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FANTASY WORLD: RE-EXAMINING THE TOP TEN

"Just like every Charger sings a sad, sad song..." Getty Images

Last week, Adrian Peterson had his best game since the 2nd week of the season, gaining over 100 yards on 4.4 yards-per-carry. But just like the rest of his year thus far, his fantasy output was a disappointment due to a lack of touchdowns and an excess of fumbles. It was indicative of the frustration to come out of the top 10 players drafted this year; according to the standard scoring system, only three of them are currently in the top 10 of scoring. But before you pull that last hair out of your head in anger, let's take a look at what's been going wrong with these top dogs, and where they're heading.

(Note: For clarification purposes, "top 10" is taken from ESPN.com's average draft position. As usual, standard scoring rules do apply.)

1st pick: LaDainian Tomlinson, 71 points
Based on where he was drafted, there's a compelling case to make that LT has been the biggest fantasy disappointment outside of Gisele's boyfriend's legs. He's averaging only 67.5 rushing yards per game—a number that goes up to 88.2 yards when you include receiving numbers—and has only reached the all-important 100-yard plateau once. It doesn't help that he's been gimpy all year, and that backup Darren Sproles has shown he can handle his own, averaging nearly 5 yards a carry. With someone like that waiting in the wings, the Chargers are more than happy to rest Tomlinson if he's feeling a bit crampy out there. I'm not saying it's a lost cause yet, but if someone offers you a trade thinking LT's going to finish at the top of fantasy points again, take the offer. The league-carrying stud of 2006 is no longer; there's a good chance the best thing he's a part of this year is the amazing David Fincher-directed Nike commercial.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Outlook Not So Good"

2nd pick: Adrian Peterson, 72 points
See? It wasn't crazy that a lot of us analysts were worried AP would struggle to match last season's numbers. Take away those two enormous games from last year, and he'd have ended up with a pedestrian 821 rushing yards and 6 TDs. That said, things are looking up. Besides two games against the stout Bears defense and one against Tampa Bay, his remaining games all come against teams currently 11th or lower in rushing yards against. Having an at-the-very-least-competent quarterback behind center keeping defenses vaguely honest only helps.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "It Is Decidedly So"

3rd pick: Brian Westbrook, 63 points
You knew the risks going in: When Westbrook's healthy he's one of the best in the league, but those times are few and far between. In the three games he's played fully so far this year, he's averaged 20 points a game. But, again, he's only fully played three games. And don't expect anything different. You Westbrook-owners have a decision to make: Do you want to be forced to sit by your computer every Sunday morning unsure if Westbrook's going to take the field, or do you want to let someone else deal with the headache that is the Milton Bradley of the NFL?
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Concentrate And Ask Again"

4th pick: Tom Brady, 3 points
In honor of those around the world who drafted him, let's just move on.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Ask Again Later"

5th pick: Joseph Addai, 46 points
For someone who's averaged 91.6 yards per scrimmage a game during his career, Addai was a no-brainer top 5 pick. But this year has seen a dramatic rise in second-guessing after his output has decreased to only 61.3 yards a game, even after you take out last week's early exit. But don't fret, Addai owners. As long as he comes back from last week's hamstring injury, he'll be fine. As you saw last week against the number one Ravens defense, this Colts offense is just getting warmed up.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Signs Point To Yes"

6th pick: Steven Jackson, 59 points
It's not that S-Jax hasn't been horribly unproductive this year, it's just that he's the only offensive weapon the Rams have. (We still think you're cool, Torry.) He's healthy and still has the strength of a Russian hockey mom, but one can only do so much if the defense stacks all 11 in the box. Don't do anything silly and bench him, but it's tough to say where Jackson goes from here.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Reply Hazy, Try Again"

7th pick: Randy Moss, 38 points
See Brady, Tom.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Better Not Tell You Now"

8th pick: Frank Gore, 98 points
Gore was one of those players on the cusp at the start of the year, a guy that could have either been enormously-productive or a complete bust of a pick. Lucky for those who had the fortunate occurrence of having him fall to them late in the first round, Mike Martz actually knows a thing or two about getting the ball to players with talent. Gore is currently the 3rd highest back in terms of fantasy points, and has the highest yards-per-carry average of the top 10. The only worrying thing is that his receiving yards have gone down every week this year, but you didn't draft him for that anyway. Like a random fry in your onion rings, it's just a nice little bonus.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "You May Rely On It"

9th pick: Clinton Portis, 101 points
Who would've guessed that after the horrific opening night game against the Giants that the Man of a Thousand Faces would be the league's leading rusher and top RB points producer? In fact, if you take out that Week One debacle—which, while he did rush for 86 yards, could be discounted because it came during a time when the team was clueless and FireJimZorn.com was worth a daily read—Portis is averaging a 18.6 points a week, which is tied with Ronnie Brown for tops in the league. Expect more of the same. And no, the Shaun Alexander signing isn't going to affect anything.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "As I See It, Yes"

10th pick: Peyton Manning, 72 points
The total points for Manning is a bit misleading, seeing as he scored 22 of them last week. But that's kind of the larger issue here. Before last week, he was averaging a measly 12.5 points a game, a half-point behind the incomparable Kyle Orton. But if you consider the fact that Eli's Older Brother missed all of training camp and the 4 preseason games, then it would be just about now in his 5th game when he gets his sea legs back and returns to his old self. And, what do you know, in his 5th game he goes up against the top-ranked defense in the league and tears them apart. The window to buy low on him has officially closed.
The Magic 8-Ball Says: "Yes — Definitely"



Player On My Team of the Week: Reggie Wayne, who also saw his value skyrocket with the old Peyton Manning back by snagging 8 catches for 118 yards and a little alone time in the end zone.

How to Heckle One of My Players of the Week: "Hey Laurence Maroney, I've come to terms with the fact that I probably shouldn't have used a keeper spot on you two years in a row, but can you just give me some indication as to whether or not I should even waste a bench spot on you?"

Best Comeback of the Week Award: The Chicago Bears, who under the steady hand of Kyle Orton, came back in the final minute of the game for a big win in Atlanta. At least, I'm pretty sure they did. For some strange reason my brain blocked out the final 11 seconds of the game, during which I can only assume nothing important happened.

Sell Low: The resurgence of Danny Glover's career, after Mel Gibson has reportedly turned down an offer to put the blood and guts down for a moment to costar in Lethal Weapon 5.

Buy High: The power of love, after the following story that will make even the toughest linebacker weep openly. In short: During World War II, a young boy imprisoned in a concentration camp met a young German girl who would toss him food from the outside. The boy was later moved to a different camp and the two thought they'd never see each other again. Years later, through the fate of the cosmos, the boy gets set up on a blind date, who just happens to be the girl. The two get married, live happily ever after, and, well, since it's getting tough for me to see the screen through this blurred vision, I'll wrap things up.