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 »

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

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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