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Falcons - Saints week

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Kinda quiet this week so far. I think that may be because the Saints and Falcons fans are both unsure of what they have. The Falcons have looked good at times, bad at times, and puzzling at times. The same can be said of the Saints. How do you follow a spectacular blowout win of a bad team with a blowout loss to another bad team? Yes, the Saints were blown out of the Rams game. The Saints led wire-to-wire last week against the equally puzzling Bucs but they didn't really ever put the game away. This is not a must win game for the Saints but they can surely help themselves with one.

Offering my disappointing WR, Larry Fitzgerald, up in a trade for disappointing RB, Chris Johnson, this week before our fantasy football trade deadline. Not sure either player will help either team but I have to do something.

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Jimmy Graham

I would like to be able to claim that spectacular powers of observation were responsible for a fantasy football tip I proffered back in February. It's not true, though. My powers of observation are pretty ordinary. When it comes to Saints tight end, Jimmy Graham, anyone with eyes could see the Saints had something. A 6'6", 260lb tight end with good hands who can run fast and jump high is going to present a problem for defenses. He's too big for the defensive backs and too fast for the linebackers ... and he's getting better by the week. He's also young and exuberant and he's in one of the best places he could be to learn his craft. It's still early but I think he'll be an All-Pro mainstay for the next 10 years.

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Tuesday Morning Quarterback - Week 3, 2011

Gotta tell you. It did my heart good to see the fundamentally sound and methodically conservative Falcons fall for the no-brainer freeze play Sunday with the game on the line. When the Bengals fell for it last year against the Saints, it could be attributed to two factors. 1) The Bengals were a bad team and 2) Sean Payton is bold enough to run a play in that situation. I don't think Raheem Morris is that bold and it remains to be seen if the Falcons are that bad. :) If you can't tell, I like Raheem a whole lot more than I like Mike Smith.

No way that flag should have been thrown. That was a fabulous play.

Wondering why the Saints waited until the 4th quarter to blitz Matt Schaub Sunday. When they started doing it in the 4th quarter, he was far less effective. In fact, he kinda crumbled.

I don't know if the Buffalo Bills can hold up for a whole season but I'm enjoying them being in sole possession of first place in the AFC East with the loud-mouthed Jets and most awesome Patriots chasing them.

The Detroit Lions, on the other hand, look very likely be around the leaders all season, both in their division and in the NFC.

More bouquets thrown at the Packers. Please get well soon, Pack. People are really worried about you.

The Colts put up a pretty game effort Sunday night for the first time this season but it was yet another loss. Peyton Manning may as well take the year off. No reason whatsoever to come back to this team this season.

The goal in last night's game here was to limit Jason Witten to a less-than-spectacular night. That was a fantasy football goal. Didn't care much about the game. I watched a minute here and a minute there for a total of three or four minutes. Glad I didn't watch the whole thing. Had to be boring. The NFC East needs all of the self-promotion they do. That whole division is dull.

From the Saints' next opponent file is a comment from a Jacksonville Jaguar fan:

One in ten Americans is currently out of work. Jack Del Rio should join them.

Alrighty then.

Finally, my fantasy team finally broke into the win column this week thanks in large part to Jimmy Graham. It's Hyde week.

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Solid win for the Saints

That was a solid and very satisfying win the Saints got yesterday over the Texans. They got behind early. They were not at their best. They sustained in-game injuries in addition to the ones they already had. They did not win the turnover battle. They still found a way to win over a pretty good team. I'll take that kind any day.

Worried about the injuries to the offensive line yesterday. Charles Brown filled in fine for Zack Strief. I think Strief might be done for the year. His injury looked pretty nasty. I didn't see Kreutz go down. I noticed de la Puente in the game but couldn't figure out who he was playing for. Matt Tenant was inactive yesterday. That will change next week. I'm betting they'll be looking at free agents this week.

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An anniversary

Today is the 5th anniversary of the re-opening of the SuperDome.

I remember going to work that day. It was Monday. The Saints were 2-0. The Falcons were also 2-0 and were favored because they ran all over the first two teams they played. The Saints had a new coaching staff and a lot of new faces. I knew maybe two or three guys on the offense and even fewer on the defense. The rest of the team was draft picks and free agents. They had somehow beaten the Browns and the Packers on the road but they were going to be really tested that night. Michael Vick was a monster in the wildcat formation and he was always hard on the Saints. This was going to be a tough game. I decided to wear one of my Saints shirts that day. I thought nothing of it at the time.

When I got to work, I knew something special was happening. Just about everyone was wearing Saints gear. The game was the talk of the town. We didn't really know what we had yet because Head Coach Sean Payton was also a new face and they'd only played two games. Both games were close but one thing was immediately apparent. Drew Brees was much more accurate and decisive than Aaron Brooks ever was.

The video below is from the pre-game festivities. It is fantastic and I never get tired of it.

I would always prefer to be at the game rather than watching on TV but there are some games that I am especially sorry I didn't attend. The Falcons game that night is one of them. The Saints forced a three and out on the Falcons first possession. Steve Gleason came through almost untouched and blocked the punt. It was recovered for a Saints touchdown and it sent the crowd and the Saints bench into orbit. The Saints won that night and their trajectory as a franchise changed right before our very eyes. We've always loved our Saints ... even when we were hiding behind paper bags. We hide no more. I've said this before and I truly believe it. The Saints saved the city of New Orleans. I can't imagine what that soul-crushing period after Katrina and the hard recovery would have been like if we'd had another sorry Saints team to despair over.

The Saints take on the tough Houston Texans in about 25 minutes. The formula remains the same. If they take care of the ball, they'll take care of the Texans.

On the fantasy front, I'm going into today's game short-handed. Peyton Hillis is out so do I go with Daniel Thomas against the Browns or DeAngelo Williams against the Jaguars? My choice is Daniel Thomas. DeAngelo is getting a lot of money in Carolina and producing very little. He'd better make the most of his opportunities today but he stays on my bench until he starts doing so.

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Wednesday Morning Quarterback - Week 2, 2011


Tuesday Morning Quarterback a day late.

Saints got a solid win Sunday over the Bears. It was a pretty close game until the fourth quarter and it was good for Saints fans to get a satisfying win over those guys. The officiating crew was pretty bad. They ticky-tacked a roughing call early in the game that saved the Bear touchdown drive. They missed an unnecessary roughness call on the Bears a minute later where the Saints guy was hit a solid yard out of bounds and pushed into the Saints bench. That one had Sean Payton fuming. They then missed Darren Sproles stepping out of bounds on a touchdown. The official claims he tried to communicate but couldn't. In the end, none of that mattered. The Saints were the better team that day.

Mike Martz may have a lot of great offensive plays in his head but his offense has been figured out. He doesn't protect his quarterbacks. He nearly got Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger killed in St Louis and it looks like he's going to get Jay Cutler killed in Chicago. I'm no fan of Cutler and he is partly to blame for the beating he takes but I felt bad for the abuse he got Sunday. His offensive line is horrible and he holds on to the ball too long. Late in the game, when they were finished and he should have given way to his backup, Martz had him under center with an empty backfield. When he dropped back, the Saints were getting to his spot as fast as he was. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Is it too late to schedule the Chiefs? Not only have they been the worst team in the NFL the first two weeks, they've lost their best player for the season.

The buzz yesterday was all about the Giants pulling some of the most bush-league crap I've seen since the Seattle Seahawks did the exact same thing some years ago against the Buffalo Bills. Somehow, to me, a fine, a penalty, or a charged timeout doesn't seem like enough. Teams are playing a fast no-huddle offense. If teams are allowed to fake injuries to slow them down, make substitutions, or just to catch their breath, it's wrong. On the other hand, playing a fast tempo like that causes injuries. Defenses get gassed and they cramp up if they have to play at that tempo all game. I'm all for doing something about the blatant cheaters like the Giants but don't expect this to stop. Teams are just going to get better at faking. Let's at least make them do that.

My fantasy football team lost another close game this weekend. I feel better about this one because I played all of the right players and they put up a decent score. The other team was just better this week.

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Not feeling so bad about the Saints loss last Thursday night now that the rest of the NFC South is also in the loss column. The Falcons took, by far, the worst beating. I'm OK with that. :) Tough one coming up this Sunday against the Bears.

Tip of the cap to Cam Newton. It's too early to say his legion of doubters are wrong but the twenty minutes or so I saw of him Sunday was awesome. He's accurate, knows where to go with the ball, extends plays with his feet, and was just very impressive all around. I was one of those doubters. I didn't know if he could adapt his game to the NFL. If yesterday is any indication, he can and his game is very dangerous. He was a run-first QB at Auburn. He only ran a little Sunday and when he did, he was looking downfield to throw. I don't think the NFL has ever seen a mobile quarterback that big, that fast, and that accurate. He's an exciting player. He's in the Saints division, too. Lucky us.

Very surprised at some pitiful performances Sunday out of the Falcons, Steelers, and Chiefs. I figured all of them to do better. In fact, I figured all three of them to win.

There was a report by WWL that Randy Moss was in town seeing if the Saints had any interest in him in light of Marques Colston's broken collarbone. That injury will keep Colston out for at least 4 weeks. Everyone, except for WWL, has since denied it. If true, tread carefully here, Saints. The NFL is a WR-needy league yet one of the most talented ones is at home on the couch. He's a great player. No doubt about that. If that's all he was, there would be 30 teams knocking on his door right now. There aren't. Saints GM, Mickey Loomis, quite often talks about the "culture of me". Randy Moss is the poster boy for that culture. My first inclination is to just say no thank you.

Colts fans and players got an eyeful of Peyton Manning's worth Sunday. That game got out of hand very quickly. I doubt Manning plays this year. Colts are in a lot of trouble for 2011.

Couldn't bear to watch the finish last night between the Raiders and Broncos. Needed 15 points out of Sebastian Janikowski and he had 10 of them by halftime. That and it was way late. He fell short, naturally, and that Tate in for Williams move I pondered momentarily and dismissed would have won the game for me. Some fantasy football player I am.

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Last minute


So, I'm losing this morning by 15 points and my kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, is going tonight. My opponent is done. Yesterday, I pondered replacing DeAngelo Williams with Ben Tate. Tate's 17 points would have me 14 points closer than Williams' 3 points. I'd be trailing by 1 tonight had I listened to myself. I ignored that voice because last minute changes never work for me. Seems last minute non-changes don't work for me, either. I suck at this.

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Opening weekend

There will be 911 memorials throughout the NFL today. Please say a prayer, observe a moment of silence, ring a bell, or something else to honor the memory of those lost today 10 years ago. No Saints game today so the day, to me, is mostly about fantasy football and remembrance.

Just some thoughts on fantasy football and some matchups today.

In the NFL, it's not often you'll see me pull for the Bears but I am today. The Saints figure to be competing with the Falcons for the division all year. Wouldn't mind seeing the Lions take care of the Bucs today, too.

In fantasy football, I momentarily thought about replacing DeAngelo Williams today with Ben Tate. Arian Foster is out with the Texans and Tate figures to get some work. I was leaning toward making the switch when I was reminded of the gigantic contract Williams just signed. I think the Panthers plan to use him a lot today.

In the NFL, the Ravens-Steelers game today figures to be violent. The Steelers will win because they have a better passing game. Throwing the ball well and throwing the ball a lot is how you beat both of them.

In fantasy football, I have a 25 point lead thanks to Greg Jennings and Jimmy Graham Thursday night. It is anything but comfortable. I expected more out of both of them.

Games just got underway. I'm outta here ...

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Thoughts on Saints-Packers

Two old problems plagued the Saints last night.

On offense, it's short yardage. It's been a problem since Sean Payton got here. Most people only saw it in the Super Bowl two years ago when two tries to get one yard failed. We saw it again last night ... twice. Saints fans have been seeing it for a long time now. They can make 3rd and 18 but they can't get one yard when they need it. Not sure what the answer is but they'd better find it. It comes up a lot.

On defense, it's the pass rush. The return of Will Smith in two weeks will help there but I think this will probably be an area of concern whenever they play good teams.

I'm kinda surprised at the doom and gloom coming out of some people about this one loss. The defense had some problems but they also got some stops. The Saints spent the whole game chasing the Packers but they might not have without that early turnover. It was an exciting game. Tip of the cap to the Packers on a well-earned victory but the season is certainly not lost here.

In fantasy football, Greg Jennings got an early score for me and Jimmy Graham got a late one so there's that. :)

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The big day is finally here. As Judas Priest would say, "Here's where the talkin' ends". Kinda enjoying the talk between all of the fans, though. The players aren't getting into it much. That's a little disappointing.

I expect both teams to be ready to go tonight. Saints are short-handed. Defensive end Will Smith, wide receiver Lance Moore, and placekicker Garrett Hartley are out. Lance had a great game against the Packers last time so no doubt he'll be missed. No excuses to be made and no quarter to be offered and there's no crying in football, either.

I have two players going tonight for my fantasy team. Tight end Jimmy Graham of the Saints and wide receiver Greg Jennings of the Packers. Hope Graham has a big night.

All kinds of bouquets being thrown at Ted Thompson, Aaron Rodgers, and Green Bay fans nowadays. Thompson and Rodgers have earned them. Not sure about the rest of it, though. The "Green Bay way", in particular, bothers me. The nonchalance. It's part of "their culture". Don't celebrate. Put up the trophy, hang the banner, and leave room for others. Just another day at the office, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, well, part of the Green Bay culture also had many of those same Green Bay fans sending death threats to Thompson and Rodgers over the Brett Favre situation just a few years ago. They booed Rodgers in his first training camp. Convenient memories up there in Green Bay.

Man up, Pack. The Saints are coming.

Saints v Packers tonight.

GEAUX Saints

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ESPN Fantasy Football Auction - Part 2

ESPN's Fantasy Football Auctions work about as expected. We had three guys actively participating and a fourth (Team Jeffries) on "Autobid", which is like Auto-Pilot, I suppose. Autobid takes over for any team that fails to participate.

It's pretty cool. Everything is in front of you on your computer screen. All of the players, their stats from last year, how much money you have, how much you can bid, all of the other teams, how much they have, how much they can bid, who you have, who everyone else has, etc. There's also a chat screen down at the bottom to drop our F bombs.

None of us were trying to do well. There was no plan other than to see if we could break it. We were just pressing all of the buttons to see what they do or not pressing them to see what the program would do. The results are below. We stopped before we completed our rosters. Autobid finished for all of us. It then mysteriously added $50 to our salary total. Not sure what that's about.

The verdict as I see it. If the day comes where our complete league membership couldn't get together in one place for an auction, this is definitely an option. We could go slow and pause often early in the auction until everyone is comfortable, then pick up to a pace where we're all comfortable, and then pick it up even more at the end when it normally gets raggedy. I think it would take about the same amount of time, less if you consider the time the commissioner has to input the data from our live auctions. That step would be unnecessary in an online auction. Overall, I liked it and will do another one next year with volunteers. I'll actually do a little more preparation next time to simulate a real auction. May even put up a few dollars. Considerably flexible scheduling available. We could do it at 11PM on a Friday night or 6AM on a Sunday morning. No drive time.

Your auction draft results for CrabAppleLane Experimental are listed by team at the end of this message.

You can also check out your league by clicking below:

Good luck this football season.

- The ESPN Fantasy Team

Team Ferrara
QB Drew Brees 53
RB Jamaal Charles 19
RB Matt Forte 5
WR Andre Johnson 15
WR Greg Jennings 16
TE Jimmy Graham 11
D/ST Browns D/ST 1
K Ryan Longwell 1
BE Calvin Johnson 22
BE Knowshon Moreno 1
BE LeGarrette Blount 2
BE Mike Williams 1
BE Jahvid Best 1
BE Tony Romo 1
BE Matt Schaub 1
Total: 150
Remaining: 50

Team Grote
QB Michael Vick 13
RB Mark Ingram 12
RB Arian Foster 19
WR Larry Fitzgerald 20
WR Jason Hill 1
TE Jason Witten 4
D/ST Steelers D/ST 3
K Sebastian Janikowski 2
BE Ray Rice 25
BE Keiland Williams 1
BE Reggie Wayne 8
BE Dwayne Bowe 1
BE Miles Austin 2
BE Matt Ryan 3
BE Shonn Greene 1
Total: 115
Remaining: 85

Team Camet
QB David Garrard 1
RB Chris Johnson 33
RB Adrian Peterson 16
WR Mike Wallace 9
WR Vincent Jackson 16
TE Antonio Gates 11
D/ST Saints D/ST 3
K Matt Bryant 2
BE Philip Rivers 10
BE Dez Bryant 4
BE Marques Colston 9
BE Darren McFadden 3
BE Jeremy Maclin 5
BE DeAngelo Williams 5
BE Ahmad Bradshaw 2
Total: 129
Remaining: 71

Team Jeffries
QB Aaron Rodgers 8
RB Rashard Mendenhall 8
RB LeSean McCoy 12
WR Roddy White 7
WR Hakeem Nicks 13
TE Jermichael Finley 7
D/ST Packers D/ST 1
K Nate Kaeding 1
BE Maurice Jones-Drew 12
BE Michael Turner 6
BE Frank Gore 9
BE Peyton Hillis 6
BE Steven Jackson 1
BE DeSean Jackson 6
BE Tom Brady 6
Total: 103
Remaining: 97

1 day until Saints v Packers

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ESPN Fantasy Football Auction

Going to try an ESPN Fantasy Football Auction tonight. It will be a first. If successful, I may recommend it to our leagues next year. It will be interesting, to me, to see how it works with several guys of varying tech savvy, various internet connections, and various computer systems manage and if any skills or advantages in those areas are an advantage competitively. I know all of our guys have enough tech savvy to submit their lineups and pick up free agents. Staying connected and focused long enough to complete an auction is something else but maybe not. It may simply be a lot of fun. That's my hope.


If that's what the screen will look like tonight, there won't be much possibility of sneaking a player through. Last year's stats are right there.

2 days until Saints v Packers

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I remember the last time the Saints played the Raiders in Oakland during the preseason, too. Brees was going to play the whole first half but he was as sharp as he's ever been and his first three drives resulted in 3 TDs. He left right after the first quarter up, 21-0. The Saints bench continued pouring it on the Raiders starters well into the 3rd quarter until it was 45-0. The Raiders scored their touchdown against soon-to-be car washers and insurance salesmen. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl. More of that, please. :)

I'm just hoping they play better tonight than they've played the first two weeks just to give me a little hope they'll be ready for the Pack in 11 days.

For better or worse, here is The Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground for 2011:

QB Ben Roethlisberger - $22
QB Jay Cutler - $2
RB Peyton Hillis - $29
RB DeAngelo Williams - $19
RB Daniel Thomas - $4
RB Ben Tate - $1
RB DeMarco Murray - $1
WR Larry Fitzgerald - $25
WR Greg Jennings - $27
WR Johnny Knox - $1
WR Mike Sims-Walker - $1
WR Greg Little - $1
TE Jimmy Graham - $15
PK Olindo Mare - $1
D/ST Seahawks - $1

The first player added to my team was Jimmy Graham and I think I overpaid. I'm certain he doesn't go for this much elsewhere but I was in a roomful of Saints fans. Depending on the Browns' Colt McCoy and the Panthers' Cam Newton to provide enough of a passing threat to keep 8-9 men out of the box so DeAngelo Williams and Peyton Hillis have a little room to run. Hoping Larry Fitzgerald returns to form with that big contract and a better QB. I think I'm pretty safe with Ben Roethlisberger and Greg Jennings.

11 days until Saints v Packers

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CrabAppleLane Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet


For better or worse, the CrabAppleLane Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet for 2011 is done. It's in a Microsoft Excel spread sheet and will print on one sheet of paper in landscape mode. Since a spreadsheet is mostly text, it compressed nicely into a relatively small ZIP file. The far column has dates that represent the last time I made any changes to that team's fantasy players. That column is not important to have at auction/draft. You can just delete that column or it will print on a second page. The cheat sheet does not include defenses, special teams, or kickers. In my league, defenses and special teams are combined. If you have the Ravens defense, you have their special teams. Placekicker and D/ST are the last two roster spots I fill and I tend to take whoever is left.

My cheat sheet attempts to identify the top options at each fantasy football scoring position for each team. I've identified what I think is the top QB, the two top RBs, two top WRs, and top TE on each team. I could be wrong about some of those positions and a lot of them were close. On some teams, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wide receivers are so close that you could flip a coin. The players I see as studs are in larger print. As any fantasy football player knows, auctions and drafts are full of surprises and you have to be a bit flexible. For instance, how much money I spend at auction on RBs might be determined by how many good options are still available at WR. If I can save money at WR, I can spend more on RB.

I'll be tweaking the sheet, as needed, if I hear any news between now and Saturday, the 27th. That's the date of my one and only auction this season. I suggest you do the same.


15 days until Saints v Packers


Signings continue

Saints have agreed to terms with free agent Roman Harper and rookie Mark Ingram. The only minor concerns now are David Thomas and 1st rounder Cam Jordan. They'll both sign before long. Jordan doesn't really have much choice. Thomas probably has a little interest from other teams but the Saints will get him unless someone swoops in out of the blue like the Eagles did yesterday with Nnamdi Asomugha. I don't see that happening.

Just trying to keep up with player movement is going to make my fantasy football preparation difficult. I think I might be better off not doing it and going to auction totally ignorant but I like to think I have something to do with my wins and losses. I'll post my 2011 Cheat Sheet as soon as its ready. One of my auctions is set.

40 days until Saints v Packers




45 days until Saints v Packers


Top Fantasy Quarterbacks

These are the starting quarterbacks in a 12-team fantasy football league.

The top five in no particular order:
Drew Brees
Aaron Rodgers
Peyton Manning
Tom Brady
Phillip Rivers

The next five in no particular order:
Ben Roethlisberger
Jay Cutler
Matt Schaub
Michael Vick
Tony Romo

If Michael Vick remains healthy all season AND puts up his usual weekly numbers, he will knock someone out of the top five. Schaub and Roethlisberger could possibly do that, too. These are the top ten. They should all be starters and you should get one at your draft/auction. You might notice that I only mention ten guys for a 12-team league. At least two owners are going to have to make up for QB production elsewhere. More than two if someone ends up with two or more of the top ten QBs and that definitely happens sometimes.

The best of the rest and this is the order I put them in:
Eli Manning
Matt Ryan
Mark Sanchez
Matthew Stafford
Josh Freeman
Sam Bradford
Joe Flacco
Matt Cassel
Carson Palmer*
Kevin Kolb*
Cam Newton-R
Christian Ponder-R
Jake Locker-R

*Palmer is adamant that he will not play for the Bengals this year and the Bengals are equally adamant that he won't play anywhere else. If the Bengals and Palmer kiss and make up or if a trade agreement and contract can be worked out so that he will play this year for someone else, you can move Carson just ahead of Eli Manning.

*Kolb will probably be traded and will become a starter on his team but I won't put him as a top ten prospect this year. He looked pretty good the one time I saw him play but I'd like to see more of him, especially once film study starts catching up with him. If the Eagles keep him, he's a backup on their team. If he's traded, put him below Matt Cassel.

That's only 18 guys, not counting Palmer, Kolb and rookies, for a 12-team league. Some owners are going to end up with not-very-good backups.

53 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


St Louis Rams: QB Sam Bradford had a terrific rookie year. He's a fair backup fantasy QB. RB Steven Jackson is still a workhorse and still a stud fantasy player. He's top ten and will cost you. The WR corp needs an upgrade so the Rams took Austin Pettis and Greg Salas in the draft to help out. Mark Clayton is a starter, when healthy. He's coming off knee injury. The others are risky. Their TEs won't help you.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB Josh Freeman is right there with a few others. He's a borderline starter/backup in a 12-team league. RB LeGarret Blount is a stud RB and I think you'll pay top dollar for him. WR Mike Williams is a starter and TE Kellen Winslow Jr is a starter.

Tennessee Titans: I have no idea who the QB in Tennessee will be. I expect they'll trade for someone. Vince Young is done, Jake Locker won't be ready, and Kerry Collins retired. RB Chris Johnson is the 2nd best RB in football but his number will suffer if the Titans don't resolve the QB situation. They'll also suffer if he holds out. He'll cost you big time. WR Kenny Britt is a 2nd WR but he could be serving a suspension and possibly a jail sentence. WR Randy Moss is a free agent. Watch where he lands. He's supposedly in great shape and he's a starter even with his half-assed attitude. He'll cost you more than he's worth. Their TEs aren't worth talking about.

Washington Redskins: I have no idea who the QB will be in Washington, either. Donovan McNabb will end up somewhere. He's a backup now. With Clinton Portis gone, RB duties fall to Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams. They're both backups. WR Santana Moss is a 2nd receiver and TE Chris Cooley is a starter.

54 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Pittsburgh Steelers: QB Ben Roethlisberger is a starter in a 12-team league. He'll get you yards and TD.s He takes too many sacks and that tends to hurt his numbers. He's a top ten fantasy QB. He usually doesn't cost as much as Brady, Brees, Manning, Rodgers, etc but you're still going to pay a hefty price for him. RB Rashard Mendenhall is a 1st or 2nd RB. WR Mike Wallace is a stud. He's always had blazing speed but his game has improved steadily every year. You'll pay for him. Ward still puts up respectable numbers. He's a 2nd WR. TE Heath Miller is a fairly low-priced starter.

San Diego Chargers: QB Phillip Rivers is a top five fantasy QB. You'll pay a premium for him. RB Ryan Matthews was hurt a part of last season as a rookie. He showed some promise in a preseason game I saw him in last year but he didn't look like the same runner when I saw him later in the year. It sometimes takes a rookie RB a year or two for the light to come on. Sometimes, it never does. He's a 2nd RB and his stock can go either way. Darren Sproles is a backup bye duty RB, at best. Vincent Jackson is a 1st WR but he may also be a free agent. WR Malcolm Floyd is a backup. TE Antonio Gates is a top five fantasy stud. He'll cost you.

Seattle Seahawks: I almost wanted to skip these guys. QB Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent. He's a backup. Charlie Whitehurst is a 3rd QB but not a lot of fantasy teams carry three quarterbacks. RB Marshawn Lynch has one or two good games per year and nothing else. Bye duty, at best. Their WRs aren't worth talking about. TE John Carlson is a lower rung starter.

San Francisco 49ers: Don't know who the QB will be. If they bring Alex Smith back, he's a fantasy backup, at best. RB Frank Gore is a workhorse. He's had some injury problems but he's still a top RB. He'll cost you. He's a starter in any league. WR Michael Crabtree has potential. He's a 2nd WR. Vernon Davis is a top fantasy TE. He'll cost you, too.

Tomorrow: Rams, Buccaneers, Titans, Redskins.

55 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


New York Giants: QB Eli Manning is a starter in a 12-team league. He's right at that 11-12 spot. The Giants are a running team. Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs figure to be the running back tandem again this season. Bradshaw is a 2nd RB. Jacobs is 3rd RB bye week. I like three of the Giants WRs. Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Steve Smith all put up respectable numbers. Smith is the best of the bunch but he's coming off injury and he might be a free agent. They can all start. TE Kevin Boss is a bye week player.

New York Jets: QB Mark Sanchez might be a good QB someday but he needs to develop some consistency, especially against good defenses. He's right at the starter/backup line in a 12-team league. Ladainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene will split RB duties again. Who knows what LT has left this season. That he had enough left to get most of the carries last season says something about Greene. Greene is a 3rd RB that could become a 1st or 2nd RB with some motivation. I'd only use LT as a 3rd RB. WRs Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes are both starters in a 12-team league. TE Dustin Keller is good for backup and bye duty.

Oakland Raiders: The Redskins waited and waited for QB Jason Campbell to turn into something. Now, the Raiders are doing the same. My guess is he'll still be up and down. Backup fantasy QB. RB Darren McFadden is a stud. You'll pay for him. Michael Bush is a 3rd RB if he stays with the Raiders. If he moves on to a team without an established RB, he could move up. Rookie RB Taiwan Jones bears watching. Their WRs aren't much. Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy are backup fantasy WRs and former 1st rounder Darrius Heyward-Bey is still developing entering into his 4th year. TE Zach Miller is a starter in a 12-team league.

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Michael Vick has returned to fantasy stud status. He's not the runner he used to be but he's a better passer. He's still a double threat. His passing numbers are augmented by his running numbers. He's a starter in any league. You'll pay for him. RB LeSean McCoy is a reliable 2nd RB. WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are fantasy starters. Jackson is the big name there and he'll get a lot of attention but Maclin quietly put up almost identical numbers. He'll probably be cheaper. TE Brent Celek is a starter in a 12-team league.

Tomorrow: Steelers, Chargers, Seahawks, 49ers.

56 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Miami Dolphins: I think the Dolphins may end up in one of the quarterback derbies for Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, and maybe even Matt Leinert. QB Chad Henne is clearly someone they'd like to replace. Last season, RB duties were split between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown. There is a chance neither will be back but I doubt the Dolphins are going into the season with just rookie RB Daniel Thomas. Thomas will get playing time. Keep an eye on him. My guess is they'll keep Brown or Williams. Just don't ask me which one. WR Brandon Marshall is a 2nd QR. None of their other WRs or TEs are worth talking about.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikes are Team 6 that will undoubtedly have a new QB on opening day. Last year, it was Brett Favre. If it weren't for the lockout, I'd put money on rookie Christian Ponder as the guy. With the season less than two months away and Ponder having never played a down in the NFL, I could see the Vikes jumping into one of the quarterback derbies. They have playoff talent if they get steady QB play. That's a lot to ask of a rookie. RB Adrian Peterson is the best in the game and is a workhorse. You'll pay a premium. The other RBs probably won't get enough chances to make stats. WR Sidney Rice may be a free agent. He's a solid 2nd receiver. Bernard Berrian is wildly inconsistent. TE Visanthe Shiancoe is a starter in a 12-team league.

New England Patriots: QB Tom Brady is a fantasy stud. Rated by his peers as the best player in the game. You'll pay a premium. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has the best name in football. He emerged last year as the Pats best runner. He's a 2nd RB. WR Wes Welker will get his catches and yards. He's a top 2nd WR. You'll pay for him. The Pats have two terrific fantasy TEs in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. I think they're both fantasy starter material.

New Orleans Saints: QB Drew Brees is a fantasy stud. He gets yards and TD passes. You'll pay a premium. In New Orleans, you'll pay premium plus. No idea how the RB rotation is going to shake out. Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, and Chris Ivory will probably split carries until someone emerges. Reggie Bush may or may not be on the team. This will sort itself out in a few weeks but I can tell you all of them are 2nd or 3rd RB at worst. WRs Marques Colston and Lance Moore are solid 2nd WRs. Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem are solid 3rd WRs. TE Jimmy Graham will be a star in the NFL. He really came on late last year. You might still be able to get him cheap outside of New Orleans ... this year. TE David Thomas is OK for spot duty.

Tomorrow: Giants, Jets, Raiders, Eagles

57 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Houston Texans: QB Matt Schaub is a fantasy stud. You'll pay a premium for him. He gets passing yards and TDs. Arian Foster turned in a spectacular season last year. You will undoubtedly pay a premium for him, too. He's one of the workhorses and carried the load all last year. Looks, to me, like he can handle it. WR Andre Johnson is a fantasy stud. Yet another premium fantasy football player on this team. Kevin Walter is the other WR and you can use him for spot duty. He benefits greatly from Johnson. TE Owen Daniels was a fantasy stud two years ago but he was injured and hasn't quite made it all the way back. He should be better this year. He'll command a good price.

Indianapolis Colts: QB Peyton Manning is still a fantasy stud but he's been passed by a few guys. He's been the 5th or 6th top-performer the last few years but you'll still pay a premium. Joseph Addai and Donald Brown split the RB carries. Addai is a 2nd RB and Brown is a 3rd. WR Reggie Wayne is still thought to be a stud and the rest of the their group are 3rd or 4th WRs. TE Dallas Clark is a top five fantasy stud. You'll pay the premium rate for Wayne and Clark but I'm not sure Wayne is still worth what he commands.

Jacksonville Jaguars: QB David Garrard is a spot duty backup. RB Maurice Jones-Drew is a top ten workhorse, when healthy. Might take a while for him to get his health back. He's coming off injury. Workhorse RBs are so scarce these days that you will pay a premium for him in spite of his injury. I'd be very surprised if the Jags let him get the carries he wants. Rashad Jennings will definitely take some of them. Their WRs are a little too inconsistent for my tastes. TE Marcedes Lewis is not a bad option as a bye week fill-in.

Kansas City Chiefs: QB Matt Cassel started coming into his own last year. He's a backup fantasy QB. RB duties are split between Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles and every Jamaal Charles fantasy owner hates the Chiefs for it. Charles averages nearly 7 yards per carry. I have no idea how Jones ever gets off of the bench? Charles is a RB stud and his secret is out. You'll pay for him. Jones is a 3rd RB. WR Dwayne Bowe came into his own last year, too ... finally. If you saw the guy play at LSU (As I did), you'd know he was a natural. He took a couple of years off if you ask me. He'll command a good price. The rest of their WRs and TEs are nothing special.

Tomorrow: Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints.

58 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have some fantasy studs. Tony Romo is a starting QB in a 12-team league. He's reliable in yardage and TD passes. You'll pay a premium for him. His backup, Jon Kitna, is a second tier QB. Felix Jones is a decent 3rd RB. Marion Barber and Tashard Choice are not much. Rookie DeMarco Murray might be something later in the season as injuries to the first three hit. WR Miles Austin is a starter in all leagues. Roy Williams is a 3rd WR. Dez Bryant has the tools to be top tier but he hasn't lived up to it yet. He's as likely to get suspended as he is to help your team. Proceed with caution. Jason Witten is a top tier TE. You'll pay the premium.

Denver Broncos: No idea who the opening day starter will be but I suspect it will be Tim Tebow. He's a wildcard. He'll make TDs with his arm and his feet but he won't make as many of either as he did at Florida. He has a lot of learning to do. I'm leery of him as a NFL or fantasy QB. Knowshon Moreno is the only RB worth talking about but he's a borderline 2nd RB. WR Brandon Lloyd had a fantastic season last year. He led the league in receiving yardage and had a good TD total. He led most leagues in WR points. I doubt he does it again but you have to take him if you can get him at a reasonable price. I don't think it will be reasonable, though. I suspect you'll pay the premium. He's been in the league a long time and he's never had a season close to that. Big risk. Eddie Royal is good for spot duty. He also scores points in the return games. Keep an eye on TE Julius Thomas. The Broncos are hoping he'll be the next basketball-player-turned-TE to make a splash. The rest of their TEs won't help you.

Detroit Lions: I'm still high on Matthew Stafford. I think he'll be the best of his class even though Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman have had more success so far. He's not a fantasy starter yet, though. Backup and bye duty only. RB Jahvid Best started fast and faded last year as a rookie. He's a 2nd or 3rd RB in a 12-team league. WR Calvin Johnson is a stud. You will pay a premium. Nate Burleson is a 3rd WR. TE Brandon Pettigrew is a borderline starter in most leagues.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers is a top flight QB by any standard. He's also a great fantasy football player. You'll pay through the nose for him and he's worth it. RB Ryan Grant is coming off of a season-ending injury. He's a fantasy starter when healthy. No one really knows how healthy he is. James Starks will probably share carries with him this season even if he is healthy. Not sure where Brandon Jackson figures in their mix at RB next year. Pay attention during preseason. There may be a clue to their thinking. WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are both 1st/2nd tier fantasy starters. You'll pay a premium for Jennings. The Pack is expecting big things out of TE Jermichael Finley. He's a fantasy starter at TE.

Tomorrow: Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Chiefs.

59 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Carolina Panthers: The Panthers are Team 3 that will have a new opening day starter at QB. Last year it was Matt Moore. My money is on first overall pick Cam Newton being the starter but there are rumblings around Carolina about bringing Jake Delhomme back. The lockout is seriously hurting Cam Newton. He needs NFL coaching. Jake is still a Cleveland Brown but he will surely be released. He has a gigantic salary and didn't do very well in Cleveland. I like Jake but he's not a starter any more. Cam is a wildcard. Take him at a low price. He's a boom-or-bust player. The Panthers have two terrific RBs in DeAngelo WIlliams and Jonathan Stewart. Williams is the home run hitter but they're both pretty consistent. They both get yards and TDs. They're also both coming off of injuries and Williams may be a free agent. The WRs of note are Steve Smith and LSU's Brandon Lafell. Smith is a first tier WR when he has a decent QB. Lafell did pretty well last year and should be better from the start this season. Smith is a starter but you might be able to get him at a decent price. Lafell is a 3rd WR in a 12-team league. The TEs are Jeff King and Jeremy Shockey. King isn't much and I don't think Shockey is a starter any more.

Chicago Bears: I have a low opinion of Jay Cutler as a NFL QB. As a fantasy QB, however, he is a starter in a 12-team league, particularly one like ours that doesn't penalize for turnovers. His numbers will typically be just below those of the top guys. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are the RBs. Forte gets most of the work. They don't really need Taylor. Forte is active in the running game and the passing game and he'll get good numbers for you. He's a starter and you'll probably pay a premium for him. The WRs are suspect. Devin Hester is a spectacular return man but he's still a project at WR. He's still dangerous but not consistent. He's a 2nd WR, at best. The rest aren't worth talking about. TE Greg Olsen is a bye week starter, at best.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are Team 4 that will probably have a new opening day starter. It was Carson Palmer last year. Palmer is still under contract to the Bengals but he is adamant that he'd rather retire than play for them. The Bengals seem content to let him do just that. Cedric Benson is a workhorse RB but not a top flight one. He's had one good year in Cincy. He's a 2nd RB in a 12-team league. I think OchoCinco and TO are both done as WRs there. Rookie AJ Green will take one of those spots and someone else will take the other. Green is a playmaker. If he has a QB, he'll make a nice splash as a rookie. TE Jermaine Gresham is a middle-of-the-pack TE who could serve bye duty for you.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are Team 5 that will have a new opening day starter. It was Jake Delhomme last year. It will be Colt McCoy this year. Colt has a lot to learn. He's a bottom third QB. Peyton Hillis was a big surprise last year. I don't expect him to put up the same kinds of numbers this season but you'd be kinda crazy not to take a chance on him. You'll pay a premium, though. Their WRs and TEs are not worth talking about.

Tomorrow: Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Packers.

60 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


I'm going team-by-team through the NFL in alphabetical order. My observations will be based on a 12-team league. I looked at my cheat sheet from last year and it was alarming how much it has changed in one season. For instance, 13 of the 32 NFL teams will very likely have a new opening day starter at quarterback.

In the next few days, I will attempt to identify the worthwhile fantasy football players each team has. I will not claim to know the contractual situations of each player. If a collective bargaining agreement is reached fairly soon, there will be a frenzied and short free agent period but I suspect most of those players will be fringe players and not fantasy football studs. There will be some exceptions at quarterback. I'm not going to bother with kickers, defense, or special teams. My philosophy for them is to grab one of each with my last picks. I tend to take the best of whomever is left. For kickers, I lean toward ones who play in domes or in Denver. Defenses depend largely on the fantasy scoring system you use and it's really a guessing game. Our league combines defenses and special teams and awards defenses 1 point for each turnover and 3 points for holding an opponent under 200 total yards. We also reward defenses and special teams whatever touchdowns and safeties they score. The Top Five in our league from last year are 1) Patriots, 2) Cardinals, 3) Cowboys, 4) Raiders, and 5) Jets. If you can make any rhyme or reason for that, you should join our league. You'd win.

These are just my opinions and ALL of them are disputable. Now, the teams:

Arizona Cardinals: This is Team 1 that will undoubtedly have a different opening day starter at QB. It was Matt Leinert last year. Rumor has it the Cards are going to sell the farm to acquire Kevin Kolb. We'll have to wait to see if that happens. Kolb and the Eagles figure to have plenty of suitors. If Kolb ends up here, he's probably a good backup option for you. Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower shared running back duties last season. Neither are consistent fantasy performers. If your draft/auction is out of decent RBs, these guys can fill in for your bye weeks. You may catch them on one of their good weeks. Rookie RB Ryan Williams is being hurt by the lockout but keep an eye on him. Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet are the main WRs. Fitzgerald is a stud football player but his fantasy value largely depends on his QB. He suffered last year because the Cards had mostly terrible QB play. You're going to pay a premium for him. Breaston and Doucet are 3rd tier bye week WRs. I can't remember the last time I had a Cardinal tight end. They drafted Rob Housler but I think he's a longshot to have a fantasy impact.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are loaded with fantasy studs. QB Matt Ryan has more stud targets than he's ever had but I would still put him as a backup QB option in a 12-team league. The only way he should be a starter is if one or more teams in the league has more than one starter on his team. There are at least 12 better fantasy QBs. Michael Turner is one of the few workhorse RBs and he's a fantasy stud. He's a top ten RB and you'll pay a premium for him. I wouldn't touch any other RB on the team, even for bye week duty. At WR, the Falcons have Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones. White is a fantasy stud and the addition of Jones will help his production. You'll pay a premium. Jones has been inconsistent the last two years at Alabama but he was a superstar his freshman year. He'll benefit from professional coaching and I expect him to do well because the Falcons are counting on him. Michael Jenkins and Harry Douglas are 3rd tier WRs. Jenkins could fill in for a bye but I'd leave Douglas alone. Tight end Tony Gonzales is a top five TE stud. You'll pay a premium for him, too.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are loaded with fantasy talent, too. Joe Flacco is similar to Matt Ryan. He has a lot of weapons but he's still a 2nd tier backup option at QB. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee split carries at RB last year. Rice is a starter and you'll pay a premium for him. McGahee may or may not be back next year but he's a backup, at best. They have Anquan Boldin at WR. He's borderline 1st/2nd tier, when healthy, so he's definitely a starter. Derrick Mason is 37. Rookie Torrey Smith may turn into something but I doubt it happens right away. Todd Heap is a decent fantasy TE. I've had him many times over the years. He's a starter but only because there are too few top tier TEs. Many leagues have eliminated the position for that reason but ours still uses it.

Buffalo Bills: This is Team 2 that will undoubtedly have a new opening day starter, probably Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was Trent Edwards last year. I think the guy can play but he's a backup fantasy QB on his best days. RBs Fred Jackson, Corey McIntyre and C.J. Spiller share the carries in Buffalo. None of them are consistent. Spiller and Jackson are bye duty, at best. If McIntyre does anything special during the season, join the race to pick him up as a free agent. Lee Evans is the only WR worth talking about and he's a 2nd or 3rd WR in a 12-team league. Their TEs aren't worth talking about.

Tomorrow: Panthers, Bears, Bengals, Browns.

61 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


67 Days

67 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


68 Days

68 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


73 days

I could see the Dolphins not opting to keep Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams. I can't see getting rid of both. The two have basically been the whole offense for 3 years there now. They plan to air it out next season? I don't think so.

I'm going to start on a team-by-team fantasy football rundown this week for my own benefit as much as any potential reader's.

73 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Fantasy Football 2011

Today, we talk about fantasy football. I'm an optimist. I now think we're going to have a full season and that the season will start on time. I've "activated" the two leagues I'm in. This step really only preserves our league and team information.

The two leagues I'm in both like to wait until the last minute to organize. That used to bother me a lot more once upon a time than it does now. I'm not the commissioner of either league and I typically have no plans during the best draft/auction month so I can just tell the commissioner I'm available whenever and he can go about herding the cats.

89 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


Fantasy Thoughts

Re-activated my two fantasy football leagues recently. I think I'm probably being a little overly optimistic just letting thoughts of fantasy football enter my head this early but I can't help it. I look for the Alabama players, Julio Jones and Mark Ingram, to make the biggest impact. Both will be playing for good teams and will benefit from that.

98 days until Saints v Packers ... I hope


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