BASN’s 2009 Fantasy Football Guide (Part 3)

By Lloyd Vance, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: August 30, 2009

Football Fantasy PHILADELPHIA (BASN) — What started out as a wacky rotisserie league concept for football by former Oakland Raiders part owner Bill Winkenbach and his friends Scott Stirling and Bill Tunnell in the 1962 has grown into its own subculture and is the passion of football fans and casual fans everywhere.

Fantasy football is now part of the fabric that ties everyone together and gets people watching the NFL, (well at least the stat ticker at the bottom of the screen) which is by far the number one sports league in the world.

Fantasy football leagues are all about one upping your buddies, having fun watching games (every game counts now or at least the stats), trash talking, and allows fans to experience the highs and lows of “legalized gambling”. The number of people involved in leagues are staggering with an estimated 35 million people participating in fantasy football leagues.

Of that group the majority are males in the marketing bonanza demographic of between the ages of 25 and 54, but we are also seeing more women competing with the men for stats superiority.

And when you talk about the dollars involved in fantasy football (over $250 million dollars spent on gaming services around fantasy sports), leaving sponsors and advertisers start drooling.

Over the last two days, we’ve talked about the do’s and dont’s as well as a list of our top fantasy players. Today, we end our guide with a list of our players that you should avoid in your fantasy draft.

Top 10 Players to Stay Away From this Fantasy Football Season

Kansas City Chiefs RB Larry Johnson - Time and injuries seem to have caught up with Johnson (30 on Nov. 19th). Though the NFL’s former rushing champ has held off backup Jamaal Charles for the starting running back job, his production has steadily decreased over the last couple of years. Ran for only 874 yards on 193 carries with a 4.5 ypr average and 5 TDs in 2008 plus only had 12 catches for 74 yards.

New York Jets RB Thomas Jones – On his fourth team in 9 years, Jones (31) continues to complain and get no respect around the NFL. Ran for over 1312 yards and 13 TDs for the Jets in 2008, but the team seems ready to step away from him. The former Georgia star wants a contract and the team didn’t blink this offseason as they brought in rookie Shonn Greene and are working a possible renegotiation with multipurpose back Leon Washington. Stay away, because I could see Washington and Greene taking carries from Jones real soon in new head coach Rex Ryan’s system.

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford - With the success of 2008 rookie quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, everyone immediately believes Stafford will be the next golden boy of the NFL. However there is one big in that the Lions are a rebuilding team with over 20 new faces after their much publicized and embarrassing 0-16 season. The Lions gave Stafford a huge contract (6 years, $72 Million w/ 41 Million guaranteed), but he has a lot to learn as shown by an inconsistent preseason. I think it takes a couple years for this former underclassman to adjust to the NFL after never consistently winning in the SEC in college.

Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard – The Jaguars starter will never be a fantasy football player’s dream passer as he is more efficient than putting up eye-popping numbers. Garrard and the Jags struggled in 2008 as he threw for for numbers of 3,620 yards, 15 TDs and 13 INTs after receiving a big contract. With head coach Jack Del Rio on the hot seat, look for the abrasive coach to lean on his running game led by MJD and hope that Garrard can return to his ’07 form where he led the team to the divisional round of the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Torry Holt - The Jaguars had a ton of injuries and inconsistently in their receiving corps in 2008, so they signed former Rams veteran Holt to wash away the taste of Matt Jones, Jerry Porter, and Reggie Williams. The move to bring in the 7-time Pro Bowl player looks good on paper, but Holt’s knees have bothered him over the last couple of years and his production slipped below 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie year in 1999 – finished with 64 catches for 796 yards, a 12.4 ypc, and only 3 TDs.

Baltimore Ravens RB Willis McGahee – You would have thought that McGahee (170 rushes for 671 yards, 3.9 ypr, and 7 TDs in ’08) after getting out of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s doghouse this offseason would have had a chance at being a featured back again. But it looks like being the Ravens’ main ball carrier has passed the former Bills star by. The team this preseason seems to be leaning towards 2nd year backs Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain carrying the load. McGahee is coming off a 2008 season where he missed games due to injury and he had multiple offseason surgeries (ankle and knee).

New England Patriots RB Laurence Maroney - After promising seasons in 2006 and 2007, this former University of Minnesota running back crashed hard in 2008. Maroney could not stay healthy (shoulder injury) and he only played in three games, which prompted the Patriots organization to question his toughness. The fourth-year running back has never run for over 900 yards and it seems Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is ready to move on with his running back by committee philosophy. Maroney will have to battle newcomer Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis just to get on the field this season.

Seattle Seahawks RB Edgerrin James - Always beware of an older back joining a new team. James (31) comes to the Seahawks as the NFL’s 11th all-time rusher with 12,121 yards his ten-year career. But you could see last year that the Cardinals did not have confidence in him for the majority of last season – only 7 starts finishing with numbers 133 rushes for 514 yards, 3.9 ypr, and 3 TDs with a long run of only 35 yards. James carries have decreased over the past three years and he missed the Seahawks’ training camp, which maybe a blessing in disguise. With Seahawks head coach Jim Mora looking to lean on starter Julius Jones, the former Colts star maybe relegated to short yardage situations. Also the Seahawks offensive line has been decimated by injuries during the 2009 preseason.

New Orleans Saints WR Bobby Meachem – All preseason, the New Orleans area has been abuzz about Meachem – 5 catches for 106 yards and 1TD (64 yards) in first two preseason games. Everyone is wondering if the former University of Tennessee star is ready to live-up to the high expectations that the Saints had when they selected him in the first round of 2007. Over his first two years in the NFL, Meachem was plagued by injury (lost rookie year to a torn ACL) and dropping passes. Though it looks like he may have turned the corner this preseason, I am not ready to say he has passed WR Marques Colston, RB Reggie Bush, WR Devrey Henderson or WR Lance Moore as one of quarterback Drew Brees’ main targets.

Atlanta Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez - I know you are probably thinking how can the NFL’s all-time leading tight end in terms of catches (916) and yardage (10,94) be on my Stay Away List. Well…Gonzalez is starting with a new team in the Falcons (traded for a second round pick) and their head coach Mike Smith has an affinity to run the ball and play tough defense. With so many other great tight ends on the board (Gates, Keller, Winslow, Witten, and others), I just don’t see a reason to spend a pick in the first six rounds of your FF draft on him. I know the 10-time Pro Bowl player and surefire Hall of Famer is coming off a season where he put up 96 catches for 1058 yards, 11.0 ypc, and 10 TDs, but he is a huge question mark when quarterback Matt Ryan will be going to RB Michael Turner and WR Roddy White first.

Others to Stay Away From

QBs – Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (run-first team and he is a game manager type); Carolina Panthers QB Jake Delhomme (5 INTs in the Panthers’ playoff loss to the Cardinals in ’08.. enough said); Miami Dolphins QB Pat White (will get a few snaps in the Wildcat, but still not ready to be under center); Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick (America’s No. 1 sports radio topic will be stuck on the bench behind McNabb as he knocks off over 2 years of rust)

RBs – Oakland Raiders RB Justin Fargas (injured – hamstring and will be splitting carries); Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis (too injury prone, slowing down, and will be splitting carries); Buffalo Bills RB Dominic Rhodes (stuck behind Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson)

WRs – Arizona Cardinals WR Steve Breaston (injured – knee and ’08 is looking like a career year); Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward (play is more gritty now and Santonio Holmes is Big Ben’s go-to-guy); Buffalo Bills WR Josh Reed (with T.O and Lee Evans around, he will be lucky for a couple catches a game…did I mention T.O)

TE’s – Baltimore Ravens TE’s Todd Heap and LJ Smith (run-first team, too injury prone, and both their production has slipped over the years), Cleveland Browns TE Steve Heiden (Will not even come close to replacing Winslow); Jacksonville Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis (great name and size, but plays like a Yugo).