Gotta Have 'Em

August 22, 2004

It's highly unlikely that your fantasy team roster will end up looking exactly like our Dream Team. But there's no need to fret, because there isn't that much difference between the best player at each position and the handful of guys who are directly behind him. Here are five more top players at each position, plus defenses.

QUARTERBACKS

Steve McNair, Titans
Injuries would be a problem for most players, but McNair played hurt throughout 2003 and was still named NFL co-MVP.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles
His passing numbers (201 yards per game) should spike now that he finally has a star receiver (Terrell Owens) as a target.

Tom Brady, Patriots
If he keeps up his recent success (two Super Bowls in three years), people will start comparing Joe Montana with him.

Michael Vick, Falcons
His broken right leg healed, Vick will reestablish himself as the NFL's most dangerous offensive threat.

Daunte Culpepper, Vikings
He cut his interceptions from 23 in 2002 to 11 last season while throwing for 3,479 yards.

RUNNING BACKS

LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
He gained 2,370 yards from scrimmage in '03, second most in NFL history behind Marshall Faulk's 2,429 in 1999.

Ahman Green, Packers
He led the NFC with 1,883 rushing yards, scored 20 touchdowns and also caught 50 passes for 367 yards.

Deuce McAllister, Saints
This workhorse ran for 1,641 yards but reached the end zone only eight times.

Jamal Lewis, Ravens
After rushing for 2,066 yards in '03, he aims to become the first back to break the 2,000-yard mark in consecutive seasons.

Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
He's gained at least 1,600 yards from scrimmage and scored at least 16 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Torry Holt, Rams
He's one of the NFL's top wideouts after leading the league in catches (117) and receiving yards (1,696) in '03.

Anquan Boldin, Cardinals
One of the top offensive rookies last season (101 catches, 1,377 yards), he fits perfectly into Dennis Green's wide-open offense.

Terrell Owens, Eagles
Donovan McNabb (and Philly fans) won't put up with Owens's antics, which should mean more TDs for TO.

Chad Johnson, Bengals
Carson Palmer's primary target has become much more valuable in fantasy circles (1,355 yards, 10 TDs in '03) than his cousin Keyshawn.

Derrick Mason, Titans
He's coming off three straight 1,000-yard seasons, and his catch totals have increased in each of the last five years.

TIGHT ENDS

Jeremy Shockey, Giants
Surgery on his right foot will force him to miss part of camp, but he should be ready when the season opens.

Todd Heap, Ravens
He learned a lot during his apprenticeship under Shannon Sharpe and averaged 12.3 yards per catch last season.

Alge Crumpler, Falcons
The athletic, sure-handed Crumpler will be one of many players to benefit now that Michael Vick is healthy.

Kellen Winslow Jr., Browns
The rookie out of Miami has the size of a tight end (6'4", 243 pounds) but the speed and hands of a wide receiver.

Randy McMichael, Dolphins
He averaged more than 12 yards per catch in each of his two seasons and should double his career total of six TDs.

KICKERS

Adam Vinatieri, Patriots
The Super Bowl hero will get more chances to score (112 points in '03) with an improved offense.

Jeff Wilkins, Rams
In an astonishingly good 2003 season he made 39 of 42 FGs--and he kicks in a dome.

Jason Elam, Broncos
Strength is the long ball--he's 6 for 9 from 50-plus yards in the last two seasons.

David Akers, Eagles
Extremely consistent, he has missed only four times from inside 40 yards in his five-year Philly career.

Jay Feely, Falcons
He was 24th among kickers in scoring last season but was second in the league with 138 points in 2002.

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS

Dolphins
LB Zach Thomas is one of the league's fiercest hitters, while CB Patrick Surtain has 13 interceptions since 2002.

Panthers
The NFC champs are better after adding LBs Jesse Armstead and Brandon Short in the off-season.

Patriots
The champs improved with additions of first-round pick DT Vince Wilfork and LB Rosevelt Colvin (back after a fractured left hip).

Cowboys
Roy Williams is among the league's elite safeties, and DE Marcellus Wiley brings a much-needed pass- rush threat.

Chiefs
If your league uses special teams, there's no unit you'd rather have than the Chiefs', with return specialist Dante Hall, who brought back four kicks for TDs.

For football news and updates, including info on signing up for fantasy games, go to si.com/fantasy.

COLOR PHOTOBOB ROSATO (MCNAIR) TWO COLOR PHOTOSDAVID E. KLUTHO (TOMLINSON AND HOLT) COLOR PHOTODAVID BERGMAN (SHOCKEY) COLOR PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (VINATIERI) COLOR PHOTOJEROME DAVIS/ICON SMI (DOLPHINS' D)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)