Blogs > N-H Fantasy Sports

News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Five for Friday: A.I. and more NBA answers

We'll start and end this week's list with big-name guards who aren't producing. In between, we'll bring up your least-favorite former Cavalier.

5. It's time to consider benching Allen Iverson.

The Pistons were 4-0 when The Answer played his first game for Detroit following the Chauncey Billups trade, a 103-96 loss at New Jersey on Nov. 7. Entering Friday night's game at Orlando, they've lost seven straight games and are two games under .500.

Iverson, understandably, is taking a lot of the blame. He's averaging 18.0 points -- easily the lowest of his career -- on 41.9 percent shooting. Wednesday, he played only eight minutes because of a stiff back, and at 33, he's no longer the 6-foot, 165-pound freak of nature we're accustomed to seeing.

Iverson is still a fantasy asset in assists (5.1) and steals (1.6), but he's made only 28 3-pointers (he's averaged 1.2 treys per game for his career) and his field-goal percentage in weeks in which he's shooting 60 times is enough to wreck you in that category.

Obviously, if his back problems persist, this decision is much easier. Even if he's healthy, I'd sit him if I was deep enough at guard and needed to win field-goal percentage to have a chance in a particular week.

4. Carlos Boozer is back, and Paul Millsap owners suffer.

Boozer has played 43 minutes in two games since returning from a knee injury. He said he needs about two weeks before he can play significant minutes.

Until he does, you know to keep him on your bench.

The decision isn't so basic when it comes to Millsap, who now takes his 14.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, one block, one steal and 53.6 shooting percentage to the bench. In Boozer's two-game return, Millsap has played only 46 minutes and scored 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting.

If he's only playing half the game, which likely will be the case with Boozer back, he's only worth starting in very deep leagues in which you desperately need a big man.

3. Three players I like: Antonio McDyess, Tyson Chandler and Mike Conley Jr.

Chandler, the Hornets' starting center, has a combined 25 points and 27 rebounds in two games with New Orleans since he was traded to the Thunder, then sent back to the Hornets because he failed a physical.

Chandler hadn't played since Jan. 19 because of a sprained ankle and he was disappointing when he was in the lineup (9.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, down from 11.8 and 11.8 last season). But with back-to-back double-doubles, and because he's a center who is capable of shooting 60 percent from the field (thanks to his patented alley-oop-or-bust offensive style), I would play him next week. Before you do, though, remember this: If you need a free-throw percentage boost, look elsewhere. Chandler likely will shoot better from the field than he will the line.

I would also start McDyess, who is averaging 13.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on 65.5 percent shooting in his last six games. Somehow, he's only owned in 14 percent of the leagues on Detroit's Amir Johnson-Kwame Brown starting-lineup experiment is over, and McDyess -- and owners who want to increase that ESPN percentage -- are the beneficiaries.

Then there's Conley, who is finally getting consistent minutes and living up to his draft billing in Memphis.

The former Buckeye's February averages are as follows: 14.3 points, 6.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 42.6 FGP and 79.1 FTP. The only negatives: His shooting percentage and 2.4 turnovers per game.

Another number: 80.6, as in the percentage of leagues in which he's available on Again, I ask: How small are these leagues if you have an 80 percent chance of being able to acquire players the caliber of Conley and McDyess on the waiver wire?

2. One player I REALLY like: Ryan Gomes.

If you cursed the moment you heard Timberwolves center Al Jefferson was done for the season because of a knee injury, there has been one silver lining -- albeit one that's only possible if you were lucky enough to pick up Gomes.

Unlike Jefferson, Gomes is not center-eligible, but he's putting up similar numbers.

Gomes is averaging 22.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals in his last five games, a span in which he's shot 51.3 percent from the floor, 83.3 percent from the line and made 11 3-pointers. In the seven games Jefferson has missed, the fourth-year power forward has averaged 20.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

That's much more surprising than this: He's available in 78.4 percent of the leagues on ESPN.

You're probably sensing a theme here: Start Gomes, percentages or not.

1. One player who's not worth waiting for: Gilbert Arenas.

Gomes, McDyess and Conley are readily available, but Arenas (73.1 percent ownership on is not.

Either there are a lot of keeper leagues out there, quite a few leagues have multiple injury exemptions per team, or owners are not at all discouraged by the fact that Arenas has played a total of 13 games in the last two seasons because of a knee injury.

This week, word broke that Arenas has been practicing all-out since the Wizards returned from the All-Star break. He even said he is "feeling like the old Gilbert Arenas again."

One blogger's guess: The "old" Gilbert Arenas won't be around until next season.

At 13-44, the worst record in the East, the Wizards have no reason to rush Arenas back. He'll probably play at some point this season, but how much and how well are as uncertain as A.I.'s Pistons.

By then, you'll wish you had Conley.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The end of a Rice-like era: Harrison leaves Colts

Marvin Harrison's exit wasn't a surprise. As sports fans, we've become almost immune to a great player leaving the team for which he made his name.

Harrison will move on, possibly reuniting with college teammate Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia, but we'll always see him as a Colt.

Today, we'll take a break from start-and-sit advice and the free-agent targets of the week.

Instead, let's truly appreciate how good Harrison was with the Colts. For fantasy owners, there's only been one other wide receiver who could compare. A guy by the name of Rice.

Harrison injured his knee and played in only five games in 2007. Last season, he was a shell of himself, catching only 60 passes for 636 yards (a very un-Harrison-like 10.6 yards per reception) and five touchdowns.

The two down seasons followed an eight-year stretch that is rivaled only by Jerry Rice.

From 1999 to 2006, Harrison caught at least 82 passes for 1,113 yards and 10 touchdowns each year. His eight-year averages: 103 receptions for 1,402 yards and 13 TDs.

Rice's best eight-year stretch with the 49ers was from 1989 to '96. In that span, he caught at least 80 passes for 1,201 yards and eight touchdowns each season (he had at least 10 TDs each year until 1996, when he totaled eight). Rice's eight-year averages were 98 receptions for 1,437 yards and 13 touchdowns.

How comparable was Harrison to Rice during those eight-year runs? Here are the totals:

Harrison, 1999 to 2006: 826 receptions, 11,219 yards, 101 touchdowns
Rice, 1989 to 1996: 786 receptions, 11,496 yards, 105 touchdowns

In point-per-reception leagues that give one-tenth of a point for a receiving yard and six points for a TD, Rice was 11.7 points better than Harrison over an eight-year span.

As Rice did with the Raiders and the Seahawks, Harrison will play for another team. He might even be decent enough to warrant a spot on your bench next season.

Regardless, McNabb-to-Harrison won't have the same ring as Manning-to-Harrison.

By now, we know to keep the emotions out of it. But that shouldn't stop us from appreciating the production of a receiver who did the unthinkable: He was almost as good as Rice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NBA trade deadline is a dud

Stephen A. Smith was burning the phone lines, Web sites were updating their blogs every few minutes, there was talk of a Shaq-LeBron pairing, and we were left with Rafer Alston to the Magic.

As far as blockbuster trades go, Alston to the Magic, Kyle Lowry to the Rockets and a first-round pick to the Grizzlies ranks somewhere between Wilt Chamberlain to the 76ers and the time I swapped Jorge Cantu for Mark DeRosa in fantasy baseball.

By now, you already know the NBA's trade deadline -- a day that usually justifies the minute-by-minute tracking -- came and went without a whimper or barely a mention of Raef LaFrentz's expiring contract.

Let's look at the biggest names involved in the deals that did go down the last two days.


-- Brad Miller, C, Bulls: He hadn't played for the Kings since Jan. 30 because of a hip injury, then was involved in the biggest deal this week, a Wednesday swap that involved Miller and John Salmons going to the Bulls and Drew Gooden and Andres Nocioni heading to the Kings. Miller is a center who doesn't block shots (0.6 per game), but he does average 3.4 assists and is an effective free-throw shooter (80.1 percent) and decent rebounder (8.0). He is expected to start for Chicago soon, and is worth playing in fantasy.


-- Andres Nocioni, SF, and Drew Gooden, PF, Kings: Nocioni has little fantasy value (10.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, 41.2 percent from the field), and there's no telling how much Gooden will play for a team that is rebuilding from scratch and already has young big men Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson. If Gooden, who is averaging 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, is Sacramento's regular center, he is worth considering.

-- Rafer Alston, PG, Magic: He leaves one playoff team, the Rockets, for another, and brings his awful shooting percentage with him. Alston's 3-point (80), steal (1.2) and assist (5.4) totals are assets, but his field-goal percentage (37.0) is a category-killer. If you think that will change as the Magic's 2009 replacement for Jameer Nelson, keep in mind that Alston's career FGP is 38.5. He's worth starting only in 10- or 12-team leagues in which you're desperate for guard help.


-- John Salmons, SF, Bulls: At 18.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game, along with 77 treys and very good percentages (47.2 FG and 82.3 FT), he's been a draft-day steal. But will he continue to average 37 minutes after getting traded to a Bulls team that already has Derrick Rose, Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich in the backcourt and Luol Deng at small forward? The best guess here is Salmons will come off the bench in Chicago, which hurts his fantasy value. I would still start him, but this trade might hurt your team in the long run.


Kyle Lowry, Rashad McCants, Chris Wilcox and any other player involved in Thursday's sprint to the disappointing finish.


The player who many of us (me included) once thought would be Robin to LeBron James' Batman is now a Knick after getting traded for, gulp, Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson. Since Hughes will be paid almost $13.7 million next season to shoot 40 percent from the field and not enjoy his role, that seems fitting.

He's not a fantasy factor. But this was my only chance this season to remind myself and many others how wrong we were.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two for Tuesday: A-Rod's admission and the value of Maurice Jones-Drew

Alex Rodriguez.

Want to start an argument with a baseball fan? Mention those two dirty words.

Want to get a baseball writer to climb on his or her high horse? Do the same.

A-Rod -- or A-Roid, as he's known in the tabloids these days -- is constant back-page fodder and front-page controversy. His name is sure to incite emotion, and most of it is negative.

Has he lied? Yes. Is he a bad guy? I won't pretend to know the answer.

What I do know is he's one of those athletes who seems to attract negative reactions from a sizable portion of his sport's fan base no matter what -- think Kobe Bryant, Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

He's also one of fantasy's most consistent performers, and if you're reading this, you're probably wondering how A-Rod's admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-03 with Texas, and the firestorm that has followed, will affect his 2009 season in the Big Apple.

Sounds like the perfect Two-for-Tuesday topic.

1. What should we expect from Rodriguez this year?

The short answer: a .300-plus average with 35 or more home runs and at least 100 RBI.

In the last 11 seasons, Rodriguez's season lows are 35 homers (2008 and 2006) and 103 RBI (2008).

It is significant to note that both of those totals had a 2008 associated with them.

It is also significant that Rodriguez averaged 52 home runs and 132 RBI with the Rangers from 2001-03, the time frame in which he says he used steroids. In the last three seasons, all in New York, he's had one huge home-run year (54 in 2007) and two seasons with 35.

It's fair to assume we should lower our expectations for his power numbers. While doing so, keep these statistics in mind: 42 home runs, 123 RBI, 21 steals and a .303 batting average.

If you were guaranteed those numbers, where would you draft said player? First overall? Top three?

If you said yes, well those are A-Rod's five-year averages in New York, a time in which we are supposed to assume he was clean.

Whether or not you believe him is up to you. What shouldn't be up for debate: He's only 33, he hits for average and power, he drives in a lot of runs and he still steals 15 to 25 bases a year.

He's not the skinny 40-40 shortstop, circa 1998 in Seattle.

You don't have to like him. But don't let that stop you from drafting him.

Aside from shortstops Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes, there might not be a better fantasy option on draft day.

2. Maurice Jones-Drew just got a heck of a lot more valuable.

Monday, the Jaguars released Fred Taylor, their all-time leading rusher. Later that night, owners with Jones-Drew in keeper leagues realized just how good the news was.

In Jones-Drew's three NFL seasons, he's rushed for 2,533 yards on only 530 carries (4.8 yards per attempt) and caught 148 passes for 1,408 yards. He's scored 38 touchdowns while sharing carries with Taylor, and he's been a fantasy beast despite getting only 14.4 touches per game.

The latter number should at least reach the low 20s this season. If you factor in Jones-Drew's career average of 5.8 yards per touch, that should equate to about 120 yards a game.

In point-per-reception leagues, Jones-Drew should be a top-five or top-six running back this year. In the best-keeper blogs we posted last month, I ranked Jones-Drew No. 7 at running back, behind Adrian Peterson, Steve Slaton, Michael Turner, Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams and Chris Johnson.

In leagues that start over every year, Jones-Drew might be a top-five back in PPR leagues, jumping ahead of Williams and Johnson.

The release of Taylor should force the Jags to finally give Jones-Drew his due.

As productive as he's been, he's never rushed for 1,000 yards or averaged more than 16.2 touches per game in a season.

That will change in 2009. Like A-Rod on the back page, and Derek Jeter and a young starlet in the gossip column, we can count on it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five for Friday: Fantasy NBA acquisitions

Let's head into NBA All-Star weekend Charles Barkley style -- making a Fave 5 list, and getting done in plenty of time to hit the town.

Five players who are available in many leagues, ranked from worst to first:

5. Vladimir Radmanovic, forward, Bobcats

Since being traded from the Lakers, he's relevant again. Unfortunately for eager fantasy owners, that means help in only two or three categories: scoring, 3-pointers and possibly field-goal percentage.

In his last two games, Radmanovic has scored 34 points on 13-for-22 shooting, made eight 3-pointers and has six rebounds and four assists. Those numbers won't continue, especially after Gerald Wallace and other Bobcats return to health after the break.

Radmanovic likely will come off the bench, which means you really must need 3-point help to think about playing him.

4. Jarrett Jack, guard, Pacers

He's available in 86.1 percent of the leagues on, which can mean two things: 1. Owners haven't paid attention to what he's done in the last five games (14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 steal, nine 3-pointers, 46.3 percent from the field, 13-for-14 from the line). 2. Owners have paid attention, and they know with whom they're dealing.

By now, we know what Jack can do for us: Score, get a few rebounds and assists, maybe a steal, hit the occasional 3 and shoot well from the line. Is that enough to put you over the top? No. Can he help you as your fourth or fifth guard and provide depth if injuries strike? Yes.

3. D.J. Augustin, point guard, Bobcats

Two Bobcats in the top five, and Michael Jordan isn't pulling the strings here.

Before we get to the answers, a question: How is Augustin available in more than 70 percent of the leagues on Either a lot of owners dropped him after he missed 10 games recently because of injury, or ESPN's numbers are based on a bunch of four- and six-team leagues.

Anyway, Augustin, a rookie selected ninth overall in the 2008 NBA draft, might be a rare good move by Jordan (well, at least for us fake general managers who acquired the former Longhorn). He's tallied 68 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds and three steals in his last three games, shooting 24-for-41 from the field (58.5 percent), 9-for-10 from the line and 11-for-20 from 3-point range (55 percent).

Augustin isn't going to help you much in field-goal percentage (41.4 for the season) and he doesn't get a lot of assists for his position (4.0), but he'll hit five or six triples a week, is excellent at the foul line (91.6 percent, while getting there 3.4 times per game) and should score pretty consistently.

He's worth starting in deeper leagues.

2. Ronnie Brewer, guard, Jazz

He's been excellent of late, and owners are finally starting to notice (he's up to 73.2 percent ownership in ESPN leagues as of this writing).

Brewer has averaged 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 steal and made 54.1 percent of his shots in his last 11 games. He's returned to Utah's starting lineup, and he should be in yours.

1. Kevin Love, power forward, Timberwolves

Sadly, many of us missed on him. He's up to 81.4 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, and with Al Jefferson out for the season, Love should get a double-double almost every night.

In his last five games, Love has averaged 12.4 points and 11 rebounds. For the season, he's averaging 8.7 rebounds in only 23.8 minutes per game.

The rookie from UCLA, who is making a Timberwolves fan forget O.J. Mayo as you read this, has played 30 minutes or more in three of his last four games. He played that much only once in the 17 contests prior to this stretch.

This one doesn't get much simpler: Play Love. And count down the days until Barkley returns to TNT.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two for Tuesday: Lamar Odom and fantasy hoops free agents

Sunday, the Cavaliers saw the best of Lamar Odom.

Too often, Lakers fans -- and us fantasy schmucks -- see the worst.

The mega-talented and too-often uninterested forward with more skills than any big man outside of LeBron James and a few others. The one who is great when he wants to be -- if only we could get a heads-up on the days he doesn't feel like being so.

All of which brings us to our weekly fantasy two-pack, with a bonus third player thrown in free of charge.

1. It's safe to get Odom back in your lineup.

In his first four seasons with the Lakers, Odom averaged between 14 and 16 points and nine and 11 rebounds per game. In November of this season, those numbers were down to 9.8 and 6.5. In December, the figures dipped to 7.5 and 6.1. The latter number stayed the same in January, but Odom improved his scoring to 11.6 points per game.

That likely wasn't enough for you to put him back into your rotation. If you waited on his return to normalcy -- which for Oden is two good games combined with one or two duds per week -- you were rewarded when Odom was forced back into the starting lineup with center Andrew Bynum out for at least 8 to 12 weeks because of a knee injury.

Odom recorded season highs of 28 points and 17 rebounds in Los Angeles' 101-91 win over the Cavaliers, including a double-double in the third quarter. In his last three games, he's averaged 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, two assists, one block, 0.7 steals and shot 59.5 percent from the field.

I wouldn't hesitate to start him. If he plays consistent minutes, you know what you're going to get -- 15 or 16 points, double-digit rebounds, one or two blocks, a decent field-goal percentage and a disappointing free-throw accuracy.

You also know he's going to have you scratching your head on a regular basis. On those occasions, I suggest you do your best Phil Jackson impersonation -- sit stoically, comforted by the fact things are going to go your way in the near future.

2. Two to acquire: Marreese Speights and Jose Juan Barea.

Speights, a 76ers rookie forward from Florida, has tallied 39 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in his last two games, shooting 66.7 percent from the field (16-for-24) and 87.5 percent from the line (7-for-8).

I neglected to mention him last week in writing about the impact of Elton Brand's season-ending injury, mostly because he hadn't played enough minutes this season to be a fantasy factor. Prior to the two-game outburst, Speights had played 17 or fewer minutes in seven of his last eight games.

Don't rush him into your lineup after the All-Star break. He doesn't start, and there's no guarantee he's going to get 30 minutes a night.

If he's on your team, you might want to forward this statistic to Philly management: When Speights plays 20 minutes or more, the Sixers are 13-2 this season, including eight straight wins.

Barea, like Speights and Odom, should benefit from a fallen teammate.

Dallas' sixth-man extraordinaire, Jason Terry, is expected to miss three weeks with a broken bone in his hand.

That makes Barea a short-term fix, but one who should be productive for owners who need help in the backcourt.

The undersized third-year point guard from Northeastern had 20 points, six assists and three steals in 37 minutes Saturday. For the season, he's averaging 7.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per game.

With Terry out, Barea should double those numbers.

The drawback: He'll likely hurt your field-goal percentage (he's shooting 42.5 percent this season and 41.4 for his career).

If you need assists, he's an improvement upon Terry in that category.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fantasy focus: NBA injuries

Fantasy owners likely were prepared to play the rest of the season without big men Elton Brand and Andrew Bogut before word broke this week of their latest injury news.

Thus, the blow didn't have much impact. Jameer Nelson? Leave it to the little guy to make you feel as if your fantasy team played the role of Stuart Scott and Mike Breen in the amusing ESPN commercial, with the less-than-imposing Nelson as Shaquille O'Neal in a Scrabble game with an endless supply of the letter Q.

Let's look at three of the biggest injuries of the season from a fantasy perspective:

Out: Andrew Bogut, for at least eight weeks with a stress fracture in his back. In: Francisco Elson and Dan Gadzuric.

I know what you're thinking. "Elson and Gadzuric? I'd rather have J.J. Hickson and Lorenzen Wright."

Well, you're right. The good news: Elson and Gadzuric combined for 16 rebounds Tuesday. The bad news: You can't play them both as one person.

Gadzuric, who is averaging 3.5 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game and had nine rebounds in 18 minutes Tuesday, only has value in very deep leagues in which you're desperate for rebounding. Otherwise, he and Elson should not be on a roster.

A more relevant Bucks injury is the reported broken thumb suffered by point guard Luke Ridnour. If the recent reports are true, shooting guard Ramon Sessions, whom we identified last week as a valuable target with Michael Redd out for the season, is even more relevant as a starting point guard. Sessions has a combined 39 points, 13 assists, five steals and five rebounds in his last two games, and he should be a regular fantasy starter.

Another player to watch in Milwaukee: Charlie Bell. If Ridnour is out for an extended period, Bell likely would play a lot more minutes as the Bucks' starting shooting guard. He'll help you in one category -- points (he averaged 13.5 as a regular starter with the Bucks in 2006-07 -- but hurt you in field-goal percentage (39.9 this season) and doesn't dish out enough assists (2.0 in 23.6 minutes per game) to be an effective starter.

Out: Elton Brand, for the season with a shoulder injury. In: Samuel Dalembert, Thaddeus Young and Willie Green.

Brand has played in only six games since injuring his shoulder Dec. 17, and he wasn't very effective in his return, so the announcement that he was done for the season doesn't have as much impact as it might appear.

Young, a small forward, and Dalembert, Philly's starting center, should see more consistent minutes with Brand out.

Both have fantasy value, especially Young. In his second season, Young is averaging 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, and he's shooting 47.6 percent from the field. In January, he averaged 14.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals and shot 50.8 percent. He's played 36 minutes or more in eight of his last nine games, and is worth starting in 10-team leagues.

Dalembert, because of his position, is also worth a spot in your lineup. He's a decent rebounder (8.5 in 24.6 minutes per game), an effective shot-blocker (1.8) and won't hurt you from the field (49.8 percent) or free-throw line (77.4).

Green, like Charlie Bell, is a one-category player. He can score, as evidenced by his 23 points in 29 minutes in his return to the starting lineup on Thursday. If you need 15 points per game, he should get you that if he continues to be a regular. If you're hoping for a guard who rebounds, gets a couple steals and four or five assists per game, he is anything but Shaq-tastic.

Out Jameer Nelson, possibly for the season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. In: Anthony Johnson, Tyronn Lue, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus.

Nelson will soon decide whether to rehab his shoulder or have season-ending surgery. Even if he doesn't opt for the latter, he will miss quite a few weeks and likely won't be the same player who was selected as an All-Star and was one of fantasy's biggest draft-day steals this season.

Johnson scored a season-high 25 points Wednesday in his first start in place of Johnson, but the veteran is a poor shooter (41.3 percent for his career) and has never averaged more than 9.2 points or 4.8 assists per game. You'd have to be a big Magic fan to believe he's worth a roster spot.

The most intriguing option is Lee, a rookie who scored 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting Wednesday. OK, it was against the Clippers, but Lee has been effective in his last three games (13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 55.6 percent from the field, 7-for-11 from 3-point range). He is a name to remember if you need help in the backcourt.

Another possibility is Pietrus, who should improve upon his averages of 12.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 25.6 minutes per game with Nelson out. He won't hurt you in the percentages (47.1 from the field and 82.1 from the free-throw line), but he's not going to rack up the assists (1.1 per game), which is a drawback for his position.

I would wait on Lue, who was productive in Atlanta two seasons ago, but is only a .437 career shooter and is guard who doesn't register many steals.

And yes, we've made it this far without mentioning J.J. Redick, whose stock has fallen so far Nelson's absence shouldn't result in the former Blue Devil making his 2009 fantasy debut.

If you acquire him, you must really want the one or two 3-pointers per game he will provide. I will now end this blog before I am overtaken by the urge to make a Dick Vitale joke.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two for Tuesday: Roethlisberger and Warner

In the list of the best keepers at each position we published in this blog, the top 10 quarterbacks didn't include either of the Super Bowl signal-callers.

All Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger did in one of the best Super Bowls we've ever seen was complete a combined 52 passes in 73 attempts (71.2 percent) for 633 yards and four touchdowns.

None of which means I would insert the two QBs in the top 10 if I had to do it over again, which might sound crazier than seeing Bruce Springsteen's lower half slide directly into your big screen in HD.

Let's break it down in our weekly list.

1. Warner will be a top-seven QB next season.

Assuming the 37-year-old doesn't retire this offseason and assuming the Cardinals appease Anquan Boldin, Warner, if healthy, should throw for 4,000-plus yards and 25 or more TDs next season.

Keep in mind, however, that, prior to 2008, Warner hadn't played 16 games in a season since 2001. Also consider that in keeper leagues, owners are usually looking for players they can hang on to for two or three years at a time. If that's the case, Warner can't rank ahead of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady/Matt Cassel.

In leagues that start over every year, Warner should enter 2009 ranked sixth or seventh at QB -- behind Peyton Manning, Brees, Cutler, Rivers, Rodgers and possibly Brady, depending on the health of Mr. Bundchen's knee. Some owners might also prefer Romo over Warner, but that's a move I'd probably only make in keeper leagues.

Regardless, Warner, who has accounted for 58 touchdowns (57 throwing, one rushing) in 30 games the last two seasons, is still a top-10 quarterback. But keeper leagues favor the younger stars, excepts for ones named Ben ...

2. Roethlisberger will be a top-10 QB next season.

There's your first bold prediction for 2009.

OK, that sounds as daring as questioning why Anheuser Busch paid so much money to tell us a Clydesdale love story on Sunday night.

Remember, though, that our fantasy world differs wildly from the real thing. If you had to pick a QB for a game-winning drive in the final two minutes, Roethlisberger might be your first selection. If you had to pick one to throw for 3,500 to 4,000 yards and 30 to 35 touchdowns, he would be pretty far down the list.

Big Ben has won two Super Bowls in five seasons. From a fantasy perspective, he's had only one big year -- 2007, when he threw for 3,154 yards and 32 TDs, and ran for two scores in 15 games.

From 2004 to 2006, Roethlisberger threw a combined 52 touchdown passes and 43 interceptions in 41 games.

In 2008, he had only two more TD passes (17) than interceptions (15) in the regular season, making him a fantasy backup.

That should change next year, when Santonio Holmes likely takes over as the Steelers' top wide receiver, Hines Ward returns to health, and Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall serve as a decent 1-2 punch for a revived running game.

You'll continue to hear countless analysts refer to Roethlisberger "managing the game," and they'll all rave about his play in the clutch.

They should also be able to cite Big Ben's stats.

Let's throw some numbers out there: 3,500 yards passing, 25 touchdown tosses and three rushing TDs.

Bold? Maybe. But that line isn't going to cost me $3 million.