Fantasy football: Two-minute (draft) drill

If you haven’t already drafted all of your teams, you’ll likely wrap everything up this weekend.

For those of you with selections to make, I’ve got some hurry-up thoughts:

Quarterbacks

Byron Leftwich was the best choice as starter in Tampa Bay. That doesn’t mean you should own any of their QBs. Take that back, pick up Josh Freeman in a deep dynasty league because you never know.

Matt Cassel scares me. He was inconsistent last year. He had a couple games in the 40s and a couple games in the single digits. Without those Patriots weapons and behind a pathetic offensive line (minus Tony Gonzalez) in 2009, you should be ecstatic if he has a game over 30 points and less than five games in the sub-10 range. His ADP is too high.

If Matt Hasselbeck releases the ball quick enough to not get blasted every play behind that rickety line, I like him to have a huge year. I feel the same way about Carson Palmer. In fact, I view them as the same quarterback this year. You can get Hasselbeck cheaper. You could get both and double your chances of winning the risk/reward lotto.

With Brandon Marshall in the lineup, consider Kyle Orton a low-end QB2 with upside. Without Brandon Marshall, he’s in QB3-QB4 territory.

There’s something to be said for consistency and few quarterbacks were as consistent as Jason Campbell last year. Campbell’s probably never going to get you a 300-yard game, but as injuries mount and quarterbacks are swiped off the wire, 14-17 points every week is a better play than Brodie Croyle or Luke McCown.

I’m still standing at the podium shouting David Garrard’s name. He put up starting quarterback numbers last year and both of his 2009 receivers – Torry Holt and Troy Williamson – are upgrades.

Running backs

I’m warming up to Ray Rice. I don’t expect greatness, but if you’re drafting for upside, Rice is a good option.

DeAngelo Williams is also on the rise in my opinion. Jonathan Stewart’s brittleness in the Achilles area will hamper him all season. And speaking of upside, owners of Williams and Stewart should both try to get Mike Goodson. Goodson’s been too good this preseason for the Panthers to not get him some carries.

I’ve been pushing a pick elite wide receivers agenda all draft season. LenDale White, Joseph Addai and Reggie Bush will outplay their ADPs. Later you can get players like Fred Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Leon Washington, Willis McGahee, James Davis, Bernard Scott, Glen Coffee, Chris Brown, Donald Brown and Danny Ware. These guys and guys like them (Jamaal Charles, Greg Jones, Rashad Jennings, I could go on) are not going to pile up 100-yard games or have any 4-TD performances, but snagging a handful of them should improve your chances of finding a solid RB2-RB4 rotation on a team anchored at other positions.

Coming into the draft season, one player I didn’t want on my teams is Marshawn Lynch. I’m avoiding handcuff RBs like the plague. However, Lynch is on two of my favorite fantasy teams. In both cases, I snagged Jackson, too. I’m not changing my opinion of him now, but as with any player, when Lynch becomes a value, don’t hold back.

Speaking of value, Cedric Benson’s value is an RB4 or deeper. He will not meet his ADP expectations in 2009.

On the other end of that spectrum is Felix Jones. You can and should draft him as an RB3 or RB4.

Wide receivers

I’m still behind Anthony Gonzalez, Donnie Avery and Kevin Walter, but add Chris Henry to that list. It may be preseason hype, but he’s impressing and Carson Palmer is impressed with him. He’s the No. 1 fantasy receiver in Cincinnati. Chad Ochocinco is No. 2.

Don’t be afraid to reach a little for DeSean Jackson. He’ll outplay his ADP.

Despite the Eli Manning factor, I’m taking a chance on Hakeem Nicks, a big-play receiver in the making. Steve Smith will lead the Giants in receptions, though.

Brandon Marshall’s going to get suspended for the regular season, that’s my prediction. He was going to take a hit statistically with Jay Cutler’s departure anyway, but you shouldn’t let him slip past the 8th through 10th rounds until he’s officially suspended. He’s too talented to ignore.

In the Davone Bess-Brian Hartline-Greg Camarillo argument, I’d take Bess first. He’ll be a solid addition as a WR4 in PPR leagues.

Jerricho Cotchery is overrated. But if the Jets add a wide receiver better suited to be a No. 1, Cotchery becomes a fantasy sleeper.

The Cutler to Earl Bennett connection will not be as exciting as everyone thinks.

Tight Ends

I went into some tight end discussion in my post about the Ninja Attack Plan, but there are a few others I’d like to talk about.

I suggest pairing two mid-round tight ends to get a solid option if you can’t get Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, John Carlson, Owen Daniels or Zach Miller.

If you have a solid TE1 and need to roster a backup, or waited a long time for a TE, there are a couple guys worth taking a chance on:

Bo Scaife led the Titans in receptions in 2008.

Jared Cook, also a Titan, was impressive in camp. Based on some of the stuff I’ve read he’s a star in the making. Obviously, you don’t want Scaife and Cook. Scaife if you need a starter, Cook if you want an upside sleeper.

Like Cook, JerMichael Finley is a young TE who has made an impact this preseason, particularly as a TD machine.

We’ve been waiting for Vernon Davis to get it, I read a report early in the preseason that he was starting to get it. He’s available late and worth a flier.

We don’t know what to expect from rookies Chase Coffman, Bengals, and Brandon Pettigrew, Lions, but they’re worth a late pick.

I’m reluctant to put this last bit of news on here, but I must. Todd Heap has been impressive in camp. I wasted early picks on him when he was in his “prime.” Do not draft him as a starter. He’s a late backup sleeper.

Do you have any drafts this weekend? Any last-minute advice for readers? Leave a comment.

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