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Fantasy Football Preview 2007

Posted: Tuesday July 31, 2007 1:25PM; Updated: Wednesday August 1, 2007 10:54AM
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SI's 2007 Fantasy Football Preview
Eric Steinbach, of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Eric Steinbach, of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Shaun Alexander. Great Guy. Great Player. And the man who ruined your fantasy team last year. now he's back, and he swears his foot is fine. So What do you do with him? Fantasy drafts are coming up, and SI is here to help with expert advice and rankings of all the top players. Including Shaun. Let the arguments begin.

BIG MOVES

Everybody expects Randy Moss to make a difference in New England, and these less-heralded job changes could have a significant impact on the fantasy landscape as well.

OFF TO SEE THE WHISEN: First-year Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, the brains behind the Steelers' offensive revival, will work his magic for RB Edgerrin James, who gets a blocking FB (Terrelle Smith from the Browns), and for WR Anquan Boldin, who will be featured in the Hines Ward role

THE DISAPPEARING LINE: After G Eric Steinbach left for Cleveland and C Rich Braham retired, the Bengals' line, which opened big holes for Rudi Johnson (1,300-plus yards rushing in each of the last three years), suddenly has big holes of its own to fill.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Steinbach joins No. 3 pick Joe Thomas, a tackle from Wisconsin, on a Browns line that should allow more time for the QB -- whoever that is -- to get the ball to WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow

OH, HENRY!: Shanahan may no longer be a dirty word in fantasy circles if the Broncos coach sticks to one RB: free-agent signee Travis Henry, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards twice when he played for Buffalo and 1,200 last year with Tennessee

THUNDERING BOLTS: It's hard to ignore new coach Norv Turner's record as a head man (58-82-1), but here's why the Chargers' offensive stars won't miss a beat under Turner, who was the 49ers' coordinator in '06: They've been running his system since he was coordinator in San Diego six years ago

SWEET CAROLINA: New offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson has implemented a zone-blocking scheme that should spring Panthers RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. -- Adam Duerson

I THINK... By Peter King

You have to be very careful about allowing coaches' pronouncements in training camp to influence how you draft. Last summer, when I made an early visit to the Saints' camp in Jackson, Miss., first-year coach Sean Payton was high on one rookie wideout, Jamal Jones, and down on another, Marques Colston. He loved Jones's hands, and he questioned Colston's desire. Then Colston went out and caught 70 passes to six by Jones, becoming one of the most productive rookie receivers in years.

What happened was, Payton saw these young receivers running his drills for the first time, and his first impressions of them were off. That's why, if you have any say with your league's commissioner, you should push to delay the draft until the week before the regular season starts. With all the coaching changes, free-agent moves and other newcomers in camps each year, it's ludicrous to think coaches' opinions of players won't change between July 30 and Aug. 30. Once Payton, for instance, recognized that Colston was better than he first thought, he quickly advanced Colston in the offense. This year, which players will impress new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin? Can first-year coach Cam Cameron resuscitate Trent Green's career in Miami? You're going to need most of August to find out.

WORTH WATCHING

1. WHO'S IN VINCE'S ENTOURAGE? The Titans lost WRs Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade to free agency, so if you can correctly identify Vince Young's new favorite targets, you may land a late-round gem.

2. WHO'S THE VIKINGS' FEATURE BACK? Many assume it will be Adrian Peterson, but Chester Taylor gained 1,216 yards in '06. An untested QB (Tarvaris Jackson) means plenty of carries for both.

3. WHO'S THE BENGALS' THIRD WIDEOUT? With Chris Henry suspended for the first eight games, see who emerges from among Tab Perry, Antonio Chatman and Reggie McNeal.

4. IS THE BUCS' DEFENSE AN ELITE FANTASY UNIT? It has to get younger before it gets better: adding free-agent LB Cato June and rookie DE Gaines Adams starts the process.

5. WILL LAURENCE MARONEY BE FIT ENOUGH TO PLAY A FULL SEASON? Last year the Patriots' RB displayed strength, speed and a propensity for getting injured. If he's recovered from shoulder surgery, a stacked receiver corps should open the field for him. -- Ben Reiter

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