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Thoughts on the Preseason

Eugene Parker is to Drew Rosenhaus like Paduwan is to Jedi Master. He still has a few things to learn. Rosie may have protested when his guys crossed the line during the recent holdouts of Javon Walker and Terrell Owens, but you can be sure he orchestrated the stage. Parker has made a critical error with the Bears, and Cedric Benson is in danger of being a non-issue this year. Either he signs soon or watches his value diminish much like his chances of starting.

Keep your eyes on Bobby Engram and Travis Taylor. I’ve been quietly acquiring both in most of my leagues. Many thought Taylor would be buried in the depth charts in Minnesota, but his only flaw so far was being drafted by the run-centric Baltimore Ravens. He is now the number two WR and will benefit greatly from Moss’s departure now that Culpepper isn’t obligated to some silly “Randy Ratio”. Just one more reason to want to hang Mike Tice in effigy. Another guy I really like, who will definitely be on the waiver wire, is deep sleeper Jerricho Cotchery. Don’t rush out and put him on your bench, but keep the name in the back of your mind. I gotta feeling about this second year pro out of North Carolina State.

Don’t look now but Mike Anderson has continued to hold on to the starting spot in Denver’s backfield. This makes two years in a row that Tatum Bell couldn’t earn the job. With all his skills, and Mike Shanahan’s cunning ability to create superstars at the tailback position, it makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with Bell.

Lamont Jordan is winning me over. A career backup with the Jets, he is getting a shot at a starting gig with the Raiders. He has looked good so far in the preseason, but I’ll wait until I see him in a game that counts before I jump on the bandwagon. I’m still not confident in the Raiders offensive line.

Randy Moss will not have the season so many people expect him to have. Oh, he’ll still be a top receiver, probably still top five or six, if he remains healthy. That’s part of the equation. He had hamstring problems, and those never really go away. That hurt teams that drafted him in the first or second round last year and should make owners wary this year. It won’t, but it should.

But wait, there’s more. Lots more.

Like quarterbacks, wide receivers have an adjustment period to deal with. A completely different offensive scheme, with new coaches and players and plays. The bigger difference, in my mind anyway, is the quarterback. When in Minnesota, he had one of the “Big Three” quarterbacks in Daunte Culpper throwing the ball. Daunte’s career pass completion percentage is over 64%. Kerry Collins is 55.9%.

More comparisons

Culpepper has thrown for more than 30 touchdowns twice in five years as a starter, including a career best 39 last year even though Moss missed several games. This is a sign of things to come.

Collins has never thrown for more than 22 touchdowns in a season. To put that in perspective, Daunte threw 26 TD passes to receivers not named Moss last year, and Collins hasn’t thrown THAT many in a season.

Culpepper has a career QB Rating of 93.2, and has only been under 90 twice, in 2001 and 2002, both Moss years.

Collins has a career QB Rating of 73.3. Not once has Collins reached 90 in his eleven year career.

Kerry Collins isn’t an accurate passer. He has 154 interceptions to 153 touchdowns in his career. Any number cruncher worth his or her salt will tell you this is no aberration, it is a pattern. Put another way. If Collins doesn’t get the ball to Moss, Moss can’t make the catch.

The final nail in the coffin however, is the other Randy Ratio. That would be the one about him not doing as well on grass and outdoors, something he’ll do at least eight games next year in Oakland.

Indoors (75 games)
5.4 receptions, 92.5 receiving yards, 0.95 TD

Outdoors (40 Games)
5 receptions, 73.2 receiving yards, 0.7 TD

Turf (78 games)
5.6 receptions, 92.4 receiving yards, 0.95 TD

Grass (37 games)
4.7 receptions, 71.7 receiving yards, 0.68 TD

I know this isn’t a popular statement to make, but what is it you really want from this site? Do you want a bunch of drivel that comes out of so many other sites, sticking with the safe rankings or do you want to win your fantasy league? Let some other jamoke be popular, I’d rather be right.

Moving on. I’m sure there will be some hate mail. So be it.

Did Demarcus Ware look like the Defensive Rookie of the year last night or what? Playing in the first half, Ware recorded two forced fumbles (recovering one) an interception, a sack and three tackles. Coming off the end in the new 3-4 Dallas will employ this year he looked mahvelous! Julius was getting some love too. Nice stat line, with 12 rushes for 58 yards and a couple passes thrown his way. I know Parcells likes the vets, but I gotta think Marion Barber moves up the charts and starts the season as JJ’s backup, and not ATrain. Thomas looked like a bull, but Barber has some shake and bake on those drumsticks.

Fred Taylor will play sparingly in Thursday’s game against Atlanta according to coach Jack Del Rio, who also said he wouldn’t play in the final preseason game. Taylor had surgery to repair two ligaments in his knee this January and it looks like he won’t be playing, certainly not in any significant role, early in the season. Knee injuries of this nature take time to heal, and with Taylor’s age and the mileage on his legs, the Jaguars would be fools to jeopardize him at this time. Although he converted to fullback, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Greg “The Hammer” Jones with an increase in carries this year, and figure he’ll get some vulture TD’s at the expense of Toefield or whoever else starts.

Speaking of vultures, if you watched the Minnesota/New York Jets you had to groan when Moe Williams came off the bench to steal a touchdown. For the Michael Bennett fans out their, get real. Bennett has looked like crap so far this preseason, and even though he is getting big man love from Tice, I can’t see him as an effective option at RB this year. My money is on Mewelde Moore or Ciatrick Fason taking over the starting job.

The problem isn’t all Bennett’s however. The loss of Matt Birk looks to be hurting the Vikes more than they’d care to admit. Sidelined due to off-season hip surgery, his possible return is shrouded in mystery, but there is no mystery to what he means to this team.

Peton Manning is going early, early, early in many drafts. Even the sharks have fallen under his spell, but in almost every instance those drafters have been extremely unhappy. There is a lot of discussion on the depth at running back this year, but the depth is assumed there are more POSSIBLE starters and less sure things this year. Mike Anderson or Tatum Bell? Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams? Cedric Benson or…nope, not in the equation at this time. Benson hasn’t signed, and now the disgrunted bear management is threatening to reduce the offer that the two sides have already been a chasm apart on. Williams has Michael Pittman looming in the background, Priest has LJ breathing down his neck, and the list goes on.

There is a reason that experienced fantasy owners are running back whores. The numbers say Manning comes back down to earth, and if he does, so will the hopes of fantasy owners who drafted him instead of a stud runningback. If you need any more convincing, consider this. The pundits on television we’ve watched in the “expert” drafts are all calling him the number one pick for your fantasy team. That should be enough to leave you running for cover.  

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