Recent Fantasy Clicks 8-1-08: Manny's Hollywood Close-Up 7-31-08: Contemplating a blockbuster 7-30-08: Trading places 7-29-08: Is 29 the New 40? 7-28-08: The Real Playoff Horses 7-25-08: All-Undervalued Team 7-24-08: Running to nowhere 7-23-08: A threat on the NBA's horizon 7-22-08: Escape from New York 7-21-08: Breaking Down Vlad, Lee and Crawford 7-18-08: Beware of the Curse of the HR Derby 7-17-08: Best advice for season's second half 7-16-08: Biggest fantasy busts of 2008
No. 4 In Your Heart ... No. 2 On The Depth Chart?
Brett Favre: AP
It's the biggest word in the dictionary for a reason. But IF Brett Favre becomes the Packers' starting QB this season, beginning Week 1, what kind of fantasy output can we expect from the enigmatic Hall of Famer-to-be? If certain buzzwords or catchphrases like "distraction" or "Aaron Rodgers" or "evil Ted Thompson" were conveniently extracted from this projection, Favre would seem a lock to meet or surpass his average numbers from the last five seasons -- 345 completions for 3,874 passing yards and 26 total TDs -- based on Green Bay's superior talent and depth.
But Favre and the Packers do not operate in a vaccuum, meaning I believe the consequences from such a super-hyped (and needless) soap opera will spill out in crazy ways -- whether it entails the Packers' unexpected fall from grace (see, 2007 Chicago Bears), Favre and Rodgers alternating the QB duties on every series or the Detroit Lions (gasp!) winning at Lambeau in December ... a feat that hasn't happened since 1991. Chalk it up as football karma, I guess.
Four Knee-Jerk Thoughts On Colts-'Skins
1. Jason Campbell had a perfect rhythm in his brief cameo, completing 5-of-5 passes for 61 yards and one touchdown. If only the Colts weren't playing a generic Cover-2, or weren't resting their best defenders (Oh, that's right, everyone's on the PUP list). From a fantasy perspective, though, Campbell should be no worse than the 19th QB taken in standard leagues.
2. If Colts tight end Dallas Clark keeps running crisp slot-receiver-like routes, the former Iowa standout should easily surpass his career-high in catches (58 in 2007) this season.
3. Taking an eerie cue from ProFootballTalk.com (it's funny how great minds think alike), was Colts "starting" QB Jim Sorgi pulled so early against the Redskins because he'll be throwing the ball approximately 27 times in Week 1 against the Bears (thanks to Peyton Manning's worse-than-we-let-on injury)? And if so ... what is the fantasy over/under on Sorgi's TDs that week?
4. Before I downplay Colt Brennan's two-touchdown performance in garbage time on Sunday night, perhaps I should remember that Tony Romoled the NFL in preseason passing yards ... wayyyyy back in 2006.
Somebody Wake Mel Kiper Jr.
As if the fantasy world needed any more Running Backs By Committee, the RB pool should be even deeper in 2009, if Fantasy Football Toolbox has astutely predicted the top 16 picks of next year's real-world draft. In this forecast, tailbacks Chris Wells (Ohio State) and Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) are earmarked for Nos. 2 and 10 overall, respectively. And in case you?re scoring at home, three Buckeyes (Wells, LB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins) could all be gone in the first 12 picks.
The best way to understand the warped mind of a fantasy geek (like myself) is to ingratiate oneself into the lingo, or shorthand language, that's often used in rapid-fire discussions. There's PPR (Points Per Reception leagues), Targets (the number of times a receiver has the ball thrown his way), YAC (yards after catch for receivers) and the most important one of all ... ADP, which stands for Average Draft Position.
The concept of ADP is quite simple: By visiting a great site like Antsports.com, to research all the "Normal Mock Drafts" from July 12 to Aug. 2, you could tabulate the range (or median) that Saints QB Drew Brees was selected -- in relation to the other QBs or the entire field of draftees. By establishing where Brees would typically go in standard leagues, you take the guesswork out of the process and likely won't have to reach for him come Draft Day. By the way, here are the top 18 QBs from that ADP study:
Which Pro Football Hall of Famer once defeated nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis in the 100-meter dash in college -- for their only head-to-head meeting in track? Scroll down for the answer.
The Wonder Years
Calvin Johnson: AP
Calvin Johnson may be a lock for the Hall of Fame someday -- or so says the four-letter network. In 2007, the rookie Johnson caught 48 passes for 756 and 4 TDs -- decent numbers but hardly a Canton-worthy start. For Year 2, based on the estimates of Rotowire, Fanball.com and Rotoworld, Johnson's owners should expect seasonal totals of 74 catches, 1,071 receiving yards and eight total TDs.
So, how do these projections stack up against today's top pass-catchers, in their respective second seasons? Is Johnson on a similar fast-track to success? Check this out:
Darrell Green, a 2008 Hall of Fame inductee, played 20 years in the NFL for the Redskins, winning two Super Bowl titles (1987, 1991). He also holds the league's all-time record for consecutive seasons with at least one interception (19). Commonly known as the "NFL's Fastest Man," Green (who also holds the unofficial NFL mark for fastest 40 time -- 4.09 seconds) once beat Carl Lewis in the 100 meters as a collegiate at tiny Texas A&I (now Texas A&M-Kingsville).
Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back
Switching gears to baseball ... the Twins' Francisco Liriano appears to have his circa-2006 mojo again, after allowing only three hits and striking out five in six shutout innings against the Indians. One TV network on Sunday hailed Liriano's smooth victory as his "triumphant return to the majors" after having Tommy John elbow surgery last year -- completely forgetting that Liriano had allowed 13 runs in just 10 innings over three miserable starts with Minnesota in April. That aside, Liriano now has the look of someone who's comfortable with his rebuilt elbow and used to pitching with a considerably thicker frame (so long, wiry build). In terms of the fantasy realm, Liriano is a must-pickup in AL and mixed-league formats.
Mixing Sports Metaphors
If fantasy football owners can talk glowingly about "hitting a home run" when drafting then-rookie Adrian Peterson at No. 47 overall (as I did last year in my favorite PPR league), then why shouldn't baseball owners dip into the football lingo to support their theories about surviving the upcoming trade-deadline period? Our sight-unseen friends at BaseballHQ are at again, endorsing the merits of "punting" certain (read: hopeless) categories, with the sole intention of strengthening your team in other areas. Now granted, they're hardly pitching a novel approach (like my baseball metaphor for the baseball-related point?), but it's also good food for thought down the stretch.
America's Top 10
Let's pretend you're in a mixed 5x5 league and willing to part with Francisco Rodriguez, Scott Kazmir and the red-hot Casey Blake -- as part of a pre-deadline 2-for-3 blockbuster trade -- in hopes of getting back two hitters who'll bring you instant HRs and steals. Well, once again, SI.com has you covered with its list of the top HR/SB producers in the last 30 days -- along with Willy Taveras and B.J. Upton (whose lack of power can be forgiven when factoring in their prodigious steals rate):
1. Matt Holliday, Rockies (10 HRs, 5 steals)
2. Grady Sizemore, Indians (6 HRs, 7 steals)
3. Alex Rios, Blue Jays (4 HRs, 11 steals)
4. Shane Victorino, Phillies (6,6)
5. Matt Kemp, Dodgers (5,9)
6. David Wright, Mets (4,5)
7. Jose Reyes, Mets (3,8)
8. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (2,8)
9. Willy Taveras, Rockies (0,12)
10. B.J. Upton, Rays (1,8)
In Case Of Emergency
In search of an unheralded Monday spot starter for your fantasy lineup, one who may bring glory in Ks, ERA and WHIP -- if for just one night? Look no further than Kansas City's Gil Meche, who has gone 6-1 since June 15 (thus improving his seasonal record to 9-9). In his last three starts -- all wins -- Meche has racked up an impressive K/BB ratio of 18-4. He also boasts an All-Star-like 2.51 ERA and 1.18 WHIP since July 7. And oh yes, the coup de grace: The Royals have scored an average of seven runs per game in the last week (going 5-1 during that stretch). And they'll be playing before an amped-up home crowd on Monday, when Kansas City hosts Boston and its shaky-of-late starter, Clay Buchholz.
I Cannot Leave Without Saying ...
This is one of the most exciting times for fantasy owners: The period when struggling MLB teams begin promoting their top minor leaguers, hoping to re-energize the fan base with the allure of Tomorrow's Next Star. Of course, the majority of these call-ups will never become superstars. But right now, the anticipation to see Pirates stud-in-waiting Andrew McCutchen, the Nationals' Chris Marrero or the Blue Jays' sweet-singing Travis Snider has never been higher for folks in Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Toronto.
To get started, here's a list of Baseball America's Top 10 Prospects for each MLB club. And then here's the link to one of the most vital sites on the Web (at least to the fantasy geek), MinorLeagueBaseball.com's Stats page -- where you can track the progress of these hotshots, while beating your competition to the waiver wire at the same time. After all, you'll want to be the first one to grab Minnesota's stat-sheet-stuffing second baseman, Luke Hughes. He's the real deal!
Come One, Come All
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.
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