The Preseason All-Gut Check Team
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
This week I get to write one of my favorite fantasy football columns
of the year, my sleeper picks for the 2008 season. There are so
many fantasy scribes in the media the term Sleeper isn’t
what it used to be. I chose to define sleepers as players who aren’t
front-runners on draft day, but often lead the way in box scores
when it’s all said and done. The Preseason All-Gut Check
Team is a squad comprised of mid-to-late round players or potential
waiver wire picks that could benefit your fantasy team in 2008.
Preseason All-Gut Check alumni include a host of future stars not
expected to be as good as they were in that year (2005,
2006, and 2007).
Here’s how the ’07 All-Gut Check roster performed. The
rankings are based on total fantasy points:
| 2007 All-Gut Check
|| 1st Team
|| 2nd Team
||Missed 5 games and I missed, too.
||Not bad on a torn meniscus.
||Injury derailed a strong start.
||I slept on Ryan Grant.
||Not bad for a back up, butÖ
||Lead NFL in yards per catch.
||Moments of excellence.
||Bye week option.
||Injury derailed his season.
||Much better than I expected.
||I slept on Tony Scheffler.
||Hence, Jeremy Shockey in ’08.
|| 1st Team
|| 2nd Team
||7.5 sacks and a quality DE2.
||8 sacks, FA signed with Bengals
||On a lounger with his yappy dog.
||Springer moment with Trent Green.
||Depth unless in a 4-LB league
||Predicted a Vilma-like rookie year.
||Missed 2 games, slept on Cortland Finnegan.
||Maybe this yearÖ
I went 10-for-26 last year (.384). That percentage could get Vince
Lombardi canned, but it’s a sterling stat for someone taking
cuts at some curveballs and sliders. If you were looking for WR
and LB sleepers, I was the right place to go. But I was pretty sorry
in the secondary and at quarterback.
This year I’m continuing to go deep with most of my picks.
These are players you will either pick in the second half of your
draft or as a free agent off waivers, but I believe they have the
skills and at least a glimmer of an opportunity to make fantasy
| 2008 All-Gut Check
|| 1st Team
|| 2nd Team
||Zorn will help him take a step forward.
||Short drop, quick release system will
be a great fit.
||Power, speed, and hands. Durability
||Vision, balance, and hands. A very sneaky
good late pick.
||Out to prove him self correct.
||The Rookie Scouting Portfolio’s
||Work ethic + physical talent = production.
||Learning from Isaac Bruce and unsung
due to Morgan.
||The light has come on and they have
||Ed McCaffery? Maybe, but year two with
Schaub = points.
||2008’s Colston? Looks conceivable.
||Makes you wonder about VaTech’s
QB Sean Glennon
||Late round pick could be a nice starter.
||I love this guy’s skills and he’s
making noise in camp.
|| 1st Team
|| 2nd Team
||With the Titan’s d-line, he’ll
||The same reason as the Titans. Minny’s
d-line is tough.
||Most improved Texan according to Kubiak.
||Stroud is going to help McCargo fulfill
||An example of the Falcons GM’s
||Right place, right timeÖenough skill?
||The skills are thereÖ
||He’s no Patrick Willis, but who
||A good tackler in a tackling scheme.
||Will he continue to get tested? I think
||Takes the FS position and he’ll
||A great playmaker on the rise.
(1st Team): Matt Schaub is becoming the perennial ďgood pickĒ player,
but Campbell continues to improve incrementally each time I see
him. His surrounding skill talent is loaded, too. I like his sneaky-good,
59.9% completion percentage with more scores than picks in his second
season. He is also used to switching offensive system at least once
a year and although this may seem like a poor argument in his favor,
Campbell clearly doesnít seem to pout over the change. Heís quietly
going about the business of becoming a better player and heís doing
what he should against vanilla defenses in the preseason Ė playing
efficient football. Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El may not be
the prototypical west coast receivers that Washington hopes they
drafted in Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, but both have excellent
skills with the ball in their hands. Chris Cooley and Fred Davis
are nifty, too. If youíre from the school of drafting quarterbacks
late and playing the match ups, Iíd recommend Campbell as the guy
you pair with a QB you take a bit earlier. Itís possible Campbell
could hae some strong efforts in non-division match ups where teams
arenít as familiar with him.
(2nd Team): Fantasy owners arenít necessarily down on Edwards, but
they donít have high expectations for the second-year quarterback
out of Stanford, either. I think people are giving him a short shrift:
he was a Second Half Wonder
as a rookie and one of those games, an impressive 4th quarter effort
during a Cleveland blizzard, depressed the stats commensurate with
his performance. The Bills defense should improve because they have
been drafting effectively towards this side of the ball and the
addition of DT Marcus Stroud paired with up and coming DT John McCargo
will give the Bills offense even more opportunities to see the football.
Remember, the Bills only allowed more than 20 points in four games
last year. Schonertís short-drop passing game (a system he learned
carrying the clipboard for Boomer Esiason in Cincinnati) is a very
good fit for Trent Edwards and the Bills offense, because Edwards
is accurate, decisive, and will have more opportunities to progress
with his receivers if he can get into a rhythm. Plus, a short drop
system lulls the opposing defense into a rhythm that can make them
more susceptible to big plays.
Williams (1st Team): I donít care what you say, Iím a fan and
last year I added him to
any dynasty squad I could spare the roster space. We all have obstacles
in life. Most people have lower profile lives and their issues arenít
as magnified (note I didnít say less difficult). If youíre waiting
for Williams to screw up, youíre associating him with talents such
as Koren Robinson, William Green, or David Boston who werenít able
to get past their obstacles and return to prominence as football
players. Has anyone considered that many of the people who get into
trouble with drugs or other off-field problems often have mental
health issues that arenít being diagnosed? Itís often how it works
Ė not always, but often. What I like about Williams is it didnít
take until he turned 35 or 40, went completely broke, and lost everything
and everyone around him to figure out he needed help. What I love
about Williamsí fantasy prospects is that he has rededicated himself
to the game. He has regained his optimal playing weight and looks
like the back he once was. I hope he shuts everyone up.
Ricky has at least one fan.
(1st Team): Perry was the second back off the board in 2004 Ė selected
two picks after Steven Jackson and ahead of Kevin Jones, Tatum Bell,
Greg Jones , and Michael Turner. Other than Turner, who was a small
school back that lacked the ďpedigree,Ē there was a good reason
only Jackson was selected ahead of Perry. The Michigan product has
good hands, demonstrates nice acceleration, and has power. His injuries
were flukes. Muscle strains and pulls are often due to poor training
and conditioning, which Perry didnít have. The former first round
pick is playing well in camp and pushing incumbent starter Rudi
Johnson for the gig and Johnson isnít doing himself any favors by
sitting out most of the summerís festivities. Look for Perry to
split time with Kenny Watson (and maybe Johnson if he can get on
the field) and take it outright with some good performances early.
(2nd Team): Heís my second-rated back in the Rookie Scouting Portfolio
for good reason: vision, quickness, stamina, and yards after contact
skills. Iíve been talking about him all spring and summer. If you
believe Willis McGaheeís career isnít coming to an end as Baltimoreís
starter in 2008, youíre in denial. There are a whole of people in
denial right now, but itís changing with each Ray Rice carry.
(2nd team): Some Denver beat writers are saying Hall is the best
runner on the depth chart Ė and he was even with Ryan Torain in
the backfield. The New England Patriots reportedly had a third-round
grade on the University of South Florida star. Halll was my 10th-rated
back in the 2006 RSP. He
definitely showed a little something last year. As a Selvin Young
owner I would prefer to see Hall on the bench, but I donít believe
itís going to happen. Hall is too savvy a player with good receiving
skills to collect dust.
(1st Team): Another RSP fave is catching everything in camp and
beat out free agent acquisition Ernest Wilford. Listen folks, Wilford
was good enough to command a look from other teams and I doubt Miami
brought him in to be a bench player. I think they werenít confident
that Hagan was going to improve and thatís exactly what the Arizona
State Wildcat had to do in order to beat out Wilford under a new
regime that brought in the Jacksonville receiver. Pennington is
not a deep ball thrower, and Hagan has been making possession receiver
type of plays. I think a 60-catch, 800-yards, 5-score season is
realistic for Hagan.
Robert Meachem (1st Team): I didnít like Meachem as much as
other rookie evaluators because he didnít catch the football
cleanly at Tennessee on a regular basis. What has changed for me
since then is heís working hard to fulfill his potential and
his performance in the preseason shows heís catching footballs
that were more difficult for him to do in the past. I would still
like to see him go over the middle, but heís doing enough
for me to consider him late.
Josh Morgan (1st Team): Yep, I rated Morgan in the 2008 RSP. Nope,
he wasnít in my top 20 receivers. Why? Morgan didnít
show consistency as a route runner and catcher of the football.
He demonstrated excellent athleticism and I detail him beating All-American
CB Aquib Talib like a drum in last yearís Orange Bowl, but
he was raw. This is something that was said about Morgan by the
Niners staff, but heís apparently learning fast and established
a good rapport with J.T. OíSullivan, the leading candidate
to start in San Francisco. Morgan is big, fast, and has been very
consistent with tracking the deep ball in camp.
(2nd Team): The 49er that has been the forgotten man in camp due
to Morganís bullet train ascent has been second year receiver Jason
Hill. Long term, I think Hill can be one of the better receivers
in the league. Mike Martz reportedly raved about Hill in OTAs and
Hill hasnít disappointed in the preseason either. Hill reminded
me of Isaac Bruce and he gets a great opportunity to study under
the veteran who represents the ceiling of his potential. Its entirely
possible Hill could perform like a #3 fantasy WR as the Ninersí
(2nd Team): Ed McCaffrey? Could be. McCaffrey bounced from the 49ers
to the Giants before finding a home in Denver and excelling in Kubiakís
offense. Walter sat behind a few good receivers in Cincinnati from
2003-2005 and got 800 yards in his first extended time as a starter
in 2007. McCaffrey didnít break 800 yards until his seventh season.
At 6-3, 221-lbs., Walter has decent running skills after the catch.
He was used occasionally on the end around last year with moderate
success. I think itís possible for him to repeat is 2007 stats.
(2nd Team): Another Virginia Tech product (believe me when I tell
you that Hokie QB Sean Glennon is not on the top of my list of pro
prospects, especially after seeing Royal, Morgan, and Clowney play
this off season) that is impressing early. Royal scored an 81 on
my evaluations, which is the equivalent of a player with starting
potential that can contribute part-time early in his career. Royal
catches the ball in traffic well and displays top-shelf leaping
ability and acceleration. He is an explosive player. He didnít the
ball well with his hands, block effectively, nor demonstrate skills
to beat press coverage as a collegian. With Brandon Marshall likely
gone for the first month, Royal may get a chance as a primary receiver
for Jay Cutler early.
(1st Team): An Indianapolis understudy, Utecht should be a good
addition for Carson Palmer. I believe he can make up for the absence
of Chris Henry in the redzone. Heís going extremely late in most
drafts and thatís a bargain for a guy I believe will have 500 yards
and five scores. I was going to say eight scores, but I just saw
an update during the Giants-Browns game that says Chris Henry is
reportedly close to resigning with Cincy.
Kellen Davis (2nd Team): Davis was one of my favorite players in
the 2007 rookie class. Hereís what I said about him in the
summary section of the 2008 RSP:
Davis is regarded as a raw prospect that might
actually be switched to defensive end because he was a situational
edge rusher for the Spartans. I watched him play both positions
and while he demonstrated a good first step and the ability to get
to the passer on defense, I think his hands, footwork, body control,
and ability to release off the line make him a potential Pro Bowl
tight end. This is the one player at this position I would draft
in the mid-to-late rounds and hold onto for a couple of years in
a dynasty league.
Based on a camp where Ron Turner and his teammates Desmond Clark
and Greg Olsen have been effusive with their praise, Davis is right
on track to be a starting TE of the future. With Clark getting hurt
on Monday and the Bears using Kyle Orton to direct a short passing
game, Davisí future could come sooner than many expect. Donít snooze
(1st Team): He might be a situational player, but the Titans finally
rebuilt their defensive line in recent years Ė something they didnít
have when Kearse left the first time. Now, Kearse gets to operate
on a stacked line with two Pro Bowl quality players Ė Kyle Vanden
Bosch and Albert Haynesworth. If Antwaan Odom and Travis LaBoy can
combine for 8 sacks, I think Kearse has a good shot of equality
that number himself, even as a part-time starter.
(2nd Team): Playing opposite free agent acquisition Jared Allen
and alongside two strong defensive tackles, Edwards has the potential
to have an 8-10 sack season just because opposing offensive lines
will have enough concerns to deal with in Minny.
(1st Team): He was the youngest player ever drafted in the history
of the NFL. Okoye turned down an Ivy League education to play big-time
football at Louisville. With youth, brains, and first round ability
on his side, Okoye should become a force in short order, especially
with a unit featuring Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans.
(2nd Team): Like Okoye, he was a dominant force in college. With
Marcus Stroud, Aaron Schobel, and Paul Posluszny surrounding him,
McCargo should use his tremendous strength and quickness to be a
big-time factor up the middle.
(1st Team): DT Grady Jackson is serviceable enough to help Lofton
be a bigger impact player than many might expect, because he can
give Lofton more room to make plays without linemen in his face.
Heís not a big-time athlete, but he has a strong on-field presence
and IQ. Keith Brooking and Michael Boley might take away tackles,
but the MLB is generally the stat-getter in a 4-3 defense.
DíQwell Jackson (1st Team): The pounding Cleveland took Monday Night
notwithstanding, Jackson should benefit from the presence of Shaun
Rogers, who, was not on the field this week. Jackson will get even
more plays funneled his way with Rogers and a 100-tackle season
isnít out of the question.
(2nd Team): With Zach Thomas out of the picture, Crowder has his
shot to be the leading tackler for the Dolphins. Heís not a great
athlete, but neither was Thomas. But the feeling out of Miami is
that Crowder might just be a guy bridging the gap until the Parcells
regime can find a better MLB via free agency or the draft. Still,
itís obvious the Dolphins think Crowder has shown enough to at least
make a case for 2009. Either way, I expect good stats even if he
doesnít endear himself.
(2nd Team): He edges out Keith Rivers for this spot because he should
get his fair share of tackles as an ILB in the 3-4. Plus, the Bengals
seem to have horrible luck with their linebacker draft picks (Odell
Thurman and David Pollack). The Patriots should use Mayo to the
best of his ability.
Brandon Flowers (1st Team): Flowers is a good tackler and heís
in a good situation with Kansas Cityís Cover 2 defensive scheme.
If you remember, Rhonde Barber was a top tier fantasy corner due
to this system. If the Chiefs offense fails to make strides with
its QB situation, the defense could be on the field a lot and that
spells more opportunities for a guy like Flowers.
(2nd Team): I swear I picked him prior to the Monday preseason game.
Wright is a talented young CB who will have to replace Leigh Bodden
as the primary cover corner in this defense. I like this as a fantasy
owner for a few reasons. One, I donít see the Browns taking too
great a leap up the defensive rankings. Two, Bodden led all corners
in fantasy-friendly stats so Wright stands to gain the most. Three,
Wright will get tested because heís young and still relatively inexperienced.
(1st Team): Huff was moved from strong safety to free safety. This
is generally a death knell for decent fantasy stats, but Huff is
a strong athlete who should also benefit from the addition of DeAngelo
Hall. Huff should be able to roam a bit more in the defensive backfield
and this could help him see not only an increase in tackles, but
also more interceptions. I doubt he becomes a top-10 safety, but
he can become a viable starter.
Reggie Nelson (2nd Team): Hereís a real ball-hawking defender.
Nelson has great skills and the Jaguars are excited about his ability
to become a superstar. Although heís also a free safety, heís
also a nice late round reach for fantasy greatness.
This is my third update to my rankings. The projections are for
a 12-team league and a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and
1 TE lineup with FFToday
default scoring. In order to remain conscious of space and formatting,
I will only list the top 32 QBs, RBs, and TEs and the top 50 WRs.
I had a number of e-mail requests for me to provide projections
for other scoring systems, but I will not have the time to do more
than this type of league. I suggest you register for a MyFFToday
account (it’s free), input your league scoring system,
and use your scoring system to run the numbers from the Crank
Score Calculator to get the raw data. Then use the previous
articles as a guide to calculate the simplified new Crank Score.
| Tier Color Codes
|Primary Back ups
|Secondary Back ups
The tier color codes are my way of grouping the players by specific
ranges in Crank Score. Once can see the codes have some mathematical
logic, but it is still a subjective delineation on my part. One
could argue that there are only two elite backs or there is seven
to twelve elite receivers depending on how one looks at the impact
of the Crank Score attributed to the positions. Again, this is
a limited list of players. There are far more flier/waiver wire
picks for my personal draft list. The players in bold reflect
changes from last week and there are significant changes –
some bigger than others.
Brett Favre moves up again, but not due to his performance as
much as he appears healthy and hasnít lost anything with
his arm. The adjustment to the offense is a bit overrated. The
hardest part about playing quarterback is recognizing what the
defense is doing and acting upon it. I doubt thereís much
Favre hasnít seen.
rockets up the charts because I believe heíll beat out Rudi Johnson.
It doesnít mean you pick him before Johnson until thereís an official,
strong indicator of this change, but you do recognize heís a great
mid-to-late round pick.
Derek Anderson drops a few spots, but itís because I like
Roethlisberger and Palmer more. Aaron Rodgers drops because if
heís getting hit that much after two preseason games, then
I think heís in major trouble to start the year. It means
one of two things: the line is playing poorly and/or heís
not making quick decisions.
Antonio Bryant is making plays and could be separating himself
from Maurice Stovall and Michael Clayton.