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Fantasy football rankings
See how your players stack up
Special to the Herald-Guide -   Aug 09, 2007

By JOHN McFARLAND

Associated Press Writer

QUARTERBACKS:

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis:
4,397 yards passing, 31 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 4 TDs rushing. With that pesky Super Bowl ring out of way, he can get back to piling up ridiculous fantasy stats.

2. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati: 4,035 yards, 28 TDs, 13 INTs. Injury is no longer concern after he started every game last year. Plus, most skill position players are back without legal problems.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans: 4,418 yards, 26 TDs, 11 INTs. Big surprise of 2006 tailed off at end of season, but he's healthy and has full year of experience in Sean Payton's offense.

4. Tom Brady, New England: 3,529 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs. He only had three 300-yard games last year, but numbers should jump after Patriots bought receivers in bulk. Randy Moss and Donte' Stallworth could be huge weapons (or just sulky injured guys).

5. Marc Bulger, St. Louis: 4,301 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs. Posted career highs in yards and TDs, plus finally played 16 games in his first year away from Mike Martz's blocker-free scheme. New targets Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael help, too.

6. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia: 2,647 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs, 3 TDs rushing. Big numbers are probable, but so is injury. He's missed 13 games the past two years, has only played a full season once since 2001 and has declared himself ``75 percent'' healthy. He'll produce, just keep the backup ready.

7. Vince Young, Tennessee: 2,199 yards, 12 TDs, 13 INTs, 552 yards rushing, 7 TDs rushing. Rookie of Year single-handedly kept Titans in contention much longer than they should have been. Will be working solo again after Tennessee ditched all the other skill players.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas: 2,903 yards, 19 TDs, 13 INTs. Only has 10 NFL starts, and new offensive coaches combined last year to coach Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon and Rex Grossman. But he was a Pro Bowl pick and has solid receivers _ and he won't hold on kicks anymore.

9. Jon Kitna, Detroit: 4,208 yards, 21 TDs, 22 INTs, 2 TDs rushing. Beefed up line, Roy Williams-Calvin Johnson-Mike Furrey combo, Martz offense and cocky 10-win prediction make him hard to resist. (Just resist taking him too early.)

10. J.P. Losman, Buffalo: 3,051 yards, 19 TDs, 14 INTS, 1 TD run. Longtime fantasy football punch line is suddenly legit. He had a few 300-yard games and a few three-TD games last season, and the Bills actually went out and bought themselves an offensive line.

11. Philip Rivers, San Diego: 3,388 yards, 22 TDs, 9 INTS. A year of experience and the arrival of QB guru Norv Turner could mean big jump in numbers. Or it could mean Rivers just hands off all day.

12. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle: 2,442 yards, 18 TDs, 15 INTs. He missed four games to injury and missed plenty of open receivers when he did play. Should be back over 20 TDs, but even when healthy he's always just been above-average fantasy QB.

13. Eli Manning, NY Giants: 3,244 yards, 24 TDs, 18 INTs. Is this the year he goes nuts? Or the year we finally accept the fact he's an erratic turnover machine and not another Peyton?

14. Jay Cutler, Denver: 1,001 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs. Numbers should really take off now that Jake Plummer's no longer teaching him things. New RB Travis Henry should also relieve some pressure.

15. Jake Delhomme, Carolina: 2,805 yards, 17 TDs, 11 INTs. Even with a new offensive coordinator and plenty of weapons, don't trust him as anything but a backup until he proves himself. (Oh, and sorry to anyone who drafted him based on my glowing reviews last year.)

16. Alex Smith, San Francisco: 2,890 yards, 16 TDs, 16 INTS, 2 TDs rushing. TDs last year were up 15 from his disastrous one-score rookie season. New WRs will help, though team's on fifth offensive coordinator in five years.

17. Matt Leinart, Arizona: 2,541 yards, 11 TDs, 12 INTs, 2 TDs rushing. Showed big signs of figuring out the NFL as a rookie, but not expected to throw as much in new run-heavy system.

18. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: 3,513 yards, 18 TDs, 23 INTs, 2 TDs rushing. Barring motorcycle crashes and surprise organ removal, he might even throw to guys on his own team.

19. Rex Grossman, Chicago: 3,193 yards, 23 TDs, 20 INTs. Good Rex is so good, but Bad Rex is so very, very bad. Playing his first full season, he had 21 touchdowns and two interceptions in 10 games. In the other six, he had two TDs and 18 INTs.

20. Matt Schaub, Houston: 208 yards, TD, 2 INTs. Maybe he's the next Brett Favre, also a little-used backup before Atlanta traded him. Or maybe he's the next Rob Johnson, who was traded away and then became a little-used backup.

21. Jason Campbell, Washington: 1,297 yards, 10 TDS, 6 INTs, 112 yards rushing. Put together some decent stats in seven games, and having both Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts could open passing game.

22. Brett Favre, Green Bay: 3,885 yards, 18 TD passes, 18 INTs, 1 TD rushing. The Packers celebrated Favre's return for one more season by ... doing nothing. Look for him again to throw exclusively to Donald Driver and whoever is covering him.

23. Chad Pennington, NY Jets: 3,352 yards, 17 TDs, 16 INTs. The good news is, he's really consistent. The bad news: He's consistently good for one TD a game. Handoff stats should go way up with Thomas Jones on board.

24. Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: 1,309 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs. He's only good in the West Coast offense so could excel under West Coast master Jon Gruden. Then again, there's probably a reason why the 37-year-old's on his fifth team in five years.

25. Daunte Culpepper, Oakland: 929 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs. 1 TD rushing. Not sure if he can still do the little things like run and throw, but it's certainly worth a late pick to find out.

26. Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville: 1,159 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTS, 2 TDs rushing. He's never played 16 games or surpassed 3,000 yards or 15 touchdowns. But he says he's perfectly healthy, and new offensive coordinator is known for high-scoring attacks.

27. Joey Harrington, Atlanta: 2,236 yards, 12 TDs, 15 INTs. His agent is a genius, getting him signed to back up a non-playing starter for the second straight year. Looks like Michael Vick won't be back for a while, if ever.

28. JaMarcus Russell, Oakland: Rookie. Worth late pick if you want to tuck him away for later.

29. Trent Green, Miami: 1,342 yards, 7 TDs, 9 INTs. He's 37 and was known last year mostly as the guy whose skull bounced off the turf. Averaged about 4,000 yards and 22 TDs the five previous seasons, though.

30. Steve McNair, Baltimore: 3,050 yards, 16 TDs, 12 INTs, 1 TD rushing. He didn't throw much before the Ravens landed a good RB, so look for lots more handoffs.

31. Tarvaris Jackson, Minnesota: 475 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 1 TD rushing. Didn't show a lot while learning Minnesota's TD-free scheme. He's great if your league awards extra points for muscular QBs.

32. David Carr, Carolina: 2,767 yards, 11 TDs, 12 INTs, 2 rushing TDs. Worth late gamble, in case Delhomme out-underachieves him.

RUNNING BACKS

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego: 1,815 yards and 28 TDs rushing (5.2 yards per carry), 508 yards and 3 TDs receiving, 2 TD passes. May never post such ridiculous numbers again, but anywhere remotely close could bring fantasy title.

2. Steven Jackson, St. Louis: 1,528 yards and 13 TDs rushing (4.4 yards per carry), 806 yards and 3 TDs receiving. Turns out he's pretty good when he actually gets the ball. Averaged about 180 yards from scrimmage and scored eight times in final three games.

3. Frank Gore, San Francisco: 1,695 yards and 8 TDs rushing (5.4 yards per carry), 485 yards and 1 TD receiving. He'll continue to be whole offense. It's too early to worry about the broken finger that will sideline him for much of the preseason.

4. Willie Parker, Pittsburgh: 1,494 yards and 13 TDs rushing (4.4 yards per carry), 222 yards and 3 TDs receiving. Proved last year that he can handle heavy load and still break away for long run here and there. Should catch more passes, too.

5. Joseph Addai, Indianapolis: 1,081 yards and 7 TDs rushing (4.8 yards per carry), 325 yards and 1 TD receiving. Is he really fifth-best back? As long as he's not sharing too much time, he could easily pile up numbers like the Edgerrin James of yesteryear.

6. Larry Johnson, Kansas City: 1,789 yards and 17 TDs rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 410 yards and 2 TDs receiving. Ranking him this low seems obscene, unless you consider he may hold out, has a questionable offense and could break down from overuse.

7. Shaun Alexander, Seattle: 896 yards and 7 TDs rushing (3.6 yards per carry), 48 yards receiving. He's a high-mileage 30-year-old coming off injury. If you think he can return to monster numbers of a few years ago, take him earlier.

8. Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia: 1,217 yards and 7 TDs rushing (5.1 yards per carry), 699 yards and 4 TDs receiving. Durability, schmurability. Sure, the 5-foot-8 back never plays all 16 games, but he's put in at least 12 the past three years.

9. Rudi Johnson, Cincinnati: 1,309 yards and 12 TDs rushing (3.8 yards per carry), 124 yards receiving. Yet another heavy workload was good for third straight 12-TD season in 2006, but he also had lowest average per carry of career.

10. Travis Henry, Denver: 1,211 yards and 7 TDs rushing (4.5 yards per carry), 78 yards receiving. After vanishing for a few years, posted career-high yards per carry last season while proving he can still carry load. And for once everybody knows Denver's starter before September.

11. Laurence Maroney, New England: 745 yards and 6 TDs rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 194 yards and 1 TD receiving. Made most of his touches last year, and now he won't share time. He did get nicked up, but this is guy who went for 1,400 yards and 10 TDs a year in college.

12. Ronnie Brown, Miami: 1,008 yards and 5 TDs rushing (4.2 yards per carry), 276 yards receiving. Wasn't he supposed to go nuts with Ricky Williams out of the picture? He was pretty pedestrian, although defenses weren't exactly respecting Cleo Lemon and other Miami passers.

13. Thomas Jones, NY Jets: 1,210 yards and 6 TDs rushing, 154 yards receiving. For some reason, the Bears never really liked this guy who always went for 1,200 yards. The Jets like him plenty as their No. 1 back.

14. Willis McGahee, Baltimore: 990 yards and 6 TDs rushing (3.8 yards per carry), 156 yards receiving. He's turned in his fair share of clunkers and has never caught a TD pass, but he's in system that actually got production from Jamal Lewis.

15. Reggie Bush, New Orleans: 565 yards and 6 TDs rushing (3.6 yards per carry), 742 yards and 2 TDs receiving. Got off to shaky rookie year, but had TD or 100 yards in four of last five games. (Take him higher if your league awards points for receptions.)

16. Clinton Portis, Washington: 523 yards and 7 TDs rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 170 yards receiving. Assorted injuries, plus emergence of Ladell Betts, have knocked him down a few notches. (Be prepared to move him down even more if trainer keeps using words like ``trauma'' when discussing the tendinitis in his knee.)

17. Cedric Benson, Chicago: 647 yards and 6 TDs rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 54 yards receiving. After two years marked by bench-warming and injury, he finally gets shot as featured back.

18. Brandon Jacobs, NY Giants: 423 yards and 9 TDs rushing (4.4 yards per carry), 149 yards receiving. The 264-pound steamroller gets his chance to do more than plow through for 1-yard TDs. Brutal running style could mean injury, so also draft Reuben Droughns.

19. Edgerrin James, Arizona: 1,159 yards and 6 TDs rushing (3.4 yards per carry), 217 yards receiving. A few nice games in December salvaged otherwise awful desert debut. Now has better line and run-first offense.

20. Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo: Rookie. In addition to having original parts in his knees, Lynch is much better receiver than McGahee. Bills are even planning to block.

21. Deuce McAllister, New Orleans: 1,057 yards and 10 TDs rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 198 yards receiving. Can he duplicate solid numbers while sharing time?

22. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville: 941 yards and 13 TDs rushing (5.7 yards per carry), 436 yards and 2 TDs receiving, 1 kickoff return for TD. Really, is 5-foot-7 fireplug going to score 16 TDs again sharing time in crowded backfield? He may, but it's hard to spend high pick on part-timer.

23. Tatum Bell, Detroit: 1,025 yards and 2 TDs rushing (4.4 yards per carry), 115 yards receiving. Martz has declared him the greatest guy ever, but drop him several slots if Kevin Jones returns from major foot injury and crowds the backfield.

24. Carnell Williams, Tampa Bay: 798 yards and 1 TD rushing (3.5 yards per carry), 196 yards receiving. He was master of 40-yard game last year, but a decent QB should help him find space. Until then, he's just Carnell _ the ``Cadillac'' nickname has been repossessed.

25. Jamal Lewis, Cleveland: 1,132 yards and 9 TDs rushing (3.6 yards per carry), 115 yards receiving. Yards per carry have dropped dramatically since 2,000-yard season, but his patented tiptoe-then-fall move is actually an upgrade for Cleveland.

26. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: Rookie. Time-sharing arrangement with Chester Taylor may last until Peterson's first 80-yard run. Take him first if you want long-term value, though Taylor may be the better short-term pick.

27. Ahman Green, Houston: 1,059 yards and 5 TDs rushing (4.0 yards per carry), 373 yards and 1 TD receiving. The 30-year-old rebounded from injury and had decent year on lousy offense. Now he gets chance to be decent for different lousy offense.

28. Jerious Norwood, Atlanta: 633 yards and 2 TDs rushing (6.4 yards per carry), 102 yards receiving. ``Minor'' back surgery for backfield partner Warrick Dunn, plus starting QB with history of not throwing so well, could spell a lot of carries.

29. Marion Barber, Dallas: 654 yards and 14 TDs rushing (4.8 yards per carry), 196 yards and 2 TDs receiving. He averaged 10 touches a game, but still managed a TD a game. Can you really expect that again?

30. Chester Taylor, Minnesota: 1,216 yards and 6 TDs rushing (4.0 yards per carry) and 288 yards receiving. Eventually wore down while piling up career stats. Still could be effective in two-back system.

31. Julius Jones, Dallas: 1,084 yards and 4 TDs rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 142 yards receiving. Role got smaller and TDs less frequent as last season wore on. Contract year won't help him get goal-line carries.

32. Ladell Betts, Washington: 1,154 yards and 4 TDs rushing (4.7 yards per carry), 445 yards and 1 TD receiving. He's a must if you take Portis, but also worth late-round pick to steal him from whoever has Portis.

33. DeShaun Foster, Carolina: 897 yards and 3 TDs rushing (4.0 yards per carry), 159 yards receiving. He's actually been fairly healthy past few years, he's an infrequent end zone visitor who shares a job.

34. Brandon Jackson, Green Bay: Rookie. Second-round pick could get plenty of action, especially if Vernand Morency's knee injury keeps him out for long. Jackson didn't get many carries last year at Nebraska, but had four 100-yard games when he did.

35. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina: 501 yards and 1 TD rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 313 yards and 1 TD receiving. He produces every time he gets touches, but role's uncertain until Foster gets hurt.

36. LaMont Jordan, Oakland: 434 yards and 2 TDs rushing (3.8 yards per carry), 74 yards receiving. He's not much to get excited about, but he's the starter for at least four weeks thanks to Dominic Rhodes' suspension.

37. Fred Taylor, Jacksonville: 1,146 yards and 5 TDs rushing (5.0 yards per carry), 242 yards and 1 TD receiving. Is there a less interesting 1,100-yard back out there? He's 31 and sharing time with all sorts of guys.

38. Chris Henry, Tennessee: Rookie. First of all, he's not the suspended guy named Chris Henry. And Chris Brown didn't change his name. Neither did Travis Henry. Chris Henry's a rookie who didn't carry much in college, but went crazy at the combine. He could start, or end up in a three-way time share.

39. Vernand Morency, Green Bay: 434 yards and 2 TDs rushing (4.5 yards per carry), 118 yards receiving. He's expected to share time with Jackson, and perhaps even Noah Herron. But keep an eye on his health after a knee injury the first day of camp knocked him out for a few weeks.

40. Reuben Droughns, NY Giants: 758 yards and 4 TDs rushing (3.4 yards per carry), 169 yards receiving. Free from Cleveland's blocking-optional scheme, Droughns should back up Jacobs in the always odd 500-pound backfield.

41. Adrian Peterson, Chicago: 41 yards and 2 TDs rushing (4.7 yards per carry), 88 yards receiving. If Benson's a bust, he could be the best Adrian Peterson going this year.

42. Mike Bell, Denver: 677 yards and 8 TDs rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 158 yards receiving. Remember this guy? He was the next big deal in Denver at least a couple times last year. Now he's just good insurance if you have Henry.

43. Michael Turner, San Diego: 502 yards and 2 TDs rushing (6.3 yards per carry), 47 yards receiving. The 240-pound bruiser had a three-year career average of 6.0 yards a carry. A must if you also have Tomlinson.

44. Warrick Dunn, Atlanta: 1,140 yards and 4 TDs rushing (4.0 yards per carry), 170 yards and 1 TD receiving. Back surgery right before camp is never good, especially for smallish 32-year-old running backs.

45. Anthony Thomas, Buffalo: 378 yards and 2 TDs rushing (3.5 yards per carry). Could be steal if Lynch doesn't live up to expectations.

46. Ron Dayne, Houston: 612 yards and 5 TDs rushing (4.1 yards per carry), 77 yards receiving. Could be worth late gamble considering short-yardage potential and Green's age and fragility.

47. Sammy Morris, New England: 400 yards and 1 TD rushing (4.3 yards per carry), 162 yards receiving. Could be steal if Maroney gets hurt.

48. LenDale White, Tennessee: 244 yards, 0 TDs (4.0 yards per carry). Other than hamstring injury, fattening up to about 260 pounds and missing team workout, it was great offseason.

49. Priest Holmes, Kansas City. Trying to come back from serious injury, you sort of have to draft him based on big seasons a few years back. Unless it turns out the Chiefs are just bringing him in to scare Larry Johnson into camp.

50. Dominic Rhodes, Oakland: 641 yards and 5 TDs rushing (3.4 yards per carry), 251 yards receiving. Starting season with four-game suspension, he could be the latest Super Bowl hero to flop in Oakland. (See Larry Brown, Desmond Howard.)

Be here next week when we list more of the top draft picks in the 2007 Fantasy Football.

Send story ideas to Sports Editor Heather R. Breaux at heatherb@heraldguide.com.

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