The NFL Rank ‘Em Up: #40-33 RBs

July 15, 2011 at 5:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Any fantasy football player worth his salt knows that a running back by committee system murders any running backs value about 95% of the time.  Sometimes, it works, but they only legitimately work when every running back perfectly compliment each other or Bill Belichick is involved.

My 40th RB on this list is Ronnie Brown.  Ronnie’s glory days are over.  Miami chose not to resign him, and once the league restarts, Brown (along with his teammate Ricky Williams) will probably be on the free agent market.  If he does sign with another team, he’ll be at least a PPR threat.  But, he doesn’t have his elusiveness anymore, so don’t waste a pick on him unless your league is particularly deep.

Everybody seems to be high on Washington rookie Roy Helu, but I’m not buying it.  Yeah, there aren’t a ton of people ahead of him on the depth chart, but do you really trust any running back in a Mike Shanahan system?   This is a man who loves to play around and swap out his backs.  Remember, back in ’08, seven different Broncos led the team in rushing yards in different games.  And in Washington, Helu will have to compete with Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Evan Royster, Mike Sellers, and James Davis.  And you can bet that all five of them will steal carries, yards, and touchdowns from Helu.  He’ll still probably lead the Skins in rushing yards, but people who are saying that Helu will win ROY are a little bit optimistic.

Mike Tolbert is only two inches taller than me, but double my weight. Yep, he's a round fellow.

Mike Tolbert was a pleasant surprise last season.  I’ve heard the comparison to Natrone Means a lot, but he actually reminds me of an early Jerome Bettis.  If he can sure up his hands, he can be a bowling ball of a back, able to break multiple tackles, and score touchdowns in bunches.  The only problem (other than the fumbles) is a big one though, Ryan Mathews.  When Mathews is healthy, he’s demonstrated some excellent balance and burst, but he’s also been known to be fumbly and injury-prone.  So if anything, Tolbert is probably the most dependable handcuff in the NFL.  At the very least, he’ll be San Diego’s red zone threat, so a second straight double-digit touchdown season isn’t crazy talk.

James Starks was last season’s playoff MVP, at #37.  He didn’t play a down in the pros until Week 13, but he came to life in the playoffs where he demonstrated an uncanny ability to keep his legs moving and almost never lose yards.  He still has to pass Ryan Grant on the depth chart and it’s more than likely that Green Bay will probably have about a 45-35-15-5 split in carries between Grant, Starks, third-round rookie out of Hawaii, Alex Green, and fullback John Kuhn.  He has some serious potential, but he’ll have to prove that he can work with another running back.

The NFL finally decided to let Pierre Thomas, but only if he promised to stop flying.

Next up at #36, we have Pierre Thomas.  Thomas would be a lot more attractive right now, with Reggie Bush heading out and Chris Ivory coming off foot surgery.  But, there’s also the drafting of Mark Ingram.  Now, Thomas can still work, especially since he’s in the “give-everyone-their-chance” offense in New Orleans.  Plus, Ingram hasn’t exactly proven himself as the sturdiest pipe wrench in the tool shed.  So, Thomas will have opportunities, but he missed ten games last season, so durability is a problem with Thomas as well, like most backs in this range.

You’d think that Michael Bush would be higher on the REU than 35th, since he was part of last season’s best running game, but Bush only rushed for 3.8 yards per carry last season, so he’s been drummed up a lot.  The only reason he’s in my top 35 at all is because I’m not sold on Darren McFadden yet.  If Run DMC was a proven runner, Bush’s value would take a nose dive on this list.  But, if McFadden can’t back up last season’s breakout, Bush could reap the benefits.  And, since Bush will probably go undrafted in most drafts, you can keep an eye on him from a distance.

Ryan Grant seems a lot better than 34th, and he’ll probably be gone in the first 100 picks, way before people ahead of him on this list like Ryan Williams, Marshawn Lynch, and maybe even DeAngelo Williams.  But, he’s a huge risk, and he doesn’t even have a huge reward tacked onto him.  His ankle will be a big question mark this season, and even if he does clock in a full season, James Starks and Alex Green have shown up since the last time Grant played a down; both of whom are sure to swipe carries from Grant.  His back-to-back 1,200 yard seasons seem like they happened so long ago.

The aforementioned Ryan Williams clocks in at the 33rd position.  After just two full seasons at VA Tech, Williams made the jump to the pros, and he’ll probably be at least the goal line threat in Arizona.  I think I’ve figured out the Cards running system for this season.  Williams will be the primary rusher and goal-line threat.  Beanie Wells will be the change-of-pace and project back.  And Tim Hightower will be the receiver/emergency back.  If that’s the case, Williams will be the Arizona back with the most upside, and plus he’s fairly obscure, so depending on whether or not Arizona can seal the deal on the Kevin Kolb acquisition, Williams could be the lead runner in a powerful offense that you can nab in the ninth round.  How’s that for upside?

In the next part, we’ll go into a few sleepers and a few busts.

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The Day After the Draft: Day #1

April 29, 2011 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

With the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn.

Well, Day 1 of the NFL Draft is in the books.  There were surprises, reaches, drops, and trades.  It was a lot of fun, let’s talk about it.

I don’t think anyone was surprised that Cam Newton went #1 overall.  Sure there was some speculation about Marcell Dareus (#3 to Buffalo), Von Miller (#2 to Denver), or maybe even A.J. Green (#4 to Cincy).  But, we all knew, that was a bunch of malarkey.  It was always Cam Newton.  I’m not a huge fan of Newton, but in the win-now society we live in, I guess it was the pick that Carolina fans wanted the most.

Arizona got the best player in the draft in Patrick Peterson.  One problem: they didn’t need a corner.  Ken Whisenhunt’s strategy in the draft is to get the best available player, which I think will lead to his firing in a few seasons.  But Arizona got a great player, so yay for them.

Atlanta traded the farm, so they could get a big threat on the other side of Roddy White, in the form of Julio Jones.

Atlanta went a little crazy to try to pick up Julio Jones at #6 overall.  They gave up their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round pick from this year, and next year’s 1st and 4th round pick, just to get Julio Jones.  I don’t like Jones to begin with, so I think that Cleveland definitely got the better end of this deal, and they’ll be able to get a ton of players in exchange for one injury-prone, drop-heavy receiver.  A sucker is born every minute, I guess.

I thought for certain that Blaine Gabbert would go #7 to San Francisco, but they surprised us by possibly reaching on Aldon Smith.  Then, when Tennessee picked, I was very surprised to see Jake Locker, not Gabbert, taken #8 to Tennessee.  For most of the month leading up to the draft, I had Gabbert going #1 to Carolina, and I didn’t think he’d drop this much.

After that, it went safe pick, crazy pick for a little bit.  Dallas couldn’t get a deal before the buzzer, so they took the offensive tackle, Tyron Smith.  Then, Jacksonville traded up to nab Blaine Gabbert.  At first, I was harsh of this pick, but upon reflection, now Gabbert can Aaron Rodgers it, and sit behind the experienced quarterback for a few years, so I like this move.  Houston, disappointed they couldn’t move up for Patrick Peterson, had to “settle” for J.J. Watt, who I think will have a fantastic NFL career.  Then, things got weird.

Who predicted Christian Ponder going to Minnesota with the #12 overall pick. Anyone?

The shocker of this draft so far, was Minnesota picking up Florida State QB Christian Ponder.  I had Ponder in the middle to late second round, and the sixth quarterback overall.  The Vikings must have some plans with Ponder, because if they’re willing to reach this far on Ponder, they must know something about him the rest of us mere mortals don’t.

Detroit kind of surprised us by stopping Nick Fairley’s free-fall.  I thought that defensive line was one of their strengths, and that they should’ve worried about their other problems.  But, then I thought.  Nick Fairley + Ndamukong Suh + Kyle Vanden Bosch + the Chicago Bears weak offensive line = Jay Cutler’s destruction.  Oh crap.

Was anyone else hoping that Nick Fairley would go up to accept his jersey, and just tackle Roger Goodell? Anyone?

The next pick that caught my attention (besides a slight reach for Nate Solder to New England at #17) was the New York Giants at #19 going with Prince Amukamara.  I thought for certain that this would be where either Mark Ingram or Anthony Costanzo would get picked up to sure up the Giants fumbly running game, but I guess you can never have enough corners.

Let's give a special mention to Chicago GM Jerry Angelo, who apparently has a drafting staff entirely consisting of monkeys.

After Cleveland moved up slightly to nab Phil Taylor (it’s not like they didn’t have plenty of picks to work with after the Julio Jones deal), and a perplexing pick on the part of Seattle (seriously, who the hell is James Carpenter?) Chicago did something kind of hilariously dumb.  You see, Baltimore originally had the 26th pick, but they had worked out a deal with the Bears to trade first round picks, so that Chicago could land Gabe Carimi, and Baltimore would also get a fourth round pick.  But, then Bears GM Jerry Angelo told two staff members to make the call to the NFL about the trade, and both staffers thought the other one did.  While all of this was going on, the 10 minutes allotted to the Ravens expired, and Kansas City was then officially on the clock.  By the time the Ravens actually got their pick in, Kansas City had already made their pick, and New England was already working on a trade of their own for the next pick that would give the Saints their pick, so that New Orleans could get Mark Ingram.  So, the Ravens just scrapped the trade.  Kansas City got Jon Baldwin.  Baltimore dropped one pick, but still got Jimmy Smith.  New Orleans got Ingram, and Chicago got Carimi.  Everyone involved left happy.

And that’s the first round.  My round two and three coverage will be up tomorrow, but unfortunately, it won’t go up until Day 3 picks have already begun.  Oh well.

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Feeling Drafty #32: Green Bay Packers

April 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Green Bay Team MVP Clay Matthews has 23.5 sacks in two seasons. Try to convince me that he's not one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

Well, this is it, the final Feeling Drafty article.  And it’s about the Green Bay Packers.  As a Bears fan, this article may upset me a little.  But I’ll try to fight through the tears, to write this thing.

Well, it looks like Green Bay made the right move for Aaron Rodgers.  He sat behind Brett Favre for a few years, and when his time came, he filled in for the old geezer seemlessly.  And within a few short years, he was in the running for MVP, and he brought the Lombardi trophy back to the home of the man it was named after.  One thing I didn’t understand was this:  when Aaron was given the Lombardi trophy, why did he also get the WWE World Heavyweight Championship?  That didn’t fit for me.

I have another question for the Green Bay coaching staff:  how is the running game going to be set up?  Will Ryan Grant be given the lead role after his season-stalling ankle injury?  Will James Starks be the leading rusher after his breakout in last season’s playoffs?  How will Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn factor into the conversatation?  What is the deal?  Actually, that’s five questions.  My bad.

Despite the fact, that Green Bay seems to have a lot of depth at receiver, they’re really fragile at the position.  I think that the guy who is the current #4 receiver, Jordy Nelson, is their best receiver.  Greg Jennings is electrifying, but it almost seems like he takes games off.  Donald Driver has been solid for years, but he could be slip this season.  James Jones looked like the heir apparent to Driver, but he drops passes like they talked about his momma.  Jermichael Finley looked like a future star, but time will tell if he can come back from his injury last season.  Nelson may just be the best all-around receiver on the team.

This defense is young, but they look promising.  Clay Matthews is a scary individual who broke out this season with 13.5 sacks.  Tramon Williams and Sam Shields (like so many others on this team) came alive in the playoffs.  B.J Raji and Cullen Jenkins played well on the defensive line.  So, this team is solid on almost all front.

The depth at offensive line is pretty deep this season. Derek Sherrod is the sixth or seventh best offensive linemen this season, and he'll still be a first round draft pick.

Except for on the offensive line.  Aaron Rodgers was mobile enough to make it not as apparent, but let’s not confuse the issue:  this offensive line was bad.  So I think they should go for the last of the Big 5 OTs, Mississippi State OT Derek Sherrod.  He’s very agile for a man his size, but he also has good fundamentals.  He’ll probably either start at RT and Bryan Bulaga will move to the left side, or he’ll wait behind Chad Clifton and learn from him, since Clifton will probably retire soon.

That does it.  We’re done here.  The Feeling Drafty Series is over.  Tomorrow, I’ll try to write a follow-up article about the first round, and maybe ones after Days 2 and 3 of the Draft.

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Go Raiders?

August 14, 2010 at 6:45 am (Uncategorized)

Has it become wrong to be a Raiders fan?  Have they become so taboo that anyone who is a fan of them instantly turns into one of those insane fans with the skulls and the spiked shoulder pads?  I personally like the Raiders, but they have been so bad for so long that everybody seems to have labeled them as a punchline.  True, they haven’t been good for a very long time.  They went to the Super Bowl in 2002, and ever since then, the bottom fell out for that team.  And that can all be attributed to two quarterbacks, Rich Gannon and JaMarcus Russell.

Gannon was an awesome fit to the Raiders’ West Coast Offense, and he went to the Pro Bowl three straight years, winning the Pro Bowl MVP twice.  But in 2003, he injured his shoulder, and in 2004, Derrick Brooks finished his career.  After Gannon, Marques Tuiasosopo, Rick Mirer, Kerry Collins (before his prime), Aaron Brooks (after his prime), Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, and Daunte Culpepper (again, after his prime) all started at quarterback for silver and black.  All-star lineup, huh?

Then in 2007, the Raiders drafted LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell at the #1 overall pick.  He held out on his contract for so long, he missed the first week of the season.  When he finally did play, he was brought in in sort of a preseason kind of way.  He would do two or three series and then get out.  He was finally “ready” and starting in the 2008 season, but not only did he stumbled out of the gate, he basically turned around and ran backwards.  For the next two seasons, JaMarcus gave the Raiders eight wins, 21 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a metric ton of just plain bad plays.

But, those quarterback issues are gone now.  They have a solid starter at quarterback for the first time since Gannon, in Jason Campbell.  He’s coming off of his best season in Washington, and the weapons around him are solid.  Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Zach Miller will all be relevant this year, and maybe even Darrius Heyward-Bey will get some better numbers.  He only caught nine passes on 40 targets, but at least part of that had to be JaMarcus’s fault.  He brought that entire offense down.

Plus, the defense is fairly solid in its own right.  I’ve actually met Nnamdi Asoughma, and he is a terrific player.  Easily the best cornerback in the NFL (yeah, that’s right, Darrelle Rivas, I said it).  Richard Seymour is a solid veteran presence who can play at a very high level, and Rolando McClain is my front runner for defensive rookie of the year.

The Oakland Raiders’ motto is “Commitment to Excellence”, but for the last few seasons, that hasn’t been shown.  But this is the best team that the Raiders have fielded for a long time.  I have no trouble seeing the Raiders in the playoffs as a wild card at 10-6.  And I might even be able to put up with some of Al Davis’ paranoid, the-entire-world-in-against-me philosophy.  Some of it, anyway.

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My Chris Johnson Moment

August 12, 2010 at 5:20 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Anyone who plays fantasy football knows that there is usually one player who is, hands down, the must-have player.  He’s usually the first pick and if you’re lucky enough to get that #1 pick, you essentially have a lock on the best player in the game.  If you have the #2 pick, there is a chance that he might fall to you, if the guy ahead of you over-thinks the decision, but if you’re beyond the third overall pick, there’s almost no chance of getting him.

Almost.

Earlier this year, I was taking part in a 20-player fantasy draft (Some people would ask, “Who would do something like that?”, apparently, me and 19 other people).  I had the sixth overall pick, which meant not only would I not get the best player, Chris Johnson, but I also probably wouldn’t get one of the big four fantasy players, Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, or Ray Rice.  So leading into the draft, I had to decide who I would have to settle on.  “Frank Gore is pretty good.  Andre Johnson will probably be there.  Michael Turner will give me solid numbers.”

So, the draft got started and me and 18 other players, waited with anxiety as we waited for the first overall pick.  And when it came in, me and 18 other players saw “Round 1: Pick 1: QB Peyton Manning, Indianapolis”.  Peyton Manning?  We were in a 20 team draft, so quarterbacks would be scarce later in the draft, but Peyton Manning with the first pick?  We were all thinking quietly to ourselves, what was he thinking, but then we moved on to the second pick.

Round 1: Pick 2: RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota

Okay, back to sanity.  Adrian is one of the best players in our game, and he’ll have a ton of touchdowns, but I was curious as to why he didn’t get Chris Johnson.

Round 1: Pick 3: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville

Again, no Chris Johnson, but Jones-Drew is no slouch either, so nobody really questioned this pick.

Round 1: Pick 4: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay

Cue massive second-guessing. Another quarterback? That’s two out of the first four! But then I realized that now I was guaranteed to get one of the Big Four!  I didn’t have to settle for Gore or Turner or Andre Johnson! I would be able to get Ray Rice, because there was no chance that the guy with the fifth overall pick would pass up Chris Johnson. I mean, he only set the NFL record for scrimmage yards, became the sixth running back to run for over 2,000 yards in a season, and destroyed every Tennessee rushing record in the book.  Who could this guy possibly pick other than Chris Johnson?

Round 1: Pick 5: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans

Oh.  Three quarterbacks in the first five picks.  I am clearly surrounded by people who have never played this game before. But, then it hit me.  Chris Johnson was still on the board.  I almost didn’t want to pick him because I felt like I was taking advantage of the other players for effectively stealing the best player in the draft. But if I did that then I would be no better than the other five players who foolishly passed up this guy. So…

Round 1: Pick 6: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee

Finally, the big man was off the board.  I’ll bet that the guy with the 7th pick was praying that Chris Johnson would somehow fall to him, but he did walk away with a pretty good consolation prize, Ray Rice, the last of the Big Four.

Oddly enough, not only was my first round pick interesting, but also my final round pick:

Round 25: Pick 486: CB, Chris Johnson, Oakland

For most people, getting Chris Johnson would not only make their draft, but their entire fantasy season. I got two Chris Johnsons, how about that.

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Hello world!

August 12, 2010 at 4:29 am (Uncategorized)

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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