Touchdown-only leagues: Many happy returns
Ah, touchdown-only leagues. They seem so easy, don't they? Each week you start a lineup of players, and you win if you score more touchdowns than your opponent. Simple as that. No worrying about any other statistic involved. You either score or you don't.
You can have Marshall Faulk when he rushes for 128 yards against the Cardinals, and I can have Jerome Bettis when he rushes for only 1 yard on 5 carries against the Raiders. In standard fantasy football leagues, you'd feel pretty good about your guy. In a TD-only league, I'm the happy one because Bettis found the end zone three times and Marshall failed to break the goal line. You get no consolation prize for those yards. You get no bonus for reaching the 100-yard milestone. You get nothing! Good day, sir! You lose! I said, "Good day!"
That's not to say that you don't want to draft the big names early. After all, it's still better to have the Adrian Peterson in purple than the Adrian Peterson in black. But because yardage doesn't enter into the equation, you do have to take different considerations into account and adjust your draft boards accordingly. So here is a list of things to keep in mind before you make your selections:
2007 Top Touchdown scorers
It's all about the paydirt! And Randy Moss, along with Tom Brady, was king of the touchdown last season. How many times will he score this season?
|Top 5 Quarterbacks (Passing TDs)|
|Top 5 Running Backs (Total TDs)|
|Marion Barber III||12|
|Top 5 Wide Receivers (Total TDs)|
|Top 5 Tight Ends (Total TDs)|
|2008 TD-Only Rankings|
Beware the vultures: Sammy Morris, Rashard Mendenhall, DeShaun Foster, T.J. Duckett ... guys like this aren't likely to get a sniff until the very late rounds in standard leagues, but in a TD-only league, it doesn't matter that they might get only a handful of carries per game. What does matter is how close to the end zone they are when they get the call. On the flip side, guys like Willie Parker, Frank Gore, Julius Jones and Laurence Maroney will get far more carries, but when it comes to reaching pay dirt, they could lose out if someone else gets the goal-line carries.
Don't forget the specialists: Just think about it: A guy who returns punts and kicks gets roughly 10 free shots at the end zone each game. Don't dismiss these guys. They might end up scoring only three or four times per season, but I'd rather take my chances with Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs than any Titans wide receiver. Versatile return/receiver types such as Nate Burleson, Ted Ginn Jr., Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren Sproles all get a huge bump in value. Remember, the more opportunities a back gets, the greater his chance at reaching the end zone.
Don't be afraid to double-dip: If you have Devin Hester in your lineup, and he returns a punt for a touchdown, you get six points. If you also have the Bears Defense/Special teams, those six points just became 12 points. If you draft Peyton Manning and follow it up with Reggie Wayne, you have yourself 10 points each time they connect. True, if the Colts get shut out, you're now skunked on two roster spots but how often is that going to happen? I don't suggest you use the tactic with, say, Shaun Hill and Arnaz Battle, but certainly I'd consider drafting my starting quarterback's tight end to make those sporadic visits to the end zone all the more valuable.
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So go with your gut. If you have a feeling this is the week that LenDale White goes off, then by all means start him over Joseph Addai. If you think the weather in Cleveland might be awful, and you don't want to start Derek Anderson, then feel free to put Joe Flacco in the game. You have to catch lightning in a bottle only once to have a move like that pay dividends. Have fun with it and take some chances. That's what this kind of league is all about.
AJ Mass is a fantasy football, baseball and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.