No games to talk about this week, but there is plenty of news. We're now experiencing something never before seen – a swine-flu-like spread of offensive coordinator firings on the eve of the season. It began in Kansas City before moving to Buffalo and Tampa Bay, where it's hopefully been contained.
Let's assess the implication for the skill players on those teams and look at the fantasy draft board more generally to see where I most strongly disagree with the market, based largely on summer developments.
Teams begin installing their offense even prior to May mini-camps. By July, the coaches are sleeping at the facility. The workload ramps up from there in August. By now, everything is supposed to be set. But the Chiefs, Bills and Bucs are in a state of limbo. This wasn't a mere play-calling issue. When that happens, coaches just call the plays themselves.
These teams are signaling in no uncertain terms that their offenses are in such shambles that the only option is to scrap it and begin anew. I suggest we listen to them. That means a one-to-two-round penalty against all Chiefs, Bills and Bucs. If that prevents you from investing in any of these offenses, good. Right now, they're only worth the gamble if you're paid for gambling by getting the best skill talent these teams have at a significant discount.
Let's look at the current ADP (average draft placement) at MockDraftCentral.com and say where and why we most dramatically differ from the consensus views.
As always, the top QBs are being taken too high. There is opportunity here especially this year for those who wait. Why take Tony Romo when you can get Matt Schaub at least two rounds later, on average? It's Schaub's risk of injury versus the suitability of Romo's post-Terrell Owens passing environment. I'd call that a wash.
Of course, individual leagues may vary. I moved early on a QB in a Yahoo! Friends and Family (expert/staff) league that has us starting 10 guys with just four reserves. In a format like that, you can't afford to carry two QBs and thus can't mix and match. In standard, 12-team formats I'd always wait and grab two of the following, back to back, now earlier than round eight/nine: Schaub, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler.
I repeat: you cannot let the Kurt Warner owners buy Matt Leinart insurance so cheaply (after the 200th pick). Get Leinart yourself and ghoul Warner. Ghouling is fun!
Brandon Jacobs is going to score 15-to-20 TDs if he's reasonably healthy. Yes, that's always a question for Jacobs. But LaDainian Tomlinson has bigger questions (age/mileage/injury) and always goes ahead of Jacobs, which is foolish.
Cheapest is best with Tampa Bay and New England backs and that usually means Cadillac Williams and Laurence Maroney, respectively. Both have upside, too.
Cedric Benson is a certain starter and goal-line guy, indistinguishable from Larry Johnson (drafted two round earlier). While Johnson is a better player, the environment in Kansas City is certifiably terrible.
Leon Washington is going to be like Brian Westbrook this year – 15-to-20 touches a game with 100-plus combined yards and 7-to-10 TDs. And you get him 80 picks after Westbrook, which is pretty sweet.
I'd also own James Davis of Cleveland everywhere in the 10th round or later (he's going in the 12th round, on average). Jamal Lewis looks spent.
The only receivers I'd take in the third/fourth rounds after the consensus top nine are gone are Braylon Edwards and Chad Ochocinco. The better play is to wait into round seven and get those middle-market values — Santana Moss, Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn and Devin Hester – who are No. 1 receivers on their real-life teams.
The gamble with Cotchery is Mark Sanchez, but I'm impressed every time I see the Jets rookie. So 75-1,100-7 for Cotchery is realistic and the floor is about 60-900-5.
Will Brandon Marshall be a Jet? Jets safety Kerry Rhodes seems to be Tweeting "yes." Currently, Marshall is going on average at pick 66 right ahead of Hines Ward. That's crazy. Marshall right now in Denver is like Jack Nicholson at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. Something bad is guaranteed to happen unless he gets the hell out of there. But even then, he'll have to slowly work himself in while his new team is focused entirely on the upcoming opponent.
The data has changed on Hakeem Nicks so I've changed my opinion. He'll be on all my teams 150 picks in. Putative starter Domenik Hixon has minus hands and route-running ability. I wouldn’t for one second consider Hixon before Steve Smith (the Giants version), either, as Smith is most likely of all the Giants receivers to start all year. And Smith is there even after Nicks.