Jay Clemons
Monday August 30th, 2010

With the relevant portion of the NFL preseason behind us, it's time for some stream-of-consciousness takes on what fantasy owners may have learned this month.

Aaron Rodgers (470 passing yards, 6 TDs) and Tom Brady (425 yards, 4 TDs) already look to be in midseason form; and as a reward for their laser-like focus in meaningless games, I pledge to draft Rodgers in Round 2 or Brady in Round 4 of 12-team standard-scoring leagues.

• Without looking at the stat sheet, I can only recall two Matthew Stafford-led drives during the preseason where the Lions didn't score a touchdown, field goal or surrender a turnover. Fantasy owners can expect a similar roller-coaster ride with Stafford (332 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) this season -- but with more highs than lows (unlike last year).

Brett Favre (200 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs) has looked old and tired, which was my exact sentiment this time last year. Translation: As long as Adrian Peterson is wreaking havoc, Favre will have a highly productive campaign in real-world and fantasy circles. Just don't expect 33 touchdown passes and seven interceptions again.

Jake Delhomme (38-of-48 for 345 yards and 2 TDs) has been stunningly efficient with the Browns to date, but I refuse to boost his QB ranking until he strings together solid back-to-back performances in the regular season. Seems fair, huh?

• As I stated in Friday's Clicks, I won't make any long-term judgments of Sam Bradford this season, no matter how he fares with the sad-sack Rams. I boldly declared my stance on Bradford back in April -- for which I'm completely sticking to -- but at the same time, every rookie QB deserves time to prove his worth (or worthlessness). No exceptions.

• I don't care who wins the Cardinals' QB job (Matt Leinart vs. Derek Anderson). I just pray the victor -- or in this case, the lesser of two evils -- targets Larry Fitzgerald at least 12 times per game.

Anthony Dixon's league-leading preseason total of 220 rushing yards portends greatness ... for Frank Gore. As if Gore didn't have enough ultra-positive indicators in his favor -- a clean bill of health and 14 easy-cheesy games against the NFC West, NFC South and AFC West -- we also know the 49ers' sturdy offensive line is ready for action come Week 1. Don't get me wrong, Dixon (one of Mississippi State's best tailbacks in school history) makes for a great short-yardage runner and better backup than Brian Westbrook. But there's simply no stopping Gore this year, assuming full health.

• I may be stubborn, but I'm not stupid. That's why I'm wiling to eat a big bag of crow over the Arian Foster-Steve Slaton battle in Houston. Foster's performance against Dallas (126 total yards, 1 TD) surely clinched his standing as the Texans' No. 1 back, whereas Slaton will now have to sing for his supper on third downs. What can I say? I was wrong.

• I've mentioned this a few times on Twitter, but Chargers rookie Ryan Mathews is not a first-round pick in standard leagues. This isn't a knock on Mathews, per se, but not even Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson or Marshall Faulk warranted such lofty preseason standing in their respective rookie seasons, so why should Mathews merit such special treatment? Show me a guy who takes Mathews in Round 1 and I'll show you a Chargers superfan or someone who's ill-prepared to get value in all 16 rounds of a draft.

• Speaking of rookies, I'll wager dollars to donuts -- cue Homer Simpson redux -- that C.J. Spiller yields commensurate production to Mathews this season at a fraction of Mathews' draft-day price.

• Speaking of bets, I'll wager my entire Fantasy Clicks salary that Chris Johnson doesn't rush for 1,700 yards. Oh sure, he still might have the most total yards by season's end, but he's not going to sniff the 2K rushing mark in 2010, let alone reach 1,700. Call it a hunch.

• On Aug. 8, just hours before the Bengals and Cowboys christened the season with the Hall of Fame Game, Cincinnati Enquirer writer Joe Reedy fearlessly predicted that rookie Jordan Shipley would start the season as Cincy's main slot receiver (with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens patrolling wide). Well, 13 catches and 112 yards later, Reedy looks like a genius. Well played, sir!

• I've been inundated with "super-sleeper" queries involving wide receivers on Twitter. So here goes my list of Round 14 or later guys who could become certifiable diamonds this season: 1. Mike Williams, Bucs 2. Laurent Robinson, Rams 3. Dexter McCluster, Chiefs 4. Jordan Shipley, Bengals 5. Brandon Tate, Patriots 6. Louis Murphy, Raiders 7. Josh Morgan, 49ers 8. Early Doucet, Cardinals 9. Brandon Gibson, Rams 10. Stephen Williams, Cardinals (Toledo rookie runs angry after the catch; he also runs angry before the catch)

I got a first-hand look at Twitter's awesome power for instant gratification on Friday night. While chatting away with a bunch of my followers, I hatched the spur-of-the-moment idea of creating/hosting a real 12-team auction league with the actual draft coming 18 minutes later. Upon posting information on how to join the league, I was amazed to see the its remaining 11 openings get filled in less than 90 seconds; and even better, 10 of the 11 owners were current Twitter fans. How cool is that?

Here are the partial results from the New England 784676 league (worst ... name ... ever). You'll notice some of the teams have adopted names of current Sports Illustrated writers; hopefully, everyone will adopt this philosophy before Vikings-Saints on Sept. 9 (otherwise it'll just look weird):

Top Five Bids For Each Team Team Jim Trotter Peyton Manning ($38), Miles Austin ($35), LeSean McCoy ($23), Michael Crabtree ($20), Ronnie Brown ($18)

AZ Gunslingers Calvin Johnson ($32), Matt Schaub ($26), Joseph Addai ($20), Jermichael Finley ($16), Carolina's Steve Smith ($15)

Refreshing Brees Frank Gore ($40), Larry Fitzgerald ($33), Cadillac Williams ($18), Jahvid Best ($16), Chad Ochocinco ($16)

Soko Goin Down Ray Rice ($61), Steven Jackson ($53), Brandon Marshall ($29), Tony Romo ($18), Ricky Williams ($14)

Ross Tucker Jr. Cedric Benson ($33), Rashard Mendenhall ($31), Greg Jennings ($27), Anquan Boldin ($24), Arian Foster ($24)

Team Soko DeAngelo Williams ($50), Reggie Wayne ($33), Roddy White ($31), Marques Colston ($24), Jonathan Stewart ($20)

Tequila Diet Adrian Peterson ($65), Shonn Greene ($32), Tom Brady ($30), Vernon Davis ($13), Brandon Jacobs ($13)

Bobcat Curry Maurice Jones-Drew ($58), Aaron Rodgers ($57), Michael Turner ($50), Percy Harvin ($8), Kellen Winslow Jr. ($6)

Team Berkman Chris Johnson ($68), Andre Johnson ($55), Drew Brees ($50), Tony Gonazlez ($10), Braylon Edwards ($4)

CPL Punishnent Ryan Grant ($36), Randy Moss ($34), Dallas Clark ($17), New York's Steve Smith ($17), Chester Taylor ($16)

Hungry Hippos Ryan Mathews ($27), Pierre Thomas ($25), Knowshon Moreno ($24), Beanie Wells ($22), Antonio Gates ($19)

Meet The Fighting Michael Farbers (my team) QB Jay Cutler, Bears -- $10 RB C.J. Spiller, Bills -- $19 RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- $27 RB Matt Forte, Bears -- $22 WR Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars -- $12 WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- $22 TE Jason Witten, Cowboys -- $11 D/ST Cincinnati Bengals -- $3 K Nate Kaeding, Chargers --$2 RB Clinton Portis, Redskins -- $16 RB Fred Jackson, Bills -- $7 WR Hines Ward, Steelers -- $12 WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- $19 WR Devin Thomas, Redskins -- $1 (steal of the century) QB Matthew Stafford, Lions -- $4 WR Kenny Britt, Titans -- $2

This week's non-SI gem comes from Fantasy Football Toolbox and focuses on 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 Bolts) -- 6 games, 75 points = 12.4 ppg 15. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- 6 games, 74 points = 12.4 per game

Here's my revised stance on Vincent Jackson and his holdout saga: I'm completely buying ProFootballTalk's well-conceived theory that V-Jax's D-Day is Sept. 4. That is when he'll either report to the Chargers (and sign his RFA tender) or get traded to the Seahawks, Vikings, Patriots, Broncos, Titans, etc., while agreeing to a long-term contract. Anything after that date automatically puts Jackson in the hole six games, severely diminishing his trade value and making it a lose-lose proposition for all parties involved.

Taking this into account, I am now comfortable with investing a Round 6-8 flyer on Jackson in standard leagues. But all this August love will be rendered moot if Sept. 4 comes and goes with nary a peep.

Just like real-world football, fantasy owners can win a championship with either Vince Young or Joe Flacco at quarterback for 14, 15 or 16 weeks. But for the fantasy owner with both Young and Flacco on his/her roster, the weekly determinations should rest with the hotter hand ... and who possesses the easier matchup. So, on the off chance you land Flacco and Young in the same draft (Rounds 9/11) and aren't sure which one should start, here's a week-by-week breakdown of the young dynamos:

Week 1 -- Young (vs. Oakland) over Flacco (@ N.Y. Jets) Week 2 -- Young (vs. Pittsburgh) over Flacco (@ Cincinnati) Week 3 -- Flacco (vs. Cleveland) over Young (@ N.Y. Giants) Week 4 -- Young (vs. Denver) over Flacco (@ Pittsburgh) Week 5 -- Flacco (vs. Denver) over Young (@ Dallas) Week 6 -- Young (@ Jacksonville) over Flacco (@ New England) Week 7 -- Young (vs. Philadelphia) over Flacco (vs. Buffalo) Week 8 -- Young (@ San Diego) over Flacco (BYE) Week 9 -- Flacco (vs. Miami) over Young (BYE) Week 10 -- Flacco (@ Atlanta) over Young (@ Miami) Week 11 -- Flacco (@ Carolina) over Young (@ Washington) Week 12 -- Flacco (vs. Tampa Bay) over Young (@ Houston) Week 13 -- Young (vs. Jacksonville) over Flacco (vs. Pittsburgh) Week 14 -- Flacco (@ Houston) over Young (vs. Indianapolis) Week 15 -- Young (vs. Houston) over Flacco (vs. New Orleans) Week 16 -- Young (@ Kansas City) over Flacco (@ Cleveland) Week 17 -- Young (@ Indianapolis) over Flacco (vs. Cincinnati) Final Tally: Young wins, 10-7

By my count, there are 14 legitimate workhorse tailbacks among the 32 NFL teams. A "workhorse" back is someone who logs more than 50 percent of the carries/touches in three scenarios: 1) first down 2) 3rd and long, and 3) goal-line touches. Here are the Alpha-dog rushers (in no particular order):

1. Chris Johnson, Titans 2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings 3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars 4. Ray Rice, Ravens 5. Steven Jackson, Rams 6. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers 7. Frank Gore, 49ers 8. Cedric Benson, Bengals 9. Michael Turner, Falcons 10. Beanie Wells, Cardinals 11. Ryan Grant, Packers 12. Ryan Mathews, Chargers (marginalizing Darren Sproles' impact) 13. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers 14. Clinton Portis, Redskins (neither Larry Johnson nor Willie Parker are classic third-down backs, so whoever wins the preseason battle should be The Man come Sept. 12 -- barring injury. But then again, who's to say Ryan Torain won't leapfrog everyone to claim this job?)

Conversely, here are the 18 greatest time-shares at running back: 1. DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart, Panthers 2. Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones, Chiefs 3. Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams, Dolphins 4. Joseph Addai/Donald Brown, Colts 5. Marion Barber/Felix Jones/Tashard Choice, Cowboys 6. Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw/Andre Brown, Giants 7. Shonn Greene/LaDainian Tomlinson, Jets 8. Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush, Saints 9. C.J. Spiller/Fred Jackson/Marshawn Lynch, Bills 10. LeSean McCoy/Mike Bell, Eagles 11. Matt Forte/Chester Taylor, Bears 12. Darren McFadden/Michael Bush/Michael Bennett, Raiders 13. Knowshon Moreno/Correll Buckhalter, Broncos 14. Arian Foster/Steve Slaton, Texans 15. Jerome Harrison/Montario Hardesty/Peyton Hillis, Browns 16. Justin Forsett/Leon Washington/Julius Jones, Seahawks 17. Jahvid Best/Kevin Smith, Lions 18. Laurence Maroney/Sammy Morris/Fred Taylor, Patriots

Savvy readers of SI.com might've noticed the proliferation of fantasy videos -- QBs ... RBs ... defense/kickers -- starring yours truly, previewing the season ahead. Two weeks ago, I filmed 12 Webisodes at Turner Studios in Atlanta with the understanding all 12 would see the light of day. Well, sad to report that only seven or eight will be finished by Sept. 9, leaving four or five on the proverbial cutting-room floor.

In memoriam of the unseen videos, here's the verbatim script from my Ten Commandments Of Drafting.


Hi, this is Jay Clemons of SI.com with our final fantasy segment, The Ten Commandments of Drafting. Now, we had tossed around a few ideas for presenting this piece -- ALL involving me donning a Moses outfit, or on a less-biblical scale, cloaked in Vince Lombardi garb -- but you wouldn't believe the cost of fake stone tablets these days ... or even Lombardi-esque glasses.

Commandment #1 -- Keep track of numerous fantasy sources: Do as many mock drafts as humanly possible. Read every fantasy mag or publication that'll fit on your coffee table or bathroom book rack. Download every fantasy-related podcast that's on the marketplace ... basically get your hands on everything that'll prepare you for draft day.

Commandment #2 -- Never underestimate running back depth: In standard-scoring leagues, you'll ideally want three backs in the first four draft picks ... and five after nine rounds -- with an eye toward taking workhorse backs or completing the running back handcuff. And even if you don't like your full roster after the draft, have no worries -- for your stellar running back depth will be your key to happiness on the trade market.

Commandment #3 -- Don't be the first to draft a kicker or defense.

Commandment #4 -- Always factor weather/schedule in for player tiebreakers: I can't scream loud enough about Frank Gore s good fortune for the 2010 season. Not only are his 49ers stacked with playmakers and solid interior blockers, he gets 14 total games against the NFC West, NFC South and AFC West. Simply put: There's no excuse for letting him slide past the No. 6 pick in Round 1.

Commandment #5 -- Don't make wrongful use of Matt Forte's name: The man amassed 1,400 total yards last year on a bum knee that went largely unreported. Just think of the damage he'll do when playing healthy ... and getting featured reps from the Bears' new offensive guru, Mike Martz. If you didn't already know, I'm guaranteeing 1,700 total yards and eight TDs for Forte in 2010.

Commandment #6 -- Don't murmur Ben Roethlisberger's name before Matthew Stafford's: Even if Big Ben's suspension is pared down to four games -- instead of six -- he'll never catch up to a healthy Stafford in passing yards or touchdowns. And bonus, you won't have to reach for Stafford on draft day, who's a comfortable Round 8 or 9 selection ... even though he'll yield Round 4 production by season's end.

Commandment #7 -- Thou shalt not commit draft-day collusion with another owner: There is no bigger no-no in fantasyland than intentionally helping a fellow owner strengthen his/her fantasy team without any moves aiding your team in the process. Call me a boy scout, but integrity and fairness are the hallmarks of a harmonious fantasy league ... so don't be that guy or girl who brings the enthusiasm for a new season to a screeching halt.

Commandment #8 -- Don't be obsessed with one-dimensional backs in PPR leagues: Look, I love Michael Turner in standard-scoring leagues, but he has no real purpose as a high-end talent in Points Per Reception leagues. Sure, if he falls to you late in Round 2, by all means grab him and move on to Round 3. But PPR leagues are all about the running backs, receivers and tight ends who generate targets every week. From Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall and Percy Harvin to Jahvid Best, Dexter McCluster and the OTHER Steve Smith, don't ever underestimate the power of playmakers with great hands.

Commandment #9 -- Do not draft two quarterbacks in the first six rounds: There is no justification for this pointless move. In fact, you're probably better off waiting until Round 7 for your starting QB. You wouldn't believe all the depth that's out there ... plenty of diamonds in the rough for the taking.

Commandment #10 -- Thou shalt not steal hidden gems from other owners (dramatic pause) ... Actually, this commandment has no merit, for fantasy football was built on the premise of being smarter, savvier and more prepared than the other owners. It's the backbone of building championship teams!

Today's edition of It's All About The Slot comes by special request and with two major caveats: In this make-believe league, quarterbacks get 6 points per passing TD (plus 1 point per 20 yards passing) and calls for three individual defenders in the starting lineup (always target tackling-machine linebackers). Hmmm, this seems like the only scenario for breaking my rule of No QBs in Rounds 1 or 2 of 12-Teamers.

Here's the strategy:

Round 1, Pick 11: Motive -- Best overall player WR Randy Moss, Patriots ... 2nd option: RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers

Round 2, Pick 14 overall: Motive -- Best RB available or A-Rodgers QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers .. 2nd option: RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers

Round 3, Pick 35 overall: Motive -- Best RB available RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs ... 2nd option: RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles

Round 4, Pick 38 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB available WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers ... 2nd option: RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos

Round 5, Pick 59 overall: Motive -- Best Tier II tailback or elite TE RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants ... 2nd option: TE Jason Witten, Cowboys

Round 6, Pick 62 overall: Motive -- Best RB or elite TE RB Reggie Bush, Saints ... 2nd option: TE Vernon Davis, 49ers

Round 7, Pick 83 overall: Motive -- Best TE or potential workhorse back TE Brent Celek, Eagles ... 2nd option: RB Jerome Harrison, Browns

Round 8, Pick 86 overall: Motive -- Best player available LB Patrick Willis, 49ers ... 2nd option: WR Devin Aromashodu, Bears

Round 9, Pick 107 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR available RB Tim Hightower, Cardinals ... 2nd option: WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets

Round 10, Pick 110 overall: Motive -- Best player available LB Jon Beason, Panthers ... 2nd option: RB Montario Hardesty, Browns

Round 11, Pick 131: Motive -- Best WR/RB/QB available WR Devin Thomas, Redskins ... 2nd option: RB Donald Brown, Colts

Round 12, Pick 134: Motive -- Best player available (flyer pick) WR Sidney Rice, Vikings ... 2nd option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers

Round 13, Pick 155: Motive -- Best WR/TE/QB available WR Legedu Naanee, Chargers ... 2nd option: TE Zach Miller, Raiders

Round 14, Pick 158: Motive -- Best QB available QB Kyle Orton, Broncos ... 2nd option: WR Laurent Robinson, Rams

Round 15, Pick 179: Motive -- Best kicker available PK Mason Crosby, Packers ... 2nd option: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

Round 16, Pick 182: Motive -- Best linebacker available LB Curtis Lofton, Falcons ... 2nd option: LB DeAndre Levy, Lions

Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night, accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday/Monday during the NFL and MLB seasons.

Looking for past editions of Fantasy Clicks? Check out everything you might've missed.

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