August 11, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Tom Carpenter
A Kurt Warning
Kurt Warner: Nick Laham/Getty Images

It really surprises me how fantasy folks can have such short-term or selective memory sometimes. Everyone remembers how Kurt Warner went from baggage clerk to bagging MVPs. Everybody also remembers how Warner went from fantasy baggage clerk to fantasy stud the past season and a half.

Yet so many seem to forget there's a reason why he was bagging the proverbial groceries in Fantasyland: His body was giving out on him. Warner was having trouble gripping the ball, appeared slow-footed, out of sync and was often injured.

Now Warner is 38 years old, and fantasy owners are playing with fire.

To his credit, Warner has played 30 consecutive games and has looked rejuvenated. You could even make an argument that he doesn't have as much wear and tear on his body as other 38-year-olds, because he played so few games between 2002 and 2006 (36 games in five seasons).

But the problem is that he's being drafted as a starting fantasy QB this season. He was such a great score last season because he was drafted as a scrap and turned to gold. Do you really want your starting QB to be one play away from retirement?

I expect Warner to produce like a QB1 when he's on the field, but with his inherent all-or-nothing health risk, you'll need to take him in the right spot to make the reward worth the risk. The trouble is that he's not going to last that long in most drafts, because someone is going to draft him based solely on his upside.

Let them pay the price -- now and later -- instead of you.

When the Smitty Hits the Fan

How could you not be a fan of Steve Smith's fantasy skills when his breakout season netted you 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns? You also have to be a fan of Smith averaging more than 100 yards per game last season.

But fantasy fans have been hit hard by Smith over the years. Of course, last year, it was due to a suspension for literally hitting a teammate. But be it suspensions or injuries, Smith hasn't played a full season since his breakout campaign in '05.

So it seems there are two camps: those who have experienced the greatness of Smith and those who've been burned. And that's why you've seen Smith go early in the second round in some mock drafts and last until the third in others.

Now comes word that he could miss the entire preseason due to a shoulder injury. We'll have to see whether he has an MRI and how healthy he appears as the season nears.

I fall in the skeptical camp on Smith: I'm concerned not just about his health at age 30 and the constant double-teams he faces, but who would throw the ball to him if Jake Delhomme goes down? I would gladly take a nearly healthy Smith early in the third round for his upside.

However, just like Warner, it's unlikely that Smith will fall far enough that his draft spot warrants the risk.

Orlando's "Magic"?

The NBA has suspended Rashard Lewis for the first 10 games of the upcoming season after he tested positive for a steroid. Apparently, he took an over-the-counter supplement that contained the steroid. I'm not here to determine whether Lewis intentionally took a "magic" supplement. Instead, let's look at his fantasy stock.

To begin with, the arrival of Vince Carter in place of Hedo Turkoglu in Orlando is a legit concern. While I suppose it's possible that Carter's game could finally mature while competing for a title, I'll have to see him opting to pass the ball instead of chucking to believe it. While I still expect Lewis to net 17-18 points and his usual 2.8 treys per game, I also expect Carter's presence to fully cap Lewis' output at that level.

These are still quality numbers, worthy of an early-round pick, but not until similarly talented players with more opportunity to explode are off the board.

The good news is that this 10-game ban could drop him in drafts enough that he might actually become a value pick. 10 games will cost him two-and-a-half weeks of action. That's basically what a sprained ankle might cost a player. In other words, it's a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

Housh Your Receiver?
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Rod Mar/SI

The theme in today's column seems to be guys I like, but whom I think are likely to go too high in drafts. T.J. Houshmandzadeh fits perfectly into this discussion. There's no doubting his general studliness the past five seasons. He was a threat for 1000+ yards, 90-100 catches and double-digit touchdowns.

But how much did his offseason move from Cincinnati to Seattle affect his fantasy value?

The primary answer to that question is that instead of being one of the safest fantasy wide receivers out there, he comes with a lot of questions and concerns:

* How will he fare as the No. 1 receiver, instead of getting to playing off of Chad Ochocinco?
* Housh isn't old (31), but he is past his physical peak. How long until we see a decline?
* Matt Hasselback is not as skilled as Carson Palmer. Will he be able to get the ball to Housh well enough for the receiver to excel?
* What happens if the soon-to-be 34-year-old and injury-prone Hasselbeck goes down? Will Seneca Wallace do any better than Ryan Fitzpatrick did for Houshmandzadeh last year when Housh was rendered all but useless in non-PPR leagues?

The truth is I'm not all that concerned about the first three questions. But I'm very concerned about Hasselbeck. I doubt he'll play a full season, and I'm not the least bit convinced that Wallace will be able to keep Housh anywhere near max value.

I suspect Houshmandzadeh will come off the board a couple of rounds before I'll be looking to take him.

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