Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cover Bands Redux

I spoke with a few friends over the weekend, and realized that I may be using some incorrect terminology. I've been saying "cover band," but the way I understand it, when a band covers only one band's songs, they're more properly classified as a "tribute band." So that's what I'm looking for, a festival-style concert involving tribute bands.

I'm on the case.

Radio Show - AFC Preview

We had our first new radio show in a while last night (after a few scheduling conflicts), offering our preview of the AFC. It was generally a show of agreement, where both Joe's felt pretty similarly about how teams will fare. As always, you can listen to the episode through the widget at the top right of this blog, or you can go to our home on TalkShoe and download this and any past episodes.

Our NFC preview show will likely be next week, leading up to the opening game of the 2008 season, Giants/Redskins a week from Thursday. Go Skins!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Matt Ryan: The Right Guy, Right Now

You'll find a lot of people on both ends of the argument about whether or not to play a quarterback in his rookie season. It's a difficult question, and the real answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Some guys should start right away, based on their talent, their maturity, their ability to grasp the offense, and the team's situation. Other guys would be best served (and so would their teams) by waiting a few games, a year, or more. Matt Ryan is in the former category: it's time for him to start, right now.

I don't think he's supremely talented. I don't think he's exceptionally mature, though I think he's mature enough. I have no idea how complex Atlanta's offense will be, so I couldn't speak as to whether or not Ryan is able to grasp it. But the team's situation suggests, nay, demands that he be given the reins immediately, and the Falcons will rise or fall based on his performance.

First, the other two quarterback options are Chris Redman and Joey Harrington, two guys have proven only one thing in their NFL tenures: they can lose with the best of them. Listen, I thought Harrington would be a solid football player for years, but the proof is in the pudding. The same can be said about Chad Pennington, who's a fine player but will never be the answer for a team in need. He's a nice fit for Miami because he's smart and efficient, but nobody is foolish enough to think the Dolphins will win anything more than 6 games this year. But back to Atlanta's situation, their options besides Ryan are weak.

Second, and in my opinion far more importantly, Redman and Harrington are no-names. This is a team that's trying to get out from under a gigantic shadow (both on and off the football field) in Michael Vick. Chris Redman and Joey Harrington aren't going to make anybody forget that Vick was Mr. Falcon for five years. In fact, they didn't make anyone forget when they played last season. Matt Ryan, even with his inevitable growing pains, will give Falcons fans something to talk about, and will give national commentators a non-Michael Vick story to discuss when Atlanta plays on national TV. That's good news for both the Falcons and the NFL, who would both like to distance themselves as much as possible from that outrageous story.

Putting Ryan in immediately may not be the best move for his short-term confidence, and there's a chance it hinders his development, but in terms of getting the franchise back on track, it's the only move you can make.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cover Bands

I was thinking the other night about LeRoi Moore, and how the Dave Matthews Band, in its original, most correct state, is done. The same is true for thousands of bands who've lost a member: Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers Band, Metallica, The Doors, Alice In Chains, and many more. Granted, Metallica's most popular days came after the loss of Cliff Burton, and the Allman Brothers Band still tours today, but to people who've followed the band since they became popular (like myself with regards to the Dave Matthews Band), the band is gone, and this is a new band with similar members.

Anyways, it got me to thinking about all of the bands who've broken up or lost members and who I'll likely never see in concert, and how that's a shame. Then I thought about the Michael McDonald concert I went to a few weeks ago (laugh if you like, but it was a good show), and how many of his most exciting songs were actually cover songs: Living For The City (Stevie Wonder), Into The Mystic (Van Morrison), Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen), Walk On By (Dionne Warwick), and several Motown songs. This is along the same lines as many jazz artists, who often play almost exclusively songs written by someone else. Jazz fans appreciate this; they get to hear familiar songs with a personal touch by the artists. But if you were to go to a rock show and the band played mostly cover songs, you'd be dissatisfied.

Or at least you think you would be. But say you went to a concert of a newer band, Wolfmother we'll say. They've got one album with 12 songs. Presumably they'll play more than 12 songs, so you're either going to hear songs you don't know, or covers. While I'm open to some new songs, it's always nice to hear familiarity. So if they played 8 of the songs from the album, plus assorted songs by their stated influences (Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The White Stripes), I don't think anybody would go home unhappy (unless of course they sucked, but we'll assume they play the songs reasonably well).

A couple of particularly interesting bands to cover (and two that support the point I'm about to make) are Led Zeppelin and The Beatles. Those are two bands who've broken up for good and lost former members to death (George Harrison and John Lennon from The Beatles, John Bonham from Led Zeppelin), and even if they hadn't, the living members are getting awfully old, and we can foresee a time when they're all dead and gone, or at least incapable of playing shows.

So should the band's music die with the band? Of course not. We own CDs, we bought songs on iTunes, some of us own records and cassettes, we know how to play the songs on guitar or bass or drums, we sing the songs. We know the songs won't die as long as we like them. But there's something different and special about hearing a song played by professional musicians, people who know the song inside and out. But if Led Zeppelin is gone, how will we ever be able to enjoy their music in a concert again?

Cover bands. Cover bands are the answer. I know what you're saying, "Cover bands are lame, they just play other people's music." Think about that, though. Most music today is derivative of some music played in the past. Some of it is more than derivative; some songs are simply rearrangements, identical songs with changed lyrics, or out and out cover songs. And we're generally okay with that. So why would we not give any credit to a cover band? They've got the chops to play the music, and we like the music (or at least we did when the original band played it). I understand that there's a concern for a quality drop-off with cover bands, but if it's a really good cover band full of folks who can really play the shit out of their instrument, what do I care?

I'm stating for the record, here and now, that I'd love to see a Doors cover band open for a Led Zeppelin cover band in a legitimate concert theater. I'd be willing to pay good money to see a 3-hour show by a Pink Floyd cover band. Hell, I did pay good money to see the Allman Brothers Band, and they've only got half of the original members. And historically, when I go to concerts where I don't know the band's music that well, cover songs are sometimes the highlight of the show. As humans, we appreciate familiarity.

Thus, my new dream is for a festival-style concert featuring only premium cover bands. You can pay them cheaply, and after a few stops, people will start to catch on. I'm gonna do it. I'm sooo gonna do it.

Okay, probably not, but I hope someone else does.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

LeRoi Moore, 1961-2008

Dave Matthews Band saxophonist LeRoi Moore died Tuesday from complications resulting from an ATV accident on June 30th. He was no small part of the reason that the band enjoyed such success. Moore's strong jazz saxophone offered a thick complement to the more mainstream members of the band.

They've been my favorite band since high school, and it speaks to the strength of the band that I haven't wavered on that. I regret not getting out to see the band over the past few years. While I'm sure whoever they get to replace Moore will be an accomplished musician, LeRoi brought a special flavor to the music. There was a sense of maturity about his play as well as that of drummer Carter Beauford, when compared to the playful nature of Dave Matthews (guitar/vocals), Stefan Lessard (bass), and Boyd Tinsley (violin).

I can't really explain why Moore was different from other saxophonists, or why I think he was better. It's a subjective argument, and one that you couldn't in good conscience agree with without hearing the music. Luckily, the Internet offers about fifty billion ways to listen to music. I was able to quickly find what is, for me, the most memorable LeRoi Moore tune. It's a cover of All Along the Watchtower, off of the band's Recently CD. Moore's best segment starts at about the 4 minute mark, and culminates at about 5:30.

Enjoy it.

R.I.P. LeRoi.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fantasy Football: Kicker and Defense Rankings

I don't make lists for kickers or defenses. You know why? Because defenses are very difficult to predict, and kickers are impossible to predict. Allow me to show you why kickers are a joke.

These are the top point-scoring kickers for the past three years, and where they were drafted in my main league, relative to other kickers:

2007: Mason Crosby (undrafted)
2006: Robbie Gould (undrafted)
2005: Neil Rackers (undrafted)
2004: Adam Vinatieri (10th kicker taken)

Each of those guys was obviously taken among the first few kickers off the board the next season, and each time the person who took him was disappointed. At some point, you have to grow up and realize that there's no way to predict a kicker's performance from year to year. So just pick one up whenever and know that he won't be that much worse than any other kicker could've been.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fantasy Football: Tight End Rankings

Here are your Joe & Joe Sports top 15 tight ends for the 2008 fantasy football season. (These rankings assume 10 rushing/receiving yards per point, 6 points per rushing/receiving TD).
  1. Antonio Gates - I'm sorry, I'm not in a rush to dethrone Gates as the #1 tight end like everyone else. He's still more athletic than anyone at the position, and he's still the most important receiver in his offense. Don't try to talk yourself out of taking Gates; he's still the best in the business.
  2. Kellen Winslow, Jr. - Winslow has become more and more important to what the Browns do on offense over the past couple of years, and he figures to continue to build on his stellar performance in 2007. If there's one piece of his game that needs work, it's his ability to factor into the red zone offense, but he's too big and strong to have trouble working that into his repertoire. Look forward to 90 catches and 1200+ yards.
  3. Jason Witten - Witten really exploded onto the scene last year. After back-to-back seasons around 65 catches and 750 yards, he shined through as Tony Romo's go-to receiver. I expect Witten to put up numbers that would be worthy of starting at WR, which means he's better than most tight ends.
  4. Tony Gonzalez - I'll admit it, I was among those who thought Gonzalez was ready to fall off in a bad way. Gonzalez answered with one of his best seasons, posting 99 catches and 1172 yards. Still, I think he's closer to the player he seemed to be becoming than that, and I figure him for more like 80 catches, 1000 yards, and 6 TDs. Not bad at all for a tight end.
  5. Jeremy Shockey - While Shockey seems to have a volatile personality and an unpredictable track record, he's got a ton of talent. He'll also be looking to prove that the Giants made a mistake, and he's got a strong offense to work with, including an elite QB in Drew Brees. I expect Shockey to rejoin the ranks of the elite tight ends.
  6. Chris Cooley - I think Cooley and Dallas Clark are similar in value, but I'd be surprised to see Cooley not improve in his second year with Jason Campbell. Campbell still has trouble with his timing, and that's less important when you're dumping it off to the tight end; head coach Jim Zorn knows this too, and will probably call for a lot of passes to the tight end. Also, Cooley is a great red zone tight end, and a Redskin, so he benefits from hometown bias.
  7. Dallas Clark - If you think Clark will grab 11 TDs again, you're a fool. Harrison should be healthy, and he traditionally gets a lot of red zone looks. Still, Clark established himself as a reliable option, and Manning makes any receiver worth owning.
  8. Owen Daniels - Don't be surprised if Daniels ends up with 1000 yards receiving in 2008. He doesn't have the nose for the goal line that some of the higher-ranked TEs have, but he's a very solid receiver on a team lacking options past Andre Johnson.
  9. Vernon Davis - He's allegedly the next big thing at the tight end position. He showed flashes of brilliance, and if Mike Martz is able to take advantage of his athleticism, Davis could be a surprise top 5 TE this year.
  10. Heath Miller - The Steelers have become a 50/50 split team, rather than the run-first juggernaut they've been in the past, and Miller is among the beneficiaries. He's got a good sense for getting open in the end zone, and he should provide owners with good, if erratic, production.
  11. Todd Heap - Not too long ago, Heap was in that top level with guys like Gonzalez, Gates, and Shockey. But last year he missed 10 games, and his production was way down in the games he did play in. Still, he's a solid receiving talent on a team without much of it, so he should be a decent low-end option.
  12. Alge Crumpler - We all remember Crumpler's days as a premier tight end when he was Michael Vick's favorite target. While Vince Young is a different kind of QB than Vick was, they're similar enough that it's not unreasonable to think Crumpler could experience a revival in Tennessee.
  13. Tony Scheffler - While Scheffler didn't start factoring into the passing game until a quarter of the season was gone, he became a solid producer almost immediately once he was given opportunities. Jay Cutler found him 5 times for TDs, and Scheffler established himself as a solid fantasy option. Don't overpay for him (read: draft him in the last three rounds if at all), but he could be a solid source of points this season.
  14. Greg Olsen - Olsen has got a lot of talent, and with Kyle Orton as the QB over Grossman, there will probably be more opportunities for the tight ends in this offense to be successful. He's still raw, but he could blossom into a fantasy starter this year.
  15. Zach Miller - Oakland's offense isn't exactly daunting, but they should be alright this season with a couple of key additions (Javon Walker, Darren McFadden). Miller should do as well as most TEs, and be a nice option during your starter's bye week, or if some tool in your league drafted multiple elite TEs and you have a thin field.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Rankings

Here are your Joe & Joe Sports top 40 wide receivers for the 2008 fantasy football season. (These rankings assume 10 rushing/receiving yards per point, 6 points per rushing/receiving TD).
  1. Randy Moss - You're really a fool if you pick anyone else ahead of him. Granted, you don't want to count on another record-setting year with 20+ TDs, but he's got a pass-happy offense and all the talent in the world. He'll be money.
  2. Reggie Wayne - Most lists I've seen have Terrell Owens at #2 and Wayne a spot lower, but Owens is five years older than Wayne, and is likely to drop off from last season. Moreover, the Colts' offense is just a more proven system than the Cowboys.
  3. Terrell Owens - His size and ability match him with anyone in the league, and he's always had a nose for the end zone. As long as Tony Romo doesn't experience a drop-off (which is a possibility), Owens should be good for another 1200 yards and 12 TDs.
  4. Larry Fitzgerald - He's supremely talented and a great red zone target. If Anquan Boldin has trouble staying healthy again, look for more ridiculous numbers from Fitzgerald. If Boldin is healthy, then Fitz will just be a solid top 5 WR. Ho hum.
  5. Andre Johnson - Johnson is my, "If he doesn't get hurt, he'll be a monster" pick. He had at least 74 yards and a touchdown in 7 of his 9 games last year, and figures to build on that with a healthy Matt Schaub this year. I dare say the Texans passing game might be alright.
  6. Chad Johnson - Last year, Chad was in most people's top 3 wideouts. Then, he had a career high 1440 yards and he's been bumped to 10th or later on most lists. Don't make me laugh; I'll take 1400 yards, 8 TDs, and a virtual lock for 16 games (hasn't missed a game since his rookie season) any day. Until the Bengals are worried about this recent shoulder injury, neither am I.
  7. Braylon Edwards - I'm less sold on Edwards than most, but still sold. He's a tremendous home run threat on a team that likes to pass. He'll have to share looks with Kellen Winslow and offseason acquisition Donte Stallworth, but he should be good for big time production again.
  8. Steve Smith - He's still supremely talented, but he relies heavily on Jake Delhomme staying healthy. After Delhomme went down last season, Smith only had 2 100-yard games and only 3 total TDs. It sounds like Delhomme is healthy, but keep an eye on the Panthers in the preseason to be sure.
  9. Marques Colston - Colston followed his great rookie year with an even better sophomore season. Traditionally, wide receivers make a big jump in their third years in the league, which would be scary for the rest of the NFC. All signs point to Colston's continued success.
  10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh - You'll read all over the Internet that you shouldn't pay for career years when you're drafting. Problem is, you'll read that right next to where they tell you to draft Housh. He's a high-level option, and we all know the Bengals like to throw. Keep in mind, however, that over his last six games (when you're trying to win fantasy titles), he averaged 56 yards per game and had just one TD.
  11. Plaxico Burress - Burress played through pain all last season and still put up excellent numbers. Now, armed with a pair of orthotics to alleviate some of his foot pain, he should build upon the rapport he had with Eli Manning last year. He is now unquestionably Manning's favorite target, and a red zone threat. Get used to seeing this line regularly on Monday mornings: 8 catches, 95 yards, 1 TD.
  12. Torry Holt - Holt is one of the most consistent wide receivers I've ever seen, posting at least 90 catches and 1150 yards in each of the past six seasons. He's not getting any younger, but 32 isn't old enough to discount his ability. He won't ever match his 1600-yard seasons of 2000 and 2003, but 1200 yards and 8 TDs should be well within his grasp.
  13. Anquan Boldin - His numbers last year may help you get him a few picks later than you should, because he missed 4 games in the middle of the season. But don't hesitate to jump on him right at his value, because he's the real deal. He had 9 TDs in 12 games, and has put up 1200 yards in each of the three seasons in which he played at least 14 games. Look for Boldin to thrive once again in the potent Arizona offense.
  14. Wes Welker - Has there ever been a wide receiver who was better suited to his team's offense? Welker was a special teams player for Miami for three years, then moved to New England where he caught 112 balls for 1175 yards, scoring 8 times. Oops. Welker should match those numbers this year, which put him among the best #2 fantasy receivers.
  15. Brandon Marshall - Marshall is going to miss the first three games of the season due to a suspension resulting from his offseason debauchery. That's certainly a blow, but if you can stomach the rough couple games at the beginning, you should have a prime time producer come fantasy playoff time. Marshall broke out last year with over 100 catches and 1300 yards, and as he and Jay Cutler become more comfortable together, those numbers figure to swell up a bit. Still, he's shown a propensity for trouble, so don't say I didn't warn you.
  16. Marvin Harrison - I was as ready as anyone to dismiss Harrison, but I just can't do it. Before last year's injury, he had posted 8 straight seasons of 1100 yards and double-digit touchdowns. That's just obscene. Maybe he's 36, but at 34 he was a monster. You have to think he can still scare some children.
  17. Roy Williams - I've probably got Williams a few slots too high, but I can't help thinking that he's still got the talent to be an elite receiver. And I actually think the departure of Martz will help Williams' numbers. With 4 wide, guys like Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald were getting 5+ looks a game. Under a normal offensive set, Williams should get a greater percentage of the looks.
  18. Roddy White - This guy had 83 catches and 1202 yards and the vast majority of fantasy players were clueless. What's most important, though, is that he was able to put up those numbers without a quarterback to speak of. That's fortunate, since Atlanta's situation under center figures to be similar this season. Expect similar results.
  19. Calvin Johnson - Full disclosure here: somewhere around 50% of my thoughts this season on Calvin Johnson are from ESPN's John Clayton talking him up like crazy on every radio show. The other 50% say he'll be good as well, though, so all of my thoughts are getting along...for now. I think a season that mirrors Brandon Marshall's 2007 is a fair guess.
  20. Dwayne Bowe - Bowe had 70 catches and nearly 1000 yards in his rookie season, and 50 of them were for first downs. He's without a doubt the best WR on a weak Kansas City team, and the Chiefs won't play around about getting him the ball. I expect him to get as many looks as Tony Gonzalez and post numbers similar to Calvin Johnson, hence the back-to-back rankings.
  21. Santonio Holmes - Holmes was a home run threat again in his second season for the Steelers. But this time, he managed to find the end zone 8 times, as opposed to just twice in his rookie season. In this, his third season (as I mentioned the traditional breakout year for WRs), we shouldn't be surprised if he starts to get integrated more into the intermediate passing game. Pittsburgh has become more of a passing team than they've been historically, and Holmes figures to keep that trend going.
  22. Lee Evans - With Evans, the talent is there. He's the best option they've got at receiver in Buffalo. But for whatever reason, he's completely unpredictable from game-to-game and season-to-season. The thinking of putting him this high on the list is that there's finally some stability for the Bills, with a declared starting QB who (hopefully) will stay there all year and a solid running game. I'm comfortable investing in Evans' superior talent and hoping it'll pan out this year.
  23. Greg Jennings - Do we think that Brett Favre benefited from a bevy of talented receivers, or his receivers benefited from Favre's skill? I'm wary of saying Favre was only who he was last year because of Jennings, so I'd lean in the other direction. That's why Jennings falls this far on my list, because I'm uncertain as to how he'll perform without Favre. I personally like Jennings, but I'm holding judgment on his football ability until I see what the Packers look like without #4 under center.
  24. Laveranues Coles - Speaking of Favre's receivers, I love what Coles might be able to do with Favre at the helm in New York. The best quarterbacks Coles has ever had include Patrick Ramsey, Vinny Testaverde, and Chad Pennington. All the talk is about Jerricho Cotchery, and I think Cotchery will be good as well (see #25), but I like Coles just a little bit more.
  25. Jerricho Cotchery - Cotchery posted a career high of 1130 yards in his fourth season, to go along with 82 catches (tied his career high). Word is that he's already clicking very well with Favre, and so he should have plenty of opportunities to succeed. The Jets don't have solid receivers 4 and 5 deep like the Packers did, so Favre will have to focus more on the top two, and that means nice numbers for Coles and Cotchery.
  26. Chris Chambers - Chambers has been a solid player throughout his career, and landing in San Diego didn't hurt his production at all. I expect 1000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns from the veteran.
  27. Donald Driver - I've always felt Driver had a lot of skill, but it seems like it took too long for him to get going, and now all of a sudden he's a grizzled veteran and his window is closing. He picked up 1000 yards last year again, but don't expect him to improve on that with Aaron Rodgers replacing Favre as his quarterback.
  28. Kevin Curtis - A large portion of Curtis' production comes from that drubbing he and the Eagles put on Detroit. Still, he had enough other good games to warrant being drafted as a #3 WR in most leagues. He'll continue to be a wild card, all-or-nothing kind of receiver.
  29. Santana Moss - As a Redskins fan, I've been able to watch Moss' play firsthand, and it's at least as erratic as anyone else I've described as such. He's a burner, but he's really better suited for a #2 role behind a true possession receiver. Still, he's got a 1400-yard season on the books, so you can't discount his ability to put up big time numbers.
  30. Javon Walker - Walker has had a tough few years. He got told by Brett Favre to shut up and play when he asked for a new contract to give him some stability, then tore his ACL. He left for Denver after the season, and had his friend Darrent Williams die in his arms after that awful drive-by shooting. This past offseason, after signing with Oakland, he got mugged in Las Vegas. Hopefully the change of scenery will help Walker simplify his life and concentrate on football. If he can, he's got the talent to scream up this list.
  31. Joey Galloway - The original all-or-nothing wide receiver, Galloway somehow still has the speed and moves to get by #1 corners. He's probably stuck around 55 catches, but he'll still pick up 1000 yards.
  32. Hines Ward - One of the faces of the Steelers' franchise, Ward's best days are behind him. He hasn't had 1000 yards since 2004, and his catches have been holding steady around 70. Still, he remains a red zone threat, and with Pittsburgh leaning on the passing game more and more, Ward should still be a serviceable starter in deeper leagues.
  33. Nate Burleson - Burleson is the main beneficiary of Bobby Engram's injury. He's now guaranteed a starting position, and with a lot of passes coming his way, he should do very well. He's got game-breaker open-field ability, as evidenced by his solid work returning kicks and punts.
  34. Patrick Crayton - With Terry Glenn out, Crayton moves into the starting lineup with Terrell Owens. Crayton has fantastic hands, and figures to flourish with this opportunity. I wouldn't be surprised if he posted top 25 WR numbers.
  35. Anthony Gonzalez - It's always a good call to invest in potent offenses, as they seem to only get stronger. The Colts have such an offense, and with Harrison's health a concern, Gonzalez figures to factor into things more than last year. These very same Colts proved that a #3 receiver on a great offense can be valuable when Brandon Stokely was startable in most leagues a few years back.
  36. Bernard Berrian - Berrian was a big play threat for a bad Bears offense, but I think people are mistaken when they think things will be any better in Minnesota. He'll probably still pick up the occasional long reception, but I don't expect him to be more than a 1000 yard, 6 TD guy unless he gets matched up with a real talent at QB. Tarvaris Jackson isn't it.
  37. Reggie Brown - Philadelphia's #2 option is actually on par with Kevin Curtis when it comes to talent. Curtis and Brown figure to split looks pretty evenly, so it's just a matter of what they each do with them. Brown seems to be more of a possession receiver, which is nice for the Eagles and Donovan McNabb, but makes him substantially less valuable than Curtis in fantasy leagues.
  38. Isaac Bruce - Bruce is reunited with Mike Martz, and I have to think that's only a good thing for both parties. The 49ers still have question marks at the quarterback position, but presumed starting WR Bryant Johnson is hurt, so Bruce is getting all of the exposure in preseason. I like Bruce to bounce back from a down year in 2007 and pick up another 1000 yards in his quest for the hall of fame.
  39. Derrick Mason - Mason has picked up 1000 yards in 6 of the past 7 years, and posted a career-high 103 catches last season. The Ravens still have a crummy passing attack, and the loss of Jonathan Ogden only compounds their difficulties. Mason is a fine guy to pick up as a bye week replacement, as he's sure to be the focal point of Baltimore's air game. Just remember that they stink.
  40. Jerry Porter - Porter's move to Jacksonville helps his value ever so slightly. Reggie Williams is hurt, giving Porter all of the snaps as the #1 WR, and on a team that's as run-heavy as the Jaguars, you really can't afford to be #2. Porter's always had some skill, but it remains to be seen if he can take advantage of an opportunity like this.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fantasy Football: Quarterback Rankings

Here are your Joe & Joe Sports top 15 quarterbacks for the 2008 fantasy football season. (These rankings assume 25 passing yards per point, 10 rushing yards per point, 4 points per passing TD, 6 points per rushing TD).
  1. Tom Brady - If Randy Moss had left New England, Brady would've slipped at least one spot on this list. As it is, Moss is still there, and Brady will still be a monster.
  2. Peyton Manning - As sure a bet as there is in football, fantasy or otherwise. If you get Manning, just sit back and enjoy.
  3. Drew Brees - He had 1 touchdown and 9 interceptions entering week six, and still managed to finish as a top 5 quarterback. Oh, and the Saints added a top 5 tight end talent in Jeremy Shockey.
  4. Tony Romo - Even a small regression would leave him with a ton of yards and a ton of touchdowns. And an improvement in efficiency is likely as Romo becomes more comfortable in the pocket.
  5. Carson Palmer - It was a down year for Palmer, but he's too good to not justify being selected as the fifth QB off the board, especially with two elite wide receiver weapons.
  6. Ben Roethlisberger - He seems to be getting more and more comfortable in a balanced offense. At least as importantly, the Steelers have shown a propensity to pass in the red zone.
  7. Matt Hasselbeck - He's quietly put together productive season after productive season. At some point, it's time to acknowledge that he's just a very good quarterback.
  8. Derek Anderson - He's got great weapons and seemed comfortable working with them last year, but always be wary of the guy with a career year. Considering he's also got the golden boy Brady Quinn behind him, it's important to temper your expectations.
  9. Donovan McNabb - His days as a prominent runner are behind him, but he's quietly become a very efficient passer. His constant injury problems are a definite concern, but while healthy, he's very, very good.
  10. Jay Cutler - In his first full season as a starter, Cutler looked pretty sharp. He'll suffer without his #1 receiver Brandon Marshall (suspended for the first 3 games), but when the fantasy playoffs come around, he'll be a fantasy force.
  11. Marc Bulger - Like McNabb, the constant injuries are becoming troublesome. But with his offensive line healthy again, Bulger should be able to perform at a high level.
  12. Jake Delhomme - Delhomme was excellent in the few games he played last year, and has seemed on the cusp of taking his game to the next level for a couple years now.
  13. David Garrard - There's no way he matches his efficiency from last year (18 TD, 3 INT), but he should still be a solid if unspectacular option at QB. His general lack of receivers keeps him from being higher.
  14. Brett Favre - I couldn't put together a list without including Favre, but he could be bad, just as likely as he could be good. He's only 2 years removed from a 29 INT season, and he's not getting younger. Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, and Leon Washington give him weapons, but it's no sure thing that he'll flourish with them.
  15. Philip Rivers - I'm in the minority of people in that I really like everything about Rivers. He's jawing at fans? Perfect. Those fans have a story to tell for the rest of their lives. Independent of any of that, though, Rivers is also becoming a pretty decent quarterback for a team whose passing game keeps looking better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fantasy Football: Running Back Rankings

Here are your Joe & Joe Sports top 25 running backs for the 2008 fantasy football season. (These rankings assume 10 rushing/receiving yards per point, 6 points for rushing/receiving TD, no points for receptions).
  1. LaDainian Tomlinson - While a lot of people will want to take Adrian Peterson first, it's just foolish. Tomlinson is a no-brainer...as in, if you don't take him, you don't have a brain.
  2. Adrian Peterson - All of that said about Tomlinson, Peterson could be obscenely good. He benefits from the best left side of an O-line in football.
  3. Brian Westbrook - He's less reliable than the top two because he relies a lot on the passing game, but he's a big time producer. Westbrook leapfrogs Peterson in leagues that give points per reception.
  4. Joseph Addai - Indianapolis' offense is one that you can't go wrong investing in. He'll find the end zone at least a dozen times, and give you solid, consistent performance every week.
  5. Steven Jackson - Other lists have him higher, but this isn't the Rams offense of years past. Holding out shouldn't hurt him much, though; running backs usually succeed or fail on their own ability.
  6. Marion Barber - I have concerns as to how he'll handle a full load, but he was a top 10 back sharing carries last year. Even if Felix Jones gets substantial playing time, Barber will be productive.
  7. Larry Johnson - He had back to back 1700 yard seasons before his injury-riddled 2007. My bet is he bounces back.
  8. Clinton Portis - New head coach Jim Zorn will likely call on Portis a lot, and Portis has the talent to excel when given the opportunity.
  9. Frank Gore - He's produced well for an awful 49ers team that should be improved. The law of averages says eventually they'll have a passing game.
  10. Marshawn Lynch - He had 1100 yards and 7 TDs in 13 games as a rookie. My guess is that we'll forget all about his vehicular hit and run by October.
  11. Willie Parker - People seem to put out of their minds that he led the NFL in rushing for a good part of the year last season. Rashard Mendenhall may eventually take over, but Parker will be a big time producer again this year.
  12. Ryan Grant - I'm a little wary of his flash-in-the-pan potential, but he sure seemed good. Still, he'll need Aaron Rodgers to be closer to '07 Favre than '06 Favre to be sure he won't see stacked boxes.
  13. Brandon Jacobs - Who had the third-highest yards per game last year? Who had more yards per carry than Westbrook, Tomlinson, Barber, Jackson, Gore, Addai, and Parker? This guy.
  14. Ronnie Brown - He was the best fantasy running back in football when he got hurt last year. And come on, we're worried about Ricky Williams taking carries? No.
  15. Willis McGahee - He could probably afford to be a little higher on most lists, but I really just don't like him as a fantasy player. It doesn't help that he's undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, either.
  16. Laurence Maroney - The guy is a tank, and New England will likely find success in running the football this season.
  17. Maurice Jones-Drew - Hyphenations aside, he's explosive and exciting. It'd be nice if he got more carries, but Fred Taylor may actually help Jones-Drew by keeping him fresh and healthy.
  18. Michael Turner - Don't look now, but the Falcons have an interesting QB/RB/WR trio in Matt Ryan, Turner, and Roddy White. I'm not saying championship, but it's good to see the Falcons moving on quickly from the loss of Michael Vick.
  19. Jamal Lewis - It's been years since he was dominant, but he's got back-to-back 9 TD seasons, and Cleveland's potent passing game should continue to open things up for Lewis.
  20. Edgerrin James - Like Lewis, his best days are behind him, but playing San Francisco and St. Louis twice a year each is always a good thing.
  21. Darren McFadden - In fantasy football, talent is king, but opportunity is the ace. McFadden's got Big Slick suited, as he has both in spades.
  22. Earnest Graham - I don't know why Tampa is surrounding Graham with competitors. He was a great producer down the stretch for a lot of fantasy teams last year (though I'm sure I'm not the only one who got screwed by his benching in week 16).
  23. Reggie Bush - He ranks higher in point per reception leagues, but in a pure yardage & TD league, he's hurt by having to compete for playing time with Deuce McAllister and now Pierre Thomas, who Sean Payton apparently loves.
  24. Selvin Young - Young had over 5 yards a carry last year in limited duty. While that doesn't always translate over to full-time carries, we all know that the starting running back in Denver will succeed, and that appears to be Young right now.
  25. Lendale White - White had 1,100 yards and 7 scores, and figures once again to be the featured back for a Tennessee team that will lean on its running game. Lock it up.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Steve Novak = Marcus Camby?

You'll all be happy to know that Steve Novak was just acquired by the Clippers in a deal similar to the one the Clippers swung to acquire Marcus Camby: Houston gets the choice to swap second round picks in the 2011 draft.

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What an obscene system.

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...