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Hulk or Bruce Banner?

Hulk or Bruce Banner?


Growing up with two older brothers, I had a lot of exposure to comic books and superheroes. One of my favorites was always the Incredible Hulk, who was often depicted in cartoons and movies as the harmless, fearful Bruce Banner until his anger metamorphosed him into the ultimate physical machine, The Hulk. So, what does this have to do with the fantasy football? Well, I hate the term “boom or bust.” It makes it sounds like a guy will either be a Top 5 Fantasy Player or riding the bench for the rest of his life. More often than not, a guy will either end up a consistent starter for your team or be stinking on the bench. Essentially, they either get to be a variation of the dynamic Hulk or the timid Bruce Banner. I am going to pick out two high-risk picks for each position and explain to you who will show up this year, Hulk or Bruce.


QB:

Kurt Warner,

Arizona
Cardinals
– Warner took the NFL and fantasy football by storm last year with over 4,500 yards and 30 TDs. Can he do it again, or be even better? He has the arm, the weapons and the system, but I’d lean toward no. The Cardinals didn’t address the O-line, especially the LT position (which was shown as a big weakness in the Super Bowl). Sacks on Warner have increased by six every year since 2006 (26 last year). For a 38-year-old, I wouldn’t put all my money into Warner. Add on more rushing, less passing attempts and tougher defenses in the division, I’m betting on lows for Warner. If you draft him, maybe keep an eye out for Matt Leinart as well, in case of injury.

Diagnosis:
Bruce Banner

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans – We saw Schaub and Andre Johnson find each other plenty of times in 2008, making Johnson one of the higher rated WRs this year, but why is Schaub not rated higher? Injury issues. He missed five games in 2008, but when he played, the numbers were eye-popping. His last four games made a statline of 5 TDs, 2 INTs and 1,281 yards. With five multi-TD games last year, including two 3-TD games, he has the potential and the weapons. I’m willing to bet on his health, and if he starts 16 games, he will be a Top 5 QB at season’s end.

Diagnosis:
Hulk


RB:

Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons – Turner was a steal in fantasy drafts last season, and some have him as the No. 2 RB on his board. But how will he fair this year? He is a big back who holds almost all the carries for his team, so it can’t be bad, right? It really can. The Falcons offense can take a step back this year. There is more tape for defenses to review on QB Matt Ryan, and even with a Tony Gonzalez addition, Ryan’s targets are limited. This could mean more focus from the defenses on the running game. Will Turner be at full steam after 394 carries last year? Jerrious

Norwood
is nice, but won’t lower the load and allow Turner to increase his efficiency. And though I hate looking at the schedule this early, Turner’s big games last year came against cupcakes like
Detroit,
Kansas City and

Green Bay
. Not many of those this year. Be cautious.

Diagnosis:
Bruce Banner

Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins – Brown used the wildcat to his advantage early last year, but fell off a bit at the end. However, he will be almost two years removed from his ACL injury, and on a very intriguing team that may have some different weapons. Despite not posting a TD in the last five games of the season, he did continue to average over five yards a carry, and he should be able to go back to old form. People do forget, before the ACL injury, he was a Top 3 Fantasy RB in 2007. Draft him low, and enjoy the benefits.

Diagnosis:
Hulk





WR:

Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns – Edwards is a guy many think is being undervalued in drafts this year. I don’t overly disagree, but it doesn’t mean he will turn back into a Hulk. He has only had 7+ TDs once in his career. He has only had 900+ yards once in his career. Yes, this career is only four years long, but maybe 2007 was more a fluke than a trend. Add on that the Browns offense is in flux more so than any other time in Edwards’ career, and you have a recipe for disaster. Don’t be surprised if he sees double coverage despite his poor season and ton of drops in ’08. I’d almost rather have his likely No. 2 running mate, Brian Robiskie.

Diagnosis:
Bruce Banner

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers – Some people are comparing Crabtree to Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson in terms of a prospect, and some think maybe he can have that type of rookie impact. Not so fast. Fitzgerald came from a Pro Style offense against (then] great Big East defenses. Calvin Johnson came from an offense all about running (not spreading out a defense), and still made highlight after highlight. Crabtree came in a spread defense, weakfish-timed speed and some maturity issues. Toss in shaky QB play this year, and he may stink it up. Heck, in a dynasty league, I’d rather take a Hakeem Nicks who proved he can separate from corners. I see more Amani Toomer than Fitzgerald in Crabtree.

Diagnosis:
Bruce Banner


TE:

Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears – Olsen has been stuck a bit behind Desmond Clark, hasn’t had a consistent QB or other receiving threat on his team and often had to block instead of run routes. A few of these will change; most importantly, Jay Cutler will be his QB. Cutler made Tony Scheffler a relevant fantasy TE and should rifle it to the hefty Olsen. He will be able to catch more passes and be used more than
Clark this year. Make sure you get good value, but you could end up with a hulking TE.

Diagnosis:
Hulk


Vernon


Davis,
San Francisco 49ers
– I’ll go a bit deep here, but

Davis
is getting a bad rap. Yes, he is a workout warrior who has never performed. Yes, his head coach called him out in front of the world last year. It got a lot of press and soured people on

Davis
, but Mike Singletary and him reconciled and bonded, creating a potential sleeper situation in ‘09. After getting called out by Singletary,

Davis
had two straight weeks with TDs, and finished semi-strong. Maybe this is the year …

Diagnosis:
Hulk

When you go into drafts this year, there will be plenty of players you peg as “high risk” or “high upside.” It is important to take a few risks, but don’t fall in love with these players who may end up as Hulks. What you may end up with is an 11th-place finish and a team full of floundering Bruce Banners.


Feel free to e-mail any questions or comments to Shane at: ShanePHallam@gmail.com

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