Fantasy Clicks: It's The Second (Or Third) Coming

Publish date:

Recent Fantasy Clicks 8-19-09: The Obligatory Favre-Unretirement Breakdown 8-17-09: How To Dominate Your Draft 8-14-09: Tom Terrfic, Thin 'Skins & A Vick Flick 8-12-09: 'Royal Pains' Has Moved To Tuesdays 8-10-09: Meet The Avoidables/HOF Revelations 8-07-09: Defending The (Seemingly) Indefensible 8-05-09: Welcome To The Hotel California 8-03-09: Houston, We Shouldn't Have A Problem 7-31-09: Meet The New Fantasy Four Horsemen 7-29-09: The Obligatory All-Favre Revelations 7-27-09: The Great American RB Race For No. 1 7-24-09: Buehrle's Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection 7-22-09: It's All About The Slot -- #9 7-20-09: Ian's Opening Salvo/Parting Shot 7-17-09: It's All About The Slot -- #6 7-15-09: MLB All-Star Game Revelations 7-13-09: Another Twin-Killing Under The Dome 7-10-09: The Giant Beast Walks Among Us 7-08-09: It's All About The Draft Slot: #1 7-06-09: Just Another Day At The Bronx Zoo 7-03-09: Meet Your Fantasyland All-Stars 7-01-09: Fitz & His Merry Men Of Angry Rushers 6-29-09: The Joys Of Stealing Home On The Road 6-17-09: Joe Versus The Volcano Of Expectations 6-15-09: Phabulous Phantasy Goodness in Philly 6-12-09: Fenway Franks & Losers' Angst 6-10-09: Where Fantasy Eagles Dare Fly 6-08-09: Marathon Men Take Over Petco Park 6-05-09: Mr. 300 Goes To Washington 6-03-09: Just Shooting The Bayou Brees 6-01-09: Angels and speed demons in SoCal 5-29-09: Fantasy foxes invade the desert 5-27-09: A Study In Jungle Karma 5-25-09: M&M Boys' A-list production 5-22-09: It Was A 20-to-1 Shot, Doc 5-20-09: SI's Bout with NFL Mock Madness 5-18-09: Tigers making most of split personality 5-15-09: Chris Davis ... Built For Fun 5-13-09: Not Favre From Over? Ugh! 5-11-09: Prince Albert's Great American Day 5-08-09: Manny's Suspended Animation 5-04-09: The Man Of Steal Rides Again 4-29-09: Dangers of RB Overpopulation 4-27-09: It's All About The O's 4-24-09: The New Falconer 4-22-09: Fantasy Breakdown Of NFL Sked 4-20-09: The Utlimate Fantasy Catch-22 4-17-09: Cyclist Of The Century 4-15-09: NFL Slices Of Heaven, Part II 4-13-09: All Hail The Check-Swing King 4-10-09: Welcome To Adventureland 4-08-09: NFL Slices Of Heaven 4-06-09: Opening Night Revelations 4-03-09: Draft Night Revelations, Part II 3-30-09: Draft Night Revelations, Part I 3-27-09: Draft Rules To Live By 3-23-09: Catch A Rising Star 3-20-09: Look Out For Pick No. 1 ... and 24 3-18-09: PVR Perfect 3-17-09: Don't Forget About Me 3-13-09: Welcome To Spring Break 3-12-09: LT2 Losing His Charge 3-11-09: Sudden Impact 3-09-09: Hip, Hip ... Hurry Back, A-Rod 3-06-09: Revenge Of The Cyst 3-05-09: A Disappointing Deadline Day 3-04-09: Cosmic Charlie 3-02-09: Aces In The Hole 2-27-09: Depth Perceptions 2-23-09: NFL Combine Revelations 2-20-09: Designated Long Drivers 2-19-09: The Brady Hunch 2-16-09: Seeking Sweet Relief 2-13-09: Sneak peek at an MLB mock draft 2-12-09: Boozer's Snoozer Of A Season 2-11-09: Impossible to ignore 2-9-09: The Secret Life of A-Rod 2-6-09: Pick of the 2B litter 2-5-09: Time for a fantasy bailout 2-4-09: Another winged wonder? 2-2-09: Super Bowl Revelations 1-30-09: Super Bowl Clicks 1-29-09: Aussie Re-Open 1-27-09: Fire sale! 1-26-09: Tim Lincecum vs. the world 1-23-09: The can't-miss kid? 1-22-09: Rip off! 1-20-09: No consolation prizes 1-19-09: Championship Sunday Revelations 1-16-09: Into the great wide open 1-15-09: Chickens, a King and free throws 1-13-09: Grab your Skates 1-12-09: Divisional Playoff Revelations 1-09-09: Playoff horse of a different color 1-07-09: Rocky Mountain Low 1-05-09: Wild Card Revelations 1-02-09: Playoff-A-Palooza

It's The Second (Or Third) Coming

Brett Favre: AP

Back on July 29, we vowed not to mention HIS name in print the rest of the 2009 season -- unless he was actually wearing an actual NFL jersey in practice. Well, now that Brett Favre has officially joined the Vikings -- just in time to start against the Swiss-cheese-like Chiefs on Friday -- we'll have to suspend all talk of baseball Clicks and focus on football. (Like we need any superfluous reason to break down Maurice Jones-Drew, Jay Cutler and, time permitting, Chaz Schilens.)

The Obligatory Favre Breakdown

Favre's belated signing may be the NFL story of the year -- this week, at least -- but it hardly qualifies as earth-shattering news in fantasyland circles. Yes, Favre still has the potential to throw six touchdowns on any given Sunday -- a quality possessed by few quarterbacks. But taking away his all-world gem against Arizona in Week 4, he averaged only 0.83 TD passes in his final 12 games with the Jets in '08. We're also talking about someone who failed to eclipse 300 yards in any game last year, while registering 0-1 TD passes in only 10 of 16 contests.

Let's not forget the real-world aspect of why Favre shelved retirement (again): Assuming he's not solely consumed with revenge against Green Bay (although that has to be a contributing factor), he's coming to Minnesota for love of the game and a viable chance at winning a championship. And at Favre's age -- he turns 40 on Oct. 10 -- being a fantasy star likely wouldn't compare to the satisfaction of going 12-4 and amassing only 180 passing yards per game. As for the rumors of rotator-cuff problems, do you really think Favre would tarnish his legacy and play with a bum shoulder? Enough said. As for Favre's new teammates, here's a breakdown of which players stand to benefit from Favre replacing Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson under center ... and which ones will likely see their fantasy stock plummet in the coming weeks:

The Beneficiaries
Paired with Jackson, Rosenfels or Favre, Adrian Peterson would have been the preseason No. 1 pick in standard-scoring leagues. So, it's not like AP needs Favre to be a fantasy dynamo this season. But there's also no denying the symbiotic relationship between Favre and his No. 1 rushers in the last decade (Ahman Green, Ryan Grant and now Peterson) -- his presence subtly opens up running lanes for featured backs ... and their athletic gifts intimidate defenses from attempting all-out blitzes on old No. 4.

Peterson can now take comfort in knowing that he'll rarely see eight defenders in the proverbial "box" between the 20s, he likely won't be called upon for extra pass-blocking and he could possibly catch 35 balls this year, mostly from Favre check-downs. Obviously, backup RB Chester Taylor (a career-best 45 catches in '08) should benefit from this occurrence, as well.

Fantasy owners would also be wise to favor Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe come draft time. Even with instability at quarterback last season, Shiancoe posted top-10 fantasy numbers at his position, while displaying an athletic grace and uncanny nose for the end zone. And he'll appreciate the fact that Favre loves to invoke the tight end for safety-blanket purposes -- especially in the red zone. Need further proof? Check out Dustin Keller's stellar production from Weeks 8-11 with the Jets -- right before Favre got injured.

Who Stands To Lose
With Rosenfels at the helm, I had receiver Sidney Rice pegged for a 1,200-yard, 7-TD breakout season. The thinking here: Rice is a poor man's Andre Johnson, and he and Rosenfels would immediately shine as a passing combo. Well, Rice still has all the physical attributes of a potential star, but it probably won't come on Favre's watch. As I've stated before, Favre is no longer the careless gunslinger that Green Bay fans came to know and love. Sure, he's prone to the occasional wayward pass, and he'll probably hit speedster Bernard Berrian for 3-5 bombs of 40-plus yards this season. But for the most part, he's a conservative passer who favors the tight end and running backs on check-downs. Unfortunately for Rice, he's just not a great fit in Favre's world.

The Wild Card
Including Favre, the greatest fantasy intrigue from Vikings camp still lies with rookie receiver Percy Harvin. If any newbie has the capacity to repeat Reggie Bush's 88-catch rookie season from three years ago, it would be the lightning-fast, ultra-versatile Harvin. However, it's just too early in the preseason to speculate on how Harvin will be used in standard down-and-distance scenarios. Factoring in "Wildcat" rushes, bubble-screen catches, reverse runs and kick returns (for the fantasy leagues that reward this component), a healthy Harvin could potentially net 224 touches in 2009 (14 per game).

The Verdict
The TV networks are undoubtedly gearing up for Minnesota at Cleveland in Week 1, presumably pitting Favre against Brady Quinn. But from a fantasy standpoint, we'd be lucky to see Favre and Quinn account for three total touchdowns in the season opener. The Vikings, as long as Peterson graces the field in purple garb, will always be a run-first, run-second operation. And the Browns ... well, they're just a mess right now (unless you think going 45-plus possessions in the regular season/preseason without an offensive touchdown is no big deal).

Regarding the draft, Favre re-enters the fray at 19th in the preseason QB rankings -- just below Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck and Jason Campbell. The previous owner of the No. 19 slot: The Vikes' new Clipboard Guy, Sage Rosenfels.

Speaking Of Quarterbacks ...

Here are the up-to-the-minute rankings for all 32 starting QBs after a week of preseason action:

1. Drew Brees, Saints
2. Tom Brady, Patriots
3. Peyton Manning, Colts
4. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
5. Philip Rivers, Chargers
6. Kurt Warner, Cardinals
7. Donovan McNabb, Eagles
8. Matt Ryan, Falcons
9. Matt Schaub, Texans
10. Carson Palmer, Bengals
11. Tony Romo, Cowboys
12. Jay Cutler, Bears
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
14. Matt Cassel, Chiefs
15. Trent Edwards, Bills
16. Eli Manning, Giants
17. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
18. Jason Campbell, Redskins
19. Brett Favre, Vikings (is it just me ... or did he look really tired on Tuesday?)
20. Shaun Hill, 49ers
21. JaMarcus Russell, Raiders
22. Kyle Orton, Broncos
23. Chad Pennington, Dolphins
24. Jake Delhomme, Panthers
25. David Garrard, Jaguars
26. Marc Bulger, Rams
27. Daunte Culpepper, Lions
28. Kellen Clemens, Jets
29. Joe Flacco, Ravens
30. Kerry Collins, Titans
31. Brady Quinn, Browns
32. Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers

Gunfight At The 'TD Corral'

It's entirely possible Jay Cutler and Brett Favre will become fantasy-league teammates this year -- especially with owners who, by design, stealthily draft quarterbacks between Rounds 7-11 (instead of Round 1 ... and then Round 16). On the surface, Cutler seems like the obvious choice for at least 12 starts, but there's only one way to find out. To wit, a week-to-week breakdown of the Nos. 2 and 3 QBs in the NFC North:

Week 1 -- Cutler (@ Green Bay) over Favre (@ Cleveland) -- Favre will show rust in Week 1
Week 2 -- Favre (@ Detroit) over Cutler (vs. Pittsburgh)
Week 3 -- Favre (vs. San Francisco) over Cutler (@ Seattle)
Week 4 -- Cutler (vs. Detroit) over Favre (vs. Green Bay) -- virtual toss-up
Week 5 -- Favre (@ St. Louis) over Cutler (BYE)
Week 6 -- Cutler (@ Atlanta) over Favre (vs. Baltimore)
Week 7 -- Cutler (@ Cincinnati) over Favre (@ Pittsburgh)
Week 8 -- Favre (@ Green Bay) over Cutler (vs. Cleveland) -- virtual toss-up
Week 9 -- Cutler (vs. Arizona) over Favre (BYE)
Week 10 -- Favre (vs. Detroit) over Cutler (@ San Francisco)
Week 11 -- Favre (vs. Seattle) over Cutler (vs. Philadelphia)
Week 12 -- Cutler over Favre (head-to-head, Chicago @ Minnesota)
Week 13 -- Cutler (vs. St. Louis) over Favre (@ Arizona) -- virtual toss-up
Week 14 -- Favre (vs. Cincinnati) over Cutler (vs. Green Bay)
Week 15 -- Cutler (@ Baltimore) over Favre (@ Carolina)
Week 16 -- Favre over Cutler (head-to-head, Minnesota @ Chicago )
Week 17 -- Cutler (@ Detroit) over Favre (vs. N.Y. Giants)

Verdict: At first blush, Cutler's narrow 9-8 victory doesn't seem possible. After all, he's in his prime and playing for a team that will have its fair share of shootouts in '09 (partly due to big deficits early in games); and yet, Favre consistently pokes, prods and pesters the 24-year-old Cutler throughout this unscientific study. Take from this what you will, kids; if anything, it demonstrates why it's essential to have two top-20 quarterbacks on your roster -- unless Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are calling the fantasy shots.

Clipboards 'R Us

Here are my backup-QB rankings for standard-scoring leagues, from No. 1 (Tyler Thigpen) to No. 32 (Caleb Hanie). Plus, we've taken the liberty of assuming that high-profile rookies Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman won't be Week 1 starters -- unless stated otherwise. Noticeably absent from this list is Philly QB Kevin Kolb ... even though he might be a better FANTASY option than the Eagles' current No. 2 signal-caller:

1. Tyler Thigpen, Chiefs (I'm not buying reports of Thiggy's demise)
2. Sage Rosenfels, Vikings
3. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks
4. Derek Anderson, Browns
5. Vince Young, Titans
6. J.T. O'Sullivan, Bengals (a perfect fit in Cincy)
7. Chris Simms, Broncos
8. Michael Vick, Eagles
9. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills (he can beat out Gibran Hamdan, right?)
10. Jeff Garcia, Raiders
11. Matt Leinart, Cardinals (the new MMA king of Scottsdale)
12. Billy Volek, Chargers (the "rust" factor justifies this middling ranking)
13. David Carr, Giants
14. Matthew Stafford, Lions (the greatest fantasy potential of anyone on this list)
15. Kyle Boller, Rams
16. Mark Sanchez, Jets (I'm taking a wait-and-see approach with El Terrifico)
17. Luke McCown, Bucs (assuming Byron Leftwich gets the early starting nod)
18. Jon Kitna, Cowboys (turns 37 in September; a fractional upgrade over Brad Johnson)
19. Alex Smith, 49ers
20. Chad Henne, Dolphins
21. Dan Orlovsky, Texans (moves up Houston's depth chart after Rex Grossman's injury)
22. Todd Collins, Redskins
23. Matt Moore, Panthers
24. Troy Smith, Ravens
25. Kevin O'Connell, Patriots (should probably be higher on the Pats' reputation alone)
26. Todd Bouman, Jaguars
27. Jim Sorgi, Colts
28. Mark Brunell, Saints (thank goodness for Drew Brees' durability, eh?)
29. Chris Redman, Falcons
30. Charlie Batch, Steelers
31. Matt Flynn, Packers
32. Caleb Hanie, Bears

Not Your Average Six-Pack

Speaking of Vick, here are six third-string quarterbacks I'd rather own in fantasyland for 2009. And yes, we're going on the belief Donovan McNabb will be healthy, happy and productive all season -- even if the Eagles should venture into the never-seen-before depths of regular-season overtime (cue scary music):

1. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers (this kid's a physical freak ... and let's not forget the cannon arm)
2. Drew Stanton, Lions (whatever IT is, this kid has it)
3. Dennis Dixon, Steelers (my favorite college player in '07, before his knee injury)
4. Andrew Walter, Pats (at this point, you have to believe in every New England QB prospect)
5. Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders (looked strong in his Oakland debut against Dallas last week)
6. Brian Brohm, Packers (he'll someday join the list of ex-Green Bay backups turned solid NFL starters -- Kurt Warner, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, etc.)

Prepare To Be Blown Away ... Friday!

In two days, I shall devote nearly all of Fantasy Clicks to Points Per Reception league drafts (excluding mini-Revelations of Bengals-Pats and Eagles-Colts) and what owners can expect for the season ahead. So, if you have ZERO interest in PPR leagues, or joining a PPR league, or even reading about people whom you've heard of (but don't know personally) and their PPR drafts ... then enjoy your little vacation away from Clicks (after David Sabino's regular Thursday installment, of course). Think of the little respite like a major leaguer who gets four days off during the All-Star Break ... because he wasn't selected to the Midsummer Classic.

Tweet Happens

I'm a little ambivalent on the whole Twitter thing. Yes, I'm happy to finally have an account (@SI_JayClemons) -- one that fantasy football fans can access 24/7 with questions/comments about players, teams, drafts and starting lineups. Yes, it's great to "follow" hilarious celebrities like Michael Ian Black, Kevin Pollak, Michael Showalter, Jason Segel, Steve Carell, Stewie Griffin, Bonnie Hunt and, of course, Statler and Waldorf of Muppets fame. And yes, it's sweet to already have 240 followers after just 11 days of service. However, Twitter is more voyeuristic than Facebook, and I cannot help but wonder if this one-sided e-fad won't outlast the Pet Rock from the 1970s.

In the meantime, I will try to pass the Twitter downtime with inane (and sometimes comical) comments like the following:

"There's a freshman QB at Michigan State named Andrew Maxwell, which coincidentally, was my fake name at MSU during the 1990s ..."

"Part of the fun of being a fantasy writer is DVR'ing/watching EVERY preseason game -- at least that's how I felt before Chiefs-Texans ..."

"Oh sure, I can connect Kevin Bacon to Fred Gwynne (aka, TV's Herman Munster) in 6 movies or less ... I just don't feel like it today ..."

"How's this for irony: Brandon Marshall gets 'demoted' but moves ahead of Steve Smith (who SHOULD be ready for Week 1) in the WR rankings" ..."

"I wonder if two people have ever exchanged fisticuffs after fighting over which Hostess cupcake tasted better -- the yellow or brown?"

"I must apologize to the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives ... I was wrong to lump you in with Kylie Minogue's 'Locomotion' ...

"Because you can't spell "American Soccer Fun" without Capri-Sun! ..."

"I did a little research on who was the first celebrity to regularly attend Lakers games: None other than Mr. Haney of Green Acres fame ..."

We Interrupt Fantasy Clicks ...

... To announce the arrival of Sports Illustrated's fantasy football spectacular, available online and at magazine racks nationwide. This 168-page tome is chock-full of rankings, columns (two from yours truly), features, draft-day advice, in-season strategies, booms, busts and an experts' mock draft, enlisting an army of SI's award-winning fantasy and NFL writers (including Peter King). Last but not least, it boasts perhaps the coolest cover of any fantasy magazine you'll ever see!

Am I overselling it a little bit? Perhaps. But the early feedback I've gotten from my fantasy brethren suggests SI's first major foray into fantasy football will be an absolute triumph -- and that it could become an all-time best seller within the genre. (UPDATE: My well-placed moles have informed me that SI's fantasy mag is still the top seller to date ... sweeeeeet!)

Birds Of A Feather ... Mock Together

Chris Johnson: Red Brown/Getty Images

With some time to kill on Monday night, I coerced's Jeff Ritter into doing a 12-team mock draft with me on I drew the 3rd overall pick, while he garnered the last slot of Round 1 (No. 12) ... and the first choice in Round 2 (and so on and so forth). Here's the Tale of the Tape from our draft-within-a-draft:

Round 1
Clemons: RB Michael Turner, Falcons
Ritter: RB Chris Johnson, Titans
Advantage: Clemons (although I would dance a jig to get C-Johnson in Round 2)

Round 2
Clemons: RB Marion Barber, Cowboys
Ritter: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
Advantage: Ritter (Johnson & Johnson ... together again!)

Round 3
Clemons: QB Peyton Manning, Colts
Ritter: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Advantage: Clemons (just barely)

Round 4
Clemons: WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
Ritter: RB Kevin Smith, Lions
Advantage: Ritter (I'm already regretting the Ocho pick)

Round 5
Clemons: RB Larry Johnson, Chiefs
Ritter: RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Advantage: Push (judgment call for both, hence the "push")

Round 6
Clemons: WR Hines Ward, Steelers
Ritter: TE Dallas Clark, Colts
Advantage: Ritter (although he regrets taking a tight end this high)

Round 7
Clemons: WR Eddie Royal, Broncos
Ritter: WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
Advantage: Clemons

Round 8
Clemons: WR Steve Breaston, Cardinals
Ritter: RB Donald Brown, Colts
Advantage: Push (with a slight lean toward Ritter)

Round 9
Clemons: WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Ritter: WR Devin Hester, Bears
Advantage: Clemons

Round 10
Clemons: RB Willis McGahee, Ravens
Ritter: RB Laurence Maroney, Patriots
Advantage: Clemons (Willis looks lightning-fast -- for him, at least -- and healthy)

Round 11
Clemons: QB Trent Edwards, Bills
Ritter: WR Chris Henry, Bengals
Advantage: Ritter (Henry could be Cincy's No. 1 wideout this season -- a steal)

Round 12
Clemons: TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Ritter: RB Sammy Morris, Patriots
Advantage: Clemons

Round 13
Clemons: WR Sidney Rice, Vikings
Ritter: RB Shonn Greene, Jets
Advantage: Push (although Brett Favre's presence diminishes Sir Sidney's value)

Round 14
Clemons: RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Ritter: RB Jerome Harrison, Browns
Advantage: Ritter (I needed the LJ handcuff; Ritter went with a potential home-run back)

It's All About The Slot: #4

There's a certain coolness to owning the No. 4 pick in fantasy drafts. In essence, you're guaranteed to land one of The Big Four running backs (Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte) ... and have an excellent shot at snaring one (or perhaps two) of The Big Six receivers (Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Calvin Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings) soon thereafter. But what's your gameplan after the euphoria from Rounds 1-3 subsides? What will you do? What will you do?

Well, hath no fear or ambivalence ... because here's a great strategy for nailing your mixed-league draft when owning the 4th pick:

Round 1, Pick 4: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: RB Matt Forte, Bears ... 2nd option: RB Steven Jackson, Rams

Round 2, Pick 17 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR available (a tad too early for QBs)
1st option: WR Calvin Johnson, Lions ... 2nd option: RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants

Round 3, Pick 24 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB (ONLY QBs: Brees, Manning, Brady)
1st option: RB Kevin Smith, Lions ... 2nd option: QB Peyton Manning, Colts

Round 4, Pick 37 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available
1st option: WR Braylon Edwards, Browns ... 2nd option: RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

Round 5, Pick 44 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available (too much TE depth to reach here)
1st option: RB Darren McFadden, Raiders ... 2nd option: RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers

Round 6, Pick 57 overall: Motive -- Best player available (last chance for a great QB1)
1st option: QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles ... 2nd option: WR Hines Ward, Steelers

Round 7, Pick 64 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB/TE available
1st option: WR Hines Ward, Steelers ... 2nd option: TE Dallas Clark, Colts

Round 8, Pick 77 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE available
1st option: RB Felix Jones, Cowboys ... 2nd option: WR Steve Breaston, Cardinals

Round 9, Pick 84 overall: Motive -- Best TE/RB/WR (perfect spot to grab TE1 or QB2)
1st option: TE Owen Daniels, Texans ... 2nd option: WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets

Round 10, Pick 97 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR available
1st option: QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs ... 2nd option: WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers

Round 11, Pick 104: Motive -- Best RB/WR/TE available (you can never have enough RB depth)
1st option: RB Fred Jackson, Bills ... 2nd option: WR Percy Harvin, Vikings

Round 12, Pick 117: Motive -- Best WR available
1st option: WR Earl Bennett, Bears ... 2nd option: WR Sidney Rice, Vikings

Round 13, Pick 124: Motive -- Best WR/TE/RB available
1st option: WR Chris Henry, Bengals ... 2nd option: WR Justin Gage, Titans

Round 14, Pick 137: Motive -- Best D/ST available (you have permission to draft a kicker here)
1st option: D/ST San Diego Chargers ... 2nd option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers

Round 15, Pick 144: Motive -- Best TE, PK or D/ST available
1st option: TE Brent Celek, Eagles ... 2nd option: RB Michael Bush, Raiders

Round 16, Pick 157: Motive -- Best defense or kicker
1st option: PK Ryan Longwell, Vikings ... 2nd option: PK Matt Prater, Broncos

What's In A Name?

Just when I thought I had seen it all, the uber-creative geniuses at Fantasy Football Toolbox have constructed a team name generator for the jet-set crowd of moniker-challenged fantasy owners. Traditionally, I'll name my squads after breakfast cereals (i.e. Count Chocula's Henchmen), TV shows or sports/pop-culture figures; but now, I may offer FF Toolbox the chance at securing the name rights for my & Friends league team ('09 football).

Speaking of the Toolbox, here are the updated auction values for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers (since they own the greatest pound-for-pound value in IDP leagues).

Tiers Of A Clown -- Tight Ends

Tight ends may represent the glue of any proficient passing attack; but alas, they weren't all created equal. To wit, my revised TE tier system for fantasy drafts:

Tier I (minimum projections -- 1,000 total yards and/or 8 TDs)
Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark

Tier II (minimum projections -- 850 total yards and/or 6 TDs)
John Carlson, Kellen Winslow, Chris Cooley, Owen Daniels, Visanthe Shiancoe, Greg Olsen, Zach Miller

Tier III (minimum projections -- 700 total yards and/or 5 TDs)
Kevin Boss, Brandon Pettigrew, Heath Miller, Vernon Davis, Brent Celek, Dustin Keller, Todd Heap, Jeremy Shockey

Tier IV (minimum projections -- 500 total yards and/or 4 TDs)
Bo Scaife, Shawn Nelson, Steve Heiden, Marcedes Lewis, Tony Scheffler, Anthony Fasano, Donald Lee, Robert Royal, L.J. Smith, Ben Utecht, Brad Cottam, Alex Smith, Leonard Pope

Tier V (minimum projections -- 350 total yards and/or 3 TDs)
Billy Miller, Alge Crumpler, Dante Rosario, Martellus Bennett, Jerramy Stevens, Ben Watson, Randy McMichael, Daniel Graham, Ben Patrick, David Martin, Jermichael Finley, Joe Klopfenstein, Matt Spaeth, Reggie Kelly

Familiarity Breeds Fantasy Contentment

A decade from now, NFL/fantasy historians might look back at the Running Back Class of 2008 and see a bunch of All-Pros, Pro Bowlers and -- dare we say it -- Hall of Fame candidates. This group is that deep and that good. For the '09 season, here are the best Year 2 options within standard-scoring leagues:

1. Matt Forte, Bears
2. Chris Johnson, Titans
3. Steve Slaton, Texans
4. Darren McFadden, Raiders
5. Kevin Smith, Lions
6. Felix Jones, Cowboys (injuries in '08 thwarted a higher ranking here)
7. Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
8. Ray Rice, Ravens
9. Peyton Hillis, Broncos
10. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers (ditto for this future TD machine)
11. Tim Hightower, Cardinals
12. Tashard Choice, Cowboys
13. Mike Hart, Colts
14. Chauncey Washington, Jaguars
15. Ryan Torain, Free Agent

Clip & Save

I realize it's early ... but here's a little preview of the likely studs (factoring in opponent/weather) for Week 14, traditionally the first fantasy-playoff week. So, this should help you a little on draft day:

QBs:Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning
RBs:LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore, Willie Parker, Michael Turner, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Marshawn Lynch, Marion Barber
WRs:Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans, Dwayne Bowe, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Anquan Boldin

Paint By (Incredible) Numbers

Are you ready for some mind-blowing thoughts, combining the worlds of pro football and track and field?

**An excellent 40-yard-dash time for NFL prospects: 4.4 seconds
**Deion Sanders' 40 leading up to the 1989 draft: 4.29 seconds
**Chris Johnson's 40 leading up to the 2008 draft: 4.24 seconds

**The 40 time world-record holderUsain Bolt would probably run for NFL scouts (as tabulated by track-and-field writer Larry Rawson on Jason Smith's overnight show on ESPN Radio this week): 3.787 seconds.

According to Rawson, Bolt ran his last 40 yards in Monday's 100-meter final at the world championships in UNDER three seconds! In football terms, Rawson estimates Bolt would have a six-yard advantage on a simple 25-yard "skinny post" pattern against a top-flight cornerback.

All this begs the question ... how are Bolt's hands?

I Cannot Leave Without Waving ...

... Goodbye to any preseason breakout for Chaz Schilens. Oh sure, I've dispensed a boatload of good-natured jabs denouncing Schilens' fantasy value in this forum, but there's no doubting his immense progression from last year ... and for that, he should be commended. Now, the question is: How soon can Chaz return to the field and become the first Raiders wideout to catch 40 or more passes in quite some time?

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