Archive for August, 2007

Fantasy draft No. 1

August 27, 2007

As seen on Gabe Whisnant’s blog, here’s an idea theft about how one of my draft went.

It’s a touchdown-only league, and it’s been around since the 1980s. I’ve only been a member for five years – after a five-year stay on the waiting list. It’s easier to get Packer tickets, or sell a Vick jersey at the Westminster Dog Show.

Anyway, I kept Marion Barber and Edgerrin James. Yeah, last year was bad. This one should be better. It’s a keeper league, so the usual suspects weren’t available. Adrian Peterson went No. 1 overall, if you’re wondering.

Lineup:
QB: Jay Cutler (waited until late)
RB: Barber
RB: Ronnie Brown (1st pick)
WR: Marques Colston (other 1st rounder)
WR: Vincent Jackson (third round, really happy here)
TE: Todd Heap (fifth round)
K: Olindo Mare (really late, where kickers belong)
DEF: Ravens (Round seven)

Reserves
QB: Jeff Garcia (should have done better here, but J.P. Losman and Jon Kitna both share a bye week with Cutler)
RB: James, Tatum Bell (who proceeded to run out and get hurt), Michael Bush (last pick, just taking a flyer)
WR: Donald Driver (round two, but nicked up right now), Jerricho Cotchery (really like this guy).

Review: Good depth at wide receiver, a little shallow at running back. If Cutler’s good, I will be too. If I have to play Garcia, I’m in trouble.

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Football approaches, heat be darned

August 10, 2007

I’m not a complainer most of the time, but this heat is trying my good humor. The only place I want to see triple digits is in my paycheck.
Afternoon temps in the 100s are almost blunting my enthusiasm for the looming football season – be it high school, college or pro. Almost, but not quite.
Here are the things I’m looking forward to seeing out of each kind of gridiron action in 2007:

High schools

Is Southern Vance a one-year wonder? It’s a fair question, considering the Raiders had never made it out of the third round before last year’s run to the State 2AA title game. Mark Perry steps in for David Jennings in the head coaching spot, but plenty of the key figures return to try and produce a repeat performance.
I like the offense, and the defense will round into form. Look for another deep postseason run.
Can Webb be a 3A dark horse? The Warriors are getting zero pub in the run up to the season, but few teams can boast nine returning starters on both sides of the ball. John Hammett’s bunch finished 7-4 last year, and with a senior-laden, talented defense and Antwan Thorpe returning at quarterback, this is a team that could be a real surprise.
Can Warren County and Northern Vance turn the corner? Both have plenty of obstacles to overcome, as Warren County is breaking in its third coach in three seasons and the Vikings are about as youthful as any team around. The schedule does neither squad any favors, either.

Colleges

New coaches, new stories? Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien step into new roles at Carolina and State, respectively. Davis has the better recruits while O’Brien had more in the cupboard. Davis will have the Tar Heels turned around in a year or two, while the Wolfpack will be much improved right away with the added discipline of the former Boston College boss.
Who’s No. 1? Virginia Tech’s a great story, USC is loaded with five-star talent and both Louisville and West Virginia have decent shots at the title. My pick? I’ll take LSU.
The Bayou Bengals have 14 returning starters and a home-loaded schedule that should help them navigate the brutal SEC. The only tough road test is Alabama, and LSU is 32-3 at home since 2002.
Who’s winning the Heisman? This is almost impossible to predict, but I get paid to take such chances (read: I need the column inches). West Virginia’s Steve Slaton, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and Louisville’s Brian Brohm are prime candidates, but to find my choice, you have to hope a plan and fly to the islands. Hawaii’s Colt Brennen toils in a pass-happy, run-and-shoot offense for a team that will likely be undefeated and challenge for an at-large BCS bowl bid.

Pros

Can the Panthers bounce back? I think they can, though cutting Keyshawn Johnson was puzzling with the lack of proven talent behind Steve Smith. DeAngelo Williams and Jake Delhomme (or David Carr) must have big years for the Panthers to challenge in the NFC.

Super Bowl pick? Right now? You’re kidding. If I had to nail one down now, I’ll lean towards the Patriots.

Contact the writer at rcapps@hendersondispatch.com.

Stealing ideas

August 5, 2007

I’m going to steal two things from my buddy Bryan Hanks over in Kinston.

1. His praise of the Prep Yearbook available over at ncpreps.com. It’s well worth the $17.

2. His idea of breaking down a schedule game-by-game. My choice? The Clemson Tigers…

Sept. 3 – vs. Florida State – Everyone seems convinced that the Seminoles are somehow going to come out and hammer people this year, just because of the all-star group of assistants that Bobby Bowden brought in. Me, I tend to focus on the facts that Clemson has won three of the last four in the series and two in a row against the ‘Noles at home. I’ll take Clemson in a close one, 21-20.

Sept. 8 – vs. UL Monroe – The Skyhawks are pretty good for a Sun Belt team, which is to say that they might beat Duke. Maybe. Clemson wins, 45-14.

Sept. 15 – vs. Furman – Not exactly murderer’s row here. Clemson wins, 42-0.

Sept. 22 – at N.C. State – Clemson wins this game on paper, but Tom O’Brien is a Tiger killer. I’m a little worried about this one, but I’ll take the Tigers, 28-21.

Sept. 29 – at Georgia Tech – At this point, Clemson will be ranked and a little too cocky. I like the Jackets here, 23-21.

Oct. 6 – Virginia Tech – The Hokies are a national championship contender. Clemson is not. Hokies win, 28-13.

Oct. 20 – Central Michigan – This is a decent team, but the home field edge will be enough for Clemson, 35-24.

Oct. 27 – at Maryland – These games are always close. This one will be, too. Clemson wins, 27-21, in OT.

Nov. 3 – at Duke – Duke has no shot here. Clemson rolls, 49-17.

Nov. 10 – Wake Forest – The Deacs blew a late lead last year. They implode a lot sooner this time. Clemson wins, 35-20.

Nov. 17 – Boston College – I’m really interested to see what this team does with a new coach. My guess is they falls short here. Clemson wins, 28-14.

Nov. 24 – at South Carolina – It pains me to write this, but the Gamecocks are looking good on paper. That defense and the home field will swing this one to SC, 28-24.

That’s 9-3 for the Tigers and, assuming FSU loses another league game along the way, a berth in the ACC title game.

Anything less and there’ll be one less Bowden in the ACC.