Offseason

While I was at the beach on vacation, I didn’t pay much attention to the goings on in the NFL. I missed nothing. I did miss Donte Stallworth’s 30-day sentence for vehicular manslaughter.

One month in jail for killing someone makes one think of Mike Vick’s 23 months for fighting and killing dogs. I’ll post this story from the AJC which shows that the two cases aren’t really comparable. Stallworth probably won’t play in the NFL this year. Just in case, I picked up Mike Furrey, who I just realized plays for the receiver-poor Browns. It was just one offseason ago that I thought Stallworth might end up a Titan.

I’ve started looking into players for the upcoming 2009 fantasy season. Today I got an overview of quarterbacks. I found out interesting stats like Kurt Warner has started 16 games in three seasons of his career. In all three, he went to the Super Bowl. There was a six-season gap between 2001 and 2008. Last year he was almost undrafted in our local league. This year, he’s a keeper and probably will be the fourth QB taken in redrafts.

I’m not going to have time to fully review all positions and players before my July Masters League draft and my August keeper league draft. Since I know my draft slot in both leagues, I do know some players who I probably won’t get. With the 11th pick in the Masters League, I can guarantee that about seven to nine running backs will be out for sure. I’ll have to decide between a borderline RB1 and a top WR. If I don’t take a QB with my second pick, it’s likely that Brees, Brady, and Manning will be off the board by the time I make my third pick. Great. I don’t have to look to closely into those three. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner, Philip Rivers and Donovan McNabb will be in the next tier. I know from vast experience that you really need a stud QB to win.

One thing about Kurt Warner is that you have a good body of work to know what he’s capable of doing. If healthy, he’s throwing for 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns. You’re going to take that to the bank. Then there’s the injury situation. Kurt gets banged up because he’s as mobile as a snail. The Cardinals’ offensive line is mediocre on a good day. It’s something to think about.

It’s interesting that while Philip Rivers has led the Chargers to three straight division titles, he’s won three fewer games each year since his 14-2 mark as a first-year starter. He came off an ACL tear and led the league in yards per attempt and touchdowns. The downside is that the Chargers don’t pass that much, 25 in attempts last year. Rivers is like a baseball player who has an above-average number of batted balls that turn into hits. A better defense should help. It’s interesting that the Chargers were 20th in rushing attempts in 2008 but 7th in 2007 and 2nd in attempts in 2006. They remained 25th in pass attempts all three years. At least there’s one thing you can depend on.

While Rivers had two years to sit on the bench before starting a game, Aaron Rodgers wore the cap and clipboard for three seasons. He had 59 career pass attempts going into last year, making him the QB version of Michael Turner. Rogers finished the year with 32 total touchdowns. The Packers went 6-10, so his personal numbers kind of went under the radar. He has a deep receiving corps, perhaps the deepest in the league. If you look at Rodgers’ numbers compared to Favre’s 2007, it’s hard to tell the difference. The Packers were more pass-heavy in 2007, so I wouldn’t vote against a repeat of these numbers. Rodgers was thought to be injury-prone heading into 2008. The team felt good enough with their chances to trade Favre and have only two rookies as backups.

I wouldn’t mind having any of these three QBs as my starter. One additonal player who will be interesting to track is Donovan McNabb. McNabb was a first-round selection in our initial keeper league draft in 2001. When I traded for him and immediately passed him off like a hot potato in another deal for a draft pick in my dynasty league, I assumed that I was passing on a player in his final year or two. The Eagles recently extended McNabb’s contract, which means the short-lived Kevin Kolb experiment is over. It seems like all the Eagles did this offseason was add shiny new toys for McNabb.

We know that the Eagles love to pass, especially the short pass. They generally throw between 150 and 200 more times than they run every year. That’s good news for fantasy owners. McNabb isn’t as much of a running option but he’s a good bet for 25 touchdowns.

I think I’ve talked myself into waiting for at least the 5th round for a quarterback. I’ll have to see how the backups shake out since that’s the focus in my keeper league.

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