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 »

Next Stop For Flacco In the Stars

By Eddie Mayrose

Ranking  quarterbacks for a Fantasy Football Draft isn’t exactly rocket science.   Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are the top three, followed closely by Tom Brady and Matt Schaub.  Easy stuff, actually, and pretty much universal.  Rating the next five becomes a little dicey, however, as you’ll get very different opinions from Fantasy Football Owners as to which signal callers warrant these spots.  The vast differences of opinion create the potential for selections that will make or break a Fantasy Football Season.  For Professor Wagstaff’s money, the one man in that second five with the best chance of producing on the same level as the top tier is the Ravens’ Joe Flacco.

In 2008, Flacco, then a rookie out of Delaware, led the Ravens to the AFC Championship game; mostly by managing an offensive system that had been scaled down significantly in order to limit his mistakes.  The handcuffs came off last year and Flacco owners benefited from an increase in his production although, Baltimore’s less than stellar wideouts limited the bump in Fantasy points.

This season, however, Flacco could be directing an offensive juggernaut; something Ravens’ fans have never seen before, even during their Super Bowl season.  WR Mark Clayton, last year’s go-to guy, is now the third option after the acquisitions of Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth while RB Ray Rice has become a first rounder in most Fantasy Football drafts due to his status as the NFL’s best receiver out of the backfield.  With the supporting cast now at Flacco’s disposal, he need only to continue the improvement he’s already shown to be that middle round pick you’ll point to when recounting how you managed to win your league in 2010. Continue reading »

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.

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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