The thinking chair

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One week to go -- less, given next Thursday's kickoff game -- before the NFL is officially on like Donkey Kong.

That means the majority of you are either finishing up your drafts or just about to plunge in. I have two drafts between Labor Day and the Thursday game. Some of this is just pure logistics, but it's an outcome I'm generally happy with. How many owners of Joseph Addai are wondering if they took him too early given Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday's injury this week? How many folks thought Ronnie Brown was a legitimate RB2 just a week or two ago? On the flip side, how many owners got Steven Jackson on the cheap before he showed up for camp?

So it goes both ways. But in a world where information is key, and injuries are prevalent, waiting to draft is always a good call.

But if you are knee deep in your prep for fantasy football, that might mean you aren't quite paying attention to your fantasy baseball teams. So, here's a pop quiz:

What National League first baseman, through Thursday's games, had the following line: .267 BA, .348 OBP, 30 HR, 93 RBI, and 74 runs scored? Scratch your head for a minute, because unless you own him, you probably wouldn't know that the answer is Carlos Delgado. This makes it 10 out of his 11 seasons in the big leagues that he's swatted 30 or more home runs, and almost everyone gave him up for dead before this year started. For someone clearly on track to go at least 35/100 this season (which would require a pretty horrible September), this is the kind of value pick you should always be on the lookout for.

So, who are those kinds of guys in the NFL? Here are some names of solid talent who are dropping far because they had subpar seasons last year, coupled with the decidedly unsexy nature of their ... age. Guys like Marvin Harrison, Hines Ward, Thomas Jones and Edgerrin James are simply being ignored in favor of youngsters like Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Jonathan Stewart and Darren McFadden.

Now, I get it. Leaving a draft with the kind of potential that the kids on the second list provide is simply fun; there's a rush to knowing that you may very well have the breakout star of 2008 on your roster. (And like everyone else, me loves me The Megatron.) But let's talk about Stewart and McFadden for a second. Even their biggest fans can't assume they'll be getting starting carries for the first few games. They simply won't.

Then, look at stud wide receivers such as Steve Smith and Brandon Marshall, both who will miss games (Marshall one, Smith two) due to suspension. Because there are only 16 games in the season, those games lost represent a real reduction in potential value. You have to knock them down a few pegs, or even rounds, because of that.

Well, you have to do the same for rookies who won't get a real shot until a few games into the season. How much will McFadden help your team when he's not really startable the first few weeks? Look, Justin Fargas got more than 1,000 yards last year and a decent contract. He's going to carry the rock in September, so why is McFadden worth a fourth or fifth-round pick? (Per Mock Draft Central, he's gone as high as the end of the second round, but I'm just going to assume those owners were drunk.) The two rookies who do have starting jobs sewn up, Matt Forte and Kevin Smith, are going in the seventh and eighth round, respectively. When everyone is starting, I think Stewart and McFadden have better potential than these guys; I'm just saying that the games in September count.

Hey, speaking of September -- Travis Hafner still only has four home runs.

I don't tread too deeply in terms of the NBA, because there are lots of other folks out there with more knowledge than me, but I had a full body sag yesterday when I read that Warriors franchise player Monta Ellis is out for three months after suffering a serious ankle injury. I'm no doctor, but ankles are fairly important. At the very least, he's missing the first month of the season, but remember -- we're talking about the Warriors.

Speaking of terrible franchises, how about those Cincinnati Bungles? That's right, they are officially back to being the Bungles, especially in the way they've "managed" the Rudi Johnson situation. Here's a guy I stepped out on a limb with in my Big Fat Claims (hey, you gotta take risks), because he has the talent to provide solid, if utterly unspectacular, carries. During training camp, however, it became fairly clear that Johnson was losing carries to Kenny Watson and Chris Perry. So, what does the franchise do? They give Perry all the first-team carries and talk smack about Johnson to reporters. Then, they open up trade talks.

Think about how backward that is. You don't talk down folks you are trying to trade; you do the exact opposite. When the Bungles discovered that they'd successfully talked the market price of Johnson down to somewhere around zero, they then suddenly said he was in the mix for the starting RB job again. Hey! Good times! Now, Johnson has been cut from the team before breaking camp.

You wouldn't run your fantasy team this way. How do people get paid actual salaries to run an NFL franchise like this?

Noodle on that, and enjoy the Labor Day weekend.