Buck the Trend, Grab ‘em Early

By Eddie Mayrose

If you’re a Wagstaff follower, you’ve heard this refrain before.  “Grab the best Fantasy Receivers as early as possible.”  It’s a theory put into practice every year by the Professor as he constructs his Fantasy Football Roster; one that has annually provided a tremendous edge over Fantasy Owners locked into the standard system of front-loading running backs.  Here’s why.

It’s a widely accepted (yet flawed) idea that the elite ball carriers produce more than the best wideouts.  While I’ll agree that running backs are guaranteed significantly more touches, it doesn’t guarantee better production.  Texans’ star Andre Johnson was a Wagstaff first rounder in every draft.  Compare his 1,500 YDS and 9 TD to Stephen Jackson’s 1,300 YDS and 4 TD.  Now, it’d be crazy to pass on Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew with any of the first three picks but, after that, guys like Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss are way more likely to deliver their career averages than what’s left in the backfield.  Not to mention that running backs are infinitely more likely to get hurt.

So, take advantage of those in your Fantasy Football League that are mired in the conventional wisdom.  Stockpile two of the elite receivers before anyone realizes how that the position has thinned out and then scoop up mid-round running backs who’ll still help your team. Continue reading »

Close Calls For Holmdel In McGee Survivor League
Tough week in the McGee Survivor League as the Staten Island division suffered its first casualty of the season.  CousinHorsefeathers4 Ryno went down after a see saw Monday night battle with two of his Holmdel counterparts that saw all three occupy the bottom of the standings at some point.  Wagstaff finally had a big week behind Andre Johnson and Roddy White and may actually see Halloween.  Don’t bet on it, though.

Can Someone Buy That Coach A Watch?
It happens every week yet, as a seasoned Professor of Football, I haven’t ever been able to understand it.  The idea that a Head Coach watching his opponent drive down the field for a game tying or winning score at the end of a game, will staunchly refuse to call any of his timeouts to save some time for his team to come back.   Maybe it’s a macho thing; not wanting to show weakness or a lack of confidence in the defense.  Maybe it’s wishful thinking, hoping against hope that time will run out before the other guys score or maybe it’s just that, after a long day on the gridiron, the coach is just hungry and doesn’t want to delay his post game meal any longer. (This practice is not limited to the NFL, mind you, because I’ve seen this in Pee Wee football.) No matter what explanation is given, it only serves to mask the actual one: stupidity.

The latest example came on Monday when Rex Ryan decided he had a little extra room in his suitcase for the two timeouts he took home to New York after the Dolphins pulled out a last second victory over the Jets.  Miami scored the go ahead TD with just six seconds on the clock, no time at all for Mark Sanchez to do anything about the deficit.  Had Big Rexy chosen to stop the clock, however, the rookie signal caller may have had as much as a minute left.  Ryan’s post game explanation was baffling, as he declared his belief that his defenders would stop the Dolphins short of the goal line; something they had managed but once in a fourth quarter that saw them surrender three TD’s.  Was Rex at the concession stand for those drives?  The rookie head coach did redeem himself on Tuesday, however, in admitting that he’d do it differently next time.  Unfortunately, even if Ryan converts, a hundred other coaches will refuse to acknowledge the oncoming train.

Fantasy Football News and Notes
Lions  WR Calvin Johnson has missed a few practices this week with what might be a sprained knee and is questionable for Sunday.  Expect him to play… Look for the Cardinals to work RB Beanie Wells into a more pivotal role… WR Miles Austin and Jeremy Maclin were the most added players this week on CBSSportsline… A torn meniscus will keep Raider RB Darren McFadden out of this week’s game… New England WR Wes Welker has not participated in a full practice this week as he battles a knee problem… QB Eli Manning will start on Sunday for the Giants in New Orleans… RB LaDainian Tomlinson returns to the Chargers’ lineup Monday night…

Fantasy Football Stars
Although he might belong on the Sleepers list based on last week’s abysmal performance, Tampa Bay’s Cadillac Williams lands here due to the Bucs’ schedule.  They’ll face Carolina this week, ranked 30th in the league against the rush… Aaron Rodgers gave his owners two 300 YD games last year vs. the Lions and there’s no reason to expect anything less this week…The Cardinals’ passing game is as good as its pass defense is bad; good news for owners of Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, who’ll face the beleaguered Arizona secondary this week.

Fantasy Football Stiffs
Jets WR Jericho Cotchery is still troubled by a hamstring injury and will be a game time decision on Sunday. In the same situation last week, he failed to fire… Browns’ RB Jerome Harrison was the hot pickup last week off of his performance vs. Cincinnati.  He managed just 21 YDS last week against a porous Buffalo defense and doesn’t figure to fare better this week in Pittsburgh… Saints’ TE Jeremy Shockey has been popping off all week as he preps to face his old mates.  Shockey has never been one to perform well under pressure and the Giants won’t want to let him.  Two catches. Tops.

Fantasy Football Sleepers
Denver RB Knowshon Moreno got his feet wet last week with his first career start.  Look for a big week from the rookie as he faces the Chargers; ranked 27th in the NFL against the run… Jets QB Mark Sanchez apologized to TE Dustin keller for not throwing to him Monday night. Keller should make up for it this week in Buffalo… As bad as the Cards’ pass defense has been, Seahawk WR Nate Burleson should be licking his chops this week.

Fantasy Football Slippers
Rashard Mandenhall has been a godsend to many owners since stepping in for Willie Parker in Pittsburgh.  His touches will be cut this week, however as Parker returns from a toe injury… The Eagles plan to work LeSean McCoy into a rotation with Rb Brian Westbrook; bad news for Westbrook owners… Tennessee RB Chris Johnson managed just 34 YDS last week against the colts and will have a tough time this week vs. New England, especially if the Titans continue to play from behind.

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
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