Monday, August 27, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: NFC South

Atlanta Falcons:

1. Jerious Norwood-RB- The Falcons are still insisting that, as of right now, Warrick Dunn is the starting running back. That seems very hard to believe considering what Norwood brings to the table over Dunn. A small back with exceptional speed and power, he averaged 6.4 yards per carry last season and is a threat to score anytime he touches the ball. He is an exceptional value pick in the fifth round as a quality RB2.

2. Warrick Dunn-RB- Dunn may be the lesser threat in the Atlanta backfield but he still has a role to fill. In fact, considering his age (32), he may actually benefit from taking on a smaller responsibility. A shifty runner who rarely takes a big hit full on, Dunn can be invaluable in terms of moving the chains and providing a change of pace over the more powerful Norwood. He'll be largely overlooked in drafts and you should be able to take him around the eight round as an RB/3Flex player or a reserve RB.

3. Alge Crumpler-TE- He has been former QB Michael Vick's favorite target for years and it seems entirely possible that new QB Joey Harrington will become enamoured with him as well. Crumpler is quite simply the best receiving threat the Falcons have (even with an over the hill Joe Horn now on the roster) and should be able to at least match last year's totals (56 catches, 8 touchdowns). He is still one of the better TE's out there not named Gates and can be stolen in the ninth round as a TE1.

Bargain Bin: Joey Harrington-QB- Vick's suspension left the Falcons with no other choice than to put the ball in Harrington's hands and hope for the best. He has not been a spectacular quarterback throughout his career by any means, but he does occasionally have hot streaks where it looks like he may fulfill his potential. You shouldn't have him anywhere near your starting QB position, but he should be available in the later rounds of the draft as a somewhat serviceable backup.

Carolina Panthers:

1. Steve Smith-WR- It's very possible that Smith will be the first WR taken in the draft, a designation that is well deserved. He is capable of dominating a game the way few others are. Though he suffered a bit of a down year last season, he still put together an 83 catch, 8 touchdown campaign. Look for him to rebound from those "dismal" numbers to once again approach 100 catches and take him in the second round as your WR1.

2. DeAngelo Williams-RB- Williams is one of those rare running backs: A backup who is more coveted than the actual starting running back (not unlike the situation in Atlanta). Given the fragility of DeShaun Foster, there is good reason for this. Williams had a decent rookie year, marked by an excellent 33 catches out of the backfield, which will increase his value in PPR leagues. He should be the starter at some point this season and therefore must be drafted before the end of the sixth round if you want him as your RB2 or 3.

3. Deshaun Foster-RB- A player who has an immense amount of talent, Foster has unfortunately been hindered by injuries his entire career thus far. He managed to stay reasonably healthy last year and rushed for 897 yards and three touchdowns. However, it always seems like it's only a matter of time before he goes down again. If he can put his health issues to rest, he'd be an exceptional value in the 7th round as an RB3/Flex player.

Bargain Bin: Jake Delhomme-QB- His season was interrupted by injuries last year, but Delhomme is still a capable NFL QB. His connection with Steve Smith alone makes him a commodity. He's likely to be undervalued this season so you ought to be able to nab him in the later rounds as a very good backup QB.

New Orleans Saints:

1. Reggie Bush-RB- Bush is an absurdly good pick in a keeper league and an excellent running back in a yearly league. He is expected to carry more of the load this year, which should translate to the numbers many expected of him when he was drafted #2 overall. His 88 receptions last year proves that he is one of the most dangerous backfield threats in the league. He'll be among the top ten RB's taken in the draft (he could go in the top six in PPR leagues), so you'll have to take him in the late first round as your RB1.

2. Marques Colston-WR- Colston came out of nowhere to surprise everyone last season. Teams will be concentrating on him this year, but it's difficult to contain a receiver with his talent, speed and size (6'4, 231 lbs). Expect him to eclipse his previous stats (70 catches, 8 touchdowns). He'll be among the top ten WR's taken and therefore must be targeted no later than the third round as a WR1.

3. Drew Brees-QB- If the Chargers didn't already have a young developing QB in Phillip Rivers, they might have been kicking themselves for letting Brees go. He quieted the negative buzz about his surgically repaired shoulder and put together one of his finest seasons to date (4,418 yards and 26 touchdowns.) With an outstanding young WR crew and Bush and McAllister in the backfield, he is poised to have his best year yet. He'll be among the top five QB's taken, so be sure to grab him by the fourth round as your QB1.

Bargain Bin: Deuce McAllister-RB- Many thought a timeshare would doom McAllister to fantasy mediocrity, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the timeshare did him a favor by keeping him relatively healthy last season (when he scored double digit touchdowns for the first time since 2002.) He should be drafted in the fourth round as an excellent RB2.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

1. Carnell Williams-RB- Cadillac endured a terrible Sophomore Slump last season, accruing only 798 rushing yards and one measly touchdown. Inconsistent QB play and the fact that the team played from behind in many games contributed heavily to the situation. A marginally improved offensive line and Jeff Garcia as the starting QB should alleviate these concerns somewhat, but he still must prove he can remain healthy for a full season. A bounce-back year is predicted, but proceed with caution and don't draft Williams any higher than the fifth round as an RB3/Flex player.

2. Joey Galloway-WR- He may be close to qualifying for his AARP card, but Galloway can still surprise teams with his speed and playmaking ability. Doubters who keep predicting his decline may have to keep waiting. The fact that he amassed 62 receptions and 7 touchdowns last season doesn't sound like he is about to become irrelevant in the world of Fantasy Football. He will likely be overlooked in drafts and would make a fine WR2 if he fell to you in the sixth round.

3. Jeff Garcia-QB- His career was thought to be over but Garcia has made a habit of proving experts wrong. He resurrected the Eagles season last year by coming off the bench to throw ten touchdowns in eight games. He is also an experienced veteran who can run Coach Gruden's West Coast Offense very well. He's not starting QB material, but you could do a lot worse than him in finding a backup QB in the later rounds.

Bargain Bin: Maurice Stovall-WR- Finally, a player who truly defines the meaning of "Bargain Bin". The Buccaneers have been seeking someone to replace the disappointing Michael Clayton as a compliment to Galloway and they may have found him in Stovall. A Super-Sleeper, he has the size and the skill to fill the job and is worthy of taking a flier on in the last three rounds of the draft.

Note: I'm taking off for my Bachelor Party in Las Vegas tomorrow and will finish this series next week.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vick's Punishment

So, after all the posturing, Michael Vick is set to enter a Guilty plea in court. His plea has been carefully worded to minimize his culpability and he is expected to throw himself upon the mercy of the court.

Opinions differ greatly on what his punishment should be. Some say he should get the maximum (5 years, I believe.) Others feel he ought to serve no more than 18 months. Still others have suggested that the punishment fit the crime and that Vick should be thrown into a fighting ring with those dogs he helped train to kill.

I say he shouldn't serve any jail time. Not one single minute.

Before anyone castigates me as a Vick apologist, let me clarify my position. Vick's crimes were heinous and he should never be allowed to set foot on an NFL field again. He deserves to lose what may amount to millions of dollars in salary and endorsements. He also deserves to suffer the fate that, no matter what steps he takes to repair his image, like OJ or Pete Rose, his legacy will forever be linked to this horrible situation.

However, what good will it do anyone if Vick serves 5 years in jail? Those who gleefully anticipate that he will be beaten and sodomized daily are a.) depraved in their own way and b.) fooling themselves. He will be looked upon as a celebrity hero in jail. He can regale inmates with stories of his sick pursuits and tales of his gridiron glories. When he gets out, he will be the same man as he was when he went in except with possibly a greater sense of self-aggrandizement and importance. Does this sound like punishment to you?

No, we are missing a HUGE opportunity here to turn this nightmare into something positive.

Let Vick spend his five years going around the country to inner city and rural schools, lecturing impressionable kids about the dangers of running afoul of law. Make him promote animal benevolence in numerous PSA's to the point where it may dawn on him that his behavior has been deplorable. Sentence him to work the phones for Animal Rights groups. There are many avenues of repentance and Vick should be forced to travel down every one of them.

People close to Vick have gone on record as saying that, deep down, he has a good heart.

Make us believe it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: NFC North

Chicago Bears:

1. Cedric Benson-RB- Finally free of the timeshare with Thomas Jones, Benson is set to carry the load for the Bears for the first time. There have been huge expectations for him since he was drafted 4th overall and he showed a glimpse of reaching that potential last year by scoring 6 times. However, there are serious questions about his durability. He'll be taken by late in the second round as an RB1 and will be good fall back option for those who wish to draft another position with their first pick.

2. Bernard Berrian-WR- Berrian is a speedster who can break a game open on any pass thrown to him. He looks to supplant Mushin Muhammed this season as Chicago's top receiving threat. In addition to his 15.2 yards per catch last year, he also racked up 775 yards and 6 touchdowns. Take as your WR3 by late in the 9th round and he will provide good depth to your squad.

3. Chicago Defense-Def- Chicago, along with Baltimore, is one of the only defenses worth reaching for. They led the league in Forced fumbles last season, were second in interceptions and third in Points per Game Allowed. If your league awards points for Special Teams play, Chicago has the ever dangerous Devin Hester returning it's kicks (5 returned for touchdowns last season). You'll have to take them no later than the early ninth round (and, in many cases, before then) but you won't be disappointed if you do.

Bargain Bin: Mushin Muhammed-WR- Though he's 34 years old and entering the downside of his career, "Moose" is still a fantasy force. He caught 60 balls last year to go with 5 touchdowns. His stock may be dropping because of the youthful presence of Berrian, but you can still get him in the later rounds as a fine reserve WR.

Detroit Lions:

1. Roy Williams-WR- He's been a bit overshadowed by the arrival of Calvin Johnson, but many forget that Williams is still the number one wide receiver for the Lions. He had an excellent season last year, recording 82 catches for 1,310 yards and 7 touchdowns. He's also healthy for the first time in awhile. Take advantage of the CJ smokescreen, grab Williams by the beginning of the 4th round as your WR1 and watch him outscore several of the bigger name receivers taken ahead of him.

2. Calvin Johnson-WR- It's rare that a rookie WR makes an immediate impact in the NFL Johnson is one of those rare individuals who can do just that. Not only is he blessed with wish-list size (6'4, 237lbs), he has speed , agility and fantastic hands as well. His value in a Keeper league is off the chart, but in a yearly league, you'll need to take him by the early part of the sixth round as your WR2.

3. Tatum Bell-RB- Bell, fresh from his timeshare in Denver, gets a chance to start all over again in Detroit. With Kevin Jones still being affected by his Lisfranc Sprain injury, Bell has the opportunity to shine as an unquestioned starting running back. While he earned 1,025 rushing yards in part time work last season, his low touchdown total (2) is worrisome since the Lions also have renowned goal line vulture TJ Duckett on their roster. Since he's potentially has a starting gig, he'll be gone before the seventh round is done, but don't expect more than RB3/Flex player stats from him.

Bargain Bin: Jon Kitna-QB- Kitna must believe he has died and gone to heaven with the amount of options he has available to him. The only thing that limits him from reaching top ten status is his propensity for turning over the ball. With Williams, Johnson and Furrey catching his throws, Kitna is worthy of being drafted by the eight round as a QB2 or a solid Reserve.

Green Bay Packers:

1. Donald Driver-WR- Driver has proven his critics wrong, flourishing as the Packer's number one receiver since Javon Walker left. His reception and yardage totals have all steadily improved the past three years and he is Brett Favre's unquestioned Go To Guy. On the downside, he's 32 years old and just suffered a sprained foot which will keep him out of action for an indeterminate amount of time. If you're willing to roll the dice, taking him in sixth round as a low end WR1 or a high WR2 could pay very nice dividends.

2. Brandon Jackson-RB- Jackson looks like he'll be the main ball carrier for the Packers this year with Vernand Morency being injured in preseason. A second round pick from Nebraska, he possesses a nice blend of speed and strength. One drawback to his potential thus far has been his struggles to pick up the backfield blocking assignments. That should improve as he gains more experience and Jackson is worth taking in the sixth round as an RB3/Flex player.

3. Greg Jennings-WR- Jennings is a speed demon who started last year on fire then tailed off after injury woes took their toll. He is a very nice compliment to Driver, snagging 45 balls for three touchdowns in his rookie campaign. His role could expand this year though he will be pushed by rookie James Jones for playing time. He makes a nice pick in the tenth round as a good WR3.

Bargain Bin: Brett Favre-QB- It may be hard to believe that one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history could be overlooked in a draft. Favre may be chronologically old (he'll turn 38 during the season), but he still approaches the game with the enthusiasm of a rookie. You can find him late in the draft as a great backup to your starting QB.

Minnesota Vikings:

1. Adrian Peterson-RB- Peterson has had an excellent preseason, flashing the skills that made him a first round pick. He is expected to supplant the more experienced Chester Taylor simply due to his potential. However, Peterson is a bit of an injury risk and does play for the woeful, offensively challenged Vikings. Defenses will be stacking the box against him early and often, so take him no sooner than the 4th round as your RB2.

2. Chester Taylor-RB- Taylor must have been the only Viking who was unhappy to hear the news that Peterson had been drafted. He probably figured his fine season of 1,216 rushing yards and six touchdowns last year would ensure that he'd be the starter again this year. Such is life in the NFL, but with Peterson's injury history, Taylor will still see plenty of work. Look to draft him in the eight round as an RB3/Flex player and hope for the best.

3. Tarvaris Jackson-QB- Jackson does have a rifle for an arm and fleet feet, so the potential to create some semblance of offense is present. However, he has a mostly unproven WR corps to work with and his decision making ability is still very much in it's infancy. Still, he has an enviable situation with an excellent offensive line and a top notch backfield to take some of the pressure off of him. Don't draft him, but keep an eye on him as the season progresses.

Bargain Bin: Troy Williamson-WR- Williamson has been labeled a major bust since being drafted in the first round in 2005. On the bright side, he did improve his catch totals from his rookie season and is entering his third year in the league, giving a small reason to hope for a better performance. No Viking WR is draftable, but give a glance towards Williamson on the waiver wire every now and then to see how he's progressing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: NFC East Preview

Dallas Cowboys:

1. Terrell Owens-WR- It's true: If TO were a military officer, his name would be Major Drama. One of the most controversial players in the history of the game, TO often has fantasy owners on the edge of their seat, worried that their starting WR is going to aggravate his NFL team to the point where they suspend or cut him. While he does bring his share of stress, his talent and professional statistics are beyond reproach. Draft him by the early third round and watch one of the best WR's in football deliver 10-13 touchdowns along with his share of Maalox moments.

2. Marion Barber III-RB- MBIII delivered an outstanding season under the tutelage of Bill Parcells last season, scoring 16 touchdowns in a timeshare backfield. While it may be a bit much to expect those lofty numbers again, he has the talent to be used in a variety of ways by new coach Wade Phillips. A punishing inside runner, he is also a gifted receiver out of the backfield. Look for Phillips to keep some semblance of the timeshare intact (to ensure both him and Julius Jones stay healthy) and draft Barber III in the fifth round as a low tier RB2 or a very good RB3/Flex player.

3. Julius Jones-RB- The other half of the Cowboy's running attack, Jones fell into disfavor with Parcells last season and was consequently not used to his fullest potential. Despite dealing with the demotion, he still managed to run for more than 1,000 yards and 4 touchdowns. How Wade Phillips will use him is unclear as of right now, but Jones should continue to be a valuable cog in the Dallas system. You might still be able to get him late in the sixth round as an RB3/Flex player or a very good reserve RB.

Bargain Bin: Tony Romo-QB- Dallas fans haven't forgotten Bobble-Gate yet. That's a shame because, other than that one cataclysmic error, Romo rescued the franchise from the elderly (and often inept) clutches of Drew Bledsoe. He's one of the better second tier QB's available and should be targeted late in the eight round as a serviceable starting QB or a high quality backup.

New York Giants:

1. Brandon Jacobs-RB- A rumbling tank of a man, Jacobs should seize the opportunity afforded to him by Tiki Barber's retirement to prove he is an every down back and not just a goal line vulture. His game is playing smashmouth football, pounding a defense until they wear down. Whether or not he is capable of of lugging the rock 25 times a game is a question mark, but he will certainly see the goal line looks regardless of whether or not the backfield develops into a timeshare with Reuben Droughns. He is a very sexy pick this year for fantasy owners, so you'll have to nab him no later than the early second round if you want him as your RB1.

2. Plaxico Burress-WR- Though he never really hit his stride in Pittsburgh, Burress has found a home with the Giants as their starting wide receiver. He possesses quite a bit of skill along with prototypical NFL WR size and bulk (6'5, 232lbs.) and good chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning. The questions revolve around his health ( he is currently dealing with a pesky ankle injury) and his sometimes suspect attitude. Expect him to last no further than the late fifth round as someone will be happy to make him a sound WR2 with their pick.

3. Jeremy Shockey-TE- There's no doubt he's a warrior, but the drawback is his hard nosed style often results in nagging injuries throughout the season. He continues to improve as a player, though, posting over 60 catches each of the last three seasons. The Giants love to employ him in the Red Zone as well, which ups his value (seven touchdowns last season). He'll definitely be among the top six TE's selected and will make a good TE1 by the early part of the eight round.

Bargain Bin: Eli Manning-QB- It really can't be easy being stuck in the shadow of his older brother Peyton. However, Eli has started to establish his own buzz by posting 24 passing touchdowns last season and standing up to derogatory comments made by ex-Giant Barber in reference to his leadership abilities. He should be taken as an excellent reserve QB past the tenth round.

Philadelphia Eagles:

1. Brian Westbrook-RB- He's forever listed on the injury report and yet he always seems to be on the field performing at a high level. They don't come much more lethal than Westbrook as a receiver out of the backfield (257 career receptions) making him especially valuable in PPR leagues. He also has a nose for goal line as evidenced by his 38 career touchdowns. He'll be gone by the end of the first round and may go as high as sixth overall, so take him with confidence as your RB1 if you get the opportunity.

2. Donovan McNabb-QB- Questions abound regarding whether or not he'll be able to return from ACL surgery and perform at the high level we're accustomed to. It would be foolish to count him out, though, because he has proven to be one of the better QB's in the league when he's healthy. He has fought the critics his whole career, outlasted TO in Philly and should be primed for a bounce back season. His status may scare off some owners which means you should be able to steal him in the late fifth round as your QB1.

3. Reggie Brown-WR- Brown is one of several WR's entering their third season in the league and is being counted on by the Eagles to have a breakout year. He improved marginally on his reception totals from his rookie year (46 vs. 43), but made big strides in the touchdown department (8 vs. 4). It's possible he could break 1,000 yards receiving this year a well, making him even more attractive. You wouldn't be wrong drafting him as a WR2 in the middle of the sixth round.

Bargain Bin: Kevin Curtis-WR- Curtis joined the Eagles this off-season looking for a new start and greater responsibility. He'll certainly get the chance in Philadelphia, who expect him to be a solid possession receiver that will counterbalance the home run threat in Brown. Don't reach, but Curtis makes a nice pick in the ninth round as a WR3/Flex player.

Washington Redskins:

1. Clinton Portis-RB- An injury cut short his season last year and suddenly football fans everywhere discovered Ladell Betts. Portis is also experiencing some trouble with his knee this pre-season, leading many owners to shy away. For those who are brave of heart, Portis could potentially turn in a good season (expect 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns) despite sharing time. Take him as a low level RB1 or a solid RB2 by the middle of the third round.

2. Santana Moss-WR- A speedster by nature, Moss' problem has been staying on the field consistently. He is allegedly healthy entering this year as Washington's primary WR. That could be good news for your team as the last time Moss was healthy (two seasons ago), he produced 84 catches for nine touchdowns. Don't go crazy, but drafting him by the end of the sixth round to be your WR2 is not the worst thing in the world.

3. Ladell Betts-RB- He took less money to stay with Washington when he was a free agent and the move has turned out to be a pretty good one for him. Given the injury history of Portis, the Redskins will be much more inclined to give touches to Betts to keep the running game healthy. He showed he was more than capable operating as the #1 RB last year, racking up over 1,100 yards rushing to go along with 5 total touchdowns. He's a great choice as an RB2 and will be gone before the seventh round.

Bargain Bin: Chris Cooley-TE- He's not one of the more high profile TE's in the league, but that's all about to change this season. Abundantly talented, especially around the red zone, expect Cooley to be QB Jason Campbell's primary safety valve, making it very possible he will eclipse last year's totals (57 catches and six touchdowns.) Don't sleep on this guy past the seventh round for, if you do, you'll be watching him become a top 5 TE for some other team.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: AFC West Preview

Denver Broncos:

1. Travis Henry-RB- Henry resurrected his career last season with Tennessee and will now be playing for a Denver team renowned for turning out 1,000 yard rushers. He is a bruising back who will fit in just fine with the Broncos blocking scheme. The only worry about him is his propensity towards injury. Even so, Henry will make a fine RB1 and will be snapped up by the very early second round.

2. Javon Walker-WR- Walker put to rest the rumors that his ACL injury from two seasons ago would rob him of his potential to be a great receiver by posting 69 catches and 8 touchdowns last year. He is the undisputed #1 WR on the Broncos and will be counted on heavily by quarterback Jay Cutler. The only wrinkle is the amount of double teams he will most certainly suffer due to the lack of another receiving threat on the team (except for possibly Daniel Graham or Tony Scheffler). However, he is well worth a fifth round pick as a low end WR1 or an excellent WR2.

3. Jay Cutler-QB- Cutler is a rising star in the world of Fantasy Football and his keeper potential is off the charts. In five games last year, he put together an 88.5 QB rating to go along with 1,001 yards passing and nine touchdowns. He will likely still endure some growing pains, but he possesses the arm, the brain and the other intangibles to produce a fine season this year as well. Best of all, you can nab him after the ninth round as a reserve QB.

Bargain Bin: Daniel Graham-TE- Graham got lost in the shuffle on the Patriots where Tom Brady tossed touchdown passes to everyone but the water boy. He is an excellent blocker and that will ensure that he is on the field for a great plays this season. He also has wonderful receiving skills and is a steal past the tenth round as a TE2.

Kansas City Chiefs:

1. Larry Johnson-RB- Johnson's threat of a holdout appears to be coming to an end. Now that he will actually be playing, he returns to his status as one of the top 3 fantasy running backs. There is concern about his durability given that he ran the ball 416 times last year, but it's not enough to eclipse his potential. He's guaranteed to be one of the top 5 players off the board and is a franchise RB1 for keeper/dynasty leagues.

2. Tony Gonzalez- His reception totals have dropped the last two seasons, but he's still one of the top four available at his position. His athleticism, even at age 31, continues to be unreal and he is the primary receiving threat for the Chiefs. What remains to be seen is how the change at the quarterback position affects his performance as he had tremendous chemistry with the departed Trent Green. Take him the seventh round with confidence as your TE1.

3. Eddie Kennison-WR- Kennison is a little long in the tooth at age 34. Still, with defenses concentrating on LJ and Gonzalez, he knows how to take advantage of the mismatches that he sees. Expecting a repeat of his totals last season (53 catches, 5 touchdowns) is not unrealistic. Don't reach, but you can find him after the tenth round as a WR3/Flex player.

Bargain Bin: Dewayne Bowe-WR- The Chiefs expect big things from Bowe, but maybe not during his rookie season. First year WR's rarely contribute heavily, but Bowe might be the exception. He has the opportunity with K.C's poor receiving corps to make his mark and is worth a late round flier as a reserve WR.

Oakland Raiders:

1. Lamont Jordon-RB- Jordon's return from injury is an intriguing storyline. Can he be the powerful runner he was when we last saw him or will the injury and the poor run blocking of the Raider's offensive line knock him back to pedestrian status? With Dominic Rhodes suspended for the first 4 games of the season, he will certainly get the opportunity to reestablish himself. He should still be available past the sixth round and, being that he is a starting running back, is worth the risk as a weak RB2 or a decent RB3/Flex player.

2. Jerry Porter-WR- Porter has been a forgotten man in Oakland. He is entering his prime and is only one season removed from a 76 catch, 5 touchdown year. The QB situation in Oakland is far from ideal, but Porter has the potential to step up and grab the playmaking WR role the Raiders so desperately need filled. He should be around after the ninth round and is worth a risk as your WR3.

3. Ronald Curry-WR- Curry recovered nicely from an injury to post a 62 catch season last year. He was forced to deal with exceptionally bad quarterback issues but emerged as the go- to guy. With Porter returning to the lineup (and no Randy Moss distractions) and drawing defenders away, Curry may improve upon those numbers, especially the 1 touchdown he scored. He'll be available late in the draft and you could certainly do worse than him at the WR3 position.

Bargain Bin: Daunte Culpepper-QB- The days of the NFL fearing Culpepper are long gone after his devastating knee injury from a few years ago. He is being given a chance to resurrect his flagging career in Oakland and should emerge as the starter eventually. He'll be available in the later rounds and might be worth a gamble as a Reserve QB.

San Diego Chargers:

1. LaDainian Tomlinson-RB- Do I really need to tell you take LT with the first pick of the draft? He is far and away the best Fantasy RB in the game today. Barring injury, he will again be the dominant force this season. If you aren't picking first, forget about him.

2. Antonio Gates-TE- Another no-brainer. There is Gates and then there is everyone else at the TE position. His "down" year of last season consisted of 71 catches and nine touchdowns. Take him as your TE1 by the end of the third round.

3. Vincent Jackson-WR- He's is everyone's popular Sleeper pick this year and with good reason. He will fill the role of starting wide receiver left vacated by Keenan McCardell. Though LT and Gates are clearly the dominant Alpha males in this offense, Jackson ought to be able to use his ability and size to carve a nice niche for himself. Take him by the 8th round as your WR3.

Bargain Bin: Phillip Rivers-QB- Rivers has one of the most enviable QB situations in all of football. He gets to pass the Gates in the red zone and to Tomlinson out of the backfield. Take him by the 8th round as a backup QB and play him with confidence if your starter struggles.

Up next....The NFC

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: AFC South Preview

Houston Texans:

1. Andre Johnson-WR- Here is a case of an elite WR stuck on an offensively challenged squad. Johnson has been the Texan's only reliable weapon for 4 years, but he hasn't let the rest of the team's shortcomings slow him down. He's coming off a career high 103 catches last year and should continue to be the brightest star in the Texans' universe. The only wild card is whether or not he'll find chemistry with new quarterback Matt Schaub, but draft him with confidence by the middle of the fifth round.

2. Ahman Green-RB- It's undeniable that Green has seen better days back in Green Bay. But he is a starting RB in the NFL and therefore is worthy of a spot on your team. Green's real value this year will be in Point per Reception leagues as he is an excellent check down option out of the backfield (350 career catches). He's only good as a low end RB2 or a decent RB3/Flex player, so don't reach higher than the middle of the 5th round to get him.

3. Owen Daniels-TE- Daniels was quite a pleasant surprise for Houston last year. He hauled in 34 receptions and 5 touchdowns, providing the only real complement to Johnson. He obviously had good chemistry with David Carr and will now have to establish some with Schaub. Still, he's a viable TE2 and will likely still be available after the eight round.

Bargain Bin: Matt Schaub-QB- The Texans are very high on a player who has only thrown 161 passes in his professional career. Whether or not that trust is misplaced remains to be seen, but like Ahman Green, he is a starter in the NFL and that makes him draftable. Having said that, he's only worth a pick as a reserve QB, so don't reach anywhere higher than the 10th round to get him.

Indianapolis Colts:

1. Peyton Manning-QB- He's been the number one fantasy quarterback for several years running now. He just won his first Super Bowl last year, retained two of the best WR's in the world (Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne), has a young threat out of the backfield (Joseph Addai) to work with and is almost never injured. Any questions? He'll go fast so you'll need to take him with your first pick but with Manning as your QB1, you won't even have to think twice about the position all year long.

2. Joseph Addai-RB- With Dominic Rhodes moving on to not so green pastures in Oakland, Addai inherits the starting RB position for the Colts this season. This will translate to Fantasy Gold. There are questions about his ability to handle the workload, but his talent and situation makes him one of the most attractive options out there. If you're picking past the 8th spot in the first round, you likely will not have a shot for him to be your #1RB.

3. Marvin Harrison: Father Time can't catch Harrison and neither can opposing cornerbacks. He continues to defy aging and keeps posting Pro Bowl worthy stats every season. Don't expect a drop off this year either. You'll have to draft him by the end of the second round, but that's the price you pay for getting one of the very best at the WR1 position.

Bargain Bin: Reggie Wayne-WR- Wayne falls into the exact same category as Housh: A WR2 who performs like a #1 and that makes him a bargain. He is constantly able to exploit defensive coverages as teams usually assign their shutdown CB to Harrison. He'll be taken by the end of the 3rd round, but he's a very good value if you want to spend your first two picks at other positions.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

1. Maurice Jones-Drew-RB- Drew was one of the biggest surprises in the league last year due to scoring 15 touchdowns while sharing the load with Fred Taylor. He also caught 46 passes out of the backfield. He is young, quick, powerful and should take over the starting job this season. With this sort of potential, you cannot let him fall any lower than the middle of the second round before grabbing him as a lower tier RB1 or a great RB2.

2. Fred Taylor-RB- Taylor appears to have shed the "Fragile Fred" label by playing in 40 games the last three seasons. The timeshare with Jones-Drew may even be helping his stats (6 TD's last year) by keeping him fresher. Despite all the positives, it seems clear that he will be getting fewer touches this year. Don't think about risking him as an RB#1 or even a #2, but he's worth a 6th round pick as an RB3/Flex player.

3. Matt Jones-WR- As he is entering his third year in the league, hopes are high that Jones can put his immense talent to use and become a dependable player. He did improve upon his totals from his rookie year slightly last season (41 catches vs. 36) and his large frame makes him an attractive red zone target. Still, he has a lot to prove before anyone considers him a good bet. Take him as a WR3/Flex player after the ninth round.

Bargain Bin: Jaguars Defense-DEF- I rarely advocate taking a defense before the last four rounds of the draft. However, the Jaguars defense has special potential. They recorded 35 sacks and 20 interceptions last season and drafted a strong prospect in safety Reggie Nelson. Make your move for Jaguars DEF to be your starter once Chicago and Baltimore are off the board.

Tennessee Titans:

1. Vince Young-QB- As Young goes, so go the Titans. He had an impressive rookie season considering he was surrounded by very little talent in the WR department and his 7 rushing touchdowns gave him a nice value as well. However, the Titans did not improve their WR corps much in the off-season and his behavior in camp thus far (specifically engaging in a fist fight with a teammate and being benched for a preseason game for violating team rules) do not speak to his abilities to lead this team. His athleticism and potential will have someone drafting him as a QB2 by the seventh round, but proceed with caution as there should be better options available.

2. Lendale White-RB- White appears to be the leader in the competition for the Titans' starting running back position. Though he has battled weight and injury issues, he has had an impressive training camp thus far and could be a sleeper candidate for a breakout year. Even in a timeshare situation, he should also see most of the goal line touches considering his size (235 lbs.) Take him by the end of the eight round as an RB3/Flex player.

3. Bo Scaife-TE- Though technically he is the backup to Ben Troupe, Scaife has tremendous chemistry with Young dating back to their time as teammates at University of Texas. Troupe's inability to stay on the field or out of the coach's doghouse should result in greater opportunity for him to make his mark. He's worth a flier in the late rounds as a TE2.

Bargain Bin: Eric Moulds-WR- True, he may be far removed from the glory days earlier in his career. However, Moulds brings a veteran presence to the Titan's very young WR group. A cagey warrior who still knows how to get open, he could be worth drafting very late as a WR3/Flex player.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: AFC North Preview

Baltimore Ravens:

1. Willis McGahee-RB- McGahee replaces the older, slower Jamal Lewis as the Raven's primary backfield threat. He's overcome a variety of injuries, including his horrific knee injury while playing for The U., and has the potential to be a dominant runner. Look for him to easily eclipse the 990 yards and 6 touchdowns he produced last season with Buffalo. You'll need to grab him as a low-level RB1 or a high-end RB2 before the second round is done.

2. Todd Heap-TE- Picking a TE not named Gates or Gonzales can be a risky proposition, but Heap's numbers justify taking him sooner rather than later. He's bounced back from a dismal 2004 season, posting reception totals of 75 and 73 the last two years. The Ravens will use him plenty and he's worth going after before getting an unproven WR3. You'll have to target him around the late 5th or early 6th round if you want him as your starting TE.

3. Mark Clayton-WR- Clayton improved upon his rookie season and is poised to make a big jump this year as the starting WR for the Ravens. He is also entering that mythical Third Year when many wide receivers finally catch up to the speed the game is played at the pro level. Though his numbers may be limited by the Ravens Run-First attitude, he is a lower tier WR2 and an excellent WR3. He shouldn't last any later than the 8th round.

Bargain Bin: Baltimore Def-DEF- This comes with a qualifier. While I'm not in favor of reaching for a defense when there are so few that are distinctly better than the others, Baltimore's D is worth a slight stretch. I wouldn't take them any higher than the 7th round, but if they are still available after that, grab them and be confident that you will have one of the best D's in history.

Cincinnati Bengals:

1. Rudi Johnson-RB- If you like consistency and are unafraid to make a pick that will seen as less than sexy by your contemporaries, Johnson is your man. You can basically pencil him in for 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns because he's reached those totals each season for the past three. Kenny Irons' injury makes him even more valuable as Irons was slated to steal carries from him this year. Johnson is a strong RB1 and needs to be taken no later than the early second round.

2. Chad Johnson-WR- Ocho Cinco has been ranked the #1 WR for this season by more than a few publications. While it remains to be seen whether or not he can achieve that lofty status, his skill level and his chemistry with Carson Palmer are otherworldly. It will also be interesting to see what new Celebratory dances he comes up with as well. Johnson is quite obviously a fine WR1 and will be off the board by the middle of the third round.

3. Carson Palmer-QB- His knee injury is far behind him now and Palmer is poised to once again be among the top three QB's in Fantasy Football. Though the loss of WR Chris Henry to an 8 game suspension will hurt (they hooked up for 9 touchdowns last season), he should approach the 30 td mark this season. Look for him to go over 4,000 yards again as well. After Manning is gone, Palmer will be the best choice for a starting QB available and will likely not be around after the middle of the 3rd round.

Bargain Bin: T.J Houshmandzadeh-WR- This pick also requires a qualifier. Well known to FF drafters, Housh is a rare animal: Technically a WR2, he produces like a WR1. For those who wish to load up on other positions with their first two picks, Housh will make a fine WR1 late in the third round.

Cleveland Browns:

1. Jamal Lewis-RB- Lewis is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise abysmal Cleveland offense. Though his career was thought to be on the wane, all reports coming out of training camp have described him as a rejuvenated player who is running with a chip on his shoulder. Lewis clearly feels he has something to prove and that is good news for Fantasy owners. He's not going to be your RB1, but he should be a steal in the 5th round as a minor RB2 or a strong RB3/Flex player.

2. Braylon Edwards- WR- Like Mark Clayton mentioned above, Edwards is now entering the "Magical" Third Year for a WR. He possesses an insane amount of talent and has prototypical NFL WR size (6'3, 212 lbs.) The only thing that will hold him back will be the revolving door that is the Cleveland QB system, a situation that will cost him valuable chemistry with any one passer. Even so, Edwards can be a low level WR2 or a strong WR3 and should end up on someones team before the sixth round is complete.

3. Kellen Winslow-TE- A self-described "Soldier", Winslow appears to finally be maturing and putting his childish antics behind him. His injury history is worrisome, especially for such a young player (he underwent the controversial Micro Fracture surgery on his knee this past offseason.) Even so, his talent and potential cannot be overlooked. He will make a fine TE1 by the end of the eighth round.

Bargain Bin: Brady Quinn-QB- Quinn did not do himself any favors by holding out. He could've taken over the starting position immediately on a team desperate for a franchise quarterback. Having said all that, he should be a starter no later than mid-season and that means he can be drafted as a Reserve in the later rounds.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

1. Willie Parker-RB- Fast Willie is a rising star in the Fantasy world and should be treated accordingly. He is the most important piece of the Steelers' running game and, if healthy, will receive the lion's share of the carries. Look for his receptions total to rise also as Big Ben will use him as a checkdown option. Parker will be one of the first ten RB's chosen and therefore must be nabbed in the first round.

2. Hines Ward-WR- A stalwart of the Pittsburgh offense for years, the ultra-athletic Ward has proven to be a relatively safe pick in the unstable Fantasy World. He won't ever be elite, but he is as dependable an option as you'll find. The promise that the Steelers plan to open up the passing game bodes well for him too. Take him as a low end WR1 or a great WR2 by the late fifth round.

3. Ben Roethlisberger-QB- Big Ben has survived his brush with death and should be poised for a bounce-back year. He possesses a strong arm and unflappable nature, key ingredients that you want in any quarterback. He has a number of options and will use them all with the new system. He is a steal as a backup QB in the ninth round after all the big names are gone.

Bargain Bin: Santonio Holmes-WR- A burner who will stretch the field, Holmes compliments Ward very well. He is having an excellent training camp thus far and should be a great option as a WR3/Flex player available in the later rounds.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Fantasy Stars: AFC East Preview

New England Patriots:

1. Laurence Maroney-RB- With the apparent retirement of Corey Dillon, Maroney now becomes the main man in the Patriot's rushing attack. He is a very dangerous runner who scored 6 touchdowns in a share situation last season. The only worry about him is his durability, a definite cause for concern as he has suffered numerous nagging injuries in his short career. Even so, his potential dictates that he will be one of the top 10 RB's taken off the board and should be taken with a late first round pick.

2. Tom Brady-QB- You will find few QB's as consistent as Brady who are not named Peyton Manning. Though he has never been considered a fantasy superstar, he will likely be the 4th QB taken off the board. The Pats are providing him with two potential blockbuster WR's in Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth, so his numbers could see a big spike. Target him no later than the late 3rd/early 4th round.

3. Randy Moss-WR- Which player will show up this season, Supernova Randy or Black Hole Moss? Most bets are being placed on the former as he seems overjoyed to be out of Oakland (well, wouldn't you be?). The odds on him becoming the player he once was seem very long indeed, but if he can avoid the injury bug (no sure thing as he already has developed hamstring problems in training camp), he ought to be a very effective WR2 or 3 for your team. He won't make it past the 5th round, so plan accordingly.

Bargain Bin: Wes Welker-WR- In points per reception leagues, Welker will be extremely valuable. He won't score much, but he is a reliable safety valve which Brady will utilize extensively.

New York Jets:

1. Thomas Jones-RB- His recent calf injury is very worrying because he is slated to be the top rusher for the Jets, a team in need of a good ground game to implement the play action offense that it's quarterback excels in. If healthy, he should easily eclipse the 1,210 yards and six touchdowns he achieved in his timeshare with the Bears last season. His receiving ability out of the backfield (36 catches last year) is nice as well. Look for him to be taken as an RB2 late in the second round or third round (depending on the severity of his injury)

2. Laveranues Coles-WR- He posted some of his best career stats last season (91 catches) and is an integral cog in the Jets attack. A warrior, he plays even when hurt and contributes on a weekly basis. His chemistry with Chad Pennington is readily apparent and he will make a very nice WR2 or 3 for some team. He should be a steal in the 6th round.

3. Jerricho Cotchery-WR- He was a nice surprise for the Jets last year, recording 82 catches and scoring 6 times. He won't fool anyone this year, though. Still, he is an excellent value as a WR3 or Flex player. He'll be gone by the 8th round.

Bargain Bin- Leon Washington-RB- He may see extended playing time if Jones remains injured for a long period. A scatback with a tremendous burst, he is a nice addition as a reserve.

Buffalo Bills:

1. Marshawn Lynch-RB- Lynch, a first round pick of the Bills, is expected to contribute heavily as a rookie. Despite current reports of a committee situation, he should receive the majority of touches by season's end and be a fantasy force to be reckoned with. His receiving ability will be a nice bonus on PPR leagues as well. He should be played as a high level RB2 and should be drafted no later than the 4th round.

2. Lee Evans-WR- An undeniable gem, Evans broke out for 82 catches and 8 touchdowns last season. He is poised to equal or better those numbers this year and is a low level WR1 or an excellent WR2. He will be among the top 15 WR's selected and should be scooped up by the early 5th round...if he lasts that long.

3. J.P Losman-QB- Losman was pilloried in his first year as a starter for his suspect decision making and erratic play. Granted, some of that criticism was legitimate, but the fact is he still managed to put together a decent season by posting an 84.9 QB rating (11th in the NFL) and over 3,000 yards through the air. He would be a good choice as a backup or a QB2 in some formats. You can nab him in the 7th round or later.

Bargain Bin- Roscoe Parrish-WR- A speedster, Parrish caught 23 balls for an average of 13.9 ypc. With a maturing Losman at the helm of the offense, he should be good for at least 30 catches this year and could prove valuable with an injury to Evans. He is worth the late round flier.

Miami Dolphins:

1. Ronnie Brown-RB- True, there aren't many reasons to be excited about the Dolphins this year, fantasy-wise. However, Brown is the exception. Not only did he run for over 1,000 yds. and 5 touchdowns last season, he caught 33 passes out of the backfield as well. He also will be leaned upon heavily this year to carry the load. He will be among the top 10 RB's to be chosen and you cannot count on him making it past the early second round at best.

2. Chris Chambers-WR- Chambers had one of his worst seasons as a pro last year and his inability to hang on to passes was a huge reason. However, there is reason to hope as the QB situation has improved marginally with Trent Green coming aboard. His accuracy may translate into a better season for Chambers, who has been working hard this off-season to correct his issue. Don't reach for him, but take him in the 7th round as a low-level WR2 or a WR3.

3. Trent Green-QB- Green's season was interrupted last year by concussion problems and he hasn't had a worse injury since he played a key part in "The Kurt Warner Story". He can be a decent QB, though, whose accuracy has been steady throughout the years. Don't count on him being your starter by any means, but he can be a decent backup who will be available past the 8th round.

Bargain Bin- David Martin-TE- Replacing Randy McMichael's numbers will be no easy task. Martin does have the size (6'4, 265lbs) that many teams covet and and surprising soft hands. He will be a favorite of Green's, who clearly knows how to utilize TE's in his offense. Martin is worth the gamble as a backup TE and should be available in the later rounds.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Isles sign Vasicek

If you read some of my previous posts, you'll note that I was not in favor of signing Josef Vasicek, Jeff O'Neill or Jason Allison.

You would also discover that I am not a big fan of trading away prospects for short term fixes. Therefore, if the Isles were determined to address the Center position, I am glad they went about it by signing a unrestricted FA.

The Isles signed Vasicek for a 1 year deal at $750K. While I feel my plan to go out and get Ossi Vaananen or Nolan Pratt to bolster the defense would have been the better way to go, I am not completely unhappy with this situation.

Vasicek does have more untapped potential than the other two centers, he is younger, and he is known for being a hard worker. If he can score 20 this year and make his linemates a little better, he will have been worth the very small gamble of $750K.

Welcome to the Isles, Josef. Play hard every night and the fans will love you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thanks a bunch, Mad Mike

Granted, drafting in the NHL can be a crapshoot at best. Attempting to predict which superb minor league prospect will be an All Star in the big league (Sidney Crosby notwithstanding) is a task that is as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack sometimes.

However, the best teams in NHL history have always used the draft wisely, holding on to to their best prospects until they had matured and could contribute. This process may take some time, but if the draft homework is done properly, it can pay off with huge dividends.

The former Islanders GM, Mad Mike Milbury, didn't see things that way. His rash decisions regarding prospects became a boon for other NHL teams. His rationale bordered on the bizarre and I've often wondered if he didn't play just one year too many without a helmet.

Below is a list of an entire team comprised of Islander Draft picks from the last 16 years. Try not to get ill as you peruse what COULD have been.

C1: Jason Spezza
LW1: Todd Bertuzzi
RW1: Ziggy Palffy
D1: Wade Redden
D1: Zdeno Chara
G: Roberto Luongo

C2: Tim Connolly
LW2: Raffi Torres
RW2: J.P Dumont
D2: Bryan McCabe
D2: Eric Brewer
G2: Rick DiPietro

C3: Andreas Johansson
LW3: Taylor Pyatt
RW3: Juraj Kolnik
D3: Brad Lukowich
D3: Dick Tarnstrom
G3: Tommy Salo

Darius Kasparitis
Jan Hlavac
Radek Martinek
Bruno Gervais
Chris Campoli

A first line of Spezza, Bertuzzi and Palffy? Luongo as the starting goalie backed up by DP? Redden and Chara as first line d-men?

Excuse me while I chug the Pepto Bismol straight out of the imaginary Stanley Cup we would've won around 2003 with this lineup.

Garth Snow should take heed: His last trade involved sending Nilsson, O'Marra and and a first round pick to Edmonton for Ryan Smyth....great player, but I've attended more Islander-Ranger games at MSG in the last 10 years than he played in a Islander uniform.

Whitney Houston was right: The children ARE our future.

Don't trade away the prospects and you won't have to go crazy overpaying free agents.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Best of the Rest

Top three most frustrating aspects of being an Islander fan:

1. Watching your team get pushed around by more physical teams.

2. Watching your team consistently blow leads late in the game.

3. The fact that your team doesn't score enough.

The Isles have addressed these needs a bit in Free Agency so far with the additions of Bill Guerin, Andy Sutton and others. However, there are still gaps to be filled (and money that could be spent wisely).

On all the message boards, everyone is clamoring for the Isles to add a #1 Center, fearing that Comrie isn't up to the task at hand.

However, #1 Centermen don't grow on trees. There are none left in the UFA pool (with the possible exception of Forsberg, but I really can't see him going anywhere except to play for a Cup, which we are not ready to do yet) that are really appealing.

I've heard Jason Allison, Josef Vasicek and Jeff O'Neill mentioned as possible targets. I am not in favor of signing any of these players.

Allison and O'Neill have far too much tread on their tires to be #1 Centers. Vasicek has never scored more than 45 points in an NHL season.

Trading for someone like Marleau would deplete the roster in a devastating way and the last thing the Isles need is another Ryan Smyth situation.

So, with improvement to the offense a long shot, I think the way to go is to continue to bolster the defense so that the team can hold leads and win 2-1 games on a regular basis. Sexy? No. Effective? Yes.

Markov is not the answer either. He costs too much. No, there are two better options out there:

1. Ossi Vaananen: Another banger who will intimidate and clear the crease.

2. Nolan Pratt: He's a Stay at Home d-man who has won two Cups and would be an excellent tutor for our young guys.

Both of these players would be cheaper and, in my opinion, as effective as Markov would be.

We already have offensive defensemen like MAB, Campoli, and Martinek. Pair one each with Witt, Sutton and Vaananen/Pratt and you have balance and snarl on all three d-lines.

Garth, please don't overpay for Forsberg, Allison or any of the others. They will not solve the problem. Pick up one of the d-men I mentioned for 2-3 million a year and save the money for a forward until later.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thoughts on the Jets first pre-season game

Everyone who watches football knows that you can't put too much stock into pre-season games. Teams are trying new plays, lineups and basically exploring their potential in a consequence-free enviornment. Not to mention that, once you get to the second half, you're watching a bunch of players who will most likely be cut before the season starts and will be bagging groceries at your local supermarket.

However, I believe you can glean a little indication of the state of your team by watching pre-season games. Here are my thoughts:

-Loving Thomas Jones more and more. He was very effective in limited work and showed a glimpse of the tough between the tackles running that he will no doubt exhibit during the season.

- Leon Washington is going to be a very good change of pace back. While his overall speed is not exceptional, his burst is and he will catch more than a few teams by surprise this year. He also had a very nice kickoff return and should be a serviceable backup to Justin Miller.

- The Jets QB situation needs some work. Chad wasn't allowed to throw any passes in his stint, but we did get an extended look at Kellen Clemens and Brad Smith. Clemens had a good game (three TD's, though against a 2nd team defense which was hardly the Baltimore Ravens), but appears to have a terrible condition called Happy Feet (an inability to execute proper footwork...also, tends to panic a bit in the pocket). He is still young, though, and he might grow out of it. Brad Smith is a playmaker who can be effective in a variety of different roles, but NFL QB is not one of them. He chooses to run in the face of the slightest pressure and scrambling QB's, though entertaining, almost never lead their team to a Super Bowl.

- Justin McCareins may have role with the Jets after all.

- The linebacking group is in good shape. Vilma, Barton and David Harris all contributed and were almost always in the right area to make a play.

- The Defensive line is, unfortunately, just the opposite. They produced almost zero pressure on Harrington or Redman. A better QB, of which there are plenty, will be given the time to pick apart the defense at will if this continues. Jerious Norwood sliced through the line for his td with ease while Dewayne Robertson got manhandled by the Atlanta center. Not a good beginning at all.

- The Secondary played reasonably well, considering there was no pass rush. However, the Jets need Revis to come into the fold much sooner rather than later. If Justin Miller's injury turns out to be a lingering one, the Jets are in big trouble on both corners.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Isles sign Andy Sutton

Very happy about this signing. He plays with a snarl and intimidates opposing forwards. The Isles D just got a lot stronger and is more ready to play in our very physical division.

Nice one, Garth.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Goodbye Arron

He's now a Devil, but he is one the toughest S.O.B's in the NHL Middleweight Division.

Here he is making Matthew Barnaby cry...probably not the first time for "Tough Guy" Matt.:)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Guest Commentary: CJ on Baseball (one of the other sports)


[Note: This Blog entry was written before Barry Bonds broke the Home Run record last night. Please see updated comments at the end of the Blog.]

Whether you think Barry Bonds used steroids or not, you can't deny that the manner in which the "Commissioner" of baseball is treating this historic moment is just simply – wrong.

First, "Commissioner" Bud Selig waits until the very last minute to say whether or not he's going to attend the games in which Bonds has an opportunity to tie and/or break the record. When Bonds' was finally within reach of the most famed sports record of all-time, Selig stated, "Out of respect for the tradition of this game, the magnitude of the record, and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, I will attend Barry Bonds' next games to observe his potential tying and breaking of the home run record, subject to my commitments to the Hall of Fame this weekend. I will make an additional statement when the record is tied."

What a sigh of relief. The "Commissioner" had come to his senses and realized he needed to be in attendance.

And then it happened -- Saturday, August 4, 2007. In the first inning, Bonds hits the homer to tie the mark. Selig, in attendance, stands, puts his hands in his pockets and looks on emotionless. Not a clap, not a smile…nothing. He might as well have sent a cardboard cutout, for had there been a slight wind blowing in the direction of cutout, it might have swayed back and forth -- thus showing more emotion than Selig did when the historic moment came.

After the game, Selig, who turned down ESPN's offer for an on-air interview after the record was tied, said, ""Congratulations to Barry Bonds as he ties Major League Baseball's home run record. No matter what anybody thinks of the controversy surrounding this event, Mr. Bonds' achievement is noteworthy and remarkable."

He continued, "As I said previously, out of respect for the tradition of the game, the magnitude of the record and the fact that all citizens in this country are innocent until proven guilty, either I or a representative of my office will attend the next few games and make every attempt to observe the breaking of the all-time home run record."

Brings tears to your eyes doesn't it?

If in fact "all citizens in the country are innocent until proven guilty" as the "Commissioner" claims, why is he then showing such disrespect to Bonds and the events surrounding this historic event?

Before you sit there and judge me or think that race has anything to do with what I am saying, the same questions should be asked to Hank Aaron who stated earlier this year that he wouldn't attend any of the games period. Was Hank being holier- than- thou and thumbing his nose to Bonds because he thinks he's guilty of using steroids (before anyone of authority proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt?) or was it sour grapes because he's no longer the home run king? You be the judge.

Do I think Bonds used steroids? Probably. Do I think he should be punished for it? No!

Up until Congress hauled Baseball's ass into Congressional hearings, Baseball turned a blind eye to something that everyone else seemed to know – ball players were on the juice. For years they, and when I say they I'm speaking about the almighty Player's Association and the Owners, didn't blink an eye when the subject was brought up. It was only after Congress said fix the problem or we will, was something done.

What I find amusing, is no one seems to remember how badly the "Commissioner" was during the first round of Congressional hearings. If you can't remember, think Mark McGuire. Selig was just as bad and maybe even worse. But, now that baseball has adopted a policy, he seems to think he can walk around with his head held high while looking down on those who may or may not have used performance enhancing drugs in the past. The past being when they weren't tested and everyone pretended it wasn't happening.

It's a shame everyone has such a short memory when it comes to items such as this. Barry Bonds very well may have cheated, but Baseball allowed it by not saying or doing anything about it. And in that case – they too must continue to shoulder part of the blame and an asterisk when it comes to the topic of steroids.

One other note -- even if Bonds used performance enhancing drugs, you can not deny the achievement is incredible. How many professional wrestlers, you know the big guys who still use steroids, could hit 755 home runs? It's not just the drugs people.

Still, if he's guilty, it will come out and he will have to deal with the fallout. As will and should Baseball for doing NOTHING to fix the problem back in the day.

["Commissioner" a former Major League Baseball Owner, turned head of the game. Why? Because the owners got tired of hiring Commissioners they couldn't control.]

Update: As you may/may not already know, Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s home run record last night in the fifth inning of the game.

While historic, it almost seemed anti-climatic. Bud Selig was not in attendance for last night’s game. He instead decided yesterday, of all days was the day he should meet with George Mitchell to get an update on his steroid investigation. He did however phone Bonds once he was pulled from the game in the sixth inning, and had two representatives in attendance, one of them Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, on his behalf.

Hank Aaron, whom I took a swipe at earlier in this Blog posting, made an appearance via video after Bonds broke his record mark.

In his recorded message, Aaron said, “I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader. It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.

He continued, “Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams." Throughout the message, Aaron flashed that smile that he is so famous for, and his words, while somewhat measured, seemed to be from the heart.

In the end it was classy and fitting tribute for the man formerly known as the Home Run King.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dr. StrangeSnow (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Campoli)

It has been said that a man cannot choose his own family. While obviously it is not the same situation, I feel that I am similarly stuck with my Isles.

True, I picked them as a 7 year old boy brought to his first hockey game by his father. I gasped in awe at the white ice and the speed at which the game was played. I enjoyed the four year dynasty along with so many of my fellow Long Islanders. I suffered through the embarrassing debacle of the 1990's (save for a lone highlight season cut short by Dale Hunter’s cowardly attack on Pierre Turgeon.). They were a team I couldn’t bear to watch because it seemed like victory was never safe. But I could never bring myself to look away either. They are my team and I can no sooner disown them than I could a crazy uncle or a nerdy cousin.

Having established that I am Islander fan for Life or longer, I’ve had to take the good with bad, to put it kindly. What it really means is that I have had to endure some of the most bizarre situations any NHL fan has ever encountered. The Fishsticks, the Spano Fake Purchase and Mad Mike’s unfathomable trades are all subjects that can be covered in future blogs.

When I first learned that Garth Snow, last seen tending the Isles nets (and not very well, I might add) was going to replace Neil Smith (whom I found a curious hire in the first place) as General Manager of the team for whom I have rooted, suffered and defended for nearly 30 years, my heart sunk.

When I later heard Charles Wang lauding Snowy’s alleged ability in assessing talent and his keen business mind, my next thought was "What exactly is Wang basing this on?"

Smith, in his brief tenure, was busy in the Free Agent market, acquiring Witt, Poti, and Sillinger, among others. When Snow took over, he did a commendable job, landing Sean Hill and Viktor Kozlov prior to the season. He obtained Marc Andre Bergeron to quarterback the PP. He also shocked the hockey world by trading for Ryan Smyth, Captain Canada himself (though at a large and, in hindsight, ridiculous cost). We will cover DP’s 15 year contract at another time. I simply don’t have the strength at the moment.

In the early days of Free Agency this summer, Isle fans far and wide were calling for his head after we lost Smyth, Blake, Poti and Kozlov, with Jon Sim being the lone player coming to the Island. I say that some of the circumstances that exist were beyond Snow’s control. Smyth never wanted to be an Islander to begin with (though, to his credit, he conducted himself as a professional in his time here). Blake bought into his own press and knew that one 40 goal season would be enough to ensure a large payday in the increasingly unrealistic NHL Free Agency market. I do, however, hold him accountable for losing Poti and Kozlov, both of whom could and should have been retained.

He redeemed himself somewhat with the Bill Guerin/Mike Comrie/Ruslan Fedotenko pickups. I believe these players possess a critical element that Smyth and Blake lacked....they WANT to be here and want to play hard for Ted Nolan. This is the new mantra of the Islanders and I want to believe that all future deals will be done with this in mind.

Snow’s entire credibility hangs in the balance right now. If he can obtain a hard-hitting defenseman and a 1st line center without raiding their already depleted Prospects Cupboard, he will be given credit for fielding a playoff contending team. If he doesn’t, this team is no better than mediocre and the perception that "You too can be an NHL GM" will be alive and well.

Dr. StrangeSnow has the cap space to operate. Due to the fact I am a true Islander fan (and therefore give myself no choice), I must hope the patient recovers.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Jets Analysis 2007-08 Part III

Special Teams:

Mike Nugent underwent a weight training program in the off-season in an attempt to get stronger. It appears to have worked as he drilled a 53 yarder yesterday during an intra-squad scrimmage. His continued development will be key to the Jets success.....Ben Graham will look to capitalize on what was a good performance last season. He averaged 44.2 yards per punt and landed 26 inside the 20 yard line.....Justin Miller has been an outstanding addition to the Return Game. He led the league with a 28.3 yards per return average and scored 2 touchdowns (including a 103 yarder). He gives the Jets a weapon they sorely needed and is a game changer anytime he steps on the field.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jets Analysis 2007-08 Part II

The Jets attempted to solve their lack of a pass rush by signing Kenyon Coleman, David Bowens Michael Haynes and Andre Wadsworth. Whether any of these pickups is the solution remains to be seen.....Revis is royally screwing up his opportunity to take over the starting CB position. He needs to swallow that 6th year and end his holdout. No good is going to come from this, mark my words.....The rest of the CB’s have much to prove, but I have a feeling that Justin Miller is going to eventually be a good one in this league.....Love the drafting of David Harris. The kid is a gamer who is going to make Jonathan Vilma and Bryan Thomas even better by his steady play once he gets over the rookie jitters and adjusts to the speed of the pro game.....Expect another solid season from Kerry Rhodes, but Erik Coleman needs to step up big time.....This is a make-or-break year for Dewayne Robertson at NT. He must provide the run stopping presence that the Jets have missed since the departure of Jason Ferguson. Sione Pouha also needs to prove he can stay healthy and spell Robertson. Without a major contribution from these two, the defense will continue to give up loads of running yards.....Shaun Ellis needs a return to his 2003 sack totals (12.5) in order for this defense to make strides, but doing so is incumbent upon another threat from somewhere else on the line. I don’t see that happening.

Special Teams in Part III...stay tuned

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jets Analysis 2007-08 Part 1

The Jets were a surprising team last year, pulling off a 10-6 record and a playoff spot. The coaching of Eric "Mangenius" Mangini had this team playing hard week in and week out, a trait not normally associated with Jets teams of the past. Chad Pennington played a full season for the first time in his career, avoiding the injury bug and compiling a respectable 82.6 passer rating. The defense produced 16 interceptions and 35 sacks. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery both scored 6 touchdowns.

The team drafted CB Darrelle Revis and LB David Harris (among others) in April, addressing critical needs on the defensive side of the ball.

So how will they do this year?


Chad’s health is paramount to having a successful season. No, he cannot bomb the ball down the field 70 yards, but that’s not his game. His success is based on timing and accuracy on short routes. Should he go down, there is great doubt regarding whether or not Kellen Clemens could lead this team to a record north of .500.....Trading for Thomas Jones was a huge step forward for the Jets. He will provide the workhorse running game that they have missed since Curtis Martin..... Leon Washington will flourish in a Third down/Relief role...... However, the depth is a little light here after Cedric Houston chose to leave the team. Tony Hollings has been signed, but no one will confuse him with L.T..... Coles and Cotchery are a fine starting duo, but I’d love to see them complimented by a burner who can stretch the field (Chansi Stuckey, perhaps?). Justin McCareins and Tim Dwight are not the answers.....The Jets must find a way to get Chris Baker more heavily involved in the Red Zone passing game. With the focus on Jones, they have a huge opportunity to throw numerous fades to him.....Love the foundation of the O-line with D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold, but the Pete Kendall situation needs to be rectified NOW. Cut him before he infects the rest of the team with his bad attitude.

I'll cover the Defense in Part II.