- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
You know the punch line. Only three of the 10 running backs listed, Barber, Jackson and Johnson, are in the top 10 in rushing after seven weeks. Jon Kitna is throwing for more yards per game than Carson Palmer, and Chad Johnson hasn't had a 100-yard receiving game yet--and has one TD in six games.
My point: It's never too early to start thinking about next season. And when you do, remember the lessons of this year. These are the three biggest ones:
1) Don't be afraid to go against the grain. When everyone is telling you to take Manning (yes, I was among those, and I still think he'll finish as the best fantasy quarterback), remember what you've seen from lesser lights such as Kitna and Drew Brees. It wasn't that much of a reach to think that Kitna could throw for 3,500 yards with Mike Martz running the show in Detroit, or that Brees, if healthy, would flourish with Sean Payton calling the plays in New Orleans. You could've gotten either in the middle rounds. There will be a guy or two in a similar spot next year.
2) Go for workhorse runners who don't have a lot of competition for their jobs: Jackson, Willis McGahee, Willie Parker and (after the trade of Kevan Barlow) Frank Gore. You want backs who will carry 325 times or more. Obviously no one could have predicted Williams's struggles or Alexander's injury, but the point is that productive backs can be found in the second and third rounds.
3) Don't fall for last year's hot kicker or hot defense. Did you spend a middle-round pick on Neil Rackers or the Bucs' D? Big mistake. Imagine if you'd taken Robbie Gould and the Broncos with your last two picks. No one can forecast which kicker or D will be the best, so draft them very late.