Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Burning Bridges in Green Bay

A lot of people probably think this is about Bett Favre burning bridges in Green Bay. It isn't. It is about GM Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy burning bridges. When one reads between the lines, Brett Favre was not wanted in Green Bay. The Packers have "spun" the news to make the populace believe Favre is the villain, but according to Favre they have distorted the facts and lied about him. All to make themselves look better. For some reason I find myself believing Favre.

In today's Green Bay Gazette, here are some of the quotes

"sources said that when Favre showed up at Lambeau Field, he wasn’t allowed into the locker room or onto the field, and he watched part of the scrimmage from a luxury box."

"when he arrived in Green Bay before the Packers’ Family Night scrimmage on Sunday and was unable to get Thompson or McCarthy to return his phone calls."

Does that sound like a management that is going to give the player a fair chance at being QB? yes they said it would be an open competition, Favre went to Green Bay with that expectation. But it seems he was neve to be really given that opportunity. Just another press play by the Packers?

"That, combined with his anger over the Packers’ efforts to keep him retired, plus what he considered false stories leaked by the team about his offseason waffling, made it impossible for him to play for the Packers again after his talks with McCarthy and Thompson failed to bridge those differences.

“Mike told me, ‘Hey, we're a better team with you on it’ but wanted to know if I have a problem with an open competition,” Favre told ESPN. “I don't have a problem with competing – you know that, but Aaron should be the starter right now because he's been out here all this time. This is more than about an open competition, and I can do that, absolutely, but this is going to be mass confusion (if there’s a competition) and that's not good for this team.

“I'll practice my butt off, if it comes to that, and I think we all know what the end result will be, but this probably isn't going to work. And I truly understand that if I was in Mike's shoes, I'd see it basically the same way he sees it, I'm sure. And I think if he was in my shoes, he'd see it my way. I think we both agree on that. They want to know if I'm committed, but I want to know if they're 100 percent committed. The problem is that there's been a lot of damage done and I can't forget it. Stuff has been said, stories planted, that just aren't true. Can I get over all that? I doubt it.”

McCarthy’s meeting with Favre made clear the intensity of Favre’s resentment toward the Packers and Thompson for what’s happened this offseason.

Some of that came out in Favre’s interviews on Fox News in mid-July, when he said he didn’t trust Thompson because he thought Thompson had lied about several personnel matters they discussed..."

With Favre set to depart for Tampa Bay or New York probably, Thompson and McCarthy have to hope the Packers do better than the team Brett QBs this season. While a poll in Green Bay that asked fans "who was most concerned about the long-term future of the Packers, Favre and his supporters, or General Manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy" was answered the Packers' Management, don't be fooled by the answer. It was a weighed question designed to favor the Management. Obviously Favre is not a 5 year plan for the Packers. But if the question had been phrased "Who is most concerned about the Packers winning this season" I suspect the vote would have been different. And if fans had been asked which QB gave them a chance at winning a Superbowl this season, Favre or Rodgers, who do you think the fans would have chosen?

Now Thompson and McCarthy must hope that Rodgers can get them into the playoffs and that Favre has a bad season. If Favre is productive with his new team, then it will take more than making the playoffs for Thompson and McCarthy to survive in Green Bay. Thompson and McCarthy have placed their bet on Rodgers. It is probably an all or nothing bet. If Rodgers doesn't win and win a lot, look for Thompson and McCarthy to be leaving Green Bay.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Not Bad for a Rookie

Who's the rookie I'm talking about? Myself. This is my first season to play fantasy sports. I started last September with ESPN Fantasy Football when a group at my church formed a league. I decided to join and became quickly addicted, this this blog.

After football was NBA basketball, then NHL hockey (which I knew virtually nothing about to begin) and then in the Spring fantasy baseball. I drafted three teams on and this week is the championship. Two of my three teams made it to the championship week and my third team second in its division but missed the wildcard slot of the playoffs by a few points (I had a better record than the #4 team but fewer points for).

So now I wait and see if I finish first or second in two out of three fantasy leagues. I'm not really sure why concludes its fantasy season so early but it does.

I also have 3 teams on CBSSports and another on Yahoo. Two of my three CBS teams are contending for first place (the other is in third but way behind the leader). I messed up in my Yahoo draft by not paying close enough attention to the scoring rules. I drafted great starting pitching only to discover the league is weighted to hitting and relief pitching. I'm in the middle in that league but learned my lesson - I now read the scoring rules and roster requirements very carefully of the leagues I join.

In one NFL draft that attention seems to have produced fruit. The league rewards Return Yards (10 yards per point; 25 points at 50 yards; 50 points at 100 yards; 100 points at 150 yards). During the draft a couple of other team managers were making fun of me and talking about me being a rookie as I drafted players such as Jerious Norwood, Tedd Ginn, Jr, Nate Burleson and Devin Hester. They didn't pay attention to the scoring format. Tedd Ginn Jr suddenly becomes one of the most valuable WRS while he sits undrafted in most leagues. The same for WR Nate Burleson, RB Leon Washington, Jerious Norwood. RB Maurice Jones-Drew had value anyway but becomes much more valuable in such a format. Since return yards are also included in DST, a team such as Cleveland suddenly jumps ahead of other defenses since Cribbs is such a great returner and returns both kicks and punts. In fact, Cribbs is fore casted to be a top WR in this league solely due to his return yards.

So pay attention to those scoring rules. Learn from my rookie mistake!

Crowded backfield in Denver

I recently read a fantasy magazines view of the Denver running backs as "if you could combine all of them into one player, you would have a fantasy stud" - my paraphrase rather than a direct quote. Their comment was made in the Spring before Travis Henry and Mike Bell were released (and replaced) but is still a valid point. It appears many running backs will get carries in Denver and guessing which one will get the majority is like playing the shell game - blink and you lost which shell hides the ball.

Yesterday's Denver Post places Anthony Aldridge in the mix now along with Selvin Young, Andre Hall, and Ryan Torain. If you haven't heard of Aldridge, I'm not surprised. He isn't mentioned in 6 of the 7 fantasy football magazines I looked at, and I haven't seen him mentioned as even a sleeper by anyone online. ESPN Magazine was the only one that had him on the depth chart in their publication. So you may want to make one of the Broncos' RB a sleeper pick in your draft but be ready to change horses midstream off the waiver wire this season if you do.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Drew Brees goes in 1st Round of Draft

According to mockdraftcentral the average draft position of New Orleans' Saints' QB Drew Brees is 30.87 with a highest draft position of 20 and a low of 40. WELL that sure changed tonight as he went #7 in my fantasy football draft on fleaflicker. I should know, I was the one who drafted him with the seventh pick. Why did I draft him so high? A couple of reasons.

One reason is that I think Drew Brees may be the best fantasy QB this season. Yes better than Brady, better than Peyton and better than Romo (although I drafted Romo also). Last season Brees was second only to Brady in passing yards with 4,423 yards to Brady's 4,806. It is very possible if not probable that Brees will pass for at least 4,400 yards again this year as his receiving corp has improved with the addition of TE Jeremy Shockey and a healthy 2nd year WR Robert Meachem. Shockey should also result in more clear space for RB Reggie Bush.

Brees also led the NFL last season in pass attempts (652) and pass completions (440). He also threw for 28 TDs (but 18 INTs). I expect Brees to be better this season than last when he had a very slow start. I also look for his TDs to increase (only passing stat Romo bested Brees last season - Romo had 36).

Anyway my second reason I drafted Brees 7th was the nature of the league and my draft position coupled with mock draft results. This league starts: 2 QB, 3 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K, 1 Team DST and 2 Utility slots (can be any position). There are 8 teams and my draft position was 7. All of the Elite RBs are taken before I get a chance so I could either take an elite WR, a Top 5 QB or a second tier RB. I did 3 mock drafts which simulated our draft. In the first 2 I took a RB and QB in the first 2 rounds and ended up with a mediocre team at the end. In the Third I took Brady in the first and the computer had the person behind me grab Brees. I did the draft again and drafted Brees first and the computer took Randy Moss 8th and a RB 9th leaving me Tom Brady. In each of the mock drafts, the computer had Romo going first among the QBs (before my position at 7). In the 2 mocks when I took QB-QB in the first 2 rounds, I did much better. The reality struck me. QBs were a premium in this draft because of its format. So I drafted Brees first knowing I would get either Romo, Palmer or Big Ben with the 10th pick. I got Romo.

My draft ended up as:
4 QBS out of 4 allowed:

QB Drew Brees - 1.7
QB Tony Romo - 2.2
QB Jason Campbell (a surprise he was available in Rd 9 -- 9.7
QB Brett Favre - worth a later pick just in case he plays --20.2

5 RBS out of 6 allowed:

RB Darren McFadden - 3.7
RB Jonathan Stewart - 6.2
RB Tommy Jones - 8.2
RB Brandon Jacobs - 10.2
RB Chris Johnson - 15.7

7 WRS out of 7 allowed

WR Andre Johnson - 4.2
WR T. Houshmandzadeh - 5.7 I was shocked he was still on the board in the 5th
WR S. Holmes - 7.7
WR S. Moss - 14.2
WR L. Coles - 16.2
WR B. Johnson - 17.7
WR A. Bryant - 19.2

2 TEs out of 3 allowed

TE J. Shockey - 11.7
TE V. Davis - 12.2

1 K out of 3 allowed

K Gould - 21.7

and 2 DSt out of 3 allowed

DST Seattle - 13.7
DST Saints - 18.2

Total roster is 21 players with 8 being on the bench.

After the draft I dropped Antonio Bryant (who I like as a sleeper) because I though my WRS were strong and my RBS "iffy". I replaced him with Miami RB Ricky Williams who the Dolphins are proclaiming as their best player in camp. With Ronnie Brown coming off an ACL injury, adding Ricky made sense to me.

Darren McFadden was my 3rd pick because my mocks showed he would be gone before I got another chance in Rd 5, and I needed a home run threat since the league has bonuses not only for yards but long runs. Being from Arkansas I really like DMAC's chances this season in Oakland. He is fast and strong. If he can avoid injury, he will be a Top 10 RB this season if not in the Top 5. He is also a good receiver and can even throw (the UA used him as a QB at times). He is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball from anywhere on the field. Chris Johnson in Tennessee may be the only RB faster than McFadden. That is why I grabbed Johnson also.

Why did I take both Shockey and Davis at TE when they both have the same BYE week? Well I didn't know at the time both had week 9 Byes but I would have taken them both anyway. Both are potential breakout candidates at TE. If only 1 breaks out, I'll drop the other. They were the only TEs I wanted left on the board.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sleepers, darkhorses and those who are just moving on up

It's fantasy football time and I have been having fun trying to see the future without a crystal ball. One thing I learned last year is that some players who everyone thinks is a sure fire must will end the season as a bust and someone who goes undrafted to start the season will finish as a must have. The manager who guesses correctly which "studs" to avoid on draft day and which sleeper to grab will probably win your league.

Last season our league champion drafted what on paper looked to be a weaker team than several other teams. He drafted QB Tom Brady, WR Randy Moss and rookie RB Adrian Peterson. He was at a disadvantage in that he was at work and offline while the rest of us was gathered together in a draftroom. His disadvantage turned to gold as he ended the season with 3 of best players at their position = QB, RB and WR.

So who to draft this year, who to avoid and who are the diamonds that everyone else mistakes for coal?

I am keeping a list of those who are moving up or down in my estimation as I read about the training camps. Among RBs, Willis McGahee is one that is moving down my draftboard. Why? Because the Ravens OL is young, inexperienced and bitten by the injury bug in training camp. That means the new OL is having trouble getting to play together and gel. The Ravens also have inexperienced and unproven QBs competing for the starting job. All of that plus a rookie RB in Ray Rice who may steal quite a few touches and TDs from McGahee is sending Willis down to a RB 2 or RB3 on my depth charts come draft day.

Moving up is Bengals' Chris Perry who looks like he may be the #2 RB for the Bengals this season. Look for him to get 10 to 15 touches a game even as Rudi is back as the workhorse back. RB Kenny Watson moves down for the same reason. But Rudi could be steal on draft day as his average draft position has fallen tremendously. He was a Top 10 pick a year ago and is now being drafted in RB3 and RB4 territory. If he stays healthy, he is still RB1/RB2 material so if you get him as a RB3 or RB4 you have a steal.

Another Bengal RB to watch is rookie James Johnson out of Kansas State. He is the talk of the Bengals' training camp and may send DeDe Dorsey to another team. QB Palmer had this to say "I can't wait to watch JJ, No. 39 on offense play," Palmer said of free agent rookie tailback James Johnson of Kansas State. "He's Warrick Dunn, great hands, explosively fast, real exciting to watch." Cincinnati Enquirer I do not suggest drafting James Johnson as a sleeper - there are better candidates out there such as Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, R. Mendenhall - but he is a player to watch and IF the injury bug strikes the Bengals RBs someone who may surprise. Mostly I see him as a player for next year's draft unless you are in a dynasty league. Then you may want to take a sleeper pick on him.

To see all of my Undervalued and sleeper picks, visit my website