Sunday, August 26, 2007

He of little patience

I just got finished playing some pick-up basketball less than an hour ago, and while I didn't see anyone act like a certain kind of individual I'm about to describe, for some reason I started thinking about it after I was done playing.

Back in July, I wrote an article about pick-up basketball in general -- how great it sometimes can be, but also about how many different types of people I, and others, have experienced while playing. I named ten different personalities of those I've played against or witnessed. And when I named "Stephen A" as the most annoying, I thought my judgement was sound.

That's until I remembered "I got next." No, seriously... he's got next.

For those people who have never played basketball, usually when there's a game going on, the next group of five has next -- meaning they're playing when that game is done. Simple, right? Apparently not.

A while ago, I encountered someone who didn't really get the whole concept of actually waiting his turn. You know, something that's learned in elementary school. "I got next" decided that he was going to jump in front of the group of players who were already waiting so that he could get on the court and play. Obviously, the guys who had been waiting a long time to get on weren't happy, and they refused to let him in front of them.

Instead of backing down, "I got next" chose to do something even worse than sitting on the side and complaining -- he waited for the next game to start and started shooting on that same court. He never moved out of the way, and since there was only one court available, he ruined the rest of the games that day. Everyone left because no one wanted anything to do with him. Not only had he acted like a baby on his own, but he single-handedly spoiled the remaining games.

While I'd agree that "Stephen A," the guy who complains all the time during a game and dislikes everyone who disagrees with him at any point, is surely an extremely annoying individual to deal with on the court, I now have to bump "I got next" to the top of the list. Anyone who walks into the gym and immediately declares that he's on next, no matter who else has been waiting for how long, doesn't really understand the whole concept in the first place.

And really, would you want to play on his team anyway?


I really enjoy writing about the kinds of people I play basketball with, good or bad. I may add to the list I've thought about and written about from time to time, so if you (if anyone reads this stuff) have any input or experiences of people you've played with, feel free to comment.

Everyone likes playing with other unselfish and good players, but usually the annoying and strange encounters on the court make for the best stories and descriptions.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Some thoughts on a Thursday...

-- On a day when the Orioles announced that manager Dave Trembley would return for the 2008 season, his pitching staff laid one of the biggest eggs in major league history. If you haven't heard by now, the Orioles lost to the Rangers last night 30-3. All thirty of Texas's runs were unanswered, as unbelievable as that sounds. The Rangers managed to hit six home runs while amassing 29 hits -- with 13 of them coming from their 7th, 8th, and 9th place hitters. The blowout left many people, mainly embarrassed Orioles fans, shaking their heads in disbelief.

Since the game was the first of a doubleheader, Trembley decided before the game even started that he'd try to save his best relievers for the second game to try and salvage at least a split. That plan surely backfired quickly, as each successive Orioles reliever tried to under-pitch the one before him. Daniel Cabrera allowed six earned runs, Brian Burres allowed eight, Rob Bell seven, and Paul Shuey nine!

This game was the first example under Trembley that I could give for the team looking disinterested and obviously, lackadaisical. Even one of the pitcher's friends wasn't convinced that he (Shuey) was giving 100%. "I had one buddy call and ask me if I was trying. I said, 'Yeah, I really was,"' Shuey said. Wow, I'm convinced.

To put it frankly, the Orioles pitching was just terrible last night, and the Rangers hitting was amazing (that's an understatement.) The O's just need to find some way to put that awful game behind them and move on while continuing to play, for the most part, much better baseball in the second half of the season.

-- In one of the happier stories to comment on, Eli Manning and former Giant running back Tiki Barber have been exchanging verbal jabs through the media this week. Barber, who is now a TV personality and NFL analyst, was critical of Manning in some of his comments the other day. He also seems to have a bitter tone when discussing his former team after his retirement.

I've never been a fan of either Barber or Eli Manning, with them being New York Giants and all, but I'd, unfortunately, have to side with Manning on this issue. Barber didn't like how he was treated after he announced in the middle of the Giants season that he was going to retire after the year was done. But, really, how was his team supposed to take it? The Giants were in the middle of a playoff push, and Barber picked a strange time to make his future plans known. If he wanted to retire, that's his decision, and that's fine. But he took a lot of the team's focus away by declaring his intentions to the media.

And as far as being a professional, if he's going to be an NFL analyst, he doesn't need to take little shots at his former team and teammates on-air. He may have some strong feelings, but taking out his frustrations by critiquing Manning during the preseason was a low blow. Good for Manning for defending himself.

-- I just finished watching a great Little League World Series game between Chinese Taipei and Japan. Japan won 4-3 on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning. While watching the game, I had two main thoughts. First, I was surprised to see some of the kids wearing batting armor like some of the pros do. The kids are 11, 12, and 13, and a couple of them had elbow and arm pads. I thought that was confusing to see, and I'm not sure why they really need to wear them at all. And second, I'm glad to see the new 85-pitch rule that the league has installed. Most of the kids already throw so many innings before they even get to the world series, and just about all of them throw curveballs too. The pitch limit keeps teams from relying way too heavily on their one or two best pitchers, which means a more well-balanced team is better prepared to win. Throwing so many innings and curveballs can ruin a kid's future baseball career, so I'm glad to see some effort going towards having some of the kids throw less.

That's all for now. I'll try to write something else tomorrow.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Where did athletes go wrong?

When I was younger, I used to think the world of athletes. My two favorite players were Darrell Green and Cal Ripken, Jr., so obviously I happened to pick good role models at a young age. They both worked hard, respected teammates and coaches, and played the best they could at all times. Since I was focusing on them so much, and partly too because I was young, I didn't have much interest in looking at other players around different sports that were acting stupid or who were participating in activities detrimental to themselves and their team and sport. But those days are over, and it's hard to turn the other direction when every other sports story seems to be something negative about an athlete.

Back in those days, I always thought the vast majority of athletes were a special group of people. I thought they could do anything and were invincible; they could do no wrong, only great things. I eventually realized that some athletes are great at what they do, but not all of them are great people. They aren't superhuman.

The main event that opened my eyes was the whole OJ Simpson ordeal. I didn't even know who he was at the time, and I didn't even care, but that story was everywhere in 1995-1996. Athletes had been in the news for breaking the law or for other stupid things before, but that was the primary example of an athlete being in the most amount of trouble possible. It was shocking to see an individual with so much to lose in so much trouble.

I could go over an entire list of other notable events that happened with athletes, such as Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, and Latrell Sprewell to name a few, but that wouldn't really add much to what I'm trying to say -- and that is, that athletes are real people too, and many of them make mistakes. And while that's not any really profound statement, it's important to sit back and realize that after the games are over, the lights are turned off, and no one is around, athletes are normal people too. I thought that I had realized that, but it took me a while for it to sink in.

Many people probably think the same way that I do, but then I keep hearing some people ask one main question, and it's a good one: "Why would an athlete put himself/herself in a situation that would jeopardize where he/she is right now?" Most people are only looking at the money aspect because, apparently, only people who don't have money do dumb things or are involved in things they shouldn't be. That's a pretty bad assumption.

For many professional athletes, and recently this applies to Michael Vick, from a very young age to the time they are in the pros, they're told they're the best and are given everything they want. Sure, they still have to work very hard and put in the time and effort, but they can get away with doing things that "normal" people couldn't because other people are there to look after them. I don't know Michael Vick, I don't know if he actually was involved with dogfighting or exactly what his relationship was with the whole operation at his Virginia home, but I'd like to think that if he actually was involved, that reason had something to do with it. Maybe he figured that it was okay to be there because he couldn't get in trouble. He has been told that he's superman, that he's above normal people because he has a cannon for an arm and can run faster than most people can only dream about.

I'd like to think that's part of the reason why a lot of athletes put themselves in bad situations like that -- because they want to and don't feel like it's risky, and they've rarely been told "no" by anyone else before.

There's another large piece to the puzzle, though, and that has less to do with athletes themselves. After the OJ Simpson trial, which I brought up before, I remember seeing an increased amount of negative sports news stories. If athletes broke the law or were put in a bad situation, more journalists and reporters focused on that rather than positive stories or good-natured ones where an athlete beats all odds. They'd rather publish a story where, say, a controversial athlete beats his wife instead.

Mentioning and using the OJ Simpson trial as the main instance where things changed may be an oversimplification, but for me, that's where I noticed a change and began to look at athletes differently. I don't really believe that athletes now are any more prone to doing drugs or committing crimes than athletes in the past, but the masses seem to be flooded with so many more stories that it's impossible to read sports news without escaping them. If a reader turns the page, there is another article about players cheating. The next page may have something about gambling, or drunk driving, or drug usage. That may be everyday life for some people, but it makes many athletes look a whole lot worse than they actually are (at least some of them.)

I think the biggest change in this whole problem is money. Professional athletes are making so much money these days, and I believe that most of the public feels that if an athlete is putting himself in a situation to jeopardize all that money, then he's just being stupid and he deserves to lose everything. I've felt almost the same way too, that to live that kind of life that so few people get to do so haphazardly and reckless would almost be to waste a golden opportunity. And yet, I've never lived that life and never will, so I don't know the pressures or demands of what being a professional athlete entails. And then again, most people are like me, and they only see what's on the surface and never what's really inside that world.

I'm starting to confuse even myself with what I'm trying to get at, but the world of sports has become too confusing that it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant were supposed to be good guys, and they still may be. All most fans and outsiders see is what's on the TV, and all they read is what's in the paper. That's all they have to judge the character of all athletes on unless they've talked to them or know them personally, which includes only a small group of people.

I guess the best way to think of athletes would be just like every other job or profession that anyone has ever had. There are good guys, and there are definitely some bad guys. There are guys who make great choices and help other people, and there are others who really aren't good individuals at all. Some co-workers treat people with respect, and some, plain and simply, just do not.

It's just that, with millions of dollars and so much risk/reward involved, the stakes for athletes are so much higher. If they mess up, then everyone will know about it. And at the end of the day, if Pacman Jones has another DUI, is it really all that different than one of your neighbors down the street? Probably not, many would think, and they both may be in the local paper the next morning.

But one will be in every other paper in the U.S. (And, no, it's not Randy down the street who has a little too much to drink every now and then.)

Touchdown vultures for '07

Inspired by the ESPN commercial with Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott, I decided to come up with a list of players this season who could annoy fantasy football owners everywhere by stealing TDs from their favorite RBs. A TD vulture is a player who doesn't receive that many looks or carries during normal plays during a game, but he usually ends up making big catches or tough runs in short yardage situations to get the ball into the endzone.

Mike Bell and Cecil Sapp, RBs, Denver Broncos -- Travis Henry is slated to be the feature back for the Broncos offense this year, but many fantasy football owners know that Mike Shanahan loves to employ his running back by committee philosophy whenever possible. Henry should and probably will receive the bulk of the carries barring an injury, but inside the red zone, Bell or Sapp may receive some carries to punch the ball in the end zone. Over the past several years, it's been tough to trust any single running back.

Ladell Betts and Mike Sellers, RBs, Washington Redskins -- The Redskins hope that Portis will be back to full strength this year, but just in case he isn't, they're well prepared. Betts showed last season that he can handle a full workload (except for a few costly fumbles) and be the feature back if Portis goes down with another injury. If Portis does manage to stay healthy, he will still be sharing a few carries with Betts, especially on 3rd downs when Betts is usually in the game anyway for his pass catching abilities. Also, as a Redskins fan, I've seen how this team has struggled mightily when trying to score in the red zone. Portis never seems to be able cross the goal line inside the 5, and that's when Sellers may get a few more chances. The Redskins also started throwing the ball more often inside the 20 as defenders usually stacked the lines daring them to pass.

Najeh Davenport, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers -- Willie Parker has been outstanding the last couple years, and there's no reason why he shouldn't repeat another strong performance this season as the team's #1 running back. Davenport, though, may steal some carries on short yardage situations in the red zone where the Steelers need to score. Parker should have a great year in yardage numbers, but he may lose a few TDs to Davenport this season.

Brian Leonard, RB, St. Louis Rams -- This addition may be a little premature, but I believe that Leonard will receive many chances inside the red zone this year and get a few TDs. Steven Jackson should have another outstanding season with both rushing and receiving totals, but with the additions in the receiving corps of Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael and the selection of Leonard in the draft, don't be surprised if Jackson gets a few less opportunities to score points this year.

Anthony Thomas, RB, Buffalo Bills -- Marshawn Lynch is highly thought of by the Bills, and they actually had him rated higher in their draft than Adrian Peterson in the draft. That's saying something. Lynch looks like he'll be a solid player, but the A-Train is the best bet to steal carries from Lynch inside the red zone.

Correll Buckhalter, Tony Hunt, RBs, Philadelphia Eagles -- Brian Westbrook may be the NFL's most versatile running back next to LaDainian Tomlinson, but he usually struggles when it comes to picking up tough yards in crunch time. He's an excellent running back, but he occasionally loses touches and opportunities to score a couple touchdowns every year. Buckhalter is currently positioned as the #2 running back option, but the rookie Hunt may soon overtake him.

It's important to recognize not only who a solid running back's backup is, but also who may get a few TDs from him later. Certainly, someone would never bench Steven Jackson, LT, or Larry Johnson or certain elite RBs. But if Lynch or Portis were going up against tough rush defenses, they may not only lose total rushing yards, but also TDs since they probably won't get too many short yardage carries if there's a better option on the team.

There's really nothing you can do if a running back loses the occasional touchdown to another player, but it can be valuable down the road to know what may happen against a certain match up.

At the very least, you'll know the names of some players who may annoy you this season now that Alstott is gone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bonds was great... but...

I fought with the decision to write something about Barry Bonds for a couple months now. I was very reluctant simply because his name was mentioned everywhere by the minute, and there wasn't really that much I'd be able to add. But now that he's broken Hank Aaron's home run record and the attention drawn to him has died down a bit, it's time to put some things into perspective.

While looking over some of Bonds's career statistics, I viewed one main thing that I had never really noticed before or heard anywhere. I figured that Bonds has stayed consistent during his career with power, and for the most part, he has. But, oddly, Barry Bonds only had one season where he hit over 50 home runs -- in 2001 where he hit 73, (SEVENTY THREE) homers! His next closest home run total was 49. It also seems rather strange that his highest home run total came at age 36 while playing in a large ballpark as well.

None of these observations, though, really prove anything. And the most important or even relevant question, for me at least, is does anything about performance enhancing drugs or steroids even have to be proved at all? People aren't stupid. I'm not going to bother to say go look at Bonds with the Pirates versus Bonds with the Giants. People have paid attention, and they aren't buying it.

Even though Bonds now owns, arguably, the most prestigious record in baseball, he's already lost much of the value it should have. Bonds has had his abilities questioned by reporters, analysts, previous legends of the game itself, and most importantly, fans. He has maintained that he has never used steroids or gained any advantage in that manner, but he's in trouble because every time his name is mentioned from now on, in any conversation about baseball, he will forever be linked to such words as steroids, asterisk, BALCO, and cheater.

Bonds continues to say that he doesn't care what other people think because he knows he didn't cheat. He wants everyone to believe that he's all natural and that's fine. At the end of the day, whether it's fair or not, whether Bonds really did use steroids or not now doesn't matter. He's already lost the battle -- many fans don't respect him, and even Aaron himself despises what Bonds has done for the game of baseball. Aaron can't even bring himself to talk to Bonds.

No one wants to have his or her abilities and accomplishments questioned. If someone creates a brilliant work of art, people don't want to find out later that the artist had the help of others who were never mentioned. If another person comes up with a tremendous idea or theory, people don't want to find out later that he or she stole the idea from someone else and just never gave anyone else credit.

Here's the point: Bonds undoubtedly put a significant amount of hard work to get to where he is today. He's an extremely talented hitter who used to be one of the games best all-around players. But it's also possible that he had a cheating hand that assisted him in certain steps along the way at some point in his career. The issue should not be whether or not Bonds did cheat because it won't matter down the road. He was a great hitter, but what's the real story?

He'll forever have a black cloud hanging over him. If he didn't cheat, he still allowed himself to be put in that situation with the people he surrounded himself with. And if he did cheat, really, no one would be surprised anyway.

It's not like this would be the first instance of an athlete disappointing fans and being dishonest.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Perez's suspension leaves many questions

Neifi Perez of the Detroit Tigers was given an 80 game suspension on Friday after his third positive test for a banned stimulant. The suspension officially ends Perez's 2007 season and leaves his future employment with another organization in doubt.

Throughout his career, Perez has been known much more for his glove than his bat. Always a slick fielding middle infielder, Perez has managed to hit .267 for his career with 64 home runs. His best offensive seasons came during his time with the Colorado Rockies from 1998-2001, where his best single-season home run total was 12 in 1999. Since 2001, he's bounced around the MLB, playing for the Royals, Giants, Cubs, and now the Tigers, having very little offensive success -- though he did manage to hit .274 for the Cubs in 2005. But obviously, with a career on-base percentage under .300, Perez was never an outstanding hitter by any stretch of the imagination.

My main question is -- why would Perez start using steroids or any performance enhancing drugs at this point in his career? He's played 12 major league seasons, and he's put together a decent career. He was playing on a winning team as a backup, certainly with his best seasons behind him. Perez almost had the chance to win a World Series ring last year with Detroit, and he may have had that chance this year. Why would he knowingly jeopardize that?

According to this article on, Perez was diagnosed with ADHD last season, and he took medicine so he could focus during games. He claims that after his pills ran out after the season, he was given a new prescription and eventually started taking another medication. Perez remains furious over the way he was treated and the lack of information he received over his positive test results.

"They called three different positives on a 20-day-period," Perez said. "I was using a medicine that was supposedly authorized by the doctors due to [my] personal condition."

Perez had more to say: "Many people might be trying to understand how is it possible that a player tests positive for the same substance three times in half a season. The truth is that they tested me four times between May 10th and June 1st and they never told me if there was anything wrong. I have been using that same medicine all this time."

I'm one of those people who can't seem to comprehend why or how this happened. Perez isn't the type of baseball player who needs to take any type of performance enhancers at this point in his career. It doesn't make sense that he would take something now during the twilight of his career when he serves mainly as a pinch runner or late-game defensive replacement.

I'm not usually very interested in wondering why people do things, but sometimes, and especially in this case, things just don't seem to add up. Even though everyone can't go back in time and find out if certain players really did use steroids or not, it seems rather odd that currently Barry Bonds is leading an assault on Hank Aaron's home run record while a back-up middle infielder, who has remained essentially the same size his whole career, might find playing another game in a major league uniform impossible next year.

Perez firmly believes he was treated unfairly -- "They tested me during spring training and everything was negative. But then in May I guess I tested positive, but they never told me there was something wrong. Even twice, they only tested me, when the regular procedure is to test at least four or five players."

If what Perez claims is true, then there needs to be a whole lot more communication between baseball officials and players during these drug tests. Keeping players clean and steroids out of baseball is extremely important, but not at the cost of ruining someone's career over medication for ADHD. Perez has problems focusing on games; he's not looking to gain any edge in an unfair manner.

Sure, Perez still failed his tests, but if he was never told about what was found in his system or what was causing the problem, how was he supposed to fix it? If I was Perez, I wouldn't have figured that my ADHD medication was causing the failed drug tests. Where is the communication? And it also seems rather odd that Perez was tested by himself on some occasions instead of with other players, as he claims.

This whole ordeal makes very little sense. Hopefully this situation causes some sort of positive change in the way drug testing is done in the MLB. I guess it's possible that Perez may have indeed used steroids, but I'm not sold on it at all. "I can't care less about the money," he said. "I'm worried about my family's honor."

That's good enough to leave some doubt in my mind. What about you?

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Fantasy football '07

The 2007-2008 NFL season is right around the corner, and you know what that means -- yup, fantasy football is back. However, I'm not going to break down an extensive list of who I believe is going to be great this year. Except for a select handful of players, picking break-out stars of team "saviors" usually happens by chance anyway. Rarely to fantasy experts or even whole magazines dedicated to selecting future fantasy studs and duds correctly tag all of their picks. And while it takes a large amount of knowledge of knowing coaching staffs, teams' personnel choices and packages, and individual statistics and talent, sometimes picking players comes down to one thing: luck.

I don't necessarily believe in the "fantasy expert" when it comes to fantasy sports because I seriously doubt that for anyone playing in fantasy sports leagues for over five years, that someone has won his or her league(s) every single year. Sometimes people start out picking great players, and maybe they get hurt or just have down years. And sometimes, people who just don't understand the right ways to rank players get lucky by selecting a player who has an outstanding year that came out of no where, or maybe someone picks up a player off of the waiver wire after selecting a very ordinary team, and that player leads that person's fantasy team to a championship.

Whatever the reasons may be, the most important type of "fantasy expert" or whatever you may want to call it, is the person who pays attention to trends and can see things that may happen with certain players before they actually do. It's also important to listen to other people's opinions and be able to sift between things that sound crazy to other things that may indeed make some sense.

Now, I'm not going to list all of the players I'm looking at this season, even though I usually have a certain group of break-out players who I think will perform better than others believe (I still have my own drafts to do.) But at the very least, I'll give a rundown of certain NFL players that I'm either NOT looking at, I don't believe can have repeat performances from last year, or may just not be worth the value that some people think they really should have. Sometimes it's just more fun to look at things that way and, realistically, almost every fantasy owner does sort of the same thing before draft day.

It's fun to root for your own guys, definitely, but it's also a good feeling to root against the guys you pegged as ones to avoid before the season. Or maybe that's just me. On to the list (in no particular order)...

- Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks -- In an auction league last year, I spent a significant chunk of my money on Alexander, and I don't think I'll ever do that again. While this choice may be more of a personal one, I'm still a little bitter about it. I'm not a big believer of spending more than half of your cap space or money on one guy, and that plan really backfired on me last year after Alexander broke his leg. The Madden Curse may have played a large part in Alexander's downfall last season, but he just absolutely killed my team. That won't happen again, unless, of course, I face a team who has him and he rattled off 200 yards and 5 TDs. Now that's possible.

- Randy Moss, WR, Patriots -- Many people are completely sold that Moss will magically return to form this year just because he's playing with Tom Brady and a solid New England Patriots team. But how is this choice a good fantasy decision, especially if he's taken in the first few rounds? Moss has, in previous seasons, admitted to taking downs off and giving less than 100% effort. Not only that, but he's playing on a team that spreads the ball around to all receivers and throws TD passes to LINEBACKERS in the red zone. Count me out.

- Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins -- I hate to say it, but something just seems wrong with Portis. I don't know if he's become injury prone or what, but I'm not sure if he's a reliable selection anymore. He's also stopped dressing up before games in ridiculous outfits, which is also a real shame. And to top that all off, his Vick remarks during the off season were, in a few words, confusing and stupid. Ladell Betts, who will get a share of the workload and also serves as the 3rd down back frequently, may end up with the bulk of the carries before the year is over.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers -- The addition of Gore may be confusing to some people. I think Gore is a great player, and he was outstanding last year, but Norv Turner is no longer the 49ers offensive coordinator, and I expect the offense to regress a bit. Gore may put up decent numbers, but I doubt he'll repeat what he did last season. Currently he's dealing with a fractured hand, which may also hurt him somewhere down the road this year.

Michael Vick, QB, Falcons -- Just kidding. But you know someone is going to draft him in your league. Just wait...

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks -- I've been waiting for a few years now to see Hasselbeck move to the elite quarterback level, but it never happens. Hasselbeck has the weapons around him to put up huge numbers, but inconsistency and injury concerns always seem to surround his output. I think he's a good quarterback, sure, but a great quarterback? Not really. If he stays healthy, he can put up decent numbers but nothing spectacular.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants -- Eli Manning has never really been one of my favorite players, and actually, he might be my least favorite player. Out of all the charades the Giants went through to get Manning a few years ago, he's really failed to live up to the hype. He has the talent, I guess, but I doubt he'll ever be anything like his brother. Anyway, with the loss of Tiki Barber, the backbone of the Giants offense is gone. Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns will try to save the running game, but Barber meant so much more. He not only ran well, but he caught dump passes and screens out of the backfield to present a whole other dimension for that offense. Without Barber there as a safety net for Manning, it's time for him to put up or shut up.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers -- I know, surprising, right? Here's my problem with Gates -- he's the best tight end in the NFL, hands down. But is he that much better to be taking him so much earlier than the rest of the tight end crop? I don't think so. Last year Gates had 924 receiving yards and 9 TDs. Those are the best numbers for tight ends, but he's not really that far away from several others. In a standard scoring league, Gates accumulated 139 fantasy points. The next five closest were Alge Crumper with 118, Tony Gonzalez with 115, Todd Heap with 105, Chris Cooley with 104, and Kellen Winslow with 99. That's not a huge difference. When you consider that Gates is usually picked up by the 3rd or 4th round, the value doesn't always fit. And with Tomlinson scoring so many touchdowns and getting so many carries inside the red zone, Gates may not eclipse 10 TDs again this season. He's the best TE, but I think owners may just be better off going with a later TE choice and picking up another position earlier.


I guess that's it as far as the fantasy football information goes. My list turned more into whose value may end up being lower in a certain draft slot or position than who I would completely avoid in a draft. It's hard to discount anyone except for players who are just plain bad. Good luck with drafting this year.

And by the way, I fully expect at least half of these guys to have monster seasons just because I mentioned any of this. Hooray NFL!