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Pro Football 101 Fantasy Rankings: Week One Wide Receivers

Published: September 8, 2009

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1. Randy Moss vs. Buffalo Bills

It is our opinion that we’re going to see an aerial show on Monday Night in Brady’s comeback. And all we need to do is look back to 2007 to see how dangerous the Brady/Moss combo is. While he’ll probably get Leodis Mckelvin, a talented young corner to cover him, it won’t matter. Look for over 100 yards and two TDs in a big-time fantasy effort.

2. Larry Fitzgerald vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Fitz show will be front and center when the Niners head to the desert on opening day. Without a defense capable of pressuring Warner, he’ll have the necessary time to locate this year’s top fantasy football wide receiver and this should lead to a big afternoon. 100 yards and at least one TD.

3. Calvin Johnson vs. New Orleans

The freakish Calvin Johnson will once again prove impossible for NFL defenses to cover. The Saints, who should actually be improved on that side of the ball under new DC Greg Williams, will have little success stopping Johnson, even with Stafford getting the starting nod on Monday. With the expected deficit the Lions should be playing with, that’ll make for a lot of passing opportunities.

4. Roddy White vs. Miami Dolphins

White’s become a star receiver in this league and he’ll continue getting better playing with Matt Ryan. And while Miami is very disciplined as a unit, White will prove too much for this secondary to handle and torch whichever corner Miami tries to line up opposite him.


Josh Morgan vs. Arizona Cardinals

While he’ll most likely line up against Dominique – Rodgers, Morgan has an opportunity for a big game if he can carry over his late season rookie success into year two. The Niners could also be playing from behind which will increase his opportunities for catches and yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. vs. Atlanta Falcons

There was a reason the Falcons went out and traded for CB Tye Hill last week; its secondary is suspect. Look for Pennington to target Ginn on a few deep balls and for at least one of them to connect. Solid fantasy sleeper play.

Others with Favorable Match-ups

Greg Jennings vs. Chicago Bears

Jennings entrenched himself as one of the best receivers in the league last year and was rewarded with a  multi- year extension this off season. And with Rodgers now beginning to flourish, look for he and Jennings to pick up right where they left off and for Jennings to once again be his deep threat. He’ll score in this one.

Vincent Jackson vs. Oakland Raiders

The Chargers should have a fairly easy go of it in Oakland with success coming both on the ground and in the air. And when they do take to the air, look for Rivers to target his No. 1 outside weapon and for Jackson to torch the Raiders secondary, assuming CB Asomugha isn’t playing or isn’t fully healthy.

Terrell Owens vs. New England Patriots

Monday Night will be a good opportunity to see if the moves New England made in the off-season have shored up its secondary. Either way, this will be one of the few games we see T.O. on in prime time and we expect him to make his presence felt. Edwards will be looking towards his new No. 1 early and often.


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Pro Football 101 Fantasy Busts: Tight Ends in 2009

Published: September 4, 2009

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1. Kellen Winslow

In time, the move to Tampa Bay should revitalize Kellen Winslow’s career.

This year, with so much uncertainty at the QB position, it’s probably safe to assume he won’t be putting up numbers similar to 2007. Still, he should be a viable target for Byron Leftwich, and a safety net for Josh Freeman (when he’s ready), so his catch total could be decent.

Yards and TDs will be hard to come by this coming season. A few player rankings list him in the top 10; we don’t think his production will warrant that high of a fantasy ranking come the end of the year.


2. Heath Miller

While not flashy, Heath Miller possesses very good hands and is a solid TE by NFL standards. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, his production doesn’t translate to No. 1 fantasy TE numbers.

The main reason for this is the Pittsburgh Steelers love to use their receivers in the passing game. More often than not, Miller is the fourth or fifth option, behind even the running backs out of the backfield.

The best bet for Miller in 12 person leagues is keep him as a No. 2 and use him only when your starter is out.


3. Bo Scaife

Although he’s certainly not a big name, Bo Scaife played very well last season and became Kerry Collins’ go-to-guy early on. Still, that didn’t equate to many balls ending up in the end zone (Scaife had just two TD’s).

This year, the Tennessee Titans have added some receivers to the mix (Nate Washington, Kenny Britt) which should mean even fewer opportunities to come Scaife’s way.

This season’s pool of TEs is extremely deep. While he was a fantasy starter for many weeks last season, there are more attractive options available this season.

Pro Football 101 Fantasy Busts: Running Backs in 2009

Published: September 2, 2009

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Clinton Portis

It’s difficult to put a guy of Clinton Portis’ caliber in a fantasy bust article, but a repeat of his 2008’s fantasy numbers seems highly unlikely.

He was heavily used last season and we’re not sure he’ll be able to hold up in 2009 with a similar workload. The Washington Redskins have even stated that they plan to incorporate Ladell Betts as the primary third down back to eliminate wear and tear.

Another cause for concern is the Skins’ offensive line. Since releasing RT Jon Jansen in the offseason, they’re still trying to solidify the right side.

Portis will still have plenty of opportunities and based on talent alone, deserves to be a second round pick in most 12 person leagues, but expect a drop off in production.


Willie Parker

Willie Parker’s days as a featured back in Pittsburgh are numbered. Last year’s first round pick, Rashard Mendenhall, is going to be given every opportunity to show what he can do and Parker has been unable to avoid the injury bug over the past few seasons.

While he still has potential to be a No. 2 fantasy running back in most leagues, “Fast” Willie Parker’s fantasy football stats will almost certainly see a decline because he’ll be splitting carries in 2009. He’ll also most likely find himself on the bench in the fourth quarter as the Steelers try and grind their way to victory.

If you plan on grabbing Parker, make sure you get Mendenhall.


Joseph Addai

There’s one train of thought which suggests that Joseph Addai is poised for a bounce back in 2009.

After starring as a rookie in 2006, he’s been unable to avoid the injury bug or post similar results since. And this year, with the defensive line being a far greater need than the running back position, the Colts opted to select RB Donald Brown at the bottom of the first round.

So it seems that even GM Polian isn’t exactly sure what to expect from Addai.

Another sign, which doesn’t bode too well for him, is if the preseason is any indication, it will be Brown who receives the carries near the goal line.

So be cautious come fantasy draft time; grab him too high and you could regret it.

Pro Football 101 Fantasy Busts: Quarterbacks in 2009

Published: August 31, 2009

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Our fantasy busts edition will feature QBs who are poised to see a drop off in production in 2009, meaning you should be careful as to how high you select them in your fantasy football draft.

Kurt Warner

Warner only makes this list because we don’t see a repeat of last year’s stellar fantasy performance. 

In 2008, everything fell into place; after a horrible start for Edgerrin James, followed up by his complaining and then benching, the Cards abandoned the run completely and gave rookie Tim Hightower only a few carries mostly near the goal line. Overall, there were games where the pass to run ratio was 75/25.

This year, he’s a year older, had offseason hip surgery, and first round selection Chris “Beanie” Wells is now in the equation, meaning the Cards intend to run the ball more. While we still expect a solid year, blessed with weapons such as Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston, don’t expect 4,500 passing yards and 30 TDs.


Jay Cutler

There’s reason for hope in Chicago with the arrival of Jay Cutler. He gives them a legitimate NFL QB which is something they haven’t had in a long time. However, from a fantasy football standpoint, this is a step back.

He no longer has the weapons (Marshall and Royal) he had in Denver and instead has a converted DB as his likely top receiver. And while TE Greg Olsen’s a solid player, it won’t be long before defenses begin to key on him.

He’ll still produce solid number because a gun slinger by nature puts a lot of balls in the air, but another 4,000 yard, 25 TD season seems like a long shot.

Matt Cassel

Cassel stepped in admirably for Brady and put together a tremendous fantasy season for a guy who had only thrown a handful of passes since his high school season in 1999. Blessed with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, he finished up with 3,600 yards and 21 TDs.

That’s not going to happen in KC.

He’s walking into a rebuilding situation and a team that let its top receiver of all-time, Tony Gonzalez, go in the offseason.

Dwayne Bowe is a big time threat and will certainly help out, but the line is young, the receiving weapons outside of Bowe are limited, and a drop off is a more than likely result because of it.  Although he was paid like it, he won’t be a top tier fantasy QB in 2009.


Pro Football 101 Fantasy Sleepers: Tight Ends in 2009

Published: August 27, 2009

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While tight ends rarely impact your fantasy team as other positions do, they still provide a lot of valuable points and can be the difference to a win or loss. If you don’t grab one of the top guys at the position, you can still find quality later on. Here’s three fantasy sleepers to consider.

1. Brent Celek

Certainly not a household name, Celek, in his second year in the league, showed that he was quite adept at finding the soft zone in the defense. He and McNabb developed a strong rapport towards the end of the season.

It culminated in an ultra impressive NFC Championship Game where Celek reeled in 10 catches for 80 yards and two TDs.

This year, with rookie TE Cornelius Ingraham out with a torn ACL, Celek has an excellent opportunity to step up and be McNabb’s mid-range target over the middle.

He’ll most likely be available later in the draft and could end up a tremendous fantasy sleeper if he can build upon last season’s playoffs.

2. Martellus Bennett

Word out of Big D is that Bennett reminds a lot of people, in both physique and skill, of another great TE in this league: Antonio Gates. And while he’s the back-up behind this year’s top fantasy ranking TE, Jason Witten, we think the Cowboys will employ more two TE sets this year to compensate for the loss of T.O to the offense.

Roy Williams just didn’t do enough over the last ten games of the season to inspire trust that defenses will pay him the respect that a No. 1 deserves. So once they begin to focus on Witten, which could have an adverse effect on his fantasy numbers, we see Bennett taking advantage of nickel backs and LBs and Romo quickly taking advantage of this mismatch.

3. Vernon Davis

As hard as this is to say, Davis might be a valuable fantasy sleeper over the course of this season. Mike Singletary seems to have certainly reached his TE in the short time they’ve been together and so far the results seem to support it.

With the recent announcement of Shaun Hill as the starting QB, look for the veteran to use Davis as his middle target and for San Francisco to move the TE around to take advantage of his size and speed.


Pro Football 101 Fantasy Sleepers: Running Backs in 2009

Published: August 25, 2009

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Every year, a few running backs come out of nowhere to surprise the NFL and significantly add to—or carry—a fantasy football team.

Last year’s rookie running back crop was strong, and in particular, Steve Slaton (212 fantasy points), who was expected to be nothing more than a third down back when the season began and ended up the fantasy sleeper of the entire draft.

Others like Le’Ron McClain, who no one had ever heard of coming into the season, ended up scoring 159 points, while Pierre Thomas, who started the season as a third stringer behind Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush, added 148 points—most coming down the stretch.

But it’s picks like these which can propel a fantasy team to the playoffs.

Today we’ll focus on three backs, who should be overlooked on draft day, that we feel could make a significant impact in 2009.


Rashard Mendenhall

When Willie Parker recently questioned his contract situation, he had every right to do so. And when the Pittsburgh Steelers failed to address his concerns, it signalled a changing of the guard soon to come in Pittsburgh. Team’s don’t invest first round draft choices in players unless they intend to give them a long look.

While his rookie season was a washout, after he broke his shoulder early on against the Ravens and was placed on IR, all systems are a go in year two for Rashard Mendenhall.

And this year, the Steelers will look to establish the ground game to setup the pass. While there’s plenty of firepower at the skill positions, which will be good to keep defenses honest, the Steelers’ offensive line gelled late last season and Tomlin will want to wear teams down in fourth quarter. And our money says that the 220 pound back, out of Illinois, will be the man to do so.

Provided he can stay healthy, Mendenhall could really burst onto this scene and be terrific late round fantasy sleeper.


Michael Bush

Michael Bush has a chance to take a big step forward and become the other half of the Oakland Raiders’ duo at running back in 2009. Darren McFadden is a shoe-in and home run threat every time he touches the ball, but Bush brings more to the table than incumbent starter, Justin Fargas, and finished off last season with 421 yards and three TDs on just 95 carries.

And in the finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he rattled off 27 carries for 177 yards and two TDs to send Tampa packing for the offseason.

With expected improvement from this offensive unit, as the young players are another year older, it might be worthwhile to think about Bush in the later rounds of your fantasy draft and he could end up being a pleasant surprise.


Glen Coffee

The San Francisco 49ers used their third round pick on Glen Coffee because they were desperate to find a second option to Frank Gore, after the DeShaun Foster experiment failed miserably in 2008. And Gore, although a very good back when healthy, has seen his game falter after his big 2006 season, which netted him a new contract.

Some of that can definitely be attributed to the overall struggles of the offense, but some must go to him as he hasn’t run with the same determination he once ran with.

So that brings us to Coffee, who ran for 129 yards in the first half of San Francisco’s win over the Raiders last week. He’s a big, fast, tough runner, and could end up initially as the goal line back, and in the event Gore suffers an injury, a whole lot more.

Keep an eye on him late in the draft.

The Pro Football 101 Guide To Winning Your NFL Suicide Pool

Published: August 21, 2009

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One of the new gambling rages on the NFL is the suicide pool.

To recap for those not familiar with the term or have heard about it in their office and are interested in getting involved; the NFL suicide pool allows you to choose one team each week with no point spread.

If your team wins then you move on to the following week, but you can no longer use that team for the rest of the season.

And if you lose, adios; your season is over.

Some of these pools get ridiculously large and can have jackpots well into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Entry fees usually range anywhere from $10 on up to $500 or more.

So what’s the best way to approach the suicide pool each week?


1. Don’t be a sheep

Don’t go with the obvious favorite just because everyone else is. And that especially goes for week one when strange things have been known to happen.

In 2003, the two touchdown underdog Houston Texans, in their second year of existence, beat the Dolphins, a playoff team, 21-20 in Miami, and in 2008, the heavily favored Chargers lost to the Panthers on the final play of the game 26-24.


2. Save the better teams for later on in the season

Just because the Patriots should win an easy matchup early on, why not look for a lesser publicized game and keep your better teams in your back pocket for later in the season? It’s an incredibly powerful position to be in when you’re left in it with a few others and still have top teams to choose from while they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.


3. Road records

I always keep an eye on terrible road teams and will take their opponent, even if that opponent is a bad team themselves, because of the likelihood that the road team will lose.

Case in point was last season when the hot Houston Texans, on a four-game winning streak, went into the Blackhole and were beaten 27-16 by the horrendous Raiders. Poor road teams are about as consistent as it gets.


4. Trends

Remember, with suicide pools we’re not talking about beating the point spread, but rather winning straight up. So if a team gets on a roll and strings a number of wins together, it might be worthwhile to parlay one of those wins for yourself.



The art of winning an NFL suicide pool is as much about luck as it is strategy, but if you keep these points in mind, it’ll greatly increase the chances of your being around when the money is on the line.

Pro Football 101 Fantasy Rankings: Tight Ends 11-20 In 2009

Published: August 17, 2009

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11. Kevin Boss

Although the TE position wasn’t  a major part of the Giants’ offense in 2008, when they did look to Boss, he delivered. He ended up leading the team with six TDs on just 33 catches and with both Burress and Toomer gone this year, look for Boss’s role in the offense to increase.

12. Zach Miller

Miller was an excellent fantasy sleeper in 2008 and show a lot of ability over the course of the season. While Russell was incredibly inconsistent in his second year, he did manage to develop a strong rapport with Miller and expect bigger things in 2009.

13. Visanthe Schiancoe

Regardless of who lines up behind center, Jackson or Rosenfels, look for Schiancoe to repeat his strong 2008 campaign this year. He finally emerged as a leading receiving threat and with so much attention expected to be paid to Berrian, Harvin, and Rice, look for a lot of one on one match-ups which he’ll exploit.

14. Heath Miller

While the Steelers passing game runs through its receivers, Miller is an excellent receiver over the middle and just signed a 33 million dollar contract. So you know Pittsburgh has plans to use him.

15.  Tony Scheffler

The loss of Cutler hurts, but just because Orton’s the QB doesn’t mean that Scheffler’s fantasy numbers will fall off a precipice. In fact, we see Orton targeting him more because in McDaniels’ offense, which he brought over from New England,  the TE position is heavily featured.

16. Brent Celek

If Celek can carry over his momentum from the 2008 NFC Championship Game, 10 catches for over 80 yards and two TDs, he’ll do well in 2009. And with rookie TE Cornelius Ingram gone for the season with a torn ACL, look for his looks from McNabb to increase and for Celek to be an nice late round fantasy sleeper.

17. Jeremy Shockey

Oh how far Jeremy Shockey’s star has fallen since he burst onto the NFL scene in 2003; two years ago the Giants won the Super Bowl after he went out with an injury and last year he was dealt to the Saints and was a major disappointment.  If he plans on salvaging his career, he must do it now. And blessed to be playing with Brees, we think he will.

18. Anthony Fasano

A QB as smart as Pennington understands the importance of the TE in any passing game and so does Tony Sparano. Fasano, one of Parcells’ picks in Dallas who followed him to Miami, caught seven TDs in 2008 and should do well once again.

19. Bo Scaife

Kerry Collins insertion into the starting role instantly raised Scaife’s fantasy value. He quickly became a favorite and should see less attention from the defense this year with the  additions to the receiver position (Washington, Britt, etc.)

20. Vernon Davis

No one questions Davis’ work ethic or athleticism, it’s his ability to catch the ball and make plays which keeps his critics active. However, once Mike Singletary took over as coach, he seemed to light a fire under the former first round TE and it could mean that Davis finally begins to realize some of that potential in 2009.

NFL Fantasy Rankings: Top 10 Tight Ends in 2009

Published: August 16, 2009

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1. Jason Witten

T.O.’s departure makes the sure handed Witten even more important in the Cowboys’ offense. Look for OC Garret to move him around and Romo to target him at least eight-to-10 balls per game.


2. Antonio Gates

Rumor has it that Gates is finally healthy. If so, look out for a big fantasy campaign in 2009 as the Chargers have the outside threats to diminish attention paid towards the stud TE and Rivers and Gates have an excellent rapport.


3. Tony Gonzalez

Everything appears set for another superb season by Gonzalez. Coming off a 96 catch, 10 plus TD season, he now teams with Matt Ryan and will be deadly across the middle and in the red zone.


4. Dallas Clark

With the loss of Marvin Harrison, Clark’s role takes on even more importance in the Colts’ offense as he becomes Peyton’s No. 2 option. He’s a nightmare for Linebackers and Safeties to cover, and Manning’s pinpoint location always seems to find him.


5. Greg Olsen

The happiest man at the Cutler signing was first and foremost Cutler, second Olsen. The talented TE raised his level of play in 2008 and now having a legit NFL QB throwing the ball to him, rather than Orton, his numbers should improve greatly.

6. Kellen Winslow

It’s worth keeping an eye on the QB situation, but this is a great position for Winslow to become a top flight fantasy football TE once again. With Antonio Bryant on the outside,  it’ll free up Winslow in one-on-one match-ups which he should exploit.

7. Chris Cooley

Cooley’s just a shade below the top-tier TEs but solid nonetheless. While his catch total in 2008 was solid, he only reached the end zone once, but look for that number to increase as they head into year two under Jim Zorn.

8. John Carlson

Carlson’s rookie year was extremely impressive in that he led the team in receiving and did so without Matt Hasselback behind center. With Hasselback back and healthy, and Carlson entering year two, he could end up a top five fantasy TE by year’s end.


9. Owen Daniels

Daniels is another TE who had a big 2008 but failed to reach the end zone often. This year should be another strong campaign; after Andre Johnson, he’s definitely Matt Schaub’s No. 2 and an excellent option down the seam.

10. Dustin Keller

It took until the midpoint of last season before the Jets realized what they had in Keller. With exceptional speed for a TE, no LB or Safety is going to cover him, and with a young QB behind center, look for Keller to be a safety valve and focal point in Rex Ryan’s offense.


Pro Football 101: 11-20 Fantasy Wide Receivers in 2009

Published: August 12, 2009

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11. Marques Colston

The only thing keeping Colston out of the top 10 fantasy receiver conversation is his proneness to injury. Aside from that, he’s in a dream situation playing with Brees in that offense and two years ago put up over 1,200 yards and 11 TDs.

12. Dwayne Bowe

Bowe had a heck of a year for the 2-14 Chiefs in 2008 and really took a big step forward in year two. And now with TE Gonzalez shipped to Atlanta, he’ll have even more of an opportunity to shine as Matt Cassel’s No. 1 guy.

13. Vincent Jackson

Jackson’s right on the cusp of entering the top 10 receivers, and he and Rivers have developed a strong rapport which reached new levels in 2008. With the amount of throwing they do down in San Diego, look for both his catches and TDs to increase this year.

14. Braylon Edwards

Clearly a top 10 talent, Edwards suffered from a classic case of drops in 2008 which severely hurt his production. Although the QB situation remains unsettled in Cleveland, both guys are talented enough to get the ball to Edwards. He could end up a nice fantasy sleeper after being overlooked come draft time.

15. Wes Welker

Brady’s favorite underneath guy will undoubtedly eclipse the 100-catch plateau again this season. The question is, will he garner enough yards and TDs to be a borderline one or top of tier two fantasy football wide receiver? We think he will.

16. Brandon Marshall

While there’s no denying the talent, the off-field issues and attitude are worrisome. Playing with Cutler last season, he put up big numbers in terms of catches and yards, but only six receptions ended up in the end zone. It’s hard for us to see him bettering those numbers with Kyle Orton at the helm. Marshall’s value is no better than a No. 2 this year.

17. Antonio Bryant

Bryant was an excellent fantasy sleeper in 2008 and dethroned Joey Galloway as the No. 1 guy in Tampa. This year, the QB position is unsettled, which doesn’t bode well for a repeat performance, but he still can’t be overlooked.

18. DeSean Jackson

Jackson could be poised to take a huge step forward as he’ll enter the season as McNabb’s No. 1 outside threat. And with his speed and game-breaking ability, there’s a lot to like and good reason to expect big yardage and a few long TDs.

19. Santonio Holmes

Holmes had his coming out party in last year’s postseason and took home the Super Bowl MVP after an impressive eight catch, 125 yard, and two TD performance. While Roethlisberger is excellent at spreading the ball around, there’s no longer any question as to who Big Ben’s go-to guy is.

20. Santana Moss

Moss is still a dangerous threat who should be better in year two under Jim Zorn. Last season, the passing game never really found its rhythm, yet he still posted 79 catches for 1,044 yards and six TDs.

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