TRUM: Top-10 QBs and RBs

August, 21, 2007
Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings for Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007

So, today's sort of a big day.

Tonight is the "SportsCenter Fantasy Draft Special." So they have ESPN personalities, celebrities and athletes do a fantasy football draft ... and I get to critique it. On live TV.

No pressure there. Anyways, I'm excited, of course, and doing some prep. Also, I'm getting ready to party with Jay-Z. And by "party with," I mean be at his club. We're doing a big fantasy football event in New York City on Wednesday night. It's open to the public, so you should come if you live in the area. Why cyberstalk me when you can do it in person?

I am told it will be off the hook. The kids still say that, right?

The 411:

ESPN the Magazine's Ultimate Draft Party. Wednesday at the 40/40 Club in New York City. The address: 6 West 25th Street at Broadway. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The celebrity draft begins at 7 p.m.

Myself, Nate Ravitz, Scott Engel and Ken Daube from fantasy will be there, along with my ESPNEWS Fantasy Insider cohort Howie Schwab (The Schwab, as in "Stump the...") plus former NFL greats Carl Banks, Thurman Thomas and William "Refrigerator" Perry. Free beer and food from 6 to 8 p.m. You can get yourself on the list here:

The party is presented by DirecTV and Verizon Wireless, so flashing either a DirecTV bill or your Verizon Wireless phone will let you cut the line. Seriously.

Anyway, that's tomorrow. And we care about today. Where there was some baseball played. And some football news. Let's start with football.

Here's my own, personal, newly updated top 10 at quarterback and running back.

Top 10 Quarterbacks

1. Peyton Manning -- The obvious one.
2. Tom Brady -- I love his weapons, consistency and the fact that he never gets hurt.
3. Carson Palmer -- Questions about his offensive line (the injuries to Levi Jones and Willie Anderson) drop him here for me.
4. Drew Brees -- My only concern here is that they have a second-year player as their No. 1 wideout and not a lot of experience behind Marques Colston. And I expect Reggie Bush to run more, as well. Still a stud, but someone has to be fourth.
5. Donovan McNabb -- I believe.
6. Marc Bulger -- He's not as much of an injury concern as McNabb, but he's still a concern. I like McNabb's upside here a bit more. But it's splitting hairs.
7. Jon Kitna -- After the "big six" he should be the first guy off the board. More than 4,000 yards last year, and the Lions added Calvin Johnson but still have no running game and a bad defense. He's going to have a monster year.
8. Matt Hasselbeck -- And then we get to the rest. Of the rest, he's the guy most likely to have a strong season.
9. Jay Cutler -- Over the last four games of 2006, only three quarterbacks had more touchdown passes than Cutler.
10. Philip Rivers -- A very good player who will be a solid if unspectacular fantasy quarterback. I have fewer questions about him than I do the rest of the guys here.

Top 10 Running Backs

1. LaDainian Tomlinson -- See Manning, Peyton.
2. Steven Jackson -- There's really no contest. There's a question mark about everyone else.
3. Joseph Addai -- I love Addai this year. Consider this fact we had in the magazine: He had more than 1,000 yards rushing last year and yet had only 52 percent of the Colts' rushing attempts. Even if all he gets is 75 percent of the attempts, that's 1,500 yards. Then, say all he does is the same number of receiving yards from last year (325). You're looking at more than 1,800 total yards and double-digit touchdowns, easy.
4. Larry Johnson -- I would take Addai over LJ at this point. And I'd strongly consider Gore. But right now, he's at four for me. Check back in a week if he's still not in camp.
5. Frank Gore -- It doesn't really matter where I put him. I won't be getting him at five, anyway. But this is where I rank him.
6. Willie Parker -- A lot of people are down on Parker, and while I agree that the loss of Russ Grimm as line coach doesn't help, there are bigger question marks about others after him.
7. Brian Westbrook -- I came close to putting him at six. I really like Westbrook. It's hard to take a guy in the first round who has never played all 16 games in a season, which is why I dropped him to here. But other than the "big three" plus Parker and Gore, Westbrook had the most fantasy points of any running back last year. He was sixth in points despite missing a game.
8. Laurence Maroney -- The Patriots had 20 rushing touchdowns last year. Twenty. How does Maroney not get at least 12 of those without Dillon there?
9. Shaun Alexander -- OK, now I bite the bullet, given the injury history for both Alexander and the offensive line; plus, he's on the wrong side of 30, and Hasselbeck needs to return to form. He won't ever get to me at No. 9, and I'm not taking him before then, but there you have it.
10. Rudi Johnson -- You know the questions I have for Palmer? I have the same questions about Johnson. How is that offensive line going to hold up? Johnson gets Baltimore, Seattle and New England in three of his first four games -- two very good run defenses and a solid one, so I expect a slow start.

OK, I also do the Player Tracker, so that's enough football for today, but I will say that I will do a "Love/Hate" update this week for the draft kit.

Baseball now, where, I'm...

Just Saying...

... That after going seven scoreless innings Monday night, Joe Blanton is 3-0 with a 3.96 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in his last four starts.

... That very quietly, Jerry Owens of the White Sox now has 19 steals in 57 games. He has six in his last six games and has raised his average to .252.

... That his teammate, Danny Richar, has two home runs and seven RBIs over the past seven days. He's not a power hitter, but it shows he's adjusting to major league pitching.

... That Howie Kendrick is still available in way too many mixed leagues. He went 2-for-3 with three runs on Monday in his return from the disabled list.

... That Tim Wakefield now has 15 wins on the season. Over his past six games, he is 5-1 with a 3.29 ERA.

... That Rajai Davis now has 14 steals. Told you.

... That before I get to pat myself on the back, I'm sorry about recommending Matt Garza as a two-start pitcher this week. Ouch.

... That Brian Wilson, a trendy preseason favorite for the Giants closer role, got the save Monday night. Brad Hennessey was scheduled for a night off, so don't get too excited, but still ... NL- leaguers speculating for saves should grab him. He's the future, not Hennessey.

... That Kaz Matsui now has 27 steals on the season. Possibly the most underrated fantasy baseball player this year.

... That Best Story in Baseball Rick Ankiel (officially his name) has averaged an RBI a game since being recalled.

... That I said it before, but it bears repeating. If chicks dig the long ball, the ladies of Washington will love Wily Mo Pena. He homered for the second straight game.

... That that's the YoGa I remember! Yovani Gallardo pitched six innings, gave up only five hits and one walk, struck out six and shut out Arizona, the hottest team in baseball.

... That Joel Pineiro now has a 3.38 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in his past four starts. He is 3-1 over that span, and I expect the mocking I took for recommending him two starts ago to die down any day now.

... That as long as we're in the "Really, that guy?" section of pitchers, let's talk about Tim Redding. He pitched seven innings Monday and gave up only six hits and three walks; he is now 2-1 with a 1.85 ERA over his past six.

... That Ubaldo Jimenez now has given up only one earned run and struck out 13 in his last 13 innings.

See you kids in New York City.

Cyberstalk the TMR

• Senior Fantasy analyst for ESPN
• Member, FSWA and FSTA Halls of Fame
• Best-selling author of "Fantasy Life"



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