For keeps

I’m listening, ironically enough, to a song called “Rainbows to the Endzone” from NFL Films music I downloaded from iTunes. How could I not?

I have announced my keepers. No one predicts that Derek Anderson can repeat his 29 TD performance from 2008. Just like my keeper QB from 2007, Vince Young, Anderson made the Pro Bowl when a bunch of guys bowed out. Anderson was one of the few NFL quarterbacks who threw more interceptions than Young’s 17. Jon Kitna, Eli Manning, and Carson Palmer led the league. Has a guy ever won the Super Bowl MVP the same year that he led the league in interceptions?

Look at the cool ride that Manning gets to take home for winning the MVP.

Back on track, I am going to keep Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson. The keepers won’t be announced until Wednesday, but I’m pretty sure that I will draft one of the following three players with my number three pick: Marion Barber, Clinton Portis, or Maurice Jones-Drew.

I’d have to take Portis as my top pick. He’s only two months older than McGahee, although he already has 1710 NFL carries and nearly 2000 total touches. He led the NFL with 325 carries. Larry Johnson had nearly 100 more carries to lead the league in 2007. The NFL may not be a full RBBC league, but teams are being more careful with their running backs. I like his ratio of 63 touchdowns in 84 games.

Barber has a career high of 248 touches in a season. He has 33 touchdowns in 45 career games, although 28 of those happened in the last two years. Touchdowns are hard to predict. I like cold, hard carries, especially when we get a point for every ten of ’em. It’s hard to imagine Barber living up to his current ADP of around seven. I think he’s getting a bit too much love due to the high TD rate and his ascension to starter. The guy’s only started two games in his career and he shared carries at the University of Minnesota with Laurence Maroney. If a player’s ranked at or above his top fantasy rating, watch out. In the AUFL I’d take him as the 15th overall RB which would be good value.

Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t as hyped as last year, when I stupidly took him over Brian Westbrook and Adrian Peterson. He “only” had ten touchdowns after scoring 16 as a rookie. Fred Taylor is still the starter and has finally shed his fragile label. In the past two years Taylor has averaged 5 and 5.4 yards per carry. MJD finished 15th last year in the AUFL. Odds are good that Taylor won’t be able to hold up for 200 carries. In that case, Greg Jones might get more carries. I feel more confident knowing that Marion Barber will be The Man in Dallas, while MJD will be a nice prize for the guy picking fourth.

The players I’m most interested in ranking are the rookies. Last year it was Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, and a bucket of crap. This year there are half a dozen guys who might be RB2. McFadden is a first-rounder for sure, especially with Adrian Peterson’s success. Jonathan Stewart is a possibility. I think that some owner might reach for Matt Forte or Kevin Smith in the first. I’m hoping that one of these guys is available with my early third-round pick. Rashard Mendenhall is another guy who could end up with eight or so short-yardage touchdowns. He’s going to dig into Willie Parker’s value. Other guys like Felix Jones, Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, and even Steve Slaton probably will get drafted since it’s better to go for the home run pick at the end rather than taking a boring guy like Sammy Morris.

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