September 02, 2008

The debate rages on about who is the best weapon in the NFL. Is it the flashy quarterback who lofts deep touchdown passes, or is it the dynamic backfield option that always seems to have the ball in his hands? For that matter, what about that receiver who always seems to be doing some type of end zone dance? In what follows, we will attempt to answer the question of who is the most valuable fantasy player at each position in our weekly column dealing with the Player Rater Tool.

What is the Player Rater tool? It is an emotionless, statistically driven model that takes into account your leagues rules and tells you which players are performing at the highest level. For the sake of the analysis that follows, here are the "rules" that we will be using.

Four Points: Touchdown PassFour Points: Rushing or Receiving TouchdownOne Point: Per 25 Yards PassingOne Point: Per 10 Yards Rushing or ReceivingOne Point: Per ReceptionThree Points: Per Field GoalOne Point: Per Extra Point

You can click on the following link to find the actual Player Rater Tool if you want to input your own league's scoring system.

For this weeks piece we have no data to go on for the 2008 season, so we'll give you a primer and review the 2007 season before we get back to the present.

410.1 points -- Tom Brady, PatriotsLast year was truly a historic season, with the 50 scores and just eight interceptions. Brady also led the NFL in QB Rating (117.2), yards (4,806) and completion percentage (68.9 percent).

333.3 -- Tony Romo, CowboysRomo had the best passing season in Cowboys history thanks to 4,211 yards and 36 scores. Though he threw for 50 fewer yards per game in the second half, his TD to INT rate of 1.89 was virtually identical to his first half mark (1.90).

301.3 -- Drew Brees, SaintsHad his second season of at least 4,400 yards and 26 touchdowns though his interception total rose from 11 to 18.

297.1 -- Peyton Manning, ColtsThe elder Manning tossed for 4,040 yards and 31 scores, the seventh time in eight seasons that he has thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.

287.1 -- Derek Anderson, BrownsFrom backup to starter to stud in one season. Anderson tossed for 3,787 yards and 29 touchdowns though his performance regressed significantly in the second half (209.9 yards per game, 12 TDs and 10 INTs).

282.6 -- Ben Roethlisberger, SteelersIn the best passing season in club history, Big Ben tossed aside health concerns and hurled a career-high 32 scores, just three less than the prior two seasons when he threw 35.

279.5 -- Matt Hasselbeck, SeahawksHis middle name could be 'Consistency' as his 3,966 yards, 28 TD effort gave him four seasons in the past five years with at least 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns.

279.5 -- Bret Favre, PackersFourth in the NFL in yards (4,155) and tied for sixth with 28 TD passes, Favre may not be the passer he once was but has still thrown for at least 3,800 yards in each of the past four seasons.

270.2 -- Carson Palmer, BengalsPalmer threw for more than 4,000 yards in his second straight season (4,131), and has thrown at least 26 scores in each of the past three seasons though his total of 20 INTs was a career worst.

250.2 -- Kurt Warner, CardinalsWarner emerged after a slow start and injury to Matt Leinart to put up his best numbers (3,417 yards, 27 TDs) since the 2001 season in St. Louis (a career-best 4,830 yards and 36 TDs).

348.4 - Brian Westbrook, EaglesAll of those receptions, 90 in fact, boost this mighty mite to the top of the points list at the running back position. Westbrook also rushed for 1,333 yards and scored 12 touchdowns overall.

331.6 - LaDainian Tomlinson, ChargersLT once again led the league in rushing yards 1,474 yards and he scored 15 times on the ground. Through the air he added 60 receptions and three more scores.

260.7 - Clinton Portis, RedskinsYou may not have noticed it, but Portis caught 47 passes last season, the eighth-highest mark at the position. He also rushed for 1,262 yards, the fifth time in five healthy seasons that he has rushed for at least that many yards.

244.6 - Joseph Addai, ColtsAddai scored 15 times (12 rushing, three receiving), as he just barely reached the 1,000-yard plateau (1,072). He also caught 41 passes, one more than in his rookie season, giving him back-to-back seasons of 1,000 rushing yard and 40-receptions.

231.9 - Adrian Peterson, VikingsPeterson led the NFC in rushing with 1,341 yards in just 14 games, but he was highly inconsistent with two 200-yard games, six 100-yards games and four games under 50-yards.

230.8 - Frank Gore, 49ersGore certainly had a down year but when you rush for 1,102 yards and haul in 53 passes it certainly isn't a total loss. He finished strong rushing for an average of 83.4 yards per game while hauling in 4.75 passes per game over games 9-16.

229.2 - Jamal Lewis, BrownsLewis was fifth in the NFL with 1,304 yards rushing and he scored nine times on the ground for the second straight season. He also added two receiving scores and 30 receptions for the Browns.

218.8 - Willis McGahee, RavensHow many backs rushed for over 1,200 yards and caught at least 40 passes last season? Try four: Tomlinson, Westbrook, Portis and, you guessed it, McGahee who rushed for 1,207 yards and caught 43 balls.

217.7 - Marion Barber, CowboysThis vicious runner rumbled his way to 10 rushing scores and 44 receptions, though he fell 25 yards short of his first 1,000-yard season despite averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

211.2 - Earnest Graham, BuccaneersIf you grabbed this guy off waivers, you had a great chance to win your league if the rest of your squad performed up to expectations. Graham scored 10 times while hauling in 49 passes for the Bucs.

339.3 - Randy MossAll anyone talks about is the record 23 TD receptions, but Moss also finished second in the league with 1,493 yards and was tied for first in the league in first down receptions for a wide receiver with 74 (Chad Johnson also moved the chains 74 times) .

295.4 - Reggie WayneWayne had the best season of his career with career highs in receptions (104) and yards (1,510), not to mention his second double-digit scoring season (10). Last season marked the sixth straight season that his reception total grew.

282.2 - Larry Fitzgerald, CardinalsTalk about consistency. In 2005, Fitzgerald caught 103 passes for 1,409 yards and 10 scores. In 2007, Fitzgerald caught 100 passes for 1,409 yards and, you guessed it, 10 scores.

277.0 - Terrell Owens, CowboysHe certainly flaps his gums a lot, but the man produces when on the gridiron with 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Cowboys. In six of the past seven seasons in which he dressed for 14 games, Owens has scored at least 13 times.

275.7 - T.J. Houshmandzadeh, BengalsTied with Wes Welker for the league lead with 112 receptions. T.J. caught 62 passes for 10 touchdowns in the first half before slowing down to 50 receptions and just two scores over the final eight games.

273.7 - Chad Ocho Cinco, BengalsFour times in the last five years, Chad has hauled in at least 90 passes, he had 93 in '07, and he has piled up at least 1,274 yards in each of the past five seasons. Still, he scored only eight times or two fewer than teammate Houshmandzadeh had in the first half last season.

272.9 - Braylon Edwards, BrownsHave a breakout kid. Edwards blazed his way to 16 touchdowns including six scores in the final six weeks when fantasy leagues were in playoff mode. Though he had 1,289 yards, he only had four 100-yard outings.

268.2 - Brandon Marshall, BroncosMarshall had an amazing year that included 102 receptions and 1,325 yards. He was even more impressive over the last eight games with 57 receptions and five touchdowns.

264.9 - Wes Welker, PatriotsWelker tied for the league lead with 112 receptions, more than the total of 96 receptions he had in his last two seasons in Miami. Welker's totals have improved the past three season in receptions, yards (1,175 last year) and touchdowns (eight last season).

262.2 - Marques Colston, SaintsJust two receptions from 100 last year, Colston recorded 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns as the prime target of Brees. In an odd twist, Colston scored just once at home but 10 times on the road.

238.5 - Jason Witten, CowboysWitten put up numbers that even the best of wide receivers would be proud of with 96 receptions, 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns. Witten scored seven times in the Cowboys 13 victories but failed to reach the end zone in their three loses.

236.2 - Tony Gonzalez, ChiefsTony G. led the position in receptions (99) and yards (1,172). In eight of the past nine seasons, he has caught at least 70 passes and he has exceeded the 900-yard plateau in five straight seasons.

212.6 - Kellen Winslow Jr., BrownsWinslow caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards. Winslow is the only tight end in the game with at least 80 receptions in the last two seasons. If he can only avoid popping wheelies on his hog, he should be fine.

209.4 - Antonio Gates, ChargersGates was injured late in the year, which led to just 28 receptions and 335 yards over his final eight games. And in three of the past five games, he caught only one pass as he scored just once over the final five games.

176.6 - Chris Cooley, RedskinsThree straight seasons of at least 700 yards and six scores for the 'Skins tight end were capped by his career-best total of eight touchdowns, the fourth time in four seasons he has scored at least six times.

166.5 - Dallas Clark, ColtsClark set career bests in receptions (58), yards (616) and touchdowns (11) in what will probably be a career season. He only had one game of at least 70 yards last season though he had two of less than 10.

151.8 - Owen Daniels, TexansThough he basically doubled his production from his rookie season with 63 receptions and 768 yards, his touchdown total fell from five to three touchdowns.

131.6 - Heath Miller, SteelersMiller was at his best in October and November with 20 receptions for 260 yards and five touchdowns in six games. That level of success didn't translate to December when he caught 15 passes for 109 yards and one score in five games.

129.5 - Jeremy Shockey, GiantsLast season, Shockey hauled in 57 passes for 619 yards and three scores giving him four straight seasons of at least 55 receptions and 600 yards, though his three touchdowns were well below his average of seven scores from the previous three seasons.

195.5 - Donald Lee, PackersWorking with Favre, Lee produced a Bubba Franks-like season of 48 receptions, 575 yards and six touchdowns. He disappeared down the stretch with only 10 receptions over his last five games.

141 - Mason Crosby, PackersThis rookie led the position in points, making 31 field goals including an almost perfect record inside of 40 yards (19-for-20).

137 - Stephen Gostkowski, PatriotsBecause of the Pats' prolific offense, he recorded 74 PATs, 21 more than the next highest total of 53 by Nick Folk.

133 - Rob Bironas, TitansDeadly from long range, Bironas made 14-of-15 kicks of at least 40 yards on his way to leading the league with 35 field goals.

131 - Nick Folk, CowboysIf not for Crosby, this would be the rookie everyone was talking about as Folk scored 131 points while converting 83.9 percent of his kicks.

130 - Shayne Graham, BengalsThe Bengals kicker led the league with 13 field goals between the 30-39 yard mark. In fact, he didn't miss from that distance.

127 - Josh Brown, SeahawksIn five seasons, Brown has scored at least 109 points -- including his career-high total of 127 points in his last year in Seattle.

126 - Robbie Gould, BearsThe Bears kicker led the league with 12 conversions on field goals of between 40 and 49 yards in 14 attempts.

122 - Jason Hanson, LionsHanson scored a career-best 122 points thanks to the first season of his career with 10 field goals made in the 30-39 and 40-49 range.

120 - Phil Dawson, BrownsScored a career-high 120 points thanks in part to a career best total of 42 PATs.

118 - Nate Kaeding, ChargersKaeding converted 88.9 percent of his kicks last season, the third straight year that he has converted at least 87.5 percent of his kicks.

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