Running Backs?  What Running Backs?

by Eddie Mayrose

Waggie and his partner, son Timothy, survived another week in the McGee Survivor League, actually turning in the highest total for the week, despite the gaping hole in their backfield that has been a problem all season.  Even their mainstay, Ahmad Bradshaw of the Giants, has been a problem. Even though he’s been piling up yardage, Brandon Jacobs gets all of the touches inside the 10 yard line.  Things are looking up, however, as the Professor and son woke up early on Tuesday and managed to beat the sleepy heads in their league to Chris Ivory of the Saints.  Fresh off a 150 yard game and likely to get most of the work with Pierre Thomas out, he’s a great acquisition for a team facing the joint bye weeks of Andre and Calvin Johnson.  It’ll be touch and go this weekend for Home Alone 2 but, if they survive, things are looking up the rest of the way.

Fantasy Football Studs

Love Philip Rivers this week in his matchup with the Patriots.  For that matter, Tom Brady deserves a stud ranking also as this game should be a shootout.  Rivers should feast on the Pats’ soft pass defense while Brady seems much more comfortable with Deion Branch than he did with Randy Moss. Continue reading »

McGee Survivor League Down To Final Pair

After 12 tribal councils have eliminated all but Dr. Pete and Twin Cities Jen, the inaugural season of the McGee CJSurvivor League comes to a close this weekend.  Interestingly, the matchup will pair the NFL’s two best running backs; Jen’s Adrian Peterson and Pete’s Chris Johnson.  A bitter pill for the old Professor to swallow, as his strategy to load up on receivers in the early round was summarily stuffed down his throat in Week 10 when he was, ironically, nosed out by both of the finalists on his birthday.  We’ll give a slight edge to Jen’s Team Minnesota for two reasons.  She can turn the world on with her smile and Waggie predicted that she or Colleen, our Bay Area beauty, would walk away with the prize.  That probably bodes well for Pete’s Samurai Shortbus, however, as I haven’t gotten much right in this league.  Good Luck.

Fantasy Football News and Notes

Eagles WR DeSean Jackson is very doubtful vs. Atlanta with a concussion…With RB Jamal Lewis done for the year, Jerome Harrison becomes an attractive FA pickup as he’s the Browns’ first option as a replacement.  Well, maybe notben attractive but it’s Week 13; you can’t expect much…Mark Sanchez is probable vs. the Bills on Thursday.  If that’s a concern for you, I’d expect that your team is doubtful for a playoff run… The former Chad Johnson threw some left handed compliments at the Bengals’ decision to rely on the running game in their last two wins.  He wants the Bengals to throw more.  Hey Chad, did you notice how much you threw the ball last year when you were 4-11-1?…  QB Ben Roethlisberger will lead the Steelers into battle vs. Oakland.  Hines Ward, however, is questionable with a size 12 Adidas shoe still stuck in his mouth… K Jason Elam was waived by Atlanta, who signed Matt Bryant as a replacement… RB Cedric Benson should return for the Bengals vs. Detroit; bad news for those who picked up Larry Johnson… The Giants’ DST went from a must-start to a matchup when S Kenny Phillips went down and now are a must-sit with LB Antonio Pierce sidelined… Don’t sweat if you own New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas.  Mike Bell got more carries on Monday simply because the Saints chose to run the ball in garbage time.

Fantasy Football Stars

RB Rashard Mendenhall ran for 95 YDS last week in the Steelers OT loss to the Browns; one of the toughest run defensesmarshall in the league.  Look for a significant bump to those totals vs. the pathetic Raiders in a game Pittsburgh must have… QB Carson Palmer will shut that big hole in #85′s face by taking advantage of a hapless Lions’ secondary while easing the burden on RB Cedric Benson; returning from injury… Broncos’ WR Brandon Marshall will reap the combined benefits of a ten day rest and an extremely weak defense to post huge numbers vs. Kansas City.

Fantasy Football Stiffs

QB Kurt Warner is still having trouble with his eyes as a result of a concussion.  He’s probable for Arizona vs. Minnesota warnerbut you have to wonder how effective he’ll be against a defense with 40 sacks… Owners of Ravens RB Ray Rice have been hurt all year while Baltimore turns to Willis McGahee at the goal line.  Rice has maintained value, however, by posting solid YDS; something that won’t happen this week vs. Green Bay’s tough run defense… Things don’t look bright for WR Lee Evans in tonight’s game vs. the Jets. With Terrell Owens starting to string together some solid games and Buffalo facing a formidable defense, Evans is unlikely to get a lot of touches.

Fantasy Football Sleepers

The Texans face a Jacksonville squad as desperate as they are.  The thinking here is that the Jags will throw the kitchenorton sink at WR Andre Johnson, leaving Kevin Walter to enjoy a big day… Eagles’ RB LeSean McCoy will take advantage of the Falcons fading defensive unit to the tune of 100 YDS and two TD… QB Kyle Orton will lead a rested Denver squad into Kansas City and make the game look  like a seven on seven drill.

Fantasy Football Slippers

In spite of the Saints’ scoring like a pinball machine, TE Jeremy Shockey hasn’t become part of the fun.  It’s been weeks shockeysince he had a productive game… Chiefs’ QB Matt Cassel is in for a long one vs. a Denver team that seemed to find itself on Thanksgiving vs. the Giants… Speaking of the Giants, it’s a mystery why RB Brandon Jacobs has been struggling.  Howevr, it’s your job to react to the problem; not figure it out.

by Professor Wagstaff

Wagstaff Still Alive (Barely)

The first week of the McGee Survivor League went almost Horsefeathers4precisely as the Professor expected as both girls, Team Minnesota and S.F. Col’s Guys finished atop the point standings by wide margins. The only prediction that went awry was that I actually survived the first week; much to my surprise. I did, however, manage to finish in the bottom three as my own “Wide Receivers before Running Backs” draft strategy blew up in my face. Could someone in Houston please inform Andre Johnson that the season has actually started? We said good bye to Team Lunz, as our nephew and cousin, Jim, failed to get out of the starting blocks. One down, twelve to go.

No Defense for the Defense

It was an interesting Week 1 as far as DST’s were concerned. No sooner than four teams considered to have solid defenses lost one of their top players for a large chunk, if not all, of the season. Troy Palumalo (Steelers) and Jerod Mayo (Patriots) could each be out for as long as six weeks with knee injuries while Brian Urlacher (Bears/wrist) and Joe Blow (Jaguars/knee) have been lost for the season. Keep them in mind as you set your lineup this weekend.

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Fantasy Football Stars

Based on how well the Bucs ran the ball against the Cowboys last weekend, RB Brandon Jacobs should have a big night in Dallas; especially with Eli Manning still adjusting to life without Plaxico Burress… Atlanta’s RB Michael Turner should start to justify that #2 pick you spent to get him with a big game against a weak Panthers’ D Line… Speaking of weak lines, the Rams may own the worst in the league on each side of the ball. That’s why we love Skins’ RB Clinton Portis to run all over them and the Redskins’ DST to completely dominate.

Fantasy Football Stiffs

Could things be worse for QB Jay Cutler? His Chicago debut was marred by four INT in a loss to Green Bay, and now he faces the Super Bowl champs in the home opener. If the Steelers shut down the run, (when don’t they?), Cutler could be good for another couple of picks… If Jake Delhomme doesn’t have a solid first half against Atlanta, the Panthers’ QB may find himself on the bench. Based on their performance vs. Miami, the Falcons don’t figure to allow DeAngelo Williams a lot of freedom, putting even more pressure on Delhomme to come up big… If you hadn’t figured they’d be here based on our Stars report, we give you the Rams’ DST… A solid Vikings’ defense and the Lions propensity for falling behind make RB Kevin Smith a huge risk this week.

Fantasy Football Sleepers

Last year, the Cardinals allowed more TD passes than they threw and were a disaster on the road. That’s why the Professor moved QB David Garrard into his starting lineup this week… With the Jets shooting their mouths off this week, you have to figure they’ll focus a lot of their attention on New England’s Randy Moss; which should allow WR Wes Welker to have a big game… The Vikings should have no trouble throwing the ball against the Lions, who allowed 6 TD passes vs. Drew Brees in New Orleans last week. Look for TE Visanthe Shiancoe to reel in a TD from Brett Favre among his 8 REC… All of a sudden, the Ravens seem to have taken the shackles off of QB Joe Flacco, who threw for 300 YDS last Sunday. He’ll have another big game vs. San Diego…

Fantasy Football Slippers-

Bears’ RB Matt Forte will struggle vs. the Steelers; especially if Jay Cutler turns in another stinker… Have to be worried about Chargers’ QB Philip Rivers. He may be without LaDainian Tomlinson and two of his offensive linemen with the vaunted Ravens’ defense coming to town… I know you used a pretty high pick on Rams’ RB Stephen Jackson but it may be time to move him. The Rams look terrible, especially the O Line, and Jackson will struggle all year… Did you pick up Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez this week? Good. Now, wait at least another week to put him in your lineup as Pats’ coach Bill Bellichick will make life difficult for the rookie on Sunday.

by Professor Wagstaff

Well, here we are.  The first NFL training camp opens on Saturday in Buffalo, Horsefeathersperhaps because the Bills can’t wait to immerse themselves in the glow and warmth of newly acquired Terrell Owens.  Whatever the reason, the first whistle will also serve to alert Fantasy Owners that their drafts are just a few weeks away.  In most of those drafts, running backs will dominate most of the first two rounds so; the position seems as good a spot as any to start our 2009 previews.

Fantasy Football Running Backs

Studs

Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson carried the ball 363 times last year.  363!  The NFL’s leading rusher probably won’t carry the same load this season but will still be the first pick in your draft… Michael Turner emerged from LT’s shadow in San Diego and became a superstar in Atlanta.  He ran for 220 YDS on Opening Day and never looked back. Ironically, he’ll likely go before Tomlinson in most Fantasy drafts…  It took a year but DeAngelo Williams finally showed the panthers the talent they expected when they drafted him.  His 1,500 YDS were a team record and 20 TD boosted him to an elite Fantasy ranking…  Jaguars’ star Maurice Jones Drew ran for less YDS than anyone in this group but made up for it with better than 500 YDS receiving.  Look for his rushing total to increase in ’09 as he’ll no longer be splitting time with the departed Fred Taylor… Not a bad rookie year for Matt Forte, who quickly became the focal point of the Bears’ offense.  The addition of Jay Cutler won’t hurt him at all since he’s probably Chicago’s best receiver, as well.

Stars

Talk to Fantasy owners that drafted Marion Barber in the first or second round in ‘08 and they’ll tell you they were somewhat disappointed.  Slowed in the final four games by a toe injury, Barber’s production fell off.  Healthy now, don’t look past the fact that he still managed 1,300 total YDS and 10 TD… Frank Gore, slowed in the latter part of the season by a concussion, had 1,500 total YDS and 8 TD.  A new O Coordinator with a reputation for running the ball will give the 49’ers star a huge boost…  Houston’s Steve Slaton went undrafted in many leagues last year (including mine) and was happily grabbed as a FA early on.  He’ll be the starter out of the gate this year so, expect bigger numbers… Brian Westbrook suffered through a litany of injuries last season yet, the Eagles star still had 14 TD and 1,300 YDS.  He’s had off season surgery on his ankle and knee so, be careful but the risk reward for drafting him is huge.

Sleepers

How does one of the greatest RB in the history of the game end up on a Fantasy sleeper list?  When he’s coming off an injury riddled season and he’s over 30, that’s when.  San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson is Wagstaff’s pick for steal of the draft in ’09 as he’ll probably go late second or early third round in a year where he’ll show everyone how great he is when healthy… Injuries and the emergence of LeRon McLain made for a tough rookie year for the Ravens’ Ray Rice.  However, McLain will be moved to fullback while Rice will split time with Willis McGahee…  We’re going out on a limb here with Arizona’s Beanie Wells, as he’s slated to split time with Tim Hightower.  The thought, however, is that Wells has more breakaway potential; enough to give him the bulk of the carries and some late round value… Given the history, how can you not want a Denver RB?  Knowshon Moreno will quickly become the Broncos’ go to guy, especially as they gently work Kyle Orton into the offense.

Slippers

A decent sleeper pick in ’08, LenDale White became nothing more than a short yardage specialist for the Titans as the season wore on with Chris Johnson taking the reins.  Don’t get sucked in by his TD total… Age and the Browns’ ineptitude have conspired to rob Jamal Lewis of his Fantasy value.  His totals last year were his lowest in four years and the Browns don’t look like they’ve worked out too many of their problems…, Willis McGahee seems to have hit the infamous RB wall; and the Ravens apparently think so, too.  They’re looking to work Ray Rice into the rotation… The Colts’ Joseph Addai was a first rounder in most Fantasy leagues last year but struggled mightily.  So much so, that Indy used its first pick on Donald Brown, who will definitely take touches from Addai.

Stiffs

  Larry Johnson has asked the Chiefs for a trade and will lose touches to Jamaal Charles and Kolby Smith… In Tampa Bay, Earnest Graham is returning from an ankle injury that cost him the last five weeks of an already disappointing season while battling the newly signed Derrick Ward for playing time… In Baltimore, LeRon McLain became a viable option when Willis McGahee went down.  However, he’s being moved to FB, making him the Ravens’ third option at best.

Fantasy Football Picks: Wagstaff’s Top 20 Running Backs

  1. Adrian Peterson                            
  2. DeAngelo Williams                    
  3.  Matt Forte                                         
  4. Michael Turner                             
  5. Maurice Jones Drew                  
  6. Steve Slaton                                    
  7. LaDainian Tomlinson               
  8. Brian Westbrook                         
  9. Marion Barber                              
  10. Frank Gore                                     
  11. Steven Jackson
  12. Clinton Portis   
  13. Brandon Jacobs   
  14. Knowshon Moreno
  15. Thomas Jones
  16. Marshawn Lynch
  17. Ryan Grant
  18. Joseph Addai
  19. Kevin Smith
  20. Willie Parker                                    
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