Posted on: February 15, 2010 7:57 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2010 8:05 pm

Michigan boys basketball Top 10 for Week of 2/7

 Top Ten for Week of 2/7

1. Detroit Country Day
2. Romulus
3. Detroit Pershing
4. Saginaw Arthur Hill
5. Muskegon Heights
6. Lansing Eastern
7. Kalamazoo Central
8. Melvindale AB&T
9. Detroit King
10.  Petoskey

Notable victories/defeats:
Arthur Hill - Beat Muskegon Heights, Midland
Muskegon Heights - Lost to Arthur Hill, Beat Western Michigan Christian
King - Beat Det. Central
ABT - Beat Willow Run
Kzoo Central - Beat Sturgis, Lakeshore
Lansing Eastern - Beat Jackson, East Lansing
Petoskey - Beat Charlevoix and Gaylord
Country Day - Idle
Flint Powers - Beat Flint Northern, Carmen Ainsworth, Saginaw
Romulus - Beat Ford, Belleville
Pershing - Beat Denby, Kettering

There's definitely a mish-mashing of teams resting at the top of the rankings in Michigan boys basketball this week. While Country Day stays idle, they pick up an extra game against Detroit Southeastern next week . Ray McCallum is a legitimate Mr. Basketball contender along with Pershing's Keith Appling, as well as darkhorses such as Melvindale ABT's Michael Talley III.

Flint Powers is the team to keep a watch on. Two big victories could mean this team is pressing to enter for next week.

Check out MichiganPreps for the Top 10, and for some varied opinion, Stephen Bell's High School Basketball Bulletin is also a great read.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 1, 2010 12:47 am

What does it take to be No. 1?

Most Michigan prep basketball pundits have are getting their rankings out for the Top 10 this week about this time, and I have some qualms after seeing the moving and shaking that's gone on after submitting my ballot of votes.

Is Muskegon Heights the best team in the state? Well, I haven't seen any rankings where they're below Detroit Country Day, which is foolish to me. There are some good wins, but is it really enough to push them ahead of a Kurt Keener's squad, who loses to Kalamazoo Central without their star center Amir Williams? I don't think so. Let's see these teams go H2H in the Class B playoffs and see who emerges. I'd put my lunch money on No. 3 Ray McCallum and his boys.

Speaking of Kalamazoo Central, are they really Top 5 material? Look, beating Country Day without their own star Devin Oliver, a Dayton commit and our No. 8 player in the state, was impressive. I'm just not sure what else warrants such a high ranking. They've lost to Saginaw (and Arthur Hill if I'm not mistaken).

As for props, they've got to go out to Lansing Eastern, who take out crosstown rival Lansing Sexton AND Holt, who I had the No. 6 team in the state last week. LaDonte Henton (Central Michigan) anchors them in the middle, but the big story is PG "Cha Cha" Tucker, who is undoubtedly one of the top two or three freshmen in the state. He's going to be a fun one to watch for the next four years, and I have a feeling Tom Izzo and John Beilein will both take a crack at him at some point.

The game ball of the week, though, has to go out to Saginaw and more specificly Tommie McCune. They take out Romulus in OT, and he puts up a simply ridiculous double-double with 28 points and 24 rebounds. Wow.

That said, who've you got at No. 1?

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 1, 2010 12:41 am

Michigan's top boys basketball team wins again

With only one home game remaining on the schedule, Kurt Keener's squad gave the home crowd a good show.

Still missing the services of center Amir Williams (No. 52 on Rivals 150 of 2011), No. 1 Detroit Country Day dominated rival Orchard Lake St. Mary's 73-50 Friday night to win the Voorheis Trophy, annually awarded to the winner.

The Yellowjackets got solid production out of their guards, with senior guard Ray McCallum (No. 60 Rivals 150 of 2010) leading with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and junior Lee Bailey posting 17 points.

"This is a big game for Lee," McCallum said. "He brought his game and did what he had to do, definitely knocked down a lot of big-time shots."

Bailey helped Country Day dominate right out of the gate, scoring the first nine of their 11 points of the game.

"It means a lot because since we're an independent school we really don't have a leading rival, so this is one of the teams that we play year in and year out," Bailey said. "We just try to come out and play hard and get that trophy back this year."

Leading by 25 points at roughly the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, Keener pulled his stars for the remainder of the game and still got solid production from his reserves. It was a lead in large part thanks to a dominating effort by the Yellowjackets on the boards, collecting 44 total rebounds.

"It was far and away our best offensive rebounding effort of the season," Keener said. "In the last two games we were trounced on the boards, so that became a point of emphasis that we wanted to win the battle of the boards, particularly on the offensive end. Jason Ray is kind of an undersized power forward, and he did a heckuva job, but all of our guys did and I was really pleased with that."

Ray, a 6'3" senior, was able to elbow his way into the post for some buckets as well, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He played a key factor with Country Day missing two of its other tallest players, 6'4" senior Kenny Knight and 6'5" senior Carter Elliot.

It was somewhat of an off-game for McCallum in terms of long-range shooting, as he drained just 1-of-6 3-point attempts. He still made his presence felt, scoring the last six points of the first half to lead the Yellowjackets into the locker room with a 38-17 lead.

The Eaglets were paced by junior guard Allen Robinson, who led the team with 23 points, along with senior guard Evan Webster who scored 11. St. Mary's was hurt by subpar free throw shooting, only hitting 50 percent on 11-of-12 attempts.

Country Day will face an unrivaled test next Saturday, travelling to a neutral site of Saginaw to take on the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, Columbus Northland of Ohio.
"No one thinks we're going to beat this team," McCallum said. "We're going to come out and try to shock the nation and make a statement."

Keener said that Williams is expected to return from injury to face Columbus Northland and center Jared Sullinger, the No. 3 player in the country.

"We're just trying to be really conservative with it. He didn't need any surgery, but it was a slight tear of the meniscus. He's been doing all of his weightlifting and cardio, and he's dying to get back in there. I told him if we have any chance next Saturday, he's got to be there," Keener said.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 10, 2009 6:23 pm

Extra Innings: A look back and ahead on the Tiger

People in Detroit are bitter, and I've seen some other viewpoints I'm obviously not going to point out that are overly-critical and downright bitter towards Tigers management. That's not the point of this exercise.

What I want to do is look at not particularly how this collapsed happened directly, but how this team landed here, and where it's going.

Alright, so the pre-season. We have some good things that happened. Let's look at them:

  • SS Edgar Renteria - Didn't pick up his option, and the buyout on his contract was $3 million (option $12 million). Pretty obvious. Well he batted .250 with the Giants , and no one is surprised.
  • Catcher Gerald Laird is signed as a free agent. You look at his batting average and can't quantify his worth. The guys at will tell you that his value compared to the average MLB catcher is +2.5 wins per game. It all comes from his defense, not the offense. The ability to block balls, etc. If you've watched, you know why.
  • Rick Knapp is hired as pitching coach. Clearly one of the biggest free-agent acquisitions of the year, no? He turns a new pitcher into an ace, and helps court a rookie into a very productive first season. These two guys help carry the load and are the wild-card in a team that lacked stability in the starting rotation going into Spring Training.
  • In December, OF Matt Joyce is moved to Tampa Bay for Edwin Jackson . Clearly, the most important move of the season. No Jackson, and the Tigers are a sub-.500 team. 12-7 record isn't even reflective of his impact.
  • In January, Tigers sign Fu-Te Ni to a minor-league contract.
  • Later in the month, Brandon Lyon is signed to $4.25 million deal.

Alright, so those are five real positive moves, albeit one real obvious ones. Now, the bad (or not so good):

  • The Tigers signed Adam Everett to a 1-year, $1 million contract. You could argue that this one could go in the neutral pile, but the fact is that Everett was not what the Tigers had hoped for. His value is in his range. It's still better than most. But he made more errors (or a pace for errors over a full season) than in his whole career, and his UZR (fielding rating that encompasses everything) was far lower than in the past. The range is fine, but when you're providing barely above average offense on top of nearly nothing at the plate, it's a hole in the lineup.
  • The Tigers released Gary Sheffield , who regardless is owed $14 million over the 2009 season. The Tigers claimed the move was made for flexibility reasons. Well, no one could have predicted have Sheffield would fair with injuries, but let's compare Sheffield with Thames:
Thames: 258 ABs, .252/.323/.453
Sheffield: 268 ABs, .276/.372/.451

There's no reason why Sheffield couldn't have been kept around. He not only hit for a better average than Thames, but he walks more, and he struck out far less than Thames. Oh yeah, and you're already paying him, so why not?


Alright, so we all know by now that payroll doesn't always equate to success. But it should if you spend your money smart, it should. At $115 million, the Tigers payroll clocked in at fifth overall amongst MLB teams. To put that into perspective, another $15 million and you've got double the Twins payroll. Easier said than done, but something to keep in mind.

To me, the starting rotation is nearly a scratch. Tigers management figured they had a middle-rotation starter in Armando Galarraga . In my fantasy projections, I had him pegged as far more safe and valuable than Edwin Jackson, if that tells you what a role-reversal they faced. Essentially, the whole equation looks something like -3 (Bonderman, Galarraga and Willis) +2 1/2 (Jackson and Porcello, and Jarrod Washburn 's corpse).

Bonderman's extension after the 2006 season was a little excessive at $12 million, but his extension is by no means an obvious blunder in the way that Willis extension ($10 million this year) was. It didn't make sense, period. Just way too much money for a wild-card. Having $22 million in pitchers that didn't really figure into the equation doesn't help. He shouldn't have been given that many years, but even if it were little more than half of that, maybe the Tigers can take on more payroll in adding depth to their rotation. Someone like Jair Jurrjens could have provided that kind of depth, but that's a mistake that's already been well-documented.

Ultimately, it just took too long to piece this offense together. As a Royals fan first and a Tigers fan second, going to Comerica Park several weeks ago and seeing the Royals, missing some of their perceived-preseason batters injured or missing from the lineup, with a lineup of comparable batting averages to the Tigers, is alarming. The Brandon Inge who was hitting for such a high average was an anomaly, and although the resurrection of Magglio Ordonez made this a little less disturbing,  the low batting average and lack of batters that take a significant amount of walks. They were in the bottom-half of the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, and finished last in the league in stolen bases.

The pitching was pretty good for the most part. Brandon Lyon really struggled for one reason or another, potentially due to switching leagues, and got thrown under the bus by fans, but he turned in one of the better seasons. Jarrod Washburn, going from one of the best pitchers parks in the league to the Tigers, was a failed experiment, and although it was a low-risk gamble giving up French, that's why he came so cheap; this just didn't pay off. Zach Miner , in his few starts, was abysmal. Most of the guys who piled up starts not named Verlander, Jackson or Porcello were just porous in general, which made a big difference.

Fielding is always hard to measure, but the team looked like it was above average in defense. In terms of errors, Detroit was in the upper-half of the American League. Where they really excelled was on the mound, and behind the plate. The Tigers ranked right at the top in pick-offs, and were second best in SB allowed and runners caught stealing. Credit Gerald Laird there.

You have to blame management, though, in giving Jim Leyland this lineup to work with. You can't turn a handful of offensive pumpkins into sparkling carriages. It's too easy when pitchers have Brandon Inge, Gerald Laird and Adam Everett as a 1-2-3 at the end of the lineup, and a .250 average from your lead-off hitter.

So now here we are, no playoffs to show for it. Where does this leave 2010?

Just this month, the Tigers already made one of their biggest gambles for next year by bringing back Magglio Ordonez. The option costs them $15 million more than a buyout would. So instead of necessarily a $18 million contract, you have to say, is Ordonez worth $15 million next year? The White Sox essentially got OF Alex Rios as a present from Toronto. His stance looked like a reason for his decline at the plate, and his defense was sub-par, but in general Rios provides a good mix of power and speed, and in the past has been an excellent defender. He's overpriced, but actually a much better value than someone like Ordonez over the next five years.

The lineup looks like it's going to be fairly similar again next year. The Tigers are going to promote prospects into the middle infield, and that's going to go a long way in determining how the bottom half of the lineup looks. SS Cale Iorg has the name, but as of now, he's not looking like the top prospect that he's made out to be, so shortstop might not be a position that gets upgraded. Unless an unexpected prospect progresses in Spring Training, the lack of overwhelming power probably won't compensate for a lack of disruption on the base paths. It's probably going to be an average, or slightly above-average offense next year.

The pitching situation should be a little improved. Hopefully a year without any disruption from the World Baseball Classic will solve whatever problems Armando Galarraga has in getting ready for the regular season. Re-tooling Jeremy Bonderman 's repertoire is still a work in progress, and there's still some hope that a full-season healthy from Bonderman will be better than any other back-of-the-rotation starter. 

My personal hope is that the Tigers don't throw Fernando Rodney a fiscally-astronomical long-term deal. A modest two-year deal would probably be good to prove that Rodney can sustain good production.  Bringing back Brandon Lyon as insurance in the setup role isn't a bad idea, either. Ryan Perry may progress with another year under his belt, and there's no reason not to hope he can't be a good solution for long-term closer.

After a rough ending, it's tough to swallow, but for Tigers fans 2010 may not be significantly better than this year. Some trades worked out great and some haven't, but the fact is that organizational help in the minors isn't exactly at an all-time high. Another reason not to poor moor money into the bullpen is that the organization is drafting fairly well in terms of relief arms, which is the strength of the farm system.

Like this year, I'm still predicting that the White Sox are the favorites for 2010, particularly with the addition of Jake Peavy . Where the Indians fit is yet to be seen, but the Royals are going to continue to improve, and the Twins lose nothing and will likely improve next year. More breakouts are probably necessary for the team to make the playoffs. It's going to depend on how much money is spent this off-season, too.

How much money is spent off this off-season and the next going into 2011 will depend on the Tigers playoff outlook over the next few years.The Tigers are fortunate to have a good nucleus at the front of their rotation, and should have ample arms in the bullpen. With a number of dead-weight salaries coming off of the books this year, and then again in 2010, the Tigers can spend wisely and add some major pieces if they maintain this payroll to push to be a 100-win team in the Central. If they don't spend for the upcoming season, I'm tempering my enthusiasm to a second-place finish, and perhaps taking the division in 2011.

Posted on: September 21, 2009 9:08 pm

Quick Hits from Sunday

You want to know the most overrated content on fantasy websites?

Projections. For the most part, utterly useless.

We're talking about a computer system spitting out numbers here, and even if they're calculated, they're flawed for a reason that most casual fantasy players don't even realize. What's the difference between your typical No. 1 and No. 3 wide receivers? Well, sure, Steve Smith probably catches 20 or 30 more ypg than Donald Driver, but he's going to score a lot too if Jake Delhomme comes out of his coma. But what probabilities does RoboProjector use when forecasting scoring? I doubt it's analyzing matchups with opposing cornerbacks and changing philosophies, things that make the difference between the guy that the computer projects to score and the player it doesn't.

Use your own analysis, use ours, or use the rankings from reliable websites. What matters is catches, targets and matchups. Those are what truly forecast scoring, and ultimately, who falls in where as far as the best players from week to week.


  • Every week we stare at the screen like cavemen trying to make lineup decisions for the most effective scoring, and then agonize over the choices all Sunday long. Being fortunate enough to have good options at my flex this week, here's a step-by-step process of choosing and ranking Mike Bell, Derrick Ward, Nate Burleson and Eddie Royal, all guys who I feel are serviceable No. 2 RBs or WRs this week. (Note that I may be eating crow as I actually write this seeing how Bell already has 40 total yards in the 1st Quarter.)
  1. Derrick Ward - This is the guy sharing the most touches of any of these guys, so why choose him? Sure, Cadillac Williams looked real good last week. But money makes the world go round, and these things matter in football. The Bucs just gave him lots of Benjamins, and all for good reasons I've said before; he fits the zone-blocking system well, he can catch passes, etc. Fact is, all those things are still true, and he got several goal-line opportunities last week. Couple that with the fact that the Bills run defense is going to be hampered heavily by the loss of Paul Posluszny, who is a tackling machine. Eighty total yards with a good chance of scoring seems pretty good.
  2. Nate Burleson - Almost any ranking system you find will have this guy at the bottom of the four. I'm not buying it. Burleson got 11 targets last week to Houshmandzadeh's nine. I'm not saying that's going to always be the case all the time, but I wrote in my Fantasy Filmroom column that Hasselback noted his improvement over the off-season. His problem has never been production, it's been staying healthy. Five or six catches for 75 yards and a score looks good against the Niners seems reasonable.
  3. Mike Bell - This was a dicey situation for owners to approach this week. What was coming out of the Saints' mouths wasn't necessarily what seemed to be the likely scenario come Sunday. Then come kickoff time, the Saints activate Pierre Thomas. I feel sorry for Thomas owners who didn't look closer into this situation, because looking around, he's in some lineups due to that news, and was only activated for emergency duty more than likely. Bell is carrying the load and gets goal line carries. Sixty or seventy yards could be grinded out against the Philly defense, but chances of scoring are going to be tough. (Note: As I was finishing this, Bell scores. Insert crow in mouth.)
  4. Eddie Royal - Is the Cincinnati defense suddenly the Steel Curtain, or did Kyle Orton look real rough out there in the Broncos miracle last week? I'm going more with the latter. Still, I think that improves against a forgiving Browns defense. Marshall is probably back up to speed, so Royal becomes a No. option again. If Orton rebounds this week and shows he can run the offense smoothly I feel better about Royal.
  • Chris Johnson, meanwhile, is having what is going to be one of the best fantasy games of the year. 280 yards helped by three TDs. If you have him in leagues that award bonuses you probably are winning this week even if you're starting Michael Vick and Travis Henry (non-jail leagues). It's the third quarter in a close game and he's got 50 points? Wow. I ranked Johnson No. 5 overall behind LT, but ahead of S-Jax and Michael Turner. Maybe No. 4 overall wasn't so bad, and I'm not just talking this week; his metrics for his runs were excellent for last season. It's going to be fun watching him this year.
  • Chad OchoCinco is definitely going to be making defenses "kiss the baby" this year. Anyone who watched Hard Knocks got the impression that Chad looked healthy and was serious about rebounding. No one questions this guy's heart, if anything. 1,200+ yards along with eight touchdowns looks like at least a good bet with a healthy Carson Palmer, who could also turn out to be a good steal.
  • As Matt Stafford throws into the heart of the Vikings defense for another INT, credit the Jets coaching for playing into the strengths of Mark Sanchez, who's looked great so far today. He's made throws down the field when he takes chances, but they've played it smart. The Meadowlands is incredibly loud, and it's been giving the Patriots problems on the other side of the ball. It's like NCAA Football a few years ago where your controller shakes and your receivers look confused like they've just seen Lady Gaga at the VMAs. Tom Brady is really missing Wes Welker today, and the Jets are throwing great blitz packages. The timing of the Patriots offense is off, and Darrelle Revis has been all over Randy Moss today, who can't get any separation.
Category: Fantasy Football
Posted on: September 16, 2009 5:02 pm

UFC Fight Night 19 Picks: Excited?!?

I want to emphasize that if Dennis Miller, George Carlin and Greg Giraldo had a sarcasm stew, it couldn't match the level of the "Excited?!?" in the headline.

Predictably, Dana White knows that this season of the Ultimate Fighter needed a lead-in event, but already had enough publicity going that he didn't have to put too many of his big chips into this one for it to draw. Just a quick explanation, for anyone who needed such.

I do think, however, that we're going to see very few decisions. In fact, I picked NONE. Lots of guys who like to finish, by ground or by hands, and a lot of guys that are, well, just not so talented as their opponent.  Few will have look as overmatched since Jake Delhomme last sunday.

Onto the picks:

Main Event: Nate Diaz v. Melvin Guillard
Winner: Nate Diaz Submission (Choke)

Gray Maynard v. Roger Huerta
Winner: Roger Huerta Technical Knock Out

Nate Quarry v. Tim Credeur
Winner: Nate Quarry Technical Knock Out

Steve Cantwell v. Brian Stann
Winner: Steve Cantwell Technical Knock Out

Chris Wilson v. Mike Pyle
Winner: Mike Pyle Submission (Choke)

Jeremy Stephens v. Justin Buchholz
Winner: Jeremy Stephens Technical Knock Out

Ryan Jensen v. Steve Steinbeiss
Winner: Ryan Jensen Technical Knock Out

Brock Larson v. Mike Pierce
Winner: Brock Larson Submission (Choke)

Carlos Condit v. Jake Ellenberger
Winner: Carlos Condit Submission (Choke)

CB Dollaway v. Jay Silva
Winner: Jay Silva Technical Knock Out

Silva and Huerta are Vegas underdogs. I think C.B. Dollaway is still a talent, and might end up being a decent contender in another year or two, but Silva has legitimate knockout power, and I say he surprised Dollaway. This may be Huerta's last go in the UFC before his quest for red carpet stardom, but I don't see Maynard going the distance before he ends it. So far in 2009, my record stands at 8 0-39 (67%), so this event could be boom or bust in trying to improve my target of 70%. I like Cantwell vs. Stann III to provide excitement, and I still believe Carlos Condit is a great fighter to watch, but I doubt we see him on TV tonight. Enjoy your slice of excitement tonight, pun intended.

Posted on: September 11, 2009 9:26 pm

Week 1 Fantasy Football Rankings

With getting out my 2009 overall fantasy football rankings on here and amongst other places, I'm a little late admittedly on these. I'm omitting players from last night's Steelers-Titans defensive battle. It was a tough blow overall for Steelers fans and owners of their defense losing Troy Polamalu for 3-6 weeks. The guy was everywhere on the field last night, covering Bo Scaife or making plays in the secondary. Willie Parker looked downright awful as well, and I might have been overrating him in moving him up in my rankings at the last minute upon word that he would get the majority of carries. Maybe it's just the hamstring still recovering, we'll see next week.


  1. Drew Brees vs. DET
  2. Tom Brady vs. BUF
  3. Payton Manning vs. JAC
  4. Aaron Rodgers vs. CHI
  5. Kurt Warner vs. SF
  6. Donovan McNabb @CAR
  7. Matt Schaub vs. NYJ
  8. Tony Romo @TB
  9. Matt Hasselback vs. STL
  10. Philip Rivers @OAK
  11. Carson Palmer vs. DEN
  12. Matt Ryan vs. MIA
  13. Jay Cutler @GB
  14. Joe Flacco vs. KC
  15. Kyle Orton @CIN
  16. David Garrard @ IND
  17. Chad Pennington @ATL
  18. Shaun Hill @ARI
  19. Jake Delhomme vs. PHI
  20. Brett Favre @ CLE
  • One discrepency between my rankings and a lot of others you'll see is having Rivers barely in the top 10; I've seen him as high as No. 4 some places. The Raiders actually finished 10th in YPGa, but allowed hoards of points. I think those points come on the ground, not in the air. San Diego will try to pound the rock with Tomlinson and Sproles more than the pass, so I wouldn't expect much more than 200 yards from Rivers.
  • I'm sure the Dolphins will see a heavy dose of Michael Turner Sunday, but I'm betting that the playbook opens up and Matt Ryan will "do work" against the Dolphins secondary, in which two of their top three corners are rookies.
  • Don't overrate Brett Favre in his return, especially against an underrated Browns secondary. The Vikings would be smart to play conservative all day, no pun intended, with a Cleveland team that is good at mixing up coverages and creating turnovers. However many touchdowns Favre throws, I say he throws that many INTs as well.

Running Backs

  1. Adrian Peterson @ CLE
  2. LaDanian Tomlinson @OAK
  3. Maurice Jones-Drew @IND
  4. Matt Forte vs. @GB
  5. Steven Jackson @SEA
  6. DeAngelo Williams vs. PHI
  7. Michael Turner vs. MIA
  8. Frank Gore @ARI
  9. DeAngelo Williams vs. PHI
  10. Brian Westbrook @CAR
  11. Steve Slaton vs. NYJ
  12. Brandon Jacobs vs. WAS
  13. Ray Rice vs. KC
  14. Marion Barber vs. @TB
  15. Cedric Benson vs. DEN
  16. Kevin Smith vs. NO
  17. Ryan Grant vs. CHI
  18. Clinton Portis @NYG
  19. Ronnie Brown @ATL
  20. Thomas Jones @HOU
  21. Julius Jones vs. STL
  22. Fred Jackson @NE
  23. Darren McFadden vs. SD
  24. Knowshon Moreno @CIN
  25. Mike Bell @DET
  26. Joseph Addai vs. JAC
  27. Reggie Bush @DET
  28. Chris Wells vs. SF
  29. Donald Brown vs. JAC
  30. Derrick Ward vs. DAL
  31. Cadillac Williams vs. DAL
  32. Leon Washington @HOU
  33. Felix Jones @TB
  34. Peyton Hillis @CIN
  35. Le'Ron McClain vs. KC
  36. Tim Hightower vs. SF
  • Sticking with my overall 2009 rankings, appropriately the top four running backs in those are at the top of this list. Jones-Drew draws possibly the toughest matchup, but history has shown he's had big games against the Colts, so don't be scared away. 
  • I'm weary of some of the time-shares that guys like Slaton and Barber will face. News that Chris Brown will steal carries in Houston tempers by enthusiasm for Slaton slightly. I like Felix Jones to get involved as well, but the Bucs defensive tackles(see: Ryan Sims, failure in Kansas City) and even linebackers are no match for a wrecking machine like MBIII. After we see what kind of splits occur in Week 1, going forward with these running back situations will be much easier for owners.
  • I've seen Thomas Jones higher and lower, and not saying that the Texans are stalwarts against the Run, but Leon Washington will steal his fire and be a safety valve for Sanchez in the passing game. Does he break 100 yards, maybe, I'm not conviced of a score though. I feel like Jones and the next three or four guys below him are fairly interchangable in value this week.
  • For a guy that went undrafted in nearly all leagues, Mike Bell is a great sleeper value for Week 1, and I'm buying in him having more value than Reggie Bush in leagues that don't factor returns. How does 15-20 carries, including goal line chances, along with one or two TD upside sound? I'm starting him over Brandon Marshall, Josh Morgan and Derrick Ward for reference in one league.
  • Speaking of Ward, I'm still buying him as the best bet at running back for the Bucs this week, and the rest of the year. He led the league last year in YPC-average, and can catch passes. Not only that, but he fits the zone-blocking scheme in Tampa. Maybe because I invested so much in him myself I'm getting behind him, but the guy had over 1,400 total yards last year. OK, I'm done.

Wide Receivers

  1. Larry Fitzgerald vs. SF
  2. Calvin Johnson @NO
  3. Randy Moss vs. BUF
  4. Marques Colston vs. DET
  5. Andre Johnson vs. NYJ
  6. Roddie White vs. MIA
  7. Reggie Wayne vs. JAC
  8. Greg Jennings vs. CHI
  9. Steve Smith vs. PHI
  10. Anquan Boldin vs. SF (if playing)
  11. Chad OchoCinco vs. DEN
  12. Wes Welker vs. BUF
  13. Eddie Royal @CIN
  14. T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. STL
  15. Vincent Jackson @OAK
  16. Anthony Gonzalez vs. JAC
  17. Dwayne Bowe @BAL
  18. Terrell Owens @NE
  19. DeSean Jackson @CAR
  20. Antonio Bryant vs. DAL
  21. Jerricho Cotchery @HOU
  22. Roy Williams @TB
  23. Derrick Mason vs. KC
  24. Braylon Edwards vs. MIN
  25. Lance Moore vs. DET
  26. Kevin Walter (if playing)
  27. Donald Driver vs. CHI
  28. Brandon Marshall @CIN
  29. Devin Hester @GB
  30. Santana Moss @NYG
  31. Lee Evans @NE
  32. Josh Morgan @ARI
  33. Donnie Avery @SEA
  34. Ted Ginn Jr. @ATL
  35. Laveraneus Coles vs. DEN
  36. Chris Henry vs. DEN
  • Johnson is going to see an astronomical amount of targets against the Saints. I ranked Fitzgerald and Johnson No. 1 and 2, respectively, on the year, but Johnson is all he's been advertised and better. I had a chance to see him in two-a-days, and this guy plays with DBs like you played with G.I. Joes as a kid. On the other side of the ball, Colston is ahead of Johnson. Why? Against the Lions last year, 99 yards, and two touchdowns. Why not again is the better question.
  • I like the top 13 this week all as strong bets to either top 100 yards, or score multiple times. And yes, by reflection of my rankings, you should see that I'm predicting a bounce-back year by Chad "don't call me Johnson" OchoCinco. If you think otherwise, child please.
  • What's the concern about Matt Cassel playing or not for Bowe owners? Bowe put up roughly 1,000 yards and five TDs in 2007 when Brodie Croyle played a majority of games. He's going to see plenty of looks no matter who's under center. 
  • If Walter plays, he draws a good matchup. Other questionables? Bernard Berrian has been dealing with a hamstring issue as well, but I'm more skeptical there. That's tough for owners who drafted him as a low No. 2 or high No. 3, but he's better left out of lineups this week either way, so I'd make other plans.

Tight Ends

  1. Antonio Gates @OAK
  2. Jason Witten @TB
  3. Dallas Clark vs. JAC
  4. Greg Olsen @GB
  5. Tony Gonzalez vs. MIA
  6. Owen Daniels vs. NYJ
  7. Chris Cooley @NYG
  8. Zach Miller vs. SD
  9. Dustin Keller @HOU
  10. John Carlson vs. STL
  11. Jeremy Shockey vs. DET
  12. Kellen Winslow vs. DAL
  • Maybe not every week, but based on the matchups, I wouldn't have a problem starting any of these guys this week. Of their particular assignments they draw on defense, I like Witten, Olsen, Miller and Carlson best. Clark had great numbers against the Jaguars last year, as well.


  1. Baltimore Ravens vs. KC
  2. Minnesota Vikings @CLE
  3. New York Giants vs. WAS
  4. Dallas Cowboys @TB
  5. San Diego Chargers @OAK
  6. Philadelphia Eagles @CAR
  7. New Orleans Saints vs. DET
  8. New England Patriots vs. BUF
  9. Green Bay Packers vs. CHI
  10. Seattle Seahawks vs. STL
  11. New York Jets @HOU
  12. Indianapolis Colts vs. JAC
  • The Ravens, Vikings, Giants and Cowboys will all feast with sacks on their opposing offenses, and the Eagles, even without the late Jim Johnson, will throw blitzes at Jake Delhomme.
  • The Saints are a great sleeper defense this week, especially with DE's Charles Grant and Will Smith not being suspended. They'll be like Jaws when they close in on Matt Stafford and a typically mediocre Lions offensive line.
  • I'd like to be starting one of the top 10 listed above this week. The Jets and the Colts face teams that will give them problems, even.
Whether I rank kickers or not in the future is TBA, but I'll be attending the Notre Dame/Michigan game in Ann Arbor tomorrow afternoon, so they're getting cut this time. Enjoy, and discussion is always welcome.
Posted on: September 10, 2009 5:41 am

The Royalty of Roto 2009 Fantasy Football Ranks

I anticipated on getting these out position-by-position, but with other drafts and preparing other content, this is all of it. Included below are the quarterback rankings and notes from the previous post.

As noted before, a + indicates that a player is both preferred and anticipated to be a good value for his current draft position, and coversely so with a - sign.


  1. Drew Brees (+)
  2. Tom Brady (+)
  3. Peyton Manning
  4. Aaron Rodgers (+)
  5. Tony Romo
  6. Donovan McNabb
  7. Kurt Warner
  8. Matt Schaub (+)
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Matt Ryan (+)
  11. Carson Palmer
  12. David Garrard (+)
  13. Ben Roethlisberger
  14. Jay Cutler
  15. Joe Flacco
  16. Matt Hasselback
  17. Matt Cassel
  18. Trent Edwards (Last of good No. 2’s – GET BACKUP BEFORE HERE)
  19. Brett Favre
  20. Shaun Hill
  21. Jason Campbell


  • Why 21? Well first of all I'm assuming a size of 12 owners in a league (and have always felt 10 is too few). Personally, I feel like Trent Edwards is the end of the last tier of backup quarterbacks I would prefer to own, but anything after these 21 certainly I won't own on any team of that many owners or fewer.
  • You're not going to find me taking Drew Brees or Tom Brady until about 18-20 players go off the board, and I don't think you should either. The "Fantastic Four" at wide receiver this year and a group of about a dozen running backs should go first before you reach for either of the gunslingers. I landed Brady with the 25th overall pick, or the first pick of the third round in one of my leagues, and if you get him there it's great value.
  • I'd say the top nine on my rankings, and throw in Cutler or maybe Palmer, are going in the early-to-mid rounds, and then there's a pretty steep drop off while teams establish depth. Pairing a couple of the guys that come after Rivers, who I believe to be overrated by some rankings this year, isn't a bad idea either.

Running Back

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. Maurice-Jones Drew
  3. Matt Forte
  4. LaDanian Tomlinson (+)
  5. Chris Johnson
  6. Steven Jackson
  7. Michael Turner
  8. Steve Slaton (+)
  9. DeAngelo Williams
  10. Frank Gore
  11. Brandon Jacobs
  12. Clinton Portis
  13. Brian Westbrook
  14. Marion Barber III
  15. Pierre Thomas (+)
  16. Kevin Smith (+)
  17. Ryan Grant (+)
  18. Ronnie Brown (+)
  19. Darren McFadden
  20. Marshawn Lynch
  21. Ray Rice (+)
  22. Willie Parker (+)
  23. Derrick Ward  
  24. Thomas Jones
  25. Cedric Benson
  26. Jonathan Stewart
  27. Ahmad Bradshaw (+)
  28. Knowshon Moreno
  29. Chris Wells (+)
  30. Joseph Addai
  31. Donald Brown (+)
  32. Larry Johnson
  33. Reggie Bush
  34. Felix Jones
  35. Fred Jackson
  36. LenDale White
  37. Julius Jones
  38. Laurence Maroney
  39. Jamal Lewis
  40. LeSean McCoy (+)
  41. Fred Taylor
  42. Darren Sproles
  43. Chester Taylor
  44. Cadillac Williams
  45. Willis McGahee (-)
  46. Sammy Morris
  47. Rashard Mendenhall
  48. Shonn Greene
  49. Ricky Williams
  50. Leon Washington


  • These rankings have seen several revisions before now throughout training camp and the pre-season. Recent risers include Willie Parker, and although he never rose in my rankings already being ranked fairly high, Ray Rice has picked up a good deal of hype. The big drop has been Derrick Ward, the unfortunate result of the three-headed "monster" Coach Morris plans on using in Tampa Bay.
  • DeAngelo Williams is the end of the sure things at the running back position. I'm taking a wide receiver at this point in drafts at No. 10 overall. In 10-team leagues, this means you might have the option of going with a one-two of Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson, or pairing one of the two with Frank Gore. Personally I'm not a Gore fan this year, so I would hope one of the top nine drop. In a 12-team league you're not so lucky. Therefore, I'm convinced that anything but the No. 10-12 slots are fine to draft in this year in 12-team leagues.
  • In 12-team leagues, someone is going to be starting those 20-24 guys as their No. 2 back, but if I'm not stacked at WR or have a top option at QB, my strong No. 2's stop at No. 17 with Ryan Grant. Sure, every player has some questions, but some more than others after that point. If not, I want to pair two players in that No. 18-25 range as my second and third running backs.


Wide Receiver

  1. Larry Fitzgerald
  2. Calvin Johnson (+)
  3. Andre Johnson (+)
  4. Randy Moss
  5. Greg Jennings
  6. Anquan Boldin (+)
  7. Steve Smith
  8. Reggie Wayne
  9. Roddy White
  10. Marques Colston (+)
  11. Brandon Marshall (+)
  12. Dwayne Bowe
  13. Wes Welker
  14. Chad OchoCinco (+)
  15. Braylon Edwards
  16. Terrell Owens
  17. Vincent Jackson (++)
  18. Bernard Berrian
  19. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  20. Roy Williams
  21. Lee Evans
  22. DeSean Jackson
  23. Eddie Royal
  24. Antonio Bryant
  25. Santana Moss
  26. Anthony Gonzalez (+)
  27. Hines Ward
  28. Santonio Holmes
  29. Kevin Walter
  30. Jerricho Cotchery
  31. Torry Holt
  32. Devin Hester
  33. Donald Driver
  34. Laveranues Coles
  35. Donnie Avery
  36. Lance Moore
  37. Derrick Mason
  38. Steve Breaston
  39. Patrick Crayton
  40. Josh Morgan


  • Up until the past week it was Marques Colston, but now Brandon Marshall seems to be the end of the clear No. 1 receivers this year. I didn't waver in sticking with Brandon Marshall as my No. 12 receiver, and with the drama in Mile High seemingly behind, he'll produce with Kyle Orton at quarterback. I grabbed him at 48th overall, or the last pick of the 4th round in a 12-team draft several weeks ago, and any other owners should be rewarded well for grabbing him at a discount when he should be going in the middle of the third round.
  • After the Fantastic 4, there's a lot of debate about the next handful of guys. Why Greg Jennings? Good quarterback, two games against Detroit, few injury concerns, and an average of 1,000+ yards and 10 TDs over the past two seasons. As far as Boldin, how he falls out of anyone's top 10 at the position befuddles my mind. Sure, he misses games, but he also averaged the most fantasy points for all wide receivers per game. Plug in a replacement receiver for those games he misses, and the value you're getting is better, period.
  • Target Vincent Jackson as a No. 2 wide receiver this year and trust me on this one. If I didn't think that the Chargers planned on pounding the rock more this year he would probably see more production, but he's finally established himself as a legit No. 1 receiver. Of the guys ranked 14-16, I'm convinced Chad "don't call me Johnson" bounces back, but the upside on the next two are high, although with unparalleled risk. Jackson, like Derrick Mason in the later rounds, isn't as sexy, but safer.

Tight End

  1. Jason Witten (+)
  2. Antonio Gates
  3. Tony Gonzalez
  4. Dallas Clark
  5. Chris Cooley (+)
  6. Owen Daniels (+)
  7. Greg Olsen (+)
  8. Dustin Keller
  9. Zach Miller
  10. John Carlson
  11. Brent Celek (+)
  12. Kellen Winslow
  • If I'm not taking Jason Witten, I'm not taking any of the top four guys. They're going much too high for the production you could be grabbing at the position. Gonzalez and Clark's touchdown numbers aren't much more predictable than the guys below them, which makes me weary of passing up a quality running back in those rounds where they're taken for one of them.
  • I'm not surprised if Cooley or Daniels is in the conversation with either of those guys above them next year, either. The yardage is there, people. Signs are pointing to these guys producing in a big way. In Washington, Moss will continue to get the long ball, but Cooley is the No. 1 red zone option through the air, much like Olsen. Daniels plays second fiddle to Andre Johnson in Texas, but there's going to be plenty of touchdowns to go around, and I'm betting he triples his touchdowns over the two he got solely against the Lions in 2008.

What about defense? The top options are pretty obvious this year with the Giants and Steelers. If you're not grabbing the best ones, I like the Jets, and I seem to be ending up with them a lot at the end of drafts. I play in several leagues where defense is weighted heavier, but in most leagues, don't reach, and by that I mean take two in the last few rounds. Chances are grabbing two with upside you're going to end up with a team that takes a step up, and you won't regret it when the guy with the Steelers defense is lacking depth later on.

Overall, I'm preaching two elite wide receivers this year, with solid depth to be found at running back, and even tight end. My magic number is now 22, as in 22 overall elite players that I want to grab before anyone else this year. That includes the killer B's at QB, the top nine backs, and the wide receivers down to Brandon Marshall. I don't advocate taking either Brady or Brees, though, until after around No. 18 overall; I think you're handicapping yourself at other positions otherwise.

With the busy schedules we have, not everyone has the time to pour over a full set of their own rankings with ample research. If you're still drafting, making trades, or preparing, hopefully this helps anyone make things easier.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or