Reggie Wayne: Paul Spinelli/Getty Images
In no other fantasy sport is past performance less relevant in determining a player's value than football. It's not irrelevant, but people get so hung up on what a quarterback did last season or what a running back did last week that they forget to focus on what they might actually do this season or this week.
Reggie Wayne is a great example of this thinking. Wayne had a down season last year. Considering he pulled in 82 catches for 1,145 yards and six touchdowns, his "down" season still left him among the better receivers in fantasy.
Wayne arguably had little to do with the relative downturn in production. Peyton Manning was slowed early last year while recovering from knee surgery, the offensive line was banged up, the Colts had no running game and Marvin Harrison stole an inordinate amount of red-zone work from Wayne.
Entering Week 1, all of those problems are gone. Manning and the O-line are healthy, they shored up the backfield with first-round draft choice Donald Brown and Harrison was released.
Yes, Tony Dungy is gone, but the lineage remains in Jim Caldwell, so it's not like we are going to see a completely altered offense. In fact, you can expect Wayne to be the primary deep target.
I think a repeat of his '07 campaign (86 catches, 1,300 yards, nine scores) should be expected and a career year is a realistic possibility. And since he hasn't missed a game the past seven seasons, he's as safe a pick as you can find. Don't be afraid to pull the trigger on him in the second round.
The Jaguars' David Garrard has barely been a blip on the fantasy radar. His full 16-game slate in '08 was the first time he even played more than a dozen games in a season. The 3,600 yards he passed for were 1,100 more than his previous best. And he's never even totaled 20 touchdowns in a season.
On the other hand, Garrard rarely gives his owners an empty scoring slot -- he had only four games all of last season where he failed to score a touchdown. And while Garrard topped 300 yards passing just twice, he failed to top 200 yards just five times.
Fantasy gurus talk on and on about upside, but not enough credit is given in the topsy-turvy world of fantasy football stat production about consistency. Having a big fat zero in your QB column can be just as devastating to your team as not having a player posting studly stats.
It should also be noted that Garrard has some wheels. While he doesn't make his living by running, he will rip off a number of 30-40 yard rushing performances -- and we know that every little bit helps.
Garrard makes for a perfect QB2, because you know he's going to give you something just about every week.
The addition of Torry Holt as his top receiving option and dumping off all of his backfield passes to Maurice Jones-Drew (now that Fred Taylor's out of the picture) also means that Garrard has significant upside this season.
I currently have him ranked above Eli Manning, Matt Cassel and Trent Edwards, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him outperform Matt Ryan this season.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday that Marc Bulger sustained a hairline fracture in the pinky finger of his throwing hand during Monday's practice. The injury is expected to keep him out of action for the next two weeks.
"There's what I'm going to call a small fracture in the pinky finger," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "But it's not displaced which is a good thing. ... You can't cast it. You don't do anything to it. He'll just tape it. We'll keep him immobilized with the finger for a couple of weeks, and we'll see where we are after that. He won't do very much for two weeks just to be on the safe side."
Kobe Bryant played through a broken pinky a couple of years ago, and you couldn't notice any difference in his game. But shooting the rock is a lot different than firing rocket passes in a football game -- a damaged pinky can wreak havoc on a quarterback's accuracy and strength. So don't expect this to be a non-issue when the season starts. In fact, this it the type of thing that could linger throughout the season and diminish his fantasy value.
Not that it needs much more diminishing to discourage you from drafting him in the coming weeks. The 32-year-old already has been prone to injury, and he lost receiver Torry Holt and will be missing the injured Donnie Avery for a while.
I gave up on him prior to last season, and I will be shocked if we see much fantasy value out of Bulger this season and beyond.
Tony Romo: AP
SNY.tv's Michael Salfino recently wrote an interesting column discussing which stats are best used for determining how a quarterback might perform in the coming season.
I noted earlier that spending all of your time looking at what a football player has done in the past is going to leave you shortsighted in determining his value for the future, and Salfino agrees:
This works much better in baseball than in football. Baseball is a game of individual matchups, while football has far more moving parts. Team and environment play a huge role in determining which players thrive and suffer relative to innate skill.That said, Mike points to some individual stats that can be of help, so long as you consider the teammates surrounding the player when deciding their overall expected production in '09.
Using these stats, he takes a look at the value of several QBs, including Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers and Tony Romo.