Mike's Mailbag: Cool on Brees
By Mike Harmon
June 15, 2005
We're six weeks away from the official start of NFL training camps, but draft season is in full gear with last week's release of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football. The first round of these drafts are always running back heavy (with Randy Moss and Peyton Manning crashing the party), but things are a bit more jumbled this year than I've seen in quite some time. After the selection of LaDainian Tomlinson at the top, the next six to eight players are appearing in an unpredictable order. The most recent draft in which I participated featured Kevin Jones and Domanick Davis with the fourth and sixth picks. Not many would have expected that!
As fantasy owners begin to adjust their rankings and get those preliminary draft boards in order, the mailbag is filling up. Questions this week center on young running backs, the emerging offensive stars in Buffalo and wide receivers in Kansas City. That's right, I said wide receivers in Kansas City. I've also received a number of comments about my listing of Drew Brees among my bust selections for 2005.
The review of my inbox begins with a trade offer involving a member of the Cleveland Browns backfield.
I have a chance to get Lee Suggs in a trade. I have seen him before, and he is a Jamal Lewis-type back Ã¢â‚¬â€œ big and bruising. However, to get him, I would have to give up Santana Moss. Do you anticipate Suggs having a big year? Or do you think Moss is worth holding on to? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jake in Houston, TX
I'd always lean toward picking up the extra starting running back. Moss stood among the more disappointing fantasy performers in '04 after a huge season in 2003. His touchdown total was cut in half (though he did reward faithful owners with three touchdowns in the fantasy playoffs) and his total number of catches dwindled. The Redskins offense has no choice but to get better in Joe Gibbs' second season, but the turnaround will take time.
Suggs finished 2004 with three straight 100-yard efforts, averaging 28 carries per game. Though I'm skeptical that the Browns offense will be terribly effective overall, a healthy Suggs stands to carry the rock between 15-20 times per week. I suspect he'll lose a few carries each week to William Green and Reuben Droughns, but unless something changes dramatically during camp, he'll receive the bulk of the work.
Should J.J. Arrington go down or fail to perform in Arizona, do you think Marcel Shipp has the ability to put up the fantasy numbers that would warrant picking him up? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Colin in Victoria, British Columbia
If you've drafted Arrington or are considering doing so, Marcel Shipp has to be handcuffed to the pick. He had a strong season in '03 while sharing the backfield with Emmitt Smith, contributing six touchdowns and 834 rushing yards. There are some concerns that the 5-foot-9 Arrington will have trouble staying healthy for the duration of the season. I'm not sold on that notion, as he stands a stout 215 pounds and should be able to absorb the punishment. I believe that the Cardinals will make some noise in the NFC West, and whomever handles the bulk of the carries will put up numbers.
Where does J.P. Losman stand with Buffalo this year, and where do you see Lee Evans and Willis McGahee? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ken in Wichita, KS
I'll start with the last player first. McGahee was selected with the second pick in the most recent experts draft in which I participated. His dominance in the second half of the 2004 season has him edging past players with injury or holdout concerns such as Priest Holmes and Shaun Alexander.
As for Evans, there's a lot of faith that he'll surpass Eric Moulds as the Bills' top receiving option. In fact, he was selected a full round ahead of Moulds in this particular draft (seventh round). It wasn't until Mike Mularkey and company recognized the deep-ball threat that Evans posed that they made their incredible second-half run.
Finally, turning to Losman, he'll need to battle through a tough division schedule in his first NFL season and overcome the urge to show off his arm (something former Bills QB Drew Bledsoe has always struggled with). Happily, he will have the offensive firepower and a strong defense to assist him in the vein of Ben Roethlisberger last season. Losman makes for a solid fantasy backup to start the season with several possible spot starts at New Orleans, Oakland and a home game against Kansas City.
I can't imagine that you read every newspaper article, team slant, and message board rambling, so I thought I'd let you in on a couple of sleepers from the Chiefs. For the past two offseasons, Richard Smith (WR) has been catching everything, and I guarantee Kris Wilson (TE) will snag six TDs this season; it was rumored last year that offensive coordinator Al Saunders had created numerous plays for Wilson before his injury. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jason from Colorado Springs, CO
I love your conviction and enthusiasm about a couple of Kansas City receivers not bearing the surname of Gonzalez. It's not often that anyone rallies behind them. Richard Smith is certainly on the radar, receiving great reviews from head coach *beep* Vermeil after mini-camps for his hands and speed (he ran track at Arkansas). The signing of Az-Zahir Hakim and selection of Craphonso Thorpe in this year's draft will intensify the battle among the wideouts this year. I suspect Smith enters the heavy workouts a step behind fellow second-year receiver Samie Parker, but the competition should be entertaining.
Wilson's productivity at the University of Pittsburgh (44 catches, nine touchdowns) was overshadowed by the exploits of Larry Fitzgerald, but this guy certainly has the tools to be a force in the NFL. I think six touchdowns may be a bit excessive, but by comparison, fellow TE Jason Dunn did manage three touchdowns last season in the shadow of Gonzo. If Kansas City can get some productivity out of these young receivers to complement Eddie Kennison, then the middle of the field should be open for Wilson to make an impact.
And one more for the road Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Do you even follow the Chargers? How can a so-called reputable sports analyst such as yourself be such a poor judge of talent. If you get a chance, try watching a few Chargers games from last year. You might think differently. Start with the Chargers versus Denver game (20-17), and see if you don't retract your truly ignorant statement of Brees as a bust. Bottom line, Brees is a winner. He finds a way to win in crucial situations. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Bolt Man in San Jose, CA
Dear Bolt Man Ã¢â‚¬â€œ
I'll give you that Brees found a way to win in Week 13 against the Broncos. As a huge Big 10 football fan, I fully appreciate Brees' ability to spread the field, split the seams and put the ball into the end zone. My comments in my column earlier this week merely suggest that points won't come as readily as they did in the Chargers' storybook 2004 season (28 points per game). I appreciate the upgrades on offense and the strength of the receiving corps, but I think we may see even bigger totals out of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Taken further, this letter serves as the classic reminder of separating fantasy performers from reality. If we were to look at both games that Brees played against Denver last year, he failed to throw for a single touchdown in either of them Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he did run for one TD. Remember, fantasy owners couldn't care less whether the Chargers won or lost the game. If the Week 13 matchup stood as the determining factor for a team making the fantasy playoffs, then they were likely left on the outside looking in. In summary, I'm not looking for Brees to crash and burn altogether, but I do expect his TD total to push back somewhat. To put things in perspective, he was the 15th QB taken in my most recent draft.
That's all for now. Keep those messages coming with your thoughts and predictions on the coming season. Throw out your views on the next set of breakthrough players and those you expect to begin their respective declines. I'll include some of your musings in future pieces as we forge full speed ahead toward the start of training camp.
Mike Harmon is a Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert. Send him a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
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Mikes Mailbag From Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football Q&A's
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