Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Running Back Rankings--Week 4-16

The main feature here at Solomon's Lines is going to be the triweekly ranking of running backs. The focus is going to be on schedule analysis of the weeks from now until the end of the fantasy season. This should be helpful for making trades as there should be some undervalued and overvalued guys. To repeat what I said in February schedules don't mean the same thing to each back. In short form, primo backs would like to see a schedule with as few E and D matchups as possible; they can exploit a C matchup and even a D isn't that scary. Your spot starter type rbs are more useful if they have a lot of A and B matchups.

1. Chris Johnson-Titans
0E 1D 4C 4B 3A
CJ lit up the Texans, put in a solid performance against the Jets and was shut down by the Steelers. The rest of his schedule looks a lot more like the Texans than the Jets or Steelers. That's right, the current points leader has faced the hard part of his schedule.

2. Adrian Peterson-Vikings
2E 3D 5C 1B 3A
In contrast, Peterson has already gone through the easiest part of his schedule. Now, he is still Adrian Peterson, schedule neutral , he is far and away the schedule-neutral number one back and he ran well on a D matchup already.

3. Maurice Jones-Drew-Jags
2E 2D 3C 2B 3A
MJD has shown he can exploit a good matchup and he has got a few of them coming up. So far he has been the crux of the Jag offense, his part of the passing game should keep him putting up numbers even when they're behind.

4. Pierre Thomas-Saints
1E 1D 5C 2B 3A
All we've seen from the frenchman is one half against a B matchup. Somehow, I have more questions about just about everyone else. He also benefits from a schedule that looks a lot easier than it did in February(thanks destruction of panther and buc defense). What makes it more interesting is that his two toughest matchups are coming up. After week 7, he should be at a buy low.

At this point I'm going to abandon the rankings and just discuss the schedules. Everyone has issues, be they injuries, threats to playing time, or poor performance. Weight those factors how you like, or just grab espns basically schedule neutral rankings, and I'll help with the schedules.

Marion Barber and Felix Jones-Cowboys
1E 2D 5C 3B 1A
The Cowboys have put up yards against everyone this year A matchups and Es alike. The question as always, will be who will run and how much. With injuries to Barber and Jones, its tough to be confident and either. Tashard Choice will be a good play on occasion as well. Barber looks like he will be healthier first and he remains the best play. The schedule reamains unfriendly to the two if they are splitting time. Not enough A matchups where there are enough numbers for the both to be big.
Questions:health, time split

Brandon Jacobs-Giants
1E 3D 5C 3B 0A
The Giants have a good schedule for Jacobs, but there are really no primo games where you'd feel comfortable starting Bradshaw. You are TD gambling with him. Against the Bucs their only A game on the schedule, Bradshaw did get a big chunk of the yards, Jacobs ran efficiently in the other two games. Those middle matchups make up the entirety of the Giants remaining fantasy schedule, Jacobs is a clear top 10 guy.
Question:low current point total

Clinton Portis-Redskins
2E 2D 4C 3B 1A
Portis looked good at the beginning of the year but his health has rapidly deteriorated. The schedule isn't accommodating to a partial strength Portis. That and the Redskins offense mean that Betts will never be a good play. Sadly, the best two matchups remaining are immediate, when Portis will be the least healthy. Unhealthy, even the Rams were too much of an obstacle.
Question:health, team offense

Brian Westbrook-Eagles
2E 2D 4C 3B 1A
Same old Westbrook played well when he was in, and already missed a game. McCoy seems capable of filling in if Westbrook can't perform. Not too bad a schedule for the Eagles starter, as C matchups are no problem, and Ds are manageable.
Question: health

Matt Forte-Bears
1E 5D 3C 0B 3A
The bad news, Forte has looked bad. The good news, Forte mostly looked bad in week 1 and against the Steelers. He broke a century all purpose yards against an A matchup. So you can take heart that he has some more good matchups left. The problem is that he will most likely be ineffective in those 5 D matchups. You are hoping Cutler takes him to the red zone in those games. This is not what I and everyone else foresaw going into the season. At least there are no credible threats to his playing time. I think they get the running game together as the season progresses. The Lions and Falcons should help him build confidence.
Question: Current totals, poor performance

Ryan Grant-Packers
2E 4D 1C 0B 5A
So far, it looks like Grant puts up numbers against bad teams and is sketchy against good defenses. They have a pretty bizarre schedule coming up without any middling matchups. Pretty good actually if you think of Grant as a second/third, and have another option to play. He makes a pretty poor first back in deep leagues.
Question: dependability

Kevin Smith-Lions
3E 3D 3C 0B 3A
Somewhat similar to Grant, he's performed well in good matchups, but he has fewer of them remaining. A dependable 2/3 I guess.

Dangelo Williams and JStewart-Panthers
2E 2D 5C 1B 2A
Williams should never have been drafted as highly as he was. Stewart continues to get a share of the carries and these matchups just don't bode well for the pair. Bail as you never have before.
Question: schedule, time split, schedule

Derrick Ward and CWilliams- Bucs
1E 3D 5C 2B 1A
Two backs, splitting time, that have been shut down two games straight, on a bad team. That schedule isn't doing them any favors.

Michael Turner
2E 5D 1C 2B 2A
Turner has been mediocre so far, against the easiest part of his schedule. If he is under 4 ypc against B matchups, what is he going to do against all those Ds. Sell sell sell.
Question: schedule

Frank Gore-49ers
1E 2D 3C 0B 3A
Gore is missing two really good matchups while he's out but he's got some more left. If you have starters lined up for the next few weeks, maybe you could trade for him now.
Question: injury, at least 3 games

Julius Jones-Seahawks
0E 2D 5C 0B 5A
Looks like I've slept on Jones, who has shown he can exploit a good matchup. As a third back, he has 5 matchups you would love to play him in. Might even be worth a trade if you can Jones and a receiver for an overrated back like Turner.
Question:team health, limited playability

Steven Jackson
1E 4D 4C 1B 2A
Jackson has put up solid yards, without a score, against some weak defenses. His schedule is somewhat harder from here on out. The problem is, that offense never gets him into the red zone and scoring will always be a problem.
Question:team offense

Tim Hightower and BWells-Cardinals
2E 3D 0C 2B 5A
Hightower has proven ineffective in the run game and useless against good defenses. His value had been in the passing game, but his poor running could cost him his job. If it does, there's good matchups for Wells to exploit as an actual runner.
Question:current performance, playing time threat

Joseph Addai and Donald Brown-Colts
3E 2D 2C 1B 4A
The Colts have run the ball poorly against mediocre defenses so far. They've got good and bad matchups coming up. One back could play those Ds and Cs. Backs in a split will have to be satisfied with the primo games. With that passing game, if one of them becomes the goal line back, it could make for big points.
Questions: split time, current performance

Steve Slaton-Texans
1E 2D 5C 3B 2A
Like Tennessee, the Texans have already gone through the toughest part of their schedule. In their one decent matchup, Slaton put up good numbers. It is too soon to give up on him. He should likely have only one more game like weeks 1 and 2. Definite buy low.
Question: touchdown vulture

Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch-Bills
2E 1D 5C 2B 2A
Jackson put up good numbers against an A matchup and decent numbers against mediocre matchups. The return of Lynch complicates things. Even solo, he'd barely be a starter, so there's not a lot of value here.
Question:time split

Fred Taylor and crew-Pats
2E 2D 6C 2B 0A
Not a lot to like in the schedule, but the multiple back situation is too messy anyways.
Question:time split, schedule

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams-Dolphins
2E 2D 3C 3B 2A
Dolphins have put up solid ground numbers against medium defenses. Pretty much what they'll continue to face. Problem is, there aren't enough touchdowns to go around.
Question: time split,

Thomas Jones and Leon Washington-Jets
0E 2D 5C 4B 1A
Jones was effective only in his A matchup. Washington was solid against both an A and a C. The remaining schedule is actually pretty usable for Washington. He'll never be a preferred option because of the timesplit, but he could be good in a spot.
Question:time split

Willis McGahee and Ray Rice-Ravens
4E 2D 3C 1B 2A
Huge sell high here, the Raven backs have put up big numbers against 2 Bs and an A. When they get into the difficult part of their schedule, there won't be enough numbers to go around for two backs. Throw in McGahee's TD luck and you have two overvalued guys.
Question: time split, schedule

Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall-Steelers
3E 1D 4B 3A
There's some upside here, the Steelers backs have been obliterated, but by three good defenses. Better matchups are in store, and even though the Steelers have more than one back, there seems to be a clear pecking order so that there will be a goto guy for each game. The Steeler starter should be a great spot start for seven matchups.
Question:health, offensive line

Jamal Lewis, Davis and Harrison-Browns
4E 2D 1C 4B 1A
The Browns starter(whoever it is) was never going to be a more than a spot starter. Looks like its Harrison for now, and he has a few Bs left where he will be playable.
Question: time split, health

Cedric Benson
3E 2D 0C 3B 4A
Cedric Benson has looked good against everyone, and he hasn't played any spectacular matchups yet. His schedule is mixed ahead, perfect for the spot starter which he was in the beginning. Its still around the strength that he has faced so far. Expect what we've seen so far, a top ten guy.

Darren McFadden and Michael Bush-Raiders
2E 3D 1C 3B 3A
Expect a little better than what we've seen from the Raiders. McFadden as the number one guy. Bush as a solid chunk of carries. 6 more good matchups. Russell can't possibly play as bad as he has and there should be more red zone opportunities.
Question: time split, offense quality

Darren Sproles and LTomlinson-Chargers
3E 2D 2C 4B 1A
The Chargers haven't run the ball well, though Sproles has had success in the passing game. That type of success isn't that reliable or schedule dependant. The return of Tomlinson and his giant fork further complicates things.
Question: time split, current performance

Larry Johnson-Chiefs
2E 1D 3C 5B 1A
A favorable schedule down the line, but the Chiefs have not run the ball well at all. They're not likely to be up in the second half against anyone. Just an out and out disaster of a situation.
Question: current performance

Knowson Moreno and Corell Buckhalter-Broncos
3E 1D 4C 4B 0A
Both backs have run well against an A and a B. There's a few more Bs and they should be good enough to put up numbers against Cs. Its the split that looks like the problem to starting either. I like Moreno to put up good numbers down the line.
Question time split

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday's Minings--Week 3

Week 3 may be the biggest week in fantasy football. By this point, you have a fair idea of what your team looks like, and what you need. Time to start considering trades, and time to start considering bye week. Later in the week, I'm going to post schedule analysis and rank running backs for the rest of the way. Now, on to the minings.

The two most interesting situations right now may be the Saints and Cowboys running backs. Bell put up great numbers for two weeks, the Saints ran Hamilton for the first half in week three. He looked dreadful, even though he got a touchdown. Pierre Thomas came in the second half and put on a show. He is powerful. The Hamilton experiment is hopefully over but when Bell comes back it will get tricky. Either way Saints RB1 is a great play every week. Likewise, Dallas RB1 is a must play, that line can really open up holes. But while Thomas looks likely to grab the lion's share of the carries in new orleans, Barber and Jones limit each other's value as long as they both play.

Start any backs against Houston. Any. That defense has serious issues. That said, Sims-Walker looks like the top target the rest of the way for Garrard. A positive for Slaton owners, that key fumble should keep the ball of Chris Brown's hands at the goal line. It never should have been there, he was benched for Lendale White, the fat version.

Chris Johnson looked good against an elite run defense. It's vexing that he gets run up the middle so much, when that's what White is for. Johnson can break one at anytime, against any d. On the other side of the ball, the fantasy death of Thomas Jones has not been exaggerated, he's as done as Tomlinson.

Cleveland is the worst team in the league. The Jets are a top 5 team. Is there a coaching change that could explain this?

Julius Jones represents an interesting archetype. Consistently scoring points, but would you ever start him? The kinda guy you pretty much don't want on your bench, but its extremely frustrating when someone uses him against you. Every year there's guys like this.

Cutler and the Bears passing game will get better and better as this season goes on. The defense may let them down, however. The antiBengals.

I watched alot of Denver and I still have no idea what to make of them.

The Raiders should bring in an assistant to run the wildcat immediately. Perfect situation for it.


1. Cedric Benson tore up the Steelers D. The Steelers D. He's good. Credit to the oline as well.
2. Pierre Thomas was scary. The contrast the Hamilton provided running with the same line against the same d just emphasizes it.
3. Peyton Manning, noones ever done it better.
4. Kevin Walter looked great. The rich man's Welker, he'll be an important cog in that offense.
5. VJackson, DJackson, we are starting to expect this from them
6. Cotchery came through all day for Sanchez.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 2 Power Rankings

Since the espn writers are apparently hacks, I thought I'd post my own power rankings. These are completely subjective, but based entirely on what I've seen and not at all on preconceptions or previous seasons.

1. Saints
2. Giants
3. Jets
4. Cowboys
5. Eagles
6. Bears
7. Texans
8. Steelers
9. Titans
10. Falcons
11. Niners
12. Bengals
13. Packers
14. Bills
15. Vikings
16. Ravens
17. Cardinals
18. Seahawks
19. Chargers
20. Raiders
21. Chiefs
22. Patriots
23. Colts
24. Dolphins
25. Jags
26. Redskins
27. Broncos
28. Panthers
29. Bucs
30. Rams
31. Lions
32. Browns

This doesn't mean I think the Colts will end up much better. But we have seen is narrow wins over teams that got blown out in their other game, and an utter inability to stop the run.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday's Minings

More confirmation that the Bengal defense is for real this week. After shutting down a legitimate Green Bay offense, I'm feeling more confident in this pick. Nothing I've seen has dissuaded me that Ravens are going to be letdown, the Bengals should challenge for second in the division. The Ravens are 2-0, but they have two wins over the AFC West, and don't look particularly inspiring on offense or defense. Benson is going to end up being a draftday steal. He put up 100 yards against the Packers, who just shut down first rounder Matt Forte.

Jamarcus Russell should not be a starting qb. He just doesn't have the accuracy. He has difficulty with the easiest of throws. Sadly, that's the only thing holding back this Raider team. Throw Sanchez into the mix and the cruise to the division title. Zach Miller's value has bottomed out. Under no situation should be starting a Raider besides McFadden.

Here's the thing about the Jets. They beat two good teams, but curiously, they beat teams that aren't great on the ground and are overly reliant on one great receiver. If Revis can take out that guy one-on-one, the Pats and Texans had trouble. The Titans will beat the Jets next week, there's noone for Revis to shutdown. The Titans are use to facing defenses that aren't forced to double their big target. They'll hit Johnson out of the backfield, and shut down the Jet offense. (this doesn't take away from what the Jets have done, I think they are a real contender who should win the division.)

The value of Steve Slaton is sinking. Fast. If Chris Brown is going to take the goal line carries away, than the value of pass offense to Slaton is neutralized. I knew this would happen, I just didn't think Chris Brown could be the guy to do it. You used a high pick on Slaton if you have him, but I'd find someone else to start until either his role changes or he gets nice matchups.

I'm still not worried about Forte. The talk is that he loses value because of the lack of receiving yards as Cutler is not a big fan of the checkdown. Here's the thing, you don't get value in fantasy football(at least not too much) with 5 yard catches. You get value from touchdowns. And a Cutler led offense, going up against a weak schedule, should put him in the red zone more often than last year. He has faced the Steelers and Packers remember. He has 2 games against the Lions, coming up as well as the NFC West and Cleveland. Keep the faith.

Don't keep the faith in Turner and SJackson. Everything that they've shown so far is what looked likely before the season. Why is is that Thomas Jones, a top 5 ff rb last year was rightly looked over in preseason rankings, but Turner, another top 5 ff rb with just as glaring problems, was looked at with rose colored glasses? SJax is going to keep putting up yards, even against good teams, but touchdowns are going to be tough to come by.

Week 2 Diamonds

1. Chris Johnson, who looked better than his stat line showed. (Shouldn't have been possible, I know)
2. Frank Gore. I will issue a large mea culpa to Gore, he looked powerful and extremely healthy. Should have seen this coming, I forgot that while his schedule was similar to SJackson's that schedule was more valuable to Gore because the Niners are better than teams like Seattle while the Rams are not. If I was redrafting, I'd bump Gore up to around 7th.
3. Darren Sproles looked lively. He had trouble running the ball against Baltimore, but if they made Bennett the lead back to pound it and switched it up with Sproles, I think Sproles would actually have more value, he's so good catching it of the backfield, he reminds me of a poor mans CJ.
4. Andre Johnson He was a beast today, without him the Titans win by 20.
5. Marques Colston
6. Matt Ryan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday's Minings-Week 1

Feeling very confident in my preseason Bengals defense love. Absolutely obliterated a Bronco offense that was good last year, and will probably be mediocre this year. I'd rated the Bengals as a 2 star matchup but even that may have been underestimating them. They picked up right where they left off at the end of last year. For now, keep your backs away from this matchup.

The biggest surprise for me was the Jets. They looked good all around but especially on defense. I haven't turned on the Houston offense yet; I believe the Jets may be that good. Their defense carried them last year, adding Rex Ryan may put them over the top. Wouldn't be surprised if they end up top 5 defense. If Sanchez maintains this play level they are a real threat to win the division.

Along those lines, the Pats looked bad. I don't see how they can win the division playing defense like that. They were shredded by Fred Jackson and Trent Edwards. They're offense can still be counted on, and if you got Fred Taylor late, you should be pleased that he looks like the goal line back, but you should be prepared to send any rb against them that you can.

Michael Bush is your pickup of the week, there will be enough points in that powerful Raider running attack for him and McFadden. Raiders could be another surprise team, making a push for the AFC West. The Chargers look less than promised. We kept hearing the 2008 offense with the 2007 defense. Why is that more likely than getting the 2008 defense and the 2007 offense? In any case, they probably end up somewhere in the middle on both sides of the ball. Most likely the division winner, but not a defense to necessarily avoid.

One more self serving note on the Chargers. Some people had LDT in their top 5. But that fork is not coming out. Trade him for a Donald Brown if you can.

I'm not too worried about a lot of guys that had less than spectacular games. If someone has one bad week in week 8, noone cares. But if the bad week is week1, alarms go off. Foolish, especially for receivers. The only guys I'm cutting bait on are running backs that looked visibly bad. Guys like Slow Willie Parker. Hang onto your premium, odds are they all come through.

Don't worry about Cutler either. He looked much better in the second half. He was getting no protection in the first half and panicking. The line will get it together, I think the Packers will be one of the better pass rushes they face, if not in the league. Very happy with the leagues where is have GB D. He will have more picks than the other top qbs, but by the end, he'll have plenty of scores too. Loved the Hester connection.

I am worried about Turner. Worried in the sense that what I saw confirmed what I predicted going into the season, a rough outing in what should have been one of the better games on his schedule.

Rams look like the worst team. I'm playing someone against the Rams at every opportunity.

Shining diamonds. Guys that caught my eye.
1. Obviously Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson.
2. MJD looked fantastic, I'd take him second if we drafted now.
3. Vincent Jackson looked great in a tough game. Big year coming up. He's the guy now.
4. Tony Romo is gonna spread it around, but he'll put up numbers. Lucy for him the defense looks wretched, he'll be throwing in the 4th quarter more than most top qbs.
5. Clinton Portis looked good in a loss, 4 ypc against an elite run d
6. Eagles defense will crush the ravens point total this year

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1 Sells

Thomas Jones put up 19 fantasy points in week 1, a feat he won't likely repeat. If you can get something decent for him, do it now while your opponents just see that 19. It was pretty much all garbage points. He ran terrible most of the game and just put up points near the end.

If it's possible, get anything, and I mean anything for Willie Parker or Mendenhall. They looked bad. Tim Hightower bad. Mendenhall is probably well recognized as worthless but you could fool someone into taking Parker.

If you can get something for Julius Jones, by all means do it. He didn't look bad, but he is not going to face the Rams every week.(just once more) The Rams look like they're going to be terrible; send everyone you can against them every week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The notion that you should take scheduling into account has come under fire recently, especially by Matthew Berry of ESPN. Now, I'm a big fan of TMR in general but he is dead wrong about this. On his podcast the other day(one of the top rated podcasts on itunes, i am after all, a company man), he quoted someone to the effect of it being arrogant to assume you can predict how a defense will do before the season starts. Maybe that is true, but it is no more arrogant than thinking you can predict how an offense will do, or more specifically, a running back. Predicting how football players and teams preform is what fantasy football is. Sure, you can't predict anything perfectly, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't attempt to predict and utilize the information.

Berry has an example of a defense that was predicted incorrectly before last season(San Diego). Well I can come up with countless examples of running backs who did not live up to fantasy owners expectations. Should we thus throw out informed guesses and draft running backs out of a hat. That is essentially what this line of logic reduces us to. Yes, you will be wrong some of the time about defensive projections, just as you will be wrong some of the time in your quarterback projections. But in a way, you are more like to hit on schedule predictions. After all, going into last year, you would assume that Pittsburgh and Baltimore would be top defenses and that Detroit and Denver would be atrocious. These cases are far more common than the surprises and disappointments.

Even if you couldn't predict defenses at all, and assumed an average schedule for each running back, you could still use scheduling in your assessments. You could look at the likely schedule differentiation from last year. So if someone had an easy schedule last year(Michael Turner), you could assume his schedule would be harder without making any evaluations at all.

Clearly, there is value in schedule assessments. Fantasy football is about making educated guesses. The more information you have, the more accurately you guess. There is no real point in depriving yourself of vital information, unless of course it flies in the face of the pick you made in January and refuse to back down.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


To begin, I should explain a handcuff for those first timers who may be reading this. A handcuff is the backup to your premier back, who you draft and keep on the end of your roster in case your star gets injured.

I think too much has been made of handcuffing without anyone ever explaining when you should do it. In standard leagues, you rarely need to use this technique. For example, if you have Steven Jackson, and he gets injured, you won't be plugging in his backup and expecting good results. You go to your bench or the wavier wire. There's no point in clogging up a bench spot with someone who might have value at some point when there are guys with real value there.

Typically, you would only handcuff in a deeper league, where there isn't much on the wire and you may not have a backup. In a 14 or 16 team league, you spend a lot of resources on your star and you need to have something if he goes down. Even in this case you still only want to handcuff if its a team will allow a backup to succeed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

NFC Team Predictions

Eagles--Best bet to go over 9.5 wins. Philly's unprecedented streak of bad luck cannot continue.

Cowboys--9.5 wins feels about right.They aren't as good as the Eagles.

Redskins--8 wins, leaning toward 7 should bring up the rear for this division

Giants--10 wins should give the Giants a good shot at the wildcard

Vikings--9.5 wins. this division will be much more competitive than last year

Bears--Over 9 wins. Counting on this one.

Lions--5 win. last year was an aberration

Packers--9 wins tending toward 10. Wouldn't be surprised if the hit 11 though.

Panthers--8.5 sounds good, tending towards 8.

Falcons--Under 9 wins, count em,

Saints--Best to go over 8.5 wins.

Bucs--Under 6.5 wins, a team on the fritz

Rams--5.5 wins is a big improvement from last years lucky 2-14. They probably go under.

Seahawks--Under 8. the injuries have already started

Cardinals--8.5 wins. tending toward 9-7

49ers--Over 7, just as good as seattle

AFC Team Predictions

Patriots--Over 11.5. In that division, I think the Pats end up with 12 or 13 wins.

Jets--7 wins. Feels about right for this team.

Dolphins--7 wins. Seems everyone has caught on that last year was a easy schedule fluke

Bills--7.5 wins. Slightly tempted to go under this, but I wouldn't be that surprised if the Bills come in second in this pansy division.

Steelers--Over 10.5. Pittsburgh will clean up this division.

Ravens--Under 8.5. My perception that Ravens will fall this year is apparently shared, but if that old defense goes, it will go.

Bengals--Top pick to go over 7. Surprisingly, that Bengal defense will lead the way.

Browns--6.5 feels about right

Titans--Top pick to go over 9. This is the best team of 2008. They'll replace haynesworth and keep winning.

Texans--Over 8.5. Offense will be on the hook. Wins will follow.

Colts--10. The over is more likely than the under but 10 feels good for a team in this brutal division.

Jags--8 wins is a slight comeback from last year but right on the money.

Raiders--Over 5.5. they could get 5 wins in the division alone. Strong pick.

Chargers--Over 10 wins is fairly certain, though i could see a push.

Broncos--Top pick to go under 6.5. I have a tough time seeing this team going over 4 wins.

Chiefs--Top pick to go under 6. 2 feels about right.

2009 Conference Picks

AFC Champion

The best short odd picks to win the AFC are the Colts and Titans. At 6-1, the Colts have a better shot to win than the Chargers at 5-1 and as good as the Steelers at the same. The Titans, the best team in the NFL last year are currently getting 9-1 odds. You will not find better odds than this.

In the middle range, I like the Texans at 18-1. When it comes down to it, there are six teams with a chance to win the AFC and the Texans are one of them. Considering the Dolphins are 20-1, the Texans are being underrated.

If you like long shots, the Raiders provide the best money, at 50-1, you get a team that is as likely to win the AFC as the Bills are.

Forced to make a pick, the Colts are the most likely AFC Champion.

NFC Champion

There are three teams with a real chance to win the NFC, Philly, Chicago and New Orleans. My pick to win would be the Saints. At 9-1, the Saints somehow have worse odd than the no-chance Panthers. The Eagles at 6-1 aren't terrible.

The longshot pick would the Niners at 25-1. Now I don't give them much chance, but giving them the same odds as the Bucs is strange.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

running backs-how i drafted them

In the keeper league, I came into the year with Chris Johnson and MJD. Feeling confident in this duo, I took Addai in the 7th for value and Jonathon Stewart(pre injury) in the 11th.

In the 12 team draft, I picked 7th and took Chris Johnson again, Forte went 6th, it was quite the tease. I didn't really get a true second back, so I took a trio of guys with potential in the midrounds. McFadden in the 6th(slip) Benson in the 7th and Stewart in the 9th. I also too Fred Taylor in the 14th, hoping he gets named starter and I can trade for a third receiver.

In the auction, I planned on targeting Forte, but wound up getting MJD for under his target value. With a sizable chunk of money spent, I couldn't overspend on Forte and missed out. In retrospect I should have spent the cash to get the guy I wanted, even though I later got Chris Johnson for way under value. I spent a small amount on Addai, Moreno, Benson and Sproles. Could have perhaps combined that Addai and Johnson money to get Forte.

In the 14team that draft that I did this afternoon, I had the first pic and knew it ahead of time. I took Peterson first, and was hoping for Grant to be available at 28. When Grant went 27th I was thrown. I considered a Willie Parker gambit, where I would take SSmith and Boldin and hope Parker was still there at pick 56. Adding Mendenhall and Chester Taylor would ensure a solid lineup in such a deep league. In the the end, i passed on Boldin and took Pierre Thomas, that last back of the first megatier. Having made my bed, I didn't take another back for a while. At picks 112 and 113, I took Beanie Wells and Chester Taylor. Wells was a value pick at that point. I'm not sure how he slipped that much. I don't handcuff in standard leagues, but in deep leagues, it's a must, as the wavier wire is much thinner. I also took Mike Bell in the last round, so I ended up with the Viking and Saint running attacks, with Beanie Wells for bye weeks or trade bait.

2009 Rankings-running backs

So far in my late summer rankings, I haven't mentioned schedule much. For the passing positions, it wasn't really important because when I did my research, there wasn't any standout or terrible passing schedules. It also is inherently not as important for receivers. Still, it has a great impact for ballcarriers. There is no point in rehashing what you can already access in my old posts. Back in Februrary i did full analysis of every rb's schedule. If I mention that that x running back has a terrible schedule, the research to back it up is hidden in the depths of this blog. The changes from my positions in Febuary will be based on various changes to situations and on changes in how the back is generally perceived. As always there are general tiers to follow.

I'm not going against the grain when I say that Adrian Peterson(1) should be the number one pick. He is generally perceived as the best back, he's on a good team, and bonus, he has a pretty good schedule. If for some odd reason you didn't want him, you are still better off taking him and trading him.

Where I differ from the pack is that I don't he's that far ahead of Matt Forte(2). The Bears 2nd year back is the feature runner for a better team than Peterson. While he won't break as many long TDs as AD, he should get more goal line opportunities, and he'll be leading games in the second half more. He also has a worse backup. Can't go wrong with Forte, especially as he sometimes slips down to 5 or 6.

I was honestly surprised that Maurice Jones-Drew(3) has been rated so highly by everyone else, because a big part of my high rating of him is due to his phenomenal schedule. The AFC South backs all have incredible schedules and MJD probably has the best.

In the fourth slot Michael Turner is your safe pick. Most people would take him second but that schedule is absolutely brutal. There will be far fewer red zone opportunities for Turner, far fewer second half leads to run out. He'll have a fine year, but there will be few games in which you are thrilled to start him. I'm taking Chris Johnson(4) with his outstanding schedule. People are down on Johnson because they think White takes the goal carries. But he couldn't do that any more than he did last season.

Next I'm taking Brandon Jacobs(5), who is facing the same schedule as last year. He has no Ward and no downside. Wouldn't be surprised if he gets 20 touchdowns. I'm also a believer in Steve Slaton(6). I had him lower in the winter because I thought the Texans would acquire another back. They didn't and Houston's great running schedule combined with my high team expectations lends great weight to his high ranking here.

With those guys off the table, I take Michael Turner(7). It's unlikely for that scenario to happen, so I doubt I would ever have Turner this year. Just as well, as I wouldn't relish facing that schedule. In the same way I know I'm unlikely to get Deangelo Williams(8). He is just getting overdrafted. He has actually risen to this point since February, because of the injury to Stewart. But he has the same problem as Turner; his schedule is a monster. He has value if he slips to the end of the first round, but at this point I start thinking about a receiver.

You can't go wrong with the expected production of Brian Westbrook(9) and Clinton Portis(10). The two feature backs should give the kind of production they had last year.Westbrook will miss a game or two, and Portis will play through a few nicks, but at the end of the year, they'll both probably be in the top ten.

Steven Jackson(11) and Frank Gore(12) won't end up on any of my teams this year. They're consistently overdrafted by people focusing on their talent and forgetting that you don't want a back, even a feature back, on a losing team.

Ryan Grant(13) is insanely underdrafted. He is the feature back for a good offense with a decent schedule. He looked good in preseason. There is no back behind him that might split carries. You can likely get him early fourth round.

Similarly, Pierre Thomas(14) can be picked up in the late third. My rising expectations for Thomas has mostly to do with my growing belief that the Saints are going to win the NFC. He lags behind the others because he needs a Reggie Bush injury to be top 10. Either way, he is the lead back and the goal line guy. They do have a tough schedule, otherwise he could be higher on this list.

That's the end of the first tier, or first two tiers. Either way, after these guys are gone, there are a lot of receivers I would take before the next back.

Joseph Addai(15) is getting unfairly underdrafted. Sure he seems to be injury prone, but that's basically the only knock against a running back that was drafted in the top 5 a year ago. Noone at this point is question free. Add in the fact that he has a great schedule and you can insure the pick by taking Donald Brown pretty late and he is really the best option at this point.

The knock on Marion Barber(16) is that Felix Jones is knocking on the door. While the same questions about Jacobs last year turned out to be negligible, I feel that Jones is a more credible threat. Still, Barber will be the goalline part of the committee of a good offense at the very least.

The situational facts are all very good for Ladanian Tomlinson(17). My comparatively low ranking is due to the fact that I think he's done. I went through it first hand with Shaun Alexander after many years of a fruitful fantasy connection. He looks like a shadow of the LDT we knew; he can't cut. I don't know that he will be replaced or if he'll play through the tough times, but I don't feel confident enough to draft him at any point where he would realistically be available.

I also have some faith in Darren McFadden(18). On innate talent, he should be the feature back for a team that put up solid rush numbers last year and faces an increasingly weak AFC West. He has great value as a third back in particular with those 4 matchups against the Chiefs and Broncos.

A notch above the foll wing group is Cedric Benson(19). In addition to having a quite good schedule, Benson is the feature back for a team that I think will surprise a few people. If the Bengals end up around 8-8, Benson will have quite a good season, and I've been picking him up as often as possible.

At this point in the draft there is value in those backs that feature for bad teams. Typically, I don't want any of them, but there are places that they have value, say in a deep league where you want a sold number 2. Usually, your starting lineup is set, and you would rather have a back with potential to go off than someone who will be solidly mediocre, but technically there is value here in Kevin Smith(20), Larry Johnson(21), Ronnie Brown(22), Thomas Jones(23), Marshawn Lynch(24), and Derrick Ward(25). At least, they have more real value than committee guys or backups. But ideally, in a standard league, you should have your starters, and would rather have potential than a high floor. Jones was a top 5 guy last year, but in addition to the much harder schedule this year, it seems as if Washington will grab a chunk of carries this year. Kevin Smith is mostly being overdrafted, while Ward is seriously underdrafted, considering his status is essentially the same as the other backs in this group.

Even though their value is higher, I'd wait and take someone with potential for big numbers, like Knowshon Moreno(26), or Ray Rice(27). The two backs are the most likely guys to lead solid rushing attacks but probably splitting carries in a few directions.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tight ends-How I drafted them

In my keeper league, I had Gates as a keeper. I should acknowledge my intense passion for Antonio Gates, who I have had on my team since he was an undrafted rookie. I unexpectedly took a backup when Olsen slipped to the point where he was an incredible value pick. I hope to trade him.

In my 12-team draft, I took Gates in the fourth round, with two top flight receivers on my roster and a dearth of good rb options. I didn't take a backup and in Gates' bye week, I will likely leave the spot empty.

I took Gates in my auction, again not taking a backup.

In the 14-team draft I'm doing tomorrow, I plan on taking Olsen with pick 84 but if he isn't, I will likely wait and take Shiancoe or Zach Miller. There is also a possibility to take Daniels, but I doubt he is there. Picks 28 and 29 will be too early to take a tight end, as too many good backs or receivers will be left, so the big 4 are out of the question.
UPDATE: Olsen was gone at 84, but Daniels inexplicably slipped. I took him without hesitation. I took Kevin Boss with my last bench spot, he'll probably be my first drop for a receiver that looks good week one.

2009 Rankings-Tight Ends

I've always been a fan of having a top notch tight end. Its similar to qb in that if you feel confident in your guy, you don't need to waste a bench spot on a backup. This year, there is a well publicized big 4. I agree with the four but I don't they are as close as the term suggests. Jason Witten(1) is going to have a big year with TO out of town. Antonio Gates(2) and Tony Gonzalez(3) shouldn't disappoint. I'm a little bit worried about Dallas Clark(4) to warrant taking him the same round as the other guys.

It's a significant drop after that. I find that Owen Daniels(5) is a bit overdrafted, especially as compared to Greg Olsen(6). The two should both have good years, with the improved team offenses leading to more red zone opportunities.

After that its a mess. There aren't any sure things, but a lot of acceptable options. It's definately important to get two guys with potential if you don't have any of the top 6. In any case you are better off waiting rather than grabbing someone in a panic. Visanthe Shiancoe(7) was a top 5 guy last year, currently going in the 13th round. Zach Miller(8) is the best target for the Raiders, who will have 4 games against the Chiefs and Broncos. John Carlson(9) and Heath Miller(10) are solid options. Chris Cooley(11) is crazy overdrafted. Dustin Keller(12) is another late draft value. Kellen Winslow would be worth a risk in the late rounds, but he isn't lasting that long.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quarterbacks-How I drafted in them.

In my keep4 league, I drafted Tony Romo. There are only 8 teams, so quarterbacks slipped as everyone knew there were enough to go around. It ended up being a tough decision between Romo and Rodgers. I didn't take a backup.

In my 12 team draft, I took Cutler in the fifth, He was the last of the good qbs, and I was happy to get him there. Because the wavier wire is limited in this league and there aren't a lot of good picks in the late rounds, I did take a backup, David Garrard in the 12th.

In my auction, I took Rivers, for variety if anything. I got a good price, so i took him instead of paying significantly more for Rodgers. Again, I ended up with a 2 dollar bid for Garrard at the very end.

As I've mentioned before, I have one more draft, a 14teamer. I'm planning on getting Cutler at pick 56. If he is not there I'm pretty much screwed. I can't pick a qb at 28 or 29, as the big three are gone, and noone else is worth it. By pick 56, I believe everyone else besides Cutler should be gone.
UPDATE: I indeed got Cutler with pick 56. I picked up Garrard at the end of the draft. I'll keep him as an insurance policy, but if he starts out hot, I may try to parlay him for a receiver.

2009 rankings-quarterbacks

Drew Brees(1) is the obvious number one choice, but its rare that you'd want to pick a qb in the first round, so it's tough to end up with him. Once the primo backs are gone, I would look at the Johnsons to fill my receiver spot and after that Brees is gone, If you find he slips to you at say 14-15, than he becomes too tough to pass up.

Peyton Manning(2) and Tom Brady(3) are basically 2 a and 2b. In the same way as Brees, I'm not like to end up with them, as they never go after the 4 and 5 wrs, who I prefer. What I mean is, I know I can get a good qb 3 rounds later, while the primo receivers will be gone by then. I'd rather wait and not take either of these guys.

Especially when, Tony Romo(4) is available in the fifth round. Back in February, I wrote that you were better off not taking a top 4 qb and waiting for the second tier.(Rodgers, Culter, Rivers) Since then, Romo has dropped below Rodgers and is on par with Rivers in the minds of fantasy players. I still think Romo is fourth. He was 12th last year despite missing 4 games. He is now one of the most underdrafted players in fantasy.

Aaron Rodgers(5) and Phil Rivers(6) are 5a and 5b. Thing is, Rodgers is getting drafted a lot higher. Taking Rivers in the 4th round is a nice solution if your not big on Romo. San Diego is going to have a big year, Green Bay is going to have a big year. Can't go wrong.

Since the winter, Jay Cutler(7) is on a new team but I don't think he drops off much. Maybe from 5c to a clear 7. He is going in the 7th round. Ridiculous; he is a steal in the 6th. The only problem with waiting for Cutler is that if you wait and miss him, there are no more elite options left. So depending on your situation, It may be wise to grab Romo or Rivers when you can.

Everyone else is a risk. Given the improbable situation, Kurt Warner(8) would be my 8th choice. But I've never seen a draft where he is available and the above qbs are gone. Someone else will take the high risk/reward qb way too soon, and regret it when he is injured. Speaking of injury risk, Donovan McNabb(9) will probably have a very good season. But you should have one of the above seven, you don't need a good backup. Buuut, McNabb or Matt Schaub(10) may be all you have left.

If you ended up with one of those three it would be nice to grab a second qb, either the safe Matt Ryan(11) or double your chances of success with a second risk on Carson Palmer(12) or Ben Roethlisburger(13).

The rest of the bunch isn't worth much, I'd just as soon have David Garrard in the 13th as Eli Manning in the 9th or Matt Cassell in the 8th.

If you got one of the top seven, you don't really need a backup. You can fill in bye weeks and short term injuries off the wavier wire. If you didn't you hopefully got two of that next bunch. No point in bothering with guys like Orton or Flacco, not a good idea to waste a 9th rounder on someone who will never get off your bench.

Receivers-How I drafted them

In my long term keep 4 league (8 teams), I started out with Steve Smith. The top tier guys were kept or taken in the first few picks. My top two choices of the available receivers were Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson. I knew Jackson would slide past TO, Houshmanzadeh, Marshall(early August)and either Ochocinco or Welker so i picked Bowe with the sixth pick and VJack when it came back around. I supplemented this lineup with AGonzalez in the 8th, Hester in the 10th and somehow KWalter in the 13th.

In my 12 team, new draft league, I went a different way. Andre Johnson fell to the second, where he was irresistible, Steve Smith was still there in the third. With two top tier receivers, I felt i could wait and pick up sleepers, while I used picks on other positions. I ended up taking Walter again, which I don't like because I already had AJohnson. My only other receiver was Hixon. I'm obviously not happy with my third receiver situation, but in a 12 team league, it's ok to have one bad spot and my rb situation has enough depth that I hope to be able to work a trade at some point.

My auction team ended up with Steve Smith(surprise) Vincent Jackson and Desean Jackson. After spending money on 5 running backs, I didn't have tons of money left so I got the Jacksons on the cheap instead of spending a few extra bucks on someone like Bowe. I obviously love VJack this year and between Desean and Hester, my third wr spot should be covered without taking up a lot of roster spots.

My final draft is this weekend. Its a 14 team league in which I have the first pick. That means my next two picks are 28 and 29. I'm hoping that either Wayne or White slips to this spot. That may be in vain, and I believe i need a receiver in this spot. I don't there is real qb value at that point in the draft and I'm not going to take a third rb. If for some reason those two guys are both there, I'll take them both. If not I'll settle for Boldin most likely. With my 54 and 55 picks, I'll likely take one of ABryant or DJackson. I'd love VJackson at that point but while he is available in espn drafts at that point, he is not in cbs drafts.(go figure) After that I'd love to take Hester at some point.
UPDATE: Wayne and White were gone, but Steve Smith was there. After a long debate featuring Anquan Boldin, I decided to follow my own rankings. Steve Smith in 4 leagues, I'm counting on you. Pick 55 was used, as planned, on Desean Jackson, not a bad number 2. Later on, Hester was taken one spot before I planned to take him, leaving me with Santana Moss as my number 3. I'm less than thrilled. I didn't even take a backup, there was nothing left on the board. Hopefully I can trade Beanie Wells for a better third receiver.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

2009 Rankings-Receivers

Now that Ive done a few drafts and were heading into the big draft weekend, its time to solidify some rankings and clarify some thoughts. As always, I'm not just going to give the order, I'm going to give some rationale so you can change things where you disagree. I'll start with receivers since it is the simplest and most obvious.

I said in February that there were a big 7/9 and I still completely agree. My order of the 9 has changed however. These nine guys are still as safe as fantasy picks get.

While I believe the margin between 1 and 3 is razor thin, I think Andre Johnson(1) is the clear number one. He, along with Calvin Johnson(2), has proven he can put up numbers with any quarterback and in any situation. I see a big year for the the Houston offense. There will not only be more Texan touchdowns to go around, but Kevin Walter will be pulling in less. The Lions terrible team status actually helps Calvin Johnson, who has proven to be the garbageman; noone is better at grabbing 60 yard touchdowns late in the game and trailing by 20 points. Larry Fitzgerald(3) is right on their tale, but I'm slightly worried by the fact that he put up his biggest numbers with a healthy Warner and an injured Boldin. Take away either of those factors and I believe he slides to three.

My fourth pick is the extremely safe Reggie Wayne(4). The Colts will bounce back due to (a) the laws of nature and (b) an easy schedule. Wayne should be the prime beneficiary and I would not be surprised if he put the most points on the board of any receiver. Remember you're drafting fore surety at the top, the rest of these guys have a few concerns.

Roddy White(5) has risen the most since February. Part of this is the decline in my mind of the Atlanta Falcons. They will be behind more this year than last. They'll be throwing more. They won't be able to pound it until Turner can run it on the goal line as much. They will be tossing bombs from the 30 to White.

When i say I'd pick Randy Moss(6) as the sixth receiver, I mean I'd pick him and then trade him, because I'd never have a Patriot on my fantasy team. I can be objective about where they rank, I just can't start them and be forced to root for their success. In one league this year, I drafted Fred Taylor just so I can trade him when he is affirmed as the starter. In any case, most people are very high on Moss, but I worry because, he tanked without Brady, and a receiver that is tied to any qbs health is a bit too much risk for me. Even with Brady, I doubt the Pats run up the score like they did in 2007, so he won't be catching bombs when they are up 20 to replicate the 07 numbers.

Steve Smith(7) was 5th among receivers last year. Is there any reason to doubt he won't put up the same numbers? His quarterback is the same. His schedule is mercifully harder, which factors the same way it does for White. He doesn't quite have the upside of the guys above him, and his shoulder is a slight concern. He will still do the business.

Eighth is a bit of a slip from Greg Jennings'(8) last year finish but there a few concerns, and I believe he ends with more yards and fewer TDs. I think Rodgers will spread it out a bit more, giving more touchdowns to Driver and the tight ends and slot guys. Most importantly, a few more of those Packer touchdowns should fall to Ryan Grant, who is being vastly underdrafted.

Finally, Anquan Boldin(9) brings up the rear because of his injury risk. However, I think this risk has been overstated and I believe he actually ends up higher than this. I'm just not confident enough to draft him higher than any of those eight. He is a bit more risk/reward than the others. The best receiver in the league before he got injured, he is being underdrafted and should be
taken immediately after Jennings.

The second tier should be looked at in around the third round. For the rookie, I mean that when you are picking 23rd and none of the above is left, you probably shouldn't take the tenth guy. It is probably time to address another position. This next group is full of safe choices. They primarily lack the upside of the top group but even in the third, you are better of with one of these guys than a risky running back.
My rankings haven't shifted too much since February, so I may repeat myself a little.

Marques Colston(10) is the only Saints receiver I have faith in. surprisingly, the numbers Lance Moore put up last year are being entirely ignored by this years fantasy owners, he may actually be a good sleeper on a team I have high expectations for. Brees will throw 40 touchdowns, some of them have to go elsewhere. I'm also not worried by the recent concerns about Dwayne Bowe(11). He had inconsistent qbs last year, his situation can only get better. These two are going right where they should in drafts.

Someone who I like just as much is going much lower. Vincent Jackson(12) is routinely drafted in the 50s. He is mister consistent, and the Chargers are going to put up points this year. You might consider waiting and taking him in the fourth, which is still more than safe to get him, as his value is considerably more than that. He was 12th last year, He'll be at least as high on an improved Charger team. The margin between Jackson and Colston is slim, but I think you can wait on him and get two of these three. This is especially handy if you missed the top tier by taking an elite qb.

TJ Houshmanzadeh(13) has given cause for concern recently, due to some injuries on the Seahawk offensive line. I think he still slots in here, though closer to the guys below him than the guys above. I've soured slightly on Terrell Owens(14); age is a tough nut to crack. Bernard Berrian(15) doesn't move too much from the Favre signing. He is just as dependable as ever. he gains a little upside but not enough to push to the next group.

Why is Antonio Bryant(16) slipping so much? Sure the Bucs qb situation is uncertain but it isn't as if it was stellar last year. After fifteen, there is a lot less safety at wr. I'd take the guy who put up numbers last year. Right after that I'd take the guy, Wes Welker(17) who is dependent on a quarterback that already had an injury scare.

Desean Jackson(18) is the biggest riser on my board. The Eagles could spread it around but I think the second year wideout makes the leap. Were in the period where some of these guys have the capability to finish in the top 5 but are a risk. Ideal third receivers, if you have a top tier guy and a consistent number 2. At this point I consider Brandon Marshall(18) and Chad Johnson(19). Marshall is the trickiest pick because at the moment, its possible he doesn't play at all. Ochocinco, looks good and could return to his previous form.

A more consistent option would be Hines Ward(20) or Donald Driver(21) who have shown no real reason to believe that their production drops off this year. Nothing fancy about them, just guys that should produce at near last years level.

The receiver I always end up with on my bench is Devin Hester(22). Sadly his stock has been rising as my original assumption that he would be great with Cutler has been proven correct in the preseason. I've been waiting on him and grabbing in much later rounds, but this is my impression of his value. Gonna be a big year.

Eddie Royal(23) has shown in the preseason that he has a place in the Orton office, which I doubted this offseason. He is worth a shot at this point, as is Roy Williams(24) who could take TOs looks this year. But realistically I'm not going to end up with any of these guys, because they are drafted too soon and are never a good value. I'm not even going to assign a number to Braylon Edwards(I guess it'd be 40 something) because there's no way he lasts to a point where he should be considered.

You should have your three receivers at this point but if not there is still relative safety in Lee Evans, Kevin Walter, Anthony Gonzalez or Jerricho Cotchery. Those guys would be a fine solid number three as long as you match them with a risk/reward 4 like Santonio Holmes. After that its just picking your sleepers, and working the wavier wire.