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Commentary From the Edge - Week 1
Kevin Ratterree
September 6, 2005

Detroit fans and some foolhardy fantasy players are pumped about the team's offensive potential this season.  One of the best young running backs in the game.  An unprecedented three 1st round pick wide receivers, a new tight end and hopes of an improved defense.  And the thought is that even the heretofore disappointing Harrington can't fail in this situation.   And I was so close to buying into the hype.  I wanted to believe.  For the sake of the long suffering Lions fans.  For the sake of the horrific annual Thanksgiving game the nation has suffered through lo these many years.  For all the fantasy players hanging their hopes on the backs of the Lions young gauntlet of thoroughbreds.  I wanted to believe.  But I just can't.  I guess the Lions ownership is buying in.  They gave the GM Matt Millen a contract extension after averaging  4 wins a season during his tenure.  Only in America.

With a defense that figures to be no better than last years version, and an offense capable of hanging 50 on any given game, the Oakland Raiders will be a boon to fantasy players this season.  Whether playing Raiders offensive players in your fantasy lineup or facing the Raiders "defense" it's almost a certainty that the Raiders will rack up and allow the most fantasy points in all of football.

Whatever happens in Oakland this year it should be fun to watch.  They will get press one way or another.  I can't wait to see the 4 man sets where Moss, Porter, and Curry and Gabriel have a drag race toward the end zone.  That's fun stuff.  I don't know that it will translate into wins, but even if it blows up the Raiders are must see TV this season. 

Al baby, you're the greatest.  It's one thing to sit on a fat wallet.  But it's another to have the shrewdness to invest that money in solid things, like Randy Moss and flashy jump suits.  That's solid.

The #1 and #2 receivers on my cheat sheet this preseason were Torry Holt and Chad Johnson.

I think Chad Johnson will be  #1 on everybody's cheat sheet come this time next year.  He's the new, improved version of Terrell Owens, without all that pesky mental instability.

Speaking of mental instability I suppose I should throw my hat in the ring and give you my picks for the big one in Detroit at the end of the season.  Detroit.  If ever I was going to win Superbowl tickets this would have been the year.  I guess it just isn't in the cards.

I'm not going to ramble on and on about a whole bunch of teams I think have a chance.  In the AFC it comes down to: a) Can the Colts end up with the best record in the AFC and secure home field advantage.  b) Will the Colts blow it when they finally get the Patriots on their home turf in the playoffs. c) Will Peyton Manning ever live it down if they do blow it?

I think the Colts will end up with the best record in the AFC.  But I would have to get better odds than are being offered to wager any coin on a Superbowl appearance.  I think this is the year they get over the hump.  But I've thought that before.  Seems like only last year.............oh, wait a minute, it was only last year.  Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.

In the NFC, all signs seem to point to Philadelphia despite the preseason histrionics.  They are talented and deep.  They still play in the NFC Least.  They should easily wrap up home field advantage.  And their experience in Championship games should serve them well.  Should.  But their are intangibles that have been tampered with on this team  And though Owens is laying low, one wonders how the season may play out.  Not so much on the field but in the locker room.  Team chemistry is an underappreciated factor in determining a champion.  So though the Eagles deserve to be the rock solid favorite to represent the NFC, I have a dark horse in mind.   My chips are on the Carolina Panthers.  I'm a fan.  I like the coach.  I like the quarterback.  I like the running backs.  All 22 of them. I like the defense.  I like their character.  I like this team.  There are no quitters on a John Fox coached team.  If they stay relatively healthy, they are capable of shocking the world. 

Random thoughts fantasy wise:

I avoided drafting Jerry Porter this year, but made it a point to draft Ronald Curry on most of my teams.  Bottom line:  Curry is a superior talent, and superior talent has a way of rising to the top.  Porter's lingering hamstring injury has only reinforced my belief that Curry is a potential super sleeper this season. 

It took fantasy drafters awhile to come around to the fact that Mike Anderson will indeed be the starter for the Broncos this season.  Tatum Bell, thanks to the hype surrounding his cover shot on Fantasy Football Index was drafted in the 3rd to 4th round in mocks and early drafts.  Though even some drafters seemed to be undaunted by the news that Tatum Bell was not to be the starter in later drafts.  I'm not convinced anybody serious about winning a championship should ride the Shenanigan Express, but I don't buy the fact that Anderson will end up as the team's leading rusher.  He isn't exactly a youngster, and it has been years since he was asked to carry the load.  I just don't see it.

Bell may well end up being the man, but how many people sitting on a bum 4th round draft pick will still hang onto him until he gets his shot?  The rules haven't changed.  Draft a Denver running back.  Go down with the ship like Shenanigan is in the process of doing.

The hype surrounding the Shockey resurrection talk just doesn't convince me.  However I am buying into the Dallas Clark theory of addition by subtraction.  I like Heath Miller but am completely skeptical of the offense he will be hard pressed to succeed in. 

As far as the big two tight ends go, my money is on Gates to outperform Gonzalez.  I'm a Chiefs fan.  I have had Gonzalez on my fantasy teams since he was a rookie.  But I see the writing on the wall.  I've heard a lot of pundits claiming the defenses in the league will "catch up" with Gates.  Look, the guy wasn't exactly flying under the radar last season.  During the course of smashing the all time tight end TD record, you get plenty of attention.  The defenses know he's there.  They just can't stop him.  And the guy is still learning the game.  That alone is a scary thought.  Chalk number one up for Gates again. 

The running back situation in the league is fraught with potential disaster in my opinion.  After LT2, Alexander, and Edge, I don't have a hell of a lot of confidence in any of them.  The second tier of running back talent is huge and each guy carries his own unique set of risks.  The running back pool is probably as deep as it has been in recent years, but after the top 3 on my board I don't feel particularly safe with any of them.  I like Domanick Davis, but he offense around him and durability are still a concern.  And I like McAllister but the Saints are playing 16 road games and many of their lives have been ripped apart.  I like McGahee but he will face 8 man fronts until his QB can prove that he can complete a pass at some point.   I like Jamal, but he likes jail.  I like Ahman but he likes going wacko on his wife.  I like Priest but right now I like Larry Johnson better.  I like Steven Jackson but his coach is a wacko.  I like Portis but his coach is 20 years past his prime.

Nothing but questions.  And now, at last.  All questions are about to be answered.  For better or worse.  Until the Superbowl do us part.  I now pronounce it football season!!!!!  You may now kick the hide.