Randy Moss: AP
As the exciting sequel to Six QB Tiers for Drafting and the Five RB Tiers for Drafting, SI.com presents the five-tiered list of the top-50 wide receivers - a mathematical compilation from projections published in eight respected annuals (The Sporting News, ESPN the Mag, Fanball.com, etc.). The tiers represent the players' average estimates (listed in order of draft preference):
Tier 1 (1,450 total yards and/or 12 TDs)
Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards
Tier 2 (1,300 total yards and/or 10 TDs)
Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Marques Colston
Tier 3 (1,100 total yards and/or 8 TDs)
Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Torry Holt, Greg Jennings, Anquan Boldin, Santonio Holmes, Brandon Marshall
Tier 4 (950 total yards and/or 6 TDs)
Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker, Jerricho Cotchery, Roddy White, Lee Evans, Roy Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Nate Burleson, Joey Galloway, Marvin Harrison, Hines Ward, Reggie Williams, Laveranues Coles, Bernard Berrian, Chris Chambers, Patrick Crayton, Donald Driver, Kevin Curtis, Santana Moss, Sidney Rice
Tier 5 (800 total yards and/or 4 TDs)
Anthony Gonzalez, Jerry Porter, Javon Walker, Vincent Jackson, Ronald Curry, Reggie Brown, Donte Stallworth, Bobby Engram, Derrick Mason, James Hardy, D.J. Hackett, Bryant Johnson, Justin Gage, Robert Meachem
Laugh off Niners-Bears on Thursday as a meaningless August tilt if you must, but I have two major fantasy drafts coming this weekend ... and, heaven help me, I truly NEED to know if San Francisco rookie Josh Morgan (nine catches for 182 yards and 1 TD in two preseason games) is the real deal, or the West Coast version of Domenick Hixon, a likely one-hit wonder with the Giants. After scanning video of the mammoth Morgan (thanks, NFL Network), it's hard to tell if his prodigious play is the result of vanilla defenses and Grade-B players defending him or the genesis of a great receiving career. Hmmm ... I guess his tiebreaker should be making Niners QB J.T. O'Sullivan look all-world for two games -- and that's not easy to do.
I'm a big proponent of Targets, as in the amount of times a receiver, tight end or running back has the ball thrown his way. It's one of the best indicators of success for a coming season -- especially in PPR leagues. To wit: SI.com presents a list of the top-10 running backs with the best combination of Targets and Receiving Yards (using '07 stats). Basically, we're talking about guys with minimums of four Targets Per Game (TPG) and 370 receiving yards:
1. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (8.2 targets per game, 771 receiving yards)
2. Reggie Bush, Saints (8.4 TPG, 417 yards in just 12 games)
3. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins (6.6 TPG, 389 yards in just 7 games)
4. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (5.5 TPG, 475 yards)
5. Frank Gore, 49ers (4.7 TPG, 436 yards)
6. Adrian Peterson, Bears (4.4 TPG, 420 yards)
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (3.9 TPG, 407 yards)
8. Kenny Watson, Bengals (4.4 TPG, 373 yards)
9. Clinton Portis, Redskins (3.8 TPG, 389 yards)
3. Kevin Faulk, Patriots (3.8 TPG, 383 yards)
*Special mention goes to the Vikings' Adrian Peterson. In his phenomenal rookie year (1,341 rushing yards, 12 TDs), Peterson was targeted only 25 times through the air (1.8 TPG), catching 19 balls for 268 yards -- a staggering 14.1 yards per catch. That's good food for thought -- not that you need another reason to draft Peterson at No. 2 overall.
I sincerely doubt Anquan Boldin has ever heard the unfortunate tale of John Jefferson. In 1980, Boldin's birth year, Jefferson was one of three Chargers to tally at least 1,000 receiving yards, as part of the go-for-broke "Air Coryell" offense. In '81, Jefferson (three 1,000-yard seasons and 36 TDs from 1978-80) pouted his way out of San Diego (surprise! he wanted a new contract) and to Green Bay in a midseason trade ... where he had four lackluster years before retiring, without fanfare, with Cleveland after the '85 season. The Chargers, in turn, acquired the amazing Wes Chandler midway through the '81 season and never missed a beat with their high-octane attack.
Fast forward to the present: A sulking Boldin now wants out of Arizona ... and shipped to a franchise that, in his mind, truly appreciates his talents (read: big-money deal). This isn't to say Boldin cannot carry an offense without Larry Fitzgerald at his side -- after all, he did post 101 catches for 1,377 yards and 8 TDs in 2003. But I also think he'd be more interested in building a Hall of Fame résumé in a pass-friendly offense (while waiting seven months for that contract extension) than going to the Dolphins or Bears -- where good receivers go to die, at least in fantasyland.
Ever dreamt of playing fantasy football against a Hall of Fame safety, Sports Illustrated football writer, Major League Baseball general manager, world-renowned swimsuit model, professional poker player or best-selling author -- to name a few? SI.com, in conjunction with Facebook, will welcome someone into its 2008 Celebrity Fantasy League where one lucky fan matches weekly wits, from Draft Day to the Fantasy Bowl, with Ronnie Lott, Peter King, Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, supermodel Brooklyn Decker, poker great Phil Gordon and Michael Lewis, author of the sabremetrician-friendly book, Moneyball. Time's running out, though, so click here and register today! As a consolation prize for the contest non-winners, you can create new leagues and develop newer rivals on the new SI/Facebook fantasy game.
Marshawn Lynch: Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI
The most gratifying aspect of writing Fantasy Clicks comes in the form of reader mail. Seriously, for the fantasy writer, there is no greater thrill than getting two queries simultaneously -- one asking your opinion on the 38th best RB ... and the other simply stating, "You're an idiot!" But enough about family ... here are some real questions (or derogatory comments) posed by readers:
I have the 10th pick in my draft. Who should I look to take or expect to be there out of the top backs?
-- Mike in Levittown, Pa.
Mike, if you're playing in a league with rational-thinking owners, you can expect Tomlinson, Peterson, Addai, Jackson, Westbrook and Gore (commonly known as the Big Six) to be off the board by then ... opening the door for Marshawn Lynch, Marion Barber or Clinton Portis. As I stated in Monday's Clicks, Lynch, Barber and Portis are consensus locks for 1,500 total yards and/or 12 total TDs. In other words, you really can't lose (like Parker Lewis) with either one.
With regards to your commentary on Ricky Williams, "I refuse to be seduced by his new can-do attitude. He's a 500-yard performer, at maximum" ... Why, because you don't think someone can come around? He is not trying to seduce you or anyone else, he is in a positive place in his life mentally and he has motivation to play (even if it is $$$ that he is motivated by, it is no different from the reason any of us are at work today). I can't wait till Ricky has 1200-plus yards and is comeback player of the year. I will be in touch and hope you are big enough to publish a retraction.
-- Unknown, Miami, Fla.
Unknown author, my comments were not made to bash Ricky, the humanitarian ... Ricky, the yoga instructor ... Ricky, the life coach ... or Ricky, the beard-contest winner -- I was simply talking about Ricky, the professional football player. And I stand by what I said about 500 yards rushing in '08. In fact, if Williams even logs 160 carries this season (10 per game), I will post a Fantasy Clicks mea culpa.
Switching gears to baseball ... let's open with some trivia: I started my full-time major league career with the Washington Senators in 1969, playing for Hall of Fame hitter/ tough-love manager Ted Williams. Fifteen years later, I succeeded Graig Nettles as the Yankees' third baseman. In 1985, I set the Rangers' single-season record for on-base percentage (.432) -- a mark that could be broken by Milton Bradley in 2008. And oh yeah, I'm the only person to ever play for and manage the Texas Rangers. Who am I? (Scroll down for the answer.)
In search of an unheralded Wednesday spot starter for your fantasy lineup, one who may bring glory in Ks, ERA and WHIP -- if for just one night? Frankly, no candidate jumps right off the waiver-wire page. But if you absolutely, positively need someone ... look no further than Toronto rookie David Purcey. In the last month, the 26-year-old Purcey has had a 2.5/1 K-to-BB ratio (20/8), while only surrendering 18 hits during that span (23 innings). Also, opponents have a miniscule .214 batting average against him in night games (like tonight). What's more, Purcey takes on the Jays' biggest rival, the Yankees, a wounded club (literally and figuratively) that has scored only 3.9 runs per game in their last 11 road tilts.
Matt Garza does a Sybil impression like no other pitcher in the majors today. In his last six starts, he's had three gems (3 wins, 9 hits allowed, 0 runs, 20 Ks) and three duds (2 losses, 25 hits allowed, 13 runs, 9 Ks). All this begs the question for the Garza AL-only fantasy owner: What kind of trade compensation could I expect in return?
Using the trade-history function on CBSSportsline.com, here are five recent trades involving Garza:
* Garza for David Purcey and Vernon Wells
* Garza/Denard Span for Justin Christian/Joe Nathan
* Garza for Jhonny Peralta
* Garza/Adam Lind for Dan Giese/Torii Hunter
* Garza for Bobby Jenks
It's funny how life works sometimes. On Tuesday morning, Sean Gallagher's only real claim to fame was being the centerpiece of the Rich Harden to the Cubs deal back in July. By nightfall, after Gallagher got rocked by the Twins -- to the tune of 11 hits and 10 earned runs in five innings -- he may have singlehandedly cost a fantasy owner or two (including yours truly) an ERA and/or WHIP title ... or even worse, the overall league championship. Oh, the poor kid! My heart truly bleeds for anyone who can raise their ERA from 4.50 to 5.23 in one single outing.
That I respect and admire the opinions of SI.com colleague Cory McCartney -- perhaps the city of Atlanta's biggest authority on movies, TV shows, college football and the Indiana Pacers. However, when it comes to choosing the greatest fantasy football commercial of all time, I cannot justify his personal choice over these four NFL.com gems -- like this one, this one, this one or even this one (my fave).
At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.