Wednesday, September 5, 2007

FIVE POPULAR QUESTIONS ENTERING THE FANTASY FOOTBALL SEASON

The fantasy football talk and debates in the Register sports department began in May and went into full swing the first week of June when many sports Web sites, like www.cbs.sportsline.com, began offering the opportunity to create teams and join leagues for the upcoming 2007 NFL season.
The anticipation is reaching a fever pitch with the NFL season kicking off on Thursday with the Indianapolis Colts facing the New Orleans Saints. The best fantasy sports season is upon us and a good indication of that is all the questions I've been asked by people through emails, on the phone and those I run into out in public.

The past couple of days I've put together the top five questions I've been asked over the past month and they are: 5., Among the running backs who have escaped the running back-by-committee tag, who will have the best 2007 season?, 4. After the top tier quarterbacks like Peyton Manning Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Marc Bulger, is there a quarterback who will produce the kind of numbers that will push him into that elite top tier this season?, 3. Of all the players who have moved on to different teams in 2007, which one will have the best season?, 2. Will Randy Moss be a fantasy god or fantasy dud with the New England Patriots this season?. . . .and the most-asked question at No. 1.- Is it legal or illegal to play in fantasy sports leagues where prizes are offered?
Responses are below and also feel free throughout the fantasy football season to post a fantasy-related comment or ask me advice (who to start, who is the top waiver wire pickup of the moment, best upcoming matchups, etc.). I average 8-12 leagues every season and I'm in 10 leagues this season. Of course, that's nothing compared to singer Meat Loaf who I'm told is in about 65 leagues every season.

Let's start with No. 5 - Among the running backs who have escaped the running back-by-committee tag, who will have the best 2007 season?
There are some running backs who should have better-than-normal production this year since they will finally be "the guy" on their team this season. Players like Laurence Maroney of the Patriots (back Corey Dillon has been released), Joseph Addai (Dominic Rhodes is in Oakland now) and Cedric Benson (Thomas Jones is with the Jets) will finally have their chance to shine. But the guy who I think will be the best, especially in leagues that reward points for receptions, is Joseph Addai. Expect about 1,400 to 1,600 rushing yards and 14-16 rushing touchdowns plus about 800 receiving yards with 3-5 receiving touchdowns.

No. 4 - After the top tier quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Drew Brees and Marc Bulger, is there a quarterback who will produce the kind of numbers that will push him into that elite top tier this season?
There are a few candidates for this answer, but the guy I like is Tony Romo. He surely wants to do everything he can to make people forget his botched hold for a field goal in the playoffs last season and what better way to do that than have a monster season in 2007. He has the talented guys on the team who can catch the ball, led by Terrell Owens. He just needs to be consistent, come up big more often in crucial games and take charge as the leader on the team.

No. 3 - Of all the players who have moved on to different teams in 2007, which one will have the best season?
Denver running back Travis Henry is the obvious pick here, especially since Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has said he is scrapping the running back-by-committee style this season and sticking to one guy. But I'm actually going to go with new Houston quarterback Matt Schaub in this spot. I was never a big David Carr fan. Schaub, after spending time on the bench behind Michael Vick in Atlanta finally has a chance to show what he can do as a starter. He has the arm and the talent to succeed big time. The only question is how long will it take to get used to a new offensive system. He looked okay in the preseason albeit in limited action.

No. 2 - Will Randy Moss be a fantasy god or fantasy dud with the New England Patriots this season?
Despite his lack of motivation at times, I've always been a Moss fan and it killed me to see him have to deal with quarterback mediocrity in Oakland the past two seasons. Joining the Patriots, who lacked the big-play threat last season that Moss provides, is the best thing that ever happened to him. And he isn't the only talented guy on the team with the likes of receivers Donte Stallworth and Wes Welker and back Laurence Maroney getting the attention of defenses. It will likely leave Moss with many single-coverage situations. The question now is his health. He didn't play in the post season and some Internet sites have written him off. But there are two encouraging signs - he returned to practice on Monday and the Pats felt comfortable enough with what they have to release Reche Caldwell who was a starting receiver in the playoffs last season. I predict a huge year for Moss who wants a Super Bowl ring real bad.

No. 1 - Is it legal or illegal to play in fantasy sports leagues where prizes are offered?
It's pretty funny, in a repeatedly cosmic sort of way, because I get this same question from people year after year after year. Over the years I've had several gambling-related interviews with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who is a straight-shooting guy who will tell you exactly what he thinks when it comes to just about any subject. Several times we've discussed items like NCAA office pools, Super Bowl square contests and fantasy sports leagues where prize money is involved. The bottom line is this. If the person running things doesn't make any money off it, if all the money collected for fees is returned to the participants as prize money, everything is cool and legal. When someone profits from a contest, that's when it becomes a problem.

And again, please feel free throughout the fantasy football season to post a fantasy-related comment or ask advice (who to start, who is the top waiver wire pickup of the moment, best upcoming matchups, etc.).

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