Fantasy Clicks: Meet Seattle's new/old Mr. Wonderful

Publish date:

Recent Fantasy Clicks 8-24-09: Meet Seattle's New/Old Mr. Wonderful 8-21-09: The PPR Spectacular To End PPR Spectaculars 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

For Your QB Consideration

Matt Hasselbeck (L), Kyle Orton: Kevin Reece/Icon SMI; AP

In the course of watching 15 NFL games over the weekend (thank you, DVR inventor), a few things stood out from all the broadcasts. For starters ...

1. The Cardinals need a better tagline than THE FIGHT FOR 53! next season (laughable).
2. Even Mike Mayock isn't above showering Brett Favre with (needless) man-crush bouquets.
3. The pairing of Tim Brando/Solomon Wilcots deserves an announcing gig on NFL Sundays.
4. The 'Skins are trying to keep every Washington D.C.-based sports announcer gainfully employed.
5. And ... FOX TV announcer/studio host/Seahawks play-by-play man has secretly mastered cloning.

As for the notable on-field action, did you happen to catch Broncos-Seahawks? The primary quarterbacks Kyle Orton (182 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and Matt Hasselbeck exhibited total control of their respective offenses, as if this was a midseason clash between the former AFC West rivals and not some random exhibition game in August. Orton -- who was handpicked by Denver coach Josh McDaniels, instead of Jason Campbell, as fodder for the Jay Cutler trade -- looked great in his second start. Yes, he threw another questionable interception (a left-handed wobbler on 4th down), but he also demonstrated excellent touch on bubble screens, slant patterns and deep in-routes -- perhaps the three calling-card pass patterns within McDaniels' offensive vision.

Hasselbeck was similarly stellar on Saturday night, throwing for 171 yards and two touchdowns, while putting the NFL world on notice that one injury-plagued season (2008) isn't going to diminish the immense body of work he's proffered with Seattle. Whether throwing short or deep, in the pocket or on the run, Hasselbeck has the requisite command befitting a QB1 in fantasyland. Perhaps that's why I'm finally ready to move him into the top 16 (sorry, Eli Manning ... but where's your WR talent?). Oh, what the heck, maybe I'll even ascend Orton into a top-18 spot, as well. After all, who wouldn't want a QB playing on a team that'll throw 60 percent of the time AND needs at least 27 points to win any game this season?

Grounded In Fantasy-Style Reality

I had an actual draft on Friday, courtesy of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Real-Time Fantasy Sports. A little backstory: This particular FSWA venture is actually a 48-team superleague, split into four groupings of 12 clubs. Essentially, it's four separate leagues under one very-large umbrella, with the league champions and wild-card winners earning spots to the FSWA playoffs from Weeks 12-16. Last, but not least ... our Points Per Reception league draft went 20 rounds, and I had the No. 7 overall pick:

My Team
Round 1 -- WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Round 2 -- RB Frank Gore, 49ers
Round 3 -- WR Wes Welker, Patriots
Round 4 -- WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos
Round 5 -- WR Braylon Edwards, Browns
Round 6 -- RB Felix Jones, Cowboys
Round 7 -- QB Matt Ryan, Falcons
Round 8 -- RB Darren Sproles, Chargers
Round 9 -- WR Percy Harvin, Vikings
Round 10 -- QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
Round 11 -- RB Fred Jackson, Bills
Round 12 -- TE Zach Miller, Raiders
Round 13 -- WR Earl Bennett, Bears
Round 14 -- RB Peyton Hillis, Broncos
Round 15 -- RB Michael Bush, Raiders
Round 16 -- D/ST Dallas Cowboys
Round 17 -- PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers
Round 18 -- WR Robert Meachem, Saints
Round 19 -- TE Chase Coffman, Bengals
Round 20 -- D/ST Houston Texans

In Case You're Wondering ...

... Here are the first five rounds of the RTS draft:

Round 1
1. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
3. RB Matt Forte, Bears
4. WR Andre Johnson, Texans
5. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
6. RB Steven Jackson, Rams
7. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals(my pick)
8. RB Michael Turner, Falcons
9. RB Chris Johnson, Titans
10. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions
11. RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
12. WR Randy Moss, Patriots

Round 2
13. QB Tom Brady, Patriots
14. RB Steve Slaton, Texans
15. QB Drew Brees, Saints
16. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts
17. RB Brian Westbrook, Eagles
18. RB Frank Gore, 49ers (my pick)
19. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
20. QB Peyton Manning, Colts
21. RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants
22. RB Clinton Portis, Redskins
23. WR Roddy White, Falcons
24. RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins

Round 3
25. WR Greg Jennings, Packers
26. RB Kevin Smith, Lions
27. WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
28. WR Marques Colston, Saints
29. TE Jason Witten, Cowboys
30. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
31. WR Wes Welker, Patriots (my pick)
32. WR Terrell Owens, Bills
33. RB Marion Barber, Cowboys
34. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers
35. RB Ryan Grant, Packers
36. RB Pierre Thomas, Saints

Round 4
37. RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
38. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
39. RB Joseph Addai, Colts
40. QB Philip Rivers, Chargers
41. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
42. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos (my pick)
43. WR Roy Williams, Cowboys
44. RB Reggie Bush, Saints
45. QB Kurt Warner, Cardinals
46. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
47. WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
48. QB Donovan McNabb, Eagles

Round 5
37. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles
38. TE Dallas Clark, Colts
39. TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
40. RB Thomas Jones, Jets
41. WR Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers
42. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos
43. WR Braylon Edwards, Browns (my pick)
44. WR Santonio Holmes, Steelers
45. TE Chris Cooley, Redskins
46. RB Larry Johnson, Chiefs
47. WR Vincent Jackson, Chargers
48. RB Marshawn Lynch, Bills

In Case You're Wondering, Part II

Here's a look at the wideouts taken in the RTS/PPR draft, Rounds 1-8:

Andre Johnson, Texans -- Round 1, Pick 4
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- Round 1, Pick 7
Calvin Johnson, Lions -- Round 1, Pick 10
Randy Moss, Patriots -- Round 1, Pick 12
Reggie Wayne, Colts -- Round 2, Pick 4
Steve Smith, Panthers -- Round 2, Pick 7
Roddy White, Falcons -- Round 2, Pick 11
Greg Jennings, Packers -- Round 3, Pick 1
Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- Round 3, Picks 3
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- Round 3, Pick 6
Wes Welker, Patriots -- Round 3, Pick 7
Terrell Owens, Bills -- Round 3, Pick 8
Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- Round 4, Pick 6
Roy Williams, Cowboys -- Round 4, Pick 7
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- Round 4, Pick 10
Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- Round 4, Pick 11
DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- Round 5, Pick 1
Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers -- Round 5, Pick 5
Eddie Royal, Broncos -- Round 5, Pick 6
Braylon Edwards, Browns -- Round 5, Pick 7
Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- Round 5, Pick 8
Vincent Jackson, Chargers -- Round 5, Pick 11
Anthony Gonzalez, Colts -- Round 6, Pick 1
Lance Moore, Saints -- Round 6, Pick 3
Bernard Berrian, Vikings -- Round 6, Pick 8
Hines Ward, Steelers -- Round 6, Pick 9
Lee Evans, Bills -- Round 6, Pick 10
Santana Moss, Redskins -- Round 6, Pick 11
Derrick Mason, Ravens -- Round 7, Pick 1
Donald Driver, Packers -- Round 7, Pick 5
Kevin Walter, Texans -- Round 7, Pick 10
Jerricho Cotchery, Jets -- Round 7, Pick 11
Torry Holt, Jaguars -- Round 8, Pick 1
Steve Breaston, Cardinals -- Round 8, Pick 4

10 Solid Weekend Performances To Remember

1. QB Peyton Manning, Colts -- 167 passing yards, 2 TDs (an absolute steal in Round 3)
2. RB Glen Coffee, 49ers -- 17 touches, 137 yards -- (a MUST-HANDCUFF to Frank Gore)
3. WR Chris Henry, Bengals -- 4 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD (prediction: he'll lead Cincy WRs in TDs)
4. RB Matt Forte, Bears -- 10 touches, 67 yards, 1 TD (my No. 1 overall pick in PPR leagues)
5. QB Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks -- 171 passing yards, 2 TDs (eclipsed Eli on my latest rankings)
6. RB James Davis, Browns -- 14 touches, 127 yards, 1 TD (JD could be this year's Steve Slaton)
7. RB Michael Turner, Falcons -- 7 rushes, 65 yard, 1 TD (continually stating his case for No. 1)
8. RB Felix Jones, 7 touches, 64 yards, 1 TD (perhaps the quickest feet in the NFL)
9. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 2 catches, 90 yards, 1 TD (thanks to a 76-yard blown-coverage TD)
10. RB Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- 98 yards (only one completion) and 2 TDs -- enough said!

Rookie Report

If, by chance, you were too busy mowing the lawn or simply glued to the, ahem, interesting action from this weekend's Miss Universe Pageant, here's how the NFL's top rookies fared in Week 2 of preseason play:

Matthew Stafford, Lions -- 5-13 for 34 yards, 1 INT (frankly, he was awful ... but, oh what an arm!)
Chase Daniel, Redskins -- 6-8 for 58 passing yards (22 rushing), 2 TDs
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers -- 3-5 for 47 yards

Running Backs
James Davis, Browns -- 13 touches, 127 yards, 1 TD
Glen Coffee, 49ers -- 17 touches, 137 yards
Tyrell Sutton, Packers -- 11 touches, 49 yards, 1 TD
Javon Ringer, Titans -- 40 total yards (33 rushing)
Aaron Brown, Lions -- 25 total yards (13 rushing)
LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 35 total yards (4 rushing)
Donald Brown, Colts -- 14 total yards (5 rushing)
Isaac Redman, Steelers -- 3 rushing yards

Wide Receivers
Hakeem Nicks, Giants -- 1 catch, 55 yards
Louis Murphy, Raiders -- 2 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD
Austin Collie, Colts -- 2 catches, 32 yards
Brian Robiskie, Browns -- 2 catches, 31 yards
Mohammed Massaquoi, Browns -- 1 catch, 24 yards
Juaquin Iglesias, Bears -- 1 catch, 23 yards
Jarrett Dillard, Jaguars -- 1 catch, 21 yards
Kenny McKinley, Broncos -- 2 catches, 19 yards
Percy Harvin, Vikings -- 2 catches, 9 yards
Sammie Stroughter, Buccaneers -- 1 catch, 9 yards
Kenny Britt, Titans -- 1 catch, 0 yards
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- 0 catches

10 Weekend Performances To 'Mis-Remember'

1. QB Tarvaris Jackson, Vikes -- 202 passing yards, 2 TDs (meaningless in post-Favre era)
2. WR Troy Williamson, Jags -- 3 catches, 147 yards, 1 TD (he's still a fantasy receiva non grata)
3. WR John Stupar, Bills -- 5 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD (the Bills' top WR in all three August games)
4. RB Mike Bell, Saints -- 11 touches, 105 yards, 1 TD (way behind Reggie Bush/Pierre Thomas)
5. QB J.T. O'Sullivan, Bengals -- 141 passing yards, 1 TD (there's no beating a healthy Carson)
6. QB Chase Daniel, Redskins -- 80 yards, 2 TD passes (No. 1 QB on the Redskins' practice squad)
7. WR Legedu Naanee, Chargers -- 76 yards, 1 TD (lacks speed to usurp V-Jax/Chris Chambers)
8. RB Tyrell Sutton, Packers -- 49 total yards, 1 TD (stuck behind Ryan Grant/Brandon Jackson)
9. RB Justin Forsett, Seahawks -- 76 total (an erroneous preseason man-crush from '08)
10. RB Lex Hilliard, Dolphins -- 11 touches, 63 yards, 1 TD (enjoy your 15 minutes of non-Lex Luthor-jokes-related fame)

The Amazing Sequence That NFL History Forgot

So, I'm tooling around YouTube Saturday night for no apparent reason ... when I came across the greatest two-play sequence in NFL history -- a memory that inexplicably gets zero love with NFL Films and has been erased from the minds of the video-montage experts at ESPN. (By now, you've undoubtedly clicked on Browns @ Vikings 1980 and have already stopped reading this sector ... but when's the last time -- if ever -- an NFL club clinched a division title on a Hail Mary pass at the gun? The odds of that happening are extremely remote, kind of like a baseball team ending a game on an unassisted triple play).

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

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, 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 nearly 320 followers after a couple weeks 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:

"Before anyone asks, Charlie Batch is my 417th-ranked QB in fantasyland ... (oh, please excuse the typo -- it should read No. 416) ..."

"What's sadder ... the fact the Browns had a 46-possession streak without a TD ... or that they busted the megaslump against the Lions?"

"Troy Williamson ... fantasy darkhorse?"

"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?"

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

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 indeed the top seller to date ... sweeeeeet!)

Choose Your Quarterback

Matt Ryan: Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI

If you read the top half of Fantasy Clicks, you know I landed both Matt Ryan and Matt Hasselbeck in the Real-Time Sports fantasy league. And if you believed anything from the Hasselbeck love letter in the opening stanza, you'll understand my obligation to break down Ryan vs. Hasselbeck from a week-to-week standpoint:

Week 1 -- Hasselbeck (vs. St. Louis) over Ryan (vs. Miami) -- virtual toss-up
Week 2 -- Ryan (vs. Atlanta) over Hasselbeck (@ San Francisco)
Week 3 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Seattle) over Ryan (@ New England)
Week 4 -- Hasselbeck (@ Indianapolis) over Ryan (BYE)
Week 5 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Jacksonville) over Ryan (@ San Francisco)
Week 6 -- Ryan (vs. Chicago) over Hasselbeck (vs. Arizona) -- virtual toss-up
Week 7 -- Ryan (@ Dallas) over Hasselbeck (BYE)
Week 8 -- Ryan (@ New Orleans) over Hasselbeck (@ Dallas)
Week 9 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Detroit) over Ryan (vs. Washington)
Week 10 -- Hasselbeck (@ Arizona) over Ryan (@ Carolina) -- virtual toss-up
Week 11 -- Hasselbeck (@ Minnesota) over Ryan (@ N.Y. Giants)
Week 12 -- Ryan (vs. Tampa Bay) over Hasselbeck (@ St. Louis) -- virtual toss-up
Week 13 -- Hasselbeck (vs. San Francisco) over Ryan (vs. Philadelphia)
Week 14 -- Ryan (vs. New Orleans) over Hasselbeck (@ Houston)
Week 15 -- Hasselbeck (vs. Tampa Bay) over Ryan (@ N.Y. Jets)
Week 16 -- Ryan (vs. Buffalo) over Hasselbeck (@ Green Bay)
Week 17 -- Ryan (@ Tampa Bay) over Hasselbeck (vs. Tennessee)

Verdict: There it is, folks ... our first major upset of "Choose Your Quarterback." On the strength of a Week 15 gimme-game against the Bucs, Hasselbeck trumps Ryan by a 9-8 vote. It goes without saying: I am tickled pink to have the Ryan/Hasselbeck handcuff for the RTS league. Looking at the matchups, either Ryan or Hasselbeck has the capacity for 275 yards passing and three touchdowns in 15 of the 17 games -- with Weeks 2 and 7 as the likely exceptions. Boom!

The Ultimate 1-2 Punches

By my count, there are 21 legitimate running back time-shares, all of which could greatly impact your championship chances this season (especially if you fail to pair Colts rookie Donald Brown with Joseph Addai ... or Raiders second-year stud Darren McFadden with either Michael Bush or Justin Fargas). In fact, here are the time-share rankings, from No. 1 (Marion Barber/Felix Jones) to No. 21 (the Broncos' full-house stable, led by rookie Knowshon Moreno):

1. Marion Barber/Felix Jones, Cowboys
2. DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
3. Chris Johnson/LenDale White, Titans
4. Darren McFadden/Michael Bush/Justin Fargas, Raiders
5. Joseph Addai/Donald Brown, Colts
6. Frank Gore/Glen Coffee, 49ers
7. LaDainian Tomlinson/Darren Sproles, Chargers
8. Pierre Thomas/Reggie Bush, Saints
9. Marshawn Lynch/Fred Jackson, Bills
10. Thomas Jones/Leon Washington/Shonn Greene, Jets
11. Adrian Peterson/Chester Taylor, Vikings
12. Ryan Grant/Brandon Jackson/Tyrell Sutton, Packers
13. Larry Johnson/Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
14. Ray Rice/Willis McGahee/Le'Ron McClain, Ravens
15. Brian Westbrook/LeSean McCoy, Eagles
16. Willie Parker/Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
17. Beanie Wells/Tim Hightower, Cardinals
18. Derrick Ward/Earnest Graham/Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers
19. Jamal Lewis/James Davis, Browns
20. Kevin Faulk/Laurence Maroney/Fred Taylor/Sammy Morris, Patriots
21. Knowshon Moreno/Peyton Hillis/Correll Buckhalter/LaMont Jordan, Broncos ('full-house backfield?' -- it's more like the timeless tale of the Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe).

Whatever Happened To 11?

Which brings us to the 11 undisputed backs who WILL carry the load between the 20s, inside the red zone and probably on 3rd and short:

1. Michael Turner, Falcons
2. Matt Forte, Bears
3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
4. Steven Jackson, Rams
5. Steve Slaton, Texans
6. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
7. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
8. Clinton Portis, Redskins
9. Kevin Smith, Lions
10. Cedric Benson, Bengals
11. Julius Jones, Seahawks

Food For Thought

I realize it's easy to poo-pooh stats accumulated during the preseason -- especially when the player in question is a virtual no-name or graybeard on his last legs. But here's a list of the best preseason receivers from 2006-08. And in each case, you'll find that wide receiver also experienced a breakout during the regular season (which is exactly why we shouldn't ignore Chris Henry's 11 catches, 155 yards, 2 TDs after two exhibition games):

2008: DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 16 catches, 189 yards
2007: Lance Moore, Saints -- 21 catches, 255 yards
2006: Greg Jennings, Packers -- 12 catches, 328 yards, 1 TD

It's All About The Slot: #1

Some people consider having the No. 1 overall pick in a 12-team draft a mixed blessing. Yes, you get a free shot at the NFL's best overall talent, but you also have to wait 23 looooooong slots before grabbing two more players -- who may or may not possess Tier I status. Well, hath no fear or ambivalence ... because here's a great strategy for nailing your mixed-league draft when owning the top pick:

Round 1, Pick 1: Motive -- Best overall player
1st option: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings ... 2nd option: RB Michael Turner, Falcons

Round 2, Pick 24 overall: Motive -- Best RB or WR available (a tad too early for QBs)
1st option: RB Ryan Grant, Packers ... 2nd option: RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins

Round 3, Pick 25 overall: Motive -- Best WR/RB (ONLY QB considerations: Brees, Manning, Brady)
1st option: WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals ... 2nd option: WR Greg Jennings, Packers

Round 4, Pick 48 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available
1st option: RB Darren McFadden, Raiders ... 2nd option: RB Thomas Jones, Jets

Round 5, Pick 49 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB available (too early to reach at TE)
1st option: QB Philip Rivers, Chargers ... 2nd option: QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers

Round 6, Pick 72 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE available
1st option: RB Cedric Benson, Bengals ... 2nd option: RB Donald Brown, Colts

Round 7, Pick 73 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE available (last chance to land a great QB1)
1st option: WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets ... 2nd option: WR Santana Moss, Redskins

Round 8, Pick 96 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE available
1st option: WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles ... 2nd option: WR Derrick Mason, Ravens

Round 9, Pick 97 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR/QB/TE (perfect spot to grab TE1 or QB2)
1st option: TE Owen Daniels, Texans ... 2nd option: QB Jay Cutler, Bears

Round 10, Pick 120 overall: Motive -- Best RB/WR (you can never have enough RB depth)
1st option: WR/RB Percy Harvin, Vikings ... 2nd option: WR Justin Gage, Titans

Round 11, Pick 121: Motive -- Best RB/WR/TE available (wayyyyy too early for a PK or D/ST)
1st option: RB Glen Coffee, 49ers ... 2nd option: RB Jerious Norwood, Falcons

Round 12, Pick 144: Motive -- Best WR/TE/QB/RB available
1st option: QB Trent Edwards, Bills ... 2nd option: WR Earl Bennett, Bears

Round 13, Pick 145: Motive -- Best WR/TE/RB/QB available
1st option: Bennett, 2nd options: RB Peyton Hillis, Broncos ... or TE Vernon Davis, 49ers

Round 14, Pick 168: Motive -- Best RB/TE/WR available (you have permission to draft a kicker)
1st option: WR Sidney Rice, Vikings ... 2nd option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers

Round 15, Pick 169: Motive -- Best kicker or defense
1st option: PK Nate Kaeding, Chargers ... 2nd option: D/ST Philadelphia Eagles

Round 16, Pick 192: Motive -- Best defense or kicker
1st option: D/ST Eagles ... 2nd option: PK Matt Prater, Broncos

Practice Makes Perfect

Sports Illustrated and should always be your primary source for voluminous information leading up to fantasy drafts ... but if you're in the mood to participate in a LIVE mock draft on the Web -- while learning NOT to reach for Sammy Morris before Round 9 -- here are the best destinations for real-time mocking:

**Mock Draft Central
**CBS Sports
**ESPN Mock Draft Lobby
**Fantasy Football Calculator

What Happens In Vegas ...

Have you heard the gleaming (but oh-so-conservative) city of Las Vegas is throwing the biggest fantasy football-related bash in the history of fantasy football-related bashes from Aug. 27-30? In the immortal words of Paul Harvey (or Rich Hall) ... "it's true, it's true." Seriously, in a joint effort with every major hotel along The Strip, Vegas will be hosting Fantasy Football Superdraft 2009 for hardcore (and gambling-minded) fantasy fans and their respective league drafts. With great hotel rates, amazing flight bookings and a chance to meet Stacy Kiebler, Shannon Elizabeth, Gary Dell'Abate, Matthew Berry and Molly Sims ... there's no reason to miss the Blowout of All Fantasy Blowouts (unless you have a previous engagment regarding your actual "engagement party"). But I digress.

I Cannot Leave Without Touting ...

The sparkling edition of the 2009 Sports Illustrated/Citizen Sports Fantasy Football Game (presented by Pepsi Max). For those who haven't accessed this amazing application yet on Facebook ... what are you waiting for? And for those whose lives have already been consumed with fantasy football before Calvin Johnson even catches his first ball in the preseason, check out Jeffrey Ma's omnipresent fantasy blog on Citizen Sports.

Have A Link, Comment or Question For Us?