Peyton reclaims the QB throne: Fantasy Clicks
Peyton Manning: AP
1. Peyton Manning should be drafted ahead of Tom Brady next year: Yes, Brady threw for an NFL-record 50 touchdowns in 2007. Yes, Brady will have Randy Moss and Wes Welker as his primary targets in '09. And yes, the slightly younger Brady (by 16 months and 10 days) should be fully recovered from knee surgery in early September. However, out of respect -- and loyalty -- to Peyton's unbelievable consistency lo these many years (26 or more TDs in all 11 seasons), I'd want the surer thing come draft day. Besides, as an unbreakable fantasy rule, I never take a QB in Round 1 ... and I get the feeling that more people would reach for Teriffic Tom in the opening round than Peyton next August.
2. Joseph Addai is officially on my Do Not Draft list: It's not like Addai (zero touchees on Thursday) is the only feature back who's been slowed by injuries this year. But as I've stated more than a few times in this forum ... ultimately, I'm just not impressed with Addai's burst or penchant for breaking first-line tackles. Sure, Addai should be a solid fantasy contributor for the next 6-8 years, but he's just not the home-run hitter I had envisioned -- the kind that Chris Johnson is right now and Darren McFadden will be next year. I do have time for one major contradiction, though: If I could choose only one Colts RB in 2009, either Addai or Dominic Rhodes (89 total yards, 1 TD vs. J-ville), I would take Addai every day and twice on Sunday.
3. Despite his strong finish, Dallas Clark still lags behind Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten: I doubt there's any NFL tight end who could match Clark's two-game surge of 20 catches, 247 yards and two TDs (Weeks 15 and 16). But on the flip side, Clark had six games of 30 yards or less this season -- the kind of maddening inconsistency that often leads to surprise exits from Round 1 of the fantasy playoffs. Hence, I'll take the rock-solid consistency of Gonzalez and Witten ... or even Seattle's John Carlson (who could be fantasyland's No. 1 tight end next year).
4. Expect Maurice Jones-Drew to provide first-round value in '09: Not that I loathe Fred Taylor or anything like that ... we're talking about a borderline Hall of Fame career here (11,271 rushing yards). But I also cannot wait to see how MJD explodes into another fantasy strata next season, as a result of Taylor leaving the Jags' nest and Mo getting 90 percent of the between-the-20s carries and red-zone opportunities. Plus, Jacksonville's injury-ravaged offensive line should be greatly improved -- or at the very least, walking upright -- simply because things couldn't get any worse than '08.
5. David Garrard will amp-up his fantasy production next year, while also bolstering the Jags' record: You know that old expression, "The truth lies somewhere in the middle"? Well, this is the perfect line to describe Garrard, who likely overachieved in 2007 (18 TDs, 3 INTs) and should improve upon his painfully mediocre run in 2008 (14 TDs, 11 INTs). In fantasyland, he's a borderline No. 2 QB come draft day, with the potential for low, low QB1 status as the season progresses.
There are two ways to view my three Super Bowl appearances this week: The optimist would say making three out of eight possible Super Bowls (37.5 percent efficiency), thus matching last year's total, gives me a solid chance of capturing a career-high three fantasy championships in one year. On the flip side, the eternal pessimist (read: a Wall Street stock analyst) would point out that I partook in only six fantasy leagues in '07 (50 percent efficiency), meaning that I incurred a 13.5-percent loss from the last fiscal fantasy year. And while they're kicking me when I'm down, the pessimists would remind me that one Super Bowl title from '07 may have been tainted since the Chargers removed LaDainian Tomlinson from the Christmas Eve game against the Broncos wayyyyyyyyy too early ... but I digress.
LT ramblings aside, I only have two rules of conduct during Super Bowl week: Always play your studs in fair weather ... and NEVER inquire about the size of the first-place winner's check BEFORE Sunday's games. It's just bad karma.
We interrupt these Fantasy Clicks to heavily promote ... a future Clicks. Next week, Jeff Ritter and I will combine forces to present the SI.com's Year-End Spectacular (hence the "Y.E.S." in the heading) -- a thorough-yet-random, substantive-yet-chaotic look at the 2008 season ... while spinning ahead to the '09 fantasy drafts. It promises to be an entertaining read -- especially if you appreciate timeless column ideas conceived on beer-stained cocktail napkins by two guys ... while at a neighborhood Atlanta bar.
1. Philadelphia @ Washington
2. New Orleans @ Detroit
3. N.Y. Jets @ Seattle
4. Buffalo @ Denver
5. Cincinnati @ Cleveland
Fifteen years from now, NFL historians will revere the RB Class of '08 in the same way the QB Class of '83 has been deified. We're talking 10 potential franchise backs -- Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Matt Forte, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall (out for the season) and Jamaal Charles, to name a few. Here are some Week 16 projections for the '08 class, courtesy of Pigskin Addiction:
Chris Johnson, Titans: 50 yards (I could not disagree more here)
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers: 75 yards, 1 TD
Steve Slaton, Texans: 160 total yards, 1 TD
Darren McFadden, Raiders: 60 total yards
Matt Forte, Bears: 170 total yards, 1 TD
Tim Hightower: Cardinals: 50 total yards
Kevin Smith, Lions: 115 total yards, 1 TD (my own personal prediction, since Snake refuses to even acknowledge the Lions)
1. Larry Fitzgerald vs. New England
2. Marques Colston vs. Detroit
3. Steve Smith vs. N.Y. Giants
4. Isaac Bruce vs. St. Louis
5. Antonio Bryant vs. San Diego
6. Brandon Marshall vs. Denver
7. Dwayne Bowe vs. Miami
8. Braylon Edwards vs. Cincinnati
9. Andre Johnson vs. Oakland
10. Wes Welker vs. Arizona
11. Randy Moss vs. Arizona
LaDainian Tomlinson: AP
In every Wednesday Clicks, I faithfully list the Targets -- the number of times per game a receiver or tight end gets thrown to. But, as a reader recently pointed out, I never release Target information with running backs -- which is an unpardonable sin on my part since Reggie Bush and Chris Johnson were, at times, carrying my teams in Points-Per-Reception (PPR) leagues. So, without further ado, here are the running backs who've averaged 4.0 Targets (per game), excluding the injured Bush, from Weeks 12-15:
1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (8.0 Targets)
2. Kevin Faulk, Patriots (7.3 Targets)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers (6.0 Targets)
4. J.J. Arrington, Cardinals (5.5 Targets)
5. Warrick Dunn, Bucs (5.3 Targets)
6. Marshawn Lynch, Bills (5.0 Targets)
7. Joseph Addai, Colts (5.0 Targets)
8. Brian Westbrook, Eagles (4.8 Targets)
9. Matt Forte, Bears (4.8 Targets)
10. Steven Jackson, Rams (4.7 Targets)
11. Tashard Choice, Cowboys (4.5 Targets)
12. Pierre Thomas, Saints (4.3 Targets)
13. Leon Washington, Jets (4.3 Targets)
14. Darren McFadden, Raiders (4.3 Targets)
15. Ray Rice, Ravens (4.3 Targets)
16. Dominic Rhodes, Colts (4.0 Targets)
17. Marion Barber, Cowboys (4.0 Targets)
18. Jason Wright, Browns (4.0 Targets)
19. Jason McKie, Bears (4.0 Targets)
1. Eli Manning (more of a bad-weather assessment than personal indictment)
2. Michael Turner (I'm having chest pains writing this)
3. Joe Flacco (tough environment for the kid)
4. Willie Parker (oh, how the mighty ... are falling)
5. Chad Ocho Cinco (he used to dominate against the Browns)
You may remember my Week 15 dilemma at tight end ... where I used a best-of-3 coin flip to determine my playoff starter -- either Denver's Tony Scheffler or Green Bay's Donald Lee. Well, I'm happy to report that I advanced in both playoff matches -- despite getting zero points from Scheffler twice! (For the record, Lee also rang up a goose egg last week.) So, here I am in the finals ... and once again, I cannot decide which is the lesser of two evils -- the incumbent Scheffler (vs. Buffalo) or new challenger, Billy Miller (vs. Detroit). When comparing the two, Scheffler is the redoubtable starter for the Broncos; whereas Miller splits the TE duties with Jeremy Shockey in New Orleans. However, Miller has been more consistent this year (five straight games of 50-plus yards from Weeks 5-9), while Scheffler has been the quintessential feast-or-famine pass-catcher. With my mind in a pretzel (figuratively speaking, of course), I turned to an old friend for guidance: the American quarter. And based on the all-important coin flips -- this time going best-of-5 tosses -- I've decided to hand the keys to Scheffler ... who will once again try to validate the tried-and-true declaration of Tails Never Fails.
1. WR Brandon Stokley (vs. Bills)
2. WR John Standeford (vs. Saints)
3. TE Dustin Keller (vs. Seahawks)
4. RB Correll Buckhalter (vs. Redskins)
5. RB Chester Taylor (vs. Falcons)
There's nothing like a second chance in life, and the same thinking applies to fantasy football, as well. SI.com presents the ultimate fantasy game for owners whose dreams of a fantasy title went unfulfilled in the regular season, or the greedy owners who simply covet two championships in the same year: Facebook's Postseason Fantasy Football.
This test of fantasy survival is like no other game you've ever played, but it'll call on your keen abilities to predict the future -- one NFL week at a time. Are you game? Are you savvy enough to bring your fantasy expertise to a whole new level? This is a golden opportunity to win a slew of fantastic prizes, along with getting one last shot at redemption after taking Tom Brady in Round 1 of your fantasy-league draft.