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Fantasy Football 2011: A look at running backs

08.02.11 at 12:03 pm ET
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Same as it ever was. … Running backs have always dominated the top of fantasy drafts and they probably always will. In recent years, receivers have forced their way further into the first few rounds, but the elite running backs aren’€™t going anywhere. Why? Because in typical fantasy football formats, you need to start at least two running backs. Even in smaller leagues, there are 20 starting running backs on a weekly basis, and that number expands quickly in bigger leagues with flex positions. The elite backs will always be the most valuable commodity, and 2011 is no exception. What has changed is the devaluation of second tier of backs.

With that, we present you with Rotobahn’€™s 12 RB1s for 2011. For the sake of clarity, these rankings are based on performance scoring. You could argue for a few adjustments to the rankings if you play in a PPR format.

1.  Adrian Peterson, Vikings

He is back to being the heart of the offense, and that just feels right. If we liked his offensive line a little more, he’€™d be head-and-shoulders above the pack. Still, Peterson is the most proven and most consistent running back in the game today, and he is our choice at the top of performance drafts. He is going to give you yards and he’€™s going to find the zone. And, if history is any guide, he’€™s going to stay healthy. Draft AP with confidence.

2. Chris Johnson, Titans

His spot could be in jeopardy if he holds out too long, but we love CJ’€™s skills. He is second-to-none as far as pure playmaking ability is concerned, and we like the idea of Mike Munchak as his head coach. Munchak knows a few things about creating holes for running backs, and he knows Johnson’€™s strengths. Assuming that the Titans do the right thing and pay their best player, we like Johnson to be among the league’€™s leaders and bounce back to the form we saw in 2009. The addition of Matt Hasselbeck is also a plus as the offense now has a chance at some balance.

3. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

Charles has some questions as far as how large his share of the carries will be, but we are going to tell you what we told you in 2010, don’€™t fear the RBBC when it comes to Charles. He can do an amazing amount of damage with twenty touches, and we expect his touches to go up in 2011. He is an incredibly dynamic back, and at his size, the Chiefs are wise to keep him from getting worn down. We expect a slight bump over last year’€™s numbers. He’€™s a rock-solid RB1.

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Randy Moss is an easy call as first-ballot Hall of Famer

08.02.11 at 11:55 am ET
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The idea that Randy Moss might not get into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility because he A) “didn’t live up to his potential” and B) probably never received a single vote for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award strikes me as incomprehensibly dopey, almost as crazy as the comments made by Moss after Week 1 last year.

Look, even if Moss’s career isn’t actually over (let’s call it a coin flip that he returns) the meaningful stuff is in the past. So it’s fair to take a look at the numbers. And you and I have no idea what Moss’s potential was when he entered the NFL in 1998. Let’s assume that it was unlimited, that Moss should have been the best receiver in the history of the league (a pretty high standard when you consider that the best player in the history of the league is a wide receiver).

OK, he fell short of that. Agreed. He’s not Jerry Rice. But there is no other receiver in the history of the NFL that you can tell me is definitively better than Randy Moss. He’s fifth all-time in receiving yards. He’s eighth all-time in catches. He was a Pro Bowler six times, a first-team All-Pro four times.

All those credentials are swell and good enough for a seat at the table, but if we can all agree that catching touchdowns is what really matters Moss then moves into rarefied air.

He led the NFL in TD catches five times (with four different starting quarterbacks), including as a 21-year-old rookie in 1998 and a 32-year-old in 2009. Moss has 153 career TD catches, tied for second all-time with Terrell Owens (who has played in 17 more games) and 44 behind Rice (who played in 101 more games than Moss — which is not a knock on Rice, a guy who kept himself in such phenomenal shape that he was able to be a top 10 WR for years after his prime).

Moss had the greatest three-year TD stretch in history from 2007-09, catching 47 for the Patriots. That’s four more than the Bills, as many as the Dolphins and two fewer than the Jets during that period. And he caught a total of 50 TDs in his 52 games with New England. Think Andre Johnson’s any good? He has 50 TD catches in his career — 115 games. That’s four extra seasons.

I have no clue if Randy Moss reached his potential as a wide receiver. Could he have caught 183 TD passes instead of 153? Maybe. Could Mickey Mantle have hit 650 home runs if he had skipped Toots Shor’s and gone home to Marylin and the kids? I guess. Who knows? In 1985 it sure seemed possible that starting pitchers would someday be competing for the Dwight Gooden Award. Stuff happens.

But let’s be fair: As good as we all thought Moss was going to be, is there anyone who would have looked at a career line of 954 catches, 14,858 yards and 153 TDs as a disappointment?

And when it comes to the Hall of Fame voters playing the role of character cop, I’d just ask them to stick to the numbers. Randy Moss did not play every snap as if it was his last. Randy Moss had some off-the-field issues that were (and remain) troubling. Randy Moss was sometimes a good teammate, but very often a lousy one. Randy Moss was selfish. Randy Moss had an act that wore thin, and he burned bridge after bridge in his career. All those things are very true, and all those aren’t nearly enough to convince me that a Hall of Fame that has a spot for O.J. Simpson and Lawrence Taylor has to make Randy Moss wait a year or two before giving him the keys.

Was he perfect? Nope. Does he leave a mixed legacy? He sure does.

But Randy Moss is the very definition of a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Read More: hall of fame, Patriots, Randy Moss,

Fantasy Football 2011: A look at receivers

08.02.11 at 6:27 am ET
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In this article, we look at the elite receivers for fantasy football. With more and more teams running three and four-receiver sets, the true studs are getting harder to come by. You can find tons of flex-level receivers, but guys that you really want in your lineup are getting much more difficult to find. This is just one of the reasons you will see more receivers taken in the first two rounds of fantasy drafts than you did a few years back.

The days of most fantasy teams starting their draft by taking two running backs in the first two rounds have gone the way of pay phones and calm political discourse.

Here are Rotobahn’€™s 12 No. 1’s — the guys who currently receive WR1 grades (in a standard 12-team league) in our rankings. Things could change. For example, Brandon Marshall could make a big move up if Miami lands a better quarterback. But for now, these are the 12 best bets.

1. Andre Johnson, Texans

We all know what a monster Andre2000 is, and he makes a great choice near the end of round one in most fantasy leagues. He’€™s got a solid QB in Matt Schaub and he is healthy as we enter camp. He’€™s the best bet to end the year at the top of the fantasy heap.

2. Calvin Johnson, Lions

Calvin is just a step behind Andre, and the main reason is his quarterback situation. It’€™s not that it’€™s bad, but we still have concerns about Matt Stafford‘€™s ability to stay healthy. And while Calvin put up some nice weeks with Shaun Hill at the helm, it’€™s Stafford’€™s big arm that could really unleash Johnson. In fact, if you could guarantee a healthy season for Stafford, we’€™d bump Calvin up to the top spot. He’€™s that talented.

3. Roddy White, Falcons

Roddy busted out in 2009 with his first big season, and continued to shine in 2010. We expect the trend to continue in 2011, and we like him as a high-end WR1 for fantasy purposes. You can make an argument for him to be at the top of the list, but we expect the presence of Julio Jones to cost him a few targets. His yardage could easily slip back to 2009 levels. Not to worry, that still makes him an elite talent.

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Patriots release backup quarterback Jonathan Crompton

08.01.11 at 8:14 pm ET
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The Patriots have released quarterback Jonathan Crompton, according to a league source. Crompton, a 6-foot-4, 228-pounder who was signed to the Patriots practice squad last November, has not taken a snap in a game for New England. A fifth-round pick of the Chargers in 2010 out of Tennessee, he threw for 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior with the Vols.

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No matter what you thought of him, Randy Moss was certainly never boring

08.01.11 at 4:34 pm ET
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Love him or hate him, you always had to pay attention to Randy Moss.

With the news the wide receiver has decided to retire after a 13-year NFL career, the image of Moss that remains is an athlete who commanded the spotlight like few others. On the field, he always had to be accounted for, a monster offensive threat who was instantly ticketed for Canton even before he set foot in New England in 2007. A freakish big-play receiver with breathtaking speed, he ranks second all-time with 153 touchdowns, fifth with 14,858 receiving yards and eighth with 954 receptions over the course of a 13-year career.

After stops in Minnesota and Oakland, he joined the Patriots in April 2007, where he and Tom Brady became the football equivalent of Lennon and McCartney, putting together the best combo for a quarterback and wide receiver in league history and sending sportswriters looking for more adjectives. That year, there were moments of real brilliance between the two, as the quarterback won the MVP and had 4,806 passing yards and 50 touchdowns, with Moss accounting for 1,493 receiving yards and 23 touchdown catches. (In three-plus years in New England, he had 3,904 yards and 50 touchdown receptions.)

However, when it came to Moss, it was always complicated. He talked about loving the Patriots, but a bizarre postgame monologue about his contract situation after the 2010 season opener signaled the beginning of the end of his time in New England. His teammates loved him, but nagging incidents like LateGate and an in-game clash with offensive coordinator Bill O’€™Brien left some wondering how deep that commitment to the team really was. In all, there was more than enough sophomoric stuff over the course of his career ‘€” mock-mooning the crowd in Green Bay, nudging a traffic cop with his car, more than a few incidents of loafing, squirting water at a referee, ‘€œStraight cash, homey’€ and declaring that he would ‘€œplay when I want to play’€ ‘€” to keep people talking.

That was true not only for opposing defenses and fans, but for us in the media as well. In New England, the receiver was lockered next to Brady, and as a reporter, even though there were days Moss was clearly not speaking; you always had to stay in the neighborhood just in case the mood struck him. When he did ‘€” and he started by informing the media on almost every occasion ‘€œY’€™all got three [questions]’€ ‘€” he was almost always insightful and interesting.

On the occasion of his retirement, Moss is on the short list with Jerry Rice as one of the greatest receivers of all time, and his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is all but assured. And as was the case when he was a player, if/when he stands up to make his speech while wearing that trademark yellow blazer, we will all be paying attention.

Read More: Bill O'Brien, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Tom Brady

Cris Carter tells ESPN that Patriots offered Randy Moss a one-year deal

08.01.11 at 3:07 pm ET
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Cris Carter, a former teammate of Randy Moss in Minnesota, hinted Monday the Patriots offered Moss a one-year deal to return for the 2011 season, but the wide receiver wanted a multiyear contract. When that didn’t materialize ‘€” along with a possible deal with the Jets ‘€” he made the decision to call it a career.

“What I think forced (his retirement) was No. 1, New England trading for (Chad) Ochocinco,’€ Carter said when asked about Moss on ESPN. ‘€œThat’s the No. 1 place he wanted to go to. His biggest problem with New England was he didn’€™t want a one-year deal. New England wanted to sign him to a one-year deal. As you can see, New England gave Chad that three-year deal.

‘€œThe next team he wanted to go to was the New York Jets. Now they had someone, a big receiver, who decided to take the one-year deal: Plaxico Burress.

‘€œWhen those two teams were removed from him and his ability to go play with them, I think that Randy reacted a lot like the Randy that came into the league, like the Randy we’ve seen, and he said, ‘You know something? I’m not just going to play for anyone.”€

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Cris Carter, Randy Moss,

Agent: Randy Moss will call it a career

08.01.11 at 1:05 pm ET
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Former Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss has decided to retire, his agent Joel Segal told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Moss, who played in New England from 2007 until early last season, accumulated 954 receptions, 14,858 receiving yards and 153 touchdowns over the course of a 13-year career. He was a first-round pick of Minnesota in 1998 out of Marshall University, and also played for Oakland, New England and Tennessee.
Moss was a free agent, and as late as March, he spoke about the possibility of returning to New England.

“I’€™m a big fan of Bill Belichick. I really am,” Moss told KFAN Radio. “And not just on the field. I’€™m a fan of his off the field, because the little grouchy man you see on camera is not what you see off camera. I’€™ve grown and I’€™ve started to respect the game, first and foremost. But if you’€™re asking me where my heart is and I’€™m happiest, I love playing with Tom Brady, I love being coached by Bill Belichick.”

However, the market for Moss wasn’t what he hoped it might be, and as a result, the 34-year-old wide receiver has decided to retire.

“After weighing his options and contemplating offers, he’s decided to retire,” Segal told Schefter.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Joel Segal, Randy Moss, Tom Brady
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