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From http://www.nfl.com/fantasy/story/8181828

 

 

 Now is no time to forget about fantasy     By Dave RichardNFL.com(Feb. 10, 2005) -- So who's ready to start talking about the 2005 fantasy football season? Anyone? Don't be shy. Call me crazy, but if you want to win your fantasy league championship, you have to start preparing sooner than the day before your draft. I realized this for the first time in 2001, when I vowed to never buy a fantasy magazine again, and instead kept track of offseason movements, starting lineups, etc., on my own. I won my first league then, and ever since I have never gone a football season without winning at least one championship.  There really isn't a whole lot to talk about these days. After all, only about 25 percent of you play in keeper leagues and have a roster to even talk about. But the NFL offseason is here, and while your days go by with nothing to do besides count down the days to the 2005 NFL Draft, there are a few areas of interest you should at least be made aware of for the 2005 season. Here are five areas of interest for fantasy owners this offseason: Running back movement This is a big area of concern for all fantasy owners. Not only are gem dandies like Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James free agents, but a handful of other running backs are also going to be made available via trade. Do you think Minnesota is really going to keep Michael Bennett, Mewelde Moore, Onterrio Smith and Moe Williams on the roster next year? What's Denver going to do with Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Reuben Droughns, Quentin Griffin and Garrison Hearst? And don't sleep on injured RBs like Correll Buckhalter and Marcel Shipp -- they're coming back, too. And if that isn't enough, there's the 2005 NFL Draft. Look no further than the top three NFL prospects: Ronnie Brown and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams of Auburn, and Cedric Benson of Texas -- all running backs. (How weird is it that Auburn has two stud RBs in one draft?) And that's the cream of a very, very promising crop of running backs in this draft (our other faves include K-State's Darren Sproles, Louisiana Tech's Ryan Moats, N.C. State's T.A. McLendon and Oklahoma State's Vernand Morency). We're seeing the NFL's running-back landscape changing. A lot of the middle-tier, average guys you may have gotten to know are going to be hitting the streets in favor of the younger guys and the big-name free agents. It's going to be an absolute merry-go-round for running backs this offseason, which means that there are going to be a lot of new starters come August. What's the fantasy impact? Start singing "Zipp-a-dee Doo Dah" because it's going to be a wonderful draft day for you. There is a decent chance that all 32 teams will have a primary running back going into 2005. That means there are 32 running backs for the taking. So no matter where you pick in Round 1 (or Rounds 2 or 3), you will still be able to land a stud workhorse. Even if only 20 or 22 teams have stud RBs in place, that's still going to make drafting a running back a little bit easier this year compared to last year. Randy Moss' future Believe it or not, this one man will have a seismic impact on how fantasy football drafts go next season. If Randy Moss is dealt to a contending team, he will still remain one of the top fantasy receivers out there, but another receiver will likely drop several notches. If he is dealt to a non-contending team or a team on the decline, he will be the one dropping. And no matter where he ends up, his quarterback will instantly have additional fantasy value, which means that Daunte Culpepper could cool off if Moss leaves. "It's not my decision what happens with Randy," Culpepper said recently. "The Vikings organization makes that decision, and whatever they do, that's what's going to happen. I wouldn't be surprised, no matter what happens." Know this: There will be instant analysis and speculation of how Moss' team will do no matter where he is in 2005. If he goes to a team with a soft offensive line or a team with a weak-armed quarterback, Moss will slip. If he plays for a team with a good offensive line and a strong-armed quarterback, he'll be good to go -- especially if they play on a fast turf in good conditions. Naturally, if he stays in Minnesota, which is what we think will happen, then all will remain the same. But there will be rumors between now and April so make sure you keep a close eye on this situation. Emphasis on tight ends After watching Antonio Gates go from zero to hero, every NFL team will keep an eye out for the next great "power forward" tight end. The draft won't offer many comparable players, so a combination of free agency, roster management and super-secret scouting will bring up the next crop of big-bodied, vertical-jumping, pass-catching TEs.    Kellen Winslow is one of many TEs fantasy owners will take a chance on.      There are a few tight ends around the league who did little in 2004 but could blossom next year. Jacksonville's George Wrighster could become an attractive short-yardage target for Byron Leftwich; Washington used rookie Chris Cooley as a fullback and a tight end, so he could see a lot of time on the field in the future; the Patriots used a first-round pick on Ben Watson last year, so he could develop into something for them; Tennessee's Ben Troupe, who saw the field toward the end of the year, is one of our sleepers for 2005. And don't forget about Kellen Winslow, who was drafted with high hopes last year and subsequently got hurt. The former Miami Hurricane is one of a handful of solid players on the Browns and should get plenty of receptions, regardless of who the quarterback is. Gates' 2004 stats are the kind of numbers Winslow could potentially get, but probably not for a few years. Will there be enough QBs? After Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and a Moss-friendly Daunte Culpepper, there is not a whole lot to love about the current crop of fantasy quarterbacks. Trent Green will post some big games, as will Marc Bulger and occasionally Tom Brady. After that, the pool looks about as murky as a cheap hotel's swimming hole. After the guys we named, we're left with lots of potential-based quarterbacks and a lot of guys we wouldn't recommend in a regular 12-team league. David Carr, Jake Delhomme, Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich fit the profile of a good fantasy quarterback (good offensive line, good offensive coordinator, good playmaking wide receiver), but they all sputtered at times last year. Others like Michael Vick, Chad Pennington and Matt Hasselbeck were once thought of as future fantasy quarterback studs, but they were hit or miss. Then there are quarterbacks like Aaron Brooks, Joey Harrington, Jake Plummer and Steve McNair who no one has a clue on. This is a big issue for fantasy fans. Two years ago it seemed like there were TOO MANY fantasy QBs. Now there are too few. If some don't shake out during the offseason and preseason, then it's going to be a rush to draft a top-flight passer come draft time, or else go with a platoon and hope you push the right buttons. Veteran returns With young guns always populating the NFL's rosters, it's harder and harder for long-time veterans to stay employed. The over-30 crop of one-time fantasy superstars may be headed for greener (or less involved) pastures. We have a list for you. It's not an "etched-in-stone" list of veterans to be wary of, but a lot of the names are going to be very familiar. You must consider the age of any of these guys if you draft them in 2005. Name  Pos.  Team  Age on opening weekend  Tiki Barber  RB  N.Y. Giants  30  Jerome Bettis  RB  Pittsburgh  33  Stephen Davis  RB  Carolina  31  Corey Dillon  RB  New England  30  Marshall Faulk  RB  St. Louis  32  Brett Favre  QB  Green Bay  35  Jeff Garcia  QB  Cleveland  35  Trent Green  QB  Kansas City  35  Marvin Harrison  WR  Indianapolis  33  Priest Holmes  RB  Kansas City  31  Keyshawn Johnson  WR  Dallas  32  Curtis Martin  RB  N.Y. Jets  32  Derrick Mason  WR  Tennessee  31  Steve McNair  QB  Tennessee  32  Eric Moulds  WR  Buffalo  32  Terrell Owens  WR  Philadelphia  31  Jerry Rice  WR  Seattle  42  Jimmy Smith  WR  Jacksonville  36  Rod Smith  WR  Denver  35  Duce Staley  RB  Pittsburgh  30  Amani Toomer  WR  N.Y. Giants  31  Note: The first Sunday of the season is Sept. 11, 2005. Plan your drafts accordingly.  The age factor is a "catch 22." On one hand, you want to avoid the older players because they're susceptible to injuries and slow down over time. But then again, a player like Curtis Martin will erupt for 1,697 yards, 12 touchdowns and make you look like a genius for taking him in Round 4. There is no right way to gauge the 30-something veterans. As fantasy owners, the only thing you can do is keep their age in mind when the time to draft arrives. Think of it as a tiebreaker -- if you're debating over whether to take Martin or, say, Domanick Davis, you could always look at Martin's age and figure that he's going to slow down sometime. You just never know whether age is just a number or something more significant. 

 

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You're preaching to the choir here, lung. Most Huddlers I know NEVER stop evaluating the draft, free agent moves, and the impact of both on FF scoring.

 

I did enjoy reading this article and agreed with most of it, but I look for Drew Brees to do well again next year, and he wasn't even mentioned.

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After the draft, which for the most part doesnt have a hugh impact on non dynasty FF leagues, I don't see where any "preparation" at this point is needed! :D

 

Until some of the big free agants sign, we know where Moss and other trade rumor players will end up, there is too much that can change between now and the first preseason game, I think. Will the Giants make any big improvments in thier O line? Who's the QB in Tennessee or GB?

 

Sure, I'll keep abreast of news and player movement as it happens, but "preparation", to me, is more than that, and it's too early for any more than that. Some typical items:

 

Does Pennington get his arm stregnth back after surgery? If he does, will the Jet WR's be better fantasy values this year? If the Jets lose Jordan, will that give Martin even more touches this year? Will the Jets keep Abraham, and keep the points against low again, so the Jet offense will remain conservative even with a new offensive coordinator? I could go on, and those questions are only about one team.

 

For me, preparation starts with training camp. It means getting as much homer info as I can from these boards. Until rosters are close to set, it's not what I'd call prep.... but it is fun to guess at what players may deliver next year.

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You're preaching to the choir here, lung. Most Huddlers I know NEVER stop evaluating the draft, free agent moves, and the impact of both on FF scoring.

 

I did enjoy reading this article and agreed with most of it, but I look for Drew Brees to do well again next year, and he wasn't even mentioned.

 

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Um, I wasn't preaching to anyone. I just posted this article from NFL.com for all to enjoy.

 

The author of the article, Dave Richard, would be the one preaching to the choir. :D

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Sure, I'll keep abreast of news and player movement as it happens, but "preparation", to me, is more than that, and it's too early for any more than that. 

 

For me, preparation starts with training camp. It means getting as much homer info as I can from these boards. Until rosters are close to set, it's not what I'd call prep.... but it is fun to guess at what players may deliver next  year.

 

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Word. Right now there is virtually NOTHING to talk about; when FA starts, yeah, then there's conjecture to be made, but I don't give too much weight to anything until things start shaking out in training camp.

 

Even then, it's mostly a matter of having a solid foundation to deal with all the injuries and surprise cuts that pop up every season; sort of like the old military adage that "no battle plan survives past first contact with the enemy."

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