A lot of critics claim that fantasy football is merely a way for the NFL to keep fans interested in games not involving their favorite teams. That includes some of the snooze-fests we get jammed with late in the year on national TV.
The response from fantasy aficionados? "Well, duh!" Why else would we watch Tampa Bay at Carolina on Monday Night Football? Fantasy football gives fans a rooting interest in all games, and it all starts on draft day.
The big debate this year is who, between Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, should be the No.-1 pick. The answer may be neither.
Sure, if you you're on the board in that first slot, it's a gutsy call not to take one of these guys. Then again, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer (!) have also been leading scorers. You play only one quarterback - and two running backs - and there is a dearth of good QBs on the board.
Draft the best player available, regardless of position, but consider a few things: The Patriots and QB Tom Brady are mad. They have an easy schedule. They're going to want to beat everyone to death.
Let's take a look at this season's draft prospects, position by position.
Kurt Warner was the 10th-best signal caller in fantasy football last year. He had 17 picks and 6 fumbles. If you're in a 12-team league, that's not encouraging.
On the upswing you have Tony Romo and Drew Brees, the latter being somewhat overlooked. Going down is Ben Roethlisberger. Literally. No offensive line, and no one to throw to.
Then there are the mystery men, one of whom is Manning, due to injury. He should be his old self when he comes back, though he had slow start in '07. The other big question mark is Derek Anderson. One season does not a career make, but he has tons of talent around him.
Holding steady is Palmer - a slight uptick in INTs in '07, but history is on his side.
After the Tomlinson/Peterson question is settled, the waters get murky. Many teams are going to the so-called "running-back-by-committee" approach, which may mean fewer carries for your starters. Obviously, the trick is to find the guys that will get carries.
Guys like Larry Johnson, Jamal Lewis and Clinton Portis are getting up there in age, but they're the ones who will get the loaf. Be wary of Frank Gore. Oddly, people are in love with this guy. Every year he's a projected top-10 pick, and every year he fails to produce.
Talk about a lopsided position. It's Randy Moss, and then everyone else. Quick tip: The better receivers have good QBs throwing to them. Go figure.
In the past, only Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez have produced anything close to WR-type numbers, but that's changing as more teams are involving this position in the passing game. Also, Gates and Gonzalez have fallen off somewhat.
The top TE last year was Jason Witten, who was 48th overall in points. If your tight end averages 60 yards and a touchdown per game, you're in business.
D & K
According to conventional wisdom, you're supposed to draft defense and special teams last, no matter what. Take kickers last for sure, but carefully weigh the defense against a position player and ask, "Is this guy going to start and make an impact?"
Don't worry about bye weeks on draft day, either. Go to the waiver wire as needed and grab the top kicker or defense for that week. You'll probably have a stiff or two by then to drop.
Good luck, and we'll see you here next week for a preview of Week One.