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

While many Fantasy Football owners focus on the running backs position as the starting point for their roster, it’s a Horsefeathers4Wagstaff tenet to, instead, stockpile Wide Receivers at the top of the Fantasy Football draft.  The idea is to take advantage of the fact that many owners severely undervalue the position and by grabbing two WR as soon as possible, you create a huge talent gap between your squad and the first of your opponents to realize that the pool just got very thin.  Now, I wouldn’t recommend that you burn one of the top five picks on a wideout but, if you do find yourself in that position, take an elite back and use the next two picks at WR.  You’ll not only end up with two elite players but you’ll likely start a position run that nets you a RB that slips through the cracks. 

Fantasy Football Rankings for Wide Receiver:

Studs

Andre Johnson is the man here, as the Texans’ superstar carried Waggy’s Holy Shirts and Pants to a semifinal appearance all by himself last season.  220 catches over the last two seasons and an emerging QB in Matt Schaub make him the top guy on our list.   He’ll grab another 100 REC this year and set a career high in TD…  Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald may be the most talented WR in the league but he’s got one drawback for Fantasy Owners that doesn’t exist for the others on this list: A star on the other side.  Fitzgerald’s career year was aided immensely by the prolonged absence of Anquan Boldin, who traditionally scores more TD.  Fitz will still be worth your first pick but his AVG and TD will likely drop…  Imagine what  Calvin Johnson could do if he wasn’t the focus of every team facing the Lions.  In a winless season, he managed 100 YDS in 11 games and scored 12 TD… With Tom Brady returning, Randy Moss should once again be the league’s best home run hitter.  Even though Mat Cassel did an incredible job guiding the Pats to the brink of the playoffs last year, he led a scaled down offense designed to limit mistakes, which hurt Moss owners.  In ’09′ however, chicks dig the long ball.

Stars

The arrivals of Matt Ryan and Michael Turner made a new man of Roddy White as he became Atlanta’s go-to receiver in their unexpected playoff season.  The only thing holding him back was a meager TD total of 7.  As Ryan improves, look for White to top the 88 REC and 1,382 YDS he delivered in ’08… Despite missing 4 games, Anquan Boldin still managed 89 REC and 11 TD.  He’s, once again, looking for a new contract and could find himself taking a back seat to Fitzgerald as the Cards’ shift the focus of their offense to the guy who’s staying.  He’s worth a 2nd or 3rd rounder, just don’t reach… With Marvin Harrison finally out of the picture, Reggie Wayne will get Peyton Manning’s undivided attention.  Considering how well he’s done while sharing it, Wayne is looking at a career year…  Steve Smith was suspended by the Panthers for the first two games of last season then made geniuses of all the Fantasy owners willing to wait for him.  He had over 1,400 YDS on 78 REC.  The only concern here is that his TD total (6) declined for the 4th straight season.

Sleepers

Michael Crabtree was such a great college receiver that Matt Millen would have drafted him were he still the man in Detroit.  As it is, Crabtree brings his incredible skills to San Fran, where he’ll probably team with Josh Morgan to form a terrific young tandem… Good news, bad news for Jericho Cotchery of the Jets. The departure of Laveraneus Coles means that he becomes the big gun but the absence of an established QB could hinder the process.  Bet on Mark Sanchez and take a flier on Cotchery as your third receiver…  Houston’s Kevin Walter is entering his contract year, (we love that), is playing with a QB on the verge of stardom and has defenses focusing on teammate Andre Johnson.  A repeat of last year’s stellar 60 REC, 900 YDS and 8 TD at the cost of a late round pick will make any Fantasy player smile.

Slippers

Has Terrell Owens finally run out of teams willing to put up with his nonsense?  Buffalo is this year’s desperate suitor, acquiring TO in the offseason.  The Bills will likely struggle in the AFC  East, he won’t like sharing the ball with Lee Evans and QB Trent Edwards is nowhere near established enough to command Owens’ respect.  Look for a Thanksgiving meltdown…  Braylon Edwards didn’t make it to the third round of most drafts last year and cost his owners dearly.  A season long case of the drops led to off season trade rumors that never became reality.  Now, he’s back in Cleveland with the same uncertain QB situation and a new coach.  Be careful.

Stiffs

At the end of most drafts, an owner looking to fill his roster inevitably sees a recognizable name and figures there’s no harm in taking the guy.  That’s how Seattle’s Nate Burleson ends up on most fantasy teams.  Don’t let it be yours… Michael Crabtree spells the end of the line for Frisco’s  Isaac Bruce who will be a third down option at best…  Chris Chambers was supposed to find the fountain of youth in San Diego last year.  Instead, he found just 33 REC and 5 TD’s.  Cross Chris off your list.

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 25 Fantasy Football Picks for WR:

  1. Andre Johnson
  2. Larry Fitzgerald
  3. Calvin Johnson
  4. Randy Moss
  5. Roddy White
  6. Anquan Boldin
  7. Reggie Wayne
  8. Greg Jennings
  9. Steve Smith
  10. Marques Colston
  11. Roy Williams
  12. Wes Welker
  13. Dwayne Bowe
  14. Brandon Marshall
  15. Vince Jackson
  16. Braylon Edwards
  17. Michael Crabtree
  18. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  19. Antonio Bryant
  20. Santonio Holmes
  21. Jericho Cotchery
  22. Terrell Owens
  23. Laveraneus Coles
  24. Hines Ward
  25. Kevin Walter

HorsefeathersThe calendar says it’s early July, time for most to enjoy a summer that is just beginning.  For an ever increasing contingent of Fantasy Football players, however, the calendar tells them there’s three weeks until training camps open as they count down the days of summer in anticipation of the coming football season.   The Fantasy preview magazines have hit the stands, there are fantasy rankings to consider and draft cheat sheets to be written.  There is also the very important business of deciding where to house your online fantasy football league and what kind of players should be a part of it.

In its infancy, Fantasy Football appealed to its participants for a number of reasons.  It allowed them to pit their knowledge of the game against one another, compete for cash prizes and stay connected with friends.  Back in the day, anyone that wanted to play fantasy football had to first assemble at least nine others with a common passion; not always an easy task. Next, one of the members needed to agree to be the “stat guy”, diving into the NFL summaries each Monday morning in order to update the league’s standings.  Weekly transactions became problematic if league owners were remiss in phoning in their lineups.  Not a perfect system but, all in all, better than the alternative: no league at all.

Before the advent of online fantasy football, many who wished to be participants found themselves on the outside looking in.  Simply put, if you couldn’t find enough guys to play, you couldn’t play either.  Until CBSSportsline, Yahoo and ESPN came to the rescue.  Now, individuals have the ability to link up with each other regardless of their geographic location and experience the same enjoyment as those in a friends’ league.  With the new technology, however, comes a number of choices to be made regarding statistics, rankings and drafts.

Of the three, I prefer CBSSportsline.  While free leagues are offered, their premium leagues offer quite a bit more than Yahoo and ESPN for the fee charged.  Mock drafts, player updates, rankings, cheat sheets, injury reports roster grids and a player comparison tool are all featured on a site more easily navigated than its competitors.  YAHOO and ESPN offer more than enough to satisfy the Fantasy Football Fanatic and do so mostly at no cost.  The one thing each has over CBS is the ability to tailor free friends’ leagues, something not available on CBS,

Finally, for Mock Drafts, the pick here is Mock Draft Central, as it offers free signup for once daily drafts and membership options that range from monthly to yearly.  Essentially, for a few bucks, you can sign up for one month in July and get unlimited mocks until your draft in August.  Also, members are allowed to create drafts, giving you an opportunity to simulate the draft circumstances that exist around your own tailored leagues.

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