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I’ve had one draft and done plenty of research in the last week, enough that some players have made significant moves on my cheat sheet. The notables: DeSean Jackson went from nowhere to No. 55 among receivers with Kevin Curtis hurt. Ahman Green and Willis McGahee both dropped considerably, while I finally (it took too long, really) moved Jamal Lewis and Thomas Jones up to where they should be. Same for DeAngelo Williams. 

There are many more changes as well. I’ll be taking this cheat sheet to a pair of drafts this weekend of the PPR variety, so I’ll be able to look back on this in five months and see how smart/stupid I exactly am. Feel free to do the same 🙂

Oh, and I tried copy/paste from below into Microsoft Excel and it worked, so if you want to use this that might be an easier format to deal with it in.

 

 

 

WIDE RECEIVERS TEAM QUARTERBACKS TEAM TIGHT ENDS TEAM
Randy Moss Patriots Tom Brady Patriots Jason Witten Cowboys
Reggie Wayne Colts Peyton Manning Colts Antonio Gates Chargers
Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals Tony Romo Cowboys Kellen Winslow Browns
Terrell Owens Cowboys Drew Brees Saints Tony Gonzalez Chiefs
Braylon Edwards Browns Carson Palmer Bengals Chris Cooley Redskins
Andre Johnson Texans Derek Anderson Browns Jeremy Shockey Saints
Marques Colston Saints Ben Roethlisberger Steelers Dallas Clark Colts
T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals Philip Rivers Saints Tony Scheffler Broncos
Roy Williams Lions Matt Hasselbeck Seahawks Donald Lee Packers
Torry Holt Rams Jay Cutler Broncos Zach Miller Raiders
Steve Smith Panthers Matt Schuab Texans Heath Miller Steelers
Brandon Marshall Broncos Matt Lienart Cardinals Owen Daniels Texans
Plaxico Burress Giants Aaron Rodgers Packers Vernon Davis 49ers
Santonio Holmes Steelers Donovan McNabb Eagles Greg Olsen Bears
Wes Welker Patriots Jake Delhomme Panthers L.J. Smith Eagles
Calvin Johnson Lions Brett Favre Jets Todd Heap Ravens
Chad Johnson Bengals Marc Bulger Rams Alge Crumpler Titans
Anquan Boldin Cardinals David Garrard Jaguars Ben Watson Patriots
Greg Jennings Packers Eli Manning Giants Marcedes Lewis Jaguars
Lee Evans Bills JaMarcus Russell Raiders Ben Utecht Bengals
Marvin Harrison Colts Vince Young Titans Desmond Clark Bears
Hines Ward Steelers Jason Campbell Redskins Bubba Franks Jets
Donald Driver Packers Matt Ryan Falcons David Martin Dolphins
Chris Chambers Chargers Jon Kitna Lions Randy McMichael Rams
Roddy White Falcons Jeff Garcia Bucs Leonard Pope Cardinals
Laveranues Coles Jets Chad Pennington Dolphins John Carlson Seahawks
Vincent Jackson Chargers Kurt Warner Cardinals Daniel Graham Broncos
Dwayne Bowe Chiefs Tavaris Jackson Vikings Jeff King Panthers
Kevin Curtis Eagles Brodie Croyle Chiefs Visanthe Shiancoe Vikings
Joey Galloway Bucs Kyle Orton Bears RUNNING BACKS TEAM
Jerricho Cotchery Jets Troy Smith Ravens LaDainian Tomlinson Chargers
Reggie Brown Eagles Alex Smith 49ers Adrian Peterson Vikings
Bernard Berrian Vikings Chris Redman Falcons Brian Westbrook Eagles
Nate Burleson Seahawks Gus Frerrote Vikings Steven Jackson Rams
Anthony Gonzalez Colts Joe Flacco Ravens Joseph Addai Colts
Bobby Engram Seahawks Chad Henne Dolphins Marion Barber Cowboys
Patrick Crayton Cowboys Shaun Hill 49ers Reggie Bush Saints
Eddie Royal Broncos Rex Grossman Bears Marshawn Lynch Bills
Robert Meachem Saints DEFENSE   Frank Gore 49ers
Donte Stallworth Browns Bears   Clinton Portis Redskins
Tedd Ginn Jr. Dolphins Vikings   Larry Johnson Chiefs
D.J. Hackett Panthers Chargers   Ryan Grant Packers
Derrick Mason Ravens Giants   Jamal Lewis Browns
Devin Hester Bears Patriots   Brandon Jacobs Giants
Deion Branch Seahawks Ravens   Maurice Jones-Drew Jaguars
Jabar Gaffney Patriots Jaguars   Michael Turner Falcons
Javon Walker Raiders Packers   Darren McFadden Raiders
Jerry Porter Jaguars Cowboys   Thomas Jones Jets
Santana Moss Redskins Steelers   Laurence Maroney Patriots
Sidney Rice Vikings Raiders   DeAngelo Williams Panthers
James Jones Packers Cardinals   Rudi Johnson Bengals
James Hardy Bills Titans   LenDale White Titans
Drew Bennett Rams Bucs   Ronnie Brown Dolphins
Laurent Robinson Falcons Eagles   Edgerrin James Cardinals
DeSean Jackson Eagles Colts   Willie Parker Steelers
Malcolm Kelly Redskins Seahawks   Jonathan Stewart Panthers
Limas Sweed Steelers Broncos   Fred Taylor Jaguars
Ronald Curry Raiders Bills   Rashard Mendenhall Steelers
Isaac Bruce 49ers Texans   Kevin Smith Lions
Derek Hagan Dolphins Saints   Matt Forte Bears
Devin Thomas Redskins Lions   Selvin Young Broncos
Michael Clayton Ravens Browns   Willis McGahee Ravens
Jordy Nelson Packers Jets   Ricky Williams Dolphins
Dennis Northcutt Jaguars Chiefs   Chris Johnson Titans
Marty Booker Bears Dolphins   Maurice Morris Seahawks
Justin Gage Titans Redskins   Ray Rice Ravens
Darrell Jackson Broncos Panthers   Pierre Thomas Saints
Reggie Williams Jaguars Bengals   Steve Slaton Texans
Arnaz Battle 49ers Rams   Chester Taylor Vikings
David Patten Saints 49ers   Michael Bush Raiders
Amani Toomer Giants Falcons   Timothy Hightower Cardinals
Michael Jenkins Falcons KICKERS TEAM Brandon Jackson Packers
Bryant Johnson 49ers Stephen Gostkowski Patriots Earnest Graham Bucs
Steve Smith Giants Nick Folk Cowboys Justin Fargas Raiders
Shaun McDonald Lions Adam Vinatieri Colts Jason Wright Browns
Kevin Walter Texans Josh Brown Rams Julius Jones Seahawks
Muhsin Muhammad Panthers Shayne Graham Bengals Andre Hall Broncos
Brandon Stokley Broncos Nate Kaeding Chargers LaMont Jordan Patriots
Maurice Stovall Bucs Rob Bironas Titans Ahmad Bradshaw Giants
Nate Washington Steelers Matt Stover Ravens LaDell Betts Redskins
Craig Davis Chargers Kris Brown Texans Chris Perry Bengals
Josh Reed Bills Mason Crosby Packers Jerious Norwood Falcons
Courtney Taylor Seahawks Neil Rackers Cardinals Micahel Pittman Broncos
Keary Colbert Broncos Robbie Gould Bears Chris Brown Texans
Devard Darling Chiefs Jeff Reed Steelers Kevin Jones Bears
Andre Davis Texans Lawrence Tynes Giants Felix Jones Cowboys
Roydell Williams Titans Phil Dawson Browns Jesse Chatman Jets
Donnie Avery Rams Jason Hanson Lions Deuce McAllister Saints
Williams Franklin Chiefs Jose Scobee Jaguars Leon Washington Jets
David Tyree Giants John Kasay Panthers Ahman Green Texans
Demetrius Williams Ravens Shaun Suisham Redskins Adrian Peterson Bears
Troy Williamson Jaguars David Akers Ealges Kolby Smith Chiefs
Justin McCareins Titans Mike Nugent Jets Correll Buckhalter Eagles
Joe Horn FA Matt Bryant Bucs Dominic Rhodes Colts
Brandon Jones Titans Ryan Longwell Vikings Carnell Williams Bucs
Drew Carter Raiders Olindo Mare Seahawks Tatum Bell Lions
Devery Henderson Saints Jason Elam Falcons Sammy Morris Patriots
Ruvell Martin Packers Sebastian Janikowski Raiders Jacob Hester Chargers
Jacoby Jones Texans Matt Prater Broncos Kenny Watson Bengals
Ernest Wilford Dolphins Taylor Mehlhaff Saints Lorenzo Booker Eagles
Legedu Naanee Chargers Dan Carpenter Dolphins Fred Jackson Bills
James Thrash Redskins Rian Lindell Bills Warrick Dunn Bucs
Aundrae Allison Vikings Joe Nedney 49ers T.J. Duckett Seahawks

With the NFL Draft less than 24 hours away, it is time to take a look at the best-case scenarios for each of the running backs projected to go in the first-round. Keep in mind these are the best-case reasonable projections, so each player will go to a team close to where the established draft experts have him going in their mocks. Also, I’m not looking for the highest point a player could go. I don’t care if his best-case fantasy landing spot is the result of him falling a few spots; let his accountant worry about that.

Darren McFadden, Arkansas New York Jets – The Jets feature two things that make them a prime spot for McFadden, an improving offensive line and Thomas Jones. The latter is coming off a season which saw him score only one rushing touchdown and average 3.6 yards per carry. Jones would likely split carries with Darren if he ends up in Gotham City, but that beats landing in St. Louis or Kansas City and having to share time with Steven Jackson or Larry Johnson. Ending up in Oakland might result in more carries for McFadden, but I wouldn’t wish having to run behind that offensive line on even my worst enemy.

Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois Detroit Lions – Mendenhall would get a chance to start right away in Motown if he could beat out Tatum Bell, which wouldn’t be too difficult a task. And even if Tatum manages to hold onto the starting job in training camp, it would only be a matter of weeks until Bell cracks. The Lions don’t have much of an offensive line, but landing in Detroit would give Rashard a chance at 200 carries as a rookie.

Jonathan Stewart, Oregon Arizona Cardinals – The end of the Edgerrin James era is coming in Arizona, and the team would be very wise to select a running back to join their stable of young offensive talent. Waiting until the second round to pick up a back may be their best move, but grabbing Stewart here would be the best move for his fantasy value, especially long-term. His rookie year would be spent as Edge’s caddy, but he could be an explosive change-of-pace option in 2008 and would be the heir apparent in an offense that could yield lots of points over the next few seasons.

Felix Jones, ArkansasDallas Cowboys – There is no point in playing the “best case” game here because Jerry Jones is going to take Felix because they share both a last name and alma matter. This isn’t a bad thing, however, because Jones will see plenty of touches as the new Julius Jones in Dallas’ two-back offense. Felix should also be heavily involved in the passing game, which gives him a shot at fantasy relevance as a rookie even if he never cracks the starting lineup.

http://smoothmat.wordpress.com

VERSUS

 

So, who is the better individual to help further the entity that is auto racing?  Is it Danica Patrick or Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

 

I would like to know, so please enlighten me hillbillies…  If auto racing is a sport, do you accept the fact that a woman (Danica Patrick, who won her first race on Sunday in Japan) can be as good, if not better than a man?

 

In most other actual sports, mens and womens leagues are kept separate due to the fact that biologically men are stronger muscularly than women.

 

If you indeed believe that anyone from either gender has the ability to be the best racer in the world, do you think that genders should be mixed within other sports too?  Should the top WNBA players be given the opportunity to join the NBA?  Should women be preferred by racing leagues because of their marketability to other demographics (mainly other women that NASCAR doesn’t capture)? And if said female is considered “pretty,” it could mean that they are marketable to men for different reasons (e.g. do a google image search for Danica Patrick, and see what the first 20 pics are).  Would you be comfortable seeing a NASCAR covered in Tampax, Monistat, or Victoria’s Secret decals?  This could mean a change of everything you left-turning hicks love!

 

Or, if you believe that men are superior athletes, and becuase you still think drivers are athletes, they are therefore superior behind the wheel.  This would have you believing that Danica is just a freak of nature?  NASCAR is perfect as is, and 98% of the drivers will remain men, because men are simply better at driving.

 

So, which box would you like to get put into?  Are you in favor of making NASCAR a more feminine-influenced entity?  Or are you a sexist chauvinist pig?  This is open for discussion!

The Indians placed closer Joe Borowski on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a strained right triceps. Borowski, who somehow led the American League with 45 saves last year despite a 5.07 ERA, was on his way out the closing gig anyways. His 80 mph fastball (yes, it was a fastball) that he served up for Manny Ramirez in the ninth inning Monday night that landed in the seats sealed the deal. It was obvious that something was wrong with his arm since Borowski can usually deliver his ho-hum heater in the 88 mph range. It was also obvious, after blowing his second straight save opportunity and seeing his ERA inflate to 18.00, that “Joe Blow” was likely done closing games for the Tribe.

Indians manager Eric Wedge doesn’t exactly have thrilling solutions to replace Borowski as closer, so fantasy owners will need to take some fliers. The first guy who should be picked up and the first guy who will likely get a chance to save games for Cleveland now is Rafael Betnacourt. As a setup man, Betancourt was fantastic last year, registering 31 holds and a 1.48 ERA. But as a fill-in closer since 2003, he has been awful; he has blown 17 of 29 career save opportunities. Moreover, his stats this season include a 5.14 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. Not good.

Therefore, fantasy owners may also want to consider making a speculative pickup of Masahide Kobayashi, Jorge Julio, or Rafael Perez. All of them could get a shot at filling the Indians closer role should Betancourt’s struggles continue. Julio has 99 career saves, but in 2007 he blew all seven of the save opportunities he had for the Rockies and Marlins. I plucked Kobayashi out of the free agency pool in one of my leagues late last week just in case Borowski completely imploded. Before signing with the Indians this past winter, he averaged more than 30 saves a season over the last seven years in the Japanese Pacific League. Even though Kobayashi apparently is not first in line to replace Joe Blow, I can either use him as trade bait or hold him on my bench in case he gets a shot to save games down the line.

Some of you have wondered what happened to the greatest assemblage of creative talent since Veronica Corningstone broke up the Channel 4 News Team in San Diego. Well, wonder no more.

Here is that group, pictured at Bo Mitchell’s wedding in October of 2007. From left to right they are as follows:

Christian Peterson—A finalist for FSWA Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, Christian now works for another former Fanballer, Paul Charchian, on their new product, LeagueSafe. CP is also contributing some fantasy sports writing at Fantasy Football Champs.

John Tuvey—If you’re here, you already know 2V… you know, because, this is his site. But the vast majority of his writing can be found at The Huddle, where he serves as Senior NFL Analyst. He’s also been known from time to time to swing by Fantasy Football Champs and Fantasy Football Trader, perhaps to borrow a cup of sugar.

Bo Mitchell—The groom in this picture and the former publisher of Fanball, Bo moved to a similar role at Fantasy Football Champs, where he is slowly stockpiling former Fanball writers for a palace coup. Bo also indulges his passion for the hardball with the good folks at Inside Edge.

Anthony Maggio—Last I saw Magsh he was on the corner of Washington and 3rd holding a sign that says, “Will write for beer.” Magsh has about 17 irons in the fire, many of them sports related; since I don’t feel like updating this page every four days when he adds another paragraph to his resume, suffice it to say he’s banging a keyboard somewhere.

Jonathan Lopuch—If you’re a parent, you may need to sit down before reading this. Comfy? Pooch is going back to school to pick up a masters in education so he can help form the minds of America’s youth as a teacher. It’s an occupation that will allow him to both coach (he was the second choice to replace Tom Creen; thankfully it never came to that) and write about sports, which he is doing for Fantasy Football Champs and Fantasy Football Trader, among others.

Ted Carlson—The deciding vote in the “blue shirt vs. black shirt” battle, Ted continues to churn out quality fantasy content at Fanball.com. My severance agreement prohibits me from saying anything negative about my former employer, though I don’t know if that extends to things I could say about Ted personally. Of course, I have nothing negative to say about Ted personally, so the point is moot.

Noah Wenz—Kind of like the Fifth Beatle, Noah was the guy who made Fanball products look so gosh darn good despite our photographs being in them. He remains employed by Fanball doing that same voodoo that he does so well. So if nothing else the magazines will still look fantastic. That’s not negative, right?

Jason Powell (not pictured)—We’re pretty sure Jason was at the wedding. Maybe he was taking the picture. Maybe he was trying to talk one of the bridesmaids into a three-way. Maybe he had already left to dote on his common law girlfriend. Maybe he’s the reason Magsh is smiling. Whatever, he is back on the wrestling beat with his own wildly popular website, prowrestling.net. But he still can’t get the Crusher to leave my voice mail message for me.

Kinda brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

Believe it or not, I don’t have any say in where Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan lands in the draft. Shocking, isn’t it? But considering his talent and the needs of the teams in the top 10, it seems pretty clear to me that Ryan won’t make it past the Ravens with eighth selection. And if this fantasy owner has his druthers, that is exactly where he will end up. Let me explain.

First off, the Patriots, Rams, and Raiders have been disqualified from this discussion because they are already set at quarterback. I’m also dismissing the Chiefs because it appears they are comfortable going forward with the dynamic duo of Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard atop the depth chart. And the Jets are out because they appear dead set on having Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington battle in training camp, a decision which will likely allow them to select near the top of next year’s draft board as well.

Of the teams remaining in the top eight, Baltimore is the lesser of the evils because it is the only franchise which features both a proven running back and a 100-catch receiver already in place. Atlanta is a close second on this list because of the potential of players like Michael Tuner, Roddy White and even the seemingly forgotten Jerious Norwood; however, there are too many questions surrounding their offensive line and tight end position for me to declare them the optimal landing spot for any rookie quarterback. The Dolphins are in even worse shape, as Ronnie Brown still has to prove he’ll be healthy enough to be a factor in 2008, and unless Ted Ginn develops at a rapid pace, there is no receiver on the team that will strike fear in the heart of a major college team’s secondary.

Baltimore isn’t Ryan’s best destination just because the other options are atrocious, though. With Willis McGahee and his 1,200 rushing yards in the backfield to provide balance, Matt wouldn’t be counted on to immediately carry the offense on his broad, catholic-school educated shoulders. He will also be aided by the presence of veteran wideout Derrick Mason, who is not much of a fantasy option outside of PPR leagues but could be a big help to a rookie quarterback. Baltimore also has one of the top pass-catching tight ends (when healthy) in Todd Heap, which provides a nice security blanket for a young signal caller. The Ravens receiving corps also includes a couple of intriguing youngsters in Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams who could one day replace Mason atop the depth chart and grow up with Ryan if all goes according to plan.

Of course, even if Ryan ends up with the Ravens it will be a couple of years before fantasy owners can reasonable expect consistently solid numbers from him. But of the teams picking at the top of the draft, Baltimore offers the best chance of preventing him from having to endure a short learning curve.

The baseball season is less than a week old. Many teams haven’t even made it to the fifth starter in their rotations yet. There are still some players rehabbing down in extended spring training for cryin’ out loud. Yet some fantasy baseball owners are already starting to panic, as they are wont to do, because their team is not playing up to their expectations.

Don’t be that owner.

Of the many things I have learned in my two-plus decades of playing fantasy baseball, perhaps the most beneficial is importance of patience. I don’t get too worked up about where my team is in the standings or how most players are doing until Memorial Day. If your team is near the bottom of your league’s standings at the end of May… then you can start reaching for the panic button. Until then, relax and realize that it’s still early. Your team might be in last place in your roto league right now, but it could very well be in first place by the end of the weekend. Have some faith that the homework you did to prepare for draft day was worth the effort and don’t start second guessing yourself about every player who happens to be off to a slow start. There’s still more than 150 games left to go. If this were a fantasy football season, we’d still be in the first quarter of the first game of the season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, blah, blah, blah…

Case in point: 2006 MVP Justin Morneau. The Minnesota Twins slugger was probably the first AL first baseman selected in your fantasy draft, yet he struggled during spring training and after four regular season games he is still hitless and his owners are pulling their hair out. Chill out, people. Morneau will be fine. It’s not like he hasn’t scuffled through rough stretches at the plate before. In fact, during his aforementioned MVP campaign he batted just .208 in April.

In Morneau’s first 10 at bats this year, he struck out twice and grounded out eight times. The lack of line drives or anything resembling a fly ball was rather alarming for Morneau. He usually winds up chasing and diving after pitches when he is in a funk at the plate, often times missing wildly with his unconventional Fred-McGriff-meets-Bobby-Orr-type swing. At least he’s making some contact.

There are good signs. On Thursday, Morneau started driving the ball in the air a bit more. Sure he flew out a couple times, but hey at least one of them was a sacrifice fly, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. He’s reportedly been taking lots of extra batting practice too. And, in a sign that he hasn’t started pressing too much, he has been playing gold glove defense. He’s not taking his bad at bats out to the field on defense.

If the Morneau owner in your fantasy league is panicking, the best thing you can do is offer to take him off their hands. It’s called buying low. Of course, you might opt to wait on that trade offer until after the Twins weekend series with the Kansas City Royals, whose pitching staff just got done inexplicably mowing down the 1927 Yankees, er… the Detroit Tigers rock-star lineup. Morneau had more at bats (69) against the Royals last year than any other team, but he hit just .232 against them, with a .639 OPS, zero home runs, and only four RBI. The trends suggest his early-April lack of production could last until Monday.

Just don’t wait too long to make lowball offers on struggling fantasy studs because Morneau, like many others who are currently slumping, is just one good game away from snapping out of it.

And for those of you with Morneau, or Matt Holliday, or Alfonso Soriano, or Placido Polanco, or (insert name here), there’s no need to panic yet.

I’ve chronicled my fantasy basketball failings on this blog in the past, but with a couple news items this week I believe it is worth revisiting. First, Jermaine O’Neal returned to the Pacers’ lineup on Monday after missing 33 games thanks to his chronically injured knees. He came off the bench to add nine points, two rebounds, two assists and a block to Indy’s bottom line. Now the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Elton Brand will return to the Clippers lineup this week.

 

Too little, too late.

 

When Brand injured his Achilles tendon back in August, he would reportedly be out until at least the All-Star break. As fantasy draft season drew nigh, Brand was early in his rehab, but indications were he was on pace to have no setbacks. That left this 20-point, 10-rebound per night fantasy stud with an upside of a February return. I took the bait in a pair of leagues and paid for it dearly.

 

In the meantime, with Brand out, Ron Artest hurt and Gerald Wallace at the top of his game in January, I took the drastic move of trading Artest, Wallace and Al Harrington for Paul Pierce and Jermaine O’Neal in order to stay afloat in the playoff race while waiting on Brand. But Artest came back a week early, O’Neal went down for the count a week later, and my season was flushed down the toilet a week or two after that. Selling high on Wallace turned out to be fortuitous, but not enough to make much of a difference.

 

I give myself somewhat of a pass on the O’Neal thing simply because I was making a desperation move to stay competitive – its not a significant keeper league, so it’s not like I’m stuck with him next year. But I should be scolded about Brand for not considering all the elements prior to drafting him.

 

If the Clippers were in the Eastern Conference it might have been a different story. But as it turns out, they are on the West Coast and in the hyper-competitive Western Conference. Although it was tough to predict things being this crazy, it doesn’t take a Hubie Brown hoops IQ to figure out that L.A.’s red-headed stepchild of an NBA franchise would not be in the hunt for a playoff position. And with the current setup of the NBA draft lottery, the Clippers would likely be a month away from employing the “tank” strategy even if Brand returned by the All-Star break. Then you must take into account that if Brand is rushed back, he won’t be playing full minutes right off the bat as he reacquaints himself with teammates and gets his legs back. So in all likelihood, a best-case scenario for Brand coming into this season was maybe 2-3 weeks of prime, Brand-like production – and this would not have come during the fantasy playoffs, which is what I was hoping for in order to make a championship run.

 

There are exceptions to the rule, as Pau Gasol showed last year by returning for Memphis and having a great season. But he was back before the calendar turned – a big difference from waiting until at least the All-Star break.

 

When it comes to drafting injured players as value picks, as I had hoped to do with Brand in the middle to late rounds of my drafts, looking at the whole picture is crucial. If we’re talking about a top player on a contending team, the risk may be worth the reward. But in an instance like Brand’s this season, I should have been smart enough to realize the cons far outweighed the pros in this instance.

 

I paid for my mistake, as I was forced to jettison both injured players as the fantasy playoffs began – or in my case, the consolation bracket with a chance at earning the first overall pick next season. I was blown out in the first round, and now get to watch the final week and a half as playoff teams grabbed both O’Neal and Brand off the waiver wire in hopes of using them to get over the hump. Not a bad move for them – at my expense.

Almost draft day!

I’ve got a fantasy baseball draft each of the next two Saturdays and couldn’t be more excited. It’s a fresh start after a year of bad fantasy play.

Last baseball season was pretty much a nightmare. In fact, that led to a poor showing in football and basketball as I tried to overcompensate with high-risk, high-reward players, thinking I was due for a change in luck. Turns out, just one of those players turning into a bust is generally enough to sabotage fantasy hopes in any sport.

So I finally tidied up my cheat sheet yesterday and think I’m good to go. I’d divulge my sleepers, but unfortunately some of you reading this are also in my fantasy leagues. If I was getting paid for this, then I’d have no choice but to hand out such useful information. But thanks to the high quality people running a website that shall remain nameless, I am getting my paychecks elsewhere. But I will give you one piece of advice: if Hanley Ramirez is available, don’t select Derrek Lee. Had I not been a complete idiot in one of my drafts last year, not only might I have been a championship contender, I’d also be keeping Ramirez, Ryan Howard and Miguel Cabrera heading into my first draft. I really should get over that…

The best advice I can give heading into a draft is to know two things. First, know your depth charts. Fantasy magazines were printed back in January, so those are not helpful when it comes to this. Team websites are hit or miss, but I have found ESPN’s to be in pretty good shape. I hate linking to a site that everyone goes to anyway, but unfortunately in this case it’s the best. Secondly, stay abreast of injuries. Once again, the magazines you’ll pick up en route to your draft are no good for this. I find Rotowire to be a good source of this information and apparently ESPN does as well, because they wrap it up in a neat little package for you sans the fantasy spin. But really, the injury is the most important piece of information.

Oh, I just thought of one more thing – since lately I can do no right in fantasy drafts and my plan is to stick with safer, more consistent options this season, you can fully expect Randy Johnson and Mike Hampton to actually be healthy this season and supply great fantasy numbers with a late-round pick. Oh, and how could I forget Rich Harden! Chalk him up for a Cy Young. Those are the three I’ll be most tempted on, but I’m forcing myself to resist. So enjoy their stellar seasons!