Monday, September 1, 2008

Players I'm avoiding in 2008

Here is a list of players who I would rather not have for fantasy football this year. I've drafted a few teams, and I don't think I have any of these guys on them.

There are only two rules: 1) I can't pick any of the same players from last year's list, and 2) the choices can't be too obvious. Saying that I don't think James Thrash will be a solid fantasy football choice this year really doesn't say much at all.

Michael Turner

Turner's situation reminds me of when LaMont Jordan left the New York Jets for the Oakland Raiders after the 2004-2005 season. With the Jets, Jordan was underutilized as a short yardage and goal line back. He received carries of 39, 84, 46, and 93, respectively, in four seasons with the Jets, then went on to total 272 in 2005 as a Raider. But with those 272 carries Jordan averaged only 3.8 yards per carry. The biggest surprise in 2005 was Jordan's Tomlinson-like 70 receptions out of the backfield for 563 yards. The next two years Jordan was often injured and slowly played his way out of Oakland.

With Tomlinson ahead of him in San Diego, Turner was only needed to give Tomlinson a breather or finish off opponents on the ground when the Chargers already had the game well in hand. Because of his situation, Turner received few carries, but he made the most of them by averaging 5.5 yards per carry in four seasons. He also didn't catch many passes out of the backfield (3 in '06 and 4 in '07) because the Chargers wouldn't need to throw with him in the game, just run. Now Turner is going to an Atlanta Falcons team in rebuilding mode. The Falcons will be starting a rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan, and the team's offensive line just isn't very good at the moment. With a young and inexperienced offense and a defense that should struggle, the Falcons will probably be playing from behind often and will have to throw the ball.

Now, Turner certainly figures to be the number one running back, but the Falcons also have Jerious Norwood on the roster. In two seasons with the Falcons, Norwood never received many carries but still averaged 6.2 yards per carry. He also possesses the ability to help out in the passing game; he had 40 receptions in those two seasons.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is this: the Falcons probably won't be very good on offense, and Turner will be looking to give away at least a significant portion of his carries to Norwood. Norwood also appears to be the favorite in the passing game, which the Falcons will be in often. Jordan surprised many people with his strong season in 2005. No one knows exactly what Turner can do, and if he's in part-time duty, selecting him in the first few rounds might just not be worth the risk.

Carson Palmer

I think Palmer is a very good quarterback, but I don't think he'll have that great of a season to warrant being the fifth-best fantasy football quarterback, which he currently is being selected as. With 4,131 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes, and 20 interceptions, Palmer scored just the ninth-most points out of all quarterbacks. Palmer also has two solid receivers in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and he really should have better numbers.

Also, the Bengals have a schedule that may be more difficult than last season: at Baltimore, Tennessee, at NY Giants, Cleveland, at Dallas, at NY Jets, Pittsburgh, bye, Jacksonville, at Houston, Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh, Baltimore, at Indianapolis, Washington, at Cleveland, Kansas City. Besides the two games against Cleveland and the games against Washington and Kansas City, a lot of question marks remain as far as facing questionable defenses. The only good thing, or bad thing depending on how you look at it, is that the Bengals will probably be behind a lot and will have to throw the football. Still, Palmer could struggle against good defensive teams.

Willis McGahee

With a questionable passing game and the possibility of rookie Joe Flacco starting at quarterback, the Ravens are going to have to run the football this year. But McGahee already has some injury concerns with the same knee he injured in that gruesome injury in college against Ohio State. McGahee had 1,207 rushing yards and 8 total touchdowns last season in a relatively good year, but with some injuries and the retirement of Jonathan Ogden, the offensive line could struggle and fail to open up enough holes for McGahee. The Ravens also really like rookie running back Ray Rice, who could steal some carries and receptions on third downs as he tries to carve out a niche on the team.

Derek Anderson

Anderson had a fantastic 2007 season; no one could say he/she saw that coming, except for maybe Anderson himself (probably not). He also has plenty of weapons on offense this year in Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, Kellen Winslow, and Jamal Lewis. But as of right now, he is still recovering from a concussion that he suffered during the preseason. I just don't think Anderson will have the same kind of season he did last year, and I also think if he struggles, the Browns may cave in to some pressure to give Brady Quinn an opportunity at some point.

Laveranues Coles

Remember the situation with Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley with the Orlando Magic a few years back? Francis was moved to tears in January 2005 when Mobley was traded out of Orlando to Sacramento.

"I can't put it into words," Francis said at the time "Playing with a guy, living with a guy, just knowing that every day when I wake up that's something I can count on, that I'm going to be in practice or in a game with Cuttino. Him not being here is going to be tough for me. I don't know what I'm going to wake up for."

(Random tangent: Francis also had this to say: "You don't wait 30 minutes before a game to tell a guy he's traded. The way you handle relationships, for me, is going to change the way that I approach the game, more businesslike than anything." I never really noticed this before, but that 2004-2005 season was Francis's last good season. Was Francis so upset about the Mobley trade that he stopped playing well altogether for the rest of his career? Does handling the game "more businesslike" meaning playing poorly? Just a very weird situation.)

Anyway, that situation between Francis and Mobley reminds me of Coles and Chad Pennington, who was recently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Coles and Pennington were very close, and Coles stopped talking to the media so he wouldn't have to answer any questions about Pennington's departure. Brett Favre's presence should certainly help the passing game and the whole offense, but Coles's demeanor really leaves a lot to be desired. He's a professional and should still play hard, but I wonder if his heart is really still in it without his buddy in New York.

Jerricho Cotchery (82 receptions, 1,130 yards, 2 TDs) also seems like he's taken over the role as the team's best wide receiver from Coles (55 receptions, 646 yards, 6 TDs). Coles could still have a decent year, but he shouldn't be relied upon as a number two wide receiver option for any standard leagues with 10 or 12 teams.

That's all I have for this year. I picked seven players last year and five this year. For some reason, this year was tougher to pick some players I thought might struggle a bit, but I also tried to back up my picks a little more than before.

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