Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks

I have always felt that quarterbacks were undervalued in fantasy football. In most scoring formats, they put up more points than any other position (yes, including the vaunted running backs). However, most people tend to dismiss quarterbacks as not worthy of a high pick because they all put up around the same amount of points.…

I have always felt that quarterbacks were undervalued in fantasy football. In most scoring formats, they put up more points than any other position (yes, including the vaunted running backs). However, most people tend to dismiss quarterbacks as not worthy of a high pick because they all put up around the same amount of points. I feel that the point differences between a top and mid-level quarterback and a top and mid-level running back are about the same.

In a standard Yahoo fantasy league, I'm going to look at the difference in fantasy points between the top ranked QB and RB and the 10th ranked QB and RB. The top ranked QB was Peyton Manning, with 356 points, and 10th was Aaron Brooks with 187 points, a 169 point gap. The top ranked RB was Shaun Alexander, with 194 points, and the 10th rank RB was Willis McGahee with only 127 points. The point spread here is only 67 points. Because leagues usually have 2 runners and only 1 quarterback, ill compare Alexander to the 20th ranked runner, Thomas Jones, who had 97 points. Between first and 20th, there is a 97 point gap.

In addition to having a far lower point spread, the running backs amass far fewer total points. The top RB, Shaun Alexander, only has 7 more points than the 10th QB, Aaron Brooks. The only reason running backs are ranked so much higher than quarterbacks is because, for no real reason, people tend to snap up running backs early. If you do not pick a back early, you will be stuck with a Warrick Dunn or a Brian Westbrook, who, while still good, are much worse than the top backs.

Most every QB had a career season last year, which can be attributed to the new pass interference rules. So bear in mind that next year, after defensive backs and referees adjust to the new rules, QB numbers overall may go down.

The 2005 season QB rankings:

1. Peyton Manning: He thread for 4500 yards and 49 touchdowns last year, so he should be your top overall pick, not just the top QB. I do not think he will get 49 touchdowns again, as his previous career high was 29. But he should still get over 40 touchdowns with similar yardage numbers.

2. Daunte Culpepper: This guy should be a first-rounder. His season garnered almost no media attention, but he had one of the best seasons ever for a quarterback, setting an all-time record for combined yardage. He had 41 combined touchdowns and thread / ran for 5100 yards. In fact, in leagues that emphasize yardage, he could be more valuable than Peyton Manning. Similar to Peyton Manning, his record-setting season came out of nowhere; his previous career highs were 4400 combined yards and 33 touchdowns. I personally believe that he will do just fine without Randy Moss (I think that Daunte benefited Moss's numbers more than Moss helped him). Nate Burleson is a fine # 1 receiver, and expect something around 35 touchdowns and 4600 combined yards out of him.

3. Donovan McNabb: TO and Westbrook have finished their holdouts, and McNabb looks poised to put up similar numbers to last season. Expect over 3500 yards and 30 touchdowns.

4. Trent Green: He tends to get overlooked, but he has been more than solid for several years despite having no wide receivers at all. If Eddie Kennison can repeat last year, and if Marc Boerigter, a touchdown machine, can play well coming off an injury, he will be solid. Samie Parker could also play a big role in the Chiefs oath. I'm going to say he gets 4000 yards and 25 touchdowns.

5. Jake Delhomme: He is a very good quarterback, and with the return of Steve Smith, Stephen Davis, Deshaun Foster, and the rest of the team from injury, he should have an opportunity to improve his numbers from last year. The emergence of Keary Colbert last year was a pleasant surprise, and his continued development will take attention away from Steve Smith and open up the passing game. Expect 28+ touchdowns and 3600 yards out of him.

6. Drew Brees: His season did literally come out of nowhere, but he had 3150 yards and 29 touchdowns, and with Reche Caldwell and Keenan McCardell back from injury, he might even do better. Having Antonio Gates back from his holdout also helps his value. He should get 30 touchdowns and 3300 yards.

7. Tom Brady: Tom Brady is a solid starter, usually notching around 25 touchdowns and 3700 yards every year. The Patriots lost David Patten this offseason, but with the way they spread the ball around he should not be a factor. They regained Ben Watson, and they signed a boatload of receivers, including Tim Dwight and David Terrell. Deion Branch and David Givens are a very underrated top 2, and expect around 3800 yards and 25 touchdowns from Brady.

8. Marc Bulger: He has an amazingly talented group of wide receivers, headlined by Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. He is also in an offensive system that is very pass-happy. I hear people saying his breakout year is going to come this year, but I do not believe it. I say 4000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

9. Brett Favre: Not many people would but Favre this low, but the loss of both the starting guards (Wahle and Rivera) from last year's o-line is troubling. The offensive success of this team stemmed in no small part from its stellar o-line, and Brett Favre will unduly not get as much time in the pocket as he did last year. But its hard to bet against Favre, and I'm going to say he notches 3000 yards and around 22 touchdowns.

10. Jake Plummer: He throws way too many interceptions for people's liking, but he does get the numbers. You may not want to get him in a league that heavily penalizes interceptions, but his last year stats of 4100 yards and 27 touchdowns are appealing in all other leagues. Last year was by far a career year for him, so I'm going to say he gets 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Fantasy NFL: Julius Jones

After a rookie campaign in which he amassed 819 yards in just 7 games as a starter, Julius Jones is being endorsed as a top 10 fantasy player. Admittedly, these are impressive statistics, especially for a rookie, but I do not believe we have seen enough of him to warrant a first-round choice. After being…

After a rookie campaign in which he amassed 819 yards in just 7 games as a starter, Julius Jones is being endorsed as a top 10 fantasy player. Admittedly, these are impressive statistics, especially for a rookie, but I do not believe we have seen enough of him to warrant a first-round choice.

After being injured for most of the first half of the season, Julius Jones finally got healthy in week 11 and started a game. The fact that he was off for so long enabled him to stay fresh, whereas defenses which had already been playing for 10 weeks were worn down and unable to contain him. When we look closely at his stats, we see that this theory could indeed be valid. After his initial game against a tough Baltimore defense, he reeled off 2 games in which he rushed for 150 and 198 yards. He did not again top 100 yards until the last game of the season, where he notched 149 yards against the Giants.

The games in which Julius Jones topped 100 yards came against Chicago, who opposes last season rushed for an average of 128 yards per game-25th in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks, who gave up 127 rushing yards per game last year-23rd in the NFL, and the New York Giants, whose opponents rushed for an average of 135 yards per game last season, 28th in the NFL. Jones put up the bulk of his stats (497 out of 819 yards and 6 out of 7 touchdowns) against 3 teams that were horrible against the run last year.

When we take out the games Jones played against those 3 teams, we find that he rushed for just 306 yards and 1 touchdown in 4 games. Additionally, he only rushed for 3 yards per carry in these games. These are not great numbers, and definitely not top 10 fantasy player numbers. I know that even though he earned most of his yards against bad teams, he did still gain them, and that can not be discounted. However, until he proves that he can put up numbers against good teams, I would look before I leap when drafting him.

Fantasy NFL: Burleson and Johnson

Look for Nate Burleson to be an excellent fantasy player this year. He put up great numbers towards the end of last year, and had a 1000 yard season with 9 TDs. Moss had 13 TDs, and if Burleson gets even half of those, lets say 6, he will end up with 15, which is…

Look for Nate Burleson to be an excellent fantasy player this year. He put up great numbers towards the end of last year, and had a 1000 yard season with 9 TDs. Moss had 13 TDs, and if Burleson gets even half of those, lets say 6, he will end up with 15, which is a number only top 5 wide receivers put up. He is also entering the third year, which is the year wide receivers typically break out. Everything is in place for Burleson to have a break-out season and move into the top 5 wide receivers. If Burleson is still around after the fourth round, which should be, do not hesitate to snag him.

Another interesting pick-up is Larry Johnson. He had 9 touchdowns in only 6 games last year, playing when Priest Holmes was injured or resting. Derrick Blaylock, Priest Holmes's other backup, had 8 touchdowns last year. Priest Holmes had 14 touchdowns in 8 games. So Larry Johnson and Derrick Blaylock split of of the season between them, and combined for 17 TDs. All three combined for 31 TDs. If Priest Holmes gets injured again, which is a distinct possibility for a 32 year old running back, Larry Johnson will now get all the carries as Derrick Blaylock is now with the New York Jets. You could end up getting 10+ TDs and 800+ yards for a 12th round choice. This is a no-brainer. Anywhere after the 10th round is a decent place to take him, but if he is available with the last 2 picks, which he might be because people typically take runners early, grab him. If you do not want him, you can trade him to the poor sap who has Priest Holmes if / when Holmes gets injured. If you have Holmes, grab him early, you will be glad you did.

Five Fantasy Football Defenses That Will Shock You

With fantasy drafts looming just over the horizon, for most of us this is a time of last-minute web-site perusing and web-site scouring in hopes of cooking up that special lineup that will get us a coveted fantasy football championship. In the search for that magical recipe, we all need one key ingredient: a good,…

With fantasy drafts looming just over the horizon, for most of us this is a time of last-minute web-site perusing and web-site scouring in hopes of cooking up that special lineup that will get us a coveted fantasy football championship. In the search for that magical recipe, we all need one key ingredient: a good, strong defense. Take a minute and peruse this portion of our fantasy cookbook that will let you in on the top five fantasy defenses that should slide under the radar in most drafts this summer.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Year after year we look to this team to have a fantasy defense standout, but like rice pudding without raisins, they seem to be missing that one necessary bit of pizzazz that moves them from average dessert to dining delicacy. This season, we think Denny Green's finally getting it right. He focused more on defense in the draft this season, spending first and third round picks on cornerbacks Antrel Rolle and Eric Green, which should help round out a now solid secondary that actually has the depth to incorporate productive nickel and dime schemes. With third and fifth round picks used to bulk up a linebacking core that needed a little help, the cards have properly rounded out a defense that has always had a strong defensive line. A look in at the numbers reveals that Arizona allowed just 20.1 points per game in 2004, good for 12th in the league, while only allowing 35 touchdowns (T-9th in NFL). At 9th in passing defense (189.8 yd / gm) they force teams to pound the ball, which always eats up clock and lowers point totals, which are necessities for any fantasy defense. Overall, the Cards were right in the middle of the pack in turnovers, 30, with 15 picks and 15 fumble recoveries. However, they had a turnover differential of just +1. This typifies the missing link for the Cardinals in the recent past – they've lacked a strong oath to help keep the defense rested and off the field. But, it's hard to have an offense when you do not have a good quarterback or running back. Finally, Denny Green has seen the light and has drafted a quality running back in JJ Arrington to compliment a quarterback, Kurt Warner, who can actually get the ball to his top flight receivers. To boot, this team held on to Josh McCown, which gives them the option of now one of the best back-ups in the league. Expect a top 10-15 defense out of the Cardinals, who might now have the tools to get it done in the NFC-West.

4. Miami Dolphins: No matter how bad their record, never count this team out as having a bad defense. They are like the Atlanta Braves of the football world, as who they put out there on defense knows how to get the job done. Despite a troublesome 4-12 record last season, the Dolphins quietly allowed just 22.1 points per contest. Digging a bit deeper, one might realize this number would have been still lower had the Dolphins not thrown 8 interceptions that were returned for touchdowns (no other team had more than 4). This alone would bring down their points allowed down to 18.6 per game, good for 8th in the league! This problem should be remedied as Miami is going to get back to the type of football that kept them in the playoffs year after year in the recent past: running the football. With Ricky Williams cleared for camp and Ronnie Brown ready to roll, this team is going to spend down after down between the tackles and little time in the air. That means low-scoring, fast games – a great defensive recipe. And like a true master chef, Dave Wannstedt still had his faculties about him enough to draft 4 defensive players after Arrington, including Matt Roth (Iowa) and Channing Crowder (Florida). Add these ingredients to a defensive dish that already includes names like Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas, Junior Seau, Tebucky Jones, Kevin Carter, and Sam Madison, and you're looking at one tasty treat. Still not convinced? Keep in mind this Dolphin defense was still 2nd in the league against the last season (162.0 yd / gm) and will eventually be happy and healthy up front on defense to stop the run. This is a great year to get back on a perennial favorite defense that many will have written off.

3. Houston Texans: “Four”. That is the number that typifies this defense. Not only does 4 represent the number of marshmallows I can fit in my mouth at one time, it also signals the number of rushing touchdowns the Texans allowed all of last season. Four – wow, that's easily best in the league. However, that might lead you to believe that they have a suspect secondary that gives up a lot through the air. Not so. With Philip Buchanon, Dunta Robinson, Marcus Coleman and Glenn Earl back there, they have the names to get it done. This year should show a cohesiveness to this group, who still managed 22 interceptions last year (5th in NFL), that may have missed a bit in the past, as these young players are all maturing and learning the NFL game and how to play with each other more and more. Regardless, this team still only allowed 21.2 points per game, and keep in mind they play Indy twice every year. Theyave up 10 or less points in 4 games last season and helped sure up the middle of their d-line by drafting DT Travis Johnson (Fla St.) in the first round. Taking Vernand Morenessy (Okl St.) in the 2nd round of the draft helped solidify a ground game that should keep this young, active defense well-rested this season, making them more appealing than a rack of ribs and an ice-cold beer for this year's fantasy fanatics.

2. Washington Redskins: This defense was my personal choice for fantasy drafts last season, which worked out wonderfully. This new season has whetted my appetite for drafting them once again. Quietly, the Redskins were a defensive juggernaut last season. Playing in the low-scoring, grind-it-out NFC-East, they are in the perfect division for low-scoring games. With Steve Spurrier at the helm, they could never play this type of football – they were too loose and brave up too many big plays. Now, in just one season under Joe Gibbs, the Skins have turned this defense into what many have been hopping it would blossom into for years. In '04 they were 7th in the league in pass defense (186.1 yd / gm) and amassed a solid 40 sacks (T-9th). With numbers like that, it would be natural to accumulate their run defense was suspect. Not so! In fact, it was quite the opposite, ranking 2nd in the league at just 81.5 yards per game, allowing league bests of 3.1 yards / carry and 76 total first downs on the ground! It's hard to score on a team with numbers like these. Sometimes that's why the Skins were 5th in the league in points against (16.6 per game) and tied for 4th in the league in total touchdowns against (30). Now, Spurrier would have thought this cake was finished cooking and let it simply cool by the window. However, Gibbs is a wise old man and decided to tinker with the icing a bit, drafting CB Carlos Rogers (Auburn) with the 9th pick in the draft and adding a couple of solid linebacking prospects with his 5th and 6th round picks. Rogers has brought a nice little position battle to camp, which should raise the levels of play of all involved. This defense will by dangerous again this year and, sometimes, is worth your pick on fantasy draft day.

1. Buffalo Bills: Our top sleeper choice for fantasy defenses for the 2005 season has to be the Buffalo Bills. This team has all the ingredients, has passed the taste-test, and is ready for Betty Crocker's cookbook. Look at the numbers here. The Bills were 8th in the league allowing just 17.8 points per game in 2004. They allowed just 6 rushing touchdowns all season, good for 2nd in the league. Their passing defense was 3rd in the league at just 164.0 yards per game, totaling 45 sacks, good for third in the league. This well-rounded D was also 7th in the league against the run at 100.2 yards per game. Ok, now, sit down and brace yourself. Without much press, this Bills team grabbed a league best 39 turnovers! Only Carolina had more interceptions and only 3 teams recovered more fumbles. Overall, Buffalo allowed under 10 points 3 times last season and 20 or less points in 12 of their 16 contests. You could almost make the argument that this was the best defense in the league and almost certainly top five. Not much has changed in the offseason and this team continues to improve on offense, which should help the defense as well. Further, the Bills dodge the Colts again this season and play a soft out-of-division schedule including Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Oakland, which should help in turnover differential and low point totals. This is the steal of the fantasy draft this season, so if you have the chance, be sure to grab up the Buffalo Bills defense on draft day.

NFL Draft Offers Gems for Fantasy Football Players

Fantasy football players rarely pay much attention to National Football League rookies, during their fantasy football drafts. Rookies, you see, are not usually worth much to fantasy teams. It takes most rookies a year or two or in many cases even three or four to get fully acclimated to the NFL. Consequently, competitive fantasy football…

Fantasy football players rarely pay much attention to National Football League rookies, during their fantasy football drafts. Rookies, you see, are not usually worth much to fantasy teams. It takes most rookies a year or two or in many cases even three or four to get fully acclimated to the NFL. Consequently, competitive fantasy football people usually steer clear of them.

This year may be different. More NFL rookies will likely appear on fantasy rosters than in the past decade, because this draft is rich with impact players. That's right, rookies that can actually play this year and contribute to fantasy football rosters – some even as starters. I see at least seven players taken in the first round of the NFL's draft that can start on fantasy teams, depending on how many teams are in your league. Obviously, smaller leagues (8 and 10 team leagues) will be too rich with veteran talent to have rookies as starters. Following is an assessment of these players and others to keep an eye on as you prepare for your fantasy draft. Notice the QBs are left out, as they will not contribute much, even if they start.

The seven NFL first-rounders to target are: Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Carnell Williams, Troy Williamson, Mike Williams and Mark Clayton. Brown, Benson and Williams are potential starters in any fantasy league. In one of the best running back classes in recent memory, these guys will enter their rookie campaigns as feature backs for Miami, Chicago and Tampa Bay, respectively. These teams have proven that with the right guy toting the mail, they all can produce fantasy stars.

Although not the best player, Benson is probably the best pick of all the rookies, in terms of fantasy football value. He is a no-brainer in basic scoring leagues. He'll be the starter from day one, and some experts have called him the best goal line runner ever to come out of college. If healthy, Benson could easily rush for 12 or more TDs in his inaugural NFL season.

Edwards is an immediate starter for the Browns, and this guy is a true stud. Although he can start in some fantasy football leagues, you'll want to get him later, as Cleveland is a team that has not shown much in recent years. Edwards is a steal, if you can get him in later rounds. Then, let him sit for a few weeks, and watch his production. The same goes for Williams, taken by Detroit, and Clayton, selected by Baltimore. Both of these receivers will likely start for their new teams, but a wait-and-see attitude is indicated, as both teams are in weak passing offs, although the sky is the limit for the Lions who have selected a wideout with their first pick in each of the last three seasons.

Aside from these seven, there are several players taken after the first round of the NFL draft that are worth drafting on fantasy football teams. Most notably is JJ Arrington, taken at number 12 in round two by Arizona. Dennis Green loves this guy and hinted on draft day that Arrington will be his feature back. This guy is a compact runner and has a nose for the end zone. A feature back on an improving Cardinals team could have been a big scorer for fantasy teams.

The easiest steal in your fantasy football draft will be Ryan Moats, taken in the third round by Philadelphia. Moats, a smallish tailback from Louisiana Tech, could surprise for an Eagles team in need of a star at the position. Although he'll likely be relegated to special teams and third-down use early on, watch for him to emerge, especially if someone gets hurt. He is a quick slashing runner and a real workhorse, despite his 5-8, 210-pound frame. An eye-popping senior season saw him log 288 carries for 1,774 yards and 18 touchdowns. His 1,890 all-purpose yards set a school record, as he proved he could catch the ball with almost equal acumen. With a skilled average per carry of 6.4 and 28 TDs, Moats is definitely worth watching. Grab this hard worker in the late rounds of your draft, and wait for him to get his turn. If the stars align in Philadelphia, you might just get yourself the steal of your fantasy football draft.

Here are a few other notables you may want to watch for a late selection or a free-agency pickup, as the season moves ahead:

1 Heath Miller, TE taken by Pittsburgh: Would be ranked higher, because he'll probably start, but tight ends are always a big question mark. If you are in a fantasy league that requires you to take a tight end, Miller is a good one.

2 Vernand Morency, RB selected by Houston: Watch for an injury to Domanick Davis and grab Morency the second it happens.

3 Maurice Clarett, RB taken by Denver: They love him and would like to see him prove all of the critics wrong. He'll get a chance to play.

4 Matt Jones, WR selected by Jacksonville: Many feel the former QB is the best athlete in the NFL draft. At 6-6 with 4-5 speed and great hands, who knows?

5 Roddy White, WR taken by Atlanta in the first round. Very fast and underrated. The Falcons saw little from Michael Jenkins last season, so keep a close eye on White.

6 Chris Henry, WR taken by Cincinnati. Very big and fast. Could be a factor around the goal line in three and four receiver sets.

7 Reggie Brown, WR selected by Philadelphia. The Eagles have a few question marks at the position, not the least of which is the bizarre antics of Terrell Owens.

8 Ciatrick Fason, RB taken by Minnesota. With running back being so unsettled, Fason could emerge as the starter. Watch this one very closely.

Fantasy Football Tips for Draft Day

Draft day. Perhaps the most important day of your fantasy football season. This is when you build your team. This is when you laugh at your opponents when they pick an injured player. This is when you find gems in the 7th round who outperform players picked in the 3rd. In other words: do not…

Draft day. Perhaps the most important day of your fantasy football season. This is when you build your team. This is when you laugh at your opponents when they pick an injured player. This is when you find gems in the 7th round who outperform players picked in the 3rd. In other words: do not screw it up! Let's go over some advice that you should follow on draft day:

1. Have your own cheat sheets! I can not stress this enough. So many people use the rankings that their drafting software uses (a la Yahoo), without noticing that they have not updated it to reflect recently injured players. Also, your scoring system is not reflected in pre-made rankings. If your receivers gain one point for each reception, that will have a huge effect on the placement of possession receivers. Use the given rankings as a basis, but alter them to reflect injuries and scoring systems.

2. In a local league? Do not draft your local players. It's a natural tendency for fans to overrate players on their favorite teams, so if your league is based in St. Louis. Louis, you would probably have to overpay to get guys like Bulger or Holt. Hype them up the weeks before your draft while conversing with the other owners, and then sit back and laugh when your favorite play gets picked three rounds too early.

3. Serve lots of alcohol at the draft … and do not touch it! Let your buddies confuse Luke Staley with Duce Staley, while you remain unimpaired. Although most will be fine after a couple drinks, it's simply not worth the risk. Any slight advantage you can get is worth it, and if just one owner accidentally skips over a player because of the drinks, you've done your job. Remember kids, do not drink and draft!

4. Keep track of everyone's picks. Online, this should not be a problem, because your drafting service will likely do it for you, but it may be a difficult task in a live draft. However, it's worth the troubles. You may be thinking, why bother? Simply, it gives you the ability to pass on certain players you know will be available later. For example, you're picking 8th in a 10-man league, you're ready to take a kicker, but there's also a deep-sleeper RB on the board. By looking at your notes, you notice that the guys with the 9th and 10th pick have already taken kickers, and would have no reason to pick another. Therefore, you can safely take the sleeper RB, confident that your kicker will be there when the draft swings back around.

Although this is not the complete guide to building a championship team, these simple tips will give you the edge, which might just score you a few key players that might actually make a huge difference.

Fantasy Football Draft Advice: Drafting and Bye Weeks

Anxiety sets in for many fantasy football players at the beginning of any draft, especially a rookie. If you're a veteran, you probably have experienced the rush after a long off-season when your draft finally begins. You also probably have experienced the later rounds when your mind begins to wander after a few hours of…

Anxiety sets in for many fantasy football players at the beginning of any draft, especially a rookie. If you're a veteran, you probably have experienced the rush after a long off-season when your draft finally begins. You also probably have experienced the later rounds when your mind begins to wander after a few hours of drafting. The excitement at the beginning and the wait at the end of a draft can make it easy to forget a basic principle, recognizing player bye weeks and their impact on your team. Some fantasy football players subscribe to taking the best available player regardless of bye weeks or position. This strategy is fine and may be the right one depending upon how your draft is going, but you must be aware of the consequences. If you draft with bye weeks in mind, you can lessen their impact and give yourself a chance to put together a great team.

The idea is to draft (at each position) players on different bye weeks. For example, you do not want to draft running backs Larry Johnson (bye week 3), Rudi Johnson (bye week 5) and Domanick Davis (bye week 5) because you will have two players at the same position on the same bye week . It's okay if you draft quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (bye week 5) in that group because he plays a different position. What you want to do is draft Larry Johnson (bye week 3), Rudi Johnson (bye week 5) and Jamal Lewis (bye week 7). This way each time time one of them goes on a bye week, you will have another to play. The advantage to doing this is great.

First, you give yourself the option of drafting a back-up at each position. In my opinion, it's not necessary to do this but some fantasy football players like the safety it provides. I think it's better not to draft a back-up kicker or defense / special teams because two slots open up for you to get a little more creative during your draft and it's easy to find bye week replacements from the waiver wire.

Second, you will not have to scour the waiver wire or propose trades in order to fill bye week voids. This is important because otherwise you'd be making many transactions in order to find replacements week in and week out. Not only will you not have to deal with the aggravation every week, it will not cost you your season.

Finally, you give yourself the option to hang on to a sleeper, a risky pick or extra players at other positions that you grabbed in the middle to late rounds. If you messed up during the draft, you would probably have to drop one of them in order to grab a player off waivers to fill a bye week void. Many fantasy football championships are won because sleepers and risky picks drafted in the middle to late rounds go on to have great seasons. Do not let bye weeks dictate whether or not you will get to keep them.

It's easy to forget, but recognizing how bye weeks affect your team and drafting accordingly is extremely important. If you draft properly you give yourself the option to draft a back-up at each position, you will not have to scour the waiver wire each week trying to find a bye week replacement and you will be able to hang on to that sleeper you grabbed in the 7th round who just might help you dominate your league. Championships are often won and lost during the draft. Do not make mistakes that can ruin your entire season. Take this information for what it's worth and make great decisions.

The Fantasy Report: Beltran on Top

Fantasy News and Notes * Jeff Kent will be activated from the 15-day DL on Monday after having a sore left oblique. He's still not 100 percent, but it looks like he's eager to give it a try. Kent is expected to play first base until Nomar Garciaparra returns. * Bartolo Colon, has right biceps…

Fantasy News and Notes

* Jeff Kent will be activated from the 15-day DL on Monday after having a sore left oblique. He's still not 100 percent, but it looks like he's eager to give it a try. Kent is expected to play first base until Nomar Garciaparra returns.

* Bartolo Colon, has right biceps tendinitis, also has a partial rotator cuff tear in an examination on Friday and will most likely miss the rest of the season. Colon's recent elbow problems were a result of the shoulder, which has troubled him since last year. Rather then have surgery Colon will elect for rehab, and could have a September comeback. Colon though will not be 100 percent when he return. “I have not gotten any formal direction from the medical department yet, but we'll talk and they'll have an assessment,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “I would assume it's going to be lengthy. And with about seven weeks left in the season, it would seem doubtable that he's going to be a tall order for him to come back and pitch this season. ”

* Justin Verlander has “fatigue” in his right arm and missed his start on Sunday. Has Verlander hit a wall? Well, it's that time of year where rookie pitchers start to struggle. Verlander, who became the league's first 14-game winner earlier in the week, has already thrown five more innings (135 1-3) than he did all of last year. There is a chance, the Verlander could have skipped a few more times before the end of the season, and it's something that Fantasy Owners need to be aware of.

* Rafael Furcal has extended his hitting streak to 13 games by bunting for a hit Sunday, then stop second. Furcal has been red-hot of late. Something the Dodgers have been waiting for, for a while.

* John Smoltz remains unbeaten in his last 10 starts. It's too bad the Atlanta Braves have been struggling most of the year. Smoltz continues to be a must start in all fantasy leagues.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets left Saturday's start after one inning because of tightness in a pectoral muscle. Is this really any surprise to Fantasy Owners? Sheets who started the year on the DL, is likely to have a return trip before weeks end.

* I've been beating up on Ken Griffey Jr. over the last couple of weeks because of his lack of hiring since the All-Star break. Griffey though, is starting to heat up, and as long as he's healthy, he's a viable outfield option.

* Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager, said Scott Kazmir will return to pitch on Friday, Aug. 11 against the Oakland Athletics. Kazmir went on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder infection retroactive to July 24.

* Francisco Liriano, was skipped from a Wednesday start with inflammation in the forearm muscle, is scheduled to make his next start on Monday at Detroit. This make Liriano a 2 start pitcher this week, and should be ready pitch in a big game against the Tigers.

* Jim Thome, who has been struggling for late, and has been fighting back pain, went 2-3 on Sunday and looks as though he's going to be fine. He's a guy your going to want to monitor very closely this week.

Jose Contreras (10-4) has lost his fourth game in his last five starts. His next start is against the Detroit Tigers. With this tough start, look to sit Contreras.

* Derek Jeter has 3 HR's in his last 8 games. Finally, DJ is starting to give his owners some power.

* Alfonso Sorinano hit his 8th lead-off HR of the season to lead the Major Leagues.

* Francisco Cordero is now the closer in Milwaukee.

***

weeklyplanner-11

whoshot whosnot

Ryan Howard, leading the National League in HR's, is my choice for these weeks Who's Hot Award. Howard hit .433 with 4 HR's, 14 RBI, and 5 Runs over the last 7 days. It was not as if Howard did it against the bottom of the NL. Howard took his power stick and slammed the Florida Marlins, St.. Louis Cardinals, and the New York Mets. Howard, unlike Bobby Abreu, last years HR Contest Winner, has not slumped this year. Howard is an exciting player, and has unlimited potential. He's a mus start at 1B.

Fausto Carmona has lost his past four appearances and will likely be taken out of Cleveland's closer's role. While the Cleveland Indians are certainly not going anywhere this season, they can not afford to continue to batter this kids' confidence. Giving up game winning HR's was the theme for Carmona this week. Earlier in the week Carmona brave up game winners against the Boston RedSox's David Ortiz who did what Ortiz does best, hit a game winning HR. Then on Saturday, Carmona gives up a game winning two run HR to Ivan Rodriguez. Cleveland needs to make a change in the closers role, and Carmona will likely be taken out of that role. If you need make adjustments to your team, do it now, and bench or even release Carmona.

***

2 START STUDS & DUDS

studordud

***

JD Drew has favorable match ups this week against the Colorado Rockies and The San Francisco Giants. When Drew faces the Colorado Rockies startem sitemthis week, the 3 starters he's facing (Kim, Francis, and Jennings), Drew is hitting .452 against them.

Mark Loretta is hitting .333 (19-57) over his last 12 games with 9 runs. He'll face the Kansas City Royals on the road and then at home against the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals have one the worst team pitching staffs in the majors, while Baltimore is right behind the Royals. Loretta will be setting the table, and look to have a great week.

Michael Barrett over his last 11 games has 3 HR's, 6 RBI, and a .302 (13-43) BA. Barrett's on the road this week in Milwaukee and then Colorado, both excellent match ups for Barrett. Barrett is a must start this week.

Brandon Phillips has been red hot over the last 2 weeks. Hitting .366 (15-41), 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 6 Runs, Phillips is starting to regain his stroke from earlier in the season. An Excellent option at 2B this week.

Felipe Lopez is becoming a house hold name at SS. Not only has Lopez hit for power this year but with his 30 SB and 70 runs this year, Lopez ranks right there with Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter. This week Lopez faces the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, two teams he's struggled against. This is Lopez's statement week, and look for him to have two great series.

Chone Figgins, the table setter for the Los Angeles Angels has been anything but that over the last 2 weeks. Figgins isitting only .84 (9-49), with 5 runs in his last 12 games. Figgins will be in on the road this week and will face the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. Figgins, who can play several positions, should find a comfy spot on your bench.

Brian Giles has been a huge disappointment this year for Fantasy Owners. It will not get any easier for him this week either. Giles goes on the road this week to face the New York Mets and Houston Astros. In most leagues you can find Giles on the waiver wire, a place where he belongs. If you happen to have him on your roster, bench him, or better yet put him where he owns, on the waiver wire.

Aubrey Huff finally got his first RBI with the Astro's Saturday night. Huff has struggled since coming over from the Devil Rays. The streaky Huff, at some point should break out of his slump, it just will not be this week. Huff faces the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres this week, although both series are at home for Huff, until Huff starts to break out, keep him reserved.

Richie Sexson, despite his 221. BA, is still on pace to hit 35 HR and 110 RBI. Most Fantasy Owners are frustrated with Sexson performance this year since his HR power. Over the last 2 weeks Sexson is batting .196 (9-46), with 5 of those hits being HR. If your short on HR's you have to start Sexson, because you just do not know when he'll knock out. My thought, Sexson is a Fantasy hack, and I've tried to find a better option if possible.

Pedro Feliz has been struggling a lot over the last few weeks. His .167 (7-42) BA over his last 11 games is an indication of bad Feliz has been. Feliz will be on the road this week in Arizona and Los Angeles, two teams he's had mild success against. Put Feliz on the bench this week, you'll thank me later.

To read the article article ==> http://www.gothambaseball.com

What is Fantasy Cricket Online?

Yes it is all about giving a free rein to all your fantasies. Imagine your favorite players can play a game of cricket and you can end up winning prizes. No, you do not have to go to the cricket field to actually see the game. All you require for playing fantasy cricket online is…

Yes it is all about giving a free rein to all your fantasies. Imagine your favorite players can play a game of cricket and you can end up winning prizes. No, you do not have to go to the cricket field to actually see the game. All you require for playing fantasy cricket online is a computer that is internet enabled and the zeal and enthusiasm for the game of cricket. Many of us dream and fantasize about many things, but how many of us can actually be a part of this fantasy? Cricket lovers have this opportunity of realizing their dreams by participating and playing a game of fantasy cricket online.

There are numerous websites in the internet that give cricket fans the chance of playing fantasy cricket. All you will need to do is find out such sites and play the game. Rules for playing the game are very easy. Anyone, even if someone is not a cricket lover can play the game. The rules are so simple that anyone will love and enjoy playing the game. All you will need to do is get registered on the sites that provide you the chance of playing the game and start playing it.

You need to follow certain rules for playing the game. There will be a list of international cricket players assigned with some points. The points allotted to them are based on their overall form and performance before a particular series starts. You will have to select the entire team based on a particular number of points allotted by a particular site. The idea is to see how well you are able to select a team that is balanced in all areas. Remember you will have to balance your team within the total allocated total point, you can not exceed that.

The team that you choose must be properly balanced with 5 batsman and 4 bowlers, an all-rounder and a wickedkeeper. Remember to populate your team with the right amount of senior players and emerging talented newcomers as well. After all no team can win a game just on the basis of experience and nor just on the strength of talented emerging newcomers. So you must choose a team that has just the right balance.

Before you actually start playing a fantasy cricket online game, you must be properly aware of all the rules and regulations for playing the game. Most websites offering a game of fantasy cricket online game to visitors have a section that describes in detail the rules of regulations for playing the game. You can also check out how points and bonus points are allocated to players and on what basis.

After you have selected a team to play the fantasy cricket online game for you, actual on field performance of players determines whether your chosen teams will actually win the game or not. Depending on how well they perform in the field, the points of your selected team member will keep on increasing or decreasing. At the end the on field performance of the players will actually determine whether your team has won the match or not.

While choosing your team never get driven by big names and players with mountains of statistics. Remember the player may be having tons of runs in his name, but if he does not perform in that particular tournament, he can become a liability to the team. Always go by current form when you are selecting a member for your fantasy cricket online game.

Fantasy Baseball Report: News You Need Now

* The BIG news of the week is the Yankees acquisition of OF Bobby Abreu and SP Corey Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies. I might be the first and only person who thinks Bobby Abreu is a bust, not only in Fantasy, but also on the playing field. Abreu had more HR's in the HR…

* The BIG news of the week is the Yankees acquisition of OF Bobby Abreu and SP Corey Lidle from the Philadelphia Phillies. I might be the first and only person who thinks Bobby Abreu is a bust, not only in Fantasy, but also on the playing field. Abreu had more HR's in the HR derby last year, then he did all of the second half of last year, and to this point this year. A guy who consistently was a 30-30 guy, does not even have 10 HR's this year, somthings not right here. Abreu goes from Citizen Bank Park, considered by most to be a very friendly hitters park, where he hit just .267-5 HR-35 RBI-33 R-11 SB, to the short porch at Yankee Stadium. Will this help the struggling Abreu? My bet is no. Thank goodness, OBP does not factor into Fantasy Baseball, because that's all Abreu looks to have. Lidle is a guy too, who I think will struggle going from the NL to the AL. Lidle, over his last 3 years does not quiet have “Yankee” numbers. He's averaging 12 wins and 13 loses, and a whooping 5.042 era. Some think that the Yankees lineup will carry him, but I do not think he'll be any better then Jaret Wright.

* Chipper Jones is heading to the DL again. After training his left oblique Friday night against the Mets, Jones, who prior to getting hurt was having an awesome second half of the season, will have to wait until mid-August before he comes off the DL. Fantasy Owners must love his production, but down the stretch he's no help on the DL

* Nomar Garciaparra heads to the DL with a strained ligament in his right knee. Bad news for Garciaparra owners, but is this really a surprise. There is a bright side to this. Garciarparra, who qualifies at 1B, gives owners plenty of options to pluck a quality 1B off the waiver.

* Scott Kazmir, who has inflammation in his left rotator cuff, will be put on the DL this week. Kazmir who was slated to have 2 starts this week, will force Fantasy Owners to look for a replacement. Kazmir, 10-7 on season, is going to be a hard to replace. Look to replace him with a SP that has a low era or whip.

* Remember All-Star 2B Jose Lopez of the Seattle Mariners. The kid was having an excellent season prior to the All-Star break. Since the All-Star break Lopez is batting .158 (6-38) and has not had an extra base hit. A nice surprise in the first half of the season, but it's time to look for a new option at 2B.

* Dan Kolb's tenure as the Brewers closer has come to an end. Brewers manager, Ed Yost said the he would split time at the closers spot between Derrick Turnbow, and newly acquainted Francisco Cordero until either one of them proves they could keep the spot. Nothing like good old fashion competition.

* Although Jason Jennings WL (6-9) record does not show the quality pitcher he really is, Fantasy Owners are starting to take notice. Over Jennings last 7 games, he's only given up more then 2 runs once, is averaging 7 innings a start, and 6 K's a game. Wins are great in fantasy, but keeping your era and whip down is key as well.

* Ben Sheets, after being on the DL for most of the year, got his first win since coming off the DL this past week. In his second start since coming off the DL, Sheets had 10 K's and only walked one, while picking up the win. Sheets will be a nice pickup for the remember of the season. Scourer the waiver wires and make sure he ends up on your team.

* After being traded to the Brewers, Kevin Mench has to be extremely happy. Here's a guy who was having a hard time getting into Texas's lineup everyday even with the numvers he was putting up. Now, Mench will be batting 4th for the Brewers which will give him plenty of RBI chances.

* Ivan Rodriguez missed his 4th straight game on Sunday due to a bruised right thumb. Rodriguez contends that the thumb is getting better, but that it's still bothering him. Hold him back until he shows he completely ready to go.

***

weeklyplanner-1

whoshot whosnot

With 10 RBI in two games, it was an easy choice as to who my who's Hot player of the Week award would go to, Carlos Beltran of the Mets. Beltran not only helped the Mets to their first sweep of the Atlanta Braves since 1985, but helped propel his Fantasy Owners to victory with his monster week. Beltran ended the week with a .385-5 HR-15 RBI-7 Runs-2 SB. Fantastic Fantasy stats for a player, who at this point last year, was no better then a number 3 Outfielder.

At one point this season, Hanley Ramirez was listed on my Rookie Watch. Since that time Ramirez has hit a brick wall. Ramirez is only batting .208 (11-53) since the All-Star break and has been moved to the bottom of the order for the Florida Marlins. Ramirez's is no better then a back up now, with more viable options on the waiver. Replace this guy as fast as you can, you'll thank me later.

***

John Smoltz leads this weeks 2 Start Studs with games at Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Smoltz who has not lost in his last 9 starts, has had quality starts in his last 6 games. In his last out against Philadelphia, Smoltz studordudwent 7 innings, wave up 7 hits, and also brave up 2 HR's. Look for Smoltz to be solid this week as Atlanta comes off the sweep to the Mets.

Chris Capuano has struggled of late, but with games at Colorado and St. Petersburg. Louis, I'm looking for him to bounce back this week. Now, I know when you look at who and where he's playing, you're thinking I must be crazy, but Capuano, even though he's been roughed up, is the type of pitcher who 'll bounce back.

Since the All-Star break, Brad Penny has been getting crushed. Having to face the St. Louis Cardinals twice will do that to a pitcher. Even though Penny is on the road twice this week, he has a better era on the road (3.36) then at home (3.69). With both games being at night, this is a clear advantage for Penny who has almost a 3 run difference in era. Look for Penny to bounce back this week to help out his Fantasy Owners.

Kenny Rogers is coming off his 1st loss since May 28th against the Cleveland Indians. In that game, Rogers did not make it out of the 1st inning, andave up 7 runs. I look at it this way, should be refresh right? His first game this week is against the Tampa Bay Devils and Casey Fossom. In his previous start against the Devil Rays, Rogers went 8 innings, giving up 4 hits, and 1 run. I look for more of the same this week. Rogers' second game is against the team that slammed him last week, the Cleveland Indians. I look for Rogers to redeem himself with a strong start against the Indians.

Noah Lowry finishes off this 2 Start Stud lineup. Lowry intrigues me because both of his games are at home where Lowry has a 3.90 era. In his first start against the Washington Nationals, Lowry faces Pedro Astacio, a guy who has been getting knocked around the park. Later in the week Lowry goes against Aaron Cook and the Colorado Rockies, a team who's only hitting .208 against him. Lowry's a sleeper, and with some SP's going on the DL, his a great replacement for this week.

When there are Stud there has to be Duds. The next 5 SP are guys I see as having bad weeks, and why.

Bronson Arroyo, has looked his worst of late since being traded from the Boston RedSox. When Arroyo first arrived, he was lights out. Now, he's just struggling. In his last 2 starts, Arroyo has given up 5 HR in 14.2 innings, but on the bright side he has stuck out 15 batters. I'd lay off Arroyo this week as he travels to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers who have been hot, and then against the Arizona Diamondback's.

CC Sabathia has never beaten the Boston RedSox in his career, and what makes it worse for CC, is that he'll be on the road against one of the hottest team in baseball right now. To add to those problems, Sabathia is 0-3 in his last 3 starts. In those 3 starts Sabathia has surrendered 28 hits, ouch, bye-bye whip. Sit Sabathia this week, there's no reason to make things worse for your team.

Mark Prior is still having body problems. Now it's just not the arm, but the leg, hip, and toe too. Prior was once a diamond in the rough for Fantasy Owners, now it's just rough to watch him get slammed all over the park. Prior does have favorable starts this week, but I'm just not sold on him being health and getting out of the 5th. Until he shows you that he's “FIT” I've put him.

Ian Snell has quietly had a nice season (9-6), but this week he goes up against the Atlanta Braves, who are coming off a sweep at home, throw their ace, John Smoltz. Snell is a nice story this year for Fantasy Owners, but do not be fooled with his two starts this week. Sit'em until next week.

Paul Bryd, love the way this guy throws, to bad he has to face the Boston RedSox and Detroit Tigers, both on the road. In his last 2 starts, Byrd has given up 20 hits, not something you look for out of your SP. Late the man sit on your bench this week, so he does not destroy whats left of your era and whip.

***

This weeks Start'em Lineup, starts with one of the best in the game right now, Joe Mauer. This kid, a catcher, is leading the AL in hiring, and if he continues he tear of AL pitchers, he'll be the first catcher to have won the battting title since 1942 when Ernie Lombardi did it with Boston. Mauer startem sitem faces the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals this week, and has had mild success against both teams. Look for Mauer to have another outstanding week.

Nick Markakis is a rookie outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles and is a guy you need to know about. Over his last 2 weeks, this kid has done nothing, well except hit .21, with a .48 OBP. A rising star, and I do not expect the sun to set at time soon.

Mark Teahan, there's that name again. I told you a few weeks ago to keep on eye on this 3B from Kansas City. Since that time Teahan has hit .326, 3 HR's, 11 RBI, 10 Runs, and 2 SB. Not bad for a kid no one knew about huh. This week Teahan will have to be a star for his team, as the Kansas City Royals play host to two of the best in the AL right now, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. I look for Teahan to remain hot, since the All-Star break he's hitting .327 with 5 HR and 16 RBI.

When you start the season as the teams “Utility” guy, you get overlooked in most drafts. That's exactly what happened to Bill Hall of the Brewers. Bill makes a return trip to the Start'em lineup because his hitting .341 with 7 HR's, 17 RBI, and 12 Runs over his last 12 games. Not bad numbers for a “Utility” guy. Hall this week, will head to Colorado and St. Petersburg. Louis and will continue his hitting attack, make sure you've got him in your starting lineup.

Remember this guy, a little known catcher named Mike Piazza. Ya, the guy who used to hit towering HR's for the New York Mets. Well, Piazza now plays for the San Diego Padres, no he did not retire Geeks. Not only did not he retire, but Piazza had been hitting the cover off the ball. In his last 10 games, Piazza is hitting .394 (13-33) with 3 HR's. Piazza is still a nice option at catcher for Fantasy Owners.

These next 5 guys, are going to be guys your going to want to look at sitting this week because of their tough schedule.

Luis Castillo lead this Sit'em team only because he has to face 6 SP who are lefties. Castillo, who's sitting. 238 against lefties this year, will not fair well this week. If you need steals though, and are desperate and have no other option, I'll leave Castillo in your starting lineup. But, if you have the chance to snag someone off the waiver wire at 2B, I do do it now.

The Captain of the Boston RedSox, Jason Varitek, like Castillo, has difficulties against lefties. Varitek isitting .1313 lefties this year, and will have to face 4 lefties this week. With a .235 average over his last 10 games, this looks like a great week to find a catcher off the waiver wire. Bench Varitek this week, and thank me next week.

Todd Helton is flat out terrible. This guy was the darling of Fantasy baseball when the balls were flying out of the park. Now, he's no better then anyone else on the waiver wire. A complete disappointment to Fantasy Owners, Helton needs to be dropped in most leagues. Over his last 12 games he's batting .261 with 0 HR and only 3 RBI. Not bad for a # 3 guy in the lineup. That's why Manager Clint Hurdle has dropped him in the order, and so should you, drop him.

Johnny Gomes was once the prince of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder, now he's just another Tampa Bay Devil Ray. Gomes over his last 12 games is hitting an outstanding .089. Man what a sweet number that is, .089. He's a guy that you're going to have to put on the bench, because there are several other options out there. Thanks Johnny for making my team great in the first two months of the season, so I have to boot you, so Geeks do the same, and give Johnny the boot.

Ken Griffey Jr, like Ahmad Rashad who'd say, “My Man”. Well Griffey used to be. Now, he's just a fading star trying to make it through another season. Griffey's been batting. 170 over his last 11 games, and it will not get any easier for him as he faces the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. If you have any better options in the OF, use them this week, and put, or keep Griffey on the bench.

To view this article go to [http://www.gothambaseball.com/news/1154385023.php]