Archive for July, 2008


Your Fantasy Football Reality Check #4: Wide Receivers

July 31, 2008

It’s the final Thursday of July, NFL training camps have commenced, and we’re one week closer to the best day of our fantasy seasons- draft day. In the previous installments of Your Fantasy Football Reality Check we covered the two backfield positions, quarterbacks and running backs. This week we turn our attention to the growing core of highly productive wide receivers.

As a whole, there’s more overall depth at the wideout slot then there ever has been in fantasy football. When you begin to look inside the numbers, you’ll see that any member of the top ten are virtually interchangeable. To some degree you could extend that to the top 15. However, once you discover that the stock you have left to choose from has fallen below the top 20, I believe you’ll agree that mediocrity sets in extremely fast.

Last season I had the good fortune of drafting 4 receivers in the top 12, leaving me with the sense entering this season that depth at the wideout position was at an all time high. The truth of the matter is the players within the top 20 all have the potential to put up large yardage numbers while also grabbing 10 + TD’s. Outside of a few exceptions, from 21 down you’ll find a host of receivers that will contribute yardage-wise, but as far as cresting that 10 touchdown plateau, I don’t believe their chances are very favorable.

Any member of the top ten can be as comparatively productive week to week as any running back. With the rise of the running back by committee, it’s harder to determine which back will receive the goal line work. There’s a lot of reliability in the top ten to 15 WR’s that equals the output of the top backs, and you can find these players in the second, third, and fourth rounds- unlike the top backs. Faced with this REALITY CHECK, it’s my advice that you seriously entertain the idea of using two out of your first four picks in the draft on two of the top 15 receivers. A running back in the third to fifth round is eerily similar to a running back in the fifth to seventh round. That will not be the case with the wide receivers, the production level drops off dramatically in the same comparison. Double up on your wideout superstars and count on having a controversy-free lineup decision.

WR’s you’ll relish owning:
1) Randy Moss
2) Terrell Owens
3) Reggie Wayne
4) Braylon Edwards
5) Andre Johnson
6) Larry Fitzgerald
7) T.J. Houshmandzadeh
8 ) Steve Smith
9) Marques Colston
10) Plaxico Burress
11) Torry Holt
12) Chad Johnson
13) Brandon Marshall
14) Wes Welker
15) Anquan Boldin
16) Greg Jennings
17) Santonio Holmes
18 ) Roy Williams
19) Hines Ward
20) Marvin Harrison- sleeper??

WR’s with some upsides/ some downsides

21) Roddy White
22) Lee Evans
23) Dwayne Bowe
24) Santana Moss
25) Calvin Johnson
26) Laveranues Coles
27) Donald Driver
28 ) Joey Galloway
29) Kevin Curtis
30) Chris Chambers

After the top 30, we’re looking at a lot of clones you’re better off not starting outside of a bye week or injury.

Again, take two of the top 15 and 3 of the top 20 if at all possible (and it is!), then breath easy and expect great things!

Thanks for visiting and we’ll see you next week!

~ Stephen Lamare



July 31, 2008

Welcome to Chavez Ravine you crazy mo-fo!


Your Fantasy Football- Reality Check / Please Hold

July 31, 2008

Hello again Fantasy Leaguers!

Glad to welcome everyone back this week to check on my wide receiver review. It will indeed be appearing today, however it’s likely due up later in the afternoon, so please bear with me.

The trade deadline in fantasy baseball has consumed my attention and delayed the onset of my weekly installment. I’m making a run in the fifth year of my 16 team dynasty league where we all keep 9 in a $260 auction draft. This week the South Park Cows have acquired Dan Haren, Alfonso Soriano, and Johnny Damon and are looking for more before the July 31st deadline. There are several deals on the table that I’m either offering or entertaining, that have got my head spinning about which one to take or which one might get accepted.

This is the reason why you can expect my WR ratings later this afternoon or early this evening only on So pay us a visit for the next free installment of Your Fantasy Football-Reality Check!

~ Stephen Lamare


I am STOKED to announce…

July 30, 2008

That Your Gridiron Goddess is a part of the KICK-ASS new site Playing the Field.  The site is the brainchild of The Goddess Sarah Schorno:

Welcome to Playing the Field. Featured on this site are some of the best female sports bloggers on the net. These women are smart, sports savvy, and will kick your butt in fantasy ball. Consider this your hub for the best writing women in sports have to offer. You’ll find stuff that will make you laugh, make you think, and sometimes make you crazy. But that’s just like a woman, isn’t it? Throughout this site we will cover everything and anything about sports that deserves our attention. And probably a few things that don’t. But we promise to always entertain you and make you wonder why women don’t rule the sports blogging world. Yet.

I am truly honored to be a part of such an esteemed group of female sports bloggers.

Folks, take note, there’s a new blog on the block and we will fast become your go to spot for the best sports writing on the web.

So come on by and check us out!

-Your Gridiron Goddess


Your 2008 Big Ten Preview

July 28, 2008

Note: All my research for completing this is DONE. I will edit Northwestern through Wisconsin throughout the day and night today.

Your Big 10 Preview

by Amy Lamare of


When we last saw the Fighting Illini they were limping off the field at the Rose Bowl after losing 49-17 to USC. But not to worry Illini fans, that was not a sign of things to come. In fact, Coach Ron Zook has pulled a Pete Carroll-USC type transformation on his Fighting Illini. To make it to the Rose Bowl in his third season is an amazing turnaround for a program that formerly resided in the bottom half of the Big Ten. Zook now has the University of Illinois poised to be a permanent fixture in the Big Ten’s top tier.

The Big Ten’s preseason poll has Illinois finishing third, behind Ohio State and Wisconsin. They have the 3rd ranked Defensive End in the Big ten in senior Will Davis as well as the 5th ranked DE in senior Derek Walker. Overall, their Defensive Line is ranked 2nd in the Big Ten and features three retuning All Big Ten players in Davis, Walker and Doug Pilcher.

The Fighting Illini’s Offensive Line only allowed 16 sacks last year and had the top rushing attack in the conference. All but 2 of last year’s starters return, including All Big Ten candidates Ryan McDonald and Xavier Fulton.

Senior QB Juice Williams returns and is the biggest rusher on the team thus far. Arrelious Benn, the Illini’s sophomore WR is one of the Big Ten’s most dynamic players.

The Illini haven’t identified the RB depth chart yet. Junior Daniel Durfrene, Troy Pollard and frosh Mikel LeShore look to fill the shoes of the departed for NFL star Rashard Mendenhall.

On the WR front, Jeff Cumberland and Chris James look to join Benn as the targets of the Illinois passing game.

The Illini open their 2008 season with a statement game against Missouri. Last year the Tigers beat the Illini 40-34.

Illinois‘ Non Conference Schedule: Missouri, Eastern Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan


Indiana returns the conference’s top rated QB in junior Kellen Lewis. According to’s Big Ten blog, Lewis has the best combo of arm strength, decision making and athleticism. Do you find this surprising? I do. I would have ranked OSU’s Todd Boeckman or Illinois’ Juice Williams ahead of Lewis, but I am an expert only in my own mind. Last season Lewis had 28 TDs with only 10 INTS and more than 3,000 passing yards. He was the Hoosier’s #1 rusher with 736 yards. He was recently reinstated after a summer of academic ineligibility.

The Offensive Line for Indiana is ranked 9th in the Big Ten. Rodger Saffold and Pete Saxon return and have a group of sophomore linemen joining them, including Alex Perry and Mike Stark. Sacks were an issue for this Hoosier line last year and their #1 in the Big Ten QB Lewis needs them to protect him better.

Junior Wide Receivers Ray Fisher and Andrew Means anchor the Hoosier passing game. Tight End Max Dedmond gives Lewis another go to guy for the no huddle offense. Still, this is a shallow depth chart for the Indiana squad and more starters need to emerge for the Hoosiers to be competitive in the conference.

Indiana’s leading rusher is their QB Kellen Lewis. Outside of that, senior Marcus Thigpen can get the job done. Last season he had 11.5 carries per game for 568 yards.

On the Defensive Line, the Big Ten ranks Indiana 7th. Big DE Greg Middleton led the nation in sacks last season with 16. Junior DE Jammie Kirlew had 12.5 tackles for a loss and could break out as the team leader this year when Middleton finds himself bogged down under double coverage. Senior Greg Brown and twins Keith and Kevin Burrus need to solidify the defense’s interior.

Strong Safety Austin Thomas led the Indiana defense last year and ranked 7th in the conference with 112 tackles. His performance against Michigan State last season was the first time an Indiana player had 20 tackles in a single game since 1993. Thomas anchors an Indiana secondary in need of two new cornerbacks.

Indiana is coming off their first bowl appearance since 1993 and finished last season ranked 8th in the Big Ten. In order to even maintain that level the defense is going to need to solidify and create plays to help out Indiana’s rather anemic offense. Look for Indiana to finish in the bottom third of the conference this season.

Indiana‘s Non Conference Schedule: Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, Central Michigan


Right now, the investigation into the handling of sexual assault charges against two Hawkeye football players by a female student athlete looms large over the program. A letter from the alleged victim’s mother stated that athletic director Gary Barta and football coach Kirk Ferentz encouraged the victim to keep the matter in-house. The alleged victim’s mother sent the letter to university officials last November and said she received no response. A decision from the Iowa Board of Regents is expected September 18th.

Further bad news came last weekend when incoming freshman Defensive End Riley Reiff was arrested for public intoxication and interference with official acts after allegedly leading at least eight Iowa City police officers on a 20-minute foot chase.

At QB, The Hawkeyes are in flux. Junior Jake Christensen had a rough season last year and he is fighting to keep his job. Though Christiansen remains the frontrunner, the comers looking to unseat Christensen are sophomore Ricky Stanzi and freshman Marvin McNutt. Christiansen struggled in his first year as a starter, but he also didn’t have much of an offensive line to protect him. He will have to come out swinging if awarded the start in the opener of Maine and work on getting the offense into the end zone-one of his weak points last year when Iowa ranked 109th nationally in total offense and 110th in scoring.

Iowa’s Offensive Line is a veteran group ranked seventh overall in the Big Ten, due mostly to the 46 sacks they allowed on QB Christiansen last fall. Guard Seth Olsen is entering his third season as a starter and is the only Hawkeye offensive lineman assured of a starting job come fall.

The Hawkeye Defensive Line is ranked sixth overall in the Big Ten. They have the best interior line in senior tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul. The pressure is on sophomores Christian Ballard and Adrian Clayborn to show they can shore up the d-line and become the disruptive pass rushers this defense needs.

Senior Wide Receiver Andy Brodell was out with a broken leg for most of the 2007 season but he is all healed now and ready to take his place amongst the elite receivers of the Big Ten. Look for him to put up performances like his 2006 Alamo Bowl when he had a bowl-record 159 yards receiving and a 63-yard TD. In addition, TE Tony Moeaki is back from injury; Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross give the Hawkeyes some needed depth and offensive power.

The situation at Running Back is likely giving Kirk Ferentz fits. At the end of Spring practice their top running back was walk-on Paki O’Meara. Shonn Greene returns to the Hawkeyes and two incoming freshman, Jeff Brinson and Jewel Hampton, will be evaluated in training camp.

Overall Iowa has too many questions on offense to be considered one of the top teams on the Big Ten. Look for them to finish around the middle of the conference at best.

Iowa‘s Non Conference Schedule: Maine, Florida International, Iowa State, Pitt


The arrival of new coach Rich Rodriguez in Ann Arbor has had tongues wagging for months. Now that the issue of contract money owed to his former employer, WVU has finally been settled, we can look ahead to what RichRod’s primary focus in Ann Arbor will be: Bringing Wolverine football into the 21st Century.

Lloyd Carr is a beloved figure for University of Michigan fans, I get that. But look at his track record in recent years. Could he beat conference rival Ohio State? Could he beat Rose Bowl opponent USC? No and No (and no and no and no again.) Watching Michigan get manhandled by Appalachian State during the 2007 Season Opener told me one thing: The Wolverines were playing a mode of ball that is outdated in the current Big Ten and if the University didn’t do something to change their program, the Wolverines would have continued to fall from the elite of the Big Ten to a mid level competitor.

One of the biggest issues facing the Wolverines as the 2008 NCAA Football season approaches is: Just who is going to replace Chad Henne at QB? Keep in mind that RichRod runs the spread offense, so he’ll be looking for a new kind of Michigan QB this year. So let’s take a look at the candidates for starting Wolverines QB:

Steven Threet is a GA Tech transfer with freshman status who is 6’6 and 230lbs. In spring practice, Threet emerged as the leading candidate at the end of Spring. He showed off his strong arm and threw only one interception in the spring game, but he should not rest easy just yet. He looked the least shaky of the QB candidates, but he’s no Pat White (WVU QB), at least not yet.

Nick Sheridan is currently listed in the #2 position on the depth chart. A 6’1, 212lb sophomore walk-on played in two games last season, but didn’t attempt a pass in either outing. A bit undersized, with questionable arm strength, he came on strong at the end of spring before throwing three interceptions. He is the son of former Wolverine asst. coach.

David Cone, a 6’7, 214lb sophomore is the only potential Wolverine QB who has thrown a pass in a college game. He is third behind Threet and Sheridan and is considered more of a pro-style QB.

Six footer Justin Feagin is a freshman with a skill set that could be the best fit for Rodriguez’s offense. He comes out of Florida and is a dual-threat QB. Good speed.
Overall Rodriguez has a lot of work ahead of him. Once he settles the question at QB, he’s got an O-line that is ranked 8th in the Big Ten. Right tackle Stephen Schilling is the only returning starter.

Things don’t get any better when attention is turned to the RB, WR, TE situation on the Wolverine offense. BUT, don’t panic as there is a whole new offense to learn, so chances are if there were some old school Lloyd Carr style RBs and WRs hanging around, they would not fit into the new system. Michigan ranks 9th overall in WR-TEs and 7th in RBs due mostly because of not having any proven commodities in this new to Ann Arbor offense. One to watch is true freshman WR Darryl Stonum, he enrolled early and showed impressive skills in the Spring.

Michigan’s defense is a strong unit that returns enough starters to make them the 4th ranked D-Line in the Big Ten.

It’s going to be a rebuilding year in so many ways in Ann Arbor. It is also going to be exciting to watch Rich Rodriguez transform this storied program back into an elite force in college football. Be patient Wolverine fans, it could take a couple years.

Michigan‘s Non Conference Schedule: Utah, Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame, Toledo


Few people outside the Big Ten may realize that though Michigan State ended their 2007 season with a 7-6 record, those six losses were by no more than a touchdown. They lost by 3 to Wisconsin and Boston College. They lost by 2 to Michigan. They lost by a touchdown to Ohio State, Iowa and Northwestern. And this was all during the first season of Coach Mark Dantonio’s tenure with the Spartans.

The Spartans enter 2008 with high hopes. Their goal last year was to be bowl eligible. They achieved that with their trip to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando. Their goal this year, according to Coach Dantonio, is the Big Ten Championship. Yeah, well good luck with that.

Oh it’s not that the Spartans aren’t loaded and ready for all comers. It’s just that within their own conference they face the looming giant known as Ohio State. True, they came within a touchdown of beating the Buckeyes in Columbus last year. Hey, stranger things have happened, right? Spartan Nation is amped and with good cause.

The Spartan Offensive Line is solid but lacks depth. Junior Rocco Cironi takes over the starting left tackle spot vacated by All Big Ten Pete Clifford. Starters Roland Marin and Joel Nitchman return and several incoming freshman will round out the Michigan State O-Line.

Senior QB Brian Hoyer checks in as the 6th best in the Big Ten. Hoyer was instrumental in the Spartan’s successful 2007 campaign, but he needs to step up and figure out how to close out his games with a win. Remember, the Spartans lost 5 games by seven or fewer points.

RB Javon Ringer had more receptions last year than any of the returning Spartan WRs. Deon Curry, Mark Dell, B.J. Cunningham and Blair White have a chance to show their stuff and earn a starting position.

Speaking of Javon Ringer-last season he rushed for 1,447 yards and six touchdowns. Up and coming RBs A.J. Jimmerson, Andre Anderson and Ashton Leggett are expected to contribute to the Spartans running game.

Michigan State made great strides last season under first year Coach Dantonio in 2007. 2008 should be a good year for the Spartans and they have a chance to be this year’s Illinois, in terms of quick turn around from mediocrity to conference contender.

Michigan State‘s Non Conference Schedule: California, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame

Read the rest of this entry ?


We’re Going Camping 2008!

July 25, 2008

People, can you believe it? It’s so damn close now, it is almost unbearable. The long dry stretch of time without football is almost over. We’ve survived it one more time. It only feels like we’re gonna die without it. When we can’t take another moment… football season is here again.

And thank God for that, eh? I mean I like baseball and all, but compared to football? YAWN.

I need to hear the crunch of pads crashing into helmets, hold my breath when the QB lets a bomb fly down field to a receiver under double coverage, I even want to feel the outrage of a bad call and the vindication when the coach throws down the challenge flag. I need me some 1st downs and 4th and inches and flea flickers.

As you read, players are reporting to camp, rookies are signing their contracts, pads and jerseys and pants are being fitted, helmets are being handed out.  In FORTY days the 2008 season opener will be played between the Washington Redskins and the reigning Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants.

Are your keggerators ready?

In the coming weeks I will be previewing every single NFL team here on Gridiron (Just let me get through the BCS Previews first–3 more and ND to go!) I’ll be updating the NFL Schedule page to reflect the 2008 schedule and I’ll be checking in with news to note from the NFL camps.

Do you have your Fantasy Football draft soon? If so, be sure to check out Stephen Lamare’s (my baby brother!) Thursday column Your Fantasy Football Reality Check. He covered QBs last week, RBs this week and WR’s will be the subject of next week’s article.

Football season is ALMOST here, FINALLY!

-Your Gridiron Goddess


Your Fantasy Football Reality Check #3 – Running Back Edition

July 24, 2008

Welcome back to Your Fantasy Football Reality Check.

We’re quickly approaching the ’08 NFL season, and that means a great majority of you are preparing for your fantasy drafts. Today is the day I’ll be addressing the position most coveted by fantasy owners everywhere- the running backs.

It’s practically a lock that 9 out of the first 10 picks in almost all drafts everywhere have traditionally gone to the RB’s. I’m not about to present an argument that will go against this sound line of thinking- especially in this age of the running back by committee. For better or worse, it’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon, so it truly puts a priority on how you spend your first round pick.

To put things in perspective on how quickly your backfield situation can come in to question; last season I had the #2 overall pick in a ten-team league, I drafted Steven Jackson at two and by the time it came back for my second pick, the best remaining RB’s on the draft board were Maurice Jones-Drew or Cedric Benson- not exactly exciting choices in the second round.

It’s inevitable that one or more of either your starters or bench running backs is going to be involved in some sort of committee situation. The trick is determining which back in the particular committee your targeting will be the most productive- or who will get the goal line carries. Again, fantasy football scoring systems by and large are centered around scoring touchdowns. Identify the TD producers and draft accordingly.

Obviously we’d all like to have two RB’s that each touch the ball 25 times a game, that would be the ideal scenario. If you can manage it and many of you will- fantastic!

However, with the rise of the committee and the ebb and flow of the draft, relying on that type of outcome can be somewhat unrealistic. Especially when it’s a choice between the best RB left on the board(in a committee of course) and a much higher rated WR or QB, both of whom you could easily justify spending an early choice on. Make sure to grab your Mr. Reliable ASAP!!

RB’s you’ll relish owning- Fantasy Studs to Solid Producers
1) LaDanian Tomlinson
2) Adrian Peterson
3) Brian Westbrook
4) Joseph Addai
5) Steven Jackson
6) Clinton Portis
7) Frank Gore
8 ) Marshawn Lynch
9) Marion Barber
10) Larry Johnson
11) Willis McGahee
12) Ryan Grant

RB’s with some upsides and some downsides:
13) Jamal Lewis
14) Willie Parker
15) Maurice Jones-Drew
16) Brandon Jacobs
17) Ronnie Brown
18 ) Reggie Bush
19) Laurence Maroney
20) Michael Turner
21) Edgerrin James
22) Thomas Jones
23) Earnest Graham
24) Rudi Johnson
25) LenDale White
26) Fred Taylor

Good luck with all the rest! A lot of committees remaining to pick from, I’d just genuinely feel better by only having some combination of the backs I mentioned.

Next week it’s the Wide Receivers!

The Dude Abides,
~Stephen Lamare