The Goal-Line Stand is taking a shot at this new fad they call fantasy sports. Not sure it’ll be a lasting trend, but apparently lots of people quite enjoy it, so Sean Tomlinson and I figured we’d put our heads together and maybe end up with one very big head with enough football knowledge to maybe help your fantasy team.
There’s a pretty good chance we’ll just make things worse. But enjoy nonetheless.
We start with quarterbacks, where Tomlinson and I don’t see eye-to-eye on Aaron Rodgers. Or Jay Cutler. Or quite a few other guys. This could end up with a bloody nose or two. Or three if our boss, Joe Ross, decides to be a hero and get in the way.
Differences in opinion
Gagnon: I guess we might as well start at the top. I have Aaron Rodgers and proclaim it isn’t even close. You aren’t feeling that, and are going with the “names” first — Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Why don’t you believe in A-Rodge?
Tomlinson: I believe in Rodgers as much as anyone. As far as production is concerned there’s little to separate the top five. But what does separate Rodgers from Brees, Manning and Brady is his supporting staff. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver at wideout are solid, as are Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson in the backfield. But I just feel as though the other three have just a little more at their disposal, and that leaves Rodgers edged out of the top three.
Gagnon: I agree when it comes to Brees and Brady, but I’m not convinced Manning’s supporting cast is that good, especially considering how far that offensive line has fallen. Maybe this is the year Manning and the Colts take a step backward. Then again, trailing more often and not coasting late might actually work to help Peyton from a fantasy perspective.
Tomlinson: When watching Colts games last season it was easy to notice that Manning was under pressure more often and forced to scramble and hurry his throws at times. But yet he was still sacked only 10 times throughout the course of the regular season. He’s proven time and again that he has the ability to make plays under pressure. So has Rodgers, but Manning has Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne and now a healthy Anthony Gonzalez in his arsenal of targets. Rodgers and the Packers can’t match that.
Gagnon: Our most obvious gap is with Jay Cutler. After last year’s blowup, no one knows what to expect. You aren’t ranking him very high, and I think he’s primed for a big bounce-back year with Mike Martz running the show. They’ll be passing a lot more, regardless of what kind of weapons they have for Cutler.
Tomlinson: I’m downright baffled when it comes to Cutler. He lost nearly 1,000 passing yards when you compare his ’09 season with the Bears to the previous year in Denver, and he was picked off 26 times. But beyond the numbers, he simply looked lost and confused. Yes, Martz has waved his offensive wand in the past, but mentally I just don’t see it with Cutler. That’s admittedly a slippery slope though. I’m many things, but a psychologist I am not. The gap in our rankings is an example of why Cutler will be all over the map in drafts this year.
Gagnon: I would like to list the “many things” you are, but we don’t have the time nor the space. As far as sleepers go, I’m thinking people have to stop using the Wildcat as an excuse to not love Chad Henne. With Brandon Marshall now a target in Miami, this will be Henne’s breakout year. Same deal with Matt Stafford, who’s just getting more and more support in pass-happy Detroit. I’d also be willing to take a flyer on Matt Leinart in two-quarterback leagues. Thoughts? And who do you have in mind?
Tomlinson: I like all of those picks, especially Henne. The Dolphins have one of the league’s leading rushing attacks, but part of that was also going with what worked. With Marshall’s speed, length and reach, it won’t be long before the passing game starts to work pretty well too.
I’m going to go a little deeper and reach for a couple of guys you have no business even thinking about in your draft, but names that should be kept in mind later in the season. Jimmy Clausen gained a bad rep coming out of Notre Dame for his attitude, and he’s not getting Christmas cards from Jon Gruden any time soon. But–assuming of course that Clausen signs soon and doesn’t miss much time in training camp–Matt Moore was solid but not spectacular last year in Carolina, and there’s little reason to see him as any sort of bona fide starter. I’ll also throw Brian Brohm out there, who is perhaps a darkhorse to win a wide-open quarterback race in Buffalo, but he has a lot of upside if given an opportunity. If you’re in the mix late in the season but struggling with injuries, Brohm and Clausen could be two arms to keep an eye on.
Gagnon: Wow. That is deep. But I agree on Clausen, mainly because I don’t understand why lots of “experts” are jumping on this odd Matt Moore bandwagon. I wouldn’t touch any Bills quarterback with a 10-foot pole though.
Gagnon: Speaking of guys I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole, I’m staying away from Donovan McNabb if I can. This whole Redskins situation spells disaster. Bad offensive line, very few offensive weapons, an angry Albert Haynesworth. I just can’t see things going well, Mike Shanahan or not. And McNabb’s replacement in Philly, Kevin Kolb? Too early to be ranking him in the top 10, as some people are. Chill out on those two guys.
Tomlinson: Stole my thunder with Kolb. Sure, he has looked good, and that word “poise” that gets thrown around far too often with young quarterbacks has followed the new man under centre in Philly, but let’s settle down a little. Kolb has started two whole games. Overpay at your own risk when you sit down for your draft.
Gagnon: Oh, and don’t draft Ben Roethlisberger unless it’s in the final round and you have a bad quarterback situation. It’s just not worth losing four or more weeks in the short fantasy season. And I’m not even hating on Roethlisberger strictly because of the suspension. The guy lost Santonio Holmes, still doesn’t have a ton of support in the running game, has a shaky line in front of him (especially after the loss of Willie Colon) and Hines Ward isn’t quite the player he used to be, either. Just stay away from Big Ben in 2010. You like that rhyme?
Tomlinson: Lacked originality, no points here.
The biggest potential bust I have my eye on is a QB that’s ranked in my top 10, Matt Schaub. In his second year in Houston Michael Vick’s old backup made a phenomenal step forward, topping the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career and flirting with 30 touchdowns. The connection with Andre Johnson is clearly there, but the longer the Texans go without a running game and Steve Slaton continues to suffer from fumblitis, the more I begin to fear a drop in production for Schaub.
Gagnon: As I say in my rankings, I still need proof that Schaub’s 2009 campaign wasn’t a bit of an anomaly, especially from a health perspective.
Gagnon: For the sake of consistency, we have a rookie category, but if you’re in a non-keeper league and drafting Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy or (God help us) Tim Tebow, you’re in big trouble. Can we agree on that and bring an end to this preview?
Tomlinson: You’re not exactly insane if you take a late round flier on Bradford. He can be stashed on your bench, and if by some act of God (we’re both clearly going to hell with two God references in a row) Bradford pulls a Matt Ryan in his first year–very unlikely–then you’re sitting pretty. Bragging rights are the foundation of fantasy sports, and if Bradford catches fire you’ll have plenty of opportunity to sound off.
Other than that I agree though. I’ve already given my thoughts on Clausen as a potential sleeper late in the season, but he shouldn’t be touched on draft day. Clausen is a good waiver wire pickup at best. And although their futures are bright, Tebow and McCoy have zero fantasy value this year.
Gagnon: Sounds good. See you tomorrow when we look at running backs.
|1||Aaron Rodgers||It isn’t even close.|
|2||Drew Brees||Brees is the bigger name, but rushing yards the difference.|
|3||Peyton Manning||Mr. Consistency.|
|4||Brett Favre||Very small chance he doesn’t come back.|
|5||Tom Brady||Will never repeat 2007, but offence is still sick.|
|6||Jay Cutler||Mike Martz’ presence will help a lot.|
|7||Tony Romo||Always flies under the radar.|
|8||Philip Rivers||Vincent Jackson’s suspension/potential holdout could hurt.|
|9||Matt Schaub||Was 2009 a bit of a fluke? Can he stay healthy?|
|10||Joe Flacco||Anquan Boldin moves him into top 10.|
|11||Eli Manning||Still getting better.|
|12||Matt Ryan||Sophomore slumps happen. He’ll be back.|
|13||Matthew Stafford||Seriously. Watch Stafford and Calvin Johnson work.|
|14||Chad Henne||Can see him having a breakout third season with Brandon Marshall.|
|15||Vince Young||A full season and the support of Chris Johnson. Love it.|
|16||Kevin Kolb||I’m not convinced yet, but DeSean Jackson will help a lot.|
|17||Mark Sanchez||Still quite a wild card.|
|18||Matt Leinart||Just make sure you take Derek Anderson late.|
|19||Carson Palmer||Will he ever be the same again?|
|20||Donovan McNabb||No offensive line and few good targets.|
|1||Drew Brees||So many weapons at his disposal.|
|3||Tom Brady||Excluding monstrous ’07 and knee injury, has still averaged 25 TDs per year.|
|4||Aaron Rodgers||Supporting cast not quite measuring up to top three.|
|5||Philip Rivers||Possible holdout/departure of Jackson could hurt production.|
|6||Matt Schaub||Two words: Andre Johnson.|
|7||Joe Flacco||Four words: Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin.|
|8||Tony Romo||Has receivers (Austin, Williams, Bryant) and developing consistency.|
|9||Brett Favre||He’s coming back, but is a 40-year-old on a wonky ankle.|
|10||Eli Manning||Nice chemistry with the other Steve Smith.|
|11||Matt Ryan||Impressive rookie year, speed bump second year. Bounce back third year?|
|12||Donovan McNabb||Mobility dwindling with age, but arm remains.|
|13||Kevin Kolb||Hype machine in Philly on overdrive, but he’s made two career starts.|
|14||Vince Young||Draft hoping ’09 VY returns, and ghosts of ’07 are long gone.|
|15||Chad Henne||Don’t fret Wildcat. Brandon Marshall’s vertical game means deep threat.|
|16||Carson Palmer||Antonio Bryant arrives to take eyes off of Ocho.|
|17||Mark Sanchez||Maturing steadily, but still raw at times.|
|18||Matt Cassel||Weis can work wonders, but he can’t block for a QB who was sacked 42 times.|
|19||Jay Cutler||Martz can work wonders, but he can’t throw for a QB who posted 26 INTs.|
|20||David Garrard||Mobility/arm strength combo is nice, accuracy isn’t.|