus offering a fresh (read: humorous) perspective on Black Tuesday:
1. Which QB -- Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson -- has the greater fantasy upside this year?
Answer: Give me Sage or give me ... someone else. The real question is which quarterback will start in Week 1, and therein lies the upside. I know Brad Childress loves Tarvaris like LenDale White loves Little Debbie, but I?m confident Sage will emerge as the Vikes' clear-cut starter during the preseason.
2. Which NFC North wideout would you rather have -- Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice or Donald Driver?
Answer: A veritable grab bag of mediocrity. Double-D belongs to the better offense, but Rice has a chance to be the Vikings' No. 1 option. Harvin is irrelevant to me, as I never -- repeat, NEVER -- draft rookie receivers. In this debate, I?ll take a flyer on Rice, who has more upside; but truthfully, I?d almost rather own a second tight end. Whatever happened to Bubba Franks?
3. Who'll score more TOUCHDOWNS this year -- Adrian Peterson or Ryan Grant?
Answer: Predicting touchdowns is like forecasting the weather. Or the stock market. Or Tony Romo?s next girlfriend. It?s fun being right, but it's essentially a crapshoot. Since I know Jay Clemons will take AP in this debate, I?ll go with Grant (2,420 total yards, 13 TDs in 2007-08). Again, the Packers offense is more balanced than the Favre-less Vikings. While Grant might not get 50 percent of his team?s touches inside the 10-yard-line -- like AD -- he'll approach 40 percent, and his team will wind up fielding more red-zone opportunities anyway. Also, in case you were wondering, I predict Wednesday's weather will be partly cloudy, stocks will be up and Romo?s next girlfriend will be Taylor Swift. No need to thank me.
Aside from NFC-brand loyalty in the Super Bowl, I've never been a Philadelphia Eagles fan. But I've always been a huge admirer of coach Jim Johnson and his unquenchable passion for the almighty blitz. The Eagles' longtime defensive coordinator passed away Tuesday at the tender age of 68 after a bout with cancer; but in my book, he'll go down in history, along with Buddy Ryan (creator of the '46 Defense', as the greatest blitz-specific coaches the NFL has ever known. And here's one posthumous nugget for Johnson's legacy: I'll be shocked if the Eagles don't win the whole enchilada this season.