Thursday, August 30, 2007

College Football Season Predictions

It's time for my semi-detailed look at the college football season, with some predictions.

ACC Atlantic Winner - Florida St.
ACC Coastal Winner - Virginia Tech
ACC Player of the Year - CJ Spiller

Comments: Virginia Tech looks like they should run away with the Coastal division, but the Atlantic is wide open, as anyone really has a chance to win that division. I went with the most proven commodity, FSU. For the Player of the Year race, even though Spiller is a sophomore, I just love his talent and think he will continue to shine.

Big 12 North Winner - Nebraska
Big 12 South Winner - Texas
Big 12 Player of the Year - Colt McCoy

Comments: I think Nebraska, with the addition of Sam Keller, should have a real nice year and be the favorites in the North. In the South, it should be a really interesting battle as usual between Texas and Oklahoma, but I'll go with the Longhorns on the strength of Colt McCoy, my pick for the POY.

Big East Winner - West Virginia
Big East Player of the Year - Steve Slaton

Comments: I have these dominated by the Mountaineers, but this should be one of the most fascinating conference races once again. Rutgers will be very good behind Ray Rice, but I don't think they'll quite be able to compete with West Virginia or Louisville. Their game on November 8th could very well decide who wins the Big East (and perhaps goes to the national title?), and I like West Virginia at home. As a sidenote, watch out for WVU freshman Noel Devine, who I think is just going to be awesome, and a great fit for that offense. Seriously, go watch one of his highlight videos.

Big Ten Winner - Michigan
Big Ten Player of the Year - PJ Hill

Comments: I love PJ Hill for Wisconsin, which is why he's my pick for the Player of the Year. However, I think Michigan will be just a little too explosive, which is why they're my pick to win the Big 10.

Pac-10 Winner - USC
Pac-10 Player of the Year - John David Booty

Comments: California might have the talent to compete with USC in the Pac-10 this year, but I think the Trojans are going to be just a little too good. Booty has tons of weapons at his disposal, he just has to not screw it up.

SEC East Winner - Florida
SEC West Winner - LSU
SEC Player of the Year - Darren McFadden

Comments: I know Florida is young and they will struggle defensively, but I think the offense will just take off. Elsewhere, LSU is probably the best team in the conference. Darren McFadden is the best RB in the country, so he gets the POY nod.

Heisman: I already went over this, but John David Booty is my pick for Heisman.

National Championship: USC vs. West Virginia
This might look like I'm blatantly copying The Sports Flow, but that is not the case. I think USC is probably the most talented team in the country, and they should fly through their schedule. West Virginia basically has 2 really tough games all year (Rutgers and Louisville) and both of them come at home.

Also, in a bit of a surprise, WEST VIRGINIA is my pick to win the national title. USC is deeper and maybe has more overall talent, but the offense speed that West Virginia has is unrivaled. Seriously, watch this video of Noel Devine:

This is absolutely filthy. He reminds me of a smaller Reggie Bush. Add that to Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Darius Reynaud, and the West Virginia offense should be just sick. That's why they're my pick to win the National Championship.

Who's your pick? Which of my picks do you disagree with?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

College Football Week 1 Predictions

Like last year, I'm back for some game predictions. Again, like last year I will pick what I deem to be the 5 biggest games of the week, and then pick who I think will win them.

I'm kinda in a hurry tonight because I'm studying for a test, but here goes.

14 UCLA @ Stanford
The Bruins are ranked highly following a strong finish to last year (including the win over USC), and this looks to be the strongest team in the Karl Dorrell Era (which isn't exactly saying much). The offense should be pretty good as Ben Olson continues to mature, and the defense should be talented again. I like Jim Harbaugh, but UCLA should take care of business on the road.

Wake Forest @ Boston College
Wake Forest was one of the surprises of the College Football world last year after winning the ACC, but they'll have a hard time repeating that. One of the reasons why is because of Boston College, led by experienced QB Matt Ryan. He'll lead BOSTON COLLEGE to a home victory to start out the season.

Oklahoma St. @ 13 Georgia
This figures to be one of the more interesting matchups of the opening weekend. The Bulldogs are the highly-ranked team, but the Cowboys should have an explosive offense led by dual-threat QB Bobby Reid. I would not at all be surprised if Oklahoma St. pulls off the upset, but I'm taking GEORGIA, led by talented Matthew Stafford and powered by the home crowd.

19 Florida St. @ Clemson
The Bowden Bowl should be mighty interesting this year. Florida St. is looking to rebound from a down year, which saw Bobby Bowden shake up the coaching staff. If Drew Weatherford can become more consistent, the offense could be explosive, with weapons like Antoine Smith and Greg Carr. Even so, I'm taking the unranked CLEMSON Tigers, led by perhaps the best RB duo in the nation with James Davis and CJ Spiller.

15 Tennesee vs. 12 California
This game was a bit of a dud last year (especially for me, since I picked California), but should be competitive this time around, as both teams are ranked in the top 15 and have high expectations coming into the season. The Golden Bears need to get off to a better start (obviously), and I think they will. I look for the trio of Nate Longshore, Justin Forsett, and dangerous Desean Jackson to provide just enough offense to beat the Vols. CALIFORNIA is the pick for the 2nd straight year.

Agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Heisman Candidates

Admittedly, the college football season has kind of snuck up on me. Last year I did a preview of each conference, but this year I haven't really written anything about it. This has been for a couple of reasons... one, I am kinda lazy. Two, for some reason I have been a lot more excited about the start of the NFL season.

But anyway, it's time to end by NCAA Drought and give my top 5 Heisman candidates heading into the year. But first, some of the guys left off:

Ian Johnson (Boise St.) - After his performance against Oklahoma last year would get a lot of support if Boise St. comes close to repeating their undefeated season.

Ray Rice (Rutgers) - Rice was one of the biggest reasons for Rutgers' success last year, but he might have a tougher go of it with Brian Leonard gone.

Mike Hart (Michigan) - Should put up good numbers once again but will be overshadowed by Chad Henne.

Brian Brohm (Louisville) - He'll have to settle for being the #1 pick next April.

Percy Harvin (Florida) - He'll probably be the most exciting player in the nation, but not the Heisman.

Finally, my top 5...

5. Colt Brennan (Hawaii) - Brennan is coming off of a monster year where he threw for somewhere around 2.5 million yards. He kinda strikes me as the guy that we have every year that puts up big number in a smaller conference against mediocre competition, and gets placed on the final Heisman ballot with no real chance of winning. That's what I see happening.

4. Chad Henne (Michigan) - It seems like Henne has been the Michigan QB forever. He'll be in his 4th(!) year of starting, leaving him with plenty of name recognition and familiarity with the offense. With lots of offensive weapons around him, Henne should have a big year for a good Michigan team, putting him in the thick of the Heisman race.

3. Steve Slaton (West Virginia) - May be overshadowed a bit by Pat White, but Slaton is the key cog in the offense, and should put up huge numbers once again in this offense. He'll also be helped by a relatively easy schedule which should put the Mountaineers in the National Title hunt.

2. Darren McFadden - A lot of people are predicting Arkansas to drop a little bit this year, and that could mean that McFadden stays right where he was... 2nd in the Heisman ballot. He's still the best RB in the nation and should be very productive. That's a tough SEC schedule though.

1. John David Booty (USC) - Could Booty be the 3rd USC QB to be the Heisman in 6 years? I think so. For one, he's going to be on a great team, which always helps. But he's very accurate, and should just be able to distribute the ball to the wide variety of playmakers that Pete Carroll has assembled. Great team plus great numbers means that Booty will be a strong contender, and he's my preseason pick for the Heisman.

Who do you think will win the Heisman?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fantasy Football Draft Tips

I've covered all of my rankings for fantasy football, so I suppose that I should complete my fantasy football talk with some tips that I try to follow during the draft. So here they are, arbitrarily numbered.

1. Know your league's rules - Yahoo had an article about this last week, and I agree (obviously). This is the most important thing to do before the draft. Every league is a little different, so know how many starters you have, know the scoring rules, etc. This is huge in determining how you should value players heading into the draft.

2. Prepare ahead of time - Even if this just involves picking up a fantasy football magazine, don't go into the draft cold. You should at least have a general idea (and hopefully you have a lot more) about where players are ranked, etc. Otherwise you'll wind up like someone in my league a few years ago... taking Shannon Sharpe the year after he retired.

3. Know depth charts - This ties in with #2, but you need to have an idea of who is playing, who's in a competition for the starting spot, etc. This is especially important for running backs, where so many guys are in a close competition for the starting spot.

4. Don't take a kicker until the last round - This is actually a rule I violated in one of my leagues this year, but there is really no reason to take a kicker in round 1. Even if you do get lucky and pick the highest-scoring kicker, the difference between him and a waiver wire kicker on a week-to-week basis is minimal. Grab some extra RB or WR depth in the middle rounds rather than taking a kicker. Is the difference between Robbie Gould and someone like Josh Brown really that significant?

5. Don't draft a backup kicker or backup defense - Again, this kind of ties in with #2, but there really is not a good reason to draft a kicker or defense, especially if you have an elite defense. You may as well hang on to some other guys, and then add a kicker or defense when your starter has their bye week. Otherwise it's just basically a waste of a roster spot.

6. Don't be a homer - Before the 2005 season I drafted Daunte Culpepper very early in one of my drafts. I figured he was going to have another big year, and I would get the added bonus of cheering for him in real life. As it turned out, he sucked a lot, got injured, and both my real favorite team and my fantasy team suffered greatly. It's fine to take a player or two from your favorite team, but don't reach for it and be a homer, or you'll probably regret it.

7. Don't invest too heavily in rookies - I know guys that just love to draft a lot of rookies in fantasy football. I tend to love playing against these guys. Yes, there is the occasional Anquan Boldin or Michael Clayton, but most rookies simply aren't that productive. The one exception seems to be rookies, but I'd still rather have an established guy there than a rookie. This is more risky than online gambling.

8. Pull the trigger on a late-round sleeper - If it's later in the draft, and there's a sleeper you really like, don't be afraid to pull the trigger on him even if it might be a little early. One, if it's late in the draft it won't hurt you too badly if it doesn't pan out. Two, there's nothing worse than someone taking your sleeper right before you and then seeing them have a big year. Don't get too out of hand, but if there's a guy you really like and you think there's a chance he might not be there at your next pick, don't be afraid to pull the trigger.

9. Don't pay too much attention to bye weeks - Certainly looking at bye weeks has its place in fantasy football... for example, you don't want your backup QB to have the same bye week as your starter, but beyond situations like that you shouldn't worry too much. Don't choose someone early that you don't like as much just because of bye weeks. The goal is to have the best team come playoff time... if your top 2 RBs both have byes in week 5, that sucks, but it shouldn't prevent you from taking them both.

10. Have fun and use the league message board - Maybe my favorite thing about fantasy football is that not only is it OK to be blindly insulting on the league message baord, it's ENCOURAGED. So use it early and often... bash others teams, trash talk, etc. And if someone is doing the same to you, pay no attention to it... that's part of the fun of fantasy football.

Any other tips?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers and Defenses

I'm not even going to try and justify these rankings because, well, they're harder to write about. But in the interest of being complete, here are my rankings for Defense and Kickers.

1. Chicago Bears
2. Baltimore Ravens
3. New England Patriots
4. San Diego Chargers
5. Jacksonville Jaguars
6. Denver Broncos
7. Miami Dolphins
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Minnesota Vikings
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
11. Philadelphia Eagles
12. Carolina Panthers
13. Seattle Seahawks
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Buffalo Bills

1. Adam Vinatieri
2. Jeff Wilkins
3. Nate Kaeding
4. Shayne Graham
5. Robbie Gould
6. Neil Rackers
7. Josh Brown
8. Jason Elam
9. Matt Stover
10. Josh Scobee
11. David Akers
12. John Kasay
13. Jason Hanson
14. Olindo Mare
15. Stephen Gostowski

Anything you would change on here?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

Since I have looked at the Quarterbacks, Running Backs, and Wide Receivers, I suppose it is time to rank the Tight Ends.

1. Antonio Gates - This is pretty clear-cut. Gates is the best TE right now, and it's not even close. He's got all the physical ability, and he's the #1 target in the San Diego passing game. He should have another very good year.

2. Tony Gonzalez - No longer is Gonzalez a threat as the #1 TE, as his days as a top 2 TE might be ending. He still put up solid numbers last year, but the Kansas City offense figures to be a lot worse this year. The O-Line is older and lost some people, and it looks like Brodie Croyle will be their starting QB. That's not really a great combination.

3. Todd Heap - Heap had another solid year for Baltimore and should just be entering his prime. Steve McNair is getting older but got the job done last year, and Heap should again be one of his main targets.

4. Jeremy Shockey - Shockey's yardage numbers went down a little bit last year, but the TD numbers remained strong, with 7. With Tiki Barber gone, I think it's conceivable that the Giants put a little more on Eli Manning's shoulders this year, which would make Shockey one of the beneficiaries of that.

5. Alge Crumpler - For the first time in a long time, Crumpler will be starting the year without QB Mike Vick, who is having some issues of his own. I'm not a big fan of Joey Harrington, but I think he'll be able to find a big target in Crumpler, who's more athletic than he looks.

6. Kellen Winslow - The uncertainty of the Browns QB situation is a little worrisome, but you have to love his athleticism and talent. In his first year of being fully healthy he had 89 receptions for almost 900 yards... if he can just a few more TDs he can become a top 3 fantasy TE.

7. Vernon Davis - A lot of this is just basing off of potential, but he certainly has a lot of it. He is one of the most gifted players athletically in the NFL, and should be better with a little more experience with Alex Smith. He finished last year strong, and though there might be some inconsistencies, he's worth a flier given his talent.

8. Chris Cooley - Cooley is definitely not the most athletic guy, but he gets the job done in the red zone. He has 19 TD catches over the last 3 years, which is pretty good for a TE. With 734 yards and 6 TDs last year, he was a top 5 TE in 2006.

9. Jason Witten - Witten has had a nice run, though for some reason (maybe the addition of Owens) he only had 1 TD last year after scoring 6 in each of the 2 previous seasons. But he should continue to see the ball a lot in this offense, and if he can get into the endzone a few more time he could be a top 5 TE.

10. LJ Smith - Yardage wise, Smith struggled a bit after Donovan McNabb went down with an injury. But luckily for him and the Eagles, McNabb is back and has looked very good this season. Smith should once again be a solid fantasy option at TE.

11. Ben Watson
12. Randy McMichael
13. Owen Daniels
14. Dallas Clark
15. Eric Johnson

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rangers score 30 runs

By now I'm sure you know that the Texas Rangers just barely hung on to beat the Orioles in the first game of a double-header by the score of 30-3. But here was some of the things that I found most interesting about the game:

- Despite scoring 30 runs, the Rangers only scored in 4 different innings. For five separate innings they were held scoreless.

- The Orioles actually had a 3-0 lead, which means the Rangers scored 30 unanswered runs.

- The Rangers #8 and #9 hitters (Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez): 8/12, 2 BB, 4 HR, 9 R, 14 RBI. That's called getting production out of the bottom of the lineup.

- Every Rangers started had at least 2 hits. The one guy for the Rangers that came in off of the bench (Travis Metcalf) hit a grand slam.

- The Rangers had 6 HR, but only 2 doubles.

- Wes Littleton of the Rangers, by virtue of pitching the final 3 innings, recorded a save. In a 30-3 game. That is awesome.

Other than the enormity of the runs by the Rangers, what did you find most interesting about the game?

The Adrian Peterson Run

You already know why I think Adrian Peterson will be the NFL Rookie of the Year... but if you need more convincing, or if you just want to see the reason why Vikings' fans are so very excited about this guy, watch this video (if you haven't already):

W-O-W! Watching that gives me goosebumps.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Update on my bold predictions

As you may know, over the course of the summer I made a couple of baseball predictions that I considered bold, or at least bold at the time. I'm kind of short on time tonight, so I'll just give a quick update on them, and see if you think I'll be right or horribly wrong.

- First, in early June, I made a prediction that the Cubs would win the NL Central. At the time, they were 7 games under .500 and 6.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers. But still, I was confident that they would rebound and even made a bet with Joe from The Sports Flow.

Right now, they are 4 games over .500 and tied for first with the Brewers. I still feel pretty good about this, and think the Brewers will toil around the .500 mark while the Cubs will wind up with 85-90 wins.

- My other prediction was made in mid-July, and that was that the Yankees would win the AL East. At the time they were 3 games over .500 and 8 games behind the Red Sox.

Barring an amazing comeback (as I write this) against the Angels, they will finish the day 14 games above .500 but 6 games back of the Red Sox. As I kind of feared, they would be a lot better, but it would be tough to overcome a very good Red Sox team. I don't feel as good about this prediction obviously, but they still have a shot, with 6 games still remaining against the BoSox.

What are your thoughts? How many of these predictions will I get right?

Monday, August 20, 2007

NFL Prediction: Adrian Peterson will be the Rookie of the Year

I don't know how this matches up to some other bold predictions I've made, and it may just be blatant homerism, but I'm putting in my prediction right now that Adrian Peterson will be the NFL Rookie of the Year as long as he stays healthy.

I know, he is in a running back by committee system along with Chester Taylor. But just watch this play and tell me who you think will be getting more carries in this offense. Chester Taylor does a lot of things well, but Adrian Peterson is just an amazing runner. He's fast, he's quick, he's powerful... he's got more talent than most running backs in the NFL have. It's only preseason, but Peterson had carries for 70 yards against the Jets, and looked VERY impressive doing it.

But still, both guys will get carries. I understand that. But I do think that as the Vikings get closer to the goal line, Peterson will start to get more carries and more TDs. He's just got a nose for the endzone, and he has the power to get in there. He scored 41 touchdowns in college. Also, as the year goes on, I think Peterson will start to get more and more carries, as his talent will just be too difficult to keep off the field.

There is also some concern about his health, as he was bothered by some injuries in college. Obviously this is a concern, but I think the fact that he won't have to play every down right away will help. While the presence of Chester Taylor will hurt him a little in terms of overall numbers, it will help him stay fresh.

So what do you think? Can Adrian Peterson be the Rookie of the Year, or is this just wishful thinking on my part?

What the Arizona Diamondbacks are doing is pretty remarkable

On the surface, what the Arizona Diamondbacks are doing doesn't seem that out of the ordinary. Sure, no one expected them to have the best record in the NL at 71-54, but stranger things have happened.

But looking at it a little closer, it's actually kind of amazing what they are doing right now. At the time that I write this, even though they are 17 games over .500, they have been outscored by 20 runs on the season. That is kind of amazing when you think about it.

According to their pythagorean record (which is based on run differential), their record should probably look more like 60-65. Which would put them 4th in the division.

Obviously, that fact makes little difference to the Diamondbacks, but it is something to keep in mind because pythagorean record has usually been a fairly good indicator of future results (for examples see the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs). That means that you probably shouldn't be surprised if the Diamondbacks slowly start to struggle, and eventually lose the division lead.

Of course, I've kind of been waiting for that for about a month now, but the Diamondbacks just keep on winning. Baseball is a funny game.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Skol Vikings Audo

I'm off to move back to college this weekend, so I'm finishing up packing, so I'll just point to this link to audio for Skol, Vikings (which, if you're not a Vikings fan, won't mean anything to you). This is especially cool because I'm even more optimistic than usual after the Vikings preseason pounding of the Jets!

It's definitely a great fight song!

Skol Vikings Audio

Skol Vikings! Let's win this game
Skol Vikings! Honor your name.
Go get that first down
Then get a touchdown
Rock 'em, sock 'em, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT! FIGHT!
Go Vikings, run out the score, you'll hear us yell for more!
Skol Vikings, let's go!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receiver

With the Quarterbacks and Running Back rankings out of the way, it's time to move on to the Wide Receivers.

1. Steve Smith - As long as he is healthy, he is the #1 fantasy WR in the game right now. He is going to get the ball a lot (in part because there isn't much else to throw to there), and he can do a lot of good things after the catch. He's small, but he's very talented and explosive with the ball.

2. Marvin Harrison - Old reliable. He's still Marvin Harrison, and he still has Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. Need I say more?

3. Terrell Owens - As long as TO doesn't blow up and cause some sort of disturbance within the team (which is always possible with him), I'm expecting a big year from him. Terry Glenn is a year older, which further makes Owens the #1 option on every play. Romo will be looking for TO early and often this year.

4. Chad Johnson - His role will only increase with Chris Henry out for the first 8 games. Also, with Carson Palmer another year healtier after that knee injury, he should have a little more mobility and just be a little bit better. Which is a scary thought for opposing defenses.

5. Torry Holt - In the case of the Rams offense it's kind of like pick-your-poison. They add Drew Bennett to a stellar receiving corps, they have Steven Jackson, and one of the best QBs in football. Bulger will spread the ball around, but Holt is still the first option in the passing game.

6. Larry Fitzgerald - I just love Fitzgerald's game. He's big, strong, physical, has great hands, and will go up and get the football. I expect the Cardinals offense to be improved this year, and he is one of the beneficiaries of that. One of the best WRs in the game without a doubt.

7. Reggie Wayne - Basically the same things said about Marvin Harrison apply here. Wayne is in his prime, and the #1 WR in an offense that has Peyton Manning as its quarterback. That's good enough for the top 10.

8. Javon Walker - Walker is a great talent, but if you look at this numbers from last year this might seem a little high. But on the other hand, I absolutely love Jay Cutler and think he'll be a fantastic QB. Unlike Jake Plummer, he will be able to get the ball down the field, and Javon Walker will be one of the guys that benefits most from that.

9. TJ Houshmanzadeh - Like Johnson, Housh will benefit from the suspension of Chris Henry, as no possible replacement for the Bengals is as talented as Henry. He is really starting to come into his own and become a household name, and I think that continues this year.

10. Roy Williams - If you'll remember, I was really high on Jon Kitna, and part of that is because of Roy Williams. As long as he's healthy, he's another elite talent at the WR position.

11. Randy Moss
12. Andre Johnson
13. Anquan Boldin
14. Lee Evans
15. Marques Colston

- Greg Jennings - This isn't a deep sleeper because everyone knows and he's ranked fairly high, but I really liked what I saw out of him last year and I think he will do very well in a pass-first offense.

- Santonio Holmes - He started to come on strong at the end of last year, and that rise should continue as the Steelers look to pass a little more than they have in past years.

- Anthony Gonzalez - He's a rookie, but he's in a fantastic situation in Indianapolis. Brandon Stokley was a viable fantasy option in his prime years in Indianapolis, and I think Gonzalez can have that same impact in the slot.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs

After looking at the Quarterback rankings a couple of days ago, it's to look at the heart-and-soul of fantasy football... running backs. They can and usually do make or break your season, so it's doubly important to pick the right one.

1. LaDainian Tomlinson - As if there was any doubt. I suspect the numbers will dip a little bit (which, they almost have to after the amazingness that as last year), especially with the switch from Marty Ball to Norv Turner's offense, but LT is still the easy choice as the #1 pick.

2. Steven Jackson - With Larry Johnson still not in camp and coming off of a year in which he had about 1500 carries, I think Jackson is the easy choice as #2. He's becoming a great runner, and is also one of the best pass-catchers out of the backfield, which is big in that offense. He should be excellent again.

3. Larry Johnson - As mentioned, there certainly are concerns about LJ. The Line is not as strong as it has been, the QB situation is very muddled, and he's coming off of a season where he carried the ball a LOT of times. Oh yeah, and he's not signed yet. On the other hand, he's still extremely talented, figures to get the ball a ton, and a deal is reportedly close. Good enough for me.

4. Joseph Addai - I absolutely love Addai this year. For one thing, he's really talented. But more importantly, defenses have to focus on the passing game, which opens up running lanes (as well as dump off passes to Addai). And if that's not enough, his backup is a guy named DeDe Dorsey. This might be a little high, but I think Addai is going to have a huge year.

5. Frank Gore - Gore exploded onto the scene last year, and as long as he can stay healthy should be very productive again. The offense continues to improve around him, with the maturation of Alex Smith, addition of Darrell Jackson, and the athletic skills of Vernon Davis. That means teams won't be able to focus on Gore.

6. Rudi Johnson - Rudi might not put up MVP type numbers, but you know what you're getting. He's really consistent, stays healthy, and is playing in an excellent offense in Cincy.

7. Shaun Alexander - Others are more bullish on Alexander, but I'm not so sure. In year 1 after Steve Hutchinson, he really struggled. He'll get a boost because he'll actually be healthy this year, but I still have a hard time putting him higher.

8. Willie Parker - First off, I never understood why he got the nickname "Fast Willie Parker." I mean, he's fast, but so are a lot of other guys. But that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that he gets a lot of yards, and scored double digit TDs last year. The only concern I have is the change of offensive styles, but he's still going to get his touches.

9. Brian Westbrook - As long as he's healthy, he's great. There's no doubting that. But that's still a concern. Another key is how much he gets the ball. Last year, after Donovan McNabb got hurt, it seemed like Andy Reid started to run the ball more, and Westbrook really shined. Let's see if Reid sticks with the commitment to the run.

10. Laurence Maroney - There are concerns about whether or not Maroney will be able to fully carry the load, but I think he should be OK. With Brady and all the talent that they now have at receiver, he should be able to get ample rest. And score a lot of TDs.

11. Travis Henry - Good running backs tend to flourish in Denver, and Henry should be no exception. All signs point to him being the workhorse back, and that could mean really big numbers.

12. Willis McGahee - McGahee has always been really talented, and I think he'll be very solid in the Baltimore offense. He should definitely get the ball a lot, and rack up the yardage behind a solid O-Line.

13. Reggie Bush - I don't think much detail is necessary here... he's extremely, extremely talented, and should be getting the ball a lot, whether it's running or receiving. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if he starts getting more carries near the goalline... that explosiveness is tough to stop.

14. Ronnie Brown - Brown was disappointing last year, but I think he will bounce back somewhat with a new head coach in Cam Cameron. But there are reasons for concern... namely the lack of a consistent passing game (this is not the Trent Green of 5 years ago) and a young O-Line.

15. Edgerrin James - I'm optimistic about James this year. The passing game should be explosive, meaning defenses definitely won't just be able to focus on Edge. Also, Russ Grimm should come in and help improve the line, and Ken Whisenhunt brings a more run-oriented approach to Arizona.

16. Cedric Benson
17. Brandon Jacobs
18. Maurice Jones-Drew
19. Cadillac Williams
20. Jamal Lewis

- LaDell Betts - He should get a lot of chances (probably in the red zone) even with Clinton Portis healthy. If Portis gets hurt again, Betts has the potential to be a top 10 to 15 back.

- Leon Washington - He showed last year that he can be pretty productive when he plays. If Thomas Jones gets hurt (and he's not exactly Mr. Durable), Washington should be a productive starter.

- Tony Hunt - This is digging a little deep, but I think there is potential for Hunt. For one, Westbrook and Buckhalter are not all that durable in Philly, leaving the door possibly open for Hunt later in the year. Also, there's a chance that he could get some goal line carries right now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterback

Since I am compiling some lists for my own fantasy drafts, I thought I would give some of my fantasy rankings, starting with the QBs.

1. Peyton Manning - As pretty much everyone who voted said, Peyton Manning is the best fanatsy football QB. He throws for a lot of TDs, a lot of yards, and he has proven to be very durable. Also, the defense might be a little worse this year, which means the offense will have to make up for it. That's good news for Peyton Manning owners.

2. Carson Palmer - Very physically gifted with one of the top WR duos in the NFL. He should continue to be one of the best in his 4th year of starting in the NFL.

3. Marc Bulger - I am very high on him this year. First of all, year 2 under Scott Linehan, a great offensive mind. He's also got a new contract, which should help put him at ease. Plus the addition of Drew Bennett will help make up for the loss of Kevin Curtis. With defenses having to focus a lot on Steven Jackson, I think Bulger will absolutely shine.

4. Tom Brady - I made a mistake last week when I didn't include him in my discussion of the top fantasy QB, but I hope I can somewhat make up for that by putting him 4th. With lots of talented options, he should have some dependable receivers, unlike in years past.

5. Drew Brees - He was absolutely brilliant last year in his first year undr Sean Payton. I think that as defensive coordinators see more of the offense the numbers will drop a little bit, which puts him below these other elite QBs.

6. Donovan McNabb - Don't look now, but McNabb was putting up fantastic numbers last year before he got hurt. If he can remain injury-free, there's a very good chance he could sneak into the top 5 for fantasy QBs.

7. Jon Kitna - No, not a joke. Kitna has one of the best receiving trios in the League, and this will be his 2nd year under Mike Martz. I can easily foresee a big year for Jon Kitna.

8. Matt Hasselbeck - If he is fully healthy, he is still one of the best. Even with the loss of Darrell Jackson the receiving corps is still very strong. Also, Shaun Alexander appears to be healthy, which takes some of the pressure off of the passing game and helps make the offense more explosive. That should mean better numbers for Matt Hasselbeck this year.

9. Jay Cutler - One of the most physcially gifted QBs in the NFL. There was a reason I was so hoping the Vikings would be able to land him in the draft last year... even though he will only be in his 2nd year, I think he's going to become a top 10-15 QB right away.

10. Philip Rivers - With defenses focusing so much on LT, Rivers should again be very efficient. The emergence of Vincent Jackson should help too.

11. Tony Romo - Started off great, then struggled a little down the stretch. Still, he is moderately athletic and is really accurate with the ball. The Cowboys should have a lot of weapons this year, which means good things for Romo.

12. Vince Young - I still have some concerns about his passing ability (and the bad receiving corps for the Titans), but Young is also really dangerous with his feet. He has 7 rushing TDs last year, which is really good.

13. Matt Leinart - A better offensive line, a good trio of receivers, and a solid RB. All the places are in place for the Arizona offense to have some explosiveness. Of course, we've been saying that for the past couple of years now.

14. Eli Manning - It's make-or-break time for Manning. He throws a lot of INTs, but he also puts up pretty solid yardage and TD totals.

15. Brett Favre - Sort of like Eli Manning... he throws a lot of INTs, but you can't argue much with his yardage and TD production.

- JP Losman - He actually made some steps towards becoming a solid QB last year. He has the athleticism and tools, but can he fully put it together? If he does, he could actually be a pretty nice fantasy player.

- David Carr - If Jake Delhomme gets hurt or struggles, we might see a productive David Carr, who would finally have something that he never had in Houston... more than one decent player around him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Football is back!

Normally, I must admit that I don't really care about the preseason. A lot of it is basically glorified scrimmages, and that's not all that exciting.

However, this year, for some reason, I was feeling differently. I was really pumped up to finally see the Vikings in action again, and even watched some other preseason action as well, which I normally do not do.

I think part of this was about finally seeing Tarvaris Jackson playing again. (warning: Vikings talk ahead). Jackson looked poised, accurate, and they moved the ball with the first-team offense. They didn't put a lot of points on the board, but that doesn't really worry me too much since it was the first preseason game.

Also, I was excited to get my first look at Adrian Peterson in a Vikings uniform. He looked a little tentative early, but seemed to get more and more comfortable. Really, he looked like he was about one broken tackle away from taking it the distance on every play. That is one strong dude.

How about you? Are you watching any of the preseason games?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Barry Bonds rookie card

Sorry, I just laughed out loud when I saw this, so I had to post it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

If Joe Morgan wrote for this blog

I did this once before with John Kruk, and now it's time to bring it back. Also, thanks to FJM, just for being awesome in general.

What a year it has been so far! I'm absolutely delighted to be writing this. Seriously, I couldn't be more thrilled.

The biggest news in baseball right now, of course, is that Barry Bonds is the new HR leader. I'd love to talk about it more, but it would just cause too much controversy. For some reason, people don't want to be happy for Barry Bonds, and just enjoy the record. I'm not sure why people have this type of attitude.

The other big story right now is the New York Yankees, who have started to play a lot better and are right in the playoff race. I'm not big on their chances though, because the one thing you need more than anything else is consistency, and they just don't have that. One game they will score 20 runs, the next they will get shut out. Also, the bullpen has not been consistent, and I don't think they have anyone capable of coming in there to help right now. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the MLB, but he can't do it by himself.

One of the big surprises this year has been the Milwaukee Brewers, who are atop the NL Central right now. I haven't gotten a chance to watch them play yet this year, but they have a young, exciting team. I have heard a lot of good things about them, but let's see if they can remain consistent enough down the stretch.

Another of the most enjoyable things about this year has been the resurgence of Ken Griffey Jr. for the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati. I try to stay away from using all of these complicated statistics because I prefer to watch the games, but he is 5th in the League in HR right now, and definitely one of the most dangerous players in the MLB.

This is my favorite time of the year. Now that we are down to the final 2 months of the year, we can see which teams can be the most consistent. We can see if teams like the Yankees to scrounge up enough offense to help out veteran winners like Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina. Or if teams like the Boston Red Sox can score the tough runs when it really matters.

Remember, things aren't over until they are over, and certainly at this point no one is out of the playoff race. That's why they play the games.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thursday Debate: Who is the top Fantasy QB?

I know it's not Thursday, but with fantasy football starting up, and the NFL preseason already technically underway, I thought it was an interesting question. Plus, I have some ulterior motives, as I need to do some research for my own fantasy drafts anyway (wow, that sounds geeky).

As with any league, a lot of this is dependent on what type of scoring system you use. Some leagues award more points for TDs, other more points for yards, or completions, etc. Most leagues are a little bit different, so you have to tailor your strategy to the point strategy of your league. But hopefully you know that already.

The way I see it, there are really 4 Quarterbacks that stand out above the rest, fantasy wise. They are Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees, and Marc Bulger. You could make an argument for Tom Brady (especially with the extra weapons the Pats have this year) or maybe Donovan McNabb, but in my mind those 4 are the best fantasy QBs heading into the year.

First, Peyton Manning. He is the model of reliability. For one thing, he has never missed a game in his NFL career. That's helpful. But he always throws for a lot of yards, throws a lot of TDs, and has a good completion percentage. He probably won't match the 2004 numbers ever again, but he's a good bet for around 30 TDs and somewhere around 4000 yards.

Next is Carson Palmer, who is might be the most talented QB physically. He has a rocket arm and is very accurate. He was 5th in the NFL in passing yards last year, has a good completion %, and was top 5 in the NFL in YPA. Also, he continues to have great weapons outside with Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh.

The guy that emerged last year was Drew Brees, who thrived under Sean Payton. He led the NFL in passing yards last year while throwing 28 TDs and completing 64% of his passes. And with the news that the injury to LT Jammal Brown is not serious, there is no reason to think he can't repeat those numbers again. The talent at the skill positions is superb and Sean Payton is one of the top offensive minds in the NFL.

Last is Marc Bulger, who I think should explode even more this year. He was 3rd in the NFL in passing yards last year, and he finished with a 3:1 TD:INT ratio. Also, like Brees, he is working for a great offensive coach in Scott Linehan. As long as Bulger has been healthy, he's been a consistent 4000+ yard passer.

But how to rank them? I would probably go like this (again, depending a lot on what type of scoring system you use):

1. Peyton Manning
2. Carson Palmer
3. Marc Bulger
4. Drew Brees

How would you rank them?

Who is the best Fantasy QB?
Peyton Manning
Carson Palmer
Marc Bulger
Drew Brees

Monday, August 06, 2007

MLB Power Rankings

First off, I apologize for such a long break in between posts. But if it's any consolation I had a fabulous weekend and don't have any regrets that I wasn't able to spend more time at the computer! So I have that going for me, which is nice.

As always, these rankings reflect how good I think these teams are at the moment, not who has accomplished most so far this year. Thus, they aren't based strictly on W-L records so far, because that would be boring.

1. Boston Red Sox - The Yankees have made a nice run lately, but the Sox have stayed pretty hot themselves. Their W-L record is easily the best in baseball right now, and their Pythagorean record suggests they might be even better than that. They continue to look like the best team in baseball.

2. New York Yankees - In past power rankings and in my bold prediction post I suggested that the Yankees have been the unluckiest team in baseball and their luck would be turning around quickly. Right now, that is happening, as they have won 4 straight and 18 of 24. Their run differential thinks that this correction should continue to occur, which is partly why I still think they'll have a pretty decent shot of winning the division, especially if the Red Sox ever slow down a little.

3. Los Angeles Angels - The Angels are following the "play .500 on the road and win a lot at home" style perfectly. They are nearly 20 games over .500 at home, and about at .500 on the road. That puts them #3 in my power rankings.

4. Cleveland Indians - Cleveland continues to be in a dogfight in the Central, but they were helped by Detroit's little losing streak. They hold a half game lead over Detroit and 5.5 game lead on the Twins right now.

5. New York Mets - They've created a bit of a separation from the rest of the NL East, and right now look like the best team in the National League. They should also get a big boost if Pedro Martinez can come back and be anything close to his old self.

6. Detroit Tigers - The Tigers are slumping, having lost 8 of their last 10. Still, they're 62-49 and right in both the division and Wildcard race. 2 of the Tigers superb outfielders, Gary Sheffield and Curtis Granderson, have struggled a lot lately, which has been part of the problem. But so has the fact that they've given up 67 runs in their last 10 games, including 7 or more runs 6 times. That's not good.

7. Chicago Cubs - I know they're 1 game out of first right now, but I kind of think they're the best team in the Central, though the loss of Soriano for a couple of weeks doesn't help. They were actually tied with the Brewers at one point in the weekend. Like the Yankees, they're a team that has played beneath their Pythagorean record all year long, and while they've gotten closer to evening that out, there is still a little ways to go. Which is why I still think they'll win the Central.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks - Every time I do this or every time I look at the standings I think the Diamondbacks' record is a bit fluky and they'll fall off. I still do think they will start to slide at some point, but until they do it's hard to ignore what they're doing. They're one of the hottest teams in baseball, and are slowly eyeing the Mets for the best record in the NL. And yet their run differential suggests they're about 10 games worse than their record. Like I said, I have a hard time seeing this success continue, but who knows.

9. Seattle Mariners - These are the AL version of the Diamondbacks. Their run differential suggests they shouldn't be this good, but they continue to hang around, 3 or 4 games behind the Angels (the game is not over at the time of this writing). The callup of Adam Jones might be a nice spark.

10. San Diego Padres - Unlike the previous 2 teams, these guys continue to play a little worse than the runs would suggest. I keep thinking these guys will eventually pull away a little bit and take a lead in the West, but it just hasn't happened. If I was a betting man I'd still say they'll win the West. But I'm not really a betting man.

Just missing this week is Milwaukee (they would be #11)(side note: how good is Ryan Braun? Seriously? WOW.), Atlanta/Philadelphia (tough to separate these teams right now), and Minnesota.

What changes would you make?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Fantasy Football Quick Look

Of course the subject of Fantasy Football dominates entire blogs and covering too much in a short span is not easy. But I'm excited to take a bit of time away from updating our fantasy football cheat sheets at to give you some thoughts about fantasy football. Both specific to the 2007 season hot button topics and some general drafting advice that is time tested.

Early in the 2007 training camp season there are a few big stories we are asked about often. First is Larry Johnson. Is he going to sign? And when? To be honest, we simply don't know. We suspect he will sign, but not until late in camp. But this is just one of many reasons we've had LJ sliding down our draft board most of the summer. The Chiefs offensive line is not close to what it was 2-3 years ago, they've lost 2 hall of famers in the past 2 seasons. Yes, Herm Edwards likes to run, but he also doesn't mind kicking FGs - overall the KC offense will be less potent than even last year, certainly nowhere near 2 years ago. There is also the injury concern, 370 carries is A LOT - say all you will about a young back, low number of previous career carries (incl college) - he carried the ball A LOT last season. Perhaps not blocking and not catching anything helped save some wear and tear but LJ is due to breakdown - contributing to that would be a lack of a full training camp. Now we add the possibility of a return from Priest Holmes.....that story is still developing to say the least but it could also take away from Johnson's carries. He's still a solid player, just not a #2 or #3 pick that most national publications have him. That's the safe place, but the accurate place is more like 4th or 5th!

So this leads naturally to....if not LJ who? At we like Frank Gore and Joseph Addai. Of course I realize this is hardly going out on a limb but recommending these 2 before Larry Johnson is not advice you'll get many other places. Addai has a great offensive line to run behind and a superb passing game that defenses worry about first. We saw Edge James numbers fall when he left the cushy spot of Indy RB so we expect to see Addai's numbers rise quickly as we settles in as THE guy in the Colts backfield. Frank Gore's broken hand isn't great news by any means but it came early enough in the pre-season that it shouldn't be a regular season factor. This guy is the real deal and the 49ers are getting better.

I'll mention two other backs...okay 3....first is Shaun Alexander. He was the league MVP just 2 years ago - how quickly people forget. He is getting older and the foot injury may be lingering (and that's scary) but a bounce back season is very possible. No, he won't have MVP season numbers again but with the weak defenses on the Seahawks schedule he may put up nice numbers this season. Laurence Maroney is another name to be close attention to...if you grab him in the late first round of a fantasy football draft you've done VERY well. This guy on this team with no Corey Dillion has Top 5 numbers potential. Marshawn Lynch - if only he had any talent around him....this guy is a stud RB and perhaps only Top 10 this season he is a name to watch.

I can't talk about 2007 stories without mentioning Mike Vick. I'll save my personal commentary on the dirt bag this guy and his "posse" are and stick to fantasy football implications. It's simple. Don't draft Vick. Considering the recent toughening of the NFL concerning player conduct I'd be shocked if Vick saw the field this season. That said, he is (or WAS) one of the games biggest stars so if an exception is out there this could be it. But I'm certainly not ready to gamble on it.

So on to some fantasy football tips and insights that are time tested.
Draft Tip #1 - RB, RB, RB - Okay, maybe just RB, RB but then RB again soon. There simply are not that many top shelf RBs in the NFL. Unlike QBs and WRs the drop off is quick and far with RBs. After the Top 8, certainly the Top 12 the decline in likely production is significant, get past the Top 20 and the drop off is very noticeable...Top 30, forget it - at this point you're hoping for an injury ahead of your scrub. Not drafting a RB first is rarely a good decision. Sure, there are some leagues with crazy scoring that over favors WRs and QBs and that changes, which is why a customizable fantasy football cheat sheet is a good idea for leagues with unusual scoring rules. But in most fantasy football leagues RB is king and getting 1 good one is tough enough, much less two so we almost always draft RB first and second. The rare exception to not drafting an RB second is if you're in a spot with a wrap around draft in which your next (3rd) pick is coming back around and you can get a Top 3 WR or Top 2 QB (Peyton and Carson right now) since with #3 you'll still be able to get a solid RB but those guys may not have lasted even 2-4 more picks.

That brings us to another tip (notice I'm not numbering them anymore, after #1 they'll all in a tie for #2) - look ahead when it's time to draft. Don't just consider your best option right now. Consider what may be there next round. This will help you with this round. If you look down your cheat sheet and see nothing attractive at RB after the one guy you still like but still see 3-4 WRs likely to be there in the next round your decision is easy - and this example is common. Always more WRs and QBs, not always another RB. In fact my teams often have 3 RBs after 4 rounds (WR being the other) - certainly after 5 rounds I'll have 3 RBs and 2 WRs - notice no QB....

So why not a QB yet? Because after Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer and maybe Tom Brady (although his FFB numbers aren't on their level) the drop is big and it's a drop to a big group. Drew Brees is trying to get himself out of, or at least to the top of that "pack" but the difference between the number 4 or 5 QB and the 13th of 14th QB minimal. You'll be much better off building depth at RB and WR than taking a QB that you can have 2 round later.

One last bit of advice as I think I've probably already worn out my welcome as a guest blogger here....draft sober. Seriously. You have 364 other days of the year to get drunk. You're going to live and die each weekend with your fantasy football team - make it as good as possible by drafting with a clear head.

Thanks for the time and good luck to all in fantasy football this season!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

On a short hiatus

With a family wedding coming up on Friday, and some relatives in town, I don't really have as much time as I normally do, and frankly I don't want to spend that time blogging (which isn't to say I don't like blogging!)

So I guess I'll just be on a short hiatus, probably through the weekend. That's the power of being your own proverbial boss. So, uh, have a nice weekend and you probably won't see me until Sunday or Monday!

I'm going to try and get a guest blogger or two, but I can't promise anything!