When it comes to fantasy football, it's necessary to separate your head from your heart. I love the Bears, you love the Bears, we all do. But it's abundantly clear to everyone- well, most people- that this won't be a very good football team in 2008. And if they are, it will be because the defense reestablished itself as one of the league's best. Fantasy football is all about scoring touchdowns, and it's a decent bet that Randy Moss will catch more than the Bears entire offense will score this season. We have just one piece of advice regarding Bears players in fantasy terms: stay away.
The Lions, of course, aren't much better, and their offense will certainly take a hit with the departure of pass happy coordinator Mike Martz. But with Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson on the outside, Jon Kitna is still going to chuck the ball all over the field. Still, those two receivers are the only worthwhile fantasy players Detroit has to offer.
The NFC West always seems to look as if it's going to be a dogfight amongst the teams that are apart of it. Yet, the Seahawks have prevailed more often than not as the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers always seem to disappoint.
Lucky for you, a team's overall record doesn't matter in fantasy football and because of it, the 49ers and Rams have a number of guys that will have their names called on draft day.
Lost in the hysteria surrounding Brett Favre this offseason was the Vikings transformation into one of the NFC's elite teams. Their two major offseason additions, receiver Bernard Berrian and defensive end Jared Allen, should pay dividends in Minnesota but also for fantasy teams. Allen, one of the league's most prolific sack artists, makes Minnesota's defense one of the most coveted on draft day, and Berrian's presence could take a few defenders keyed on stopping Adrian Peterson out of the box.
Though the Packers were quiet in free agency, they return several attractive fantasy players. Fantasy owners everywhere are curious to see what Ryan Grant can do with a full season of carries, and Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are still draftable even without Favre.
Nothing irritates fantasy owners more than an unresolved Mike Shanahan running back derby. Denver can throw anyone behind their flawless zone-blocking offensive line, and they would be able to rush for over 1,300 yards. Well, almost anyone. But too often Shanahan decides on his starter after fantasy leagues draft, or, even worse, splits up carries between multiple backs.
The San Diego Chargers have no such problems deciding who to hand it off to. LaDainian Tomlinson was the NFL's leading rusher last year. Oh yeah, he's also the best player in the history of fantasy football. But don't just grab Tomlinson with the number one overall pick and move onto another team. San Diego is as loaded as any team in the NFL with useful fantasy players.
We got to start getting down to business here, people. The regular season opens in a little more than three weeks and most leagues will start drafting very soon. We'll be bringing you rankings for every position as well, so lets motor through these team previews. Today, we'll focus on two AFC West pushovers, the Chiefs of Kansas City and Raiders of Oakland.
The common thread between both these teams? Their offenses blow hard. KC's Brodie Croyle may be the NFL's worst starting QB- hurray for this guy!-, and after roughly eight kazillion carries the last three seasons, good ole' Larry Johnson doesn't look as awesome as he once did. The Raiders' O will likely be equally anemic, but they at least have potential. With JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden lining up in the backfield, the Raiders should be set for a very long time. It's just unlikely that both will make big contributions in their first full seasons. The real reason fantasy owners may want to avoid these two teams is because both feature poor offensive lines. Also featuring: Al Davis and Herm Edwards. That isn't a good thing.
The Bengals were the laughing stock of the NFL before coach Marvin Lewis arrived. Now, well, they are perfectly average. During Lewis' five-year run, Cincinnati has finished 8-8 three times, and 7-9 once. Though the Bengals have never been able to sustain the success they had in 2005 by finishing 11-5, the talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, has always been there.
And it still is. In fantasy football terms, few teams are as loaded as the Bengals. Their offense features three fantasy studs, and one fallen running back looking to redeem himself. When Carson Palmer and crew air it out, fantasy owners will reap the benefits.
It's not easy to replace a coaching legend, but Mike Tomlin handled it as well as anyone could have hoped last season. A 10-6 record and a playoff birth was enough to satisfy the Pittsburgh faithful in Year One, but that likely won't be good enough this season. The Steelers will start the season in everyone's top ten in power rankings, and probably in the top five in most.
Like any NFL behemoth, the Steelers are loaded with big time fantasy players on offense. Still, fantasy owners were likely upset to see Pittsburgh use its first round draft pick on running back Rashard Mendenhall, who may take away goal line touches from starter Willie Parker.