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.

* * * * *

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.

They’re the forgotten men; the filler picks at the end of any Fantasy Football Draft.  Tight Ends, Kickers and Defenses Horsefeathers4make up most of the final rounds with few exceptions.  The three or four elite TE on your draft list warrant mid round selections but, for the most part, its hard to pass on a productive WR or RB just to fill a required roster spot.  Defense/Special Teams is next in the pecking order with Kickers bringing up the rear.  Too many intangible factors determine the success or failure of these units to even consider taking any in the middle of the draft.  Don’t think so?  Ask anyone that drafted the highly rated Chargers last year before Shawn Merriman went down for the season.

Funny thing, though, championships are invariably won by the Fantasy Football Owner that pulls the winning ticket out of the hat: the kicker that becomes automatic from beyond fifty yards for an entire season, the tight end who suddenly finds himself with an aging QB coming out of retirement or the defense with the cornerback that starts returning every INT for six.  So, in order to put you in the best position to grab some of that good luck, take a look at the Wagstaff rankings.

Fantasy Draft Preview: Tight End

Studs

Tony Gonzalez was the Falcons’ biggest off season acquisiton and could be the last piece of the offensive puzzle in Atlanta.  He may not match the 96 REC and 10 TD he posted last year but the presence of Michael Turner and Roddy White should open things up enough for Gonzalez to remain at the top of the list… With the departure of Terrell Owens, Jason Witten becomes Tony Romo’s primary option in Dallas.

Stars

Dallas Clark sits on top of a lot of TE lists but not this one.  He’s too much of a possession receiver to bust into the upper echelon and doesn’t catch enough TD.  However, Peyton Manning makes him a valuable pick… Antonio Gates may be the best athlete at the position but is coming off an unproductive season due to injury.  The return of his own health as well as a productive La Dainian Tomlinson, should boost his stats back to their previous levels.

Sleepers

The Jets’ Dustin Keller had a stretch last year as Brett Favre’s favorite target before disappearing over the last month.  That probably won’t happen this year, as the Jets scale down their offense to accomodate rookie QB Mark Sanchez… Chase Coffman won’t even appear in some Fantasy Football rankings.  However, the Bengals’ rookie left Missouri as the all time receptions leader for TE.  If he wins the starting job in Cincy, expect a strong season.

Slippers

Denver’s Tony Scheffler registered just 3 TD last season with Jay Cutler under center.  Doesn’t seem like stardom is in the offing with Kyle Orton aboard… An uncertain QB situation in Oakland in addition to the Raiders’ home run passing philosophy make it difficult to foresee Zach Miller getting many touches

FANTASY FOOTBALL PICKS

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Tight Ends

  1. Tony Gonzalez
  2. Jason Witten
  3. Dustin Keller
  4. Dallas Clark
  5. Antonio Gates
  6. Chris Cooley
  7. Kellen Winslow
  8. Visante Shiancoe
  9. Owen Daniels
  10. John Carlson
  11. Heath Miller
  12. Chase Coffman

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Kickers

  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Rob Bironas
  3. Neil Rackers
  4. Adam Vinatieri
  5. Mason Crosby
  6. Jason Elam
  7. Ryan Longwell
  8. Robbie Gould
  9. David Akers
  10. Nate Keading
  11. Matt Bryant
  12. Kris Brown

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Defense/Special Teams

  1. Vikings
  2. Giants
  3. Steelers
  4. Titans
  5. Jets
  6. Chargers
  7. Ravens
  8. Cowboys
  9. Eagles
  10. Patriots
  11. Dolphins
  12. Colts

by Professor Wagstaff

It was a slippery slope in 2008 for owners who decided to grab a signal caller with the first pick of their Fantasy Horsefeathers4Football Draft.  Tom Brady didn’t make it out of the first quarter of the first game and Peyton Manning struggled early before settling into a productive yet un-Peyton like campaign.  Tony Romo, rated third on most boards, also failed to deliver equal value while Carson Palmer was terrible before going down for the season.  Drew Brees, an early second rounder, was the leagues most productive QB  while late draftees like Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub were super sleepers.  And who among us could’ve seen Matt Cassel coming down the road.  So, what did all of these surprises teach us?

Well, if nothing else, it’s probably not as good idea to grab a QB in the Top five of the first round.  Consider only the most elite options with your first pick and, if none fall to you, be patient enough to wait into the middle rounds.  Your squad is will be significantly better with a stud RB and a second tier QB than the other way around.  The trick is to separate the studs from the stiffs and then, as always, trust your judgment.  How to accomplish this tricky little feat?  Read on, my Fantasy Football brethren, as Waggie’s here to help.

Fantasy Football Draft Picks for QB

Studs

Will the Saints’ Drew Brees reach the 5,000 YDS mark in passing again?  Probably not.  But, 4,500 is likely, as is his 2 to 1 TD to INT ratio.  And, if Reggie Bush and Marques Colston can suit up for all 16 games, he’ll have a stronger arsenal… Sometimes, we Fantasy Football players get so caught up with our analysis that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  Such was the case last year, when Peyton Manning missed most of Indy’s  training camp.  We should have seen his sub par September coming but were blinded by the reputation.  Well, Peyton’s been in camp since Day 1 this year and his stats will reflect that.  Bank on a return to 4, 200 YDS and 35 TD… Remember how happy you were last year when New England’s Tom Brady fell to you in the first round?  That euphoria lasted about ten minutes into the season, as Brady went down with a knee.  Expect elite numbers from him this year as he and Randy Moss reunite but don’t buy into the “ahead of schedule” reports coming out of camp.  Keep in mind he had not one procedure but two; the second because his recovery from the first was going too slowly.

Stars

Have to love that San Diego’s Philip Rivers will spend almost half a season facing terrible defenses in the AFC West.  He’ll also have LaDainian Tomlinson at full strength from the get go.  4,000 YDS and 30 TD look like a lock… In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers showed the league why the Pack let Brett Favre walk.  It had been four years since he’d done anything but hold a clipboard and he still posted 4,000 YDS and 28 TD while running for four more TD.  He’ll be even more comfortable this year, which will allow him to boost all of these numbers… Turns out, it didn’t take the Falcons all that long to recover from the Michael Vick debacle.  One draft was all it took, as Matt Ryan settled in as the Falcons’ starter and led them to the playoffs.  He had some help, of course, in Michael Turner and Roddy White and will get more for ’09 in TE Tony Gonzalez.  His 3,440 YDS and 16 TD will probably serve as career lows for this rising star.

Sleepers

Houston’s Matt Schaub burst on to the scene in a big way last year, throwing for 3,000YDS and 15 TD in just 11 games.  A full season with Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter could easily add 1,200 YDS to that total and bump the TD up to 25…  In Cincy, Carson Palmer is coming back from an injury riddled season while dealing with the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Laveranues Coles may fill that gap, leaving it to Palmer to reestablish the former Chad Johnson as a threat.  The bet here is that he does…    Miami’s Chad Pennington may not have the best fastball in the game but he’s a proven winner and one of the game’s most accurate passes.   Given that he’ll go in the last few rounds, if at all, a repeat of last year’s 19 TD and 3,600 YDS make him a steal.

Slippers

That I don’t believe Arizona’s Kurt Warner can sustain last year’s success is not the issue.  That he’ll be taken in a position that will likely require improvement over last year’s stats to justify the price is what should concern you…  Now we’ll find out just how much Terrell Owens had to do with  Tony Romo’s success in Dallas.  Even in a disapointing ’08 he had 3,400 YDS and 26 TD.  Romo is still a viable option at QB but don’t reach…  The move to Chicago’s Soldier Field, the lack of a proven receiver on the Bears’ roster will negatively impact  Jay Cutler, a QB who’ll go higher than he should based on reputation.

Stiffs

Even in a season that saw great team success, Tennessee’s Kerry Collins posted very pedestrian Fantasy numbers.  Don’t like his age or the fact that the Titans rely so heavily on the run…  With the Raiders’ organization in such disarray, we mwy never know if  JaMarcus Russell could have been a great QB.  The athleticism he showed at LSU says yes.  The talent surrounding him in Oakland says no…  Buffalo’s  Trent Edwards already had enough pressure on him coming off a sub par season in a tough division.  Then the Bills brought in Terrell Owens.  If Edwards has two bad games in a row, a good bet, Owens will be all over him and the wheels will come off.

Fantasy Football Picks

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 20 Quarterbacks

  1. Drew Brees
  2. Peyton Manning
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Philip Rivers
  5. Aaron Rodgers
  6. Matt Ryan
  7. Matt Schaub
  8. Tony Romo
  9. Donovan McNabb
  10. Kurt Warner
  11. Carson Palmer
  12. Jay Cutler
  13. Eli Manning
  14. Ben Roethlisberger
  15. Jake Delhomme
  16. Chad Pennington
  17. Jason Campbell
  18. Matt Hasselbeck
  19. Joe Flacco
  20. Shaun Hill

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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