1. The Packers didn't need 59 points to validate their fantasy viability, but it's good to see Aaron Rodgers (195 yards/3 TDs) and his merry Lambeau Leapers are already in midseason form. To assume Green Bay will amass 33 first downs and/or 430 total yards every Sunday seems a tad ambitious, but there's no disputing the Packers' incredibly diverse fleet of pass-catchers: Donald Driver (5 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD) holds the key to the NFL's fountain of youth, James Jones (4 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD) should be a perpetual mismatch for opposing linebackers or nickel defenders and tight end Jermichael Finley (6 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD) could easily be this year's Brent Celek, if not better. Notice we've yet to mention Greg Jennings, a top-10 receiver in fantasyland and reasonable lock to equal or surpass his 2008 production (80 catches/1,292 yards/9 TDs).
2. Reggie Wayne may still be irked with his contract status, but he's also showing zero signs of bitterness, lethargy or delaying his realistic candidacy for the Hall of Fame (sometime around 2024). His seven-catch, 96-yard, one-TD night was eerily reminiscent of any game from Weeks 1-10 last season, which is the reason why you'd be crazy to let him slip past the 20th pick in fantasy drafts. In fact, with the Cardinals' current turmoil at quarterback, it's probably wise to bump Wayne to the No. 3 spot for receivers behind Andre Johnson and Randy Moss and ahead of Larry Fitzgerald.
3. Joseph Addai deserves full credit for racking up 100 total yards (60 rushing) and trying to bring downa Packers defender following a Colts pick ... but that post-INT concussion could have spurred on the downfall of a season that has yet to begin. (After the game, Addai characterized the injury as minor). In four-plus years, Addai has been equal parts sublimely talented and frustratingly injury-prone, and that predated any concussions on the WebMD résumé. Of course, Addai's loss could be Donald Brown's gain. If the UConn alum (6 yards, 1 TD on Thursday) is ready to be a consistent NFL force (doubtful). Verdict: Don't reach for Brown on draft day, no matter Addai's condition.
1. In my wildest dreams, I never thought the Rams would score 36 points in a preseason or regular-season game, let alone a training-camp scrimmage against Western Illinois. And 30 first downs? How am I supposed to put a negative spin on that mind-blowing stat? In all seriousness, my loathing of Sam Bradford has been well-chronicled in Fantasy Clicks, but he showed tremendous poise against the Patriots' first-teamers, throwing for 189 yards and two touchdowns in one half.
Of course, even if Bradford had played poorly in his first NFL start, I wouldn't have said boo about the outing. Bottom line: You can't fairly judge a quarterback's viability until at least 2-3 years as a starter -- unless we're talking about Dan Marino. Everyone else gets a fair shake, plain and simple.
2. I know it's preseason, but Tom Brady is the most focused man on the planet right now. Against Atlanta last week, Brady exhibited great finesse in the pocket, expertly delivering the ball to his receivers, young and old. And on Thursday, Brady carved up the Rams defense for 273 yards and three touchdowns, with only four incompletions from his 22 passes. As a rule, I never take quarterbacks in the first two rounds of 12-team leagues; but I would seriously consider Brady in Round 3, especially if Randy Moss (3 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD) was already on the roster.
3. My heart goes out to Rams WR Donnie Avery, who may have suffered a season-ending knee surgery on a long Bradford incompletion. The speedy wideout from Houston could've been a solid sleeper pick in PPR leagues if healthy; but now, the club's torch of raised, but moderate expectations goes to Laurent Robinson, the ex-Falcon who possesses the size, speed and hands to be a dynamic NFL receiver. In Avery's absence, fantasy owners should only consider Robinson and maybeBrandon Gibson (4 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD) as options in deeper leagues.
Inspired by new Twitter friend, @MN_CheapSeats, to invoke a "Do The Opposite" strategy for Thursday's mock, I purposely started off WR-WR-WR-QB for this 12-teamer, fully intending to grab a handful of backs in Rounds 5-10 (preferably of the workhorse variety).
Here's my full squad: Round 1 -- WR Randy Moss, Patriots (contract year = monster numbers)Round 2 -- WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (finally ready to dominate corners)Round 3 -- WR Michael Crabtree, 49ersRound 4 -- QB Tony Romo, Cowboys (has unlimited toys at his disposal)Round 5 -- RB Jerome Harrison, Browns (Weeks 14-16 finish -- 561 yards)Round 6 -- RB Clinton Portis, RedskinsRound 7 -- RB Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants (move over, Brandon Jacobs)Round 8 -- RB Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers (the last of the workhorses?)Round 9 -- WR Devin Aromashodu, BearsRound 10 -- TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings (pure terror in the red zone)Round 11 -- WR Sidney Rice, Vikings (perfect time for flyer pick)Round 12 -- QB Matthew Stafford, Lions (a top-10 fantasy QB in 2011)Round 13 -- PK Matt Prater, BroncosRound 14 -- D/ST Cincinnati BengalsRound 15 -- RB Andre Brown, Giants (two-thirds of NYG's RB handcuff)Round 16 -- WR Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns
Here are my revised rankings for all 32 starting QBs after two full weeks of preseason action: 1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers 2. Drew Brees, Saints 3. Peyton Manning, Colts 4. Tom Brady, Patriots 5. Matt Schaub, Texans 6. Tony Romo, Cowboys 7. Philip Rivers, Chargers (opportunity knocks, Legedu Naanee) 8. Jay Cutler, Bears 9. Kevin Kolb, Eagles 10. Brett Favre, Vikings (waves goodbye to No. 9 ranking, thanks to Rice)11. Matt Ryan, Falcons 12. Donovan McNabb, Redskins 13. Eli Manning, Giants14. Joe Flacco, Ravens 15. Matthew Stafford, Lions (looks more like Elway with each passing day) 16. Chad Henne, Dolphins 17. Kyle Orton, Broncos 18. Alex Smith, 49ers 19. Mark Sanchez, Jets 20. Carson Palmer, Bengals (Cedric Benson is still Cincy's red-zone king) 21. Matt Cassel, Chiefs 22. Vince Young, Titans23. David Garrard, Jaguars 24. Jason Campbell, Raiders 25. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (assuming only 4 games to suspension) 26. Matt Moore, Panthers 27. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers28. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks 29. Trent Edwards, Bills 30. Sam Bradford, Rams (better than whatever the Cards have to offer)31. Derek Anderson, Cardinals32. Jake Delhomme, Browns
Next up, we have a low-pressure PPR draft, featuring a no-brainer chance to land either Chris Johnson, Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew in Round 1, essentially taking whoever falls to the No. 3 slot. Here are the first four rounds of this 12-teamer:
Round 1 1. RB Chris Johnson, Titans2. RB Ray Rice, Ravens 3. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars (my pick)4. RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings5. WR Andre Johnson, Texans6. RB Frank Gore, 49ers7. RB Steven Jackson, Rams 8. WR Randy Moss, Patriots9. RB Michael Turner, Falcons 10. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys11. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers 12. QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Round 2 13. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions14. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals15. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers 16. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts 17. QB Drew Brees, Saints18. WR Greg Jennings, Packers 19. WR Roddy White, Falcons 20. RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers 21. WR Brandon Marshall, Dolphins22. RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs (my pick)23. WR Marques Colston, Saints 24. WR Steve Smith, Giants
Round 325. WR Wes Welker, Patriots 26. RB Ryan Grant, Packers 27. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles (my pick)28. QB Peyton Manning, Colts 29. RB Shonn Greene, Jets 30. RB Pierre Thomas, Saints31. RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos32. RB Cedric Benson, Bengals 33. WR Anquan Boldin, Ravens34. QB Tony Romo, Cowboys 35. RB Jahvid Best, Lions36. WR Steve Smith, Panthers
Round 437. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals38. RB Matt Forte, Bears 39. TE Antonio Gates, Chargers40. WR Chad Ochocinco, Bengals 41. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs 42. QB Tom Brady, Patriots 43. QB Matt Schaub, Texans 44. TE Dallas Clark, Colts45. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers46. WR Percy Harvin, Vikings (my pick)47. RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles48. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
Meet The Rest Of Count Chocula's Henchmen (my team): Round 5 -- TE Jason Witten, Cowboys (a lock for 90-plus catches)Round 6 -- WR Vincent Jackson, Chargers (confident of Week 4 return)Round 7 -- RB Jerome Harrison, Browns Round 8 -- QB Kevin Kolb, Eagles (securing the QB/WR 'cuff with D-Jax)Round 9 -- RB Cadillac Williams, BuccaneersRound 10 -- WR Devin Thomas, Redskins (this year's Sidney Rice)Round 11 -- WR Kenny Britt, TitansRound 12 -- WR Mohamed Massaquoi, BrownsRound 13 -- QB Chad Henne, DolphinsRound 14 -- PK Mason Crosby, PackersRound 15 -- D/ST Cincinnati Bengals
Verdict: I was thrilled with the first two picks (MJD and Charles); but there's also a certain uneasiness that comes with having no receivers in the first 26 picks of a PPR draft. Of course, getting D-Jax and Harvin in Rounds 3/4 helped alleviate some of that anxiety, so much that I had little reservations about snagging Vincent Jackson in Round 6 -- even though he could miss three, six or 10 games this year, for various reasons (suspension/holdout). After V-Jax, I systematically corralled two potential workhorses at running back (Harrison/Caddy) and bolstered my WR depth with Thomas, Britt and Massaquoi -- all likely No. 1 options with the Redskins, Titans and Browns, respectively.
The last draft involving yours truly was real -- a 12-team auction on ESPN.com, with each owner given a $200 bidding allowance. For this draft, I followed two self-imposed, but unimpeachable rules: 1) I had to be the last owner to spend one dime, and 2) I couldn't spend more than $23 on any player. Sounds hard, right? Well, check out my squad, easily the best team from top to bottom.
Phase I -- First Spending Spree (roughly 35 minutes into draft)QB Matt Schaub, Texans -- $23WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- $19RB Matt Forte, Bears -- $18
Phase II -- Restrained, Yet Jubilant Spending (roughy 60 minutes in) RB Jerome Harrison, Browns -- $11WR Hines Ward, Steelers -- $16WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers -- $16TE Dallas Clark, Colts -- $15PK Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots -- $3
Phase III -- Smart Shopping (when everyone else had minimal funds)QB Jay Cutler, Bears -- $5RB C.J. Spiller, Bills -- $14RB Clinton Portis, Redskins -- $8RB Steve Slaton, Texans -- $2WR Laurent Robinson, Rams -- $2
Phase IV -- Money-To-Burn Guilty Pleasures WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- $12TE Brent Celek, Eagles -- $11D/ST Green Bay Packers -- $4
Point Of ComparisonHere's the full squad for the owner who spent an eye-popping $95 on Adrian Peterson. Now, tell me which team you'd rather have -- his Stars & Scrubs or my deep club from above?
QB Drew Brees, Saints -- $65 RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- $95 RB Donald Brown, Colts -- $6 RB Thomas Jones, Chiefs -- $7 WR Donnie Avery, Rams -- $15 (could be done for the season)WR Johnny Knox, Bears -- $1 TE Greg Olsen, Bears -- $1 D/ST New York Giants -- $1 K Jay Feely, Giants -- $1 RB Darren Sproles, Chargers -- $2 RB Correll Buckhalter, Broncos -- $1 WR Golden Tate, Seahawks -- $1 WR Mario Manningham, Giants -- $1 RB Mike Bell, Eagles -- $1 QB Alex Smith, 49ers -- $1 WR Dexter McCluster, Chiefs -- $1
These 33 stars garnered bids of $27 or more in Thursday's draft: RB Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- $95 RB Chris Johnson, Titans -- $73 RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- $66 QB Drew Brees, Saints -- $65 RB Ray Rice, Ravens -- $64 WR Andre Johnson, Texans -- $61 RB Michael Turner, Falcons -- $56 QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers -- $56 RB Frank Gore, 49ers -- $56 RB Steven Jackson, Rams -- $55 WR Randy Moss, Patriots -- $44 QB Peyton Manning, Colts -- $41 RB Ryan Grant, Packers -- $41 RB Cedric Benson, Bengals -- $40 WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- $40 RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- $40 RB Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers -- $39 WR Reggie Wayne, Colts -- $38 QB Tom Brady, Patriots -- $36 RB Shonn Greene, Jets -- $36 WR Brandon Marshall, Dolphins -- $35 RB LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- $31 WR Calvin Johnson, Lions -- $30 RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers -- $30 RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos -- $29 WR Miles Austin, Cowboys -- $29 WR Roddy White, Falcons -- $29 RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals -- $29 RB Pierre Thomas, Saints -- $28 WR Greg Jennings, Packers -- $28 WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- $28 WR Wes Welker, Patriots -- $28 RB Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- $27
... To pronounce HOO-MANA-WANUI, as Michael Hoomanawanui, the tight end who caught four balls for 53 yards and two TDs against the Patriots, bolstering his case to be the Rams' starting tight end -- while forcing me to enter his name into my SpellCheck dictionary. Wow, that last name seems longer than 12 letters, huh?.
Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night, accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday/Monday during the NFL and MLB seasons.
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